Blues Bytes

What's New

January 2009

an associate Order these featured CDs today:

Los Fabulocos

Cedric Burnside and Lightnin' Malcolm

Jim Suhler and Alan Haynes

Alex Rossi

Planet Full of Blues

Steve Howell

David Egan

BB King

Guy King

Ricky Gene Hall and the Goods

Dave Fields

The Nighthawks

Los FabulocosThere’s a lot of interesting music coming out of Los Angeles lately, and the new self-titled record by Los Fabulocos is a classic example of LA ingenuity. You take Kid Ramos and stir him in a pot with Chicano artists Jesus Cuevas, Mike Molina and James Barrios to form one of the freshest records I’ve heard in a long time.

“Educated Fool” opens up with an accordion lead by Jesus as he leads us down the litany of his education with women. A master of the game, Jesus learned his moves the hard way, “told her that she needed my kisses…told her that she needed my love…looking so fine…round about 9…I was creating a disturbance in her mind!” A fine guitar solo by Kid Ramos accentuates the learning curve that Jesus has gone through to get to this point in his mastery of the pursuit of women. This first tune has great energy and the disc is definitely up and running.

“If You Know” has me wanting to get up and polka. Jesus is distressed by how his woman is treating him, “if you know that I love you…why do you treat me like you do…make me feel like such a fool…but my heart keeps loving you!” Hopefully this woman will overcome her fears and appreciate all the Jesus has to offer. “Crazy Baby” echoes this theme of love at a much slower ’50s kind of pace. “All of my life…I’ve looked for someone like you…you’re sweet to me…but I’m so mean to you!” Jesus is waiting for this woman to realize how much he loves her and he needs to stop and take a look at how he’s been treating her. Hopefully, they meet in the middle.

“Lonesome Tears In My Eyes’ features Kid Ramos on vocals and revels in its Hispanic origins. Kid has fallen hard for a woman who chooses to ignore his affection for her, leaving him sad and brokenhearted. “Can’t forget me that you told me…so many promises and lies…I want to try and forget these…lonesome tears in my eyes!” Kid’s been treated wrong and he needs to move on.

The next tune, “Un Mojado Sin Licencia,” is sung entirely in Spanish and allows Jesus’s accordion to take its place, front and center. The liner notes indicate the band’s Cali-mex influences and this tune is a classic template of the band’s influences. A more aggressive tempo highlights the intro of our next cut, “Day After Day.” Here we find Jesus just struggling to make ends meet and working hard to build a better life. “Feels it in his heart and soul…love can be so hot and cold…knows he must keep his faith…that’s one thing…no one take!” Perseverance is the theme of the day and it’s the one real way that Jesus can keep his struggles in perspective.

The liner notes indicate that our next Spanish tune, “Como Un Perro,” is a classic that goes right to the heart of the band’s cultural influences. An elegant ballad full of passion, “Como Un Perro” musically draws me in as a listener and the emotion of the song is all I need to know.

Jesus is on the prowl again with our next tune, “You Ain’t Nothin But Fine.” “Little girl…let me walk you home…you know I won’t do nothing wrong…cause you ain’t nothing but fine…fine…fine…and I wish you were mine!” The party continues to roll on with “You Keep Drinkin’.” “Lying to myself…is what I got to do…thinking that you love me as much as I love you…the painful truth I realize…is what I got to see…as you pour down one more whiskey…made in Tennessee!” Jesus’s woman would much rather party and have fun than make a relationship work. So let her have one more drink…Jesus is moving on.

Jesus continues to ponder his relationship ending in “Just Because.” “I know you think you’re smart…just going around and breaking lover’s heart…just because I want someone whose kind…with a heart as good and pure as mine…but maybe I am asking for too much…darling…please don’t ever break my heart!”

“Let me love you…love you…all night long…let me please you baby…all night long…I want to please you baby…one time before I go… sings Jesus in “All Night Long.” Here we find him madly in love and he’ll do anything to keep this girl happy. Familiar notes emanate from Kid’s guitar as Jesus’s accordion fills in behind him. It’s a good tune and Los Fabulocos is growing on me…both as a record and a band. “Burnin’ The Chicken” is next and the intro has me imagining I’m at a bullfight. This is a wild instrumental that has the band going full bore at it. It’s a nice opportunity for Kid to stretch out and remind us what a great guitar player he really is and the passion in his playing really shows. The final cut on this record, “Mexico Americano,” is also sung in Spanish and pays tribute to what it means to be a Mexican American.

Los Fabulocos is a wonderful project. I like the fact that I’m left as a listener to experience the emotions of the Spanish songs to which I don’t know the lyrics while the band runs me through the gamut of all of their influences. Another fine Delta Groove group, I’m convinced that Los Fabulocos will be together as a band for a long, long time. Check this group out at and pick up a copy of the disc. You may not understand all of it, but the experience is not to be missed and you will appreciate the artistry of Jesus, Kid, Mike and James.

--- Kyle Deibler

Cedric Burnside and Lightnin MalcolmSometimes you just have to be in the right place at the right time. The day after this year’s BMA’s, Cedric Burnside & Lightnin’ Malcolm were tearing it up on an outdoor stage in Clarksdale and managed to catch the ear of Delta Groove owner/producer Randy Chortkoff. Randy signed the on the spot, shipped them off to Nashville to work with producer David Z and the result is the butt kickin’, hill country influenced new record, 2 Man Wrecking Crew.

