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HAMBONE'S TOP SPINS-- ARCHIVE

Hambone’s Blues Party

Top Spins for March 2011

Grana Louise CD 

Grana’ Louise

Getting Kinda Rough, Delmark Records

Local blues diva Grana’ (rhymes with Rene’) Louise displays her emotive and powerful voice on her new Delmark release.  Guitarist Tom Holland, who accompanies Grana’ on Monday nights at Blue Chicago, lends his tasty fretwork to this album.    Chicago blues at its finest.

 

Lucky Peterson

You Can Always Turn Around, Dreyfus Records

Lucky Peterson reaches down into the roots of blues and also offers some modern sounds on his new CD.  Lucky plays a resonator guitar for many of the classic blues hits including “Dust My Broom”, “Statesboro Blues”, and “Death Don’t Have No Mercy.”  The real gems on this release are his covers of Ray Lamontagne’s “Trouble” and Lucinda Williams’ “Atonement.” The former child prodigy and multi-instrumentalist sounds great on all the cuts.

 

Magic Sam Blues Band

West Side Soul, Delmark Records

Delmark has re-issued this 1967 classic album often called one of the greatest blues recordings of all times.  Magic Sam died way too early but left a legacy of West Side styled blues music.  You must have this CD in your collection.

 

Albert King with Stevie Ray Vaughan

In Session, Stax

Stax has re-issued this 12/6/83 recording made in Hamilton, Ontario.  This CD set includes a DVD of Albert and SRV sharing licks. It was an interesting idea to have the two play together for a recording.  It seems a little forced but a nice piece of history in any event.

The Congregation

Not For Sleepin’, Self-Release

Local “garage soul” band The Congregation was recently picked by the Chicago Tribune to be one of the bands to watch in 2011.  They played my show last month and knocked me out.  They are headed down to SxSW to play Reggie’s showcase event.  This self-produced EP demonstrates their bold and brassy soulful sounds.

 

Various Artists

Alligator 40th Anniversary CD, Alligator Records.

Chicago-based record label Alligator has released a two-disc collection of the blues artists that have recorded for that label over the years.  Their roster of musicians need no last names since they are so well known. Koko, Coco, Luther, Hound Dog, Mavis, Lonnie, Lil Ed, Son and Albert are just some of the musicians featured on the compilation.  Here’s to another 40 years of houserockin’ music!!!!

 

Rich DelGrosso & Jonn Del Toro Richardson

Time Slips By, Mandolin Blues Records

Rich DelGrosso is one of the few bluesmen who play Mandolin.  He is joined by guitarist and vocalist Jonn Del Toro Richardson along with “Kaz” Kazonoff’s Texas Horns.  They present a nice mixture of blues styles.  This is really nice recording that gets better with each listen.

 

Tom Principato

A Part of Me, Powerhouse Records

Guitarist and vocalist Tom Principato has been a part of the Washington, D.C. blues scene for over 40 years.  I saw his old band Powerhouse open up for Muddy Waters at the Cellar Door on M street in 1976.  He is joined by Chuck Leavell, Sonny Landreth and Wayne Jackson (Memphis Horns) on this recording.  Tom hasn’t lost a lick and this CD showcases his many talents.

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Hambone’s Blues Party

Top Spins for February 2011

Joe Moss CD

Damon Fowler

Devil Got His Way, Blind Pig

Young Damon Fowler displays his fine guitar skills and keen vocals on his second Blind Pig release.  There are some dynamic original songs.  For a young cat, he shows a lot of maturity.  Damon is definitely a star on the rise.

 

Los Fabulocos

Dos, Delta Groove

This West Coast “Cali-Mex” band combines rockabilly, rock ‘n’ roll, classic R&B, conjunto, zydeco and norteno for a spicy musical mix.  The band includes Kid Ramos on guitar.  They perform a rockin’ version of Little Richard’s “Keep a Knockin’.”  This CD will warm you up for sure.

 

Lynwood Slim and Igor Prado Band

Brazilian Kicks, Delta Groove

Suave vocalist Lynwood Slim hooked up with a young all-star R&B band from Brazil and recorded this swingin’ album in Sao Paulo.  Slim sounds great and the production on this CD is top notch.  I have been playing this album all month and it gets better with each listen.

 

Gregg Allman

Low Country Blues, Rounder

Gregg Allman has released his first solo record in over a decade.  Nicely produced by T Bone Burnett, Gregg covers some forgotten classic and obscure blues numbers written by Otis Rush, Magic Sam, B.B. King and Amos Milburn.  Doyle Bramhall II and Dr. John are in the studio band.  Gregg has one of the most expressive voices in rock ‘n’ roll and it’s great to her him sing some blues.  Recovering from a major illness, Gregg seems to breathe life into every note. His Hammond B-3 playing is an extra bonus. Fans have been waiting for this one for some time, and it was definitely worth the wait.  This is a truly well-conceived and performed CD.

 

Syl Johnson

Complete Mythology, Numero Group

I forgot to put this compilation on my Best CDs list for 2010. It would probably make my list for “Best CDs Ever.” Locally based Numero Group Records has released a 4-CD package with some vinyl albums to boot.  They capture soul-blues man Syl Johnson at his very best.  Many of the songs were originally released on Chicago’s Twinight Record Label.  Hit songs like “Come on Sock it to Me” and “Is it Because I’m Black” are mixed in with lesser known gems that showcase late 1960s soul music at its very best. If you like classic soul music, you must get this compilation and put a little wiggle in your hips.

 

Joe Moss Band

Drive Time -- Live at Chan’s, Hit Brothers Records

Local blues guitarist and vocalist Joe Moss recorded this live CD in Rhode Island.  His brother Nick also recorded a live album at the same venue.  The sound is great and it’s definitely a live performance.  Most songs clock in at over 7 minutes with extended solos by Joe and the band.  Sit back and enjoy the ride.

 

Carl Davis

One Foot In, One Foot Out, 212 Records

Chicagoland’s Carl Davis plays blue-collar blues. His new CD showcases his fine guitar work.  Carl has appeared on my show a few times and I am always impressed with his “take nothing for granted, keep working hard and playing the blues approach to life.” This album features some nice, new original songs.

