Nov 132015

Some people think of the great B.B. King when they think of blues, and that ain’t a bad way to go, nor would Howling Wolf, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson or anyone with “Blind,” “Big” or “Dog” in their name, be bad choices. I love so many of the early Blues players but there has always been something special between myself and the man known as Lead Belly. Bigger than life in every way, Lead Belly personified the kind of life that gave a man the blues, then he poured his heart out for everyone to hear.

516JzEFTxnL-thumb-380xauto-29595Eric Bibb and JJ Milteau seem to feel much the way I do and to honor the great bluesman, they recorded a new album, Lead Belly’s Gold. The most loved songs, either written by, or easily associated with Lead Belly, are all here. Eric Bibb, the son of folk master Leon Bibb, has been steeped in the blues his whole life. On this album, he is accompanied by JJ Milteau, a French harmonica player who brings an unexpected authenticity to each song.

For those new to the songs of Lead Belly, it can be a bit unnerving when you hear songs like ‘Midnight Special’ and The ‘House of the Rising Sun’ performed decades before the 60s and 70s rock bands that brought them to the world’s attention. While many of these songs authorship is lost to the southern fields in which they were born, they owe their continued existence, at least in part, to Lead Belly.

Lead Belly’s Gold is filled with love and admiration for the man, the songs and their importance in music history. Eric and JJ masterfully walk through this time and add a piece of their own with three new songs written from the viewpoint of Lead Belly himself. Lead Belly’s Gold is beautifully recorded and is a great addition to anyone’s blues collection. I found myself going back and listening to original versions of the songs again and you should do the same.

Lead Belly’s Gold is a work of passion and it deserves your attention.

Karen Lovely – Ten Miles of Bad Road

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Oct 232015

When most people think of the blues, they envision a man sitting on an old porch, guitar in hand. I see a woman calling in the field, to the rhythm of the work. Her voice clear across the acres of crops. From ‘Ma’ Rainey to Sophie Tucker, I have always thought the women felt the blues, lived the blues and loved the blues, just a bit more.

Karen Lovely is a rare bird with a voice and heart born to the blues. Her new album, Ten Miles of Bad Road,badroad200 is a collection of blues rock magic that feels especially fresh considering its roots in the past. Across the entire album, Karen’s vocals sound effortless, making this album infinitely listenable.

Ten Miles of Bad Road opens with the guitar fueled ‘Low Road’ and ‘Company Grave Yard’, a pair of rockin’ blues tunes that showcase Karen’s vocal power. Even when she brings it down, in songs like ‘I Want to Love You’ or the bouncy, ’You Stole my Heart’, you can feel the force just waiting to be unleashed.

Ten Miles of Bad Road manages to maintain a perfect flow, from hard hitting to playful. It can sit beside you all week, turned down low and then help you celebrate your Friday release at full volume. Karen Lovely has a future in the blues, her talents will continue to grow, her personal translation of the blues will become more defined over time. This album deserves your attention, this is your chance to let everyone know that you discovered Karen Lovely before she became a star.

Grab your copy at

MonkeyJunk – Moon Turn Red

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Oct 132015

Formed in 2008, MonkeyJunk is the Ottawa-based trio of Tony D, Steve Marriner, and Matt Sobb. Canada may not be the first place you think of when looking for blues based, hard rocking bands but MonkeyJunk delivers in spades. Their new album, Moon-Turn-Red-Cover-ScanMoon Turn Red, is a hard hitting, swampy bluesfest that is an equal mix of catchy hooks and Black Keys style riffs.

Right out of the gate, ‘Light It Up’ hits you in the chest with a fuzz,buzz guitar sound in a chugging, punk blues style rocker. The slinky, funky feel of ‘Show Me Yours’ retains an edge befitting its title.  The album slips in and out of styles without losing coherence and never leaving you in doubt that you are listening to MonkeyJunk.