Cedric is the grandson of R.L. and the first cut on the record, “R.L. Burnside,” is a tribute to the man he affectionately calls “Big Daddy!” “Got me a new drum set…when I was 16 years old…$200.00 short…Big Daddy said…here boy…here you go…thought I was going to leave…without a drum set that day…but Big Daddy did what he always did…and he saved the day!” Family was everything to Big Daddy and Cedric is truly grateful for everything he’s learned from his grandfather.

Lightnin’ Malcolm’s guitar is front and center on our next cut, “So Much Love.” Here we find that Malcolm has found a woman he definitely wants. “I’ve got so much love, babe…can’t hold out too long…I want you to rock me baby…in your arms…in your arms!” Lightnin’ must be a romantic because this theme of love continues on “My Sweetheart.” You hear the hill country influences all over this tune as Lightnin’ tells us, “Early in the morning…my baby cook me breakfast…bring it to my bedroom…then she wraps her legs around me…my sweetheart!” Better hang on to this one, Lightnin’.

“I don’t wanna love…nobody else…girl, I want you…afor myself” finds Lightnin’ continuing to sing the praises of the woman he’s in love. Sounds like he’s definitely got it going on. On our next, “Don’t Just Sing About the Blues,” Lightnin’ tells us that he doesn’t just sing the blues, he’s got them too. “I just don’t sing the blues…I’ live them too…got so much blues in my life…I got to sing them too!” Cedric’s bass drum has me stomping my heels and you can’t help but appreciate this duo from the Delta.

“That’s My Girl” finds Lightnin’ continuing to sing the praises of the woman in his life. “On Friday…we go out to the club…the first thing she wants is a glass of gin…when the night’s just about over…me and my girl is feelin' real good…then its time to go home…cause she can give it to me all night long…my girl!”

Cedric’s next vocal is up next on “She’s Got Somethin’ on Me.” Lightnin’ moves behind the drums and Cedric’s on guitar for this slow ballad. Cedric’s questioning his reasons for staying in the relationship he’s in, “she’s known in the streets…for breaking up happy homes…this I knew…but I still love her to the bone….but did I keep on coming back…for love…did I keep on coming back…cause she’s got something on me?”

Bekka Bramlett and Etta Britt provide the background vocals to Cedric’s search for the truth as he realizes that love is not what’s keeping him in this relationship. Lightnin’s back on the vocals for our next cut, “Fightin.” I’m just never clear on what he’s fighting for. On the one hand he’s worried about his woman walking out the door; on the other hand, he’s living deep enough in the Hill Country that Uncle Sam isn’t going to find him. I think he’s fighting to keep the woman he loves and his ability to make a living making shine and other things the government would frown on. “Make love to me…before they drop the bomb!” Whatever it is, Malcolm is definitely worried.

On the next cut, “Stay Here in Your Arms”, Malcolm tells us, “a little song…come out of Mississippi…and I’m the boy here to tell you about it. “I hate to go…I want to stay here…in your arms…I want to stay here…in your arms!” Malcolm is definitely longing for the woman he loves and being away from her is driving him crazy. More of Jason Ricci’s harmonica makes it appearance on the next tune, “She Don’t Love Me No More.” Malcolm’s relationship has gone south and his woman just doesn’t love him anymore. “Lord, tell me…what did I do wrong? You know that I miss that little girl…can I have her please come back home?”

“World Full of Trouble” is definitely an appropriate song for the times. Just the right amount of feedback and distortion give this song its appropriate edge, “it’s a world full of trouble…it’s a world of blame…it’s a world full of trouble…seem like I…don’t know my name.” Malcolm’s trying to find his way in a world full of uncertainty and you certainly can’t fault him for his confusion in these times. “Babe…where did you go? I saw you across the room…you ain’t there no more…I got the mad man blues!” The object of Cedric’s interest is just not feeling his desire for her and she’s balking at his attempt to win her over. As a result, Cedric’s temperature is rising…leading to his case of the “Mad Man Blues.”

Another Burnside tune, “Tryin Not to Pull My Gun”, is up next. A number of things are setting Cedric off and he’s trying to behave. For example, he’s trying to help a friend who is homeless, “he didn’t have no money you’ all…and he ate up all my food…and then he went in my bedroom…and smoked up my reefer too! Tryin’ not to pull my gun! 2 Man Wrecking Crew closes with “Time to Let It Go”, another tune by Cedric. “Now we used to love each other babe…but we don’t love each other no more…things been going bad for so long…it’s time we let it go…you broke my heart babe…broke my heart in two!”

I don’t really know how the stars conspired to bring Lightnin’ Malcolm to the Hill Country of Mississippi to learn from the likes of Junior Kimbrough & R.L. Burnside, but his partnership with Cedric Burnside ensures that the Hill Country traditions are alive and well. It’s easy to see how they blew Randy Chortkoff away and why he signed them to Delta Groove in the first place. They make great blues and that’s all there is to it. 2 Man Wrecking Crew is proof of that. You can find out more about these Mississippi Bluesmen at or on the Delta Groove website at

--- Kyle Deibler

Jim SuhlerLive At the Blue Cat Blues Club from Jim Suhler & Alan Haynes, is another great release from TopCat Records, again released in Europe by those knowledgeable guys at Blues Boulevard Records. I personally love hearing live blues recordings so that I can gauge just how good a band is without any electronic help.

