A Baker’s Dozen of Blues: March 17, 2014

A Baker's Dozen Of Blues

A Baker’s Dozen Of Blues

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone. Hope the lead up to this Green Monday was well behaved….
We are just pleased as ever to say that Micah Kesselring is our #1 artist for this week. Micah is a young, throw-back, old soul kinda guitar playin’, sing-songing artist who I just can’t get enough of.

We welcome to the Bakers Dozen play list, two awesome and awe-inspiring artists. Randy Oxford and his fabulous high energy band, and Jim Suhler who brings the Texas Brazos to the blues. When Jim isn’t creating super releases like this current one, he is George Thorogood’s second guitarist. That’s not a bad resume! I hope you check these two new folks out and give them some love.

Our ‘Amuse Bouche’ this week features a Irish Stew of the Blues. We chose some artists who are undeniably of Irish descent, and then did some name research and found others with Irish surnames. So they make for a fantastic collection of tunes that should have us all  singing “I Ain’t Drunk, I’m Just Drinking’ from that classic Irish surnamed gentleman of the blues Mr. Albert Collins! Slainte !

Remember to tune into the Radio version of A Baker’s Dozen of Blues,
on MojoWax Radio presented by Blues Music Magazine at LIVE365.com.

Broadcast times are as follows:
Tuesday – 10pm EST
Wednesday – Noon EST
Thursday –  11pm EST
Friday –  4pm EST
Saturday – 2pm EST
please do the math for your own timezone.

A Baker’s Dozen:

CW LW CD TITLE Artist/ Web Site Record Label Track#/Title
1 2 “Log Cabin Blues” Micah Kesselring Self 6 Mean Uptown Mama
2 3 “Laying Down Our Blues” Andra Faye & Scott Ballentine Self 3 Slow Burning Love
3 4 “Happy For Good” Ori Naftaly Band Acum Records 2 Envy
4 5 “Might Just Get Lucky” Deb Ryder BeJeb Music 6 Ce Soir Ce Soir
5 6 “Wanted Woman” Niecie Ride The Tiger Records 7 Just Can’t Walk Away
6 7 “Roosters Happy Hour” The Blues Doctors Modern Blues Harmonica 6 Sugar
7 9 “I Am The Blues” Michael Packer img 9 I’m In Love
8 10 “You Better Mind” Mudcat 30 Miles UP 1 When Mama’s Happy
9 11 “Cry Of Love” Shaun Murphy Vision Wall 2 Gotta Mind To Travel
10 13 “Far As I Can See” Matt Schofield Provogue 2 Clean Break
11 12 “New Attitude” Root Doctor Self 1 Rear View Sight
12 ~ “It Feels Good” Randy Oxford Band Figgleblall Records 1 Trouble
13 ~ “Panther Burn” Jim Suhler & Monkey Beat Underworld Records 8 Sky’s Full of Crows

Chef Suggestions:

“Sounds of Home” Damon Fowler Blind Pig 9 TV Mama
“Baptized By The Mud” Kat Danser Independent 10 Prove It On Me Blues
“Blue Yonder” Hard Garden Hard Garden Music 2 Depot Blues
“Belle of The Blues” Lisa Biales Big Song Music 8 Peach Pickin’ Mama
“Guitar Angels” James Armstrong Catfood Records 8 Saturday Night Women
“Goin’ To The Delta” Kim Simmonds & Savoy Brown Ruf Records 2 Nothing Like The Blues
“30th Anniversary Special Edition” Blue Lunch Special Rip Cat Records 10 Sixty Minute Man
“Wicked” 24th Street Wailers Self 10 Aw Baby
“Blues With Friends” Dixie Peach Big Shew Records 1 Too Much Trouble
“Chunkabilly Blues” Chris Lord & Cheatin’ River Self 5 Jelly Bean
“He Digs Me” Sunday Wilde Self 9 Gimme One More

Amuse Bouche:

We’re all Irish on
St. Pattys Day!
Bad For You Baby Gary Moore   5 Walkin’ Thru The Park
Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa Beth Hart w/Joe Bonamassa   2 Chocolate Jesus
Rattle & Hum U2   12 When Love Comes To Town
Soulscape Harrison Kennedy   12 Caught You Creepin’
Life of Ease Sean Carney   1 Life of Ease
Compass Polly O’Keary   1 Fool’s Gold
Next To Nowhere Beth McKee   7 Tug of War
Cold Snap Albert Collins   5 Cold Snap
Congratulations Amy Hart   7 Rich Ass Daddy
Getting There Quinn Sullivan   2 Catch A Groove
Unscheduled Flight Chris Cain   1 Drinking Straight Tequilla
Mr. Used To Be Chris O’Leary   4 Blues Is A Woman
What’s Wrong With This Picture Van Morrison   2 Whinin’ Boy Moan
Crest of A Wave, Best of Rory Gallagher   7 Calling Card


Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
©Blues411.com 2014
Where Blues Thrives

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Wednesday’s One: James Cotton: Cotton Mouth Man (Alligator Records)

James Cotton Cotton Mouth Man

James Cotton
Cotton Mouth Man

These days it is common for artists to play on one and other’s releases, it provides a great opportunity for artistic cooperation and it allows an artist to share the spotlight with others whom he respects and admires.

With that being said check out this release which features the likes of Chuck Leavell, Gregg Allman, Ruthie Foster, Warren Haynes, Keb Mo, Colin Linden, Delbert McClinton and more – that in itself is worth the price of admission then add the production and ferocious drumming (and excellent songwriting) of Tom Hambridge and you got an all-start concert right here on your iPod, iPad, computer et al. But this is not just an all-star gathering, we also get to hear James work with his excellent road band which consists of Tom Holland, Jerry Porter, Noel Neal and aforementioned Darrell Nullisch.

Straight from the first track this release drives right to the soul of the blues and the man who’s name is on the release. ‘Cotton Mouth Man’ starts with a rocking rhythm and goes for the throat with Darrell Nullisch singing lead to some stunning harp attack by the master himself. A deep biographical tune, we get the tour of Mr. Cotton’s trail to today. As (one of the many) guest guitarist Joe Bonamassa sets fire to the fretboard with his own identifiable style and the harp work by Mr. Cotton is both a lesson on how to play and how to REALLY play!

Back to the disc, Mr. Allman offers up some throw back vocals on ‘Midnight Train’ as former Allman Brother keyboardist extraordinaire Chuck Leavell rolls those eighty-eights with a verve and finesse that serves up a solid groove – and when Mr. cotton blows that railroad train styled harp we are at once transported to riding the rails and understanding it’s relationship to the blues harp through out history.

Slowing it down to feature Mr. Keb Mo on vocals we get served a big dish of ‘Mississippi Mud’. There is an understated excellence to Keb’s vocal presentations that might seem so easy to come by but upon listening reveals that if it were this easy then many more would be copping to that fact. The pairing of Mr. Mo and Mr. Cotton provides us with some fine enjoyment as the roll on into the heat and pace of the deep south Blues.

There is not a soft track on this release, and while it is tempting to cover each and every track (because they are all worth the spotlight) I will just hi-light just one more that seems to me a special track. ‘Bonnie Blue’ is the name of the cotton plantation where James was born. Featuring Mr. Colin Linden playing deep soulful resonator guitar while Mr. Cotton steps up to the microphone to sing his own personal thoughts on his birthplace. Think about what this means and says folks, step away from the keyboard and cell phones – listen and ingest what Mr. cottons is singing about and his his own personal path. It is a wonderful and very personal song and it’s reaches straight to your soul.

Thank you Bruce Iglauer, for this release and for providing Mr. Cotton with a world wide network by which his music can be heard. This release is a perfect portrait of an amazing artist and his life’s work and toil. BTW this release hits the streets on May 7, 2013, be the first to grab it and play it loud and proud!

Visit Mr. Cotton’s web home at http://www.jamescottonsuperharp.com/ or stop by Alligator records at http://www.alligator.com/ good times are guaranteed.

