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  • KATHI MCDONALD AND RICH KIRCH, Nothin' But Trouble CD review
    band that back Kathi and Rich who are now working together for the first time in nearly a decade when they last reunited in Kirch s adoptive home in the San Francisco Bay Area Before leaving Chicagoland for the Bay Area in the 1980s Rich was part of the Jimmy Rogers Blues Band along with Right Hand Frank and the Jimmy Dawkins Blues Band He worked for John Lee Hooker for 13 years in the Coast to Coast Blues Band after relocating to San Francisco and since then has worked on television commercials and released a respected independent CD Augusta Boulevard Blues that included Hooker Big Walter Horton Sam Lay and Charlie Musselwhite Nothin But Trouble features nine songs that have deep roots in post war Chicago and Mississippi blues and the disc launches with an uptempo take no prisoners attack on Rollin Tumblin followed by a simmering Talk to Me Baby For me any blues woman s interpretation of Wang Dang Doodle is a tall order as I always compare any new interpretation of that classic Willie Dixon song to Koko Taylor s ChicagoFest performance on the classic Alligator WXRT partnership CD Blues Deluxe Kathi nails it on Nothin But Trouble and adds her own unique vocal spice to one of the Queen of the Blues signature songs Nothin But Trouble is distributed nationally by City Hall Records it will be welcomed by fans of Kathi McDonald and her powerful take on 70s rock tinged blues As I listened to Kathi reach the high points of such Chicago blues standards as Big Leg Woman and Shake Your Money Maker I thought of other shouter style vocalists that remind me of Axl Rose Axl may have propelled Guns n Roses to the top of the charts with that unique vocal

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/kathi-mcdonald-rich-kirch-cd/kathi-rich-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • BIG JAMES AND THE CHICAGO PLAYBOYS, The Big Payback, Blind Pig, CD review
    Paris The Big Payback was recorded live at the famed Lionel Hampton Jazz Club in the City of Light and features three originals from Big James and several outstanding covers including a surprising instrumental take on Deep Purple s Smoke on the Water the title tune from James Brown and Magic Sam s All Your Love I first saw this powerful outfit at Buddy Guy s Legends former location and they put on an old school horn fueled show complete with synchronized dance steps natty stage attire a diverse set that featured James on trombone and each Playboy playing solos revue style this stylish showmanship is not lost on the enthusiastic Parisian audience Big James version of Otis Clay s classic Memphis soul tune Trying to Live My Life Without You is a classic reinterpretation and I enjoy Big James original ode to his life s work The Blues Will Never Die because as long as labels like Blind Pig bring blues fans this type of music recorded live it won t The Big Payback is a must for fans of punchy horn fueled blues with a deep sound and if you appreciate blues trombone in the style of Fred Wesley who worked for the Godfather of Soul International Blues Challenge competitor Randy Oxford or the Grammy nominated Trombone Shorty I m confident you ll like trombonist Big James second CD on Blind Pig records Big James is a six time Living Blues Magazine Critics Choice Award Winner and a four time nominee of the Blues Music Awards Look for Big James to return to the Chicago Blues Festival this year and along the way he ll also return to Kingston Mines But no matter where you see Big James and the Chicago Playboys it ll be a party fueled

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/big-james-cd/big-james-big-payback-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • OTIS TAYLOR, Contraband, Telarc, CD review
    community through the Otis Taylor Trance Blues Festival The inaugural event over Thanksgiving 2011 featured fellow Blues Music Award recipient Bob Steady Rollin Margolin banjo virtuosi Tony Trischka and Don Vappie the Meters George Porter Jr Indigenous guitar ace Mato Nanji Standing Bear along with Contraband performers Ron Miles Cassie Taylor and Anne Harris Taylor purposefully encouraged non musicians to participate and he presided over a collaborative process that brought a wide variety of fans and musicians together for a number of workshops and jam sessions at several Boulder venues There are a number of tracks on Contraband that further Taylor s focused repetitive interpretations of blues with few chord changes such as On My Delta Bed and The Devil s Gonna Lie The upbeat Banjo Boogie Blues features some stellar pedal steel guitar from sacred steel s Chuck Campbell rock solid bass lines courtesy of Otis daughter Cassie and the Gospel tinged Sheryl Renee Choir buoys the song nicely On Blind Piano Teacher Ron Miles cornet adds texture to Cassie Taylor s and Todd Edmund s bass lines This song would be right at home on a jazz station as well as on KBCO FM s Red Rooster Lounge blues program in Boulder Colorado The plaintive and wistful Yellow Car Yellow Dog features Chicago s Anne Harris on fiddle adding color and spice to a sparse sad love song alongside Otis acoustic and electric banjos and Cassie s bass Harris an accomplished award winning producer and singer songwriter in her own right joined Otis onstage at the Fall 2011 Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise and delighted blues cruisers with an explosive fiddle show Harris musical career includes five solo records on her Rugged Road label and work with local roots rockers the Juleps and the always hard to categorize