Oh boy! Does this CD show just how good these guys are live. I’ve never had the luck to see them perform live, but after hearing this album it’s on my list of priorities!

The opening track will persuade you to buy the CD without listening to anything else – it’s an incredible version of Louisiana Red’s “Too Poor To Die” and it’s possibly the best version that I’ve ever heard. Suhler’s slide is out in front and proves the point that he is often described as the best young guitarist to come out of Texas since Johnny Winter – as if you didn’t already know from his work with George Thorogood & The Destroyers. Apparently, Suhler met Alan Haynes at a guitar exhibition in 1997 and they got on well and started gigging together in the Dallas area (home of the Blue Cat Blues Club). The rest, as they say, is history. Let’s hope that this live album from the two of them will spawn some great follow-ups.

Track two is equally as good as the first one – an eight minute version of Eddie Taylor’s “Knockin’ At Your Door,” with more slide and a real driving beat that has you out of your chair and moving! Vocals this time are by Haynes. You start to wonder how these guys can keep it up when they hit you with Freddie King’s “I Wonder Why,” with Haynes on vocals once more, and you can feel that Texas music is what it’s about for these musicians.

The next five tracks feature three Suhler written numbers – “Down & Out In Texas,” “Don’t Do It,” and “Say Your Prayers.” The first one is very Stevie Ray Vaughan to my ears, and none the worse for that. Why shouldn’t Suhler be influenced by another Texas great? “Don’t Do It” is a fast paced boogie beat that must be great fun to have on in the car on a long journey.

Suhler’s vocals and his guitar work on Ray Sharpe’s “Oh My Baby’s Gone” carry on the quality of this album really well, and again this is probably the best cover version of this song that I’ve heard. For some reason the band included Jimi Hendrix’s “Are You Experienced” as the last track, and I’m not sure why. Yes, it’s a good showcase for the two guitarists, but is it blues? I’d much rather have heard another good blues track like the opening one.

That said, it’s a very small criticism and it shouldn’t deter anyone from buying this otherwise superb CD.

--- Terry Clear

Alex RossiAfter spending years entertaining blues fans in South America, Brazilian harmonica master Alex Rossi has gone international and produced this fine album, Let Me In, on Top Cat Records – released in Europe via the influential Blues Boulevard label. Rossi has plenty of help on the album, and the names will tell you that he is held in high regard by his fellow musicians – Phil Guy, Holland K Smith, Brian “Hash Brown” Calway, Richard Chalk and others are all listed on this CD. It’s no wonder that this man is able to summon some big names --- he has toured with the likes of Dave Honeyboy Edwards, Phil Guy, John Primer, Jeff Healey, Billy Branch and lots more.

Let Me In opens with Byther Smith’s “Tell Me How You Like it,” with Rossi taking the vocals, and it’s a good version which lets you know that this CD is well worth listening to. Richard Chalk takes the vocals on the next track, “The Sun Is Shining,” giving Alex Rossi a bit more freedom on the harmonica, and he blows up a storm with Luciano Leaes providing some excellent piano work.

Phil Guy takes vocal (and plays guitar) on three of the tracks, and he’s very obviously enjoying himself here. He doesn’t take things too seriously, and the result is some great genuine blues from a band that is enjoying every moment of it. His versions of “Rock Me Baby,” “That’s Alright” and “Show Me You Bombacha” are enough to make you go and buy this CD – and you’ll get a bonus with the other tracks, too!!

There are so many guest artists on this CD that it would take a page to list them all – but, as well as those already mentioned, Kathy Prater deserves a mention for some fine vocals on “Good Lover” and Fernando Peters plays superb bass on almost all of the 11 tracks. There isn’t a bad track on this album, but the highlight for me has to be the ninth track on the CD, Willie Dixon’s “I Just Want To Make Love To You.”

Let’s hope Alex Rossi stays where he is and doesn’t go back to the South American circuit!

--- Terry Clear

Planet Full of BluesOne of Virginia’s hottest blues bands is Planet Full Of Blues. The three-piece band is fronted by Johnny Ray Light, who sings, plays guitar, and writes most of the songs, and is driven by a powerhouse rhythm section of Brock Howe (drums) and recent addition Mike Connell (bass). On occasion, they add a horn section to great effect. Their repertoire includes a mix of Texas and Chicago blues, Memphis soul and even rock & roll.

Their self-titled, self-released debut recording backs up this claim strongly. It’s an 11 song set with emphasis on high-energy blues and rock. Highlights include the horn-driven opening cut, “Pain Will Melt Away” and “Planet Full Of Blues.” “Got The Blues” features plenty of Light’s muscular guitar work, as does “You Can’t Always Be Right,” and “E-Jam,” the disc’s too-short closer. “Money” takes a funky turn, as does “Dirty Pains,” courtesy of guest Planeteer James Albright’s nasty bass (Connell was not a member when the album was recorded). The strongest pure blues cut is “Man Tamer,” which borrows the “I’m A Man/Mannish Boy” riff.

Other guest musicians lending a hand are Paul Draper, with some terrific Hammond B3 organ on selected tracks, Eric Stark, who plays trumpet and arranged the horns, and Richard Yeager on saxophone. Co-producer (with Light) Larry Gann also adds percussion and backing vocals.

