Blues Bytes

What's New

June 2007

an associate Order these featured CDs today:

Hurricane on the Bayou - DVD

Candye Kane

Eli Cook

Carey Bell - DVD

Billy Gibson


Candye KaneCandye Kane has released several discs over the past decade and a half and is becoming known as one of the most powerful and entertaining female blues singers of her generation. She displays an impressive versatility, easily moving from rollicking jump blues to steamy torch songs to country punk to gritty blues rock. A few years ago, she settled in with Ruf Records and each subsequent disc has surpassed its predecessor. Her most recent, Guitar’d and Feathered, is no exception.

Guitar’d and Feathered finds Kane teaming up with a veritable Who’s Who of blues guitarists, including Bob Margolin (who also produced), Junior Watson, Bob Brozman, Jeff Ross, Sue Foley, Ana Popovic, Kid Ramos, Heine Andersen, Dave Alvin, and Popa Chubby. While their presence is more than welcome, this is clearly Ms. Kane’s show. She’s never sounded better. In addition, she had a hand in writing seven of the 13 tracks on the disc.

Similarly to Kane’s other releases, there’s a variety of styles present ranging from the jumping opener, “My Country Man” (featuring Watson’s tasty guitar) to the country blues of “Back With My Old Friends,” backed by Margolin and Alvin to the rocking cover (thanks to Margolin and Foley) of Guitar Slim’s “I Done Got Over It.” The soulful “Goodbye My Heart” features Kane’s regular guitarist Heine Andersen, as does the self-depreciating Motownish “I’m My Own Worst Enemy.”

Other highlights include the country-tinged “Fine Brown Frame,” where Kane is accompanied by Kid Ramos on acoustic guitar, the blues rocker “I’m Lonely,” and the jazzy “We’re Long Ago and Far Away,” where Margolin lends solid support.

Kane’s previous CDs, and her live performances, have featured a few ribald moments, but on Guitar’d and Feathered, she plays it pretty straight for the most part. However, the closing tune, “Crazy Little Thing,” a lusty rockabilly song with a twist, should satisfy longtime fans.

Kane also gets terrific support from pianist Sue Palmer, Bill Stuve on bass, Billy Watson on harmonica, Tommy Yearsley on B-3, and her son Evan Caleb on drums. Guitar’d and Feathered is a strong effort by Candye Kane, maybe her strongest yet. If you’ve missed out on her talents so far, this is a great place to start.

--- Graham Clarke

Beat DaddysThe Beat Daddys have built a loyal group of fans around the southeastern part of the U.S. with their brand of rough and tumble blues-rock. Having built a solid catalog during the ’90s (including a couple with the former Malaco subsidiary Waldoxy), the Beat Daddys were driven from their stomping grounds on the Mississippi Gulf Coast when Hurricane Katrina destroyed most buildings near the coastline, including lead guitarist/singer Larry Grisham’s home in Pass Christian. Devastated by the loss, Grisham moved to Nashville and proceeded to put together a new recording.

The Beat Daddys’ sixth and latest release, Five Moons, will be a treat to their longtime fans. In addition to his muscular vocals, Grisham is a first-rate composer. He penned all 12 tracks, most of which focus on the familiar blues themes – good times, heartbreak, and love gone bad. Lead guitarist Britt Meacham is best known for playing guitar on the Bob Seger classic, “Old Time Rock & Roll,” and lays down some mighty fine guitar on this set.

Standout tracks include the smoking opening cut, “Pale White Circle, “Been There, Liked That” (which features some strong harp by Grisham and ), the slow burner “Everybody Needs Some,” and the title cut, which features Grisham and Meacham on acoustic guitars. “Lonely Road” sounds like a long-lost Seger album track.

Meacham never fails to impress with one dazzling solo after another, particularly on “Everybody Needs Some” and “Call Me Back,” and “Where Is She.” Supplying solid support is the rhythm section of Barry Bays (bass), Paul Scott (drums) with assistance on several tracks by David Parks (drums), Dennis Gulley (bass) and Allman/Betts alum Johnny Neel (keyboards).

