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Norman John Darwen's Blog (59)

BENNY TURNER – My Brother’s Blues (Nola Blue NBL004)



It is no exaggeration to state that Freddie King was one of the greatest blues performers ever, but do we really need a tribute album? Well, Benny Turner is Freddie’s younger brother and played bass with the big man in the 50s, 60s and 70s (though not continuously). He was also a recording artist in his own right, beginning in the early 60s. So this is no simple cash-in, though you would gather that…

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Added by Norman John Darwen on October 9, 2017 at 14:00 — No Comments

CHICKENBONE SLIM – The Big Beat (Lo-Fi Mo

Chickenbone Slim: The Big Beat

Chickenbone Slim is the stage name of Larry Tevez, a veteran of various blues and rockabilly bands out of San Diego, California. Those influences are pretty obvious on this set. The first two tracks have a gritty, rootsy blues feel, then ‘Hemi Dodge’ is rocking country and ‘Vodka And Vicodin’ - I looked up the latter, mixing it in this way is recommended – is folky with lyrics that tend to focus on the less salubrious side of life, a trend that continues throughout…

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Added by Norman John Darwen on October 9, 2017 at 11:57 — No Comments

WEBSTER AVE - "Daylight" (Independent)

Named after one the Bronx's longest thoroughfares, and so reflecting this band's geographical roots, Webster Ave comprises David Webster on guitars and vocals, bassist Tony Mercadante, and drummer Andrew Caturano; this trio's collective experience includes recording with Bob Dylan, Chip Taylor and Carrie Rodriguez, and Kiss founder member Ace Frehley. That in itself covers a pretty wide base, but throw in the fact all three have worked the blues circuit with…
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Added by Norman John Darwen on October 5, 2017 at 11:10 — No Comments

STEVE HOWELL & JASON WEINHEIMER - A Hundred Years From Today (Own Label)

 

When acoustic blues was first being picked up by white blues enthusiasts, it was the guitar virtuosity that was the focus; in the last few decades though, there has been a sharp increase in performers who can both play and sing convincingly. Marshall, Texas born Steve Howell is one of these. He was inspired to start moving beyond simple guitar strumming by seeing Mississippi John Hurt in 1965 (Steve was thirteen at the…

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Added by Norman John Darwen on October 5, 2017 at 11:06 — No Comments

JOHNNY OSKAM - In My Shadow (Independent)

Johnny Oskam | In My Shadow

This is the second album from young Southern Californian singer/ guitarist/bandleader Johnny, following on from 2014's Soul Search. Johnny likes to play hard and heavy, with elements of Led Zeppelin (try the opening track), Albert King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Philip Sayce, and Jimi Hendrix, though there are also long quieter interludes, and his songs are written as such rather than mere excuses for extended guitar shredding. He is happy…
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Added by Norman John Darwen on October 5, 2017 at 10:56 — No Comments

JACK TEMPCHIN - PEACEFUL EASY FEELING: THE SONGS OF JACK TEMPCHIN (Blue Elan BER1049)

One of my rock memories is of seeing The Eagles as a support group (in Liverpool, opening for Neil Young in the mid-70s). Another occurred some years later, when I lived in a worker's hostel in France and was woken up at around 6am every morning for around three months to the strains of the album Hotel California coming through the wall from the room next door - so you might understand why listening to this set was like meeting a long-lost friend…
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Added by Norman John Darwen on September 6, 2017 at 22:00 — No Comments

Trevor Sewell - “Nashville Calling: An Americana Adventure” (Independent Release)

Trevor Sewell | Calling Nashville

Some of this material is a long way from the blues with which Trevor is most usually associated, but then, Trevor himself was a long way from home when he recorded this album. Trevor is a British singer, guitarist and songwriter, born in Sunderland and once known as Max Atom during his time with 80s new wavers The Revillos, but he has been enjoying a lot of success across the pond recently, and  this album was, of course, laid down in Nashville, Tennessee.…

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Added by Norman John Darwen on August 29, 2017 at 23:09 — No Comments

THE JON SPEAR BAND – Hot Sauce (Independent)

This Virginia quartet certainly surprised me with the opening track ‘Bottom Of The Bottle’, which brought to mind Free, with a few hints of Led Zeppelin thrown in for good measure! ‘Geographical Cure’ is a rock band’s treatment of calypso, a nicely retro poppy number, before ‘It Was A Really Great Gig’, a humorous tale set to a rockabilly-blues arrangement, and the almost five minutes long title track is a clever slow- to mid-tempo blues that gives…

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Added by Norman John Darwen on August 23, 2017 at 14:00 — No Comments

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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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,…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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

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Year 2016

1
Levi Parham
90 pts.
These American Blues
Music Road Records
GC,JBO,TK
2
Martha Fields
86 pts.
Southern White Lies
Independent
BP,BH,FB,JAB,RW,SP
3
Carter Sampson
75 pts.
Wilder Side
Independent/CRS
AN,CRS,JB
4
Anna Elizabeth Laube
65 pts.
Tree
Ahh...Pockets! Records
DH,NC
5
Michael McDermott
60 pts.
Willow Springs
Pauper Sky Records
BK,MM
6
Shovels & Rope
54 pts.
Little Seeds
New West
 
7
Robert Ellis
53 pts.
Robert Ellis
New West Records
DHO
8
Sturgill Simpson
52 pts.
A Sailor’s Guide to Earth
Atlantic Records
JJ,JF
9
Douglas Greer
50 pts.
Baja Louisiana
Zilker Park Records
HDB,ML
10
Lucinda Williams
46 pts.
The Ghosts Of Highway 20
Highway 20 Records
EM
11
Buddy Miller & Friends
44 pts.
Cayamo Sessions at Sea
New West Records
 
12
Wink Burcham
43 pts.
Cleveland Summer Nights
Continental Song City
 
13
Eric Brace & Peter Cooper
42 pts.
C&O Canal
Red Beet Records
BR
14
Brent Cobb
41 pts.
Shine On A Rainy Day
Elektra Records
HH
 
Daniel Romano
41 pts.
Mosey
New West
CVL
 
Leonard Cohen
41 pts.
You Want it Darker
Sony Music
HO
17
Christian Kjellvander
40 pts.
A Village: Natural Light
Tapete Records
BM
18
Drive-By Truckers
39 pts.
American Band
ATO Records
AR,EZ
19
Birds of Chicago
38 pts.
Real Midnight
Five Head Entertainment
LM,SZ
20
John Prine
37 pts.
For Better, or Worse
Oh Boy Records
FS,MB
21
The Cactus Blossoms
36 pts.
You’re Dreaming
Red House Records
GS,HD
22
Richmond Fontaine
35 pts.
You Can’t Go Back
Décor Records
FCE
23
Gillian Welch
34 pts.
Boots No.1: The Official Revival Bootleg
Acony Records
LK,PR,TJ
24
Sarah Jarosz
33 pts.
Undercurrent
Sugar Hill
RM
25
Joe Purdy
32 pts.
Who Will Be Next?
Mudtown Crier Records
AL
 
The Devil Makes Three
32 pts.
Redemption & Ruin
New West

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