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.
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
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.
Kelly Z’s solo album, “Rescue,” is a collection of 60’s Funk, Rock and R&B produced, mixed and recorded by the acclaimed Chuck Kavooras. The eight tracks of inspired cover songs were recorded in 2011, but because of a set of fortunate and unfortunate events, never completed. When Chuck and Kelly Zirbes started talking about doing another project together, Chuck remembered the abandoned tracks and played them for Kelly. Both decided they were just too good to sit in a box, where no one would hear the power of these songs and skillful effort of the musicians. Kelly was brought in to sing on the tracks and finish the project. The whole album was recorded on analog at Slide Away Studios, recreating that big vintage sound, and featuring a full horn section, special guests – Teresa James, Shari Puorto & Lisa Orloff Staley – and the core studio band of Rick Reed, Bryan Head, John Marx, and Mo Beeks.
Kelly’s powerhouse rough and ready vocals draw instant comparisons to fellow blues belters, Lydia Pence, Dusty Springfield, Tina Turner and Irma Thomas. She rips out the scorching plea, ‘What Do I Have To Do,’ on the James Brown funk and fury opener, then dials it back for the smoldering soul of ‘Baby It’s You,’ and digs deep into her emotional tool kit for the slow blues ‘You Don’t Realize.’ Guitarist Perry Robertson plays Kelly’s foil on the Ike and Tina standard from 1963 ‘It’s Gonna Work Out Fine,’ complete with “Ikette” backups from Teresa, Shari & Lisa. Kavooras himself adds greasy slide guitar to the swamp rocker ‘Trying To Find My Mind.’ Soul classic ‘He Called Me Baby’ is given a tender but robust treatment and you can sink your teeth into the sexy groove of Isaac Hayes’ ‘Do Your Thing.’ The folk chestnut, ‘You Are My Sunshine,’ is given the full “Funky Broadway” treatment of a thundering jungle beat and blazing horn jabs to bolster Kelly’s steamy vocals. This collection was so worth every effort needed to complete the “Rescue.”
Rick J Bowen
Kelly Zirbes and her band Kelly’s Lot have been playing and recording in Los Angeles since the mid 90’s, and have recorded eleven albums and toured nationally and internationally, amassing a strong following. Currently, the full band is Kelly Zirbes on vocals, Perry Robertson and Rob Zucca on guitars, Matt McFadden on bass, Sebastian Sheehan on drums, Bill Johnston on sax, Dave Welch on trumpet, Bobby Orgel on keys and Frank Hinojosa on harmonica.
“Test Drive” gave the band its first official release. Through the first ten years they recorded three live albums, “Live At The Troubadour,” “Stop And Make A Difference” and “Trio,” headlined local festivals, toured regionally and embarked on two national tours. Many radio stations, have played their albums including their seven-song EP “Come To This,” which was recorded to showcase the band’s journey towards more blues.
Kelly’s Lot has been featured on many media outlets for the music and charity work the band has embraced. Some of the appearances include ABC Perspectives, Channel 4 in Milwaukee, Rock City News, LA Times, Pasadena Weekly, Independent Songwriter Magazine, Mixdown Magazine, The Debra Duncan Show, Good Morning Texas, The Gordon Keith show and Fox TV Houston to name a few.
In 2008 “The Light” was released, which showcased more of the rock and blues the band was getting known for. Their next release in 2009, “Pastrami and Jam,” included a list of covers the band enjoys playing.
Kelly and her band have opened for Tommy Castro, Shemekia Copeland, Marcia Ball, John Mayall, Curtis Salgado, Coco Montoya, to name just a few, and have hosted blues events for charities and for fellow blues musicians. With the support of European fans, the band toured across Belgium, France, Germany, England, Scotland, and The Netherlands. In 2011, they released a live album from Brussels, “Live in Brussels,” which was released both in Belgium and the U.S. “Plain Simple Me” came next and brings the listener back to the roots of this band, when Kelly was playing solo shows as a singer/songwriter.
