Damon Fowler- “Alafia Moon” CD Review

Damon Fowler- “Alafia Moon” CD Review

Damon Fowler- “Alafia Moon” CD Review

Damon Fowler – “Alafia Moon”
Landslide Records
Review by Lafayette Reid 


Damon Fowler’s
 latest CD release “Alafia Moon” should secure Damon’s position as Florida’s favorite native son Blues musician. Damon has been touring and opening for George Thorogood for the last few years and with new management by Brett Steele keeping his momentum going his notoriety has been expanding nationally and beyond.

The backbone of Damon’s band has been steady Chuck Riley on bass and the Justin Headley on drums. These three are tight, but throw in St Pete native TC Carr on Harmonica, Mike Kach on keys, Betty Fox helping on vocals and some additional percussion by Josh Nelms and real magic starts to happen. All songs were written by Damon except “The Guitar” by Guy Clark and Verlon Thomson“ Hip to Your Trip” a nice jumpy little number was co-authored by Damon and Jim Suhler from Texas who is George Thorogood’s lead guitarist when touring.

“Leave it Alone “ is an ominous tune about the perils of a touring artist and the temptations they face. This well written song features TC Carr who gets to show off his skills on the harmonica.

Hitting close to home “Alafia Moon” the title track speaks to our current situation. Damon writes about “walking around in circles” at home not knowing which way to go, just needing to get out and see some moonlight on a peaceful Florida river. Amen Brother! Heal your soul.

Damon’s fans know he can paint some pretty clear pictures with his catchy lyrics.  “Wanda” displays these skills. If by the end of this funky little tune you don’t have a clear picture of Wanda in your mind, then you haven’t been listening.

“Make the Best of Your Time” might get stuck in your head. Author’s intention??

There are lot of “ups and downs” in life, especially for touring artists. “I’ve Been Low” speaks of this and looks for some balance.

“Alafia Moon” was expertly recorded and engineered by George Harris at Creative World Recording in Largo Florida and mastered by Alex McCollough at True East Mastering.  A truly enjoyable piece of work.

 

Tom Craig – “Good Man Gone Bad” CD Review

Tom Craig – “Good Man Gone Bad” CD Review

Tom Craig – “Good Man Gone Bad” CD Review

Tom Craig
Good Man Gone Bad
By Scott Morris

’Good Man Gone Bad’ is just out and about to make a big splash in the blues world.” Tas Cru

 

Pennsylvania blues man Tom Craig hits the mark with his second recording “Good Man Gone Bad”.

Produced by harmonica ace Mikey Junior and mixed at Fat Rabbit Studios by Dave Gross, this set of tunes follows Tom’s first recording with Soul Patch. “Get Ready for Me “. Comparatively speaking “Good Man” documents Tom’s growth as a musician all while presenting an enjoyable collection of 13 songs that cover most blues styles. But it’s Tom’s writing, and co-writing with Mikey Junior, along with the soulful delivery that rang true for me.

Beginning with the first cut “I’m Working Too Hard” Tom sets a lyrical theme for the recording that hops from one side of a relationship to another. Accompanied by a driving beat Tom professes to be “I’m working too hard for your love”. Many probably have felt similar, but wisely, for the health of their specific relationship kept their own council. Tom’s words might have you saying to yourself “I feel you brother”!

I really enjoy the next track “What A Man’s Gotta Do”. The guitar work accentuates the beat and the harmonica by Mikey Junior lends a nice touch throughout the song, specifically as the song fades out. Performed live this song has people up and dancing.

The title track (You Made A) “Good Man Gone Bad” appears third on the recording and Tom’s soulful voice resonates in this song. This bluesy ballad bespeaks of making “the worst of a good situation”, leading the listener to speculate on the destructive nature of succumbing to temptation. Tom’s vocals are spot on and clearly Tom is at home base with these types of blues ballads.

Harmonica sets the tone on another ballad “It’s All My Fault”, another one of Tom’s fine ballads. The band lends just the right touch with a beat that fits the lyrics. Tom’s guitar solo is perfectly measured.