Love, Peace & Chicken Grease

©Blues411.com 2013
Where Blues Thrives
Photos: Courtesy of artists


CD Reviews: Sizzling Summer CD’s, Three For The Road!

Man, there ain’t nuthin’ like summer time, you can do what you want and take the music with you. Loud and proud standin’ out in the crowd with these tunes just perfect for summer fun….

Lady Bianca – Servin’ Notice (Magic-O Records)

Starting with that groove that makes your head nod – up and down to that funky, syncopated rhythm of the ages. “He told Me The Same Thing Too” the first cut, is timeless in its simplicity of statement and also in it’s passionate vocals by this talented lady from the West Coast.

Following that funk is a slow burner “You Got Me Drinkin’ ” features a bottom of the barrel bass line that will act like a defibrillator on your heart should you need it coupled with lyrics that deftly expresses this lady’s need for the bottle as she calls them by name as if they were part of the family.

Lady Bianca shows her smooth touch on the ivories as she tells the tale of “Stealin’ “. Yes indeed, love is always so nice when you’re stealin’, the thrill of the act at damn the consequences. A modified second line feel helps the feel of the songs message keeping it light but passionate, good yet oh so bad.

This twelve song release showcases Ms. Bianca’s vocal range and talents very well. She can burn down the mission or raise the rafters of the church, slow smoke lies till they are sweeter than the truth and tell you a story that is at once timeless while being spank brand new. Check her out, this is a wonderful and much needed soul R&B blues release that should garner awards in the years balloting. She could be the best kept secret on the soul blues circuit, but not for long.


Shawn Starski – self titled (cookitup music)

Speaking of names to know, Mr. Shawn Starski has earned a solid reputation by playing with the likes of Jason Ricci, Kelley Hunt and Otis Taylor – that’s not chopped liver for sure. This is THE album we have been waiting for.

Straight out of the box Mr. Starski rocks us with “Sea of Faces “ a biographic anthem that aptly states his position and his resolve to move forward as spoken thru the lyrics and his guitar work.
Picking it up with da funk of “Was It You” he grooves it a nasty bit of fuzz-faced guitar work over a high end funky chicken sort of rhythm – his vocals are somewhat reminiscent of Joe Bonamassa with a low end depth that I did not expect but love.

Throughout this release Shawn shows his versatility and expertise at various styles and forms of music. Whether it be the jump swing styled “Dirty Deal “, the Mississippi Hill Country influenced “How It Come To Be “, or the sultry torch burner “The Truth” with his wife, Ellen Deible. One track that showcases his wide swath of abilities is the instrumental “Hallows Eve”. A very tasty bit of Jazz that weaves in and out in a musical tryst that combines Return to Forever, Joe Beck/David Sanborn progressive rock-jazz music of the seventies. Quite tasty indeed in it’s capture of the era and his moving forward of the styles. His several instrumentals are captivating and wondrous to behold.

As I mentioned earlier this is THE release we have been waiting for. It firmly places Shawn in the forefront of the young guitarists club. His style, tone and tasteful licks are a joy to hear and I am certain that there will be more in the future that will build upon this success.


Harper And Midwest Kind – Live at The Blues Museum

Summer also holds for us a certain nostalgic feel, we like to return to places we have been before. The feel of those old cut offs against our skin in just the right places is vital to many a summer recollection.

This is what we have in Peter Harper’s new release Live At The Blues Museum. A comfortable, good fitting set of excellent music that feels good against our ears. Recorded in December, 2011 Harper and his band Midwest Kind were inducted into the Canada South Blues Society Hall of Fame – congrats.

Opening the release with his signature fast paced harmonica gyrations that blends into a funky bit of soul strutting by him and the band that once again morphs in to “Sure There’s A Place” at about 2:30. Mr. Harper has one of the finer voices in the Blues/Roots family of music. Stunningly clear and quite versatile, no doubt to the cessation of cigarette smoking, he provides us with his prayer that he can surely find a place to call home.

