Carolyn Wonderland “Tempting Fate” CD Review by Franc Robert

Carolyn Wonderland “Tempting Fate” CD Review by Franc Robert

Carolyn Wonderland “Tempting Fate” CD Review by Franc Robert

Carolyn Wonderland “Tempting Fate”

CD Review by Franc Robert

WOW!!! Tempting Fate… is one astonishing record. If you have not heard Carolyn Wonderland before, you owe it to yourself to get this CD, like-now!!! Ms. Wonderland can compare to Bonnie Raitt, but hotter like a cayenne pepper. Arguably stronger vocals, and much spicier playing and songwriting.

Right out of the gate, “Fragile Peace and Certain War” fires off on all cylinders with its raging Mississippi Hill Country blues stomp, hound dog wailing slide guitar and impassioned, politically tinged vocals. Vocals that find a higher gear each verse till the final scream that recalls Tina Turner at the height of her powers-yeah, it is that good!

“Texas Girl and Her Boots” is a wonderfully sassy look at the form and function of her boot collection (every girl has more than one pair!), set over a bare-knuckle Texas shuffle with the added treat of Marcia Ball on piano, loads of fun!

“Broken Hearted Blues” is a classic blues rocker with Carolyn detailing every failing of her (now presumably former) lover-the standout here is her vocals, which go from a near whisper to all out wail on the turn of a dime. “Fortunate Few” is more traditional, with the piano more forward in the mix, and very tasty guitar work.

“Crack In the Wall” is a slow Texas waltz, with Cindy Cashdollar adding a haunting lap steel solo.

“The Laws Must Change” shows Ms. Wonderland interpreting her old boss John Mayall’s song, and in the process making it her own. Her guitar scat’s along to her vocals-sometimes doubling, other times finishing the line, before getting to a lyrical but still cutting solo!

“On My Feet” is more of a traditional jazz number, with smooth crooning, and a surprise whistle and guitar call and response solo-very nice and a cool twist! “It Takes a Lot to Laugh It Takes a Train to Cry” features Jimmie Dale Gilmore as a duet partner (sounding like Willie Nelson).

The album closes out with The Grateful Dead’s “Loser”- an unusual choice, but Wonderland makes it work. With its spaghetti western lyrics filtered through a blues-rock-psychedelic kaleidoscope leading to a dramatic rave up solo section. And its spine-tingling final chorus that leaves you wanting more, like a great album should!

Can you give six stars on a 5-star scale? That is what this record is, and I am sure it is already in the running for Blues Music Awards. Cannot wait for Ms. Wonderland to tour Florida!

 

50 Years of Genuine Houserockin’ Music Alligator Records – Disk 3

50 Years of Genuine Houserockin’ Music Alligator Records – Disk 3

50 Years of Genuine Houserockin’ Music Alligator Records – Disk 3

50 Years of Genuine Houserockin’ Music

Alligator Records – Disk 3

The final disk of this recording is the most modern of the three, and therefore many of the songs on the disk may already be within your collection.

Marsha Ball and her piano return us to New Orleans with the aptly named “Party Town”.  Keeping the party going is the wonderful slide guitar work of Lil’ Ed Williams and his Blues Imperials. “What You See Is What You Get” is representative of the 30 plus years of rollicking Chicago Blues that Ed has brought to the world and rightfully belongs in this collection.

Billy Branch & The Sons of Blues with “Blue and Lonesome”. Contribute Chicago blues to the collection. Various songs from current Alligator talent follow with selections from

Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, Curtis Salgado, and Selwyn Birchwood.

Recently the Blues Foundation announced the 2021 Blues Music Awards. – Alligator artists Shemekia Copeland took home 3 awards, including Entertainer of The Year; “Kingfish” took home two awards; two more for Elvin Bishop & Charlie Musselwhite’s 100 Years of Blues. Their “Midnight Hour Blues” is included on this collection. And Rick Estrin & The Nightcats won Band of The Year and appear on the CD with “I’m Running”.

The Cash Box Kings present “Ain’t No Fun”; blues rockers Tommy Castro & The Painkillers are trying to “Make It Back To Memphis” (aren’t we all!) in a live recorded version. Coco Montoya reminds us that “We Didn’t Think About That” when ending a relationship. Tinsley Ellis, the amazing Chris Cain, and Guitar Shorty also contribute recent songs.

Closing the recording is Toronzo Cannon with “Chicago Way”. Appropriately so, as for 50 years the Chicago way, no the world-wide way, for producing house rocking blues music has been demonstrated by Alligator Records. Thank you, Bruce Iglauer, for the “Bruce Iglauer Way” and for “50 Years of Genuine Houserockin’ Music”.

You can read the review from disk one of this recording at Suncoast Blues Society, and disk two here.

Thank you for reading this three-part review.

To purchase “50 Years of Genuine Houserockin’ Music” or recordings from Alligator artists visit Alligator Records.

