149 Delta By Mick Kolassa And The Taylor Made Band

December 4, 2019

Mick Kolassa is like an old friend. He shows up at you door every year or so, drops off an album of new music, and then continues on his way until next time.

149 Delta is the latest stop in Kolassa’s musical journey. His last two releases concentrated on cover songs, including an album of acoustic Beatle songs, recorded from a blues perspective. Now he has returned to his own material as 9 of the 12 tracks are original compositions.

Songs such as “I Can’t Slow Down,” “US 12 To Highway 49,” “Alternative Road,” and “Whiskey In The Morning” are autobiographical, which is perfect for his brand of blues. Also included is a cover of the old rhythm & blues classic “I Don’t Need No Doctor.”

The Taylor Made Blues Band adds a new element to his music as a full backing band fills in the sound an gives it added textures and depths.

Mick Kolassa has issued another a blues masterpiece. 149 Delta is an album worth exploring.


Where The Rain Falls By Kimia Penton

December 4, 2019

Kimi Penton may be a songwriter and she may be a classically trained violinist, but it all comes down to her voice. She has a soprano voice that is a gift and it tends to be the focal point of her music.

She has now issued her second release; a six-song EP titled Where The Rain Falls. Unfortunately, it only provides a taste of her style and sound. Hopefully a full album in the same vein will follow that will further explore her talent.

Her new material is a little different than that of her debut album Lessons From Life And Love. Her music still has distinct folk leanings but she veers toward a pop and Americana sound at times. “First And Last Time,” “Stepping Stones.” and the title track are representative of her songwriting, singing, classical violin training.

In many ways the music of Kimia Penton is still a work in progress. The six songs that comprise Where The Rain Falls serves to whet the appetite as to what will follow.


At King Electric By Ray Bonneville

December 4, 2019

Ray Bonneville has carved out a nice blues niche for himself. He is a Texan who plays a no-nonsense brand of electric blues. He has returned with his ninth album titled At King Electric, which includes 11 original songs.

Bonneville draws on his life experiences to create the characters that inhabit his music. There stories are brought to life through his guitar, vocals, and harmonica with a minimalist rhythm section in support.

His gritty voice is made for  the blues and his instrumental ability enables him to produce an energetic and passionate sound.

Ray Bonneville has traveled from Vietnam to Europe to Alaska with a lot of stops in between at hundreds of bars and concert halls. At King Electric is his latest stop in his journey chronicled by the blues.


A Woman’s Soul: A Tribute To Bessie Smith By Rory Block

December 4, 2019

Two album reviews for the price of one. Dopamine Machine and Acoustic Machine may be separate releases but they are connected musically as two albums can be.

Hadden Sayers is a veteran Texas singer, songwriter, guitarist, vocalist, and bluesman. He has now returned with his 9th album.

Dopamine Machine is his hardest rocking blues album to date, as it fuses elements from rock and blues into one explosive mix. His guitar work remains impeccable.

It is also a very personal album as it draws from his own thoughts and experiences. Inspired by topics such as love at first sight, cell phone addition, an article in Rolling Stone Magazine, and a Rhythm & Blues Cruise; he paints a personal portrait of his life with his stinging guitar and gritty vocals.

Dopamine Machine is the strongest album of his career; at least for a short time.

So what does an artist do when he has created an excellent album? The answer is, you re-record it as an acoustic album and so Acoustic Machine was born. He is accompanied only by vocalist Ruthie Foster on one song and a friend, Joe Ed Cobbs, who provides percussion on various objects.

Listening to this album after hearing Dopamine Machine, provides a far different experience. It may be the same songs but they now have different textures as they are stripped to basics. Each song takes on a new emotional intensity as it keeps the focus on the lyrics.

Hadden Sayers has released to excellent but very different albums. They are fine examples of how songs can be interpreted differently. They are well-worth a listen.

Rory Block has immersed herself in the blues for literally her entire adult life and part of her teenage years as well. Her five decade career, her prowess as a guitarist/vocalist, and her respect for the history and traditions of the blues have propelled her to the forefront of the American blues pantheon.

For the last decade she has been issuing a series of albums that have channeled, copied, and paid tribute to classic blues masters. Son House, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Reverend Gary Davis, Mississippi John Hurt, and Skip James have all been subjects of her approach. Her latest album explores the legacy of Bessie Smith.

