Blues Bytes

What's New

February 2013

an associate Order these featured CDs today:

Nicole Hart & Anni Piper

Mark Robinson

4 Jacks

Mike Eldred

Andy T-Nick Nixon

Robert "Top" Thomas

George Kilby Jr

Lisa Cee

The Breeze Kings

Devon Allman

Dennis Gruenling

Doug Deming



Nicole Hart - Anni PiperOne of the more delightful CDs I've encountered in a long time features the pairing of singers Nicole Hart & Anni Piper on their new CD, Split Second (Blues Leaf Records). It's more primal and earthy than I expected, with both singers possessing strong voices that harmonize extremely well together. The creative heads at Blues Leaf struck gold when they decided to team up existing labelmates Hart, who is from Florida, with native Australian Piper. The backing band of Ron Rauso (guitar), Juke Joint Jonny (acoustic guitar, dobro), Sandy Mack (harp), John Ginty (organ, piano) and Sim Cain (drums) is solid, complimenting the vocals well but never taking the spotlight away from Nicole and Anni, the latter who doubles on bass guitar.

The disc starts with our two co-stars harmonizing on a mid-tempo funky number, "Can't Let You Go," that features timely percussion work from Cain and a hot organ solo from Ginty. "Clap Your Hands" is a frantic number that sounds like it could have come from the Ray Charles songbook, especially with the retro sounding guitar and organ work from Rauso and Ginty, but instead was done originally by Memphis Slim. This one smokes!

The mood changes considerably on the third cut, "Ain't Nobody Watchin'," with a slow, dirgelike blues original written by Piper whose raw, breathy vocals come in after Mack's harmonica intro. Piper also takes the vocal lead on the ultra-cool Roy Orbison number, "Dream Baby."

Hart gets her own chance to break men's hearts with Sugar Ray Norcia's slow blues, "Why Should I Feel So Bad!" Ginty comes in mid-song with a killer organ solo that just adds to the power of this tune. Another incredibly electric song finds both singers chiming in on another tortured blues, "What Will Later On Be Like?"

The girls blend their vocals together on the Sonny Curtis composition, "Walk Right Back," which was a top ten hit for the Everly Brothers in the early '60s. If there was any justice in the contemporary music world, Hart and Piper would also be garnering a gold record for their version which is every bit as good as the original. Juke Joint Jonny's dobro solo pushes this one over the top.

This wonderful disc ends with Hart's only original, the ethereal "Listen To The Rain Fall," which brings the same mournful precipitation to your ears as Irma Thomas' classic, "It's Raining." Mack's chromatic harp solo and Jonny's acoustic guitar strumming set the right mood and provide simple but tasteful accompaniment.

I find myself loving Split Second more and more every time I listen to it. It's undoubtedly going to be a contender for blues album of the year. Highly recommended!

--- Bill Mitchell

Mark RobinsonMark Robinson doesn't leave any doubt about his dominant musical talent, as both of the Nashville resident's album titles so far proclaim him to be, first and foremost, a guitar player.  His debut release was titled Quit Your Job - Play Guitar, with this newest disc named Have Axe - Will Groove (Blind Chihuahua Records).

There's no doubting Robinson's talents on the guitar, especially when he cuts loose on his own jumpin' blues composition, "Cool Rockin' Daddy," which also features strong sax playing from Ben Graves. Another good number is the original blues shuffle, "Pull My Coat," showcasing what is perhaps Robinson's strongest guitar work on the album.

Robinson drops the tempo for the slow blues, "Lifetime Prescription." This one almost sounds like it could be biographical in nature --- "...jook joints and honky tonks, staying out all night, babe you know that I'm bad news." Of course, that could describe the life of a lot of blues cats. The New Orleans-sounding "Rhythm Doctor" brings in fine piano work from Randy Handley, Paul Griffith's steady second line drumming, and backing vocals from Vicki Carrico and Jonell Mosser.

Another favorite is Robinson's version of the Doc Pomus classic, "Lonely Avenue," turned into a hit by Ray Charles in 1956. Michael Webb provides more than capable Hammond organ accompaniment while Carrico and Mosser return with stellar background vocals.

Have Axe - Will Groove is a fun album --- not one that I'd call an essential purchase, but a decent collection of 11 tunes. Robinson isn't a real strong singer but he gets the most out of his limited vocal range, especially on the bluesier numbers which are the ones I preferred.

--- Bill Mitchell

4 JacksThe four artists that make up the blues super group 4 Jacks, Texas guitar legend Anson Funderburgh, singer/drummer Big Joe Maher (of Big Joe and the Dynaflows fame), keyboardist Kevin McKendree (Delbert McClinton’s band leader), and Nashville bass player Steve Mackey, have a lifetime of experience playing the blues combined. Whoever considered the idea of bringing them together as a group should be awarded a medal of some kind right away. Their debut release, Deal With It (EllerSoul Records), stands as proof that an honor of some kind is deserving.

The opening track is the title cut, a groovy organ-driven instrumental that Booker T. Jones would be proud of, composed by the group. It’s one of three instrumentals on the disc, the other two being the raucous rocker, “Texas Twister,” and the funky “Painkiller.” Maher wrote or co-wrote six songs, an entertaining set that ranges from old school jump blues and R&B (“Have Ourselves A Time,” “She Ain’t Worth A Dime,” “Thunder and Lightning” “Ansonmypants”) to soulful (“Love’s Like That”) to rocking (“Bobcat Woman”).

Three covers complete this outstanding collection. Maher does a good job on Percy Mayfield’s “I Don’t Want To Be President,” and the old “Deadric Malone” composition, “Your Turn To Cry,” gets a stripped down makeover that is highly effective. “Bad News Baby” is a smooth and slow blues. Funderburgh’s guitar work is as crisp and economical as one says more with so few notes. The rhythm section provides the glue that holds everything together, notably McKendree’s keyboards, especially his contributions on the B3.

