No More Blue Mondays By Landon Sprandlin

June 19, 2017

This music has been around a while but good music is eternal.

Landon Spradlin is a tried and true USA blues shouter and guitar aficionado who travelled to England two decades ago to record the music for this album. No More Blue Mondays was originally released in 1995 and now makes a long waited for return.

Spradlin has a soulful voice that is unique for a blues musician but his frenetic guitar runs are pure blues. The old blues song “I’ve Never Been To Seminary” is a gritty re-invention of the tune. The title track is a smooth blues excursion that is fueled by his pyrotechnics on the guitar.

Spradlin has shared the stage with such artists as Lee Roy Parnell, Rick Derringer, The Nighthawks, and the Kentucky Headhunters so it is good to see his work fronting his own band. No More Blue Mondays is a solid album dedicated to the blues.

50 Years With Peter, Paul And Mary (DVD) By Peter, Paul And Mary

June 19, 2017

Peter Yarrow, Paul Stookey, and Mary Travers, better known as Peter, Paul & Mary, sold tens-of-millions of records during the early 1960’s pre-Beatles era and enjoyed a career that lasted until Mary’s death in 2009.

The trio formed in 1961 and they quickly became an important part of the folk revival movement. Their smooth style helped to make folk music a part of the American musical consciousness. Their early hits, “Blowin’ In The Wind” and “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright” introduced Bob Dylan to the American public.

50 Years With Peter, Paul & Mary is a retrospective of their career as seen through concert footage, news clips, and interviews. Most of their well-known songs are presented. There is early footage from a long-lost BBC program, the famous performance of “Blowin’ In The Wind” at the 1965 Martin Luther King march on Washington, the poignant farewell to Mary Travers nostalgic memorial, and everything in between.

They are forever linked with the Civil Rights and Anti-War movement. Today their songs such as “Puff (The Magic Dragon),” “If I Had A Hammer,” “Leavin’ On A Jet Plane,” and “Stewball” may seem a little quaint and may have lost some of their impact but they are a reminder of a simpler era of the early 1960’s that quickly changed to a far more complicated one by the end of the decade.

The video and sound tend to of varying quality depending upon the date and whether it was originally meant for general release.  Everything has been cleaned up as much as modern technology allows but much of it is still not up to the standards of the day.

There are probably better instructions to their music such as any of their compilation releases or any 0f their early 1960 albums. However, if you want to understand their career, then 50 Years With Peter, Paul And Mary is a good place to start.

The Beat Of My Heart By Lisa Biales

June 19, 2017

Lisa Biales is jazz artist and a fine interpreter of songs from a number of different traditions. She has now returned with her ninth album titled The Beat Of My Heart.

Two years ago she came across a 78 rpm record recorded in 1947 by her mother, Alberta Roberts. “Crying Over You” begins with her mother singing the first verse and then Biales finishing the song. It is an emotional ride.

She transforms Eric Bibb’s gospel-tinged “Don’t Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down” into a subtle jazz classic. Carrie Newcomer’s “I Should Have Know Better” is a little more edgy. The old Nina Simone tune “Be My Husband” is a smoldering cover. The best song may be “Messin’ Around With The Blues,” which has a cadence and clarity that is at the heart of her approach.

Biales has developed into a secure artist, who is secure in who she is as a vocalist. The Beat Of My Heart is another building block in her legacy.

The Future Left Behind By Leon Alvarado

June 19, 2017

Leon Alvarado albums have tread the line between ambient and progressive rock music. Now his latest release, The Future Lefy Behind, has pushed him squarely into the realm of progressive rock.

His new album is an ambitious project. Inspired by Rick Wakeman’s Journey To The Centre of The Earth, he has created a thematic instrumental progressive rock opus.

The music builds throughout the album as it paints pictures of his science fiction story of exploration and leaving the earth behind. Alvarado plays most of the instruments including keyboards. Also on hand is guitarist Billy Sherwood on all the music tracks except one, and Rick Wakeman who guests with a solo on “Launch Overture.”

Alvarado has undertaken a difficult project and managed to create an interesting and ultimately satisfying album.

Enjoy It While You Can By The McKee Brothers

June 5, 2017

Lee Denis McKee (guitar) and Ralph McKee (bass) have surrounded themselves with a revolving group of talented musicians including keyboardist/composer Bobby West, vocalist Bob Schultz, drummer Jerome Edmondson, and a dozen more including an array of horn players. to create their release Enjoy It While You Can.

They are at their foundation a rock band but when the brass is highlighted and involved, they morph into a fusion of funky soul and blues. All the tracks range from four to seven minutes, which give them time to build, tell a musical story, and highlight some of the musicians.

Whether creating energetic original songs such as “A Little Bit Of Soul,” “Enjoy It While You Can,” and “One Of Us Gots Ta Go” or soul-dripping covers of Earl King’s “It All Went Down The Drain” and Dr. John’s “Qualified,” The McKee Brothers have managed to combine their versatile group of musicians into producing a cohesive and pleasing album of music.

Magia By Nicolett Pankovits

June 5, 2017

Nikolett Pankovits was born in Hungary, acted in 22 movies, was jailed during the war in her country, escaped to Brazil, settled in New York, and immersed herself in Latin music and rhythms. She has now released a new album titled Magia.

Her music can best be described as a fusion of roots and jazz that does not confine itself to one country. She draws on the music and stories of her home country and South America, and combines them with an American jazz feel.  She is backed by guitarist Juancho Herrera, violinist Zach Brock, trumpeter Josh Deutsch, pianist Jason Lindner, bassist John Benitez, and drummer Ferenc Nemeth.

The uniting theme of the album are the stories that are told through her vocal interpretations. There are torch songs from Hungary that provide a history lesson, a childhood song “La Dama De L Muerte,” which is transformed into a Mexican Day Of The Dead Celebration complete with new Spanish lyrics, more traditional jazz excursions with “Gloomy Sunday” and “Besame Mucho,” and a soaring album ending Alan and Marilyn Bergman composition “Where Do You Start” backed only by a piano and saxophone.

Nikolett has released and interesting album that takes the listener in a number of directions It is music worth exploring.

How Long By Little Mike

June 5, 2017

Little Mike is one of the energizer bunnies of the music industry. Whether in the studio, on the road, fronting his own band, or helping out on numerous projects as a guest artist; he has established himself as one of the great blues harpists working today.

He has now released a new album titled How Long. It consists of eight originals and four cover songs fueled by his harp, plus his keyboards and vocals.

He is one of the rare harmonica players who can use the instrument in place of the vocals. His phrasing is unique as it communicates a story.

Little Mike is a modern days blues artist who learned his craft from the like of James Cotton, Hubert Sumlin, and Pinetop Perkins. Their influences can be seen and felt on such original tunes as “Cotton Mouth,” “When My Baby Left,” “Sam’s Blues,” and “Not What Mama Planned,” where the past is integrated into the present day blues.

Little Mike is approaching the forty year mark in his career. How Long is another fne effort that will be appreciated by any blues or harp aficionado.