Sunday, September 15, 2019

Sunday TAKE FIVE ~~ September 15, 2019

Artwork by the immortal John Dimes!

Sundays are kind of quiet around the old juke joint and I am kind of a lazy guy. Here’s a quick take on some recent arrivals that I want to tell you about, but can’t sit behind the computer long enough to deliver one of my long-winded missives. Enjoy these, and let me know if you like this new format, and tell your friends to drop by for a visit. A fellow can get kind of lonely on a Sunday…
Charlie Wooton Project ~~ Blue Basso featuring Vocals By Arséne Delay
Wooton, the former bassist for the Royal Southern Brotherhood, is a man of many talents. He’s a world class musician who has put together a tight album of blues flavored jazz that I absolutely love. He’s backed by some like-minded musicians including Daniel Groover on guitar, Jermal Watson on drums, and Keiko Komaki on keys. Some special guests are Sonny Landreth on two tracks, Anders Osborne on one and Damon Fowler on one. Arséne Delay handles the vocals. These are mostly originals with a couple of covers including one from the Rolling Stones, Miss You. Blues lovers might gravitate towards Tell Me A Story and Front Porch, but if you enjoy jazzy blues this entire album is great!
Alex Lopez ~~ Yours Truly, Me
Lopez has been doing some good work for a number of years, but Your Truly, Me is the first CD of his that I’ve been able to snag. From what I can tell this is a good place to start as Lopez wrote ten of the twelve songs on the disc, co-wrote one other, and the last is a good cover of ZZ Top’s Tush. Five of the songs here have been reimagined from previous releases, but I can’t really judge one against the other at this time. In the meantime, he not only rocks out, but also lays down some thoughtful and moving ballads. It’s a little uneven at times, but I think there’s plenty of good work to encourage me to keep him on my radar to see what comes next.
Cheyenne James ~~ Burn It Up
This is one I regretfully missed when it hit my desk in June. I say regretfully because James has a powerhouse voice that hooked me from the opening track, Grits Ain’t Groceries. Taking on a classic right out of the gate takes nerve, and James seems to have that – and then some. Backed by some serious Texas musicians, including Rock Romano and Steve Krase on guitar and harp respectively, James delivers ten solid numbers that run the gamut from a beautiful cover of Van Morrison’s Steal My Heart Away to flat out blues rock on her original, I Didn’t Know. Definitely a talent to watch!
Nancy Wright ~~ Alive & Blue
Saxophonist and vocalist Wright and The Rhythm and Roots Band have put together a kick-ass album recorded live at San Francisco’s The Saloon. I’m always intrigued by live albums – capturing that elusive feeling of anything goes can be intimidating to the artists and audience as well. No such worries with this collection of twelve songs, featuring a good mix of originals and covers. There are five instrumentals on the album that showcase Wright’s sweet sax and gives us the flavor of the R&B, especially Tony Lufrano’s keys, and Karl Sevareid’s bass. It’s jazzy, and for pure music lovers, a delight. If you like your music quick tempoed and anthem like, you might be disappointed. If you like to luxuriate into the sound, pick this one up asap!
Arsen Shomakhov ~~ Rain City Blues
A delightful introduction to a Canadian Artist, Shomakhov, who recorded this CD in Kid Andersen’s Greaseland Studio. Shomakhov handles the guitars and vocals while Andersen takes on the upright and electric bass as well as keys and background vocals. Alexander Pettersen and June Core split the drumming duties and Aki Kumar adds his stellar harp to one song. All original compositions, Rain City Blues features three instrumentals and several songs worthy of airplay. A good investment, and a good artist to watch!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Time For The Blues ~~ September 14, 2019