“Don’t Give My Blues Away,” the next studio recording, was released with a horn section and keys with guest artists Teresa James, Robert Dill and Fred Mandel lending their musical genius to the project, which helped book new gigs for the group including the Valencia Jazz Festival and The Simi Valley Cajun and Blues Festival. “Bittersweet,” their early 2017 release is a mix of many genres and features a new side of the duo’s songwriting. Kelly and Perry have written songs for a 2018 blues release.
Bristol-based Elles Bailey has a talent for crafting and seamlessly weaving rootsy blues, country, and soulful rock, with a contemporary edge. What’s more fate has blessed her with a ‘smoky vocal’ style that perfectly fits her music.
Elles’s trademark husky, lived-in voice may sound like this young songstress keeps up a 60-a-day habit, but was actually caused by a serious childhood illness. At the tender age of three, Elles contracted both viral and bacterial pneumonia. Ever-resilient, Elles recovered,but her voice had changed completely. An ENT visit revealed no permanent damage, but as the specialist prophetically observed, “If she ever wants to sing, she’ll be a natural blues vocalist!”
Now, the miracle girl with the made-for-the-blues voice is about to release her debut album, ‘Wildfire’, on 1st September, 2017.
Elles had The opportunity to record ‘Wildfire’ at Blackbird Studio in Nashville Tennessee where she drew together an amazing pool of musical and production talent and expertise.
“It was always my plan to release my debut album in 2017,” says Elles, “It had been a long time coming, but I could never have imagined getting the opportunity to make it in Nashville, at a studio like Blackbird Studios, where so many iconic albums have been made! I’m very excited about sharing this record with the world!”
Produced by Brad Nowell ‘Wildfire’ assembled a host of Nashville’s finest, including Grammy Award winner and two-time CMA ‘Musician of the Year’ Brent Mason on guitar, three-time ‘Musician Hall Of Famer’ Bobby Wood on piano, joined by Chris Leuzinger (Garth Brooks) on guitar, Mike Brignardello (Lynyrd Skynyrd, Amy Grant) on bass, Wes Little (Stevie Wonder, Melissa Etheridge) on drums, and even legendary Ivor Novello Award-winning songwriter Roger Cook came on board to help add some extra sparkle. Blended together back in the UK with the likes of Jonny Henderson (Robyn Ford, Matt Schofield) on Hammond organ and Joe Wilkins on blistering guitar, the result is a unique trans-Atlantic coming together of styles.
As well as being supported by Radio 2, her single ‘Wildfire’ finally came off the Planet Rock playlist after a whopping 10 weeks and she’s back on their play list again, with her most recent single ‘Same Flame’. She has remained on the Country Rocks Spotify playlist for over a month now and cracked the magic 150k marker. Wildfire recently landed radio 1 playlist in Holland and has been voted the number 1 album in the IBBA blues radio charts. What’s more, Bailey’s most recent single ‘Same Flame’ and its accompanying video went on in June to make Song of the Day at Songwriting Magazine.
Reviewers have been wowed by Elles and her debut album, Wildfire due to be released on 1st September 2017. Maverick Magazine gave ‘Wildfire’ top marks (5/5) and went on to predict a glowing career for this talented artiste: “If Bailey can follow this album up with something equally as good as ‘Wildfire’, there’s no reason why she can’t hit the heights Swift did in country- and perhaps move even further up the country mountain than Swift did.”
“It’s a fact that very few make it to the big stage,” Blues In Britain reminds us, but “Elles Bailey has the necessary talent, the drive, and no) the product.”
Not only will Elles be doing her own headline tour of the UK through out October and November she has also been asked to open for guitar legend Eric Gales on his UK & Ireland tour.
ELMORE MAGAZINE REVIEW.
With ‘Wildfire’ she now delivers a debut album featuring a dozen tracks that are brim-full of fiery blues and confidence.
The pace and pitch is delightfully varied while the smoky-vocals are clear, clean and confidently self-assured, shades of the late Dusty Springfield at times, with hints of many of the old female blues greats swilling around in the background. Recorded in Music City USA, Nashville, and featuring some of the city’s finest sidemen, the keys and guitar work are driving, forceful, pounding along at times while at others pulling back off the gas and sliding along with zinging, ringing taste and control.
