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Meg Williams album Take Me As I Am: The Muscle Shoals Sessions from Nola Blue Records released on Good Friday.

Now we know why it is called Good Friday, you all get a chance to get your copy of Take Me As I Am: The Muscle Shoals Sessions, we have had a digital copy for airplay a few weeks now and it is a cracker of a recording.

It’s a SHAME pure rocking blues will not be Song of the Month, doesn’t need that title to get lots of airplay. SHAME will not be played on a Spotlight Album of the Month, the album is already in the Spotlight.

WHAT ABOUT ME? sings Meg, “what about you?”asks our music director shrugging his shoulders. “calling me Baby will not get you made Artist of the Month“. Our music director is a hard man.

Don’t worry though because as you sing “TELL EVERYBODY” we will be telling everyone about Take Me As I Am: The Muscle Shoals Sessions every chance we get.

OK so we know what Meg and her album is not going to be? but what about a review? Now there is a problem, our highly paid reviewer has gone on holiday so the music director is writing one right now. While you wait watch the video below ok.

 

Well the Music Director is taking a lot of time with his review so our very own Program Director has copy/pasted the review provided by Meg’s PR company and written by Rick J Bowen.

Thanks to Betsie the Blind Raccoon for providing this time filler.

“Originally from the Finger Lakes of NY State, singer/songwriter/guitarist Meg Williams (now based in Nashville), has signed with Nola Blue Records for her debut full-length album, “Take Me As I Am: The Muscle Shoals Sessions.” Her 2017 EP, “Maybe Someday,” opened many doors for Williams, including the chance to compete in the 2019 International Blues Challenge (Memphis, TN), representing the Kentucky Blues Society, and become the house band director for the Women In Blues Showcase.
Williams, who draws instant comparisons to Susan Tedeschi and Bonnie Raitt, was obviously inspired during her sessions at FAME Recording Studios to take full advantage of the aesthetic of the space that gave birth to 100’s of hit records and is home to the world-renowned Swampers rhythm section, and its formula for rocking soul and R&B.

The sessions, produced by Meg and engineered by John Gifford Ill, has Williams backed by an all-star rhythm section including Will McFarlane on guitar, Bob Wray on bass, Clayton Ivey on keys and Justin Holder on drums. Also appearing are Dan Wecht on guitar/slide guitar and Sara Rogers on background vocals. The album is a collection of 12 original songs, penned by Williams alone or in collaboration with Nashville-based songwriters Claire Kelly, Scott Barrier, Chase Walker, Terry Goose Downing, and Jenny Teator, that includes new versions of ‘l Feel A Heartache Coming’ and ‘Little Bit Of The Devil’ from the EP.

The bump and grind blues ‘Come On Over To Me’ kicks open the set with greasy slide guitar and alluring vocals from Williams. But don’t be confused, this isn’t a soft-sell record as Williams dons her Gibson for the country-fired riff rocker ‘Tell Everybody,’ shouting out the chorus before throwing down hot lead guitar on the heavy-duty funk burner ‘Shame.’ The tale of a wild woman, ‘Little Bit Of The Devil,’ is revved up and refined into a tighter narrative showcasing the tasty chops of the rhythm section. Fellow Nashville transplant Chase Walker co-wrote the tome of hard luck and trouble ’Played By The Blues,’ a fine update of a familiar theme. While singer-songwriter Claire Kelly helped her write the optimistic love song ‘Sometimes I Need You Too’ that ramps up to a great jamming Allman Brothers vibe.

The title track is Williams declaration that she is in this for the long haul, and will be true to herself, as she sings about life, love and the choice to compete in the ruthless world of the music business. Some fine Hammond B3 from Clayton Ivey sweetens the easy groove of ‘What About Me?’ and the dynamic rocker ‘Can’t Keep Waiting On You,’ has a slow-burning intensity, while the full-blown soul rock blaster ‘I Feel A Heartache Coming,’ lets loose all the fury of Williams and the crew. Williams plays the femme fatale for the slinky ‘Make A Move’ and the album closes with a classic swinging blues ballad ‘Take A Chance On My Love,’ surrounding Williams’ sultry alto with Gospel flavored harmonies and soaring guitar from Will McFarlane.

