New Blues & Soul News – 5/5/2015

New Blues News – 5/5/2015

New Blues Adds:

Blackburn – Brothers In This World (Electro-Fi): Known as Toronto’s First Family of funk and soul, Blackburn features Duane (organ, vox), Robert (g, vox), Brooke (g, vox), and Cory (d) on a collection of 13 originals and BB King’s Why I Sing The Blues.  Add some bass (Andrew Stewart, Colin Barrett, Howard or Mark Ayee) and some occasional horns from Ted Peters (trombone), Elena Kapeleris or Steve Kennedy (tenor sax), Alexander Brown (trumpet), Geoff Bornes (alto) and you’re ready for some groovin’: sometimes bluesy, often N’awlins style, and sometimes just commanding that you’ll have a bounce in your step and the beat in your feet!  Blackburn is not as intensely funky as the Meters or various Neville aggregations, but there is no shame in that. Their breezy, swinging grooves are infectious in their own way.  Clearly, they would be a lot of fun in person.  Click here for an earlier performance by Blackburn. Note: this song is NOT on this disc.

Earl and Them – Live at George’s Majestic Lounge (Swingin’ Door): Those of you not raised in the South may wonder about the the group name.  It is not a matter of copping Van Morrison’s old band name, but an old expression for a familial group or a very tight group of friends as in, “Earl ’n’ them(s) having a party”, which, in fact, it appears they were back in May of 2013.  Earl is Earl Cate (of The Cate Bros), (leader, g, vox) and the rest of the group includes Terry Cagle (d, vox), John Davies (b), Jason Davis (g, vox), Dawn Cate (vox), Jimmy Thackery (g), and David Renko (sax) and this live recording certifies that they’re all friends and certainly had a good time. Like every party, some parts were better than others, but I wish I’d had been there. Great versions of Hurt on Me, a Steve Jordan/Kim Wilson song, the country soul Puttin’ Out Fires (written by Thackery and Gary Nicholson), Robert Cray’s I Shiver, and Chuck Berry’s Back To Memphis, even The Stones’ Beast of Burden, and a sly and atomic hot version of Ain’t Doing Too Bad. Proof that laid back and sassy can be fun – aw shucks, yeah!    Click here for a live performance of “Same Love” which is also performed on the disc, but this particular performance is not on the disc.

James Harman – Bonetime (Electro-Fi): James Harman scouring through the outtakes of yesteryear’s many fine moments from the many configurations of his band and the “King of the Bones” presides over each of the happenings, singing and laying down his ever-fine harp. He  indicates in the liner notes that these were “unfinished songs”.  That may mean they didn’t reach final production for release or he wasn’t quite satisfied with them in comparison with others that did get released, but it does NOT mean that you won’t hear some very fine blues. The band members shift from one song to the next, but the roster is terrific: Guitar – Junior Watson, Kirk Fletcher, Jeff Turmes (who also plays sax on a few), Nathan James, and David “Kid” Ramos; Keys – Gene Taylor, Sonny Leyland, Thomas Mahon; Bass – Buddy Clark, Rick Reed; Drums – Alan West, Stephen T Hodges. Top that off with the Harmanettes, featuring Candye Cane, Nena Anderson, and Whitney Shay and you’ve got quite shift in sound from one tune to the next.  The disc overall is a bit quirky, even laid back by the standard for much of today’s electric blues, but that seems to fit Mr. Harman and his material just fine.  With songs like “Coldfront Woman” (an emotional weather report), “Just A Game Goin’ On” (a serious social commentary), “Blue Stretchmark Tattoo” (you’ll just have to listen for yourself), “Yo’ Family (Don’t Like Me)” and “The Clock Is Tickin’”, something will fit your taste just fine!  It’s James Harman!  Check it out!  Click here for a live performance by James Harman. Note: this performance is not on this disc.

Ted Hefko & The Thousandaires – Distillations Of The Blues (Onager): Early on in his career, Hefko’s style was described as “a jazz infused, sometimes bluesy, sometimes folksy, mellow musical mixture”. (Andrew Lockwood, Allgigs ) The description is appropriate enough for this disc as well, though I would amplify the “mellow musical mixture” with a strong nod toward “pop” between the “mellow” and “music”.  Personal expectations and tastes can be very strong and misleading.  In my case, the strong uptown, raggy, and old time bluesy rendition of Hesitation Blues made a very positive and strong opening statement. The bluesy Sweat Upon My Brow was much more modern, but still in the same house and was followed by the jivey I Don’t Feel Welcome Here which is as groovy as a late night movie. So there is some good-timey, old-time music happening here.  About midway through the disc, however, the pop becomes more prevalent and the performances become less compelling. To my ears, the concept is interesting, but perhaps too loosely defined. Listen before taking the plunge. Click here for a live version of a song from this disc.

New Soul Add:

Amy Black – The Muscle Shoals Sessions (Self-produced): Singer/songwriter Black spent her early life in northern Alabama but learned about the great music produced in Muscle Shoals well after moving out of the area.  She cites Bonnie Raitt as her primary musical influence along with a love of the soulful sounds put down at Fame studios.  In fact, this current disc was partly recorded at Fame with the remainder being done in Nashville.  The songs include remakes of recordings from Fame, including You Left The Water Running, You Better Move On, and Uptight, Good Woman (with a gender shift = Man); three originals, and a variety of others running the gamut from Sam Cooke’s Bring It On Home to Dylan’s Gotta Serve Somebody, the Black Keys’s Tighten Up and the traditional blues You Gotta Move (my choice for Black’s most compelling performance).  Instrumental support is provided by Will Kimbough (g), Lex Price (b), Bryan Owings and Paul Griffith (d), Charles Rose (trombone), Steve Herrman (trumpet), Jim Hoke (sax) and keys by Spooner Oldham with John Deaderick on 3 songs and backup vocals from Ann and Regina of the McCrary Sisters (gospel).  So, all the pieces are in place for a very good time and it is a good time.  Acknowledging that I am most transported by passion and some edge in my soul, I can only give this disc a good to very good rating, though you may find it to be much more appealing than I. Black seems true to herself, a country/pop singer who is really dedicated to soul.  She performs with care and has a fine voice and one can easily hear the influence of Bonnie Raitt.  That’s all good.  Give it a try.  BTW, she’ll be performing at Ashland Coffee and Tea in July.  Click here for a live performance of a song on this disc.


Prof. Bebop


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