New Blues Review 4-24-24

Canned Heat – Finyl Vinyl (Ruf)  “Canned Heat rose to fame because their knowledge and love of blues music was both wide and deep. Emerging in 1966, Canned Heat was founded by blues historians and record collectors Alan “Blind Owl” Wilson and Bob “The Bear” Hite. Hite took the name “Canned Heat” from a 1928 recording by Tommy Johnson. They were joined by Henry “The Sunflower” Vestine, another ardent record collector who was a former member of Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention. Rounding out the band in 1967 were Larry “The Mole” Taylor on bass, an experienced session musician who had played with Jerry Lee Lewis and The Monkees and Adolfo “Fito” de la Parra on drums who had played in two of the biggest Latin American bands, Los Sinners and Los Hooligans. The band attained three worldwide hits, “On The Road Again” in 1968, “Let’s Work Together” in 1970 and “Going Up The Country” in 1969 became rock anthems throughout the world with the latter being adopted as the unofficial theme song for the film Woodstock and the “Woodstock Generation.” They secured their niche in the pages of rock ‘n roll history with their performances at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival (along with Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and The Who) and the headlining slot at the original Woodstock Festival in 1969. The band can boast of collaborations with John Mayall and Little Richard and later with blues icon, John Lee Hooker, the musician that they initially got much of their musical inspiration from in the first place. This union produced the spirited and revered album, “Hooker ‘n Heat.” The band is also credited with bringing a number of other forgotten bluesmen to the forefront of modern blues including Sunnyland Slim, who they found driving a taxi in Chicago, Skip James, who they found in a hospital in Tunica, Mississippi and took to the Newport Festival, Memphis Slim and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown with whom they recorded in France and, also, Albert Collins.” This lineup includes blues veteran Jimmy Vivino on guitar, keyboards, and vocals, harmonicist and vocalist Dale Spalding, and Richard “Rick” Reed who succeeded long-time bassist Larry “The Mole” Taylor, who passed in 2019. This is the band’s first recording in fifteen years and is a celebratory send-off with guests Joe Bonamassa and Dave Alvin.  The album starts out with “One Last Boogie”, kind of a John Lee Hooker feeling tune that drives hard! “You’re The One” is a great slide guitar tune followed by another great song “When You’re 69” (great harmonica) , but my favorite on this CD is “So Sad” with Joe Bonamassa on guitar,  listen here. I will give this a 10 on Blues and a 10 on Music Content.

Deb Ryder – Live And Havin’ Fun (Vizztone)  “Born in Chicago Illinois, she began singing at the age of five joining her Dad, crooner Al Swanson on stage at several popular venues and churches in the area. Deb’s musical career began in her early teens when her mother moved the family to California and along with her stepfather opened the renowned Rock and Blues club the Topanga Corral. There, she opened for and performed with such legends as Etta James, Big Joe Turner, Taj Mahal and Canned Heat, all regulars at the club. These artists mentored Ryder, and it was then that her vision of herself as a singer, songwriter and performer began to take shape. Ryder enjoyed a very successful professional career performing on numerous national television commercials, motion pictures, and Las Vegas musicals, and had a long run as a session artist in L.A. Her first record “Might Just Get Lucky”, recorded and produced by Deb and husband, bassist Ric Ryder was released in 2013 on her label BEJEB RECORDS, and put her on the blues radar! She then teamed up with Grammy award winning Producer / drummer Tony Braunagel, and released four critically acclaimed, chart topping records, “Let It Rain”, on BEJEB RECORDS in 2015, “Grit Grease & Tears”, “Enjoy The Ride”, “Memphis Moonlight” and “Live and Havin’ Fun” on VizzTone Records from 2016 – 2024. Expect Deb Ryder to continue to imprint her indelible mark on the blues world, now and in the future.” The band consists of Johnny Lee Schell, Tony Braunagel, Jim Pugh, Ric Ryder, Tex Nakamura, Allan Maggini, Lon Price and Paul Litteral. Deb has an amazing voice that you tell has been singing on the road for years, band is tight and the writing is clever and holds her in the Blues Genre. First two songs are dynamite, “Fun Never Hurt No One” and “Enjoy The Ride”. Albert Lee joins the band for “Temporary Insanity”, “Ma Misere” and “Any Bottle On The Shelf”. I think the whole album is incredible of just some great, good time Blues, but my favorite on this CD is “Get Ready”,  listen here. I will give this a 10 on Blues Content and a 10 on Music Content. A real good one folks!!

