What a great time it was, the CD Challenge lasted 30 days with 31 reviews for your holiday shopping assistance.
We covered a broad range of musical style but all housed under our big blues tent (which was one of the finalist names for the web site before Blues411 won) and we are thrilled to have done it.
What we are doing is reposting these in 5 sections each covering a span of 7 days so that artists, fans, and promo peeps can easily find their reviews. It also helps cos it allows me to tag posts and they turn up on feeds etc., so it’s a win win for all involved.
Remember all of these reviews will be up on Amazon,com under the name Blues411! Check to see them now.
Mighty Sam McClain: Too Much Jesus (Not Enough Whiskey) (Mighty Music)
So how can we NOT like anything with a title like this? More on that later, on to the music.
Deep soul, red-clay soul blues is what we got here. Listen up as the funk of ‘I Wish You Well’ starts off this release. So funky it smells, and that smell is the real thing, Mr. McClain sings a farewell to a short-term lover, wishing them nothing but the best that life has to offer and keeping love in our hearts. Sweet background vocals by special guest Concetta makes this a deep soulful farewell that keeps the faith and bright tomorrows for both parties.
Stand up on your feet for ‘Can You Feel It?’ With a deep funky B-3 intro by long time partner in music Pat Herlehy, it takes us deep into the feeling of revelation and submission to the Lord. There is a joy here that certainly makes one curious that if we all held this belief and acted upon it – that it would be a better place for us all.
As if a guidebook to soul, funk and R&B Sam takes us down the various roads and side streets that make up that country that runs deep thru America and the World. ‘Rock My Soul’ is percussive and very loosely played with some fine guitar work by Mr. Herlehy and supplemented by counter pointed horn work that makes this one of the sweetest tracks on the release.
As for the title it stems from a realization that he might have bought too much Jesus and not enough whiskey to the party for some folks. For more than that I will advise you to buy this release and get soul-ified and learn the rest of the story. Yeah, those words might apply to many things as I think about it, so it can also act as a warning to us all.
Mr. McClain’s songs are of the heart and soul, blessed with a deep honey and grit voice that delivers no matter what he is singing. Get this bad boy for the holidays and spread some of ‘the word’
Stop by the church of Mighty Sam McClain at: www.mightysam.com
Tyler Mac: Already Home (self release)
Tyler Mac is an up and coming young blues artist. He has played with the likes of Biscuit Miller, Harper, Motor City Josh, Paxton Norris and is currently on his own (while keeping musical company with a ton of folks down in Florida, many of whom appear on this record).
Tone, yeh there’s that elusive thang called tone – T-Mac has it, knows how to use it and makes the most of it. Check out title track ‘Already Home’ that sweet little hammer-on beginning and the depth of the sound coming thru the speakers (big or small it works on all). Sweet harp work the the one and only Harper adds a zest and verve to the cut that keeps the funk in the trunk and gives Mr. Mac room to expand his leads.
With a nod to the father of electrified blues, Muddy Waters, Tyler gives us a charged version of ‘Champagne & Reefer’. I gotta believe him when he sings gimme me champagne when I’m thirsty, gimme reefer when I wanna get high” There is a impudent attitude on this track that makes the Stones version sound and feel like school girls in chorus (no offense to school girls or choruses but y’all know what I’m talking about).
‘Fuss N’ Fight‘ is a fun, funky trip of a song. Strutting to a funky bass line by Jassen Wilber, and percolating drums (and high-hats) by Justin Headley Mr. Mac speaks on the trials and tribulations of relationship building and enduring. Motor City Josh lends a funky butt guitar solo and then T-Mac busts out a rhyme/rap verse that sets the new standard for integration – right on young man, right on.
Mr. Mac’s vocals have grown in scope and polish, his guitar work has opened up the door to the next level and it is a pleasure to hear him on this release and how he has grown artistically.
Like your Blues with a beat, a funky strut, songs that doesn’t regurgitate the same ol’ same ol’ – this baby’s for you. Ya might want to get a copy for your nephew or niece too they gonna dig it like dirt!
Check out this experienced youngster who has taken the mantle of the Blues and moved it forward for us all: http://www.tylermac.com/
oh yeh there are some free downloads available this release is slated for January 2013, but had to share it with ya’s now.
The Bopcats: 25 Years of Rock ‘n Roll (EllerSoul Records)
While not expressly the Blues, I thought I would take a peek at the Bopcats who have been throwing down solid uncompromising rock n roll for twenty-five years.
Leaving no doubt about their roots and the way they define rock ‘n roll, ‘I Don’t Want To Be Alone’ sets us up for a roller coaster ride of vintage guitar sounds and straight ahead un-corporate rock ‘n roll.
