New Blues Review 6-13-23

Selwyn Birchwood – Exorcist (Alligator) – Blues phenom Selwyn Birchwood has just released what is probably his best music to date. Guitar playing compared to Buddy Guy and a voice that sounds like it resonates from a 60 year old bluesman. Birchwood self-released his first record FL Boy in 2011, won the 2013 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, and leveled-up to the big leagues in 2014 with his Alligator Records debut Don’t Call No Ambulance. The set won both the Living Blues Award and the Blues Music Award for Best New Artist Debut.  Joining Selwyn on this CD is Regi Oliver on horns, Donald Wright on Bass, Byron Garner on Drums, Ed Drout on Hammond and the background vocals of Charlyce Simmons, Vanessa Hawkins and Eric Green. All the songs on this album were written by Selwyn with incredible lyrics throughout. The CD mixes great old school Blues with a Funky side of the Blues, Guitar leads are as good as it gets these days for Blues Artists. Great traditional Buddy guy type blues like the opening tune “Done Cryin'” and “Show Tune”, some funky stuff like “Florida Man” and “Underdog”. I think my favorite is “Swim At Your Own Risk” , Listen Here. I think I will give this one a 10 for Blues and a 10 for music content.

Larry Taylor – Generations of Blues (NOLA Blues) – Ok, this is a special one. A tribute album to the great Eddie Taylor Sr. and Vera Hill Taylor who were part of the great migration of Blues Musicians from Mississippi to Chicago in the 1950’s. Eddies’s distinctive guitar work was a driving force behind the music of Jimmy Reed, Snooky Pryor, John Lee Hooker, Floyd Jones, Elmore James and more, until his death in 1985. Eddie and Vera had 8 children with 5 of them being professional musicians. So the Family came together to mark the 100th anniversary of Sr’s Birthday to put out a real old school Blues Album with some modern twists. Larry Taylor on Vocals and Drums, Eddie Taylor Jr. on vocals and Guitar, Brenda Taylor on Vocals, Demetria Taylor on Vocals, Tim Taylor on Drums and Liljet2x on vocals. Three generations of Taylors coming together to record this tough, old-school session includes 13 songs performed by the Taylor family’s second and third generations: with five written by Eddie Taylor, one by Vera Taylor, four by Larry Taylor and three blues covers. There is some amazing stuff on this CD, sounds just like it would have back in the 1950’s, “I Feel So Bad” has such an authentic tone and some amazing harmonica work. “I Found Out” is the only one on the CD written by Vera Taylor and sung by Brenda Taylor. A very cool addition to this old school album is the Rap by the youngest in the group, Liljet2x, kind of a take on the Bill Wither’s tune “Aint No Sunshine”. I think my favorite is the cover of JB Lenoir’s classic “Talk to Your Son (Daughter)” sung by Brenda Taylor, but I can’t find that video of that so here is introduction of the album, Listen Here. I think I will give this one a 10 for Blues and a 10 for music content.

D.K Harrell – The Right Man (Little Village) – Alright another good one!! D.K. Harrell has released his debut album and sounds like it was his 30th released. Such a professional recording and producing of this 25 year old’s music with an old Blues/Soul/Gospel feel. Joining D.K. is Bassist Jerry Jemmott (Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, Freddy King, and bassist on B.B. King’s original recording of “The Thrill Is Gone”), drummer Tony Coleman (30 years with B.B. King) and keyboardist Jim Pugh (Etta James, Robert Cray) along with Kid Andersen on rhythm guitar formed the core band. Sax players Aaron Lington, Stephen “Doc” Kupka and Mike Peloquin, trumpeters Neil Levonius and John Halbleib, trombone player Mike Rinta, conga player Jon Otis, background singers Tia Carroll, Lisa Andersen, Quique Gomez and Alabama Mike.  D.K. has such a relaxed voice that reminds me of BB King and his simple guitar licks really remind me of BB. So smooth in his approach to this music with all 11 of the songs on this CD written by D.K. From the silky tunes “The Right Man” and “Get These Blues Out of Me” to the Funky “You’d Be Amazed” there are so many great nuggets of music that is sure to please. I think my favorite is “Honey Ain’t So Sweet” , Listen Here. I think I will give this one a 10 for Blues and a 10 for music content.

Joanna Conner – Best of Me (Gulf Coast Records) – Joanna Connor is a house hold name with Blues Fans around the world with her incredible slide guitar skills and her strong voice. She has had a very successful career playing with some of the greats in the Blues world like Buddy Guy and James Cotton. This being Joanna’s debut record on Gulf Coast Records, she has mixed this 11 songs with straight ahead blues to Pop to Jazz and even a little country in there. Joanna Connor (guitar, vocals), Shaun Gotti Calloway (bass), Jason J Rock Edwards (drums, background vocals), Da Souvigny (rhythm guitar, keys), Curtis Moore Jr. (organ, Wurlitzer, synth), Grooveline Horns– Fernando Castillo – Trumpet & Flugelhorn; Carlos Sosa – Saxophones & Flute; Raul Vallejo – Trombone, Vallejo (trombone), Eric Demmer (saxophone). Also joining Joanna is Joe Bonamassa on “Hightway Child”, Josh Smith on “Pain and Pleasure” and “House Rules”, Gary Hoey on “Shine On” Jason Ricci on “Shine On” Mike Zito on “Shadow Lover” and David Abbruzzese on “Mercury Blues”. With this type of lineup you would think this is going to be a diamond but I found myself bored with the song choices on this one. Song flow went from great to so-so but there are some gems like “House Rules”, “Two Of A Kind” and my favorite “Shine On”, Listen Here. I think I will give this one a 7 for Blues and a 6 for music content.

Mike Bourne – Cruisin’ Kansas City (Blue Heart) – This a nice refreshing CD to listen to if you like Jump Blues with a jazzy feel. Mike Bourne has been a major part of Kansas City Blues scene for many years and this is his tribute to the musicians of this city. 13 songs written and arranged by Mike and performed with saxophone ace Sam Treinen, longtime KC bassist Cardy Quintero, piano man Jimmy Beisman and veteran drummer Bryan Herrman. And what seems to be the trend these days, Mike has bought in a successful Bluesman to help raise the notoriety of this new album. Johnny Burgin plays guitar on most of the songs. “Golden Rule” has a nice laid back feel with some great harmonica work by John Paul. “Hollow Man” is a take off of “Can’t Be Satisfied”. Overall the album is not bad but falls short of being in my playlist. I think my favorite is “Missouri Boy” but I can’t find a video of that so here is “30,000 millionaire”, Listen Here. I think I will give this one a 6 for Blues and a 5 for music content.

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