Five Moons is an outstanding return for the Beat Daddys and should please their longtime fans as well as fans of authoritative blues rock. It’s good to have these guys back on the recording scene. Go to their website ( for more information on them and to check out their other recordings.

--- Graham Clarke

Adam Posnak is a singer/guitarist based in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas. He’s also an artist and makes up half of the roots duo Uncle Cuckleburr’s Champion Possum Carvers. Influenced by his father’s record collection, which contained albums by Leadbelly, Little Richard, Howlin’ Wolf, and Jerry Lee Lewis, Posnak has released Ragged and Dirty, a collection of Posnak’s interpretations of 12 traditional blues songs.

Posnak recorded the disc live in a century-old farmhouse in the Ozarks, with only one overdub. He plays 6 and 12-string and National guitar with commanding dexterity and his vocals are ragged and craggy, perfectly suited for the material, which includes familiar tunes like “C.C. Rider,” “Fallin’ Down,” “Willie Mae Blues,” “Boweevil Blues,” and “M & O Blues.” The lone non-traditional song is “Obeah Wedding,” which is a pretty smooth fit with the older songs. Posnak plays it pretty straight on these tracks. Though he is playing electric guitar on most tracks, it doesn’t stray or distract from the acoustic origins of the songs at all.

Ragged and Dirty is an enjoyable, well-played set of standard blues classics and while they won’t make you forget the originals, they stand up pretty well next to them. Fans of well done pre-war blues will enjoy this set. For more information on Adam Posnak, contact him at, or go to his website,

--- Graham Clarke

Billy JonesMy Hometown (Black & Tan Records) is a representative of a newer generation of our music, which Billy Jones calls “Bluez.” From somewhere in Arkansas (there seems to be hundreds of different regional styles within its musical borders), his hometown is mysterious. He is interested in “advancing/extending ‘Great Black Music from the Ancient to the Future’ and making sure that it is available for future generations.”

Easy, acoustic guitar patterns and chords usher in an instantly welcome feeling. Soon, string effects give way to vocals providing a Bill Withers feel. It’s love music with pop potential, romantic lyrics, plus attractive patterns and slight hooks. Background vocals are sometimes wordless, other times repeated. Jones’ vocals are not trained, but genuine. Tremelo and a train rhythm join for “Pull My 44,” with a good drummer playing brushes and sticks. Think of it as insurance against anyone messing with his woman. Not strictly blues so far, but certainly modern southern and not as in rock. We slow down for a rich “Right Now,” this one hinting at soul. Of course it’s about love, after all the whammy bar is utilized on solid-body guitar strings!

By now, the writing and warm production are evident as uniform. It’s simple enough for the masses but non-commercial enough for purists. Echo effects on the vocal and now hard-rock-sounding guitar hit home the crystal meth topic of the next story. Some don’t think music is the canvas for social commentary, but I’m not among them. The blues especially has a history of communication, perhaps underground in earlier generations. Wasn’t it Tommy Johnson singing about drinking canned heat? Fortunately free speech continues to be revered in music as symptoms of ageless problems progress. This track is pretty wicked musically, too.

Over the four following tracks we hear more soul complete with dreamy tempo, handclaps, middle of the night love talk and electric piano. We have funk/rock and a topic of forbidden love. One cut has an almost Spanish acoustic rhythm guitar, while the electric lead hints at Flamenco. And it’s interesting that authorship of all the selections are un-credited. The fresh lyrics suggest they are original but what is described as “a new genre of music that rises from the ashes of what has come before it” sometimes sounds like a kind of updated Howlin’ Wolf feel in half-time.

An almost folk setting shows some promise toward the end of the album, but it quickly gets somewhat syrupy. Not enough to wear out a welcome, but feeling like the set is winding down, returning to slide guitar. The peppy closer works, with a long intro vamp on a single chord, going to the quick change as the vocal starts, “Bluez Comes Callin’,” and this is indeed a real blues. It’s verified down-home, played without bass and even a washboard-type effect for an instant, but a little suspect with over-processed wordless vocal refrain. One thing’s for sure: Billy Jones CAN’T live without his baby, to whom he’s been singing his heart out on every selection. We got that.

