CD Reviews – One-A-Day Holiday Challenge Week One

What a great time it was, the CD Challenge lasted 30 days with 31 reviews for your holiday shopping assistance.

We covered a broad range of musical style but all housed under our big blues tent (which was one of the finalist names for the web site before Blues411 won) and we are thrilled to have done it.

What we are doing is reposting these in 5 sections each covering a span of 7 days so that artists, fans, and promo peeps can easily find their reviews. It also helps cos it allows me to tag posts and they turn up on feeds etc., so it’s a win win for all involved.

Remember all of these reviews will be up on under the name Blues411.

Corey Lueck & The Smoke Wagon Blues Band :
It Ain’t Easy (HS Records)

Well now we all have heard how the Devils got someone woman, right? Well these cats start off this release with a updated swing beat entitled ‘Devil Got My Woman’. Not the standard “woe is me, what am I to do” sad refrain but more of “…and I like it, yes I do…just a little bit of bourbon she’ll do anything I need her to” Proudly proclaiming his ‘dire’ situation and how he serves her breakfast consisting of bourbon with a spoon, this is a fun track that has an infectious beat and well played by the band. Dude,  she got a sister?

Showing an ability to vary the pace and throw a slower number, Corey and the band give us ‘Hold On To You’. Mr. Lueck’s whiskey strained vocals and pain felt harp work exoriate the many layers of desperation that make up the situation at hand.

Shuffling to the strains of ‘Fine Furred Momma’ we are treated to Mr. Lueck’s view of being involved with a first class lady with very high standards and the pitfalls of living life the way he does. Mr. Gordon Aelchele provides some sweet sax work over top of Jesse O’Brien’s rolling organ work.

‘Ain’t No Use’ is a blues burner that reaches deep into the relationship and emotional attachment to their music. Juke joint bluesified piano by aforementioned Mr. O’Brien, sweet-toned guitar work by Mike Stubbs and vocals by Mr. Lueck set this apart as a true blue track that reflects the heartache and realization that the end is near and it ain’t no use.

In his liner notes Corey states that they created this album to speak ‘our’ truth, and they have done just that. Fortunately their truth is very well steeped in our universal truth. Well paced, fun, poignant and a great addition to anyone’s collection. Buy it a give it to a country music fan just to see what they say, just don’t tell them it’s the Blues.

Visit Corey and the band at:

Delta Moon: Black Cat Oil (Red Parlor Records)

OK so the pairing of the band name and the title just brings up images of swamps, Spanish moss and sickly sweet sultry nights.
Hey now, that’s a good thing!

A drum beat and thick slide guitar set us up in ‘Down and Dirty‘, as Tom Gray “I lost my job, I lost my home…” Yeh, brother we hear ya. This track sets the stage for a wonderful collection of ten originals penned by Tom and band mates and one cover.

Fred McDowell’s ‘Write Me A Few Of Your Lines‘ is the lone cover, and well chosen and their treatment adds a new life to the classic song. Yes, we have heard it ad nauseum but what Delta Moon does with it is refreshing and has the feel of Mississippi Hill Country to it, nicely done.

There is an overall reverb feel to this release, created by Tom and Mark Johnson on guitars. Not the thin usual aura associated with reverb city – but a thick reverb like the cries of a cat or a lost soul in the warm delta night as it rings off the roofs and windows. Somewhat haunting but to good to not take notice of.

Blues In A Bottle‘ is a very interesting take on what might seem to be the standard fare on alcohol and blues. Yet is a plea that he be able to put these blues in a bottle and cork the stopper down. I find these lyrics compelling and just what we need these days with songwriting in our genre. Bravo!

The title track ‘Black Cat Oil’ recalls the time when hucksters roamed the streets as medicine shows. Things have not changed much as the plethora of internet ads incessantly pound us with ‘curatives’ and ‘potions’. So tempted he sends off his money and get his bottle of black cat oil, of course it turns out for the worse – losing everything and being under arrest, but the glimmer of everlasting hope and saving graces is clear as he sings “I guess I might not of used enough”! Indeed, there is a serious depth to these words whether it be about snake oil, talisman’s or religions.

