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August 2023

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Order these featured albums today:

Doug Deming

Mike Guldin

Mike Bourne Band

Mario Rossi Band

Robert Top Thomas

Mudslide Charley

Franck L Goldwasser

Greg Sover

Mark Cameron

Scottie Miller - book

Scottie Miller - album

Will James

Nick Moss Band featuring Dennis Gruenling


Doug DemingMake a point to put on some comfortable shoes when you plug in Groovin’ At The Groove Now! (Endless Blues Records), the latest dynamite release from Doug Deming & the Jewel Tones. You may find yourself cutting the rug.This energetic set was recorded at Atlantis Basel as part of the Groove Now! concert series in Basel, Switzerland.

Deming’s usual quartet is trimmed to a trio on this 11-song set with Deming on vocals and guitar, Andrew Gohman on bass, and Zack Pomerleau on drums and harmonica, but they are joined by saxophonists Terry Hanck and Sax Gordon, along with keyboardist Bill Heid.

The rollicking instrumental “East Side Hop” sets the tone for the rest of the tune. The group really digs in, with each getting their moment in the spotlight. “Only Time Will Tell” “Only Time Will Tell” is a jaunty blues shuffle that features Pomerleau on harp and crisp guitar work from Deming, and “Put It Down” is a mid-tempo blues where Deming’s guitar work has a nice, Wes Montgomery feel.

The band’s read of the Fats Domino classic “I’m Ready” should fill the dance floor quickly, and on the Little Walter tune, “Oh Baby,” Pomerleau pays tribute to the late harmonica pioneer.

“Every Night When I Get Home” is a sweet, slow late- nighter, as Deming turns in a soulful performance, with superb, understated support from the band. The pace picks up considerably with a stirring cover of “Bloodshot Eyes,” one of Wynonie Harris’ best, and only lets up a little bit with Deming’s own “Momma Didn’t Raise No Fool.”

“No Sense,” another Deming original, is a jazzy mid-tempo swinger, and “An Eye For An Eye” is a country blues showcasing just the trio, especially Pomerleau on harp. The closer, “Whisper,” is a smooth, relaxed blues that brings the album to a satisfying conclusion.

Groovin’ At The Groove Now! is an excellent live set that puts the talents of Doug Deming & the Jewel Tones on full display. The trio’s musical chemistry is amazing, and the musical guests fit the band’s style like a glove.

Obviously, the audience loved the performance and so will anyone who listens to this superb set.

--- Graham Clarke

Mike GuldinPennsylvania bluesman Mike Guldin and his Rollin’ & Tumblin’ band ventured to Kevin McKendree’s Franklin, Tennessee studio, The Rock House, to record their fifth album, The Franklin Sessions (Blue Heart Records).

Guldin and band (Bill Sharrow – bass, Tim Hooper – keyboards, Billy Wear – drums) are joined by a host of guest artists, including McKendree (keyboards), Yate McKendree (guitar, drums, lap steel), James Pennebaker (guitar), David Santos (bass), Mikey Junior (harmonica), Su Teears (vocals), the McCrary Sisters (background vocals), and the Philadelphia Funk Authority Horns (Dale Gerhardt – trombone, Kyle Hummel – baritone sax, Neil Wetzel – tenor sax, Andrew Kowal – trumpet).

Opening with “The Franklin Shuffle,” the McKendrees, Pennebaker, and Santos sit in on piano, drums, guitar, and bass, respectively and it proves a fine introduction to the set. The first of three covers, Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor,” follows and has a nice, funky feel, thanks to the rhythm section of Sharrow, Wear, Hooper (organ), and Kevin McKendree (piano).

The gospel tune, “The Right Thing,” features Gulden with the McCrarys providing background vocal support and Yates McKendree putting down some sacred steel, while “Sometimes You Gotta Roll The Dice” kicks into a second line groove. Next, Guldin teams up with Yates McKendree for some crisp guitar work on the album’s second cover, Muddy Waters’ “Blow Wind Blow.”

Guldin’s “Prisoner of Love” brings in Pennebaker and Yates McKendree on guitars, along with the Philly Funk Horns, setting a soulful mood, while “Smokin’ Woman” is a …well ….smokin’ Texas blues-styled shuffle,. Su Teears joins Guldin for a duet on the northern soul burner “Two Hearts.”

