Blues Bytes

What's New

May 2012

an associate Order these featured CDs today:

The Nighthawks

Tricia Freeman

The 44s

Dave Perkins

Brad Vickers

John Earl Walker

JT Coldfire

The BlueCats

Walter Trout

Victor Wainwright

Kilborn Alley

Peter Karp - Sue Foley


The Nighthawks

D.C.-based The Nighthawks have been around just about as long as any blues band out there right now. I was watching them in the mid-'70s, and they weren't exactly new on the Washington area music scene then. Only one member, bandleader and harmonica player extraordinaire Mark Wenner, remains from the early lineups, but guitarist Paul Bell and upright bassist Johnny Castle have been around long enough to achieve veteran status with the band. The newest member is Mark Stutso, filling the big shoes of longtime drummer/vocalist Pete Ragusa.

Their latest CD, Damn Good Time! (Severn Records), is another in a long line of solid recordings. What can you say --- these cats just know how to play the blues in their own unique way.

Damn Good Time! kicks off with Wenner's harmonica introduction to Elvis Presley's "Too Much," which features the rest of the band providing backing harmony vocals, giving the song kind of a rockabilly - doo wop fusion. They then kick into the driving "Who You're Workin' For," originally written and recorded by Billy Price on his now out of print Free At Last album.

Castle handles the vocals on his own composition, "Bring Your Sister," a spirited romp that includes a red hot harp solo from Wenner and Bell's rockabilly blues licks. Wenner also gets to flex his harmonica chops on Jimmy McCracklin's "Georgia Slop."

Wenner again borrows from the Billy Price songbook for "Night Work," slowing down the tempo a little for a nice, mid-tempo blues shuffle featuring good blues guitar from Bell.

One of the coolest cuts here is the version of Charles Calhoun's "Smack Dab In The Middle," also covered by the likes of Ray Charles, Ry Cooder and Count Basie, among others. The Nighthawk's version gives the band another chance to harmonize behind Wenner while the bandleader also inserts some good harmonica riffs.

This version of The Nighthawks is doing their best to keep the band's long tradition moving forward. In many ways, they're different from the lineup (Thackery - Wenner - Ragusa - Zukowski) that I watched for so many years --- I still find myself yearning for Ragusa's soulful vocals which was the perfect counterpart to Wenner's more gravelly voice. But the similarity between this band and its predecessors is that these cats are still putting out some mighty fine music, keeping The Nighthawks brand alive. And that's a very good thing.

--- Bill Mitchell

Tricia FreemanAn album that really caught me by surprise is the self-released Everyone Can See, from Southern California singer/guitarist/songwriter Tricia Freeman. With roots in both Texas and Kansas, Ms. Freeman has a strong, raspy voice with Joplin-esque qualities. It's a bit of an uneven album in that I don't think that some of the material suits her as well as other selections, and the accompaniment sounds a little too canned on those cuts. But when Freeman cuts loose the sass and the band starts to cook, she shows the potential to be an artist to be reckoned with in the future.

All but one selection on Everyone Can See is a Freeman original, showing that the girl's a strong songwriter in addition to being a very nice singer. The lone cover, "Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean" is well-chosen and suits her well.

Freeman turns up the intensity on the three best cuts, "Going Back," "Time To Call A Friend," and "You'll Fall In Love With Me," with the backing band, led by the excellent guitarist K.K. Martin, providing spirited accompaniment. "You'll Fall In Love With Me" is also highlighted by Kerry Chester's Hammond B3 solo.

Just when you figure out that Ms. Freeman likes to rock the blues, she turns into a sultry vamp on the jazzy "Everyone Can See." It's a very impressive way to bring the album to a conclusion, especially with Chris Whynaught's tasteful clarinet playing.

Everyone Can See just begins to show the Tricia Freeman's potential, and I think her best album is yet to come. I'll be waiting for it.

For more info, check out Freeman's website.

--- Bill Mitchell

All Jams On DeckAll Jams on Deck is a new documentary filmed by Robert Mugge (Deep Blues, Gospel According to Al Green, Last of the Mississippi Jukes, Hellhounds On My Trail: The Afterlife of Robert Johnson, Big Shoes: Walking and Talking the Blues) that focuses on blues jamming. The film takes place during the 2010 Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise and has been nominated for Best DVD for the upcoming Blues Music Awards.

All Jams on Deck features a powerhouse assembly of musicians that will be familiar to most blues fans. Performers like Tommy Castro, Elvin Bishop, Marcia Ball, Kim Wilson, Johnny and Edgar Winter, Larry McCray, Lee Oskar, Coco Montoya, Rick Estrin, Jimmy Thackery, John Nemeth, Sista Monica Parker, Vasti Jackson, Eden Brent, and dozens more perform and share their thoughts on the history, techniques and even proper etiquette of blues jamming. Also featured in discussion are Sirius XM Radio’s Bluesville Program Director Bill Wax and blues and jazz historian and producer Bob Porter.

