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September 2022

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Order these featured albums today:

Bob Corritore and Friends

Mick Clarke

The Hungry Williams

Mighty Mike Schermer

Derrick Procell

Jeff Dale

Too Slim and the Taildraggers

Matt Lomeo

Jeremy Joyce

Stevie J Blues



Bob Corritore and FriendsI look forward to every new release that Phoenix blues impresario Bob Corritore puts out when he dives into his vast collection of recordings to pluck a great collection of songs recorded over the years by a host of artists. The latest such compilation is You Shocked Me (SWMAF / VizzTone), a treasure trove of 18 songs that will rock your world for more than an hour.

I'd normally start a review of this kind of album by highlighting my favorite cuts, but they are all outstanding. It's all good blues, sounding genuine and not overproduced and synthetic like way too many blues albums of late.

I will first mention a couple of my favorite blues singers and their contributions, starting with the wonderful Diunna Greenleaf knocking it out of the park with her robust vocals on the more downhome title cut, and then later on the pleasant mid-tempo blues shuffle, "Sunny Day Friends." Sugaray Rayford appears on one of his own compositions, "Josephine," a 12-bar blues with a touch of Latin flavor. Phoenix blues/jazz legend Francine Reed comes in with an up-tempo stomper written by Corritore, "Don't Need Your Permission," with nice interplay between Corritore's harmonica and Kid Ramos' guitar.

Alabama Mike is lead vocalist on four cuts: a slow, raw blues "Squeeze Me Baby," another slow blues in "Somebody Stole My Love From Me," with really strong harmonica from Corritore and nice piano from Fred Kaplan, the up-tempo swinger "Work To Be Done," and an Otis Spann number, "Blues For Hippies." Alabama Mike exudes plenty of power in his vocals on each of these fine cuts.

John Primer opens the album with his lone contribution, a mid-tempo Chicago blues shuffle, "Hiding Place," with strong Elmore James-style guitar licks. Johnny Rawls gets topical on the gospel-influenced "The World's In A Bad Situation," with tasty harp from Corritore, sax from Doug James, and wondrous background vocals from Celia King and Eboni McDonald.

Willie Buck gives us a heavy dose of raw Chicago blues on the slow number, "That Ain't Enough," with Bob Margolin coming in with a heaping helping of slide guitar. Bob Stroger takes vocals on his own "Train Fare," as well as playing bass on several numbers. Bill Perry sings and plays guitar on "Back To The Crossroads," a slow, 12-bar blues that he wrote.

Jimi "Primetime" Smith plays guitar on many of the songs here, as well as being the featured singer on "Blinded," with Corritore getting a nice dirty sound from his harp, and the up-tempo, hunger-inducing "Soul Food." King and McDonald return with Raylettes-style background vocals. Oscar Wilson sings a very slow blues with a Jimmy Reed cover, "Blue Blue Water."

I believe that covers all 18 songs here. Rather than going for a digital download, you will probably want to order the CD so that you have complete session info, because there are a whole lot of other performers participating in the sessions. You Shocked Me has the usual cool cover design that is a hallmark of these Corritore & Friends compilations, this one thanks to the design and illustration of Vince Ray.

You Shocked Me is just another outstanding compilation from the seemingly endless vault of Corritore recordings.

--- Bill Mitchell

Mick ClarkeMick Clarke is a British blues and rock artists going back nearly 50 years, and judging from his latest self-release, Telegram, he's still going strong. With a dozen cuts of both acoustic and electric blues, Telegram (Rockfold Records) is a set of tunes that will grow on you the more you listen to them thanks to the simplicity of what Clarke is doing here. It's just good basic blues with the occasional rock edge.

My favorite cut is the opener, "Barbecue Bob," with both 12-string guitar and electric guitar. Equally good is a slow, dirge-like version of "Corine, Corina," with a tasteful guitar solo and piano accompaniment. Small critique here is that the vocals are a little lower in the mix than I'd like. For something completely different, check out the manic and at times dissonant version of Billy Boy Arnold's "I Ain't Got You." It's certainly unique, but it works.

