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August 2018

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Order these featured CDs today:

Shemekia Copeland

Mark Hummel

Gerry Jablonski

Mike Zito

Too Slim and the Taildraggers

Steve Dawson

Dana Fuchs

Tas Cru

Jeff Jensen

Markey Blue - Ric Latina

The Lucky Losers

Kara Grainger

Dany Franchi

Brother Dege

Little Boys Blue

John Clifton

Artur Menezes

Willie Jackson

Michael Kaeshammer

Grand Marquis

Gretchen and the Pickpockets

Blind Lemon Pledge

Victoria Ginty

Allman Goldflies Band



Shemekia Copeland
Shemekia Copeland
's latest album mixes  powerful gospel-influenced blues vocals with a thick slice of Americana, making America's Child (Alligator) one of her more intriguing albums yet. The album cover displays a little girl sitting in a field and wrapped in an American flag, a visual plea that there's still a lot right about our country despite what we see and hear on the daily news.

Kicking off America's Child in proper fashion is "Ain't Got Time For Hate," a great topical song that's so very appropriate in these divisive times in the United States. We get the first of many great guitar licks by Will Kimbrough, who co-wrote the song, as well as pedal steel from Al Perkins and the surprising inclusion of Emmy Lou Harris and John Prine among the background vocalists.  Copeland repeated implores during this number " ... we ain't got time for hate ... ," and that pretty much sums up the feeling here.

Following is the funky "Americans," on which Copeland talks about the many diverse types of people that make up our country. It's highlighted by more pedal steel playing, this time by Paul Franklin. Who ever said that there's no place for this instrument in the blues genre? On "Would You Take My Blood" Copeland challenges someone who maybe is a threat to her, a mid-tempo number on which she's backed by sparser instrumentation. At first I was yearning for Copeland to turn it loose and not be so restrained with her vocals, but then it's like she read my mind with her voice soaring a little more later in the cut.

Prine joins in on "Great Rain," a mid-tempo blues that he co-wrote, and featuring a nice guitar solo by Kimbrough. "Smoked Ham and Peaches" is a real "back porch" type of song made effective by Rhiannon Giddens playing the African banjo and Kimbrough on National guitar. Copeland takes the opportunity to sit back and reflect on the simpler things in life that are real compared to all that's fake in the world, singing "...When the whole world seems fake, give me something real ..."

"The Wrong Idea" is an up-tempo number that has some seriously good fiddle playing from Kenny Sears. We then head into a slow blues, "Promised Myself,"  featuring legendary guitarist Steve Cropper, with Copeland taking her vocals to another level of emotion. She wasn't planning on falling in love again, but she found a reason not to stick to the plan.

"In The Blood Of The Blues" is an intense number on which Copeland says that her blood of the blues includes a lot of the bad things that have happened to African-Americans in the past and the present. "Such A Pretty Flame" is a slow blues with a bit of a funky beat in which she metaphorically sets fire to her dreams, singing  "... Wrapped my dreams in pretty paper, then I lit a match ..."

Copeland shouts out a powerful blues in tribute to the one she loves on "One I Love," and despite all obstacles she's going to make sure that word gets across to the man. We hear even more hot blues guitar from Kimbrough here. "I'm Not Like Everybody Else" is a slow, sparse  number written by Ray Davies that features hauntingly solid guitar and effective slide work from Kimbrough as well as inspirational vocals from Copeland.

Bringing this fine album to a fitting close is a traditional gospel-ish lullaby "Go To Sleepy Little Baby," consisting mostly of  Copeland's voice with occasional guitar from Kimbrough.

Shemekia Copeland is one of the most dynamic blues singers on the scene today, and America's Child is not only a fine addition to her discography but also a needed reminder about who we are as a society. Well done, Shemekia!

--- Bill Mitchell

Mark HummelNoted harmonica ace Mark Hummel lets his harp do most of the heavy lifting on Harpbreaker (Electro Fi Records), an all-instrumental album with the song selection coming from various previously-released albums, unreleased sessions, and a few new cuts. But the listener is also treated to some mighty fine guitar slingers, with a significant array of  Hall of Fame caliber players on the album, including Anson Funderburgh, Little Charlie Baty, Billy Flynn, Rusty Zinn, Chris "Kid" Andersen, among others.

The music on Harpbreaker generally has a jazzy/swing  feel to it, especially on the live version of Buddy Rich's "Rotten Kid," which gives Charles Wheal a chance to stretch out on guitar and includes a killer drum solo by Marty Dodson. "Walkin' With Mr. Lee" is a New Orleans classic, written and recorded in 1958 by saxophonist Lee Allen, and Hummel does an outstanding job at using his much smaller instrument to the same effect as Allen's iconic tenor sax.

"Cristo Redentor" is a slow number from the 2013 Hustle Is Really On sessions at Andersen's Greaseland studios. We're more familiar with Charlie Musselwhite's version of this number, but Hummel acquits himself well with very nice chromatic harp work. Little Charlie gets to show off on the fast-paced romper "Crazy Legs," a Little Walter original. I love every version of the  Horace Silver classic "Senor Blues" that I've heard, and Hummel's version more than meets my expectations as he again shows how well the harmonica fits into a jazz format, making this classic jazz tune his own here. We get to hear more jazz harp on "Glide On," a mid-tempo number with exquisite guitar from Zinn and tasty piano from Chris Burns.

I realize that all-instrumental albums aren't always for everyone, but Harpbreaker does the trick for harmonica buffs, especially if you like hearing the instrument treated like it's part of a big band jazz ensemble. Recommended.

--- Bill Mitchell

Gerry JablonskiThe Scottish band’s 2017 Live Trouble album consistently gained 5-star reviews and sounded as if it couldn’t be surpassed in terms of reflecting the raw energy, spontaneity, technical supremacy and charisma of these giants of blues rock. However, Gerry Jablonski and the Electric Band’s Live At The Blue Note takes their stage performance to a new level as everything came together in an exceptional and memorable night in Poland.

The set opens with “Sherry Dee,” the fans favourite from Life At Captain Tom’s, Gerry’s infectious solo guitar riff and introductory vocals leading into the now trademark sudden explosion as the other virtuoso musicians burst into action with a cacophony of controlled sound. An extended version of “Soul Sister” features the most dazzling improvised solos you are likely to hear from Jablonski and Peter Narojczyk, the latter’s killer harp attack making the hair stand up on the back of your neck. “Two Time Lover” swings along with tasteful harp and guitar interludes until the crescendos and anguish kick in, sprinkled with moments of light and shade to add subtle layers and texture.