Great clean, lead guitar playing plus good second guitar are the high points of this music. Lyrically love is the truth at the top, the ghetto a secondary recurring theme. Grade of B.

--- Tom Coulson
Radio Broadcaster/Musician

Eli CookEli Cook's Miss Blues'es Child (Sledgehammerblues) is strong raw acoustic, but processed slide guitar falls into medium tempo supported by a single tambourine. A commanding, deep singing voice, à la Little Ed or maybe Lonnie Brooks, makes obvious it’s not what’s sung, but the way it’s delivered. This before we even detect it is Robert Johnson’s classic "Terraplane Blues," a vehicle (pun intended) not always reliable historically, but this version I actually repeated before going to track two. It’s that grabbing, doing what an opening number should.

Cook is from Charlottesville, VA, and defies his young age. His taste stems from decades of blues history and is not overly updated. Definite country complete with porch effects and banjo identify what has to be an answer to vintage Charly Patton, “Don't Ride My Pony.” Folky is “Anything You Say,” pleasant and soulful are the 12-string guitar and vocal. Played solo also is Leadbelly’s “Goodnight Irene,” plaintive with slide.

On the title track there’s a little sampling in the intro of that same acoustic slide guitar. The groove is slightly laid back, and lyrics describe a story of environment that Muddy Waters might sing about today. The CD is full of obscure covers, one being “Don’t You Mind People Grinnin’ In Your Face,” done in vocal and foot tap only. The beginning is equalized to sound like an old 78 RPM and I swear he’s singing way off-key on purpose. Shades of R.L. Burnside with banjo instead of drum rhythm are heard in the somewhat hypnotic “Goin’ Down South.” This same kind of groove is achieved on track 10, “Poor Black Maddie,” except with solo electric guitar.

Banjo has to be the furthest thing from Jimmy Reed’s simple Chicago blues style, yet here it adds a wonderful country touch that works. There’s even crude harmony and a fade after a couple minutes just like a Reed record. A haunting highway ballad should be a part of any southern blues program of the last hundred years, and here it cuts to the core, probably akin more to John Lee Hooker than anyone. Back to 12-string played hard and exquisitely in almost suspended rhythm on “Trick Bag” where Cook is moanin' at the midnight hour. Full-out fuzz guitar with the re-appearing tambourine wrap with the concluding “Fixin’ To Die,” like Muddy’s “Rollin’ And Tumblin’” with original words. But don’t eject the CD yet, that ghost-like voice re-appears after half a minute again grinning in your face, slowly fading back into the dark south. The album in its entirety is succinct and satisfying.

Grade of B+ with the caveat that modern country blues is not always for listeners new to the music.

--- Tom Coulson
Radio Broadcaster/Musician

Buddy Guy et alEagle Vision’s Live at Montreux DVD series focuses on all music genres. Like others in the series, Carlos Santana Presents Blues At Montreux 2004, featuring Bobby Parker, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown and Buddy Guy, contains high quality production, professional editing, excellent sound, impressive camera work, and clever authoring. There are plenty of camera angles (side stage, on stage, front stage, etc) and none of them are obstructed. All three concerts – each is on a separate disc – were filmed in wide screen high definition on July 12, 2004 in the Stravinski Auditorium at the esteemed festival.

Bobby Parker is likely the least known among the threesome. He is one of those artists you watch and think, wow, where has he been? Parker is a DC-based bluesman who, in the 1950s, played rock ’n’ roll guitar behind Bo Diddley, Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, and The Everly Brothers. The proceedings begin with an instrumental that showcases Parker’s invigorating band of five members including Dane Paul Russel, who looks like Peter Green and plays harp like it is a guitar. On "It’s Unfair," he delivers blazing and ripping lip-singed blown harp. "Break It Up" is Chicago blues/funk led by Parker’s contemporary blues guitar. He roams the stage on "Breaking Up Somebody’s Home," yet fails to display any stage presence. Parker’s vocals, which include James Brown-like screams, aren’t powerful nor do they contain a lot of range. Parker becomes a bit monotonous, and sometimes his surging guitar sounds too similar to Buddy Guy and Roy Buchanan.