 

 

 

Will Jacobs & Dirty Deal

Self-Titled, Electro Glide

High School senior Will Jacobs has released his first full album.  He’s been going to blues jams since his early teens and obviously plays well beyond his years. Will is best known for his guitar skills, but he also demonstrates his ability on the B-3 on a couple of songs.  It restores my faith in mankind that a suburban high school kid can fall in love with the blues and dedicate himself to this musical art form. 

 

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Hambone’s Blues Party

 January 2011

 Top 11 CDs for 2010

Before we head into 2011’s new releases, I thought it would be cool to recall my favorite CDs for 2010.  Here are my Top 11 in no particular order.

Chris Cain CD

Chris Cain

So Many Miles, Blue Rock'It Records

West Coast bluesman Chris Cain teams up with the Robben Ford Band and presents us with an outstanding new CD. His guitar tone is as fat and jazzy as ever, his songwriting skills demonstrate his wit, and his voice has never sounded better.  Every song on this CD is good.  Clearly, it is one of the top releases of the year.  Check out the tune "Interplanetary Jam"; only Chris Cain can write 'em and sing 'em like that. Larry Carlton adds his guitar to an instrumental that will knock you out.  Blues fans have been waiting for Chris to return with a new album, and this one was worth the wait.

 

J.D. McPherson

Signs & Signifiers, Hi-Style Records

This is a swinging classic R&B record from young guitarist J.D. McPherson.  He sounds a bit like Little Richard and he certainly rocks the house.  Produced by Jimmy Sutton (The Mighty Blue Kings and The Four Charms) and recorded in his analogue studio, this album has more energy than anything I have heard in years. The YouTube video of hit single "North Side Girl" is creating a buzz. I will be playing and dancing to this one for a while. 

 

Kermit Ruffins

Happy Talk, Basin Street Records.

New Orleans’ trumpeter and vocalist Kermit Ruffins’ new CD celebrates happiness and the spirit of life.  In addition to some original songs, Kermit interprets Broadway show tunes and film song tracks.

 Included are: “Happy Talk” written and composed by Rodgers and Hammerstein, “High Hopes” by Sammy Cahn and “If I Only Had  A Brain” by Harold Arlen.  Fresh off his recurring role in HBO’s mini-series Treme’, Kermit is in fine form on this new album.  You can’t help but smile when you hear Kermit play and sing.

 

Dave Specter

Spectified, Fret 12 Records

With this new release, Dave Specter continues to explore the jazzy and soulful side of the blues with 13 instrumental cuts on his new record label.  With Pete Benson and Brother John Kattke on keyboards plus a full horn section, Dave has released a truly tasteful CD.  David Hidalgo from Los Lobos shows up on one track and plays accordion.  This CD was recorded at LOCM (League of Creative Musicians) located in the back of the club SPACE in Evanston, IL.

 

Lee Ritenour

Lee Ritenour’s 6-String Theory, Concord Music Group

It’s been 50 years since Lee Ritenour began playing the guitar.  He has appeared on over 3,000 recording sessions and 40 albums.  On this new record, he is joined by six- string legends George Benson, B.B. King, Pat Martino, Johnny Lang, Joe Bonamassa, Robert Cray, Vince Gill and Taj Mahal for a wild ride of guitar crazy tunes.  Jazzy, bluesy and in-between, Lee and his guests bend a lot of strings and guitar nuts will love the liner notes which contain amazing details on the instruments used.  Joey DeFrancesco adds a greasy B-3 to a few numbers.  Lee and George Benson do a swingin’ version of “Moon River.” Lee also flexes his muscle with a powerful version of “Freeway Jam.”  If you like guitar players, you will love this CD.  It’s one of the best releases of 2010.

 

Peaches Staten

Live at Legends, Swississippi Records

Peaches Staten is a dynamic singer and entertainer who has been under-recorded in her career of nearly three decades.  This live performance, recorded on May 23, 2010, is the last live recording made at the original Buddy Guy's Legends. Peaches' soul and energy comes through on this recording and it makes the listener feel as if you are sitting in the front row. This album was recorded, mixed, pressed and released within three weeks, demonstrating that not a second should be lost in capturing Peaches' energetic performance.

 

Guitar Shorty

Bare Knuckle, Alligator Records

David Kearney, better known as Guitar Shorty, has been playing hard charging blues for over 30 years. This is his best record to date. His guitar playing is incendiary and he furiously attacks every note with passion and drive.  Whether playing slow burning blues or in-your-face rockers, Guitar Shorty brings it straight with no chaser.  This one will be spinning on the home Hi-Fi for months to come.

 

The Sojourners

The Sojourners, Black Hen Music

From Canada, The Sojourners are a contemporary gospel band featuring three singers who harmonize and praise the Lord.  Fans of soul music will really enjoy this sanctified release.  When many consider “singing” a lost art, it is truly inspiring to hear these gentlemen perform.

 

The Holmes Brothers

Feed My Soul, Alligator Records

The Holmes Brothers' new release is a classic blend of blues, gospel, soul, R&B and country rock.  Produced by their friend Joan Osborne, the Holmes Brothers once again demonstrate their spiritual vocal harmonies and inspired musicianship.  This is true Americana music.  The Holmes Brothers will feed your soul for hours on end with this dynamic album.

 

Mavis Staples

You Are Not Alone, Anti-

I love Mavis Staples.  Fresh off her Lollapalooza performance, Mavis' emotional vocals are spellbinding.  This new release features mostly ballads and gospel tunes, and was produced by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy.  How cool is that!  Tweedy brings out the best of Mavis and she will never disappoint. Savor this sanctified music that will enrich your soul.

 

Charlie Musselwhite

The Well, Alligator Records

Charlie Musselwhite returns to Alligator Records with a wonderful straight-ahead blues CD.  Charlie has been playing harmonica and singing for countless years, but he has lost none of his vibrancy.  He is definitely still hip and relevant. There is a cool song, “Cook County Blues,” about being arrested in Chicago and spending time in Cook County jail.

