Issue 16-25 June 23, 2022

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Cover photo © Marty Rickard


 In This Issue 

Bucky O’Hare has our feature interview with Shuan Murphy. We have five Blues reviews for you this week including new music from Sass Jordan, Dr. J.B. Blues, Delbert McClinton, Peer Gynt and Susie Blue & the Lonesome Fellas. Scroll down and check it out!


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 Featured Interview – Shaun Murphy 

image“I think I was 8. I used to go out on my swing set and stand there and sing whatever local, regular songs that came on the radio at the time. I’d just sing it in the loudest voice I could muster at that age. (laughs)”

Shaun Murphy is a lifer, a musician’s musician who has spent a lifetime singing with some of the biggest and most eclectic names in Roots, Rock, Blues and Pop music. Wielding a unique and distinct voice from an early age, Shaun has followed the music through theater productions, sound studios, barrel house and world stages. For this her 2nd interview with Blues Blast, Shaun talked about her process, her love for music and her foremothers and added detail and depth to some of her well documented collaborations with Meat Loaf, Bob Seger, and Eric Clapton.

That spark for singing that 8 year old Shaun felt ignited a raging inferno of a voice. Growing up in a few different midwestern towns, Shaun’s family settled in Detroit where she began her career in earnest. It was the legendary Ann Arbor Blues Festival that changed the course of Shaun’s music from Pop and Top 40 to Rhythm and Blues.

“It was the Ann Arbor Blues festival in 1969. My band, The Wilson Moore Pursuit, we played that. It was my first time seeing all these fabulous Blues artists in person. Of course once Big Mama Thornton got on stage and I was right there on side stage watching her, I was just overcome, just watching her. Just the power and the control and everything. This woman just got to everybody. Yeah it completely changed the trajectory of what I was thinking about singing. That was the start of my Blues thinking.”

Shaun Murphy’s voice is like no other. It is impossible to compare her to anyone else. She is loud and emotive, she has a blistering attack but she can also bring it way down. To be able to sing with such passion and power and still maintain her depth and dynamics singing her guts out since the mid 60’s is quite a feat. Shaun has been intentional about maintaining and protecting her voice ever since she had a rough experience in Sioux Saint Marie.

“When I first started singing I was in a number of top 40 bands. At first I was in a number of all girl bands. The first all girl band I was in was called The Lauralees. We got a job in Soo Saint Marie, Michigan. Little did we know that we had to play from 8 at night till 4 in the morning. The girl guitar player didn’t know a lot of leads. So we had to end up doing about 200 songs a night (chuckling). We had a 2 week thing there and I don’t think we finished it. I just got so horse and everything. Came back to Detroit and a friend of mine knew Stevie Wonder’s doctor. So I went in there and he looked at me and he said: well you don’t have nodes but it looks like you had a couple blisters, not too much damage. Don’t talk for 2 weeks, don’t whisper for 2 weeks, anything. So I absolutely followed his direction and I was fine after that.”

image“Another friend said, here’s a vocal coach he does Tina Turner and all these major stars. So why don’t you go see him? Ray Taylor was his name. So I went down there, and we talked for a while. He said stand up and show me how you breathe. Okay. Now show me how you breathe when you sing. Which is totally different cause I breathe from my diaphragm. But I did that by accident because when I was signing in Soo Saint Marie that was the only way I could get any notes out by the end of the set (chuckling). He goes you know I don’t think you really need lessons, the whole crux of coaching anyone to sing starts in their breathing. You’ve already got that down.”

Now Shaun has developed her routine. She is thoughtful about the dynamics of singing and has employed her diaphragm ever since she had to belt it out till 4 in the morning.

“First of all, I warm up for a long time (chuckles), cause I have such a wide spectrum in my voice. There’s what they call your chest voice, your middle voice and your higher register voice. You have to really get in there and really get those areas relaxed so you can easily transcend between those areas. Once I’ve done that, I don’t know, I just enter another plan it seems like. It just takes over. I love every song that I do and I just go for it. Each one I want to be a set piece and really emote to the crowd. And that’s my main thing, I just want to talk to the crowd through my music.”

So often women who sing are unfairly categorized against some of the highly unique legends such as Aretha, Janice or Bonnie. Shaun can’t be easily pigeonholed. This is in part because her influences go farther back in history and are more eclectic. As a little girl it was “pretty much top 40, I don’t even think they had top 40 back then,” she jokes. “It was actually Teresa Brewer was one of my favorites at the time.”

