Monday, November 29, 2010

James Kinds "Love You From The Top"

Bluesman James Kinds was born in Mississippi in 1943. He moved to Chicago in 1959 and was a fixture in the blues and gospel scenes there until 1983, when he moved to Dubuque Iowa. But James' kept performing in Chicago and all over the MIdwest, and between 2004 and 2007 he made three indy cds with the All-Night Riders, and he was inducted into the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame in 2008. James's biggest career hit is a song called "Ada" which he recorded in the mid-'70s for Cloud 9 and it's still James' show-stopping closer which he sang at the 2007 Chicago Blues Festival.

This is James' first major label cd, and it catches this veteran performer in superb form. Kinds wrote all the songs. Along with Kinds on vocals and guitar and Eddie Shaw on sax on four songs, the band includes Al Pool on guitar, Anthony Dotson on bass, and Claude L. Thomas on drums. Now if you happen to read liner notes like I do, you'll know that this is one hot band--Pool, Dotson and Thomas are all veterans of the Chicago blues, and they can each play the blues like ringing a bell, and Eddie Shaw is a legend, the long-time leader of the Howlin' Wolf Gang. So it is with a sense of anticipation that I dropped this one in the cd player, and this cd does not disappoint.

Things kick off with the title track, and wow, James Kinds can sing--he has maybe the best voice in the blues right now. The guitar work is spot-on, and everything is deep in the pocket, and Shaw blows a great solo. And it never drops off! Song after song, everything is sweet and strong and tasty. Kinds tells his story in "Mason Dixon Line Blues," and he does a humorous song about the perils of booze on "I Didn't Go Home" and he adds a gospel touch to the slow blues of "Take A Look At Yourself" and on "Johnny Mae" he brings forth another song as good as "Ada." Every note on this cd COOKS! On a normal CD there are 12 songs, and the last notes of "Johnny Mae" would be the end--but Kinds has been waiting too long to make this breakthrough to stop where everybody else might. He treats us to three more great songs, including "I Can't Take It" and "My Mama Told Me," and both of those songs are terrific. Every song on this cd is terrific.

A very fine release. You can buy this cd at

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Delta Flyers "Sixteen Bars"

The Delta Flyers are an awesome blues force. Let me tell you, if you like that sweet bluesy music made by Canned Heat back in the 60s you will love this disc. This is a great cd, and a great band. The music is built around the vocals and harmonica work of Steve DuPree and the guitar work of Travis Stephenson. The songs were all written either by DuPree or by DuPree/Stephenson. The Delta Flyers encompass an impressive range of rural blues and country styles supported by Jack Saunders (bass, percussion and backing vocals), Rick Richards (drums), Rich DelGrosso (mandolin) and Sister Tommie Lee Bradley (backing vocals). Things kick off with "61 Highway Blues," an electric slide guitar shuffle, then the jaunty country two-step beat of "Sixteen Bars," which is not about gin mills or the length of a blues progression but the number of bars in a jail cell door. "Mentone, Alabama" is a road trip song done up with joy and tight bluegrass-style harmony vocals. Things stay in a high energy mood thru "Baby's So Fine," a superb boogie shuffle. Then comes the best song on the cd, and a strong candidate for Bruce's song of the year, "Sunflower River Rag." By itself worth the cost of the whole disc! It sounds like it could be by the Marshall Tucker Band or the Pure Prairie League or the Doobie Brothers or even Alabama but it's better than all those others! DuPree's vocals and Stephenson's guitar ride over the rhythm, and when the chorus comes in with Sister Tommie Lee it blows my head clean off. I had to listen to it three or four times in a row, just to enjoy it again and again. Next comes "Poison Took My Baby," a cautionary tale about drug abuse. "Dockery Farm" pays tribute to that famous Delta plantation with a hypnotic, twangy hill country groove that will not quit. "Fishin' Little Mama" is a Chicago-style blues shuffle, and "Baby Jane" is another country two-step featuring great drumming by Richards. Then things close out with "I Got To Testify," a nice gospel-style song featuring great work by Rich DelGrosso on mandolin and backing vocals by The Fabulous Inebriators.

I love this one. A very strong release. This one will be released on January 4th on Soulbilly Records. You can buy it at the band's website,

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Todd Sharpville "Porchlight"

Todd Sharpville's new cd "Porchlight" is a compelling release--partly because of the musical quality of his guitar and vocals, partly because of who and what Todd Sharpville is. According to Wikipedia, "Sharpville (born The Hon. Roland Augusto Jestyn Estanislao Philipps, 9 April 1970, London) is the younger son of the 3rd Viscount St Davids and younger brother of 4th Viscount St Davids, is a British musician, singer-songwriter and lead guitarist, mainly in the blues field." He's British royalty, and he plays guitar, writes and sings.

I really don't care about the royalty angle--what interests me is the music, and Sharpville has been making records since 1994's "Touch Of Your Love" (Red Lightnin' Records), which won "Best Album" in 1994 in the British Blues Connection awards (Britain's equivalent to the W.C. Handy Awards). He won the British Blues Connection "Best UK Guitarist" award in 1995. His second album was 2001's "The Meaning Of Life" (Cathouse Records), and featured guests Leo Sayer, Eugene "Hideaway" Bridges, Snowy White, Paul Lamb, Keith Dunn, and ex-Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor. Sharpville also appeared on Leo Sayer's "Voice In My Head" (2005) and Albert Hammond's "Revolution Of The Heart" (2006).

As an antidote to the mention of Leo Sayer, let me point out that Sharpville's new blues double album "Porchlight" was produced by Duke Robillard and features guests: Duke Robillard, Joe Louis Walker, & Kim Wilson. The Todd Sharpville Band includes Mark Teixeira on drums, Jessie Williams on bass, Bruce Bears on keyboards and a fine horn section consisting of Scott Aruda on trumpet, Doug 'Mr. Low' James on baritone sax, Carl Ouerfurth on trombone, and Mike Tucker on alto sax. That cast of characters and guests make this a pretty good double cd. Todd Sharpville writes all 15 songs, and I really like the majority of them, as Sharpville gets into various styles of blues with fine results.

Things kick off with "If Love Is A Crime" which features good work by Sharpville and Kim Wilson. That is followed by "Lousy Husband (But A Real Good Dad)" which features good work by both Duke and Sharpville and especially Bruce Bears on piano. Next up is "Used," in which Sharpville gets to show his major guitar talents. Then "Why Does It Rain?" which features the horn section--this may be the best song on the record. Things wander astray a bit with the next two tracks, "Can't Stand The Crook" and "Everything Will Be Alright," but everything comes back into major focus with the next song "Old Feeling" which is 5 minutes of great music.

The second cd is similarly strong out of the box, with "When The World's Not Enough" which is fine rockabilly, and "When The Blues Come Calling," which reminds me of Eric Clapton in a good way, and then things droop with the dreadful "If That Ain't Love What Is?" and the leaden "Legacy of Greed." But then things pick up again with "Whole Lotta Lady" which features that fat baritone sax and that great Duke Robillard sound, and the next three songs "Misery" and "Busted In Pieces" and "Porchlight" are all highlights--all great guitar and band burning the house down. "Misery" or "Porchlight" are the most personal songs on the disc, and there Todd Sharpville makes his stand. This guy is really good, even if he is a Brit and royalty. Grab this set, give it a listen, and see what I mean.

This cd is on MiG (Made in Germany) Records. You can buy it at