Nick Gravenites – Rogue Blues (M. C. Records)  “Nick grew up on the south side of Chicago hanging out in the mid-50’s with a coterie of misfit white kids – Elvin Bishop, Paul Butterfield, Michael Bloomfield – who went on to form that protean powerhouse of watershed white blues, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Learning their lessons first-hand from the south side greats – Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Howlin’ Wolf, Jimmy Reed, Otis Rush – Gravenites & Co. burst open the seams of the scene with a feverish intensity and undeniable authenticity, redefining the blues with as much impact as the introduction of electric instrumentation had 15 years earlier. From the late 50’s through the mid 60’s, Gravenites gravitated between Chicago and San Francisco, establishing himself in the Bay Area in 1965. In addition to authoring the classic “Born In Chicago” and the groundbreaking “East West” for Butterfield, Gravenites scribed hits for Janis Joplin and has his songs recorded by Big Brother and the Holding Company, Michael Bloomfield, the Electric Flag (of which Gravenites was a founding member), Pure Prairie League, Tracy Nelson, Roy Buchanan, Jimmy Witherspoon as well as blues giants Howlin’ Wolf, Otis Rush, and James Cotton. He has a couple of solo albums and has scored and played on the soundtracks for “The Trip”, “Medium Cool”, and “Steelyard Blues”. He has appeared on some 40 albums as singer, songwriter, guitarist, and producer.” This album is filled with great nuggets, most written by Nick. The first is “Poor Boy”, the only cover, has Charlie Musslewhite on harmonica. The next is a slow Blues respective of blues musicians of the past, “Blues Singers” with Jimmy Vivino on guitar (Is he on every Blues Album these days??). I think my favorite on this CD is “Blues Back Off Of Me”,  listen here. I will give this a 10 on Blues Content and a 10 on Music Content.

Eddie Cotton – The Mirror (Malaco)  “On the heels of their latest Grammy-nomination, Malaco is making more noise on the Blues front with the new release from yet another International Blues Competition winner, Eddie Cotton.  Cotton’s drive and unshakable passion for the blues landed him an opportunity to be featured in Vanity Fair‘s 2003 Music issue, Billboard Magazine, Anne Leibovitz’s book American Music, as well as the winner of the 2015 International Blues Competition.  He has grooved audiences from Mississippi and beyond including performances at the Chicago Blues Festival, Mississippi Day in Central Park (New York), The Skanevik Blues Festival (Norway, Sweden) and the Grammy Museum (Los Angeles).  Additionally, Cotton has been featured in several films like Jon Jon in the SkyThe Rising PlaceThe Robert Johnson Story and The Last of the Mississippi Jukes. Eddie Cotton, Jr. is an electric blues guitarist who had an affinity for the blues at an early age. Born in Clinton, Mississippi, Cotton grew up singing and playing gospel music in his father’s church. He began listening to the blues as a youth, it would not be long before that foot stomping down home music would stir in his soul, inspiring him to pick up the electric guitar and cleverly interpret the blues with an original modern flare. Eddie Cotton has shared line-ups with Honey Boy Edwards, Hubert Sumlin, Bobby Rush, King Edward, B.B. King, Little Milton Campbell, Ike Turner, Buddy Miles, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, John Mayall, Sony Rhodes, Grady Champion, Zac Harmon, Smokey Wilson, Cassandra Wilson, Mable Staples, Brandy, The William Brothers, Paul Overstreet, Charlie Pride, Marty Stewart, Dorothy Moore, Johnny Lang, Etta James, Gladys Knight, Patti Labelle, Chaka Khan, Nannette Workman, Ohio Players, The Temptations and many, many more. ” Eddie is the real deal folks, reminds me of Johnny Clyde Copeland. “Don’t Move From The Mirror” is an incredible slow Blues tune that has some of the best guitar leads on the album. Other stand outs are “Gimmie What I Paid For” and “No Crime No Time” , but my favorite on this CD is “Woman Satisfied”,  listen here. I will give this a 10 on Blues Content and a 10 + on Music Content.

Mr. Sipp – Old Time Church (Malaco)  “Castro Coleman aka Mr. Sipp (born August 25, 1976) is an American blues and gospel singer, musician, songwriter and guitarist. Mr. Sipp is the 2014 International Blues Challenge winner by way of The Vicksburg Blues Society as well as the 2014 Gibson Best Guitarist Award Winner. The same year Castro was given the Bobby Rush Entertainer of the Year Award by the Jus’ Blues Foundation. In 2015, he won several Jackson Music Awards including International Male Blues Artist, Blues Artist of the Year, and Entertainer of the year. He was the Blues Music Award ‘Best New Artist Debut’ winner in 2016 and The Spirit of Little Walter Award winner the same year. The same year, Castro was the first blues artist to have his handprint inducted into the Wall of Fame in Fredrikshavn, Denmark. For the 25th Annual Living Blues Awards, he won the Best Blues Album of 2017 New Recordings award (Contemporary Blues) with “Knock a Hole In It,” and in 2018 he won the National Blues Artist of The Year award at 44th Annual Jackson Music Awards.” Mr. Sipp was one of my favorite musicians that I saw at the IBC in Memphis a bunch of year ago. Dynamic, a gifted guitarist, wonderful frontman and now piano and praise musician!! If you want to know what it feels like in the south at church in a small town, this CD will take you. Mr. Sipp Preaching it!! Covering all the great old standards like “When The Saints Go Marching In”, “Glory Glory”, “Amazing Grace”, “Change is Gonna Come” and others. This will make you get up and dancing in the isles, such a refreshing CD praise tunes. I think my favorite on this CD is “If It Had Not Been For The Lord On My Side”,  listen here. I will give this a 9 on Blues Content because of the non Blues Content but a 10 ++ on Music Content.

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