The cool blues “Sad And Lonely” features Pennebaker on guitar and Kevin McKendree on piano, “Gettin’ Over You Is Workin’ Over Me” is an amusing tune that showcases Gulden’s razor-sharp wit and fretwork, and the album’s final cover, Sleepy John Estes’ “Divin’ Duck Blues,” is a driving blues rocker featuring searing harp from Mikey Junior.

Guldin says in the liner notes that this set was cranked out in just three days of studio time. That said, The Franklin Sessions has a loose and lively feel, signaling that all parties were committed and enthusiastic. That makes for a rewarding listen for blues fans.

--- Graham Clarke

Mike Bourne BandCruisin’ Kansas City (Blue Heart Records) is a tribute to the city that has been a cornerstone of both the blues and jazz genres for over a century. The Mike Bourne Band has been a part of that scene for a long time in various incarnations, and Bourne (guitar/vocals) is joined by his band, Kansas City Boogie (Patrick Recob – bass, Dave Creighton – organ, Adam Hagerman – drums, Sam Treinen - sax), along with guests Johnny Burgin (guitar), Johnny Iguana (keyboards), Davin “Big D” Erickson and John Paul Drum (harmonica), Mickey Munoz and Rob Lorenz (drums), Greg Hopkins (trumpet), and Mike Grinns (bass). Bourne penned all 13 songs on the disc.

The instrumental title track opens the disc, a swinging track with a touch of Freddie King mixed in, driven by Bourne and Bergin’s fretwork and the airtight rhythm section. The catchy shuffle “Lose Your Rings, Keep Your Fingers” keeps things rolling along nicely, and the funky nursery rhyme “Humpty Dumpty” serves as a sequel of sorts to the Buddy Guy chestnut “Mary Had A Little Lamb.”

Meanwhile, “Golden Rule” is a laidback shuffle with harp frorm John Paul Drum, and the inspirational “Help Somebody” has a nice gospel flavor, especially during the last minute or so. The rousing stomper “Hollow Man” borrows the melody from Muddy Waters’ “Can’t Be Satisfied.”

Like many blues fans, I’m sure, Bourne contemplates his place in the modern world with the whimsical “Too Young To Be Old” (sadly, it’s less whimsical than it used to be). Sax man Treinen and trumpeter Hopkins pitch in on “Loose With The Truth,” a pointed jab at those who play fast and loose with the facts. The hard-charging “Missouri Boy” is a tough roadhouse blues.

“Running Song” is a fast-paced shuffle, and “The One” is a splendid R&B-flavored slow burner that showcases Treinen on sax. “Dangerous Game” is a cool, swampy blues with stinging fretwork from Bourne and Burgin.

The closing track, “Kansas City Grease,” is a slow blues instrumental that features Erickson, Lorenz, Iguana, and Grinns. It’s included as a tribute to Lorenz and Erickson, who have both passed away.

Cruisin’ Kansas City is a spirited workout that touches on the music of that city as well as Chicago. Bourne and company are strong on all the tracks and the guest musicians make their mark as well.

--- Graham Clarke

Mario RossiThe Mario Rossi Band is led by the young Brazilian singer/guitarist Rossi, who discovered his passion for the blues in 2013 and 2015, he joined the band that accompanied John Primer for a tour of Brazil, eventually participating in a live performance on Brazilian TV. Rossi began writing and recording blues soon afterwards, combining it with the rock he previously listened to as a teen.

Smoke Burst is his third release to date and features Rossi with Edê Boy (keyboards), Marcelo Rocha (bass), Rafael Cacavallo (drums), with guests Lu Vitti (vocals), Steve Bell (harmonica), and Richard Fermino (horns).

The title track, a tasty instrumental that gives the entire band ample space to strut their stuff, is a most impressive start to the disc, and Rossi demonstrates a mastery of multiple styles with his fretwork. On the fiery “Leavin’ For A Walk,” he adds robust vocals that match his string-bending skills, but leaves the vocal duties to the Brazilian songstress Lu Vitti on the smoky slow burner “It Means Blues.” Ms. Vitti, who is more than up to the task, turning in an amazing performance with superb backing from the band.

Steve Bell’s harmonica punctuates the powerful “There’s No Hope For Willie Brown,” which also features gospel-flavored backing vocals from Vitti, Boy, Megally Farias, and Je Farias.

