Blues Bytes

What's New

June 2013

an associate Order these featured CDs today:

Boz Scaggs

Marshall Lawrence

Ruff Kutt Blues Band

Amos Garrett

Bart Walker

Paul Filipowicz

Gina Sicilia

Hans Theessink

Matt Baxter & Jake Sampson

Dudley Taft

The Hound Kings

Linda Valori

The Record Company

Walter Trout

Cassie Taylor

Long Tall Deb



Boz ScaggsBoz Scaggs has always been something of a musical chameleon, moving from pop to rock to soul to R&B to jazz with barely a ripple, but a lot of his later fans don’t realize that Scaggs first received attention as part of high school classmate Steve Miller’s band in the mid ’60s, playing R&B and the blues. Regardless of what genre in which he is currently immersed, those two genres are always part of the mix.

For Scaggs’ latest recording, Memphis (429 Records), he doesn’t mess around. He and producer Steve Jordan traveled to the Bluff City, recruited a score of musical icons, including Memphis keyboard legends Charles Hodges, Lester Snell, and Spooner Oldham, bassist Willie Weeks, and guitarist/former R&B star Ray Parker, Jr, and recorded these sessions at the famed Royal Recordings studio (with the Royal Strings and Horns), where the late Willie Mitchell made soul history back in the ’60s and ’70s with Hi Records.

Memphis features 12 tracks, some familiar, some not so much. Scaggs summons up the spirit of Hi Records on many of these tracks, especially Al Green on the first couple of tracks (his own “Gone Baby Gone” and Green’s “So Good To Be Here”). Willy DeVille’s “Mixed Up, Shook Up Girl” is one of the standout tracks, with its light Latin backdrop.

Soul fans will be impressed with Scaggs’ take on Brook Benton’s anthem, “Rainy Night In Georgia,” and Sylvia Robinson’s “Love On A Two Way Street” gets a greasy Memphis reworking, with Hodges and Oldham on keyboards. The Steely Dan album track, “Pearl of The Quarter,” is another keeper. Scaggs also throws in some serious blues as well, with covers of the soul blues standard, “Can I Change My Mind,” Jimmy Reed’s “You Got Me Cryin’,” and a lovely version of “Corinna Corinna,” with Keb’ Mo’ playing dobro.

Though Scaggs has admitted that he’s battled writer’s block over the past decade, he contributes two fine tracks that bookend the disc….the aforementioned “Gone Baby Gone” and the melancholy closer, “Sunny Gone.” Vocally, he has rarely sounded better, and the set list really demonstrates his versatility.

Boz Scaggs has recorded some excellent blues and R&B-based albums over the years (his self-titled Atlantic release, which featured the magnificent version of Fenton Robinson’s “Somebody Loan Me A Dime,” Silk Degrees, Slow Dancer, and Come On Home being just a few), and Memphis easily takes a place among those fine releases.

--- Graham Clarke

Marshall LawrenceI really dug Marshall Lawrence’s previous release, Blues Intervention. It was one of the better acoustic discs I heard in late 2010/early 2011, fueled by Lawrence’s kinetic guitar work, his original songs, and his fresh interpretations of familiar blues classics. “The Doctor of the Blues” hasn’t exactly been twiddling his thumbs since that release, dazzling audiences all over the place with his amazing technique and his fresh take on the Delta blues, which he calls “Neo-Delta Blues & Roots.”

Lawrence’s latest release, House Call, is his fourth, and puts his talents on full display. He plays guitars, mandolins, and provides all sorts of percussion, ranging from hand-clapping and finger-snapping to rattling chains and banging pipes, and is backed by Dave “Hurricane” Hoerl (harmonica), Russell Jackson (upright bass), David Aide (Hammond B3), Dwayne Hrinkiw (drums), and Barry Allen (background vocals).

Lawrence wrote 11 of the 13 tracks, and his “Mean Momma Blues” gets the disc off to a rousing start, moving quickly to “I Got To Ramble.” The Holmes Brothers contribute angelic harmonies to “Factory Closing Blues,” a scathing indictment of big business. Other highlights include “The Ballad of Molly Brown,” rife with Lawrence’s impressive fretwork, the Latin-flavored “Biscuit Rolling Daddy,” and “Long Way Back Home.”

Lawrence also covers the classic Tommy Johnson standard, “Canned Heat Blues,” putting his guitar chops on full display and a chilling take of the traditional “Death’s Black Train.” As good as his previous release was, Marshall Lawrence surpasses it with House Call, giving the Delta Blues a fresh original spin.

--- Graham Clarke

Ruff KuttThe Ruff Kutt Blues Band achieved a fair amount of success with their debut release in 2011, Mill Block Blues. $10,000 of the proceeds from the sales of that disc went toward the Blues Foundation’s HART Fund, which provide relief to blues musicians in need. For the band’s impressive follow-up, That’s When The Blues Begins (Vizztone), James Goode, who plays bass, ups the ante by adding singer/guitarist Zac Harmon and singer Finis Tasby to returning contributors Anson Funderburgh (guitar), Gentleman John Street (keyboards), and Wes Starr (drums), with Ron Jones (sax), Eric Przygocki (upright bass), and Steven Richardson (harmony vocals).

Tasby’s contributions, six vocals, were his last recordings before his debilitating stroke in December, 2012. He is in great form on the opening track, “Deep Elam Blues,” with Funderburgh laying down some great Texas-style stinging lead guitar, “Blues In My Blood,” “Don’t It Make You Cry,” and “Bare Foot Blues,” both of which has a distinct New Orleans slant to them, courtesy of Street’s keyboards. “Down So Low” finds Tasby so low, “his belly’s on the ground.”

