I have seen a lot of hits on one of the old Johnny Taylor videos that unfortunately Youtube deleted. I don't know how long this one will stay up, but watch it before it disappears.
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Friday, November 4, 2011
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Yup, it is Xenia the warrior princess singing an old Ray Charles song. Also, that is really Renee O'Conner joining Lucy on stage once again. The video is three years old so I am little behind the times with this one, but I got a kick out of seeing Lucy rock out.
Monday, October 31, 2011
John Lennon at his Funky best! This is from one of his most under appreciated LPs from the mid 70s. It did have a number one hit, Whatever Gets You Through The Night, with Elton John, but most people have panned this LP in the day. However, years later it still holds up, and is much better than Mind Games. This song rocks and is funkier than all get out! Enjoy!
Probably somewhere buried in the archive I may have posted this, but I liked its soulfulness. I was surprised that the video only has 47,500 views since it was posted in 2009. To good of a musician, and video to have so few hits. Lets add a few!
Sunday, October 30, 2011
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© 2011 Blues Blast Magazine
2011 Blues Blast Music Award Winners
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Buddy Guy - Living Proof
Traditional Blues CD
Song Of The Year
Living Proof - Tom Hambridge & Buddy Guy
New Artist Debut Release
Chris O'Leary Band - Mr. Used to Be
Female Blues Artist
Male Blues Artist
Blues Band Of The Year
Sean Costello Rising Star Award
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In This Issue
We have five CD reviews for you this week! Steve Jones reviews a new CD from Matthew Curry. James "Skyy Dobro" Walker reviews a new CD from Eric "Guitar" Davis. John Mitchell reviews a new CD from Diunna Greenleaf. Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony reviews a new CD from The Elgins. Mark Thompson reviews a new CD from Shaun Murphy. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!
From The Editor's Desk
Hey Blues Fans,
Wow, here we are, one day to go to the biggest gathering of Blues artists of the fall season at the Blues Blast Music Awards. 16 bands, all nominated for awards, will be playing you some of the BEST in Blues music today.
The show starts at 6:00pm on Thursday at Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago. Advance tickets are still available and there should be some at the door too so join us as we celebrate the BEST in today's Blues.
For more information see the ad below.
And if you can't join us in Chicago, be sure to listen to the live broadcast stream on GLT Blues Radio 24/7.
Turn on your computer, tune in and turn it UP!
Good Blues To You!
Deep Blue Innovators Blues Festival this Saturday
There is also another great Blues show on Saturday in Monmouth, IL. The Deep Blue Innovators Blues Festival features Rory Block, The Michelle Malone Banned (aka Moaning Michelle Malone), Paul Rishell & Annie Raines, Blue Mother Tupelo and Hayes & Fleming.
Check it out at www.monmouthblues.com or see their ad below!
Thursday October 27th, 2011 Buddy Guy's Legends, Chicago, IL
Chris O'Leary Band, Vincent Hayes Project, Tony Rogers & Sharrie Williams, Rob Blaine's Big Otis Blues
plus a few surprise guests!Advance tickets are $30 plus $3 handling. To get YOUR tickets now CLICK HERE
PLEASE NOTE: *Tickets are General Admission. Doors open at 5:00pm. Show starts at 6:00pm.
Seating is "first come first served". Show sold to SRO (Standing room Only) Get there EARLY for a seat! NO REFUNDS!
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Our Mini Sponsor packages begin as low as $250 for two people and include guaranteed seating, Blues memorabilia "Goodie Bag", limited edition event poster, limited edition Blues Blast Awards T-shirts and sponsor's name listed in the souvenir awards program. Limited number of sponsorships available, first come first served! For more information CLICK HERE
Featured Blues Review 1 of 5
Matthew Curry - If I Don’t Got You
Every time a new teenage act comes around with any sort of talent, the blues world seems to get all agog. Few of them really inspire me to spend more than a passing moment listening to them, or if they achieve their potential they transition over into the rock scene and forget the blues that made them famous. In this case I think we really have something different. Matthew Curry transcends the hype and performs, sings, and writes extraordinarily well. He and his team produce music like highly talented and seasoned professionals. To use a perhaps over-used expression, I really think he IS the real deal.
