Blues Bytes

What's New

May 2008

an associate Order these featured CDs today:

The Mississippi Marvel

JW-Jones Band

Billy Gibson

Frank Carillo

Amos Garrett

Duke Robillard

Eric Lindell

Samuel James

Moreland and Arbuckle

The Mississippi MarvelBroke & Hungry Records out of St. Louis continues its astonishing hot streak with a stunning release from yet another never-before-recorded bluesman from the Mississippi Delta. This one comes with an intriguing twist, however, as the musician featured on B&H’s fifth release is identified only as The Mississippi Marvel. The Marvel is a 78-year-old who has lived a double life as a bluesman and a devout churchgoer. Though he still occasionally plays the juke joints, he now devotes most of his time to his church. Offered the opportunity to record, he agreed on the condition that his name not be revealed to the public until after his death, due to fear of repercussions from his church.

The World Must Never Know features the Marvel in both solo and group settings. Accompanying him on the band tracks are Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, who provides harmonica on one track, the rarely-heard Muddy Waters track, “Waterboy, Waterboy,” Bill Abel, who plays the guitar on the track, and Lightnin’ Malcolm, who plays drums on six tracks. Otherwise, it’s all the Mississippi Marvel’s show. His guitar work is raw and edgy, and his vocals are powerful and expressive. The tracks occasionally teeter on the border of chaos, as the Marvel’s guitar sometimes wanders in and out of tune, but this is the Mississippi Delta blues at its most primal. On some tracks, you can hear the raucous crowd of farmers and day laborers that wandered into the juke joint to escape a rain and even the occasional train passing through.

The songs are mostly familiar fare, with tracks like Albert King’s “Laundromat Blues,” “.44 Blues,” Little Walter’s “Everything’s Gonna Be All Right,” “Catfish Blues,” “Stoop Down, Mama,” and “Feel Like Layin’ Down,” but they’re all given the country blues treatment with satisfying results, particularly the previously urban “Laundromat Blues,” and “Everything’s Gonna Be All Right.” Another rarely heard cover is the album’s closer, Lightnin’ Hopkins’ “No Mail Blues.”

The Marvel is credited with composing three tracks. The hard-driving “Hard Pill To Swallow” is one of the best performances on the disc. “Kankakee” is a raggedy but charming romp, and “Feel Like Layin’ Down” is a strong, traditional-sounding number.

It adds up to another winner for Broke & Hungry Records, easily one of the best blues labels to come down the pipe in a long time. Expect blues fans everywhere to be repeating the cover blurb, “Who is the Mississippi Marvel?”

--- Graham Clarke

T-Model FordThe incomparable T-Model Ford returns to the recording scene for the first time in over five years with jack daniel time, the first release by Athens, GA-based Mudpuppy Recordings. This session, recorded at Red’s Lounge in Clarksdale, MS, is also Ford’s recording debut on acoustic guitar and features a stellar cast of Mississippi Delta musicians (Sam Carr and Lee Williams on drums, Terry “Harmonica” Bean on harmonica, and Bill Abel on second guitar for one track) providing support.

Ford’s blues are as basic as it gets, but he not only counts the Delta as an influence, but also the Mississippi hill country, and even further north to Chicago. Considering he’s in his mid-80s (or older, he’s not sure of his exact birth date), his picking is surprisingly intricate at times (most notably on the solo acoustic tracks like “Rock Me Baby”) and his vocals are as strong as ever.

As might be expected, the tracks featuring the band are mostly hard-rocking shuffles, the best of which is the wonderful instrumental, “Red’s Houseparty,” which features some fantastic harp by Bean, and “Hi-Heel Sneakers.” Ford’s solo acoustic tracks, like the aforementioned “Rock Me Baby” and “Mistreatin’ Woman,” show that there’s much more to his style than the raw, jagged electric chords heard on his Fat Possum output.

The venerable Sam Carr provides his usual rock-solid support on drums, and young Williams shows himself to be a worthy heir to Carr’s legacy. Bean quite simply should be better known than he is and hopefully will get his opportunity before a wider audience one day soon.

