Blues Bytes

What's New

October / November 2008

an associate Order these featured CDs today:

M for Mississippi (DVD)

M for Mississippi (CD)

Elvin Bishop

Rory Block

John Earl Walker

Gravel Road

Walter Trout

Mississippi Heat

Storm Warning

Rob Tognoni

Paul Reddick

North Mississippi All-Stars

Duwayne Burnside

M for Mississippi dvdIn the Spring of 2008, Roger Stolle (of Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art) and Jeff Konkel (of Broke & Hungry Records) set out in Stolle’s Dodge van with filmmaker Damien Blaylock and Kari Jones (of Mudpuppy Recordings) on a journey to take in all the Mississippi Delta Blues that they could hear in a week. The group documented their journey and recorded these artists using recording engineer/guitarist Bill Abel’s Big Toe Porta-Studio (a Volvo station wagon loaded with recording equipment). The results of this expedition can be seen and heard in the wonderful documentary, M for Mississippi.

On Day 1, the journey begins at Stolle’s Cat Head store in Clarksdale, where we hear one of the last of the street blues musicians, Foster Wiley, AKA Mr. Tater the Music Maker, who performs regularly in front of the store for the tourists who pass through. Mr. Tater’s joy and enthusiasm for the music comes through loud and clear in his brief segment. Then, it’s on to Ground Zero Blues Club to meet Terry “Harmonica” Bean, who recounts how he got started in the blues and how he developed his occasional one-man-band sound under duress. He also discusses the future of the blues in Mississippi. This discussion is interspersed with Bean performing a torrid one-man version of “I’m A Bluesman,” a variation of John Lee Hooker’s “Boogie Chillen.”

Next, the group picks up Wesley Jefferson at his home in Clarksdale and they visit Stovall Farm, where Jefferson worked as a youngster. Jefferson talks about his early life working the cotton fields and the juke joint his parents ran. The Do Drop Inn in Shelby, MS is the setting for Jefferson and his band as they perform the funky "The Wolves Are Howling,” which benefits from a “Smokestack Lighting”-like groove.

Day 2 takes the party to R. L. Boyce’s house in Como, MS, where a house party is taking place during a rainstorm, making recording difficult for Abel in his Porta-Studio, which has wires running out of the house through the rain into his Volvo. Boyce plays with Lightnin’ Malcolm, performing his hypnotic brand of Hill Country blues, and gives one of the most hilarious, disjointed interviews ever seen.

Day 3 brings a fascinating visit with Pat Thomas, the son of James “Son” Thomas, who has continued his father’s unique brand of blues and folk art in Leland, Mississippi. Thomas’ personality is almost childlike as he eagerly shows off his collection of collages cut out from magazines and books, along with his drawings, paintings, and clay sculptures, but he is transformed when he picks up his guitar and sings, sounded reminiscent of his father on “The Woman I Love.” The scene where he plays at his father’s grave is especially poignant. From there, it’s on Greenville, and the inimitable T-Model Ford, who probably deserves a documentary of his own. Ford talks about growing up, his past encounters with the law, and his stormy relationship with his father. On his song, “Hip Shakin’ Woman,” Ford plays accompanied by his young grandson, Stud, on drums.

On Day 4, Stolle and Konkel travel to a clandestine location to meet up with the Mississippi Marvel, the mysterious bluesman who recorded a fine debut release for Broke & Hungry earlier this year. Since the Marvel wants his identity kept secret due to his association with his church, he’s only filmed from the neck down or with his face blocked out as he plays the traditional tune, “Black Mattie’s Face,” with Lightnin’ Malcolm. After leaving the Marvel, it’s down US 49 to Bentonia, MS and the Blue Front Café, stomping grounds of Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, who talks about the café, which has been in his family since 1948, his musical influences, and why he plays the blues. Holmes’ musical contribution is an original composition, “Slow Down, Slow Down,” performed in the Bentonia blues tradition.

Day 5 brings a visit to Renova, MS and “Cadillac” John Nolden, who plays with Bill Abel. Nolden plays harmonica in a traditional Delta style and Abel backs him with a cigar box guitar. Returning to Clarksdale, the pair catches Robert “Bilbo” Walker at Sarah’s Kitchen. Walker is a master showman known for his flashy suits and wig, and his unique, highly personalized take on cover tunes, and this one is no exception, a deep soul version of Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me.” Walker also talks about how he developed his Chuck Berry-style approach to performing, including the Duck Walk, to liven up his act.