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/otis-taylor-cd/otis-taylor-contraband-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Jeff Dale and the South Woodlawners "Blues Room" CD review
    from a long shuttered Windy City blues bar the likes of which are becoming more endangered as time goes on Woodlawner Greg Davidson s spooky sounding guitar starts the CD on This Time a haunting guitar riff and tone that weaves pleasantly throughout my favorite songs on the CD With the guitar laying down a nice groove and Jeff s slide work over the top the rhythm section quickly follows as the song builds and then the vocals come in This was a bit of a shock and not quite what I expected With more of a talking story telling type voice it sure seems Mr Dale must have attended the Tom Waits School of Lyrical Delivery But once you get into what he s doing and after a few listens the CD of 11 original songs becomes truly enjoyable After the aforementioned few spins I found myself immersed in Jeff s story telling delivery over the solid blues musical base While this CD may not be what you expect it definitely grows on you and becomes a fun listen The stories on Blues Room are personal this time as the press release states Jeff relates the story of his uncle a Depression era gangster in They ll Never Take Me Alive and speaks of today s hard times during Hanging by a Thread Of course he isn t willing to expand on the true meaning of She s Mad but a listen or two should explain it all Hey Now Hey is destined to be one of those sing along party songs which will prompt audience participation at any live performance Like I said this CD becomes very entertaining after a few spins The production and musicianship are outstanding especially the tracks that were cut in Chicago Orlando Wright

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/jeff-dale-south-woodlawners-cd/jeff-dale-blues-room-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • The Blues, An Evolution, Electro Glide Records, Marty "Big Dog" Mercer, Brandon Santini, Danny & The Devils, Tom Holland & The Shuffle Kings
    side note the one negative I find with this CD if you can really call it a negative is the lack of credits There are some amazing musicians and performances on these recordings With the exception of Danny and the Devils mentioning bassist Mike Kramer and drummer Mark Bonasara who really know how to lay a groove I for one would like to know who some of these other outstanding players are But enough of that on to the music Some Other Fool by Big Dog Mercer opens the CD This song has a really crisp big and open arrangement that pulls you right in and launches you into the music Mercer s three song set on this CD evolves within itself moving at times into some Southern influences not unlike something you might expect from the Allman Brothers or Marshall Tucker s bluesier numbers There are tasty arrangements and execution throughout Next up is Memphis based Brandon Santini This stuff just cooks The songs are a prime illustration of the blues on the R B side and we re talking old style R B not the new stuff While listening to Brandon s music I kept waiting for the Memphis Horns to jump in at anytime You Ruined Poor Me is the perfect example of this genre and Santini s energetic harp playing fits in nicely while pulling it all together Danny and the Devils led by Dan Baron open with Don t Come Back This Time This is a fun song with whimsical lyrics that deserves a listen or two or three But then on track 8 they really lay it down Jealousy has one of those truly infectious grooves and if you don t find your foot tapping or your fingers drumming while listening to this you

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/electro-glide-evolution-cd/electro-glide-evolution-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  •  Vince Agwada, Basic Blue, CD review
    Brady who makes three appearances on this disc has an unerring sense of timing and taste that s pleasing on stage and even more so in the studio where his clean disciplined chops are put to their best use The funk gets even deeper on Big City Blues with another rhythm section this time it s Steve Gillis pounding the skins and Andre the Funky One Howard on the bass The feel of traveling is echoed in the song s lyric that implies a man standing outside society outside of love yet still loving the city that wrecked his home He cleverly refers to Chicago in the line Big city blues I stand on your shoulders with a heart full of secrets and nothing to hide With a vocal chorus and twinned guitars that bring to mind classic Derek and the Dominos the song is both comfortably familiar and completely fresh Mike Jackson s clean sexy tenor sax dominates Head Too Tight trading choruses conversationally with Vince s precise guitar licks that speed without shredding right into a very tight head indeed while led by Purifoy s slick keyboard horn track It just doesn t get any deeper blue than the minor feel Black Rain where Agwada gives the guitar a workout that fairly drips sweat Storm clouds hide the sun by day full moon no longer turns the tides Black Rain falling down on me since my baby said good bye And his guitar weeps but not gently This isn t one of those cheap imitation horn discs as evidenced by track seven Shake It Up that features the award winning Chicago Fire Horns Bill McFarland trombone Hank Ford tenor Kenny Anderson trumpet blowing like men in their prime Although the lyric is designed to get you up on the dance floor complete with Ray Charles like references the music is so heavy it put a hump in my back Right in the middle of the track the unmistakable harp wail of none other than Grammy award winner Sugar Blue comes stinging out of your speakers fitting perfectly with the solid rhythm backing All of it is laid squarely on James Knowles arena rock drums and Joshua Scott s organ joined by Purifoy on keyboards for a wall of sound that reminds me of later Peter Gabriel tracks Perhaps if Mr Gabriel would get Vince Agwada on a session he d be back on the charts If you thought bass was just a sideman instrument think again Sirius Biz gives two of Chicago s top bass men a workout with a solid backing track from Andre Howard and finger poppin solos from Bill Dickens trading licks with the muted trumpet of Kenny Anderson One thinks if Miles were still alive he might be making music like this fat funky and as tasty as a dripping rib tip Right On Time marries blues with some of the best elements of Prince s work a strong guitar part a falsetto vocal

