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January 2019

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Order these featured CDs today:

Dave Keller

Mark Hummel

Anthony Geraci

Jonathan Long

Midnite Johnny

Dennis Herrera

Mick Kolassa

Bob Lanza

Michot's Melody Makers

Dean Haitani

Lindsay Beaver

Seth Rosenbloom

Gaye Adegbalola

Watermelon Slim


Dave Keller
I have to say that when I heard Dave Keller had signed with Catfood Records, the news put a little hop in my step. The Vermont resident is one of my favorite soul and blues vocalists and the El Paso-based record label has released some of the most memorable soul-blues recordings in recent years, so I’ve been eagerly awaiting their first collaboration. Every Soul’s A Star doesn’t disappoint in the least with Keller turning in a powerful set of ten original songs, along with one choice cover.

Production is in the capable hands of Jim Gaines, and Keller gets stellar backing from Catfood’s “House Band,” the Rays, which include label head Bob Trenchard on bass, legendary Motown/LTD guitarist Johnny McGhee, keyboardist Dan Ferguson, drummer Richy Puga, a horn section of Mike Middleton (trumpet) and Nick Flood (tenor/baritone sax), percussionist Christopher Serrano, and backing vocalists Janelle Thompson and Shakara Watson.

The opener “Don’t Let Them Take Your Joy” offers words of encouragement for those facing hard times and oppression, and the exuberant title track reminds listeners that every individual has something of worth to contribute to society, a message that all need to heed these days. The album’s lone cover is next, a delicious cover of “Baby, I Love You,” a tribute to the late Aretha Franklin, who made the Ronnie Shannon composition a hit in the late ’60s, followed by the Memphis soul of “Old Tricks,” where Keller finds himself being fooled by his lover’s lies once again.

“You Bring The Sunshine” is a solid ballad that really brings the classic soul sound back to life, with assistance from Ferguson’s keyboards and the horn section, and “Freedom Is Ours” takes a look at current issues affecting the world including slavery and immigration while the tender “This Is Gonna Hurt” finds Keller ending a relationship as gently as he can. “It’s All In Your Eyes” is one of the best songs on the disc, which is really saying something. It features great lyrics from Keller, a sweet guitar solo, and a light and soulful groove.

The funky “Kiss Me Like You Miss Me” has a greasy Memphis flair, and the slow burning ballad “When Are You Gonna Cry?” is a perfect vehicle for Keller, who really stretches out vocally on this one. The fiery and defiant “Ain’t Givin’ In” closes the disc in fine fashion.

Every Soul’s A Star is one satisfying serving of blues and soul. One of Keller’s mentors, Johnny Rawls, introduced the singer to Trenchard five years ago at the BMAs which helped pave the way for this most excellent collaboration. Blues and soul fans owe Mr. Rawls a debt of gratitude for getting the ball rolling. Hopefully, this relationship will last a long time.

--- Graham Clarke

Mark HummelMark Hummel has been playing harmonica since 1970 and is considered one of the modern masters of the instrument. He’s appeared on some 30 recordings since the mid-’80s and earned a Grammy nomination for his contributions to the 2013 release Remembering Little Walter, which won two BMA’s in 2014. He’s started Mark Hummel’s Blues Harmonica Blowout in 1991, which has featured every harmonica legend still drawing breath as well as many up-and-comers.

Hummel’s recent release, Harpbreaker (Electro-Fi Records), is that rarest of rarities, an all-instrumental blues harmonica showcase that features 13 outstanding tracks recorded between 2004 and 2018 at various studios and venues, featuring an all-star line-up of musicians providing support, including guitarists Rusty Zinn, Mel Brown, Billy Flynn, Charlie Baty, Anson Funderburgh, Kid Andersen, and Charles Wheal.

Little Walter’s influence on Hummel’s style can be heard on several tracks --- the energetic “Harpoventilatin’” that kicks off the disc, recorded live at Yoshis’s in Oakland in 2005, Muddy Waters’ “Evans Shuffle” and “Ready, Steady, Stroll,’ both recorded with Zinn on guitar, and an exuberant take on the harmonica legend’s own “Crazy Legs.” The swinging “Rotten Kid” is a live track from 2004 written by jazz drummer Buddy Rich and features Brown on guitar. This track, along with Horace Silver’s “Senor Blues” and the funky shuffle “Glide On” show Hummel’s versatility in a jazzy setting.