Her family had a major influence: “My dad loved to sing. He bought a little tiny record player and he bought a bunch of Elvis 45’s that we weren’t allowed to touch, noooo. We could only hear ‘em when he was playing ‘em. He brought Elvis into our lives. And my mom was trying to teach me piano, I was (in a whiny little kid voice) ‘oh I don’t want to do this, I’m not gonna need it.’ That was probably one of (laughing) the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made. (hahah) I’d love to play piano now but it’s a little late.”

Then after Ann Arbor in 1969 the Blues and R&B dominated:

“Of course Big Mama Thornton, I love Big Maybelle as well. Along the same lines of Big Mama Thornton, but she did a little more Jazz in her repertoire then Big Mama did. Of course Koko Taylor was right up there, maybe #2. I got to see her live a couple of times, I was very very fortunate in that regard. I love Denise LaSalle and I all ready to do a Denise LaSalle song on my records. She was just marvelous. All the older heroes, Bessie Smith. Just everybody back then were so sadly not brought forward as well as they are brought forward now. It was just some sad times for some of the absolute great singers and musicians.”

imageShaun started her solo career in earnest in 2009 and since has put the “pro” in prolific. “I met my manager T.C. Davis in 2009 and everything just came together.” She gratefully recounts, “he was so focused and got us goin’. We went in and did this record Living The Blues, my first record, in gosh lighting speed. It got a great reception. So we basically did an album a year for the next 10 years, it’s just been a wonderful wonderful journey with my solo career. I wouldn’t of changed anything.”

Shaun has developed her songwriting abilities over the years, something that has helped propel her solo career. In 1995 she moved from LA to Nashville to tap into the City’s thriving songwriting scene. “I just figured I needed to go to another music town,” she resonated. “So I had picked out either Atlanta or Nashville and I just felt like Nashville was more a concentrated songwriting town as well as live music.”

“I started writing just for myself many years ago and I sort of got out off on it for a while. Once T.C. got me into recording I got with a bunch of people here in town and just started writing. It’s been so fruitful for me. I’ve gained so much in writing with my friends here in town. I hope it just keeps on growing.”

Shaun’s earlier career centered on collaboration and background singing. One of her early touchstone collaborators was Meat Loaf. Their 1971 Motown album Stoney and Meatloaf is a classic and the result of the duo being castmates in the Detroit run of Hair.

“The first day of the Detroit release (of Hair), Motown and Rare Earth and all those people had come down for opening night. They called us up almost immediately and said: hey, would you like to come down and take a meeting? So we went down there and they said we’d like to sign you up as a duo Stoney and Meat Loaf. (Hahah) We sort of looked at each other and said well okay. So they threw us into the studio and we did the record very quickly. And then went on to do the rest of the Hair stints that we had booked. The album came out early in ‘71 I believe. We toured a little bit with that, some local bands backing us up at the time. Eventually Motown was in the flux so they were in the process of moving out to LA. They let Meat Loaf go out of his contract and they took me out to LA at that point. So that’s how we split up. The rest is history for Meat, he just skyrocketed, I was just so so happy for him.”

Meat and Shaun reconnected right before his untimely death. Meat Loaf moved to Nashville and rekindle their friendship.

“He moved to Nashville a couple years ago so we reconnected and we went out to dinner, all that kind of stuff. He wanted to do a new record. He said let’s do a Stoney and Meatloaf tribute song on the record. I was helping him find some Nashville players as well as producers for this record cause he didn’t really know anybody in town. I was holding a pro jam at the time as well so he came out to that. It was maybe 2 weeks before he passed. He was so excited about meeting all the players there. He was just really excited about my sound and ‘you’ve come a long way, I’m so happy for you,’ all that. But he didn’t stay very long because he had such back issues. Just a couple weeks later he was gone.”