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/vince-agwada-cd/vince-agwada-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • BIG LLOU JOHNSON, They Call Me Big Llou, Goldenvoice Audio Recordings, CD review
    Johnson s self titled CD is also a very talented harp player as evidenced on the cuts he performs on He plays behind Big Llou not over him with some tasty fills and solos Green s musical history is impressive he s toured Europe performing at prominent blues fests in England Scotland Chicago and San Francisco earning positive reviews and gaining attention With his producer hat on Green picked the band members to play on this project featuring accomplished Chicago musicians There s Mike Wheeler on guitar who also plays with Big James The Chicago Playboys and with Peaches Staten who is a headliner in his own right Bassist Ricky Nelson is a versatile musician who also played drums for Koko Taylor and Big Time Sarah along with bass for the late guitarist Chico Banks and more Ronnie Hicks is on keys he backs numerous blues artists such as Cicero Blake Nellie Tiger Travis Artie White and the list goes on Dejuan Austin is on drums and also plays with Ronnie Hicks in Masheen Company Charles Pryor on trumpet is a musician of choice evidenced by his many appearances on festivals and club stages Keith Stewart the vocal producer did an excellent job in keeping Big Llou s voice out front and strong as well as bringing the backup vocals to the front without being overbearing For instance on the tune Git Me Some the backup singers bring a different fabric to the song with their clear concise melodic voices This arrangement serves as a good counter point to Big Llou s deep voice This New Orleans style rhythm was set by Dejuan s marching drumbeat and then layered with Wheeler s guitar and layered again with Green s harp in the melodic loop The piano acts as part of the percussion along with the bass All in all this is a very interesting arrangement built around Big Llou s bass The opening song They Call Me Big Llou penned by Johnson sets the tone of the CD with a Chicago style shuffle The groove seems to grab you and take you along for a ride especially at the end when the band vamps and Big Llou weaves his spell with that unmistakable sultry voice Let me take you home he purrs In an interview with Chicago Blues Guide s Jennifer Noble Big Llou revealed that the idea behind this song was influenced by Bobby Rush when he told the singer you got to write a song and put your name in it That s just what Llou did he was surprised to find out how much people liked it There s a bit of Barry White s influence in Big Llou s vocal inflections as he sings Dogg a funky song that starts with a cool bass run This cut allows Big Llou to showcase his ability to let his voice become gentle as he ever so slightly slides into some notes with just a hint of vibrato Then

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/big-llou-cd/big-llou-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • JIMMY BURNS BAND, Stuck in the Middle, CD review
    of rockabilly blues and soul revealing the breadth of Jimmy s taste and the buoyant freedom of his artistry This is an album that bears up well after repeated listening By the third song Cadillac Jimmy really finds his groove This barnstormer is one of his most rocking tracks featuring tasteful guitar from co producer Dave Herrero Jerry Lee Lewis inspired piano from Ariyo Sumito Ariyoshi and the relentless rhythm section of bassist Greg McDaniel and drummer Bryant Parker Jimmy s rendition of The Beatles classic Get Back is a whole lot of good time rock n roll fun seasoned by ad hoc lyrics at the end This is JB talkin to you mama On Feelin Kinda Bluesy one of the two original compositions on the album Jimmy leads off the proceedings on guitar followed by a lively solo by keyboardist Ariyoshi who can be regularly seen playing with Billy Branch and the Sons of Blues and a blazing statement by guitarist Anthony Palmer this song features some of the best drumming on the album with some very deft work from Parker On slower numbers such as John Hiatt s Feels Like Rain the band succeeds in keeping the music poetic Jimmy s voice is alternately quiet and soaring the guitars sympathetic the percussion always interesting How Close Is Your Love shows off the soulful quality of Jimmy s vocals the song has an R B feel particularly with the backup vocals yet the instrumental treatment behind Jimmy renders this version fresh and contemporary The most poignant song on the album Reach for the Sky was written by one of Herrero s bandmates Felix Reyes as an ode to his late friend and protégé Sean Costello Jimmy dedicates the song to his wife Dorothy who succumbed to cancer in 2010

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/jimmy-burns-cd/jimmy-burns-stuck-middle-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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