CD Review – “Harlem King” –  Solomon Hicks

CD Review – “Harlem King” – Solomon Hicks

CD Review – “Harlem King” – Solomon Hicks

Background

Harlem is a coming-out party for Solomon, a nod to the legends that came before him in the vibrant musical community that is Harlem, NY, and is full of threads connecting to Harlem.  Solomon’s talent shows well on this recording.

At the age of 13, King Solomon Hicks became the lead guitarist at Harlem’s legendary Cotton Club. His resume includes with playing with world-class talent in Jazz, Rock and Blues, such Tony Bennett and Lee Riteneour; George Thorogood; Sam Moore, fellow young blues artist Marcus King, and Jimmy Vivino.  Solomon is a member of The Blues Foundation and served as an International Blues Challenge (IBC), judge where he scored Suncoast Blues Society’s entry Someday Honey.

Solomon first came to this reviewer’s attention by performing on Joe Bonamassa’s cruise, when he performed acoustically during a “Blues in the Morning” event. Acoustic is about the only thing that is missing from this musically diverse and most enjoyable recording.

Cover to Cover

Harlem begins by paying homage to Freddie King in a neat remake of I’d Rather Be Blind. This up-tempo rendition quickly became one of my favorite versions of this classic tale of love gone astray.

Continuing with “The Blues Kings” and covers, the next song on the recording honors B. B. King with Solomon’s version of Everyday I Sing the Blues.  Much like the first track, “Everyday” fades away during a solo that left me wanting more of Solomon’s licks.

Blood, Sweat, & Tears is honored with I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know. This recording interjects elements of Solomon’s jazz background, both with the guitar work and vocals. Intentional or not, Solomon continues to weave Harlem, NY touchpoints through his choice of songs. Whether it’s having the listener recall BB King’s classic Live at The Apollo recording, or the fact that Harlem native Normal Rockwell  designed a 1968 album cover for BST’s Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield. The connections to Solomon’s Harlem roots are delightful if sometimes subtle.

Love is Alive

Most welcome, and inventive, is a version the 1970’s hit by Gary Wright Love is Alive.  Solomon brings to this song a fresh bluesy feel.  Treating it as a funk blues instrumental Love is Alive is much different than Gary Wright’s #2 hit on Billboard’s chart. Clearly one of the “keepers’ on this recording, if not my outright favorite.

Riverside Drive

Marginally connected (physically) to Harlem NY, Solomon’s instrumental Riverside Drive continues the theme of weaving Harlem touchpoints into the recording, and where his guitar playing takes center stage and shines. One can imagine the juxtaposition of the opulence sometimes found on Riverside Drive and a much different world in Harlem, NY.

Wrapping Up

Have Mercy on Me is a jump-blues gospel feeling song that is much at home on this recording.  It’s Alright is a neat toe tapper with a rock feel. Some of my most memorable guitar licks come from this song.  Solomon shares What the Devil Loves as a link on his website; click on the link and enjoy!

Bookending the recording is the finishing cover of Sonny Boy Williamson II’s (Rice Miller) Help Me. Solomon’s vocals and soulful guitar playing bring honor to this blues classic.

Conclusion

One complaint with the recording is the tendency to fade out of songs, especially with a guitar solo. This is a standard recording technique, and left me wanting more. I can only imagine when performed live extended versions of the songs await the audience.

Well done, young Mr. Hicks. Harlem is leaps beyond previous recordings by Solomon. For this reviewer, Solomon has earned a seat at the table within the “club” of young blues artists that is bringing this musical genre into the future.  

Links

Be sure to check out Johnny B Goode, and the extended behind-the-back guitar playing.  While walking through the crowd.

