New Blues Review 9-12-23
Nick Wade – Feeling Good Is Good Enough (Extra Sensory Production) – Country Blues is a deep feeling music, often an expression of either a hard life or a deep devotion to Religion. Artists such as Blind Lemon Jefferson (Texas), Charley Patton (Mississippi), Blind Willie McTell (Georgia) were some of the first Country Blues Artists that later led to Urban Blues being developed. There have been a few contemporary artists that have come along with the soul of a Country Blues artist and been able to translate that to the current day, such as Fruitland Jackson, Philadelphia Jerry Ricks, Guy Davis, Corey Harris and Keb Mo to name a few. We now have Nick Wade to add to this list, a Louisa Virginia Bluesman who had just released his first full album of original tunes that could have been written back in the 1920’s. With his percussive guitar playing and his authentic Blues Voice, Nick takes you on a journey of the Country Life of a Bluesman. The first song, “Sky Line Drive”, kind of back and forth of Spoken Word/Singing (very reminiscent of the Blues Legends of early 1900’s), with great fingerpickin’ guitar style. Nick likes alternating between “Hard-luck” Blues and old Gospel Blues. “Singing With The Angels” is a great example of Gospel Blues, this young man conjures up the old feel of Prewar Blues. A sort of out tune guitar licks causes “Tension” which is perfect for singing about going to Heaven, it is so brilliant. This man is a true Artist/Scholar of the Blues. “Crucifixion” sounds so much like Robert Johnson, Nick’s singing is so excellent for this type of blues. Nick’s ability to make the listening audience feel the lyrics of each song is super talent expressed through a very humble and nice human being. A couple of instrumentals, “Ragamuffin” and “Raggin’ My Blues Away” is the little candy sprinkled in this amazing CD of all original Blues. I think my favorite on this CD is “Down The Way”, listen here. I rarely do this, but I will give this a 10+ on Blues Content and a 10+ on Music Content.
Mitch Woods – Friends Along The Way (Club 88 Records) – Mitch Woods, San Francisco Bay Area roots keyboard wizard (who typically tours with his band Rocking 88), releases a 2 CD set of some of the Best Blues, a mixture of original music and tributes to some of the Blues Legends. Mitch has a pretty good list of musicians to help him out on this one!! Woods in simple duo and trio settings with such stars as Van Morrison, Taj Mahal, Ruthie Foster, Elvin Bishop, Maria Muldaur, Charlie Musselwhite, Marcia Ball, John Lee Hooker and many more. First two Tunes are with Van Morrison and Taj Mahal, “C.C. Rider” and “Take This Hammer”, both are gold. Ruthie Foster kills with her original “Singin’ The Blues”, a nice piano tune and her voice is incredible. “Nasty Boogie” is an old Champion Jack Dupree song that has Joe Louis Walker playing some lovely guitar leads and sings on this one too. Other Notables on this CD for me are “Blues Gave Me A Ride”, with Charlie Musselwhite on Guitar, Vocals and Harmonica. “Don’t Dip In My Bizness” is a Kenny Neal song that has Kenny playing guitar and singing, love Kenny Neal! There is so much great stuff, if your not a piano fan you can still find those golden nuggets here with your favorite artists. I think my favorite on this CD is “MoJo Mambo” with vocals from Maria Muldour, listen here. I will have to give this another 10+ on Blues Content and a 10+ on Music Content.
Aaron Burton – Combo Plate (Self Produced) – Never judge a book or CD by the cover!! Cheesy photo, cheap CD case, Self Produced, I was not expecting the best from this one, Boy was I mistaken. Great Country Blues, resonator, fingerpicking, gravel voice, what not to love about all that! This is Aaron’s 7th album and it’s a compilation of his best tunes from his first 6 albums that are featured on this CD. I love Aaron’s attack of the guitar and his vocal ability. Backed by Dirk Cordes on Drums, Stompin Bill Johnston on Harp, Fred Harvey on Sax, Drew Alain on Bass and Kevin Schermerhorn on Drums the songs are lively and super authentic. Burton is one of those guys who is clearly comfortable with the music, and has an excellent grasp of the essentials of good ole’ traditional, southern blues. Burton is an excellent fingerpicking guitarist as in “Leave My Girl Alone” and can push the electric like on “The First Time I met My Baby”. Some great stuff all through this compilation of Aaron’s best, but I think my favorite on this CD is “Real Good Booty”, listen here. I will probably give this a 9 on Blues Content and a 9 on Music Content.
Mizz Lowe – Classy Woman (Self Produced) – Mizz Lowe or Loretta Harris as the legal name, grew up in Mississippi where she sang in the local church. But her love for the Blues came from the fact that her father owned a Café and remembers hearing Blues on the Jukebox such as BB King, Denise LaSalle, Little Milton, Tyrone Davis, Johnnie Taylor, Fat Dominos and Bobby Rush. In fact, Mizz Lowe tours with Bobby Rush as a backup dancer and person assistant. This is her 3rd album that features Bobby Rush sharing vocal and playing harp. She has a great voice and even though some of the songs are a little over produced, I still think it has a lot going for it. I would probably classify this as a Soul album with some Blues tunes thrown in like “Honey Tree”, Drink Drink, and “Take My Love”. I think my favorite on this CD is “Classy Woman”, listen here. I will probably give this an 8 on Blues Content and a 9 on Music Content.
Denise La Grassa – The Flame (Self Produced) – Denise is a Chicago based singer/songwriter and you can tell that Blues is not on the top of her list. Her vocal ability is definitely not my cup of tea, but her writing seems to lean towards social issues and that needs to get credit. She does have a couple of Bluesy tunes on this album including “Lucy Mae Blues”, “Better Day’s Coming” and “Cut It Right Out”. I definitely would not list this a Blues, but I am sure someone out there would appreciate it. I think my favorite on this CD is “Judge A Little Less”, funny as I am judging this album a little more, listen here. I will probably give this a 3 on Blues Content and a 4 on Music Content.