Kaliopi & The Blues Messengers – Blues For Minnie
10 tracks/34 minutes
Kaliopi Stavropoulos is an Australian-based musician from Greece. Her love for Mississippi Delta blues is evident as she pays homage to the great Memphis Minnie on her debut album with her band, The Blues Messengers. Having released some singles and an EP, this collection of ten songs, with seven cuts from from Minnie’s catalog, showcases Kaliopi and her band.
The Blues Messengers are Kaliopi Stavropoulos lead vocals and guitar, Connor O’Neil on bass, Chris Schurmann on double bass, Lisette Payet on keys and backing vocals, Tony Wheeler and Nick Pearce on clarinet; Les Oldman on drums and percussion and backing vocals, and Wayne Albury on saxophone. They mix Delta blues, jug band bass, and Dixieland piano into a fun and solid sound.
She begins with the stinging rendition of “Black Cat Blues,” rife with double entendre. Kaliopi sings with passion as she howls and moans as she plays some sizzling guitar. We also get a raucous piano solo and some nice clarinet filling in. “Kissing In The Dark” is next with a nice little guitar intro. The song is full of forbidden love and all sorts of other stuff that was highly scandalous back in the day.
Kaliopi does her own “Messin’ With The Blues,” a slower tempo-ed piece with some nice guitar and thoughtful piano and clarinet. It’s a cool cut that hearkens back to earlier times. “Hoodoo Lady” follows, a bouncing tune with a slick vibe. The song shuffles along sweetly as the band drives this tune sweetly.
“When The Levee Breaks” is a jumping cut that is reinforced by climate change and floods in her home of Australia a couple of years ago. The clarinet offers a lilted response to the lead vocals and the piano solo is jumping and cool. The band takes it home with hand claps and a good ending as the guitar picks out a few licks to finish up. The second original is “Troublin’ Blues,” a song that highlights the current economic conditions. Kaliopi sings with anger and emotion as she laments her financial status. She plays some great licks on guitar, too.
Minnie’s “Dirty Mother Fur Ya” follows as Kaliopi and company jump and swing through this one. More tasty guitar licks and impassioned, vengeful vocals are featured here along with another good piano solo. Then it’s “Hate To See The Evenin’ Sun Go Down” with call and response and acapella singing as the band claps to keep time for a minute and half. The band then comes and continues the song of struggles and oppression.
“Me & My Chauffeur Blues” is next with some great resonator guitar, piano and clarinet. She rejects her chauffeur and subjects him to a violent demise so she can drive herself around. The album concludes with Koko Taylor’s “Voodoo Woman,” a song of mystical and female power. Kaliopi’s guitar rings and the band lays down a sweet groove as Stavropoulos once again sings with passion.
This is a nice first effort for Kaliopi and her band mates. They have a solid sound and they are tight as they give the listener an old-time sounding set of tunes done up with a fresh perspective. If you are a fan of down-home music, then give this a spin. It’s a down-home perspective delivered from the other side of the globe, and I think you’ll enjoy it!