The powerful “Black Rain” highlights the inimitable bass tones of Grigor Leslie whilst the canine-themed humour of the fast and furious “Fork Fed Dog” confirms that the rhythm section with Lewis Fraser on drums is formidable. Gerry introduces the funky, roller coaster, hurdy gurdy sounding “Angel Of Love” as a song about his wife, its sumptuous lyrics reflecting the sensitive side of the extrovert bandleader. If the 18th century Scottish bard, Robert Burns, was living today he would surely hang out with Jablonski, sharing their love of music, writing poetic lyrics and promoting egalitarianism.

“Broken Heart” is the only track which is also on their previous live album but this version is a tour de force with breathtaking harmonica and guitar pyrotechnics, underpinned by Fraser’s technically impeccable drumming as he both solos and complements the instruments around him. The heartfelt, angry, emotional outburst from the broken hearted Jablonski is a fitting end to one of the best live albums this reviewer has ever heard.

All credit to Polish producer Łeszek Łuszcz who transformed the original recordings into a crystal clear, high-octane, hour-long production where even any slight imperfections sound magnificent.

--- Dave Scott


Mike ZitoMike Zito took home some well-deserved hardware at this year’s Blues Music Awards, winning the Blues Rock Artist award. His latest release, First Class Life (Ruf Records), was issued about the time of the BMAs and finds the Texas-based singer/guitarist/songwriter celebrating his sobriety and family, as well as his love for the blues, deemphasizing the “rock” potion of “blues rock” ever so slightly. Zito is joined on this album, his 15th overall, by Lewis Stephens (keyboards), Matthew Johnson (drums), Terry Dry (bass) and guest guitarist Bernard Allison.

The opener, “Mississippi Nights,” is a sweaty, swampy blues shuffle that paints a vivid picture of the Delta, with Zito working overtime on slide guitar. The autobiographical title track is next, with more of that superb slide, as Zito recounts his return from addiction and his appreciation for “a second chance at a first class life.” The slow blues of “The World We Live In” is an honest look at the general state of the world today. Zito lays down some exquisite guitar work to go along with his appropriately world-weary vocals. A few songs later, he encourages listeners to do their part to help make things better with the more upbeat “Time For A Change.”

Zito and Allison have a blast on the guitar romp “Mama Don’t Like No Wah Wah,” which is based on Allison’s playing days with Koko Taylor, who didn’t like any effects (she called them “wah wah”) on the guitar and would chide Allison when he slipped a few into one of her songs. The ominous “Old Black Graveyard” describes a broken-down, basically abandoned cemetery, similar to the ones where old bluesmen are often buried in the Delta. The mood is much better with “Dying Day,” a bouncy, soulful love letter from Zito to his wife, and the funky blues “Back Problems,” a humorous reflection on the daily burdens some have to bear. “Damn Shame” is a gem as well, a marvelous slow burner where Zito is at his best, both vocally and on guitar.

Zito also offers a couple of choice cover tunes: a most excellent reading of the soul-blues classic “I Wouldn’t Treat A Dog,” a mid ’70s hit for Bobby Bland, and a rowdy version “Trying To Make A Living,” a 1960 release from Earl Hooker and singer Bobby Saxton on the Bea & Baby label.

First Class Life is definitely a first class release, but that’s what blues fans have come to expect from Mike Zito, who keeps getting better and better with each release.

--- Graham Clarke

Too SlimThere might be a few bands out there that do blues rock better than Too Slim and the Taildraggers, but they are few and far between. Heck, these guys have been doing it for over 30 years and show no signs of letting up, or even taking a deep breath at this point. The trio (Tim “Too Slim” Langford – guitars/vocals, Jeff “Shakey” Fowlkes – drums/vocals, Zach Kasik – bass/vocals) has a superb new release on Underworld/Vizztone Records, High Desert Heat, with ten piledriving tracks, nine originals penned by the band and one dynamite cover.

The above-mentioned cover, The Chambers Brothers’ “Time Has Come Today,” kicks off the album, with Slim focusing more on the blues aspect of the tune than the psychedelia of the original with more of a blues rock approach with muscular guitar and vocals. “Trouble” is a sweaty blues boogie with guest Sheldon “Bent Reed” Ziro on harmonica, “Broken White Line” is a fine Southern blues rocker that is reminiscent of the Black Crowes early ’90s work and features a terrific guitar solo from Slim, and “Stories To Tell,” stays in that mode, but at a slightly slower, funkier pace.

“One Step At A Time” ups the “Blues” quotient with crunching rock-edged guitar work and a world-weary vocal from Slim, while “What You Said” ups the ante considerably with Slim’s guitar work giving this one more of a Texas (via ZZ Top) groove. “Runaway” is a funky rocker with a distinctive chorus that would be a hit tune if there was any justice in the world at all. The ballad “A Little More True” finds Slim reflecting on life lived and yet to be lived, and the dark and moody “Lay Down Your Gun” surges at a slow, but intense pace. The haunting title track, a spaghetti western-styled instrumental, closes out the disc in excellent fashion.

Too Slim and the Taildraggers have produced a winner, maybe theit biggest winner yet, with High Desert Heat. It has just you would expect to find in any Too Slim production, memorable songwriting and musicianship, and a tasty combination of blues and rock.

--- Graham Clarke

Steve DawsonLucky Hand (Black Hen Music) is guitarist extraordinaire Steve Dawson’s eighth solo album, and his first all-instrumental release since 2014’s Rattlesnake Cage. Dawson is the artist behind the scenes much of the time, producing and performing on releases from artists like Jim Byrnes, Kelly Joe Phelps, John Hammond, and Big Dave McLean. While his contributions add much luster to those works, it’s when he works on his own recordings where Dawson really shines. These ten compositions, all penned by Dawson, feature the guitarist in solo and duo format, along with backing from a string quartet with arrangements from longtime collaborator Jesse Zubot.

The album is a diverse mix of blues, country, folk, and jazz, and Dawson can play them all. The idyllic opener, “The Circuit Rider of Pigeon Forge,” is the first of five tracks that teams Dawson with the string quartet and the interplay between them is marvelous . “Bentonia Blues” is, as the title indicates, a gentle, meditative blues pairing Dawson’s National Steel Guitar with the legendary Charlie McCoy’s harmonica, and the lively “Bone Cave” reunites Dawson with the quartet, while the solo “Hale Road Revelation” gives the guitarist ample opportunity to showcase his nimble fingerpicking.

