Welcome to the April 2016 edition of Jukebox at the JUNCTION. As we ramp up for the festival season it isn’t unusual to find ourselves surrounded by good new music this time of year. As winter breaks and summer is right around the corner many artists are back on the road and selling their new CDs “off the stage.” The question that the blues fans of discernible taste have to ask themselves, which CDs are worth a listen? This might help. These are ten songs that I like from ten of my favorite brand new and some soon to be released albums. Remember by clicking on the album cover art you will be taken directly to the site of Bluebeat music. Thanks always to Charlie Lange of Bluebeat Music for giving me a hand with this.
This CD featuring a stellar line up of West Coast players such as Rusty Zinn, Kid Andersen, June Core and Bob Welsh has everything we like. It has strong, well played original tunes and singing that is unaffected. It also has the hybrid synthesis of Chicago groove and West Coast swing. Troch’s talents as a harp player and singer are even more apparent here. Nice 'N' Greasy is yet another gem from Kid Andersen’s Greaseland Studios. It was produced, engineered and mastered by the Kid with the golden ears. A favorite around here is Troch’s homage to all that is greasy, Grease Me Up.
Veteran Los Angeles based guitarist just released his first solo album which features a whole host of L.A. talent. Bates has been active on the scene since the 90’s when he was with J.J. Bad Boy Jones. An early career highlight for Bates was when Lowell Fulson would join Jones and himself on stage at L.A. gigs from time to time. More recently he has played with Lil’ A & The Allnighters and his primary gig with Rob Stone. Here Bates put together a nice mix of covers and originals. An album highlight for me is his take on the Jimmy Dawkins number Hippie’s Playground.
In last month’s BLUES JUNCTION read part one of an in depth interview with this veteran blues man. His latest album, Fly Over, features one of the most ubiquitous players on the scene, guitar sensation Joel Paterson, along with the other two components of his trio, drummer Alex Hall and bassist Beau Sample. They are joined by Pete Benson on organ and piano. Sax man Burckardt penned three original instrumentals which sit comfortably next to some standards written by Leroy Carr, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Bill Doggett and others. However, it is a Tiny Grimes number, Rock the House, that is in near steady rotation here at the JUNCTION.
It has been said that the blues is the aquifer which feeds all the tributaries of American music. By presenting blues music in a straight, naturalistic way, John Long demonstrates this concept with crystalline clarity. Elements of gospel, country, folk balladry and even sounds reminiscent of the singing cowboy traditions of the west come shining through his music. The irony is by not making concessions towards the marketplace of mediocrity and by simply standing his ground, John Long has created music that has something for just about anybody. One of my favorites is a number which features the band consisting of bassist Big Bill Stuve, pianist Fred Kaplan and master of the brushes Washington Rucker. The John Long original is entitled, One World, Many Colors is to me is already a timeless classic. Note: This album is given a full review here in the April edition of BLUES JUNCTION. It is scheduled to be released on May 20th.
This release scheduled for a May 20th street date might appear to be the big coming out party for young Jon Atkinson. It is actually Atkinson’s third CD under his own name. This outstanding release comes on the heels of 2015’s Back Down South and 2014’s Boogie With You Baby, both on the Bluebeat Music label. It is what blues fans have been waiting for. It is an old school, modern masterpiece which will sit side by side with all of those “desert island discs” that are so universally cherished. House Party at Big Jon’s will be an indispensible addition to any blues library. One of our favorites around here is Jon’s take on Slim Harpo’s I’m Going to Miss You Like the Devil.
This is the second release from this wonderful band who mixes early 1950's R&B with early 60's Bluebeat/Ska sounds. They also add a flavor of early 50's science fiction themes ala Los Straitjackets together with covers of Jimmy McCracklin, Bobby Bland and The Upsetters. This band has great songs, talented players and special guests Mike Sanchez and Natty Bo. The old Excello Records single by Charles Sheffield, You Got Your Voodoo Workin, is always a fun song and I like what this band does with that number. – C.L.
This brand new CD on The Eller Soul label out of Virginia features a stellar line up of contemporary harmonica players paying tribute to one of the great players of the classic era of Chicago Blues. The bands are sympathetic to the traditional sound of Walter Horton and shine on their individual tracks. Artists include Kim Wilson with Big Jon Atkinson, Mark Hummel, Bob Corritore, Sugar Ray Norcia with Monster Mike Welch and others. I particularly enjoyed the pairing of harp man/vocalist Steve Guyger with guitarist Tomi Leino of Trickbag fame and their take on If it Ain’t Me. - C.L.
Wallace Coleman is an alumni of Robert Lockwood Jr.’s band and has a wonderful traditional approach to harmonica as well as a natural and relaxed vocal style. This live set features two sides to Coleman's sound. The first seven tracks, which were cut in Brazil with the Igor Prado Band, are some tough Chicago blues done right. Covers of Little Walter and Robert Nighthawk are given the spit shine of the Prado Blues Band and really are exciting. The next seven tracks show a softer, gentler side of Coleman's work with covers of Big Bill Broonzy, Charley Patton and Memphis Minnie. Robert Nighthawk’s Bricks In My Pillow comes from those Brazilian sessions and is a jukebox favorite around here. – C.L.
With a stylistic range at times reminiscent of Big Bill Broonzy and Wynonie Harris and other times harkening back to blues crooners like Junior Parker and an early B.B. King, John delivers these songs with sweetness, ferocity and pure old school charm and always unfiltered honesty. In an era when Halloween “bluesmen” christen themselves with what they imagine to be colorful, authentic sounding “blues” pseudonyms, John “Blues” Boyd and his name are indisputably the real deal. One of my favorites from this terrific album is the slow minor key blues entitled, Screaming In The Night, which features Frankie Ramos on tenor sax. – Rick Estrin
This is another solid release from the talented guitar player from Finland. The trio format works great here with gut bucket, low down blues covers and strong natural vocals. The band never over plays and always finds the groove and stays there. Leino recently traveled to California with the Swedish group Trickbag and was the highlight of their live sets. He always exhibits stunning and authoritative guitar playing as evidenced on the track Hip Shooter. – C.L.