Among the highlight performances are Castro’s take on the Albert Collins classic, “A Good Fool Is Hard To Find,” Marcia Ball covering the Duke Records standard “I Woke Up Screaming,” Coco Montoya’s “Last Dirty Deal,” Kim Wilson leading a harmonica-based jam, and the Lowrider Band’s (previously the band , War) “Lowrider Jam.”

Other performances include Bishop redoing his hit, “Fooled Around and Fell In Love” (with Nemeth on lead vocals), then joining the Winter brothers for another jam, and a keyboard jam that features Eden Brent, Leon Blue, Steve Willis, and Kelley Hunt. There are also some demonstration sessions featuring various instruments, such as guitar (led by Vasti Jackson and Laith Al-Saadi), harmonica (led by Wilson and Lee Oskar), and piano (featuring Commander Cody and Rev. Billy C. Wirtz).

All Jams on Deck was originally available as a souvenir for Blues Cruisers (who have been enjoying these late night “pro jam” sessions for years), but has now been made available at the Blues Cruise website for all blues fans for just the cost of shipping ($5.95) …… not a bad deal for over an hour and a half of fantastic blues music.

--- Graham Clarke

The 44sThe 44s have been tearing up Southern California since 2007 with their torrid mix of Chicago and West Coast blues. Last year, they branched out with their well-received debut release, Boogie Disease, and nationwide touring. Their sophomore effort, Americana (Rip Cat Records), offers up more of the same, which in this case is not a bad thing at all. The 44s (Johnny Main – vocals, guitar, Tex Nakamura – harmonica, Mike Turturro – bass, J. B. Lozano – drums) know what to do and they do it well, with more than capable assistance from veteran sax man Ron Dziubla and producer/monster guitarist Kid Ramos of Fabulous T-Birds and Los Fabulocos fame.

The 44s wrote all but two of the 13 tracks and they are strong from top to bottom. The opener, “Hanging Tree,” boogies furiously. “Cocaine” is another highlight, lyrically and with Nakamura’s stellar harp work. “Dixie” ventures into rockabilly territory with an irresistible beat. “She’s Poison” sounds like a long-lost track from a ’50s session at Chess Records, while “Pleading My Case” oozes Elmore James from every pore, thanks to Ramos’ first-rate slide guitar.

“Mr. Operator” is a slow blues that allows Main to step out on guitar as he impresses mightily with some fine string-bending of his own. “Slip Slidin’ Thang” offers up some more slide guitar playing, this time from Main. “Hard Times” is a nice acoustic change of pace, and the closer, “Hold On” allows everybody a chance at the spotlight on their respective instruments. The 44’s also offer choice covers of Willie Dixon’s “You’ll Be Mine” and Howlin’ Wolf’s “Mr. Highway Man.”

Kid Ramos’ production work is top of the line and his guitar work is a perfect complement to the band’s tough blues and boogie sound. For fans of West Coast or Chicago blues, The 44’s latest will be hard to top.

--- Graham Clarke

Dave PerkinsI was completely blown away by Dave Perkins’ previous release, Pistol City Holiness, from 2009, nearly running out of synonyms for the word “hot” when I was writing it up for the July 2009 issue of Blues Bytes. I had wondered recently what the Nashville-based artist had planned for an encore when Deadline: Music from the Movie (Lugnut Music) arrived on my doorstep. Deadline is a mystery flick about a pair of reporters from Nashville travelling to rural Alabama to investigate the 20 year old murder of an African-American youth.

In making the music for the soundtrack, Perkins combines traditional sounds with contemporary, similar to the feel of the movie itself and reminiscent of the soundtrack work of Ry Cooder. On paper, this shouldn’t be an issue for Perkins….he’s worked over the years with a diverse set of artists which includes country singer Jerry Jeff Walker, songwriter Carole King, blues and jazz fiddler Papa John Creach, Americana songster Guy Clark, rock bands Chagall Guevara and Passfist, bluegrass legend Vassar Clements, and Ray Charles. In reality, it isn’t an issue at all.

Perkins includes a couple of tracks from Pistol City Holiness on the soundtrack, the churning blues rockers “Revival” and “Break.” Among the new songs, the standouts include the inspirational and soulful “Redeemed,” the country-flavored title track (with harp from T.J. Klay and keyboards from Reese Wynans), and the Southern rocker “What It Is.” Rounding out the set are a half dozen or so musical interludes from the movie that encompass various genres and therefore various moods in the movie, ranging from the wild and loose rock/blues of “Amos Medley” to the more traditional “Fife and Drum.”

According to the credits, Perkins plays roughly a hundred different instruments….not really; the actual number is more like a dozen or so. He gets plenty of help from a band consisting of Wynans, Wet Willie frontman Jimmy Hall, Ashley Cleveland (three-time Grammy winner), Robert Plant bassist Byron House, Mickey Raphael (harp man for Willie Nelson), and keyboardist Phil Madeira (Emmylou Harris).