The rousing “Old Hickory Breakdown” finds Dawson and the quartet going back and forth at breakneck speed with satisfying results, and mandolinist John Reischman joins Dawson on the lovely “Little Harpeth.” The title track is next, with the quartet providing quiet, but effective support behind Dawson’s deft fingerpicking. The fast-paced “Hollow Tree Gap” is a toe-tapper that ventures into bluegrass territory, and “Lonesome Ace” has a countrified feel reminiscent of Doc Watson. The closer, “Bugscuffle,” features Dawson on the Weissenborn lap guitar.

Lucky Hand is a wide-ranging, far-reaching collection of masterful guitar. Steve Dawson never fails to disappoint whenever he straps one on and this disc is no exception. Guitar players or anyone who enjoys guitar played well will love this set.

--- Graham Clarke

Dana FuchsFor her latest release, Love Lives On, singer Dana Fuchs formed her own record label (Get Along Records) and ventured to Memphis, which was the home of Stax/Volt, Sun, and Hi Records, and also served as a launching pad for the careers of her musical idols (Otis Redding, Al Green, and Johnny Cash). In the past few years, Ms. Fuchs has dealt with the death of three close family members, but also the birth of her son. These events helped shape the body of work on Love Lives On, providing a message of endurance, faith, and hope.

Fuchs wrote the lyrics on 11 of the 13 tracks, also collaborating with longtime partner Jon Diamond and Scott Sharrard, formerly with Gregg Allman’s band. As any wise performer would do when recording in Memphis, she surrounded herself with the best musicians, including Rev. Charles Hodges (organ), Steve Potts (drums), Kirk Smothers and Marc Franklin (trumpets), Jack Daley (bass), Glen Patscha (piano/wurlitzer), Eric Lewis (pedal steel/lap steel/mandolin), Felix Hernandez (congas), and backing vocalists Reba Russell and Susan Marshall.

As anyone familiar with her knows, Fuchs has a voice that was born to sing blues and soul, rough and tough when it needs to be and soft and vulnerable when required. The opener (and what an opener!!), “Backstreet Baby,” mixes rock, funk, and soul, and Fuchs’ sultry vocal is backed perfectly by Franklin’s catchy guitar riff, a punchy horn section, and sweet backing vocals. The soulful “Callin’ Angels” screams Memphis from the opening notes, one of three tracks that finds Fuchs paying tribute to her lost loved ones (the others are the touching title track and “Faithful Sinner,” a gospel-flavored ode to her late father).
“Sittin’ On” may be the most fun break-up song I’ve heard in a while, with the upbeat and funky presentation contradicting the somber subject matter, the slower-paced “Sedative” has a touch of menace musically and vocally, while “Ready To Rise” mixes rock and soul in equal doses, and “Fight My Way” has a country lilt with Diamond’s acoustic guitar and Lewis’ mandolin. “Battle Lines” is a sobering autobiographical track that’s offset by the upbeat “Same Sunlight.”

Fuchs also covers two tracks, previously done by two of her idols, positively nailing Redding’s “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” and a marvelous stripped down take of Cash’s “Ring of Fire” that may leave a tear in the eye of the most hard-hearted soul.

Dana Fuchs and Memphis are a great fit. Hopefully, the two will meet again soon. Love Lives On is a terrific set of blues and soul from one of the finest voices of either genre today.

--- Graham Clarke

Tas CruTas Cru’s latest release, Memphis Song (Subcat Records), pays tribute to the city and is dedicated to all of the musicians who have found inspiration there. His previous release, Simmered & Stewed, was nominated for Best Emerging Artist Album at the 2018 BMAs, Cru has received much attention in recent years not only for his excellent songwriting, but also his guitar work and vocals. Cru really outdoes himself on this superlative set with 12 shining originals that fully acknowledge his own debt to the city’s music.

The disc kicks off with “Heal My Soul,” a stirring gospel-flavored number with backing vocalist supported by Andy Rudy’s rollicking piano and Dick Earl Erickson’s harmonica. The title track follows, a haunting track that features a strong vocal from Cru and backing from Victor Wainwright (piano), Pat Harrington (slide guitar), and Mary Ann Casale (acoustic guitar), who co-authored these first two selections with Cru. Next is “Fool For The Blues,” a tight blues rocker punctuated by Guy Nirelli’s scintillating B3 work, followed by “Give A Little Up,” a duet with Cru and Casale waxing philosophical on the benefits of getting along with each other.

“Daddy Didn’t Give You Much” is a very nice smooth slow burner with a fine guitar solo from Cru. “Have A Drink” is a cool fun-filled tribute to the blues that should invite plenty of audience participation at Cru’s live shows, and “That Look” is funky and slightly salacious. “One Eyed Jack” keeps the funk going with an upbeat tune about playing the hand “the Good Lord dealt me,” and “Queen of Hearts” is a powerful urban blues ballad that shows Cru at his best on vocals and guitar.

“Don’t Lie To That Woman” is a slow burning, almost jazzy track that offers good-natured (and wise) advice to men everywhere, while “Feel So Good” is a cool crowd-pleasing shuffle. The closing track is “Can’t Get Over Blues,” an extended mid-tempo shuffle that gives Cru, Nirelli, and Ericksen a moment in the spotlight.

Memphis Song is an inspired release that pays tribute to the city that has inspired so many musicians over the years. Tas Cru successfully captures the essence of the Bluff City’s musical palette on these tracks --- the grease and grit of the city’s blues and rock n’ roll scenes along with the satin-smooth sounds of Memphis soul. Blues fans should definitely check this one out.

--- Graham Clarke

Jeff JensenEvery release that I hear from Jeff Jensen, I say, “this is the best one yet.” Well, don’t expect anything different with the Memphis-based singer/songwriter/guitarist’s latest release, Wisdom & Decay (Swingsuit Records), because this one is definitely his best one yet, with his best songs to date, seven of the ten tracks are Jensen originals or collaborations. This one has “labor of love” written all over it.

Relocating to Memphis years ago really gave Jensen’s career a jumpstart and he acknowledges the impact the city has made on his life with the opening track, which is an excellent cover of one of Little Milton Campbell’s best tunes, “Living Off The Love You Give.” Jensen’s passionate vocal, combined with Chris Stephenson’s B3, and a dynamite Stax-flavored horn section (Kirk Smothers – saxes, Marc Franklin – trumpet/flugelhorn) set the bar pretty high for the rest of the disc. The haunting “2000 Days” is the story of a struggle with addiction, and Jensen’s lyrics pain a vivid picture of desperation and despair at first, but joy at finally overcoming the demons.