 

  • Scott Morris

 

50 Years of Genuine Houserockin’ Music Alligator Records – Disk 2

50 Years of Genuine Houserockin’ Music Alligator Records – Disk 2

50 Years of Genuine Houserockin’ Music Alligator Records – Disk 2

50 Years of Genuine Houserockin’ Music

Alligator Records – Disk 2

The energy at the end of disk one continues with the first recording of this 21-track disk. The late Michael Burks and “Love Disease” is followed by the marvelous Kenny Neal with “I’m a Blues Man”.  Arguably underrated, The Holmes Brothers please with their foot tapping beat and creative lyrics on “Run Myself Out of Town”. A classic from a classic blues band that will probably have you singing along.

“Jump Start” reminds us how wonderful a guitar player “Little Charlie” Baty was, performing here with The Nightcats. And an Alligator recording would not be complete without Katie Webster, featured on “I’m Still Leaving You”. A duo whose career ended much too early, Smokin’ Joe Kubek and Bnois King, rock and slide their way through “Don’t Lose My Number”

Downshifting a bit, Carey Bell brings some old-time, smokey-bar Chicago blues with “I Got a Rich Man’s Woman”, the one that is “living on a poor man’s pay”.  C. J. Chenier turns up the heat, and probably your volume, with Zydeco in “Au Contraire, Mon Frere”. Mavis Staples impresses with “There’s A Devil On The Loose”.

“That’s Not What You Said Last Night” has Bob Margolin rocking out; old-time blues returns with Billy Boy Arnold and “Man of Considerable Taste”. Piedmont blues appears with Cephas & Wiggins who “Ain’t Seen My Baby”. Nice harmonica work on this one, and they are followed with a slow blues number from Long John Hunter called “Marfa Lights”, one that had me picturing couples dancing, closely.

Joe Louis Walker has a different opinion, and searing guitar work, with “I Won’t Do That”. Janiva Magness funks it up with “That’s What Love Will Make You Do”, leaving the listener to consider if love will make Joe Louis do what he sang he would not do.

The second volume wraps up with a country blues song “Going Back To Alabama” by The Siegel-Schwall Band, and a gospel number from Corey Harris & Henry Butler called “Why Don’t You Live So That God Can Use You”.

You can read the review from disk one of this recording at Suncoast Blues Society

We wrap up next week with the third disk on this wonderful retrospective from Alligator Records.

To purchase “50 Years of Genuine Houserockin’ Music” or recordings from Alligator artists visit  
Alligator Records.

  • Scott Morris
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50 Years of Genuine Houserockin’ Music Alligator Records – Disk 1

50 Years of Genuine Houserockin’ Music Alligator Records – Disk 1

50 Years of Genuine Houserockin’ Music Alligator Records – Disk 1

50 Years of Genuine Houserockin’ Music

Alligator Records – Disk 1

 

For many, this will be the soundtrack of your blues life. Bruce Iglauer founded Alligator Records 50 years ago in Chicago. And has crafted a 58-song 4-hour retrospective of some of the best blues produced during the past half century. 

Much has changed in these 50 years. And perhaps most of all is the distribution of music. Many, including this author will recall ordering early Alligator LPs via the mail. At that time there was no distribution into long gone record “emporiums” such as Sam Goody or Tower Records. Now, we’ve become accustom to taking music distribution digitally. Good for the listener, but maybe not so much for the recording companies and certainly not for the artist. For this one you may want to buy a “hard copy”. Alligator Records 50 Years of Genuine Houserockin Music contains not only great music but the liner notes written by Bruce are priceless. I learned so much, or recalled much forgotten, by reading Bruce’s heartfelt remembrances of his 50 years in providing joy to the blues music community. 

Now, onto the music, all remastered for this release. Fittingly, the “50 Years” collection begins with a pair of “Taylors” – Hound Dog Taylor and Koko Taylor. Hound Dog and, what else, “The House Rockers” kick of the party with “Give Me Back My Wig”, and Koko chimes in with “I’m a Woman”.  Professor Longhair takes us to New Orleans with “It’s My Fault Darling”, and the Lone Star State rocks it out with Johnny Winter’s rollicking “Lights Out”. The music slows down with “The Ice man” Albert Collins and “Blue Monday Hangover”.

James Cotton and “Little Car Blues” features James’s singing, and returned my mind to his collaborations with Johnny Winter and Muddy Waters. Albert Collins returns in combination with Johnny Copeland and Robert Cray with the wonderful song “The Dream”, originally found on their masterful recording “The Showdown”. Speaking of Muddy, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown contributes a version of “Mojo” that is, well, uniquely Gatemouth. Most enjoyable. 

Following Gatemouth was my first memory jogger. It was so good to once again hear Saffire – The Uppity Blues Women, and their whimsical “Sloppy Drunk. Disk 1 concludes with another “blast from the past” with The Paladins bringing their blues rockabilly on “Keep on Lovin’ Me Baby”. Kept hitting replay on this one, “woh yea!”. 

Suncoast Blues Society returns next week with a review of Part 2, the second disk of this recording. 

To purchase “50 Years of Genuine Houserockin’ Music” or recordings from Alligator artists visit Alligator Records.

 

  • Scott Morris
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.