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HAMBONE'S TOP SPINS 2010

Hambone’s Blues Party

Top Spins for December 2010

Ho Ho Ho, it's Hambone’s Top Christmas CDs

Allen Toussaint Christmas CD 

Allen Toussaint & Friends

 A New Orleans Christmas, NYNO Music

Legendary New Orleans composer and producer Allen Toussaint takes us down to The Big Easy for a unique Christmas CD.  James Andrews’ version of “Christmas in New Orleans” is played every year at Hambone’s house. The New Birth Brass Band’s “Santa’s Second Line” will have you dancing around the Christmas tree.

 

Various Artists

Savoy Jazz Christmas Album:

Christmas Blues, Savoy Jazz

A hip album from Savoy Jazz artists. If you can find this CD, it is worth it for the following three cuts:  Jimmy Butler’s “Trim Your Tree,” Debbie Dabney’s “I Want to Spend Christmas With Elvis” and Johnny Guarnieri’s “Santa’s Secret”. This last song reveals the secret to Santa’s smile (just don’t let the kids hear it).

 

Various Artists

Blue Yule:

Christmas Blues and R&B Classics, Rhino

This hard-to-find holiday CD features cuts from classic R&B artists like Louis Jordan, Roy Milton and Jimmy Liggins.  It also features Eddie C. Campbell’s holiday hit, “Santa’s Messin’ With the Kid”. 

 

Los Strait Jackets

13 Rockin’ Christmas Instrumentals, Yep Rock Records

A truly rockin’ release from those masked marvels of surf music.  You will never view Christmas music as boring after hearing this CD.

 

Chris Cain

Christmas Cain: Blues for the Holidays, CCM

West Coast bluesman put out this EP ten years ago. Chris Cain’s musical talents shine on this disc which contains mostly original songs regarding holiday issues. 

 

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

Whatchu’ Want for Christmas, Big Bad Records

West Coast Swing Band BBVD, made this EP for kicks.  It contains some swingin’ Christmas tunes including their cover of “Zat You Santa Claus”.  The hidden gem on this release, however, is “I Wanna Be Just Like You” (the monkey song) from the classic Disney movie The Jungle Book.

 

Kermit Ruffins

Have A Crazy Cool Christmas, Basin Street Records

Direct from New Orleans, Kermit Ruffins has Santa doing “the second-line” in the Big Easy. This release is a mix of classic and original cool Christmas songs.  Kermit’s trumpet and vocals evoke the correct joyous spirit of the season.

 

Phil Spector

Various Artists

A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector, Sony Records

If you can separate legendary rock producer Phil Spector’s recent criminal conviction from his groundbreaking work in a recording studio, then this album is a definite stocking stuffer.  Originally recorded in 1963 on the Phillies Record label, this record had the misfortune of being released the same day as JFK’s assassination.  Since then it has been re-released in 1972, 1991 and 2009. Featured artists include The Ronettes, the Crystals and Darlene Love.  Of course, Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound can be heard throughout the songs.

 

Various Artists

The Ultimate Motown Christmas Collection, Motown

The Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, the Temptations, the Supremes, Smokey Robinson and the list goes on. Most of Motown’s artists released Christmas music over the years and the iconic label has just released a two-CD, 51-track compilation that truly is the ultimate collection.

 

The Brian Setzer Orchestra

Ultimate Christmas Collection, Surfdog Records

Yet  another ultimate Yuletide collection from big band leader and former Stray Cats guitarist Setzer. This “best of” CD culls a greatest Christmas hits from his previous albums, Boogie Woogie Christmas and Dig That Crazy Christmas. But wait, there’s more. The collection includes two new originals and a DVD of the Orchestra’s exciting live show Christmas Extravangaza that clocks in with 25 songs in nearly two hours of nonstop jump blues, swing, and rock’n’roll fun.

 

B.B. King

A Christmas Celebration of Hope, MCA

In 2001, the King of the Blues paid tribute to another King with his Grammy-winning Christmas CD.  B.B. King and his Lucille inhabit Yule classics with blues power and emotions that ring true for this wonderful time of the year. B.B. and his swingin’ big band cover “Lonesome Christmas,”  “Back Door Santa,”  “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” “Merry Christmas Baby,” and “Auld Lang Syne” in their own inimitable style. Proceeds from this CD’s sales go to City of Hope.

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Hambone’s Blues Party

Top Spins for November 2010

 James Kinds CD art

James Kinds

Love You From The Top, Delmark

James Kinds lived on Chicago's West Side for over 20 years and was considered one of the young turks on the blues scene. He moved to Dubuque, Iowa in 1993 and has been making a name for himself away from Chicago.  Under-recorded for years, James Kinds has made a splash with his first national release on Delmark.  A guitarist and songwriter with gospel-like vocals, James has put out a straight-ahead Chicago blues album.  Sax man Eddie Shaw is featured on a few cuts.  This CD is tried and true blues.

 

J.D. McPherson

Signs & Signifiers, Hi-Style Records

This is a swinging classic R&B record from young guitarist J.D. McPherson.  He sounds a bit like Little Richard and he certainly rocks the house.  Produced by Jimmy Sutton (The Mighty Blue Kings and The Four Charms) and recorded in his analogue studio, this album has more energy than anything I have heard in years. The YouTube video of hit single "North Side Girl" is creating a buzz. I will be playing and dancing to this one for a while. 

 

Rio Bamba

Our Surprise, Rio Records

Local Latin jazz quartet, Rio Bamba plays Bossa Nova like no other. Fronted by dynamic vocalist Maggie Vagle, this band recently played live on my show and knocked me out.  It’s the perfect album to rhythmically warm your soul as the weather turns chilly.

 

Honey Island Swamp Band

Good To You, Threadhead Records

 

The Honey Island Swamp Band is made up of young New Orleans musicians who hooked up after being displaced by Hurricane Katrina.  They play Americana music with a bluesy and Crescent City flavor.  Guitarst Chris Mule and bassman Aaron Wilkinson both played and wrote songs on Eric Lindell's Low on Cash, Rich in Love on Alligator.  These young musicians are making fine original music that restores my faith in mankind!