What I like about Matthew Perry is pretty much everything he does; a mere 16 years old yet he has great “feeling” to his work. He does not overstate his case. The guitar notes have air and space between them, even when he goes out on the big, solo riff. The vocals are gritty yet tight and precise. He has soul and really feels the blues. And added to all of that are the arrangements; they include a brassy horn section and keyboard that add depth and richness to the overall sound. Seven great originals followed by two stunning covers make up this CD.
The CD opens with the title track, a rocking song with a funky and soulful sound. Curry shows us he can sing, play and arrange great songs right off the bat and sets the stage for an exceptional introduction to his music. The horn section adds a lot to this track, making it sound even better but not over the top. Curry next moves into “New York City Blues”, where he trades some licks with the keyboard and delivers some extremely awesome guitar solos while delivering very nice vocals. “Storm’s a Brewin” is a hot instrumental track where Curry channels a little of the Allman Brothers’ Dickey Betts sound (or maybe even some classic Marshall Tucker Band-styled licks), but he is original and creative; this is not a “copy cat” sort of track. He is showing us what he does best- write and play awesome songs built on a theme and then takes them in his own original direction. He gives us some big riffs and licks but (as I stated before) they are not overdone. The restraint and artistry comes into play and we see talent that truly belies his age.
“Walk Out The Door” is next up, and Curry again treats us to some atmospheric stuff yet remain bound in the blues and not in some mega-rock sort of mode. The organ here plays a nice counterpoint to Curry’s guitar and the song just rocks from beginning to end. Matthews’ vocals are also tight- he sells the lyrics with his great intonation and fire in his voice. On “Hear The Highway” Curry takes us on another fiery ride, where he tells us the story how he wants to hit the road and bring his blues to the world, and I believe him. This kid is committed to his craft and his roots in the blues sound deep and firm. The guitar here is driving and flaming hot.
The tone and timber slow way down on the next cut, “Blinded By The Darkness”. This is the longest track on the CD by far at over seven minutes. What is cool is that the song does not drag- Matthew delivers slow blues to us in a manner that makes you just sway back and forth to and ask for more. The horns play a big part again, adding their charm and depth once again. The tenor sax solo is poignant, and the organ solo is also super. Doug Daniels provides support is on sax just for this tracks and he is just great. Curry’s vocals and guitar are truly “real”, too. Slow blues done wrong can be just awful; here we have slow blues done right, with a great mix of musicians who support each other quite well.
The last original cut is the song “Dancing To The Blues”, with a driving beat and wickedly hot guitar solos.
The first seven cuts were all originals and are exceptionally good. The last two songs are covers and they also amazed me. Curry delivers a spectacular take on Charlie Patton’s “High Water Everywhere”, giving it a New Orleans sort of sound with slide guitar that immediately made me think of Sonny Landreth. The almost demonic drum and bass lines are in the style of Landreth’s “Congo Square” and the slide work is just impeccable and impressive. Curry amazed me even more here with this creative cover than on his original cuts with his unique approach to Patton’s song.
The last track is a more straight-up cover of Warren Hayne’s “Soulshine”. It is done in more of an Allman Brothers/Government Mule style, but Curry gets creative with the horn section adding a great dimension to the cut. Curry sells the vocal solos with a strong showing and his guitar work emulates the style of Haynes, but his delivery is in a slightly more up tempo mode than the original, which gives us Curry’s unique spin on this while paying homage to the original at the same time.
Curry’s band “The Fury” are exemplary. Randy Hoffman on guitar, Greg Neville on drums and back-up vocals and Jeff Paxton on bass and back-up vocals are superb support for this young star-to-be. They are flawless in their work with Curry. Erik Nelson on keyboard and organ is also outstanding. I noted Doug Daniels support on sax on the one track above, but Jim Kozak plays the sax on the rest of the CD and he is no slouch, either. Mark Babbitt on trombone, and Greg Hensel and Charlie Mueller on trumpet really add to this body of work, and backing vocals by Karyl Nelson, Nel Erikson and Robin Willis all make for a great sound. Nelson and Carlson also serve as the CD’s co-producers and, as I’ve noted, do a stellar job making the sound and blend of musicians seamless and full bodied- well done!
