Saturday, August 29, 2009

Dennis Jones "Pleasure & Pain"

Dennis Jones' "Pleasure & Pain" marks a big step forward for this blues guitar slinger. File this one with Todd Wolfe and Corey Stevens--all are rising guitar aces following in the considerable blues-rock shadow of Stevie Ray Vaughan. But unlike the hundreds of wanna-bees playing the same thing over and over again, Jones has the goods to break through. He writes all the songs here, and he has FUN featuring enough variety of styles in the 11 songs to hook fans of all kinds of blues. I can hear a little Jeff Beck, a little ZZ Top, a little Jimi Hendrix--but not so much that listening becomes an dull exercise in recognizing sources. There's a lot of Dennis Jones in every song here, a lot of Jones' inventive guitar work and good singing. This cd stays in the "hot stack" near my cd player way after the review was written. I especially enjoy "Kill The Pain," which has an especially fat guitar hook, and "Home Tonight," which has nice harmonica work by guest artist Jimmy Z, and "Hot Sauce," where Jones' burns it up like a demented Johnny Cash singing over stinging hot guitar work and that wonderful rockabilly beat from way back in the day. Every song here is worthy of your time, and those three are recommended for radio play.

I like Dennis Jones, and I enjoy this disc. I look forward to his next steps. You can purchase this disc at

Thursday, August 6, 2009

J P Soars "Back Of My Mind"

Fairly often I come across someone who has the idea that "The blues are dead!" I've always responded by playing some great music for them--music by newer artists like Albert Castiglia, Ruthie Foster, Dave Gross, the Insomniacs. Well, I have a new disc to add to that list--J P Soars' "Back Of My Mind." J P hails from Boca Raton Florida, and he surely has the chops--he & his band, The Red Hots, won the 2009 IBC in Memphis last February, and he also won the Albert King award there as best guitarist. So it is comes as no surprise that "Back Of My Mind" is a fine cd, with a full compliment of great swinging guitar moments. Soars is joined here by A J Kelly on bass, and Chris Peet on drums. Together, this trio makes up J P Soars And The Red Hots. Other musicians on the project include: Gary Rimmington on electric and upright bass, Terry Hanck on saxophone, Billy Burns on harmonica, Greg Kingsolver on piano, John Epstein on Hammond organ, and Guillermo Lojo on backup vocals. Four of the songs are J P Soars originals, and they fit in quite well with a wide-ranging batch of cool covers, including T Bone Walker's "Low Dirty Deal," J B Lenoir's "Been Down So Long," and Johnny Guitar Watson's "Gangster Of Love." My favorite tracks are the superb Muddy Waters' "Gypsy Woman," with great guitar work, and the original "Baby I Used To Love You" which features an old-timey acoustic feel. The focus throughout the disc is on the whole band, playing music as an ensemble, and some great solos are taken by sax man Terry Hanck and harp ace Billy Burns. Soars brings the great guitar playing that he is known for, and his singing is pretty good too. I'm not sure we really needed another cover of Willie Dixon's "29 Ways" or the Reverend Gary Davis's "Cocaine," but that's just a quibble. Everything here is terrific--top ten nominee for 2009.

You can buy this disc online at

Monday, August 3, 2009

Missy Andersen self titled cd (Main Squeeze Records)

Missy Andersen's debut cd came out last January, and it is as cool and welcome on my cd player as a wintery breeze in August. She is from San Diego, and she got her start working there with Earl Thomas. This disc, recorded in Copenhagen Denmark, features Missy singing with a full band--Heine Andersen on guitars, Asmus Jensen on drums, Soren Bojgaard on bass, and Jeppe Juul on Hammond B-3 organ, along with Robbie Smith on trumpet and Bob Mathes on saxaphone for five tracks. The results are sometimes Lou Rawls smooth, as on "Tell Mama," sometimes sublime, as on "Same Old Blues," sometimes too busy, as on the O V Wright tune "Ace of Spades," and sometimes too cautious, as on Ann Peebles' "I Can't Stand the Rain," where the arrangement seems just a tad too stock. The standout tracks here are "Same Old Blues," the Nix-penned classic, on which Missy makes a joyous and righteous noise, and her cover of the Junior Wells' classic "Little By Little," which she changes around and makes fine indeed. Those two songs alone make this disc worth seeking, and all eight songs show a lot of promise. I'm looking forward to Missy Andersens's next steps. You can hear more of Missy Andersen's music at