Oh hell, since I went there lets take one look at ‘Neon Jesus’, the path to salvation or redemption is often only clear when the darkest hour is upon us. Mr. Gray writes compelling lyrics to a slightly ethereal backdrop of music that tells the tale of every person and the quest, reflection, and deliverance.

A stunning release, their best to date. If you like your Blues thick like a gumbo made with the darkest of roux then ‘Black Cat Oil’ is for you. It is refreshing and not too overworked, and guitars know their place in the band here. Get it – give it!

Take sip, and see what it does for you:

Dorothy Moore: Blues Heart (Farish Street Records of Mississippi)

Ms. Moore certainly has the pipes to sing the Blues. Just take a listen to the first cut, ‘Coming Down With The Blues’. Her voice is the voice of experience, knowledge and wisdom. She delivers a homeopathic diagnosis inside the framework of a funky rhythm and super horn work that makes me wish that she could reach out and touch me so I could also come down with the Blues that she is getting.

Slowing it down to a torch song pace, Ms. Moore prescribes her own brand of wisdom on the E.G. Kight masterpiece, ‘Let The Healing Begin’. The truth is right there in our own power, no one from the outside can provide the touch and depth of understanding that exists in our relationship – so let the healing begin tonight. Oh yeh, give an ear to Ms. Moore’s harp work on this cut.

With all the smoothness of the depth of what some may call Southern Soul, Ms. Moore posts a sign on the door to her heart that she does not want to be there ‘When The Hurt Comes Down’. Slow, moody, and deep felt we fully understand what she is speaking about. This is a universal feeling and that is what is so great about this release it is all about a universal feeling. If we are human then we have experienced these emotions.

Getting just this side of funky, we get experience the inside of the heart being locked up for so long on ‘Institutionalize‘. Rhythmic and with a feel of urgency and hope we get a glimpse of the joy and pain of long term relationships, ’nuff said.

So we all remember the Bobbie Gentry one-hit wonder. ‘Ode To Billy Joe’. What we get in this helping of black eyed peas and biscuits is a poignant treatment that speaks to the reality of the situation and makes one come to terms with the depth of the song.

To fully grasp the depth and talent that Ms. Moore possesses sit down and listen to My Life On Earth’. Within the song Ms. Moore sings of life, love and hands down the wisdom of ages to this and future generations to take heed of.

True Blues lives in this ‘Blues Heart’ that beats inside Ms. Dorothy Moore. Buy it for yourself, buy it for family and for the grand children for it is true wisdom that resides in these ten songs, and they need to live on and on.

Read about Ms. Moore:  –

Larry Garner: Blues For Sale (DixieFrog Records)

Jumping off the player ‘A Whole Lotta Nothing‘ is a straight ahead, take no prisoners look at what gives people the blues – and it’s right there in the title. Mr. Garner’s guitar work crisp and heartfelt, and the lyrics of this song are spot on, give it a listen.

The next track, ‘Talkin’ Naughty‘ has the familiar feel of a B.B. King song. Mr. Garner captures the ‘old school’ feel of “You Better Not Look Down’ while modernizing it with wonderfully ‘naughty’ lyrics that define where these types of words are to be spoken. In addition to this he also offers some real deep advice fr the men , and y’all better take heed. Ms. Debbie Landry adds great vocal support on this track that drives the message home (as she does through out the release).

What might be the most heartfelt track is ‘Broken Soldier‘. A shockingly accurate description of life of a soldier on this side of the war effort and how they come to gorgonize one. Broken, disgruntled and at odds with everything he once believed in with no clear path to the future. Bless you Mr. Garner for bringing light to this situation in such a fine fashion.