The title cut, "Telegram," starts with an acoustic slide intro and then goes into an up-tempo John Lee Hooker-type rhythm. Clarke lays down some of his best guitar work on this one. Clarke isn't a great singer but he's good enough for this material, especially on the slow blues shuffle, "Tin Box," getting plenty of guitar and piano into the mix. The tempo picks up a bit on the closing number, "Word In A Jug," with nice guitar work throughout.

It's good to hear that Clarke is still going strong across the ocean from us. Telegram is a worthwhile acquisition, especially if you've been a fan of his music over the years.

--- Bill Mitchell

The Hungry WilliamsMilwaukee-based The Hungry Williams claim to be the best New Orleans-sounding band NOT from the Crescent City. Their latest album, Let's Go! (Rochelle Records) aims to prove that boast. It all started in 1995 when drummer John Carr heard a New Orleans anthology album playing in a bar and subsequently named his band after New Orleans drummer Charles "Hungry" Williams. He added band members who would also be into this style of music, including very fine singer Kelli Gonzalez, bassist Mike Sieger, guitarist Joe Vent, keyboardist Jack Stewart, later supplementing the band's sound with horn players Jason Goldsmith and Casimir Riley for this recording.

It's a tight band and Ms. Gonzalez is a fine singer. Let's Go! isn't a groundbreaking recording, but just plain fun throughout. It's got that New Orleans feel, and that's always a good thing. I especially like the opening cut, "Mardi Gras Day," with trumpet player Lech Wierzynski brought in from the California Honeydrops to add the appropriate second-line sound. You may start looking to see what New Orleans legend penned this song, but it's an original from Gonzalez and Carr. The same goes for "Movin' On," summoning memories of Fats Domino and other New Orleans piano greats, but this was written by Stewart.

"You'd Better Find Yourself Another Fool," a hit for Lavern Baker, is the first cover, and this one just drips with a 1950s vocal group sound. Gonzalez acquits herself well in taking on Baker's vocals, with a bunch of background female singers and a smokin' sax solo. Most of us have heard Big Maybelle's original version of "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show," and you won't be disappointed with how Gonzalez handles it, dishing out an abundance of sass. The whole band acquits itself well on the 1959 hit for Joe & Ann, "Gee Baby," a song that most of us will more likely remember from the Mickey & Sylvia version.

A band original is the urgent blues, "Boss Man," with Gonzalez sounding even better as she forcefully tells us about that boss man of hers, then picking up a layer of sass on her own composition, "BIg Mouth Betty." The New Orleans armchair musicologists among us will recognize the Roy Montrell classic, "Oooh Wow," with Vent picking up the vocals on this party stomper. Of course, like on the original, it needs a smokin' sax solo and Goldsmith doesn't disappoint.

The band goes to church on the pleasant number, "Then I'll Believe," with more excellent vocal work from Gonzalez as she shows both more range and a little growl to her voice. Yeah, this one's a killer, certainly one of the best songs on the disc, especially when Goldsmith jumps in with a sax solo. Closing the album is the band's tribute to the devil that lives across the street, "669 (Across the Street from the Beast)." In this case the devil is having quite the jam every night. Nice slide guitar work from Vent before Goldsmith jumps in with still another killer sax solo.

I liked this album better the second time I listened to it, and then even more on the third time through. It's just plain fun. You'll enjoy Let's Go! over and over.

--- Bill Mitchell

John PrimerIn the nearly 40 years that I’ve been listening to the blues, John Primer has gone from one of the young lions of the genre to an elder statesman of sorts. Nothing wrong with that at all because the Camden, Mississippi native and Chicago resident has amassed a most impressive body of work, beginning as band leader for Junior Wells, Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters and Magic Slim (how does THAT look on a blues resumé??!!!), to launching his own solo career in the mid ’90s with his Real Deal Blues Band. I tried to count up the number of albums I’m aware of that he’s either appeared on as a front man or collaborator, and I stopped counting at 80. A most impressive body of work indeed.