Planet Full Of Blues offers a powerful set of blues, boogie, and rock that will please their fans and any interested newcomers. Check this CD out at or visit one of the band’s websites ( or

--- Graham Clarke

Memo GonzalezDynomite is Memo Gonzalez’s fifth album and his second with Crosscut Records, the follow-up to the 2006 CD Live In The UK. Gonzalez’s backing band, The Bluescasters, are European in origin and comprise of Kai Strauss on guitar, Erkan Ozdemir on bass, and drummer Henk Punter – the album also has some guest musicians, in the shape of Josh Fulero, Jan Karow and Boyd Small (who also produced the album with Gonzalez). The album was recorded in Germany, so I’m guessing that the band live there, it’s well produced and well recorded, and the band is tight.

The majority of the 12 tracks on the album were written by band members, and the covers that are included were well chosen (Freddie King’s “Double Eyed Whammy,” James Colegrove’s “Dynomite Nitro,” and the classic soul track “Slip Away” – the latter sounds like a strange choice, but it works.)

The CD opens with “Bad Luck” featuring some well put together slide guitar backing – the track written by Memo Gonzalez and Kai Strauss. It seems like this could be a good songwriting team for the future. It’s got a compulsive beat to it and it put me in mind a little of The Mavericks “Dance The Night Away.”

The Jim Colegrove track follows, a nice rocking blues lifting the tempo a bit and getting the feet tapping, and track three, “One Day, One Kiss, One Night,” gets the tempo up a little bit more, and again brings The Mavericks to mind – that’s not a criticism, by the way, it’s happing rocking blues that is just right to dance to, if you’re in the mind.

Things slow right down with “Please Come Home,” and this is my favourite track on the album. It shows the band off to its best effect and reinforces the fact that this is a “blues” band, with some fabulous Stevie Ray Vaughan style licks on the guitar.

From there on in, the music carries the listener along with a combination of styles, rhythms and tempos and, most of all, good music. Track five, “Strange Kind Of Feeling” includes some inspired boogie-woogie piano work from Jan Karow, and it makes me wish he was an integral part of the band.

The CD closes out with a driving beat in the form the instrumental “Fat Boy,” which comes a very close second to being my favourite track – this is the band at close to its absolute best and you could buy this CD for this track and “Please Come Home.”

Give it a listen, it’s well worth it!

--- Terry Clear

Steve HowellSteve Howell started out playing folk songs on his guitar as a teen, but once he heard Mississippi John Hurt, he changed directions and eventually became a master blues fingerpicker and began a long musical partnership with guitarist Jim Caskey in the duo Howell & Caskey, opening for many national acts including Country Joe and the Fish, Anson Funderburgh, and Bugs Henderson. More recently, Howell has released a couple of discs that capture his love and reverence for American roots music. His latest release, My Mind Gets To Ramblin’ (Out of the Past Records), focuses on country blues.

My Mind Gets To Ramblin’ consists of 13 tracks previously recorded by other artists. Howell is no slavish interpreter. His versions of these songs incorporate his own style and personality, so when you hear the opening cut, Muddy Waters’ “I Can’t Be Satisfied,” it has been somewhat “recreated” as a gentle swinging tune, though Howell’s slide guitar is just as effective as Waters’ was back in the ’40s. “Louise,” Mississippi Fred McDowell’s hypnotic classic, is another standout, as is William Brown’s composition from the early ’40s, “Mississippi Blues.”

Amazingly, Bo Carter’s “Policy Blues” seems as timely these days as it did when it was first written over half a century ago. Buddy Flett joins Howell on the Robert Johnson standard, “Steady Rollin’ Man.” He covers a couple of Rev. Robert Wilkins tunes, including “Dirty Deal Blues” and the wonderful “Prodigal Son,” which was originally done in the late ’20s as “That’s No Way To Get Along,” but was revamped when Wilkins embraced religion.

Howell also does a fine version of Memphis Minnie’s “Ain’t Nothin’ In Ramblin’,” that will get your toe tapping for sure, and musical partner Caskey joins him for a lively version of Mance Lipscomb’s “Ain’t You Sorry?” The disc closes with the old spiritual, “Joshua F’it The Battle of Jericho,” and an elegant version of Kid Bailey’s “Rowdy Blues.”

In addition to Flett and Caskey, the cast of supporting musicians include Joe Osborn (bass) and Darren Osborn (drums, keyboards), as well as Denise Spohn providing vocals on “Louise.” The Osborns also produced the CD with Howell, and the disc has a warm, intimate feeling to it, perfectly accentuated by Howell’s calm, relaxed vocal style.

My Mind Gets To Ramblin’ is an immensely rewarding release that will please any fans of country blues guitar.

--- Graham Clarke

Texas based Steve Howell is straight of the early 1950s, with a beautiful rendition of old country blues. You immediately get the impression that here is a man without ego, who plays the blues because he loves to do so. My Mind Gets To Ramblin' (Out Of The Past Records) is the follow up to his 2006 Out Of The Past release, and it’s even better then the last one – full of flavour and a huge mix of influences – Fred McDowell, John Hurt, Little Willie John etc etc.

The opening track is a really good interpretation of the old Muddy Waters song “I Can’t Be Satisfied,” with lovely soft slide guitar and some subtle changes to give it a new angle, instead of just making a straight copy. And that seems to be Howell’s thing, putting his own angle on old country blues songs – and he does it very very well.