Deadline shows the incredible range and depth of Dave Perkins’ talents and abilities. He obviously learned his lessons well while performing with his various mentors, judging by his gift of venturing into various genres, and as a result, this soundtrack stands out well above traditional movie music fare with its freshness and originality.

--- Graham Clarke

Brad VickersBlues fans might not have known that 100 years ago in March of 1912, the first twelve-bar blues song was published, "Dallas Blues," by Hart Wand, an Oklahoma violinist and bandleader (with lyrics added in 1918 by Lloyd Garrett). In commemoration of this event, Brad Vickers & his Vestapolitans (with assistance from guest violinist Charlie Burnham) recorded the song and have released it digitally at iTunes and CDBaby, and several other sites.

All proceeds from downloads of the single will go to the Blues Foundation's H.A.R.T Fund. The H.A.R.T. Fund (Handy Artists Relief Trust) provides for blues musicians and their families who are in financial need due to a broad range of health concerns including acute, chronic, or preventative medical or dental care, as well as funeral or burial expenses.

The song is a blast, a real old school treat that features fiddles, clarinet, mandolin, and sax. If you're not careful, you might find yourself singing along with Vickers and Margey Peters. Great music for a worthwhile cause is always a good thing, so blues fans will doing themselves, and those less fortunate, a favor by stopping by one of these sites and checking it out.

--- Graham Clarke

John Earl WalkerJohn Earl Walker’s latest release is a four-song EP, available only by download. For newcomers to the New York-based blues rocker, Go Wild (Walkright Records) will serve as a nice introduction to the band’s hard rocking, guitar-driven sound. For longtime fans, it offers up four new high-quality songs to add to the Walker catalog.

“Earl’s Boogie” is a typically groovy instrumental, sort of an amped-up third cousin of Freddy King’s “Hideaway,” with a scorching guitar break by Walker. “Part Time Lover” is not the old blues chestnut, but a new mid-tempo track penned by the group. “Don’t Clam Up On Me” is a slow-burning blues track with more standout guitar from Walker, and the closing track, “I Got Two Problems,” is another mid-tempo rocker with clever lyrics.

Though the highlight of most Walker releases is his versatile, powerful guitar work, he also deserves praise as a highly original composer who takes old traditional blues topics and puts his own unique spin on them. His band (Stinky Tremelo – rhythm guitar, Peter Harris – bass, tambourine, and Robby Rocker – drums), as always, provides first rate backing.

The only issue with this disc is that there’s not enough of it, but as it is, Go Wild is an excellent EP of well-done tunes that should be enough to stir the interest of new listeners, while satisfying current fans’ appetite until John Earl Walker’s next release. It’s available at all the standard online stores (Amazon, iTunes, CDBaby, Spotify, Rhapsody, etc….), so be sure to give it a listen.

--- Graham Clarke

JT ColdireAlways & Never, the new release from Texas singer/songwriter/guitarist JT Coldfire is a refreshing set of Texas roadhouse blues, with a mixture of country, swing, and R&B. The 31-year-old Corpus Christi native moved to New York to hone his craft, but eventually returned to Texas where he’s spent the last 15 years building a big following.

Coldfire is a great singer, whether on the country side (“It’s Alright With Me”), slow blues (“Rather Die In My Sleep,” “I’m the Best Thing You Ever Had”), or old school rock & roll (“Get It On (In the Back of the Bar),” “Party Lovin’ Pappa”). His songwriting is also first-rate. Tracks like “Feelin’ the Music,” “Tell Me Mama,” and “Tired Man Blues” show an impressive maturity.

Given that Coldfire seems to be loaded with talent, one has to wonder why he had to go to Sweden to get this disc recorded. It really doesn’t matter, because you would never know unless you checked the liner notes. The backing band consists of Swedish musicians and they provide stellar backing, easily moving from style to style with no problem at all.

Always & Never is a wonderful set of Gulf Coast blues that rocks and swings with abandon. Blues fans would do well to seek out this hidden gem.

--- Graham Clarke

The BluecatsThe BlueCats got their start as The Venice BluesCats in Venice, CA, performing at a local bistro. From those humble beginnings, they have continued to develop and even released an album in 2007. Their latest release, Earthquake Mama (AWB Records), is a strong set of original tunes with some excellent performances.

Fronted by founder/singer/harmonica player Tony Battelle, the BluesCats offer up a high-energy set of tunes. The uptempo opener, “Pocket Full of Rain,” has a bit of New Orleans rhythm to it. The title track has a funky backbeat (courtesy of guest artists Kirk Nelson) and some swampy harmonica work from Battelle. The band is also adept at blues/rockers like “Does She Love Me” and “One More Whiskey.” However, most of the tracks are strictly blues, like “Rollin’,” “Jelly Roll,” “Makes Me Blue,” and “Need the Blues.” These tracks in particular feature the inspired guitar work of guitarist/songwriter Keith Pittell. The disc’s lone cover tune is a familiar one, Willie Dixon’s “Hoochie Coochie Man.”