Harmon’s contributions are equally strong, his smooth and assured vocals shine on “Oh Woman!” and “Blues Ain’t A Color.” The wonderful title track is one of several which feature gospel-like harmony vocals from Richardson, a real plus. “I’m Over You Woman” features Harmon with Funderburgh throwing out some sinewy Albert King-like lead work, and the two trade leads on the closing track, “When A Bluesman Goes To Heaven,” as Harmon dreams of the afterlife’s ultimate blues band.

That’s When The Blues Begins is a great listen from start to finish. James Goode has taken what was a great concept and actually improved on it this time around. Fans of Gulf Coast blues will want to add this disc to their collection for sure.

--- Graham Clarke

Amos GarrettAt one time, the blues was a major part of jazz….anyone who’s listened to Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, or Coleman Hawkins would know this. Somewhere along the way, jazz began to branch out and expand to the point that the blues was either minimized or eliminated altogether. There are still jazz musicians who get what a big part blues plays in jazz, but they seem to be outnumbered at times and the music, to me, has suffered and declined. Jazz without blues is jazz without soul. Your mileage may vary, but this is the reason why I review blues CDs instead of jazz CDs.

Chances are that if you’ve listened to music over the past four or five decades, you’ve heard Amos Garrett play guitar. In the ’70s and early ’80s, Garrett was the session guitarist of choice for artists like Paul Butterfield (as guitarist in Paul Butterfield’s Better Days), Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt, Bobby Charles, Ian Tyson (in Ian & Sylvia’s Great Speckled Bird), Jesse Winchester, and Maria Muldaur, whose monster hit from the ’70s, “Midnight At The Oasis,” features Garrett’s legendary one-take solo).

Garrett’s latest release, Jazzblues (Stony Plain Records), is his debut release with his Jazz Trio (Keith Smith – guitar and Greg Carroll – string bass). The disc consists of eight jazz standards, two apiece from Davis (“Freddie Freeloader” and “All Blues,” two tracks from Davis’ classic, Kind of Blue) and Monk (“Misterioso” and “Blue Monk”). There’s also a wonderful cover of Freddie Hubbard’s “Little Sunflower.”

Garrett and company also cover a pair of tunes from Canadian jazzman, Bob Erlendson (“Forty One/Ronnie’s Gone”). There are two tracks that feature vocals, Garrett’s serene turn on “Cocktails for Two,” and Roberta Donnay’s stunning interpretation of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Skylark” closes the disc.

All of these tunes were recorded during various live dates in Canada over the past two to three years. If you’re a fan of Amos Garrett’s, you’ve probably figured he would do an excellent job in a jazz setting. You won’t be disappointed, as his jazz playing varies little from his regular guitar work. With Garrett, the blues is always present in whatever style he’s playing. The addition of Smith is a plus and they complement each other well.

Jazzblues shows that the blues was a part of jazz from the beginning, and if maybe some jazz musicians have strayed from that mix over the past few years, it’s good to know that artists like Amos Garrett still know how to put it back where it belongs.

--- Graham Clarke

Bart WalkerBart Walker has been playing guitar since the age of four, and the Nashville-based blues guitarist has worked with country-rocker Bo Bice, former Black Crowes drummer Steve Gorman, Black Crowes/Cry of Love guitarist Audley Freed, and Cry of Love/Lynyrd Skynyrd bassist Robert Kearns. As a frontman, he’s hot off the success of his debut release, Who I Am, and was the winner of the Gibson Guitarist Award at the 2012 IBC in Memphis.

For Walker’s latest effort, Waiting on Daylight (Ruf Records), legendary producer Jim Gaines is on board as producer, and an all-star set of Memphis session studs (Dave Smith – bass, Steve Potts – drums, Rick Steff – keyboards). Simply put, if southern blues rock is your bag, this disc needs to be in your collection and if it is, it will be on steady listening rotation.

Fans of the Allmans and/or ZZ Top will dig the rowdy “Took It Like A Man,” and “It’s All Good.” There’s some scorching blues/rock on tracks like “Black Clouds,” “Girl You Bad,” “99%,” and the Skynyrd-esque “Happy.” The title track is a solid ballad that might be a nice radio hit in a perfect world.

There are also a pair of covers on the disc that will be familiar to blues and blues/rock fans. Walker’s revved-up take on J. B. Hutto’s “Hipshake It Baby” comes with some paint-peeling slide guitar. The second cover is of the Allman Brothers’ “Whippin’ Post,” but is taken at a much slower pace than the original, but building to a string-bending climax that will leave you wanting to hear more.

Waiting on Daylight is a most impressive release that guarantees you will be hearing more from Bart Walker. With his rugged blues-based vocals and his powerful guitar chops on full display like this, word will be spreading fast.

--- Graham Clarke

Paul FilipowiczPaul Filipowicz’s new release, Saints & Sinners (Big Jake Records) spans over 30 years of the Chicago-born, Wisconsin-based blues guitarist’s string-shredding career. Filipowicz worked through the ranks playing in the bands of Mighty Joe Young, Lefty Dizz, Hound Dog Taylor, and Luther Allison, and if you’re not familiar with his work, you will find upon listening that he puts what he’s learned over the years to good use.

Filipowicz positively rocks on these tracks. The opening cut, “Hound Dog Shuffle,” is a down-and-dirty instrumental tribute to his former employer, Hound Dog Taylor. “Bluesman” is an autobiographical track, with Filipowicz wailing away on guitar and singing like a man possessed. It doesn’t let up much from there, with the greasy slow blues, “Your True Lovin’” and the swampy “Hootin’ and Hollerin’” slowing things down a peg or two before Filipowicz tears into “Good Rockin’.”