The only issue with Deal With It is that there’s not enough of it! It clocks in at a mere 41 minutes, which will definitely leave listeners wanting more. Hopefully, this super group will comply and give us more as soon as they can.

---Graham Clarke

Mike EldredThe Mike Eldred Trio’s release, 61 and 49, was originally issued in 2011 on the Zoho Roots label and was recognized by the Los Angeles Times as one of the ten best releases of that year. Eldred, who was once a member of Lee Rocker’s band, mixes blues with rockabilly and R&B on this second release, which is now distributed by Rip Cat Records. Joining Eldred on this effort are the Blasters’ rhythm section (John Bazz – bass, Jerry Angel – drums), along with a veritable who’s who of roots music: Scotty Moore, Cesar Rosas, Kid Ramos, Jeff Turmes, Riley Osborn, and Ike Turner.

“Don’t Go Down There” opens the disc on an ominous note, with Eldred belting out the lyrics over sparse acoustic accompaniment and the backing of the Emmanuel Church Gospel Choir. The torrid rockabilly instrumental, “Jake’s Boogie,” follows, and then the Texas-styled shuffle “Louise,” with Kid Ramos lending a hand on second guitar. “Mr. Newman” is the most unusual track here, a character study of a disturbed individual…not what you usually find on this type of recording. “She’s A Rocket” is one of two tracks that feature the great Ike Turner on piano.

“Ruby’s Blues” is another instrumental, a slow, sweet blues track with Eldred’s guitar taking on a Hendrix-like fuzz tone, and “For A Girl,” with Osborn on B3, has a pop rock flavor to it. “This Old Train” is a mellow rocker with some stunning nylon string guitar work from Rosas and nice backing vocals (courtesy of Bob Olson, Jervis Jernigan, Paul Shivers, and Michael Buccovich). Turner returns on piano (and some recorded pre-song banter with Eldred) on the rock & roll raver, “Jimmy Jimmy.”

The greasy instrumental, “Ms. Gayle’s Chicken House,” gives the red-hot rhythm section the spotlight, along with some great fretwork interplay between Eldred and Moore. “I Ain’t Comin’ Back” is another Texas shuffle, as is “Lookie Here.” The closer is Eldred unplugged, the Mississippi Delta-flavored title track that brings the disc to a triumphant conclusion.

61 and 49 is as good a set of modern blues and roots as you will hear. Mike Eldred has given us a remarkable disc of dynamic diversity, ranging from roots and rockabilly to blues and soul. Rip Cat Records has performed a great public service by making this available to those of us who missed it the first time around.

--- Graham Clarke

Andy T - Nick NixonDuring the ’60s and ’70s, young Andy Talamantez first heard British blues from artists like Eric Clapton, but, like many other blues fans before him, he traced Clapton’s music back to its sources and discovered T-Bone Walker, Otis Rush, Muddy Waters, Magic Sam, and Albert Collins. He started playing in various Southern California bands before serving in Smokey Wilson’s, then Guitar Shorty’s band, where he began to develop his own clean and precise guitar sound. Eventually, Talamantez moved to Nashville, where he crossed paths with singer James “Nick” Nixon, a veteran of the music scene whose band, Past, Present and Future recorded for Chess Records in the mid ’70s before Nixon settled in at Music City, where he taught music and later won the Blues Foundation’s “Keeping The Blues Alive” award for education.

The pair, billed as the Andy T-Nick Nixon Band, recently recorded their debut release for Delta Groove Music, Drink Drank Drunk, produced by Texas guitar legend Anson Funderburgh, who also plays guitar on several tracks. The crack band includes keyboards from Christian Dozzler (who also plays accordion), Kevin McKendree, John Street, and Larry Van Loon, bass guitar from Juan Garza, Steve Mackey and Johnny Bradley, drums from Danny Cochran, Wes Starr, and Jim Klingler, saxophone from Ron Jones, and Brian “Hash Brown” Calway on harmonica, along with backing vocals from Markey.

The disc is a balanced mix of the old and the new, with the duo taking on classic old school blues tunes like the old warhorse “High Heel Sneakers,” Gatemouth Brown’s “Midnight Hour,” Johnny “Guitar” Watson’s “Don’t Touch Me,” Paul Gayten’s “No Use Knockin’,” T-Bone Walker’s “Life Is Too Short,” and Ray Charles’ “I Got A Woman.” The title track is a funky tune from Tom Hambridge and Gary Nicholson. This well-rounded set of covers features some crisp, economical fretwork from Andy T and also the powerhouse vocals of Nixon, who leaves nothing on the table no matter what the song is.

The duo’s own songs are pretty strong, too. Andy T offers a rousing instrumental (“Dos Danos”), the swampy “Have You Seen My Monkey,” and “On My Way To Texas,” a Lone Star rocker. Nixon’s two tracks include “No End To The Blues,” a straight blues that gives Andy T room to stretch out on guitar and “You Look So Good,” a smooth Texas shuffle.

Funderburgh does an excellent job as producer and his guitar work is, as always, solid and tasteful. Drink Drank Drunk is a fantastic release that sounds just like they used to. With Andy T’s spot-on guitar work and Nick Nixon’s hurricane force vocals, this release will appeal to all blues fans.
Editors Note: See below for another review of this CD.

--- Graham Clarke

Robert "Top" ThomasIf you were a blues fan in the ’90s, you may have been familiar with a Florida band called Smokehouse. The band recorded for King Snake Records and more or less developed the “Florida Swamp Blues” sound. Their 1995 recording, Cadillac in the Swamp, was recognized as one of the best releases of that year, due to its updated interpretation of swamp blues. One of the founding members of Smokehouse was singer/guitarist Robert “Top” Thomas, who has worked with such notables as Lazy Lester, Noble “Thin Man” Watts, Bill Wharton, and Victor Wainwright.