The somber “Pretend Forevers,” about the inevitable conclusion of long term relationships of all kinds, will remind listeners of those vintage Hi Records ballads (with strings recorded at Sam Phillips’ Recording Studio in Memphis), but the celebratory “Good Woman Back Home” picks up the tempo and the mood. Tom Waits’ “Downtown” gets a smoky, Latin-tinged treatment that remains faithful to the original version. The humorous “Luck Is Gonna Change” has a rollicking gospel beat, lively keyboards from Stephenson and Gerald Stephens, and choral backing led by guest vocalists Reba Russell and Susan Marshall.
“What We Used To Be” is a darkly comedic vaudevillian take on the current state of the country. More societal in nature than political, it also features a vocal appearance from Victor Wainwright. Jensen also tackles the Bob Dylan tune “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You,” turning in a supremely soulful vocal performance.

The closing two songs are “Something In The Water” and “Water Jam,” an instrumental double header which gives Jensen, the band (Bill Ruffino – bass, David Green – drums/percussion), the aforementioned horns, and strings (Jessie Munson – violin, Wen Yin Yu – violin, Beth Luscombe – viola, Iren Zombor – cello) an opportunity to strut their stuff.

There’s little doubt to these ears that Wisdom & Decay is the best release so far from Jeff Jensen. He’s firing on all cylinders as a singer, guitarist, and composer. No doubt it sets the bar pretty high for his next release, but we know that he’s more than up to the challenge.

--- Graham Clarke

Markey BlueFormerly known as Markey Blue, the Markey Blue Ric Latina Project are still generating a lot of fireworks with their tasty combination of the blues of Mississippi, Memphis, and Chicago, as heard on their latest release, Raised in Muddy Water (EllerSoul Records). Singer/percussionist Jeannette Markey is a vocal force of nature and guitarist Ric Latina is one of the finest guitarist currently practicing. Markey penned all 11 of the selections and she and Latina produced the disc.

The title track kicks off the disc and gives listeners an electrified taste of the Mississippi Delta blues with Markey’s gritty vocal and Latina’s soaring guitar. “Corrina Shine” is a funky southern rocker written in tribute to Taj Mahal, one of several tribute tracks on the disc. The following tune, “A Little More Before I Die,” is a supple slow blues written in tribute to John Prine, particularly his masterpiece “Angel From Montgomery,” and “Red Room” is a steamy Gulf Coast-flavored blues shuffle with harmonica from Ronnie Owens.

The swampy rocker “Mississippi Soul” is next, and Markey and Latina both deliver big time on this one, and moreso on “Walking Over This Line,” an excellent slow burner that you wish would have gone on indefinitely. Markey also teams up with the late, great Eddy Clearwater on vocals for the free-wheeling “I Like It Like This,” which also features The Chief battling it out on guitar with Latina.

A pair of ballads follow: the socially conscious “Tears All Over The World” and the smoky, after-hours “When I Close My Eyes,”along with another tribute tune, “Come And Go,” a raucous roadhouse rocker inspired by that roadhouse rocker himself, Delbert McClinton. The closing track is an entertaining bonus track captured live with members of Robben Ford’s rhythm section (bassist Brian Allen and drummer Wes Little) and Charlie Daniels’ keyboardist Shannon Wickline.

Markey and Latina’s own band (Wickline – keyboards, Marcus Finnie – drums, John Marcus – bass, Jim Williamson – trumpet, Doug Moffet – sax/baritone) provide superb support on the studio tracks. The Markey Blue Ric Latina Project continues to pay big musical dividends. Raised In Muddy Waters is their best effort yet, which is really saying something.

--- Graham Clarke

Lucky LosersThe Lucky Losers’ third release, Blind Spot (Dirty Cat Records), is a continuation of the duo’s enticing mix of blues and soul. Cathy Lemons (vocals) and Phil Berkowitz (vocals/harmonica) penned all 11 tracks of their new release, some with Danny Caron, who once served as guitarist/musical director for Charles Brown. Once again teaming up with Kid Andersen, who co-produced the disc with the couple and recorded it at his Greaseland Studios, the Lucky Losers are backed by a top notch band (Ian Lamson – guitars, Chris Burns – keyboards, Endre Tarczy - bass, Robi Bean – drums) and a host of guest artists.

The opener is an up-tempo shuffle, “It’s Never Too Early,” which features Berkowitz’s smooth vocal backed by Lemons and some nice work on the piano from Burns. Berkowitz gets a little solo time on harmonica as well. Lemons takes lead vocals on the gritty Memphis-styled blues “Take The Long Road” (backed by guest Laura Chavez on guitar), and she backs Berkowitz again on the funky “Alligator Baptism,” backed by a horn section that includes Nancy Wright (sax), Jack Sanford (baritone sax), and Jon Halbeib (trumpet), before taking the mic again on the redemptive ballad “The River.”

Chavez returns on guitar for the Latin-flavored “Supernatural Blues,” while the lively “Make A Right Turn” flirts with Americana with Annie Staninec guesting on fiddle, and “Bulldogs and Angels” takes on a bit of a Crescent City vibe. The modern urban R&B “Last Ride” is a hard-edged look at some of the chilling events of the day, and “Don’t Take Too Much” is reminiscent of ’70s-era funk, as is “Love Is Blind,” which also boasts a strong vocal from Lemons.

The closer, “You Left It Behind,” is an entertaining tongue-in-cheek duet similar to their previous releases where the pair trade good-natured barbs and recollections. It’s that warm rapport that makes their duets so effective, and as stated before, it’s obvious that these two have a great time making music.

Blind Spot continues The Lucky Losers’ streak of excellent recordings. May that streak continue for a long time to come.

--- Graham Clarke

Kara GraingerAustralian singer/songwriter/guitarist Kara Grainger ventured to Austin, Texas to record her fourth album, Living With Your Ghost (Station House Records). Grammy winner Anders Osborne co-produced the disc and contributes guitar and vocals. Other musicians on the album include Ivan Neville (keys), J.J. Johnson (drums), Dave Monsey (bass), and The Texas Horns. A fine slide guitarist, Grainger is a talented and versatile vocalist as well, and she wrote or co-authored 11 of the 12 tracks.