With each track tinged with that Muscle Shoals Sound, “Take Me As I Am” exquisitely sets the stage for Meg Williams to become a rising star in the blues rock world.”

Quotation marks added by our Blues DJ, Dick.

Program Director is one finger typing so while he finishes off the review let us all read Meg’s Bio.

Meg Williams performs frequently at venues across the country with her band, Meg Williams Band, as a solo/duo act, and as a guitarist for other artists. She recently competed in the 2019 International Blues Challenge (Memphis, TN), representing the Kentucky Blues Society, and was the house band director for the Women in Blues Showcase. Meg has additionally performed main-stage at the 2018 Venice Blues Festival (Venice, FL), RedGorilla Music Festival (Austin, TX), Blues Radio International during the BMA’s (Memphis, TN), Knoxville’s WDVX Blue Plate Special, Tennessee Motorcycles & Music Revival Festival, & Loretta Lynn’s Ranch as an artist, and performed at Cheyenne Frontier Days & CMA Fest as a guitarist for other artists.  Meg’s newest blues-rock EP, ‘Maybe Someday,’ has been played on SiriusXM’s Bluesville and radio stations world-wide – ‘Maybe Someday’ reached #10 on the Top 50 Blues Rock Album charts and on the Roots Music Report, and #38 on the Top Blues Album charts. Often compared to Susan Tedeschi and Bonnie Raitt, Meg’s guitar playing has captured the attention of listeners throughout Nashville and increasingly the US. Meg just signed with Nola Blue Records and  released her full length album, recorded at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, AL, “Take Me As I Am: The Muscle Shoals Sessions” on April 19, 2019.

Well not much to gossip about in that biography was there.

 

Indie Music Women interview

Maybe some gossip here, thank you Indie Music Women. (click on the photo and you can read it, if you leave here don’t forget to come back for the review)

You back? Ok a few photos to look at and the review will be ready.

Ok not very big but Blind Raccoons don’t care.

 

So the review of Meg Williams album Take Me As I Am: The Muscle Shoals Sessions from Nola Blue Records is ready, are you?

 

“Splendiferous.”

Oh, there is a word you don’t see much in reviews never mind being a review! At least he tried.

 

Finally some links to Meg and that is it for another review post. See you all soon.

 

ARTIST LINKS

 

 

 

Hope no bias toward Blind Raccoon was noticed, if you did then that is your problem, they are only doing their job of promoting one of their artists.

 

No payment is received for using that image, just a way of saying thank you to Nola Blue for allowing the world to hear “Take Me As I Am: The Muscle Shoals Sessions”.

 

BLUES IN MY BLOOD the SPOTLIGHT ALBUM for MARCH from Tiffany Pollack & Eric Johanson.

TME.fm Radio

 

With rave reviews everywhere it was an easy choice this month.

Here is what Rick J Bowen wrote and we agree with every word.

“There is a long tradition of vocal duos in country and folk music, with groups like Sugarland and Shovels and Rope continuing to see success and popularity with the formula. Tiffany Pollack, an acclaimed New Orleans jazz singer, and Eric Johanson (performing courtesy of Whiskey Bayou Records), former lead guitarist for Cyril Neville, have teamed up to bring that winning tactic to the blues and roots world on their new album “Blues In My Blood.” Eleven tracks of original and select standards showcase the depth of each one’s talent with a new collaboration that is fresh and natural. The Louisiana natives, who each have been building a strong career, met when Pollack was reunited with her biological family at 25, and discovered they are cousins and third-generation members of a musical family with a rich history. After years of the cousins’ mothers pushing for them to work together, the duo project has come to fruition for a very personal family project in celebration of the blues.

