New Blues Review – 5-15-24

Jack Hadley – The St. Louis Sessions Volume II (Bolder County Arts)  “Jack played in a number of bands, sharpening his guitar skills and discovering his vocal talent along the way. He began performing as a solo artist and played countless shows as a hired gun. In 2005, Jack decided to focus on writing and performing his own blues-based material with his trio, The Jack Hadley Band. That same year he was playing at a local club when he was approached by blues veteran Otis Taylor, who happened to be in the audience. For the next 18 months, Jack was Taylor’s lead guitarist, playing festivals and shows all over the USA, Canada and the United Kingdom. He appears on Otis Taylor’s 2007 Telarc release “Definition Of A Circle” playing lead guitar and lap steel. Notable musicians on this recording include ex-Thin Lizzy axeman Gary Moore and blues harmonica legend Charlie Musselwhite. In November, 2006 he recorded two songs with keyboard wizard Steve McQuarry at the  legendary Hyde Street Studios in San Francisco including his revolutionary track “You & Me”. I was really hoping this was going to be a gem and it fell a bit short. Music is pretty good and Jack’s lead playing is fairly good, but singing was marginal for me and I can’t put my finger on exactly why, so be your own judge. Besides this, I do like this album and the songs Jack has put together. Notable tracks for me are “Always Enough Blues”, “You Got To Say My Name” and “The Real You” but I think my favorite on this CD is “Let’s Say It’s Over”,  listen here. I will give this a 10 on Blues Content and a 9 on Music Content.

Little Feat – Sam’s Place (Hot Tomato)  “The members of Little Feat 2021 are: Bill Payne, Keyboards and Vocals; Sam Clayton, Percussion and Vocals; Fred Tackett, Guitars and Vocals, Kenny Gradney, Bass; Scott Sharrard, Guitars and Vocals; and Tony Leone, drums. Scott joined in 2019, Tony in 2020.  Little Feat is very possibly the last-man-standing example of what used to be the norm in American music, a fusion of a broad span of styles and genres into something utterly distinctive.  They combined earthy, organic material with first-rate musicianship in a combination that transcends boundaries.  Feat took California rock, funk, folk, jazz, country, rockabilly, and New Orleans swamp boogie and more, stirred it into a rich gumbo, and has been leading people in joyful dance ever since.  It all began in 1969 when Frank Zappa was smart enough to fire Lowell George from the Mothers of Invention and tell him to go start a band of his own.  The late Paul Barrere, Feat’s long-time guitarist, wrote a few years back of how Lowell “came to the front door of the Laurel Canyon house I was livin’ in, with that beautiful white ‘p’ bass in hand, and asked if I wanted to try out as bass player for his new band. As most who know the story’s end can tell you, as a bassist I make an excellent guitarist…” This was a great surprise in the review CDs this week, always loved little Feat although never really pegged them a blues band. Well this CD changes that view, a CD filled with great renditions of some of the most iconic Blues Songs in our life time and a couple of originals. All the songs are great on this one, including “Milkman”, “Can’t Be Satisfied”, “Why People Like That” and “Long Distance Call” with Bonnie Raitt on vocals and guitar. I think my favorite on this CD is “You’ll Be Mine”,  listen here. I will give this a 10+ on Blues Content and a 10+ on Music Content.

Val Starr And The Blues Rocket – To The Blues And Back Again (Sandwich Factory)  “Val Starr has experienced a lifetime of music both as a performer and music industry executive. Raised in southern California, Val started singing and playing guitar at age 12. Her earliest musical influences were female singer/songwriters like Carole King and Joni Mitchell, and bands of the 60’s and 70’s. Her mother also instilled in her a love of musical comedy, which is apparent in the theatrical way she delivers her songs live, her catchy lyrics, and amusing storytelling.  Val’s music business career began in the late 70’s working for record labels, ABC, Chrysalis and Polygram as an executive assistant. In the early 80’s her focus shifted to radio promotion and from then on into the late 90’s, Val had a successful career as an independent radio promoter. Val worked in the music industry by day, and at night, played the L.A. club scene, in original rock bands “Local Authority” and “Threshold.” In 1983, Val married bassist, John Ellis, who remains the cornerstone of her band to this day. At the end of the eighties, the family, which now included son James (and later son Sean), relocated to the Bay area. For the next twenty years John and Val continued to write, record and perform with local bands in San Francisco.  At the start of the new millennium, streaming audio caught her eye. She had witnessed firsthand as an indie radio promoter, how hard it was to get records added to the limited airplay slots available at terrestrial radio. As a result, she started one of the first streaming audio networks,, and went on to launch and then,   GotRadio continues to be a popular global radio network and along with its 38 custom channels, features a 24/7 blues station called Bit O Blues, which Val personally programs.” Val has a great voice and has put together 13 original songs packed onto this CD. Some of the better ones for me are “Bitter Pill”, “Ask Me No Questions” and Move Over Baby” but I think my favorite on this CD is “Been To The Blues And Back Again”,  listen here. I will give this a 10 on Blues Content and a 10 on Music Content.