Dressed in his typical black and white cowboy shirt, 80-year-old Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown proves to be a classy and well-rounded musician. With his fingers, he effortlessly plays versatile guitar. This concert of 10 upbeat tunes also begins with an instrumental which reveals Brown’s talented and jazzy sounding four-piece band. There are no lines drawn between jazz and blues by this impartial group. If you don’t enjoy sax, keyboard, and guitar solos in every song, you may become bored with this concert. The enormously sized Eric Demmer toots his alto sax into the upper stratosphere. He blows it as gentle as a summer breeze to as fierce as a thunderstorm’s wind. Brown plays fiddle on the stomping Sunrise Cajun Style. Overall, his instrumentation is livelier than his vocals. I’ve Got My Mojo Working is unlike all the overplayed versions of the classic song. Many musical styles are heard in Gate’s music. The American music icon passed away in September 2005 after Hurricane Katrina destroyed his New Orleans home.

Though Buddy Guy specifically wanted to provide a jazzy set, he does not deliver a brilliant performance. His sax player, Jason Moynihan, distracts from the band’s Chicago-sounding blues potential. The best example of this is when his sax substitutes for the original harmonica on "Hoochie Coochie Man." Clearly, Guy is in awe of this sax man and claims, “This is the kind of blues I heard when I first came to Chicago.” This concert doesn’t seem to have a flow to it and it does not contain enough Buddy Guy electric guitar. Strangely, Guy opens unaccompanied with three acoustic numbers when he has never been much of a rhythm guitarist. Still, Guy maintains his killer smile which could light up the darkest night. His vocals are as dramatic and dynamic as ever. He has an innate ability to deliver lyrics like he is telling a story to a friend. His decimating lead guitar solos range from sluggish to lightening fast where his pick-held hand oscillates faster than his fret-placed hand. Ever the showman, Guy banters with the crowd between songs and pulls wild facial grimaces. As you could have guessed, he walks through the crowd while playing an extended guitar solo, but instead of the cameras following him, they continue to film the on stage band members.

This 238-minute, three DVD blues set gets attributed to Carlos Santana, but like the cover photo, his role is primarily in the background. When he does join these celebrated artists on 11 of 31 songs, they launch into ultra-jam mode and its exceptional if you enjoy watching/hearing multiple guitars getting a groove on.

--- Tim Holek

Hurricane on the BayouThe Mississippi river affects us all. From my home in the desert, it’s well over 1,400 miles to the bayous of Louisiana, the home of Tab Benoit. I’ve known Tab going on four years now, back to when our Blues Society booked him to play our festival and it was at last year’s Blues Music Awards that we had an opportunity to talk about a project he was involved with, the IMAX movie, Hurricane on the Bayou. Conceived by the Audubon Institute, the project was originally designed to show how the loss of Louisiana’s wetlands greatly increased the exposure of New Orleans to damage from a potential category five hurricane. And then Katrina happened….and the focus of the movie changed dramatically.

The movie is slowly being rolled out to IMAX theaters all around the country, but I had the opportunity to see the film when I was in Memphis for this year’s BMA’s. I was with my friend, Laura, a Louisiana native herself, and had the opportunity to watch the movie through both my eyes and hers. At times we laughed, at times we were moved to tears; this film is that powerful.

The crux of the wetlands problem is very simple. For thousands of years the Mississippi river would flood the farmlands near the Louisiana delta as it approached the gulf and would deposit the topsoil it carried to form the wetlands. Plants would take root in the topsoil, anchor it and hundreds of miles of wetlands evolved along the Louisiana coast. To combat the floods, engineers devised a series of levees along the river to protect the farms and severely inhibited the river’s ability to deposit soil into the wetlands. All of that valuable topsoil now washes straight out to the ocean. Engineers also dug navigational canals to assist the boat traffic; the canals brought salt water from the ocean into the wetlands, killing the plant life whose roots have helped to keep the soil in place. So in the last 50 years, enough of the wetlands have disappeared to equal a land mass the size of the state of Delaware. The wetlands are important because as a hurricane works its way inland, each three miles of wetlands reduces the height of a hurricane surge by a foot. 300 miles of wetlands would have reduced the height of a hurricane like Katrina by 100 feet, enough to significantly reduce the damage caused by Katrina and hurricanes like her.