In many ways this album is a genuine triumph. It’s one thing to turn out a limited six-track EP but quite another to follow through soon afterwards with a fully formed, 12-track album. Bailey on this wonderful offering has pulled the trick off with absolute ease and assurance. This is an album that both promises much and delivers. In addition, it is a promising release that hints at yet more to come in the future pipeline. This is an album that crosses the acoustic-slide/electric blues divide comfortably and confidently. Get out and grab a copy of ‘Wildfire,’ you certainly won’t be disappointed. Ellis Bailey is a rising star to keep an eye on, for sure.
Few things are as pure as the sound of a solo vocal and sparse acoustic accompaniment. That singularity of purpose led to the latest collaboration from veteran blues man Steve Howell and his partner, Jason Weinheimer; “A Hundred Years From Today.” The wonderful ten song collection of rural country blues and traditional jazz offerings in the intimate setting of guitar, bass and vocals is set for an August of 2017 release. Texan Steve Howell provided the melodic and seasoned finger style guitar and soulful vocals while Jason Weinheimer lent his considerable and widely recognized skills on bass, engineering, mixing and mastering. The album opens with the jaunty trad jazz tune, ‘Lulu’s Back In Town,’ that was a staple of Fats Waller’s repertoire. The old-time country blues tune from 1927, ‘Kansas City Blues,’ shows off Howell’s adept finger picking skills and the inspiration he drew from Mike Bloomfield. Howell then digs deep into the songbook of fellow Texan Lightnin’ Hopkins for the share cropper’s blues ‘Going Back To Florida.’ The loose yet tight two-step feel of ‘Louis Collins,’ cleverly disguises the dark beauty of the great American murder story from the 1920’s, first recorded by Mississippi John Hurt.
Howell pays tribute to another one of his heroes, and Texas legend, jazz man Jack Teagarden, on the sweet lilting title track, ‘A Hundred Years From Today.’ Weinheimer keeps the bass walking as Howell trades rhythm, leads, and verses on the country blues boogie ‘Got The Blues, Can’t Be Satisfied,’ another standard from the catalog of Mississippi John Hurt. The duo then pays tribute to the Crescent City, (New Orleans) the birth place of Jazz on a loving reading of ‘Basin Street Blues.’ Howell deftly merges the jazz standards ‘Limehouse Blues’ and ‘After You’ve Gone’ into one with an extended instrumental intro of more finger picking magic that sets up his easy swinging vocals. Bo Carter and The Mississippi Sheiks wrote and recorded some of the most varied Delta Blues material and are well known for bawdy songs such as ‘Who’s Been Here?’ that would have been considered “blue material” back in the day. Howell delivers here with the light hearted, tongue-in-cheek humor that was intended. The much-loved standard, from the great American songbook, ‘Rocking Chair,’ closes out the set with Howell slowing the tempo and imbuing the motif of a dialog between an aged father and his son, with the deep melancholy from someone facing mortality.
“A Hundred Years From Today,” from Howell and Weinheimer, offers an interesting and accessible set list, recorded with an eerie clarity missing in the quality of most audio production, that breathes new life into gems from the past and taps the depths of the human condition.
by Rick J Bowen
When Steve Howell first heard Mississippi John Hurt’s happy style of fingerpicking country blues in 1965 at the age of thirteen, he immediately knew that the tame, folky style of strumming the guitar was a thing out of the past for him. As his journey progressed, Mississippi John Hurt begat Blind Willie McTell and Leadbelly, who begat Robert Johnson, Son House, Rev. Gary Davis, Blind Willie Johnson, Blind Blake and a host of other black acoustic guitar players and vocalists. His interest in rural, folk-blues styles and the history of the music led him to learn more about how this music came to town and melded with the horn-oriented bands prevalent in the cities, creating a strong affinity for him with the traditional jazz and New Orleans music of the first half of the twentieth century. This led to a journey through music which, of course, included the pop, country, rock and blues music of the times, as well as the music of Miles Davis, Bill Evans, Lester Young, Louis Armstrong, Jack Teagarden, Art Tatum, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Chet Atkins, Johnny Smith, Wes Montgomery, Bucky Pizzarelli, Joe Pass, George Van Eps, Lenny Breau, and many other great jazz artists. Although very interested in many other music styles (bebop, rock ‘n’ roll, rhythm and blues, and others), the heart of his playing and singing is very much rooted in the rural acoustic blues and traditional jazz genres born in the American South.