The pilgrimage continues on Day 6 back at Clarksdale at Red’s Lounge, where Robert “Wolfman” Belfour is holding court. Belfour discusses his past and his philosophy on playing the blues, including the fact that he doesn’t necessarily feel that you have to “come up no hard way” to play the blues, laughing that sometimes times are harder now for him than they were then. He plays a subdued “Poor Boy, Long Ways From Home.”

Finally, the journey concludes on Day 7, as Konkel and Stolle meet up with 80-year-old L. C. Ulmer in Taylor, MS (near Oxford). Ulmer’s low-key vocal style and melodic guitar brings to mind a plugged-in Mississippi John Hurt and he plays a gentle tune called “Rosalie,” which is one of the gems of the soundtrack. Hopefully, we’ll get to hear more of him soon.

Unlike most blues documentaries, which seem to view their subjects as if they’re part of a research paper or maybe visitors from another planet, M for Mississippi gives you a more personal look at each of these musicians. You see their wisdom, their humor, their idiosyncrasies, their friends and neighbors around them, basically what makes these guys tick. Konkel and Stolle come off more as friends sharing a beer or a meal with them than as interviewers and that gives the film a much more personal feel and obviously made the musicians more relaxed in their discussions.

Special features on the DVD include some deleted scenes, mini-biographies of the musicians and artists, and a behind-the-scenes look at the production filmed by Jones.

The accompanying soundtrack features 11 songs from the movie (a future volume will include more songs) and serves as an excellent anthology or as an introduction to the sound of today’s Mississippi Delta blues. Belfour is the only one of the principal subjects to not be included on the soundtrack. The sound is excellent; especially considering it was recorded in the back of a Volvo station wagon under sometimes dire conditions.

M for Mississippi is a joint production of Broke & Hungry, Cat Head, and Mudpuppy. It’s also an outstanding presentation of Mississippi blues the way they are, warts and all. It’s fun, wild, and unpredictable, just like the music itself. Go to to find out more about this great project and grab a copy while you’re there.

--- Graham Clarke

Elvin BishopElvin Bishop’s latest release, his first for the Delta Groove label, is The Blues Rolls On. On his new release, Bishop pays tribute to all of his influences as well as a number of current standard bearers, many of which stop by to lend a hand. Like all Elvin Bishop’s albums, the end result is a rollicking set of good-time blues that will put a smile on your face and a hop in your step.

The disc kicks off with the title track, penned by Bishop, which basically sets the theme of the disc, and features him with Kim Wilson on harp and Warren Haynes on guitar. John Nemeth and Angela Strehli handle vocals on “Night Time,” Bishop’s nod to Ray Charles. Nemeth is the unsung hero of the album, providing razor-sharp vocals on this and two other tracks. “Yonders Wall,” which Bishop originally recorded with Paul Butterfield, was recorded on the 2007 Legendary R&B Cruise off Mexico and features Ronnie Baker Brooks and the Tommy Castro Band, and a remake of Bishop’s ’70s classic, “Struttin’ My Stuff,” really catches fire with a funky arrangement and the six-string interplay between Bishop, Haynes, and Derek Trucks.

Bishop sits down for a short, but lively discussion with B. B. King before they tear into a swinging version of Roy Brown’s “Keep A Dollar In Your Pocket.” “Who’s The Fool,” a lost Motown treasure, features Bishop on slide with Norwegian transplant Kid Andersen and Mighty Mike Schermer taking turns at lead guitar. Next, Bishop takes it down south to Louisiana with R. C. Carrier and Andre Thierry for Clifton Chenier’s Zydeco classic, “Black Gal,” before doing a solo turn on his own autobiographical composition, “Oklahoma.”

The Homemade Jamz Band joins Bishop for a rousing take on Junior Wells’ “Come On In This House.” Another hidden gem, Wells’ “I Found Out,” features Nemeth and Strehli on vocals and Chicago legend James Cotton on harmonica, and Hound Dog Taylor was surely smiling in Blues Heaven when he heard Bishop and George Thorogood rip through “Send You Back To Georgia.” The final cut, Jimmy Reed’s “Honest I Do,” is an instrumental with Nemeth on harmonica.

Despite the revolving door of guest stars, there’s an underlying cohesiveness to the disc. This is basically a group of the guys getting together to play the music that they love and that is obvious from the first note. I don’t think Elvin Bishop can do it any other way.

--- Graham Clarke

Rory BlockRory Block recently released a magnificent tribute album to Robert Johnson, so it makes sense that she would follow that release with a tribute disc to Son House, who taught Johnson to play. Blues Walkin’ Like A Man (Stony Plain) features Block’s interpretation of 13 of House’s songs. Block first met House when she was a teenager, and she was enthralled by the intensity and passion he brought to his performances.