After Stoney and Meat Loaf, Shaun had an illustrious career working as a backup singer. Her unique voice lending layers to many important records. She notably worked with Eric Clapton on his Behind the Sun album and tour which took the band to Live Aid, a once in a lifetime experience she still marvels at today.

image“I first joined Eric in ‘85, Live Aide was July 13th 1985 as a matter of fact. One hot day I’ll tell yah, I think it was 99 temperature and 99 humidity, it was just awful. But, we did the show, we were right between the Thompson twins and Phil Collins was coming back up to do another set. He had flown over from the UK to play with us. Of course he was the producer on Eric’s Behind the Sun album, which we were touring on at the time. I remember we did a 3 song set as a matter of fact. We came out and the audience was kinda cheering. Then Eric hit the chords for Layla and I have to tell you it was the most incredible feeling, it was absolutely physical. The shouting and the clapping pushed us all backwards about 3 steps. We just kinda looked at each other (chuckling) and continued on. But, I’d never felt like that before or since, it was an amazing experience.”

Shaun’s other major background singing gig, which continues to the present, is in the Silver Bullet Band supporting the Roots Rock legend Bob Seger.

“It started back in ‘73 as a matter of fact, when I recorded backgrounds on Katmandu. Of course Bob’s manager Punch was booking my bands at the time. So we got a chance to meet Bob and that’s how I got into the studio thing. Then later I went to pick up a check for my band at one of Punch’s clubs where he was at and Bob was there and who should be playing at the club was Cream, so I got to meet Bob and Eric on the same night, it was pretty cool.”

“So we started working in the studio a little bit. ‘74 we did this kind of clandestine record at some place over in Columbus called The Borneo Band at the time (chuckles). That lasted about another year and then of course Bob went over and got the guys for the Silver Bullet Band. Then I rejoined them in ‘78 and have been with him ever since.”

Today Shaun’s band is a great institution in professional Blues and Roots music. An on going cast of absolute killers, Shaun demands the best out of her crew and treats them with respect and dignity. “I just tell everybody just take it easy, we work together. I want everybody’s ideas to come forward. They’ve been so helpful, all of the guys.”

She rhapsodizes, “I have the best bunch of guys right now that I’ve ever had. I have Tom DelRossi on drums. I have John Marcus on bass, who was with Tim McGraw for 22 years, I’m so lucky to have him. I have Kenny Kramer on guitar, he was with Lee Roy Parnell, Dr. Hook, just a whole bunch of people. Then I have Tommy Stilwell on guitar as well, he was with the Beat Daddy’s for many many years. Then I have a new keyboard player, he just sort of moved into town about 6 months ago named Anthony Sadic. I have to say he’s very young, but he’s classically trained, he’s just a virtuoso on piano. He’s just fit in like a glove, which is one of the things you look for.”

Shaun Murphy is a devastating singer. She brings her whole self, her long history, and her deep well of emotions to her voice. She is a moving artist with a tremendous body of work. She continues to produce stellar records full of fire and power.

“Workin’ on the 11th record right now. We’re in the process of hunting and gathering at the moment. We’re expanding a little bit on this next record. We’re gonna do some more hard edged Blues Rock. To augment my live voice as opposed to being a little more contained in the studio. We’re just gonna go for it. (Hahaha)”

Check out Shaun’s music at https://shaunmurphyband.com/

Writer Bucky O’Hare is a slide guitarist, songwriter and singer. Based out of South Eastern Massachusetts, Bucky plays Slide Guitar Soul Jazz and Funk Blues inspired by the music of the 60’s and 70’s all around New England.


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 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 5 

imageSass Jordan – Bitches Blues

Stony Plain Records

www.sassjordan.com

8 tracks/27 minutes

Sass Jordan delivers a powerful and gritty set of performances on her new record, Bitches Blues. Two original tunes and some fine covers make for a great new album. Born in the UK and raised in Canada, Jordan has had a great career in musical performance, theater and even makes her own wine.

Jordan is joined by the Champagne Hookers: Chris Caddell and Jimmy Reid on guitar, Cass Pereira on drums, Jesse O’Brien on keys and Steve Marriner on bass and harp. They are a fine ensemble led by an exceptional vocalist.

Rick Derringer’s “Still Alive and Well” gets a slick treatment with organ, guitar and Jordan’s gritty vocals. She rocks out to get things started. “Chevrolet” follows, a Taj Mahal tune he co-wrote with Lonnie and Ed Young. Sass gives it a good cover and the harp work adds to the cut nicely. The piano plays a predominant role next in “Even.” She grinds out this slow blues in an evocative manner. “Still The World Goes Round” follows, a bouncing and driving cut with a bit of a country flair; great vocals and some nice slide work are featured here.