Guitarist Flynn spices things up on “Billy’s Boogaloo,” one of the newer tracks, written by Hummel and recorded at Greaseland. The other new track is Baby Boy Warren’s boogie burner “Chuckaluck.” Lee Allen’s ’50s classic “Walkin’ With Mr Lee” features Hummel with the Golden State Lone Star Blues Revue (Baty, Funderburgh, drummer Wes Starr and bassist RW Grisby). Hummel also pays tribute to Charlie Musselwhite with a splendid version of “Christo Redentor” and closes the disc with a fine take on another blues standard, “See See Rider,” accompanied only by Zinn’s guitar.

Most of the tracks included on Harpbreaker are previously unreleased, which will be a treat to his fans. There’s a lot of great music to savor on this album. If you’re a fan of the harmonica, this is an album you should own. If you’re not a fan, you should become one after listening.

--- Graham Clarke

Anthony GeraciIn 2016, Anthony Geraci received BMA nominations for Album, Traditional Album, and Song of the Year for his 2015 release, Fifty Shades of Blues. He’d previously been part of 40 other nominations as a member of Sugar Ray Norcia and the Bluetones, and also was a charter member of Ronnie Earl’s Broadcasters. He has played with scores of blues artists, including Big Walter Horton, Big Jack Johnson, Odetta, Snooky Pryor, Duke Robillard, Debbie Davies, and most recently with the blues supergroup The Proven Ones.

Geraci’s latest release, Why Did You Have To Go (Shining Stone Records), follows the same path as its predecessor, with Geraci enlisting a host of guest vocalists and musicians on 13 original compositions. The lineup of musicians includes guitarists Kid Ramos, Monster Mike Welch, Ronnie Earl, and Troy Gonyea, bassists Michael “Mudcat” Ward and Willie J. Campbell, drummers Jimi Bott, Neal Gouvin, and Marty Richards, with Gordon Beadle (sax) and Doug Woolverton (trumpet).

Several tracks feature Geraci with Sugar Ray and the Blue Tones, which is never a bad thing at all with the charismatic Norcia behind the mic on the title track, a slow burner which also features stinging lead guitar from Welch and horns, the uptempo shuffle “Time’s Running Out,” which features Earl on lead guitar, and the ballad “My Last Goodbye,” a nine-minute classic with extended solos from Earl, Geraci, and Norcia.

Sugaray Rayford handles vocals on the Texas-styled shuffle “Don’t The Grass Look Greener,” backed by Ramos and Welch on guitars with Bott and Campbell manning the rhythm section with Geraci, “Angelina, Angelina,” a stylish slow blues, and the New Orleans R&B romp “Long Way Home.” Michelle “Evil Gal” Willson appears on two tracks, the jazz-flavored “Two Steps Away From The Blues” and “What About Me,” a ballad duet with Brian Templeton of the Radio Kings.

Texas blues man Willie J. Laws takes the mic for the roadhouse rocker “Fly On The Wall” and “Baptized In The River Yazoo,” a powerful track teaming Laws’ testifying vocals with Geraci’s piano accompaniment. Dennis Brennan also sings on two tracks, the bawdy barrelhouse “Too Many Bad Decisions” and the rollicking “Hand Over Your Walking Shoes.”

Geraci is a solid, anchoring presence throughout the disc, playing in a variety of styles and stepping forward for the occasional solo, but always providing excellent support. The closing instrumental, “A Minor, Affair,” is a sterling mixture of jazz and the blues, and Geraci really takes center stage on this track with excellent support from Ramos, Gonyea, Bott, Campbell, Woolverton, and Beadle.

Why Did You Have To Go is a wonderful collection of songs that feature a satisfyingly diverse range of blues styles. Any self-respecting blues fan would love to have this album in their collection.