Born in Marshall, Texas, Steve lived in Kilgore, Texas, until the age of seventeen, when his family moved to Shreveport, Louisiana. Upon Steve’s graduation from Captain Shreve High School in Shreveport, he lived in Dallas, Arlington, Austin, and spent some time in Pennsylvania during 1972-1973. Late 1973 brought the beginning of a hitch in the U.S. Navy which took him to Key West, Florida, and then to Havorfordwest, South Wales, for 3 1/2 years. During this time, he played folk clubs in South Wales, as well as in the South of England with his partner, fingerstyle and slide guitarist and mandolinist, Arnie Cottrell. They also played several folk music gatherings including the Pembroke Castle Folk Festival in the spring of 1976.
Upon his return to the United States ‘77 and back to Shreveport, Louisiana, Steve performed through the late 70’s & 80’s, with numerous gigs around East Texas, initially as a duo with guitarist David Dodson in 1977 and then with his partner, Shreveport restauranteur Jim Caskey. Since 2006 Steve has recorded the music he loves so much as well as continued to perform, oft times with his Mighty Men. Steve is the Recipient of the 2012 Academy of Texas Music Historical Significance Award.
A veteran songwriter and performer, Jason Weinheimer has spent the last decade focused on recording and producing albums for other artists at his studio, Fellowship Hall Sound www.fellowshiphallsound.com. He has recorded albums by John Moreland, Buddy Flett, and Jim Mize, among many others. In addition to his studio work, he plays bass in a few bands, most notably Steve Howell & the Mighty Men. His solo album “Skies Are Grey” was released in 2016 under the name The Libras.
“Every musician is a product of their influences. It would be dishonest for me to deny the influence of B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Lightnin’ Hopkins and others however the two profound “game changers” were Freddie King and Magic Slim. A quote from B.B. or Muddy may come at any time in my performance, but the giants who take me to the gig and stand with me are Slim and Freddie. Freddie was an obsession of mine throughout the ’70s. I played all of his instrumentals as have many famous guitarists. In the late ’70s, I discovered another giant. While searching the record bins at a record store known for obscure recordings, I discovered Magic Slim and The Teardrops. This lead to a pilgrimage to Chicago in the hopes of finding Slim. The liner notes on the Austrian record label said that he was in Chicago and was relatively undiscovered. At the time, there was at least 50 blues clubs in Chicago cooking every night of the week. I only knew of two; B.L.U.E.S. on N. Halstead and The Checkerboard Lounge (owned at the time by Buddy Guy and Jr. Wells) in the South Side. There was no internet. If you wanted to find something, you had to search and ask…. a lot. So, my quest began to find Magic Slim. I drove to Chicago and went to B.L.U.E.S. on N. Halstead to ask about Slim’s whereabouts. When I got there, Magic Slim and The Teardrops were playing! It was packed so I couldn’t talk to Slim. The following night, I went to the only other club I knew of, The Checkerboard Lounge. I walked in and saw Slim sitting at the bar. I introduced myself and explained my shock and disbelief that I found him two nights in a row with no prior knowledge of his whereabouts. He looked at me and said “Well…that’s why they call me Magic Slim”. That began a friendship that lasted over 30 years until his passing in Feb. 2013. I became very close to Slim and his band and played with them many times through the years. John Primer was the last guitar player in Muddy’s band and when Muddy passed, John went with Slim.