Mississippi Fred McDowell’s “You Gotta Move” was covered by many a rocker in my youth, but Jordan stays truer to the roots of this with resonator and a thumping drum behind here. Well done! Little Feat’s “Sailing Shoes” is next. Jordan pays homage to this great song and band with a fine rendition. Little Milton’s “Ain’t No Big Deal On You” has been covered by many greats, and Sass gives it her all. A big guitar solo and some good backing work by the band along with Jordan’s emotive touches make this another good cut. She concludes with “Change Is Coming,” with a sitar-like introduction and some ethereal guitar work. An original cut, Jordan and company do an outstanding job here. The harp also adds a nice layer to this.

I enjoyed the album. Each listen gave me a better appreciation of this record. I have only one complaint- it’s only 27 minutes of music; it left me wanting more! Jordan and her band did a fantastic job with these eight cuts. She’s got the chops and knows how to deliver some fine music. Well done to her with her outstanding release. If you like rootsy, rocking blues, then look no further; this one’s a winner!

Blues Blast Magazine Senior writer Steve Jones is president 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 since 1996, he writes for and publishes the bi-monthly newsletter for Crossroads, chairs their music festival and works with their Blues In The Schools program. He resides in Byron, IL.


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 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 5 

imageDr. J.B. Blues – Bluesy Sky Over Paris

House Mater Records LC 05699

www.dr-jb-blues.com

9 songs – 38 minutes

Based out of Essen, Germany, where he’s a real-life physician who specializes in oncology and hematology, Dr. J.B. Blues – aka Bernd Jung – is a talented guitarist, too, and has made a name for himself producing Blues Rock Against Cancer charity concerts in his homeland. He makes his recording debut with this tasty CD, which pays tribute to two of his heroes, Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Dr. J.B. picked up the six-string for the first time at age 14, and, from the sound of his fretwork here, it’s obvious that his six-string – a beloved Fender Rory Gallagher-model Stratocaster tuned in E-flat – has been in his hands steadily when not treating patients.

Like Vaughan, his main influence, the shred-free notes he delivers flow smoothly without the necessity of excessive pyrotechnics. He sings in a strong tenor in English with a slight, but noticeable accent, and his on-the-beat lyrics are counterpoint to his behind-the-beat playing.

Delivered in power-blues trio format, Dr. J.B. is backed by bassist Christophe Garreau and percussionist Guillaume Destarac, a veteran rhythm section who’ve recorded several CDs with Paul Personne and Fred Chapellier, two of the most beloved artists in the French blues scene.

They’re joined by keyboard player Tristan Abgrall, who also recorded and mixed this set at L’Auditorium Studios in Paris. It was mastered at Metropolis Studios in London under the supervision of John Davis, who’s best known in the U.S. for remastering early Led Zeppelin releases for modern consumption. This CD captured top honors in three categories at the recent Akademia Music Awards in Los Angeles — best blues album, blues song and alternative rock video.

While all of the tunes here are covers, they’re far more than that. Most carry forward the spirit of the original while not being note-for-note reinterpretations. Like the award-winning opener, Hendrix’s “Little Wing,” shows, the good Doc may be well-versed in the masters but he makes the runs all his own. This one’s delivered at an slower pace, opens quietly with no backing and soars. It flows effortlessly into a faithful take on Stevie Ray’s “Pride and Joy,” which lopes out of the gate, swings throughout and switches up the breaks enough to offer up a little originality, too.

“Tin Pan Alley” helped make Vaughan a superstar when it appeared on his debut LP, but it takes on a completely different feel here. Penned by West Coast bluesman Bob Geddins in the early ‘50s and a Top 10 R&B hit when recorded by Jimmy Wilson, it’s delivered as a molasses-slow ballad that sears for four minutes with barebones backing. “Texas Flood,” which is up next, follows the same format for to open. Penned by St. Louis bluesman Larry Davis before becoming another Vaughan masterpiece, Dr. J.B. turns it into a unique, instrumental burner for the first two minutes, launching into the familiar lyrics and then ending with 90 seconds more of solid fretwork.

Two more Hendrix numbers — “Red House” and “Voodoo Child” – mirror the same formula with the former taking its sweet time before the latter heats things up – before Dr. J.B. ventures into entirely different territory with “Cause We Ended as Lovers.” Stevie Wonder composed it and it debuted on Motown for Syreeta in 1975 before Jeff Beck made it his own. It’s reworked as a soulful, slow-paced instrumental here. An uptempo take on Stevie Ray’s “Scuttle Buttin’” follows before an extended version of “Little Wing” brings the album to a close.