The opening track ‘Blues In My Blood’ sets the stage for the passion play, recorded and produced in New Orleans by Grammy, Emmy, 4-time Telly and 2-time Global Music Award-winner Jack Miele at The Music Shed Studios. The roaring Southern Gothic blues tome recants Pollack’s life story and her journey to discover the true origin of her musical gifts and a desperate longing that that has haunted her soul from birth. The mournful tone of Johnny Sansone’s harmonica echoes the heartfelt vocal from Johanson on the lover’s lament ‘Memories To Forget.’ He then shows of his formidable slide guitar skills on the southern fried funk burner ‘Keep It Simple,’ sparing with Pollack’s scorching vocals. Life experience often makes for profound art as exemplified in the sorrowful tribute to a fallen soldier ‘Michael,’ delivered form the unique prospective of the undertaker, a role Pollack played while working in the mortuary business. Her vocals weave a spell on us that is only broken when the 504 Horns join the Jazz Funeral Procession in the New Orleans’ first-line tradition. The duo joins together on the chorus of the politically charged blues rocker ‘Diamonds On the Crown,’ followed by a lovely reading of a deep cut from The Rolling Stones’ album “Beggars Banquet,” the lilting country ballad ‘No Expectations.’

Pollack then bravely steps into the shoes of Nina Simone, paying tribute to the jazz legend by digging deep into the classic ‘Do I Move You?’ with sultry finesse. The introspective ‘Slave Of Tomorrow’ is a heady dish of southern jam rock and the gently swinging blues ‘Get Lost With Me’ has a classic Memphis style that features a searing solo from Johanson. Pollack soars on the cover of Joni Mitchell’s ‘River,’ staying true to the original, while adding just enough of her own fire to put her mark on the masterpiece. The album’s finale is a gospel-fueled reinvention of the freedom song ‘If I had A Hammer.’ The duo trade verses and slow the tempo to allow in-depth focus on each phrase and emphasize the importance and truth in the lyrics written by Pete Seeger in 1949 in support of the progressive movement.

This inspirational duo of Tiffany Pollack and Eric Johanson bring an indie, roots-based approach to the blues, both honoring and expanding the traditions they learned growing up in Louisiana. Their powerful songwriting is a gift that flows from the undeniable blues in their blood.”

BIOGRAPHY

Tiffany Ann Pollack was born and raised in the musical mecca of New Orleans, where she began singing as soon as she could talk. Although never receiving formal training, countless hours of her childhood and teens were spent at her parents’ old 70’s organ and later the out-of-tune piano they bought for her, writing songs by ear and singing very loudly. Her family’s annoyance never discouraged her from sharing the songs in her heart.

Tiffany had her first opportunity to perform professionally when neighbor Russell Batiste learned that she could sing and invited her to sing backup with his band Russell Batiste & Friends. After several years, Tiffany formed her own band called Beaucoup Crasseux with some of the members of Russell’s band. In addition, Pollack begin singing in many other bands including Ph Fred’s The Round Pegs and The Consortium of Genius. Beaucoup Crasseux ultimately fizzled, and Pollack entered mortuary school. In the ensuing years, she was married, had children and focused on her mortuary career. After the birth of her third child, Tiffany left the mortuary business to focus on music fulltime. She developed a strong passion for jazz and eventually formed her own jazz band, Tiffany Pollack and Co.

At age 25, Tiffany gained new appreciation of the music in her soul when she was reunited with her biological family. Adopted at birth, the pieces of her musical puzzle became clear. Her mother, Margaret, plays bass and sings in a jazz band. Tiffany’s half-brother makes electronic music. Margaret’s sister, Frances, sings in a jazz band (and is mother of blues artist Eric Johanson).  Frances and Margaret’s brothers are also performers.  Tiffany’s grandfather owned a piano store and played clarinet. Her grandmother was a cellist, pianist and opera singer.

Today, Tiffany performs regularly throughout New Orleans singing primarily jazz with The Dapper Dandies and her jazz band Tiffany Pollack & Co, as well as doing session vocals at The Music Shed Recording Studios in New Orleans.

New-Orleans based Eric Johanson was tearing up nightclub stages in Louisiana with his soulful blues guitar before he finished high school. He has toured across the US and internationally as lead guitarist for the legendary Cyril Neville, Grammy-winning Zydeco artist Terrance Simien, and performed onstage with Tab Benoit, JJ Grey & Mofro, Eric Lindell, Mike Zito, Anders Osborne, the Neville Brothers, and many more.