In the 13 years that John spent with Slim, we also became good friends. One of my favorite tunes by John is covered on this album, “Stop Draggin’ That Chain Around”. Slim encouraged and inspired me to find my own voice in performing the blues. If there’s a moment while listening to this album that you find yourself tapping your feet or playing air guitar or drums, I’ve succeeded in bringing you Magic. Whether it was Magic Slim or Freddie King that lead to that moment, it’s clear to me that they are both responsible for the way I interpret my music and so I have named this album……..MAGIC KINGDOM. Hopefully, you will find this album inspirational in some way and together we can share these moments that help to keep the Blues Alive!” Gordon Meier
Fret board aficionados, tone junkies and fans of hot stove blues guitar will be glad to hear the return of Seattle guitarist Jim Allchin, who is preaching to the choir on his third album “Decisions.” The 14 tracks were recorded at the famed Blackbird Studio in Nashville by a production team led by Grammy winning producer, drummer and songwriter Tom Hambridge. The group of A list players involved also includes Michael Rhodes on Bass, Reese Wynans on piano and Hammond B3, Guitarists Pat Buchannan and Rob McNelly and the “Heart Attack Horns,” led by Bill Bergman and Lee Thornburg. If this wasn’t enough fire power Allchin and Hambridge recruited Niki Crawford, Wendy Moten, Seattle soul man Mycle Wastman and international blues super star Keb’ Mo’ to join in on vocals, rounding out the all-star team.
The core quartet opens the album on the rockin’ blues shuffle ‘Artificial Life,’ with Allchin extolling the turmoil and tribulations of the modern-day working man blues. The team then heads south of the border on a rollicking trip to ‘The Mexican End,’ an easy going four-on-the-floor groove with hot horns and lead guitar. Allchin then cranks up the volume for the heavy hitting track ‘Bad Decisions,’ featuring more molten fret work and organ from Wynans on one of several songs co-written by Hambridge. The mood mellows for the introspective ‘Healing Ground,’ with Allchin trading verses with Keb’ Mo’ speaking to the precious gift of life that surrounds us and the power of healing available to all, if we will only listen.
The house rockin’ shuffle ‘Blew Me Away’ features the “Heart Attack Horns,” who bolster Allchin’s guitar chops on a good old-fashioned song about falling in love at first sight. The piano driven ‘She Is It’ continues the theme as he testifies to the virtues of the love of his life during the easy pop ballad. The gang whip out all the Nashville cat tricks on the blazing boogie woogie instrumental ‘Just Plain Sick,’ trading hot licks like old pros. The barn-burning slow blues ‘Friends’ rolls out like a staple from the B.B King songbook, with Allchin delivering a sermon on trust and being wary of fair-weather toadies and sycophants. Allchin dons an acoustic guitar to emphasize his point and our need for peace and understanding delivered via the easy-going country blues of ‘You Might Be Wrong,’ celebrating our differences in a party atmosphere to sell an important life lesson. The second instrumental in this collection centers around soaring guitar melodies and intertwining harmonic lines that ebb and flow with emotion. The edgy ‘Don’t Care’ finds Allchin playing the role of a man done wrong and standing his ground while his guitar does most of the talking. He then digs deeper into the blues for the torch song ‘Stop Hurting Me,’ featuring dulcet piano from Wynans and a solo from Allchin that rips like Garry Moore. The tender tribute ‘My Father’s Eyes,’ will touch the heart of anyone who lost a parent at an early age and longs for them to know how much they are missed and still loved. The album closes with a third guitar-driven instrumental simply titled ‘Destiny,’ with Allchin pouring out the passion he feels for this magical instrument, through his fingertips.
Jim Allchin describes the collection in the album notes as a study in the decisions we make in our life about identity, relationships, and “how to live life authentically.” Themes reflected in the lyrical content and in the choice of every note from his cerebral guitar work and soulful vocals. This is quite an album; the stuff dreams are made of.
“Grit” is the debut album from Vintage#18, recorded in 2016, after their participation at that year’s International Blues Challenge, at which they gained plentiful insights and experience. An eclectic music mix of 11 tunes, nine of which are original, were recorded at Gizmo Recording Company in Silver Spring, Maryland with all four artists involved in the production of the album.BIOGRAPHY
Since 2013, Vintage#18 has become well-known in a very short time as a dynamic soul and blues band igniting stages throughout the Northern Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C. areas with their engaging live performance and stick-to-your-bones groove.
Built on a framework of talented and dedicated musicians, the band features the vintage sound of Bill Holter (guitar), with the groove laid by Alex Kuldell (drums) and Mark Chandler (bass), with sultry lead vocals by Robbin Kapsalis, captivating audiences with her soulful voice and infectious live show.
The energy of the band is undeniable and together Vintage#18 delivers hard-driving blues rhythms and soul grooves you can move to. The band has many influences – a host of Stax and Chess artists.