When it comes to CDs chockful of covers, this reviewer finds most tedious at best – but this one’s special. Dr. J.B. Blues delivers a treat for lovers of early blues-rock that walked a tightrope between the two artforms, and he does it in his own way. It’s available online from several vendors.

Blues Blast Magazine Senior writer Marty Gunther has lived a blessed life. Now based out of Charlotte, N.C., his first experience with live music came at the feet of the first generation of blues legends at the Newport Folk Festivals in the 1960s. A former member of the Chicago blues community, he’s a professional journalist and blues harmonica player who co-founded the Nucklebusters, one of the hardest working bands in South Florida.


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 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 5 

imageDelbert McClinton – Outdated Emotion

Thrifty Tigers/Hotshot Records

https://www.delbert.com/

16 tracks

If for nothing else, Delbert McClinton is still cool and eclectic. At 81 years young, Delbert offers up 16 songs from the Americana at it’s finest. Delbert returns to his roots with these songs that he loves and that influenced this famed Texan’s musical career. Kevin McKendree and his son Yates had a big part in producing and playing on this album with Delbert.

Delbert’s own words sum it up nicely, “I’ve always wanted to do an album of the songs that influenced me the most. Hank Williams songs, Jimmy Reed songs, and songs that I love. And this was the perfect time to do it. It’s important music from another time. It’s music that people need to hear again, or for the first time. Nobody knows about them. Or has forgotten about them. Or was never turned on to them. There is a whole generation, maybe two generations now, who don’t know this music. My whole idea here was to show them how it was and how we got here. Hank Williams, Jimmy Reed, Lloyd Price, Ray Charles. These songs take me to my youth. They are good if not better now than they were then, and they were great then. They are songs people should just get to hear.” Blues and real music fans know these songs, but he’s right; many of these tunes are lost in the new world of music and need to be heard.

Delbert, of course, is on lead vocals and harp. Yates McKendree is on drums and upright bass for some tracks and his dad Kevin is on piano and guitar and also does bass and drums on one cut. Steel guitar is Chris Scruggs and Stuart Duncan is on fiddle. Mark Winchester is the other bass player. Jimmy Stuart and Wes L’Anglois are on acosutic guitars. Jim Hoke handles the saxophones. Backing vocals are stellar by Wendy Moten, Vicki Hampton and Robert Bailey. Danny flowers is also on harp. The McKendrees are stellar in support as are all the musicians.

“Stagger Lee” gets things rolling as Delbert Sings with passion on this classic tune. It’s a rollicking good time with honky-tonk piano, horns and slick backing vocals. The steel guitar gets broken out for “Settin’ The Woods On Fire;” Delbert gets down home and the guitar and fiddle set a fantastic backdrop for this one, a great Hank Williams classic. Jimmy Reed’s “The Sun Is Shining” follows with some slick harp by Delbert. The bands sets up a nice groove and Delbert does the rest. “One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer” is next, John Lee Hooker’s old tune that has served many well. Delbert sings with piano, bass and drum accompaniment and it’s a fun ride. Things get rocking with “Long Tall Sally” as McClinton nicely grinds through this song made famous by Little Richard. He then does his own “Two Step Too” where he and the steel guitar and fiddle have a great time and the bass sets the pace sweetly. The following cut is a Ray Charles ballad “I Want A Little Girl.” Delbert sings with emotion as the piano, bass and he make for a dreamy delivery. More cool Jimmy Read is next, “Ain’t That Lovin’ You.” McClinton give it grit and does a fine job with this bouncing and fun tune.

Hank’s “Jambalaya” follows that and we get more pretty steel guitar and fiddle to savor as Delbert give his all. “Connecticut Blues” is another fine one that is Delbert’s own. He gives it a cool, lounge-like treatment that works well. “I Ain’t Got You” is another Jimmy Reed song that is a Chicago blues standard and another Delbert favorite. He blows and sings with passion as he delivers another fine rendition of this song. Many of us were teens when George Thorgood and the Destroyers covered this one, but Delbert returns to its’ roots with Hank Williams; “Move It On Over” with steel guitar and fiddle and a two step feel is a lot of fun. Next is “Hard Hearted Hannah” where Delbert does justice to another Ray Charles tune. Nice piano support and a deep groove help to sell this one. “Sweet Talkin’ Man” is another McClinton cut and he delivers the good. The piano and guitar support here is nicely done. More fiddle and steel guitar are featured in “Money Honey,” another of his classics. He concludes with “Call Me A Cab,” something he and Yates worked up. Barely a half minute of spoken word and bass., Delbert says, “Call me a cab, he can’t take this shit anymore,” likely an apt reference to today’s popular music scene.

