Blues Bytes

What's New

January 2008

an associate Order these featured CDs today:

Ellis Hooks

John-Alex Mason

Deering and Down

Bob Brozman

The Insomniacs

Tad Robinson

Ernie Hawkins

Debbie Davies

Roomful of Blues

Eric Bibb

Celso SalimBig City Blues (GRV Records) is the third album by Celso Salim, and it is arguably the best yet, certainly to my ears – maybe because it is bluesier then the earlier two. The CD benefits from having 12 original songs and just one cover version (“If The Sea Were Whiskey”), and the original songs are all good.

Salim shows his instrumental diversity by playing dobro, electric and acoustic guitars – backed by Jason Sterling on drums, Rodrigo Mantovani on bass and guest artists Ari Borguer (piano), Igor Prado (guitar), Sergio Duarte (harmonica) and others.Salim is very obviously a talented musician, and he has been playing guitar since the age of 6; he studied at the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles, and joined a local blues band in the area, before moving back to his native Brazil in 2000.

This is his first album since the 2003 release Going Out Tonight, and it has been worth the wait. The album contains lots of different tempos and styles of blues, from driving rocking blues to simple picking, and obviously has many different influences.

The opening track “Best Cheater In Town” is a rocking blues, with some superb harmonica work from Sergio Duarte backing Celso’s stylish slide guitar work. “Truthful Liars” keeps to the same tempo and style with its driving, insistent beat, and slips into track three, the title track “Big City Blues,” slowing down the tempo slightly and showcasing some nice piano work by Ari Borguer.

Track four, “Sweet Lovin’ Queen,” is pure Muddy Waters-influenced and is possibly the best track on the album – the slide guitar is pure heaven! I’d buy the CD for this track alone. The cover of Willie Dixon’s “If The Sea Was Whiskey” is another contender for best track on the album, staying true to the original without being a direct copy.

There isn’t a bad track on the album, it’s just that some are better than others. There seems to be some high standard blues coming out of Brazil at the moment, and this is a good listen.

--- Terry Clear

Ellis HooksEllis Hooks has dazzled listeners with his ragged but righteous vocals since his initial release in 2002. His music features the best of ’60s and ’70s Southern blues and soul with just the right amount of rock thrown in for good measure. His songwriting, usually a joint effort with longtime producer Jon Tiven and his wife Sally, touches on the sounds of Muscle Shoals-era soul, but also brings to mind Van Morrison at times.

Hooks’ fifth release, Another Saturday Morning (Evidence), features more of the same exciting mix of rock, blues and soul. The opening cut, “Black Dirt,” kicks off the disc in fine fashion, and “Don’t Stop Dancing” is a strong upbeat number. “Your River” sounds like a long lost Van Morrison track. “Don’t Come Running” is another highlight, featuring the harp work of Mason Casey and a powerful vocal from Hooks.

“Bad MF” has a strong early ’70s vibe, with the funky Hammond organ and horn section, all performed by Jon Tiven, who also contributes a great guitar solo. “Rain On The Wood” is a gritty soul number about the frustrations of love (“It’s hard to light a fire with rain on the wood.”), while the title cut is a more meditative number about times gone by. “Do I Ever Cross Your Heart” is a classic soul track about the girl left behind, and the rocking “The Road To Your Heart” raises things up a notch to close things out. There’s also a bonus track, the seasonal “If I Gave You My Heart For Christmas.”

Another Saturday Morning is another great addition to the Ellis Hooks catalog, featuring his unique and seamless mix of Southern blues and soul.

--- Graham Clarke

John-Alex MasonJohn-Alex Mason has absorbed musical influences from many different directions. The guitarist’s older brother listened to ’60s and ’70s icons like Led Zeppelin, the Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers, and Jimi Hendrix, while his godmother introduced him to the spiritual side with her gospel singing. From there, the Colorado native picked up on the blues as a teenager and eventually won the Telluride Acoustic Blues Competition in 2001, was hired to teach slide guitar at the festival’s blues camp, and came under the influence of contemporary artists like Taj Mahal, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Richard Johnston, and Cephas & Wiggins. Since then he has won several awards and has played with many blues greats like B. B. King, James Cotton, Bob Margolin, Jimmie Vaughan, and Robert Belfour.