I usually try to give constructive criticism when I hear new artists. In this case I am somewhat speechless. All I can say and hope is that Matthew Curry stays true to himself and his blues back ground. He is real, he is good, and he not some Stevie Ray Vaughn wanna-be. I thoroughly enjoyed this album and I highly recommend it! I can’t wait to see this great young artist live!
Reviewer Steve Jones is a Board Member of the Crossroads Blues Society and is a long standing blues lover. He is a retired Navy commander who served his entire career in nuclear submarines. In addition to working in his civilian career, he writes for and publishes the bi-monthly newsletter for Crossroads, chairs their music festival and works with their Blues In The Schools program.
Featured Blues Review 2 of 5
Eric “Guitar” Davis & The Troublemakers - Trouble Makin’ Man
Young Blues Records
10 songs; 42:17 minutes; Suggested
Styles: Blues Rock with mixes of Gospel, Soul, R&B, Jazz, and Funk
When an artist has “Guitar” for a middle name, expect from his CD _?_.
A) String bending, metal shredding, fret-board fireworks and histrionics
B) Songs emphasizing lead vocals
C) Full band production numbers, with horns
D) Plenty of background vocals and harmonies
E) All of the above
Well, I pre-judged Choice A. To my complete surprise, what I got was Choice E. The south side of Chicago’s Eric Davis has created a complex CD reflecting true song craftsmanship. This CD, with nine out ten self-penned songs, is far from a power trio wanking on endlessly. Featuring tunes averaging around four minutes, Davis’ release has no less than 14 guest artists ranging from Ronnie Baker Brooks to help with, indeed, fret-board fireworks to Big James Montgomery adding trombone to Andrea Miologos adding incredible vocal harmonies.
Davis is being touted as “a new era of the Blues Chicago style.” His live shows are famously high energy, and publicity agents are saying, “This CD is the New Generation of the Blues at its best.” Davis’s vocals are emotive and sufficient and getting better with experience. In last week’s interview with Terry Mullins in Blues Blast Magazine’s Issue 5-42; October 21, 2011, Davis revealed, “I’ve never really thought that I could sing. But as a bandleader, I wasn’t afraid to step up to the mike and sing. I knew I had to.... That was the only way I was ever going to be able to learn to sing. And right now today, I’m very comfortable about what I’ve been able to achieve vocal-wise.”
The CD kicks off with the title track “Trouble Makin' Man.” Being more akin to Rock and Roll than Blues, it’s full of zest and lightning-fast shredding. This song demonstrates to fans why his middle name is “Guitar.” Trombonist Big James, trumpet player Charles Pryor, and saxophonist Destiny Pivonka also prominently Funk it up. Davis asserts that "causin' trouble's what I like," from "your town" all the way to Chicago, Tennessee, and even New Orleans! Davis almost gets into FCC trouble twice when he smugly boasts, “I'm about to turn this mother--aah...” It may not satisfy blues purists, but most listeners will have no trouble feeling energized by “Trouble Makin' Man!”
Track 3, “You're Goin' Down,” is our fist taste of Davis’s incredible and diverse artistry. Blending R&B elements and even a little Latin flavoring, Davis proves that his instrument of choice is not only wild, but can be sweetly ominous. Rarely has a warning so sharp, from a wronged lover to his errant sweetheart, sounded so poignant. “You're bragging to your friends about the money I give you, and the car I just bought you last week. You have sold your soul for the devil's own gold. Now it's time I put you back on your feet,” Davis admonishes, his voice roiling with passion. “You're going down, down, down, down!” Ron Moten's keyboard notes cascade like summer evening raindrops on the sidewalk and combine with the caressing flames of Davis's guitar. They're snaking tendrils from the place where lost souls go when they fall.
