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  • Billy Branch and Sons of The Blues, Blues Shock, Blind Pig, CD review
    wittily name check most of the Windy City s leading blues joints and Baby Let Me Butter Your Corn both Branch originals escort the proceedings in a decidedly uptown direction buttressing the SOBs with the sizzling Chicago Horns led by veteran trombonist Bill McFarland and a trio of female backing vocalists The opening Sons Of Blues is a sly introductory theme the horns again blasting over a percolating funk laden groove while revisiting Motown belter Shorty Long s 1966 soul workout Function At The Junction turns out to be an inspired idea Yet there s plenty here for traditional Chicago blues fans to savor where the horns and chorines disappear and Branch digs into decidedly more traditional fare A revival of Little Walter s swinging Crazy Mixed Up World written by Billy s late mentor Willie Dixon finds him engaging in dazzling chromatic harp runs that beautifully complement his gravelly vocal delivery Guitarist Ronnie Baker Brooks stops by to share vocal honors on the engaging Dog House while sure handed SOBs pianist Sumito Ariyoshi local blues patrons know him better as Ariyo penned the rumbling Back Alley Cat Branch conceived the lowdown Slow Moe for Rutues to sing and Moses adopts it as a personal calling card John Lee Hooker s often revisited Boom Boom benefits from a shot of energy from everyone concerned The innovative harpist leaves the 12 bar structure behind altogether for the touching jazz tinged ballad Going To See Miss Gerri One More Time which tells the fascinating story of Gerri Oliver and her Palm Tavern on East 47 th Street a Bronzeville nightlife landmark for decades until our city fathers in their less than infinite wisdom evicted Miss Gerri and padlocked the place in 2001 Just as elegant and even jazzier is the set s

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/billy-branch-cd/billy_branch-blues-shock-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • were involved in the competition and our Chicago boys beat the tough competition to make it to the final round of 9 bands performing at the famous Orpheum Theatre Although the Nightburners have been playing locally since the 1970s they are now garnering well deserved national attention The band s latest release Beyond the Storm is a collection of songs played at and or inspired by their trip to Memphis For the most part this collection of ten original tunes is a joy to listen to Excellent arrangements performance writing and production flow with a collective smoothness from the speakers Jumping to the middle of the CD tracks 5 6 7 and 8 are really what it s all about On track 5 What They Believe is a driving blues rock tune where the layered use of slide guitar Don Laferty harp Kevin Purcell and violin Andy Ohlrich results in an extremely powerful and moving arrangement Track 6 Lay It On Me continues with the same powerful motif and on through the next tune On track 8 Calling Me Home the use of the violin to move you through the changes is spectacular Let s not forget the rest of the band With Pete Kruse on drums and Tony Root on bass the rhythm section is tight and driving Bill LeClair on keyboards adds just the extra touch that makes this an excellent CD Produced in the Chicago area by Roger Adler at Adler Studios in Crystal Lake and Jerry Baldy at JR studios in Gurnee this CD deserves more than just a passing listen And as icing on the cake Kevin Purcell and the Nightburners will once again be representing Chicago this year at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis on January 21 25 2014 Good luck guys and

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/kevin-purcell-cd/kevin-purcell-storm-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Damon Fowler, Sounds of Home, Blind Pig Records, CD review
    along with a little help from Tab The guitars and vocals were handled by Fowler with Chuck Riley on bass and James McKnight on drums The first track up is Thought I Had It All and the listener gets a strong dose of heavy Southern rock Damon Fowler delivers the vocals with a bit of a drawl and his voice is strong so he does not need to strain to get his point across Up next is the title track Sounds of Home which is a slick piece of blues rock with a rhythm section that could have been lifted straight out of a 1970s Robin Trower album It should be noted that the vocals on this track were shared by perennial Mardi Grad favorite Big Chief Monk Boudreaux which makes for a neat addition to what was already a cool song Damon also includes a few country inspired songs on this album Old Fools Bar Stools and Me takes on the classic theme of drinking away heartache but uses a hard punch of heavily processed guitars to get the message across Where I Belong is a catchy tune with fancy fingerpicking and slide that does a good job of evoking images of home Do It For The Love is the standout track on Sounds of Home as this ballad has sublime lyrics that are interwoven with wonderful interplay between Fowler s guitar and Benoit s slide work The two covers are not the usual suspects and they include an unexpectedly faithful rendition of Elvis Costello s Alison and a hard hitting version of Johnny Winter s TV Mama Fowler electrifies Winter s 1977 song with well placed lead and slide guitar licks which are more than fitting for the slew of double entendres of the original version This track

