New Blues News – 10/5/2018
Barbara Blue – Fish In Dirty H2O (Big Blue): Barbara Blue moved to Memphis in 1997 and has been performing there for the past 20 years. She wrote or re-arranged most of the songs on this disc and this appears to be her first release. Blue has a talky style with a narrow range. Her backing musicians include Bernard “Pretty” Purdy (drums), Dave Smith (bass), Lester Snell (keys), and Will McFarlane (guitar), Lonnie McMillan (tenor sax), Marc Franklin (trumpet), Ji Spake (bari sax) and Steve Graham (trombone), with backing singers Candace Macho, Lynette “Sue” McCracklin, Lorina McMinn with Celia Purdie and Maureen Smith each adding back-up on one song each. Other guests include Michael Tols (guitar on 3 songs), Johnny Lee Schell and Scott Sharrard adding additional guitar on one song each with Rich Steff (B3), and Mark Narmore (B3) on a few songs as well. I regret I am unable to find any performances by online by Barbara Blue.
Kat Danser – Goin’ Gone (Black Hen Music): Canadian Kat Danser, singer/songwriter/guitarist with a PhD in Ethnomusicology, offers her fifth blues release with a touch of rock and folk blues. She has a talky singing style that clearly focuses on the lyrics and on the down-home style she prefers. She also performs in different styles – country, straight up blues and rocking blues. Backing musicians are Steve Dawson (guitar, pedal steel), Jeremy Holmes (bass, mandolin), Gary Craig (drums, percussion), Jim Hoke (sax, harmonica) and Matt Combs (fiddle, mandolin). The variety is solid as is her singing and storytelling. Click here to listen to three songs on this disc.
Billy F. Gibbons – The Big Bad Blues (Concord): Veteran rocker and blues enthusiast Billy Gibbons has pulled together a half dozen original songs and some great powerful standards, including Muddy Waters’ “Standing Around Crying” and “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” and Bo Diddley’s “Crackin’ Up” and gives each a feeling that matches Gibbons’ style. The selected standards emphasize his moans and slides like a great blues performance should. The songs are just as cool as they can be. Backing players include James Harman (harmonica), Joe Hardy (bass), Elwood Francis (guitar, harmonica), Greg Morrow and Matt Sorum (drums) and Mike Flanigin (keys). Just as cool as can be! Click here to check out Gibbons’ jam on “Rollin’ and Tumblin’”.
Colin James – Miles To Go (True North): Colin James has always been a smooth and polished blues player with a great sense of rhythm and style. This disc is one of his best performances ever to my ears. He sings and plays with a smooth delivery that honors the song as a whole piece of art rather than a performance in which one aspect carries the entire load. His obvious comfort level draws the listener into the complete performance. His backing includes Geoff Hicks (drums), Steve Pelletier (bass), Jesse O’Brien (piano, Wurlitzer), Simon Kendall (Hammond organ), Chris Gestrin (piano), Chris Caddell (rhythm guitar), Steve Marriner (harmonica), Steve William (tenor sax), Jerry Cook (bari sax), Rod Murray (trombone),Colin Nairne (synthesizer) and backing vocals by the Sojourners and Colleen Rennison. The shifting of back up personnel brings a welcome variety to this performance. Click here for an introduction to this disc by Colin James. Click here and scroll down to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
JW Jones – Live (Solid Blues): Guitarist JW Jones has certainly created a stir with his recent recordings! First of all, he won the Memphis Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge honors for “Best Self-Released CD” last year and on this current live release, he has turned loose the styles of his guitar heroes in a blend with his own style in creating new takes on several classic blues songs, including “Need Your Love So Bad” (BB King); “I Don’t Believe A Word You Say” (Ben Harper/Charlie Musselwhite); “Moanin’ At Midnight (Howlin’ Wolf) and That’s All Right” (Jimmy Rogers), among others. Perhaps the greatest aspect of this disc is that Jones doesn’t mimic the originals either by trying to sing like his selected heroes or by his electric solos, which pay homage but are fresh in themselves. In fact, Jones has an also conversational singing style that is ok, but ironically gives his performance greater credibility. Once the listener accepts that and gets a few blasts of his solos, it’s all over! Buddy Guy says, “This young man is one of the people who will keep the blues alive.” (Quoted on disc cover) The final touch is a collage of old rockers stretching from The Ventures “Walk Don’t Run” and The Surfaris’ “Wipe Out” to Dick Dale’s “Miserlou” and Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” that includes some movie themes and homage to rockers like The Beatles, Stones and Led Zeppelin! Do yourself a favor and check THIS OUT! Click here for an introduction from Jones.