“Fat Richard’s Blues” is a moody instrumental nod to Filipowicz’s former sax man, Dick “Fat Richard” Drake, featuring some inspired fretwork, but from there the band picks back up with the rocker, “Where The Blues Come From,” the Magic Sam-inspired “Everyday – Everynight,” and the crunching boogie track, “Hey Bossman,” is so good that you will hate for it to end.

The first nine tracks were recorded in November of 2012, with Filipowicz’s working band (Dave Remitz – bass, Brian “Tito” Howard – drums, and Harris Lemberg and Jimmy Voegeli – keyboards). The last three tracks were recorded way back in 1982 with Drake on saxophone and the rest of Filipowicz’s band (Will “Smokey” Logg – guitar, Randy Joe Fullerton – bass, Rob Stupka – drums, and Chuck Solberg – piano). These tracks, an unhinged cover of Clarence Carter’s “Backdoor Santa,” Howlin’ Wolf’s “How Many More Years,” and a clip of Filipowicz’s own “West Texas Strut,” are from his 1982 Lucky 7 sessions. They provide proof that Filipowicz has been great for a long time and shows no signs of letting up soon.

If you’re not familiar with Paul Filipowicz, Saints & Sinners is a good place to start, but you will definitely want to hear more.

--- Graham Clarke

Gina SiciliaIt Wasn’t Real, the latest release from Gina Sicilia, finds the sultry young singer chanteuse working through a ten-song set mixing blues, R&B, jazz, doo-wop, and pop. Backed by a tight and talented band, and produced by Grammy winner Glenn Barratt, this latest set rivals her incredible 2007 debut, Allow Me To Confess, as her best recording.

Though Sicilia is a wonderful singer with plenty of range and soulfulness, I think her strongest suit may be her songwriting skills, which was one of the most noteworthy things about her previous recordings, dating back to her debut release. The title track opens the disc, and it’s excellent….a slow, sexy number with Jay Davidson’s sax wailing in the background. From there, she moves to a lively doo-wop tune, “Please Don’t Stop,” and the smoldering “Wake Up Next To You.”
“Walkin’ Along The Avenue” is a breezy rocker that includes Dennis Gruenling on harmonica.

The wistful and romantic “City By The Water” opens with some nice acoustic guitar and features a strong vocal from Sicilia, who also shines on the country-tinged “Write A Little Song With You.” On the heart-wrenching “Don’t Wanna Be No Mother,” Sicilia recounts a tale lamenting the downside of domestic life. “Oh Me, Oh My” appears to be a carefree tune with butterflies and dragonflies and sunshine, but also casually tossed in is a comment about the sometimes fleeting qualities of romance, which changes the focus of the tune considerably.

As much as I enjoy Sicilia’s vocal talents, I continue to really be impressed by her songwriting. It’s highly personal and honest, and she’s not afraid to take chances. However, let’s not gloss over her vocals by any means. She is comfortable in any genre, be it blues, pop, jazz, country, or soul/R&B. These qualities make It Wasn’t Real worth a spin.

--- Graham Clarke

Hans TheesinkIf you’ve never listened to Hans Theessink, you’re missing out. Long regarded as Europe’s top blues and roots artist, he’s been playing for over 40 years, with over 20 albums and countless live performances throughout the world. He’s been particularly prolific over the last couple of years, with three outstanding releases for Blue Groove Records, the excellent Jedermann Remixed from 2011, 2012’s Delta Time, his second collaboration with singer Terry Evans, and this wonderful collection, Wishing Well.

Wishing Well offers 14 songs, split evenly between seven Theessink originals and seven traditional blues and Americana covers that spread over a wide span of years. Although primarily a solo acoustic album, with Theessink alternating between guitar, mandolin, banjo, and harmonica, he is assisted on several tracks by Dave Pearlman (pedal steel), Gyan Singh (tablas), and Blessings Nkomo (shaker).

Theessink covers traditional standards like “Make Me A Pallet On Your Floor,” “Alberta,” Brownie McGhee’s “Living With The Blues,” “Wayfaring Stranger,” and “Delia” (both associated with Johnny Cash). He also does Townes Van Zandt’s “Snowin’ on Raton” and Bob Dylan’s “Ballad of Hollis Brown.” His own compositions mesh well with the covers, notably “New Home Upon The Hill,” “Hellbound,” and the lovely title track.

Wishing Well is a laidback, easygoing collection, fueled by Theessink’s nimble fretwork and his warm, rumbling baritone. For guitar lovers, it’s essential listening.

--- Graham Clarke

Matt Baxter - Jake SampsonGuitarist Matt Baxter and singer/bassist Jake Sampson have joined forces for Haunted (Auburn Sky Records), an amazingly authentic disc of modern Delta blues. Baxter is a master guitarist who has played with a wide variety of musical acts ranging from Prince Buster to Donnie Osmond, and Sampson is a well-established blues man from the Motor City.

For the most part, Haunted features Baxter and Sampson performing as a duo. The pair also wrote all ten tracks, and they’re a strong set of modern tunes that would have fit easily into the mold of the old pre-war blues from the ’30s. Tracks like “Dusty Mule” and the title track are so authentic, you can almost feel the hot breeze blowing across a dusty delta dirt road. The duo sounds particularly effective on these tracks, plus “Soul,” “Same Old Pain” and “Someday.”

“Jamie Lynn” has more of a gentle country blues feel, and “Don’t It Make You Feel Good,” with added instrumentation from Dave Pellicciaro (B3) and Tony Coleman (drums), feels almost like a foray into Latin jazz. The electric “Little Girl Gone” is a nice change of pace, and “Take Me Back Home” adds piano (from Simon Russell) and sounds like a long-lost John Lee Hooker tune.