Mr. Garner is shows his depth and comfort level with any style within the Blues tent. He can grind out a slow blues (It’s Killing Me‘), and next kick out the jams with a Louisiana themed shuffle (‘If You Come To Louisiana‘) and then throw down a rock & roll based tune such as ‘Alone And Happy‘.

It is one of the better release out this year, Mr. Garner will please any and everyone on your music gift giving list – it will educate the new while pleasing the familiar. Oh yeh, if you are getting one for someone, get one for yourself too!

Find out more about Mr. Garner visit:

Sunny Crownover: Right Here Right Now (Shining Stone Records)

Oh Yes I Will‘ starts us off and I can’t agree more – it answers the question for us all – will we like it? We can stop there but that’s not fair, this track struts it’s stuff featuring Sunny’s in the pocket lead vocals backed by Doug Woolverton on trumpet, Mike Tucker on tenor and Doug James on baritone. Especially tasty is Mr. Robillard’s guitar licks which are as funky as you can get.

Love Me Right‘ has a down home Jimmy Reed feel to it. Sugar Ray Norcia blows and draws every nuance possible from the harp, and the band gives us that familiar head bobbing rhythm but with just enough twist to make it fresh.

A piano roll leads the way down into the cleverly disguised lyrics of ‘Hi-Heels and Home Cooking‘. Done in a twenties blues style and written by Gary Nicholson, undoubtedly one of the better songwriters out there. Sunny’s soft but sassy vocals add an innocent depth to the tune and it is, by far, one of the most fun tracks on the disc.

Equally adept at moving stylistically around the blues country side, we get a shot of Chicago with ‘Roll Me Daddy‘ once again Sugar Ray sets the tone with some gripping harp work as the band works it’s way around Brad Hallen’s almost heart like bass lines.

The title track is a warm and comfy love ballad, that allows Ms. Crownover to display the other side of her vocal talents – and well done too.

Produced by Duke Robillard, Ms. Crownover has put together a super collection of songs here, relaxed and refreshing perfect for sharing with someone who you enjoy being with. Not slow and old but intimate and comforting to the soul.

Find out more about Sonny & Duke

Charles Burton Band

The Charles Burton Blues Band: Favorites (independent)

Straight out of the case we shuffle off to Duke Robilliard’s ‘Tell Me Why‘. Big sounding, with Charles adding a swing horn section to it that adds just enough verve to make it alive and jumping.

Strutting a rumba beat we get ‘Early In The Morning‘  made famous by Louis Jordan. Charles works some interesting twists into the guitar – this cut is made for swing dancing, hi-energy swing dancing that is.

A very adept guitarist and soulful vocalist, Charles treats us to many familiar toons. He even gets his Classics IV groove on with ‘Spooky‘ – his treatment is more of a dance oriented than the etheral one that we are familiar with. His guitar work is constructed very nicely, and adds much to the overall feel of the track.

Little Walter’s often covered but sometimes underappreciated ‘Last Night‘ which was written after the death of a friend is not an easy cover song. Given it’s proper respects it is a touching song of loss, with the band kicking it in with feeling they accomplish their goal of representing one of the blues masters finest songs.

A release compised of ‘Favorites’ it fits the bill as just that. Each tune will ring true to you, familiarity is good on many levels.  Production values work well and this release is a great fit for newcomers to the Blues, or folks who might think the blues as old and weary. They would be a cool band to see doing a live show as we would be dancin’ and swaying to the music, which is all about feeling the music and that’s what it is all about. Ain’t it?

Visit Charles and the band at:

Chris O’Leary Band: Waiting for the Phone To Ring (Vizztone Records)

Thirteen originals, that need to be turned up loud and played with a beer in one hand and a partner on the other. That’s what this release is all about.

‘Give In’ is a dark and mysterious rumba, that has all the overtures of double entendre blues. Mr. O’Leary blows some nasty harp and his vocal pairing with Willa McCarthy works as you can feel the electric tension as the sparks are about to fly.