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/damon-fowler-cd/damon-fowler-home-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • She Swings Blue -- Volume 1: The Joint is Jumpin', Rhythm Rockets, Brother Raccoon Records, blues CD review
    Fornek served stints with notables including Jimmy Rogers and Dave Specter The opening tune In the Mood for You sets a jaunty pace with Downer supplying a taut solo in support of Kestler s smooth vocal The tight interplay between the horns sparks Evil Gal Blues a hit for Dinah Washington Kestler takes a lighter approach on I Got a Feelin than Big Maybelle did on the original After a bowed bass intro from Marini Fornek beats out an intricate rhythm pattern as Kestler worries about losing her man to another woman Buddy Johnson and his sister Ella were hit makers in the final throes of the territory band era The Rockets expertly recreate the mellow swing of Johnson s band on Til My Baby Comes Back with Kidonakis adding rolling piano flourishes throughout A scintillating cover of the Ravens Rock Me All Night Long finds Bielecki s earthy tenor urging the band on The lone original Jumpin the Blues fits right in with a rocking groove Downer who composed the piece delivers a blistering guitar solo that is matched by Burckhardt s brawny tenor Cannonball Express is joyous tribute to a legendary train with Kestler s vocal gliding along over the propulsive rhythm Her tone is more strident on I Just Couldn t Stand It No More the only time she reaches beyond the limitations of her voice But she recovers nicely with a duet with Fornek on Ain t Nobody s Business but My Own that holds up well to the original by Louis Jordan and Ella Fitzgerald They are even better on a sparkling rendition of A Rockin Good Way tackling a tune popularized by Dinah Washington and Brook Benton Kestler adopts a sassy persona that contrasts nicely with Fornek s robust tones and a meaty baritone

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/rhythm-rockets-cd/rhythm_rockets_cd_page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Queen Sylvia & John Embry, Troubles, Delmark Records, CD review
    Treatment and also worked extensively with Jimmy Dawkins On the brink of huge success cancer robbed her of her life and blues fans of a truly great artist Her recordings on Razor on L R Evidence have also been released on Arhoolie Alligator L R EPM and Leric Delmark The album opens to their tune Wonder Why with Sylvia testifying in a style that hints a bit at her gospel background John offers up a huge and stinging guitar solo here that is superb The title track follows a slow blues original by the Embrys John s guitar rings out loud and clear as he plays with great support and a long solo as Sylvia testifies to us with power and poise The first cover is next Lie to Me which swings nicely I m Hurtin is pure Chicago blues penned by Sylvia and with the former couple delivering the goods John offers up another immense solo here I Found A Love is a slow Wilson Pickett ballad on which the Embrys turn the heat up drummer Woody Williams also shares the lead vocals It s a great cover with the two vocalists belting some soaring soulful harmonies singing back and forth divinely Jimmy Reed s Goin to New York follows this is where the sequencing changes from the original album Williams backs Sylvia here again and it s a great ride to the Big Apple with them Reed s version is more laid back Sylvia belts it out big time and John offers his immense guitar to the piece Mustang Sally follows again with Williams in support Being that it was 1979 the No Mustang Sally Rule was not yet in effect but even if it was these guys would get a pass as they deliver a really fine rendition Williams starts it off soulfully as John provides a bouncing guitar line Sylvia comes in for the chorus and blows things away and then John offers up another burning solo Williams and the Queen finish by singing the chorus together over and over to close it out The next five tracks are the add on cuts Gonna Find My Baby is soulful and the big guitar solo sound is sweet and even a little out of tune but very cool Early Time Blues is similar with stinging vocals and guitar Razor Sharp is a beautiful and driving instrumental with John showing us what he could do He really laid it all out here Keep Your Hands Off Her brings Williams back for vocal support Recorded live the audio quality of this one is lacking but the emotion in their playing makes up for it on this Roosevelt Sykes cut Blues This Morning is more sweet straight up stuff that also is live John delivers another giant solo on this cut For track 13 Delmark returns to the original release with the re sequenced After Work title track from the original album It is a thoughtful piece with John opening