--- Graham Clarke

Jonathan LongBaton Rouge-based singer/guitarist/songwriter Jonathon Long got his musical start singing gospel as a child, but as a teenager he played the blues with Henry Gray, Larry Garner, Kenny Neal and a pair of Slim Harpo’s alums, James Johnson and Rudy Richard, dropping out of school at age 14 to tour with reggae/funk musician Henry Turner Jr. Previously recording as Jonathon “Boogie” Long, Long drops the “Boogie” with Jonathon Long, his latest release, which is produced by Samantha Fish on her brand new label, Wild Heart Records, and branches out a bit in his musical direction.

Long wrote 10 of the 11, the opener, “Bury Me,” is a tight, anthemic Southern-rocker reflecting on the struggles of ordinary folks with a driving beat and powerful guitar work from Long and Fish. “Shine Your Love” sounds like a great fit on the country charts. “That’s When I Knew” strikes a greasy Memphis groove and the soul really comes out in Long’s voice on this track. The acoustic “The Light” leans toward country and Americana, and “Living The Blues” shows that there’s a pretty thin line between country and the blues.

The upbeat rocker “Natural Girl” ventures in the Southern rock territory again. “The River,” written by Kenny Tudrick, is an atmospheric ballad that teams Long and Fish both vocally and on guitar, and “Pour Another Drink” is a jaunty swagger with a Crescent City feel with Long’s boozy vocal backed by Phil Breen’s keyboards (Breen’s not listed on album credits, but a major factor on most of the album). “This Road” rocks with an Allman-esque vibe, courtesy of Long’s sizzling slide guitar, and “Where Love Went Wrong” is jazzy R&B, while “Pray For Me” is a hard-charging blues rocker that closes the disc.

Jonathon Long, both the album and the artist, offers blues fans a tasty mix of blues, rock, and soul with a decidedly Southern flavor. Long is a definite triple threat with his personal and honest songwriting, formidable guitar chops, and an amazing set of pipes that crosses genres seamlessly.

--- Graham Clarke

Midnite JohnnyMidnite Johnny, a.k.a. John Morana, has built a pretty impressive résumé over the past few decades, establishing a reputation as one of South Florida’s most powerful blues guitarists while working with Harvey Mandel of Canned Heat, Thom Doucette (Allman Brothers Band), Warren Caesar, and South Florida favorites Kilmo & the Killers, a band which toured frequently throughout the U.S. in the early ’90s.

Now based in the U.K., the Midnite Johnny Band (Morana – lead guitars/slide guitars/acoustic guitars/vocals, Steve Zoyes – B3/piano, John Grillo – drums, Serdio Cazzo – bass, Stan Walman – sax, Arlene Coutee – backing vocals, Yoel Hyman – synth brass) has built a dedicated following throughout Europe with their versatile mix of blues, R&B, and roots rock. The band’s latest release, on Mosher Street Records, is Long Road Home.

Of the 15 tracks, Morana and/or Zoyes wrote 11. There’s an acoustic and electric version of the title track. The electric is a fierce rocker in the “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” mode with some fierce slide guitar from Morana, while the acoustic version, which closes the album, features a string section and has a southern rock feel. The album opener, “Your New Occupation,” is a boisterous blues rocker, and “Slow Burn Inside” is indeed a slow burner with rock-edged guitar.

The cool Latin-flavored “Tired of Foolin’ Around” features some splendid slide guitar and nice work on the keys from Zoyes, and the smooth urban shuffle “All The Blues” includes a superb sax solo from Waldman, while Morana really does a fine job on guitar and vocals on the ballad, “Motels, Whisky & Me.” “Betcha By Now” throws a little funk into the mix, the mid-tempo “Heard That One Before” is a different look at a dying relationship, and the mellow “Outta Time” and “That’s All You Gonna Get” both have a bit of a pop flair.

The band also includes three covers. The first is an upbeat read of J.J. Cale’s “Crazy Mama,” spiced up by Morana’s slide guitar. The second is Mandel’s “Baby Batter,” a wonderful instrumental that veers from jazz to funk to rock to blues and gives Morana plenty of space to display his guitar chops. The final cover is an old-school acoustic interpretation of the blues standard “Key To The Highway.”