 

Studebaker John's Maxwell Street Kings

That's The Way You Do, Delmark

Local guitarist, harpman and singer/songwriter, Studebaker John has hooked up with drummer/radio host Steve Cushing and guitarist Rick Kreher for a trip to Maxwell Street.  Nothing fancy here, just blues as it was meant to be played and heard.  Maxwell Street is gone, but Studebaker John has not forgotten the sounds of that famous outdoor market. If you close your eyes, you can almost smell the Maxwell Street Polish Hot Dog cooking on your stereo.

 

Chris Cain

So Many Miles, Blue Rock'It Records

West Coast bluesman Chris Cain teams up with the Robben Ford Band and presents us with an outstanding new CD. His guitar tone is as fat and jazzy as ever, his songwriting skills demonstrate his wit, and his voice has never sounded better.  Every song on this CD is good.  Clearly, it is one of the top releases of the year.  Check out the tune "Interplanetary Jam"; only Chris Cain can write 'em and sing 'em like that. Larry Carlton adds his guitar to an instrumental that will knock you out.  Blues fans have been waiting for Chris to return with a new album, and this one was worth the wait.

 

Kermit Ruffins

Happy Talk, Basin Street Records. 

New Orleans’s trumpeter and vocalist Kermit Ruffins’ new CD celebrates happiness and the spirit of life.  In addition to some original songs, Kermit interprets Broadway show tunes and film song tracks.

 Included are: “Happy Talk” written and composed by Rodgers and Hammerstein, “High Hopes” by Sammy Cahn and “If I Only Had  Brain” by Harold Arlen.  Fresh off his recurring role in HBO’s mini-series Treme, Kermit is in fine form on this new album.  You can’t help but smile when you hear Kermit play and sing. 

 

Eric Clapton & Various Artists

Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival 2010 on DVD, Rhino

For all those who didn’t get a chance to attend this festival last summer at Chicagoland’s Toyota Park, now is a chance to see the highlights of the entire 11-hour guitar crazy show.  For those who were lucky enough to attend the concert, you get to relive the day without the heat and lines of people.  Rhino Records has released DVD and Blu-Ray sets including 4 ½ hours of concert performances, behind the scenes footage and interviews with the performers.  Highlights include: ZZ Top, Steve Winwood, B.B. King, Jeff Beck, Vince Gill, Sheryl Crow, Buddy Guy, John Mayer and more.

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Hambone’s Blues Party

Top Spins for October 2010

As autumn arrives and the leaves change colors, here are some new CDs with varied and vivid hues.

Kenny Neal CD

Kenny Neal

Hooked on Your Love, Blind Pig Records

Kenny Neal’s new release is a deep-grooved soulful display of mid-tempo tunes. Kenny seems to be singing and playing with an inner calmness and spiritual calling.  His fans will dig this new album and those who are unfamiliar with his artistry will be struck by his all around professionalism.

 

Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters

Spread the Love, Stony Plain Records

Ronnie Earl presents 14 passionate instrumentals on his new release.  This CD contains interesting originals are respectful covers, including Kenny Burrell’s “Chitlins Con Carne”.  Ronnie pays tribute to many of his musical heroes including Duane Allman and Albert Collins.  Ronnie plays with full emotion as he shows his love to his family, friends and fans.

 

Joe Louis Walker

Blues Conspiracy: Live on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise

Stony Plain Records

This live CD, as the title suggests, was recorded on the Rhythm & Blues Cruise.  The release sounds like one big blue jam as over 20 guest musicians join in on the fun, including: Johnny Winter, Tommy Castro, Nick Moss, Curtis Salgado, Tab Benoit, Duke Robillard, Mitch Woods, Kirk Fletcher and Kenny Neal.  JLW appears to be having too much fun sharing licks with his fellow blues artists.  After hearing this CD, I thought, “Man, I got to go on that cruise.”

 

Tony Joe White

That On The Road Look “Live”, Rhino

This is a live recording from 1971 that Rhino records discovered and just released.  Tony Joe White, “The Swamp Fox,” is best known as the songwriter of classic hits “Polk Salad Annie” and “Rainy Night in Georgia.” He’s a laidback performer with Southern charm.  This is a nice little gem.

 

Steve Gerard & The National Debonaires

Words Are Like Bullets, Blue Edge Records

Out of Kansas City, guitarist Steve Gerard plays swinging, jazzy classic R&B.  Vocalist Dave “Elmo” Bailey is a throwback to big voiced blues shouters with a sense of timing and style.  I have been playing this CD for the past few weeks and it gets better with each listen.  

Hambone’s Blues Party

Top Spins for Sept. 2010

James Cotton CD art

James Cotton

Giant, Alligator Records

"Mr. Superharp" is back with a classic rocking blues album. Cotton was first recorded at Sun Records in 1953.  This new release proves he can still blow down buildings with his high-compression blues harmonica playing.  This CD was recorded with Cotton's road band that features local left-handed Shuffle King, guitarist Tom Holland.  Cotton lives up to his legendary status on this too-true blues record.

 

Dave Specter

Spectified, Fret 12 Records

With this new release, Dave Specter continues to explore the jazzy and soulful side of the blues with 13 instrumental cuts on his new record label.  With Pete Benson and Brother John Kattke on keyboards and a full horn section, Dave has released a truly tasteful CD.  David Hidalgo from Los Lobos shows up on one track and plays accordion.  This CD was recorded at LOCM (League of Creative Musicians) located in the back of the club SPACE in Evanston, IL.

 

The Robert Cray Band

Cookin' In Mobile, Nozzle Records

Five-time Grammy winner Robert Cray was filmed and recorded live at the Saenger Theater in Mobile, Alabama.  This DVD/CD release captures Robert at his very best. The audio quality is superb and Robert was definitely "on" the night this was recorded.  Sit back and enjoy this dynamic performer playing the best of his well-known songs.

 

JJ Grey & Mofro

Georgia Warhorse, Alligator Records

Although more "Americana" than straight blues, JJ Grey is a fine wordsmith and expressive singer. As an added bonus, Reggae’s Toots Hibbert (from the Maytals) shares vocals on "The Sweetest Thing," which is one of the best soul songs I have heard in years. Expand your tastes in styles of music and enjoy this original release.