Recently signed to Whiskey Bayou Records, his debut album, “Burn It Down,” was produced and engineered by Tab Benoit. Following its release in October of 2017, Eric has been touring across the US supporting Benoit.

Sue Foley – The Ice Queen

Frozen solid, after having it broken almost beyond repair, it would take a blow torch to melt Sue Foley’s heart. At least that’s the impression she gives in a tough, mean little nut of a title track—drawn out slowly, with Foley swearing off love, maybe for good—on the Canadian blues songstress’s sassy and sublime new album The Ice Queen, as she declares, “Before I compromise my love again, it’ll be a cold, damn day in hell.”

Taken advantage of too many times, Foley surely means it. Hardened by experience, Foley’s vocals suffused with world-weary resignation, she’s not going to be anyone’s fool going forward. And yet, her strong, bold vocals can turn vulnerable and yielding, as they do in the soulful “If I Have Forsaken You” – where smooth, shapely horns wrap her pleas in vintage R&B velvet right before Foley’s delightfully wicked retelling of Bessie Smith’s murderous “Send Me to the ‘Lectric Chair.” Just as she exhibits a great bluesy feel playing her trusty pink paisley Fender Telecaster, expertly plucking out mean, satisfying guitar licks throughout, Foley also sings with attitude, style and honesty, her coquettish charm as intoxicating as French perfume.

It’s easy then to see why guest stars such as ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Charlie Sexton and Jimmie Vaughan were so drawn to working on The Ice Queen with Foley, a past Juno Award winner whose increasing maturity and diversity as a songwriter is something to behold. From the wild, ‘60s garage-rock swagger of “Run” to the smoldering, organ-driven “81” and a warm, cheery “The Lucky Ones,” where a coy Foley duets playfully with Vaughan, The Ice Queen—one of the most enjoyable blues records in recent memory—is moody, but easy to love. Just don’t try any funny business.

—Peter Lindblad

Baxter Hall – Baxter Hall Plays The Blues

Album Notes
Baxter Hall is an American blues, country, jazz guitarist from Boston MA. Baxter Hall grew up in Jamaica Plain, MA. He began playing guitar at age 13 after finding a Fender Stratocaster in his grandmother’s attic. He grew up in a musical environment. Baxter Hall began playing blues after being inspired by artists such as Anson Funderburgh, Magic Sam, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, & T-Bone Walker. At age 15 Baxter started a rock band called “Monty’s Lobster” based out of Lyndonville VT. In 2017 he began a country rock roots band called “Haggins Hall Band” with young music great “Dwayne Haggins”. In 2018 Baxter opened for Nashville guitarist “JD Simo”. Baxter has also shared the stage with several musicians such as James Montegomery, Neil Vitullo, George McCann and Duke Robillard. Baxter recently recorded on a Duke Robillard album. Baxter Hall has been acknowledged amongst many as “future of the blues”. Baxter Hall has played shows in many states across the country including Texas, Vermont and New York. He also has played shows in the Netherlands and music has been played on radio stations in Russia.

VICTOR WAINWRIGHT and the TRAIN is the Spotlight Album.

Yes Folks 30 days of Victor and his Train here on TME.FM Radio.

 

 

Though his career began over a decade ago with genuine rock n’ roll honky-tonk, Wainwright has broadened his artistic scope over the years to include music representing virtually every corner of the blues. His insatiable interest in music discovery, sheer love for entertaining and curiosity have led him all around the world, and the resulting perspective is a reflection of his passion for entertaining and creating progressive roots music in an effort to move the art-form forward. Composer, producer, vocalist, and award wining entertainer and piano player; Victor Wainwright is a raucous high-octane, dynamic performer and crowd pleaser with soul to spare.

