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Bits ‘n Bobs: Rev does Bowie

I plan to review The Rev. Shawn Amos Breaks It Down soon because I really like it, but
the thing I like best of all Is the ingenious version of David Bowie’s “The Jean Genie..” Here’s a teaser, though it’s not quite the same.

Posted in blues, Music, Uncategorized

Victor Wainwright and The Train


Having established himself firmly in the last few years as a multiple-award winning piano player and entertainer, Victor Wainwright is making some changes. He has a new band,  The Train, a new record label, Ruff and a new album, simply called Victor Wainright and The Train, coming out March 9. I got an early listen and it’s amazing.


As Victor says on the song “The Train”: “If you wanna boogie get aboard this train/Get yourself a ticket or get out of the way.” With these 12 original songs, this train is going exactly where Wainwright wants it to go, with stops at traditional, rock, ballads, his signature boogie, and even a side trip into psychedelia!


It all begins with that pounding piano as Wainwright starts us off with “Healing,” a soul extravaganza with horns, organ, piano, and passionate vocals. Next is the new Orleans-flavored tale of poor Peggy and the”Wiltshire Bridge.
This is one of the songs that plays down the piano for the vocals and the organ and horns.

Then here comes the train. This one is going to pick you up and sweep you away! After Victor exhorts the band to get the train started, It goes faster and faster until it hits that ferocious piano and then ends with the horns. Whew! Wipe your forehead and get ready to switch gears for “Dull Your Shine,” with its message that ‘those who mind don’t matter, and those that matter, they don’t mind.” This one features a poignant guitar solo as well as more restrained piano and a persistent drum beat to underscore the uplifting message.

“Money” is a sly, funny soul shuffle with a message we will all recognize. It is followed by a moving and heartfelt tribute to Lucille, BB King’s guitar. It is a highlight of the album and is likely to get a lot of play on blues radio.

“Boogie Depression” is a fast boogie about the power of music to cure depression, with some real piano pyrotechnics to remind you that the man is a piano playing genius. Then the mood slows down for the slow, sweet love song, “Everything I Need.”

Switching moods again, “Righteous”  is a spooky song about “righteous” anger. Listen closely and you will get a chill. “I’ll Start Tomorrow” comes as a relief, with its funny message about procrastination.

It is followed by the entirely different, Eastern-influenced and psychedelic “Sunshine,” which features guitar, horns, and drums and a short, plaintive vocal. It really allows the band to show off their skills, and Wainwright to show that an organ can be psychedelic. Then the album ends with another sweet, slow ballad, “That’s Love To Me” It is a huge compliment in my mind that these slow songs remind me of the great Leon Russell, while still being completely Victor’s own.

Wainwright and The Train take us on one amazing journey here, with still some astounding piano but a whole lot more besides, showing that Wainwright can break out in all sorts of wonderful directions. Be prepared to jump on board, it’s coming your way soon!

Posted in Americana, blues, Music, Uncategorized

Congrats to the blues and roots Grammy winners!

Best Traditional Blues Album: “Blue & Lonesome” — The Rolling Stones

Best Contemporary Blues Album: “TajMo” — Taj Mahal and Keb’ Mo’

Best Regional Roots Music Album: “Kalenda” — Lost Bayou Ramblers

Best American Roots Performance: “Killer Diller Blues” — Alabama Shakes\


Best American Roots Song: “If We Were Vampires” — Jason Isbell, songwriter (Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit)

Best Americana Album: “The Nashville Sound” — Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

The Rolling Stones started out as a blues band way back in the ”60s, and not only played the music bu actively supported the blues musicians who were living and working at the time, It is great to hear them get back to their roots. And surely no one can argue with the greatness of Keb Mo and Taj Mahal, a pairing that had to happen.

As for the roots and Americana artists, Alabama Shakes really were killer on :Killer Diler Blues.: And The Lost Bayou Ramblers, working with Jack White, did something very different with  Kalinda, a whole albun inspired bty one song. It was a gamble, but it paid off!

I had never heard “If We Were Vampires,” so I listened on Spotify and it is a beautiful song about love and the fear of loss and a worthy winner.

Congrats to all the winners!

Posted in blues, Music, Uncategorized

Eric Hughes – ‘Meet Me In Memphis’

Eric HughesIn Meet Me In Memphis, Eric Hughes and his band do a fabulous job of not only capturing Memphis in all its diversity but of moving smoothly from blues to blues-rock with hints of soul and country as well.

