Jul 062015

Ted Drozdowski is no Johnny come lately; He has played with some of the blues greats, like R. L. Burnside, whom he makes the subject, albeit a ghostly one, of one of the songs on his newest album, Love & Life. An experiment that uses equal parts psychedelic, blues and hard rock guitar to create a strangely satisfying album. Each song on Love & Life transports you to a new landscape, but always within the small world Ted Drozdowski has created here.

FolderTed and his Scissormen have built an album with recording layers deep enough to dive into safely but it never distracts, only adds to the overall vision of the album. A feat many artists have failed miserably at. Ted expertly weaves 11 individual yarns within his universe. The album opener, ‘Beggin’ Jesus’ is an old school story of good and evil, laid out in a solid blues train riff that rolls right through the crossroads.

The previously mentioned, ‘R. L. Burnside’ casts a haunting spell over the listener as Ted discusses the specter of his dreams. In addition to the Scissormen, Ted brought in the magic voice of Mighty Sam McCain on the track ‘Let’s go to Memphis. Sam passed away in June and this song is one of, if not the last recorded work he did. Mighty Sam McCain left his mark across a wide swath of American music and is dearly missed.

Love & Life takes the listener on a journey worth taking. Ted holds his musical vision together for one of the best blues albums to come out this year. Take the time to sit back and listen to the tales of a master storyteller at the height of his talent. You will not be disappointed.

Ted Drozdowski’s Scissormen’s album Love & Life will be available on the Dolly Sez Woof label on July 15th. The release date coincides with Ted’s debut e-book which can be purchased at the same time.

The Sure Fire Soul Ensemble

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Jun 282015

There are a lot of great labels doing soul, funk, afrobeat and a million other variations on these horn and drum fueled genres. None hold my attention like the small Ohio label, Colemine Records. Terry Cole and company consistently bring out exciting and often unexpected treasures, sometimes in the form of a single from an established act like the Monophonics or Orgone, other times it is a 12 inch masterpiece, as is the case with The Sure Fire Soul Ensembles self titled first LP.

I have been a fan of The Sure Fire Soul Ensemble for some time as they released occasional singles. I had very high expectations for their first album and they do not disappoint. I immediately fell under their rhythmic spell and happily stayed there through each horn driven, organ backed dance magic.2015-06-27 17.08.41

Each song takes you someplace in your past. There is a familiarity with every track even as it is something brand new. The album showed up the morning of a local festival in Austin so I was able to listen to it between other horn bands like Hard Proof and Golden Dawn Arkestra. I can hope The Sure Fire Soul Ensemble join us here for one of our many music festivals.

I tried to do a little research on these guys and there isn’t more than a couple paragraphs which mention that if you like The Menahan Street Band, you will like these guys. I can’t argue with that but they stand all on their own.

Of interest to collectors, I pre-ordered the deluxe edition packaging. This is the exact same 180 gram album everyone else got but it was packaged in a handmade case, included a California and an Ohio soul button, a sticker and a CD copy of the album. The handmade heavy paper cover was sealed with a very cool, wax seal and numbered, mine being 11 of 50.

The physical album and packaging are a higher quality than many of Colemine competitors are using these days. I give high praise for spending extra for audiophile sleeves and better cardboard. To many of us, that means a lot and speak volumes about Terry and those who work with him.

This album is a must have and grab a few dozen singles from the Colemine store while you at it.




Guy Forsyth Band – The Pleaser

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Jun 252015

Somewhere over the last few years I started to lose my faith in a lot of blues music. I have seen a million and one guitar slingers impress me with their six-string abilities but most were becoming a jumbled ball of sounds with no identity. Exceptions like Voo Davis and Peter Parcek managed to show me there are still a few blues songwriters out there who know how to bring something new while staying true to the history and make no mistake, both of them can start a fire with their guitar strings.

51G6EGFLKBLI started limiting my blues concert attendance to classic masters like W. C. Clark. Then I went to see Guy Forsyth’s album release party at The Roost in North Austin. Everything I love about the blues came rushing back to me as soon as he stepped on stage.

I have a handful of Guy’s earlier albums and enjoy his Texas blues and Americana sound. I was not however ready for the full sensory overload that is his new album, The Pleaser. Seeing it live recharged my blues heart and left me wanting more. Guy is a showman and this album from start to finish showcases his considerable talent as a songwriter, musician and entertainer.

Guy updates an old-time sound that grabs pieces of genres and time periods throughout the musical history of America. He stands above the crowd selling his snake oil, which we all happily pony up for because how could you not? The album is powerful enough on its own but I highly recommend you do whatever it takes to see Guy Forsyth and his band as soon as possible.

I was fortunate to catch him after his European tour, where he was joined by guitarist an Austin favorite, David Jimenez of Baby Atlas. David is a guitar master in his own right but George Rarey gives the band some serious blues cred. But the star of this show is the presence and voice of Guy Forsyth.

The album opens with ‘Good Stuff’ and you can see Guy wailing from the back of a wagon if you close your eyes. The next song, ‘Play to Lose’ is a powerful tale of woe and live, Guy shows the power of his voice buy forgoing the use of a microphone as he belts out the songs unexpected yet dead on query to a lover.

I will be catching Guy and his blues band every chance I get from here on out. Until you can get out so see him live, grab a copy of The Pleaser.

Duffy Kane – Dead Man Walkin’

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May 262015

I love to tinker, tweak and generally push every piece of equipment that comes my way to the limit. I have a tremendous amount of respect for musicians that bring this way of thinking into their music but some just take things to an entirely different level. One such musician is Duffy Kane, a country, blues-rock musician who doesn’t just tinker, he builds his own guitars, which he calls Folder“Telebastards.”

Duffy just released his sixth album Dead Man Walkin’ and has a bit of a ‘Merica theme playing out across the album. That places it squarely in the bullseye of what many country and blues musicians are aiming for right now. Thankfully the musicianship makes this album a worthwhile listen.
Find more at http://duffykane.com/

Voo Davis – Midnight Mist

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Apr 032015

Voo Davis – Midnight Mist

There is no shortage of blues guitar gun slingers these days. It can even be difficult to tell one from the other for many people. Gary Clark Jr. has had success melding his influences from outside the blues and there are a few folks who ride a blues/metal blues/country or any number of other blues trains but Voo Davis isn’t like any of them.

I suspect Voo collects guitars the way I collect records. He is always looking for a way to bring something new to his blues licks, a sound nobody has heard and fits in this very specific place. When I listen to his newest album, ‘Midnight Mist’ I imagine Voo spending hours looking for the perfect puzzle fxphotostudioexportedimage-12piece to fit each and every measure on the entire album, one by one by one.

Midnight Mist isn’t like his previous album, ‘Vicious Things,’ that showcased Voos impressive guitar skills. His guitar skills are on display throughout ‘Midnight Mist’ but he summons more control and relies more on his songwriting and production abilities than tossing in more hot licks. There are a ton of bluesmen I love that will never be able to take that step because it is easier to play solo after solo than it is to write a real song. Don’t get me wrong, I spin plenty of such blues; my point is that Voo Davis crafts each song and leaves me wanting more. I’m not sure where Voo can go from here but I suspect he already has something rattling around in his head and I can’t wait to hear it.

I highly recommend ‘Midnight Mist’ and you can pre-order it April 6th on iTunes and get 2 tracks instantly or order the CD which will include a bonus video of Riverside Blues and comes out April 28th. Yeah, I wish it was on vinyl but truth be told, I think I listened to the album 20 times while working in the garage. When you consider how many albums I listen too, that is an impressive feat.



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