 

 

PRESS

“Wainwright serves as an electrifying guide to a good time-spinning tales, telling his listeners how to beat the blues, and meticulously conjuring raw soul and energy out of his acoustic piano. He displays a sharp sense of humor and a knack for storytelling… every track is brilliant.” -Living Blues Magazine

“Victor Wainwright is a world champion piano player, two times over! Not only is Victor one of the greatest blues piano players in the business, he’s also a world class entertainer and vocalist.” – Blues Revue Magazine

“Victor Wainwright, winner of this year’s Pine Top Perkins Piano Player Award at the BMA’s, is a force to be reckoned with on a piano. He IS honky-tonk and boogie, with a dose of rolling thunder. Wainwright’s playing is simply beautiful madness.” -American Blues Scene

“Savannah, GA native Victor Wainwright is all about boogie woogie piano, deep soul, and a voice that recalls Dr. John at his best. He is a blues star, a tremendous player.” -Chicago Blues Guide

Billy Walton Band – Soul of a Man

Not to be confused with the Blind Willie Johnson song, the Billy Walton Band’s ‘Soul Of A Man’ album strikes the perfect balance between their natural exuberance and nascent song craft.

If you include a self titled 6 track affair, this is their fifth release and it’s their best so far. From the goodtime ‘Save The Last Dance’ and the high-octane jump blues of ‘I Don’t Know’- featuring the relentless drive of sticksman Johnny D’Angelo – to the more reflective down-home finish of the ‘Days Like These’, we’re taken on an ebullient musical journey that flows mellifluously, as it embraces rock & roll, blues, soul and r&b.

The fact that the band can incorporate all those elements and still come out the other side with their signature sound, is an impressive statement as to how far they have come over the last 10 years.

They are an archetypal goodtime New Jersey band, but with strong material. As the album title suggests, they have a soulful feel to match their explosive style. And right at the centre of this exhilarating six piece combo is the explosive guitarist Billy Walton.

His impressive CV comes from a lifetime spent honing his craft on the road. He’s a decent songwriter, confident vocalist and supreme guitarist and ‘Soul Of A Man’ perfectly frames his talent. He leads a kick ass band that has bluesy influences and a soulful heart.

‘Soul Of A Man’ is the band’s second album for Vizztone and the two parties appear to be a perfect fit in terms of the label’s existing roster.

Benefiting from a successful pledge campaign – always a useful barometer of potential market value – the album enjoys a warm production and a crisp mix. There’s a lovely organic feel that almost sounds as if the band has soaked up the Hawaiian vibes – they cut the CD in the Aala recording studio in Maui, – while the soulful grooves were polished and mixed in Southern Philly, where else?

The band has also released ‘Soul Of A Man’ at just the right time. If their previous release ‘Wish For What You Want’ suggested a growing maturity in their song-writing, then ‘Soul Of A Man’ confirms that and nicely taps into the current American upswing in soul.

And yet, any album by the Billy Walton Band will always be judged by against their explosive live shows. Happily, they strike the perfect equilibrium in terms of the ebb and flow of their music and the feel and spark of musically related genres.

Their wide musical range is reflected in the feverish horn stabs and rip-roaring guitar of ‘I Don’t Know’, while ‘Hell N’ Highwater’ rocks hard with bass player William Paris on lead vocals.

But it’s with the smouldering, soul dripping feel of ‘My Little Bird’ that they really step up to the plate.

They eschew their normal bluster on an emotive song full of rich lyrical imagery with a beguiling hook and Billy’s beautifully toned intricate guitar playing, either side of a great horn arrangement.

Then there’s also ‘Something Better’, a soulful ballad with a fine vocal from Billy over another cool horn arrangement.

The album has two covers. A 20′s blues song ‘Minglewood Blues’ is delivered as a tribute to the late Bob Jones who used to play (he was 5 years Michael Bloomfield’s guitarist), as Billy adds more sonic delight. And they lean into John Fogerty’s ‘Green River’ with a sumptuous groove well suited to the band’s own style.

‘Soul Of A Man’ subtly evokes its title, on an album rooted in a powerhouse New Jersey style, but counterweighted by songs with lyrical and musical depth. Scratch the surface and you’ll find a soulful heart.