These various influences all play an important part in Mason’s fifth, and latest, CD, Town and Country (Naked Jaybird Music), a remarkable display of electric and acoustic guitar that would have been a seamless fit in the old Paramount catalog if you didn’t know better. A mixture of old songs and new compositions by Mason, it’s sometimes hard to tell which is which.

The old recordings include two versions (one featuring his one-man band setup) of “Shake ‘Em On Down,” Bukka White’s “Jitterbug Swing,” Skip James’ “Cypress Grove,” Charlie Patton’s “Boll Weevil,” and the Elmore James classic, “Shake Your Moneymaker.” Mason’s originals include “Steel Pony Blues,” “Bury My Boots,” about being torn between playing his music on the road and staying home with family, “Chef Menteur,” a scathing response to the after-effects of Katrina, and “Strange Things,” a despairing tune about the current state of world affairs. The spiritual “What Are You Hungry For?” is a tribute to his godmother, and the driving “Locomotive” churns on just like its title.

The “Town” tracks feature Mason on electric guitar, LoweBow cigar box guitar, and footdrums, while the “Country” tracks feature Mason on his National Style O guitar. While he is a fantastic guitarist, his vocal work is extraordinary, as he easily captures the fire and passion present in the best blues songs. In addition to his fretwork and vocals, Mason is a gifted composer, whether touching on old familiar themes or more topical matters.

Guitar fans will find a lot to love here, but fans of acoustic blues shouldn’t let this one pass them by, either. Town and Country is one disc you’ll be hearing a lot about in 2008.

--- Graham Clarke

Deering and DownCanadian singer Lahna Deering met guitarist Rev Neil Down in Alaska and formed the duo, Deering and Down. The pair’s first two discs were recorded in Alaska and Ireland, respectively, and garnered a fair amount of attention for their originality. Since 2004, they’ve been in Memphis, soaking in the atmosphere and musical influences of the Bluff City. Their third album, Break This Record, was recorded in Memphis and released on North Mississippi Allstars’ Cody Dickinson’s new Diamond D label.

Deering’s unique vocal style (call it a combination of Stevie Nicks and Janis Joplin with a shot of helium mixed in) is a perfect offset to Down’s guitar work, which is a style unto its own. It leans toward the rock side of things, with roots firmly planted in the blues, and he complements Deering's vocals flawlessly, like a hummingbird darting in and out and around them.

Among the highlights are “Richard of Los Angeles,” which features a wicked solo from Down, and the mournful “Sad Love,” with one of Deering’s best vocal efforts. “Sugar” features a country-esque backing with a bluesy guitar break, as does “City Cow Girl.” The upbeat “Oh So Good” raises things up a notch or two, and “Abbey” is a sweet song about encouraging someone going through the healing process of a broken love. The closer, “Bessie’s Big Wag,” is a lively instrumental showcasing Down’s guitar.

This was a difficult record to categorize (something I hate to do in the first place). It’s not exactly rock or blues, but features elements of both. Americana is probably the best description, but it’s not just that either. It reminds me a lot of those Little Feat or Ry Cooder records from the ’70s that captured elements of several different genres and combined them into their very own genre. Wherever you file it, it’s one of the most fascinating releases you’ll hear this year.

--- Graham Clarke

Buck 69Buck 69 is a father-son blues/rock band with three members over the age of 45 and five members under the age of 30. Despite the age gap, the group is definitely on the same page as far as their music is concerned. Singer/songwriter Tom Clawson, formerly of the band T. C. Rogers and the Blue’s Hamilton Band founded the group along with his son, guitarist Alex Clawson. The pair originally started out as an acoustic duo around the Toledo, Ohio area, but decided to go electric three years ago. It’s proving to be a wise decision.

The band’s new release, When She Whispers Your Name (self-released), is a dazzling set of electric blues/rock. Propelled by not one, not two, but three lead guitarists (Alex Clawson, fellow band member Buzz Anderson, and disc producer John Sevilla), the disc features great original songs and covers, masterful vocals, and a fantastic band.

The opening cut, “T-Town,” a scorcher featuring the dynamic lead guitar of young Clawson, sets the bar pretty high for the rest of the disc. The title cut is a bit mellower, with more fine picking by Clawson and some funky ’70s era keyboards by B. J. Love. Mike Morgan’s “Cold Wind” is a smooth slow blues featuring Buzz Anderson’s fretwork along with soulful vocals by Tom Clawson and backing vocalists Candace Coleman and Pam Berger.