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/queen-sylvia-john-embry-cd/queen-sylvia-john-embry-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Delmark 60 Years of Blues, Various Artists, Delmark Records
    his box here instead of the usual nine Collectors will be positively thrilled by the alternate take of Little Walter s Just Keep Lovin Her from Delmark s stash of Parkway masters the young harp genius was backed by Muddy Waters and Baby Face Leroy Foster that day Also new to the world is harpist Junior Wells tasty after hours rendition of Rock Me Baby from the 69 Delmark sessions that gave us Southside Blues Jam Otis Spann rolls the ivories No other local company documents as many local blues artists as Delmark does having an in house recording studio doesn t hurt in that regard Guitarist Eddie C Campbell s driving Big World Lurrie Bell s sizzling cover of Otis Rush s She s A Good Un from his 2013 set Blues In My Soul and Mississippi Heat s Let s Live It Up featuring vocalist Inetta Visor and harpist bandleader Pierre Lacocque rate with the set s highlights and ebullient pianist Detroit Jr s 2004 treatment of the pre war chestnut Key To The Highway goes down mighty easy too Quintus McCormick Linsey Alexander and Sharon Lewis members of Delmark s new generation are aboard as well Naturally there s a track from Delmark s recent celebrated release of a cache of live 1968 Magic Sam tapes from a previously untraced Milwaukee gig he s typically on fire tearing into Bobby Blue Bland s I Don t Want No Woman and as noted far and wide the sound quality is terrific There s also a cozy live performance from 1974 by pre war stalwart Sleepy John Estes and the guitarist s longtime sidekick harpist Hammie Nixon Stop That Thing will see 2014 issue on the pair s own album Live In Japan most of the duo s postwar

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/delmark-anniversay-cd/delmark-60th-anniv-cd-2013-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Gene Barge, Olio, Wildroot Records, CD review
    stands as only the second recording ever released under Barge s name since the prolific talent has spent most of his storied career assisting other artists Several of them return the favor by appearing on Olio Reader Woman about a fortune teller who delivers some bad relationship news gets things started in an up tempo funky fashion with a vigorous vocal from Barge describing the lengths he is willing to go to in order to get his baby back The track is powered by a stellar Chicago horn section consisting of Kenny Anderson on trumpet Steve Berry on trombone Hank Ford on tenor sax and Willie Henderson on baritone sax More Love is an instrumental with Matt Rose handling keyboard bass and drum programs and Keith Henderson on guitar Barge elevates the track above the ordinary with several soaring solos that demonstrate his mastery of the saxophone Barge s grandmother inspired the original song Give Me My Flowers Now on which the narrator makes a plea for recognition while one still walks this earth rather than after they re gone Barge s heartfelt voice is lushly surrounded by a string section and six background singers Several high profile friends lend a hand with soul legend Otis Clay joining Barge on We ll Be Friends for a spirited exchange that also includes noted gospel singer Willie Rogers of the Soul Stirrers The blues break out in a big way on Shame on You Shame on Me with Buddy Guy helping Barge with the lead vocal and playing some guitar But the solo spotlight goes to Will Crosby Mavis Staples Eddy Clearwater whose playing burns just as bright Guy s usual offerings Crosby s work is featured throughout the disc in both lead and rhythm roles Barge finishes the track off with

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/gene-barge-cd/gene_barge_cd_page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Magic Sam Live At The Avante Garde, Delmark Records, CD review
    bassist Big Mojo Elem and drummer Bob Richey High school senior budding engineer Jim Charne set up his tape recorder outfitted with several pro quality mics on the evening of June 22 1968 at the Avant Garde a counterculture coffee house located in Milwaukee that often booked Chicago blues stalwarts and did a superlative job of capturing the full stereo spectrum of sounds that Sam and his cohorts laid down that memorable night Charne also contributes the CD s informative liner notes Ripping through a non stop barrage of well chosen covers and a handful of his own compositions the startlingly inventive guitarist gave it everything he had with his stripped down rhythm section Bobby Bland s I Don t Want No Woman Little Junior Parker s rollicking Feelin Good B B King s I Need You So Bad Jimmy McCracklin s Every Night Every Day Junior Wells Come On In This House Freddy King s prototypical West Side instrumental San Ho Zay and Lowell Fulson s It s All Your Fault Baby were longtime favorites of his but the dazzling presence of Otis Rush s All Your Love I Miss Loving he keeps it in minor key rhumba mode all the way eschewing the jump passage Muddy Waters Still A Fool and B B s obscure instrumental Hully Gully Twist illustrate how Sam frequently shook up his set list contributing to this disc s must have status for his legion of fans Singular as his musical approach had been ever since his emergence on the Cobra label a little more than a decade earlier Sam apparently didn t worry about his freshly penned songs being appropriated by other blues acts He played his new hard driving original You Belong To Me at the Avant Garde but wouldn t get

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/magic-sam-cd/magic_sam_live_cd_page.html (2016-02-16)
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