The prospect of tackling Son House’s repertoire is a daunting one at best, and a task that most guitarists would not be up to, not so much on the technical side, but on the performance side. However, Block has been playing some of these songs for over 40 years and is more than up to the task. She succeeds on the instrumental side with powerful renditions of “Preachin’ Blues,” “Jinx Blues,” “County Farm Blues,” and “My Black Mama.”

Vocally, while she can’t approach the raw passion of House’s style (but then, how many really can?), she does a fine job on tracks like “Grinnin’ In Your Face,” “Shetland Pony Blues,” “Depot Blues,” and the moving “I Want To Go Home On The Morning Train.”

On “Death Letter,” Block really gets hits her stride. The guitar work is appropriately fiery and her vocal captures the despondent nature of the tune perfectly.

Blues Walkin’ Like A Man is a loving tribute by Rory Block to a man who influenced her and countless other blues guitarists to pick up the instrument. It’s safe to say that she learned her lessons well and made the most of them. If there’s justice in the world, not only will this disc reap benefits for Ms. Block, but it will also turn on a new generation of blues fans to one of the most powerful and influential blues guitarists ever.

--- Graham Clarke

John Earl WalkerCome Over Here! (Walkright Records) is John Earl Walker’s fourth studio album and his best yet. The veteran performer serves up a powerful set of strong rockers and smooth blues that pick up where his previous effort, People Are Talkin’, left off. Come Over Here! includes ten powerhouse tracks, all penned by Walker.

Highlights include “Tess’s Shuffle,” an instrumental which features some great Texas-based guitar from Walker. “The Showdown” is a hard rocker with an infectious groove, and the title cut and “The World’s A Prison” benefit from Walker’s guitar work and Gene Cordew’s Hammond B3, while “Airport Blues” is a terrific slow blues about a long distance love affair.

“Backdoor Romance” cleverly updates a familiar blues theme, and “Pretty Pretty Baby” sounds like a long-lost ’50s tune. The subject matter to “Poor Boy Blues” hits especially close to home for everyone, given the current tough financial times. The closing instrumental, “Nightwalker,” is four minutes of guitar heaven.

Walker’s regular band (Joey Tremelo – rhythm guitar, Peter Harris – bass, Bobby Infante –drums, Gene Cordew – Hammond B3, along with Tommy Keys on piano, and Essie the Blues Lady, who duets with Walker on “My Last Goodbye”) adds stellar backing on these tracks. Most of them have been playing together for years and there’s a strong sense of camaraderie.

It all adds up to another winner for John Earl Walker, who continues to dazzle and impress with every release.

--- Graham Clarke

GravelRoadGravel Road is a trio based in the state of Washington that takes Delta Blues masters like RL Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, T-Model Ford, and Mississippi Fred McDowell as their muses. They combine the droning, hypnotic sounds of these bluesmen with the raw, grungy sounds of alternative rock. Their songs deal with love, sex, murder, death, and other worldly (and otherworldly) topics. Shot The Devil (Uncle Larry’s Records) is their second release.

Few bands have the onions to open their album with an instrumental, but Gravel Road does just that with the rough and ragged “Fred #3.” The title cut is another standout and, well, let’s just say that you’ve probably never heard anything like it before. Other highlights include the acoustic number, “Sammy,” another wild instrumental, “Hair Of The Dog,” and the ominous “Taildragger.” “Forty-Four” is sort of a third cousin to the old Howlin’ Wolf song, but with some grunge and Hill Country guitar mixed in, and “Lonely Nights” sounds like juiced-up Junior Kimbrough.

Guitarist/vocalist Stefan Zillioux is as comfortable with the droning Hill Country style (“Lonely Nights,” “Taildragger”) as he is on the wild and wooly stuff (“Hair of the Dog,” “Trainwreck”). His menacing vocals are perfectly suited to the material. Martin Reinsel (drums, percussion) and Jon Kirby Newman (bass, guitar) provide rock-solid rhythm support.

There have been a lot of bands that have attempted to put their own mark on the sounds of the North Mississippi Hill Country Blues, but Gravel Road comes closer to achieving that goal than most of the others. Blues fans that are unafraid and willing to try new directions will enjoy this one. Check out the band at their website ( and look for the disc at

--- Graham Clarke

Mike WestcottThere are times as an artist where it’s damn near impossible to get your record reviewed. That’s the case with my good friend Mike Westcott. He gave me a copy of his record at the IBC in Memphis to review, I sat down to review it last month and then one morning managed to lose my copy of his new record, Live at Vincent’s, on my way to work. That will happen when you leave the CD on the roof of your Jeep and take off driving. Fortunately for me, Michael managed to get a new copy to me and I can finally do it the justice it deserves.

