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Reflections in Blue
By Bill Wilson
She may be the Ice Queen, but the blues burns like a raging inferno in her soul. (more)
Sue Foley, who was born in Ontario, Canada, and played her first gig at the age of 16.  After graduating from high school, she formed the Sue Foley Band and began touring Canada and honing her skills.  By the age of 21, she had relocated to Austin, Texas, and was recording for Antone's.  Her first release for the label was Young Girl Blues, in 1992.  Now, some 25 years later, with countless albums under her belt (both under her own name and playing in support of other musicians), she is releasing another album.  The Ice Queen sees Foley working with old friends, mentors and Austin's blues elite, including Jimmie Vaughan, Billy Gibbons, Charlie Sexton, George Rains, Chris Layton, Mike Flanigin and many more.  Diverse in style, this album is incredibly powerful.  It should be noted as well that, except for three tunes, "Fool's Gold" (written by Flanigin & Foley), the Carter Family's "Cannonball Blues" and "Send Me To The 'Lectric Chair" (written by George Brooks & recorded by Bessie Smith), all tunes were penned by Sue Foley.  The title is wide open for interpretation...whether it is a reference to the place of her birth, a state of the heart, or a nod to Albert Collins, the "Ice Man" & "Master of the Telecaster."  It would be fair to say that this woman from the North has made the Ice Man proud.  Curious and wanting to refresh my memory, I pulled several of her albums, from earliest to most recent.  This album is, without question, her best work to date.  She may be the Ice Queen, but the blues burns like a raging inferno in her soul.  In the true tradition of the blues, she has taken all that life has thrown her way, the good as well as the bad, processed it, and channeled   it into her music.  The result is a depth and richness of tone that many never attain.  No longer the young girl with the burning desire to play the blues, what we have here is truly the Ice Queen...the bonafide, mature blueswoman.  'Nuff said.  This is one album you will want to add to your collection.  (less)
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Fervour Coulee - Roots Music Opinion
By Donald Teplyske
"Without doubt, Kevin Breit is one of Canada’s most intriguing musicians." (more)

Without doubt, Kevin Breit is one of Canada’s most intriguing musicians.

Whether working in conjunction with pals including Harry Manx (three albums) and The Sisters Euclid (five albums), on his own (seven and more releases), or as a sideman, Breit always brings something engaging and frankly unique to his recorded appearances. Blues, jazz, roots, and folk, Breit has demonstrated he can turn his hands and ears to every type of music. Last time out with the old-world, mandolin extravaganza Ernesto and Delilah, Breit created a showcase of story-telling and creativity as engaging as it was challenging.

Not one to repeat himself, Breit now conjures himself as Johnny Goldtooth and the Chevy Casanovas to deliver a (largely) instrumental set of guitar-based tunes to evoke a smarmy, 60s lounge-vibe with Duane Eddy accompaniment. Blasting out the set in ten days, Breit called upon friends to provide select overdubs, but what we have here is essentially Breit concocting his own experiments in vintage sounds much like Neil Young once did (in a different vein) with the Shocking Pinks.

The result is mixed. While one digs (and really, no other word is as appropriate) what Breit has done with this recording, after four or five songs it tends to blend into one extended jam of righteous coolness. “C’mon, Let Go” combines the mood of after-school cartoons (think Lippy the Lion & Hardy Har-Har) with Velvet Underground “Sweet Jane” riffs. “The Knee High Fizzle” takes a jaunty run through rockabilly references, with “Chevy Casanova” illuminating more uptown touches, complete  with lively saxophone from Vincent Henry. Always a sucker for a bit of “Yakety Sax” (or yakety axe), “I Got ‘Em Too” is a favoured romp.

However, other pieces appear little more than excuse for playful song titles as evidenced by “Cozy With Rosy” and “Zing Zong Song, which initially borrows from Treme’s theme, before sliding into Los Straitjackets territory. “One Mo Bo,” a Bo Diddley homage, doesn’t progress beyond its implicit limitations, and “The Goldtooth Shuffle” isn’t much more than a groove, albeit a fine one, extended to three minutes. Predictably, “A Horse of Another Stripe” and “Dr. Lee Van Cleef” recall cinematic vistas.

None of which diminishes the obvious skill and artistry Breit possesses, nor the encompassing appeal of this recording. If nothing else, it is a whole lot of fun. Everybody’s Rockin’ clocked in at 25 or so minutes, a light, concise, and contemporaneously lambasted statement of rock ‘n’ roll minimalism that time has been kind toward. Breit gives Johnny Goldtooth and the Chevy Casanovas more rope, and while the results are not exclusively excellent, accepted for what it is—a blast of spirited, comedic, guitar wizardry—it provides an overwhelmingly pleasurable journey.