“Don’t Tell Me What To Do” is a fiesty blues rocker packed with grit and gristle, and “Jammin’ For Jimi” is a spirited hard rocking instrumental that’s very much in the Hendrixian blues mode. “Expensive Instinct” mixes in a bit of funk to Rossi’s rock-edged guitar, but the closer, “Cold Lonely Nights,” is pure, unadulterated blues, with Fermino’s masterful horns, Boy’s keyboards, and some splendid soloing from Rossi, ending the album on a spectacular note.

The Marco Rossi Band’s Smoke Burst is a marvelous set of blues and blues rock that deserves to be heard. Rossi’s guitar work is first rate and he gets first-rate support from his band and guests. Expect great things from this talented young guitarist.

--- Graham Clarke

Robert ThomasA Thin Dime is a solo acoustic recording from Robert “Top” Thomas. Thomas, part of the wonderful Florida swamp blues band Smokehouse, has previously released an album, The Town Crier, acknowledging his love for that swamp blues sound. This new release touches on his love for classic pre-war-era country blues. Thomas sings 14 vintage blues and roots classics, and the acoustic format really highlights the far-ranging talents of this singer/guitarist.

Thomas opens with a rousing read of the title track, attributed to Blind Lemon Jefferson. His version of Son House’s “Death Letter Blues” is taken at a slower, less intense pace than House’s mid-’60s version, but with ample emotion and grit still in place. “The Ballad of John Henry” is a stirring retelling of the folk classic, and “Jack of Diamonds” is the Texas folk song (also in Jefferson’s repertoire), while “Ella Speed” is one of the best known Texas ballads. Thomas’ fast-paced telling of the story is first-rate, as is his gentle, haunting version of the blues standard “Goin’ Down Slow.”

There’s also a lively version of Texas blues legend Mance Lipscomb’s “I Want To Do Something For You,” a nice cover of “Shine On Harvest Moon,” a popular tune from the early 1900s, and an energetic take of another blues standard, “Baby Please Don’t Go.” “I Ain’t Got Nobody” was another popular tune from the early part of the 20th century (revised in the late ’50s by Louis Prima with “Just A Gigolo”), and Thomas’s gently swinging version works well here.

Thomas successfully captures the raw intensity of the Reverend Gary Davis with his spirited cover of “I Am The True Vine,” and delivers a jaunty cover of Roosevelt Sykes’ “Night Time Is The Right Time.” The final two tracks are covers of Blind Willie Johnson’s somber “Motherless Children” and Davis’s joyful “Oh Glory, How Happy I Am.”

Thomas does a wonderful job with these songs, which cover a wide variety of styles --- blues, gospel, pop, and jazz. His skilled fretwork and inspired vocals breathes new life into each tune. Fans of old-fashioned acoustic blues and roots music will want to give A Thin Dime a spin.

--- Graham Clarke

Mudslide CharleyOut of Missoula, Montana, the six-piece band Mudslide Charley (Liza Ginnings – lead vocals, Roger Moquin – drums/vocals, Russ Parsons – keyboards/vocals, Phil Hamilton – harmonica/sax/guitar/percussion/vocals, Marco Littig – slide and lead guitar/vocals, Paul Kelley – bass/vocals) play a wide-ranging mix of blues, soul, rock, and roots.

The band’s fifth album, Clearwater Junction, features 11 original compositions, seven written by Littig and four from Hamilton, that touch on the above-mentioned genres, plus a few others that lead to a few unexpected turns here and there.

“Other Shoe” opens the disc, a horn-fueled rocker (trumpeter Jeff Stickney joins Hamilton on this track) and Ginnings’ robust vocal carries the day with plenty of vocal support from the rest of the band. The next track, “Bootsy Basil,” is a hard-charging blues with a Gulf Coast flavor, while the story-song “Road To Brookston” leans more toward the rootsy side of the aisle, as does the good-natured stomper “Little Miss Molasses.”

“Long Death Ride” is a splendid slow blues highlighted by Hamilton’s scorching harmonica, and the jazzy “Don’t Look Bad” is driven by Kelley’s bass, Hamilton on saxophone, Parsons on piano, and a hip conversational vocal narrating the harrowing tale.