 

Duke Robillard

Passport To The Blues, Stony Plain Records

Duke Robillard seems to put out more albums than IHOP puts out pancakes.  This new one is a bit more gritty and dirty than his usual fare.  Surrounded by an all-star band, including Doug James, Duke plays mostly original cuts but has added one Tom Waits tune.  No matter the style of song, Duke's guitar playing is exceptional.  This is a very entertaining and thoroughly satisfying CD.

 

Mavis Staples

You Are Not Alone, Anti-

I love Mavis Staples.  Fresh off her Lollapalooza performance, Mavis' emotional vocals are spellbinding.  This new release features mostly ballads and gospel tunes, and was produced by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy.  How cool is that!  Tweedy brings out the best of Mavis and she will never disappoint. Savor this sanctified music that will enrich your soul.

 

Charlie Musselwhite

The Well, Alligator Records

Charlie Musselwhite returns to Alligator Records with a wonderful straight-ahead blues CD.  Charlie has been playing harmonica and singing for countless years, but he has lost none of his vibrancy.  He is definitely still hip and relative. There is a cool song, “Cook County Blues,” about being arrested in Chicago and spending time at Cook County Jail.

 

Junior Wells & The Aces

Live in Boston 1966, Delmark Records

Local label Delmark Records has released an interesting live CD by Junior Wells & The Aces.  Caught in a club in Boston in 1966, the harp icon is backed by a top-notch band that lives up to its name, consisting of brothers Louis and Dave Myers on guitars along with Fred Below on drums.  The sound is pretty good, although the vocals are a bit muffled. The CD allows the listener to appreciate the power and style of Wells in his prime.  The “talking” between songs shows Junior’s personality and playfulness.

 

Gary U.S. Bonds

Let Them Talk, GLA Records

Yes, it’s that Gary U.S. Bonds.  He’s been recording music since the early 1960s and had some Top 10 hits in 1960 and 1961 (“A Quarter to Three”).  He has a swinging R&B band behind him and can still sing really well. From rockers to ballads, it’s nice to hear Gary still putting out music. 

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Hambone’s Blues Party

 Top Spins for Summer 2010

 June-July-August

Jimmy Dawkins Leric CD

 

Jimmy Dawkins Presents

The Leric Story, Delmark

Legendary fast fingered guitarist Jimmy Dawkins started his own record label in the 1980s called Leric Records.  He cut a number of 45s with unrecorded (at the time) Chicago blues artists: Queen Sylvia Embry, Little Johnny Christian, Nora Jean Wallace, Vance Kelly and Big Mojo Elem among others.  The studio musicians included Willie Kent, Chico Banks and Johnny B. Moore.  This is a rare chance to hear a slice of Chicago blues that hasn’t been heard on record in decades.

 

Catherine Russell,

Inside this Heart of Mine, World Village

New York female song stylist Catherine Russell has sung backing vocals for everyone from David Bowie to Donald Fagen to Paul Simon.  Her father, Luis Russell was a pioneering composer and Louis Armstrong’s musical director.  She is a genuine throwback to the age where a vocalist could sing all styles of music: jazz, jump, blues, country, pop and soul.  On this new record, produced by Paul Kahn, she covers songs by Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Willie Dixon and Wynonie Harris.  She even has Howard Johnson on tuba for a couple of songs.  This is a real treat.

 

Rob Stone,

Back Around Here, Earwig

Harmonica player and vocalist Rob Stone has released his first record in seven years. Rob presents classic Chicago blues with high energy and nice mix of young and old bluesmen:  Sam Lay, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, Willie Hayes, Aaron Moore, Chris James, Patrick Rynn and David Maxwell. The title track will rock you off your seat.  My faith in the future of the blues has been restored by albums like this.   

Chris James/Patrick Rynn

Gonna Boogie Anyway, Earwig

Chris sings and plays guitar, while Patrick plays bass.  They were original members of Rob Stone’s old band The C-Notes.  Now on their own, this release spotlights Chris’ fine fretwork and true blues vocals.  David Maxwell and Henry Gray play piano on a number of cuts.  This is a fine example of young bluesmen playing it straight.

 

Lee Ritenour

Lee Ritenour’s 6-String Theory, Concord Music Group

It’s been 50 years since Lee Ritenour began playing the guitar.  He has appeared on over 3,000 recording sessions and 40 albums.  On this new record, he is joined by six- string legends George Benson, B.B. King, Pat Martino, Johnny Lang, Joe Bonamassa, Robert Cray, Vince Gill and Taj Mahal for a wild ride of guitar crazy tunes.  Jazzy, bluesy and in-between, Lee and his guests bend a lot of strings and guitar nuts will love the liner notes which contain amazing details on the instruments used.  Joey DeFrancesco adds a greasy B-3 to a few numbers.  Lee and George Benson do a swingin’ version of “Moon River.” Lee also flexes his muscle with a powerful version of “Freeway Jam.”  If you like guitar players, you will love this CD.  It’s one of the best releases of 2010.

 

Chris Harper

Four Aces & A Harp, Swississippi Records

Harp player and singer Chris Harper, along with former Buddy Guy's Legends' soundboard man Dave Katzman started a new blues label out of Chicago called Swississippi Records.  All of the major bluesmen in town came out to support this new project.  The disc features Jimmy Burns, John Primer, Robert Stroger, Willie Smith, Marty Sammon and Felix Reyes. It’s a fantastic debut CD on a new record label.

 

Peaches Staten

Live at Legends, Swississippi Records.

Peaches Staten is a dynamic singer and entertainer who has been under-recorded in her career of nearly three decades.  This live performance, recorded on May 23, 2010, is the last live recording made at the original Buddy Guy's Legends. Peaches' soul and energy comes through on this recording and it makes the listener feel as if you are sitting in the front row. This album was recorded, mixed, pressed and released within three weeks, demonstrating that not a second should be lost in capturing Peaches' energetic performance.

 

Karen Carroll

Talk to the Hand, Delmark

Delmark has re-released blues diva Karen Carroll's popular, out-of-print CD from 1997, which  demonstrates her strong pipes and unique sense of style.  Backed by Sir Walter Scott, The Madhatter, and Vamp Samuels, Karen runs through a series of slow and mid-tempo blues.  Her song "Neked J Blues" is a nine-minute monologue that will make you laugh so hard that you will cry.  Willie Henderson leads the all-star horn section of Kenny Anderson, Hank Ford and Sonny Seals.