Blues rock fans can’t go wrong with Midnite Johnny’s latest. Long Road Home includes some fine original tunes, imaginative guitar work from Morana, and solid musicianship throughout.

--- Graham Clarke

Dennis HerreraCalifornia singer/songwriter/guitarist Dennis Herrera recently released his third album, You Stole My Heart (DAS Entertainment), a glorious mix of blues, rock, and soul. Produced by Herrera with Rick Wenzel, with portions recorded in Northern California at Kid Andersen’s Greaseland Studios in San Jose and in Southern California by Wenzel at Ardent Audio Productions in Torrence. For blues fans who are unfamiliar with Herrera, he’s a talented guitarist and singer, and his songwriting and overall musical approach has a laidback swinging feel that pulls listeners in.

The title track, a rock n’ roller that pays tribute to Herrera’s wife, Denise, opens the disc and features pianist Sid Morris and sax man Jack Sanford. “Takes Money” is a driving blues rocker with Denis Depoitre on harmonica and Wenzel on B3, and “Fore” is a funky, midtempo self-depreciating look at Herrera’s golf game, which is followed by the West Coast shuffle “No Refrain.” Sanford channels Jr. Walker on “Look Out” which has a soul/R&B feel and reflects on growing old, and the jazz-flavored “Recovery” finds Herrera somberly reflecting on his early struggles with hard living and bad decisions.

“You Can Name It” is a “cool” instrumental shuffle in the tradition of the Iceman, Albert Collins, and Wenzel’s B3 and Sanford’s sax really complement Herrera’s stinging lead guitar. The turmoil associated with rush hour traffic is the topic of “Backed-Up,” a Windy City shuffle, and “My Past Time” is a tasty slow blues burner. “Run With The Losers” is a sharp roadhouse rocker, and the closer, “Bittersweet,” is a solo acoustic number about a pair of lovers who “sometimes just don’t see eye to eye.”

Herrera’s amiable vocals are a great fit for his songwriting, which takes a wry look at issues that regular folks have to deal with. Listeners will relate to all of his songs in a big way. Another strong point of the album is the excellent musicianship of Herrera and both backing bands (Morris – piano, Sanford – sax, Frank DeRose – bass, and Robi Bean – drums, for the NorCal sessions, and Depoitre – harp, Lee Campbell – drums, Bill Stuve – bass, Jeff Jorgenson – sax, Gordon Peeke – percussion, and Wenzel – keys, for the SoCal sessions).

You Stole My Heart is a fine release from an underrated West Coast bluesman who sounds like he loves what he’s doing. Chances are very good that you will like what Dennis Herrera is doing, too.

--- Graham Clarke

Mick KolassaMick Kolassa is back with another wonderful album of his “Free Range Blues” with The Taylor Made Blues Band (David Dunavent – guitar, Leo Goff – bass, Lee Williams – drums, Chris Stephenson – keyboards, with Susan Marshall and Daunielle Hill – backing vocals). 149 Delta Avenue (Endless Blues Records) is also chock-full of special guests in Jeff Jensen and Toronzo Cannon on guitar, Eric Hughes and J.D. Taylor on harmonica, Marty Sammon on keyboards, and a horn section of Marc Franklin (trumpet), Kirk Smothers (sax), and Suavo Jones (trombone).

Kolassa kicks things off with the rousing rocker “I Can’t Slow Down,” a narrative of life on the road, and “US 12 to Highway 49,” a gutsy blues shuffle that continues the “life on the road” theme and features Hughes with some smoking harmonica. “Alternative Man” is offered in two different versions. The first version is a slow burner, and the second, called “Alternative Man Alternative,” has a rock edge. “Cotton Road” opens in a field recording setting, with moans and wails, but slowly develops into a fierce blues rocker with guitar from Cannon and haunting backing vocals from Marshall and Hill.