The rest of the BluesCats (Steve Ebner – drums, Victor Patron – bass) provide rock-solid rhythm support and guest artists like Nelson, guitarist/songwriter Mark Newsletter, rhythm guitarist Alan Mirikitani, and backup vocalist Juliette Angeli also shine.

Earthquake Mama is an enjoyable set of new tunes played in the style of old school blues and R&B like they used to do it, and features some nice harmonica work from Battelle and guitar work from Pattell. Visit iTunes or CDBaby to check out this disc.

--- Graham Clarke

Sauce BossIf you’re not familiar with the Sauce Boss, you’re not only missing out on some great music, but great food as well. Since 1990, Bill “Sauce Boss” Wharton has been multi-tasking regularly, having served over 180,000 free bowls of gumbo at his shows, along with his unique slide guitar-driven Florida swamp blues. His signature tune, “Let the Big Dog Eat,” was featured on the Jonathan Demme movie, Something Wild, and on one of Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville compilation albums. Buffett even featured him in his song, “I Will Play for Gumbo.” He’s also been seen on the Food Network.

If you’ve not experienced the Sauce Boss, then his latest release, Live at the Green Parrot (Burning Disk), captures his live show pretty well. Wharton mixes music with mixing as he sings and plays while he makes his famous gumbo. He tells his life story on the opening cut, “Killer Tone,” and you get the first hint of his great slide work. As a songwriter, he’s pretty entertaining and doesn’t take himself too seriously with tunes like “What Was I Thinking,” “I Can’t Sit Down,” “Lucky Charm,” “The Goog” (about the Big Brother-like presence of Google), and, of course, “Let the Big Dog Eat.” He also gives a blow-by-blow of his gumbo on “Gumbo Recipe” and “Chicken in the Gumbo.”

The Sauce Boss’ backing band (John Hart –guitar, Jassen Wilber – bass, and Justin Headley – drums) keeps things loose and funky in the background, and it certainly sounds like a good time was had by all. In fact, the only thing missing from Live at the Green Parrot is the bowl of gumbo, but don’t worry….the Sauce Boss was kind enough to include a recipe at his website, so you can make your own to enjoy while you enjoy listening to this disc.

--- Graham Clarke

And now for another viewpoint of the Sauce Boss CD ......

Legend has it that Bill "Sauce Boss" Wharton walked out his front door one morning and stumbled across a 1973 National Resonator laying on the ground. He picked it up and the rest is Blues history. Only in Florida could you find a slide guitar player who posts his gumbo recipe on his website and sells his own hot sauce by the case. So it makes perfect sense to me that he records a live record in Key West at the Green Parrott, a location I’m sure where I’m sure he fit right in with the patrons. Live at the Green Parrot is not your normal live recording, but then, the Sauce Boss is not your normal Blues artist. So let’s hit it.

We start out with “Killer Tone,” or as the Sauce Boss says, his life story. Raw, distorted slide guitar fills my living room as he tells me, “Wrecked my El Camino…and I lost my job…no apartment…and my money’s all gone…but I don’t care cause…I’ve got killer tone”. It doesn’t take a lot to make the Sauce Boss happy and right now, killer tone will do. Up next is “Smuggler’s Cove,” a take on Sauce Boss adventure. “I’m going down…going down to Smuggler’s Cove…I might walk…I might fly…but I’m headed there.” I’m not really sure what the hell he’s looking for, but he’s on a mission. “Gumbo Recipe” is part of the Sauce Boss legend; he’s posted his gumbo recipe on his website and has been known to served over 180,000 people over the course of his performing lifetime. As he says, “if you take care of the roux…the roux will take care of you!”

More outrageous slide can be heard on our next cut, “Lonesome Rider.” “I’m a lonesome rider…ride both night and day!” Sauce Boss in an avid rider…of his bicycle! Every now and then you have to change things up and that’s the reason for “Chicken in the Gumbo.” “Chicken in the gumbo…chicken in the pot…” The whole adventure revolves around enticing the chicken into the gumbo pot! Wonder how he made out with that one. So the next tune logically follows, “What Was I Thinking.” A woman is at the heart of this tune. “I work my butt off…every day of the week…so you can spend my money…at a high tone boutique…put you up town…in a new car…now you put me down…from the other end of the bar….what was I thinking?