Haunted is a nice, relaxing set of mostly acoustic, Delta-flavored blues. Baxter’s virtuosity on guitar is a marvel, and Sampson’s down-home, gravelly vocal style is a perfect companion to the music. Fans of this style of blues will find themselves returning to this disc for repeated listens.

--- Graham Clarke

Dudley TaftDudley Taft’s music dates back to the early ’80s, when, while in a Connecticut prep school, he formed his first band, Space Antelope, with Phish’s Trey Anastasio. From there, he migrated to Seattle and became part of the music scene for over 20 years with the bands Sweet Water and later Second Coming, who had a Top 10 hit, “Vintage Eyes,” around the turn of the century. After Second Coming folded, Taft opted to do something different, initially moving toward forming a ZZ Top tribute band before falling under the spell of Freddie King.

Taft’s second solo release, Deep Deep Blue (American Blues Artists Group Records), shows the influence of King on Taft’s guitar work, but that’s only a piece of the pie….Taft also mixes in his Seattle-based rock and blues/rock influences, which makes for a pretty unique approach to blues guitar. He’s also a strong vocalist, which certainly doesn’t hurt a bit.

Taft penned eight of the 11 tracks on Deep Deep Blue. “The Waiting” is a churning boogie rocker. “God Forbid” is a continuation of the title track (“Left For Dead”) about a character from Taft’s first CD, and “Bandit Queen” tells the story of Pearl Hart, a latter-day stagecoach bandit. The title track is a pensive slow blues. “Feeling Good Now” is a funky rocker with a punchy horn section added for good measure, and “Wishing Well” sounds like a Southern rocker from the ’70s, with the opening acoustic guitar turning into stinging electric leads, mixed with vocal harmonies.

Taft also covers three diverse tunes, including the opening track, Bob Dylan’s “Meet Me In The Morning” and a scorching take of Leon Russell’s “Palace of the King” that would have made the Texas Cannonball proud. I have to admit my curiosity was piqued when I saw Lou Reed’s “Sally Can’t Dance” on the track list….I was a big fan of Reed’s back in the day. Taft’s rocked-out version of the tune is excellent and one of my favorite tunes on the disc.

Taft is backed by producer John Kessler (bass), Chris Leighton, Scott Vogel, and Jason Patterson (drums), and Eric Robert (keyboards). Ashley Christenen adds backing vocals.

Deep Deep Blue is a powerful, high-energy set of rock-flavored blues that proves that Dudley Taft’s decision to move from the rock arena to the blues scene was a wise one indeed.

--- Graham Clarke

The Hound KingsThe Hound Kings are an acoustic trio that consists of Anthony Paule (guitar), Scott Brenton (harmonica), and Alabama Mike (vocals). The trio originally recorded together on Alabama Mike’s electric blues CD, Tailor Made, and were encouraged enough by those results to give acoustic blues a try. The resulting CD, Unleashed (9 Below Productions), is acoustic blues for the 21st century, with Alabama Mike’s insightful lyrics, putting a modern spin on longtime blues topics, combined with Paule’s on-the-money guitar work and Brenton’s intuitive harmonica fills.

Alabama Mike’s vocals are the equal to his songwriting, unique and original. Listeners will be drawn into his lyrics by listening to the passion and commitment that he brings to his performances. Tracks like “SSI Blues,” “Drunk Honey Bee,” “The Real McCoy,” “You Got Issues,” “Recession Blues,” and “The Thang” mix current events with regular blues topics. Paule grew up listening to Peetie Wheatstraw, Scrapper Blackwell, and Robert Johnson and this is really his first opportunity to record acoustic blues. He makes the most of it. He’s one of those guitarists who says a lot with just a few notes. Brenton, who also engineered the session, provides harmonica fills that are always in the right place at the right time.

The trio closes the disc with two cover tunes, a reworking of Mississippi Fred McDowell and Rev. Gary Davis’ “You Gotta Move,” which will definitely make you move, and Mercy Dee Walton’s “Red Light,” a spicy old chestnut that rocks the disc to a close. Unleashed is a refreshingly original acoustic blues disc that will appeal to any blues fan who gives it a spin.

--- Graham Clarke

Linda ValoriSinger Linda Valori has won numerous music awards in her native Italy since the mid ’90s. She performed twice for Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. She’s comfortable singing pop, jazz, and opera, but her first love is blues and R&B, of the Bobby “Blue” Bland and Etta James variety, having become a fan as a child. Therefore, it’s past time that she releases an album of blues and R&B classics. Enlisting producer Larry Skoller (who produced the Chicago Blues: A Living History releases), Valori has stepped forward with Days Like This (LeArt World Music).

The 12 tracks on Days Like This cover a lot of ground. The title track, written by Van Morrison gets things off to a soulful start. Valori also covers tunes by Chrissie Hynde (“Don’t Get Me Wrong”), Janis Joplin (“Move Over”), and hits the blues hard with her smoking take of “I Smell Trouble,” with guitar from Mike Wheeler, who also contributes to Ike Turner’s “I Idolize You.” Guitarist Luca Giordano lends a hand on the R&B chestnut, “So Doggone Good.” Valori also performs a cool duet with singer Mike Avery on the album closer “If I Can’t Have You.”

Valori gets powerhouse support from a crack band that includes Keith Henderson (guitar), Tim Gant (keyboards), Billy Dickens (bass), Vincent Bucher (harmonica), Khari Parker (drums), and Joe Rendon (percussion), with background vocals from Avery and Stevie Robinson. There’s also a strong horn section with Doug Corcoran (trumpet, baritone sax) and Marqueal Jordan (tenor sax).

