August 3, 2017
Beth Garner has returned with her new album Snake Farm. It is a tight seven track release with six original songs, plus the title song cover of “Snake Eyes” by Ray Wylie Hubbard.
Garner has a wonderfully soulful voice that provides a firm foundation for her blues sound. She is an adept traditional blues guitarist, who really shines when playing in a slide guitar style.
Recorded just about live in the studio, she rolls through a program of modern days electric blues that moves in a rock and roll direction at times. “Wish I Was” is a three chord jam-fest that proves the blues don’t have to be serious all the time. “Used To Be” is a shuffle-style song about aging. Her take on the title track returns the song to its gritty roots.
Garner is one of those musicians who is constantly on the road plying her chosen trade in small clubs coast to coast. In many ways, she represents the way the blues should be played and heard.
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.
April 12, 2017
I don’t know how many drummer/harmonica players there are out there, but if there is a list Randy McAllister has to rank near the top.
McAllister is a blues/roots musician with some country influences thrown in for good measure. His sound may not be the smoothest you have ever heard but he more than makes up for it with energy, his superb harp playing, and three decades of honing his craft.
“My Stride,” “Leave A Few Wrong Notes,” and “East Texas Scrapper” all feature his harmonica virtuosity and leave one wishing many of the other songs would feature it more.
He has always been a competent song-writer, who is able to tell stories through his music. “Band With The Beautiful Buss,” “The Oppressor,” and “C’mon Brothers And Sisters” take the listener for a ride through the mind and soul of a Texas musician. “Ride To Get Right” is his ode to Otis Redding and Earl King.
McAllister’s 14th album covers a lot of ground but with energy and passion. Fistful Of Gumption is music for the mind and soul.
April 12, 2017
Every once in a while an album sneaks up on you. A Force Of Nature is the debut release by Sari Schorr and why she waited so long is a mystery.
Schorr is a recent inductee into the New York Blues Hall Of Fame has opened for the likes of Joe Louis Walker and Poppa Chubby. She possesses an excellent song-writing ability but it is the power of his voice that puts he above and beyond the norm.
On her own compositions, “Ain’t Got No Money,” “Ordinary Life,” “Cat And Mouse,” and “Demolition Man,” her voice booms, purrs, and commands attention. Her cover of Huddie Ledbetter’s “Black Betty” transfers it to a modern day masterpiece. She even brings new energy to the old Motown classic “Stop In The Name Of Love.”
Sari Schorr has been around for a while. Hopefully A Force of nature will bring her some overdue attention and commercial success.
March 16, 2017
Number 1: The woman can sing. She is one of those vocalists who can squeeze every once of pathos, meaning, and emotion from a song.
Lex Grey and the Urban Pioneers have just issued their sixth album titled Heal My Soul. They are known as an energetic and explosive live band who have toured relentlessly honing their craft. Grey’s tough-woman appeal help them present music that fuses rock and roll and the blues into an interesting mix.
She is backed by guitarist Vic Mix, violinist Kaia Updike, drummer John Holland, bassist Adam Price, and multi-instrumentalist Brian DeWan, who have developed into a tight and formidable band. They are fueled by the instrumental leads of Mix and Updike. It is Updike’s violin that gives the music an unusual sound at times as her ability to use it in a blues format is different and at times stunning.
Lex Grey and the Urban Pioneers are still very much a Brooklyn bar band. They are perfect for a smoky club late at night. In some ways they may be a little to authentic for huge mainstream success but Heal My Soul is a disc that needs to be played loud as it contains the essence of American rock and roll at its most basic and best.
February 28, 2017
There is a sticker on the front of the CD jacket that says “File Under Texas Music,” and to that I say AMEN.
Glenna Bell is a singer/songwriter who uses the blues as a foundation as she moves effortless to fuse rock, pop, and country into her sound.
She has a knack of choosing cover songs that can be transferred to her Texas orientation. Don Henley’s “Heart Of The Matter” re-emerges with a steel guitar and understated vocals.
At the heart of her music are personal songs about her life and Texas. “Poor Girl (In Blue)” and “Shiner Bock & ZZ Top” carry on her tradition of story-songs. “Tonight’s The Night” is a wonderful reflection of life’s transitions that works better with the video.
Perhaps the best song is “Christmas Is Coming,” which is a nostalgic and wistful approach to the season and received several hundred-thousand plays online las year.
Glenna Bell’s music always has a personal approach and her latest release is no exception. Music for the heart and mind-Texas style.
February 22, 2017
If you are ever driving down the highway and pass a 1961 Bambi Airstream being towed by a Ford van that looks like it has traveled a half-million miles, you have probably seen the home of Hymn For Her.
Lucy Tight and Wayne Waxing (and their daughter) have been traveling the highways and by-ways of America producing and playing their music, while living their life on the road. They are a self-contained band who have released their latest album titled Drive Til U Die.
Musicians Lucy and Wayne play what can best be labeled as hillbilly rock. There are some up-tempo songs such as the album opening rocker “Devil’s Train,” the twang of “Hi Ho Silver,” and the honky tonk vibe of “The Road Song.” The best track, however, may be the gentle “Seas Of Croatia,” which places the emphasis on Lucy’s voice.
They produce music at its basic best. There is some shouting, hollering, and picking, which fits in with a bygone era. They are in touch with a modern sound as the production is rustic but impeccable and the lyrics convey their stories.
Ultimately Hymn For Her produces music about their lives on the road. Their thoughts and dreams merge with the realism of their life choices, which makes their sound have a unique quality.
Drive Til You Die is an album worth exploring whether you are just relaxing or more appropriately driving down the highway.