Ford actually didn’t record until the late ’80s, when he appeared on the late Roosevelt “Booba” Barnes’ The Heartbroken Man album, then signed with Fat Possum in his early 70s for a very productive five-year period that brought him a little recognition and fame. Fortunately, jack daniel time shows that he’s still in fine form and has plenty left to say. Fans of the downhome, ragged blues of the Mississippi Delta will absolutely love this one.

--- Graham Clarke

JW-Jones BandJW-Jones’ latest release, Bluelisted (NorthernBlues) features Jones teaming up with two noteworthy guests, Little Charlie Baty and Junior Watson, for a solid set of guitar-driven blues. Jones’ four previous releases have all been pretty strong and diverse sets, considering he’s only 27 years old. The urban, sophisticated blues are his specialty, but he’s also capable of getting down in the alley as well with his considerable guitar chops and his smooth, refined vocals. Bluelisted stands out as his best set to date.

Though Jones has guitar chops to burn, he almost underplays at times, preferring to let the song carry the day. There are no wasted notes, no endlessly meandering solos. In addition, Jones wrote all but four of the songs here and he’s as good with a pen as he is with a guitar. Highlights of the originals include “Can’t Play A Playboy,” “Wasted Life,” “The Doctor,” and “Out of Service Blues,” which features Watson on guitar and Baty on harmonica. “Bogart Bounces Again” features some of Jones’ best guitar work as well.

All of the tracks featuring Jones, Baty, and Watson are first-rate, but the jazzy instrumental “Heavy Dosage” really gives them all room to stretch out. Amazingly, this album marks the first time Watson and Baty have ever played together on a recording. Hopefully, it won’t be the last.

The cover tunes include a jump-blues take on “Double Eyed Whammy,” and a fast and furious take on Richard Berry’s “Mad About You.” Happily, rather than digging out the same old, same old B. B. King tunes that have been done to death, Jones tackles a couple of rarely-heard King tunes, “That’s Wrong, Little Mama” (featuring a scorching break from Baty), and “Waiting On You.”

Lending strong support on the disc are current Hollywood Blue Flames drummer Richard Innes and bassist Larry Taylor, and Jones’ bandmates, bassist Martin Regimbald and drummer Jeff Asselin. Keyboard whiz Jesse Whiteley makes the most of his appearances as well.

Blues guitar fans will enjoy Bluelisted for sure, but there’s something for everyone on this top-notch release.

--- Graham Clarke

Billy GibsonIf you’ve heard a blues disc recorded in Memphis over the past few years, chances are that Billy Gibson was on it. The Clinton, MS native started out playing in Clarksdale with Johnny Billington and Bobby Little in Billington’s group, the Midnighters. After moving to Memphis, he took up residence at Beale Street and even absorbed some jazz influences from Pete Pedersen. He’s appeared on dozens of releases over the past few years and has received numerous awards, including Beale Street Entertainer of the Year in 2005. He was also part of the recent Bluzapalooza tour in Iraq and Kuwait with Bobby Rush and Janiva Magness.

Gibson has released five CDs under his own name, but his most recent effort is a DVD that captured his performance at the 2007 North Atlantic Blues Festival in Rockland, Maine. Entitled The Prince of Beale Street (North Atlantic Blues Records), the DVD features Gibson with his crack band (David Bowen – guitar, vocals; James Jackson – bass; Cedric Keel – drums, vocals) roaring their way through a lively and intense six song set. Memphis keyboard whiz Charlie Wood also joins in on the fun.

Gibson’s skills on the harp are unquestionable and he’s also a strong vocalist, but most of all he is a master showman who really knows how to work a crowd. The opening cut, a high-energy take on his own “Down Home” really sets the pace for the whole show. Guitarist Bowen wrote the old school “Keep Doin’ What Ya Doin’.” The final four tracks are all crowd-pleasing covers, the highlights being the extended version of Eddie Taylor’s “Bad Boy,” and Tony Joe White’s “Pork Salad Annie.”

The well-done DVD captures the festival scene perfectly, with lots of shots interspersed throughout the performance of people dancing and having fun. It’s obvious that a great time was had by all and the 57- minute running time seems to fly by before you know it. If you’re not familiar with Billy Gibson, The Prince of Beale Street is a good place to start.