Michael is one of the real IBC road warriors. He also happens to be a wonderful guitarist and fortunately for us, Live at Vincent’s contains plenty of Michael’s guitar wizardry. He starts off by tackling “Damn Right I Got the Blues.” Definitely a faster tempo than Buddy Guy’s version, Michael gives his take on this classic song an urban feel. And he’s right, “I can’t win nothing if I ain’t got anything to lose!” Throughout this record Michael is backed by Glenn Ferracone on drums and Paul Linefelter on bass, together they hold together an impressive back end and this is indeed, a very tight trio.

His take on “Rock and Roll” is very contemporary as well. “Open your arms…open your arms…open your arms….baby let me love come in….been a long time!” The details on Michael’s record are subtle. I can hear Glenn playing sticks on the edge of the snare and it’s a nice touch on this song. The tempo slows down slightly and Michael’s guitar takes the forefront on the introduction to “Rock Me Baby.” “Rock me baby…rock me all night long…want you to rock me…until my back ain’t got no bone!” Short, staccato guitar licks emphasize the lyrics that Michael wants to get across and you can hear cheers of appreciation in the background from the folks at Vincent’s who are hearing a tremendous evening of blues.

“Merry Go Round” is probably my favorite cut on this disc. I appreciate the slow tempo and the intricacies of the guitar work that Michael is displaying. “When I first met you baby…I didn’t even know your name…I was feeling so low…bad luck and evil women were to blame!” Michael is letting us know that he appreciates the knowledge that this new woman in his life is as sweet and kind as she is, “when I looked into your eyes, baby…I knew true love had come to me!” Next up is “Born Under a Bad Sign.” “Born under a bad sign…been there since I began to crawl…if it wasn’t for bad luck baby…I wouldn’t have no luck at all!” Michael breaks out the special effects board on his version and makes good use of the pedals to elicit the effects he wants to contribute to “Born Under a Bad Sign.”

Paul’s bass guitar makes a dramatic appearance on “Walkin the Dog” as he duels with Glenn’s stick work for several minutes that underscores just how tight a rhythm section they are. Michael comes back in at the end with a matching guitar solo and they do justice to this old blues song. It’s hard for me to listen to the final listed cut on the record, Jimi Hendrix’s "Voodoo Child." I had the opportunity to witness Albert Cummings do an extended live version out here in Arizona two years ago and I have to admit that Albert has established a standard that is hard to beat. Michael and his band do it justice. I’ve just been spoiled by Albert’s version, that’s all. There is an unlisted track to close out Live at Vincent’s that is a short medley of “Red House” and “Let the Good Time’s Roll.” It’s a nice bonus cut to round out what has been an extended live disc of classic songs.

Michael’s a very talented guitarist, and it takes a certain amount of chutzpah to put out a live recording of classic blues tunes and pull it off. Fortunately, the recording engineer at Vincent’s caught the band on a night when they were definitely on and was able to capture a very clean recording of the band. This record is dedicated to Michael’s late mother, Joanne, and it’s a record I’m sure she’d be very proud of. This particular record can be found at CD Baby and you can find out more about the talented Michael Westcott and his band at Michael is returning to the IBC in February with an all Westcott band, including his dad on the drums. Be sure to catch them if you’re in Memphis for the contest.

--- Kyle Deibler

Walter TroutWalter Trout called me last year from Las Vegas to advance the arrangements we had made for his appearance here in Phoenix for Blues Blast. We had a great conversation and Walter was in rare form. He’d just finished recording his new record on Provogue, The Outsider, and felt it was the best work he’s produced to date. Now that I’ve had the chance to really give the new record a listen, I have to agree with Walter. The Outsider will easily be in my top ten list at the end of the year and it features some of the best writing and playing that I’ve ever heard from Walter, and I own a lot of Walter Trout records. So let’s get to it.

“Welcome to the Human Race” can easily be interpreted as a song of vindication for Walter. “Life on the road hasn’t always been easy and Lord knows Walter’s faced his share of challenges. Redemption doesn’t always come easy but I believe Walter is finally now comfortable in his own skin. “And when I find my self…with teardrops on my face…a little voice inside me says…welcome, welcome to the human race!” Our next cut, “The Next Big Thing,” pays tribute to the fact that there is always some one behind you coming up who is bigger, faster, louder, more polished…the next big thing. At Blues Blast, Walter brought Sammy Avila’s son Danny on stage to play guitar with him and Danny tore it up. Walter saw the look of dismay on my face and just grinned. It won’t be that many more years before Danny makes his mark in this blues world and it won’t be long after that before someone else will be nipping at his heels. There comes a point in everyone’s life where they stop and take stock of how they’ve lived. Walter does that in “All My Life.” “All my life…all my life…I’ve tried to do the best I can….all my life, all my life….Lord you know that I am just a man.” Walter has had his share of trials and tribulations over the years, but he’s reached a point where he’s giving us some of the best music he’s ever recorded.