Littig’s slide guitar and Parson’s keyboards drive the mid-tempo blues rocker “Reactionary Man,” which has a psychedelic bent to its make-up. On the easygoing “Juniper Girl,” a song Littig penned for his wife, his slide guitar is prominent again in a more reserved setting.

Hamilton’s “Adrianna” has the feel of an early Little Feat tune, while the somber gospel/blues “Look Away” shifts gears 2/3 of the way through and the song shifts into high gear. The soulful closer “Stop Talking” sends the band into reggae territory, bringing the album to a satisfying conclusion.

Blues and roots lovers are advised to check out Mudslide Charley and Clearwater Junction. It’s a warm and entertaining set with much to please fans of both genres.

--- Graham Clarke

Franck GoldwasswerFranck L. Goldwasser, a.k.a. “Paris Slim,” became a fan of the blues as a teenager in Paris and began playing in France before being discovered by Sugar Blue and Sonny Rhodes, who brought him to the West Coast. Since the ’80s, Goldwasser has played with anybody who’s anybody on the Bay Area scene, several of whom are featured on his latest album, Who Needs This Mess!!?? (Crosscut Records). Goldwasser wrote or co-authored 14 tracks, all recorded between 2019 and 2021, with a bonus live cut that was recorded in 2014 at the Portland Waterfront Festival.

“Don’t Give Up On My, Baby” is a hard-charging shuffle with crisp guitar and a world-weary vocal from Goldwasser. “I Don’t Want Your Love (I Just Want Your Lovin’)” is a churning hill country tune, and “Skwurley” is a funky instrumental teaming harp master R.J. Mischo on chromatic with Goldwasser’s slick slide guitar work. Goldwasser plays both acoustic guitar and harmonica on the nimble country blues “What Am I To Do?,” and is joined by fellow guitarist Kirk Fletcher and Mischo for “Disküm Baåb Uleh Shun,” a delightful instrumental that combines blues, surf, and psychedelic rock guitar sensibilities.

The politically-charged “Had A Dream Last Night” is an amusing juke joint rocker, and “Paris Woman” is a mid-tempo, loose-limbed blues. The third instrumental, the fast-paced “Sobby Doggy Boogie,” features Goldwasser’s sizzling lap steel.

The title track, a pointed look at materialism, features Fletcher on guitar, Sugaray Rayford on vocal, Charlie Musselwhite on harmonica, and Jimmy Pugh on keyboards. “Monkey Junk” ventures into psychedelic territory with Goldwasser’s otherworldly spoken vocal against a hypnotic musical backdrop, and “If I Could Holler” is a gritty blues with Goldwasser doubling on guitar and harp once again.

“Dumb & Dangerous” is a fierce reworking of “Rollin’ and Tumblin’,” with Goldwasser on dobro backed by other folk instruments. “Sweet Cream” is raw and ragged hill country blues mixed with a British blues vibe, while the brief, fingerpicked instrumental “Raggmazazz” has a nice country feel.

The closing track is the live version of Elmore James’ “Bleedin’ Heart” which really showcases Goldwasser and his band working in the traditional blues mode.

Goldwasser is in top form on Who Needs This Mess!!??, a fine foray into a variety of blues styles from one of the current Bay Area masters.

--- Graham Clarke

Greg SoverGreg Sover’s latest album, His-Story (GSGS Music), may be his best yet. The Philadelphia-based singer/songwriter/guitarist offers ten songs, eight originals plus two covers of Jimi Hendrix tunes, made even better by the fact that Hendrix’s former Band of Gypsies bass player, Billy Cox, plays on both tracks. Also joining Sover on selected tracks are bassist Kenny Aaronson, who’s played with Bob Dylan, Rick Derringer, Sammy Hagar, Billy Idol, and many others, and drummer/podcast host David Uosikkinen of The Hooters. As with his previous three releases, Sover brings lots of energy and passion to his work, both as an instrumentalist and vocalist.

The haunting “Dark House” opens the disc and the fretwork from Sover and lap steel guitarists Brad Hinton and Kyle Perrelli is standout. The scorching “Freedom Part 2” takes off like a long-lost Living Colour track with thunderous guitar work as Sover ponders his place in America. Backing vocalist Charlene Holloway’s support on this song is marvelous.