So how is Linda Valrori’s first attempt at recording a blues/R&B record? Judging from what we hear on Days Like This, it won’t be her last. She tears into these 12 tracks and sings with a fire and passion that will make you want to hear more from her, and soon.

--- Graham Clarke

Janet RyanJanet Ryan and her band, Straight Up, have been blowing audiences away on the East Coast….the band with their high energy blues attack, and Ryan with her powerful vocals. Having released two well-received recordings in the past ten years, Ryan scores again with her third, and latest release, Mama Soul, on CSP Records (distributed by Malaco Records, a label that knows a thing or two about soul).

12 of the 13 tracks were written by Ryan or Terry Vieregge, who also plays bass, or Chuck Mabrey, who plays keyboards. They include the strong opener, “He Burned That Bridge,” which packs a punch, the jazzy “What I Like Best,” “Mr. Misery,” a tune with lots of crossover potential, as is “What Was I Thinking,” “Love Has Left The Building,” with some killer sax by Joe Meo, and “Take Your Shoes Off,” a nice slice of soul. The album’s lone cover is Sippie Wallace’s “Woman Be Wise,” and Ryan does a great job with it.

The disc, recorded in Dallas, includes a host of area musicians backing Ryan as well as members of Straight Up (Ray Chaput – guitar, Joe Elliot – keyboards, BillyKlock – drums, and Dennis LeBeau – bass). CSP label head Jimmy Rogers first heard Ryan sing on a documentary and knew he had to get her into the studio. Blues and soul fans will be glad that he did.

--- Graham Clarke

Long Tall DebFormed in 2011, Los Angeles-based blues/rock band The Record Company has rapidly developed an enthusiastic and growing following in southern California. As the band prepares for a cross-continent trip that includes July dates at the Quebec City Summer Festival and the Ottawa Bluesfest, its debut CD, Superdead, is highly recommended to fans of contemporary blues rooted in old-school traditions.

The album opens with the juke-joint-ready “Don’t Let Me Get Lonely,” an acoustic guitar-based throwback that evokes the spirit of John Lee Hooker. As vocalist, Chris Vos is gifted with a soulful voice that recalls the Motown era, as well as with the understanding for how to use it. From the opening line, a listener can immediately hear, and even feel, the depth of Vos’ plea for companionship through the song.

Alex Stiff’s Stax-ready bass drives the second song, “Goodbye Sad Eyes,” laying a foundation that compliments Vos’ accomplished and tasteful slide guitar. Marc Cazorla adds a textbook demonstration of how to play drums with feeling and musicianship, while also fulfilling the percussionist’s traditional role of sustaining the rhythm section.

Other highlights include “Born Unnamed,” through which fans of Jimmy Reed might notice his influence on Vos’ guitar work, “Medicine Man,” which infuses the classic Bo Diddley riff with intensity and a sense of urgency, and a slide guitar-oriented ballad, “This Crooked City.”

Ultimately, The Record Company is comprised of three equally accomplished musicians. That triple threat characterizes the band’s live shows, and it is particularly on display in the CD’s dynamic final song, “On The Move,” in which bassist Stiff and drummer Cazorla essentially share the role of primary instrumentalist, augmented by Vos’ harmonica and powerful vocals. As a debut CD, Superdead shows The Record Company as an accomplished, emerging band.

--- John Gadd

Walter TroutThere are days when the only thing that will get me moving is some rock-based blues guitar, played at the appropriate level to garner my attention and keep it there. Today was a day like that, so I threw in Walter Trout’s latest release on Provogue Records, Luther’s Blues, a tribute to his friend, the legendary Luther Allison. A dream project of Walter’s, this recording has been simmering on the backburner’s of Walter’s brain since the day Luther died in 1997. It’s a helluva project, so let’s give it a listen.

Almost immediately, Walter hits the frets of his Strat as the band bursts into the intro for “I’m Back.” “I’m back…I know I’m a natural born bluesman…and that’s a fact…I’m back!” A nice, tight opening song and I’m aware that this is going to be an interesting ride. Walter then moves on to “Cherry Red Wine” and lets us know he’s got his eye on someone on the eve of personal destruction. “Watching you baby…just watching you all the time…watching you destroy yourself, woman…all you do is sit around and drink some wine!” Luther obviously loved this woman very much in the original version and I’m sure Walter’s fretwork on this one is matching the intensity of Luther’s agony back then. This isn’t going to end well and it’s a sad thing she can’t kick her addition to “cherry red wine.”

Up next is more of Walter’s fretwork in “Move From the Hood.” Here we find the impact of the neighborhood is having an adverse effect on someone close to him. “You’ve got to move…move from the hood…tell all your no good friends…that life ain’t just that good!” Hopefully a change will do them good and they’ll get moving in a positive direction again.

“Bad Love” is a power ballad that continues this theme of self destruction. Luther’s woman is hiding an affair from him and it’s obvious what’s going on. “Bad love…and misery…bad love…and secrecy…this bad love…is killing me!” Things get a little funkier as Walter moves on to Luther’s tune, “Big City.” More guitar pyrotechnics fill my ears as Walter sings, “Sun sinking deep…fire burning down…it’s hard to see the moon…when the smoke is all around…I live in the big city…and they tell me we all are free…I hear babies crying…there’ll be killing in these streets.” The “Big City” is a dangerous place to live and everyone needs to know. “Chicago” is up next and the funk factor increases geometrically. “Back in Chicago…Chicago…that’s my town…Chicago…I’ve been away too long!” Luther loved living in Chicago and you can hear it in Walter’s voice.

