“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
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