“Temptation” is a rock-edged blues tune with powerful guitar and vocals from Sover that provides a fine lead-in to the first Hendrix cover, the driving rocker “Manic Depression,” with Sover on guitar, Cox on bass, and Tom Walling on drums.

The smooth, mid-tempo “One Way Train” and the bluesy ballad “Tonight” both showcase Sover’s soulful vocals. He opens with resonator on the fierce blues rocker “Living on the Edge”, and the blistering rock workout “Song 28” features his best guitar work of the album.

“Stuck In The Rain” is a slow blues burner that adds Wally Smith’s B3 to Sover’s strong vocal and guitar. The album closes with the second Hendrix cover, the seldom heard “Remember” (originally recorded for Are You Experienced, but eventually released on Smash Hits). Sover’s version is a bit peppier than the original and works well.

His-Story is another winner from Greg Sover, one of my favorites in the new group of blues artists, who continues to improve as a singer, songwriter, and guitarist with each album.

--- Graham Clarke

Mark CameronMinnesota-based blues man Mark Cameron returns with Nasty Business, his debut release for Blue Heart Records. Cameron (guitar/vocals) and his band (Rick Miller – harmonica, Scott Lundburg – bass, Dan Schroeder – drums, Sheri Cameron – saxophone/percussion/vocals) are joined by guests Tommy Barbarella (keyboards), Zack Lozier (trumpet/trombone), Ian Schroeder (baritone sax), Greg Schutte (drums) Nick Salisbury (bass), and vocalists Tonia Hughes, Sara Renner, and Grammy nominee Teresa James. The ten tracks were all written by Cameron, with Miller contributing lyrics on one track.

Cameron’s crisp guitar work (lead and slide, thank you very much) is on display with the rugged opening track, “Sorry,” as he voices regrets for some of the choices he’s made. The title track follows, incorporating a bit of funk into the mix along with Miller’s tasty harp work, and it’s followed by the amusing mid-tempo bump n’ grinder “What’s For Supper.” The sparkling “Language Of The Blues” adds horns and backing vocals, giving the tune a soulful blues feel, while “That’s A Fact” is a slow burner about the end of a relationship and its effects.

“Nick’s Place” is a noir-ish spoken word tale paying tribute to a northern juke joint and its owner, and “Everything” is a tough blues rocker describing a somewhat shady lady. On the Latin-flavored ballad, “Combination,” Cameron is joined by Ms. James on vocals and the pairing proves to be an excellent one.

The wry “Life Is Good” teams Cameron with Miller on guitar and harmonica, respectively, in an acoustic blues setting, and Miller contributed the lyrics for the swampy closer, appropriately titled “Voodoo.”

Mark Cameron always provides blues fans with superb musicianship and compelling, entertaining songwriting. His albums never disappoint, and Nasty Business is another keeper that keeps that streak alive.

--- Graham Clarke

Scottie Miller bookScottie Miller serves as keyboardist for Grammy-nominated performer Ruthie Foster and fronts his own Scottie Miller Band. He’s also writes poetry and recently issued his debut collection, Carnival Cocoon (Scottie Miller Music, LLC), as well as a companion CD, which sets 23 of the book’s 51 compositions to music.

The book is divided into five chapters: “Walking On Eggs,” “The Gibbous Moon,” “Begger, Banker, Fisherman Pay,” “This Love Is Found In Shadows,” and “24 Hours in Mexico.” Miller paints a vivid picture on poems like “Berklee,” “Space Heaters and Cocoa,” “Whiskey, Coffee,” “Fire On The Bayou,” “Silver Sky,” and “High School Wrestling,” so vividly that you can almost smell and taste and even get a sense of his emotions on verses like “Walking on Eggs,”

“A Better Way To Cope,” “Adrenalena,” and “There Will Be A Raining On My Heart.” The closing poem, “24 Hours In Mexico,” is most entertaining. I’m not much of a poetry reader, but I have to say I enjoyed Miller’s writing and his knack for storytelling.

The album that accompanies the book is also very entertaining. Miller plays piano and narrates/sings the 23 tunes included. He has a warm, laconic vocal style that pulls you in to what he’s relating. He’s accompanied by JT Bates (drums/percussion), Jeff Bailey (double bass), Cierra Alise Hill (violin/string arrangements), Bex Gaunt (violin), Jesse Kellerman (viola), and Greg Byers (cello/double bass).