The title track opens the disc, a straight-ahead, but very effective rocker highlighted by Grainger’s vocal and slide guitar, both of which voice yearning regret at things and people that have passed through her life. The southern rocker “Working My Way Back Home” conveys the struggles of life on the road, and the standout “Man With Soul” is a energetic blues rocker. “Nowhere To Be Found” is an excellent ballad which features a passionate vocal from Grainger, who plays acoustic guitar on this track, backed by Neville’s stately keyboards.

Osborne joins Grainger on the wonderful “You’re In New Orleans,” a light-hearted romp which should put a smile on even the crustiest curmudgeon’s face. The deliciously funky “Groove Train” keeps that vibe moving along with help from The Texas Horns. “Reason To My Verse” is a slow-paced ballad that features a crisp and concise solo from Grainger, and “Broken Record” (written by Jackie Bristow and Mark Punch) has a folk/country feel while “Favorite Sin” rocks hard. “Nobody But You” is a gentle, heartfelt ballad, which leads into the breezy shuffle “Love Will Get You Through The Door.” The closer, “Freedom Song,” features layered guitars and haunting, atmospheric vocals.

Grainger’s soaring slide guitar work and her warm vocals have always been worth hearing, but her songwriting on Living With Your Ghost make this one a cut above her previous releases, and make it well worth seeking out.

--- Graham Clarke

Dany FranchiItalian singer/guitarist Dany Franchi’s recent release, Problem Child (Station House Records), should satisfy blues fans of several different varieties. His soulful vocals will please a certain percentage, while his songwriting will satisfy those who like the traditional variety of blues, and his inspired guitar work will make any blues fan smile. Franchi wrote 10 of the 13 tracks, enlisting Anson Funderburgh and Andy Talamantez as producer and assistant producer, respectively, with both making a few guest appearances on guitar.

The disc gets off to a rousing start with the horn-fueled Memphis R&B burner “Back To The River,” which includes lead guitar from Funderburgh, then moves quickly to the fiery roadhouse rocker “Give Me A Sign,” which features Jim Pugh tickling the ivories. The Eddie Taylor classic “Big Town Playboy” gets a nice Windy City treatment from Franchi with guest Greg Izor on harmonica, and “Real Love” is a delightful throwback slow dancer. The scrappy midtempo shuffle “Run Around” is a keeper, too.

“You Don’t Want Me” is classic R&B with Franchi testifying fervently with The Texas Horns providing powerful support, and the stop-time “Don’t Steal My Time” is loaded with swagger. Franchi pays tribute to Freddie King with a sharp cover of the Texas Cannonball’s “Sen-Sa-Shun” before slowing things down again with the slow blues ballad “My Only One.” He also gives a nod to the West Side blues guitarists with a sizzling treatment of Willie Dixon’s (via Magic Sam) “Everything Gonna Be Alright,” and closes with a venture into funky blues rock territory with “Wanna Know,” and a understated finale with Funderburgh for the delta-flavored title track.

I wasn’t familiar with Dany Franchi prior to hearing Problem Child, but I definitely want to hear more from him soon. He has a real knack for songwriting in addition to being a standout guitarist and vocalist. This disc should be must-listening for any blues fan.

--- Graham Clarke

Brother DegeBrother Dege is Dege Legg, a skilled guitarist/singer/songwriter who formed and fronted the southern rock band Santeria for a decade and four albums before striking out on his own. Since then, he’s worked hard on his songwriting, which come from his own life experiences and combine the blues of the Mississippi Delta with Americana and his weathered vocals and impressive slide guitar playing. He’s released four albums, his debut being Folk Songs of The American Longhair, which caught the attention of Quentin Tarantino, who included a selected track from it in the movie and soundtrack of his Django Unchained.

Brother Dege’s fourth release, Farmer’s Almanac (Psyouthern Records), is a dark and desolate masterpiece of blues and Americana. It has an almost cinematic setting, opening and concluding with a haunting and somber instrumental, “Partial To The Bitters (Parts 1 and 2),” similar to the beginning and ending of a movie. Part 1 really sets the stage well for the rest of the album, which kicks off with the rousing “Country Comes To Town” and “The Early Morn,” with Legg’s dobro giving each track a foot-stomping country blues feel. “The Shakedown” is a medium tempo stomper with an ominous backbeat, and “Bastard’s Blues” is a sobering story about a doomed youth who turned bad at an early age.

You could say that “The Moon and The Scarecrow” is the album’s centerpiece, and deservedly so, with it’s chilling imagery and Legg’s delicate guitar work --- definitely the standout track amidst an album of standout tracks. The stirring “Ballad of Ingo Swann,” which leans more toward the rock side of the aisle, and the slower-paced “Laredo” has a swampy country rock vibe. The blues rocker “Whiteboy” and the intense slow burner “No Man A Slave,” a defiant narrative about a man determined to live his life on his terms, good or bad.

Farmer’s Almanac is a stunning piece of work that paints a haunting picture of the hard times and struggles that are sometimes associated with life in the Deep South. Anyone who lives there, or has spent time there, can relate to some of Brother Dege’s vivid imagery and the passion behind his singing and playing. This album belongs in any music lover’s collection.

--- Graham Clarke

Little Boys BlueThe Jackson, Tennesse-based Little Boys Blue joins forces with guitarist John Holiday (a.k.a. Kid Memphis) for their sophomore effort for VizzTone (and fifth release overall), Hard Blue Space. Already a formidable unit with JD Taylor (vocals/harmonica), his son Alex Taylor (guitar), Mark Brooks (drums), Dave Mallard (bass) in place, the addition of Holiday lifts the band to even greater heights. The new release includes ten hearty originals that touch on both traditional and contemporary blues, mostly penned by JD Taylor with co-writing credits on a couple of tracks to Holiday and Alex Taylor.

The traditional stomper “Six Feet Down” opens the disc and is followed by the traditional mid-tempo shuffle “Loving Kind” and the slow burner “Blues Bug,” punctuated by some excellent guitar from Kid Memphis and understated B3 backing from guest Dave Thomas. The swampy title track is next with JD Taylor contributing a Slim Harpo-like talking vocal and some fiery harmonica blowing, and the slippery “Morning Train” maintains a similar groove.

