Category: CD Review

Johnny Nicholas

Johnny Nicholas - Fresh Air

Fresh Air
Self Produced

Johnny Nicholas - Fresh AirJohnny Nicholas has indeed been around the block when it comes to the blues and performing. He worked and played alongside many of the legends of the genre — Big Walter Horton, Robert Lockwood Jr, Johnny Shines, Mississippi Fred McDowell, and Hound Dog Taylor and many others. He formed his first band with a new guitarist named Duke Robillard in the 1960s, led another in the 1970s that featured a young Ronnie Earl, and of course he may best be remembered for his stint playing western swing with the Texas-based group Asleep At The Wheel with …

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Sharon Lewis and Texas Fire

Sharon Lewis and Texas Fire

Grown Ass Woman
Delmark Records

Sharon Lewis and Texas FireWhen you think about the Chicago blues women singers, there is an image that come immediately to mind — the full powered voices of people like Koko Taylor, Zora Young, Demetria Taylor, or Shemekia Copeland (yeah, I know Shemekia is originally from New York, but she stills presents a Chicago style when she sings). That is exactly what you get from Sharon Lewis, too. But her presentation is more than just a shouter, she has a lot of soulfulness and can bring forth a tenderness in her voice that is every bit of pleasing to …

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Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio

Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio

Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio
Alligator Records

Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun TrioOkay, when you use the word fun in anything that involves Elvin Bishop it is simply echoing what is already implied from the get go. He has always been about fun, and locating somebody having more fun in the blues might be difficult proposition. It comes across from his smile while performing onstage to the music on his albums, so with this new grouping, Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio, you know what you’re in for. This is truly advertising in pure honesty.

This is a bare bones recording with just Elvin strumming out …

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Scott Ramminger

Scott Ramminger

Do What Your Heart Says To
Arbor Lane Music

Scott RammingerSaxophonist Scott Ramminger may live and work in the Washington, DC area, but his musical soul lies directly in New Orleans. His songs are filled with the jumpy, second line and jazzy feel associated with that Southern city. And with his latest release, he fills his music with the authenticity of some of New Orleans’ most renowned players to give it that added lagniappe.

Fourteen tracks, all originals written by Ramminger, make up his latest release, Do What Your Heart Says To. The core band, aside from Ramminger on tenor and …

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Cee Cee James

Cee Cee James

Stripped Down & Surrendered
FWG Records

Cee Cee JamesWhen it comes to songwriting, it should go without saying that the very best music comes through when it is honest and has been experienced. Especially with the blues. It is about life and its lessons. It’s love lost and found. The trials and tribulations that the story-teller is bringing across are authentic. It’s something that is meaningful and shows that you are worthy of relaying your message despite whatever anybody else may think.

With Cee Cee James, she has experienced more than her share of ups and downs in life. So you know …

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Billy D & The Hoodoos

Billy D & The Hoodoos

Overnight Success
Rokdablu Records

Billy D & The HoodoosThe long awaited follow-up to Billy D & The Hoodoos’ 2013 debut album Somethin’s Wrong has finally arrived and it is filled with the same catchy songs with their bare-boned, rock-inflected riffs that made that first release so well received. There’s a lot of power behind the trio of guitarist Billy D, drummer Scott Van Dusen and bassist Joe Casimir who know how to bring across a message without overstating their instruments’ voices and that is clearly evident on the new album, Overnight Success.

Growing up in Chicago obviously influenced Billy’s musical path, blending the city’s …

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Sunday Wilde

Sunday Wilde

Blueberries & Grits
Hwy 11 Records

Sunday WildeCanadian blues artist Sunday Wilde with her sixth release, takes her down South to the land of the Delta where she has created a nostalgic feeling collection of songs that are truthful and sassy. Recorded in Memphis and Clarksdale with all the acoustic instrumentation, Blueberries & Grits features Wilde’s outstanding piano work and sultry vocals. Many of the tracks sound as if you’re being thrown back in time as it echoes the classic, timeless feel of bygone early blues.  It’s like they could have been taken directly out of a Storyville bawdy house in …

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Raphael Wressnig & Igor Prado

Raphael Wressnig & Igor Prado

The Soul Connection
Pepper Cake

Raphael Wressnig & Igor PradoAustrian-based Hammond B3 organist Raphael Wressnig is an extremely versatile player who was influenced by people like Jimmy Smith, Booker T Jones, Joe Zawinul, Jimmy McGriff, and Jack McDuff. With twenty discs under his belt, he has been capturing the attention of audiences around the world for the past twenty years with a variety of musical approaches that he molds into his own tasty version of funky, soulful and jazzy blues. He recently traveled to Brazil to join forces with Blues Music Award nominated guitarist Igor Prado for one delicious outing of funky instrumentals and …

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Joe Bonamassa

Live at the Greek Theater
J&R Adventures

Reviewed by Jeff Levine

This CD/ DVD is Joe Bonamassa’s tribute to the Three Kings of the Blues: BB, Albert, and Freddie. Recorded in the historic Los Angeles Greek Theater at the end of  2015, it features a full band with horns and singers. Anton Fig (drums), Michael Rhodes (bass), Reese Wynans (piano, Hammond organ), Lee Thornburg (trumpet, horn arrangements), Paulie Cerra (saxophone),  Ron Dziublia (Tenor Saxophone) Kirk Fletcher (Rhythm Guitar), with Mahalia MacRae and Juanita Tippins (vocals).

Joe Bonamassa’s started his career as a child and played with B.B. King on stage …

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Vasti Jackson

The Soul of Jimmie Rodgers
Vasteye Music

Recently, this year’s Grammy nominees were announced and among them was the latest release by Vasti Jackson, The Soul of Jimmie Rodgers, in the traditional category. Now, this may seem a little odd when you consider the album is a tribute to Jimmie Rodgers, who has been called the original country performer, but you need to look back in time. Music was music in those early years and a lot of the songs being sung crossed ethnicity. It was only when companies began selling music that it was sorted into categories like …

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