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Norman John Darwen's Blog (75)

GUITAR JACK WARGO: Keepin’ It Real (Wargod)

Guitar Jack has been around for quite a while, and in that time he has recorded with the likes of Ray Charles, The Jacksons, Billy Preston, Solomon Burke and Thelma Houston among others (who include Kelly Z – he appears on “Rescue”, recently reviewed on this website), as…


Added by Norman John Darwen on March 1, 2018 at 15:44 — No Comments

THE BUSH LEAGUE – James RiVAh (Independent Release – <a href=""></a>)

Out of Richmond, Virginia, (hence the specific text of the album title), four piece band The Bush League here offers some wonderfully stomping blues such as the opening, Howling Wolf inflected ‘River’s Edge’ and the cover of Mississippi Fred McDowell’s ‘Kokomo Me Baby’. Then…


Added by Norman John Darwen on February 21, 2018 at 16:54 — No Comments

LAURIE MORVAN - “Gravity” (Screaming Lizard SLR0006)




Added by Norman John Darwen on February 19, 2018 at 11:49 — No Comments

JANIVA MAGNESS/ “Love Is An Army” (Blue Élan BER1072)

Seven times “Blues Award” winner Janiva has some fine guests on this set – not that this Los Angeles based singer actually needs them, as anyone who has heard her music before can testify, and this is her fourteenth album – but it does mean that Delbert McClinton…


Added by Norman John Darwen on February 2, 2018 at 12:56 — No Comments

THE REVEREND SHAWN AMOS – Breaks It Down (Put Together Music PTM-00007)

This album is a result of the good Reverend, an ordained minister of The Universal Life Church (google it!), touring through the southern states and encountering some of the divisions that exist in the world at the present time. There are elements of civil…


Added by Norman John Darwen on February 1, 2018 at 13:43 — No Comments

CAROLYN GAINES – Beware Of My Dog (Polka Dot Records)

When your father is a noted blues guitarist (Roy Gaines) and your uncle a rock and roll/ R’n’B sax blaster who helped to define the style (Grady Gaines), I guess you’re going to be involved in the blues yourself. Well, Carolyn has promoted, taught, and written about the blues,…


Added by Norman John Darwen on February 1, 2018 at 11:01 — No Comments

RED PINE TIMBER CO. – Sorry For The Good Times (Gold Rush)

Plenty of Americana here  – based in Perth, Scotland, this eight-piece has a pure country sound on an item like ‘Bar Stool’, with its aching vocal by Gavin Munro and beautiful harmonies by Katie Whittaker, and with David MacFarlane’s mandolin playing prominent in the backing. It follows on from the…


Added by Norman John Darwen on December 21, 2017 at 12:30 — No Comments

ADY JOHNSON – London Songs (Independent)


Added by Norman John Darwen on December 11, 2017 at 16:30 — No Comments

FreeWorld – What It Is (Swirldisc SD 87625 445)


This cross-generational, multicultural Memphis based group celebrates its thirtieth anniversary with this release, so that the youngest members were not even born when the band began, though 87 year old saxman Dr. Herman Green already had many years of experience of working with the likes of John Coltrane, Miles Davis, BB King and Bob Weir. This set runs the whole range of Memphis music from soul and funk to rock, pop and blues.…


Added by Norman John Darwen on December 11, 2017 at 14:53 — No Comments

DAVIDE PANNOZZO - Unconditional Love (Independent)

Davide Pannozzo | Unconditional Love


Now  here’s an album very much on the borderline between blues and rock - but don’t make the mistake of confusing that with blues-rock, apart from the opener maybe and one or two other places. Davide seems to have a strong 70s influence, at least on the evidence of this album; there is a relatively smooth feel to much of the music here, an electric piano sound straight out of that decade, and something…


Added by Norman John Darwen on November 27, 2017 at 22:05 — No Comments

KINGS & ASSOCIATES – “Tales of A Rich Girl” (Big Wing)