Track 7, “Dolla Queen,” has a caveat emptor: let the buyer beware, but in this case, let the club-goer beware. A gold digger is on the prowl: “She'll let you buy her a drink, make you think you'll get a little more, but that's all you're gonna get without a damn good credit score!... She's on the scene, looking for that mean, mean green.” Guest star Ronnie Baker Brooks licks his chops and devours his guitar on the solo in the middle, laced with hot sauce and just a splash of acid! He and Eric Davis exchange guitar licks, warnings, and lustful yearnings between verses. “You see that girl at the bar, man?” “Yeah, I see her, but you're gonna need to pay if you mess with her!” Will they yield? Only time will tell, and a few more repetitions of this riveting guilty-pleasure song! Ronnie Baker Brooks co-wrote and co-produced this one.
For fans of classic Electric Blues sounds, Davis still delivers the goods on songs like “Ew-Wee.” The only cover, Jimmy Burns’s “No Consideration” is given a Gospel feel completely emphasizing vocals and harmony. “Days Of My Life” is a nice R&B-tinged Blues track with a hypnotic rhythm.
Eric “Guitar” Davis started his early music career as a drummer. A chance encounter with Buddy Guy at the original Checkerboard Lounge resulted in Guy showing Davis his first chord on the guitar. Davis currently plays in and around Chicago and around the world with his band, The Troublemakers.
I know not to judge a book by its cover, and now I know not to judge an artist by his name. Pick this one up and enjoy Davis’s deft and diverse artistry. He may or may not be the future, but he is the here and now for damn sure!
Amy Walker contributed to this review.
Reviewer James "Skyy Dobro" Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ, Master of Ceremonies, and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show "Friends of the Blues" can be heard Saturdays 8 pm - Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at www.wkccradio.org in Kankakee, IL. Amy Walker contributed to this review. To See James “Skyy Dobro” Walker's CD rating system, CLICK HERE.
Blues Blast Music Awards - Listen Online Live
Great News! Our friends at GLT Blues Radio 24/7 are going to stream the audio from the 2011 Blues Blast Music Awards at Buddy Guy's Legends LIVE on October 27th!
Tune in FREE to hear Nick Moss Band, Reverend Raven And The Chain Smokin' Altar Boys, Karen Lovely Band, Eddie Turner, Bob Corritore w/Dave Riley, Rich Del Grosso & Jonn Richardson, Peter Parcek, The Sugar Prophets, Teeny Tucker Band , Reba Russell Band, Gina Sicilia with Dave Gross, Matt Hill, Chris O'Leary Band, Vincent Hayes Project, Rob Blaine's Big Otis Blues, Tony Rogers, and more as they perform LIVE from the greatest Blues club in the world, Chicago's own Buddy Guy's Legends. The broadcast will begin at 6:00pm CST sharp!
If you have never listened to GLT Blues Radio 24/7 be sure to check it out now by CLICKING HERE. Then be sure to bookmark their station and tune in.
We think they have THE best commercial free, all Blues, all the time internet radio station on the planet! So check them out and see what we mean.
Fans in the Bloomington/Normal and Central Illinois area will also be able to hear the show live on their regular FM radio dial at 89.1 FM or 103.5 FM in the Central, IL area.
Featured Blues Review 3 of 5
Diunna Greenleaf – Trying To Hold On
Blue Mercy Records
14 tracks; 58.04 minutes
Diunna Greenleaf won the IBC in 2005 with her band Blue Mercy. Since then she has continued to operate out of her home base in Houston and has made a lot of good friends in the blues community, not least Bob Margolin who often sits in with Diunna’s band and Bob Corritore who produced some of the tracks here.
This CD is made up of three distinct recording sessions: six tracks were produced by Bob Corritore in Tempe, Arizona; three tracks were produced by Anson Funderburgh in Austin, Texas; three tracks were recorded and produced by Diunna herself in Houston. The two other tracks are one from a 2009 session in Salina, Kansas and a home recording of Diunna’s 102 year old grandmother singing acappella. However, whatever the session, Diunna’s gospel-soaked voice is the dominant force here and the variety of contexts all work for her.