Other highlights include the rocker, “No Time For Love,” “Good Days Bad Days” (about coping with the loss of Clawson’s son Thomas, to whom the disc is dedicated), and “Someone Like Me,” which features producer Sevilla on guitar. Sevilla also shines on a highly charged cover of Slim Harpo’s “I’m A King Bee.” The closer, “The Best Place,” features both Alex Clawson and Anderson on guitar and closes the disc out in fine fashion.

Blues/rock guitar fans should run, not walk to the band’s website ( to pick up this excellent disc.

--- Graham Clarke

Bob BrozmanGuitar virtuoso Bob Brozman’s third release for Ruf Records, Post-Industrial Blues, is a stunning package featuring a highly diverse set of originals and a couple of well-chosen covers, all stamped with Brozman’s inimitable style. To sum up Brozman’s gifts, if it has strings, he can play it. On this disc alone, he plays a variety of National guitars, ukulele, banjo, the Okinawan sanshin, Dobro, the Greek baglama, Hawaiian guitar, the 22-string chaturangui, and the 14-string gandharvi.

Always an intense and spirited performer, Brozman has carried that over this time around to his compositions. Several of the tracks cover American politics (“Follow the Money,” “Crooked Blues”), Hurricane Katrina (“Look At New Orleans”), and the war (“Three Families Blues”). Whether you agree with his politics or not, you’ll enjoy listening to these because, #1, he delivers the lyrics with a wink and good humor, not the usual heavy-handiness or self-importance that often accompanies topical songs delivered from either side of the aisle, and #2, his guitar work will leave you slack-jawed. He remembers that regardless of the subject matter, nobody’s going to listen if the music’s not good.

There’s plenty more to enjoy on Post-Industrial Blues besides the occasional political commentary. Brozman makes the amazing seem routine whenever he has a guitar in his hands. “Strange Ukulele Blues” is an example as Brozman doubles on ukulele and banjo for an amazing flamenco-styled number. “Let’s Get It Boy” is another marvel, an all-too-brief spirited instrumental with Brozman mixing the 14-string gandharvi with his usual National guitar.

His smooth take on “Green River Blues” is more traditional, at least compared with one of his cover tunes, a unique rendition of the Doors’ “People Are Strange,” where Brozman pulls out all the stops, playing his usual battery of guitars, along with a “broken toy piano,” gongs, cymbals, “butterknife on table,” gongs, woodblocks, marimba pipes, and other miscellaneous instruments. “How I Love That Woman,” a pretty Hawaiian guitar instrumental, closes out the disc.

Brozman gets an assist this time around from bassist Stan Poplin and drummer Jim Norris, who both played on many of his earlier albums. Lacey J. Dalton and Hailey Sage contribute backing vocals to several songs as well.

For fans of any guitar style, this disc should be required listening. It’s exhilarating, thought-provoking and mind-boggling, and there’s never a dull moment.

--- Graham Clarke

The InsomniacsI’m sad that I missed the record release party of The Insomniacs new CD, Left Coast Blues, on the Delta Groove label. They made a tour stop at the Big Fish Pub here in Tempe, Arizona and I was out of town. Judging by their record I missed a very good time. So let’s try to do this new record justice. It’s easy to see why it garnered the Insomniacs a Blues Music Award nomination for Best New Artist Debut.

A stirring bass line from Dean Mueller and an intro on the keys from Alex Shakeri kick off the first cut, “Stick Around.” A love song, singer Vyasa Dodson is trying to convince his woman that his love is true. “…I know things have been kind of rough…ask anyone….that’s the way of love…I think you think you should stick around for awhile”. We don’t know that she stays but at least Vyasa is being true to his feelings. The band is very tight and I’m impressed by Alex’s keyboard work. Vyasa’s guitar takes the forefront on the next cut, “Serves Me Right.” We find Vyasa trying to figure out what he should do about a woman that he’s convinced isn’t true…”Where does she…get her smiles from…cause it ain’t me…cause I’ve been playing dumb…the flame of the night been keeping me warm…serves me right, serves me wrong!” Sound like this woman needs to go.