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John Emms Reviews
By John Emms
Great playing, good taste and a deep faith stacked high in the blues spills out generously on Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters intimate new album The Luckiest Man. (more)

Great playing, good taste and a deep faith stacked high in the blues spills out generously on Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters intimate new album The Luckiest Man.

The reliable smooth Chicago texture of Southside Stomp a staple feel on any Earl and the Broadcasters album is set against the deep warmth of Jim’s Song written and performed by Earl for the memory of bandmate and bassist Jim Mouradian.

Vocalist Diane Blue throws out excellent phrasing and soul on Heartbreak (It’s Killing Me) and just kills on Never Gonna Break My Faith surrounded by supple chops from Dave Limina on Hammond B-3 and Earl’s guitar solos and fills

Personally speaking Sugar Ray Norcia’s song Long Lost Conversation is total blues bliss with Earl and The Bluetones.

It is magic pure and simple.

That song is followed by the gorgeous and soulful Sweet Miss Vee written by Earl.

A cover of Reverend Gary Davis’ Death Don’t Have No Mercy goes deeper than deep in true Davis Piedmont tradition.

You better believe Earl and the Broadcasters are digging deep on this recording.

Ain’t That Loving You?

Amen!

(less)
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Living Blues Magazine
By Frank Matheis

This is perhaps the most relevant, far-reaching, consciousness-raising, emancipatory music made today, in any genre—a brilliant, compassionate and impassioned statement in these reactionary times.

(more)

Eric Bibb is on a roll. He’s made some great records among his 37 releases, and Migration Blues may be his masterpiece. The peaking golden-voiced singer/songwriter Bibb plays guitar, six-string banjo and contrabass guitar, and he again teamed up with virtuosic multi-instrumentalist Michael Jerome Browne (guitars, banjo, mandolin, triangles), himself one of the brilliant acoustic bluesmen of our time. Minimalist harmonica player, JJ Milteau, whose style prefers tastefully understated, languid nuances, again partners. This album is as close to perfect as it gets, starting with CD sleeve’s superb design, complete liner notes and beautiful cover photo. The full lyrics are provided, and in this case that’s the core of what Migration Blues offers—sensitive, eloquent instrumentation and poignant, meaningful lyrics. Anyone who knows Eric Bibb’s recent work, especially with Browne and Milteau, knows that this ensemble is musically refined and elegant. Bibb on his own is remarkable; put maestro Browne next to him, and they morph into the living embodiment of "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts." Milteau adds light dabs of color accentuation here and there, just where needed. Musically things are quintessential. Every note counts.

Given that musical flawlessness, the album would be superb if it ended here. But, it’s just getting started. Bibb has reached the lyrical and songwriting pinnacle: relevant, timely and socio-critical, inspiring original blues songs, done intelligently and intellectually, yet sensitively and accessible. No haughty preaching or in-your-face sanctimonious politics. Bibb gives us modern acoustic blues with something important to say, with lyrics worth printing, something to get you thinking. He achieves with Brotherly Love a timely follow up to Elvis Costello’s (What’s So Funny ’Bout) Peace Love and Understanding and on the same album boldly captures the desperation of a black man fleeing in Delta Getaway, the Strange Fruit of 2017. "Saw a man hangin’/ From a cypress tree / I seen the ones who done it / Now they comin’ after me. With a razor in my hand / I don’t wanna use / Got a song in my bones / Call it the blues."

Each of the songs here deals with migration, with brotherly love and the exact opposite. They expose the human condition in song, no different than Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan did in their time. Not coincidentally, Bibb covers This Land Is Your Land and Masters of War. Bibb explains, "While pondering the current refugee crisis I found myself thinking about the Great Migration, which saw millions of African Americans leaving the brutal segregation and economic misery of the rural South for the industrial cities of the North. Making this connection is what inspired the new songs included here. Whether you’re looking at a former sharecropper, hitchhiking from Clarksdale to Chicago in 1923, or an orphan from Aleppo, in a boat full of refugees in 2016—it’s migration blues."

Bibb and his fellow songwriters, Milteau and Browne, have entered into the realm of the literary in the tradition of the blues vocabulary of writers like Amiri Baraka and James Baldwin. This is perhaps the most relevant, far-reaching, consciousness-raising, emancipatory music made today, in any genre—a brilliant, compassionate and impassioned statement in these reactionary times.

(less)
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Blues Blast Magazine
By John Mitchell
 

Whatever style he adopts Duke is a wonderful player, able to adapt across the spectrum of blues and jazz styles and this is another strong album from him. Recommended.

(more)

 

Duke Robillard spent over a year unable to play guitar following a serious shoulder injury and this album had to be delayed until further recording sessions had taken place once Duke had recovered. In terms of releases the gap was filled by the excellent The Acoustic Blues & Roots of Duke Robillard but this is the album that Duke planned to release. Tracks were recorded before and after Duke’s enforced lay-off but the personnel throughout is unchanged with Duke on guitar and vocals and his long-standing band in support: Bruce Bears on keys, Mark Teixeira on drums and Brad Hallen on bass. There are some guests who feature on one track each: Sugar Ray Norcia (vocals), Kelley Hunt (vocals/piano), Jimmie Vaughan (guitar), Sax Gordon Beadle (tenor/baritone sax) and Doug James (baritone sax). Duke wrote all the material apart from two covers and one shared writing credit with Jimmie.