Primer and the Real Deal Blues Band (Steve Bell – harmonica, Lenny Media – drums, David Forte – bass) work through 13 originals on Primer's latest, Hard Times (Blues House Productions). Rick Kreher sits in on guitar and Johnny Iguana adds keyboards as well.

The opener, “You Got What I Want,” is a lively contemporary blues with sparkling guitar work from Primer. It’s followed by “Don’t Wait Too Long,” a crisp Windy City shuffle with a nice turn from Iguana on the keys and Bell on harp, and the title track, a droning hill country-flavored tune which features Primer on slide guitar.

“Blues Blues Blues” is a cool slow burner with more fine fretwork from Primer. The funky blues, “I Won’t Sweat It,” picks up the tempo with instrumental interplay between Primer, Iguana, and Bell, and “Chicago” is a straight-ahead blues shuffle paying tribute to Primer’s adopted hometown. The next tune, “Tough Times,” is a surprise as it features Primer’s 17-year-old daughter Aliya, who also wrote the tune, on lead vocals, and she does a fine job.

“All Alone” is a brisk blues with more of Primer’s great slide guitar work, and “My Sugar Mama” maintains the upbeat pace with a funkier edge. The upbeat “You Mean So Much To Me” is a bouncy shuffle, “Trying To Make You Mine” is a soulful slow blues, featuring a long, superb guitar intro from Primer, a fairly common feature on most of these tracks which I really enjoyed.

“Hot Meal” is another slower tempo track featuring Bell on harp and ample space for Primer to stretch out on guitar. The disc wraps up with “Whiskey,” a lively shuffle that closes the album in fine fashion.

The Chicago blues are alive and well under John Primer and the Real Deal Blues Band’s watch. Hard Times is a superlative set of blues that is a perfect fit in Primer’s already formidable catalog of recordings.

--- Graham Clarke

Mighty Mike SchermerMighty Mike Schermer has been making mighty fine music for well over 30 years, touring and recording with a who’s who of the blues that includes Elvin Bishop, Charlie Musselwhite, Marcia Ball, Bonnie Raitt, Maria Muldaur, Angela Strehli, and Howard Tate. He’s a gifted songwriter and guitarist whose talents span blues, soul, funk, Americana, and world music. Listeners will get a taste of all those genres on Schermer’s latest release, Just Gettin’ Good (Little Village Foundation).

Recorded at Greaseland in San Jose by Kid Andersen, Just Gettin’ Good teams Schermer with some of San Francisco’s finest musicians --- bassist Steve Ehrmann, drummer Paul Revelli, and keyboardist Tony Stead, with guests D’Mar (drums), Austin DeLone (keyboards), Jerry Jemmott (bass), Terry Hanck (sax), and vocalists John Németh and the Sons of the Soul Revivers, along with Schermer’s partner Ms. Kimmy Pickens (vocals/percussion). Schermer wrote all 12 songs, four with Pickens, one with Ehrmann, and one with Felice Garcia.

The amusing title track opens the disc, a funky, horn-fueled tune where the title fits appropriately to several different subjects. The inspiring “Leave More (Than You Take Away)” features the Sons of the Soul Revivers on gospel-flavored backing vocals, while the jaunty “Spend The Night With You” has an old school pop feel with DeLone’s electric piano and Hanck’s tenor sax. “This Is Where Is My Love Is” is a gentle ballad, featuring Schermer on vocals and guitar with sparse musical backing (Ehrmann on bass, Revelli on drums, and DeLone on B3).

“The Hungry Dog” is an entertaining story song with a delightful island feel, “Tired of Travelin’” is a tough blues rocker with horns that laments the long hours and monotony of life on the road, and the rollicking “Gypsy Ways” picks up on the same topic with Stead’s piano driving the tune along.

“Let’s Make Time For Love” is a steamy soul burner with a heartfelt vocal from Schermer (backed by Dennis Dove’s vocals and Stead’s skittering B3), and “Cook Up A Little Love” teams Ms. Kimmy on vocals with Schermer, whose guitar work is reminiscent of Albert Collins.