Bart Bryant – Backstage II (HMG Recordings)  “Bart Bryant is a recording and performing artist While from Baltimore, his fluid vocals and Blues-Rock guitar style have entertained audiences in Connecticut and Austin, Texas since his teens. His solo acoustic and band (Current) work in New Haven, CT and the Tri-State area gained him access to producers. By the late 70s Bart started recording his original songs. Recognition also brought warm-up band gigs for national acts at Toad’s Place. Work with legendary artists like The Roches, Jorma Kaukonen, Poco, Pousette-Dart Band, Jonathan Edwards, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Aztec Two-Step, Pure Prairie League Johnny Winter, John Butcher, New Riders of the Purple Sage all had influence on Bryant’s work & aspirations. A 1992 move to Austin & the historic Sixth Street Blues scene deepened the influence of Texas blues artists. Association with Manager Carl Gill introduced Bart to Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel in ’96 and Bryant began recording at his studio, Bismeaux Recording, with Producer Frank Campbell. Campbell brought in star musicians Cindy Cashdollar and Floyd Domino to join club musician drummer, Richie Puga and bassist, Lannie Hilboldt. The project continued at Parrot Tracks Recording with NYC producer George Coyne. George added the talents of bassist Tim Dauncey and Drummer Ernie Durawa to the project. In 1998 the resulting CD, Bart, was released and debuted on KLBJ “The Loris Lowe Show”. In 2005 Bart collaborated with singer-songwriter Curt Commander while performing in Houston with “The Tweeds” and “August Blues”. Recording once again in Austin with George Coyne at Parrot Tracks, they produced nine original songs featuring performances by Floyd Domino and Gary Primich. Commander ~ Bryant was released March 2001 and debuted on Eddie Russell’s Outlaws for Peace radio show, and, as a result, Commander ~ Bryant received regular airplay on radio stations throughout Europe and Asia.” Another great CD for this week, Bart has such a great gravely on the road voice that really makes this CD genuine. A couple of originals but mainly covering some epic songs like SRV’s “Empty Arms”, “I’m Ready” by Willie Dixon and “If You Love Me Like You Do” written by Little Johnny Taylor but I think my favorite on this CD is “Day of the Eagle”,  listen here. I will give this a 10 on Blues Content and a 10 on Music Content.

Frankie Boy & The Blues Express – Young Man’s Blues (Self Produced)  “Frankie Boy & The Blues Express is a New England-based blues band led by frontman, guitarist, and songwriter Frankie Boy Blues. The group consists of three core members, sometimes expanding to four or more, delivering a unique blend of new blues and cherished covers. Their styles range from traditional blues to funk, and even extend to hip-hop, featuring authentic, home-grown south side Chicago roots inspired by Chicago Blues Legend Luther “Guitar Junior” Johnson. In addition to frontman Frankie Boy Blues, the band includes Mickey Maguire on bass and vocals, handling both backups and leads, Harrison Foti on drums and backing vocals, and a rotating cast of exceptional musicians who occasionally join their performances. Frankie Boy & the Blues Express proudly earned the title of winner at the 2019 and 2022 Granite State Blues Society Blues Challenge. They represented New Hampshire at the International Blues Challenge finals in 2020 and 2023, reaching the semi-finals in the latter year. The group has had the privilege of sitting in and playing with blues greats, including serving as Luther “Guitar Junior” Johnson’s backing band. They’ve also jammed alongside notable figures such as Joe Lewis Walker, Buddy Guy, Duke Robillard, Papa Chubby, Albert Castiglia, Ronnie Earl, James Montgomery, Jerry The Reverend Paquette & The Kan-Tu Blues Band. Notably, Frankie has toured the world with Blues-rock singer Eliza Neals.” Pretty good CD with notable greats “Anna”, “Talking About Soul” and “Flippin’ and Floppin'” but I think my favorite on this CD is “Going Fishing” with Mike Morgan on guitar,  listen here. I will give this a 10 on Blues Content and a 9 on Music Content.



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