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Norman John Darwen's Blog (40)

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)

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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

MARY’S LITTLE LAMB – Elixir For The Drifter (RootzRumble RR98703)


This Belgian five piece outfit takes us back to a time when country music drew heavily on the myth of the Old West – the opening twangy guitar instrumental is a little reminiscent of The Ramrods’ early 60s hit version of ‘Ghost Riders In The Sky’, and employs strings providing a sound little heard since that era. There is also a strong mariachi band influence (as there is also on several other tracks). The rich vocals of band-leader Bart Hendrickx hark back to a…


Added by Norman John Darwen on February 17, 2017 at 14:00 — No Comments



“You can’t judge a book by looking at the cover”, sang Bo Diddley – but looking at the late 60s quasi-psychedelic cover of this CD and the band name, and even after listening to the Hendrix/ Freddy King hybrid of the title track, you could certainly be forgiven for expecting a heavy blues-rock set. Well, no, it’s not. Cleveland, Ohio-based guitarist, singer, songwriter and bandleader Gaetano also has a parallel jazz career which sometimes comes through in his…


Added by Norman John Darwen on February 3, 2017 at 13:32 — No Comments

TOM CRAIG AND SOUL PATCH - Get Ready For Me (Independent -

Tom Craig & Soul Patch | Get Ready for Me
Philadelphia born singer, guitarist and songwriter Tom Craig and drummer John O'Connell have been playing blues and roots music together for the past ten years or so, and they recently joined up with Hammond organist Eric Johnson, tenor saxophonist Vince Gleason and baritone saxman Skyler Hagner, adding a few guests including the Vizztone label's Dave Gross on bass and backing vocals on four numbers on this, the debut album for this Delaware-based outfit. Its…

Added by Norman John Darwen on January 2, 2017 at 11:02 — No Comments

JACK MACK & THE HEART ATTACK HORNS - Back to the Shack (SSR FreeRoll)

Big, brassy R'n'B - with equal emphasis on all those elements of that definition - is what these guys purvey, as the opening 'Standin' Before The King', a gutsy BB King tribute, the Memphis flavoured blues of 'Somethin' In The Water', and the Muscle Shoals meets Motown sound of 'Don't Let Her Go' all attest to. That last-named track had me racking my brains to think of the original, but no, it is the band's own. In case you're wondering, there is no Jack Mack, and…

Added by Norman John Darwen on December 29, 2016 at 21:51 — No Comments

JOHN LATINI: The Blues Makes Me Feel Good (Smokin' Sleddog 1658-5-SSR)

John Latini | The Blues Just Makes Me Feel Good

Originally from Queens, New York, but based for many years in Michigan, singer, guitarist, bandleader and songwriter John Latini has here a very fine set of 13 blues compositions, very well sung in a deep, lived-in voice and accompanied by some pretty straight blues guitar playing (surprisingly, there is very little rock influence on this CD) and a tight little band. All the songs are originals, with the exception of 'Three AM' from former front man for…

Added by Norman John Darwen on December 28, 2016 at 19:34 — No Comments

JASON ELMORE & HOODOO WITCH – Champagne Velvet (Underworld UND0028)

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This set opens and closes with what seem to be party noises, which is pretty appropriate. Based in Dallas, Texas, singer and guitarist Jason, plus his rhythm section of Mike Talbot and Brandon Katona on drums and bass respectively, have here a fine set of Lone Star State music, starting with the jumping blues of the aptly titled ‘House Rockin’ Boogie #7’ and ending with the joyously manic, smoking rockabilly of ‘Mary Jane’. Between these two there are plenty of…


Added by Norman John Darwen on December 2, 2016 at 11:24 — No Comments

BENNY TURNER – When She’s Gone (Nola Blue NB 002)

Image result for benny turner when she's gone

Benny Turner has naturally attracted the attention of blues fans because he is the brother of the legendary guitarist Freddie King (probably the biggest influence on Eric Clapton). He toured as bass guitarist with his older sibling but he had also recorded both as a backing musician and in his own right before his debut album, Blue And Not So Blue in 1997 - Benny is very much his own bluesman, as this, his fourth album, proves. Though six tracks out of the…


Added by Norman John Darwen on November 30, 2016 at 11:57 — No Comments

John Weeks Band – Dark Angel (own label –

Details coming soon! National release on Nov. 9th. Stay tuned for links....


This five piece outfit might be based in Denver, Colorado, but their collective experience takes in France (where bandleader/ singer/ guitarist John was born; he played in bars in Paris in the 90s), Australia, where keyboards player and songwriter Danny Haynes settled after relocating from his native Texas in the 90s, and St. Louis for vocalist Stacey Turpenoff, New York for drummer Robert Fiorino and Ohio for bass player Stephen Whitfield. The…


Added by Norman John Darwen on November 23, 2016 at 11:27 — No Comments

THE SMOKE WAGON BLUES BAND – Cigar Store (Independent label)


A seven piece band out of Hamilton, Ontario, The Smoke Wagon Blues Band has a richly varied approach to the blues, from the rather traditional ‘Must’ve Read It Wrong’ and the spooky down-home sound of the harp-driven ‘Hoodoo Woman’ to the psychedelia-tinged ‘Quarter Mile’, with hints (or more) of soul, funk and especially New Orleans jazz in between. Lead singer and harmonica player Corey Lueck supplies a rootsy sound to most tracks, though ‘I Tried’ and ‘I…


Added by Norman John Darwen on October 24, 2016 at 15:00 — No Comments

CHARLIE WHEELER BAND – Blues Karma And The Kitchen Sink (own label

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Charlie has obviously listened to a lot of Hendrix. You can hear it strongly in the lurching guitar work, tempo, and melody of ‘Choir Of 1000 Angels’ and the riff and general approach and feel of ‘Flicker Away’, the soul tinged rock of ‘Love You The Same’ and the guitar work of the closing ‘Butterfly’..That’s certainly no bad thing in my book, and Charlie certainly does not overdo it. Indeed, when it is coupled with other tracks such as the spacious and memorable…


Added by Norman John Darwen on September 19, 2016 at 16:46 — No Comments

ERIC SOMMER – Brooklyn Bolero (Clyde Is Thinking)



Singer, songwriter, guitarist and harmonica player Eric Sommer is something of a maverick, having worked with Nick Lowe and Wreckless Eric and a whole bunch of blues and roots artists, Based across Boston (where he came out of the folk scene in…


Added by Norman John Darwen on September 7, 2016 at 10:52 — 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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