Tab believes that man’s highest calling is stewardship of the land he loves and he works tirelessly on behalf of his beloved Louisiana wetlands to encourage their preservation and redevelopment, the driving force behind the Hurricane on the Bayou project.

Hurricane on the Bayou focuses on the efforts of Louisiana musicians like Tab, Chubby Carrier, Alan Toussaint, Amanda Shaw and others to spread the word of the importance of the wetlands. It primarily follows the lives of Tab, Amanda and a gator in the wetlands as Katrina grows and approaches Louisiana. We’re introduced to the gator when Tab and Amanda come upon her nest in the bayou; she’s lying on it to protect the 50-60 eggs that she has laid. As her brood hatches we’re left to wonder how Katrina will affect them. When the order is given to evacuate the entire city of New Orleans, Amanda’s family leaves the Crescent City not knowing where her grandmother and grandfather are or whether they made it out ok. Tab himself is on the road, many miles away worrying about his home that is out in the bayou. Emotions run high as everyone involved is faced with a unique set of circumstances. All of this drama is cast against the backdrop of the destruction that Katrina wrecks upon the city of New Orleans.

I don’t want to delve much further into the story line of this movie. Its much more important that you see it for yourself, experience the emotions of artists like Amanda and Tab as they wrestle with the knowledge that preservation of Louisiana’s wetlands could have done a great deal to mitigate the damages inflicted by Katrina. Creative solutions exist that slowly but surely can work to bring back the nature and beauty of Louisiana’s wetlands. But it will take a cooperative effort by everyone involved to make it happen. This is the life work that Tab Benoit has chosen to live for.

Hurricane on the Bayou will come to an IMAX theater near you soon. Please go see it. The IMAX experience itself has a much greater visual impact on the filmgoer than the DVD of the movie that was released June 5th. Both the DVD and a soundtrack of the movie are available through the website, and at fine retailers everywhere. Proceeds from the movie and the soundtrack both help to benefit the Louisiana wetlands, a very worthy cause.

But Tab himself will tell you that the best thing you can do to help the Louisiana wetlands is to visit them. The sites you will see and the benefit your tourist dollars will have on the economy of Louisiana is enormous. And in the long run what better way is there for you to show your love and appreciation for the people of Louisiana than to go to their homes, hear their stories and enjoy their music. You will appreciate your time spent in Louisiana and be much richer for it.

--- Kyle Deibler

Carey BellI was at the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale when the word came that we’d lost both Big Joe Duskin and Carey Bell in the same day. We’ve lost way too many bluesmen this year and the day was tempered by some great company and a trip to Hopson’s Commissary and the Shack Up Inn. I’d not seen Carey perform in person, so it was a rare treat when I got home to receive the Delmark DVD release, Gettin’ Up Live, and have a chance to see Carey perform with his son, Lurrie Bell.

Getting’ Up Live features performances at Theresa’s Lounge, Buddy Guy’s Legends and some intimate home footage shot at Lurrie’s home. Together, the three locations give the listener/viewer a rare opportunity to catch this harp legend perform live with his equally talented guitarist son. These sessions were important to Carey. In his liner notes Bill Dahl talks about the fact that Carey had endured a stroke and four weeks in the hospital with a broken hip before he made the car trip back to Chicago for these sessions. He even wrote a song, "Getting’ Up," to share his happiness at being able to perform back home in Chicago in front of his friends and family. The result is an intimate look at one of the most respected father/son duos we’ve had in the blues.