“Sheepdog”. Well truth be told on first listen I was not quite sure how I felt. But on repeated listens; yes, Tom has crafted a winner! This rocking blues song is a fan favorite during performance, especially memorable was the version performed during Blues Bash at the Ranch with Gabe Stillman lending a hand on slide guitar. This song grew on me. On a recording where my ear preferred the soulful ballads, this is more than an add-in change of pace. “Sheepdog” is a fine song and deserves presence within Tom’s performance set list.

Slowing down, Tom showcases his vocals on “When You Love A Bluesman”.  Perhaps this is when Tom is at his best. His soulful blues vocals and smart lyrics fronting a tight band, and in this song the harmonica rings true. Tom chips in with tasty blues licks on his guitar. The groove captured me right away. Most enjoyable.

“Treat Your Daddy Nice” has a familiar blues beat, and the lyrics make this song work. Once again, this hard-working bluesman asks “baby” to “treat daddy nice” because after all,” I’m the one that makes you feel all right”.

“My Turn to Cry” finishes off the recording with a soulful, saxophone backed ballad. Once again demonstrating that Tom knows how to deliver a song that places “Soul in My Blues”.  Close your eyes and picture slow dances late at night. The symmetry on the recording of the hard-working hero from the first song now practicing patience on the last song is a subtlety that I enjoyed. And the delivery lets the listener speculate on the cause of the tears.

On a personal note, it’s been a pleasure to see Tom perform and grow musically over these past few months. Wintering in Florida Tom put together a tight band that delivered an enjoyable show experience. Secondly, Tom switched roles from front man to sideman while touring with Tas Cru, sometimes on the same day. Tom is putting in the work, to fine success. This is an up-and-coming bluesman to keep an eye on.

Tom has a clear vision of what he wants to achieve as a musician. I intend to “keep my eyes wide open” to see where Tom’s musical journey takes him; I suspect that after a few listens to “Good Man Gone Bad” you will choose to do the same.

“Good Man Gone Bad” is due to be released on April 20, 2021. The recording is presently available for pre-order. For more information visit Tom Craig Band’s website.

“Raisin Cain” by  Chris Cain

“Raisin Cain” by Chris Cain

“Raisin Cain” by Chris Cain

“Raisin Cain” Chris Cain
(Alligator Records 2021)
CD review by Scott Morris

Chris Cain returns with a superb recording. The lyrics are crisp, sometimes cynical, always witty, and will hit the mark for those who have been in a relationship for any length of time.

Blues Magazine quotes Chris as saying “These are the best pack of tunes I’ve ever written.” I wholeheartedly agree. I love this recording. The band is on fire, and Chris’s playing has never been better.

“Raisin’ Cain” was produced by Kid Andersen (Rick Estrin & The Nightcats) at Andersen’s Greaseland Studio in San Jose, California. Joining Chris is this touring band: Steve Evans on bass, Greg Rahn on the keys, and sharing drums are Chris’s touring drummer Sky Garcia and D’Mar Martin. Chris pitches in on keyboards on some of the recordings.

Raisin’ Cain” begins by rocking out on “Hush Money”. This toe-tapper of a song sets the tone for the lyrical quality that permeates the recording. The second tune contains my favorite lyric on the recording “If you think I’m the problem…” and then resolves with the title “You Won’t Have A Problem When I’m Gone”. The band is cranked up quite a few notches on this one.

Anyone familiar with Chris and his music understands his love and reverence for the man he respectfully calls, Mr. B.B. King“Too Many Problems” lyrically allows Chris to explode upon the landlord, and musically compares to the style of Chris’s mentor. Slowing down Chris spins a blues ballad about called “Down on the Ground”. Superb keyboards accompany a guitar solo by Chris that shows why Chris is a guitar player’s guitar player.

“Out of My Head” is far and away my favorite song on “Raisin’ Cain” Chris and the band perform at a level that brought favorable comparisons to Mr. B.B. King and his band. Chris’s solo is outstanding and the sound of the horns leads to a bigger band comparison. I could not get enough of this song and rank it among the best that Chris has ever recorded.

Chris shows off his lyrical creativity with the line “Laying around all-day, watching Dr. Phil, and drinking Tanqueray”; found within “I Believe I Got off Cheap”. This song relates the “benefits” of being kicked to the curb, in a relationship sense.