Hughes and the band start out with a powerful blues rocker, “Freight Train of Pain,” just to show what they can do. They then launch into “Meet Me in Memphis,” such a powerful ad for the city that you may find yourself packing your suitcase and heading for Beale! The voices of Reba Russell and Susan Marshal on the chorus invite you into church and the piano and organ, played by Chris Stephenson, add to the gospel flavor, while Art Edmaiston and Marc Franklin, on saxophone and trumpet add spice and beckon you to the clubs along Beale.

“Roll a Fatty For Your Daddy” is pure blues, the sort of song you might hear on a Memphis street corner back in the day. It is followed by a highlight of the album, “The Day They Hanged the Kid.” This epic piece of storytelling in song captures the grit of classic Western movies.

“Here Comes the Boogie Man” is a different kind of storytelling song, one that evokes scary movies and campfire tales, before the mood changes completely for the sweet,  slightly vintage-sounding  ballad, “:I Left My Heart at Your Place (For Donna).”

“Midtown Blues” is a humorous blues with smoking music behind Hughes’ sly vocals. It is followed by the blues-rocker, “I’m Knockin’ On Your Door,” a tale of love and suspicion. The Album ends with the charming ‘i Believe I’m Going Fishing,” an ode to that activity. It leaves you feeling good.

There are hints here of the old bluesmen, of ZZ Top and Jimmy Buffet. But mostly there’s Memphis. Hughes has done a great job of capturing his hometown, and the album is a delight.magazine

Originally published in Making A Scene Magazine

Posted in blues, Music, Uncategorized

ThunderGypsy – ‘ThunderGypsy’

Updated from the original article by Rhetta posted in Making A Scene magazine.

ThunderGypsy is the group chosen at the Atlanta Blues Challenge sponsored by the Atlanta Blues Society to represent the city at the International Blues Challenge 2018. They have a new CD out, produced by Richard L’Hommedieu at Midnight Circus Studios, and it is phenomenal. They won the unlimited studio time as a prize for winning the challenge and they took advantage of it masterfully! While they did not win in the tough Memphis competition, they will win you over with this album.

Heather Statham, the vocalist, has a strong, clear voice that is a pleasure to hear, and the band backing her up are highly skilled. Ken Williams on drums and Richard Price on guitar really know their stuff, but for me, it is Statham and Paul Allison on keys who really adds sparkle to these songs.

And what songs they have chosen! The CD opens with “Chasin’ the Miles,” a road song that opens with the organ and then serves as a strong introduction to Statham and the rest of the band. It is followed by a highlight of the recording, an absolutely stunning version of “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” a Bob Dylan song I have loved since the first time I heard Dylan sing it many years ago. Yet here, Statham and the rest of ThunderGypsy make it sound fresh and new and riveting all over again.

“Don’t Cry To Me” begins with mellow horns and then continues with Statham proving she can do a heartbreaking ballad as well as the best crooners, with drummer Williams providing a soft, persistent beat and the rest of the band keeping it appropriately understated in the background.

Picking up the pace again, Statham gets into the gospel-flavored “The River,” which will make you want to raise your hands and shout. Quieting things down again, we get the contemporary blues of “Turn On the Bright Lights,” showing this group can do this style well, too. Statham’s voice has just enough of a rasp on the chorus to convey the emotion. “New Secrets” continues the contemporary mode and allows Price to show off some tasty guitar along with the organ.

Returning to a familiar favorite, the band delivers the smooth gospel of “People Get Ready,” with marvelous organ solos and that effective drumming from Williams as well as that perfect vocal. It is followed by “Anyday,” with Statham seeming to channel Tina Turner and more great organ and mellow guitar solos.

Fearlessly, the band then takes on “St. James Infirmary,” one of the most spine-chilling blues songs ever written, and they do a beautiful job of it. Then they finish off on a blues romp with “I Don’t Need No Doctor.”

This CD proves that ThunderGypsy is a force to be reckoned with and that you need this in your collection. They can handle a variety of styles with ease and Atlanta can be proud to have had them represent the city. No matter what happened with the Challenge,  they are winners and

this is a CD to savor.

Posted in blues, Music, Uncategorized

Michelle Malone – ‘Slings and Arrows’

Originally published by Rhetta in Making A Scene magazine

Michelle Malone is a proud Georgia singer/songwriter and guitar slinger who is stirred up about things on her upcoming release, Slings and Arrows, and she is right up front about it. Since she is so good at what she does, you’re pretty much guaranteed to enjoy it while you are listening and think about it when it’s done. There are some tough subjects here, but despite whatever hardships may have inspired most of these songs, Malone’s spirit shines through.

“The past year seemed to alternate between darkness and light,” Malone reflects in the press release. “It’s kind of been the arc of my life in general, but even more so over the past year. In a very real sense, this album is a microcosm of issues that I’ve encountered, and in writing this record, it became a kind of therapy. It helped change my perspective, and I suspect that there are messages here that can offer affirmation to others as well.”