 

Pinetop Perkins and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith

Joined at the Hip, Telarc Records

These two living legends of the blues met when Pinetop replaced Otis Spann in Muddy Waters’ band in 1969.  Pinetop still can tickle the 88's and Big Eyes plays harp and sings.  They are joined by Bob Stroger, John Primer and Kenny Smith.  This is a true lesson in classic Chicago blues.

 

Morry Sochat & The Special 20's

Eating Dirt, Galaxic Records

Morry Sochat mixes West Coast sophisticated swing with down-home Chicago Blues.  Morry is one fine harp player and superb vocalist.  This recording was produced by Jimmy Sutton and features guest appearances by Billy Flynn, Dave Herrero, Brother John and Marty Binder.  Mostly original material, this is a fine effort by some young turks of the blues.

Mississippi Heat

Let's Live It Up!, Delmark

Harp man Pierre Lacocque has once again assembled a top-notch band to form this year's version of Mississippi Heat.  Guests include guitarists Carl Weathersby and John Primer.  Christopher "Hambone" Cameron (no relation to me) plays a funky and greasy B-3.  One song, co-written and sung by Inetta Visor,  "Died From a Broken Heart" is a classic. 

 

Cee Cee James

Seriously Raw: Live at Sunbanks, FWG Records.

Cee Cee James is a female blues singer who sounds remarkably like Janis Joplin.  She definitely plays up the comparison by covering songs made famous by Janis.  Whether this turns out to be a blessing or a curse remains to be seen, but this lady can certainly belt out the blues.

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Hambone’s Blues Party

 Top Spins for May 2010

Dave Weld CD

Dave Weld & The Imperial Flames

Burning Love, Delmark

Slide guitarist Dave Weld cut his teeth with J.B. Hutto and Lil’ Ed.  He has been building a band and his own sound for a couple decades.  His new release is a pure delight.  With veteran Chicago saxman Abb Locke, Dave is ready to reach for the stars.

 

Tad Robinson

Back in Style, Severn Records

This is Tad’s third release for Severn Records.  The blue-eyed soul singer from Indiana delivers contemporary soulful ballads.  Severn Records always has great production on their albums and this one is no exception.  With lush and plush arrangements and horn work by the Memphis Horns, true soul fans will warm up to this fine CD.

 

Mark Hummel

Retro-Active, Electro-Fi Records

Harmonica wizard Mark Hummel has released his homage to classic Chicago blues.  Backed by friends, Steve Freund, Rusty Zinn and Charlie Musselwhite (on acoustic guitar!), Mark pays respect to Chicago blues of the ‘50s -‘60s.   If you close your eyes, you may feel like you’re sitting at 2120 S. Michigan Ave.

 

Johnny Moeller

BlooGaLoo, Severn Records

Johnny Moeller is the guitarist for the Severn Records house band.  Over the years, he has backed all of the artists on this East Coast label.  He steps out front to demonstrate his fretwork and even sings on a couple of tunes, too.  Kim Wilson and Lou Ann Barton come by for emotional and vocal support.  This is a pretty cool CD.

 

Anders Osborne

American Patchwork, Alligator Records

New Orleans songwriter, guitarist and vocalist Anders Osborne has always been a well hidden secret on the national level. With his new Alligator release, it’s due time for Americana music fans to enjoy his patchwork of genres.  Not strictly blues and not strictly anything, but a diverse musical journey through the mind of a troubled genius.  Alligator continues its expansion into non-blues territory with roots artists like Osborne.

 

Harper

Stand Together, Blind Pig Records

Harper is a singer/songwriter and harmonica player from Perth, Australia.  This new album is a world-beat meets blues meets soul combination.  Harper also plays the didgeridoo on many of the cuts, creating a unique and haunting drone.  A blues didgeridoo player, now how ‘bout that?

 

The Harry Garner Band

self-titled, self-produced

From South Philadelphia to the South Side of Chicago, harmonica player and singer Harry Garner has been fashioning his good-times, loosey-goosey bluesy sound for many years.  He has put together a band of Chicago veterans including Mark Wydra, Harlan Terson and Lenny Spatafore.  Jazzman John Brumbach blows sax on this album, too.  One of the best true blues bar bands in Chicagoland, The Harry Garner Band delivers the goods in spades!!!

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Hambone’s Blues Party

 Top Spins for April 2010

Janiva Magness CD

Janiva Magness

The Devil Is An Angel Too, Alligator Records

For years, blues fans in-the-know have been shouting the praises of Janiva Magness.  Her new Alligator release displays her emotional vocal range.  Whether singing hard hitting, rough n' tumble numbers or warm and smoldering ballads, Janiva proves she can lay it on the line with each note. What a voice!!

 

Nick Curran

Reform School Girl, Eclecto Groove Records

Former guitarist for The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Nick Curran's latest CD demonstrates his love for rockabilly gone wild. A throwback to classic R&B, Nick attacks each song with wild abandonment.

If you like your music loud, fast and with garage-rocking attitude, put this on the Hi-Fi and fasten your seat belt. The best way I can describe this is "Link Wray meets Little Richard."

 

Solomon Burke

Nothing's Impossible, E1Entertainment

The King of Rock and Soul is back with a special, but bittersweet, album.  This recording was produced by legendary Memphis soul producer Willie Mitchell, who passed away in January 2010.

Solomon and Willie combine Hi Records style with Solomon's passionate vocals.  Recorded at Mitchell's Royal Studio in Memphis, this record contains mostly slow ballads that let Solomon's spiritual voice rise to the heavens. This is a true lesson in soul.

 

Kirk Fletcher

My Turn, Eclecto Groove Records

West Coast guitarist Kirk Fletcher gets to strut his stuff up front.  For years, he's been touring with Kim Wilson, Charlie Musselwhite and The Mannish Boys. This CD is soulful, funky and looks to the future.  It includes originals and great covers of Sly Stone's "Let's Have it All” and the Crusaders’ "Way Back Home."  This ain't your grand-daddy's blues.

