Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Buddy Guy -- "Rhythm & Blues"

I am not going to write a long detailed review of this--you can read about it in too many other places. It is Buddy Guy, one of the top 4 or 5 guitar players of the past 50 years. He's a six-time Grammy winner, a 28 time Blues Music Awards winner, and he got Kennedy Center Honors. He is in the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame. He was the first to receive the Great Performer of Illinois Award. (Ponder that for a second--Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Magic Sam....all the greats that played in Chicago over the years, and the first award goes to  Buddy Guy. Good job Illinois.) He got a Billboard Music Awards' Century Award for distinguished artistic achievement. He just turned 77 years old, so there won't be too many more cds coming. And on this set he is still at the top of his game, with a great set of musical guests helping him out. Buddy truly knocks this one out of the park.

Think of it this way--if somebody 26 years old came out with these cds, this release would be the talk of the blues world. Buddy will be feted for this, and he deserves every accolade. He has made over 50 other albums, and this one is easily in the Top Ten of his long career.

Buy this as soon as you can. You'll never regret it. Listen to it often. Available wherever you can buy cds.   

Monday, July 22, 2013

The F & G Band -- "Pass It On"

This second release by The F & G Band is a big success! Following on the heels of their 2011 cd "Grease Up Yo' Strutt" (which was in my Top Ten list for that year) this disc features a new lead singer--Sandra Taylor, the daughter of Sam 'Bluzman' Taylor. Edlene Hart moved to Atlanta in an amicable separation from the band, but Sandra Taylor stepped in. With her father's blessing from The Beyond, Sandra seems born to sing the blues--and she sings great on every song here. The songwriting team of Suzanne Foschino and Sly Geralds--the F & G in the band's name--still remain, this time with a batch of new original songs. And so does that funky, slinky, supremely musical band--Sly Geralds on bass and vocals, Tom Foschino on drums, Chuck Russell on guitar. Guest artists include Tim Mitchell plays organ (7 songs) and rhythm guitar (two); Anne Harris from the Otis Taylor Band, plays fiddle on "I'll Find My Way Home; "jazz guitarist Dave Parker lays down a delicious guitar part on "Love...And Other Unfortunate Things;" and Gregory Harrison adds the second vocal on "Let Yo' Feet Stink." My favorite song? "Untie That Knot," which starts out with BB King style slow guitar break, and Sandra's vocal sounds like a younger Koko Taylor. 

The F & G Band is most truly a band, in the most musical sense of the word. They can play any kind of blues, and on this release they pretty much do--fast blues, slow numbers, blues about relationship, about life, about circumstances, both modern and traditional, some laced with gospel, some laced with rock, some laced with a touch of country. Every member contributes to the music this band makes--Sandra sings Sly and Suzanne's great songs with heart and soul, Tom is a great drummer to dance to, and Chuck's guitar work is a blessing. The music on this cd will heal whatever ails you.

"Pass it On" touches on all edges of the blues genre, pushing the envelope just enough to keep things exciting, at the same times as remaining traditional yet fresh.  There is no doubt that this is a blues album to it's core, and you will definitely feel the roots entrenched solidly in blues...but you will hear the newness shining through as well, with each song being a new experience in itself. It is an interesting journey through this American based music, from traditional roots and swampy slide guitar blues and swinging shuffles, through the funky sound of Stax, touching on gospel and even flirting a bit with country.  Reflective and personal, this  is The F & G Band at the peak of their musical influences, including the songwriters, Suzanne Foschino and Sly Geralds. Each song is a story in itself, an individual experience, some a message and some a lesson...some just a tribute.

This is a really good cd--you can buy it at

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Ruff Kutt Blues Band -- "That's When The Blues Begins"

The Ruff Kutt Blues Band is several things--a band with all-star players, from Texas, made up of people whom I have great love and respect for.

Let's start at the beginning. I fell in love with Finis Tasby's voice when I first heard it on Kirk Fletcher's cd "Shades of Blue" (Delta Groove, 2004). That was also where I first heard Janiva Magness, but that story will wait for another article. Shortly after that I stumbled over The Mannish Boys' cd "Lowdown Feeling" (Delta Groove, 2008) where Finis sings on three tracks. Ever since then I have been a fan of Kirk Fletcher and The Mannish Boys aggregate, and seeking Finis Tasby's name on liner notes for cds. I just love the way the man sings--he has a swinging delivery and a passion that helps sell every song to my ears. Well, this cd is the last one Finis Tasby will sing on. He had a debilitating stroke in December 2012.  

Luckily, this is a very fine cd to go out on. The band is top-notch, seasoned pros everywhere. Zac Harmon is on guitar and vocals, and Anson Funderburgh plays guitar and produced the cd, James Goode plays bass and wrote or co-wrote all the songs, with Wes Starr on drums, Ron Jones on sax, Gentleman John Street on keyboards, Steve Richardson brings harmony vocals, and Eric Przygocki plays upright bass. When you have that level of talent in the studio, the results almost have to be terrific--and this is a great one. Things start out with "Deep Elam Blues" and from that strong beginning all the way through to "When A Bluesman Goes To Heaven" the listener is taken on a wonderful ride through the blues.

The Ruff Kutt Blues Band has made two great cds--this one and 2011's "Mill Block Blues." In my own selfishness I'd love for them to keep on, but if because of the loss of Finis Tasby's singing voice this is all we get, I give thanks for the music they have made. In my mind, the Ruff Kutt Blues Band is already a true Texas treasure.

You can buy this cd at One dollar of every cd sold will be donated to the Finis Tasby Medical Fund.