Kevin McKendree and his talented son Yates helped Delbert create this album. With Delbert’s retirement from the road in May 2021, it is great to see him in the studio doing what he does best. His 64 years on the road were well spent and his retirement was well earned. It is super to see him here returning to the music that inspired that career! If this is it for Delbert’s recording career, I couldn’t think of a better way for him to finish up his career. He’s inspired generations of musicians and is a legend who will be remembered for his work!

Blues Blast Magazine Senior writer Steve Jones is president 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 since 1996, he writes for and publishes the bi-monthly newsletter for Crossroads, chairs their music festival and works with their Blues In The Schools program. He resides in Byron, IL.


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 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 5 

imagePeer Gynt – Live in Hell

GoldTone Records GTR 2101

www.peergynt.net

11 songs – 65 minutes

Borrowing his stage name from a Norwegian folk hero, blues-rock guitarist Peer Gynt – aka Per Helge Tareldsen – has been drawing praise from his American counterparts and setting stages ablaze across Europe since the ‘90s. And he keeps the fires burning with this hourlong set, which was captured in front of an animated audience in September 2021 in Hell, Norway, at the aptly named the Blues in Hell Festival.

It was a welcome return to the stage for the artist who feared that his once successful career was over for good after experiencing cancellations of world tours and more as the planet was laid waste and spun to a halt because of COVID-19.

Gynt had been touring the U.S. frequently since the early 2000s when he released his Fairytales CD on Ruf Records, delivering music in power-trio format that’s appeared in the soundtracks of several American TV shows, including Punk’d, C.S.I., 60 Minutes, Deadwood, Six Feet Under and more as well as both Red and Red II on the big screen. An unorthodox fret master who’s endorsed by both Fender guitars and LaBella strings, he’s been described by Walter Trout as “an animal on stage.”

He penned six of the 11 tracks here, delivering his lyrics in perfect English without the hint of an accent, but comments to the audience in his native tongue. He’s backing by a powerful rhythm section composed of drummer BP Hovik and bassist Jon Krogstad. They describe their music on the back cover as “sensational & loud” “in your face” “blistering guitar acrobatics,” and they definitely make good on the promise.

“Freddies Shuffle,” an instrumental penned by Swedish blues-rocker Clas Yngström, opens with a megaton six-string explosion atop eager applause before the band launches into a heavy, syncopated, mid-speed shuffle that sets the stage for what’s to come. “Don’t Take Advantage of Me” – written by Norwegian TV host/rocker Marius Müller, keeps the heat on with a driving guitar hook and serves up a complaint about a lady who’s doing everything she can to hurt him and the promise that he’s hellbent for revenge.

Johnny “Guitar” Watson’s “Hot Little Mama” is up next and blazes across ten minutes with all the familiar stop-time breaks intact but with a whole lot more before taking it in places its never gone before. A heavy drumbeat and plenty of pyrotechnics cast a spell in “Witchcraft,” which heaps praise on the singer’s enchantress and describes a sex act that’s not safe for tender ears.

“I Can Tell,” which appeared on Gynt’s Ruf CD, gets an extensive overhaul here. A slow burner with heavy accents, it almost doubles in size as it describes a lady he believes is “trying to kill my soul like I knew you would.” The action heats up dramatically for the rocker, “Hotblood,” about a woman who loves to dance all night, then slows again for “Liar,” a complaint about a companion coming home in the early morning and making accusations that aren’t true.

Gynt’s take on Jimi Hendrix’s “Castles Made of Sand” opens with about 60 seconds of discordance before settling into a familiar, pleasantly subdued groove. Two more originals – the uptempo blues, “Please Please Babe,” and “Prelude,” a 75-second instrumental – precede Lonnie Mack’s “Cincinnati Shuffle” to close.

If you’re a blues lover who adores hard rock, you’ll really like this one. If your tastes are more delicate, however, be forewarned. Available through Amazon and other online retailers.