A great horn section consisting of Andy Stahl, and Chris DiFrancesco work their booties off keeping pace with the revved up track son this release. On ‘Without You‘ they provide the intro as Chris steps up on the harp and they go straight to the tip of the top after that.

Chris’ vocals are wonderfully natural and his harp playing is wide ranging and sensual. ‘Pictures of You‘ is an old style blues stroll that has him wearing his heartache right on the sleeve, Jeremy Baum tickles those 88’s in such a bluesy manner that one actually feels sorry for them ivories.

Up beat and carefree is the tone that ‘Pockets Are Full‘ espouses. But on closer inspection we see how ‘the pockets are full but their hearts are empty’ – a poignant look at modern day relationships and the values of things other than those that keep us alive.

Engineered by David Gross who adds guitars, drums and percussion I would recommend this release for anyone who likes cool vintage blues but with a full dash of cohesive contemporary styled options.

Take some time to check out his site, this man and his music is too cool to be ignored:

Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
© 2012
Where Blues Thrives
Photos courtesy of Artists

Photo Gallery: Chenango Blues Festival 20th Anniversary Artist Preview

Just think at this time next week we will be recalling all these great artists and their performances. The social media outlets will be alight with reports from many of us about how great a festival this was. . .

An artist photo preview for the upcoming 20th Anniversary Chenango Blues Festival in Norwich, NY. August 17th Friday Night is free, Saturday August, 18, is $25 (at the door).

This has been named the best on day festival by several authorities who have asked asked to remain nameless (like yours truly) and several others who are with other organizations.

Kid & Family friendly, super bands on two stages, great vibe and grub to spare!

If you are in the area come on out and experience what a local homegrown blues activist community can do – they keep the Blues alive AND thriving!

Featuring:  Ann Rabson, Duke Robillard, Anders Osborne, Samuel James, James Armstrong, JJ Grey & Mofro, Voice of the Wetlands Allstars, Davina & The Vagabonds, Murali Coryell, and  Bill ‘Sauce Boss’ Wharton.
This was my first Blues festival and remains one of my regular stops on the Blues Highway.



Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
© 2012
Where the Blues Thrive
photos: Leslie K. Joseph, Blues411

Blues 411 Office Music: Post Holiday Edition

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.

2011 Blues Music Award Nominations


2011 Blues Music Awards
Presenting Sponsor: The Gibson Foundation

Acoustic Album
Eric Bibb Booker’s Guitar
Lucky Peterson You Can Always Turn Around
Paul Oscher Bet on the Blues
South Memphis String Band Home Sweet Home
The Nighthawks Last Train to Bluesville 

Acoustic Artist
Doug MacLeod
Eric Bibb
Guy Davis
John Hammond
Paul Oscher  

Buddy Guy Living Proof
Charlie Musselwhite The Well
Eden Brent Ain’t Got No Troubles
Janiva Magness The Devil is an Angel Too
The Mannish Boys Shake for Me


B.B. King Entertainer
Buddy Guy
Janiva Magness
Joe Louis Walker
Kenny Neal
Super Chikan

Derek Trucks Band
Magic Slim & the Teardrops
Nick Moss Band
Rick Estrin & the Nightcats
The Holmes Brothers
The Kilborn Alley Blues Band
The Mannish Boys 

Best New Artist Debut
Chris O’Leary Band Mr. Used to Be
Claudette King We’re Onto Something
Matt Hill On the Floor
Peter Parcek 3 The Mathematics of Love
The Vincent Hayes Project Reclamation 

Contemporary Blues Album
Buddy Guy Living Proof
Janiva Magness The Devil is an Angel Too
John Nemeth Name the Day!
Karen Lovely Still the Rain
Smokin’ Joe Kubek & Bnois King Have Blues Will Travel

