Monday, April 29, 2013

The Hitman Blues Band -- "Blues Enough"

I want to review some great music that I missed earlier in the year, back when I was depressed about winter. Let's start with The Hitman Blues Band. "Blues Enough" was released back on January 31, and there is plenty of really good music here--enough to be worth your $10. (that's the price if you buy it from the band's website, which is at the end of this review.)

This is the fifth cd from the HBB, and the songs are all written by the Hitman, Russell Alexander. He also sings and plays guitar. Kevin Rymer is on keyboards, Mike Porter is on bass, and Guy LaFountaine is on drums. This cd shows off their new three piece horn section (Michael Snyder on saxes, Eric Altarac on trumpet, and Al Alpert on trombone) along with special guest appearances by Neil Alexander on harp and backup vocalists Victoria Anyah and Joanna Alexander.

This cd is dedicated in loving memory of Sam 'The Bluzman' Taylor.

The addition of the horn section gives the HBB an even fuller sound. These guys make beautiful rocking blues music. A word of warning to those old-school blues purists--beware! But for those with a more tolerant love for the joy of music, please check out this cd. It is an exciting, energetic set for people who want to have fun listening to music. The songs are well written.  Beginning with the title track, the CD jumps right into the heat with call and response action: “Is it blues enough for ya?” Followed by a tribute to the late, great Sam “The Bluzman” Taylor, the beat stays happy with beer soaked advice to go “Fishing Where The Fish Are”. The double entendre “Backhand Drive” gives way to the raw emotion of “Every Piece Of Me”, a real crowd favorite. The flat tire shuffle of “Everything You Do” picks up the smiles again, followed by “Streets Of Downtown”, a visit with street people familiar to far too many of us. The swing influenced “Life’s Too Short” gets your blood pumping, then the band declares a change of attitude: from now on, they’ll hang out with a “Better Class Of Bums”. The wistful song of loss, “Deaf, Dumb & Blind” leads into the boastful finale, “Tough Street”.

Good playing, good writing, good singing--what else do I need to say? The last cd I heard that was this much fun to listen to was George Thorogood & the Destroyers' "Bad To The Bone." Snap this one up. You won't regret it. 
You can buy this cd at:  You can also sign up on the band's website and receive a FREE 9 song sampler of the HBB's music. I just signed up a few minutes ago--after I finish this review, I'm going to listen to even more great music by the Hitman Blues Band.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Stevie DuPree & The Delta Flyers -- "Dr DuPree's Love Shop"

Stevie DuPree & The Delta Flyers started out in Texas in 2007 as an acoustic duo. Since then they have represented the Houston Blues Society in the solo/duo category at the International Blues Challenge in 2008, 2009, and 2010.  They have also released two cds--2007's "On The Levee Road" and 2011's "Sixteen Bars." This is their third cd.

The twelve original songs spotlight DuPree's vocals backed by Travis Stephenson on guitars, Quentin "Q" Calva on bass, Steve Bundrick on drums. Guest artists include Mark "Kaz" Kazanoff on production, tenor sax, harmonica, backing vocals and percussion, Mark Connolly on keyboards, the Texas Horns (Kazanoff, John Mills, Al Gomez) along with guest turns by Derek O'Brian on guitar, Marcia Ball on piano, and vocalists Alice Stewart and Lisa Tingle.

Every song has hooks galore. The opener, "Broke Up," borrows that Credence slide break, and tells a redemptive story of life after loss. "First Dance" has Marcia Ball's N'Awlins style piano leading the Texas Horns in a hot jump blues number. Hearing this song, I have to admit I would love to hear Marcia Ball do an entire acoustic album with The Texas Horns. The title track is a rawkin' slice of r&b featuring Stewart and Tingle on vocals and Kaz on sax. "St Paul's Bottoms" is a driving country blues featuring Stephenson's guitar and a really good break by Kaz on harp. "My Angel Of Mercy" slows everything down to tell a story of love and loss, but things pick up again on "Soulbilly Music" as the band rips out over a funky groove. "Ain't Gonna Be Your Dog" and the next track, It's My Life" are powerful examples of what this band is capable of, as everybody plays great and they burn down the house. It's songs like these that make it so much fun seeing The Delta Flyers live. "The Witness Tree" is my favorite song on the cd, a gospel-tinged ballad over Connolly's great piano playing. I've played this one a lot on my radio show, Bruce's Texas Blues, (on Thursdays 4-6pm eastern time at   "That Ol' Mule" is a showcase for Kazanoff's harmonica and DuPree's best singing on the cd. "Lucky Seven" is a fast number that shows off Bundrick's drum talents and yet another hot guitar solo by Stephenson. "Hard Act To Follow" opens with very nice organ by Connolly and wraps things up over a funky Motown riff.

There is a ton of talent in the band, and DuPree is a really good singer and songwriter. The potential that was obvious on "On The Levee Road" and "Sixteen Bars" has grown and developed into a top-notch band.   

You can buy this cd at