The Sauce Boss slows his roll down a little bit with “Out in the Night.” “I can hear it…yes, it’s coming around the bend…knocking on the door…my long, lost friend…it’s out in the night.” He’s right, the spirits of the night will find you if you listen. There’s no doubt that the Sauce Boss is the hyperactive sort and that’s evident in the self biographical, “I Can’t Sit Down!” “First thing in the morning…jump right out of bed…I’ll be going down the street…got a rhythm in my head…I hear what the boss man said…but…but…I can’t sit down!” For some good reason, luck always seems to find the Sauce Boss has long has he’s got his “Lucky Charm” with him. “In the wide…wide…world…ain’t no cause for alarm…long as I got my baby…got myself a lucky charm!”

The Sauce Boss’s signature tune, “Let the Big Dog Eat,” is our next tune and he does it justice and conveys the message, “Call the Doctor…call the nurse…don’t know what it is…but I know it sure hurts…let the big dog eat!” We segue into “The Goog,” a techie who the Sauce Boss is convinced is after him. “The goog is out to get you…he won’t forget you…he’s bout to hit you…yea….I wouldn’t tell you wrong!” With all the technology that is available, the goog can literally eliminate your virtual trail in cyberspace and is definitely a demon to be feared.

“Paco’s Garden” is up next and a tribute to the Sauce Boss’s neighbor, Paco Reed. “For all the things I’ve done…all the times I’ve run…I’ll always seem to come to Paco’s Garden.” Paco’s Garden is evidently a place of solitude where the Sauce Boss comes to pause and reflect on his trials and travails, of which I’m sure there have been many.

This wild ride closes with “Cathead Biscuit Gospel,” or as the Sauce Boss says, “Praise the Lord and Pass the Grits…got to have my catfish!” His viewpoint is that “before we serve the gumbo, we say the blessing!” And with that, it’s time to eat.

This live disc by the Sauce Boss is definitely a party record and one to be enjoyed with a cooler of Coronas, some shrimp on the barbecue and an army of friends. I’d love to taste the gumbo one of these days since I’m sure he cooks it right. For recipes, hot sauce and CDs visit the Sauce Boss on his website; you never know what you’ll find there!

--- Kyle Deibler

Walter TroutI’ve mentioned before that Walter Trout is one of my favorite Blues artists so it was quite the treat when a review copy of Blues for the Modern Daze showed up on my doorstep. The preview notes indicate that this is Walter’s first pure Blues album in 23 years as a bandleader, and that’s good enough for me.

Walter kicks the disc off with a tribute to his mother, “Saw My Momma Cryin,” and a testament to all of her hard work raising Walter in the midst of a difficult second marriage. “I saw Momma getting older…as we moved from place to place…and when death came out and took her…I saw a peaceful smile on her face.” Mom did a good job, Walter; you turned out ok, my friend. Next up is “Lonely,” Walter’s view on how isolated we as people are becoming in this age of computers, smartphones and the like when virtual relationships are replacing real ones. “With every passing day…connection slips away…and I feel lonely!” Familiar riffs from Walter’s Strat and some harp bring us to “The Sky is Fallin’ Down.” Armageddon is coming, “say bye bye…cause the sky is falling down…we’re all going to die since the sky is falling down…say bye bye.” Walter accentuates his point with some wicked slide guitar and I’m a happy camper.

“Blues for My Baby” is a sweet ballad and finds Walter missing his woman desperately. “I’ve got the blues for my baby…and I wish she’d come back home…seems such a long time…since my little girl…my little girl been gone.”

Our next cut, “You Can’t Go Home Again,” is a guitar-driven tour de force that reflects on the fact that times change and everything changes. And it’s true, “you can never go home again,” it will never be the same. A highly personal tune, “Recovery,” is next and here we find Walter exploring his demons and struggles with past addictions. “I let you in my life…and you took all control…I gave you my body…you quickly took my soul…I lost all my friends…I even lost my family….and now I’m trying to recover…from what I let you do to me!” We’re all the better for Walter successfully facing and conquering his demons that recovery is indeed a lifelong process.

The intensity picks up again with “Turn off Your TV.” We are a media obsessed society and Walter’s message is clear, “to be all you can be…you’ve got to turn off your TV!” Amen to that. A companion tune, “Lifestyle of the Rich and Famous,” follows. “I’ve lived the lifestyle of the rich and famous….and now that I’m out here on the street…and I’m living the lifestyle of the poor and unknown.” It’s easy to fall from grace and hard to accept the humility that comes with it. “Never Knew You Well”, finds Walter reflecting on a lost friendship. “I know you carry memories….secrets you can never tell…and you always kept your distance…so I never really knew you well!” Walter has his regrets with this friendship and wishes he’d worked harder to know the friend in question.