On the somber “American Intervention,” at first listen Kolassa appears to be pleading to a friend to save themselves, but the title and additional listening indicates that the song has more serious, political overtones. You be the judge. Franklin and Smothers break out the horns for “Pullin’ Me Down,” giving this mid-tempo track a steady Memphis groove, while Taylor guests on harmonica for the easygoing blues “Whiskey In The Mornin’.” Next up is the Ashford and Simpson R&B classic “I Don’t Need No Doctor,” and Kolassa keeps the jazzy feel of the duo’s original version with assistance from Franklin, Smothers, and Stephenson’s keyboards.

The second of the album’s three covers is a fun reading of Larry Garner’s “Miss Boss,” which is bound to be a crowd pleaser and Kolassa plays it for what it’s worth. “35 Miles To Empty” is another tale of the road with more tasty harmonica backing from Hughes. The closer is Stuff Smith’s “The Viper,” a funky, jazzy trip with the horns being augmented by Jones’ trombone and Alice Hasen’s violin.

Mick Kolassa never disappoints. He always gives blues fans some compelling, entertaining music, and 149 Delta Avenue is another fine addition to his catalog.

--- Graham Clarke

Bob LanzaThe Bob Lanza Blues Band’s fifth release, Kids, Dogs & Krazy Women (Connor Ray Music), finds Jersey-based guitarist Lanza working with producer/musician Anthony Kirzan, who’s previously worked with the Spin Doctors, Lenny Kravitz, and Noel Redding. Kirzan co-produces the album with Lanza, and it’s a mix of originals and covers played in the rugged roadhouse style that Lanza is noted for. Joining Lanza (guitar/vocals) and Kirzan (guitar/vocals/drums/percussion) are John Ginty (B3/piano), Vin Mott (drums/harmonica), and Dave Lockhart (bass).

The title track opens the disc and it has a crowd-pleasing catchy chorus and some tasty slide guitar from Kirzan. “Little Momma” is a rowdy Texas-styled shuffle with Mott cutting loose on harmonica, while the minor-key ballad “Not The Man I Used To Be” borrows the familiar Magic Sam guitar riff, and the Patsy Cline classic “Walking After Midnight” is transformed into a swinging blues with great results.

I first heard Frankie Lee’s “Full Time Lover” when I saw the Fabulous Thunderbirds perform it live in the mid-’80s, and Lanza energetic remake measures up well to either version. “Hey Cotton” is a fast-paced tribute to the late James Cotton, who Lanza backed up in his younger days, and “Problems,” from Little Mike Markowitz, is a funky swamp blues in the Excello tradition. Trudy Lynn’s “Every Side of Lonesome” and Lanza’s “Hey Baby” are both Chicago-styled shuffles, and the rollicking “Let Me In” is from the early days of the Fabulous Thunderbirds. The closer “Raritan” River Stop” is an acoustic instrumental with slide guitar from Kirzan.

A sturdy set of old school blues rockers with fine originals, well-chosen covers, and excellent, savvy instrumental work, Kids, Dogs & Krazy Women from The Bob Lanza Band will satisfy any fan of high-energy blues.

--- Graham Clarke

Carlo DittaNew Orleans singer/songwriter Carlo Ditta is best known for his tune, “Pray,” which was voted Best Gospel Song by the American Song Festival in the ’70s, and which Ditta recorded with Mighty Sam McClain (a wonderful version can be heard on McClain’s Live in Japan album). Over the years, Ditta has worked as a songwriter and performer across the country, but ended up back in the Crescent City making records for his own Orleans Records with McClain, Roland Stone, Little Freddie King, Guitar Slim Jr., Coco Robicheaux, Rockie Charles, and Ironing Board Sam to name just a few.

Recently, Ditta released his own 45 on Orleans; The A-side is the New Orleans R&B standard “Pass The Hatchet,” a gloriously funky slice of Crescent City featuring Ditta’s gravelly, soulful vocals and a delightfully funky arrangement with Ditta on guitar, Earl Stanley Oropeza on bass and maracas, Johnny Pennino on sax, and Chewy Black on drums (there’s also a uncredited harmonica player as well). The B-side is a Ditta composition, “Life In Heaven,” that has a bit of a ghostly swamp pop vibe with Dave Easley’s skittering pedal steel. Jerry Jumonville also plays sax, with Anthony Donado on drums, Angelamia Bachemin on percussion, David Hyde on bass, and Rick Stelma on Wurlitzer.