Concluding the recording is the sole instrumental, “Space Force”. This song will showcase the jazz elements in Chris’s music. It’s inventive and the most different song on this recording.

For me, “Raisin’ Cain” quickly became a “desert island disk”. “Raisin’ Cain” is one of the best recordings from one of the best guitar players in existence. Well done, Mr. Chris Cain. HIGHLY recommended.

Sources
Blues Magazine – Chris Cain
Chris Cain Alligator Records
Chris Cain Website

Click here to purchase your copy of “Raisin Cain” 

 

Curtis Salgado CD Review

Curtis Salgado CD Review

Curtis Salgado CD Review

Curtis Salgado CD Review

Events in 2020 have inspired some great Blues music.  “Damage Control”, Curtis Salgado’s new offering, really hits home.  It was recorded at five different studios – Ultratone and Greaseland in California, Rock House in Nashville, Falcon Studios in Portland, Oregon, and Dockside Studio in Maurice, Louisiana. The list of notable musicians is extensive.

Curtis always spins magic with his lyrics and phrasing.  “The Longer I Live the Older I Want to Get” speaks volumes.  Curtis doesn’t want to leave the stage and nobody wants him to.  We need Curtis and his smooth healing blues for as long as possible.  “The Longer I Live” video

“Always Say I Love You” speaks of losing friends, something many of us have experienced lately, and how to treat them when they are still around.

“Truth Be Told” is a snappy, Cajun flavored tune with Wayne Toups on squeezebox to make it authentic.

Did you Know?

Curtis Salgado has a connection to John Belushi and “The Blues Brothers”
Read the Letter from John Belushi and find out how.

The title track “Damage Control” should be up for some kind of award for Curtis’s smooth lyrics and timely message, aided very artfully by Mike Finnigan and Jim Pugh on keyboards and Dave Gross and Johnny Lee Schell on guitars. Nice work.

“Precious Time” and “Slow Down” both deal with recognizing that time is our most valuable commodity. Enjoy it, celebrate it, listen to some blues.

“The Fix is In” features some great harmonica from Curtis as he comments on trust and honesty, frequently absent – ‘same old Okey Doke’.

Age and wisdom can change habits.  “I Don’t Do That No More” pokes fun at what we used to get away with in our youth.

Some of the other artists that contributed to this fine work need to be mentioned.  Depending on location, Kid Anderson, Alan Hager, and George Marinelli on guitar.  On drums the duty was shared by Kevin Hayes, Jack Bruno and California’s favorite drummer Tony Braunagel.  On bass – Jerry Jemmet, Dave Gross, and Tommy McDonald.  Background vocals by J.T. Lauritsen and Wendy Moten.

The album leaves a positive feeling that Curtis doesn’t want to quit performing ever, and his fans are thrilled about that.   -Lafayette Reid

Click here to purchase an autographed

 copy of “Damage Control”

Memphis Rub Band Review

Memphis Rub Band Review

Memphis Rub Band Review

 

The Memphis Rub Band

 


The Memphis Rub Band is a fun way to spend a night listening and dancing to a wide range of blues-based musical genres. Suncoast Blues Society presents a review of two recent shows, at Blue Rooster and Stottlemyer’s Smokehouse, both in Sarasota.

Long-time local club goer’s have likely had the pleasure of attending a Memphis Rub Band (MRB) show. With many new residents in the area Suncoast Blues Society believes the time is right to share highlights from recent shows.

The band consists of bassist Scott Matzke, guitarist “Hurricane” Gary Drouin, keyboardist Dan Ryan, and its newest member drummer David Wells. The band was formed in 2016 by Gary and Scott to perform blues, rock ‘n roll, and a healthy mix of funk, and rhythm and blues.

In many ways this band may be the perfect vehicle to introduce your friends who claim they do not like the blues, to the blues. There is something for everyone in the set list, most of the songs have blues roots and are performed where appropriate with a blues feel.

Vocals are mostly performed by Scott, and David adds vocal variety to the mix by singing from the backline. The MBR spin is throughout the set list and the show includes original songs from the 2018 release Taste.