Walter’s short diatribe, “The Puppet Master,” serves as the intro for the tune that follows, “Money Rules the World.” Walter’s point in “The Puppet Master” is that most people are truly followers and there are always more willing to take their place should they disappoint. We’re living in an age of corporate big business, where companies are more often concerned about their bottom line then the good they are accomplishing in the world, and Walter knows this. “Politicians bought and sold…and they’re doing just what they’re told…pretending that they got our backs…but they belong to Exxon and Goldman Sachs!” I can’t argue against Walter on this point and really, no one can. Walter completely changes course on our next cut, the acoustic “All I Want Is You.” “Baby, let me kiss you…until it makes us cry…and maybe we can gently…kiss the teardrops from our eyes…cause what we need to do…because all I want, is you.” I really like Walter’s soft touch on this tune and really the change of pace.

The finals three cuts on this outstanding disc are: “My Brother’s Keeper”; the title cut, “Blues for the Modern Daze,” and “Pray for Rain.” “Are we supposed to be our brother’s keeper...are we supposed to hear him when he calls…are we supposed to catch him…catch him when he falls?” “Jesus said to feed the hungry…Jesus said to help the poor…so many of the so called Christians…they don’t believe in that anymore!” Sad but true, in my respects we’ve all become more selfish creatures and less willing to help our fellow man.

“Blues for the Modern Daze” is another acoustic number and continues the thought process of “My Brother’s Keeper.” “We’re heading for a fall…it’s all for one…and none for all…in the Modern Daze.” Walter closes his disc with more acoustic commentary, “rain ain't falling…rain aint falling down…all the crops are dying…and I don’t know where I’m bound!” Farming for years has been the bread & butter of the American middle class and they have faced their tough times along with the rest of the country.

Walter has always been one of my favorite artists and I’ve really enjoyed listening to his new disc. While I’m surprised that Blues for the Modern Daze is Walter’s first all Blues record, it is indeed a good one and will definitely be spending more time in my CD player. Grab a copy from Walter on tour or head over to if you can’t wait that long. You are in for a treat.

--- Kyle Deibler

Victor WainwrightVictor Wainwright is on a roll. My Memphis friend received a BMA nomination for the Pinetop Perkins Piano player of the year, he’s a fixture on the burgeoning Florida Blues circuit when he’s not in Memphis, and his disc, Lit Up!, is a great indicator of things to come.

Boogie Woogie kicks off the disc as Victor lets us know, “Big Dog’s Runnin’ This Town.” “Pound the movement, hit the streets…knock on the doors…don’t hear a peep…nobody knows you…you haven’t paid your dues…look out little pup…Big Dog’s runnin this town!” Sounds like it’s pretty clear who the boss of this town is. Mark “Muddyharp” Hodgson provides the intro to our next cut, “Ting Tang Bang.” Here we find Victor looking for trouble and he finds it in the form of a woman, “when you strut your thing…got to have that ting, tang, bang. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination but needless to say, Victor’s walking down a dangerous path!

Walking on the wild side continues as Victor tells us about a friend of his in “Subliminal Criminal.” “Subliminal criminal…he don’t give a damn…got the whole wide world in the palm of his hand!” Sounds like Victor’s friend is living the life he pleases and getting away with it so far. Enjoy it while you can, your time will come!

A mixture of horns serenades us in the beginning of “Walk Away My Blues” as Victor gives some advice to a friend in need. “Crazy people all over the place…tell you what to do…and who you should be…I’d put on my walking shoes…and do what comes naturally!” Sometimes the smart thing to do is to walk away and fight another day. Seems to be sage advice in the midst of all the confusion, hopefully he’ll take it.

Some swamp guitar from Greg Gumpel backs Victor next as he talks about the “Dixie Highway.” “I can hear my momma call…son, you’d better wash your hands and say your prayers…be thankful for what He has giving….on the Southern road you’re making a living…the Dixie Highway!” The Southern road has indeed been good to Victor & the Wildroots and hopefully will continue to do so.

Our next tune, “Weeds,” has a vaudeville feel to it as Victor talks about his life as a farmer. “I’m a farmer by trade…work on the land…make a good living with my two hands…till the soil…plant some trees…without hard work…nothing grows but weeds!” Victor’s grateful for what the land has given him and he appreciates the hard work required to reap the rewards.

“Little Ole’ Shack” is up next as Victor proceeds to tell us about his favorite juke joint. “Little ole shack up on the hill…bout a half mile from the whiskey still…the preacher won’t like it…but your Daddy sure will…little ole’ shack up on the hill!” Victor’s fingers are twirling the ivories as the police are about to raid the little ole shack. Hopefully Victor got out ahead of the cops but I wouldn’t bet on it knowing Victor!

The title cut, “Lit Up,” is next. “Lit up…I’m a burning flame…lit up…when you call my name…I’m yours to blame…who’s your daddy…I’m all lit up!” The object of his affection definitely knows how to spark her man and keep him interested, she’s the reason Victor is all “lit up!” The band slows the tempo down as Victor tells about the end of a relationship in “Our Last Goodbye.” “It’s come to the end…of a long, rocky road….standing at the crossroads…which way do we go…ain’t it hard now baby…no more me and you…aint no use for us to keep on trying…time for our last goodbye!” Victor’s emotional as he comes to the realization that he’s losing this good woman and there’s nothing to do but move on.