--- Graham Clarke

Frank CarilloFrank Carillo first made his mark in the music business by adding his distinctive guitar style to a couple of Peter Frampton’s early ’70s albums. He formed the band Doc Holiday not long after that and later toured as a solo with the J. Geils Band, Cheap Trick, Tom Petty, and Van Halen. He’s also written songs for Carly Simon, Joan Jett, and the British model/singer/actress Twiggy. In the ’90s, Carillo teamed up with singer Annie Golden and created the duo Golden Carillo, which recorded two albums and toured extensively overseas.

Most recently, Carillo formed a new band called Frank Carillo and the Bandoleros, which features Carillo on guitar, harmonica, laud (a 12-string guitar from Spain), and vocals, along with Norman DelTufo (percussion/backing vocals), Eddie Seville (drums/backing vocals), Karl Allweier (upright bass/backing vocals), and Carillo’s brother Andrew on guitar. Their second release for Jezebel Records, Someday, is a powerful mix of blues, roots-rock, and folk.

Carillo writes compelling songs, such as the opener, “Roll The Bones,” “Gotta Be You,” “The Way Out,” and the cool track, “Eastern Time.” The title track has a swamp blues feel to it, as does the eerie “Darkness Everywhere.” He has a strong Springsteen quality to his vocals, and his guitar work is superlative. The band provides stellar support and legendary Texas keyboard player Augie Meyers (Bob Dylan, Texas Tornadoes, Sir Douglas Quintet, John Hammond) joins in on four tracks.

If you like your blues mixed with a healthy dose of heartland roots-rock, Frank Carillo & the Bandoleros’ Someday will fit you like a glove.

--- Graham Clarke

Amos GarrettI have to admit that I was excited when I found out that Amos Garrett was going to release a Percy Mayfield tribute album. Mayfield is one of my favorite songwriters, having penned such classic tunes as “Hit The Road Jack” and “Please Send Me Someone To Love.” Mayfield was emerging as a star on the R&B circuit until his performing career was tragically cut short after he was disfigured in an automobile accident in the early ’50s. Though he performed very little after the accident, he still wrote hundreds of songs, which were recorded by hundreds of musicians, and earned the nickname “Poet Laureate of the Blues.” Today, it’s hard to find a blues artist who hasn’t recorded one of Mayfield’s songs.

Garrett is as underrated a performer as Mayfield was in his time. Over the past forty years, his guitar work has graced songs by artists like Stevie Wonder, Emmylou Harris, Jessie Winchester, Geoff Muldaur, and Anne Murray. He’s probably best known for his awesome one-take solo on Maria Muldaur’s “Midnight At The Oasis,” but he’s had a lengthy solo career as well, recording with Stony Plain since the mid ’80s. His latest release for Stony Plain, Get Way Back: A Tribute To Percy Mayfield, ranks with his best.

Mayfield’s songs, probably due to his misfortunes, always seemed to have a dark nature to them, as he battled alcoholism for most of his life, as well as a reluctance to perform due to his disfigurement. Garrett takes 11 of Mayfield’s songs, wisely omitting “Hit The Road, Jack” and “Please Send Me Someone To Love” in favor of some of Mayfield’s lesser-known songs. There are some familiar tunes here, such as “My Jug and I,” “Stranger In My Hometown,” “River’s Invitation,” and “Lost Mind.”

Garrett’s warm baritone is put to excellent use on these songs, as he injects the right amount of humor and warmth into the lyrics. His guitar work, always understated and supple, is the perfect complement to his vocals. He also gets magnificent support from Bucky Berger (drums), Victor Bateman (string bass), Ken Whiteley (piano), Ron Casat (Hammond organ), Dave Babcock (saxes, arrangements), and Alistair Elliott (trumpet).

Get Way Back is a wonderful tribute to a long-underappreciated composer. Hopefully, like the best tribute albums, it will send you off in search of recordings by the original artist, as well as the current one.