King Solomon Hicks Quartet

Interview on American Music

Johnny B Goode (2015 Crown Guitar Festival)

Have You Ever Loved a Woman (courtesy of Joan Mallotides aka BluesBroad)

 

  • For Suncoast Blues Society, Scott Morris
Holiday Greetings Blues Fans

Holiday Greetings Blues Fans

Holiday Greetings Blues Fans

As 2020 rolls to a close we are looking forward to the start of the new year of change. We all hope for some normalcy in our future but there is still much uncertainty. The new vaccine to combat the COVID-19 virus is on the way. We must stay vigilant and patient, be cautious and safe, wear masks and continue to social distance – do not let your guard down. We are resilient, we adapt, and we will survive and be stronger for it.

We all want our live music back in our communities and we want the musicians to be successful as well. Music connects us and we want more. We had a successful ‘Drive In’ event at the Hudson Library recently. About 30 cars and 50 attended, some in their cars, some sat outside in front of their cars enjoying the live music event. We are working on other opportunities to find safe venues with the space to spread out comfortably. It is incredibly challenging to try to plan future events. The Board is working on some tentative arrangements for March 2021. We will keep you posted as we get closer.

In the meantime, please visit our web site, our Facebook page and read your weekly Blues News for CD reviews, Feature Articles, and event information.

If you have not renewed your membership, please check your card to see if it is time to renew. We know it has been a tough year but we do not want to lose our loyal members. We wish you a healthy and happy holiday and a New Year that holds peace and hope for unity from a year of conflict and division in our country. Cheers for a speedy recovery for our nation.

Your SBS Board

CD Review – “Stone Crazy” – Kevin Burt

CD Review – “Stone Crazy” – Kevin Burt

CD Review – “Stone Crazy” – Kevin Burt

“Stone Crazy” – Kevin Burt

 

It is my privilege to review Kevin Burt’s newly released CD. This is his first release since he joined the team at Gulf Coast Records.  Kevin recorded Stone Crazy in Nederland Texas where Mike Zito resides in June of 2020 at MARZ studios. Mike produced this release and plays lead guitar on most of the cuts.

I Ain’t Got No Problem With It” is a nice upbeat tune to get started with featuring Kevin’s great lyrics and a catchy melody leaving one with good expectations of the production quality.

Purdy Little Thang” speaks to something we have all witnessed about how a certain kind of “pretty” can control a whole room. Undeniable! Fun stuff.

 

 

Kevin often writes that his wife and partner Nicole provides inspiration for much of his work. “Stone Crazy” the title track is one of the finest examples of this. Love it is!!

On “You Get What You See” Kevin is joined by fellow Gulf Coast Records artist Jimmy Carpenter with some great saxophone work and a jamming horn section. Once again great production quality.

Something Special About You” provides a great blend of Mike Zito’s electric guitar and Kevin on acoustic.

Then there are messages inspired by the times we are living in like in “Same Old Thing” that will have you singing along with Kevin. On this cut with the help of the studio Kevin plays all the guitars. The most heartfelt message comes in “Got to Make a Change” speaking about social change from within.

Then there is “Bustin Out” Kevin’s personal status song about where he is headed. With talents like Kevin Burt possesses we all hope he is headed “to the top”. This was the other song on the CD that Kevin plays all the guitars, studio magic.

Well recorded, very well mixed, good job everyone at Gulf Coast Records.

-Lafayette Reid

CD Review – “The New World Blues” – Alastair Greene

CD Review – “The New World Blues” – Alastair Greene

CD Review – “The New World Blues” – Alastair Greene

The New World Blues
Alastair Greene

The New World Blues is Alastair Greene’s newest recording, the first for Tab Benoit’s Whiskey Bayou Records.  Written mostly by Alastair, with an assist or two from Tab, this blues-rock effort features Alastair’s guitar talents in front of Tab on drums (yes, drums!) and Tab’s bassist Corey Duplechin. On the recording this “New World Blues” blues-rock power trio is a force to be reckoned with.