 

Peter Karp & Sue Foley

He Said She Said, Blind Pig Records

This collaboration started out from correspondence exchanged between these two guitarists/vocalists.  The letters (written on paper, not emails) became a common bond between two engaging performers who turned them into songs. This is an intimate album with acoustic and electric presentations.  Sit back and enjoy two friends-turned-lovers sharing their interpersonal emotions set to music. It’s stark, real and not the least bit mushy.

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Hambone’s Blues Party is broadcast from the back seat of Hambone’s Cadillac, parked on the corner of Jazz Avenue and Blues Boulevard. His radio show can be heard on WDCB 90.9FM and simulcast at www.wdcb.org every Thursday night from 10 pm to midnight CST. Hambone features the best of contemporary blues and classic R&B and soul.  He plays blues with some rhythm, blues with some jump and blues with some soul.

Hambone’s Blues Party

 Top Spins for March 2010

 Guitar Shorty CD art

Guitar Shorty

Bare Knuckle, Alligator Records

David Kearney, better known as Guitar Shorty, has been playing hard charging blues for over 30 years. This is his best record to date. His guitar playing is incendiary and he furiously attacks every note with passion and drive.  Whether playing slow burning blues or in your face rockers, Guitar Shorty brings it straight with no chaser.  This one will be spinning on the home Hi-Fi for months to come.

The Holmes Brothers

Feed My Soul, Alligator Records

The Holmes Brothers' new release is a classic blend of blues, gospel, soul, R&B and country rock.  Produced by their friend Joan Osborne, the Holmes Brothers once again demonstrate their spiritual vocal harmonies and inspired musicianship.  This is true Americana music.  The Holmes Brothers will feed your soul for hours on end with this dynamic album.

 

Blues Buddha

I Like It A Lot, Stoopid Daddy Records

Led by vocalist Tommy Dudley, Blues Buddha is a New York based blues band.  Their new CD is full of originals tunes.  The band is tight, the production is first-rate and it’s good to see blues music being played in my former Long Island neighborhood.

 

Nick Moss

Privileged, Blue Bella Records

Nick Moss reaches new heights with this recording.  Produced at his Rancho de Rhythm Studios, Nick expands his musical direction with some funk, rock and a cool cover of Cream's classic "Politician."  Nick continues to pay respect to old school blues while keeping one eye and ear on the future evolution of music.  Sit back and enjoy Nick as he takes us on his musical journey.

 

Kilborn Alley Blues Band

Better Off Now, Blue Bella Records

Nick Moss' label mates, Kilborn Alley Blues Band have produced a surprising soulful blues album.  The title track features local keyboard player Eric Michaels laying down some sanctified B-3 grooves as lead singer, Andrew Duncanson bares his heart and soul. They feature a lot of different styles on this record and the band's versatility is their strength.  Pick this one up, you will dig it.

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Hambone & Eddy Clearwater
Hambone & Eddy "The Chief" Clearwater at WDCB studios

Hambone’s Blues Party is broadcast from the back seat of Hambone’s Cadillac, parked on the corner of Jazz Avenue and Blues Boulevard. His radio show can be heard on WDCB 90.9FM and simulcast at www.wdcb.org every Thursday night from 10 pm to midnight CST. Hambone features the best of contemporary blues and classic R&B and soul.  He plays blues with some rhythm, blues with some jump and blues with some soul.

Hambone’s Blues Party

 Top Spins for February 2010

Hollywood Blue Flames CD

The Hollywood Blue Flames

Deep in America, Delta Groove

This is a two CD set. The first CD is a newly recorded set by West Coast band the Hollywood Blue Flames that features members of the old Hollywood Fats Band along with new additions Kirk Fletcher and Jr. Watson on guitars. The musicianship is first-rate and the song list is top-notch.

The second CD, entitled Larger Than Life, Vol. 2, was recorded live at Laguna Beach in 1980 by Michael “Hollywood Fats” Mann and his band.  Fats died in 1986 and the ADAT tape of this live performance was stored and forgotten in the garage of bassist Larry Taylor. He recently found the tape and pressed this excellent live CD.  It truly captures the free spirit and fretwork of Hollywood Fats.

 

Michael Osborn

Fire & Fury, JE Gagne Records

Michael Osborn is a California guitarist who heads up a power trio.  Nice, hard charging blues and some catchy original tunes to boot.

 

The Sojourners

The Sojourners, Black Hen Music

From Canada, The Sojourners are a contemporary gospel band featuring three singers who harmonize and Praise the Lord.  Fans of soul music will really enjoy this sanctified release.  When many consider “singing” a lost art, it is truly inspiring to hear these gentlemen perform.

 

Laurie Morvan Band

Fire It Up, Screaming Lizard Records

Laurie is creating a buzz on the national scene with searing guitar licks and emotive vocals.  Originally from Illinois, Laurie has moved out west, and is hoping this record makes her the next big female blues star.  Her band is tight and her songs are alright! In fact, her songs are more than alright, as she won this year’s International Blues Challenge award for Best Self-Produced CD.

 

The Nighthawks

Last Train to Bluesville, RipBang Records

When I was residing in Washington, D.C. in the mid-1970’s attending college, The Nighthawks were THE blues band in the nation’s Capitol.  I remember seeing them open for Muddy Waters at The Cellar Door in 1976. Thirty years and a few line-up changes later, they are still putting out great blues. Although best known for their hard rocking style, this new release is a surprising change:  it’s all acoustic, recorded live at Sirius/XM’s studios in D.C. This album is a real nice treat.

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Hambone’s Blues Party

 January 2010

 Top 11 CDs for 2009

Before we head into 2010’s new releases, I thought it would be cool to recall my favorite CDs for 2009.  Here are my Top 11 in no particular order:

Living History CD art 

Billy Boy Arnold, John Primer, Billy Branch, Lurrie Bell

Chicago Blues: A Living History, Raisin’ Music

Larry Skoller (brother of blues harpist Matt) produced this double CD which pays tribute to Chicago Blues Masters.  The first disc features songs recorded from 1940 to 1955.  The second disc features tunes from 1955 to the present.  The Living History Band is made up of Matthew Skoller, Billy Flynn, Felton Crews, Johnny Iguana and Kenny Smith.  They back the musicians noted above. Carlos Johnson and Mike Avery also turn in great guest performances.  A very informative 24-page booklet denotes the songs, the musicians and the history of Chicago Blues.  The CD has been nominated for a Grammy in the Best Traditional Blues Album category. For more info visit: www.chicagobluesalivinghistory.com

 

Eugene Hideaway Bridges

Live in San Antonio, Armadillo Records

This CD, recorded live at Chango’s Havana Club, is one lively, jumpin’ Texas blues party.  For a live recording, the sound quality is quite good and you feel like you’re sitting in the bar as you listen to it.  Hideaway has been flying under the radar for a few years and maybe this release will get him the national buzz he deserves.

