Monday, September 26, 2011

Diunna Greenleaf -- "Trying To Hold On"

Diunna Greenleaf has released a winner! She can sing, O God this woman can sing so good; AND she wrote or co-wrote 12 of the 14 songs; AND she is backed by a stellar group of musicians .... including Mookie Brill, Bob Margolin, Rich Del Grosso, John Del Torro Richardson, Smokin' Joe Kubek, Anson Funderburgh, Billy Branch, and most of The Rhythm Room All Stars, Bob Corritore, Patrick Rynn, Chris James. Every song is a beautiful slice of Diunna's soul. Diunna dedicates this cd to the memory of Koko Taylor, and like Koko did, Diunna delivers a genuine and heartfelt performance on every song.

"Be For Me" is an up-tempo song, featuring Bob Corritore's tasteful harp fills over Bob Morgolin's guitar leads. "Sunny Day Friends" is a warning, and "Growing Up and Growing Old" is a quiet thoughtful meditation on mortality, "Beautiful Hat" showcases Rich Del Grosso's mandolin, and then "I Can't Wait" is the showstopper; a fast loud powerful blues party packed in 3 minutes 45 seconds. "Taking Chances" features Smokin' Joe Kubek on guitar, John Street on piano, and Ron Jones on sax. Just fantastic. "Tryin' To Hold On" tells the story of a REAL blues band struggling to get by, and "You Don't Feel That Way About Me" is note-perfect Stax soul by Josh Preslar and Diunna. The rest of the cd is just great, song after song.

If Otis Redding had lived another decade I imagine this is exactly the sort of music he would have made. If you love vocalists, Diunna is a marvel. Buy this cd. That's all I can say.

You can buy it at

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Brick Fields -- "Gospel Blue"

Brick Fields are an Eureka Springs, Arkansas-based band combining elements of blues, jazz and gospel into a remarkable roots music. The members are Rachel Fields Brick on vocals, acoustic guitar and flute; Larry Brick on guitar and backing vocals; Randy Fairbanks on keyboards; Johnny Ray on bass; Casey Terry on sax and Caleb Bomar on drums. Rachel and Larry met and started the duo in 2007, forming a partnership based around music and their Christian faith. The band was fleshed out in 2010 and won the Ozarks Blues Society of NWA Blues Challenge and competed in the 2011 International Blues Challenge in Memphis.

Gospel Blue contains nine original songs and a jazzy, bluesy cover of "Amazing Grace." Things open up with "On The Vine," which is a showcase for Fields' voice. She has a big but gloriously controlled alto, with a wide range, always deep in the pocket and wonderfully supported by the passion of Brick's guitar. Fields adds flute to the slow minor blues of "Cryin." "In The Light Of Love" is an up-tempo gospel number spotlighting Brick's jazzy guitar. "Hopelessly Addicted" is an old-school acoustic blues ballad, and probably Field's most effective vocal. Here her voice blends beautifully with Brick's guitar and Terry's sax to form a transcendent musical moment. "Talk About The Weather" features a sweet sax turn by Terry, along with good vocal interplay between Fields and backup singer Rain Equine. "How Long" is a sweet love ballad that could be addressed to a lover or the Creator. Again here Brick and Terry shine on guitar and sax. "These Are The Days" is an upbeat R&B number, and then the rest of the cd shifts towards bluesy gospel with "Go With The Soul," "Lord I'm Coming Home," and "Amazing Grace" wrapping things up.

Brick Fields are a welcome addition to the blues world, especially as a vehicle for the voice of Rachel Fields Brick. She stands out, worthy to be compared to Kris Schnebelen of Trampled Under Foot. If you are a fan of female vocalists and good guitar work, (and who isn't?) you will like this cd. I like this cd. Good job Brick Fields!

