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Order these featured albums today:

Bob Margolin and Bob Corritore

Hogtown Allstars

Dave Weld and The Imperial Flames

Steve Howell and The Mighty Men

Dennis Johnson

Levee Town

The Groove Krewe

Sass jordan

Charlie Musselwhite

Brad Absher



Johnny SansoneJohnny Sansone has played blues, Cajun and zydeco over his career, sitting in with Honeyboy Edwards at age 13 and studying with harp masters James Cotton and Junior Wells during the ’70s. In the ’80s, he toured with Ronnie Earl, John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Rogers, and Robert Jr. Lockwood.

He’s released 13 albums since his recording career began in 1987, the latest being Into Your Blues, which is the sixth on his own Short Stack Records. Sansone plays harmonica and resonator guitar on the album of 11 originals, and he’s joined by an impressive list of musicians, including guitarists Mike Morgan, Johnny Burgin, Little Freddie King, and harp ace Jason Ricci.

The title track opens the disc, a mid-tempo urban blues with horns, crisp fretwork, and a harmonica solo to close it out. “Pay For This Song” is a Jimmy Reed-based blues that cynically laments the meager compensation given to artists from the streaming services, while “Desperation” is a wonderful slice of smooth Southern soul. Ricci joins Sansone on vocals and harp for the aptly-titled “Blowin’ Fire,” and King sits in on guitar and narrates “Willie’s Juke Joint,” recounting one particular night in a Kenner, Louisiana juke joint.

Tiffany Pollock joins Sansone on vocals for the rousing “People Like You And Me,” and makes several other appearances throughout. Another standout track is the rocking driving country blues, “The Getaway,” a nice harp showcase for Sansone. “New Crossroads” revisits the familiar blues theme with a hypnotic, haunting rhythm, while “Something Good Going On” has a greasy, swampy vibe with a great harp solo from Sansone. The album closes out with the funky and somewhat ominous “Single Room,” and “Southern Dream” is a gentle instrumental showcasing Sansone, Burgin, and Morgan on guitars.

Other contributing musicians include Jeffrey Bridges (bass), John Milham (drums), Brad Walker (tenor/baritone saxes), Steve Lands (trumpet), and Michael Sinkus (percussion). Into Your Blues is more focused on the blues than recent Johnny Sansone releases, but the blues has always been there for him anyway. This is a fine effort and ranks highly in his already-impressive catalog.

--- Graham Clarke

Margolin - CorritoreI just naturally assumed that somewhere down the road, Bob Margolin and Bob Corritore had made an album together, but no, So Far (VizzTone Label Group) marks their first album together. Though they haven’t made an album together, Margolin and Corritore have known each other for years, dating back to Corritore seeing Margolin playing with Muddy Waters at his high school in 1974, and have been friends ever since. Their first effort is an acoustic one and includes 13 songs, eight originals and five covers. Just two old friends getting together and doing what they do best.

Margolin penned seven of the originals, including the opener “Steady Rollin’ On,” “Running Through High Water” (with guest Jimmy Vivino also on guitar), “Outrage and Images” (loosely based on Robert Johnson’s “Terraplane Blues”), “Now and Then,” “One Hundred Hearts Later,” “What If?,” and “Blessings and Blues.” Corritore contributed the fine instrumental, “Salt River Stomp,” where he takes the spotlight with sturdy rhythmic backing from Margolin.

The covers include The Band’s “It Makes No Difference,” sung by Margolin and Vivino and appropriately played in an Americana vein, Memphis Minnie’s “Broken Heart,” “Red Hot Kisses” from Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller edition), Muddy Waters’ “I Wanna Go Home,” and “My Little Machine,” from Sonny Boy Williamson (John Lee Williamson edition).

Margolin produced the album, which has a warm, intimate feel. The fretwork and original songs are excellent and his vocals are warm and heartfelt. Corritore’s harmonica is always right where it needs to be. He’s backed countless blues artists over his career and there’s never a note out of place. Margolin has played with a harmonica player or two during his career and the two complement each other perfectly. Hopefully, these two will collaborate again very soon.