Robbin was born in Chicago and raised in Atlanta. Her introduction to blues was from her Aunt Ida Bell, who would play Koko Taylor, Etta James and Muddy Waters whenever Robbin would visit. A passionate, gritty performer, Robbin delivers foot-stomping blues with fervor and style.
Bill has long been sought out by other guitarists who completely dig his tone and phrasing. His early work was in the “blues/rock” crossover tradition, but later spiced his vocabulary with Eastern and American jazz points of view. Bill’s studio and live credits include Failsafe, The Roadducks (auxiliary), Prime Suspects, Radical Trust, Johnny Artis, The Seductones (and No Budget Productions), Jimbo Manion and Monster Fun Package, and the Bay City Rollers. He has opened for Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, The Coasters, The Drifters, Molly Hatchet and many more. A vintage instrument dealer, his is an opinion of choice for many pro players.
It’s often held that drummers who come through the military are steps above many other players; we know that Alex is. His technical discipline could be assumed, but beyond that he takes a wide view of his instrument that transcends traditional percussion playing. A very “total” approach. It was really his enthusiasm for transplanting accepted playing techniques to new areas that sparked the experimentation that the band enjoys now. Our chief mechanic.
Professionally, Mark almost always played bass, with some keyboards thrown in. Starting with jazz and “progressive” rock, it wasn’t until later that a reacquaintance with folk and roots music led him to styles that inform his playing today. Credits include Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Daryl Davis, Sleepy LaBeef, The Coasters, Linwood Taylor, Charley Sayles and Jimm Altman.
“Memphis,” the sophomore album from Jim Gustin (as in gust of wind plus in) & Truth Jones, is a bountiful collection of ten original tunes by Jim Gustin, four of which are co-written with his performance partner, Jeri Goldenhar (aka Truth Jones). The new opus is the long-awaited follow-up to their critically-acclaimed debut recording, “Can’t Shed A Tear”, released in 2013 that reached the Top 20 RMR Blues Album Chart. Both were produced by Terry Wilson (Eric Burden, Teresa James, Ana Popovic, to name a few).BIOGRAPHY
Jim Gustin is a blues singer and guitarist from Santa Clarita California. He has a distinctive, powerful voice; soulful and deep with a smoky rasp, and is a passionate and energetic performer. He is also a very solid guitarist with great tone and a funky feel. Jeri Goldenhar, aka Truth Jones, has been singing since she was a little girl, although at over six feet tall, it’s hard to imagine her as a knee high, little red-headed child. She has a big voice to match her impressive stature. She can belt out gospel and soul seldom heard from suburban white girls.
Together, they provide a powerful one-two vocal punch that is rare amongst blues acts. They sound great blended together as well as each bringing a distinctive flavor to create the band’s unique sound. They have well written catchy songs that come from and are performed from the heart.
Jim has been playing music for over 30 years in and around the LA area. His first gig on guitar was at the Los Angeles Sports arena in front of 10,000 people. He has performed at Staples Center prior to an LA Kings game. He has performed at the SCV Blues Festival, The Ventura County Blues Festival, Thunder on the Lot, AV and LA County Fairs, Glory 2016, GIVE-Apalooza, Gracefest AV and SCV, countless bars and clubs, including; The Canyon Club, The Rose, The Saban Theater, Arcadia Blues Club, Malarkey’s, Sagebrush Cantina, The Coach House, Maui Sugar Mill, and many more.
He has opened for or performed with many notable performers including; Three Dog Night, Tommy Castro, Fabulous Thunderbirds, Chris Duarte, Teresa James, Coco Montoya, John Nemeth, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Delgado Bros, Deb Ryder, Dallas Hodge, Shari Puorto, Chase Walker, Darrell Mansfield, Sean Jones, Tommy Marsh, Ray Goren and many more.
They perform regularly at their church and at benefits for Susan G. Komen, Help the Children and our military veterans. They are member of the LA, SCV, Socal and Ventura County Blues Societies as well as The Blues Foundation.
