May 8, 2017
Gypsy guitarists are usually not household names. Gonzalo Bergara is one of the most accomplished gypsy guitarists practicing today. Now he has travelled in a different direction with his newest release Zalo’s Blues.
His new album is his first foray into not only an electric sound but an exploration of the blues. Backed by bassist Mariano D’Andre and drummer Maximilliano Bergara; he explores a number of blues forms including swing, shuffles, and rock/blues fusion. Through it all Bergara demonstrates why is one of the best guitarists you may not have heard.
Zalo’s Blues is an interesting album by an artist exploring a different art form. If you’re interested in something a little different, then this may be an album for you.
May 8, 2017
Brigitte DeMeyer and Will Kimbrough have toured together, written songs together, and sang together. That musical relationship has resulted in their first album as a duo, Mockingbird Soul.
They have released an unpretentious, laid back album that travels in a number of directions, including blues, gospel, pop, and even some jazz. The vocal harmonies are spontaneous and meld together as if they had grown up singing together. The writing is cerebral in places but all in all it is a gentle and reflective album that fits sitting on the back porch late at night somewhere in the south.
“The Juke” features Demeyer’s sultry voice backed by the in and out of Kimbrough’s harmonica. “Little Easy” is a wonderful ode to Mobile with only some simple guitar lines to guide the sound. Oliver Wood, of the Wood Brothers, adds his voice to the wistful “Carpet Bagger’s Lullaby.” There is also an intimate cover of the Incredible String Band’s “October Song” that benefits from their vocals.
Sometimes the mood is light-hearted as with the bluesy “Honey Bee” and sometimes nostalgic as with “I Can hear Your Voice, which is about the presence of a lost parent.
This is a release where the production adds to the overall enjoyment of the sound. The voices and guitars are distinct. While their are other instruments at times, they do not intrude on each other or the harmonies.
Brigitte DeMeyer and Will Kimbrough have released an album of material that appeals to them. It may not change the course of popular music, but it is highly appealing and very listenable.
April 12, 2017
I don’t think Neil Young has ever issued a bad album in his half-century or so in the recording studio. His latest release, Peace Trail, may not rank among his best work but it is certainly above average.
The music is primarily acoustic and sparse as he only uses drummer Jim Keltner and bassist Paul Bushnell.
The album clocks in at 38 minutes divided between 10 tracks. The heart of the release is his socio/political material which has become more common as he has aged. More interesting are the times and songs when he looks inward and takes a more philosophical approach to his writing. There is an emotional connection to this type of material that seem genuine as he and much of his long-time fan base are facing their own mortality.
Peace Trail may not be his most memorable release but it does have a power to it. It will make you think and reflect and that is enough this time around.
April 12, 2017
The brass ring was within reach of Al Atkins but it passed him by. During 1969, he formed Judas Priest with himself as lead vocalist. That band quickly imploded but he re-formed the band in October of 1970 with all new members. He left in May of 1973, just before the release of their first album, and the rest, as they say, is history.
For the last 40 years or so, he has maintained the faith. His career has existed on the periphery of success as he has fronted bands such as Holy Rage and the Atkins/May Project, plus released a number of solo albums.
His latest release, Reloaded, is his re-imagining and re-recording of ten songs from various parts of his career. It includes “Winter” and “Never Satisfied,” which he co-wrote and appeared on Judas Priest’s debut album.
At this point in his career, Atkins is who he is. He produces a straight forward brand of metal and hard rock. He surrounds himself with veteran musicians including Ian Hill (Judas Priest), Chris Johnson (Holy Rage), Rob Allen (UK), and current band mate Paul May.
Tracks such as “Cradle To The Grave,” “Love At War,” “A Void To Avoid,” and “Coming Think And fast” are pounding pieces of rock and roll with Atkins voice leading the way.
Reloaded is an introduction to Al Atkins. It may not change the face of hard rock but it helps gives a veteran of it his due.
March 21, 2017
It has been almost a half-century since vocalist/guitarist Richard Young, drummer Fred Young, and lead guitarist Greg Martin began playing together, Bassist Doug Phelps was an early addition, and they have remained together ever since. It took them nearly 20 years to issue their first album but Pickin’ On Nashville was worth the wait as it sold just over two-million copies.
The Kentucky Headhunters have just released their 12th studio album titled On Safari. Their sound has changed with the passing of time. They have evolved from an electric country band into a southern rock group who incorporate blues into their mix.
Their new album includes ten originals and two covers, Alice Cooper’s “Caught In A Dream” and Charlie Daniel’s “Way Down Yonder.”
It is the ten original compositions that form the heart and soul of the album. They are the type of sold rock and roll that one has come to expect from the Headhunters. “Rainbow Shine,” ”Jukebox Full Of Blues,” and “ “Deep Southern Blues Again” wrap their southern rock roots around a blues foundation. “Beaver Creek Mansion” and “Lowdown Memphis Town Blues” are a clever look at their own history wrapped in rock and roll.
The Kentucky Headhunters have evolved into one of the great American rock bands. On Safari is another brick in their musical wall.
March 21, 2017
The Temprees were, and currently are, a smooth soul vocal group. Formed by Jasper “Jabbo” Phillips (died 2001), Harold “Scotty’ Scott, and Deljuan “Del” Calvin during the late 1960’s; they gained success during the 1970’s, while signed to the Stax label. They have reunited several times and now original members Scot and Calvin plus new addition Walter “Bo” Washington have returned with a new album titled From The Heart.
The Stax label was famous for its gritty and funky rhythm & blues. The Temprees were more of a classic vocal group, who based their sound on sweet ballads and tight harmonies. Their new release may veer from this formula a little but at heart they remain an old school brand of soul group.
Their sound, 40 years after their popular period, remains smooth like butter. The title song is like a harmonic Harlequin love novel. This love song sets the tone for the album. “We Do Music” contains a history lesson of the Stax label. “Keep It Real” continues the positive vibe of the album as they sing about the importance of human interactions.
They travel in a different direction with “Paparazzi.” It has a funky dance vibe and is more like what one would expect from a Stax label artist.
The Temprees have channeled and modernized their seventies period and re-created a sound that is never out of date.
March 16, 2017
Rory Block is one of the most accomplished blues musicians working today, male or female. She has received five Blues Music Awards in the Traditional Blues Female and Acoustic Blues Album Of The Year categories.
Several years ago she embarked on her Mentor Series and to date has issued albums covering and being inspired by the music of Skip James, Mississippi John Hurt, Rev. Gary Davis, Mississippi John McDowell, and Son House.
Her sixth album in the series, Keepin’ Outta Trouble, is a tribute to Bukka White. Interestingly, White’s music inspired her to create more original compositions than any of the previous releases in the series.
The four Bukka White penned tunes, “Aberdeen Mississippi Blues,” “Panama Limited,” “Parchman Farm Blues,” and “New Frisco Train” are classic interpretations straight from the Delta. She has always been a superior acoustic guitarist and her ability and style brings out the original power of these old blues songs.
Her own songs are modern day blues who use White’s material for their inspiration. “Gonna Be Some Walkin’ Done” is a clever ditty based on White’s guitar lines from “Bukka’s Jitterbug Swing.” She wisely leads off the album with her own “Keepin’ Outta Trouble” and “Bukka’s Day,” which not only introduce the theme of the album but her own approach to traditional blues.
Block has followed her own career path, and many times has travelled the road less taken, and through it all has dedicated herself to playing, creating, and preserving the blues. She has never wavered from her chosen musical career path. The fact that she is so good at her chosen profession is just icing on the cake. Keepin’ Outta Trouble is another brick in her wall of blues.