I like the footnote Walter includes as a sidebar to “The Love Song of J. Alfred Bluesrock.” “Sincere apologies to T.S. Eliot” speaks volumes about Walter’s thought process in writing this tune. The blues life is a long, hard road and everyone has their demons. “Cut loose your cocaine and your booze…you know you ain’t the only one…who ever had to choose…you know you ain’t the only one…who has ever had the blues!” The steady drum beat by Kenny Aronoff underscores the desperation Walter feels in “I Don’t Wanna Fall.” “I wanna get away from it all…Lord, won’t you help me…I don’t wanna fall.”

“Child of Another Day” features some brilliant harp work by Jason Ricci as Walter tells the tale of several people lost in their own lives. “Teddy was a veteran…bumming food to eat…but as he held out his hand…all the people turned and walked away…cuz he’s a child of another day.” Losing your purpose…your reason for living…makes us all children of another day. Walter treats us next with a rare acoustic song, “Turn Your Eyes to Heaven.” There are those people in the world who hide behind their religion and use it at times to justify the means, even though they’re not always right. “It must be some comforting…to know you’ve got it figured out…so sure you got the answers…to what it’s all about…and never see a shade of grey…it’s only black and white…so turn your eyes to Heaven…He’s waiting there for you.”

“The Restless Age” refers to that period in everyone’s life where they’re working hard to find their way, to finally reach that point where they’ve made it in world. “But now I’m on the other side…I think I made it through…now I just enjoy the ride….what else can I do? Oh yeah, I guess perseverance pays….so glad, I’m so glad…I made it through the restless age.” Walter next ponders the end of life on the road in “Gone Too Long.” “It might be tomorrow…it might be just up around the bend…all I know…is I’ve been gone too long.” Real love is the topic of conversation in the next cut, “Matter of the Heart.” Loving someone and making it work is never easy but we all have to try. “Love doesn’t have to be convenient…it just has to be real…it don’t have to come easy…rollin’ like a wheel…true love needs commitment…renewal everyday…It’s a matter of the heart.”

Having watched all of the political debates going on in the country today, “You Can’t Have It All” could very well be the anthem for this election. “The politician's painted smile…soon begins to fade…he’s drunk on booze and power…just like a priest who just go laid…his façade begins to crumble…and now he wears a frown…oh yeah, now he’s got reporters waitin’ in the hall…he didn’t realize he can never have it all!” Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, Walter’s right, “you can’t have it all.” Our next cut, “SanJay,” is indicative of that. Sanjay Dutt is a noted Indian actor and friend of Walter’s who was sentenced to prison unjustly for possession of an illegal firearm. In 2007, Sanjay was granted bail by the Indian Supreme Court. “Man, you’re coming on home today….now the people will be happy…because you’re coming home to stay…home to stay this time, man!” Walter closes this great record with the title cut, “The Outsider,” a tale about being the odd man out, always an outsider, never being accepted for who you are. “He’s always felt like the outsider…standin’ on the outside lookin’ in…all of his days…that’s just the way it’s always been.”

The Outsider clearly represents some of Walter’s best work to date. His lyrics are insightful, the playing outstanding and it just doesn’t get much better than this. You can learn more about Walter and his great band, the Radicals, on his website at Walter is a very humble man in person so the next time you see him play, let him know just how much you appreciate the talents of this great blues player who at times has always been, “the outsider lookin’ in.”

--- Kyle Deibler

Mississippi HeatIt’s always a treat to receive a Mississippi Heat CD in the mail to review. This band, fronted by Pierre Lacocque, always brings their “A” game to a recording. Their latest record, Hattiesburg Blues, is no exception.

We start out with Inetta Visor letting us know that she’s quite happy with the “Tiger Man” in her life. Pierre’s harp work is vibrant and his notes let us know that Inetta is indeed a very happy woman. “When our business is done…we lay speechless in bed…our minds can’t think…cause we’re halfway dead…he’s my Tiger Man!” There’s more to the story but I think you can tell that Inetta is one satisfied woman. Lurrie Bell takes the microphone next and is more than happy to let us know that “Chicago is My Home.” “Chicago is my home…and I don’t care what the weather holds…I love this city…any which way the wind blows!” Lurrie’s lead guitar work is straight to the point and I think it’s great that he appears as part of the Mississippi Heat ensemble.