Paul The Resonator – Soul Of A Man (Self-produced): Paul The Resonator is the only identification I can find for the singer/resonator guitar player who is the center of this performance. He also composed three of the songs on this disc. There are another few songs that are more current like “Paris Texas” (based on Blind Willie Johnson but expanded by Ry Cooder and Leo Kottke’s “Sailor’s Grave On The Prairie”), but the rest feature songs written or performed by Fred McDowell, Blind Willie Johnson, Reverend Gary Davis, Skip James, Blind Lemon Jefferson or Mississippi John Hurt. The performances are played in the old style with a decided influence from the church. Folk blues fans should chase this down immediately. It’s not the “real” thing, but it’s probably as close as you can get from the days when jazz, gospel and blues were melded together. Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
J.P. Reali – The Road To Mississippi (Reali Records): Once again, the DC area sends a blues disc out to the nation. In this case, the focus is J.P. Reali, guitarist/song writer/singer and writer or co-writer of all of the songs on the disc. He also adds three guests from the area: Mark Wenner (harmonica on 4 songs); Pete Ragusa (drums on 2 songs) and John Previtti (bass on 1 song). Some of the songs are straight out blues but are interspersed with some fun. It appears this release originally came out in 2012. Folk blues fans should surely check this out! Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Ben Rice – Wish The World Away (Self-produced): Singer/songwriter/guitarist Ben Rice offers a dozen original songs and a really fine edition of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground”. Rice has a strong declarative singing style and his guitar playing is direct and quite compelling. The disc has a fair amount of variety, frequently because of the mixture and variety of supporting musicians: Mitch Kashmar (harmonica on 4 songs); Jimi Butt (drums, percussion on 4 songs); Dave Melyan (percussion on 1 song); Dave Fleschner (piano, organ on 1 song each); Haley Johnson (vocal 1 song); Natasia GreyCloud (vocal on 1 song); Julio Appling (bass on 2 songs) and Paul Brainard (pedal steel on 1 song). This is a warm and infectious disc whether acoustic music, strong signing and/or good lyrics and variety are appealing to you. I regret I am unable to find a sample from this disc.
Hadden Sayers – Acoustic Dopamine (Self-produced): Hadden Sayers was born and raised in Texas and played in a variety of settings. This time around, he offers two versions of the same songlist. Sayers sings and plays guitar and is accompanied by Jim Ed Cobbs on “hand claps, foot stomps and random objects”. The liner notes explain that Sayers was having difficulty figuring out the best setting for his songs and decided to try an acoustic version which is now a companion disc to the electric version. Sayers has a raspy voice which does add some passion to his songs. This raw version also fully exposes the heavy degree of repetition in his lyrics. The impact can be dramatic for better or worse. Click here and click on the right to hear samples of the songs on this disc.
Hadden Sayers – Dopamine Machine (Self-produced): This is the electric take on the above set of songs, but with two essential differences: this disc is electric and it has a different song order than the version above. Sayers is accompanied by Greg Morrow (drums, percussion), Rusty McFarland (bass, percussion, acoustic guitar), Johnny Neel (organ) and Chad Carlson, Rusty McFarland and Sayers on backing vocals. This obviously makes the sound fuller and, at times, enhances the power of the delivery. Click here on the left to hear the electric version, which is considered to be the main take.
New Soul Add
Johnny Rawls – I’m Still Around (Third Street Cigar): Johnny Rawls offers mellow soul blues with a dash of light gospel on this current release. He composed all of the songs and sings, plays rhythm guitar and keyboards. He is also backed up by Larry “Entertainment” Gold (guitar), Johnny “Hi Fi” Newmark (bass), Cadillac Dan Magers (keys), Scott Kretzer (drums), John McGhee (rhythm guitar), Ric Wolkins (trumpet) and Mark Lemle (sax). The program is VERY mellow throughout, but also very pleasant if that’s your style. Click here to listen to the title song.