If the opening track doesn’t convince you (although I’m sure it will), then listen to his versions of Robert Johnson’s “Steady Rollin’ Man,” Fred McDowell’s “Louise,” or Bo Cater’s “Policy Blues.” Every song is changed just enough to put Howell’s mark on it, without losing the original taste.

Steve Howell takes Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Bo Carter, Fred NcDowell, Memphis Minnie, Mance Lipscomb and others, and shows that he can play their songs with originality and imagination. There isn’t a bad one amongst them. Admittedly, you need to be a fan of old country blues to full appreciate what this man is doing, but for me he can do this for years to come and I’ll enjoy every bit of it.

Howell is backed by the drumming Osborn Brothers, Darren and David, as well as their dad Joe on bass, Buddy Flett and Jim Caskey on guitars, and Denise Spohn on additional vocals. There is an excellent mixture of tempos, rhythms and flavours on this album, and it fulfills the well worn cliché “something for everyone.”

If you like country blues, then buy this album – if you’re not sure, then buy it and be converted! It’s being looked after by Betsie Brown of Blind Racoon, so you’ll be seeing a lot of it!!

--- Terry Clear

David EganYou Don't Know Your Mind (Out Of The Past Records) is the latest offering from Lafayette, Louisiana based pianist, singer and songwriter David Egan, and it follows up the 2004 album Twenty Years Of Trouble. This is the man who wrote “Sing It” which has been recorded by Marcia Ball, Tracy Nelson and Irma Thomas, and he co-wrote (with Greg Hansen) Joe Cocker’s “Please No More.”

All 11 of the songs on this album were written, or co-written, by Egan, and his skill as a songwriter shines through from start to finish. I’m guessing that his influences stretch from Fats Domino, via Champion Jack Dupree, to Dr. John, there’s a definite swampy, hot sauce flavour to this CD.

The album opens with the title track, “You Don’t Know Your Mind,” which includes some lovely guitar work from L’il Buck Senegal; whoever decided to make this track one was inspired, as it’s probably the best track on the CD. It’s well written, atmospheric, and a good example of what David Egan can do.

Track two, “You’re Lying Again,” lets Egan loose with some New Orleans piano, and it has the sort of beat that makes your feet tap – very Dr.John, and that’s no criticism! Track three, “If It Is What It Is,” is a jazz-based track with Jennifer Nicely taking a share of the vocals – a laid back track that relaxes you while you listen. It moves neatly into the late night ballad type song, “Bourbon In My Cup,” and then onto “Love, Honour & Obey,” which lets Senegal strut his stuff again behind the piano and vocals of Egan.

The tempo picks up a bit with “Money’s Farm,” with a nice swampy boogie beat a little reminiscent of Tony Joe White’s early work, before slowing into “Small Fry,” with Joe MacMahan on moody dobro. “The Best Of Love Turned Blue” has Chris Belleau on trombone, adding a unique flavour to a slow blues with a strong hint of Dr John again – Egan seems to be able to take the Dr John influence and use it to superb effect when he wants.

There’s a new version of “Sing It” (mentioned above) included on the album, and I can’t make my mind up whether I like the original, or the new, best. “Proud Dog” is pure swamp blues with snatches of trombone behind the New Orleans piano, and it leads into the final track off the album “Smile,” a slow boogie that couldn’t have come from anywhere else but Louisiana.

I can’t make my mind up which track I like the best, but it’s definitely either the first or the last!

--- Terry Clear

Shreveport, Louisiana native David Egan may not be a familiar name to many blues fans, but he’s written songs you’ve heard from other people, like Johnny Adams (“Even Now”), Percy Sledge (“First You Cry”), Joe Cocker (“Please No More”), John Mayall (“Wake Up Call”), and Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas (“Can’t Get Nothin’ Sucka” and “Too Much Wine”). While carving out a niche as a songwriter, Egan also played keyboards for A-Train, Lil’ Band of Gold, File´, and Jo-El Sonnier. He finally broke out on his own in 2004 with the release of the highly-acclaimed Twenty Years of Trouble. Egan’s follow-up disc, on Out of the Past/Rhonda Sue Records, is You Don’t Know Your Mind.

Egan teams up with longtime songwriting partner Buddy Flett on the title track, which opens the disc. It’s a low-down track that features guitar from Lil’ Buck Senegal. “You’re Lying Again” rolls along like a long-lost Fats Domino number, while “If It Is What Is (It’s Love)” is a lovely swinging duet with Jennifer Nicely. “Bourbon in My Cup” is a future after-hours classic, and “Love, Honor, and Obey” is a tale of heartbreak.

“Money Train,” a hard-driving boogie track, is a tale of Egan’s younger days, while “Small Fry” is a bittersweet tribute to his son that will appeal to most parents who realize their children grow up much too fast. “Best of Love Turned Blue” is another song dealing with heartbreak, which is soon upended by Egan’s version of “Sing It,” his composition that served as the title track for the Irma Thomas/Marcia Ball/Tracy Nelson album of two decades ago. This version packs a powerful punch, courtesy of one of the grooviest second-line beats you’ve heard in a long time.

The closing tracks, “Proud Dog” and “Smile,” offer encouragement to those who have fought their share of battles in life. The words of wisdom offered by Egan on these two tracks sound like they might have come from experience.

You Don’t Know Your Mind is a superb set of New Orleans R&B and blues, easily one of the best releases of 2008. Every note you hear will carry you to the Crescent City. As good as David Egan’s compositions have been over the years, it looks like they’re as good or even better when he performs them himself.