Thomas recently released his debut recording, The Town Crier, on the WildRoots label, which mixes the steamy swamp blues of Louisiana with the blues of the Mississippi Delta. Joining in on this release are the WildRoots rhythm section (Stephen Dees – bass/producer, Billy Dean (drums), and Stephen Kampa (harmonica). They are joined by guest stars Wainwright, Beth McKee, Damon Fowler, Juan Perez, Patricia Ann Dees, Jeffrey Willey, Mark Hodgson, and Brandon Santini.

Thomas, Dees, and Wainwright wrote or co-wrote a dozen of the 13 tracks on The Town Crier. The lone cover is a great one, a reworking of the Lazy Lester classic, “The Same Thing Could Happen To You,” which adds Beth McKee’s accordion to the mix and makes a good track a great one. The highlights include the manic opener, “Mississippi Quickie,” the offbeat slow blues, “Lazy Miss Daisy,” which sounds like an Elvin Bishop track, the swampy “King Snake Crawl,” and the ominous “Bad Seed,” which features Wainwright on co-lead vocals.

Thomas steps out of the swamp for a couple of tracks as well. “What’s The Matter Ma” is an acoustic number, and “Sugar Shop” has a bit of a Gulf Coast R&B feel to it. “I’m A Freight Train,” which features Fowler on dobro, has roots in the Mississippi Delta, and the closer, “It Ain’t Easy,” is a upbeat gospel number with Thomas backed by the “WildRoots Choir” (Wainwright, McKee, Patricia Ann and Stephen Dees, Nick Black, and Hodgson).

Thomas’ wide-ranging fretwork is worth the price of the disc, and his vocals are a mix of the Delta and the swamp with country seasoning, similar to Lazy Lester and Watermelon Slim. The Town Crier is an entertaining album from start to finish, particularly for those who love the glory days of Excello Records, where this disc would have been a perfect fit.

--- Graham Clarke

George Kilby JrSinger/guitarist and Alabama native George Kilby Jr. calls his musical style “rough cut American music.” Kilby has been playing roots music for over 30 years, mostly as part of the New York City music scene that offers blues, folk, Americana, bluegrass, jam band, and even jazz. Kilby earned his blues bonafides by serving a long tenure with the great Pinetop Perkins, but he embraces blues and most of the other above-mentioned styles on his new release, Six Pack (Top Frog Music).

Six Pack is an appropriate name for the disc because the six songs in place represent Kilby’s influences and their effect on his modern roots sound, starting with the folk original penned by Kilby that kicks things off, “When the People Sang.” Like the other five tracks, this cut features Kilby playing with his band, The Road Dogs (Neil Thomas – keyboards, accordion, Eric Halvorson – drums, and Arturo Baguer (bass), but also features guitarist Jono Manson (who produced the track), fiddle player Tim Carbone (of Railroad Earth), George Breakfast on mandolin, and Kevin Trainor on electric guitar. Though it’s an original, you’ll swear you’ve heard it before. Thomas is also prominent on the lovely version of Neil Thomas’ “I Love You in Brooklyn.”

The catchy rocker, “Something I Can’t Find,” is next, featuring some great guitar work from Kilby, Brian Shafer, and Joe Andrews. Next up is the most unusual track, and one I almost missed completely the first time I heard it…an amazing bluegrass treatment of “Sunshine of Your Love.” This track is produced by Andy Goessling, who subs his dobro for the Clapton blues/rock riff originally associated with the song. It’s a really fun track. “Cro-Magnon Man” is a witty commentary on a current issue (the environment), as is the closing tune, “You Never See the Hand That Throws the Stone,” in which Kilby, joined by the harmonica ace Phil Wiggins, covers the economy, racism, and religious hypocrisy in one fell swoop.

Though very brief with only six songs, George Kilby Jr. gets plenty of space to share his musical vision on Six Pack. Fans of American Roots music will find plenty to savor here.

--- Graham Clarke

Lisa CeeSouthern California blues singer Lisa Cee has been a favorite of blues and roots fans for a number of years on the West Coast, playing with numerous blues luminaries like Marcia Ball, Kid Ramos, Tinsley Ellis, Rod Piazza, Miss Mickey Champion, and Paul Oscher, among others. In addition, she has been the leader of the house band in the Gibson and Fender Guitar Lodge at the Sundance Film Festival since 2008.

After years of toiling away and paying her dues, Ms. Cee has finally recorded her first solo album, My Turn (Rip Cat Records). Backed by a powerhouse band (BR Millon – guitar, Mike Hightower – bass, Albert Trepagnier Jr. – drums), along with guests Ron Dziubla – sax, Johnny Maestro – harmonica, Scott Abeyta – guitar, Jim Kersey – drums, Max Bangwell – percussion, Edo Guidotti – keyboards, and Chris McCarthy – cello, Cee rips through a strong set of songs, 14 total.

Nine of the tunes are original compostions and Cee also does a fine job on five wide-ranging covers, including the soulful opener, “What Good Am I,” a ’60s tune associated with Miss Champion, the hard-driving boogie, “Good-Bye Baby,” composed by the late Robert Lucas, Karen Lawrence’s “Bright Shiny World,” a bouncy acoustic take on the Staples Singers’ classic “I’ll Take You There,” and an impressive reworking of the old Jefferson Airplane ’60s anthem, “White Rabbit.”

Cee’s originals are equally strong, as she moves easily from funky R&B flavored blues (“Fire In The Sky,” “Cold Hearted Woman,” “Evil,” and “Stop Tryin’”) to swampy slow blues (“Lost You”) to high energy blues/rock (“Fire” and “Right Man”) to more mainstream roots tracks (“My Turn” and “Already Free”). Throughout the disc, Cee shows impressive range and depth in her vocals, moving from sultry to intense to vulnerable seamlessly on these songs.

