Friday, October 29, 2010

Lance Lopez "Salvation From Sundown"

Lance Lopez is a blues-rock guitar gunslinger, and "Salvation From Sundown" is a great blues-rock cd. I was tipped off to Lance's music back in 2007 by my DJ friend Mark Smith, the Blues Pilot at KJLU FM. Mark always has loved a hot 3 piece band. Turns out Lance Lopez has been around for quite a while, including a 3 year stint in Lucky Peterson's band starting when Lance was just 18. In 1999 Lance won the Southeastern Regional JIMI HENDRIX Electric Guitar competition in New Orleans sponsored by EXPERIENCE HENDRIX. Lopez has released 5 previous cds--the first one was "First Things First" in 1998 which should have been a big hit. Over the years Lance has continued to develop a hard-charging style, complimented perfectly by a gruff voice. This album is his best yet. It was produced by Jim Gaines, and the band is Tony Valdez on bass and Cody Norman on drums. The first song "Love Of Mine" sets out what's coming--a straightforward full guitar tone played with confidence, with the voice front and center, telling a story with fire and heart. After that comes what may be the best song here, "My Good Thang," and on song after song both the writing and the playing are just top-notch. A dozen sizzling cuts. If you like your blues heavy with a dose of rock on the side, this disc is right up your alley. If you like Todd Wolfe or Albert Cummings you should give Lance Lopez a listen. Really good stuff.

This cd is on MIG label. Release date is November 9, 2010. You can buy this cd at

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ernie Hawkins "Whinin' Boy"

Ernie Hawkins is a great finger-style acoustic guitarist. His new cd "Whinin' Boy" should establish him at the very top rank in the genre. Hawkins took lessons with Rev Gary Davis back in the 60s, and this time around he plays with a band. And what a great band it is! The band includes Dwayne Dolphin, the jazz bassist; Joe Dallas on trombone; Paul Cosentino on clarinet; Roger Day on tuba; James Moore on trumpet; Marc Reisman, on harmonica; and percussionist George Heid, who also produces "Whinin' Boy." They offer up a smorgasbord of great songs, starting out with the Jelly Roll Morton penned title track, the Naset-Kahn "Susie (of the Islands), the Donaldson-Kahn "Makin' Whoopie" in a Dixieland arrangement, a couple of originals, the Little Brother Montgomery "Vicksburg Blues," Louis Armstrong's "Weather Bird," Irving Berlin's "Blue Skies," Big Bill Broonzy's "Shuffle Rag," and the Rev Gary Davis' "There Is a Table in Heaven." The songs vary from fingerpicking blues to dixieland and back--and everything here is beautifully done. Check it out!

Ernie Hawkins has been featured in SingOUT!, Fingerstyle Guitar, Dirty Linen, Acoustic Guitar, Blues Revue and Vintage Guitar magazines. He has appeared on "A Prairie Home Companion", "Mountain Stage" , "Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour" and XM radio. Ernie appears on Maria Muldaur's Grammy and Handy nominated and Indie Award winning album "Richland Woman Blues."

This cd is on Corona Records, and you can buy it online at

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Buddy Guy "Living Proof"

Buddy Guy may be 74 years young, but this man is not old or tired--and this is no nostalgia act. A dozen dynamite songs loaded with amazing guitar work, passionate vocals and a great band adds up to a top-notch release. From the opening notes of the opener "74 Years Young" Buddy hits it out of the park on every song--the bragging, the storyteller, the guitarist with power and style and fire. I've listened to it half a dozen times now, and each time I'm literally exhausted by the energy and the effort Buddy puts fourth here. The band is super tight. The songs are all written or co-written by drummer and producer Tom Hambridge, who along with Michael Rhodes on bass, David Grissom on second guitar, and Reese Wynans on keyboards make up the Buddy Guy Band. Special guests include B B King on the wonderful "Stay Around A Little Longer," Carlos Santana adding a beautiful lyrical Latin-styled turn on "Where The Blues Begins," The Memphis Horns making things pop on "On The Road," and Wendy Moten and Bekka Bramlett adding backing vocals on three tracks. Then way too soon everything closes with this fabulous burning song "Skanky" where Buddy shows that he hasn't lost anything at all. He started out with Raful Neal in Louisiana nearly 60 years ago, and he has been one of the top guitarists around for over 50 years, and on this cd Buddy Guy reminds the world that he isn't done yet. Go see him live when you get a chance, even though he sometimes talks a little too much, because he's one of the GIANTS and they won't always be here among us.

You can buy this wherever blues cds are sold.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

What's new?

It has been a couple of weeks since I posted, and the stack of worthy discs just gets higher. Lately I've been listening a lot to these fine cds: Kenny Neal's latest "Hooked On Your Love," Tim Woods' "The Blues Sessions," and Chrissie O'Dell & One Hot Mess "If I Had A Dime." All three are really terrific work, with great singing and playing and a lot of blues fire.

Kenny Neal continues to be the pre-eminent Louisiana swamp bluesman out there, carrying the banner from his father Raful Neal. Raful gave Buddy Guy his first break into the business. I've been listening to Kenny Neal since 1989, and he continues to hold the blues banner high. Kenny continues another family tradition, with nephew Tyree and brother Frederick Neal on keyboards and brother Darnell Neal on bass. Top cut to my ears is " New Lease on Life," which sizzles. On Blind Pig.

Hard to believe this is Tim Woods' debut cd after playing guitar for 25+ years. Here he gathers a star-studded band in "The Blues Sessions," including David "Honeyboy" Edwards, Ike Stubblefield, Bob Stroger, Lee Williams and Big Jack Johnson. With players like that it would be easy to get overshadowed on your own record, but Woods' voice ties everything together. Includes a terrific "Deep Ellum Blues" and a wonderful cover of WilIie Dixon's "It Don't Make Sense You Can't Make Peace." Honeyboy Edwards sings lead and plays guitar on three songs here. This one will appeal to everybody on your Christmas list. On Earwig Music.

Chrissie O'Dell & One Hot Mess' "If I Had A Dime" is also a debut cd. When you hear Chrissie sing a few lines of the title track you'll know why she has suddenly been discovered--she is the best new female vocalist out there in years. She reminds me of Koko Taylor. Check out the song here "Sleep All Day"--a hot honking tour de force. The One Hot Mess band includes John Bendy on guitar, Bill Quinn on organ, Craig "Clutch" Costa on bass and Papa John on drums. They make a straightforward righteous blues. Catch her at the beginning of what we all hope will be a long and lustrous career. Indy release.

These three are all well worth your time and your money. You can buy these at