--- Graham Clarke

Duke RobillardDuke Robillard has long been recognized as one of contemporary blues’ finest guitarists. He’s a perennial candidate and frequent winner of the Handy Awards’ “Best Blues Guitarist.” He’s a founding member of Roomful of Blues and also served as a guitarist in the post-Jimmie Vaughan Fabulous Thunderbirds. As a solo artist, he has dabbled not only in blues, but jazz, swing, rock and roll, and even rockabilly. His latest venture, on Stony Plain Records, finds him mixing blues and jazz with A Swingin' Session With Duke Robillard.

Teaming up with his usual group of musicians (Mark Teixeira – drums, Marty Ballou – bass, Bruce Katz – keyboards, and “Sax” Beadle), Robillard also welcomes former Roomful members Al Basile (cornet), Doug James (baritone sax), and Carl Querfurth (trombone). Longtime musical partner Scott Hamilton also appears on tenor sax. All make significant contributions, but Katz’s keyboard work stands out on track after track.

The set includes eight well-chosen covers, a combination of mid-tempo blues, jump tunes, and standards which include “Deed I Do,” Ray Charles’ “Them That Got,” “They Raided The Joint,” and “Meet Me At No Special Place.” Robillard contributes two tasty instrumentals, “Red Dog,” which reminded me a lot of Calvin Newborn’s more recent work, and the T-Bone-esque “Swinging With Lucy Mae.”

Robillard has long maintained that there’s a thin line between blues and jazz. Indeed, many of the legends of jazz were equally adept at playing the blues. Listening to A Swingin' Session makes you feel that the line is so thin as to be transparent. Blues and jazz guitar fans will want to get their hands on this one.

--- Graham Clarke

Eric LindellEric Lindell is just one of those artists who grow on you. I had the opportunity to meet Eric at last year’s Blues Music Awards and it was a treat to see him perform live at Telluride’s Blues & Brews Festival last fall as well. He definitely is the “old soul” I’ve said he was, but he continues to produce great music. His latest Alligator release, Low on Cash, Rich on Love, is proof of that.

“Lay Back Down” finds Eric letting his woman know that he’s in it for the long haul. “Ain’t no use in trying…ain’t no use in denying what’s going on here…how can a good thing be wrong…minutes turn to hours, hours turn to days…and days…they turn into years…I’ll be doggone if I let you slip away…so lay back…lay back down.” Eric’s not going anywhere…and neither should you! The inspiration for the album title, “Low on Cash,” is next. Eric’s not pretentious, he is what he is. “I might not have or possess the things…you might be looking for….low on cash, I’m low on change…rich in love and other things.” “Low on Cash” has a funky back beat to it and you can definitely feel the New Orleans vibe in this song.

Mark Adam’s keys are featured prominently in the next song, “Josephine,” one of Eric’s long past loves. “Girl, you know you can’t lose what you never had…a girl becomes a woman…who could ever tell…but I remember you baby…I remember you so well.” Blake Nolte kicks in with a wicked sax solo and I’m left to wonder if Eric is over Josephine or not, “I guess I was a blind man…but now I plainly see…I’m the one for you…I’m the one for you, sweet Josephine!” “Mind Your Business” finds Eric questioning his status with his current love. “Baby mind your business…maybe your baby’s business is better left alone…maybe your baby’s business is better left unknown.” Either way you look at it, Eric is confused as we are with this situation.

“Tell me what more can I say…what more can I do…what more can I say…what more can I do…to prove my love baby…is tried and true?” Eric is definitely in love on “Tried and True” but he has to work for it and that’s not a bad thing. Next up is the only non-original on the disc, “Lady Jay and John Coltrane,” by Scott Heron. It fits in nicely with Eric’s view of the world, “plastic people…plastic minds…living out their daily plastic lives…baby…you’ve been living in the dark…its time for you to step back out into the light…would you call on Lady Jay or John Coltrane?” Within the song Eric pay homage to one of his idols, Junior Wells, and blows a mean harmonica to boot. I’ve not seen Eric play harp before but you can definitely hear he knows his way around the Mississippi saxophone.

