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Norman John Darwen's Blog (51)

ANTRY – Devil Don’t Care (Tres Lobas)


Listening to the tough, blues-rocking gospel of ‘Devil Don’t Care’, it is not difficult to forget the overly sentimental side that sometimes surfaces in both country and gospel – but Steve Antry, a member of Tulsa, Oklahoma blues-rockers Joyride, remembers it and it crop up on several tracks on this album. ‘How Far Down’ has a dramatic Americana approach, with searing gospel ad libs from guest vocalist Shaun Murphy and southern rock…


Added by Norman John Darwen on August 2, 2017 at 18:20 — No Comments

ANDREW CHAPMAN A.K.A. JOJO: Well, It’s About Time! (UpIsland Records)


That album title is pretty appropriate – let’s have a little history… Vocalist Andrew Chapman first met Tony Braunagel – now a renowned drummer and producer on the modern blues scene – back in Houston in the late 60s. Andrew came to manage Braunagel’s band, Buttermilk Bottom, before forming a band called The Bloontz All Stars with bass player Terry Wilson – Braunagel joined them later, and they made an album around 1972 and ‘73 before touring with Johnny…


Added by Norman John Darwen on July 27, 2017 at 15:33 — No Comments

SCOTTIE MILLER BAND - Stay Above Water (independent release)

Stay Above Water - Scottie Miller Band

Stylistically this set ranges from the acoustic country of 'Guardian Angel' at one extreme to the progressive rock tinges of 'Come Along'. The bulk of the material though falls into a blues, or at least a blues-tinged, bag. The opening 'Burned All My Bridges' is a fine blues-rocking shuffle with just the merest hint of Howling Wolf in the introduction and rhythm, 'Keep This Good Thing Going' features…


Added by Norman John Darwen on July 24, 2017 at 11:44 — No Comments

MICHAEL PACKER – “I Am The Blues – My Story Vol. 3” (Iris Music Group IMG-986-3)

Michael Packer - I Am The Blues My Story, Vol. 3 (2017) 320 kbps

Born in 1950, Michael Packer died of liver cancer on 6th May 2017, shortly after having completed this set as the final part of his musical legacy. He recorded as a member of country/ folk/ rock band Papa Nebo on Atlantic, then with Free beer for Buddah and RCA, then as a well-respected bluesman in the New York area, working frequently with the late Delta blues legend David “Honeyboy” Edwards.

This is a musically varied set, though strongly rooted in the…


Added by Norman John Darwen on July 1, 2017 at 20:14 — No Comments

KAREN LOVELY – Fish Outta Water (Independent)

Karen Lovely - Fish Outta Water (2017) 320 kbps

Massachusetts- born Karen first came to wider attention in 2010 when this versatile singer, now based in the Pacific north-west came second in the International Blues Challenge. This is her fourth album, produced by Eric Corne, who also wrote or co-wrote nine of the album’s dozen tracks. It does come across most definitely as Karen’s album though, in case you were wondering – her strong, soulful voice tackles the many blues tracks,…


Added by Norman John Darwen on June 26, 2017 at 13:25 — No Comments

WILLA AND COMPANY – Better Days (Building Records)

Willa | Better Days

I had never heard of Hudson Valley, New York-based singer Willa Vincitore (previously Willa McCarthy) before but right from the opening notes of the romping up tempo blues ‘Love Looks Good On Me’, with its excellent vocal, gospel styled chorus, blaring horns, sharp guitar and rollicking rhythm section, I knew I would want to hear more. Nor did this album disappoint: ‘Stop Drop And Roll’ brings the funk forward, ‘Hooked On You’ harks back to classic soul, and ‘Hey…


Added by Norman John Darwen on June 20, 2017 at 17:25 — No Comments

MICHELE D’AMOUR AND THE LOVE DEALERS: Lost Nights At The Leopard Lounge (Independent)


Led by the Seattle-based singer/ songwriter Michele D’Amour, this outfit has here a very fine blues set, their third album. Right from the excellent opener, the up tempo shuffle of ‘No Good’, the songs are all originals, intelligent and interesting, well sung by Michele whose voice is flexible and convincing, ranging from the strong slow blues of ‘Trouble’ to the ever-so slightly pop tinged ‘When The Blues Come Calling’. The Love Dealers themselves are a…


Added by Norman John Darwen on June 6, 2017 at 11:33 — No Comments

MARK CAMERON BAND – Live At Blues On The Chippewa (Cop Records LPM-1678)


