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”

CD Review – Selwyn Birchwood – “Living In A Burning House”

CD Review – Selwyn Birchwood – “Living In A Burning House”

CD Review – Selwyn Birchwood – “Living In A Burning House”

Selwyn Birchwood’s third Alligator CD Living In A Burning House is an absolute sledge hammer of an album! A more diverse and adventurous album than his two previous CDs, Selwyn examines the human condition through 13 tunes, with a thicker, deeper sound coming from his expanded band. Synthesizing all his influences and experiences into his music, what we have here is something that is at once both familiar and absolutely new-a Schrodinger’s Blues, if you will…

Starting hard out of the gate with with the horn flourish and stinging guitar of I’d Climb Mountains, Birchwood lays down the blues funk in the best Luther Allison tradition, with his trademark baritone voice doubled by Regi Oliver’s sax.

I Got Drunk Laid And Stoned mixes hill country blues slide guitar with more gritty sax and funk underpinnings, detailing wild nights doing things we all will regret in the light of the morning, a theme that most of us can relate to.

Living In A Burning House is another funky barnburner about a failed relationship, a recurring theme across this album, the shifting rhythms reflecting the protagonist’s shifting emotions.
You Can’t Steal My Shine is something of a revival rave up, with Selwyn telling us that “you can’t steal my shine” regardless of what else may be taken from him-nothing will get the man down!
Revelation
is deep funk warning about the end times with the horns chasing Selwyn’s vocals and guitar to the edge of… well, you know, that place…

Searching For My Tribe is minor key blues funk, with Donald “Huff” Wright’s bass and Philip Walker’s drums laying down the groove with Selwyn singing about wanting to be alone, but not alone, if you know what I mean…
She’s A Dime is in the classic soul blues mode with Birchwood bragging about his girlfriend-you can hear his trademark smile as he describes his flame in very flattering and saucy terms- I’m sure this one would be a blast to hear live!

One More Time is a slow dance tune with Birchwood pleading his girl to come back, but also wants the truth, even if it hurts… backed up beautifully with Walter May’s organ work coming to the fore, and Oliver’s sax adding just the right touch.

Mama Knows Best is a welcome change, a straight shuffle about bringing that girl home to Mama, who doesn’t approve… Diunna Greenleaf sings the part of Mama, scolding Selwyn like a child caught with his hand in the cookie jar, or worse! I’d love to see these two get together onstage sometime!

Freaks Come Out At Night kicks up the lap steel against a hill country beat as Selwyn channels his hoodoo shaman alter ego singing about the famed Bradfordville Blues Club, a real stomper of a tune, and a real highlight! This might be the best tune on the album.
Through A Microphone is a tune that I could hear Albert Collins playing, if he were still around. It’s a classic funky shuffle with wry lyrics and stinging guitar that recalls, but not copies, the Iceman.

Rock Bottom returns to the funk, again bemoaning his fate, even though he was “baptized in 100 proof”.
My Happy Place closes out the set with a completely different feel, chiming guitars, melodious sax, and a contemplative approach, it recalls Eric Bibb’s Global Griot-a nice way to bring the CD to a close.

The entire CD is astonishing, with Birchwood writing and arranging all the songs here, and doing an absolutely masterful job. The writing and playing is more mature, yet still very fresh and adventurous, with rhythm and texture changes that rival progressive rock, but still keeps a connection to the roots of the blues. Living In A Burning House is an incredible masterpiece of modern blues. Bravo!

Franc Robert

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