The Insomniac’s count amongst their influences Junior Watson, Charlie Baty and Hollywood Fats, all of whom can be felt in the next cut, “Watch Your Mouth”. Vyasa’s guitar intro is reminiscent of Junior’s work and the entire song reflects the band’s jump blues influences. “You better listen…cause I want it understood…a loose lipped woman just aint no good…you’d better watch your mouth!” A trash talking woman is trouble and Vyasa’s clear in his understanding that this one needs to go. We slow the tempo down on the next tune, “Stuttering Blues”. “I’m a st…st..stuttering man…Lord, I can’t talk…talk…worth a dime…sometimes I want to cr…cry…sometimes I want to die”. Sometimes its easier to sing than talk and Vyasa’s doing the best he can.

“Crime Scene” is an instrumental in the best West Coast tradition. Alex Shakeri again comes to the forefront, this time on organ, and the song just jumps out of my speakers. I hear a lot of Little Charlie influences in this song and the band is definitely true to its traditions. “Wrong Kind of Love” finds Vyasa appreciating the fact that his woman has moved on. “Birds are singing…such a happy song….ever since, you’ve been gone…and I know now, what I wished I’d known then…you’ve got the wrong kind of love!” Sometimes in the universe we just hook up with the wrong one, Vyasa’s coming to the realization that all of his friends were aware of, and he’ll be better off to see this one go. “I’ll Treat You Right”, is a jump blues in the best west coast tradition. “Well, I’m not the one you sleep next to at night…the difference between him and me baby, is I’m the one who treats you right!” We’ve all seen situations like this, and hopefully Vyasa’s patience with this woman will be rewarded. After all, “I’m the one who treats you right!” Solid fretwork by Vyasa provides the introduction for “I’m Not Sorry.” “It’s not your fault baby…neither was it mine…we both knew it was over…and I just couldn’t keep on trying!” Once in a great while a relationship will end for all the right reasons and Vyasa is firm in his conviction that it’s the case this time. There’s no right or wrong….it just all came to an end.

“Shake the Chandelier” finds Vyasa reminiscing about his girl while traveling the blues highway. “I’ve been having my fun...out here on the road…fun’s been had and I’m just glad…that I’m on my way home…when I get home…we’re going to shake the chandelier!” The road’s been good but Vyasa’s glad to get home. And when he gets there…the reunion will be a sweet one. “I can’t sing…I can’t dance…and I never been much for romance…but I got money…I’d like to spend on you!” Vyasa’s aware of his shortcomings and he’s hoping that an abundance of money will make up for the weaknesses in his loving style. He’s about to find out that money is not the cure for everything, but it will go a long way! Hopefully his girl appreciates his honesty.

The band closes their record with another instrumental, “Be Quiet.” The Insomniacs are a very tight quartet and this is another song that showcases just what a great band they are. Two live bonus tracks on the CD include an extended version of “Serves Me Right” and “No Wine, No Women.” “No wine…no women…some one’s got to go! Alex’s keyboards shine on this tune and it’s a nice way to finish off this impressive debut from the Insomniacs.

I like the Insomniacs. Their energy is impressive and it’s easy to see why they are such a favorite in their home stomping grounds up in the Pacific Northwest. Vyasa Dodson, on vocals and guitar, proves to be a very astute songwriter as well, and that bodes well for the future. Alex Shakeri plays a mean piano as well as organ and the rhythm section of Dean Mueller on bass and Dave Melyan on drums was very tight.

Left Coast Blues is a well crafted debut disc and Delta Groove Records has definitely added a gem to their already impressive stable of artists.

--- Kyle Deibler

Tad RobinsonTad Robinson’s Did You Ever Wonder? (Severn) was one of the standout discs of 2004. A fantastic bluesy disc, it was thrilling as few recordings this side of Johnny Adams were that year. A New Point of View (Severn) takes that further down the block into Soulsville, without giving up that bluesy root.

Robinson may be the premier white soul singer on the scene. This certainly affirms that he’s the best to come down the road in ages. Steeped in shades of Hi and Stax soul, Robinson again has one of the standout discs of this year. With a stellar supporting cast, including Alex Schultz playing outside of his typical West Coast style, bassist Steve Gomes and Robb Stipka on the drums, this thrills from the downbeat. From the opening “Long Way Home,” with its sexy slinky Motown groove to the Curtis Mayfield inspired closer, “Back for More,” this is deliciously exciting.