Minneapolis based singer, guitarist, songwriter and bandleader Mark Cameron started out playing folk-rock in the 70s, but for many years he has focussed on the blues. He has been building a solid reputation, particularly over the last couple of years. The Mark Cameron Band is a five piece, with the leader’s strong and flexible vocals backed by the expected line-up of guitar, harmonica, bass and drums (Cameron, Bill Keyes, Scott Lundberg and Dan Schroeder…


Added by Norman John Darwen on May 30, 2017 at 13:00 — No Comments

BOBBY MESSANO – Bad Movie (Prince Frog Record Company BM1-41517)

Bad Movie_CoverArt


Guitarist, singer and bandleader Bobby Messano has many years experience of working with rock artists like Steve Winwood and country artists like Jimmy Wayne and Rodney Atkins. Yet in his own right he is known as a contemporary blues artist, and certainly the first few tracks here point to him as an accomplished blues-rocker, with an influence from the British blues-boomers of the late 60s, and Jimi Hendrix (try ‘Why Water A Dead Rose’ for the latter). The vast…


Added by Norman John Darwen on May 24, 2017 at 12:41 — No Comments

DAVIS COEN – These Things Shall Pass (Soundview SP 1008)

These Things Shall Pass


Here’s a varied CD of inspirational sacred music, covering a wide range of styles from traditional country spirituals ‘What A Friend We Have In Jesus’ and ‘Old Rugged Cross’ and the pure country cover of the title track (previously covered by Johnny Cash and Hank Snow) to the Memphis soul-inflections of former Jackson Southernaire Willie Banks & The Messengers’  ‘Working For Jesus’ and the vintage rhythm and blues sound of 'Lord, Let Me Do Right' via…


Added by Norman John Darwen on May 9, 2017 at 13:01 — No Comments

JIM ROBERTS AND THE RESONANTS – Beneath The Blood Moon (KKP Records)

Right from the opening notes of the title track, there is no doubt that this is going to be a fine Southern rock styled set, with plenty of blues influence, and Jim’s own droning cigar box guitar establishing a low-down dirty mood. Then Mike Finnigan’s Hammond organ comes in and everything moves up another notch. Though Jim is based in Los Angeles, he has been around since the 1970s and this outfit was previously known as The Jack Roberts Harvey Band.. He has a…


Added by Norman John Darwen on May 5, 2017 at 15:34 — No Comments

LIGHTHOUSE SWEDEN – Silence In The City (Moody Maraccas MOM007)




This Swedish five-piece, under the leadership of the husband and wife team of Mats and Linda Brandemark (with the latter taking – just - the majority of the lead vocals), offer an excellent selection of blues - try ‘Everybody’s Been A Fool’ or for a more…


Added by Norman John Darwen on April 24, 2017 at 13:00 — No Comments

JON ZEEMAN - Blue Room (Membrane Records)

Inline image 1
South Florida based singer and guitarist Jon Zeeman has here eight fine original compositions and covers of Jimi Hendrix's 'Still Rainin' Still Dreamin', and Robert Johnson's (via The Rolling Stones, I strongly suspect) 'Love In Vain'. Blue Room is a pleasingly straight-forward blues set, with the occasional rock tinges always kept in check and never over-done (the only non-blues based track is the instrumental title track, running to just under a minute). The…

Added by Norman John Darwen on April 20, 2017 at 11:04 — No Comments

DELTA MOON – Cabbagetown (Jumping Jack 12017)

This is the eighth studio album from this four-piece band out of Atlanta, Georgia, with nine original compositions and a throbbing cover of Mississippi Delta bluesman Son House’s classic ‘Death Letter’, more than a little different from other versions you may have heard. The band is more of a roots-rock outfit than a straight blues band, with an upbeat approach and an ability to consistently hit a seemingly effortless groove married to a memorable melody and…


Added by Norman John Darwen on April 4, 2017 at 13:02 — No Comments

JIM GUSTIN & TRUTH JONES – Memphis (own release)


 This is the second album from gruff-voiced singer/ songwriter/ guitarist and bandleader Jim and his singing partner Jeri “Truth Jones” Goldenhar. Jim is from Santa Clarita, California – listen to the lyrics of the title track – and has been playing around the Los Angeles area for over 30 years. The two tend to alternate lead vocals, though the vintage soul styled closer is a true duet. Both Jim and Jeri are soulful singers, supporting each other well and tackling…


Added by Norman John Darwen on March 30, 2017 at 9:07 — No Comments

PROFESSOR LOUIE AND THE CROWMATIX - Crowin' The Blues (Woodstock WR 61)

Crowin' the Blues

"Well, this gives the lie to the statement that the best blues is laid down spontaneously, often in the last few minutes of a studio session as the producer's trying to get the musicians to pack up". That was my first thought listening to this CD "blind" - this is carefully crafted music, thoughtful blues with meticulous arrangements, such as Professor's Louie's excellent piano playing on his version of Tommy Tucker's classic 'High Heel Sneakers', Miss Marie's…