The single is available via streaming on the usual outlets, for paid download, or vinyl at Orleans Records.

--- Graham Clarke

MichotMichot’s Melody Makers is led by fiddler/lead singer Louis Michot (of Lost Bayou Ramblers), who is joined on this side project by fellow Ramblers Bryan Webre (bass/percussion) and Kirkland Middleton (drums/percussion), as well as guitarist Mark Bingham. Their debut, Blood Moon (Sinking City Records), is a collection of blues and Cajun fiddle tunes with incorporated drums and amps, along with sampling to give these traditional tunes a modern sheen. The results are intriguing and entertaining.

The sampling and enhanced production makes these selections spring to life. The opener, “Two-Step de Ste Marie,” has drums that nearly jump out of your speakers and Michot’s fiddle sounds like it could burst into flames shortly. Folks will be dancing to this tune and the next one, the seriously funky “Grand Marais.” The haunting “Dans Le Pins” is next, highlighted by Michot’s mournful fiddle and vocals. The somber mood only lasts a few minutes, however, because “Allons Tous Boire Un Coup” picks up the pace again, and a breakneck pace at that.

The lively “Blues de Neg Francais” is another highlight, sounding traditional and modern at the same time, but “La Lune Est Croche” definitely has an updated feel, with sampling and remixing of the drums, fiddle, and triangle throughout, and “Coyote Sur Les Chemins” is a Cajun waltz like you’ve never heard. The closer, “La Danse Carrée,” is a fiddling showcase for Michot that concludes this excellent disc on the highest of high notes.

Michot’s Melody Makers and Blood Moon breathe exciting new life into this wonderful music.

MichotIn 2015, Michot was invited by John Zorn to perform a 12-day musical residency at the experimental music venue The Stone in NYC, 12 shows in 6 days. Each night Michot played with a different group, first the bands he’s generally associated with, then collaborations with artists like French legend Charlelie Couture, Leyla McCalla, Pogues vet Spider Stacy’s group Poguetry, and Pilette’s Ghost, a fiddle/drum duo.

One of the sessions was a completely improvised, nearly 45-minute jam from a group that was nicknamed The Stoned, consisting of Michot, Middleton, Webre, with Stacy (tin whistle, vocals), Ryan Brasseaux (triangle, vocals), Jason Robira (drums), Jeff Tobias (saxophone), and Johnny Campos (guitar). It was released as L.E.S. Douze Volume 1 (Nouveau Electric Records).

The track ventures in and out a musical structure, focusing more on mood, rhythm, and sounds. While it may not be the ideal selection for one who’s strictly a blues fan, anyone who digs Miles Davis (circa In A Silent Way) or maybe Dr. John’s early ’70s forays into heavy voodoo funk/R&B, or even the sonic jazz of Sun Ra will get a charge out of listening. It’s a swampy, funky, and cosmic experience.

--- Graham Clarke

Dean HaitaniTwo items in a brief one sheet which accompanied Dean Haitani’s CD review copy of 47 Stones were helpful: “Finger style” and “experimentation with the technical.” Sorry to stereotype Australian blues guitar, but what gets filtered around the world back to us is usually radical and has to include distorted slide. We are not disappointed in either from Haitani. There is a peculiar harmony throughout this disc sounding like trumpet/trombone together (undoubtedly a keyboard sound) making his ensemble style stand out. In other ways the disc isn’t tremendously original when it comes to what his website calls “soul, blues and roots music.” Those words do however describe his sound.

We have no problem with his lead vocals, interjection of shuffle rhythms helps with variety. We like the leadoff track, plus selected others along the way including one of the better covers of Little Feat’s "Dixie Chicken." Why do we need yet another version of "Thrill is Gone"? How could you in any way improve on the original? What saves this cover is its tempo, WAY down and well-controlled. Other slow numbers get down effectively.