The majority of songs were co-written by Robinson – three with Lou Pride among the authors -- and Tad’s harp work on “Up and Down World,” a tune closely associated with both Bobby Bland and Johnny Adams, points to his diversity. “He’s Movin’ In (To her Life)” is a killer blues out of the Adams mold, and “More Good Than Bad” and “When You’re Ready” ” have Al Green dripping all over them. Whew!

--- Mark E. Gallo

Root DoctorRoot Doctor is finally starting to be recognized as one of the hottest bands on the international blues landscape. They’ve gotten solid press from the UK to France and Italy, to Wyoming, New York and Detroit -- and the accolades are all well earned.

This is a fantastic band. On their new disc, Change Our Ways (Big O Records), from the spectacular Albert King-inspired opener, “Blues Will Take Care Of You,” to the funky “Keep Our Business Off the Streets” to the gospel and soul drenched “Lucky One,” lead vocalist Freddie Cunningham and his mates don’t just impress, they knock this listener right over.

“People Say” reminds more than a dab of the Meters, the original source of this killer funk tune, with a dash of Sly & The Family Stone thrown in the mix. Guitarist Greg Nagy shines on “Big Blue Cadillac,” with bassist supreme James Williams and rock steady drummer Rick Bole laying a foundation thick enough to support a Mack truck. Keyboardist Jim Alfredson, who serves as the musical director of the band, serves up some sizzling B-3 here, too, and the guesting Motor City Horns burn it up on this track and elsewhere.

This one will definitely make my year-end Top 10 list. Whew!

--- Mark E. Gallo

Ernie HawkinsErnie HawkinsRags and Bones (Say Mo’ Music) is as perfect an album as fans of acoustic guitar could hope for. Hawkins is one of the standout acoustic guitarists to come down the road in the past decade or so. Hawkins is an extraordinary picker who’s largely inspired by the Rev. Gary Davis. There have been many others inspired by Davis (Jorma Kaukonen and David Bromberg comes to mind), of course, and there are other exquisite pickers, such as Duck Baker and Dan Crary. And certainly, as this collection makes apparent, Hawkins is a fan of other classic blues guitarist and songsters. It’s just that few performers have been able to bring so much talent to the intersection at once.

The opening instrumental on Davis’ “Make Believe Strut” sets the tone. Played on a steel-stringed 12-string, the lines are intricate, complex and wholly hypnotic. His cover of Mississippi John Hurt’s “Avalon,” with Marc Riesman on bass harmonica,” is a delight. The following jaw-dropping guitar work on Davis’ playful “The Boy Was Kissing the Girl (and Playing the Guitar at the Same Time)” has Guy Gillette playing the bones (think of spoons, only with bones).

Davis’ “Can’t Be Satisfied” and “I Am the Light of This World” are also given wonderful interpretations. The former is instrumental, while the latter features extraordinary gospel-ish vocals from Maria Muldaur. Jimmie Rodger’s classic “TB Blues,” with vocals as impressive as the guitar, Henry Thomas’ “Texas Easy Street,” again with Reisman on harp, a great version of Willie McTell’s “Statesboro Blues,” and Mance Lipscomb’s “G Rag” are given remarkable readings, as well.

Hawkins covers “Singin’ the Blues,” – no, not the Guy Mitchell song. This is a combination of Bix Beiderbecke’s and George Gershwin’s versions of the tune from the 1920s. Art Eskridge’s “Elm Street Blues” is a fine guitar/vocal blues, maybe more '60s than '20s, but classic nonetheless.

One of the real treats here, outside of the Gary Davis material, is Ernie Hawkins’ treatment of a pair of Louis Armstrong compositions. “Potato Head Blues,” from the Louis Armstrong Hot Five catalog, is given a gorgeous interpretation. The humorously titled “Guitar Chop Suey” comes from the same era. As Hawkins writes in the notes, it would have made a great Rev. Gary Davis tune.

The closing “Massanga,” a beautiful instrumental, closes the disc. Hawkins writes of this that “an amazing coincidence in world music is the close similarity between many African acoustic fingerpickers of the '50s and '60s and the American Piedmont players.”