The six Bob Corritore-produced tracks are at the core of the CD, so let’s start with those. Four are Diunna’s compositions. Drums are played on all those tracks by Chuck Cotton; Mookie Brill plays upright bass on two, Patrick Rynn electric bass on three; Chris James plays guitar on two tracks, Bob Margolin on five; John Rapp adds slide guitar to one track and Bob Corritore harp on four tracks.
“Be For Me” opens the CD at a gentle pace, Diunna’s voice clear as a bell over the warm double bass, guitar and harp. “Growing Up And Growing Old” is one of the longer tracks on the disc and is a gentle poem about the aging process, about how that process is one to be welcomed, not feared. Diunna’s lyrics on the great stomper “I Can’t Wait” are about the joy of playing and listening to the blues and the accompaniment certainly backs that up, with Bob Corritore’s harp to the fore, ably supported by some of Bob Margolin’s Muddy-styled slide playing.
Title track “Tryin’ To Hold On”, with its catchy chorus, is also from the Bob C sessions though Bob sits this one out, leaving the featured playing to the twin guitars of Bob M and Chris James. “I’m A Little Mixed Up”, from the pen of Betty James, is another upbeat track with Bob C wailing on harp and the twin guitars both featuring well behind Diunna’s Koko Taylor inspired vocal. The final track from the Bob C sessions is an acappella version of the traditional song “He Is Everything To Me” sung by Diunna. This follows a homespun recording of Diunna’s 102 year old grandmother singing the same tune which Diunna wanted to include to demonstrate the strong family links in her singing.
The three tracks produced by Anson Funderburgh are all terrific. Diunna wrote all three and Anson plays guitar on two of them, with Smokin’ Joe Kubek replacing him on the third. The rest of the Austin band is Wes Starr on drums, Johnny Bradley on bass, “Gentleman” John Street on keys and Ron Jones on sax. “Sunny Day Friends” takes its title from a remark made by the late Sam Myers that you need to watch out for those who only want to be your friends when things are going well. It’s a typical piece of Texas blues and it is always a joy to hear Anson’s clean guitar lines. “I Got A Notion To Leave” is not dissimilar, an upbeat shuffle with busy piano underpinning Anson’s guitar. “Taking Chances” is a slower, more intense piece, with Joe Kubek’s strong guitar ably supported by Ron Jones’ baritone sax.
The three self-produced tracks all feature Vernon Daniels on drums and Joshua Preslar on bass (doubling up on guitar on two tracks). Jonn Del Toro Richardson on guitar, Billy Branch on harp and Rich Del Grosso on mandolin each play on one track. “Beautiful Hat” is led by Del Grosso’s mandolin, a jaunty gospel song about what to wear when reaching heaven – a large, beautiful hat for Diunna! “You Don’t Feel That Way About Me” is more secular, a catchy tune with lyrics expressing how all powerful love can be – unfortunately Diunna’s lover is not similarly devoted and the relationship must end. “’Cause I’m A Soldier” is a co-write between Diunna and John Del Toro Richardson, a serious song and the longest cut on the CD. The song is slow-paced and talks tellingly about the sacrifices needed to ensure peace and freedom. Jonn Richardson’s guitar is beautifully counterpoised against Billy Branch’s mournful harp and marching drums. The 2009 track is a cover of Jimmy McCracklin’s “Double Dealing”, an opportunity to hear more of Jonn Richardson’s fine playing in a tougher style, ably supported by the rhythm section of Preslar and Daniels.
This is a fine CD with a lot to enjoy, with great playing and, above all, plenty of Diunna Greenleaf’s great voice. Recommended!
Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music and is currently planning his trip to the Blues Blast Awards in October.