We actually wish there were more guitar and less keyboards, the latter get too much exposure at solo time. One track contains three keyboard, but no guitar, solos. There is a possibility Haitani plays both but unlikely since it’s not mentioned. Backup personnel and producer are uncredited, this is his 14th studio album which indicates considerable experience. Could all his past releases have been independently produced? If that is the case he’s got his own sound down.

--- Tom “Hacksaw” Coulson, broadcaster/musician
We also play, hashtag and handle what we review on the radio: https://youtu.be/b_UFpph8X70


Lindsay BeaverShe calls her music "punk blues," and she sure looks the part. But to me Lindsay Beaver's music comes across as straight-ahead, "balls to the wall" blues/rock, not for the faint of heart. The native of Nova Scotia just made her Alligator recording debut with Tough As Love, and it's a wild, fun ride.

Beaver is both the drummer and singer on Tough As Love, which was recorded in her adopted hometown of Austin, Texas, and she excels at both. The other members of her three-piece band include Brad Stivers on guitar and Josh Williams on bass, with some mighty impressive guest artists popping in for cameo appearances throughout the dozen cuts here.

The listener finds out right away what Beaver's music is all about, with the hard-driving, mid-tempo shuffle, "You're Evil," getting this session underway. Guest harmonica ace Dennis Gruenling is as good as always while Stivers contributes some fiery guitar. Following that opening cut is Marcia Ball appearing on piano on the more restrained ballad "Too Cold To Cry.

The very hot sax work of Sax Gordon highlights the up-tempo blues "What A Fool You've Been" right before we get the first cover song with Little Willie John's "You Hurt Me," a slow blues with eerie vocals from Beaver, strong guitar chords by Stivers and more piano from Ball.

Beaver shares vocals with Stivers on the fast rockabilly number "Don't Be Afraid Of Love" before moving on to Slim Harpo's "I Got Love If You Want It." Gruenling is back on harp on the latter and he does Slim just right. Beaver certainly has a voice to be an old-style blues shouter, and we hear her loud and clear on "Dangerous," with Red Casey sharing blazing guitar solos with Stivers.

Two other standout covers include Angela Strehli's "Lost Cause," a  slow blues on which Beaver's vocals still aren't very subtle, and Art Neville's "Let's Rock," a mid-tempo New Orleans rocker that was originally released in the mid-'50s by Specialty Records.

Beaver again shouts out the vocals on the closing cut, "Mean To Me," a mid-tempo shuffle that gives Williams his chance to shine on drums as well as dueling guitar solos by Stivers and guest Laura Chavez.

Prepare to be blown away the first time you listen to this album, perhaps sampling it in shorter spurts at first so that, like me, you don't get aurally worn down by the end. But make no mistake --- this is some solid blues from an emerging artist. Yeah, she doesn't look the part, but we're now in the 21st century. Maybe it's time to change some perceptions because there's got to be room in the blues genre for an artist as invigorating as Lindsay Beaver.

--- Bill Mitchell

Seth RosenbloomLast month we introduced our Blues Bytes readers to teenaged guitar sensation David Julia, and now we have another young guitar prodigy in Massachusetts native Seth Rosenbloom with his first full album, the self-released Keep On Turning. A product of the prestigious Berklee College of Music, Rosenbloom is more than just a guitar slinger, possessing a fine voice and also showing his composition skills by writing or co-writing six of the nine cuts here. The three covers are well-chosen classics, with Rosenbloom giving his own take on each song.

Let's talk first about the cover tunes. It's obvious from listening to Rosenbloom's guitar playing that he's been heavily influenced by the music of B.B. King, so it's only appropriate that he do one of B.B.'s songs, acquitting himself well on "Heartbreaker" by capturing that Lucille sound on his guitar. Trumpet player Jamelle Aisa and sax man Don Boissy help to take this one over the top. Elmore James' "Look Over Yonders Wall" is given more of a funky, mid-tempo vibe, with the drummer accentuating the backbeat while Rosenbloom comes in with some of his strongest vocals on the disc. Rosenbloom also pumps up his vocals on the Leon Russell classic, "Palace Of The King," an up-tempo blues rocker with good work from the horns.