Trumpets come to the forefront on our next tune, “Don’t Doubt It.” “Life can be a struggle…just to get up that hill…time to count your blessings…and have a little fun…this party’s just begun…don’t doubt it…don’t doubt it ‘ce est bon!” Every now and then it’s good to count your blessings and Victor’s ready to get that party started. Victor’s women problems rear their ugly head again in the clever “Coin Operated Woman,” and we’re finding Victor’s out of money. “She’s taken every dollar I’ve got…I’ve a coin operated woman…drop my coin in her slot…she won’t be satisfied until she has every coin I got!” Well, she managed to get every coin Victor had and now it’s time to let her go and move on. But it was fun while it lasted!

Victor reflects on his misfortune in “Pile of Blues” as he realizes just how far the mighty have fallen. “I can’t begin to tell you…about the shape I’m in…my hands are shaking…my constitution’s thin…I went and put my big foot right in it again…I done stepped in a big pile of Blues!” Definitely a rough night and one hopefully one that Victor will recover from.

Lit Up! closes with “Honky Tonk Heaven,” a tune written with the Reverend Billy Wirtz and “Let It Be the Same.” “Honky Tonk Heaven” is a party tune, “we’re going to raise a little hell….in the honky tonk heaven tonight” while “Let It Be the Same” is a slow moving ballad where Victor is remorseful about hurting his girlfriend and seeking redemption. “I’ll say I love you…was the answer to all my prayers…we’ll start over…if our love remains…if it’s all the same to you…let it be the same.” It’s a beautiful tune and definitely one of my favorites on Victor’s disc.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Victor & the Wildroots are working their way up the Blues ladder one gig at a time. All of the tunes on Lit Up! Are originals and the band is very tight. Victor’s a fixture on Beale Street and he’s managed to put together an amazing band in the Wildroots that are rapidly becoming fan favorites. Take the time to look Victor and the band up on their website, and see them for yourself. We’re definitely going to be hearing more from Victor and his crew, you can count on that!

--- Kyle Deibler

Kilborn AlleyIt’s hard to explain the explosion that is Kilborn Alley at times. This band from the Midwest has a sound that is definitely all their own, part Hill Country Juke Joint, part Chicago Blues and all points in between. However you want to define, it’s raw, full of emotion and tugs at your soul just a bit. That’s good enough for me. Their new disc is Four, and it’s a good one. So let’s give it a listen.

The disc kicks off with Gerry Hundt’s distinctive harp work on the tune, “Rents House Boogie.” Lead singer Andrew Duncanson is spending time on the couch and thinking about a little girl he met in Tennessee. She’s evidently hard to get since Andrew “can’t buy a kiss…can’t buy a kiss!”

“Wandering” is our next tune and again, a woman is involved. “Monday…Tuesday…it’s all the same…my mind is wandering…wandering all through my brain!” Andrew is remembering a girl he loved and finds himself “wandering” if he can get back together with her. Josh Stimmel’s guitar licks are on fire and he proves to be the perfect foil for Andrew. “Couple of Days (Change My Ways)” is the next cut and love is again front and center. “But for you dear…I’d change my ways…yes I will…for a couple of days!” At least Andrew is being honest about his intentions here and doesn’t promise to always be good.

“Fast Heart Beat” finds Andrew appreciating the love of his good woman. “Tonight I’m laying next to you…oh I’m doing fine…oh Baby…and I ain’t even high…well it’s your good, good loving…must be the reason why!” Not sure how long this relationship is going to last but it is definitely working for Andrew now. Organ music from Travis Reed provides the intro on one of the discs slower numbers, “You Were My Woman.” “And I just…I just can’t sleep at night…and I’ll never go…without you in my life!” Andrew’s definitely in love and he’s got it bad for this woman, he couldn’t live without her, just could not do without her love. “You Were My Woman” is a definite favorite and you can’t help but feel the intensity of Andrew’s love for this girl.

Josh’s guitar is again front and center as we hear all about “22nd Street.” It would seem that Andrew can find plenty of temptation on 22nd Street, waiting for his woman to come home from work. “Well…you don’t like me when I’m crazy…especially when I come home acting wrong…I spend my time on 22nd Street…like a kid that’s on his own.” Here’s hoping Andrew can avoid trouble and stay true to his woman though I’m thinking it’s a losing battle. The instrumental, “Argyles and a Do-Rag,” is up next and it evidently is a tribute to the sartorial splendor of one Josh Stimmel. The band slows the tempo down a tad on “Good Advice,” and we find that Andrew has a mind of his own. “And I ain’t buying…what you’re selling…well it’s a whole lot of bull I’m smelling…I won’t pay the price…for somebody’s….somebody’s good advice!” They tried to tell him the girl was no good but Andrew didn’t want to buy it and this is bound to end in a bad way.