Written by Lindy Fralin of Fralin Pickups, he is joined by his brother Gary on keyboards and we have the pace car track for this release.
Showing a tip of the hat to New Orleans roots of rock & roll, they cover Dave Bartholomew’s ‘Who Drank My Beer’. A great tune, that tells the story of the lowest of pond scum – someone who would drink your beer while you was in the rear. Textured with a country swing beat,Mr. Fralin convincingly sings the lead vocals as a more inquisitive person than angry, and his brother John adds a superb layer of 88’s that fill out the sound of this track.
This release has seventeen tracks on it, eleven of them are originals. The selection of covers are apropos to the nature of the release and not only fit but reinforce it’s overall style and feel, of it
Johnny Cash’s ‘Get Rhythm’ is a great tear up rocker, we tend to associate the late Mr. Cash with a single style of music but in reality he was so much more.
Featured also are covers of Jagger/Richards ‘Ventilator Blues’ done up in a raw and dirty blues kinda way that makes you take notice of its desperate theme. Yet on the fun and innocent side we have Dave Alvin’s classic anthem ‘Marie Marie’. Recalling past times that will never come again the boys kick it up a notch as they slash their way thru the cornfields and pastures that are most likely now owned by corporate America and we are not allowed to go there.
A fun release, recalling a simpler time, but containing all the raw energy that was rock & roll, this is a super release for folks who like their rock unaffected by modernity and with just enough vibrato to make you shake your tail feather.
Visit these cool cats at: http://www.ellersoulrecords.com/
The 24th Street Wailers: Unshakeable (Independent)
Big sound, dynamic and raw edged sincere vocals, that’s what this band of youngin’s bring to our ears and musical tent. Led by drummer, vocalist, Lindsay Beaver and bassist Michael Archer they kick it off with ‘Home cookin”. A sassy strut with horns and wonderful double entrendre lyrics by Ms. Beaver as she sits on the shuffle beat and the horns accentuate the heat of the special that’s cookin’ up in the kitchen. This is one hot ‘n nasty track. PHEW
The title track ‘Unshakeable’ is a biographical song that flatly states the belief that Ms. Beaver is just that. Destined to be what they are from the start, being born three months early and will always put up a fight and go further to gain more. Again we are treated to greasy horns (courtesy of Jonathan Wong on sax) and bottom feeding bass lines.
Ms. Emily Burgess, guitar player and other songwriter contributes four of the eleven tracks here. She sparkles with Love Triangle”. A sordid but tasty instrumental that features Marc Doucet and Carter Chaplin completing this triangle with Ms. Burgess. Hot licks and more twists than a Saturday night dance party makes this track an example of how damn good instrumentals can be, and we need more of them.
‘Jack, Jim, Johnny and Me’ is a whirlwind of swing blues that starts in high gear and goes forward from there. The tale of her three best friends of the night (all of the liquid variety) if you ain’t dancing (even in your chair) when this hits the air then ‘Jack you’re dead’.
With talent like this, the future of the Blues is in good hands. Support keeping the Blues alive and thriving by getting this release for yourself and one or two friends who may not know about these kool kittens and hip-kats, they will thank you over and over for turning them on to the 24th Street Wailers.
Check ’em out at: http://the24thstreetwailers.com/
Sybil Gage: NOLA Calling (self release)
Right smack dab in the middle of the pocket that is New Orleans, where Blues, Jazz and Boogie Woogie meet we meet Ms. Sybil Gage.
The opening strains of ‘Champagne Daddy’ set the tone, with a good time boogie woogie that is a rousing start to a fine
collection of songs.
Born and raised in New Orleans, and she reflects upon Katrina with her touching rhythmic ‘Catch New Orleans’. Interesting verses and structure set this track apart, especially are she recounts the streets and areas that disappeared “can’t see Carrolton -where is Ursuline? Catch New Orleans its about to fall”. Well done and said – we cannot let ourselves forget this tragedy that still lingers now.
The title track starts with a slow piano set up when Ms. Gage steps in she sings ”pour me a glass of New Orleans, I’m gonna drink it up” which is really what we all do when we visit there. She paints a wonderful picture of NOLA and how it calls not only her but all of us who have been there to spend time within her womb – we become all her children.
‘Hey Bro’” speaks of the desolation and loneliness that accompanies artists and human’s as things change, situations no longer exist and people turn their backs on you. A wonderful scat segment to close out the track shows the versatility of Ms. Gage.
Beginning with a sweet acoustic guitar playing a jaunty chord progression ‘Ice Cold Blues’ takes us down in the alley. With the super line “…my man told me I was everything he could want, but I soon found out that I was everything he could ever use”. Those are strong words and she lays it out for all to see as she tells a tale of broken hearts and midnight tattoos. That sweet guitar works it way with a simple yet forceful solo that captures the melancholy aura surrounding the song.
