Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Moreland and Arbuckle "Flood"

I have been waiting for this. Moreland & Arbuckle's last cd "1861" came out in February 2008. It was great, and ever since then I've been looking forward to their next outing. Well, after 2 years, "Flood" continues right where "1861" left off, and it is great to have them back. This is their first cd for Telarc, but don't think they have compromised anything to get here. Aaron Moreland on guitar and Dustin Arbuckle on harmonica and vocals, with the powerful driving help of Brad Horner on drums, have made another mighty, rootsy Delta blues-fueled cd. Highlights are plentiful, from the sizzling Little Walter cover opener "Hate To See You Go" and a "Legend of John Henry" that literally could be 25 minutes long and still never get old. The tune "Don't Wake Me" has some great slide guitar, some great harp playing, a few vocals and a piano--in less than 4 minutes this single track alone will pay you back the cost of the cd. There are two versions of "Can't Get Clear"--one electric and one acoustic featuring a banjo--and both burn with a devilish intensity. Everything here sounds just exactly RIGHT, like it is not new at all but years and years old and it has just waiting to be re-discovered and presented again to a world that needed these songs. A big part of why I have complete faith that the blues will never die out is the music like this. These guys can stand before a microphone or a crowd and flat out play--they deliver the living breathing GOODS. M&A have been playing together for almost a decade now, and it's time for the blues world to get excited about them. Don't even hesitate--go buy this disc and listen to it a couple of dozen times. Go see them live.

You can buy this cd at: http://www.morelandarbuckle.com/

Monday, February 15, 2010

"Chicago Blues A Living History"

This 2 disc set was released in April 2009 and it is fabulous. Fabulous. I can understand that a lot of the focus has gone to the featured artists on this set--Billy Boy Arnold, John Primer, Billy Branch and Lurrie Bell--and that is as it should be, because those guys truly bring the Chicago Blues history to living and breathing LIFE. But if I might make this comparison, the Living History Band on this set (Matthew Skoller on harp, Billy Flynn on guitar, Johnny Iguana on keyboards, Felton Crews on bass, Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith on drums) should get some of the credit too. They create a sound, a feel, a pocket that seems deeper than deep. They surround the featured artists with such sensational support that everybody had to raise their game to the a new level. These guys may end up doing for Chicago Blues what the Mannish Boys have done for West Coast blues. I have played this set non-stop in the house, in the car, always for nearly a week, and it still knocks me out. The last blues cd that had this kind of effect on me was "Breakin' It Up Breakin' It Down" with Muddy Waters, Johnny Winter and James Cotton. Like that disc "Chicago Blues A Living History" is a perfect tool for evangelizing people to the blues, too. Just play the opening of Howlin Wolf's "Moanin' At Midnight"--when John Primer hits that first vocal line he actually stops TIME. There are moments exactly like that on every song here. I wish I had bought this set months ago. If you haven't got your copy yet, check out this list of awards.

Most recent awards and nominations:

Grammy nomination:

Best Traditional Blues Album 2010

Best Traditional Blues Album 2009

Blues Music Award nomination:

Best Album 2009

Best Traditional Album 2009

Blues Blast Award:

Winner, Best Traditional Album 2009

L'Académie du Jazz de France:

Winner, Best Blues Album 2009

Now go buy it at http://www.chicagobluesalivinghistory.com/

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Little Joe McLerran "Believe I'll Make A Change"

I'm probably late writing a review of Little Joe's disc--it has already been # 1 on the Roots Music Report for the week of January 29--but let me add my own praise. Little Joe is an up and coming artist out of Tulsa. He was the 2009 International Blues Challenge winner in the solo/duo category. He is a great Piedmont style blues guitarist and vocalist, and he is only 25 years old! This disc has plenty of traditional songs, including the title track, "Jesus Make up My Dyin Bed," "Blue Railroad Train," Down at the Village Store," and "Blues Before Sunrise," a few good songs written by Little Joe, some up tempo tunes, some slow tunes, and a touch of Jimmy Rogers-style country blues in the way he sings just behind the beat. This disc reminds me of Dave Gross' "Crawling The Walls" (2008, Vizztone) in that both artists are immensely talented and both have a huge future ahead of them. Don't be fooled, though. This is not a solo disc. Joe is backed by a capable combo made of Robbie Mack on bass and vocals, Ron McRorey on drums, Dexter Payne on reeds and harmonica, and Jack Wolfe on keyboards. David Berntson and Jimmy Junior Markham each guest on harp on one track.

Give this disc a listen and you'll love it. A strong early contender for Top 10 in 2010. You can buy it at http://www.LittleJoeBlues.com