--- Graham Clarke

BB KingNow 83 years old, it’s safe to say that B. B. King has lived a full, rich life. Born in poverty in the Mississippi Delta, he’s played for kings, queens, and presidents. He’s traveled all over the world multiple times and is beloved by everyone. He’s appeared on countless TV shows and movies, and even has a museum named after him (in Indianola, MS). What’s even more amazing is that even though he has curtailed his touring schedule (no longer touring overseas), he still maintains a workload that would wear out a man half his age.

In past years, at least since his song, “The Thrill Is Gone,” hit the charts in 1970, a lot of King’s studio output has been hit-or-miss. There have always been a few gold nuggets in each B. B. King recording, but you sometimes had to sieve out a lot of pyrite to get to them. Granted, since the late ’90s (with his excellent self-produced Blues On The Bayou in 1997, his wonderful Louis Jordan tribute disc in 1999, and even his collaboration with Eric Clapton in 2000) he’s started moving in a different direction, at least focusing more or less on the blues. But as inspiring as his live shows have been over the years (I saw him play for less than 500 people a couple of years ago in my hometown as part of the annual Medgar Evers Celebration, and he played for two solid hours like there were 5,000 people there), he’s rarely ventured from his comfort zone on his recordings.

King’s latest release, One Kind Favor (Geffen), finds him moving from that comfort zone for the first time in many years. Producer T-Bone Burnett has assembled a core band of Dr. John on piano, Jim Keltner on drums, Johnny Lee Schell on guitar, and Nathan East on acoustic bass, but also features horns on most of the tracks as well. The result is a album that’s much less polished than many of King’s previous releases, which puts more emphasis on his magnificent vocals and, of course, the inimitable Lucille. In addition, the 12 songs on One Kind Favor, most of which were originally done by some of his biggest influences, are songs that he’s never recorded before.

The opening track is Blind Lemon Jefferson’s “See That My Grave is Kept Clean.” Despite the dour nature of the tune, it has a stripped-down, bouncy rhythm. “I Get So Weary” is the first of four songs from the T-Bone Walker School (the others are “Get These Blues Off Me,” “Waiting For Your Call,” and “Midnight Blues). King has long asserted that Walker was one of his biggest influences as a guitarist even though his guitar style is totally different from Walker’s for the most part. To me, where Walker’s guitar work (as well as his total musical approach) was ice cool, King’s fretwork was driven by fire and passion. Similarly, many of today’s blues guitarists list King as a major influence, yet few play like him. Regardless, these tunes are well done and it would be nice to see King do a tribute disc for Walker similar to the Louis Jordan disc of a few years ago.

Another major King influence was Lonnie Johnson, and three of his songs are represented here as well (“My Love Is Down,” “Backwater Blues,” and “Tomorrow Night.”). King also pays homage to other legendary artists as Leroy Carr (“Blues Before Sunrise,” attributed to John Lee Hooker in the liner notes), the Mississippi Sheiks (their classic “Sitting On Top Of The World” and “The World Gone Wrong”), and Howlin’ Wolf (a swinging version of "How Many More Years”).

King has lost little, if anything, off his fastball. Vocally, he’s still as powerful as he ever was, and his guitar work is as unique and distinctive as always. And with a great band behind him, as is the case here, he’s simply unstoppable.

From all the press surrounding this release (the sticker on the disc quotes Rolling Stone describing it as “a late career masterpiece”), one might get the impression that B. B. King is winding down, but One Kind Favor is proof positive that the King of the Blues is planning on being around for years to come. We can only hope that will be the case.

--- Graham Clarke

Guy KingGuy King may be best known to blues fans for his stint as lead guitarist (most notably on Kent’s Comin’ Alive CD) for Willie Kent for several years until Kent’s death in 2006. At that point, King formed his own band and has been gigging around Chicago on a regular basis ever since. Recently, King released his debut recording as a frontman, Livin’ It (IBF Records).

Recorded at Twist Turner’s House of Sound in Chicago, Livin’ It is a pretty diverse set ranging from well-known blues standards like “Worried Life Blues” and a slick pair of T-Bone Walker covers (“I’m Still In Love With You,” “I Got A Break”) to a solid list of R&B tunes (Jimmy McCracklin’s “Think” coupled with Kent’s “Countdown,” serving as an opening vamp, Percy Mayfield’s “Stranger In My Own Hometown,” and Little Johnny Taylor’s “If You Love Me Like You Say.”). King handles these covers very well, especially the Mayfield number.

King also offers up several of his own compositions, including “Go Out And Get It,” “My Pretty Baby,” the timely title track, and “The Story.” “Go Out And Get It,” punctuated nicely by Ben Paterson’s keyboards, has a pop feel to it. “My Pretty Baby” is a slow burning blues number, as is “Alone In The City,” one of several tracks featuring horns (tenor saxophone from Aaron T. Getsug and Kevin Nabors, and trumpet from Zaid McKie Krisberg). “The Story” is a tight funk number that closes the disc in fine fashion.

If you’re familiar with Kent’s later work on disc, you’ll recognize King’s stinging lead guitar. Vocally, he has a smooth, pleasing style that is perfect for the material. The band, including Paterson, Krisberg, Nabors, and Getsug, along with Patrick William (bass), Isaiah Spencer (drums) and background vocals from Johnaye Kendrick, Valarie Kent, and Keri Johnsrud, provides first-rate support.