Another guitarist, Giles Corey, provides us with the soulful introduction to “Forgot You Had a Home.” Inetta tells us, “I’m tired of waiting around…living with all this stress…you’re working too hard baby…you must confess…I’m going south…I’m taking a chance…Yes, I’m leaving you…cause you’re so damn helpless!” Sounds like this man spent too much time on the road and forgot just what he had at home. It’s too late now, Inetta’s gone for good.

A distinct Latin flavor adds character to our next cut, “How Much Worse Can It Be.” “I got no one to lean on…I hope someday…the sun will shine on me…I’m tiring of sweating and a saving…how much worse can it be?” Inetta’s on her own, working hard to stand on her own two feet without any help and she’s right, “how much worse can it be?” Ruben Alvarez lends his Latin percussion talents to this cut to give it the feel that it has.

Standing up for herself is something that Inetta is good at and she’s lets us know it in her rendition of Denise LaSalle’s “Soft-Hearted Woman.” “I’ve got your bags packed baby…you can get on out that door…you see your soft-hearted woman…ain’t gonna be a fool no more!” Setting this dog free was the only way that Inetta could be happy. The addition of the Chicago Horns provides more Latin flavor on “Hattiesburg Blues.” Inetta’s worried that something’s not quite with her current relationship. “Something ain’t right with my man…you know my heart tells me…he’s leaving me…leaving me all alone!” The only way that Inetta will know for sure is to pack up her bags and head on down to Hattiesburg to see what’s up with her man.

Lurrie lets us know that he’s on the road working hard because times are tough and that’s the reason that he’s been “Gone So Long.” “My body aches…miss you more than anything…only the thought of you…kept me from leaving…working harder has given me a heart attack!” Lurrie can’t wait to take the train home to see his baby and hopefully it won’t be long before they’re reunited. “Light from Within” is an original tune written by Inetta Visor and she’s happy to tell us about her new love. “Have you met someone…you could love forever? You saw the light from within and knew you would meet again.” We’re all attracted to those we love for different reasons, but in the end the key is to be able to see the light from within and appreciate the love that you’ve found.

Mississippi Heat continues to explore Latin influences on its music with the instrumental “Calypso In Blue.” Pierre and Giles trade harp and guitar solos as the band gets an extended work out. "Calypso In Blue" also features the percussion work of Ruben Alvarez and is a nice interlude. I’ve got visions of Salsa dancing and margarita drinking running through my head. It’s nothing but a good time, that’s for sure.

Carl Weathersby has appeared on all of the Mississippi Heat records but one since 1998 and he’s back here, singing and playing lead on “Hell and Back.” “Yes I know what it’s like…on the wrong side of the tracks…believe me when I tell you…I’ve been to Hell and back!” Carl’s definitely had some tough times but now he’s found a good woman who is loving him back out of the tough times. Carl’s guitar licks are distinctive and he’s one more reason Mississippi Heat is such a great ensemble band. Next up is the very funky, “Say Something Good,” with Giles Corey on guitar and vocals. “You had better say…say something good…at least I would!” Devin Thompson is the next guest vocalist with his performance of the gospel influenced “Foolish Man.” “Sometimes your body will play a dirty trick…you walk out of things that can mess you up real quick…I fell for another girl…I took the darn bait…now my mind’s in a whirl…and I’m going back to my wife…treat her the best I can…those are the days…those are the days…of being a foolish man!” Saying no to temptation is not one of Devin’s strengths, that’s for sure.

Hattiesburg Blues closes with a tribute to Al Gore’s ecological work, “Nature is Cryin.” “The ozone layer is ending…creating a real bad tear…we’re living in hell…but no one seems to care…our waters need a clean up…its all falling apart…we ain’t got time to spare!” Ecologically we all need to do our part to keep this planet a better place to live for our children and our children’s children.

This has been a very good listen and a very warm record by Mississippi Heat in the sense that it’s upbeat and positive. I find it interesting that Pierre has written 10 of the 12 tracks on the record and never sang a lead on the entire CD. It’s a testament to his vision of Mississippi Heat that the sum of the parts remains greater than the whole, and all of the players involved function so well as a unit. To find out more about this great Chicago Blues Band, visit their website at

--- Kyle Deibler

Storm WarningHere, at last, is Storm Warning's follow up to the hugely popular 2006 album, Breaking Out. It’s been worth the wait – Something Real (Lightnin' Fingers Records) is even better than Breaking Out, and that’s no mean feat!

The album comprises nine tracks, eight of them original, and opens with the moody intro to “On The Road,” a track that really sets the scene for this CD. Son Maxwell blows some very atmospheric harmonica before taking the vocals on this driving blues track.