Delving into the songs,”Just Getting Started” is a driving motivational number while “Love Yourself,” is a rocker with the message that “You can’t love nobody until you love yourself,” and we need forgiveness and unification, even on a national level.

Next is “Sugar On My Tongue,” a love song with a soul groove. It’s followed by “Beast’s Boogie,” about a musician who has passed on. It is a raucous boogie with a touching story.

Then comes a cover, and what a cover! It’s a duet with fellow Georgian Shawn Mullins on the perennial classic “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long.” The mesh of Malone’s and Mullen’s voices is simply perfect and this song alone is worth the cost of the album.

“Fox and the Hound” is an exciting rocker with some amazing slide guitar from Malone, reminding us in case we somehow forgot that she is a master of that, too.

“Civil War” is a brittle song about abuse and fighting back. Malone does not flinch from the subject, here or in “Matador,” another song of betrayal and hurt.

Then comes”The Flame” a soaring ballad about losing everything but hope, while “Boxing Gloves” is a triumphant song about finding strength after terrible blows.

With the music Malone has created with fellow Georgia musicians, she has made is album tough and truthful yet upbeat, driving and energetic, This one is something special and highly recommend

Posted in Americana, blues, Uncategorized

Peter Karp – ‘Blue Flame’

Peter Karp

Blue Flame

Peter Karp is soon to release a new album, Blue Flame. The title, according to the liner notes, comes from a conversation with the great bluesman and songwriter Willie Dixon. Dixon told Karp, “When it’s honest and real it burns hot, like a blue flame.”

Karp took those words to heart, and these songs deal with real personal issues and feelings to which listeners can relate. He handles it all with a wry humor and songwriting skill. Add to that Karp’s strong, true voice, and ability to play a host of instruments including National steel guitar, harmonica, and various keys, plus a hand from some talented friends and it is no surprise that this is an excellent album. Some of the songs also appeared on Karp’s album The Arson’s Match in 2016, including “The Arson’s Match,” but even if you have that album, you will enjoy hearing them here along with the new songs. They fit together so well to tell a coherent story.

The first song, “Rolling On A Log,” establishes a recurring theme in the album: trying to keep your balance no matter what life throws at you. In this case, life was throwing pretty hard stuff, but Peter’s still on that log. Kim Wilson adds some tasty harmonica. Next, “Train O’ Mine” brings up another theme, which is to keep on moving on, leaving trouble behind and heading for the next thing. It’s a driving song with some great harmonica,

A change of pace comes with my personal favorite track, “Your Prettiness.” Here Karp recites a long list of his woman’s attributes that make you wonder where he found that “prettiness.” She cusses, wears tacky clothes, has bad skin, bad teeth, messy hair, but hey, she’s pretty. Karp’s droll delivery here reminds me strongly of Lyle Lovett, a comparison I have made in writing of Karp’s work before This song will make you laugh if you are not dead.

“Valentine’s Day” is a lilting love song for a holiday that really does need more songs, In it, Karp lists all the things he appreciates about his woman and then in the spoken outro, he lists his offerings:”I’ve got the candy, I’ve got the flowers…:” This one is so much fun and you know it is getting played at our house on February 14.

The rocking “Treat Me Right” takes on a serious message in a deceptively light way as Karp explains how he told his woman she just doesn’t treat him right. “The Turning Point” then takes us into a completely serious, yearning look into the heart of a man who knows things have to change. This is a true “blue flame” song.

“Loose Ends” returns to wry humor as Karp explains the ways the loose ends always get you. I could not help but compare it to Alanis Morrisette’s “Ironic,” though Peter’s version is far more entertaining.

“The Arsons Match” is the title song from Karp’s CD that I reviewed in 2016. That was a live recording from 2004 that was lost for nearly 10 years and then rescued and ultimately released. It features Mick Taylor and this track uses an upbeat blues style to tell the true story of how an arson burned Karp’s house and everything he owned.

“From Where I Stand” has more than a touch of early Dylan in the delivery. It’s a song about family and loss and not knowing what you have until it rushes by. “You Know” is straight up blues about the lessons you only learn alone in the dark. Fantastic harp on this one.

As we near the end of the album, “Round and Around” reminds me of the late Tom Petty as Karp examines the circular nature of relationships. “Young Girl” ends the recording with an old man delivering the message of it all to a young girl who doesn’t know what to do: you keep on. Karp’s raspy-voiced delivery of the old man’s words is perfect.

Peter Karp is one of those people who is keeping the singer/songwriter tradition alive. Blue Flame is a worthy addition to that tradition and a must for your collection.

peter karp