A Woman’s Soul: Tribute To Bessie Smith is unique in that Smith is a woman and was primarily a vocalist.

Bessie Smith, 1894-1937, was a child of poverty who produced a gritty form of the blues. He songs were raw, as was she, and she was not admired within much of the blues community of the day for the crudeness of her approach. She was, however, one of the most commercially successful artists of the pre-second World War era as her songs resonated at a basic level.

Her stories were sexual, reflected the poverty around her, and dealt with the racial tensions of her time. “Gimme A Pigfoot And A Bottle Of Beer,” “Need A Little Sugar In My Bowl,” “Weeping Willow Blues,” “Empty Bed Blues,” and “Do Your Duty” traveled her earthy journey.

To her credit, Rory does not try to imitate Smith but rather updates her music. Her guitar brings Smith’s songs into the 21st century and fills them in ways that were not available at the time of their creation. Her voice is smoother, which gives the material a different sheen. The songs survive in a different form and format and while they are lodged in the past, they remain powerful.

In many ways A Woman’s Soul: Tribute To Bessie Smith, is the most adventurous release in the series. It is a wonderful call from the past that should not go unheeded.


Dopamine Machine And Acoustic Machine By Hadden Sayers

December 4, 2019

Two album reviews for the price of one. Dopamine Machine and Acoustic Machine may be separate releases but they are connected musically as two albums can be.

Hadden Sayers is a veteran Texas singer, songwriter, guitarist, vocalist, and bluesman. He has now returned with his 9th album.

Dopamine Machine is his hardest rocking blues album to date, as it fuses elements from rock and blues into one explosive mix. His guitar work remains impeccable.

It is also a very personal album as it draws from his own thoughts and experiences. Inspired by topics such as love at first sight, cell phone addition, an article in Rolling Stone Magazine, and a Rhythm & Blues Cruise; he paints a personal portrait of his life with his stinging guitar and gritty vocals.

Dopamine Machine is the strongest album of his career; at least for a short time.

So what does an artist do when he has created an excellent album? The answer is, you re-record it as an acoustic album and so Acoustic Machine was born. He is accompanied only by vocalist Ruthie Foster on one song and a friend, Joe Ed Cobbs, who provides percussion on various objects.

Listening to this album after hearing Dopamine Machine, provides a far different experience. It may be the same songs but they now have different textures as they are stripped to basics. Each song takes on a new emotional intensity as it keeps the focus on the lyrics.

Hadden Sayers has released to excellent but very different albums. They are fine examples of how songs can be interpreted differently. They are well-worth a listen.


Last Train To Clarksville By The Monkees

December 4, 2019

The Monkees main problem early in their career was they were a fictitious band who produced real music.

Peter Tork, Michael Nesmith, Mickey Dolenz, and Davy Jones answered an ad, along with over 400 other musicians, to star in a television series about a rock band, and so the Monkees were born.

The four band members spent all their time filming, so studio musicians played most of the instruments on their first two albums. Glen Campbell, Leon Russell, and Hal Blaine were just some of the musicians who played on their early recordings.

Real or not, “The Last Train To Clarksville” shot to the top of the charts, where it spent the week of November 5, 1966, as the number one song in the United States.

Controversy would continues but the show became a hit and the for next two years, sales of their singles and albums would rival that of the Beatles.


96 Tears By ? & The Mysterians

November 10, 2019

There are and have been tens of thousands of local bands trying to make good. Some have a modicum of talent and manage to play local clubs for years and sometimes decades. Every once in awhile, one of them makes good for one shining moment. Enter ? & The Mysterians.

Rudy Martinez was born in Mexico but grew up in Michigan. He formed his own band and wrote “Too Many Teardrops,” which would become “96 Tears.” It was a part of their live set and was the B side of their local single release “Midnight Hour.” It was “96 Tears” that began receiving airplay and the Cameo label picked it up.

“96 Tears” was a surprise national hit and reached number one for the week of October 29, 1966. ? & The Mysterians had a couple more entries into the Top 100, but by the end of the decade they had disbanded.

In 1981 rocker Garland Jeffreys took the song back to the Top 10. The renewed interest enabled Martinez to put the Mysterians back together. He and they have performed of and on since the early 1980’s.

“96 Tears” was named one of the greatest 500 songs of all time by Rolling Stone Magazine and the band was inducted into the Michigan Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, proving that one shining moment can sometimes can last a lifetime.