The album moves on to “Hard To Be A Man”, the tempo picking up a bit and a steady bass line pushing the band forward into a boogie beat that gets your feet tapping for the whole of the track.

“Charlie’s Blues” once again shows off the harmonica of vocalist Son Maxwell, with the tempo stepped down ever so slightly from the previous track, and some keyboards way in the background from Ian Salisbury. “Blues 101” makes reference to just about every well-known blues track you’ve ever heard – this is a very cleverly written track and Maxwell gets some real dirty blues sounds out of his harmonica, with great solo work over a percussive bass line. At times, there’s a jazzy feel to this track as it switches and moves through the instrumental section, and it really holds the listener’s attention – certainly a contender for the best track on the CD.

“Something Real” slows down the pace to ballad speed and gives you a chance to get your breath and give your feet a rest – this track sound like something that Gary Moore might include in his repertoire. Next up is “One Step Forward,” which sets a trap for the unwary listener – there’s a gentle intro that suddenly erupts into an up-tempo driving beat – Ian Salisbury finally comes into his own and provides some fantastic keyboard work, alongside the burning guitar of Bob Moore. Another contender for the best track!

Things slow down again with the only cover version on the album – Lucky Peterson’s “Nothing But Smoke.” This is a great version of a great track, and I fell in love with it straight away – excellent late night blues, without a doubt.

Ths CD closes out with a boogie beat, “I Don’t Know,” followed by a slower “Long Ride.”

Something Real is a superb follow up album and one that is well worth adding to any blues collection.

--- Terry Clear

Tommy McCoyTommy McCoy’s Triple Trouble (Blues Boulevard) is an excellent CD from a man who moved from Ohio to Florida and opened a record store in the late 1970s – he also started a blues band, The Backdoor Blues Band, which later became the Screamin’ Bluejays. He then joined The Telephone Kings with some former members of the Gregg Allman Band.

Along the way he struck up a friendship with the late Stevie Ray Vaughan, and later went to Austin, Texas to record most of the tracks for this album with Chris Layton and Tommy Shannon – familiar to Stevie Ray Vaughan fans as Double Trouble.

As you can tell from above, this man has a good grounding in the blues, and it shows through in this album, which was recorded in the late 1990s and has just been released on the Blues Boulevard label. McCoy, Layton and Shannon form the core of the band, and they are joined by a host of guest musicians to produce 13 excellent tracks, most of which were written by Tommy McCoy. One notable exception is Roger Waters’ “Money,” given a very different treatment here, and not to be confused with the Berry Gordy version, which is the following track on the CD! Coincidentally, there are also other tracks with money in the title – “Love ‘n’ Money,” “She Worships Money,” and a couple that relate to it – “Poverty” and “Broke You’re A Joke” – maybe there’s a message here somewhere?

The album opens with the excellent McCoy-written “No Love Without Any Green,” a good up-tempo driving blues which really gets the listener into the mood for some more. Track two slows right down to ballad speed for “It’s These Blues,” another McCoy original, and the lovely instrumental “Love ‘n’ Money” comes up as track three. This is slow, moody, atmospheric, late night blues at its best.

From there throughout the rest of the album is a mix of tempos and styles which complete a very buyable CD – best of the bunch, and certainly the bluesiest, is track nine, “Con Man,” a real gem!

--- Terry Clear

Rob TognoniIronyard Revisited (Boulevard Blues) is hard hitting blues rock from Australian guitarist Rob Tognoni, and it takes no prisoners. If you like blues rock, then you’ll probably love this, but if you’re a blues purist then you’re best to leave it well alone.

On a purely technical basis, this is good guitar playing backed by a band that knows it’s stuff and musically it can’t really be criticized – it’s just that it’s more rock than blues. Having said that, there is some blues mixed in, and when it comes to the surface it’s good.

The album opens with a hard rocker, “Words Of A Desperate Man,” which sounds a bit like AC/DC plays the blues and it’s certainly catchy, leading into track two and getting just a little bit bluesier and slower, with “No Guarantee.” By the time that the old Hound Dog Taylor track “See Me In The Evening” (track three) comes in, there’s some blues reaching the surface and the tempo is picking up nicely. Tognoni makes a good job of this track and shows that he does, actually, know how the blues should be played.

Track four, “Shoot, Hoot, Electrocute,” is another rocker, but the following track, “The Ironyard,” is a beautiful instrumental blues. It’s very atmospheric, well-written, well-played, Gary Moore-influenced, pure blues.

Of the other tracks on the album, “Devil Outa Me” is a good rocking blues number, there’s a reasonably good version of “Hey Joe” and another track which sounds heavily influenced by Gary Moore, “Crossword Blues.” The CD wraps up with a lovely instrumental blues called “The Good Die Young.”