One of finest acoustic blues artists performing today, more info can be found on Ernie’s website.

--- Mark E. Gallo

Debbie DaviesMore often than not, recordings with special guests don’t turn out well. Either the musicians don’t have sufficient time to bond into a harmonious unit or they are absent from the recording session. Debbie Davies' Blues Blast (Telarc), with three special guests, does not suffer either of those common pitfalls due to the ensemble’s admirable teamwork. “All of us on this record have apprenticed under the founders of the blues,” says Davies. “It’s from their inspiration and learning from their records and on the road that we learned to play this music. The older I get, the more joy I get playing with other blues artists that I admire.”

Los Angeles-born Davies developed her brash guitar skills during a four-year tenure with Albert Collins’ Icebreakers. Coco Montoya also received a mentorship from Collins. The two tutored guitarists combine their icy Collins licks and piercing sustained notes on the ass-kickin’ instrumental "A.C. Strut." On the Davies-written song, the guitarists freely journey up and down their fret boards. A wistful rhythm naturally flows on "My Time After Awhile" – made famous by Buddy Guy – where Davies forces her vocals and effortlessly plays guitar. Here, Katz’s organ is barely noticeable, yet it makes an impact.

The core band (Rod Carey, bass; Per Hanson, drums; and Katz, organ) sound tremendous on the sweet shuffle "Sittin’ and Cryin’," where Charlie Musselwhite astutely blows harp. His half-spoken vocals sound ordinary on his swinging West Coast jaunt "Movin’ & Groovin’," but his harp shines. In fact, the treasured harp tone is some of the best he has delivered in years.

Tab Benoit’s fused-style of guitar is unrivaled. Yet, it doesn’t fit on John Lee Hooker’s classic "Crawling King Snake." "Where The Blues Come To Die" has such a confident cure for your blues, they’ll perish.

The three guests join forces with Davies and her band on the emotive minor-key instrumental "Sonoma Sunset," named after the beautiful wine country north of San Francisco. The provocative song will make you laugh as well as cry.

It was Davies’ musician parents who first exposed her to the music scene at an early age. Davies, now 55, is accompanied by at least one guest on each song. She continues to be a more distinguished guitarist than vocalist.

Blues Blast – Davies’ 11th career album – contains mighty fine blues as performed by some of today’s best contemporaries.

--- Tim Holek

Roomful of BluesAnyone who has listened to a Roomful of Blues CD knows that their music is hard to classify. That doesn’t matter to the band’s members. All they are concerned with is whether it sounds good, whether you can dance to it, and whether you can feel it. With suave horns that swing off the big band dancehall floors of the ’30s and ’40s, Raisin’ A Ruckus (Alligator) is one of Roomful’s most swinging CDs. Since 1967, the multiple award-winning group’s combination of swing, rock ‘n’ roll, jump, blues and soul has earned it just praise. 46 band members have come and gone since then without a negative impact on the band’s exciting music.

This disc features a new bass player and a new drummer on this disc, but the most obvious newcomer is singer Dave Howard who replaces Mark DuFresne. Howard hails from Rhode Island, the band’s home state, and his expressive voice contains a hint of Louis Armstrong. Listen as Howard reveals a state of feeling disturbed on "Black Night," then uses his voice as the band’s fourth horn on "Talkin’ To You Eye To Eye."

The chosen covers are vintage blues and R&B tunes. You’ll swear someone has just put on one of your parents records from the 1950s when you hear their nostalgic version of "Big Mamou," the R&B hit by New Orleans artist Smiley Lewis. The Crescent City connection continues on the often covered "New Orleans" and Eddie Bo’s "Every Dog Has Its Day," which contains as much fun as a summer beach party. "Boogie Woogie Country Girl" is loaded with exhausting boogie woogie piano. The song’s legendary writer, Doc Pomus, helped land the band their first record deal in the ’70s.

Five band members prove they are capable of writing enticing songs that mesh perfectly with the band’s extensive repertoire. Each of the eight original songs is a flashback to the big band era, e.g. "In The Mood" that influenced Roomful. On "Talkin’ To You Eye To Eye," the three-piece brass section trade licks like guitars do in guitar driven bands. The infectious horn arrangement of "Solid Jam" will remain etched in your memory. Horns as lively as a New Orleans street funeral procession appear on saxophonist Rich Lataille’s instrumental title track. The song, which depicts Lataille’s big band and jazz roots, is one of the highlights of the CD. In fact, it should be included on the soundtrack of the next ’30s and ’40s gangster film to come out of Hollywood.