Finally a special word about the horns. This is a band that first hit the UK as power trio, which is still in evidence on the coruscating ‘Shine The Light’.

They’ve worked hard on building their profile sufficiently enough to tour and record with a horn section who are both perfect accompanists – as on ‘Poison Pill’ – and occasionally vibrant soloists, while exploring an array of sophisticated arrangements par excellence. ‘Soul Of A Man’ indeed!

Better Late than never. Burn It Down the single from Dylan Wickens & The Grand Naturals

Did I send the email to TME.FM Radio?

OK so we are behind the times here at tme but we don’t care especially when we receive a track to play on the radio with the quality of Burn It Down by Dylan Wickens & The Grand Naturals.

After only one play on the new Monday TME Has the Blues show, ( 4am to 8am DJ time) it was an easy decision to put the track on a regular schedule ( it woke the DJ up after only a few beats). I have to disagree with the Bio below though, it didn’t grab the ears it gave them a good slapping.

So what’s next? get the album of course!

Oh and if you missed the first play then go to Dylans site and give it a listen. You will also notice that our cut and paste machine has been working overtime.

 

 True to the spirit of power trios of the sixties, Dylan Wickens & The Grand Naturals immediately grab the listener by the ears with their unapologetic take on the blues, by choosing to colour outside the lines with fuzzed up guitars and bass and melodic, hook-heavy vocal lines. Raw, real, modern and traditional; it’s that paradox which defines the sound of these three world- class musicians that have come together to record the aptly titled, Hi Lo-Fi.

    Their debut recording Tattoo Black was released in 2010 to critical acclaim and extensive airplay on commercial and campus radio, CBC, Stingray and specialty blues programs, quickly establishing themselves as one of the most original and exciting bands in the genre.

    Wickens’ guitar work transitions between visceral stinging slide and soulful blues/rock with the combination of the two helping to define the band’s sound as both raw and real but contemplative, while his vocals are gritty and fervent with a “Clapton like growl and urgency” (Blinded By Sound). As a songwriter, Wickens composes well crafted and meaningful songs that often have a melodic twist at the end – a nod to the freestyle playing of 60s power trios.

TME.FM Radio’s Top Songs Of 2017.

Below is the playlist of our 20 favorite songs of 2017.

Yes I know there are 42 but without declaring war among ourselves we could not make the list any smaller.

We had to use dirty tricks,back stabbing,bribery,coercion and  payment of favors but the 7 of us finally agreed.

We apologize to all the artists who have not got a song on the list , it does not mean they were not good enough we could not make a decision.

This list in no way reflects the TOP ALBUMS OF THE YEAR list which is being compiled in a much more democratic way. No bribes will be accepted from artists or PR companies I can assure you.

Now press play and listen to the best of the best of the best songs played on TME.FM Radio in 2017.

Van Morrison – Roll With The Punches

Van Morrison‘s 2016 album Keep Me Singing included the hard blues track “Goin’ Down to Bangor,” a tune that directly foreshadowed Roll with the Punches, a set of five originals and ten covers drenched in Chicago-style blues. He also heavily engages in collaboration here with appearances by Jeff Beck, Chris Farlowe, Jason Rebello, Paul Jones, and Georgie Fame.