From the deep blue’s catalog, the band performs a nice version of Magic Sam’s “Just a Little Bit”. Switching to soul/R&B, MRB set included Otis Reading’s hit “I’ve Got Dreams to Remember”, and the Rufus Thomas hit “Walking the Dog”.

The shows included MRB band originals “Packing Heat” and the song “Red Tide Blues” which received airplay on local stations. David Wells sings the J. Geil’s Band song “So Sharp” and at Stottlemyer’s kicked in with The Band’s “The Weight”.

I enjoyed songs from two personal favorites. The band pays homage to Coco Montoya with “Back in a Cadillac”. And multiple songs from Delbert McClinton. Both are unusual choices for a band that plays blues-based covers and it shows the depth of their musical knowledge and the talent to properly honor these artists.

Depending on the whim of the band one may hear Delbert’s “Giving it up for your Love”, and “Shaky Ground”, which while a Temptation’s song is now so much a part of Delbert’s shows that he “owns” it. Delbert’s classic “Old Weakness (Coming on Strong)” is a particular specialty of the band.

Also performed was the soulful Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions song “People Get Ready”. The Master of the Telecaster, Albert Collins, is featured with his “Love Me Like You Say” and most will recognize MRB’s version of The Rolling Stones funky hit “Miss You”. Dan took the lead on the Booker T. & the MG’s hit “Green Onions”.

Word is the band is working on a new recording. Scheduled shows for Memphis Rub Band include:

  • March 6: Englewoods on Dearborn, Englewood 7pm
  • March 13: Clancy’s Irish Sprots Pub & Grill, Bradenton 6pm
  • March 20: Snook Haven Riverside Eatery, Venice, 1pm
Message from ‘Madame’ President…

Message from ‘Madame’ President…

Message from ‘Madame’ President…

Message from ‘Madame’ President…

Hello Blues lovers and Happy New Year, such that it is.

I am proud and excited (and a bit nervous) to introduce myself to you as the newly elected president of the Suncoast Blues Society (SBS).

So many greats have come before me. I know that I have huge footsteps to fill – pretty intimidating to say the least but I will try my best to do so.

A little bit about me…

I was born and raised on the Southside of Chicago – what more could you ask for! Music has always been an integral part of my life – started playing guitar when I was in seventh grade. We used to organize “hootenannies” and I actually sang with “Up With People” for a while. (Go ahead – Google it and get a good laugh!!)

By high school, friends were in bands (wasn’t everybody in a garage band back then) so by the time I was 16, it was a must to have a fake ID to get into clubs. (Still have it, it’s a work of art, lol.) Of course, my boyfriend(s) had to be in a band (duh) and was eventually playing clubs down on Rush Street so from an early age I had the opportunity to be backstage and meet folks such as John Mayall and Paul Butterfield who would drop in to jam with the band. Yep, lots of great memories.

I moved to Florida after college, started a career, got married, raised two kids, got divorced and started over. 10 years ago, I met my favorite photographer (sorry Cap & Rick) Mark Goodman who introduced me to the SBS family and has supported and put up with me since then. (You can thank him if I do a good job or blame him if I don’t, lol.)

I had already been volunteering with SBS for a few years before that memorable day in February 2017 when Mark Thompson called me and said he heard I would be retiring soon and would I consider joining the Board as an alternate. Well, as many of you know, it is hard to say no to the Big Kahuna. Thus, I retired from my 27-year career at Sunrise Domestic & Sexual Violence Center in Dade City and stepped into a new world of great music and great friends. That same year, our beloved Conrad Sewer died suddenly so I stepped in to become a permanent member of our Board and became the Treasurer.

In addition to paying bills the past three years, I helped with organizing and working various festivals throughout the years, handled the advertising and took on some of George Willett’s responsibilities after he retired. (BTW – it took 3 people to replace him!) Now I have the honor and pleasure to work beside this great team of volunteers in my new position.

So I am asking for your patience and support as we continue to struggle through these challenging times. I am going to need your help, ideas and guidance and would love to hear from you. Stay safe 🙏🏻

Terri O’Brien
President@suncoastblues.org