Added by Norman John Darwen on March 22, 2017 at 21:20 — No Comments

DAVID M'ORE - Passion, Soul & Fire (Own label)

Born in Argentina but based in California since 1990 - initially in Los Angeles where he played with some of the local blues musicians but nowadays he calls San Francisco home - David M'ore is an unabashed blues-rocker, with a gruff voice in the vein of Howlin' Wolf or Captain Beefheart (though a little less flexible, if truth be told - an occasional vocal duet might go down well), and a guitar style that draws in about equal amounts from Johnny Winter, Jimi…

Added by Norman John Darwen on March 18, 2017 at 10:08 — No Comments

KATHY & THE KILOWATTS – Let’s Do This Thing (Lectro Fine 022017)


This is a very fine, almost straight blues set from singer Kathy Murray, aided and abetted by some wonderful guitar playing by her husband Bill “Monster” Jones, a top-notch rhythm section and the occasional use of horns. As for those superlatives – did I mention that these guys are veterans of the Austin, Texas, blues scene? The band’s strapline is “real deal Texas roots and blues”. Initially though, I was rather less keen. On first listening, I got to…


Added by Norman John Darwen on March 14, 2017 at 13:56 — No Comments

HURRICANE RUTH – Ain’t Ready For The Grave (Own label)


Track Two, ‘Hard Rockin’ Woman’ is an aptly titled powerhouse performance, a statement of intent with Illinois-born Ruth approaching the power of Tina Turner in her prime and maybe a tinge or two of Janis Joplin. Mind you, the opening ‘Barrelhouse Joe’s’ brought Koko Taylor to mind, so yes, we can be pretty sure that Ruth can roar out the blues with the best of them. Things become a little quieter for ‘Far From The Cradle’, with electric slide guitar the main…


Added by Norman John Darwen on March 10, 2017 at 9:51 — No Comments

PATTY REESE – Let In The Sun (Azalea City ACCD 1602)

Let In The Sun


Blues, roots-rock and Americana is what singer Patty offers on her fourth album, opening with the tough blues of ‘Is It Too Late For Me?”, with Patty’s passionate vocal performance driven along by Jonathan Sloane’s wicked electric slide guitar playing and a gritty band. ‘Your Love’ continues in the straight blues vein, a fine Texas shuffle with Patty’s voice in a more sensual mood, before veering off into the hard funk of ‘Soul Satisfier’ and the…


Added by Norman John Darwen on February 24, 2017 at 14:27 — No Comments


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Year 2016

Levi Parham
90 pts.
These American Blues
Music Road Records
Martha Fields
86 pts.
Southern White Lies
Carter Sampson
75 pts.
Wilder Side
Anna Elizabeth Laube
65 pts.
Ahh...Pockets! Records
Michael McDermott
60 pts.
Willow Springs
Pauper Sky Records
Shovels & Rope
54 pts.
Little Seeds
New West
Robert Ellis
53 pts.
Robert Ellis
New West Records
Sturgill Simpson
52 pts.
A Sailor’s Guide to Earth
Atlantic Records
Douglas Greer
50 pts.
Baja Louisiana
Zilker Park Records
Lucinda Williams
46 pts.
The Ghosts Of Highway 20
Highway 20 Records
Buddy Miller & Friends
44 pts.
Cayamo Sessions at Sea
New West Records
Wink Burcham
43 pts.
Cleveland Summer Nights
Continental Song City
Eric Brace & Peter Cooper
42 pts.
C&O Canal
Red Beet Records
Brent Cobb
41 pts.
Shine On A Rainy Day
Elektra Records
Daniel Romano
41 pts.
New West
Leonard Cohen
41 pts.
You Want it Darker
Sony Music
Christian Kjellvander
40 pts.
A Village: Natural Light
Tapete Records
Drive-By Truckers
39 pts.
American Band
ATO Records
Birds of Chicago
38 pts.
Real Midnight
Five Head Entertainment
John Prine
37 pts.
For Better, or Worse
Oh Boy Records
The Cactus Blossoms
36 pts.
You’re Dreaming
Red House Records
Richmond Fontaine
35 pts.
You Can’t Go Back
Décor Records
Gillian Welch
34 pts.
Boots No.1: The Official Revival Bootleg
Acony Records
Sarah Jarosz
33 pts.
Sugar Hill
Joe Purdy
32 pts.
Who Will Be Next?
Mudtown Crier Records
The Devil Makes Three
32 pts.
Redemption & Ruin
New West

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