“This collection of songs is an honest representation of who I am, where I come from and where my heart is. The Blues remains the rock on which I have built every song I’ve ever written. I also love to incorporate songs by artists that inspire me and this time it was Steve Earle and Bob Dylan.” Patty ReeseWith a superb balance of steamy and sultry, power and passion in her vocals and the ability to cover a wide range of dynamics and genres, from rockin’ blues to power soul and smooth ballads, Patty Reese delivers the full package on her new album “Let In The Sun.” Reese is winner of 17 Washington Area Music Association “WAMMIES” including Album of the Year, Artist of the Year and Roots Rock Vocalist.
Her fourth album, released January of 2017 on the cooperative label Azalea City Recordings, features nine new original tunes and two inspired covers that demonstrate Reese’s skills as a music stylist bar none. The album features guitarist Jonathan Sloane; bassist Sonny Petrosky; drummer Andy Hamburger and Tommy Lepson on keys (co-producer with Reese).
Opening with the swampy blues ‘Is It Too Late For Me?,’ featuring wicked slide guitar from Jonathan Sloane, followed by the greasy Texas shuffle Your Love,’ then the supersonic horn funk ‘Soul Satisfier,’ a track that could have been from the Lydia Pence and Cold Blood catalog. And just when you are ready to put Reese into the blues shouter category she gets soft and intimate during the smooth-swinging torch song ‘I Won’t Let You Down.’ The title track is glorious bit of gospel of infused joy and optimism, recorded “Live” at Airshow Mastering in Takoma Park, MD that features the Patty Reese band’s ability to gel and jam without any overdubs. The feel-good vibe of ‘Radio Song’ has a 70’s Bonnie Raitt sound that celebrates the power of music. Reese and company bust out a dish Cajun flavored second line on the house party track ‘Awesome Sauce’ and get little country for the hill stomp ‘I Hear A Lie.’ The Bob Dylan classic ‘Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright’ is given a soulful reading with Reese breathing tender mercy into the vaunted lyric. Reese closes the album on acoustic guitar with the lovers’ lament ‘Goodbye,’ an elusive gem written by Steve Earle that she makes her own. “Let In The Sun” is certain to shine a light on Patty Reese and her many talents.
Rick J. Bowen
Patty Reese is a fan favorite and critics’ choice in the Mid-Atlantic region and over the years she’s collected enough WAMMIES (Washington Area Music Awards) to fill a major DC pothole. Awards include Album of the Year, Artist of the Year and Roots Rock Band and Vocalist as well as national awards for songwriting.
An acoustic and intimate house concert, rocking the house at the Birchmere, commanding a standing ovation at Maryland’s Strathmore Music Hall on the Woodstock tribute, that’s where you might have seen Patty Reese and you can be sure she was lighting the place up with uninhibited effervescence. Her strong songwriting, dynamic vocals and solid guitar work make her a powerful solo act—or add in a mega talented band of music vets and lookout!
Comparisons have been made that Reese also claims as influences, including Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin and Bob Dylan. Proven a great match up with national Blues and Roots luminaries, Patty has supported many including Beth Hart, Delbert McClinton, Tab Benoit, Jimmie Vaughan and Dr John.
Patty’s previous release, ”Strong Medicine,” (WAMA’s Album of the Year) held the #1 position on the AirPlay Direct Global Radio Indicator Charts™ (displaying the top singles downloaded for airplay by radio programmers) for four weeks and has been played on over 700 stations worldwide.
Her January 2017 release “Let In The Sun” on Azalea City Recordings label, just keeps delivering song after song with clever, timely subjects and solid musical prowess. Aside from the title track ‘Let In The Sun’ other standout songs are ‘Awesome Sauce’ incorporating a New Orleans “second line” groove. The song title itself is a good analogy for the mix of musical styles, love and energy that is delivered here. ‘Good Neighbor,’ a song everyone can relate to, takes familiar thoughts and winds them unpredictably into a rant of the good and bad things about neighbors.
“Music has always been my inspiration, my challenge, and a respite and safe harbor to express my sorrow, pain, anger, love, humor and everything that makes us human. I’ve always had a strong desire to explore, grow and improve. I love the work of being a musician—meeting new friends and fellow music lovers, a life surrounded by musicians and fellow creatives, being in a new place every night—it’s always new, always fresh.”