I get a strong Tom Waits vibe on some of these tracks, and the music, touching on blues, jazz, and folk stylings, is endlessly compelling, reportedly much of it was completely improvised. Ms. Foster makes a vocal appearance on “Stay,” which addresses perseverance through tragedy and injustices.

As stated above, this type of literature/art is not usually on my radar. Not that I avoid it, by any means, I just haven’t encountered very much of it over the years. However, I found a lot to enjoy in both Miller’s book and his musical interpretations of some of the poetry in Carnival Cocoon, and I think most blues fans will enjoy it as well. I will be interested to see and hear what else Scottie Miller has to offer in the future.

--- Graham Clarke

Tim WoodsPennsylvania-based guitarist/singer/songwriter Tim Woods’ latest release, For You, pays tribute to his many musical influences, so the ten tracks offer a variety of styles ranging from blues to rock and folk with variations of each genre in the mix. Woods has enjoyed a long career, nearly five decades, performing as a solo artist, also fronting his own five-piece band (The Tim Woods Band) while also serving as a longtime member of The Mountain Jam Band. He also performs regularly as part of the Woods Family Band with his sons Derek and Ryan. Woods’ lifelong dedication to the blues also earned him a spot in the New York Blues Hall of Fame in 2012.

For You teams Woods with multi-instrumentalist Bobby Lee Rodgers (who also produced the album), keyboardist Paul Hornsby, and saxophonist Erik Lawrence for ten original songs, beginning with the tough blues-rocker “Can’t Stop Rockin’,” a catchy rocker with a strong fretwork from Woods. The title track follows, which features Hornsby’s B3 and Lawrence’s saxophone and has a swinging R&B feel.

“Are You Kind?” has a late ’60s/early ’70s feel with the churning guitars and its message of peace and love, while “It’s True” is an easy-going rock ballad that recalls the same era. The funky instrumental “Mimic” features Woods’ guitar and Rodgers’ B3.

The emotional “Low Down Blues” focuses on recovering from the repercussions of the Covid lockdown, and the ballad “Believe” has a psychedelic edge as Woods encourages us to continue to persevere through life’s challenges. The hypnotic blues rock n’ boogie “Reaching Out” ventures into hill country territory, while “The Story” blends rock with Eastern influences.

The closer, “Within,” is an mostly-acoustic piece that finds Woods reminiscing about a romantic night.

For You shows Tim Woods’ diverse musical influences to great effect. Though the influences span multiple genres, the album flows smoothly, owing to Woods’ deft guitar work and songwriting and the seamless interplay with the band.

--- Graham Clarke

Will JamesWill James is a singer, songwriter and guitarist from England, who traveled to Los Angeles to record this very fine, self-released album, Sundancer. It hit my mailbox back in April but then got shuffled under the pile of albums waiting to be reviewed until I dug it back out and gave it a full listen. Better late than never, because this is a very fine collection of 10 original songs.

Backing James on this session are Jon Gilutin (organ & keyboard), Randy Jacobs (rhythm guitar), Nathan Brown (bass), Sergio Gonzalez (drums), Dan McConkey (sax), and Tim Quicke (trumpet). They all provide fine accompaniment but never get in the way of James' strong guitar playing and rather unique vocal style.

My first impression of James is that he's kind of a hipster bluesman, and I mean that in a complimentary way. He's got a very listenable, soulful voice with just a hint of gravel and molasses mixed in, and handles the guitar quite well on all cuts.

The up-tempo and quirky "Shadowman" opens the show, a head-bopper with strong vocals from James and excellent organ accompaniment form Gilutin. James opens the fast-moving "Where's My Baby?" with John Lee Hooker-style boogie riffs punctuated by McConkey's sax. The tempo slows on the jazzy, soulful blues "Still Blue," a relaxing number with ethereal vibes coming from both James' vocals and Gilutin's keyboards. James mixes in some intricate guitar notes while singing about that relationship that got away from him. This one will remain in your memory for quite some time.

The mid-tempo "Grindstone" has James mixing in a lot of funky effects on guitar while the horns provide a nice foundation of sound. James gets more forceful with his vocals as he sings "...Gotta get back on the grindstone, gotta keep working to survive ..."  The soulful, jazzy blues "Prisoner" starts with understated vocals from James until he starts shouting out his frustrations about his relationship. "6up" is a mid-tempo blues with a strong guitar solo framed by Gilutin's organ playing.