“Kimmy Kimmy Gimme Gimme” is an upbeat rock n’ roller punctuated by Schermer’s crisp fretwork, Hanck’s tenor sax solo and DeLone’s B3. The sober ballad “Silence” describes the end of a relationship, while the rocking closer “It’s Not Me, It’s You” is a clever alternative break-up song with Németh sitting in on vocals and Schermer playing surf guitar.

Just Gettin’ Good is Mighty Mike Schermer in a nutshell --- a masterful guitarist in a variety of styles that has a large time playing all of them. If you like a little bit of fun with your music, this album may well be playing your song.

--- Graham Clarke

Derrick ProcellChicago blues/soul singer/songwriter Derrick Procell recently released his debut release for Catfood Records, Hello Mojo!. The album was produced by label mate Zac Harmon, who also contributed guitar on a couple of tracks, with The Rays, Catfood’s house band, providing their usual stellar support. Procell wrote nine of the ten tracks on the album, three in collaboration with label owner/bass player Bob Trenchard and four with longtime writing partner Terry Abrahamson.

Harmon handles the guitar solos on the opening track, “Skin In The Game,” a punchy soul-blues, and “The Contender,” a gritty blues rocker about beating all odds to persevere. Those two tracks bookend the funky title track, highlighted by a catchy melody, a sing-along chorus, and a crisp horn section. The bluesy R&B tale of love and loss, “Broken Promise,” finds Procell on harmonica, while “A Tall Glass Of You” is a light, loose-limbed soulful shuffle.

The mid-tempo “I Can’t Say No” features another catchy chorus and an irresistible groove, and “Color Of An Angel” is a sweet, old-school soul ballad with a fine lead vocal from Procell. “Baby I’m Lost” has a country-soul feel with Procell’s harmonica and a down-home backdrop. The album’s lone cover is a superb reworking of The Kinks’ 1965 rocker, “Who’ll Be The Next In Line,” transforming it into a cool soul burner quite different from its upbeat rocking origins. The poignant soul ballad “Bittersweet Memory” closes the disc.

Thanks to outstanding songs and vocals from Procell and company, stellar backing from The Rays, one of the finest bands currently practicing, and those sweet backing vocals from Sueann Carwell, Meredith Colby, and Jessica Ivey, Hello Mojo! should be on every soul and blues fan’s “Don’t Miss” list.

--- Graham Clarke

Jeff DaleBlood Red Moon (Pro Sho Bidness) is the latest release from Chicago-based Jeff Dale & The South Woodlawners. Singer/guitarist Dale has enjoyed a 40-plus year career playing with many blues legends, including Honeyboy Edwards (documented via Dale’s CD/DVD release I’m Gonna Tell You Somethin’ I Know in 2017), Pee Wee Crayton, and Lowell Fulson (check out Dale’s recently issued Lowell Fulson Live!). He led the Blue Wave Band in the ’80s before taking time off, resurfacing in 2009 with his current band, whose previous two releases, Good Music and Blues Power, were both standouts.

Dale wrote all 11 tracks on Blood Red Moon during the pandemic lockdown, and they mix the blues with traces of jazz, R&B, and world rhythms. He handles the guitar and vocals, backed by Aaron Barnes (bass/lap steel), Glen Doll (harmonica), Brian Lara (drums/percussion), Derek Phillips (keyboards), Jon Seimbieda (guitar), Steve Sax (alto/tenor sax), Dane Little (cello), and Elizabeth Hangan (background vocals).

The opener, “You Made Your Own Bed,” is a greasy, romping blues shuffle which leads into “Cicero,” an ominous jazzy blues about a rough part of town. The title track has a swampy feel, punctuated by Little’s cello and Doll’s harmonica, and “At The Wolf’s Door” is a moody, mid-tempo blues. “Autumn Blues” seamlessly moves between jazz and blues, complements of Sax’s, um, sax and Phillips’ ethereal keyboards, and “She Wouldn’t Leave Chicago” is an irresistible Windy City blues.

