Eric Bibb and JJ Milteau – Lead Belly’s Gold

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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 http://music.karenlovely.com/

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”.

Ted Drozdowski’s Scissormen – Love & Life

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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.

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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