New Blues & Soul News – 4/30/2019
John Clifton – In The Middle Of Nowhere (Rip Cat): Harmonica player John Clifton offers his third release as a leader. He is a straight up Chicago style player who blows hard and full, but also has variety tones that provide variety and style. He is a straight ahead singer and even plays dobro on one track. Back-up players include Scott Abeyta (guitar), Jack Finney (bass), Edward Fritz (drums and percussion) and Bartok Szopinski (piano, organ) with guest appearances by Roger Perry on guitar the last song and John Shafer on tambourine on two songs. It’s not flashy, but it is rock solid, straight ahead blues that can light up the house. Click here for an introduction to this disc.
Connie Hawkins & The Blues Wreckers – Crying In The Rain (Little Red): Connie Hawkins and band have been playing the blues in Kansas City for 15 years. In addition to Connie’s vocals, the group features Steve Hawkins (guitar, composer), Chuck Payne (keys), Jeff Ingram (sax), Marc Laney (drums) and Dave Kelley (bass) with additional help by Lee Watkins (trumpet, trombone) and Zeus Negron (percussion). Their sound is a solid roadhouse blues style. The highlight of this band is truly the tight and straight-ahead instrumental playing. Click here and scroll down to listen to three songs on this disc.
King Bee & The Stingers – Meet Me In Memphis (Self-produced): This appears to be King Bee & the Stingers’ second release. They draw from cherry picking the oldies drawer, bringing out a solid version of Wolf’s “Smokestack Lightnin’” and singer Sarah Menefee co-composed “Tatooed Love Girl” with Tim Remmy, who added four other songs. The remainder of the band members are Mark Menefee (harmonica, vocals), DK Buchanon (guitar), Buddy Mitchell (drums) and Ken Meadows (bass) with guests Tom Clark (horns), Slats Klug (B3), Mona Skirvin (harmony vocals) and Marv Druin adding a guitar solo on the title song. At their best, this is a solid band who knows what the rockin’ blues are about and can tease and please. Click here and scroll down to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
John Primer – The Soul Of A Blues Man (Blues House): He may not be a household name, but John Primer served as the bandleader and lead guitarist for Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, and Magic Slim & The Teardrops, not to mention his his many years as a leader on his own (15+ releases). This disc was recorded live in the studio and Primer has decided to stretch beyond the Chicago blues on a number of songs he has always enjoyed, including “Slip Away”, “Nothing Takes The Place Of You”, “Rainy Night In Georgia” and “Members Only” as well as great offerings like “Get Your Money Where You Spend Your Time” and “Still Called The Blues”. His band includes Steve Bell (harmonica), Chuck A Luck (bass), Lenny Media (drums), Ronnie Hicks (keys), Charlie Kimble (sax) and special guest guitarist Billy Flynn. Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Duke Robillard Band – Ear Worms (Stony Plain): Guitarist Duke Robillard has gathered a crew of old and new players to help him reminisce on songs that he enjoyed hearing in the late 50s and early 60s. The band includes Robillard (guitar, vocal), Bruce Bears (piano, Hammond organ, electric piano, vocal), Brad Hallen (bass) and Mark Teixeira (drums, percussion, vocal). Guests include vocalists Dave Howard, Julie Grant, Sunny Crownover, Chris Cote, Mark Cutler (guitar), Klem Klimek (tenor sax) and other non-singing players, including Baxter Hall (guitar), Marnie Hall (violin), Doug James (bari sax), Jeff “Doc” Chanon (trumpet) and Marty Ballou (bass). The songs themselves vary from Gerry Goffin and Carole King’s “On This Side Of Goodbye” , Link Wray and Milton Grant’s “Rawhide” and Chuck Berry’s “Dear Dad” to Allen Toussaint’s “Yes We Can” and the Neville’s “Yellow Moon” and also include an early Robillard composition called “Don’t Bother Trying To Steal Her Love”. Clearly, it’s nostalgia time for the Duke and that’s what to expect. Click here to listen to the song that opens the disc.