“The Dirty Jacks” is a tasty blues/jazz track highlighted by Barnes’ lap steel, “That Ain’t Love” is a blues ballad (with sitar!) where Hargan’s backing vocals complement Dale’s grittier delivery, and “Trouble Know Where I Live” really swings. The soulful “Push Comes To Shove” again teams Hargan and Dale (with cello), with satisfactory results before the album wraps up with “Things’ll Get Worse,” a Diddley-esque R&B number.

Blood Red Moon ventures a wee bit beyond the blues boundaries with interesting forays into jazz and world beats, but it all works very well and adds up to another winning release from Jeff Dale & The South Woodlawners.

--- Graham Clarke

Too SlimToo Slim and the Taildraggers have been a force on the blues rock scene for over 35 years, forming in 1986 in Spokane, Washington. Now based in Nashville, Tim “Too Slim” Langford and associates have released over 20 studio and live albums of their muscular, energetic brand of blues showing influences from Buddy Guy, SRV, and ZZ Top, as well as Robin Trower and Jimi Hendrix. Langford still handles guitar and vocals like a beast, and the current incarnation of the Taildraggers is Zach Kasik (bass, vocals) and Jeff “Shakey” Fowlkes (drums/vocals).

The band’s latest, Brace Yourself (VizzTone/Underworld), captures a live performance at Ohme Gardens in Wenatchee, Washington before an enthusiastic audience. The album kicks into high gear immediately with “Mississippi Moon,” a tough, swampy blues rocker. “Fortune Teller” maintains that energy and intensity, shifting slightly into a country vein before “Cowboy Boot” moves in a classic rock direction. “Devil In A Doublewide” is punctuated by some powerful guitar work from Slim, as is “Givers and Takers,” which slows the pace down slightly.

“Free Your Mind” has always reminded me of a good Tom Petty tune, going back to hearing it on Slim’s 2009 album of the same title, while “When Whiskey Was My Friend” has a gritty Texas roadhouse feel a la ZZ Top. The final five songs date back to Slim’s excellent album Blood Moon (released after Slim’s diagnosis and battle with cancer). The wild and wooly “Letter” rocks hard, while the haunting “My Body” settles down for more reflective thought. The slow burning “Blood Moon” builds like “Voodoo Chile”-era Hendrix, and “Twisted Rails” mixes searing fretwork with a driving funk backdrop.

Slim and the Taildraggers close out the set with the scorching rock n’ roller “Good Guys Win,” with the crowd raucously screaming their approval for this excellent set. Brace Yourself is an apt title for the trio’s latest effort, because it’s a heck of a ride!

--- Graham Clarke

Matt LomeoUpstate New York native Matt Lomeo was the youngest artist ever invited to perform at a Woodstock Festival (1999, at age 10!). He and his older brother Adam were encouraged to continue performing by encounters with Little Charlie & the Nightcats and Sugar Blue, and the younger brother eventually moved to Memphis, earning a house gig at Club Handy on Beale Street. Now, in Los Angeles, Lomeo recently released When You Call, his first album of all original tunes.

A fine, distinctive vocalist influenced by a diverse group of performers (Johnnie Taylor, Elvis Presley, Marvin Gaye, and Frank Sinatra), Lomeo is also a talented harp master influenced by Junior Wells and Big George Smith. The 13 tracks cover a wide range of genres beyond the blues --- soul, country, jazz, and roots --- and Lomeo is more than comfortable in all of them with able assistance from a standout band that includes Kevin McKendree (organ), Teresa James (vocals/keyboards), Terry Wilson (bass/guitar/producer), Billy Watts (guitar), Darrell Leonard (trumpet), Paulie Cerra (tenor sax), and James Cruce (drums).