Henry Cook and I certainly hope you will join us on Time For The Blues this Saturday night, September 14th at 10:00, as we unleash yet another untamed episode and deliver it right to your ears!
Seriously, this is going to be a fun evening as we are delighted to present sets from a couple of our personal favorites – Billy Branch and The Sons of Blues paying tribute to the late great Little Walter, and Albert Castiglia releasing his unquestionable Masterpiece.
There is absolutely no way to dispute the importance Marion Walter Jacobs plays in the history of the blues. Born on May 1, most likely in 1930, he is credited with changing the way the harmonica was used in recording and live on stage. The flamboyant performer not only played on most of  Muddy Waters’ best work of the 1950’s, he also led his own band and his innovative style quickly became the standard by which all other harp players were judged.
Little Walter was the first – and so far, only – person to have a harmonica instrumental make it to the top of the charts, and during his career he accumulated three more harp instrumentals in the top ten. For much of his career, he released singles that featured him singing on one side, and playing an instrumental on the flip side.
His influence on the next several generations of harp players cannot be measured and he has been the focus of several tribute albums over the years as he passed away at a young age in 1967.
One of today’s best proponents of Jacobs’ harp style is Billy Branch, and he has recently released an album on Alligator titled Roots and Branches: The Story of Little Walter. We’ve got three tracks from this album, including one written by Little Walter himself (he was a prolific songwriter). Just to give you a little perspective, we’re also going to play on side from a different album so you can hear Branch team up with another great harp player, Sugar Ray Norcia.
Another feature will focus on our pal, Albert Castigila. To say that Castiglia has gone through a few upheavals in his life the past year or so would be a major understatement. In a nutshell, not only discover that he had a previously unknown daughter making him a father, but said daughter was grown and has a bambino of her own, making him a grandfather as well!
Castiglia was over the moon, and his wife and family fully support him in establishing this relationship, and his approach to life has undergone a real change. The work he produced as a result of this happening formed the basis for his recent album, Masterpiece. He left his long time label, Ruf, and signed on with Mike Zito and Guy Hall’s new company, Gulf Coast Records.
We’ve got three sides from this new CD, but probably won’t have enough time to add any more to the show. That is, if we want to get to the rest of the goodies we have in store for you.
What goodies might they be, you asked yourself out loud. Well, the kind of chewy morals that you can sink your teeth into, but not have to worry about dislodging a filling. Such ooey gooey goodness that Willy Wonka himself will be jealous.
I’m going to introduce you to Twist Turner and his friends. Don’t worry, I had to learn about him myself, and I’m glad I did. See, Turner is an excellent drummer who has worked with many of the big names in the blues world. Normally based out of Chicago, Turner came down with a case of wanderlust and spent time in New Orleans and his native Seattle, before taking up an extended stay in the Oakland/San Francisco region.
While there, he made friends and played with a number of people. He recorded several of them – different vocalists singing his songs – before returning to Chicago. He recorded more of his friends doing the same and then had the brilliant idea to put a bunch of these together on one album.
That’s how Battle of the Bands: Chicago vs Oakland on Delta Roots was born. Each city has great talent and distinct sound. We’re going to sample some and let you make the decision who wins for yourself.
One word of caution, some of the tracks on the album have some recording issues, something like low volumes and occasional distortions. We’ve tried to work a little magic on our end to make it all come together, but there are certain limits even Henry can’t overcome.
But we’ve still got more for you! Our New Release feature presents new work from the Kerry Kearney Band, Ben Levin, and Jeff Dale!   
If you’re a regular listener, we know you’re going to do whatever you need to do to join us at 10:00. If you’re new to Time For The Blues, drop by and find out what everybody is talking about. 
We’ve got everything all laid out and ready to go, all we need is you and a few hundred of your closest friends. You know how to find us, point your browser here, or join us on one of these great VPN Stations: 89.1 WCVN, Northern Neck; 90.1 WMVE, Chase City; and the flagships, 93.1 and 107.3 VPM-Music, Richmond, where it’s always Time For The Blues!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Jimmy Carpenter ~~ Soul Doctor

