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.

Soul Track Mind – Unbreakable on VINYL!

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Sep 192015

Soul Track Mind’s CD, Unbreakable, made my top ten albums 2015-09-19 10.58.38list for 2014, which is pretty damn impressive considering last years releases. Now I have that album on glorious muti-colored vinyl and brother, it sounds AWESOME! If you don’t own this one, you need to order it today.

My original review:

Buy that vinyl goodness (in random colors) here:

2015-09-19 10.58.56

Eugene ‘Hideaway’ Bridges – Hold On a Little Bit Longer

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Sep 112015


With a name like Eugene ‘Hideaway’ Bridges, people will make assumptions about a man and I was happy to have mine met in every way. Hang On A Little Bit Longer is Eugene’s new album and it has a New Orleans juke, jive, horn funk feel that works perfectly with his vocals. This album is fun from beginning to end and from drums to trumpet, nobody misses a step. This band is tight and moving in step towards the same goal.

51-bCP+F+FL._AA160_Hang On A Little Bit Longer feels as familiar as your favorite pair of jeans while managing to bring something fresh to your ears. The album’s title track is the happiest plea in history. In fact I can’t exaggerate just how happy and fun this album is and it is in large part because Eugene sells himself as a man who loves who he is, where he is and knows exactly what he wants to tell you. It isn’t too difficult to imagine that a horn section followed him around since childhood, providing a soundtrack to his life.
Hang On A Little Bit Longer doesn’t explore any new territory, it doesn’t try to be something it isn’t and it is the things it isn’t that make it so good at what it is, an optimistic celebration of the best things in life. You owe it to yourself to kick back and let Eugene ‘Hideaway’ Brooks remind you that it is the simple pleasures that matter most. I highly recommend you relax and listen to this one with a sazerac and cigar.


Barry Levenson – The Visit

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Aug 312015

Barry Levenson has walked, or rather played more than a few miles beside some of the true giants of blues music, from Pee Wee Crayton to Big Mama Thornton, his blues credentials are top notch. Don’t let his pedigree fool you though, Barry has no problem adapting his sound to any style you desire, often on the same album. His latest, The Visit finds him dancing between and intertwining blues and jazz at whim.

Not gifted with a traditional blues voice, Barry tends to stay instrumental on heavy blues tracks, like the album opener, ‘I Wonder Why’ opting instead to let his considerable41bfU1FHbaL talent on a six string speak for him.  Don’t get me wrong, when Barry’s vocals melt into his unique jazz and blues hybrid songs, like ‘Ice Cold Kiss’ you are transported to a happier, if less familiar place.

Barry’s music brings more to the delta, the hint of a small square in Paris, where musicians do their best American lounge/jazz impression for tourists. It isn’t that the sound is inferior, it isn’t, but the influences of Europe, or at least parts of it, mark it as uniquely its own. Barry never falls into it full on, but rather gives you a hint of something you know, like catching the scent of a familiar perfume in a crowd, unmistakable but not exactly the same as it was on that long lost memory.

Barry has put together a solid album, one of the best blues albums this year and most importantly, it isn’t a cookie cutter blues album. The Visit expands in delightful directions as Barry leads you down the path with some of the best guitar playing around. Blues fans need to grab this one but pass on the beer and bourbon when you give it a listen, this album goes best with a fine bottle of wine.


Monophonics – Sound of Sinning

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Aug 062015

The Monophonics do psychedelic soul better than anyone else and their new (OK, not so new but the vinyl was delayed a few month – another story altogether) album – Sound of Sinning – is a powerhouse of fat beats, funky organ and horny horns. I received the digital version of the album 2015-07-31 17.51.52months ago, then saw them live, which caused a kind of musical rebirth, anyway, my point is that even after months of constant play, I love this album and was still chomping at the bits to get my hands on the vinyl.

There isn’t a song that misses on the album and to those who say it sounds like their last album – I can tell you where to shove your opinion, this album is fresh and makes my blood boil. If you are in this group I would be surprised if you didn’t have this one, if you don’t, well, get on it.