The format here is small band blues with a selection of shuffles, slow and rocking blues, Duke’s guitar reflecting each song’s mood perfectly. He really is one of the masters of this sort of ensemble playing, possibly the best example being the extended "Shufflin’ And Scufflin’" which comes from an as yet unreleased session with Jimmie Vaughan, both guitarists getting plenty of space alongside Doug James’ bubbling baritone. Kelley Hunt wrote a tune dedicated to Duke’s recording studio "The Mood Room" and Duke invited her to revisit the song with his band, Kelley’s piano taking the lead on an upbeat tribute to the “hippest joint in town”. Sugar Ray Norcia is on vocals for a cover of Jimmy ‘Baby Face’ Lewis’ Last Night which is a stand-out cut with Ray’s suave vocal and Sax Gordon’s great sax work behind Duke’s swinging guitar.

Duke’s familiar deeper vocals are featured on the remaining tracks which include the amusingly cynical "Fool About My Money" on which the band adopts a New Orleans rhythm and the slow blues tribute to Guitar Slim, "Blues For Eddie Jones". "Lay A Little Lovin’ On Me" opens the album on a funky note courtesy of Bruce’s piano and Duke’s searing guitar fills before the rolling blues of "Rain Keeps Falling", Bruce’s piano again spot on for the tune and Duke bending the strings impressively. The pace drops for the slow blues of "Mourning Dove" but not the intensity of Duke’s playing and the swinging "No More Tears" harks back to Duke’s original incarnation of Roomful Of Blues, without the horns. Duke’s tough guitar and Bruce’s almost ragtime piano on "You Used To Be Sugar" is a winning (and swinging!) combination and "Come With Me Baby' closes the album with another trademark rolling blues.

Whatever style he adopts Duke is a wonderful player, able to adapt across the spectrum of blues and jazz styles and this is anot

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Making a Scene
By Richard Ludmerer
Block states that not only is she grateful to the musicians who created this music that she loves but also to those who traveled the back roads and documented this art form; people like John and Alan Lomax, and Harry Smith. This is the final chapter in her series. (more)

Rory Block hails from Princeton, NJ but spent a lot of her formative years as part of the Greenwich Village folk music scene. At the age of fourteen she was introduced to the music of the Mississippi Delta. She recorded for Elektra, RCA, Blue Goose and Chrysalis before signing with Rounder Records in 1981. Between 2003 and 2005 Block released three albums on Telarc Records including my favorite “From the Dust”. In 2008 Block signed with Stony Plain Records and started her “Mentor Series” saluting those blues masters whom have had “a profound impact on her music”.

Block has a total of twenty-one Blues Music Award nominations having won that award five times. This is Block’s 34th overall recording and sixth in her “Mentor Series”. This time she salutes “Bukka” White.

White was born Booker T. Washington “Bukka” White in November 1906 in Houston, Mississippi and named after the African-American educator and civil rights activist. White was a first cousin to B.B. King’s mother. He played slide on a Resonator guitar. White first recorded for Victor Records in 1930.

Block plays a Martin Signature OM-40 guitar named after her. All guitars and vocals heard are by Block who also adds percussion by slapping her guitar; she calls it “guitar bongos”. She also strikes various boxes with wooden spoons and salad forks. Block states that White inspired her to write new songs. Block opens the recording with two originals, the percussive title track “Keepin’ Outta Trouble” with the lyric “give the big man some room”, and “Bukka’s Day”.

Only then do we get to hear Block’s versions of White’s songs. “Aberdeen, Mississippi Blues” is the song John Fahey used to find and re-discover him. White became part of the 1960’s folk revival and died in 1977 at the age of 70 in Memphis.

“Fixin to Die Blues” written by White was recorded by Bob Dylan in 1963 and it appears on Dylan’s Columbia Records debut.

“Parchman Farm Blues” was written by White while he was serving time for assault at The Mississippi State Penitentiary and it appears in Harry Smith’s “Anthology of American Folk Music”.  Other songs of White’s covered by Block are “Panama, Ltd” and “New Frisco Train”.

Block’s other originals include “Gonna Be Some Walkin Done” inspired by the guitar part from Booker’s “Jitterbug Swing”; “Spooky Rhythm” and the closer “Back to Memphis”.

Block states that not only is she grateful to the musicians who created this music that she loves but also to those who traveled the back roads and documented this art form; people like John and Alan Lomax, and Harry Smith. This is the final chapter in her series. Who or what will inspire her next?

(less)
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