As for my preferred original numbers, Rosenbloom starts out the album by showing off his guitar skills on the slow blues "Keep On Turning." He later sings about his triumphs over the woman who left him on the mid-tempo "Crawling Back" before ripping off a strong guitar solo on the blues shuffle, "I Can't Help It."  Also so fine is the slow blues, "Right About Now," with more intricate chording on the guitar and strong vocals.

Keep On Turning is a fine way to introduce Rosenbloom to the blues world, so expect to hear more from this young cat in the future.

--- Bill Mitchell

Gaye AdegbalolaGaye Adegbalola made her mark in the blues world nearly 30 years ago as one of the founding members of Saffire - The Uppity Blues Woman, appearing on all of their 10 or more albums. She's been just about as prolific as a solo artist, with her latest being The Griot  (VizzTone), subtitled "Topical Blues For Topical Times!" Each of the 17 songs is defined by a category, for example History Lesson, Hypocrisy, Pollution, Technology, Old Age, Sex, etc., with each song tied to one of the categories. Calling this collection "topical blues" is pretty accurate, although the latter part of the album deals more with love and relationships similar to what we used to hear with Saffire. This album is really a showcase for Aegbalola's singing, acoustic guitar playing and songwriting, with mostly sparse instrumentation from guitarist Jeff Covert and a few other guests.

Adegbalola gets right to it on the first cut, "Nothing's Changed," on which she updates the historically bad treatment of blacks in America by adding a stanza about the KKK marching on Charlottesville. She continually repeats the chorus, "...Change, change, nothing has changed."

"Liearrhea" falls under the Hypocrisy category as she sings about someone with a bad case of liearrhea who keeps running off at the mouth and continually telling mistruths. Nice banjo work here from Covert. A fuller band joins in on the up-tempo "(You're) Flint Water," with slide guitar from Covert and a four-piece horn section. Adegbalola comments about how her man is dirty and can't be cleaned, singing "... Polluted like Flint water, baby, I can't even flush you away ..."

The Protest category is covered by the up-tempo blues "Kaepernicked," starting with a few chords of the National Anthem. We all should know who Adegbalola is honoring as she sings "...I want to thank him for taking a knee for me..." and later adding, "...Oh say can you see, you're winning the game for me ... You are my new Muhammad Ali..."

Adegbalola summons her inner "Uppity Blues Women" persona with a version of Nina Simone's late night blues "Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl," featuring nice piano by Roddy Barnes. Returning for the closing cut, "Jelly Bean Blues," Barnes also contributes vocals to this slow blues from the Ma Rainey songbook.

Depending on where you stand on the political spectrum, you may or may not agree with Ms. Adegbalola's stands on issues. But there's no doubting her conviction to go along with some mighty fine music on The Griot.

--- Bill Mitchell

Watermelon SlimI've avoided reviewing Watermelon Slim albums in the past because his vocal style just doesn't suit my tastes. But the list of guest artists on Church Of The Blues (Northern Blues) caught my eye, with distinguished artists like Bob Margolin, Sherman Holmes, John Nemeth, Joe Louis Walker, Nick Schnebelen and Albert Castiglia all appearing, so I thought I'd give Slim another try.

Watermelon Slim is a fine instrumentalist, both on slide guitar and harmonica. The best cuts are the ones on which he turns loose on either instrument, such as when he shares guitar duties with Walker on the soulful "Mni Wiconi - The Water Song," which also features a fine horn section. Holmes and Nemeth handle the vocals on the Allen Toussaint cover, "Get Out Of My Life Woman," with Slim playing a mean slide guitar and Margolin also joining in. Slim blows some filthy harp licks on the funky, up-tempo "Me And My Woman," with Castiglia showing up to handle guitar duties. I also like Slim's harp playing on Muddy's "Gypsy Woman."

Despite the fine arrangements and the outstanding guest performances, I was finished with the album about three-fourths of the way through. I just couldn't handle the vocals any longer. Your opinion may vary and that's okay. But it's just not for me.

--- Bill Mitchell


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