--- Graham Clarke

Hogtown All-StarsThe Hogtown Allstars are a Canadian blues supergroup that feature a host of the country’s most highly respected artists, including Downchild Blues Band vets Chuck Jackson (vocals/harmonica), Gary Kendall (bass), Pat Carey (sax), Jim Casson (drums), and Tyler Yarema (keyboards), and Maple Blues Band alumni Teddy Leonard (guitar) and Howard Moore (trumpet). The group members have amassed over 20 Maple Blues Awards, five JUNO Awards, two Lifetime Achievement awards, and many other international blues and jazz awards.

The group was originally conceived in 2013, so it took some eight years for them to coordinate everyone’s schedules to actually sit down and make a recording, which they finally were able to complete. Hog Wild (Stony Plain Records) is a ten-song set featuring eight originals from the band and two choice covers.

“Mr. Lucky,” a Crescent City-flavored shuffle, kicks off the disc in fine fashion, with Jackson sounding a bit like Dr. John in his vocal delivery, and Yarema takes a turn on the ivories that would certainly put a smile on Fess’s face. Next up is the title track, a down and dirty roadhouse rocker, and “Real Good Night,” a swinging, goodtime track written by Kendall. The soulful “I Just Think Of You” and the ballad “Angel In My Bed” are also top notch.

The “Subway Casanova” has a southern rock feel and features tasty slide guitar from Leonard, while “The Sad One” is a buoyant call and response number and “Biscuits & Beans” is an acoustic blues addressing the trails of getting a good meal on the road. The last two tracks are covers, beginning with Dave McLean’s amusing “She’s Got The Stuff,” and closing with “I Ain’t Lyin’,” an upbeat tune that wraps things up nicely.

Hog Wild is a sharp set from some of The Great White North’s finest blues artists. These guys certainly do know their way around the blues and, hopefully, they’ll work on coordinating their future schedules so they can get together for another recording soon.

--- Graham Clarke

Dave WeldFor Nightwalk, Dave Weld & the Imperial Flames’ third release for Delmark Records, the slide guitarist offers up a brave new version of the Chicago blues that Weld has been playing for several decades, first with slide guitar legend J.B. Hutto and later with Hutto’s nephew, maybe you’ve heard of him, Lil’ Ed Williams. Weld’s two previous Delmark releases, 2010’s Burnin’ Love and 2015’s Slip Into A Dream, were both successful. Nightwalk continues that streak.

Grammy-winning producer Tom Hambridge produced this effort, which features a dozen tracks, two of which are covers. Weld handles all of the guitar work and most of the vocals, while the talented Monica Myhre takes the mic on five tracks. She and Weld wrote or co-wrote the originals, one of the best being the intense urban life narrative, “Mary Who,” which opens and closes (in an extended version) the album. Weld narrates the harrowing tale most effectively as the band slowly builds the tension.

Hutto gets a lot of love from Weld on Nightwalk. The original “Don’t Ever Change Your Ways” is a thank-you note of sorts to the 'slideslinger' for his sage advice and counsel during Weld’s formative years.The band offers two-fisted covers of a pair of Hutto classics, “Now She’s Gone” (which features harmonica from Billy Branch, always a good thing) and “Loving You” (which is combined with Bukka White’s “Jelly Roll Blues”). I think Mr. Hutto would definitely nod in approval of Weld’s scorching slide guitar on these tracks.

Myhre shines on “Don’t Tell Mama,” “Travelin’ Woman,” “Cry Cry Cry,” the Latin-flavored “Donde Vas,” and “She Was A Woman” with her tough, but vulnerable vocal style. These songs, all originals, are powerful in their narrative and message, with some touching on subjects not normally broached in blues songs. Drummer Jeff Taylor takes an amiable lead vocal on the funky “Hit By The 103.”

Hambridge brings his typical high-energy production to the proceedings, giving Weld’s brand of traditional Windy City blues a modern sheen that should be pleasing to fans of traditional and contemporary blues. The band support is superlative, including Taylor (drums, with Hambridge playing on one track) Harry Yaseen and Graham Guest (keyboards), Kenny Pickens (bass), Sax Gordon (baritone and alto sax), Rogers Randle, Jr. (alto sax, arrangements), Kenny Anderson (trumpet), and Bill McFarland (trombone).

Nightwalk offers up powerful songs and performances (plus lots of monster slide guitar work) from Dave Weld & the Imperial Flames, one of Chicago’s top blues bands.

