Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Review: "Live From Bluesville" (Blue Empress Records)

This disc brings together the triple threat of top notch talent--Fiona Boyes on guitar, Mookie Brill on bass and harmonica, and Rich DelGrosso on mandolin. All three also contribute vocals. It is an acoustic session recorded live at the studios of XM Radio on July 22, 2007. There are 6 covers and 5 original tunes--three by Boyes and 2 by DelGrosso. Things start out strongly with a cover of Sonny Boy Williamson's "Early In The Morning" with Brill on lead vocal and harp. Then Boyes shares her original "Homegrown Sin" and DelGrooso takes the lead on "Hard To Live With." "Hard To Live With" sounds something like Bernie Pearl would do--and that is a compliment. Next come 2 covers with Boyes on lead--Howling Wolf's "Smokestack Lightning" and Magic Sam's "Easy Baby." Each of these feature good lively interplay between the guitar and mandolin--and Brill's work on upright bass is an absolute joy, as it is throughout the disc. Then the three absolutely tear it up on Lightning Hopkins' "Shotgun Blues" with vocals by DelGrosso--it is the highlight of the disc for me. You can feel the joy as the dig into this tune. After that there's just more of the same--good blues music played live by people who can do it well. There's a hill country gospel blues feel on Boyes'
Good Lord Made You So," and DelGrosso's "Get Your Nose Outta My Bizness!" has some fabulous mandolin playing and shared vocals with Boyes and DelGrosso.

In my opinion this is a perfect Saturday morning disc--great music to put on while recovering from a Friday night and getting ready for Saturday night. Others in this category are the acoustic disc of Bernie Pearl's "Old School" set and Albert Castiglia & Graham Wood Drout's duet work "Bittersweet Sessions." Put this one in the company of those--it's good.

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