Jimmy Carpenter is best known to me as a great sideman, lending his solid saxophone to albums from the likes of Tab Benoit, Mike Zito, Jimmy Thackery, Eric Lindell, and Maria Muldaur. I didn’t have any of his solo releases in my collection, but thankfully that drought has stopped as Gulf Coast Records, the label Mike Zito and Guy Hale recently started.
Zito and Hale have been busy signing some great talent and now they’ve released Carpenter’s fourth solo work, Soul Doctor. Carpenter rises to the occasion, delivering a solid record that delivers blues, rhythm and blues, soul, and rock and roll to the listener. Carpenter’s sax is ever present, along with his guitar and vocals and he’s joined by a strong lineup that includes Cameron Tyler on drums, percussion, and backing vocals; Jason Langley on bass; Trevor Johnson on guitar; Chris Tofield on guitar and backing vocals; Red Young on Hammond B3, piano, and Wurlitzer piano; Al Ek on harp and backing vocals and Carrie Stowers and Queen Aries on backing vocals.
Joining Carpenter to create a powerful horn section is The Bender Brass: Doug Woolverton on trumpet and Mark Earley on baritone sax. Mike Zito and Nick Schnebelen each add their guitar wizardry to one song. Carpenter also displays his songwriting chops, writing or co-writing seven of the ten songs on the album.
The album gets funky right off the bat with the title track, Soul Doctor, utilizing Nick Schnebelen’s blistering guitar. The song is fun and completely danceable. This is a good way to open up what promises to be an impressive album. Carpenter’s sax is spot on and helps me remember exactly why I love the instrument so much.
Carpenter slows things down a little with When I Met You. It has a sweet Sam Cooke groove to it, the kind of song that makes you want to hold that someone special just a little closer.
Next up is Wild Streak, a fun rocker in the sense of Carpenter and company capture the joy of early rock. It swings and has that feeling of innocence that is often lacking in lyrics at times. When Carpenter breaks out his sax, it lifts the song even higher. You can’t help but feel better while listening to this song.
Mike Zito lends his guitar to Love It So Much. When Zito’s guitar mixes with this bright horn section, the song jumps to life. This should make Chicago blues lovers happy. This one will definitely be getting some airplay. The presence of the Bender Brass truly elevates the song!
Carpenter follows up with a slow burning blues number, Need Your Love So Bad. It’s a great love song that would be at home in any era. Can’t wait to see him do this one live!
Carpenter gets back to the funk for Wanna Be Right. The lyrics are pure blues, but the music moves it into different territory. This reminds me of a lot of the best blue-eyed soul that I listened to while growing up. As I mentioned earlier, Carpenter is one of those musicians you can’t just pigeonhole into one genre. Just kick back and enjoy the ride.
The first of two instrumentals, One Mint Julep, is a solid rocking number that really lets Carpenter’s sax shine. It’s good to get at least one instrumental in with a band that’s this hot. This is the kind of jam I expect to catch at a live show.
Next up is Wrong Turn, that has a funky twang and it sounds like the singer is delivering his vocals through a distorted mic, like a harp mic. However, the lead guitar smokes and makes up for all that.
The second instrumental, LoFi Roulette, cements the group’s talent. Carpenter’s sax soars over all the instruments like a bird of prey. It swoops and climbs and just when you think it’s moved on; it shoots out of the sun to catch us off guard. Really cool song.
Carpenter closes the album with Yeah Man, another sweet old school soul tune. I knew Carpenter’s playing from a couple of albums where he worked as a sideman, but this is the first time, I’ve had the chance to hear one of his solo efforts. I’ll be hunting down the previous three PDQ.
Gulf Coast Records has shown that they have invested in solid performers that deliver great music. With Zito and Hale at the helm, I doubt very much that it’s beginner’s luck. If you’re looking for some great music that might be just outside your comfort zone, I haven’t heard anything bad on the label yet.
Jimmy Carpenter has shown that he’s a quadruple threat (guitar, sax, vocals, and songwriting) and I, for one, am glad to see him getting a chance to strut his stuff in the spotlight!