The session at Rosa’s Lounge opens with “What My Momma Told Me.” Carey’s harp is ably complimented by Lurrie’s solo guitar work and the show starts off with a bang. Brian Jones on drums, Bob Stroger on bass and Roosevelt Purifoy on piano compliment the playing of Carey and Lurrie. The band is tight, and clearly Carey is enjoying himself as he surveys the crowd at Rosa’s from his overstuffed chair. And he lets them know how he feels in his new song, “Gettin’ Up.” “I’ve been down…..but I’ll get up again….I don’t want you to worry…want to hang out here with my friends!” Carey is clearly enjoying himself and Delmark makes use of a split screen shoot to highlight the give and take between Carey and Lurrie as they exchange solos during this new song by Carey.

The classic Big Joe Williams song, “Baby Please Don’t Go,” is next and features a blistering guitar intro by Lurrie. Scott Cable sits in on guitar for this number and Carey’s vocals are strong as he pleads for his woman to stay. “Baby….please don’t go…I need you so….baby, please don’t go….back to New Orleans….I love you so.” Next up is the torrid “Bell’s Back,” an instrumental that features extended solos from both Carey and Lurrie that has the crowd at Rosa’s screaming for more.

Two additional songs recorded at Rosa’s, “Hard to Leave You Alone” and “I’m a Fool,” are bonus songs included on the DVD but not included in the CD release. “Hard to Leave You Alone” features a soulful harp intro by Carey and finds him lamenting his love for his woman. “You’re so easy to love…and so hard to leave alone…You know I’m not satisfied…until I hold you in my arms.” The despairing tones of Carey’s harp are complimented by a wonderful guitar solo by Lurrie as Carey shares his pain at loving this woman. “I’m a Fool” closes out the session at Rosa’s and has Carey admitting the error of his ways, “I’m a fool…fool…fool….I’m an old fool” Clearly he’s made the wrong choice in terms of this woman and realizes the error of his ways.

Joe Thomas takes over for Bob Stroger on bass and Kenny Smith has the drums for the sessions filmed at Buddy Guy’s Legends. The band kicks off the set with “One Day.” “One day, baby…you’re going to get as lucky as can be….that will be the day…you find out what I need…I just want to love you….hold you in my arms.” “Leaving in the Morning” follows and features Carey exchanging harp solos with Roosevelt Purifoy on the piano. The song ends, and I’m touched when Carey leans over to Roosevelt and says, “Not Bad,” at the end of the song acknowledging his keyboard work. Another Little Walter song, “Last Night,” finds Carey sharing his emotions via some poignant harp work as he sings, “Last night….I lost the best friend that I ever had….girl did I love you…don’t you know you’re my end?” A passionate guitar solo by Lurrie compliments the sadness that Carey feels at losing this girl that he loved so much.

The set at Buddy Guy’s concludes with “Low Down Dirty Shame.” We find Carey at a point in his relationship where his woman is off with another man. “I don’t care what you do… I love you just the same.” The highlight of “Low Down Dirty Shame” is the face to face exchange of solos at the end between Carey and Lurrie as each watches the other intently to know when to play next.

I find the footage shot at Lurrie’s house to be the most revealing. Perched on the couch with cushions placed for his comfort, Carey gives us some of the most intimate songs of the DVD. “Broke and Hungry,” the classic Sleepy John Estes tune, is followed by “When I Get Drunk.” Both find Carey in fine form and his harp work is passionate and sincere. “When I get drunk….I think about that little girl of mine…..I think about her all the time.” “Short Dress Woman” finds Carey reflecting on the trouble his woman will get into as her skirt rises. “Wearing the short dress girl…way above your knees…wearing that short dress girl…for anybody you please.” The DVD concludes with Lurrie’s only vocal performance, the traditional “Stand By Me.”

Fans of both Carey and Lurrie will appreciate Gettin’ Up Live. Musically, this is a wonderful recording of them together with a tight supporting cast that enables father and son to showcase their wonderful talents. I’m glad that Delmark sent me theDVD to review because of the intimate look it provided into the relationship between Carey and Lurrie. I’m saddened by one of the extra features, an interview with Carey and Lurrie. Lurrie spoke of the joys of living for his child and lovely wife, Susan, only to have lost Susan to lymphoma this past January and now his father as well. This has been a year to test the faith of Lurrie Bell, and my heart goes out to this Chicago bluesman. Brighter days are coming, Lurrie, and all my best to you and your family.