Hopefully, Lisa Cee won’t take so long to produce an sophomore release. My Turn is a strong debut recording that shows her to be effective in a variety of blues styles.

--- Graham Clarke

Breeze KingsThe Breeze Kings continue to be one of Atlanta’s hottest blues bands, winning Creative Loafing’s award for Best Blues Band nine years, with their real-deal approach to ’50s era Chicago blues. Their fourth release, on Veritone Records, is Can’t Stay Home. The charismatic Carlos “Breeze” Capote returns on vocals and harmonica with Jim Ransone still firing on all cylinders while manning guitar duties. The dynamite rhythm section consists of Aaron Trubic (bass) and Trevor Roberts (drums). Lending support on selected tracks are Bob Page (piano), Norm “Tex” Ficke (tenor sax), and Dan Seifert (Hammond organ).

One of the strong suits of the band’s previous releases was their songwriting, and that still continues to serve them well on this new release, with songs like Ransone’s “Mercury Blues,” a car tune of a different sort….this one not particular fast or actually moving at all. Other highlights include “Well I Wish,” an updating of a familiar blues theme, and “Beehive,” a clever metaphorical character study of a woman who plays the field.

“Well for Water” is another standout, with its taut rockabilly boogie, and Ransone’s cool Hawaiian slide work. The closer, “The Other Track,” is an acoustic number has some nice slide guitar as well. There are also two instrumental tracks, Ransone’s jazzy “My Little Life,” and J.C. Davis’ aptly titled “Coolin’ Out,” both of which give the individual band members a chance to shine. Capote does an excellent job on vocals…displaying the right mix of grit and vulnerability when needed, and he can flat blow the back off the harmonica, too.

Can’t Stay Home is another fine release from The Breeze Kings, and hopefully, one that will help them gain a wider audience beyond Atlanta and the southeastern U.S. With their considerable songwriting chops and musical rapport, they deserve to be heard.

--- Graham Clarke

Devon AllmanDevon Allman joined up with Cyril Neville, Mike Zito, Yonrico Scott, and Charlie Wooten to form the blues supergroup, Royal Southern Brotherhood last year. The RSB’s debut release was considered one of the best of 2012 and has been entrenched in the Top 15 of the Billboard blues chart since its May release. Allman, the son of Gregg Allman, formed the Southern rock jam band, Honeytribe, in the late ’90s, and recorded under that band’s name, so Allman’s latest effort, Turquoise (Ruf Records), serves as his debut solo release.

To begin, if you’re unfamiliar with his work in Honeytribe or with the Brotherhood, his guitar work may be a surprise…not so much like the sound of his dad’s band, The Allman Brothers, but definitely blues with a nice helping of hard rock and a nice touch of soul mixed in. As a vocalist, he doesn’t have that gruff, blues growl that his dad has honed over the years, but his gritty vocals are strong, expressive, and show a soulful vulnerability at times.

Turquoise also features some first-rate songwriting from Allman, with tunes like the autobiographical opening track, “When I Left Home” (title taken from the Buddy Guy autobiography, which Allman was reading at the time he composed the song), featuring some great lead and slide guitar from Luther Dickinson. The rocker, “Don’t Set Me Free,” is one of two tracks co-written by Allman with his fellow Royal Southern Brother, Mike Zito (the other being the standout, “Strategy”). Other highlights include the introspective “Time Machine,” and “There’s No Time,” a Santana-esque tune co-written by Allman and young rising star, Tyler Stokes.

“Homesick,” a tune that Allman wrote to his family, is one of several tracks backed by Rick Steff’s ghostly Hammond B3. Another is the album’s lone cover, Tom Petty’s early ’80s classic, “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” a smoldering version that pairs Allman with special guest Samantha Fish, both delivering a super vocal performance. “Into The Darkness,” which Allman composed for his young son, Orion, shows Allman’s vocal talents at their best, as he really pours his heart and soul into the lyrics.

Two of the three closing tracks, “Key Lime Pie” and “Turn Off The World,” set a mellow tone to close the disc on a relaxing note. These two songs sandwich a lovely, lyrical instrumental, “Yadira’s Lullaby,” which brings to mind an instrumental track cut by Allman’s Uncle Duane some 40 years ago, “Little Martha.”

Allman fronts a trio that includes RSB mate Scott on drums and percussion and Myles Weeks on bass. They are assisted by guests Dickinson, Fish, and Steff, plus sax man Ron Holloway, guitarist Bobby Schneck, Jr., and background vocalists Fish, Pete Matthews, Reuben Williams, and Adam Hill.

More than any of his previous releases, Turquoise showcases Devon Allman as a songwriter and singer. He displays amazing versatility, moving effortlessly from the blues to rock to soul and jazz, with Latin rhythms. Personally, I can’t wait to see what’s next. This, however, is a pitch-perfect starting point.

--- Graham Clarke

I’ve only been in Colorado for a little over a year now, but I’m thoroughly impressed by the amount and diversity of great Blues players we have here in the “square” state. One such Bluesman is Dan Treanor, leader of the Afrossippi Band who along with featured singer, Erica Brown, won this year’s Colorado Blues Society’s IBC challenge and just captured third place at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. I’ve known Dan for several years now and the addition of Erica’s voice to the mix was a stroke of genius. You can hear the result of this collaboration on a rocking disc entitled Tangled Road.

The title cut, written by Dan, is a tune in the vernacular of the old spirituals and features Erica in a classic call and response. Dan kicks the party off with the intro on his Khalam while Erica asks the question, “who’s that walking down a tangled road? Ain’t nobody but me…Lord!” I had a friend who heard Erica’s voice singing this from the speaker’s at Alfred’s and she said, “My God, Kyle, that voice! I had to go inside and see what was going on!” Erica Brown is definitely one of Colorado’s treasures and Dan’s right when he says, “Erica has a world-class voice!”