The opener, “One More 1&1” has the feel of a vintage Memphis soul track with McKendree’s B3 and the horns. Lomeo adds a tasty harp solo around the midpoint. “Unsentimental You” has a classic rock/pop feel with the Latin-esque rhythm and Lomeo’s smooth vocal. “Accepting Applications” sounds like a long-lost Motown track, and “She Was The Best” is a bittersweet old school ballad. The title track mixes soul, blues, and funk quite effectively.

“Got A New Woman” is the first pure blues track, with a real Gulf Coast feel, before segueing into the countrified “27,” which refers to “honky tonk angels” and features great backing vocals from Ms. James. The smoky blues ballad “Take The Boulevard” is a standout, and the romantic “Outside Of A Song” is another terrific cut that puts Lomeo’s vocal talents on full display. “Why Do I Cry?” is a fun ’50s-styled rocker with several twists and turns that would have been a great fit in Elvis’ catalog.

The simmering “Van Nuys Blues” deftly mixes blues and jazz. It’s followed by the raucous blues “Took My Bar And Left Me,” and then the album concludes with an upbeat, even funkier version of the title track. It would be hard to choose which one of these versions works the best because they’re both so good.

When You Call shows that Matt Lomeo has talents that span a variety of genres. The blues is deeply rooted in his style, thanks to his super harp playing and his songwriting, but his vocal talents are a great fit in a lot of different musical settings. Blues fans will enjoy the disc, but music fans in general will find much to savor here.

--- Graham Clarke

Jeremy JoyceNew Orleans-based Jeremy Joyce has been in the Crescent City since 2014. Previously, he played indie rock and alt-country in his native Philadelphia before moving to New York City, where he explored jazz and rockabilly. After stops in Florida and St. Louis, he moved to New Orleans and began absorbing the many musical traditions --- blues, jazz, R&B, funk, etc. --- and crafting his own unique version of the sounds of the city, like so many musicians before him.

Joyce’s new album, Street Poet, is a compelling composite of all his musical travels to date, with an emphasis on his time in New Orleans. The funky title track opens the album, a lively narrative with spacey keyboards punctuating the tale. “Love Changes” is an interesting, upbeat pop-flavored song about the end of a relationship, and the dreamy “We Could Linger Though The Raindrops Fall” is a gentle, jazz ballad tune that harkens back to the ’40s, while the jaunty “High Heel Blues” tells the story of a man pining for a lady far above his pay grade.

Ghalia Volt contributes sultry backing vocals to the steamy blues shuffle “Be Bad To Me Baby.” The clever, quirky “What Love Used To Be” was inspired by a Jon Cleary performance at Chickie Wah Wah, and the haunting “Things We Shouldn’t Do” ponders making the wrong decisions at a vulnerable time. “Lower Decatur Blues” describes a street in New Orleans and the cast of characters who frequent it, while “Times Like These” takes a hard-eyed look at poverty and its effects on the city.

The album closes with “All Night All Night (Alright Alright),” a freewheeling funky tune that should be a crowd pleaser at live performance.

Participating musicians include drummers Scott Graves and Rose Cangelosi, bassist Sam Albright, Robert Kling, and Mike Harvey (who also produced the album), keyboardist Daniel Meinecke, and slide guitarist Chip Wilson, with a terrific horn section (Alex Geddes – sax, Jonathan Bauer – trumpet) and wonderful backing vocals from Emily Robertson.

Street Poet manages to take in most of the musical styles of New Orleans within its boundaries. Jeremy Joyce’s songwriting and musicianship, as well as his ability to meld genres seamlessly make this a very worthwhile listen for blues and roots fans.

--- Graham Clarke

Stevie JStevie J Blues returns with a sweet soulful R&B single, “You Got That Love” (PK Music), successfully capturing the essence of classic R&B of the ’70s in the tradition of Bobby Womack, down to the guitar work and the spoken-word asides. Stevie J Blues’ vocal style is a bit smoother, but he certainly gets the message across in an effective manner. To these ears, this is the best track by the singer/songwriter/guitarist over the past couple of years, which is a tremendous feat given the quality of his previous efforts. For fans of classic R&B and soul blues, this track will be a solid fit in their collection.

--- Graham Clarke




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