One of the better cuts is the up-tempo mover "Pack It Up," driven by a propulsive drum beat as James sings about how he's going to put that woman out of his mind. That leads into the funky "Q Blues," with James using a slide on his guitar chords to good effect and Gilutin comes in on piano throughout the tune. James isn't happy with the totalitarian state that he's in and believes he might have to go back home.

The very subtle, jazzy number "Home" gets James back to where he needs to be with his relationship, as he sings about wanting to feel like he's home where the heart is. Closing the album is "Sundance," a heavier sound with blues/rock guitar chords as James sings repeatedly about giving freedom a chance.

With Sundancer, Will James is presenting blues with a lot of different sounds and influences. It's not your typical straight 12-bar blues, but instead he takes the music into a lot of different directions. I've become addicted to what he's putting down here. Give it a listen and see if it affects you the same way. It's a journey that doesn't follow a straight path, but one that I've enjoyed taking.

--- Bill Mitchell

Nick MossThe Nick Moss Band featuring Dennis Gruenling has consistently been one of the most energetic party bands on the blues scene today, with these Chicago cats proving it again on their latest release, Get Your Back Into It! (Alligator Records). They took it to another level when guitarist Moss teamed up with harmonica virtuoso Gruenling back in 2016, and this latest release just proves that it's a partnership that just plain works. Get Your Back Into It! provides plenty of value for your money, with 14 songs included, all originals.

Rounding out the band are piano ace Taylor Streiff, bassist Rodrigo Mantovani, and drummer Pierce Downer. Packing on an extra dose of blues adrenaline is the addition of saxophone wizard "Sax" Gordon Beadle for the session, and "Brother" John Kattke shows up on organ for one cut.

Getting the show on the road is the up-tempo jumper, "The Bait in The Snare," with Gruenling getting his first chance to astound with some hearty harmonica solos. It gets the heart of every listener pumping fast. The tempo slows on "Aurelie," with a Slim Harpo swamp blues sound as Moss sings about that woman he met in France, saying that, "...I'm a stranger in your country, and I don't parlez-vous ..."

The sound level increases on the title cut, a mid-tempo shuffle, with Moss adding a slide to his guitar playing while Gruenling wails away on the harp. DG then steps up to the vocal mic on the up-tempo stomper "Man On The Move," before the band slows it down considerably on a more traditional blues, "Living In Heartache," with Moss starting this one with an Elmore James-ish slide guitar intro.

"It Shocks Me Out" has a shuffle beat with the occasional stop-time interrupting the flow. That leads into the first of three instrumental numbers, "Out Of The Woods," a jazzy tune with Moss showing off on guitar while Gruenling gets more of a heavy sound from his harmonica and Beadle blows away on the sax, all the while Kattke making his lone appearance with smokin' organ.

The T-Bone mood continues on "Choose Wisely," a strong late-night blues that gives Moss a chance to stretch out on guitar while Streiff puts down nice piano. If I'm forced to choose, I'll pick this one as the album's best cut. If you agree, then I guess I really did choose wisely.

A John Lee Hooker beat leads the way into "Your Bark Is Worse Than Your Bite," with Gruenling making his second vocal appearance to go with some dirty harp work. DG doesn't slow down at all, as his harmonica provides the intro to the mid-tempo 12-bar blues "Losing Ground." The second of three instrumentals, "Bones Cantina," takes us south of the border, with Moss throwing in samples of "La Cucaracha" just because it fits well.

The mid-tempo blues shuffle "Lonely Fool" packs a heavier punch, with Moss getting a little more echo into his vocals, before he really shines at the mic on the 12-bar blues, "The Solution," on which he tells us that he's not the problem but is really the solution and if that woman calls him he'll give her the resolution.

One more rockin' instrumental, "Scratch N Sniff," closes the album, with Moss getting a Dick Dale surfer sound to his guitar while Beadle answers every guitar line with his sax. It's just one more heart-pumping number on this fine album.

What can I say other than repeating myself that this is one of the most entertaining and energetic bands around. Get Your Back Into It! is a welcome addition to the discography of The Nick Moss Band featuring Dennis Gruenling.

--- Bill Mitchell


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