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  • The Chicago Kingsnakes, Blue Mosaic, CD review
    Kinsey Jimmy Witherspoon and other well known blues artists Blue Mosaic is the bands newest recording and the title refers to the patchwork of musical influences the members cut their teeth on from straight up Chicago blues to the R B of Al Green Booker T The MG s James Brown and Curtis Mayfield Those influences are proudly on display on Blue Mosaic combined with the Snakes own unique vision of the blues Right off the bat The Kingsnakes have two big things going for them on this album that a great many blues bands just don t do enough of at least to this reviewer The first is original songwriting Blue Mosaic is made of entirely original songs 12 of them to be exact There are no covers remakes remixes or anything else like that on this album Nope this is 100 original music and it really speaks to the creativity of the band It s nice to hear songs we haven t heard before quite honestly Also writing original songs in any roots music style is not as easy as it may seem and requires a great grasp of the elements of the style at hand and the skill to turn those elements on their ear one more time and come up with something new and interesting all over again The second thing is background vocals These Snakes can sing harmony and it really brings the tunes here to life So many blues records feature one powerhouse vocalist doing their thing while the band plays and while that s cool it really catches the listener when those harmonies kick in and add a new and cool texture to the music Songs like Take Your Time Blues Gone Uptown and Stop Drop And Roll demonstrate both of these elements

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/chicago-kingsnakes-cd/chicago-kingsnakes-mosaic-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Marty "Big Dog" Mercer, Big Dog Mercer, Electro Glide Records, CD Review
    feel in an incredibly unique way Mercer who wrote the entire ten songs adeptly handles all the guitar and vocal duties along with Bobby Scumaci on keyboards Larry Ortega on drums and both John Huet and Doug Horan sharing the bass chores The album opens rapidly enough with Big Dog s Blues complimented by some boogie woogie piano and is followed by one of the standout tracks Stickin Pins Into Me Mercer switches up his bluesy mode into a quick funk style which succeeds on that level as does the next tune Wimmen Trouble in which he slows things down with a tough feel and some very nice wah wah pedal work on the first solo A little over midway through the record we find the band running through the lone instrumental Prelude This song reflects Mercer s vocals which are very much like his guitar playing melodic yet appropriately gruff at the opportune moments The record completes a fine journey with the gospel influenced Thank You Jesus complete with Scumaci s Hammond B3 and more of Mercer s contemplative solos Big Dog s Blues is an unyielding endeavor from start to finish It is primarily a heavy album without

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/marty-bigdog-mercer-cd/marty-big-dog-mercer-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • TORONZO CANNON, Leaving Mood, Delmark, CD review
    Weathersby hot harp by Matthew Skoller and it s one great recipe for the blues The blues is truly a family affair for Toronzo rich with childhood experiences at gatherings where relatives would bring their instruments and party with the blues He grew up a stone s throw away from the legendary Theresa s a club where his Uncle worked he would often sneak a listen there as a kid and so the blues became part of his DNA Later in life he drew upon those memories crafting his own blues Toronzo s songs reveal truths and observations in life including some from the seat of the CTA bus he drives when he s not making music She Loved Me the CD s opening track is steeped in the deep blues sound of Muddy Waters with lyrics that tell a tale of love that winds a woman up in jail Talk about some mean streets Troubles of another kind are told in a minor key on I Can t Take Her Anywhere when a woman he takes to a club starts one scene after another You re A Good Woman he sings on another tune but not a good wife Toronzo gives us a glimpse of life through his eyes then he lets his guitar do the rest of the talking blistering one minute soft and full of soul the next I want to write stories that talk about more than just shuffling down the street he told me I want stories folks can relate to The songs on which Carl Weathersby contributes his guitar are masterful arrangements that give Toronzo a chance to really stretch out on his axe The chords on Hard Luck are R B gems moving with ease between minor and major changes Who is the

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/toronzo-cd/toronzo-leaving-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Nellie "Tiger" Travis, I'm Going Out Tonight, Benevolent Blues, CD review
    blues clubs for decades She got her start in gospel and R B during a musical path that has taken her from Mississippi to Chicago Six of the ten songs are written by Travis and they reveal that hers has not been an easy path But what doesn t kill you makes you stronger both in soul and song and the album is one of personal triumph and tenderness for those who help us along the way There s a famous line there s no crying in baseball Well there are no happy endings in the blues at least not in love or at least not found on Going Out Lovers are liars as in Why You Lie Like That or cheaters as in the rocking You Must Be Lovin Someone Else or overgrown boys as in the raucous and slightly goofy Ain t Going to Raise No Grown Ass Man which serves as counter balance to the celebration of the infantile male that dominates the media As Travis sings I already got two kids I ain t gonna raise no grown ass man What Travis does celebrate is her own strong independent spirit and it stands out with her trademark vibrato in Before You Grab This Tiger By the Tail written by Dylann DeAnna Travis challenge to a potential lover is immensely enhanced by Buddy Guy veterans Ric Hall on guitar Orlando Wright on bass Marty Sammon on keys and husband Tim Austin on drums It s matched in intensity by another DeAnna tune Tornado Wrapped in Fire a growling gritty tribute to the power of getting wiser with age Backed with able keyboard work by Roosevelt Purifoy Travis gives her voice a workout when declares I m a tornado you start looking for the storm shelter The title

