Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Matt Baxter and Jake Sampson -- "Haunted"

Matt Baxter & Jake Sampson are both excellent musicians with long track records of playing with other artists. Baxter has played with Price Buster and Longhorn Slim and Procol Harum's Gary Brooker and Donnie Osmond. Sampson has played with  Barry Levenson and many others. They are now based in San Francisco.

On this release, Sampson plays bass and sings, Baxter plays guitar, slide guitar and dobro. Guests include Tony Coleman on drums on one track, Dave Pellicciaro on Hammond B-3 organ on one track, and Simon Russell on piano on one track. The ten tracks, all written by the artists, are contemporary acoustic delta style blues. If you like the old Robert Johnson songs, or Son House, or the first Hot Tuna album, you will like this--these guys have re-created the good stuff, without using a hundred year old recording techniques or really old microphones. Instead of making it sound old, they make it sound great.

Sampson sounds like a younger John Lee Hooker or Taj Mahal. His bass playing is rich and deep, augmented by great playing Coleman and Pelliciaro on "Don't It Make You Feel Good" and by Simon Russell's piano on "Take Me Back Home." Baxter is a great guitar player throughout, and he never overplays. This release shows both musicians to great advantage, without any artifice or ego. Everything is direct and simple, but to truly unwrap the talent of what has been created here, you might have to turn it up a little--and listen a little harder than usual.

My favorite tracks here are the title track, with great guitar and vocal, and "Highway 54," which drew me in at first listen. "Jaime Lynn" stands out with a country feel, and "Dusty Mule" may be the best song--with everything absolutely perfect.

You can buy this cd at or at Amazon. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Solomon King -- "Train"

I just wrote a review of David Egan's latest cd, took a break for lunch, and here I am again, writing a review of Solomon King's "Train."

Solomon King is both a man and a band--the man sings and plays guitar in the band--and he does both with an extra measure of grit and soul. This is King's third release, after "Buy The Medicine" (2011) and "Under The Sun" (2009). On "Train" King writes all the songs. The band includes Johann Frank on additional guitars, Steven "Styxxx" Marshall on drums, Princeton Arnold on bass, Buddy Pierson on Hammond B-3, Nate Laguzza on additional drums and percussion, Jimmy Powers and Glenn Doll on harmonica, and a bunch of people contributing background vocals: Maxayn Lewis, Connie Jackson, Gaby Teran and Jorge Costa.  

They make a very attractive blues music together. For months I have been talking it up, playing this cd for people everywhere. Once they hear it everybody loves "Baby Does Me Good" and "Coffee Song." I have played them on my blues show at "Country Song" might be my favorite song on the cd. There's a great (but brief) guitar solo on "My Baby's Love." If I ever could learn to play the guitar--which would only happen by either a miracle or by osmosis--one of the very first things I would want to play is "Slo Blues"--which has a very tasty guitar solo. Special cudos to the rhythm section--Marshall & Arnold lie down interesting and captivating work on every song here. And those background vocalists? They are used to good effect--making an inviting pocket to surround the lead vocals and guitars.  King's vocals mark him in the top rank of blues artists--he sings great.

Solomon King's new release "Train" is the sign of an artist on his way up. This is his best music so far--with great singing, strong songwriting, and a selfless maturity--and yet I sense even bigger things ahead. This cd reminds me of early Dire Straits or The Band circa "Music From Big Pink," great music following an artistic vision all in service of each individual song. One of the best albums so far of 2013.  

You can buy this cd at

David Egan -- "David Egan"

David Egan is a piano playing, blues singing man from Shreveport Louisiana, and this cd is his best in a career that spans 30+ years.

This is David Egan's third release, following 2003's "Twenty Years of Trouble" (Louisiana Red Hot Records) and 2008's "You Don't Know Your Mind" (Out Of The Past Records).

Egan wrote all 12 songs. The band is Egan on piano, electric piano, organ, and vocals backed by Joe McMahan on guitar, Ron Eoff on bass, Mike Sipos on drums, assisted by guest artists Dickey Landry (bari sax), Bruce MacDonald (guitar), Lil' Buck Senegal (guitar), Buddy Flett (guitar), Mike Dillon (congas, percussion), and Roddie Romero  and Caleb Elliott on backing vocals.  

Egan cruises smoothly through these songs, telling his stories with a wonderful warm touch on the keys and a relaxed voice that is a salve for your soul. It is wonderful music-making throughout--everybody on this cd plays beautifully. Just to hear Lil' Buck Senegal and Buddy Flett laying down some guitar wizardry, along with Dickey Landry's sax on "Call Your Children Home"--my favorite track here, and by itself, worth the price of admission. And there are six or seven other songs here that are every bit as good. If you find yourself ailing in the spirit, this cd can seriously help minister to you. Strong contender for my list of top 10 of the year.

Buy it. You won't regret it. You can buy it at