Many here on the Suncoast might not be familiar with Alastair. As a long-time attendee of The Big Blues Bender, I became a fan of Alastair’s talents from his late-night jamming as a member of The Bender Brass. And many “Benderheads” have enjoyed it when Alastair brings his California-based band to perform at “The Bender”. Alastair built his chops as a touring sideman for The Alan Parsons Project, Mickey Thomas’ Starship, and more recently with Sugar Ray Rayford.

The trio wastes no time cranking it up with Living Today. Capturing the craziness of 2020 Alastair’s lyrics quickly encapsulates the feeling many have and challenges the listener to “let your love shine through” – all behind a driving beat laid down by Tab and Corey.

Bayou Mile became a favorite. Personally, the words are a reminder of countless hours spent waiting for a flight, barely able to suppress the desire to quickly be anywhere but the airport. The words hooked me; Alastair’s playing had me replaying the song again and again.

The instrumental Back at the Poor House showcases Alastair’s guitar playing, and had me tapping my foot, while reaching to raise the volume. Twice.

Heroes, co-written with Tab, is arguably the least “blues” song on the recording. More of a rock ballad than blues, Heroes is none-the-less enjoyable.

Returning to the blues-rock feel Alone and Confused start with a slow blues beat and builds into an extended guitar solo for Alastair. If you like your solos with some edge to it this one is for you.

Wrapping up the recording with the title track The New World Blues Alastair returns to the slide, with the driving beat supplied by Tab and Corey. For me the song is reminiscent of and perhaps the equal to my favorite Johnny Winter slide efforts.

All and all, a wonderful effort by Alastair.  Most enjoyable.

Links 

Alastair Green Facebook

A taste of Back at the Poor House

Living Today Official Video

 

 

“They Call Me Mud”

“They Call Me Mud”

“They Call Me Mud”

“They Call Me Mud”

by Monte Adkison aka “The Blues Stalker”

Some people are just born to sing the blues. Larry “Mud” Morganfield, the eldest son of legendary bluesman Muddy Waters certainly fits in that category. Although his parents divorced when he was young and his father had a hectic touring schedule, his dad’s talent and love of the blues was shared later in his life. He began playing drums that his father bought him every Christmas beginning at the age of seven. He is also skilled on bass guitar but his songwriting and vocals showcase his true legacy.

Mud began his professional music journey at age 50 after a career  as a truck driver and his father’s death in 1983. Beginning with club appearances in the Chicago area, it was his performance at the 2007 Chicago Blues Festival that launched his career to an expanded fan base. An indie release in 2008 “Mud Morganfield with the Dirty Aces Live” was followed by 2012 Severn Records “Son of the Seventh Son” produced by harmonica ace Bob Corritore. In 2014, “For Pops:  A Tribute to Muddy Waters” with the Fabulous Thunderbird’s Kim Wilson, won Best Traditional Blues Album in 2015 at the Blues Music Awards. His most recent release “They Call Me Mud” has 10/12 songs penned by Morganfield and a distinct soul feel with a substantial horn section. Mud has steadily developed his own style and groove.

Mud has the reputation of being one of the best dressed players on stage. Like the late Junior Wells and the old school Chicago bluesmen, he shows up in classy suits that show the audience that they are in for a special performance. No overalls or ripped Levi’s for this stage act. It is show time!

This time a year ago Mud was touring in India. Like all musicians today, their careers have been stonewalled by a cruel pandemic that has affected the entire music industry globally. Mud comes to Florida after months of isolation to play the Bradenton Blues Festival His concern for his ninety year old mother who lives with him is foremost. With the pandemic still raging we are indeed fortunate to have the opportunity to see Morganfield perform  from a safe social distance at an outdoor venue. As Mud’s friend, Jeff Malone, president of the Northeast Florida Blues Society and who also booked him for the Amelia Island Blues Festival (2010-2016) recently told me:  “His father Muddy Waters was the pioneer of that electric blues sound migrating up from the Delta and that same spirit is in the DNA of his oldest son, Mud Morganfield. You are in for a special treat. Close your eyes and just imagine the glory days of the Chicago Chess sound.”