--- Kyle Deibler

I was in Memphis for the BMA’s and caught the end of an Inside Sounds showcase when Keith Soltys, the A&R rep for Daddy-O Records came up to say hello and tell me about Billy Gibson’s new record, Live at the Rum Boogie. My ears perked up; the Rum Boogie is my home away from home and Billy has ruled the roost on Beale Street from there for a number of years as the house band for the Boogie. What a perfect combination --- the KBA Blues Club of the Year for 2007 and one of last year’s BMA nominees for newcomer of the year! The result is a combustible live record that attempts to capture the essence of Billy live on Beale Street. I think if I turn the volume up high enough, it just might take me there.

Billy opens up with his Mississippi saxophone blistering as he leads off with the self-penned “What is Love.” “What is love baby…well honey I just don’t know…maybe my momma was right…you’re going to reap just what you sow.” In my mind's eye I see the patrons of the Boogie up dancing on the uneven dance floor that is part of the charm of the club. The energy of this recording is high and you can imagine that it was a hot night at the Rum Boogie. A tight bass line put down by James Jackson leads into the next tune, “Love Everybody,” as Billy welcomes the crowd to the evening’s festivities. “You’ve got to love everybody you know…in out of your neighborhood…you know my one wish for you baby is that you love me from the start!” Billy’s in rare form on his harp and the beauty of this live record is the extended solo opportunities of which he takes advantage.

Cedric Keel on drums kicks off the introduction to a classic Willie Dixon song, “Pretty Thing.” His steady bass drum backbeat keeps everything in line as Billy croons, “Oh you pretty thing….I want you here right by my side…won’t you be my blushing bride…well, oh…you pretty thing!” Tight fret board work by David Bowen punctuates the introduction to “Home at Last (A.K.A. Country Girl).” “Every time my baby walks you know she upsets every man she meets…Lord knows I hate to see my baby…you know when she walks up and down Beale Street.” She may be a country girl but you can bet she’s beautiful and everyone on Beale Street knows it.

Billy’s back on his harp as the band swings into the introduction for “Darling Please Come Home.” The tone of his harp is apologetic as he pleads his case, “you know I thought I didn’t care…and I thought I wouldn’t cry…but every night I cry for you….but alone is what I am, so honey won’t you please come home?” This sounds like Billy let a good one get away and came to the realization too late what a good woman she was. Mournful intonations from his harp lend a sense of desperation for the pain Billy is feeling for letting her go.

A tight bass line introduces us to “Bad Boy,” as Billy lets the crowd at the Rum Boogie know that they are a part of a live recording and “Don’t be afraid to make some noise!” A blistering harp solo follows and crowd noise in the background lets you know they are at the Boogie in force. In the meantime Billy lets us know he’s no saint. “You know I’m a bad boy, baby...and such a long, long way from home…you know sometimes where I stay….hey that’s the place I call my home!” Billy, David, James and Cedric are in rare form tonight and it’s apparent that this is a band that has been together for a long run on Beale Street.

Billy’s back cranking up his harp as the band heads into the next cut, “Early in the Morning,” by John Lee Williamson. “Hey, when a girl reach the age of 18…that’s when she begins to think she’s grown….you know that’s the kind of girl, yes it is…that you can never find at home….come see me in the morning…hey baby, just before the break of day…wish you could see me hug that pillow…you know it was the one where my baby used to lay.” Billy’s head is in a tizzy over the charms of a sweet young thing and he’s lamenting the one he lost who looked like her. The band chooses to close this live recording with its rendition of “Polk Salad Annie,” and David Bowen takes the microphone for the lead vocal on this final cut. “Everybody says it was a shame…her poppa was working on the chain gang!” Billy’s harp provides a nice contrast to David’s vocals and the band ends the night in great shape.