Blues Blast Magazine Senior writer Marty Gunther has lived a blessed life. Now based out of Charlotte, N.C., his first experience with live music came at the feet of the first generation of blues legends at the Newport Folk Festivals in the 1960s. A former member of the Chicago blues community, he’s a professional journalist and blues harmonica player who co-founded the Nucklebusters, one of the hardest working bands in South Florida.


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 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 5 

imageSusie Blue & the Lonesome Fellas – Blue Train

Seraphic Records 8644-361

www.susiebluelonesomefellas.com

16 songs – 53 minutes

Fronted by vocalist Solitaire Miles and founded in Chicago in the mid-‘90s, Susie Blue & the Lonesome Fellas turn back the clock and dig deep into the musical archives on their latest CD as they put a new spin on 16 forgotten treasures from the ‘50s and ‘60s. It’s a mix of classy blues, jazz, swing and more that evokes the cocktail-lounge aura of bygone eras.

While mainstream blues fans might not be familiar with this 13-piece ensemble, the music they play consistently crosses genres while remaining thoroughly azure throughout. They swing from the hip in lockstep in every cut, demonstrating why they’ve regularly received nominations from the Academy of Western Artists, which presented them with its Will Rogers Award in 2015 for the song “Love Is a Lingering Thing,” a Western swing number that gained international airplay.

Like that tune, all of the music here walks on the razor’s edge of blues despite being culled from mixed media. All of the folks in this lineup – which includes harmonica genius Howard Levy, a co-founder of Béla Fleck and the Flecktones – are all world-class musicians. Described by DownBeat magazine as a “winning blend of Patsy Cline and Billie Holiday,” Miles’ rich vocals have provided counterpoint to several of the Windy City’s top jazz and swing bandleaders, including Johnny Frigo, Von Freeman, Doc Cheatham and Willie Pickens.

She and Levy are joined here by guitarist Neal Alger, keyboard players Don Stille and Tom Hope and a horn section composed of Eric Schneider (sax) and Jack Gallagher (trombone). They’re anchored by Chris Bernhardt (bass), Phil Gratteau (drums) and Paul Abella (cajon) with Jen Zias and Mike Harvey providing backing vocals. And Dominic Halpin guests with Solitaire for one duet.

A follow-up to the AWA Award winning 2020 CD, Bye Bye Blues, this one was co-produced by Miles and John Robertson and was recorded by Steve Yates in Chicago. None of the tunes are credited in the barebones packaging. “I Wanna Rock” sets the tone for what’s to come. A stop-time pleaser with a steady beat and plenty of sweet horn accents that yield for a tasty mid-tune six-string solo, it gives way to “Big Sweet Baby” — a reworking of the Big Maybelle 1961 Savoy number, “Going Home Baby” which – features understated fills from Levy and the horns.

“Lucky Lips” – an early hit for Ruth Brown penned by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller – precedes the duet “Forever Yours,” a 1957 hit for Carl Perkins on Sun Records that features a dazzling harp solo. The action heats up for “Love and Kisses,” a rocker penned by Janis Martin that served as the title song in a 1965 film starring Ricky Nelson. Miles does justice to “Hummin’ to Myself” – a tune that debuted in the ‘30s and a hit for Kay Starr 20 years later — before “Blue Train” picks up steam as it takes the singer’s love away.

The theme continues from a lady’s point of view with a cover of “She’ll Be Gone” before welcome revisits to Ronnie Love’s “Chills and Fever,” Neil Sedaka’s “One Way Ticket to the Blues” and “How Could I Help But Love You,” a 1967 hit for Aaron Neville. Alger shines on the rocker “Give Up That Honey” before a cover of The Contours’ early Motown hit, “Do You Love Me?” Three more moldy oldies — “In the Palm of Your Hand,” Frank Sinatra’s “Oh How I Miss You Tonight” and Henry Mancini’s “The Peter Gunn Theme” – bring the disc to a close.

Put on your poodle skirt, slip on your saddle shoes and pin on a brooch or two for this one. It’s a whole lot of fun!

Blues Blast Magazine Senior writer Marty Gunther has lived a blessed life. Now based out of Charlotte, N.C., his first experience with live music came at the feet of the first generation of blues legends at the Newport Folk Festivals in the 1960s. A former member of the Chicago blues community, he’s a professional journalist and blues harmonica player who co-founded the Nucklebusters, one of the hardest working bands in South Florida.


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