Overall, this is a well-crafted debut release from an artist who promises to become a major player on the Chicago blues scene. Guy King seems to have all the tools in place for an outstanding career.

--- Graham Clarke

Bob Corritore - Broadcasting the BluesBob Corritore has played a very active role in the development and promotion of the blues over the past couple of decades. He’s promoted blues shows in the Phoenix area and produced blues records that have been nominated for Grammys, Handys, and BMA awards. He’s also a highly acclaimed musician, ranking as one of the finest harmonica players in the blues today.

For the past 25 years (beginning in February, 1984), Corritore has also hosted "Those Lowdown Blues" on KJZZ, 91.5 FM in Phoenix. The show won the “Keeping the Blues Alive” award from the Blues Foundation in 2007, and has featured a playlist of traditional blues (most from Corritore’s massive personal library of recordings) as well as interviews with many of the major players in the blues world during that time span. Most of those guests were persuaded to perform while on the show and Corritore has collected 20 of the best performances on Broadcasting The Blues!, released on Southwest Musical Arts Foundation Records.

Broadcasting The Blues captures a varied set of artists in an intimate setting, similar to the 1950s origins of most of the tracks. It’s a pretty fair mix of those who are no longer with us (Lowell Fulson does a sensitive reading of “Sinner’s Prayer,” while Willie Dixon does a spoken word tribute to Corritore for continuing to bring the world the blues), living legends still going strong (Lazy Lester with two numbers: the swampy “Out On The Road” and a guitar track called “O.J. Shuffle"; Billy Boy Arnold with a lively version of “Shake Your Boogie”; Henry Gray, and the ever-reliable Louisiana Red on a trio of tracks.), and artists who recently surfaced on the national scene (Dave Riley with a typically intense “My Baby’s Gone,” and Tomcat Courtney).

Besides the blues tracks, there’s a healthy dose of gospel, including a nice track by Otis Clay and Johnny Rawls (“I Want To Be At The Meeting”), Louisiana Red (“Home In The Rock”), and the moving closing track, “Eye On The Sparrow,” featuring Margo Reed. Lending valuable support on many of the tracks are guitarists Chris James and Billy Flynn.

For fans of the vintage sound of 1950s era blues and gospel, Broadcasting The Blues does an outstanding job of presenting them as close as possible to the way they actually were. Here’s hoping that Corritore and "These Lowdown Blues" are successful for another quarter of a century in their effort to keep the blues alive.

--- Graham Clarke

Ricky Gene HallRicky Gene Hall & The Goods’ self-titled debut recording was one of 2007’s most surprising releases. It was a taut mix of fresh originals and well-done blues classics and was one of those recordings that you could go back to time after time and find that it held up remarkably well…..not bad for a debut release. Their sophomore release, Bam! (Yard Dawg Records), finds the band stretching out with more emphasis on their original compositions.

The originals are a solid set of tunes, with traces of country, rock, blues, and even some blue-eyed soul mixed in. Highlights include the funky opener, “Way I Feel,” “Noth’n at All,” which features some sharp guitar work from Hall, the slow burner “Real Fine Woman,” the country-rocker “Just My Luck,” and the magnificent closer, “Blues Leave Me, Too,” featuring Hall’s best vocal and guitar work.

The three covers are choice selections as well. There’s a scorching cover of Jerry Reed’s “Amos Moses.” Delbert McClinton’s “Read Me My Rights” gets a slow groove country makeover, with some great slide work from Hall. Finally, there’s a great reading of Huey Lewis’ “Bad Is Bad.”

The Goods consists of Tom Martin (bass, harmony vocals) and Rocky Evans (drums, percussion, and harmony vocals). You’ll be hard-pressed to find a stronger rhythm team. They work together like a well-oiled machine.

Bam! is another strong, versatile set from Ricky Gene Hall & the Goods that will please fans of roadhouse blues and rock.

--- Graham Clarke

Yank Rachell tributeYank Rachell was referred to as the “Blues Mandolin Man.” He was one of only a handful of bluesmen who played the mandolin, though he also sang and played guitar, harmonica, and violin. He learned to play the mandolin before he was ten and was working as part of a jug band trio with Sleepy John Estes while in his teens and began recording for Victor in the late 1920s.

He later teamed up with harmonica player Hammie Nixon in Chicago for a few years, but ended up recording with guitarist Dan Smith in New York for ARC Records in the early ’30s and discovered a young harmonica player in the meantime named John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson. Rachell later recorded with Williamson for Bluebird and also recorded some sides of his own in the late ’30s and early ’40s. After Williamson’s murder in 1948, Rachell dropped off the musical scene until the early ’60s, when he rejoined Nixon and Estes and ended up recording for Delmark. When Estes passed away in 1977, Rachell worked as a solo act and recorded periodically until his death in 1997 at age 87.

Rachell’s style influenced many different musicians and not just in the blues genre. Recently, a group including John Sebastian, David Grisman, Tim O’Brien, David Grier, Andra Faye, Rich DelGrosso, and Mike Seeger collaborated on A Tribute To The Legendary Blues Mandolin Man James “Yank” Rachell (Yanksville Records), which presents 20 songs either written by Rachell or associated with him during his career, plus a spoken-word reminiscence from Sebastian.