“Just as I Am” is up next and this beautiful ballad is a refreshing change from the intensity of the earlier cuts on the disc. “And will you promise…to be honest…will you promise…to cross your heart…when I’m hurting and don’t give a damn…will you love me…just as I am?” It only takes a second and Walter’s ratcheting the intensity back up in “Low Down and Dirty.” “I’m low down…low down all the time….I’m low down and dirty babe…low down’s on my mind!” “Pain in the Streets” finds a beautiful tone emanating from Walter’s Strat as the tempo slows slightly and the emphasis for this song is the emotion of it. “If pain was money…don’t you know I’d be a rich man…it be like living in the desert…don’t you know my house…would be full of sand.” Walter portrays Luther’s pain succinctly through his fretwork and the mournful tones of his Strat are hauntingly beautiful in this tune.

Up next is Walter’s version of “All the Kings Horses,” and the band’s intensity rises to meet the occasion. “All the king’s horses…all the mama’s mules…they can’t even stop you…from giving me the blues…there’s a wrong…Luther, you’re wrong…you got my mind messed up darling…you’re going to make me leave our happy home!” Not sure what was causing the conflict between Luther and the woman he loved but it was evidently enough to cause her to move out and move on.

“Freedom” is the last song on the disc that Luther wrote and reflects upon his experiences in South Africa. “We fought for self respect…and we fought for equal rights…and we’ve known for a long, long time…that discrimination just ain’t right…talking about freedom!” Luther’s concerns for the rights of his brethren were more than justified and he was spot on. “Discrimination just ain’t right!”

Luther’s Blues closes with a short recording of Luther, “I don’t need fans…I want friends…let’s make friends, fans…if I see you today…I want to see you tomorrow…that’s where I’m at.” Walter then moves on to his tribute to Luther, “When Luther Played the Blues.” “When Luther played the Blues…it came from way down, deep inside…you fell every time he knelt…you fell…every time he cried!”

This disc is Walter’s first recording of all cover tunes and I’m guessing it will probably be his last. It’s obvious that his friendship with Luther Allison and their conversations had a huge impact on Walter’s life. He’s put together an amazing tribute to his friend and we’re all the better for it. Grab a copy of this disc when you see Walter on the road or order it from his website, It’s an essential addition to your collection of Walter’s recordings and it won’t disappoint!

--- Kyle Deibler

Cassie TaylorI had the opportunity to see Cassie Taylor here in Fort Collins at a local club called Road 34. An alt indie group from Denver, In the Whale, opened for her and I was left scratching my head…wondering what the hell I’d gotten into. Then Cassie took the stage and proceeded to convert everyone into the club to Blues fans. She laughed, she cajoled them and at times even talked some serious trash, but by the end of the night everyone loved her. We talked between sets and she proudly told me that her new disc, Out of My Mind, is “all mine” and deservedly so. It was the last disc I played before I rolled into Memphis for the BMAs and its time to give it a spin.

Cassie opens her disc with the two-part tune, “Ol’ Mama Dean,” a song about domestic violence inspired by a documentary that Cassie had watched on television. Here we find Ol’ Mama Dean in prison serving time for murder. She’d ultimately killed her husband rather than suffer any more abuse. “Didn’t try to run…she just sat down on the porch…and she stuck to her story…didn’t have no remorse…she won’t see the light of day…until she’s dead and buried…that’s the story…of poor Ol’ Mama Dean!” A tragic situation but one that Mama Dean came to grips with as a consequence of her actions.

A heavy bass line by Cassie provides the intro to our next tune, “Spare Some Love.” “I’m down and out…not a penny in change…I should leave this place…ain’t no use in staying…my soul is weary…my heart is worn…ain’t slept in days…no house and no home…well, my coat is torn…seams come undone…my cup is empty…can you spare some love?” Homelessness is a cause near and dear to Cassie’s heart, and hopefully this song will help to raise some awareness for the homeless. Next up is a more positive tune, “Out of My Mind.” This tune has its roots in a conversation Cassie had with her sister-in-law who talked her ear off for a couple of hours over a new guy she was dating. Upon further reflection Cassie realized she’d experienced the same feelings falling in love with her husband, Chuck Haren, and the result is this tune. “Let fools rush in…let the blind lead the blind…I just can’t get him…out of my mind!”

There’s no doubt that Otis and Carol Taylor have raised quite the daughter, and she pays her respects to them in our next cut, “Lay Your Head on My Pillow,” a tune she wrote for them in honor of their 23rd wedding anniversary. “It’s been a long life…children are all grown…days are getting cooler…nights are getting long…and I’m going to lay my head…on your pillow...and drift asleep.”A really beautiful tune and one I’m sure Cassie’s parents appreciated tremendously. Moving on to Louisiana, up next is “New Orleans.” New Orleans is like no other city and one of Cassie’s favorite places to visit. “They say…be careful what you wish for…cause dreams ain’t often come true…so I’m going down...down…down to New Orleans!”

Up next is a tune that Chuck is probably tired of hearing, “No Ring Blues.” Poor guy endured this tune for several months on the road before he finally broke down and bought the ring that according to Cassie “made me his bride!” They’re a great couple and I’m glad that Chuck finally got Cassie’s not so subtle hint!

Another heavy bass line from Cassie provides the intro to our next cut, “No No.” Evidently the byproduct of a bad relationship, “No No” gives Cassie an outlet and release from the situation. “Cause you don’t want to give me…your love…no…no!” “Forgiveness” is another ballad from Cassie and focuses on the joy of forgiving someone for the way they’ve treated you. “Bad days…aren’t hard to find….you’ve had yours, girl…and oh, I’ve had mine…patience can be found…if you take your time…I said forgiveness…is hard to come by!”