All in all, if you’re a rocker you’ll probably like the album, if you’re into good blues then you’ll probably listen to three tracks. Rob Tognoni can play the blues, so why doesn’t he just bring out a blues album?

--- Terry Clear

Paul ReddickI have to admit to never having heard of Paul Reddick before this CD, Sugar Bird (NorthernBlues), reached me, but having listened to this album I’m certainly glad I’ve heard of him now. This CD is so refreshing and original that, initially, it’s difficult to get into what this artist is about. But, if you persevere with it, the music grows on you very rapidly.

His publicity describes him as “poet laureate of the blues” and he is definitely a poet and a bluesman, so I guess that the description is about accurate. The influences that Reddick quotes come through in the music and in the songwriting – John Estes, Fred McDowell (he quotes some poets, too, but I’m not great into poetry so I can’t comment!), but there is great originality, too.

This is a CD that should be listened to a few times, maybe through headphones, to get the full benefit of the music (and, I guess, the poetry, too). The album was produced by Colin Linden, and he appears on guitar too, so the pedigree is established.

The CD opens with “Morning Bell,” with some very Fred McDowell guitar work – and once you’ve listened to this track, you’re hooked on this guy’s music. “I Will Vanish” then slows things down a little, before letting “Devilment” pick up the pace again, but a bit of a boogie beat on the guitar.
From there on the tempo alternates between ballad and medium pace blues, but never really gets hectic, and that’s the magic of this album – it’s so laid back, it catches you unaware.

The CD rounds out with maybe the bluesiest track on it – “Block Of Wood,” with Reddick blowing some great harmonica – no doubt about it, this is my favourite track on the CD!

--- Terry Clear

North Mississippi All-StarsBelgian label Blues Boulevard continue their good work with this re-release of the 2001 album, 51 Phantom, by those well-known blues rockers, The North Mississippi Allstars. This album was the follow up to the widely acclaimed Shake Hands With Shorty and if, like me, you missed this one the first time around, then you can take advantage of the hard work of Blues Boulevard and get your hands on it easily now.

The album opens with the title track “51 Phantom,” a punchy blues boogie with some great slide guitar work and a pounding back beat that just gets your feet tapping in time with the drum beats, and your soul wanting more. And more is what you get as the CD slides into “Snakes In My Bushes” and then into “Sugartown.”

Things start to slow down enough for you to catch your breath with “Lord Have Mercy,” a Junior Kimbrough track, and then a little slower still with “Storm” – but then things start to pick up again with the superb Pops Staples song, “Freedom Highway,” only to morph into the slow, purposeful, “Circle In The Sky.”

Track eight, “Ship,” is a blues gospel number, with heavy Mississippi influence – something totally different and unusual - and it works so well! It’s followed by the gentle "Leavin’," a track that haunts you as you listen to it – lovely lyrics and a relaxing rhythm. Apart from “Lord Have Mercy” and “Freedom Highway”, all of the other tracks are written by the band.

Some people have compared this band to ZZ Top, but they deserve to be looked as as totally individual, and they deserve to be listened to.

--- Terry Clear

Duwayne Burnside is a man who nobody can dispute has the blues in his blood – he’s the son of the late, great, R.L.Burnside, and Mississippi hill country blues is in him through and through.

Live at the LA Mint (Blues Boulevard) was recorded in Los Angeles in 1998, before R.L.Burnside sadly passed away, and he features on it along with the young Cedric Burnside and David Kimbrough Jr., another name that will be familiar to fans of Mississippi blues.

There are a mixture of blues standards, such as “Dust My Broom,” “Crosscut Saw” and “Hoochie Coochie Man,” and some R.L.Burnside originals like “Well Well Well.” Altogether, the nine tracks featured on the album make up a good solid blues mix, with some great atmosphere thrown in by the fact that it is a live recording.

The album opens with an intro to the live audience and a lovely long version of “Bad Bad Pain” before moving into “Woman You Must Be Crazy” – this young man doesn’t only look like his father, he sounds like him and plays like him too!

The version of “Crosscut Saw” is an absolute beauty, with some excellent guitar work and “Dust My Broom” is the best version that I’ve heard for a long, long time.

This is a great album to have in any blues collection – even more so if you are a fan of the late R.L.Burnside, because his son keeps the blues alive.

--- Terry Clear


[Pick Hit][What's New][Surprise][Flashback][Feedback][Back Issues][Home Page]



The Blues Bytes URL... 
Revised: October 31, 2008 - Version 1.00
All contents Copyright © 2008, Blue Night Productions. All rights reserved.