Contemporary Blues Female Artist
Candye Kane
Janiva Magness
Karen Lovely
Robin Rogers – Robin has passed on, our heartfelt sympathies, fly on Robin.
Shemekia Copeland 

Contemporary Blues Male Artist
Buddy Guy
Joe Louis Walker
John Nemeth
Kenny Neal
Nick Moss 

Black Hen / Transgrease The Mississippi Sheiks Tribute Concert (Various Artists)
Delmark Live at Rooster’s Place (Tail Dragger)
NorthernBlues Music Live at Ground Zero Blues Club
(Watermelon Slim & the Workers)
Ruf Songs from the Road (Luther Allison)
Woodward Studio Nothing to Prove (Mac Arnold) 

Black Derby Chicago Blues Buddies
(Little Smokey Smothers & Elvin Bishop)
Delmark Jimmy Dawkins Presents the Leric Story
(Various Artists)
Delmark Live in Boston 1966
(Junior Wells & the Aces)
Delta Groove Harmonica Blues (Bob Corritore & Friends)
Ruf Songs from the Road (Luther Allison) 

Bill Stuve
Bob Stroger
Larry Taylor
Patrick Rynn
Steve Gomes 

Cedric Burnside
Jimi Bott
Kenny Smith
Robb Stupka
Tony Braunagel 

Derek Trucks
Duke Robillard
Joe Louis Walker
Kirk Fletcher
Ronnie Earl 

Bob Corritore
Charlie Musselwhite
James Cotton
Kim Wilson
Paul Oscher 

Big James Montgomery
Doug James
Eddie Shaw
Keith Crossan
Terry Hanck 

Gerry Hundt (mandolin)
Johnny Sansone (accordion)
Otis Taylor (banjo)
Rich Del Grosso (mandolin)
Sonny Rhodes (lap steel guitar) 

Pinetop Perkins Piano Player
David Maxwell
Dr. John
Eden Brent
Henry Butler
Mitch Woods 

Rock Blues Album
Derek Trucks Roadsongs
Kenny Wayne Shepherd Live In Chicago
Nick Moss Privileged
Steve Miller Band Bingo
Walter Trout Common Ground 

Tom Hambridge/Buddy Guy “Living Proof” (Buddy Guy – Living Proof)
Charlie Musselwhite “Sad and Beautiful World”
(Charlie Musselwhite – The Well)
Bruce Iglauer/Wyzard/David Kearney “Please Mr. President”
(Guitar Shorty – Bare Knuckle)
Dennis Walker/Alan Mirikitani “Still the Rain”
(Karen Lovely – Still the Rain)
Steve Gomes “Rained All Night”
(Tad Robinson – Back in Style) 

Soul Blues Album
Arthur Adams Stomp the Floor
Denise LaSalle 24 Hour Woman
Eugene “Hideaway” Bridges Live In San Antonio
Solomon Burke Nothing’s Impossible
Tad Robinson Back in Style
The Holmes Brothers Feed My Soul 

Soul Blues Female Artist
Barbara Carr
Claudette King
Denise LaSalle
Irma Thomas
Sista Monica Parker 

Soul Blues Male Artist
Bobby Rush
Curtis Salgado
Eugene “Hideaway” Bridges
Solomon Burke
Tad Robinson 

Traditional Blues Album
Charlie Musselwhite The Well
Duke Robillard Passport to the Blues
James Cotton Giant
Pinetop Perkins & Willie “Big Eyes” Smith Joined at the Hip
The Mannish Boys Shake for Me 

Koko Taylor Award-Traditional Blues Female
Eden Brent
Reba Russell
Ruthie Foster
Sue Foley
Teeny Tucker
Zora Young 

Traditional Blues Male Artist
Alabama Mike
Charlie Musselwhite
James Cotton
Magic Slim
Super Chikan 

Beginning at 12:00:01 December 16, purchase tickets here. Members can vote here. Artwork by David Lynch. Design by VividPix & Design.