--- Graham Clarke

Steve HowellA new release from Steve Howell and the Mighty Men always puts a hop in my step. The Texas-based guitarist/singer is always a refreshing change of pace. His approach to the blues is very subtle and low-key. allowing listeners to dig deep into his music with multiple listenings. I find myself discovering new facets of each song with each listen. His guitar work is relaxed and smooth and his musical support from the Mighty Men (Chris Michaels – electric guitar, Dave Hoffpauir – drums, Jason Weinheimer – bass/organ) is always spot-on.

Been Here And Gone (Out of the Past Music) is a stellar 12-song set of tunes that span some 40 years and a number of genres: Blues, R&B, popular hits, and Americana, with Howell and company giving each tune a fresh treatment. The opener, “The ‘In’ Crowd,” opens the disc. Originally a hit for Dobie Gray vocally, and later an instrumental hit for Ramsey Lewis, Howell’s version is more relaxed yet still retains the dynamic feel of Lewis’ version. The jazzy “Bad Boy” was co-written by Lil Armstrong, Louis Armstrong’s second wife, and Howell presents it as a tribute to the late Doug Sahm.

Howell and the Mighty Men have a great time with the swinging blues “Candyman,” a traditional tune that goes back at least to the early 20th century,when it was made famous by the Rev. Gary Davis. Ray Charles’ “I Believe To My Soul” finds Howell approaching the lyric somewhat differently from previous versions, with of sad and knowing acceptance that things have gone south in his relationship.

Next is a terrific cover of The Drifters’ “Such A Night” that will get toes to tapping, and a breathtaking instrumental read of the Delfonic’s “La La Means I Love You.”

Another instrumental follows, a wonderfully bluesy take on Gerry and the Pacemakers’ “Ferry Cross The Mersey.” This seamlessly moves to the rumbling Louisiana blues obscurity “Jimmy Bell,” originally recorded by William “Cat Iron” Carradine, a funky instrumental interpretation of the ’60s hit “Black Is Black,” and the traditional Appalachian folk tale “Wild Bill Jones,” a ominous tale of murder.

A breezy version of Big Bill Broonzy’s “Willie Mae” precedes a fascinating rendition of The Ventures’ surf guitar classic, “Walk Don’t Run,” closing the disc in spirited fashion.

If you haven’t experienced the music of Steve Howell and the Mighty Men, you are truly missing out. Give Been Here And Gone a spin and you’ll find yourself eagerly anticipating each of their subsequent releases as much as I do.

--- Graham Clarke

Dennis JohnsonGuitarist Dennis Johnson’s fourth release, Revelation (Booda Lee Records), is just what the doctor ordered for any fan of slide guitar. The new release offers ten tracks, evenly split between originals and covers, and finds the master slide guitarist teaming up with drummer Anton Fig, bassist Jonathan Stoyanoff, and keyboardist Bob Fridzema. Johnson’s previous releases were all excellent, but Revelation shows the guitarist experimenting a bit with tone, giving his fretwork a grittier edge. Combined with the rock-steady groove crafted by the rhythm section, Johnson has given us his best release to date.

Johnson and the band lock in on the opening track, a slippery, mid-tempo run with Freddie King’s “Going Down.” Fig and Stoyanoff get things good and greasy, while Fridzema shines on piano and Johnson’s slide takes the track to the next level. The stomping rocker “Talk To You” is a standout original, rock with a country edge, the title track is a soulful, slow burning instrumental where Johnson stretches out splendidly, and “Salvation Bound” is a gospel-flavored romp that will light your fire even if your wood is wet.

Johnson’s upbeat version of “32-20 Blues” really jumps and pops, and “Please Don’t Go” has a loping, countrified feel that works very well. “Lonesome Valley” is a funky rocker with sharp work from the rhythm section, leading to a tasty read of Robert Johnson’s “Ramblin’” which has a lively, upbeat tempo that belies the subject matter but works just fine.

“Two Lights” is a breathless acoustic country rocker with great instrumental interplay that you’ll want to hear more than once. It sets the table pretty well for the closer, a feisty cover of Gary Clark, Jr.’s “Don’t Owe You A Thing.”

Revelation is a fine set of slide guitar-driven blues and blues rock, with interesting originals, dynamite covers, and superb musicianship. Dennis Johnson is one of those artists who deserves to be heard by a wider audience, and hopefully this excellent release will help make that happen.