“What I Got” finds Eric telling a past love that when she really stops to think about their relationship, she’s definitely going to miss him. Jimmy Carpenter brings his sax to the forefront with a solo here as Eric laments the fact this relationship is over. “Baby, I ain’t got a lot…but when I hit the road…baby, you’re going to miss what I got…you’re going to miss the way my heart breaks in two…you’re going to miss me when I’m gone…but not half as much as I’ll miss you.” This was a good relationship, so why is it ending? We find in “It’s My Pleasure” that Eric will do whatever he can to keep his current woman happy. “It’s a funny thing baby…that we got going on here…I would do most anything baby…anything you want baby….its my pleasure.”

The spirit of New Orleans funk makes another appearance in “It’s a Pity” as Eric laments the state of the Crescent City. “It’s a pity…the state of our city…all the people in your neighborhood…people on your block…they’re still in shock…they’re going to come back strong…it’s a pity…save our city!” More harp work by Eric provides the introduction to “I Got a Girl.” “I got a girl…a girl named Susie Q…but Susie…Susie…she’s got it bad for me and you…you know a mellow fellow like me and a girl like Sue…will never do”. At least Eric knows this and can move on. “I Got a Girl” displays more of Eric’s harp work and reinforces just how talented a musician he is.

“It’s You” finds Eric settling into his current relationship for the long haul. “Girl, it’s you…you know there ain't never been nobody…nobody like you…and my emotions override…the things I do, girl…it’s you”. We close out this remarkable record with Eric on the other end of the stick in “All Night Long”. “And baby…it don’t make no kind of sense…but sure enough baby…you’ve got me backed up against this fence…again…and I wait all night long…on your loving.” Evidently he’s going to keep waiting…and waiting.

There’s no doubt that Eric Lindell is a very talented artist surrounded by a very strong cast of characters in his band. The musicianship on this record is outstanding and you hear that in spades. Eric’s not a bluesman, though he has blues roots…but no matter what you want to call him, there’s no denying the strength of his vision for the music he loves to perform. Eric’s a very rare artist in today’s sea of homogeneity so see him live when you can and enjoy Low on Cash, Rich in Love when you can’t.

--- Kyle Deibler

Dan TreanorVisions of two old bluesmen on the back porch of a juke deep in the Delta wanders through my mind’s eye as I listen to the newest release by Colorado Bluesman Dan Treanor, the eclectic Brothers, Blood & Bones (Plan-It). Perhaps I should say two new, old bluesmen on the back porch of a juke. Dan’s current collaboration with Jack Hadley is the latest in series of explorations of what Dan calls “Afrosippi Blues” and continues the musical journey begun in Dan’s two previous releases, African Wind and Mercy.

Dan’s concept is simple in theory, complex in its execution. He marries the use of ancient African instruments, such as the Khalam and Ngoni, with modern interpretations of traditional styles that have helped to bring a breath of fresh air to blues as we know it. His partnership with Jack Hadley enables Dan to bring to the forefront his skills as a harp player on this new release. “Hard Luck Child” kicks off the record with Dan playing both banjo and harmonica. They provide the right sense of desperation as Jack lets us know that he’s “down in the bottle…can’t find my way back up…I’ve been down here so long…Lord, I think I’m stuck!” A hard luck child he is and hopefully he’ll find his way out. Flute, drums and Dan’s harp all lend a tribal feel to the next cut, “I Wish You Would.” Jack’s woman has left him and the pain he feels is tearing at him. “Come back baby…give me one more chance…you know I still love you…want to give you romance…come back baby, I wish you would…love you real strong like a good man should!” If you’d done that in the first place Jack, she wouldn’t have run away.

“Deeper and Deeper” finds Jack in the midst of deep depression. “Deeper and deeper…into the well I go…deeper and deeper…I’m moving too slow…what did I do before the darkness came?, I just don’t know.” I’m depressed just listening to Dan’s harp in the background as Jack bemoans his fate. Nicely done. Sonic tones emit from Jack’s guitar as the tempo picks up in “Help Me.” He’s an accomplished guitarist and his work on this album is stellar. Dan and Jack are accompanied by the rhythm section of Gary Flori on drums and percussion and bassist Jody Woodward. The back end is rhythmic and tight, just like it needs to be. “Help me, baby…can’t do it all by myself…don’t want to help, Lord…I’ve found myself somebody else!”