To the slashing wah-wah work of Matt Besey on guitar Peter and the Kind takes us into his world of political/cultural songwriting with “Does Anybody Really Care”. Harper hails from Australia and is very close to the Aboriginal culture that are native to his home land. He takes it a step further and reinforces his ties to them by playing the Didgeridoo – not your typical Blues instrument. A hollowed out tree trunk that can be fashioned to any key by adjusting the length of the tube it is a very unique instrument that is also used in healing rituals by the Indigenous people of Australia.

What seems to be an anthem of sorts the break into a deep grooved “Love = Peace = Freedom” once again riling the political close mindedness and separatists that if we all came together and worked for the common good we would truly attain the freedom that is ours to claim. This track moves right into “One Day” where we get some more luscious harp licks intertwined with nasty guitar chord work and a rock steady bottom end by Chris Wiley Smith.

This is a super capture of his live shows, there is a certain dynamic edge that has been somehow transcribed into the grooves (ahh, burned into the digital media logs – ugh sounds rather lame huh?). A solid choice for blasting at the beach or for settling into a groove on the front porch with some iced tea, NOT a Foster’s.

So there it is, some sizzling releases for your early summer enjoyment. There are many more out there that could fill the bill from harp masters, to guitar wizards and yes some keyboard gymnasts who tickle the ivories with style and aplomb. All ya gotta do open yer mind and look for them, ya never know when you will find a keeper that might turn into your own personal anthem for the summer months to come.

Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
©Blues411.com 2012
photos: courtesy of artists



CD Reviews: 5 Hot Releases Just Made For Summertime

Well the temp hit the 90 degree mark here in balmy Rochester, NY – the official end of winter and unofficial start of summer. With summer comes travel, relaxing, hanging out with old friends and making new ones. With that in mind this I offer a fairly substantial collection of releases that should be on your summer music list. There’s quite a few so take your time and digest them as you will, remember they are always here for your pleasure.

Joe Bonamassa: Dust Bowl (J&R Adventures)

With the first cut ‘Slow Train’ Mr. Bonamassa sets the stage for a cloyingly hot and beautifully descriptive release. As the recreated chugging of the train picks up pace and moves down the line, picking up hitchhikers in the form of deep soulful vocals and eloquent guitar work, we chug along to the final stop where we encounter the ‘new world’ of the ‘Dust Bowl’.
Wonderful ‘spaghetti western’ guitar tones announce our arrival – here we are treated to an empty world where all we “get is indecision – the classic run around”. Layers of sound created by hand percussion, keyboard, drums and guitar fills the space with an amazing understanding of the subject matter.

Joe does not do it alone – he features John Hiatt (Tennessee Plates), Vince Gill (Sweet Rowena), and Glenn Hughes (Heartbreaker). His work with Mr. Hiatt is especially joyful, it seems almost at odds to the feel of the release, yet it has it’s place in the overall picture. Fun, rocking and gotta get away feel takes us on the joy ride on this Cadillac with Tennessee plates. ‘Sweet Rowena’ is a solid blues shuffle that Mr.’s Gill and Bonamassa trade vocals and guitar licks that shows both their versatility and urges us to re-think the industry imposed ‘genres’ or categories of music that seem to keep us apart more than bring us together. Glenn Hughes, formerly of Trapeze and Deep Purple, is now part of Black Country Communion, Mr. Bonamassa’s other musical band. They keep alive the heavy guitar, head banging tradition of their roots with a stinging cover of the Paul Rodgers/Free song ‘Heartbreaker’

This is another fine album by Joe and in it he shows his absolute mastery of the guitar. There is not a current style that he cannot get his head and hands around – and make it his own. I wonder why he is seemingly not as well know as some other guitar players. His playing, technique and understanding of the sound and art of his instrument is unparalleled, and I urge you to take another (or first) listen to this young man.