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/nellie-travis-cd/nellie-travis-going-out-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Keith Scott, Universal Blues, CD review
    blues I particularly enjoyed his unplugged Tennessee Blues but the follow up to this toned down acoustic blues CD Universal Blues shows me that Keith can bend blue notes quite effectively with an electric band too Keith s music has landed on MTV s Real World Road Rules and Making the Video and was featured in a short film Fault which screened at the prestigious MIPCOM international entertainment conference in 2002 He s toured extensively with West Side Guitar Hero Jimmy Dawkins and has worked with the late Johnny Littlejohn Hubert Sumlin Hip Linkchain and Eddie Taylor Universal Blues offers up some strong songwriting backed up by some pretty tasty electric blues particularly on Second Hand Man No Mercy and Mean Mistreater While the majority of Universal Blues is forceful and electric the acoustic blues of Leaving Blues and Georgia Blues and the slide work on Living in My Own World attest to Keith s diverse approach to the blues If you re fortunate enough to live near Chicagoland check out Keith Scott live He s often working at clubs like Reggie s on South State Street the House of Blues downtown or playing clubs all the way from Saugatuck

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/keith-scott-cd/keith-scott-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • NICK MOSS, Here I Am, CD review
    called blues purists as well as fans of fellow award winning Chicago guitar players like Buddy Guy and Rob Blaine The CD begins with a powerful Why You So Mean about a country girl who becomes citified The next cut Blood Runs demonstrates that his studio band is in the same class as Nick s former group the Flip Tops Bassist Niky Skillz Skilnik and drummer Patrick Seals engine room is tight Travis Reed s keyboards add depth to another contemporary blues song about a worker s life on the margins of the American dream it s a song that would have fit nicely on Nick s social commentaries on Privileged Nick rocks pretty hard on this disc and the title tune would not be out of place alongside some of my favorite Led Zeppelin records from the 70s Travis Reed s keyboards usher in It ll Turn Around and it reminds me of slow thoughtful and soulful songs that have helped define Memphis music Each time I listen to this song I marvel at the way Nick blends over the top guitar solos against the passionate background vocals of Jennifer Evans Shuree Rivera and Michael Ledbetter Happily the CD includes a shorter radio edit of this decidedly bluesy number as it will give radio programmers an alternative to the eight plus minute version Nick s Katie Ann Slight Return is a simple and direct love song with a driving beat and a commanding guitar solo Sunday Get Together sounds like a jam session captured in a juke joint complete with background noise from the audience and some pretty inspired noodling from Nick Initially I thought Here I Am rocked a little too much for my tastes but each time I revisit this CD I appreciate the diversity of Nick

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/nick-moss-cd/nick-moss-here-i-am-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • KILBORN ALLEY: Four, Blue Bella CD review
    nominated disc Three CDs later this central Illinois based quartet is back with another original set of equally fine music Since that debut they ve released Tear Chicago Down and last year s Blues Blast Award winning Better Off Now and now Four which continues Kilborn Alley s journey in delivering contemporary and traditional blues with their own distinctive soulful sound Andrew Duncanson s vocals are perfectly suited for the soulful You Were My Woman up tempo Rents House Boogie and funky 22 nd Street Andrew shares guitar work with Josh Stimmel and the engine room of Chris Breen on bass and Ed O Hara on drums propel each song forward Guests on Four feature labelmate Gerry Hundt on harmonica Vince Salerno on sax and Travis Reed a member of Nick Moss band on keyboards whether the song features the core Alley quartet or their guests Four offers consistently solid helpings of blues The band finds a Memphis groove on Good Advice and recalls the halcyon days of Chicago s Chess Records on Sitting on the Bank but my favorite is Four s closer a rambling 10 26 minute slow blues song called Going Hard which showcases Duncanson and Stimmel

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/kilborn-alley-cd/kilborn-alley-four-cd-page.htm (2016-02-16)
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  • ELVIN BISHOP's Hell Raisin Revue CD
    All Cows As typical with Bishop he is rarely the performer who claims the sole spotlight His signature is having others sing with or for him He also is known for playing guitar alongside other guitarists but his style and musicianship puts him subtly up front despite his generosity of the spotlight Callin All Cows has Elvin and several band mates singing in unison which gives it a party feel that sets the groove He also shares his slide guitar duties with Bob Welsh and has Kid Andersen playing the solo Finis Tasby shines as a vocalist on several cuts Whole Lotta Lovin is a smooth shuffle where Elvin and Kid Andersen trade solos You can feel the energy and almost imagine the two of them on stage performing together Tasby is great in What The Hell Is Goin On an earthy Delta number and Down in Virginia featuring Elvin s slide guitar style River s Invitation a rumba that mixes the instruments in a subtle yet smooth blend including horns and keys allows Tasby s vocals to stand out Vocalist John Nemeth delivers a powerful rendition of Bishop s smash hit from 1976 Fooled Around and Fell in Love the song that catapulted Elvin to crossover fame in both the blues and pop rock world Nemeth s tenor voice hits the high notes keeping the rhythmic groove as the background vocalists stay tight and clear Nemeth then demonstrates his grittier side on the R B cover of The Night Time Is The Right Time with Bishop playing solo It heats up with John and back up vocalist Lisa Leu singing back and forth as Elvin s solos weave in and around them Nemeth also a talented harp blower shows his prowess as a musician as he plays some nice

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/elvin-bishop-cd/elvin-bishop-raisin-hell-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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