“Brothers, Blood & Bone” surprises me with its almost reggae feel. “But find the time to teach your children well…will they learn…only time will tell…after all is said and done…we’re all brothers, blood & bone.” I appreciate Dan’s harp work on this song and the reverb I can hear in the right channel is a nice touch. “Water from the Well” is a country blues song and continues the light mood found in the previous cut. “Going to take my baby…to my favorite fishin hole…going to pack a little lunch…and down the road we go.” A darker mood returns in “Callin’ Out Your Name.” “Can you feel me?’re deep in my soul…if you feel me…don’t leave me on hold!” A vocal choir consisting of Delores Scott, Sky Downing and Christine Webb makes a surprise appearance and contributes a gospel touch to Jack’s query.

“It’s a Blues Thing” pays homage to the bluesmen of the Delta. “Over in the corner…sitting on a chair…a funky old man with snow white hair…the music is grooving…it touches his soul…so he picks up his harp and he starts to blow.” I don’t know if Dan needed that much introduction but in another 20 years he’ll be that old man in the corner, blowin on his harp. Country blues comes at us again in the form of the gospel flavored “The Other Side.” “When the time comes…I’ll cross to the other side…lay me down…beneath the big oak tree…with a banjo by my side…when the time comes…I’ll cross to the other side. Our vocal choir is back in full force as Jack contemplates life in the hereafter.

“You and Me” finds Jack reaching out in the spirit of brotherhood to the world. “All over the world…people want the same thing…all over the world…you’d better tell the children…somebody better help me…to find my way…to believe in you…like you believe in me!” This spirit of brotherhood is contrasted with conflict on the next cut, “The War.” “Oil for guns and money…it’s a policy of state…suicide bombers…just another form of hate!” Haunting harp work by Dan echos the feeling of desperation conveyed by the knowledge that in parts of the world, we’re just not getting it right. “We’ve really done it this time…we live in a world of hurt!”

Treanor, Hadley and company close out what has been another very interesting project with their version of the Blind Lemon Jefferson classic, “See that My Grave is kept Clean.” The inclusion of radio commentary on casualties in Iraq at the end of this tune is just another example of the intricate details that can be found within the tapestry of a Dan Treanor project.

I find that Dan Treanor is true to his vision of what he wants his music to sound like, call it “Afrosippi Blues” or give it another name if you’d like, but give Dan credit for the way in which he presents his music to you. His last album, Mercy, was an absolutely brilliant record from beginning to end. Brothers, Blood & Bone is surprising in the amount of social commentary it presents to us, but that’s really what the blues is all about. And the more I listen to Dan Treanor’s music, the more I appreciate the details found in its presentation. I’m sure this Colorado bluesman is never going to garner the appreciation his music truly deserves, but do yourself a favor. Pick up a copy of Brothers, Blood & Bone and give it a real listen. You’ll hear a record that is rich in the details, true to its origins and amazingly contemporary in its sound. You’ll also hear an amazing bluesman true to his inspiration; it doesn’t get any better than that.

--- Kyle Deibler

Samuel JamesSongs Famed for Sorrow & Joy (Northern Blues) is the debut CD of Samuel James, an exciting blues artist who is refreshingly different.

James manages to combine the style of Robert Johnson with the New Millenium, and he does it so well. He plays some lovely slide guitar to accompany his vocals on tracks like “Big Black Ben” and he picks some great guitar to go with tracks such as "Sugar Smallhouse Heads For The Hills”– at times he sounds like Bob Dylan might if he played pure blues.

This man is a story-teller as well as a musician, and all 12 of the tracks on the album are his own and each tells a story in its own right (much like the early Bob Dylan material). It’s maybe not the sort of album that you fall in love with first time around – it needs a few listens to get to grips with what this man is doing. But once you get into it, you’re captured and just want to listen more and more.