JP Soars: More Bees with Honey (Soars High Productions)

I firmly believe that the first cut on a release should set the stage for what follows – so it better be a grabber. Mr. Soars understands this, ‘More Bees With Honey’ does just that, featuring Ms. Robin Rogers working the vocal hive with JP in an up-tempo swinging rollick thru the old adage that our parents, no doubt, told us repeatedly.
Mr. Soars vocals are certainly unique. Gritty, coarse but spot on, they hold a certain throw-back feel that the blues has always had, and at times forgets. On ‘So Many Times’ Mr. Soars sings of tears gone dry and the release of a, yet again, unfaithful lover. This is set up in a standard slow blues format featuring some nicely constructed guitar work over the backdrop of Travis Colby’s keyboard work.

JP covers a wide range of styles here, from a funky, wah-wah laced ‘Doggin’ , to a west coast swing, tempo shifting burner ‘Hot Little Woman’, that extols the virtues of this special type of woman. I am not quite sure if the tongue is in the cheek or not, but it’s cool either way !
An interesting cover of Louisiana Red’s ‘Sweet Blood Call’ reminds us that the Blues was created in a less than perfect life, and that some of the lyrics are not as PC as we may like. JP does some nasty guitar work as he drives us around the back roads of the Blues as they used to be. I think this song shows us the link between hip-hop, rap and the Blues quite nicely. Listen to the lyrics, and then maybe listen to some Muddy Waters and others to realize the propinquity of these seemingly unrelated styles. The final cut here is ‘Where’d You Stay Last Night’ a great adaption of ‘Baby Face’ Leroy Foster lyrics, and music by JP. This one takes us home and leaves us wanting more.

On this release Mr. Soars selects from his hive of influences including Johnny Guitar Watson, Guitar Slim, Muddy Waters, Stax and Hill Country Blues – and throw in a little bit of heavy metal for spice. JP is one of the exciting young artists in the Blues. He applies modern touches to classic, traditional blues music and is doing a damn good job of it. Oh yeh, go see him if you get the chance, he won’t disappoint.

 To find out more about Leroy Foster – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leroy_Foster_(musician)

Lightin’ Malcolm (featuring Cameron Kimbrough): Renegade (Ruf Records)

Here is another fine young Bluesman, and his aptly named new release ‘Renegade’ pretty much sums up his approach and life. As Malcolm says “The songs on this album are definitely the result of years livin’ the renegade lifestyle. The renegade cuts against the grain, doin’ things his own way on his own terms. I’ve always tried to be a right doin’ person, to help people around me…I follow the laws of the universe, not the laws of man…I know right from wrong. Most times your on your own, movin’ from place to place with your guitar and your music..”at the same time interacting, entertaining, jamming, working, helping, teaching, learning, singing, dancing, sleeping, and living with all the people that come through your life. You are what you’ve done and the legacy you leave behind is the life you live everyday.”
Raw, passionate, straight forward blues is what we have here. This release is basically a guitar and drum duo recording featuring Malcolm and Cameron Kimbrough, grandson of of Junior Kimbrough.

Starting with “Ain’t Even Worried’ we hear the truth spoken over a retro-groove/trance feel that demonstrates the variety of what can be done inside the blues. Title track ‘Renegade’ re-establishes the Blues as a visceral genre. Boldly emerging from years of neglect and gentrification, this cut has the pure power to remind us that the jook joints are still alive and thriving, and that we need to frequent them.
There seems to be a deeper understanding of life contained in this release. ‘Guilty Man’ details the trespasses on the road of life. The addition of horns give this cut a groove without overshadowing it’s baser instincts, a very nice job here. Got to mention ‘My Lyin’ Ass’ – a killer cut, funny yet educational as it refers to the simple truth about – his lyin’ ass !

North Mississippi’ is a homage to where he found his true love for the blues. Featuring a catchy rhythm and punctuated by the horn section it also incorporates a rap vocal overlay by Mr. J Grubbz. I believe Mr. Malcolm has gone a long way to bring the Hill Country music into the twenty-first century, making it vital to a new generation of artists and fans alike. It’s unique, contemporary, minimalist with overtones of surf music but still harkening back to the traditional never losing sight of it’s roots.

