Various Artists – The Healing Blues | Album Review

thehealingbluesVarious Artists  – The Healing Blues

Self-Release – 2014

15 tracks; 68 minutes

The Healing Blues is a collaborative project based in Greensboro, North Carolina intended to raise funds to help the homeless.  A good cause, but also interesting musically as the songs were written by local musicians inspired by the stories of the homeless, several of whom are listed on the songwriting credits.  A large body of musicians contributed to these recordings. The ‘Healing Blues Band’ are the ‘house band’ on nine of the tracks: Sam Frazier (guitar), Benjy Johnson (guitar), Chuck Cotton (drums), Roger Kohrs (bass) and Dave Fox (keys).  Haymarket Riot play on two cuts: Jim O’Gara (guitar), Jon Epstein (bass), Doc MacNab (drums) and Charlotte Whitted (vocals).  Big Bump And The Stun Gunz also play on two tracks: Bubba Klinefelter (guitar), Shiela Klinefelter (bass), Eric Smith (drums).  The Fairlanes play on one track: Mark Harrison (guitar), Ken ‘Lil Kenny’ Graham (bass), Glenn Bickel (piano), Chip ‘Memphis’ Click (drums).  Also on one track are Lawyers, Guns And Money: Terry VunCannon (guitar), Steve Headen (bass), Mike Thomas (drums).  Horns appear on some tracks played by Wally West, Neil Clegg, Daniel Bogan, Chris Hankins, Eli Fribush and Ben Espinola.

The ‘storytellers’ (the people who supplied the stories that the musicians brought to life) are listed as: Isiahm Wardlow, Shannon Stewart, Anita Gilmore, Tresa Scott, Ryan Lennon, Mike Schumacher, Kris Schumaker, Yolanda Batts, Walter Jamison, Chris Ward, Necole MacDonald, Eric Barnes and Forrest Willis.  Lead vocalists are: Chris Carroll, Dave Fox, Kristy Jackson, Evan Olson, Jessica Mashburn, Logie Meachum, Sam Frazier, Mike Wesolowski, Benjy Johnson, Steve Headen, Shiela Klinefelter, Charlotte Whitted, Mark Harrison.  Backing vocals come from Marika Manda, Kenya Hailey, Molly Fox, Chuck Martin, Stan Bullock, Doug Dennis, Benjy Johnson, Mike Wesolowski, Chris Carrol and Dave Fox.  The music covers a range of styles including blues, soul, funk and rock, so there will be something for most readers to enjoy.  Highlights for this reviewer include the following tracks:

  1. “Walter’s Walk”.   Positive lyrics about overcoming difficulties are well delivered by Chris Carroll on this fine piece of soul/blues.  The soulful vocals are well supported by the house band.
  2. Kristy Jackson sings her own “So I Write” which is ‘singer/songwriter’ in style but has interesting lyrics: “My words are like an anchor that won’t let me slip away, so I write. I write for love, I write for art, I write for memories.  I write for God, sometimes I write for me.”
  3. “I Come From A Place” is a great song, a full production with horns and choral backing vocals.  Mike Wesolowski is not the strongest vocalist here but the song merits inclusion; at times you get a Phil Spector ‘wall of sound’ feel and there is a fine tenor sax solo too.
  4. The single offering from Lawyers, Guns And Money is “I’m Walkin’”, a real blues with gruff vocals from Steve Headen and dirty slide from Terry VunCannon.
  5. Big Bump And The Stun Gunz bring some laidback, late night blues on “Perfect Smile”; Shiela Klinefelter’s sultry vocal suits the arrangement very well.
  6. Haymarket Riot set off like a rock band on “What’s Inside”, the guitar ringing out on the opening instrumental verses before vocalist Charlotte calms things down on a tale of a character who cannot escape their inner thoughts. Not blues, but a solid track with some excellent guitar from Jim O’Gara.

The album was produced by Dave Fox of the Healing Blues Band who also assembled the many participants.  Kudos to Dave for his work here, all in a very worthy cause.  The CD is available from CD Baby.

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