Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Marshall Lawrence "Blues Intervention" & Andy Cohen "Built Right On The Ground"

Two acoustic guitarists, each with new cds, each one really good at what they do. Marshall Lawrence is from Canada and Andy Cohen is from Memphis. I have been listening to both discs a lot, going back and forth, and I decided to just present them both at once.

Marshall Lawrence writes 10 of the 13 tracks on "Blues Intervention." The writing on the originals is quite good. The playing by Lawrence on vocals, guitar, mandolin, banjo, jug and thigh slaps, with the terrific Sherman "Tank" Doucette on harp, and the equally terrific Russell Jackson on stand up bass, is very top notch. And Lawrence has gotten great support for this cd--"Blues Intervention" ranked #3 on The Blues List - May 2010 for Blues Underground Network's Top Picks for May 2010 and "Blues Intervention" has charted in the Top 10 on Canada's Roots Music Report for radio play. Lawrence deserves every bit of that. This is a good cd. My favorite tracks here are "Going Down to Louisiana," a Lawrence original, and the cover of Tommie Johnson & Mattie Delaney's song "Traveling Blues."

And if you are a fan of good acoustic guitar music, this new disc by Andy Cohen is very good. Cohen only writes one original song here--his style is, like Steve Howell, to find and play good songs that deserve resurrecting. Many of these songs are from the 1920s and 1930s. "Built Right On The Ground" is almost completely a solo effort--Cohen plays guitar on all tracks, and piano on two songs, and dolceola on one track. He is joined by his wife Larkin Bryant on vocal and mandolin on 2 songs, and Kurt Anderson on vocals and guitar on 2 more. The playing and singing here is absolutely stellar--it reminds me of Doc Watson in that from song to song it's either blues or country or ragtime or blues again. Every note here is good music, that's for sure. My favorite tracks here are "Mopper's Blues," a Big Bill Broonzy cover, and the Bobby Charles song "Tennessee Blues."

The Marshall Lawrence disc is an indy relese--you can buy it at
The Andy Cohen disc is on Earwig Records--you can buy it at

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Cathy Lemons and Johnny Ace "Lemonace"

This is a perfect cd for a late night road trip. At least that's the way I first heard it, and the other night when I was making another late-night trip down the country two lane roads of South Georgia this cd was the first thing I packed for the trip. Johnny Ace plays the bass like it amplifies his heartbeat, and his heart has a lot to say. Cathy Lemons is one of those women singers who can sing anything and make it compelling. Pierre Le Corre plays great guitar all over this disc, with a little help here and there from Kid Andersen and Tommy Castro. The drum chair is ably filled by Artie "Stix" Chavez. Guests include David Maxwell, who contributes terrific piano work on "When Bad Luck Looks Good" and "Gimme A Penny", Paul Oscher, who contributes a great harp turn on "Gimme A Penny," and Ron Thompson, who contributes a typically understated sweet slide guitar solo on "Shoot To Kill."

When I first fell for the blues back thirty-five-plus years ago, this was the kind of music that hooked the teenage me--great vocals over a rich deep bed of bass and drums, with slinky great guitar and harp work weaving through everything and tying everything together. I remember the first time I heard the Butterfield Blues band as if it was just yesterday. Those guys knew the formula--they had listened to and played with everybody who was anybody in Chicago--and they brought the music to rich throbbing LIFE. It was new and yet it wasn't, and they didn't give a damn if you liked it or if you didn't. Well, this cd captures a bunch of that same feel. It's hard and deep and rich.

Tommy Castro writes the liner notes, and he calls this "a strong and soulful effort." He's right.

This cd is on Vizztone Records.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Annie Piper "Chasin Tail"

From the first cluster of guitar notes this cd grabbed my attention, and then a wonderful thing happened--Annie Piper began to sing. She has the kind of voice and delivery that goes straight to your heart. The music is passionate in-your-face blues and blues rock, played well and best heard LOUD. The songs are originals, along with ripping good covers of Freddie King's "Hideaway" and Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Child Slight Return." If you are a fan of Janiva Magness just go buy this cd immediately--Annie Piper will, as my friend Don says, melt your face right off. The band is Sam Buckley on guitar, Annie Piper on vocals and bass, and Reuben Alexander on drums. Good stuff.

This cd is on Blues Leaf Records.