New Blues Review 6-18-24

Damon Fowler – Barnyard Smile (Landslide) 

Bio – “Florida’s Gulf Coast has produced a plethora of distinctive musicians, from the blues of Tampa Red to jazz greats Cannonball and Nat Adderley to former Allman Brothers guitarist Dickey Betts to The Outlaws. Tampa’s Damon Fowler, a masterful singer, guitar player and songwriter, has absorbed the best of and furthered the work of the region’s definitive artists. A hard driving troubadour, his music is steeped with soul and representative of the many styles that make up the roots of American music. He has gained the respect of his peers given his featured slot in Butch Truck’s Freight Train band and his side gig as guitarist in the Dickey Betts Band. Critics have compared Fowler’s guitar work to Johnny Winter and Jeff Beck, while his slide guitar is reminiscent of the late Duane Allman. Fowler can play fiery guitar runs with the best of them, and his lyrical work on lap steel and dobro makes him a stand out performer among the legions of guitar heroes. His new release, ALAFIA MOON, was produced by Fowler and George Harris (Cheap Trick, Rick Derringer, Brian Johnson—AC/DC), ALAFIA MOON, represents Fowler’s 8th solo release. combines all the influences that have shaped his distinctive blues career. On the strength of Fowler’s hybrid of roots rock, blues, and sacred steel, the Florida native started wowing audiences with his musical exploits as a teenager, building a reputation as one of the hottest young players on the scene. Adding songwriting and vocal skills to his repertoire over the years has brought him many accolades, with music journalists extolling his originality and maturity as well as his technical guitar expertise. All of these attributes have helped further define Damon Fowler as one of the great Southern artists of his time.”

Review – Not a bad CD, starts off with a driving Blues Song with slide guitar, “That Ain’t Love”. A good diversity of songs, some slow (even country feel) like “Misery Loves Company”. Other highlights for me are “Road Runner”, “Fruita” and “Fast Driving Woman” Damon has a decent voice and wrote all the songs on this album except “Road Runner” (Ellas McDaniel) and “Misery Love Company” (Jerry Reed). I think my favorite on this CD is “Outskirts of Town” ,  listen here. I will give this a 9 on Blues Content and a 9 on Music Content.

Bobby Christina’s Caravan – True Blues Brother (Nola Blues) 

Bio – “Matt “Guitar” Murphy was born in Sunflower, Mississippi on December 29, 1929. He was raised in Memphis but moved to Chicago at age 19. He worked with many of the era’s Chicago blues musicians including Holwin’ Wolf, Memphis Slim, and Little Junior Parker. In the 1990’s he became the guitarist for harpist James Cotton. But he gained much fame as he joined The Blues Brother’s band and appeared with John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd in the movie about the band. He recorded his first solo album Way Down South in 1990 and followed that up with two additional albums in 1996 and 2000. But in 2000 he suffered a series of strokes forcing a retirement from music.  But after considerable rehab, he returned to the stage to play at the 2010 Chicago Blues festival with James Cotton. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2012. In 2018, he started work on a new album with drummer and producer Bobby Christina. Bobby Christina has forty years of musical background starting with watching his older brother Fran Christina on drums practicing in the basement with his friends Al Copley on piano, Duke Robillard on guitar and Larry Peduzzi on bass – the original Roomful of Blues. The Westerly, Rhode Island native at age 15 got some of his brother’s hand me down drums and continued on his own career which led him to perform with Matt in over a dozen performances following his return to music. Bobby talked to Matt about recording a new album that would feature new songs from Matt and songs from artists he had played with. It was also intended that it would feature some guests from Matt’s past. The first session occurred in 2018, but Matt died suddenly on June 15, 2018, before any follow-up session could occur. Matt recorded three new songs for the album in that first session that are performed on this CD.”

Review – This is an incredible and historic album since Matt was able to play on a few songs before passing away. You could write a book on this double CD set with artist like Doyle Bramhall II, Steve Cropper, Ronnie Earl, Bill Kirchen, Bob Margolin, Tracy Nelson, Duke Robillard, Lee Oskar and Jerry Portnoy just mention a few. Incredible moments on this album is “I Feel Alright Again”, (featuring Brian Templeton on vocals), “I Can’t Quite You Baby” (Phil Diiorio on Vocals), “Way Down South” (Kenny Wayne on Piano and Steve Cropper on guitar), “Evil” (Craig Rawding on vocals, Bob Margolin on guitar, Jerry Portnoy on harp) and “Lonesome”( Fran Christina on vocals, Duke Robillard on guitar). I think my favorite on this CD is “Shake A Tailfeather”, not the most bluesy of the tunes but outstanding,  listen here. I will give this a 10+ on Blues Content and a 10+ on Music Content.

