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  • FREDDIE ROULETTE Jammin' With Friends, blues CD review
    whining slide often milked for extra drama However the steel is far more versatile than usually given credit for in Roulette s two hands it s like a more fluid guitar that you wouldn t know was a steel unless you looked at the credits His current album features the talents of noted artists from both California and Chicago From the Bay Area David LaFlamme violinist with It s A Beautiful Day Barry Melton guitarist from Country Joe the Fish Pete Sears formerly bassist keyboardist with Silver Metre Jefferson Starship and Hot Tuna and there s former Chicagoans Harvey Mandel guitarist from Canned Heat John Mayall Rolling Stones Rich Kirch guitarist for John Lee Hooker Jimmy Rogers and Kathi McDonald a veteran session and backup singer Rolling Stones Ike Turner Leon Russell who unfortunately passed on not long after these sessions The album is titled Jammin With Friends and that is exactly what we get nothing terribly ambitious just Roulette and his impressive buddies knocking themselves out on a program of standards and semi standards If you ve spent significant time hanging around blues joints some of these song selections will be well worn from frequent use Mojo Flip Flop Fly Killing Floor Reconsider Baby Key To The Highway Frankly the last thing the world needs is newly recorded versions of the same old Just seeing those over familiar titles had me anticipating the worst but despite this the musicians play quite well and sound great together Of special note are the two songs that pair Roulette s sweet funky steel with LaFlamme s violin Directly From My Heart To You and Funky Chicken not to be confused with Rufus Thomas Do The Funky Chicken Pete Sears also gets in some fine organ licks as well While the idea of

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/freddie-roulette-cd/freddie-roulette-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • MIKE WHEELER, Self Made Man, Delmark Records, CD Review
    like Big James the Chicago Playboys Big Ray Chicago s Most Wanted Peaches Staten the Grooveshakers and more but has maintained a positive attitude and uplifting energy in his music all along the way That kind of perseverance takes a lot of determination and it helps that Mike has such a great crew of musicians on his team to get that job done right Brian James floats some sweet notes on keyboard the rhythm section is anchored tight between Larry Williams on bass and solid sender Cleo Cole on drums and some tasty harp stylings from youngblood Omar Coleman Omar Coleman s harp is featured on the classic Chicago Blues in which Mike tells the story of how he first heard the blues at the age of ten then went through periods of rock jazz and all the rest But he sings about coming back to the Chicago blues and then taking those roots abroad touring Europe to rave reviews Mike gives the young harp player plenty of room to play on this classic Chicago blues grind and Omar shows why he s such a part of the conversation when it comes to the blues carrying on with the younger generation Larry Williams one of Mike s friends from childhood lays down the bass lines with aplomb always solid in the pocket and he stands out on Join Hands with his signature thumb slapping style The world ain t what it used to be we rise above it all to see it s getting better every day no matter what you hear or say It s great to hear some positive messages in the blues and stories that uplift people about getting through the hard times together towards a better day Stories are what Mike Wheeler weaves throughout all of his blues He shares that skill with contemporaries like Toronzo Cannon Quintus McCormick and others breaking through on the blues scene today stories about well just the stuff we all have to go through in life I would say that the blues is about everyday life the dealings that people go through in relationships and work you know just everyday living goes the quote leading off the liner notes In the words of the immortal Pogo Truer words was never spake Mike and the band cover one of my favorite blues tunes Willie Dixon s Let Me Love You Baby a song that Koko Taylor made famous Stevie Ray Vaughan took a rock blues approach to his version of the song but Mike s more faithful arrangement returns us to the original funky little riff that was Willie Dixon s signature style Kudos to Steve Wagner at Delmark Records who brought Mike Wheeler and band into the studio after hearing him play out live The Delmark sound still led by founder Bob Koester is always clean and faithful to the blues the way it is meant to be heard a live ensemble sound that preserves the intentions of the artists

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/mike-wheeler-cd/mike-wheeler-self-made-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • WILLIE BUCK, Cell Phone Man, Delmark, CD review
    well versed in the traditional Chicago electric style starting with the twin guitars of Rockin Johnny Burgin who co produced the disc with Delmark s Steve Wagner and Rick Kreher who played in Muddy Waters band Barrelhouse Chuck Goering studied with all of the great Chicago blues piano players and his playing testifies to the fact that he learned his lessons well The rhythm section of John Sefner on bass and Steve Bass on drums is rock solid Bharath Rajakumar and Martin Lang may not be names that spring to mind when you think about harp players but both offer proof that they deserve wider recognition Buck s voice rings out loud and clear throughout the disc gritty one moment before slipping into a soulful lament the next His feelings of resignation are apparent on the opener Doin Good and Bad at the Same Time while the title track finds him attempting to incorporate modern technology in his pursuit of a love interest Other originals like I Want My Baby and Two Women Talking find Buck applying new lyrics to familiar blues progressions He sings with unerring frankness on the first tune while Barrelhouse Chuck s hands dance across the keyboard The second number finds Lang and Goering weaving together rich fills behind Buck s powerful voice The longest cut Strange Woman is the first of the Muddy Water s tunes that the band tackles Buck adopts some of his mentor s vocal qualities Rajakumar wails on his harp and Burgin impresses with his distinctive guitar playing Goering s spirited efforts on Going Down Main Street are another highlight followed by Buck s emotionally charged rendition of Streamline Woman Burgin switches to acoustic guitar for a stripped down version of Two Trains Running that keeps the focus on Buck s