If you’re not familiar with Rachell’s music, some of these tunes may jog your memory a bit as they were recorded by other artists. “She Caught The Katy,” familiar to fans of Taj Mahal and the Blues Brothers is present, with a strong vocal by Karen Irwin. “Tappin’ That Thing” is given an excellent treatment by Sebastian and Grisman, and Estes’ standard “Brownsville Blues” is rejuvenated by Jim Richter and Gordon Bonham.

Some other highlights include Seegar’s take on “Deep Elum Blues,” “Depression Blues,” featuring Steve Brown on vocals and guitar and Mike Butler playing Rachell’s Harmony mandolin, and Orville Johnson’s interpretation of “Let Me Tangle In Your Potato Vines.” But truly, there’s not a bad song in the bunch, including “Bluesy Little Tune,” an original composition done by Stanley Smith. Rachell’s daughters and granddaughter also contribute a lovely gospel tune, Rachell’s favorite, called “Freedom,” and his granddaughter Sheena sings on “Lake Michigan Blues.” Sheena Rachell was recently diagnosed with a rare lung disease, Wegener’s Granulomatosis, and net proceeds from the sale of this disc will be used to help her offset some of her medical expenses.

Blues mandolin is a style that few fans are familiar with, but A Tribute To The Legendary Blues Mandolin Man James “Yank” Rachell is an impressive and rewarding collection that should put listeners in search of more from these artists as well as Yank Rachell.

--- Graham Clarke

Dave FieldsDave Fields’ latest release, All Wound Up (FMI Records), features more of the same eclectic, guitar-driven blues that Fields did so well in last year’s Time’s A Wastin’. Fields’ music takes in rock & roll, rockabilly, and even jazz, in addition to the blues. If anything, this set burns with more fire and energy than his previous release.

The opening cut, “Train To My Heart,” is a hard-rocking tribute to one of Fields’ (and many other guitarists’) heroes, Jimi Hendrix. Next comes a pair of R&B tracks: “Ain’t No Crime,” a hot slice of funk featuring Billy Gibson on harmonica, and the Crescent City-flavored title track. The appropriately titled “Let’s Have a Ball” continues the New Orleans flavor for one more track. “Still Itchin’” is another blues rocker that features Fields ripping it up on slide along with Gibson, who probably had to stick his harp in a bucket of water after this track.

“Cold Wind Blowin’” is a slow blues track that features Fields on piano instead of guitar. “Big Fat Ludus” is a novelty track in the best tradition of Louis Jordan and the instrumental, “Screamin’,” is a nice piece of rocking R&B. “Wanna Be Your Man” is a slow soulful number and segues to the ’50s rocker, “Baby Come Back.” “Blue Ballad” is just that, with Fields playing all the instruments except drums. The closer is “Guide Me To The Light,” and shows Fields’ spiritual side.

Blues-rock fans will enjoy All Wound Up. It’s got plenty of great catchy lyrics, powerful guitar and vocals. Dave Fields continues to impress with each release.

--- Graham Clarke

The NighthawksI owe a lot to The Nighthawks. These guys were part of my early blues education, dating back to the first time I saw them 1976. The many live shows I witnessed, whether it was at The Bayou, Desperados or Tthe Psyche Delly, prompted me to dig deeper into the history of the blues. In part because of the Nighthawks, I soon started listening to Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, Howllin' Wolf and others. I was hooked on the blues.

The Nighthawks have always straddled the line between Chicago blues, roots rock and hip shakin' rhythms. They don't tread on any new ground on their latest disc, American Landscape (Powerhouse Records), but that doesn't matter because they are still so damn good. A new Nighthawks CD is like a heaping helping of comfort food --- familiar and tasty, and it makes you feel just right.

Two longtime Nighthawks, Mark Wenner (harmonica) and Pete Ragusa (drums) are still around, and they're complimented nicely by Paul Bell (guitar) and Johnny Castle (bass). This lineup has been together for nearly five years and it shows in the tightness of their sound.

American Landscape kicks off with a mid-tempo shuffle, "Big Boy," that showcases Wenner's great harmonica work and raspy vocals, mixed in with nice slide guitar work from Bell. Wenner later does some of his best harmonica work on the Bob Dylan-penned 12-bar blues, "She Belongs To Me."

One of my favorite numbers is the cover of Ike Turner's "Matchbox," an uptempo shuffle that showcases Bell's bluesy guitar work and Ragusa's shouting vocals along with a monster harp solo from Wenner.

"Where Do You Go," written by Castle, is vintage Nighthawks, with the entire band joining in on the chorus. The raucousness of this tune leads into the more sophisticated, jazzy sound of "Try It Baby," a Berry Gordy song recorded by Marvin Gaye.

This band can do more than just rock out. They've never been hesitant to tackle soul chestnuts, usually with Ragusa handling vocals, as heard here on Sam & Dave's "Don't Turn Your Heater Down" and Dan Penn's "Standing in the Way."

Where Ragusa's voice is more uptown, Wenner's vocal work takes the band deep into blues territory as heard on Lazy Lester's "Made Up My Mind." This Louisiana blues number is a perfect vehicle for Wenner's procrastinating vocals and swampy harmonica.

This fine CD ends with another trip back to our respective childhoods with The Nighthawks collaborating on an acoustic instrumental number, "Fishin' Hole Theme," which most of us will recognize as the theme song to the Andy Griffith Show. Mayberry redux, indeed!

American Landscape shows that The Nighthawks still bring their "A" game to the studio and to the stage. It's a worthy addition to their vast discography.

--- Bill Mitchell


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



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