This cd is self-produced. You can see Brick Fields live at the King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena Arkansas on October 8, 2011, and you can buy this cd at

Monday, September 19, 2011

D'Mar & Gill -- Real Good Friend

I have to thank my friend Chris Puyear for hooking me up with this fine disc. He said the magic words--"Want to hear something a little different?" and I was hooked. Derrick "D'Mar" Martin on drums and percussion and backing vocals, Chris Gill on acoustic guitars and lead vocals--that's it. But these two master music makers carry you back to the 1930s in Mississippi, they show exactly how much can be created with just that spare instrumentation. And they do it with nine original songs and only one cover, Little Walter's "My Babe," which they re-create as a funky rumba. Of course, these are not your ordinary blues musicians. Derrick Martin has been a long-time session drummer, and for 15 years he played with Little Richard and Nu Funk. Chris Gill is the leader of the Sole Shakers and has a long career playing acoustic solo gigs. Together they create something altogether different than you might expect given their backgrounds--they play an acoustic, expressive, inventive and moody blues. "Every track presents a completely enriching musical experience cut live in the studio"--that's from the promo sheet, but it's right on the money. I was expecting something like an acoustic Moreland & Arbuckle, and what I found was not quite Moreland & Arbuckle--this is more like the roots music of Grant Dermody or Dave Gross. Here Martin weaves a deep pocket around the beat on a set of African drums. Gill works with a National steel guitar, or a National Tritrone guitar, and he sings off the beat, too, playing around that wonderful deep percussion. Everything is warm and well-played and thoughtful.

This cd would be good at your local Hi-Fi store, just so you can hear how wonderful those big-dollar speakers sound playing real music from honest-to-God musicians.

Just listen. You can buy this cd at

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Bernie Pearl -- "Sittin' on the Right Side of the Blues"

Bernie Pearl has a new cd! Those in the know need read no further--they're already going to get this disc. "Sittin' On the Right Side of the Blues" was recorded live at Boulevard Music, Culver City, on February 5, 2011 with Bernie on acoustic guitar and vocals, Mike Berry on upright bass. The song order was changed, but there are no overdubs. Pearl and Berry make beautiful acoustic music together, with abundant taste and style. This time out they feature several Mississippi Fred MacDowell songs, some Lightnin' Hopkins songs, Muddy Waters' "Can't Be Satisfied," Son House's "Shetland Pony Blues" the Baton Rouge artist Herman E Johnson's "I Just Keep On Wanting You," Mance Lipscomb's "Night Time Is The Right Time," and some Pearl originals. The cumulative effect is a sweet gentle musical blessing. Just listen.

The cd is just exactly what you get if you are lucky enough to be at Boulevard Music or one of the other clubs like Iva Lee's or Lucille's Smokehouse BBQ on a night when Bernie Pearl is playing. He learned everything he could about living the blues and playing the guitar beginning as a teen in the early 60s at the Ash Grove in Los Angeles, sitting at the feet of the greats like Mance Lipscomb, Lightnin' Hopkins, Fred MacDowell, John Hurt, Freddie King, Big Mama Thornton, John Lee Hooker and many more. Bernie is now 70 years old, but he is still learning and teaching those lessons to everybody who will listen.

There are several great acoustic artists out there--Steve Howell comes to mind--musicologists using 6 strings and their voices to share the old truths and make them new. Bernie Pearl is as good as it comes. Just listen. And if you're ever near Culver City, California, head over to Boulevard Music and catch Bernie playing live. You'll thank me.

You can buy this cd at

Friday, September 16, 2011

Tom Hambridge -- Boom!

Tom Hambridge's cd Boom! is probably the # 1 cd I've listened to so far this year. Nashville-based, Hambridge tears things up from the start to finish. Hambridge is probably best known as a producer, songwriter, session singer, and drummer. He has produced albums by such luminaries as Buddy Guy, Johnny Winter, George Thorogood, and Susan Tedeschi. He has been nominated for four Grammy Awards and won for his production of Buddy Guy’s Living Proof CD in the Best Contemporary Blues Album Category. He has also carved out a nice solo career for himself. Boom is his sixth album release and he toured all summer as the opening act for Lynyrd Skynyrd. This month he is on the road with George Thorogood.

Hambridge weaves together all his blues, rock and country influences on Boom! He wrote all the songs, collaborating with Gary Nicholson, Delbert McClinton, Jeffrey Steele ands Lynyrd Skynyrd's Johnny Van Zant. The opener "I Keep Things" and the closer "I Had A Real Good Time" bookend the cd with real good time rock. Hambridge does the Southern rock/country thing proud with "I Got Your Country Right Here," which was a hit for Gretchen Wilson, and "Things I Miss The Most," which was a hit by Donnie and Johnny Van Zant. Hambridge does a bluesy turn with "Upside Of Love," "Two Thumbs Up," "Nine Pound Hammer" and "The Pistol." My favorite song here is "Never Gonna Change," which sounds like a great slice of ZZ Top. Inspired slide work by Rob McNelley.

A great cd. You can buy it online at