At 72, Morrison can still belt the blues with passion and swagger. The opening title track is an original that pays homage to Willie Dixon‘s “Hoochie Coochie Man” riff. He elaborates on the wrongs in life and love, but exhorts listeners to get up and move on without self-pity. He follows with the single “Transformation,” a trademark Celtic R&B tune and the set’s outlier; his vocal interaction with Beck‘s tasty slide guitar is irresistible. “I Can Tell,” with Beck and Farlowe, is the first of two Bo Diddley tunes, and offers a fantastic lead-in to the medley of T-Bone Walker‘s “Stormy Monday” and Doc Pomus‘ “Lonely Avenue.” Morrison has cut the former several times dating back to Them, while a version of the latter appeared on 1993’s Too Long in Exile. Beck shines, unfurling his guitar wrangling with fire as Farlowe (who had a hit with “Stormy Monday in the early ’60s) and Morrison exchange verses effortlessly, making these the singer’s definitive versions. Fame vocally opens the original “Goin’ to Chicago” with a jazzman’s swing, accompanied only by double bass. Harmonica, electric guitar, and drums follow his organ on the second verse and Morrison enters on the third in a fingerpopping slow burn. Morrison first recorded “Bring It on Home to Me,” for the live It’s Too Late to Stop Now…. While that version was far more animated, this one offers the soulman’s nuanced best as a vocal stylist and he sings the hell out of it. Beck‘s solo on the tune is his own watermark on the set. Morrison‘s “Ordinary People” is a stomping, textbook case in how to write classic-style blues in the 21st century. A stride piano is the engine for the growling read of Sister Rosetta Tharpe‘s gospel blues “How Far from God,” and Morrison‘s passionate delivery makes every word believable. “Teardrops from My Eyes” was Ruth Brown‘s first number one hit; led by Fame, the band lays down swinging R&B, creating a solid backdrop for Morrison to wail. Little Walter‘s “Mean Old World” was once an oft-covered standard, and Morrison reminds us why by reviving its fiery spirit. A rowdy, raucous take on Bo Diddley‘s “Ride on Josephine” closes out this party on a proper note, with Morrison letting the backing chorus and the tune’s trademark boogie riff guide him. On Roll with the Punches, Morrison revisits his roots without nostalgia or overt reverence. For him, these songs are as vital and important to him as his own songs. The spontaneity on this set is more akin to a live record than a studio effort, making it a most welcome entry in his catalog.

MINDI ABAIR AND THE BONESHAKERS

 

Like many first-class leaders Mindi Abair (pronounced with a long A plus Bear) knows how to surround herself with greatness. She has been electrifying audiences with her dynamic live performances and utter command of the saxophone since her debut album in 2000. No one since Junior Walker has brought saxophone and vocals in one package to the forefront of modern music, with a raucous tone and such dynamic stage presence. After eight successful solo albums, the two-time GRAMMY nominated saxophonist, singer, songwriter teamed up with powerhouse Detroit band The Boneshakers, led by guitarist Randy Jacobs and released the critically acclaimed debut Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers LIVE in Seattle in September of 2015.

After 2 ½ years of non-stop touring with the five-piece band that includes vocalist Sweet Pea Atkinson, drummer Third Richardson, keyboardist Rodney Lee and Derek Frank on bass, she called on the talents of renowned Blues Rock producer Kevin Shirley (Led Zeppelin, Joe Bonamassa, The Black Crowes, Aerosmith) to guide them into the studio for their first studio recording.  They chose the famed Hollywood recording studio EastWest Studios, and recorded 11 new tracks of hard-driving blues, rock and soul in just five days. “The EastWest Sessions” includes guest appearances from Joe Bonamassa and the 2017 GRAMMY Best Contemporary Blues Album Winner Fantastic Negrito.

The album opens with the thumping soul rocker, ‘Vinyl,’ that is a celebration of love and the power of music, that name checks many of its inspirational characters. Abair and Jacobs share lead lines over the heavy tom tom-driven groove of the instrumental ‘I’m Not That Kind Of A Girl,’ that builds into the sheer abandon of a saxophone house party. Abair spells out her philosophy of self-reliance and determination on the rocker anthem ‘Play To Win.’ Choosing a bump and grind slow blues as her soap box, Abair takes aim at the boy’s club for the blistering rebuke ‘Pretty Good For A Girl,’ driving her point home by sparring with guitar-slinger and friend Joe Bonamassa. For the soul ballad ‘Let Me Hear It From You,’ Sweet Pea Atkinson takes the vocal reins, demonstrating the power and skills he honed as the acclaimed lead singer for Was Not Was, Bonnie Raitt and Lyle Lovett. Some greasy wah-wah guitar mixes with Abair’s saxophone on the opening hook of the inventive almost instrumental Blues Rock anthem ‘Live My Life,’ that features a vocal chorus alternating with scorching solos. The gospel soaked ‘Freedom,’ starts out unfettered then jumps into a ripping guitar riff over a huge drum groove. This ain’t your daddy’s jazz saxophone for sure. The slinky beat from Third Richardson provides the template for Abair’s unapologetic confessional ‘I Had To Learn The Hard Way.’