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/willie-buck-cd/willie-buck-cell-phone-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • MARIA MULDAUR, ...First Came Memphis Minnie, CD review
    of my favorite stuff is just Memphis Minnie and a guitar Or Bessie Smith and a piano So that s how the idea for how we were going to do it came about As anyone who has followed Ms Muldaur s journey over the years knows she is aging with incredible grace looking good and singing with soul and authority born of experience you might say she s lived long enough now to have caught up with what some of the songs she sang in her youth but didn t fully understand when she hadn t yet lived life to the depths You have to have some background to cut loose with the woo hoo she emits with a growl in reflecting on a night of good lovin with this righteous man in Lookin the World Over with impeccable National Steel accompaniment by Del Rey one of several guest guitarists who shine during these proceedings Conversely the steely resolve in her voice when she kisses off an abusive partner in I m Goin Back Home another track from Richland Woman Blues despite his threats to kill her if she goes is that of a strong willed woman taking charge not a victim Alvin Youngblood Hart delivers the man s responses with chilly detachment and also fashions a jaunty guitar arrangement behind the vocals Mixed in with new recordings are a couple of Memphis Minnie covers from Muldaur s previous albums including the saucy Me and My Chauffeur Blues with Roy Rogers on guitar and Roly Salley on bass the two break into a delightful sprinting dialogue about halfway through the track from where this journey began on record Richland Woman Blues But the titular artist also yields the stage to her Sisters in Music from time to time that is to say in addition to Maria Muldaur s this album includes Memphis Minnie songs as performed by Bonnie Raitt Rory Block Phoebe Snow Ruthie Foster and Koko Taylor Raitt with Steve Freund joining her on guitar for an easygoing treatment of Ain t Nothin In Ramblin a rare blues tune endorsing the joys of domesticity that Raitt famously performed on Prairie Home Companion in 2008 with Keb Mo In her song Keep Your Big Mouth Closed Minnie crafted wise advice to the distaff side to keep its own counsel when confronted with verbosity especially of the blustering kind and Ruthie Foster with Freund on guitar delivers the message with unswerving conviction Rory Block who is on quite a roll with her own tributes to the blues artists that shaped her own music serves up a smoldering bold come on on the gently stomping When You Love Me and shows off her usual fingerpicking alacrity on slide while punctuating her playing with seductive spoken asides that might have the men in the audience heading for the showers With David Bromberg providing exquisite spare guitar and mandolin backing the late great Phoebe Snow burrows deep into painful memories of the past on

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/maria-muldaur-memphis-minnie-cd/maria-muldaur-minnie-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • CRAIG CHAQUICO
    When the Airplane reformed as the Jefferson Starship he was asked to join the band After a long run including 20 gold and platinum albums the band eventually broke up Chaquico then moved on as a solo artist performing a jazz new age style of music releasing another 10 albums and a receiving a Grammy nomination He s obviously not a newcomer As for his progression into the blues in a recent interview Craig Chaquico said If it wasn t for Jefferson Airplane Jefferson Starship Starship my solo career I wouldn t be able to do a blues record now which is my latest record and the one I m most proud of My musical career really is the same road but on different scenic turnouts the rock n roll and then the new age jazz and now the blues That s where I am now on my musical journey The CD opens strongly with Chaquico s Lie to Me featuring the deep husky vocals of Noah Hunt from the Kenny Wayne Shephard Band on vocals The groove is infectious with the unmistakable West Coast feel and Chaquico s jazz influence throughout His well crafted original Devil s Daughter follows with the remarkably high tenor of Rolf Hartley soaring on vocals Again this song arrangement and performance could easily show up on an Eagles album and that s not meant in a negative way at all Fire Red Moon features several instrumentals a pleasurable change from most blues releases Chaquico takes Born Under a Bad Sign to a uniquely different place as an instrumental that really shows off his guitar playing I m sure Albert King and Booker T Jones would approve Muddy Waters Rollin and Tumblin and Robert Johnson s Crossroads get similar treatments with Rolf Hartley s excellent