Dan’s harp provides the introduction on our next cut, “Tell Me Daddy,” another tune written by Dan. Here we find Erica wondering, “Tell me daddy…where did you stay last night? Tell me daddy, cause I really got to know…where did you stay last night?” Obviously he was out late and didn’t make it home, I would hate to be the one facing Erica’s wrath at the door, that’s for sure!

Our tempo slows down considerably as Erica, Dan and the band tackle Toussaint McCall’s classic tune, “Nothing Can Take the Place of You.” “Each day finds me so blue…cause nothing…nothing…takes the place of you!” You can hear the passion and love in Erica’s voice as she laments the loss of this love of her life…”nothing takes the place of you!” Dan’s rocking harp picks up the pace for our next tune, Koko Taylor’s “Ernestine.” Here we find Erica defending her territory and ready to challenge the woman who is after her man. “I told you for the last time….find a man of your own….Ernestine…girl, what you doing you know ain’t right!” Somehow I think Erica will win the battle and successfully kick Ernestine to the curb!

A local bluesman, J.D. Kelly, wrote the song “Dynamite,” and Dan, Erica and the band tackle it next. “Your love’s like fire…the fire get out…come on shake it baby…show me what you got…your love’s like dynamite...if you’re looking for good love…you just might find it!” Tangled Road closes with the Willie Dixon classic, “Wang Dang Doodle,” and the guitar work of Michael Hossler provides the intro to Erica’s vocals, “we going to pitch a ball…down to that union hall…we going to pitch a wang dang doodle…all night long!”

Tangled Road is an excellent representation of the work put in by Dan, the Afrosippi Band and the incomparable Erica Brown. They took Memphis by storm and gained a lot of Blues fans for the “square” state in the process. It was quite the week in Memphis for those of us from Colorado, and we couldn’t be prouder of the performances our IBC entry cranked out. You can grab a copy of this disc on Dan’s website,, and the energy of the entire disc is amazing. Enjoy!

--- Kyle Deibler

EefAt the recent Holley Awards here in Colorado, the artist known as Eef was up for two key awards in songwriting and arranging. While the awards went to Lionel Young, Eef is definitely one of the more introspective songwriters here in Colorado besides being an amazing guitarist. Her latest disc is Bluesalicious --- let’s give it a spin.

The first cut, “We Tried,” is a song of love that just didn’t work out. All of the ingredients seemed to be in place, love, respect and motivation…it just didn’t work it out. Eef’s ES 333 provides the intro, with Gabe Mervine on trumpet, as Eef laments the result. “We both so wanted…we both so wanted…to give it a chance…I’m sorry to say….honey…that holding on just doesn’t make any sense…we tried!”

Eef’s from Amsterdam and her European reticence can be found on our next tune, “You’ll Have to be the One Who Makes the First Move, Baby (if you want me)”. Soulful notes emanate from Eef’s guitar as she sings of her caution in the presence of someone she cares about, “I’ll show you that I like you…I’ll show you I care…I’ve been burned so many times…I will leave it right there…you’ll have to be the one who makes the first step baby…if you want me!” Kenny James’s vocal makes this a duet as he’s as cautious as Eef in proceeding any further. Kenny’s voice is the perfect foil for Eef’s and helps to give this tune a lot of depth…which doesn’t necessarily mean they worked it all out. This is a great tune and probably my favorite one on Eef’s disc.

The horn section of Serafin Sanchez on sax and Gabe Mervine’s trumpet augment punctuated notes on Eef’s Gibson as she examines the fact that her current relationship is questionable in “Something Ain’t Right.” “You got lipstick on your collar…you’ve been staying out all night…something ain’t right. It’s time to kick this one to the curb, Eef. The horn section again provides an enthusiastic intro for Eef’s desire to travel in “No Money for the Bus”, featuring a rap by Soul Daddy. “I need some money…I need some money for the bus….$20 will do…I ain’t asking for much…I need some money…for bus 15…so I can travel to places I’ve never been!”

Our next tune, “Trying to Get Close to You,” finds Eef frustrated as she tries to capture the interest of a man who has caught her eye.” “I’m trying to get close to you…love to have you near…when I move a little closer…oh, you simply disappear…Want to run right to you baby…but it feels like I am standing still…I’m trying to get close to you…but it feels like I am running up the hill!” Jimmy Ayer’s handiwork on the organ provides the backdrop for Eef’s frustration in never being able to catch this man. Ugh!

Passionate tones emanate from Eef’s guitar as she proclaims her love for her man in our next cut, “Your Love Turned Me Blind.” “I find myself…looking for you…every night and I just don’t know what to do…oh how could I have seen….what you were doing to me…oh I…I go out of my mind…your love has turned me blind!” Eef definitely pulled out all the stops with this man who just did not return the love she offered him.

“I Ain’t Gonna Wait Forever”, finds Eef establishing some boundaries with her current love. “I…ain’t gonna wait forever…I ain’t gonna wait…we’ve been seeing each other for so long…I always thought you and I can’t go wrong…but you better start to show me some love…cuz, honey…I’ve waited long enough.” Hopefully this man will step up soon and treat Eef right, she deserves that.

Bluesalicious closes with “Illusion,” a ballad that finds Eef again questioning the integrity of her relationship. “I never thought…I would lose you…never thought I would have to love…over you. Our love’s an illusion!” Sadly, this is another relationship gone bad for Eef and I’m sure it didn’t end well.