Eliza Neals – Color Crimes (E-H Records) 

Bio – “Standing before one of America’s truest art forms with an unconditional passion to give the Blues everything she’s got. Eliza Neals, a Detroit born blues-rock star on the rise, honors the gut-wrenching, soul splitting intent the American roots of contemporary blues represents with inspired songwriting, live performances, and magic not seen in years… Original compositions have garnered Eliza a 2018 Detroit Black Music Award for “Blues Artist of the Year.” and FIVE Detroit Music Awards. A total of seventeen nominations in the “Independent Blues Awards” along with “Get Ready To Rock UK’s” glowing Best Artists awards in five categories.  Eliza’s history of performing/opening for legendary musicians goes back many years from Detroit’s songwriting godfather Barrett Strong to George Clinton, The Four Tops, Kenny Olson, Tony Joe White, Lance Lopez, Mike Zito, Tommy Castro, Walter Trout, Poppa Chubby, Albert Castiglia, Micki Free, Victor Wainwright, King Solomon Hicks, Peter Keys and Blues Foundation HOF bluesman Joe Louis Walker. Eliza last full album “Black Crow Moan” is a ‘Top Album of 2020’ after landing on so many best of lists. “Black Crow Moan” finished 2020 on a high note with continued radio play and rescheduled tours in 2021.”

Review – I think this young lady is real deal, floats a bit between Blues and Country but heck singer. Really great guitar player by the name Michael Puwal with the addition of King Soloman Hicks playing and singing on “Sugar Daddy”. I think my favorite on this CD is “Love Dr. Love” but couldn’t find it online so here is album title song,  listen here. I will give this a 9 on Blues Content and a 9 on Music Content.

Sam Joyner – Come What May (Self Produced) 

Bio – “Sam Joyner was born and raised in SE Chicago 25 miles from Gary Indiana. His father, the Reverend Joyner, made sure that Sam spent his summers down south. Joyner’s mostly original music is a combination of urban Chicago blues and Louisiana styled R n’ B. In 2016 Joyner was the winner of the solo/duo competition at the Vicksburg (Ms.) Blues Challenge. He went onto compete in the 2017 International Blues Challenge, held annually in Memphis, where he was a finalist. Over the years Joyner has played with Larry Garner, The Neal Family, and Benny Turner, among others. His last album “When u Need a Friend” was released in 2019.”

Review – From the cover I was not expecting what the CD revealed, kickass Blues!! Love Sam’s voice and his band is so good. Really shows off his voice on the title song “Come What May”. His choices for covers is quite unique but really works for him such as “Tennessee Whiskey”, “Stormy Monday” and “Too Many Cooks”, really does them justice but changes them up enough to demonstrate his musical ability. I think my favorite on this CD is “Thank You For Leaving Me” such a whitty tune,  listen here. I will give this a 10 on Blues Content and a 10 on Music Content.

Dennis Jones – About Time (Blue Rock Records) 

Bio – “Johnny Winter, Buddy Guy, and most recently, George Thorogood and Tinsley Ellis…  after opening for these greats, and touring the US, Canada, and Europe for years, Dennis Jones and his band are now HEADLINING!  Sizzling hot guitar solos. Smooth and soulful vocals. High-energy stage performance. Backed by a rhythm section that is second to none, this IS Dennis Jones. Check out a live show, and you’ll instantly agree, this band ROCKS the blues like NO other!  Dennis’s feet are firmly rooted in the past, yet his heart and soul are connected to the present. He writes songs that seamlessly blend the best of both worlds, presenting a unique and contemporary style of American rock and blues. And he isn’t afraid to tackle the controversial issues of today. Dennis has written songs for other notable artists as well. Guitar Shorty and others!   He also spent three years playing guitar with The Bus Boys (the boys are back in town) and with The Zac Harmon Band, when they won first place in the 2004 Blues Music Awards Competition in Memphis TN.”

Review – Ok now!! My favorite of the week. Dennis Jones is a hell of a guitar player and has that authentic voice, reminds me of Hendrix. I really love all 10 of these tunes! All written by Dennis except for his cover of “Mother Earth” (Memphis Slim). Notables from this CD (although I like them all) are “Mother Earth”, “Hell” and “More Time” but I think my favorite on this CD is “You’re Killin’ Me” ,  listen here. I will give this a 10+ on Blues Content and a 10+ on Music Content.



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