Better Off Dead: Girls Guns and Money (GarageLand)

With a release cover that takes me back to the tawdry twenty-five cent detective novels of my childhood, how could I NOT like this release. Well, I still haven’t gotten tired of it, and it’s got 28 cuts on the disc ! Only one cover here, that is ‘God Will‘ by Lyle Lovett, the rest are from the prolific fingers and somewhat bent mind of Mr. V.D. King.

First out of the box we are treated to ‘Twister In A Trailer Park’ which equates love to the headlines that we have come to know and love concerning the usual
occurrences of just that, twisters in a trailer park, one would think that they might build them elsewhere, or maybe it’s cause they are there that the twisters find them???  Next up is ‘Bad Credit’,this Tex-Mex romp paints an all too familiar story of our current dilemma. And so it goes, taking us on a road trip thru American Roots Music from ‘Louisiana Hot Sauce’ and ‘Back To Memphis’ stopping at all points in between. As we ride in their ‘Yellow Cadillac’ and head to ‘San Antone’ only to fall in love with a ‘Porn Star’ and have a ‘Chicken Pickin’ Good Time’. Yet ‘One More Time ‘ we are faced with the eternal question ‘What Happened?’. In the end it’s asked ‘If I Can Quit Drinkin’ (Why Can’t I Quit You)’ yet it’s your ‘Rockin’ Daddy’ that will ‘Never Let You Down’ because ‘I Ain’t Gonna Change’ . Even if they claim to be from a ‘Broken Home’, and scream ‘Kaboodle Cock-A-Lulu’ at inappropriate times just ‘Let Your Heart Be The Judge’ on this fun filled romp that should be on your summer music list.

My apologies to Mr. King for paraphrasing some of his brilliant work here, but why try to recreate perfection, and as is the rules in the Blues copying is bad thing, but stealing is accepted. Peace V.D. !

Davina & The Vagabonds: Black Cloud (Roustabout Records)

Awwrite, I just had to add this to the summer music-fest of love I got going here. This is one dynamic release folks. It recalls a time and place where the guitar was NOT the dominant choice of weapons for the Blues masters. Actually the closet thing to a guitar is the stand up bass played by Michael Carvale (and very nicely too I might add). What we get here is  a channelling of sorts back to the classic sounds of New Orleans horn bands –  think early Louis Armstrong meets Dirty Dozen Brass Band. Well, you could add some touches of jazz, soul, swing and a hint of gospel to the mix – yeh that about covers it.

‘Black Cloud’  is a wonderful mix of Broadway arrangement coupled with 1920’s jazz tinged blues, Ms. Sowers vocals ring true here with just enough gruff and sass to create a wonderful picture of words and music.  ‘Start Runnin’ is a open threat to the other woman who is trying to steal Davinas’ beau.  “You better step up, step out or start runnin” pretty much sums up the feeling expressed here in this up beat, rolling horn symphony of Louis Prima jump swing feel.
Not a one dimensional approach to this mound of sound, we are treated to a wonderfull taste of Ms. Sowers sultry despair in “Let’s Bring It Back’  with Dan Eikmeier blowing some down-right rightous trumpet. We then visit what might be termed a classic pop sounding sound (but way better) in Pocket’ . If this cut wasn’t so good it might have a shot at being popular on the commercial end of pop culture, but it is way too good, and actually has shape and form to it, unlike most of the pop pulp out there today.

For the Blues pureists there is one twelve bar compostion contained here, the lasciviously titled ‘Lipstick and Chrome’ which treats us to some quite unforgettable images courtesy of Ms. Sowers lyrics. The other band members who contribute to the great feel of this release include Darren Sterud on trombone, and Conner McRae on drums.
Black Cloud fits nicely into my summer music extravaganza and I do beleive that you will enjoy it too. These good folk are out onthe road some 300 days a year, so if ya get a chance to see them do it !

So there we have my little summer list of music that I think will go great with our summer fun – whether it be on a surf board, or under a boardwalk, night-clubbing or just sittin’ on the back porch diggin’ it. Any or all of these releases will please ya like a cold one at 11:00 AM on a hot July morning. And no need to check the can to know if they’re cool enough, they are, take my word for it!

Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease,
©Blues411.com 2011

photos: courtesy of artists.