Tales of a Rich Girl - Kings & Associates

This took me a few plays to get a handle on it. Kings & Associates are an Australian five piece band (out of Adelaide), playing rock music that is certainly strongly blues-rooted - the press blurb refers to it as “Neo-blues”, which probably fits as well as anything. Recorded in Los Angeles and Nashville, the album isn’t quite blues-rock though (but one or two…


Added by Norman John Darwen on November 6, 2017 at 18:41 — No Comments

LARA & THE BLUES DAWGZ – Out Here In The Blue (Lock Alley Music)

Husband and wife team Lara and Gregg Germony handle the vocals and bass respectively on this fine set of eleven original modern blues. The others members of the band include Al Rowe on guitar, the Canadian keyboards player Dan Nadasdi, saxman Reggie Murray from New Orleans and drummer Carlos Ruiz from the southwest. The sax adds a distinctive flavour, and Al tends to be economical in his playing, so that the focus of this Nashville recorded…


Added by Norman John Darwen on November 3, 2017 at 12:00 — No Comments

VAL STARR & THE BLUES ROCKET – “I Always Turn The Blues On” (Sandwich Factory)

Some fine bar-band blues from Sacramento, California on this album. Vocalist and rhythm guitarist Val sets the scene right from the off with the lovely swinging shuffle of ‘High Time To Go’, an original as are all twelve tracks here. Val writes some fine blues numbers, and she is backed by a cracking little band comprising her husband John Ellis on bass, Frankie Soul on lead guitar and Paul Farman on drums, plus several guests making…


Added by Norman John Darwen on October 30, 2017 at 16:43 — No Comments

KELLY Z – “Rescue: Kelly Z At SlideAway Studio (KellysLot)

This album was originally begun in 2011, when singer Kelly Zirbes laid down – but didn’t finish – these eight tracks of classic-sounding 60s soul and funk for producer Chuck Kavooras in Los Angeles. When Chuck and Kelly began discussing a new project, they decided to finish off the tapes and this CD is the result. Kelly’s powerhouse soul shouting is obvious from the outset on Marva Whitney’s funk-filled ‘What Do I Have To Do’, though the tempo slows for a…


Added by Norman John Darwen on October 25, 2017 at 13:06 — No Comments

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…


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


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…


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…

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…


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


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March 2018

Mary Gauthier
95 pts.
Rifles And Rosary Beads
In the Black Records
Ed Romanoff
89 pts.
The Orphan King
Pinerock Records
Dean Owens
43 pts.
Southern Wind
At The Helm
Marlon Williams
41 pts.
Make Way for Love
Dead Oceans
Rod Picott
39 pts.
Out Past The Wires
Welding Rod Music
Vivian Leva
39 pts.
Time is Everything
Free Dirt Records
H.C McEntire
38 pts.
Merge Records
34 pts.
Lord of the Desert
Okehdokee Records
Alela Diane
32 pts.
Allpoints Believe
Ben Miller Band
32 pts.
Choke Cherry Tree
New West Records
The Lynnes
32 pts.
Heartbreak Song For The Radio
Adam James Sorensen
30 pts.
Dust Cloud Refrain
Continental Song City
John Oates
27 pts.
Thirthy Tigers
Cameron Blake
26 pts.
Fear Not
Continental Song City/CRS
John Gorka
26 pts.
True In Time
Red House
I'm With Her
25 pts.
See You Around
Rounder Records
The Reverend Shawn Amos
22 pts.
Breaks it Down
Put Together Music
Beth Wimmer
21 pts.
Chris Smither
21 pts.
Call Me Lucky
Signature Sounds
Dayna Kurtz
21 pts.
Here, Vol 2
Kismet Records
Joan Baez
20 pts.
Whistle Down The Wind
Proper Records
Kacy & Clayton
20 pts.
The Siren’s Song
New West Records
Caleb Caudle
19 pts.
Crushed Coins
Cornelius Chapel Records
Ad Vanderveen
18 pts.
Denver Nevada
Ben Reel
18 pts.
Land Of Escape
B REEL Records
Bruno Deneckere

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