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River City Blues Society - Pekin, IL
River City Blues Society presents: Bringing The Blues To You with the following shows - Eddie Turner - Wednesday October 26th, Big Dog Mercer - Wednesday November 9th, Cash Box Kings - Thursday November 17th, Kilborn Alley Blues Band - Wednesday November 30th, Victor Wainwright & The Wildroots - Saturday December 17th. Location Goodfellas 1414 S. 8th St, Pekin, Illinois 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm $5.00 non-members $3.00 members. For more info visit: www.rivercityblues.com
The Golden Gate Blues Society - Redwood City, CA
On Sunday, November 13, The Golden Gate Blues Society of the San Francisco Bay Area presents the International Blues Challenge Final Round. Pinkie Rideau and Blind Resistance, The David Landon Band, Paula Harris and Blu Gruv, and The Delta Wires hit the stage at San Francisco’s award- winning home of the blues, Biscuits & Blues, located at 401 Mason Street near Union Square, from 2 until 6 pm on Sunday, November 13. Admission for members of The Golden Gate Blues Society is $15, and for nonmembers $20. Membership is available at the door.
Judges for the Finals include Sista Monica Parker, "the lioness of the blues;" Lee Hildebrand, journalist for Living Blues; and Frank DeRose, leader and bass player with 2011 TGGBS International Blues Challenge winners Tip of the Top. For more info visit www.tggbs.org
The Windy City Blues Society - Chicago, IL
The Windy City Blues Society is proud to announce the 2011 Chicago Blues Challenge (CBC). The CBC is a series of musical competitions that will determine which blues band will represent Chicago and The Windy City Blues Society at the Blues Foundation’s 2012 International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis, Tennessee.
The Chicago Blues Challenge will be held on Sundays in October culminating in the Finals in November. Venues will be announced shortly on the Windy City Blues Society Website.
The Chicago Blues Challenge Finals will be held Sunday, November 13. For more information about the Windy City Blues Society and the Chicago Blues Challenge please visit www.windycityblues.org or visit our Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter Sites.
Illinois Central Blues Club - Springfield, IL
The Illinois Central Blues Club presents "Blue Monday" every Monday night for the last 25 years - BLUE MONDAY SHOWS - Held at the Alamo 115 N 5th St, Springfield, IL (217) 523-1455 every Monday 8:30pm $3 cover. Oct 24 – Bruce Katz, Oct. 31 – Studebaker John and the Hawks, Nov 6 - Robert Sampson. icbluesclub.org
The Friends Of The Blues - Watseka, IL
2011 Friends of the Blues shows - Friday, October 28, The Reba Russell Band, 8 pm, Kankakee Valley Boat Club,November 10, Ivas John Band, 7 pm, Venue TBA, December 1, Dave Herrero, 7 pm, Kankakee Valley Boat Club. For more info see: http://www.wazfest.com/JW.html
Featured Blues Review 4 of 5
The Elgins - Back To Chicago
Devil’s Tale Music
From the spare and laidback grooves here you would be led to believe these are long lost tracks from the 40’s and 50’s blues masters that were recently unearthed. Would you believe it’s the work of Norwegian musicians? Well you better start believing. These guys have the sound, timing and every nuance down to a “T”. You would be hard pressed to differentiate between special guest Johnny Dyer’s vocals and those of the Norwegian vocalists. This is to say they have the inflections of their African-American heroes pretty much down pat. The spare arrangements harken back to the golden years of the Chicago sound, ably abetted by small tube amps and vintage equipment to give the desired atmosphere. A small drum kit is utilized to replicate the simpler percussion of days gone by.
The sixteen cover songs that make up this CD place a heavy emphasis on Muddy Waters and his band mates Little Walter Jacobs and Jimmy Rogers. Also represented are Rice Miller, John Brim and others. Little Walter clocks in with nearly one third of the tunes, at five. Three being instrumentals, the meat and potatoes of his rightly deserved reputation as the harmonica player that all others are held up to. Mark Bukich does Walter proud as he captures the essence of the master in his harp playing. Anyone who can hold his own on Walter’s signature song “Juke” deserves to be revered.