Eef’s disc features some outstanding songwriting, excellent support from Denver area musicians Kenny James, Scotty Rivera, Bill Shannon, Billy Pacheco, Jimmy Ayers, Serafin Sanchez, Gabe Mervine and the rap by Soul Daddy. While I’ve not had the pleasure of hearing all of the Blues bands in Colorado perform yet, Eef’s guitar playing and songwriting have definitely caught my eye. All of Eef’s music can be found on her website,, and I’m sure you will appreciate the songwriting and guitar playing that Eef’s records offer. I’m looking forward to catching another performance of Eef and Blues Express soon, it will be fun!

--- Kyle Deibler

Taylor ScottAs a member of what Chip Eagle affectionately calls “The Tribe,” I’m always curious to see what the next generation of Blues men and Blues women will look like. One I’m following closely out here in Colorado is Taylor Scott of Cheyenne. Taylor’s old band, Another Kind of Magick, made it to the finals at the IBC last year and Taylor has moved on to find his sound in our genre. It’s a sound that’s part Blues, part R & B, part Soul with a dash of Funk thrown in for good measure. Taylor debuts his sound on his new EP, Soul Satisfaction, and it’s a good hint at what’s to come from this Wyoming Bluesman.

The first cut, “What Can I Get for a Dime?,” finds Taylor appreciative of his struggle and content with the knowledge that somehow it will all work out. “And to my heart it don’t matter if you’re broke..I sing because I know…everybody go to let go…I know from where I came…and I don’t need no fame…what can I get for a dime?” It’s no secret that the life of a Bluesman is a hard one, but Taylor chooses to follow his calling and believes it will all work out for the best. dennis

Taylor’s Gibson provides the intro for our next tune, “Learning to Live.” Change is on the horizon and Taylor is looking forward to the new day. “And I know that a life of freedom…ain’t always a life that’s lived with ease…and I know…we got to learn to live so freely so we can be bigger than life…life itself!” Tom Amend on the organ is laying down the perfect background to Taylor’s vocals and the optimism of his lyrics is infectious.

Taylor’s funkier side comes out on our next cut, “Groove I Use,” accompanied by Anthony Zator on trumpet and Kurt Moorehead on the tenor sax. The bottom end with Chris Harris on Bass and Christian Teele on drums is also working hard to make it go. “Leave your cares and worries when you come through the door…I serve all the best and nothing less…you can have all the rest if you want I guess…when we’re just about done…you ask for more…we’re going to drop that beat down to the floor…take off your shoes and feel these blues…your mind’s going to lose…in the grooves I use!”

Nic Clark’s wailing harmonica provides the intense intro on the final cut on this EP, “Bad Spot.” “I’m in a bad spot…got this girl on my mind…and I know she shouldn’t be there…man she’s there all the time!” Taylor’s conflicted about the woman in his life but he’s hanging in there until he figures it all out. Nick is really blowing harp on this tune and I’m very satisfied with the EP and the direction it shows that Taylor Scott’s music is heading in.

I know Taylor to be a very thoughtful, reflective Bluesman who appreciates the history of our genre and Soul Satisfaction shows that he’s learned his lessons well and is looking forward to the future. The best is yet to come for Taylor Scott and I look forward to being around for a long time to come while following the career of this fine Bluesman from Cheyenne, Wyoming. Taylor’s new website is and you can grab a copy of Soul Satisfaction there. He’s currently on the road with Grady Champion, so catch him on the Blues highway if you can, you’ll be in for quite the treat!

--- Kyle Deibler

I first saw Andy T and Nick Nixon at a Galaxy showcase at the IBC two years ago and was immediately impressed with Nick’s vocals and Andy’s guitar playing. My sound guy at the Rum Boogie in the early years told me, “The real blues player will play the three notes he wants you to hear” and Andy definitely does that. Throw in a little guitar help and production guidance from Anson Funderburgh, and the result is almost predictable, a stellar disc with limitless possibilities. The Andy T – Nick Nixon Band’s new release on Delta Grove, Drink Drank Drunk, is one of those, so let’s give it a spin.

Andy’s blistering guitar lead provides the introduction for our first cut, “Midnight Hour”. As Nick tells us, “Midnight is the lonely hour…to be alone…when the one you love…has packed her clothes and gone!” Not sure why she left, but the impact on Nick was devastating before he picked himself up by the bootstraps and resolved to move on. An old school Texas style two-step is next with Nick’s take on “Don’t Touch Me.” “You don’t appreciate…nothing that I do child…take my money…take all my money…with so much pride child…leave me baby…baby….bye, bye…I’m leaving you baby…going to hit that highway back home!” Mournful notes emanate from Andy’s guitar to emphasize Nick’s sadness & resolve at moving on from the woman who obviously did not appreciate him.

The title song, “Drink Drank Drunk,” is up next and it’s just delightful. The impact of drinking is obvious…”sink sank sunk…I keep on pouring them down…until I stink stank stunk…there’s no such thing as last call…I ain’t ever done!” Nick’s on a mission to drink away his pain and is doing a hell of a job at following through by staying…drink…drank…drunk! Oh well, it happens to the best of us.

Christian Dozzler’s magic fingers on the piano provide the intro to our next cut, “No Use Knockin.” Here we find Nick is through with the woman in his life and ready to move on. “No use knocking on my door…cuz it’s all over now…I don’t love you no more!”

Nick is more than happy to move on and he’s asking everyone if they’ve seen the woman he’s fooling around with in “Have You Seen My Monkey.” “Have you seen my monkey…she don’t belong to you…have you seen my monkey…I got her down at the zoo…she’s got the cutest little tail…my monkey’s not for sale!” Nick sounds like a happy man and his monkey definitely has something to do with it. Andy’s rolling on the guitar and all is right with the world! An Andy T original, “Dos Danos,” is up next with Anson taking the lead on the guitar and John Street on the organ. It’s an excellent instrumental and a welcome break from all of Nick’s female problems.

