Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Trent Romens -- "Aware"

Trent Romens is a 19-year old guitarist from Edina Minnesota. This is his debut album, but he has been playing blues guitar around Minnesota's Twin Cities since he was 13. From his website: "Trent's greatest influences are the artists that have proven their music to be timeless, and whose songs hold great weight: the lyrics of Bob Marley and Dylan, the improvisational spirit of the Grateful Dead, and the scorching guitar grooves of the The Allman Brothers Band. “I respect the music that has come before me. It’s through these influences that I’ve learned: what goes in comes out. I pour myself into my music, it’s who I am.”

The band includes Romens on vocals, guitar and co-producer, John Wright on bass and co-producer, Toby Marshall on Hammond B-3, Jordon Carlson on drums, Tony Paul on percussion and Cate Fierro and Shalo Lee on backing vocals. The ten selections on "Aware" include eight Trent Romens originals and two covers, St Louis Jimmy Oden's "Going Down Slow" and Big Bill Broozy & Charles Segar's "Key To The Highway," given an acoustic treatment. The songwriting on the originals is solid. There are no lyrics here that will remind you of Bob Marley or Bob Dylan, but the lyrics set things up for the vocals and guitar to take center stage, and Trent's singing is just fine--the key is his guitar work, which is quite impressive for someone of his youth. He plays fast and slow, loud and quiet, electric and acoustic, even a little bottleneck slide, and the playing is spot on. Romens shows a remarkable range and taste, a lot of promise. Highlights include the two covers and "Love's Lost Cause," which does show a lot of Allman Brothers influence, and "Right Back Where I Started" which sounds to me like it could be an early Sean Costello track. There's a lot of soul in both.

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

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Jim McCarty & Friends -- Live From Callahan's

If you're a guitar lover I've got a treat for you. Jim McCarty was the guitarist for Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels and The Buddy Miles Group and Cactus and The Rockets. He flat-out knows rock 'n roll, and here he shows that he knows his way around the blues. This cd was recorded live over a three year period at Callahan's Music Hall in Auburn Hills, Michigan. McCarty lists Callahan's Mike Moss as Executive Producer. The cd features McCarty on a dozen tracks "sitting in" with some of today's leading blues figures as they play at the club--Johnny A and his band, Jason Ricci & New Blood, Duke Robillard and his band, The Millionaires (Big Band), John Nemeth & his band, Johnny "Bee" Badanjek, Jimmy Thackery & the Drivers--and it closes with McCarty's own Mystery Train band.

Highlights? Are you kidding me? Everything here is a highlight! There's two jump instruments with Johnny A, a very hot and tasty "Help Me" with Jason Ricci & New Blood, two great cuts with Duke Robillard, "Hi-Heel Sneakers" and "West Helena Blues," three tracks with The Millionaires, including "tell Me What's The Reason," a cover of The Stooges' "No Fun" and T Bone Walker's "Strollin' With The Bone," John Nemeth singing the hell out of B B KIng's "Sweet Sixteen," Bee Badanjek teaming up with McCarty for "There's A Train Coming Down The Tracks," Jimmy Thackery & the Drivers' doing a kicking version of Chuck Berry's "School Days," and things finish up with McCarty's band Mystery Train covering Duke Pearson's "Cristo Redentor."

McCarty still plays rock & roll, but he plays blues too. "For me, rock ‘n’ roll and blues are both necessary. I need both of them to be musically happy."

This cd was released on June 25. You can buy this cd at I-tunes or contact Mike Moss at Callahan's Music Hall, 2105 South Boulevard, Auburn Hills, Michigan 48326