Fredrik Zahl Marken’s slide guitar on Robert Nighthawk’s “Anna Lee” comes off as the “Real McCoy”, and on every other track he graces it with. Close attention is paid to detail, as vocal asides are used in Rice Miller’s “Keep It To Yourself”, to replicate his off-handed-ness. Piano player Oyvind Stolefjell conjures up the ghost of Sunnyland Slim’s in his “lazy” stylings. The other guitarist Mark Mumea also adds the Chicago vibe along with Fredrik. Muddy Waters gets the Norway treatment on three of his lesser known songs, but they shine just as bright as his more familiar tunes would have.
Producer Mark Mumea deserves just as much credit as his fellow musicians for getting the playing, atmospherics and arrangements just right. Play this anonymously for your friends and watch in amazement as they pick their brains to determine what time frame this recording originates from.
Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony hails from the New Jersey Delta.
Featured Blues Review 5 of 5
Shaun Murphy - Live at Callahan’s Music Hall
At last year’s Blues Blast Music Awards show, singer Shaun Murphy electrified the audience with a stunning performance. For many of those in attendance that evening, that brief set was their first exposure to Murphy despite her star-studded resume. Over the years, Shaun has done numerous tours with Bob Seger and Eric Clapton as well as spending fifteen years as a member of Little Feat. Now she is blazing her own path, garnering critical praise for her last recording, Trouble With Lovin’.
Her latest release captures Murphy on stage at Callahan’s, the famous Detroit blues venue, backed by her veteran band that includes Larry Knight on guitar, Boyd LeFan on bass, Dave Nelson on drums and Larry Van Loon on keyboards plus Laura Creamer & Barbara Payton on backing vocals. The group has a tight sound that consistently provides a strong framework for Murphy’s powerhouse vocals. While Murphy is justifiably proud of her band, the inclusion of an instrumental version of “Amazing Grace” in the middle of the track list is a puzzling choice
Opening with KoKo Taylor’s “I Can Love You Like A Woman”, Murphy lays down a gritty vocal that pays tribute to one of her favorite singers. Next up are three songs from Trouble With Lovin’ sandwiched around an Etta James classic. Van Loon’s organ enlivens the arrangements on “Mississippi Water” and “That’s What Love Will Do” with Murphy displaying the full range of her potent voice. The band delivers a funky rendition of “Come to Mama” before Murphy and Van Loon do a vocal duet on “Hopelessly in Love With You”. Van Loon’s coarse voice serves as the perfect compliment to Murphy’s golden tone.
Highlights include Murphy rejoicing with gospel fervor on “Can’t No Grave Hold My Body Down” and strutting her sassy persona on “Someone Else is Steppin’ In”. She digs deep on “I Know Why the Sun Don’t Shine”, using the haunting slow blues to display all of the power and range her voice possesses. The addition of the Motor City Horns – Keith Kaminski on sax, Mark Byerly & Robert Jensen on trumpet, John Rutherford on trombone – brings an extra level of swagger to the proceedings. But Murphy is unfazed as her voice rings out on another KoKo tune, “Gonna Buy Me a Mule” and she rides the band’s rockin’ rhythm on “Love of Mine”, featuring a strong solo from Kaminski.
The band roars through Bob Dylan’s “Down in the Flood” with Van Loon pounding his piano and Knight firing off some razor-sharp licks. The disc closes with the quiet grace of “It Feels Like Rain” as Murphy’s passionate vocal conveys a sense of loss. Suddenly, she hits a note and holds it, lingering for nearly twenty seconds. Then she begins to testify like a southern Baptist preacher, building the tension until several soul-wrenching cries provide emotional release to end the disc.
Shaun Murphy is an amazing singer. She can holler and shout or caress lyrics with a light touch. She has the power, control and vocal range to sing anything she wants, any way she wants to. If you don’t believe me, give this disc a listen and you too will become a dedicated Shaun Murphy fan.
Reviewer Mark Thompson is president of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL. He has been listening to music of all kinds for fifty years. The first concert he attended was in Chicago with The Mothers of Invention and Cream. Life has never been the same.
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