With the first official three-day weekend of Summer 2011 in the rear view mirror, I did what a lot of people do – hang with friends, old friends and some new ones, but tended to gravitate towards the reliable ones that have been around awhile. Oh yeh and did the same with the music in the somewhat busier than expected office.
Good thing I hung around and got some of it done before the weekend cos this boy got slapped upside his head by his body and was down for the count and just got back on track last week.
So here’s what mostly I was listening to while working then recovering . . . .
Chris Gill & D’Mar: Real Good Friend (self released)
This is one of those ‘sleeper’ releases that people need to seek out and listen to. It expands the boundaries of current Blues releases by (reintroducing ?) incorporating a strong African feel with a hybrid drum kit from D’Mar, over top of some slick National steel guitar and effective vocals by Mr. Gill.
This ten cut release features one cover “My Babe’ with Derrick Martin (D’Mar) doing the vocals. The other nine are Chris Gill original tunes with Mr. Gill taking lead vocals with a pleasantly laid back vocal style that suits his swampy guitar work.
D’Mar is an exceptional drummer from Little Richard’s band, his self designed drum kit includes congas, kick and hi-hat. What he weaves within the framework of the songs (and release) makes it so organic and sensual it seems to be rooted in what may very well have been the very originals of the Blues. Combine this with Mr. Gill’s exemplary guitar work and we get the overall feel of rural American Blues meets it granddaddy from the old country over a still of good ol’ likker on a moonlit night – not too loud, not too laid back, but just at that point where you know it’s right.
Oh yeh if y’all are going to the Chicago Blues Festival they are playing on Friday, June 10, 1:30PM on the Mississippi Swamp Stage. Stop by and give a listen, and tell them I sent ya ! Really.
Gary Sellers Band: Soul Apparatus (Self Released)
Gary hails from Long Island, that’s like near NYC, but not quite. He didn’t pick up a guitar till he was seventeen, which led him to discover the Blues scene on ‘the Island’ – no chuckles, it’s always been pretty active. Loaded with his little black and white marbled note book, jotting down this and that, Gary worked the clubs learning like a sponge. Finally legendary LI blues man, Sam Taylor decided that the ‘boy with the book’ needed somew real Blues mentoring. This brings us to Gary’s second release.
‘Chewin’ Ice’ is a tune Gary and Sam wrote and it’s a killah track. Funky, super lyrics and Gary sets up behind the groove and gives us a super track to start us off. Interesting to me this has a Tommy Castro feel to it.
His treatment of the Stevie Wonder hit ‘Living For The City’ turns it from the keyboard driven, funky familiar tune to a jazzy slow-burner complete with background vocals. It’s always cool to see a young guy take on a classic and really put his stamp on it, Gary accomplishes this without a doubt.
One other big fav of mine is ‘Sideshow Blues’, you have to check out the lyrics and the way he treats this Todd Snider composition.
Gary is a highly skilled local Long Island musician, we need to keep supporting honest, hard playing guys like him (and others whom we all know) who have talent and drive and might just need a break, he is enjoyable and a promising young player.
Todd Sharpville: Porchlight 2CD’s (String Commander)
I have known Todd for awhile, he is one of the most affable chaps ever. Always quick with a quip, to buy a pint or to talk endlessly about the Blues. It hit me pretty hard when I listed to this release, because of the depth of darkness and personal tragedy that formed the basis for this release.
This is a very personal album, not that it isn’t approachable – it is very approachable, and enjoyable. With the humorously-titled ‘Lousy Husband but a Real Good Dad‘, to the deep blues ‘Misery‘, Todd shows off his impeccibly tasteful guitar work – from deep greasy blues (think fish and chips grease on the newspaper wrapping) to well thought out runs that excite and incite the listener.
On this release he features his close friends Joe Louis Walker, Duke Robillard, and Kim Wilson – Ok so if these guys think enough of Todd’s work so should we.
Rich DelGrosso & Jonn Del Toro Richardson : Time Slips On By ( )
Individually I absolutly adore these two guys. Rich is such a bad assed mandolin player, and Jonn is an exquisite guitarist (with Diunna Greenleaf) the thought of these two getting together just blew my mind. Each takes a turn in featured song, and they in turn compliment each others efforts seemlessly. The title cut is just one of the best cuts I have heard in quite some time. Covering American Roots Music in all it’s wide open ranges this is truly an American album to be played all summer long. These two Houston based masters know how to get it together and put it down.
Oh yeh ‘Summertime Is Here’ has earned a spot on my all-time summer songs list.
Folks, you gots to check this one out, trust me.
Lloyd Jones: Highway Bound (Underworld Records)
I always have had a love for the acoustic guitar, it’s the first one I played; it doesn’t lie, it speaks the truth from its fabulously female form. Lloyd Jones understands this. With this 16 song release he treats us to modern interpretations of some classic blues/roots tunes.
‘Careless Love’ is dynamically presented as a up tempo shuffle, his work on walking bass lines and chordal harmony is not to be missed. Mr. Jones offers another look at ‘Key To The Highway’ a fast-paced almost running version as if this was more autobiographical than he would like us to know.
Lloyd has some fab guest artists in Curtis Salgado & Charlie Musselwhite blowing harp for one track each.
With other gems like “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl’ , ‘Make Me a Pallet On Your Floor’ and ‘Goodnight Irene’ Mr. Jones proves that he is aware of the traditions of the culture that he carries in his head and hands. In doing so establishes himself as a vital link between historic past and present. Our past is safe and future is certainly bright.
Please folks hit these artists up on their site or on Facebook, give them a listen. Yeh, it may not resonate with ya, not everything is for everyone but there is no denying that these artists are seriously talented and deserve a listen; who knows, maybe in another week you WILL like them enough to throw down some change for their release, or better yet go see them and say hi.
Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease,
photos: courtesy of artists.