“Gone and Dead” is a tune Cassie wrote for her father, Otis. “Lay your head on my grave…hear the words that I sing…throw your hand… now that I’m gone…it’s my legacy…so don’t forget…don’t regret…this is all you have left!” This tune was inspired by a conversation that Cassie had with Otis regarding the death of his friend, Gary Moore. Otis indicated to Cassie that he’s bought a parcel of land to build a monument for his fans to visit when he’s passed on. As for Cassie and her sister, Otis says, “When I’m dead you’ll still have the music.” It’s definitely his way and Otis is leaving the girls an amazing legacy when that day comes.

Out of My Mind closes with two more tunes, “That’s My Man” and “Again.” “That’s My Man” is a tune Cassie wrote to compliment Chuck on the way he treats her in their relationship. “I have a man…he treats me good…he treats me nice…like a real man should…cause that’s my man!” “Again” slows the tempo down, with Cassie on the piano while Owen Tharp plays the bowed bass. A tale of forbidden love, Cassie finds herself in competition with a married woman. “Oh and you…you make it hard on me baby…so…here I go again.” Crossing the line will do nothing but end badly and I’m afraid that Cassie will come up empty here.

Out of My Mind features a number of well-crafted tunes that have enabled Cassie to catch the attention of her generation as well as the rest of us “old folks.” Her show at Road 34 was impressive in that she spoke the language of her peers, never backed down and truly showed the universal nature of the Blues for all ages. Cassie Taylor is bound and determined to convert them all, one audience member at a time. So catch Cassie and her amazing band (Steve Mignano on guitar with Larry Thompson on the drums) at some point this summer, and grab a copy of this disc from them. It’s a good one!

--- Kyle Deibler

Austin YoungAustin Young is living large these days. He just graduated from high school in Colorado Springs, earned an academic scholarship to prestigious Denver University and he has the support of the Vizztone Label Group behind his new release, Blue As Can Be. Austin’s disc showcases an array of all original tunes, so let’s give it a listen.

Tim Young’s kick drum drives the intro of our first cut, “Thunderhead,” a song dedicated to all of the good folks rebuilding in the aftermath of the storms that hit Joplin, Missouri. The mythical “Thunderhead” represents a destination and place of growth for Austin. “Got to choose your own path, son…that’s what my mama always said…well, I’m going way down south…all the way to Thunderhead!”

Up next is “Blue As Can Be,” the title track and Austin’s homage to the playing of Muddy Waters and other champions of dirty, electric blues. “I’m a hard working man…as blue as I can be…well, it must be some evil devil…chasing on after me!” Austin’s working hard to support his baby and the devil’s influence is trying to work its spell on him and get in the way. I’m pretty sure Austin will survive this round in good shape. “Disappearing Railroad Blues” is a tune written by Austin and his bass player Noah Mast along with Noah’s father, Steven. A ballad and a love song, here we find Austin missing his girl, every time the train takes her away. “Got them disappearing railroad blues…every time she goes….got them disappearing railroad blues…only heaven knows!” It’s a struggle to make this relationship work and Austin seems to have endured his share of heartache with this girl.

The band lets its rock ‘n roll side out with our next cut, “Signal.” Here we find Austin looking for a signal to know if the girl that’s caught his eye is interested or not, “Green or go….red or stop…send me a signal before I reach the top!” Hopefully she likes Austin and sends him the “green” signal! “Springtime Snow” is a ballad written by Austin and his dad, Tim. A much mellower tune than Austin is noted for; “Springtime Snow” features some fine organ playing by Tom Tapec. “Dreams…they come and go…just like the springtime snow…then the sun will shine…just hope it comes in time…for me.“

"Magdalena” continues to showcase Austin’s softer side and is the result of collaboration between Austin and one of his earliest influences, Jim Adam, of Colorado Springs. Jim sings background vocals on this tune while Austin plays the melody on Jim’s National Steel guitar. A really beautiful tune, Austin does this one justice and he sings of trying to find his way back to the lovely Magdalena. I’d have to say that “Magdalena” is definitely one of my favorite tunes on the disc.

The liner notes instruct us to turn up the volume for “Not As Strong” and it’s not a bad recommendation. Tim and Noah are holding down the back end while Austin displays a bit of vulnerability while letting his Stratocaster get a work-out. “I’m not as strong as I used to be…now that you know my name…now that you placed your bet on me…life won’t ever be the same!” A new girl in his life seems to be giving Austin a reason and a determination to move forward.

It’s not clear to me who’s playing the piano on our next tune, “Who’s Coming Out,” but what is clear is Tim’s drumming driving this song. “Who’s Coming Out” is definitely a party tune guaranteed to get you off your chair and onto the dance floor. “Who’s coming…party til your leaving…is what this tune’s about!” Moving on, “It’s hard to remember….anything I did right…it’s hard to remember…any of the faces in the fight…got to lift your spirit up and let your heart touch the sky…oh yea…running on borrowed time…doesn’t make the best of what we’ve got!” This lyric is from the tune “Borrowed Time” and reflects the fact that the only day we’re promised is today, so make the best of it because tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us.

Our next tune, “That’s It,” has a Stray Cats feel to me. Here we find the girl moving on and leaving Austin behind. “You could have told me you were leaving…the love you lack…is causing my heart bleeding…that’s it…baby I quit!” We slow the tempo way down for “Give Me One Good Reason” as the band works its way back to the basics of its old blues roots and Austin’s guitar is at the forefront for us to hear. “Give me one good reason…give me one good reason to stay…my life was fine without you…now I can’t live another day!” You can hear the pain in Austin’s guitar work and there’s no doubt he’s ready to leave this girl behind.

