Friday, April 8, 2016

Jeff Chaz -- "Sounds Like The Blues To Me"

I first became acquainted with the music of Jeff Chaz in 2006, when I was the Sunday night DJ at KJLU 89.5 fm in Jefferson City MO. One week in September I stumbled across his song "Morning Coffee." The thing that hooked me on Jeff Chaz, besides his obvious chops, was his sincerity--listening to him it sounded like he didn't take himself too seriously. "Morning Coffee" sounded great that night in a playlist next to songs by Geoff Achison, Blue Soul, Sugar Ray & The Bluetones and Shemekia Copeland. 

Jeff Chaz has been a blues guitarist for half of his life. Based in New Orleans, he started out playing trumpet and then trombone, but soon switched to guitar. Chaz also sings and writes songs. On this cd, he wrote all the songs, one with Steve Lowry. Everything was recorded at Radionic Studio in Jefferson Louisiana. This time out Chaz sings and plays guitar, joined by Doug Therrien and David Hyde on bass, Doug Belote, Allyn Robinson and Willie Panker on drums, John Autin on Hammond B-3 organ and piano, A J Pittman on trumpet and Ward Smith on saxes. 

In 2013 Chaz released a cd "Chronicles" which revived some of those old songs, including "Morning Coffee." This is the first cd of new music since 2006's "Jeff Chaz In Exile." The guitar work is top notch, as it usually is with Jeff Chaz. The band is tight and loose at the same time. Regular readers here will know I love a band with a horn section, so I like hearing that. But the best thing about this release are the songwriting and vocals. They are what sets Chaz apart from most everybody else. Two examples--there's a song here "I'm Goin' After Moby Dick In A Rowboat" with a line "...and I'm bringing the tartar sauce." He might be setting off on a hopeless mission, but still, if he is successful he will be ready. Another example is in a song "Will You Be Mine" where the lyrics are nothing very special but he sings in the upper part of his range--just a simple thing like that. It communicates the anxiety and fear behind the title question without a doubt. And on both these songs, the guitar is just terrific.

One listen and you'll be glad you bought this cd.

Buy it at

Friday, April 1, 2016

Mark Cameron -- "Playing Rough"

From the very first few notes of the first song, "Doctor In The House," Mark Cameron lays down a winner with his new cd "Playing Rough." Of course, with a 30 year track record of making music based in Minneapolis, Cameron knows what he is doing...and he does it so good. This is his fourth blues release, following “Life Of Illusion” (2009) “Built To Bust” (2011) and "One Way Ride To The Blues" (2014). I took the tour to give all of those releases a listen, and "Playing Rough" is both a continuation and a fresh start. 

The band this time out includes Cameron on guitar, Bill Keyes on harmonica, Scott Lindberg on bass, Dan Schroeder on drums, and Sheri Cameron on flute. Additional musicians include Sara Renner and Tonia Hughes on background vocals, Scott Sansby on washboard and bones, Jason Craft on keyboards, and Greg Schutte and Nick Salisbury. All the songs were written by Cameron. One song, "Bluesmans Lullaby," is dedicated to BB King. 

I don't know where to start, trying to describe this cd. Every song reels you in. Sometimes it is a guitar lick, or a harmonica break, or the flute, or the vocal, and the band is always deep in the pocket. Lyrically, this is a very strong release. And musically, the band sounds like they have played together for years--because they have. I wish I had been a fly on the wall in the studio--it sounds like it was a great time! 

My favorite song here is "Rusty Old Model T." It sounds like it could be a song from another one of my favorite singer/songwriters, Dick LeMasters, from Texas. His new cd "Gasoline And Fire" should be reviewed here pretty soon.        

You can buy this cd on cd or vinyl at