New Blues Review 3-12-24

Rick Vito – Cadillac Man (Blue Heart Records)  “Perhaps best known as a member of the legendary supergroup Fleetwood Mac (1987-1991), Rick brought back the roots and blues quality once found in the band’s original Peter Green era. His original songs are featured on their albums, “Behind The Mask”, “The Very Best Of Fleetwood Mac” and “The Chain.” He also appears on their “Greatest Hits” release and the live full length concert DVD, “Tango In The Night”.  Rick later partnered with Mick Fleetwood to form  the “Mick Fleetwood Blues Band feat. Rick Vito.” Shortly after the release of their CD, “Blue Again,” Rick was nominated for the 2010 Grammy Award in the “Best Traditional Blues” category as both artist and producer.  Vito’s unique slide and lead guitar work has also enriched the recordings and performances of such legendary Rock & Roll, Blues and Country Hall of Fame artists as Bob Seger, Bonnie Raitt, John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers, John Fogerty, Little Richard, Albert Collins, Boz Scaggs, Dolly Parton, John Prine, Delbert McClinton, Roy Orbison, Jackson Browne, Roger McGuinn, Hank Williams Jr., Stevie Nicks, Todd Rundgren, and scores of others. He has appeared on hundreds of recordings, and his haunting slide guitar solo on Bob Seger’s “Like A Rock,” has been heard by untold millions as the guitar voice on the Chevrolet truck TV commercial ads which ran over a ten year period.  He also received the famed W.C. Handy Award for “Blues Song of the Year,” for “It’s Two A.M.”as performed by Shemekia Copeland. His songs have appeared in the TV shows, “Without A Trace,” “Las Vegas,” “Thieves,” “HBO’s ‘Real’ Series,” “Everwood,” “Memphis Beat,” and most recently, multiple episodes of the highly acclaimed, “Blue Bloods.” Rick’s news album is a very solid Blues Recording, with wonderful vocals and great guitar work. Really impressive was the slide work as in the first tune “Love Crazy Baby” and “Just Another Day”. Other highlights were “Barbeque’n Baby”, “River’s Calling” and “Crying At Midnight”, but I think my favorite on this CD is “Cadillac Man”, listen here. I will probably give this a 10 on Blues Content and a 10 on Music Content.

John Clifton – Too Much To Pay (Flower Records)  “Bluesman John Clifton has dedicated himself to the genre that wasn’t getting the respect it deserved. But when you’re a frontman who delivers the goods straight from the heart, soul, and gut, the Blues become relevant. From the first note of the first song on stage, you know Clifton is the man in charge. Great musicians play off one another and take each other to new heights when they do. John taps into honest emotions, and by doing so, he brings the band along for the ride. Clifton is a veteran road dog whose travels have regularly crisscrossed the U.S. in addition to playing festivals as far away as France, Belgium, Poland, and New Zealand to the tune of 150 dates a year. John’s mad harmonica skills have placed him on stages shared by James Cotton, John Mayall, Luther Tucker, Kim Wilson, and a host of other talented bluesmen. His harp chops landed him the job of featured harmonica player while touring and recording with Big Bill Morganfield on his 2016 release, “Bloodstains on the Wall.” With each of the three records, he has made with Southern California blues, roots label Rip Cat Records the accolades and intensity increased. His first solo album, Let Yourself Go, was released shortly after signing in 2015 to worldwide acclaim and airplay.” After listening to this album, I am not sure it should be in the Blues Genre. Definitely has Blues components but really feels like a modern Country music or early Rock n Roll. All the songs were written by John, with some shared writing Roger Perry. Tunes like “It Wouldn’t Stop Raining” has a Roy Orbison feel to the lyrics and music, not fully blues then the guitar solo feels so bluesy!! “Every Waking Hour” probably has the most Blues content including “Broke Down Fool”. I think my favorite on this CD is “The Problem”, listen here. I will probably give this an 8 on Blues Content and an 8 on Music Content.