Andy’s back on the lead as Nick tells us about his tough times in “No End to the Blues.” “It seems we’re always paying our dues….there’s no end to the blues!” Amen, brother. You’re preaching to the choir here! Another Andy T original, “On My Way to Texas,” is up next and Nick is paying homage to some of the Lone Star state’s greats here. “Give me some T-Bone, Lightnin’, Frankie Lee too, Gatemouth, Freddie, Albert…were all so cool…I’m on my way to Texas…that’s where I want to be…where there’s wide open spaces…and the people really dig the blues!” Texas is indeed a musical paradise with a long history steeped in the Blues and Andy is recognizing, in part, the years he spent on the road with Guitar Shorty, honing his craft as a guitar player.

Up next is Nick’s take on a Tommy Tucker classic, “Hi-Heel Sneakers.” Anson’s back on lead guitar for this tune and he’s definitely got Nick’s back covered. “Put on your red dress baby…well, we’re going out tonight…you’d better wear some boxing gloves…in case some fool will want to fight!” Hopefully the fight won’t happen and Nick can just enjoy dancing the night away.

A ballad, “Life is Too Short,” is up next and Andy’s mournful tones are definitely front and center, leading the way. “My pretty baby…don’t have eyes for me no more…my pretty baby…she don’t have eyes for me no more…she done packed up all her clothes…and walked right out of my door!” Nick’s time has definitely come to an end with this woman and Nick is right, “Life is too short to worry…too short to sit and cry…I’m going to find me another woman…and kiss my girl goodbye!” Nick’s definitely got the right attitude working here and more power to him.

His wandering eye is apparent to everyone as he sings the lead vocal on a tune he wrote next, “You Look So Good.” “Hey baby, you look so good to me…you’re the prettiest little thing…that I ever did see!” Nick has a rich, full voice and I’m transported back to that stage in Memphis where I saw him sing for the first time. One of Nashville’s best kept secrets, Nick was part of the New Imperials and taught music for the Nashville Parks & Recreation department for over 35 years. Drink Drank Drunk closes with a raucous version of the Ray Charles classic, “I’ve Got a Woman,” and it doesn’t get much better than this!

This collaboration between Andy T and Nick Nixon is delightful and I would imagine they’ll be busy on the festival circuit touring behind this record. I’m sure you can grab a copy in person or reach out to the band’s website,, for your copy. Andy’s great fretwork combined with Nick’s vocals is well captured on this outstanding disc, so capably produced by Anson Funderburgh. Great job everyone!

--- Kyle Deibler

Doug GruenlingI have to admit up front that I’ve never been a huge harp fan. Can’t really say why, it just is what it is. That said, I’m starting to think that Dennis Gruenling is dragging me over to the dark side. His new disc on the Vizztone label, Rockin’ All Day, absolutely was a joy to listen to from beginning to end. I threw it in on the ride to Memphis for the IBC, and it made its way back to my CD player today for a more rigorous listen. Let’s give it a spin.

Dennis’s harp is at the forefront as we kick off his disc with the title track, “Rockin’ All Day.” Here we find Dennis content with the woman in his life and singing her praises to the universe. “Well…early in the morning…around 4 o’clock…I got a gal…that just loves to rock…I started reeling…I started rocking…and we rocked until the break of dawn!” The loving is good and Dennis is very happy to be hanging with this girl! Doug Deming’s fretwork only serves to accent the happiness that Dennis is feeling at finding this girl that seems to be a perfect match for him.

Next up is Shakey Jake Harris’s tune, “Roll Your Moneymaker,” and here we find Dennis getting another great work-out! “Roll your moneymaker….baby don’t you hesitate…roll your money pretty baby…baby don’t you hesitate!” Dennis’s harp work is flawless and his tone is just knocking me out. Our next cut, “The Rev,” has more of a jump blues feel to it and Dennis and the band are just airing it out a bit instrumentally for our enjoyment.

Up next is the band’s take on the Louis Jordan tune, “Saturday Night Fish Fry,” and telling us about the gathering of musicians in New Orleans. “It was rocking…it was rocking…you never seen such coming and shoving…until the break of dawn!” A heckuva of a party, everyone seems to be having a great time at the “Saturday Night Fish Fry!” “One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer” tickles our fancy next, and Dennis is definitely letting the bartender know he’s not in the club for any trouble. “My baby is the reason I’m on this street…I can’t find her and she can’t find me…one scotch, one bourbon and one beer!”

The tempo definitely picks up for our next cut, “She’s so Pretty,” as Dennis shares his woman troubles with us. “You know she’s so pretty…still runs around on me…well, you know you don’t love me…go ahead and leave me be!” Love unrequited is not meant to be and Dennis is right to let this one go.

Dennis’s take on the Carl Perkins tune, “You Can Do No Wrong,” is the next offering on our plate and Dennis is enamored with the woman garnering his attentions at the moment. “Well, you can do me anyway you please…make me get down on my knees…cuz baby, baby…you can do no wrong!” The honeymoon phase will eventually wear off and hopefully Dennis will come to his senses soon.

“It Went Down Easy” finds Dennis telling us about his drink of choice. “Had another little drink….it was pink and sweet…now I’m so tall…can’t see my feet…I’m so blind…can’t find that floor…I swear someone done moved that door…I only meant to get myself in the groove…but I’m so high…man, I’m scared to move!” A fun tune, Dennis sounds like he needs to start cutting back a little bit for the sake of his sanity! “2:22 A.M.” gives the band another chance to stretch out instrumentally with Doug finding some low notes on his guitar to match the mournful tones emanating from Dennis’s harp. I can see these guys in my mind’s eye shutting down the club at 2:00 A.M. with this groove as the bartender has everyone heading out the door.