If you enjoy a true power ballad, ‘Learn How To Love’ has a driving, heartbroken feel that is punctuated with a screaming harp solo, that makes it hard to walk away from. My favorite song on the album is ‘Lucky One’, a rowdy rocker that feels rooted in everything important in rock and blues. Mainly a hot woman just out of reach, that will burn your life to the ground if you ever become the lucky one.
In a musical landscape full of garage blues and imitation, MonkeyJunk finds their way clear, by combining lively grooves, with hearty grit they dug up far south of their homeland. MonkeyJunk’s, Moon Turn Red,  can make a long drive seem a little shorter, a hard day a little easier and being home a little sweeter. Pick your copy up today and crank it up, way up.


The Soul Surfers – Soul Rock!

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Oct 132015

I have several of their singles and had high hopes for their first album. The Soul Surfers did not disappoint, this is a kick ass album in ever funky way possible.

After releasing countless collectable and in-demand 7in singles and making a name for themselves in the contemporary “raw funk and soul” scene, The Soul Surfers drop their debut album “Soul Rock!”; a magnum opus of raw, gritty soul and greasy funk featuring eminent guests from the aforementioned scene that birthed their sound. Soul crooners Myron & E break out of their “smooth2015-10-10 18.16.19” vocal personas and deliver a decidedly more stripped down and visceral performance in the lead-off single “You Can Run (But You Can’t Hide) From My Love that also promises to be a dance floor filler. Co-collaborators JJ Whitefield from The Poets of Rhythm and Malcom Catto of the Heliocentrics add their signature touch on two of the album’s ”heavier” cuts “Raw” and “Stop Fooling Around.” Label-mate, multi-instrumentalist and studio genius Shawn Lee lends his vocal, guitar and mixing board talents to “Time Is A Gun” while noted producer Didier from the Soul Investigators gets in on the mix, vibes, and percussion on the heavy slow-burner “Astra”. Smoove & Turrell round out the album with the blue-eyed soul stomper “Straight Up”.

Calvin Conway – Dark Horse Deluxe

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Oct 052015

To many folks, playing harmonica is something lead singers do when they get bored, much like conking a beat on a cowbell or shaking a tambourine. Obviously these folks have never heard a true harp master, they only know the smeared attempt at notes from the likes of Bob Dylan or the familiar steam-train rhythm from many blues and older country songs. The thing is, in the hands of a master, the harmonica is the lead guitar, the haunting harmony, and sometimes, if the man mouthing the harp has truly given himself wholly to the instrument, the gentle caress of a passionate lover.

FolderCalvin Conway is just such a man. His songs come from deep within, a testament to his travels and his life. The music flows from the ground beneath his boots, he soaks up the history and traditions of the musicians who walked those same roads so long ago. Then he strips them bare and clothes them in modern trappings, in unexpected influences.

Calvin’s new album, Dark Horse Deluxe, takes you on an emotional voyage that begins with the upbeat, ‘Lucky Penny’, which rolls into the boot stomping, ‘I Need You’, where Conway’s harp skills are on full display. Calvin uses the harmonica like a musical scalpel rather than the background exclamation point that is far more common. Every note is enunciated clearly and has been thought out fully. I can’t stress enough how good he is on his chosen instrument nor how good the songwriting is on this collection.

The playful call of ‘Let’s Meet In Memphis’ snaps you back immediately to the longing that pulls at new lovers when they are apart, the Beale Street swing capturing the moment perfectly and it illustrates Calvin’s own understanding of these deep roots. The swampy ride that is ‘Mud Bug’ brings visions of dancing under bright moonlight, the slow boil of crawdads and spice filling the night air.

Calvin Conway is set to release Dark Horse Deluxe at the end of October and you should pre-order it now. This album will take you on a journey across the best parts of the  country. Strap yourself in and set it on repeat, better yet, head over to Calvin’s Kickstarter campaign and order the limited-edition vinyl. After spending a lot of time with this album, I can’t think of another that screams for vinyl more than this one, it will make this journey complete.