--- Graham Clarke

Levee TownLevee Town’s latest release, Trying To Keep My Head Above Water (Hudtone Records), describes the general state of most people over the past couple of years. The Kansas City-based trio (Brandon Hudspeth – guitar/vocals, Jacque Garoutte – bass/vocals, Adam Hagerman – drums, with Tilney Erhardt on keyboards) worked on this album during the pandemic, and it sounds like they had a ball in crafting it. The nine tracks manage to combine blues, rock, roots, and country, sometimes in the same song. It’s a blast from start to finish.

The manic opening track, “The Music Martyr,” is a fierce rocker which contains the album title within its lyrics, while “Locked Up For Days” is more mid-tempo. The underlying tension still remains, as the lockdowns and shutdowns loom large in its lyrics. There’s also a fine cover of Little Milton’s “Lookin’ For My Baby,” featuring some tasty bluesy fretwork from Hudspeth, “Gala,” a rollicking rockabilly rave-up, and “Outside Child,” a nimble, swinging foray into Walker-esque West Coast blues.

The cool instrumental “Tarantino” is a raucous surf guitar track that one could imagine playing along with the opening credits of the filmmaker’s next movie. “She Might Kill You” is a blues rocker with crisp guitar work, while the elegiac “Weight of The World” is a ballad acknowledging those who have been lost over the past couple of years. The Freddie King instrumental “The Stumble” closes the album, an excellent launching pad for Hudspeth to display his formidable guitar chops.

There’s a little something for every music fan within Trying To Keep My Head Above Water, another top notch release from Levee Town.

--- Graham Clarke

Groove CreweThe Groove Krewe is a group of talented Louisiana studio musicians assembled to back Nick Daniels III (from the popular New Orleans band Dumpstaphunk) by Rex Pearce and Dale Murray, both of whom are musicians, producers, and composers who’ve placed their own music on film, TV, and radio. The lineup includes Daniels on bass, Pearce on rhythm guitar, drummer Eddie Bayers, multi-instrumentalist Nelson Blanchard, guitarist Jonathon “Boogie” Long, and horn section Jason Parfait and Ian Smith with various other musicians joining on selected tracks.

The album, Run To Daylight (Sound Business Services, LLC), features ten original tunes co-written by Pearce, Murray, and Blanchard. Leading off with the funky title track, driven by Daniels’ soulful vocal, rumbling bass, and punchy horns, you might think things would wind down afterward, but that’s not the case at all. “That’s New Orleans” is another dip into Crescent City funk that sings the praises of the city, capturing the sights, sounds and smells perfectly.

The energetic “Have A Party” has a tasty ’70s R&B feel that will get listeners moving, and the aptly-titled “In The Groove Zone” will keep them moving. Meanwhile, the optimistic, gospel-flavored “Reach Out” provides a fine showcase for Daniels’ powerful vocals, while the slippery “I’m Gonna Prove My Love” revisits that ’70s R&B mode. “Where Love Lies” and “Where Ya At In Life” both have an engaging island feel.

“Sweet Situation” is a Memphis-styled soul/blues shuffle, and the closer “Raising Cane On The Bayou” incorporates a variety of Louisiana music styles with satisfying results.

Daniels is an excellent front man with a robust vocal style that just drips soul. The band provides superlative support as they move effortlessly from the various musical genres associated with the Pelican State. For any blues fans who enjoy Gulf Coast blues and R&B, Run To Daylight will be an excellent addition to their music collection.

--- Graham Clarke

Sass JordanCanadian singer/songwriter Sass Jordan struck blues gold with her 2020 release, Rebel Moon Blues. A veteran of the rock scene, having worked with Aerosmith, the Rolling Stones, AC/DC, and Van Halen, among others, Jordan has been exploring her blues roots more and more on her solo releases. With her new album, Bitches Blues (Stony Plain Records), she jumps in with both feet, offering up this superb eight-song set consisting of three original tracks and five covers. She’s backed by her band, the Champagne Hookers (guitarists Chris Caddell and Jimmy Reid, drummer Cass Pereira, keyboardist Jesse O’Brien, and Steve Marriner on bass and harmonica).

