Walter Trout - Ordinary Madness - Provogue Records 

Walter Trout 

Ordinary Madness
Provogue Records 

Review by Randy Murphy 

Walter Trouts new release Ordinary Madness” finds this blues-guitar wizard in fine form, effortlessly brewing potent spells of dark musical magic with his band, drummer Michael Leasure, bassist Johnny Griparic, and keyboard player Teddy Andreadis serving as willing accomplices. This is a strong concoction that rewards careful, repeated listening. 

A veteran of Canned Heat, John Mayalls Bluesbreakers, and Percy Mayfields band, Trouts revered spot in the blues and blues/rock universe is secure, and though hes now nearing 70, Trouts lost none of his potency, either as a guitar player or blues singer. His songwriting still sits top shelf, as several of the tunes on this album evince. For me, the title track, Ordinary Madness” is the highlight. A dark, moody meditation on the perils of the mundane misery lurking within all of us. Perhaps its the general craziness of this time, but if we need an anthem for the ubiquitous anxiety that surrounds us all, weve found one. Trout sings of the sadness and the anger and the fear / that you feel everyday” and that just lays there in your gut / and it wont go away.” When Trout combines these lyrics with his wickedly ethereal rifts its as if his guitar becomes both the cause of and the cure for this pain — offering salvation with one hand, but then snatching it away with the other. Its one of the most compelling and toughest tunes Ive heard in quite some time, and alone is worth the cost of admission.  

But of course, theres more. The rest of the album shines as well as Trout examines life and loss through tune like the tough, straight-ahead blues rock of Final Curtain Call” and OK Boomers” and the subtle reflections in the ballad My Foolish Pride.” Its unusual for an album with this degree of punch and force to also contain a bucketful of understated grace and humanity. But then, thats The Blues, isnt it? Highly Recommended 

Total Time: 57:38 

Ordinary Madness / Wanna Dance / My Foolish Pride / Heartland / All Out Of Tears / Final Curtain Call / Heaven In Your Eyes / The Sun Is Going Down/ Make It Right / Up Above My Sky 


Steven Troch - “Leftovers” 

Steven Troch

(Available only on Bandcamp) 

Review by John Taylor 

You know how it is when you’re eating leftovers. You mix things up. 

That to-go box of moo goo gai pan from Sunday night? It’s still good – and come to think of it, it’d go great with a cheese dog and a few of those baby carrots tonight. And why not finish up those refried beans while we’re at it? Maybe crumble up some corn chips to add some texture. 

You know how it is when you’re eating leftovers. You mix things up. 

All of a sudden, you’re an eclectic chef, combining flavors that might never have occurred to you if you were starting from scratch. 

That’s kind of how Belgian harp master Steven Troch’s “Leftovers” works, too. 

Released Sept. 12, this 13-track digital compilation of previously unreleased songs from 2017 through 2020 is a fridge full of sounds that go places you might not expect to see a harmonica. But they’re way tastier than cheese dogs and Chinese food. Troch is wide open to old and new influences, and he seems right at home in a surprising range of genres. 

Starting with “Just a Thursday,” he takes a fresh cut at a familiar blues theme: 

“Just a Thursday in a dimly lit café 

The bartender looks like long hours and low pay …” 

“Summershoes” walks a street we know, too: 

“Follow me, baby, while the band’s at the bar, 

I got something to show you in the back of my car …” 

But wait: Don’t forget harps can rock – especially with Steven Van Der Nat’s guitar work on “Your Sister.” They also work if you’re in the mood for a little bite of Charles Mingus’ “Jelly Roll.” 

Not far enough off the beaten path for you? Troch rides Out West with the trail-weary “Almost the Real McCoy” and “Del Rio,” a cowboy-tinged ballad about a stranger who casts his eyes on a girl “as wild as a hurricane.” 

And he’s not afraid to pull some old-school blues off the back shelf, either, laying down a convincing version of the Big Bill Broonzy classic, “All By Myself.” 

Then, the ultimate trip: In “My Own Universe,” Troch takes off for outer space, propelling his harp to unexpected reaches of the unknown – and shadowy, out-of-this-world sounds that he somehow conquers. 

Bird Stevens, who did most of the mixing on this album at Tub Thumper Recordsbaked in lots of surprises. While Troch and a long list of international musicians make satisfying blues riffs seem as easy as a back-porch jam session with friends, their fearless explorations make “Leftovers” a fun find – and a true keeper. 


Yeah, sometimes a platter full of leftovers really hits the spot. Pass the soy sauce – and the mustard — willya? 


