New Blues Review – 8-29-23

Tommy Lee Cook –Tommy Lee’s Jonesin’ (Self Produced)– Tommy Lee was born right here in Virginia, Danville. His family moved to Florida in 1967 and Cook spent the next six years in North Fort Myers before joining the Air Force, then heading to the University of Florida in Gainesville. He taught English for a while, then bought and re-did the Buckingham Bar in 2002. Tommy started playing guitar early after listening to the Beatles but was soon focused on electric blues. I really like this band’s take on the blues, strong guitar riffs, great song writing and wonderful singing voice. Tommy has surrounded himself with a great group of musicians, Rex Bongo on guitar, Harry Cassano on Keys, Scott Kamener on guitar, Arne England on slide guitar, Tbone Fonk on Drums and Andrei Koribanics on drums. Starts off the CD with “Birds and Bees”, a strong guitar melody filled with great vocals and background vocals. Then he follows this up with “Gimme My Money Mista” this spoken word with a swampy dobro in the background, this leads into ‘Turpentine”. They follow this up with 3 slow songs, “Let It Rain”, “Souleater” and “Satisfied”, a little strange but it seems to work for Tommy’s voice. Actually most of the songs on this CD are slow to medium in tempo. There is a good mix even with this similar trait. I think my favorite on this CD is “Tommy Lee’s Jonesin”.  I couldn’t find it on line yet, but here is some live music from the band, listen here. I will probably give this a 9 on Blues Content and a 9 on Music Content.

Willie J Laws, Jr –Too Much Blues (Pilot Light Records)– Right out of the gate you can tell Willie J is the real deal. A mix of Blues, Soul, R&B, Willie can sing like Robert Cray and Play guitar like he has been on the road for 50 years. Once the house band at The House of Blues/Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas and Margeritaville in New Orleans.  Winners of the Mass Blues Society Challenge 2011, Semi-finalists at the International Blues Competition 2012 and Beale St Kings Awards. A two time nominee for New England Music Award – Best Blues Act 2015 and 2016, 2015 Nominee for Boston Music Award – Best Blues Act 2015. While not a straight ahead blues album, Willie shows his ability to master many genres like the funky tune “Stuck In Traffic” and “”Getch Knee Off My Neck”. There is some great blues in here like “Regl’ Ol’ Blues”, “Too Much Blues” and “You Don’t Love Me”, but I think my favorite on this CD is “Sorry Charlie” with Jerry Portnoy on Harp.  listen here. I will probably give this a 7 on Blues Content and an 8 on Music Content.

Jack’s Waterfall –Call Dr. John (Root Rx Recordings)– Well if you like that great feeling from listening to fun piano blues and New Orleans music, your going to love this new CD from Jack’ Waterfall, a tribute to Dr. John’s music. Jack’s Waterfall has opened for many piano legends like Pintetop Perkins and Henry Butler. As a lifelong student of great piano players, these encounters shaped and encouraged the piano work on this project. Jack recently opened for legendary songwriter John Hiatt as well as George Porter Jr. from The Meters.  Eleven new tracks are presented including the title cut, a duet with Amy Correia as well as “Piano Players Heaven” which features lead vocals from Maria Muldaur. There also two covers: an accordion-filled version of The Neville Brothers’ classic “Brother John” and The Rebennack comedy “How Come My Dog Don’t Bark When You Come Around” reimagined as ”Dog Don’t Bark.” Jack even sounds like Dr. John, sort of. Great music through out this CD with brighter notes from “Shake Down”, “Call Dr. John” and “Lift your Spirit Up”. I think my favorite on this CD is “Dog Don’t Bark”.  listen here. I will probably give this a 10 on Blues Content and a 10 on Music Content.

Candice Ivory – When The Levee Breaks (Little Village)– Candice Ivory is an internationally acclaimed vocalist, composer, and recording artist. After being selected for Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead residency at the Kennedy Center, she studied voice and composition at the New School of Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York. Since then, she has performed across the United States and Europe as well as in Cuba. As an academic and an amazing singer, I can’t think of a better person to take on the task of creating an album of all Memphis Minnie Music. This album is amazing, Candice keeps the spirit of Memphis Minnie but re invents the music with modern beats and sounds. “When you Love Me”, “Hoodoo Lady” and “Blues Everywhere” are done very traditional and are perfect, Candice’s voice really shines. The remainder of the songs are great in a different way, new, fresh percussion and feel. “Me and My Chauffeur” and “When The Levee Breaks” stand out as out standing covers! I think my favorite is the first song on this CD, “Me and My Chauffeur”.  listen here. I will probably give this a 10+ on Blues Content and a 10+ on Music Content.

Coco Montoya –Writing On The Wall (Alligator)– What blues fan doesn’t know the name Coco Montoya. Incredible musician and amazing song writer. Has certainly paid his dues, his first big gig was playing drums for Albert Collins for about 2 years. Coco stated that Collins made him pickup and play guitar and want to head his own band. His next big break was playing guitar with John Mayall as one of the Bluesbreakers just like Eric Clapton, Peter Green and Mick Fleetwood (really big shoes to fill), so we know Coco was good very early in his career. After 10 years, Montoya decided to start his own band. After many successful albums, he joined Alligator Records. Writing on the Wall is his latest on this record label with guest musicians Ronnie Baker Brooks, Lee Roy Parnell and Dave Steen. All the songs are very polished, almost too much. I really like the early, raw Coco music. He does a great rendition of Lonnie Mack’s “Stop”. “A Chip and A Chair” is great story telling blues jam with some great slide guitar. I think my favorite on this CD is “I Was Wrong”.  listen here. I will probably give this a 10 on Blues Content and a 10 on Music Content.

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