Perfectly capturing the nuances and soft yet harsh dichotomy that is New Orleans Ms. Gage takes folks back for a visit and those who have never been can be introduced by one the cities very own.
Visit Ms. Gage to learn more about her and her music: http://sybilsings.com/
gonna have to wait till tomorrow . . . .
Straight up honest, I have been an Anders Osborne fan from way back to the days of “Ash Wednesday Blues” and “Living Room”, simply because he never disappoints me. Lyrically this might be his very best of work to date, and that says a lot. I might add that his writing and music is a perfect argument for allowing artists to do their own thing win or lose, popular or not it will speak to those whom it speaks to. Originality over pulp.
‘Bring Me A Friend’ starts us off in a heavy metal, head-banging mood. Pleading yet demanding that someone send me a friend we feel the anguish and pain that resides in the plea. Backed by a wonder wall of sound provided by Eric Bolivar on drums and Carl Dufrense on bass it’s as heavy as any man can bear.
What might be the most autobiographical track from Mr. Osborne, ‘Mind Of A Junkie’ sets it out for all to see and hear. A thoughtfully complete and factual depiction of the thoughts inside the mind of a junkie, Mr. Osborne is direct, poignant, deserving of our empathy and lyrically wonderful and complex.
Written around a sweet riff Mr. Osborne takes the guitar on a spacey tour of the constant battle of a King H addled mind, and provides us with an insight not available unless you have been, or are really close to someone who is or has been there. Ah, but there is no such thing as a former now is there…
Mr. Osborne’s ability to be at ease with himself and any stylistic approach to music is well documented on this release. After the jaunty ‘Mind of A Junkie’, we are treated to the distorted, hard edged ‘Black Tar’. Whatever it is he is singing and playing about – a woman’s love, or a more insidious black tar- it resonates with quiet desperation and an eternal yearning that never ends but is always wished away.
The title track ‘Black Eyed Galaxy’ is a softer yet equally addicting song as any of them on this release. Lyrics that speak of the endless depth of the galaxy whether it e in his lover’s eyes or in nature itself, Mr. Osborne sets us up for a spacey trip upon his wah-wah pedal that he channels us thru space and time and shows that it can be used melodically and not just a war toy. Bravo!
There is so much here to listen to, to comprehend, to be made aware of that this release is a MUST for everyone who reads these words. Mr. Osborne is a disarmingly clever songwriter who can make the darkest situations bright and cheerful – even if it is only an illusion in the the Black Eyed Galaxy.
Do check him out: http://andersosborne.com/
oh yeh, if ya get a chance to see him live do it!
Teresa James And The Rhythm Tramps:
Come On Home (Jesi-Lu Records)
I feel in love wot Teresa James’ music when I was first getting deep into the music of today’s blues artists. ‘In The Pink‘ was such a wonderful tune that I was smitten and forever a fan.
Well her new release and it’s stunning title track ‘Come On Home’ leaves no room for a let down. This track is so funky that it reeks. Check it out when she sings”…C’mon and bring yo’ sorry ass back, I ain’t done with you” funk, spunk and enough attitude to back it up.
It don’t stop there, ‘If I Can’t have You’ is a cover from the Etta James catalog, where she teams with ever-soulful Mike Finnigan (Phantom Blues Band and any band that needs some soul and killer B-3). Torching duet that will earn it’s place among some of the great blues duets around.
Being a sucker for minor key blues ‘Still Got The Message’ has a Memphis strut to it that with a chant-like hook that seems to come from way down in the alley. Ms. James can perform vocal maneuvers that leave me broke and beaten and wanting more, more more.
Ms. James excels at almost any style of vocal presentation, but particularly stands out when she struts her powerful, slightly raspy voice in thumping rhythmic songs. ‘Voodoo Doll’ is a perfect example of how she can weave soft and hard, innocent but experienced beyond belief displays. This track is right out of the bayou, and y’all better have sprinkled some voodoo dust around your bed before listening to it.
‘Carry That Burden’ treats us to a slower, poignant vocal by Ms. James. The sound of Ms. James on piano combined with dual guitars and final chorus would make a wonderful gospel song for her live performances.
Featuring a super cast of guest musicians including Jon Cleary, Tony Braunagel, and the aforementioned Mr. Finnigan supplemented by some fine horn players and production values makes this a break out release for her. Jump on this band-wagon now while there is room, give it to your friends who could use a refresher course on how to countrify the blues and bluesify country, with a Texas to California twist.
Check out her web site: http://www.teresajames.com/
Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
Where Blues Thrives
Photos courtesy of Artists