“Cold Inside” is a swinging blues with first rate contributions on B3 from Thomas, who also plays some dazzling piano on the rollicking jump blues “Might As Well.” “Got A Mind of Your Own” is a funky R&B-based urban blues, and “If The Blues Start Calling” is a slow blues ballad that features guest Andrew White on slide guitar. The greasy shuffle “Going Back To Memphis” concludes the disc in style.

Hard Blue Space is a strong set of original tunes that will satisfy blues fans, whether they like their blues old-school or modern. The addition of Kid Memphis to the roster (temporarily or otherwise) only makes a great band even greater.

--- Graham Clarke

John CliftonNightlife (Rip Cat Records) is the latest release from John Clifton, and it’s a sterling example of playing the blues like they used to do back in the day. Clifton is a great harmonica, but he also plays guitar and is a powerful vocalist. In the late ’80s, he and his brother, guitarist Bill Clifton, founded The MoFo Party Band in Fresno, and since then he has become one of the most popular performers on the central California blues scene. He’s performed with a number of blues artists, including touring and recording with Big Bill Morganfield on Morganfield’s 2016 release, Blood Stains On The Wall.

Nightlife is Clifton’s second solo release and includes a 12-song mix of covers and originals that focus on blues and soul with a touch of rock thrown in for good measure. Clifton shines on vocals and harmonica throughout with a couple of appearances on acoustic and electric guitar, and he gets superb backing from guitarist Scott Abeyta, bassist Matt Moulton, drummers John Shafer and Roman Rivera, percussionist Peter Wolf, and keyboardists Bartek Szopinski and David Aus.

Clifton does a wonderful job on the cover tunes, which include a rousing read of Charlie Musselwhite’s “Strange Land,” Lee Moses’ stellar soul burner “Sad About It,” a slick, country-flavored take on the Leiber/Stroller/Otis classic “Last Clean Shirt” (a.k.a. “Brother Bill”), a slow, soulful version of Little Walter’s “Long As I Have You,” a rocking interpretation of Ricky Allen’s “No Better Time Than Now,” and Muddy Waters’ “Still A Fool” gets a stirring treatment, too. The title track, written by Harvey Zimmerman, Bernie Baum, and Florence Kaye, was originally recorded by Elvis Presley for Viva Las Vegas, but Clifton’s version would do the King proud.

The five originals include the rockabilly raver “Brand New Way To Walk,” the instrumental “Swamp Dump,” which mixes Louisiana swamp blues with Latin rhythms, the energetic instrumental “How About That,” “Wild Ride,” a stylish instrumental teaming Clifton on harmonica and Szopinski on piano, and the splendid slow blues closer “Every Now And Then,” which gives Clifton, Szopinski, and guitarist Abeyta ample opportunity to solo, with each making the most of the opportunity.

Nightlife is an outstanding release that proves John Clifton and his mates deserve to be heard by a much wider audience. Hopefully, this fine album will give them a nice start toward that goal.

--- Graham Clarke

Artur MenezesArtur Menezes won the Gibson/Albert King Award for Best Guitarist and finished third in the Band Category at this year’s International Blues Challenge. With his dynamite, recently released fourth album, Keep Pushing, the Los Angeles-based guitarist shows that both honors were well-deserved. He is a blues icon in his native Brazil, where he works as an educator for the music, organizes weekly concerts, headlines festivals through out Latin America and Europe, and even opened for Buddy Guy during his 2012 Brazilian tour.

The opener, “Now’s The Time,” is a breezy soul-based shuffle with horns (impeccably provided throughout the disc by Jamelle Adisa – trumpet/flugelhorn and Doan Boisey – tenor/baritone sax) that showcases some sharp fretwork and smooth vocals from Menezes. The title track is a fine bit of contemporary blues powered by a driving beat and energetic vocals and guitar, and “Come With Me” is a crunching blues rocker. The blues ballad “Any Day, Anytime” slows things down for a few minutes and Menezes’ solo is most impressive, while the funky “Should Have Never Left” finds the guitarist’s solo bringing to mind the stinging leads of Albert Collins.

The jazzy “Love ‘n’ Roll” swings at a breakneck pace and Menezes’ liquidy guitar tones are matched perfectly by the horn section. The muscular “Pull It Through” deftly mixes blues and rock, and “Give Me My Money Back” is a great Windy City-styled blues. The silky ballad “Can’t Get You Out of My Mind” is a splendid combination of blues and jazz that allows Menezes to prove that his vocal talents matching his guitar prowess. “’Til The Day I Die” closes the disc on a rousing note, with the band going into full hard rock mode for the last couple of minutes.

Menezes has guitar chops to die for, but his vocals are equally effective. He gets first-rate support from his band (Daniel Aged – bass, Gary Novak – drums, Carey Frank – B3/keyboards) and the aforementioned horn section. Producer Josh Smith, a pretty formidable presence on guitar himself, contributes rhythm guitar on several tracks.

Keep Pushing is an impressive piece of work that shows assures Artur Menezes’ name should be prominent when blues fans start talking about the music’s future.

--- Graham Clarke

Willie JacksonWillie Jackson is a Savannah, Georgia native who has been involved in music all of his life, beginning in the church, where as a youngster, he played drums and sang in the choir. His previous non-music career was cut short due to an accident in 2009, and since then he has spent most of his time trying to support his family by writing songs and performing, learning to play the bass guitar. He occasionally leads three- to five-member bands, where he entertains blues fans with a mix of his own original songs and classic cover tunes.

Recently, Jackson issued a six-song EP, Chosen By The Blues, which features his own highly original and unique compositions and arrangements. He’s backed by the Tybee Blues Band (Jon Willis – bass, Dillon Young – lead guitar, Paxton Eugene – drums, Ace Anderson – harmonica), which gives him rock solid support behind his strong, equally unique vocals.

The opener, “Just An Old Dog,” is an old school down-on-my-luck rocker highlighted by Jackson’s booming vocal and Young’s lead guitar. “Big Boned Woman” is an amusing slow blues about Jackson’s 600 pound lover who not only wrecks his life but also his house, and the mid-tempo “I’ll Throw You Back” cleverly associates loving with fishing. “Sleepin’ On The Job” is another slow blues with an urban feel (nice work from Willis and Eugene adding just the right amount of funk) and fluid guitar work from Young and harmonica from Anderson.

“Why You Still Mad” features more great guitar from Young and harp from Anderson, as Jackson laments his lady still being angry even though he’s done all he can to get the other woman out of his house, even changing the sheets in the bed. The closer, “Diggin’ My Shovel” is a subtle (as a 2 x 4) and raucous roadhouse rocker loaded with double-entendres that will bring a smile to your face.