Deep Blues pioneer Fantastic Negrito joins the crew on the expansive meditation ‘She Don’t Cry No More,’ a brooding work song dug up from the recesses of the human condition, filled with desperate weeping and wailing. Abair then plays a woman scorned on the dramatic ‘Done Me Wrong,’ pouring out her fury with tenacious vocals and blistering saxophone.  The playful cigar box guitar-driven country meets New Orleans two step, ‘I Love To Play The Saxophone,’ closes out the session. A sweet back porch sing-along with Abair touting her affection for the horn that has been the love of her life.

The title “The EastWest Sessions” refers to the LA studio used for recording the album in the city where they all met and started playing together, but upon further consideration what Mindi Abair And The Boneshakers have created is something deeper; a melding of styles and ideals. The tracks are a mixture of old school Eastern R&B swagger and soul meeting Modern West Coast Jazz and Commercial Rock sensibility, blended into a new groove for a new age.

Rick J Bowen

BIOGRAPHY

Two-time GRAMMY nominee Mindi Abair has made her mark as one of the most recognizable saxophonists in the US. You may know her as the saxophonist on American Idol, or the only saxophonist to tour with rock legends Aerosmith since 1973. You may have seen her on stage with Bruce Springsteen for a historic night at the Beacon Theater, or tuned in as she joined Paul Shaffer and the CBS Orchestra on the Late Show with David Letterman, caught her appearance at The Grand Ole Opry, or recognized her as Al Pacino’s sax player in the movie Danny Collins or as the sax player in Adam Sandler’s film “Sandy Wexler.”

Her eight solo CDs have garnered ten #1 radio hits, seven top five spots and two #1 spots on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz album chart. Abair received a 2014 GRAMMY nomination in the Best Pop Instrumental Album category for “Summer Horns,” a #1 recording with her friends Dave Koz, Gerald Albright and Richard Elliot, and more recently received a 2015 GRAMMY nomination for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album for her solo album “Wild Heart” featuring friends Gregg Allman, Joe Perry, Trombone Shorty, Booker T. Jones, Keb’ Mo’, and Max Weinberg.

After “Wild Heart,” Abair wanted to translate its edgier rock/soul sound to the stage. She called longtime friend Randy Jacobs (Bonnie Raitt, Was Not Was, Willie Nelson) to join her live band. Randy brought his Detroit blues/rock edge to her music.  Randy’s band, The Boneshakers, was playing The Newport Beach Jazz Festival on the same bill as Mindi’s band, where she hopped on stage to “sit in” with The Boneshakers. “There was so much electricity on stage. We all felt it. Everyone played with complete abandon,” Abair said. “It felt like home. And most of my band were also playing with Randy’s band. It was really only about hiring longtime Boneshakers vocalist, Sweet Pea Atkinson (Bonnie Raitt, Was (Not Was), Lyle Lovett). So, we made it official and hit the road as Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers.” “Mindi Abair and The Boneshakers LIVE in Seattle was released September 2015, featuring all the abandon of their live performances.

The artists she’s toured with and/or recorded with are a testament to her talent: Aerosmith, Gregg Allman, Keb’ Mo’, Joe Perry, Bobby Rush, Lalah Hathaway, Trombone Shorty, Duran Duran, Adam Sandler, Lee Ritenour, The Backstreet Boys, Booker T. Jones, Jimmy Webb, Mandy Moore, Max Weinberg, Bill Champlin, David Pack, Mocean Worker, The Ides of March and Teena Marie. Abair played on Bobby Rush’s album with Blinddog Smokin’ called “Decisions” and she produced, wrote, played and sang on “The Reverend Shawn Amos Loves You.” Abair has also played on a few Keb’ Mo’ albums over the years and vice versa and she played on Sweet Pea Atkinson’s album releasing on Blue Note Records in Sept., produced by Keb’ Mo’ and Don Was.

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