New Blues & Soul News – 3/21/2017
Terry Davidson & The Gears – Transmission (Bangshift): Singer/songwriter/guitarist Terry Davidson is a mid-western blues rocker who mixes blues, rock and a little soul and dares his audience not to dance. This is a solid roadhouse band determined to let the good times roll. In addition to Davis, the band features Bill Geists (bass, vocals), Dewayne Cupe (drums, vocals), and Todd Brown (keys), with help from the “Bangshift Horns” Mike “Snakebite” Roberts (sax) and John Jill (trumpet), and guests Jay Gasper (pedal steel), Devearn Winbush (percussion), Joe Viers (percussion, keys), and John Gishi (drums). They cover a lot of musical ground, shifting the dominance of rock to blues to soulful grooves, just like a roadhouse band should. Click here and scroll down to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Guy Davis & Fabrizio Poggi – Sonny & Brownie’s Last Train (MC): Bluesman Guy Davis has been a fan Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee for several decades and had the pleasure and honor of performing Terry’s part in the the stage version of “Finian’s Rainbow” three times. He admired and befriended McGhee as well. This tribute features Davis on vocals and guitar and his frequent partner Fabrisio Poggi on harmonica. Their playing and singing is wonderfully reminiscent of the Terry – McGhee duo as they play songs both by McGhee and Terry and from Big Joe Williams, Robert Pete Williams, and Elizabeth Cotton among others. They also perform a tribute song by Davis entitled “Sonny & Brownie’s Last Train”. This disc is a fantastic tribute and a wonderful performance throughout. I am unable to find a sample from the recording, but click here to catch a live performance of the title song.
Little Freddie King – You Make My Night (MadeWright): Here’s an old time, blues performance that puts the country back into the electric blues. This is a live recording that places the listener inside the country juke joint (though the actual recording was made in New Orleans). The songs are mostly standards with a few King originals mixed in. The performance features King on vocals and guitar, “Wacko” Wade Wright (drums), Bobby Lewis Ditullio (harp) and William Jordan (bass). Primal. I regret I am not able to find a sample from this disc.
James Talley – Tryin’ Like The Devil (Cimarron): This is a reissue of James Talley’s 1976 recording for Capitol Records. The recording was highly praised in reviews, but was not a terrifically hot seller. He became friends with Merle Haggard, who encouraged him to keep at it and certainly Haggard’s influence looms large in his style. This is “Country” blues or what we mostly refer to as Americana these days. The songs are about life and love and loss and, at times, frustration. Click here to listen to a song from this disc.
Macy Blackman & The Mighty Fines – Shoorah Shoorah: The Songs of Irma Thomas & Allen Toussaint (MamaRu): Pianist/cornet player/guitarist/singer Macy Blackman and tenor sax player / singer Nancy Wright have joined together to make a disc of 13 songs either written by or associated with Allen Toussaint or Irma Thomas. They are accompanied by Ken “Snakebite” Jacobs (bari sax), Bing Nathan (bass, vocal), Larry Vann (drums) and Kit Robberson (viola da gamba). Eleven of the songs were written by Toussaint with one Ernie K-Doe composition and one from Swamp Dogg and Troy Davis. Blackman and Wright trade off on song leads. Blackman has a rasp, while Wright is more lyrical and has some kick in her style. The music was recorded in California, but the flavor of New Orleans shines through, making this an enjoyable disc. Click here and scroll down to listen to samples of two songs on this disc.
Classic Blues & R&B Donation:
Eddie Boyd – The Complete Recordings, 1947-1950 (Blues Collection): This disc includes the earliest recordings by Eddie Boyd as a session leader. After growing up in the South, Eddie moved to Chicago and joined the blues scene there. The recordings on this disc are mostly influenced by jump blues and many of them are his earliest releases. Eddie’s piano was solid, though he was only an average singer. Click here to listen to one of his best early releases from 1948.
Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown – The Original Peacock Recordings (Rounder): This disc covers a dozen recordings that singer/guitarist Gatemouth Brown cut for Peacock Records between 1952 and 1959. Brown had the kind of sound that begs comparison to early BB King – tough, full, loud and powerful. Brown composed eight of the twelve songs on the disc. If you’re unfamiliar with Brown’s work, there are several that will “flat domino your lame act” – so check it out!!!!! Click here to listen to a great instrumental from 1956.
“Gatemouth” Brown – 1947-1951 (Classics): These are the earliest recordings by Gatemouth Brown and I hesitated as to which song I would use as a sample. Brown was initially considered a T-Bone Walker “wannabe” (like that’s a bad thing!) Just listen to this 1947 recording, his first! Click here for that. BUT Gatemouth continued to develop and by 1951 his style was clearly his own. Amazing guitar boogie and solid roughed up vocals – this cat was hot! Click here to listen to the new style.
“Gatemouth” Brown – 1952-1954 (Classics): Between 1952 and 1954, Brown continued to develop his blues chops, but also became one the hottest overall guitarists anywhere! This was rock’n’roll – rompin’, stompin’, flame-throwing music. He was even laying the foundation for Chuck Berry! Click here for a sample.
Various Artists – Texas Blues, Houston Hotshots, V1(Acrobat): Here’s the first of a series of collections of blues and r’n’b releases from Texas, in this case between 1949 and 1951. Performers, like Lavada Durst, Elmore Nixon and Joe “Papoose” Fritz, are largely less known, but there are a few “stars” like Gatemouth Brown and Memphis Slim. These recordings were released by Don Robey’s Peacock Records (he later recorded Little Richard, Johnny Ace, and Big Mama Thornton). Click here to sample Memphis Slim.
Various Artists – Texas Blues, Gonna Play The Honky Tonks, V3 (Acrobat): Same series as above, but mostly different artists. We still have some Memphis Slim, Walter Brown and even Goree Carter and Peppermint Harris, but many of them aren’t highly recognized today. The music is still recorded in Houston and on Peacock records and the styles are very close. Click here to listen to a sample by Goree Carter in 1949.