Chosen By The Blues is a very entertaining disc, and Willie Jackson shows himself to be not only a great vocalist but a talented songwriter with a knack for putting a new, fresh spin on familiar blues topics. This one is well worth seeking out for fans who dig the old fashioned blues with a modern edge.

--- Graham Clarke

Michael KaeshammerTalented keyboardist Michael Kaeshammer was born in Germany but relocated to British Columbia with his family as a youth. He became interested in boogie woogie piano in the style of Pete Johnson, Albert Ammons, and Meade Lux Lewis while listening to his father’s records. With that in mind, it only seems natural that eventually he would venture down to the Crescent City to record an album with many of the city’s finest musicians at the legendary Esplanade Studios.

Something New (Linus Entertainment) is the product of that collaboration and it consists of 11 tantalizing songs, ten written by Kaeshammer, with an impressive guest list that includes Cyril Neville (vocals), George Porter, Jr. (bass), Curtis Salgado (vocals/harmonica), Johnny Vidacovich (drums), Chuck Leavell (wurlitzer), Amos Garrett (guitar), Jim Byrnes (vocals), Colin James (vocals/guitar), and Randy Bachman (guitar).

The rousing opener, “Scenic Route,” kicks off the disc in fine fashion, with Kaeshammer’s piano and smooth vocals, Vidacovich’s rumbling percussion, and the cheerful horn backing provided by William Sperandei, Chris Gale, and William Carn). The funky gospel-flavored “Do You Believe” features Salgado on vocals and harmonica with the horn section joined by Matt Perrine of the New Orleans Nightcrawlers on sousaphone, and “She’s Gone” is an entertaining track that showcases Byrnes’ growling vocal with Garrett on guitar and Leavell on wurlitzer. Meanwhile, Kaeshammer’s vocal talents are on full display for the ballads “Come On Home” and “Josephine.”

The soulful “Who Are You” teams Kaeshammer with James, the latter shining with Bachman on their respective guitar solos, and Neville comes up big with his wonderful lead vocals on the wistful ballad “Heaven And Earth.” “Dixie Has The Blues,” with its irresistible second line rhythm, should get the folks up on their feet come next Mardi Gras . “Forbidden Love” is a smoky jazz tune with jazz trumpeter Bria Skonberg complementing Kaeshammer’s silky vocal.

Kaeshammer closes with a pair of instrumentals, the first a boisterous take on the classic “Sweet Georgia Brown” while “Weimar,” the elegant closer, finds the pianist paying tribute to the region of the same name from his native Germany that produced such classical composers as Bach and Listz.

A wonderful and rewarding release, Something New should be heard by anyone who loves blues or jazz piano in the New Orleans tradition, but it’s an exciting journey for anyone who loves great music.

--- Graham Clarke

Grand MarquisThe Kansas City-based band Grand Marquis is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary. Formed in 1998 during the height of the swing revival, this six-piece ensemble (Bryan Redmond – lead vocals/saxophones, Chad Boydston – trumpet/backing vocals, Trevor Turla – trombone/backing vocals, Ryan Wurtz – guitar, Ben Ruth – bass/sousaphone/backing vocals, Fritz Hutchison – drums/backing vocals) has continued to make powerful music.

The band’s previous release, Blues and Trouble, ranked among the top three best self-produced recordings of 2013 by the Blues Foundation. Five years later, the band’s latest release, Brighter Days (Grand Marquis Music), shows that the boys have lost nothing off their fastball. The new album features nine tracks, seven originals, that acknowledge the band’s musical influences --- Kansas City (jazz and swing), New Orleans (blues and R&B), and Memphis (soul and blues).

The opener, “Another Love,” gets the disc off to a rousing start with a groovy Memphis feel via classic ’60s Stax, and the title track follows, a wonderful slice of jazzy soul with Redmond’s robust vocal giving the song a feel reminiscent of those classic ’60s rock bands with horns (Blood, Sweat, & Tears, Tower of Power, etc.). “I’m On Fire” is a cool Latin-flavored rhumba and “Night Shift” cruises along with an irresistible second line rhythm. “It Don’t Matter” is a terrific funky instrumental that keeps the New Orleans vibe rolling along.

“Ain’t No Spark” is an old school, early R&B call-and-response tune with a sharp, understated guitar break from Wurtz with plenty of spice, and “Bad Seed” is a swinging shuffle with a few twists and turns along the way. The band closes with two excellent covers, turning Jimmy Cliff’s classic “Many Rivers To Cross” into a fantastic piece of southern soul with a touch of gospel, and picking up the second line beat again with a stirring take on the traditional “Down By The Riverside.”

Brighter Days is another well-crafted, enjoyable release from Grand Marquis that’s a ball from start to finish, showing the band is still in peak form with their fresh take on a vintage style of music.

--- Graham Clarke

GretchenGretchen and the Pickpockets are a six-piece soul/jazz/rock ensemble featuring vocalist Gretchen Klempa, her brother Mike Klempa (bass), Ryan O’Connell (trumpet and guitar), Tom O’Connell (drums and percussion), Richie Smith (guitar), and Diego Tunjano (saxophone). The group is based in Boston and has been active in the New England area for about five years, winning several awards and honors in the region since its inception.

The band’s new release is Falling Rising (Pickpocket Records), featuring ten original tunes and including appearances from guest musicians Mark Taddonia (trombone), Conor Powers (trombone), and Billy Jewell (trumpet). The playful “Keep Talking” starts the disc off on a upbeat note, while the soulful ballad “Love You Forever” is highlighted by Gretchen Klempa’s expressive vocal. The jazzy “Easy On My Heart” is another showcase for her vocals and the horns really kick into high gear as well, and “Devil’s Due” and “Fall Into You” are is fine pair of slow burners.

The festive “Let Me Do My Thing” combines jazz, pop, and funk, giving the track a Crescent City vibe, and “Take Flight” has a strong Latin feel. “Back and Forth” is another slower tempo ballad, while “Far, Far We Go” picks up the pace with a funkier edge before the disc before closing with the wistful “Time and Time Ago.”

While more on the jazz side of the aisle than blues, Falling Rising is an bold mix of musical styles that will certainly please blues fans. Gretchen Klempa’s vocal talents are formidable and the Pickpockets show an impressive versatility with a variety of musical styles.