There are so many influences here, and I’ve probably missed a lot of them, but I would hazard a guess at Robert Johnson, Big Joe Williams, Son House, Bob Dylan, Bukka White, and Fred McDowell. The mix is compelling, addictive, and delicious – the instrumental “Wooooo Rosa” just blew me away and I would personally buy this CD for this track on its own. That track and “Running from my Baby’s Gun” are just so incredibly good --- technically, musically, and every other way.

There are a couple of tracks that weren’t altogether to my taste, but the good tracks override these by such a large margin that it’s irrelevant.

Get this CD and listen to “Woooooo Rosa,” “Running From My Bay’s Gun” and “The Sad Ballad Of Ol Willie Cahan” – I can guarantee that you’ll be pleased you listened.

--- Terry Clear

Moreland and Arbuckle1861 is the debut album for Moreland & Arbuckle on the Northern Blues label, their previous output being on the Uncle Larry and Top Tone labels.

Although the name suggests a duo, this band is a trio and they play old style hill-country and Delta blues (and some Chicago blues, too). Pretty good for a bunch of guys from Kansas! The Line-up is Aaron Moreland (guitar), Dustin Arbuckle (harmonica & vocals) and Brad Horner (drums), and the three of them gel together pretty well. Incidentally, the title of the album, 1861 refers to the year that Kansas officially became a state.

The slide guitar work here is great and the album sensibly opens with some great slide from Aaron Moreland, who plays everything from the National steel to cigar box guitars. He and vocalist (and harmonica player) Dustin Arbuckle wrote the original tracks between them, with a lot of obvious influence from the North Mississippi Allstars, R.L.Burnside and Junior Kimbrough's music --- the covers include Hound Dog Taylor's ''Gonna Send You Back to Georgia,'' R.L. Burnside's ''See My Jumper'' and Ryan Taylor’s “Pittsburgh in The Morning.”

Usually (although not always), when there’s a mix of originals and covers on an album, the originals generally are the better material. In the case of this album that’s not the case, although the covers are very well picked.

The music might possibly be a little heavy for some blues purists, but for anyone who likes Hill Country music from the likes of R.L.Burnside, Junior Kimbrough and, latterly, Buddy Guy, this is a definite CD to buy.

If I have to pick a favourite, then it has to be their version of Burnside’s “Jumper On The Line” – not because it’s the best track here, but because it’s such an old favourite of mine!. However, it was a very close thing with the acoustic “Teasin’ Doney” and “Please, Please Mammy.”

Great CD – I’ll be playing this for a long time to come!

--- Terry Clear

Ari BorgerAB-4 (ST2 Records) is an unusual album, a mix of Blues, Jazz, Soul and Latin music. Ari Borger is from Brazil, and is widely regarded in his home country as being one of the leading players of piano and organ. He certainly has a very wide repertoire, and includes a tremendous amount of influences and inspirations in his music. This is the first that I’ve heard of his music and I have to admit to being impressed by his technical skill and his feel for music on this CD – which is mainly instrumental, by the way.

The album opens with “Trip Song,” one of six original compositions by Ari Borger, a mainly piano-based jazz/blues fusion that is both easy to listen to and very enjoyable. Another Borger original follows, this time with more of a blues groove – it’s called “Na Pressāo” and it showcases some nice laid back guitar work by the well known Brazilian guitarist Celso Salim. This is, without a doubt, my favourite track on this CD!

Some cover versions follow up – with tracks written by Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, Horace Silver and Theolonius Monk – they are all bang on target and well executed, albeit more jazz than blues – obvious, really, from the list of songwriters!

The Horace Silver track, “Señor Blues,” has jazz mixed with Bossa Nova and some blues riffs – a nice mix that I would think Horace Silver would approve of. The following track, a Borger original called “Acid Groove,” I immediately assumed that I wouldn’t like. The name put me off straight away – how wrong could I be? This is full of atmosphere and feeling, more blues than jazz, with some more excellent guitar by Celso Salim – he and Ari Borger seem to work really well together and it would be great to hear a whole album of blues with this pair!

This isn’t a CD to buy if you’re looking for strictly blues, but it is a good CD to have in your collection if your taste in music is a little bit varied.

Have a listen anyway, and see what you think

--- Terry Clear


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