Devin Neel kicks off our next tune on his snare while Dennis tries to find out what the problem is in “What’s Wrong with Me?” For some reason, Dennis is just not able to win the affections of the woman he’s after and can’t figure out why. “What’s wrong with me…what can I do…to win your trust…your love too!” Our boy is trying hard but it just doesn’t seem like it will work out. She’s still grieving over the loss of her first love and isn’t quite ready for the next man in her life. Hang in there Dennis!

So of course Dennis follows this tune with “Bloodshot Eyes” by Wynonie Harris. “Now, I used to spend my money…to make you look real sweet…wanted to be proud of you…when we walked down the street….don’t roll those bloodshot eyes at me…I can tell…you’ve been out on a spree…don’t roll those bloodshot eyes at me!” Rockin’ All Day follows with a tune by guitarist Doug Deming, “Actin’ Crazy,” “you go your way…and I’ll go mine…it’s too late…too late to apologize…you’ve been actin crazy baby…so it ain’t no big surprise!” For a finale, the band finishes with another instrumental, “Hotso.”

I’ve enjoyed Rockin’ All Day from cover to cover. Dennis Gruenling is indeed a monster harp player, while Doug Deming and the Jewel Tones do a phenomenal job backing Dennis on all of his adventures. You can find Dennis out on the road touring extensively, or grab a copy of this disc on his store link at And yes, you read that right, badassharmonicadotcom! Enjoy!

--- Kyle Deibler

Doug DemingSometimes it takes several listens for me to warm to a disc. Such is the case with Doug Deming & the Jewel Tones' latest release on Vizztone, What’s It Gonna Take. Bandleader Doug Deming honed his performing chops in Detroit before relocating to Florida and has managed to assemble a great band behind him in the Jewel Tones. Andrew Gohman on bass, Devin Neel on drums and the irrepressible Dennis Greunling on harp all work in sync to give the background and depth to Doug’s tunes, highlighting the cleverness of his songwriting and free him up to do what he does best --- lead the band.

We open up with the title cut, “What’s It Gonna Take,” and here we find Doug in limbo, wondering what he needs to do to keep the affections of the woman he loves. “Now I thought I was doing right…work all day long and home at night…build you a house right on the lake…baby, what’s it gonna take?” Doug is doing everything in his power to make this relationship work and her attentions to him seem as flighty as the wind. I’m definitely not sure this one is going to work out.

Our next tune, “Think Hard,” finds Doug in the same dilemma but working from a position of strength. Mournful tones from Dennis’s harp emanate from the background as Doug admonishes this girl to be careful in her words and deeds, “Think hard…there’s just one answer that’s the truth…think hard on it baby…I’m awaiting your reply.” Doug is ready to kick this one to the curb if she doesn’t come clean with him and be straight up. And I don’t think this one is going to make it either. “One Good Reason” finds Doug has already left and really isn’t interested in coming home. “Well…I tried and tried…to treat you right…you came home late…Saturday night…you blew in the door…looking for a fight…and you found one!” All Doug really needs to hear is one good reason to come back home and it just doesn’t seem to be forthcoming. Dennis breaks out a baritone harp and the deep tones he gets from it are blowing me away on this tune. She ultimately does come up with “one good reason” and Doug decides to move back home to her.

Doug’s guitar is front and center as he intros our next cut, “Poison Ivy,” and here we find that Doug can be poisonous to those who come in contact with him. “I’m just like poison ivy…I’ll break out all over you!” Devin’s heavy foot on the bass drum gives our next tune, “An Eye for an Eye”, a solemn background and the tempo slows way down on this one. “You can tell your feelings…and explain your side…but the devil in all people…he will only hide…until it’s time…spread his disease…bring all those praying…down to their knees”. The only way to slow the devil down is to stop him in his tracks and go toe to toe, “an eye for an eye.”

“I Want You to Be My Baby” is the next track on our disc and a wonderful jump blues tune. “I…I want…I want you to be…want you to be my baby!” Dennis is front and center with a long harp run that keeps the tempo up and the place a rocking.

“No Big Thrill” is an original tune by Doug and features Dennis’s mournful harp at the forefront of his story of woe. “Just like throwing a coin…into a dried up well…like living out my sentence…in a 5 x 8 cell…like carrying a mule…to the top of the hill…now loving you baby…was no big thrill!” This relationship of Doug’s is definitely over and he’s ready to move on without a second thought, since in the end, “it was no big thrill!”

I find track eight, “Stay Away,” to be one of Doug’s more interesting tunes. He’s trying to determine if he’s going to continue in his current relationship and can’t seem to make up his mind. “I…I love you pretty baby…don’t know the reason why…you…you, now tell me pretty baby…can you be true?” The answer to this questions holds the answer to Doug’s dilemma, if she can’t be true then she needs to, “stay…stay…stay away!”

We finally find Doug happier and healthier in our next cut, “Lucky Charm.” He’s been loving this woman from afar and now that she’s in need, Doug wants her to, “take my arm…you know I keep you…safe from harm…let me be…your lucky charm…your lucky charm!” Chivalry isn’t dead and Doug is definitely playing the part of a Southern gentleman here.

What’s It Gonna Take closes with a tune about what Doug feels constitutes happiness in his world, “A Pretty Girl (A Cadillac and Some Money)” before the band goes out in rousing fashion with an instrumental tune written by Dennis Gruenling, “Bella’s Boogie.” Here we find Doug’s guitar tones jumping all over the place as Dennis provides the perfect foil with his harmonica. Upbeat and driving along, “Bella’s Boogie” definitely rocks and works well as an appropriate song to end this excellent disc on.

I’ve enjoyed What’s It Gonna Take quite a bit, although it took me awhile to get used to Doug’s vocal stylings. The Jewel Tones are a very tight band and you can hear their experience together on the road throughout this disc. You can catch Doug and the band touring all over the East Coast and can grab a copy of this disc on his website, As a friend of mine likes to say, “It’s tight, right and outasite!”

--- Kyle Deibler


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