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/craig-chaquico-cd/craig-chaquico-fire-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • JOHN PRIMER, Blues on Solid Ground, Blues House Productions, CD review
    performers John originally lived in Mississippi as a child coming to Chicago as a teenager in the mid 50s Certainly a heady time to be an aspiring bluesman from Mississippi The talented guitarist played in bands behind Muddy Waters Willie Dixon and Magic Slim for decades before going solo Still it s clear that the red clay has never left his heart and soul These are simple roots songs sung with conviction and played with a master s touch The majority of Blues on Solid Ground consists of simple acoustic performances which showcase Primer s ability as a vocalist and lyricist There are straightforward solo acoustic numbers that are reminiscent of Lightin Hopkins and others that feature piano accompaniment from the great Barrelhouse Chuck that invoke Scrapper Blackwell and Leroy Carr or Cephas Wiggins A couple traditional harmonica courtesy Russ Green and guitar duos are featured as well Aficionados of pre war blues will find a lot to like here There are also a smattering of electric band arrangements that are pure Chicago meets Clarksdale bliss The combination of Primer on guitar and vocals alongside Barrelhouse Chuck Russ Green E G McDaniel bass and Kenny Smith on drums is a

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/john-primer-cd/john-primer-solid-ground-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Deanna Bogart, Pianoland, Blind Pig Records, CD review
    1940s She launches the album with a pair of her own compositions In the Rain an uptempo shuffle and On and On And featuring an eerie opening resolving into a quirky romp Deanna follows these with a lively rendition of Erroll Garner s Boogie Woogie Boogie Drummer Mike Aubin s timekeeping on this track is refreshingly jazzy and Deanna indulges her penchant for the atmospheric in the middle of the tune briefly depressing the sustain pedal to lend a film noir dimension to the piece In Blues at 11 another strong original Deanna s playing recalls Ray Bryant in its sophisticated sense of the blues and at only two and a half minutes her lyricism leaves the listener pining for more Her swinging interpretation of Willie Dixon s I Love the Life I Live reflects the indelible stamp Mose Allison brought to the song when he recorded it in the 1960s On this number she sounds at ease both in front of the microphone and at the keyboard and she clearly seems to be enjoying herself Following this she offers a straightforward rendition of Pete Johnson s Death Ray Boogie a joyful boogie notwithstanding its title The handful of pop songs Deanna performs on Pianoland are not nearly so satisfying The title track s driving pace and at times breathless vocals send it unpleasantly into melodrama and it is redeemed only near the end by a strong solo and less affected singing Over the Rainbow yes the Harold Arlen warhorse from the Wizard of Oz Couldn t Love You More and Close Your Eyes suffer from unsophisticated melody lines and come off sounding sappy a disappointment given Deanna s mighty talent The disc s variety is simultaneously its strength and its weakness it keeps predictability at bay but the repertoire

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/deanna-bogart-cd/deanna-bogart-pianoland-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • BILLY BOY ARNOLD, Billy Boy Arnold Sings Big Bill Broonzy, Electro-Fi Records, CD review
    washboard reminds us that washboard is a legitimate percussion musical instrument with its own classical blues heritage Any review of a Broonzy tribute must study the artist s rendition of Key to the Highway Broonzy originally recorded the number with harmonica player Jazz Gillum for Bluebird Records in 1940 The chord structure of the guitar on Key to the Highway is pure Broonzy and on this recording Eric Noden faithfully captures Big Bill s essence Billy Boy s harmonica is reminiscent of Jazz Gillum s and lends an overall vintage treatment to this blues chestnut The song has been recorded hundreds of times by artists ranging from Little Walter to Eric Clapton but rarely has a recording of Key to the Highway so captured the spirit of Broonzy s and Gillum s original effort While Bill Boy and the band stick closely to the original Big Bill rendition of Key to the Highway the same cannot be said of most of the selections That is not a complaint but a compliment since no good purpose is served by slavish imitation even of a legend The leading cut Sweet Honey Bee is a prime example where Billy s rendition shows off his own unique harmonica and vocal style as well as reflecting Eric Noden s handsome acoustic guitar which is distinct from Big Bill s treatment in the original The arrangement of Just a Dream is also unique to Billy Boy s ensemble Broonzy s original featured piano while Billy Boy s group of course centers on Billy s harmonica Billy Flynn adds a mighty touch to this song with his artful mandolin work Of course there is the timeless message about a man who dreams of a perfect life where he serves as the president s consultant and has an

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/billyboy-cd/billy-boy-arnold-sings-broonzy-page.html (2016-02-16)
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