--- Graham Clarke

Blind Lemon PledgeIn 2014, James Byfield (a.k.a. Blind Lemon Pledge…..surely one of the great blues names of all time) released Evangeline (Ofeh Records). The late, great NYC bluesman Michael Packer sent me a copy, saying that I really needed to hear it. I was glad that he did, because the man deserves to be heard. He released another couple of albums since Evangeline and has continued to mix recording and performing, receiving much airplay and recognition. Recently, Byfield reissued Evangeline, which remains a captivating collection of blues and Americana styles, all of which have influenced his music throughout his career.

Byfield plays all of the instruments heard on Evangeline, and he covers a lot of ground on this set, beginning with “Buley’s Farm,” a tribute to the old prison songs that John Lomax recorded over a half century ago (complete with a capella chorus and cigar-box guitar solo). He explores other facets of the blues with the Louis Jordan tribute, “Go Jump The Willie,” the Crescent City-styled “Brimstone Joe,” “Midnight Assignation,” a blues-rocker with some scorching slide work, and the title track, a moody country blues inspired by Son House.

Byfield also explores folk music with the lovely ballad “Jennie Bell,” old style pop music (“Ham and Eggs”), jazz (the smoky “How Can I Still Love You”), Latin rhythms (“Language of Love”), and country (“How Can I Still Love You”). He has a warm, engaging quality in his vocals and shows serious guitar skills in a variety of styles.

Evangeline remains an interesting and invigorating journey through the blues and various Americana styles several years after its initial release. Byfield, who trademarked the Blind Lemon Pledge moniker a few years ago, continues to explore these styles of music today. It would be a real challenge to find anyone who could be a better, more entertaining interpreter of either style.

--- Graham Clarke

Victoria GintyFlorida vocalist Victoria Ginty is a regular on the Tampa music scene with her band Ladyhawke, having made the transition from the country music scene in Nashville where she previously recorded for BMG Critique Records before the contraction of the music industry there. She fell in love with the blues scene around Tampa and decided to make her mark in the blues genre. While in Nashville she honed her songwriting skills to match her impressive vocal talents, and both are on display on her new release, Unfinished Business (Blue Door Records).

The title track opens the disc, a rowdy and flirtatious track with a sassy vocal turn from Ms. Ginty, who co-wrote this and seven more of the 11 tracks with Ladyhawke bassist Mike Ivey and others. The redemptive “Take Me Down” has a real gospel feel, with Ginty backed by a somber choir in an a capella opening that gives way to a full band. “Hard To Move On” is a touching ballad about the end of a relationship with Ginty’s vocal conveying heartbreak and regret, “You Don’t Love Me No More” is an upbeat blues rocker.

Ginty makes Jimmy McCracklin’s “Every Night and Every Day” her own with her slow burning delivery, maybe the best vocal on the disc, but I would really hate to single one out in particular because they’re ALL good (nice guitar break from Grace Lougen on this one, too). “Give It Up” is an upbeat R&B number and the emotional ballad “Water,” co-written by Ginty and Michael Alan Ward, readdresses the gospel theme. Ginty’s Latin-tinged remake of “Sign Your Name,” the late ’80s pop hit from Terence Trent D’Arby (whatever happened to him??) is another vocal highlight.

Earl Bud Lee’s “Lying (In Each Other’s Arms)” is an interesting mix of soul with a bit of country, and “Do Me Right” is a funky rocker with Ginty telling her man she’s had enough of his jive. The closer, “The Blues Found Me,” is a super ballad with another great vocal performance.

Personally, I’m happy the blues found her, because Unfinished Business is a powerful release and a great showcase for Victoria Ginty. Her marvelous voice will be sure to satisfy any music lover who digs the blues, soul, and R&B.

--- Graham Clarke

Allman GoldfliesThe Allman Goldflies Band consists of singer Gary Allman, a cousin of Gregg and Duane Allman, and bass player David “Rook” Goldflies, who served a couple of tenures with the Allman Brothers Band in the late ’70s/early ’80s, as well as stints with Gregg Allman’s early ’80s band, Dickey Betts & Great Southern and the mid ’80s Southern rock supergroup BHLT. Currently based in Panama City, Florida, the group has attracted a lot of attention around the Gulf Coast region and will be touring the U.S. soon.

As might be expected, the group’s debut release, Second Chance, is a mix of Southern rock and blues in the tradition of the Allman Brothers. It features ten original tracks, authored or co-authored by Allman and Goldflies (with Cindy Menfi collaborating on one tune). Allman plays acoustic and slide guitar, keyboards, and provides vocals, while Goldflies plays bass, guitar, drums, and keyboards, along with vocals. They are also joined by Joe Weiss (guitar/bass/background vocals), and the late Luther Wamble (lead guitar).

“Ever Been So Lonely Baby” starts things off in bluesy fashion, a funky shuffle with Allman Brothers written all over it. Allman’s gritty vocals are a perfect fit and Wamble’s guitar work is right on time, while Goldflies unleashes a cool bass solo near the tune’s end. “Standing In The Georgia Rain” is a sincere song of redemption where Allman, who served time in the Federal Correction System, vows to make the best of his second chance. “Southern’s All I Ever Wanted To Be” is a song that will appeal to anyone who digs Southern rock and is sure to be a crowd favorite in the Deep South, while “Yesterday’s Blues” is a somber ballad with soaring guitar work from Wamble.

Goldflies also plays fiddle on the album and shows off his skills to great effect on the rousing instrumental “Fadiddle,” which interestingly combines Cajun, bluegrass, and Eastern European musical styles. The ballad “Baby Show Me How” has a countrified feel and features Allman playing some splendid slide guitar, and “Pretty Green Eyes” is a haunting track about the lonely life of a road-weary musician.

“Can’t Turn Back Now” turns up the funk again with some outstanding bass from Goldflies, who also sings this one, while the lovely ballad “You Give Me Love” features Wamble’s last recorded performance and it’s an excellent one. The closer, “When Jesus Calls,” is a gospel tune Allman wrote in tribute to his late mother, and features a full choir performance that will raise a chill bump or two on even the coldest heart.

The title Second Chance is really indicative of two things --- the Allman Goldflies Band reuniting after originally forming in the early 2000s and Gary Allman’s return from incarceration. Though there will be inevitable comparisons to the Allman Brothers Band, as with most bands in the Southern rock vein, Allman and Goldflies are taking what was already in place and building on it. The results are worth hearing and, hopefully, there will be more to come from these guys.

--- Graham Clarke




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