Live at the Rum Boogie contains eight songs that span almost 70 minutes in total recording time as Billy Gibson and his band mates take advantage of the live recording format to just let everything rip. It’s nice to hear a live record for a change where you can tell that everyone at the Boogie had a great time, the band played its rear end off and the net result is a live recording that kicks. I would be remiss if I did not mention Robbie Rose, the sound woman at the Boogie. Night in and night out she manages to coax amazing sounds out of every band that plays there and I love working with her when I’m in Memphis. She helped get the best out of Billy and the band for this recording and her work shows.

This is a party record. Billy and the band are having a great time and when you put this one in the CD player, turn it up loud!! It’s not quite like being at the Boogie in person, but its close.

--- Kyle Deibler

Boyd SmallBoyd Small is a man renowned in blues circles for his drumming and vocals – a blues equivalent to Phil Collins, if you like. I have to admit that, although I knew of him, I didn’t know much about him, until now. I now find that he played drums with Jimmy Rogers, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Hubert Sumlin, Guitar Shorty and Pinetop Perkins, so he’s had some very good experience.

So, why haven’t we heard much of this Portland, Oregon musician?

He previously released three CDs on the Cool Buzz record label since relocating to Amsterdam, Holland – and as good as those CDs were, his new one, Diamond Boy (Me & My Records) is the one to have. Five of the 11 tracks are originals, written by Boyd Small, the others are some carefully chosen covers of tracks by Jimmy Rogers,Johnny Otis, Big Joe Turner, Hubert Sumlin and J.T.Meire, plus a trad blues “Glad Rags” which opens the album.

The Jimmy Rogers track, “Lemon Squeezer,” follows and it really is a superb, faultless, version – slow & moody, with some fine bass playing by Willy Barber and some incredible guitar work. Unfortunately, this brings me to the only criticism of the CD, and it’s a very small one! There are four guitarists listed in the CD notes, but nothing to say which one plays on which track – and that’s a shame, as all the guitar work on this CD is top of the range.

Unusually, for an album that’s split between originals and covers, the originals are, in some cases, better than the covers. That says a lot for the song writing skills of Boyd Small, as well as for the musical ability of the band. Track six, “Del Ray,” is a slow blues with an insistent beat from the drums and bass going on and some good guitar work – this is maybe the best of the originals, but in my view there isn’t a bad one.

The best of the covers has to be Hubert Sumlin’s “Look Don’t Touch,” with it’s strong, foot-tapping, boogie beat – this is excellent stuff! The Jimmy Rogers song, “Lemon Squeezer,” comes a very close second.

Let’s hope we hear more from Boyd Small & his band in the near future.

--- Terry Clear

Mem ShannonI’ve been a fan of Mem Shannon’s ever since a friend brought his CD, 2nd Blues Album, back from a trip to the USA. There have been a few more since then, with A Night At Tipitina (NorthernBlues), being his sixth one altogether.

This man is always different, but consistently good – this particular album isn’t his bluesiest by far, but it probably is his funkiest! The music is a mix of blues, funk and soul, with Shannon’s distinctive voice percolating through and driving things along.

The album comprises eight original tracks, plus one by Tom Petty and one by the Neville Brothers – a good mix of music. The Tom Petty track, in particular, is a real surprise. It’s bluesy, and a real change from the original, although it doesn’t lose the original flavour – Tom Petty’s song is still there. Before I heard this, I couldn’t imagine a Tom Petty track being adapted in this way, but this works, and it works well – good choice! The other cover version – “Voodoo” by the Neville Brothers – is more jazz-funk than blues, but well adapted to Shannon’s style.

The album opens with the Mem Shannon original “Payin’ My Dues,” a funky blues with some lovely guitar work and a driving backing by the horn section of Joe Cabral, Tim Green and Jason Mingledorf – it gives the listener a flavour of what’s to come, and you can tell that the live audience were enjoying themselves.

Unfortunately, for blues fans, the flavour becomes slightly less bluesy and slightly more funky as the album progresses. There are one or two exceptions, but soul and funk are the order of the day here.

Technically, and musically, this is a very good album – it’s a shame there isn’t more blues in it.

--- Terry Clear


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