John Primer & Bob Corritore – Crawlin’ Kingsnake (Swmaf Records)  “Bob Corritore was born in Chicago and got hooked on blues Harmonica when he was twelve years old. He studied and received playing tips from Carey Bell, Big Walter Horton, Junior Wells and others. At the age of twenty-five Corritore moved to Phoenix, Arizona. Ten years later he opened his own club there called The Rhythm Room. With his house band The Rhythm Room All-Stars, he backed musicians when they came to town.  Since 2017 Corritore has been nominated for at least half a dozen Blues Music Awards. He won his first BMA in 2011 for Historical Album of The Year. This is Corritore’s 18 album although he appears on over seventy-five others. Alfonso “John” Primer was born in Camden, Mississippi but moved to Chicago where he was a regular at Teresa’s Lounge located at 48th and South Indiana Avenue. He played guitar in Willie Dixon’s Chicago Blues All-Stars and in The Muddy Waters Band. Later Primer joined Magic Slim and The Teardrops. Primer was nominated multiple times for Traditional Blues Male Artist of The Year first winning it in 2016. Primer was also the lead vocalist, guitarist and featured artist on the Grammy nominated “Muddy Waters 100” project. This is Primer’s nineteenth album. This album is the fourth collaboration for Primer and Corritore since they started working together in 2013. The band also includes Bob Stroger, bass; Jimi Primetime Smith, second guitar; Anthony Geraci, piano; and Wes Starr, drums. Primer was recently inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.” I always look forward to these CDs that Bob puts out. Super authentic, nothing modern to these tunes!! All the tunes are great, feels like buying your favorite Blues record from the 60’s, it’s hard to pick a favorite but I think my favorite on this CD is “Rosalee Blues” but I couldn’t find it on line so here is the title song “Crawlin’ Kingsnake”, listen here. I will probably give this a 10+ on Blues Content and a 10+ on Music Content.

Steve Howell – 99 1/2 Won’t Do (Out Of The Past Records)  “Steve Howell was thirteen when he first heard Mississippi John Hurt fingerpicking country blues. The year was 1965, and the experience became a revelation that opened the door to a new musical universe. Steve knew immediately that tame, folky strumming of the guitar was a thing of the past for him. As Steve’s journey progressed, Mississippi John Hurt begat Blind Willie McTell and Leadbelly. They in turn begat Robert Johnson, Son House, Rev. Gary Davis, Blind Willie Johnson, Blind Blake, and a host of other black acoustic guitar players and vocalists. His interest in rural, folk-blues styles and the history of the music led him to learn more about how this music came to town and melded with the horn-oriented bands prevalent in the cities, creating a strong affinity for him with traditional jazz and the music of New Orleans from the first half of the twentieth century. His musical Odyssey naturally included the pop, country, rock, and blues music of the last half of the century, but always in the background stood the music of Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Lester Young, Jack Teagarden, Art Tatum, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Chet Atkins, Johnny Smith, Wes Montgomery, Bucky Pizzarelli, Joe Pass, George Van Eps, Lenny Breau, and many other great jazz artists. Although very interested in many other music styles (bebop, rock ‘n’ roll, rhythm and blues, and others), the heart of Steve’s playing and singing is rooted in the rural acoustic blues and traditional jazz genres born in the American South.” I am really confused by this Blues Album, while I don’t think the music is at a very high level, the first song “I’m A Little Mixed Up” isn’t a bad blues cover, but then Steve follows up with “99 1/2” which I totally don’t understand and then two instrumentals of non Blues tunes, “San Francisco” and “Don’t Let me Be Misunderstood”. Steve then gets back to a little Blues with “Talk To Me” and some Gospel with “God’s Gonna Cut You Down”, then follows that up with two instrumentals “Walk Away Renee” and “Apache”. I think my favorite on this CD is “Little Mixed Up”, listen here. I will probably give this a 6 on Blues Content and a 6 on Music Content.

Thee Pszenny Project – Funked Up (Self-Produced)  “The Pszenny Project hails from the midlands of South Carolina. Led by guitarist/lead vocalist Mark Pszenny, a strong guitarist, adding an edge of rock to his blues along with the rhythm section of John Bunucci (bass), Jason Corley (drums) and Jim “Wallstreet Harp” Couillard, this is a rock-solid lineup. The Pszenny Project has a strong instrumental attack combining in their music a masterful blend of blues, funk, rock and R&B that makes for energetic, compelling music. The Pszenny Project presents a kind of initiatory journey in the places most marked by the blues, namely Chicago, Memphis, Detroit and Texas, playgrounds carrying so many styles that the quartet will use and even sometimes abuse to serve us a music that is both solid, thick and rough as appreciated in juke joints that have managed to create the legend of what has long been called the Chitlin’ Circuit. Get ready for soulful and edgy blues-rock show unlike any other. Don’t miss out on this unique musical journey that defies expectations and delivers an unforgettable live show. Pair that with energy and a fresh approach to tried-and-true music and you’ll be begging for more!” I have reviewed another of Pszenny Project and really liked it but didn’t think it was that solid of a Blues band, their newest, 6 song CD is fully Blues/Rock with some amazing Blues Leads with Mark’s raspy, out of tune voice makes it an interesting listen. You either love it or you hate it, I am leaning towards loving it!! I think my favorite on this CD is “Funked Up”, listen here. I will probably give this a 9 on Blues Content and a 9 on Music Content.



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