The rhythms of all 14 songs are so exhilarating; most of the light-hearted lyrics get lost or overshadowed. "Life Has Been Good" stands out as its lyrics are emotionally heavy and quite touching. It is about expressing true feelings toward your spouse and thanking them for making life so wonderful.

The CD’s strength, and in fact the group’s greatest asset, is how well the band performs as a cohesive unit. Throughout, the horns hop, the keyboards sway, the vocals enthuse, the guitar rocks, and the band jumps. This record swings more than a number three wood on a golf course. You must experience it for yourself. Put this record on and watch as your house transforms into a building made of horns.

--- Tim Holek

DC and CoAlive, a live album from Pennsylvania-based DC & Co, is billed as "Live Music for Live People." But this particular show didn't really gain life until the sixth cut. That's when guest vocalist Rose Hudson hit the stage for her two-song guest appearance. Ms. Hudson is such a powerful and impressive singer that she immediately lifted the rest of the band to new heights --- the instrumental solos became sharper and the band as whole rose to the occasion behind Rose.

Hudson first warms up the crowd with "Fine & Mellow," a sassy blues with solid accompaniment from what is really a quite good horn section. But then it gets better. Keyboardist (and bandleader) Dave Costarella and the horns provide a simple but effective instrumental intro before Hudson launches into one of the best versions of Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready" that I've ever heard. Her voice impressively soars through the octaves before guitarist Big Tone Torres turns in what is by far his best solo of the night. Just a great, great song!

Costarella returns to the microphone after Hudson's short stint. The band keeps the momentum on the next cut, the funky "NYC King Size Rosewood Bed," with a good guitar solo and nice horn work. But then they get into a rut of too many overly-done covers (i.e. Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" and "I Wish,"  Billy Preston's "Will It Go Round In Circles," and War's "Low Rider"), none of which the band can carry off successfully.

DC & Co is a good band with a full sound. While I've never seen them in person, I'm guessing that they are a fun band to watch live. But a band that produces a big sound like this needs a powerful vocalist. Costarella is a perfectly capable singer if he stays within his strengths, but he often tries to take his voice places it's not intended to go, at times sounding like he's off key from the rest of the band.

You can check out this band and get info on the CD at It's worth finding just to hear Hudson belt out "People Get Ready." Anything else is a bonus.

--- Bill Mitchell

Eric BibbI've always believed that Eric Bibb is a blues artist that really should be better known by American blues audiences. The native New Yorker, who now lives in Sweden, is actually better known to European audiences.

So, who's Eric Bibb? He's the son of Leon Bibb, who was a prominent folk musician on the New York scene of the 1960s. Bibb has recorded more than a dozen album and regularly tours internationally.

An Evening With Eric Bibb (M.C. Records) was recorded live at a nightclub in Sydney, Austalia, and presents a good overview of Bibb's repertoire. He's accompanied here by bassist Dave Bronze; the sound is very good and the respectful audience is knowledgeable about Bibb and his music.

The show kicks off with a happy, ragtime guitar number, "Good Stuff," which immediately has the audience clapping along with Bibb. He follows with one of his standards, "Shingle by Shingle," a pleasant composition about being grateful for what you've got. "Needed Time" is announced as one of Bibb's favorite songs; it's a powerful, spiritual number that he does well and is one of the highlights of the album.

Even better is Bibb's excellent tribute to John Cephas, "Right On Time." He turns this original number into a raucous gospel number with growling vocals.

Other favorites include the delightful instrumental, "Sebastian's Tune," with beautiful fingerpickin' guitar, the humorous "Panama Hat," and a slow, dirge-like blues from folk blues legend Odetta, "No More On The Brazos."

There would be no better way to spend an hour than An Evening With Eric Bibb. Highly recommended.

--- Bill Mitchell


[Pick Hit][What's New][Surprise][Flashback][Feedback][Back Issues][Home Page]



The Blues Bytes URL... 
Revised: December 31, 2007 - Version 1.00
All contents Copyright © 2008, Blue Night Productions. All rights reserved.