This despair leads to optimism in our next cut, “Walking Through” and we find Austin’s mood reflected in his fretwork. “I’m wired for sunshine…on a cloudy day…my heart is jumping…though the clouds are gray….aint gonna let nothing….turn that smile into a frown….I’m walking through sunshine….rain all around!”

Blue As Can Be closes with an appropriate tune, “Miss You Moore,” that started out as a tribute to Gary Moore but became the band’s tribute to all the great musicians who’ve recently left us. Austin, Tim and Noah are all great students of the bluesmen and women who’ve come before, and this moving instrumental is a great way to round out the disc.

I’ve enjoyed this disc tremendously. Austin is a favorite son here in Colorado and has caught the attention and affection of many. As time goes on, his voice will deepen, his life experiences will give him many more topics to write about, and hopefully his roots will remain deeply steeped in the Blues. The band is on the road here in Colorado and at select events around the country, so catch them if you can. You can check their schedule and order their record at This Colorado Bluesman is definitely on the rise!

--- Kyle Deibler

Long Tall DebI vaguely remember Long Tall Deb Landolt as part of the Vizztone showcase this year in Memphis at the IBCs, but days roll into nights and back again so I’m happy to have a copy of her new record, Raise Your Hands, to refresh my memory. Deb has surrounded herself with a who’s who of Blues talent and produced a very fresh sounding disc. She’s a blues woman on the rise so let’s give her a listen.

Up first is “What Would a Good Woman Do?” Deb manages to wrap a sweet vocal apologizing to her man around a conversation with Phillip Pemberton as her foil dealing with the everyday struggles between a man and a woman. It’s a classic. Deb asks Phillip “Baby, do these jeans make my butt look big?" To which Phillip replies, “I’ve got one word for you --- Pilates” Deb’s quick retort is, “And I’ve got two words for you, too --- sit-ups!”

“Hush Your Mouth” finds Deb in a reflective mood about her relationship and needing some time to think. “Since I’ve had time to clear my head…sat and focused on the things you said…I understand now…I need to say goodbye!” At least her head's clear and she’s making a healthy decision to leave this man. There’s a swing feel to our next tune and we find Deb ready to take a trip in “Train to Tucson.” “When that lonely whistle moans…I feel it in my bones….five-fifteen…train to Tucson!”

The soulful tones of John Popovich on the Fender Rhodes provide the background to “Let’s Get Lost,” a ballad that finds Deb deep in love. “Let’s get lost…how does that make you feel…is this the real deal…I do what I can…to make you feel like you should…tell me…does that make you feel real good?” Deb is definitely motivated to make this relationship work and she’s pulling out all the stops. We segue into another slow tune, “The Last Time.” Here we find Deb reflecting on her life and the meaning of it all. “Gave all I had…to a thankless job…just doesn’t seem to be…what I signed up for!” Change is in the air and Deb is in search of a more meaningful life than the one she has now.

“Coa Breeze” stays in the same vein and finds Deb in need of re-charging her batteries. “Wait for the night…to swallow me whole…as I gaze out at the lights…across the water…mondavi boats float slowly by…I’m in no hurry to get home…and won’t answer if they call…this Coa breeze blows softly through my mind!” I don’t know exactly where Coa is, but it definitely sounds like paradise.

Tempo and intensity pick back up as the band tackles “Married to the Blues.” Deb’s mom is a lot like mine was, “honey, when are you going to find someone nice and settle down?" Deb has the perfect answer, “I say…don’t worry mama…I’ve already set a date…she said, you make me oh so happy…tell me, what’s his name? …mama, his name is the blues!” I’m sure Deb’s mother wasn’t very happy with that answer, but Deb seems to be perfectly content hanging out with the blues!

“Finally Forgot Your Name” is another slow ballad and here we find Deb stepping out. “Put on my red dress…and I went on the town…had fun for the first time…since you put me down…now it seems…you want me to come back to you…now what makes you think…I’d be such a fool…because tonight, tonight….I finally forgot your name!” Deb’s finally on a healing path and moving on from being mistreated is the only way to go.

The title cut, “Raise Your Hands,” is up next and here we find Deb struggling in the machinations of everyday life. “Raise your hands,  people…raise your hands, people…try to break away…but still living on your knees…say, I think I like the living but I’m not afraid to die!”

Sean Carney and Bart Walker both play guitar on “Muddy Jesus,” a cover of an Ian Moore tune. “Mother Mary said…your time has come…for the rivers but can be fought and won…for the very love of God and man…Jesus crossed the Rio Grande!” Jesus is evidently a drug runner trying to make it across the border between Juarez and El Paso! Sad to say he didn’t make it.

I’m sure its Colin John’s slide work providing the intro for our next tune, “To Find His Home,” and here we find Shaun Booker on the lead vocal. “I’ve been trying…to find my way home!” A beautiful spiritual, Shaun’s vocals are powerful and spot on.

Raise Your Hands closes with a Tom Waits tune, “New Coat of Paint.” Beautiful piano from John Popovich provides the distinctive backdrop to Deb’s version of Tom’s song. “Let’s put a new coat of paint…on this lonesome, old town…you set them up…and we’ll be knocking them down…I’ll wear that dress, Baby…you wear that tie…laugh at that bloodshot moon…and that burgundy sky!”

I have to admit that Long Tall Deb’s disc surprised me a bit. Her vocals are very strong and the list of folks who played on Raising Your Hands is too long to mention. But if we judge Deb by the company she keeps, then she’s doing very well indeed. I’m sure her disc will get some consideration in the nominating process for the Blues Music Awards and one would think that Long Tall Deb has a very bright future in front of her. I hope to see her on the road soon. In the meantime, take a stop by her website at This is an artist worth taking note of.

--- Kyle Deibler



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