Total Time: 48:03 

Just a Thursday / I Just Can’t Read Yo’ Mind / Jelly Roll / Summershoes / The Fly / Parnell Street / All By Myself /  Almost the Real McCoy / Your Sister / So Long Ago / Del Rio / Bad Taste (Bad Up Version) My Own Universe 


Lisa Mann - Old Girl

Lisa Mann 

Old Girl
JayRay Records 

Review by Greg Johnson 

Not to be one to sit idle, even during times of pandemic, Portland’s Blues Music Award-winning bassist has released two discs over the past months of shutdown. The first, an album from her alter-persona White Crone titled The Poisoner, is a step back to Lisa’s first love for metal music, which she delivers spot on. Known primarily as a blues musician internationally, she also found the time to put together a five-song EP that also is a first-class production and will definitely thrill fans of Lisa’s with little doubt. 

Her bass prowess is unquestionable as are her vocals, which can bring forth impassioned power or bring you to tears with her soft and touching emotions. Behind her is her full-time guitarist from her band, Jason “JT” Thomas, while drum duties are split between Michael Ballash and Dave Melyan, who both work and tour with her regularly. Louis Pain guests on a couple of tracks on organ and a stellar cast of vocalists backs her, too: Sonny Hess, Brian Foxworth, LaRhonda Steele and Arietta Ward – basically Portland’s A-Team. 

Of the five tracks, four are original numbers. She opens with the title track, a beautiful ballad in which  Lisa reflects on not being in her 20s anymore, but as an “old girl” (she’s definitely not) she is still making do. It’s hard to think that age is playing a role in her mind or how others might see her. JT provides a remarkable guitar break that adds to the ballad’s emotion. 

“It’s The Monkeys Or Me” is a humorous number about a relationship with a man who ran a monkey show and his house is filled with real live monkeys running the home. It may be cute at first, but they start to drive her crazy leading to the ultimatum, it’s either those monkeys or me. 

On “Everybody’s Making Money” Lisa looks at the music industry and it seems that she is putting out far more money than she brings in. Another superb guitar solo from JT here. The closing track pays homage to the musicians who came before in our area and paved the way for the artists who followed in their footsteps, never to be forgotten. 

The fifth song included is a terrific cover of Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s “That’s All.” Lisa has taken part in a handful of tribute shows to the guitar great, again replicated nicely by JT while Lisa growls her way convincingly, letting everybody know that people may in their own means think that they’re right or doing what needs to be done, but they really don’t know the facts at all. 

Old Girl is Lisa Mann at her very best. The only drawback on the album is that it is way too short and leaves you craving more. Let her artistic juices flow, we can only anticipate what may be following in this one’s footsteps. This is one disc that you do not want to miss out on — buy it now! 


Total Time: 21:22 

Old Girl / It’s The Monkeys Or Me / Everybody’s Making Money / That’s All / Around Here 

Fiona Boyes - Blues In My Heart

Fiona Boyes 

Blues In My Heart
Blue Empress Records / Reference Recordings 

Review by Greg Johnson 

Since her win at the International Blues Challenge back in 2003, Fiona Boyes has been one of the most noted blues guitarists of our time, with no less than eight nominations for Blues Music Awards, including Traditional Female Artists of the Year. Blues In My Heart, released in 2000, was the debut recording for Boyes, but sadly it didn’t see much distribution in the United States. Reference Recordings has now resolved that issue by releasing a newly packaged and newly remastered take on this Australian master work for its 20th anniversary. 

Fiona is in fine form here in what she self-describes as an acoustic album of fingerpicking ragtime blues. For those who have been following her career, you’ll recognize a good number of the songs featured, including such longtime live favorites as “Two Legged Dog” and her tribute to Memphis Minnie, “She Could Play That Thing.” Fiona is joined on the album by her original Australian band: Karen “Kaz” Dalla Rosa on harmonica, Gina Woods on piano, and Paula Dowse on drums and percussion. 

Made up of 16 tracks, 10 of which are original numbers, the album features first-rate covers by legendary artists Tommy Johnson, Leadbelly, JB Lenoir, Rev. Gary Davis, Red Hodges and Kid Bailey. This is definitely a must-add album for any fan of Fiona Boyes, especially in this remastered format. 


Total Time: 52:30 

Blues In My Heart / Pig Meat / She Could Play That Thing / I Let The Blues In / Have Faith / Honey You Can Take My Man / My Say So / Rowdy Blues / Mean World / Angel / Two Legged Dog / That Certain Something / Hokum Rag / Mercy / Canned Heat / Hotel Room