More harp finds Andrew contemplating what to do next while “Sitting on the Bank” of a river. “Well now the river got to stop somewhere, you know the river’s got to go…just watching the river flow…wondering where I’m bound to roam.” “Dressed Up Messed Up” is our next tune and we find Andrew trying to figure out how to attract the attention of a girl. “I want to get dressed up…messed…doing my best to get you…to dance with me!” Andrew’s in a party mood and hoping she feels the same way.

The final cut on Four is the ballad, “Going Hard.” “Whiskey bottle…at my bedside table…man I’d get up…if I was able…city burning…that same smell again…too bad it’s burning….at both ends…going hard…going hard….all the time.” A man facing his demons, Andrew struggles to come to grips with what the morning and the new day will bring.

Say what you will, Kilborn Alley’s sound is definitely raw and will find a way to touch your heart. Four is an excellent disc and one I’m glad found its way into my CD collection. You can find yours at and if the band heads your way this summer, be sure to catch them if you can. I know they’re making their way here to Colorado and I’m definitely looking forward to it. Well done, Kilborn Alley, well done!

--- Kyle Deibler

Peter Karp - Sue FoleyI like the artistic direction of Beyond the Crossroads, the new disc on Blind Pig Records from Peter Karp and Sue Foley. They’ve gotten beyond the newness of their relationship and the angst they shared in He Said – She Said and are looking forward to the challenges of the future. Simple mundane things like paying the bills, getting out of debt and working. They’ve managed to survive their early drama and have forged an excellent partnership for dealing with the issues. Beyond the Crossroads is their look at what comes next and that isn’t a bad thing. So, let’s throw this disc in the CD player and see how they’re managing.

Up first is their declaration that “We’re Gonna Make It.” I appreciate Peter’s confidence as he tells Sue, “Darlin’, you’re scared but don’t give in…sometimes you’ve got to risk it all to win…grab hold of me…I’m your man…we’re gonna push just as hard as we can!” Sue’s got a good man in Peter and he’s stepping up to lead them through the hard times. Sue though is more introspective and is thinking it through in “Analyze’n Blues.” “We’re walking a life of trepidation, can’t see past our shoes…going round in circles, analyze’n blues!” She’s definitely on board but taking her time getting there.

The title cut, “Beyond the Crossroads,” is next and strikes me as their anthem for the future. “How do find the faith? How do you keep the strength…to keep on believing, giving, to keep on living? When you get pushed down you’ve got to get back up!” That’s true of all of us, when you get pushed’ve got to get back up. It’s the only way to keep on going and “get beyond the crossroads!”

What gets them through is their relationship, and according to Sue, it’s a “Fine Love.” “When they touched was like sparks from an electric chair…fine love…fine, fine love…it don’t sound so good but honey, it’s a fine, fine love!” Peter and Sue are secure in their relationship and they’ll make it work from there! But make no mistake about it, life isn’t always easy and they realize that in “At the Same Time.” “You don’t believe you never cared…but how you pray…when you get scared…at the same time!” So it’s good to have moments of levity where you can appreciate your partner and Sue tells us that in “Take Your Time.” I ain’t going nowhere, that’s a fact…I ain’t doing nothing…lying on my back…like an old dog…I ain’t got no tricks…Baby take your time.”

Still, there are those times when the walls close in around you, and Sue and Peter find that their love is “More Than I Bargained For.” “You’ve got to let yourself be loved…don’t be afraid…it’s not a game…it’s not a deal…this time I’ve learned that love can be something real…this time…I got more than I bargained for!” So when the tough times come that Peter sings about in “Blowin,” they are ready for them. “Lord I feel so weary…I’m ready to go down…Blowin’…blowin’ all around.” And Sue at times has to come to grips with her own doubts, a fact she discusses in “Resistance.” “I can but I can’t…I will but I won’t…I’m here…but I’m there…I do…but I don’t…my resistance…against myself…keeps me yearning…for something else.” Even a good day can bring its challenges as Peter tells us in “Chance of Rain.” “Beautiful day…here on the plain…Holy moly!...chance of rain.”

Beyond the Crossroads closes with the instrumental “Plank Spank,” with Sue picking and Peter playing slide guitar. They take one last look at the issues in “You’ve Got a Problem.” “You’re late for the job if you show up at all…it may not bother you to act this way…but you got a problem baby…and it’s me!” Sue and Peter are good at holding each other accountable and together they’ll make it through.

I definitely have a fondness for this disc. Peter and Sue have come a long way personally and professionally from their last disc, and I appreciate the mature viewpoint found on Beyond the Crossroads. They’ve been doing a lot of touring and I hope to see them soon. You can find the disc and more about Peter and Sue on their website,  It’s cliché, but in this case…the couple that plays together, stays together, and more power to them.

--- Kyle Deibler


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