The opener, “Still Alive and Well,” written by Rick Derringer but popularized by Johnny Winter, roars out of the starting gate with scorching guitar work from Caddell and equally scalding vocals from Jordan. Next up is “Chevrolet,” the oft-recorded blues standard, featuring a soaring vocal from Jordan, Caddell’s slide guitar, and harmonica backing from Marriner. “Even” was originally on Jordan’s 2008 release, Get What You Give, a piano-driven ballad but with this version being more raw, earthy, and blues-based. Another original, “Still The World Goes Round,” is an inspired country blues romper with splendid slide guitar from Caddell.

Jordan’s version of Mississippi Fred McDowell’s “You Gotta Move” effectively captures the underlying tension and urgency of the original, thanks to her powerful vocal, and the Little Feat classic, “Sailin’ Shoes,” gets a fine treatment, too, recapturing the funky, swampy vibe of the Lowell George-written tune, right down to the slippery slide guitar.

Little Milton Campbell first recorded “Ain’t No Big Deal On You,” but Jordan’s rendition bears closer to the later Freddie King version, thanks to her tough vocal and Caddell’s piercing lead guitar. The closing track is another Jordan original, “Change Is Coming,” a moody blues that hopes for better days and times ahead.

Really, the only issue with Bitches Blues is that there just ain’t enough of it, with only about 27 minutes worth. However, what’s here is excellent --- well-crafted original tunes, fine covers and performances. It’s good enough that listeners will just replay it over and over. Sass Jordan is a voice that deserves to be heard in the blues world.

--- Graham Clarke

Charlie MusselwhiteCharlie Musselwhite has been an icon of the blues in a career spanning up to 60 years with upwards of 40 albums to his credit. Now 78, Musselwhite has just released MIssissippi Son (Alligator), a selection of 14 downhome blues numbers, eight of which are Musselwhite originals. He plays both guitar and harmonica on most cuts, and is joined on half of the numbers by Ricky "Quicksand" Martin on drums and Barry Bays on acoustic standup bass. It's a collection of pleasant, downhome blues, showcasing Musselwhite's abilities on both instruments as well as his raw, laid-back vocals.

Among the highlights of the album are the Musselwhite original, "Blues Gave Me A Ride," showing more energy and strength in his vocals than on other cuts. Also strong is the cover of Charley Patton's "Pea Vine Blues," with more understated vocals while playing nice guitar and coming in with a strong harmonica solo.

Musselwhite uses "The Dark," written by Guy Clark & Robert Modlock, as an effective spoken word piece accompanied by subtle guitar work. The same vibe comes out on the closing number, "A Voice Foretold," with a gospel feel on this short song written by Lee Breuer & Robert E. Telson.

While Musselwhite has been identified more for his harmonica playing, "Remembering Big Joe" is an instrumental that shows just how good of a guitar player he is. "My Road Lies In Darkness" also showcases Musselwhite's guitar skills as he accompanies his quieter vocals. Another strong cover is the mid-tempo Yank Rachell song, "Hobo Blues," and Joe Lee Williams' "Crawling King Snake."

Mississippi Son is just a nice, basic downhome blues album, with every cut coming from the heart and soul of Musselwhite.

--- Bill Mitchell

Brad AbsherBrad Absher and the Superials' new album, Tulsa Tea (Horton Records), is billed as roots music, and that's most of what we hear on the album's eight cuts tallying less than 30 minutes of music. But Absher has roots in the blues, having qualified as the Houston, Texas regional representative in both the 2013 and 2014 International Blues Challenge competitions. That blues background comes out in a few of the cuts on Tulsa Tea.

The best cut here is the opener, "Be The Love," a mid-tempo blues with a few New Orleans-based lines like 'Hey Pocky Way," showcasing Absher's pleasant soulful vocals along with solid guitar from Jake Hemphill and organ accompaniment from Danny Timms. It's a call to action to, "... try to keep your cool and love your neighbors ..."

Absher shows his soulful side but seeking redemption on "As Hard As I Can," recorded over a steady organ foundation laid down by Timms. The tempo starts slowly before the pace picks up, leading into a really nice slide guitar solo by Hemphill.

Tulsa Tea closes with a mid-tempo soulful number, "Turn It Up," standing out for the really nice background vocals of Briana Wright and a strong organ solo by Timms. (I liked Ms. Wright's singing so much that I went on a search for more from her as a lead singer; she's an R&B singer from Tulsa with a few YouTube videos online).  Tulsa Tea also has more numbers that I would put in the country or roots bucket, but for my money the three songs I mentioned above are the best of the bunch.

--- Bill Mitchell



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