Arlen Roth – Tele Masters (Aquinnah): Arlen Roth has been active in the music world since he was a teenager, whether playing guitar, writing instruction manuals or recording. This is his sixteenth release and with it he has accomplished one of his dreams – to record with as many of those guitarists who play telecasters. First of all, let’s acknowledge some of the greats with whom he has performed: Joe Pass, George Benson, Lee Roy Parnell, Emily Remler, Mick Taylor, Buddy Guy, Danny Gatton, James Burton, Joe Morello, Harvey Mandel, Debbie Davies, Brian Setzer, Tal Farlow, Charlie Byrd, Larry Coryell, Cornell Dupree, J. Geils, Jimmy Thackery, Ronnie Earl, Duke Robillard, Warren Haynes, David Grissom, Lonnie Mack, Otis Rush, Mick Taylor, Joe Bonamassa, Jimmy Thackery, Nils Lofgren,and Robin Trower, among others. Several of them play on this disc which also includes Steve Wariner, Cindy Cashdollar, Jack Pearson, Steve Cropper, Brad Paisley, Albert Lee, Vince Gill and Bill Kirchen. There are some vocals, but the focus is on the guitars. Tom Hambridge (drums) and Tommy MacDonald (bass) are the rhythm section. Good variety and performances! Click here for an introduction to project by Arlen Roth and no need to attend to the funding bit because the disc has been released.
Meg Williams – Take Me As I Am: The Muscle Shoals Sessions (NOLA Blue): Singer/songwriter/guitarist Meg Williams offer her first release, recorded at FAME studios. She has a COUNTRY soul style which reflects her orientation.Williams is accompanied by Dan Wecht (guitar, slide guitar), Bob Wray (bass), Clayton Ivey (organ), Justin Holder (drums) and Sara Rogers (backing vocals) with guests Will McFarlane (guitar on 3 songs) and Brad Kuhn (organ on 1). The songs are mostly rather mellow and quite accessible. Click here and scroll down to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Big Daddy Wilson – Deep In My Soul (Ruf): Big Daddy Wilson was born and grew up in Edenton, NC. “… the bluesman still remembers his earliest years as a “real country boy”, whose family urged him to sing in church to avoid the temptations of drugs and gangs. But the epiphany came in 1979, when he enlisted in the US Army, travelled to Germany and discovered the power of live blues in the local clubs. “It was here,” he says, “that I found part of me that was missing for so long in my life.” As a rising artist, Wilson was quickly embraced on the European circuit for his unforgettable smoked-honey voice, alongside original songwriting that took in blues, funk, soul and reggae on albums like Love Is The Key (2009) Thumb A Ride (2011), I’m Your Man (2013), Time (2015) and 2017’s Neck Bone Stew….” (https://rufrecords-shop.de/Big-Daddy-Wilson-Deep-In-My-Soul) This is his first release in the US. The songs were recorded at Fame Studios and they offer a mix of old soul with gospel with lyrics that work just fine with those of the old power that framed the sixties and early seventies. Back-up is provided by Laura Chavez (guitar), Dave Smith (bass), Steve Potts(drums), Will McFarlane (guitar, backing vocal), Mark Narmore (keys), Brad Guin (sax), Ken Waters (trumpet), Rick Steff (organ) and backing vocals by Mitch Mann, Ken Waters, Trinecia Butler and Kimberlie Helton. A certified “Professor Bebop Wax Devoid Of Cracks”! Click here to check out the opening song.
Mitch Woods – A Tip Of The Hat To Fats (Blind Pig): Recorded live at the 2018 New Orleans Jazzfest, Mitch Woods and friends sounded as if they had been there all their lives! Woods acknowledged the piano sanctity of place and practically melted the ivories! in fact, the Rocket 88’s flat “dominoed” the Blues tent! The group includes Amadee Castenell and Brian “Breeze” Cayolle (tenor saxes), Roger Lewis (bari sax), Cornell Williams (bass), John Fohl (guitar) and Terence Higgins (drums). The set includes lots of tributes, such as “Blue Monday”, “Jambalaya”, “Walking To New Orleans”, “Rocket 88” and even two of Mitch’s originals. Solid gone! Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc.
Kelly Finnegan – The Tales People Tell (Colemine): “The birth of the soul music revival—galvanized by Lee Fields and the late Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley since the early 2000s—offered a potent dose of authenticity to an industry watered down by fabricated pop stars.” (https://www.kellyfinnigan.com/pages/about) This is Kelly Finnegan’s first release and not only has he developed his own hybrid blend of Motown mixed with earlier styles of r&b, but he shows a connection with today. The production is wonderful, the lyrics are right there and the vocals solid. This is a certified “Professor Bebop Wax Devoid of Cracks”! Click here to check out a song from this disc.