 

Johnny Rawls

Ace of Spades, Catfood Records

Milwaukee based Johnny Rawls is one of the most underrated talents in bluesland.  He has consistently put out well-produced, original deep Southern soul records for years. His new album is excellent. He plays old school soulful blues with funky beats and real life lyrics.  This record will be playing in my Cadillac for a long time.  Do yourself a favor and give it a listen.  If you don't like it, you better go see Dr. Feelgood, because you got a hole in your soul.

Mike Zito

Pearl River, Electrogroove Records

Young guitarist and vocalist Mike Zito continues to impress and make a name for himself across the country.  On this new recording, produced by David Z., Mike plays mostly original material with help from guest artists Anders Osborne, Cyril Neville and Susan Cowsill.  He grew up in New Orleans and returns there to cook up a gumbo of different styles of blues. With his husky vocals and hard rockin' guitar, Mike is well on his way to the big time.

 

Blue Road

Live at Gabe’s Backstage Lounge, GMS Records

Chicagoland’s Blue Road band (formerly known as Blue Truth) is a veteran troupe led by guitarist Gary Gand and keyboardist Joan Gand.  Fronting this funky, rockin’ band is legendary blue-eyed soul singer Jimy Rogers.  In the 1960s, Jimy and his band The Mauds were the first white band to record at Chess Studios.  Some 40 years later, Jimy has blown back onto the local scene without losing any of his chops.  I recently had Blue Road perform on the air, and I can honestly say that I never had more fun with a band during my 15 years on the radio.  Jimy is one of the finest vocal stylists and dynamic entertainers in Chicago.  This excellently recorded live release captures a classic set of blues, soul and rock. Their version of “People Get Ready” is killer!!

 

Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters

Living in the Light,   Stony Plain Records

This is the best album I have heard all year.  Plaintive, emotive and downright bluesy, guitarist Ronnie Earl lets loose on this CD.  Kim Wilson is a guest vocalist and Dave Limina provides the grease on the organ.  Don’t miss this one!!!

 

Lubriphonic

Soul Solution, Lubricated Records

Chicago-based Lubriphonic plays “groovy organic funky rock.” This new hard-charging release has catchy original tunes and fine musicianship.  I had not heard them until I received this CD and I have been playing it non-stop ever since.  Need a little soul in your life?  Pick up “Soul Solution.”

 

Eric Lindell

Gulf Coast Highway, Alligator Records

Eric Lindell’s third release on Alligator Records continues his rise to stardom.  Eric plays catchy tunes with irresistible laid back grooves.  His songwriting is refreshing and his presentation is real.  Although not “strictly blues” and not easy to categorize, if I had to label his music it would be “Funky American Soulful Original Music with a New Orleans Vibe to Boot” (or something like that). Eric is one of my favorite young artists, and if you have not yet had the pleasure of hearing him, do yourself a favor and check out this CD.

 

Red Holloway

 Go Red Go, Delmark Records

Tenor sax man Red Holloway has produced a smoking hot new CD.  Backed by Chris Foreman on the B-3, Henry Johnson on guitar and Greg Rockingham keeping the beat (with special guest George Freeman), Red gives a lesson in jazz.  Red attended Du Sable High and was taught by legendary band-taskmaster Captain Walter Dyett.  Now in his eighties, Red shows he can swing with the youngest of cats.  I’m truly entranced by this album.

 

The Derek Trucks Band

Already Free, Victor Records/Sony Music Entertainment

This is an excellent CD produced by slide wizard Derek Trucks.  Soulful tunes, slow grooves, gospel-tinged and rockin’ blues, this new release has it all.  There are so many good songs on this album, it’s hard to pick a favorite. This is one of the best sounding CDs I have heard in years.  Do yourself a favor and give it a listen. The CD has been nominated for a Grammy in the Best Contemporary Blues Album category.

 

Ruthie Foster

The Truth According To Ruthie Foster, Blue Corn Music

Backed by veterans Robben Ford and the late Jim Dickinson, Ruthie Foster has put together a soulful and spiritual recording.  All around, her performance is top notch.  The more I listen to it, the more I like it.  She has a great voice and really knows how to sing.  You will dig this one. The CD has been nominated for a Grammy in the Best Contemporary Blues Album category.

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Hambone’s Blues Party

 Top Christmas Spins for

December 2009:

 Kermit Ruffins CD

Kermit Ruffins

Have A Crazy Cool Christmas, Basin Street Records

Direct from New Orleans, Kermit Ruffins has Santa doing “the second-line” in the Big Easy. This release is a mix of classic and original cool Christmas songs.  Kermit’s trumpet and vocals evoke the correct joyous spirit of the season.

 

Phil Spector

Various Artists

A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector, Sony Records

If you can separate legendary rock producer Phil Spector’s recent criminal conviction from his groundbreaking work in a recording studio, then this album is a definite stocking stuffer.  Originally recorded in 1963 on the Phillies Record label, this record had the misfortune of being released the same day as JFK’s assassination.  Since then it has been re-released in 1972, 1991 and this year. Featured artists include The Ronettes, the Crystals and Darlene Love.  Of course, Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound can be heard throughout the songs.

 

Various Artists

The Ultimate Motown Christmas Collection, Motown

The Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, the Temptations, the Supremes, Smokey Robinson and the list goes on. Most of Motown’s artists released Christmas music over the years and the iconic label has just released a two-CD, 51-track compilation that truly is the ultimate collection.

 

The Brian Setzer Orchestra

Ultimate Christmas Collection, Surfdog Records

Yet  another ultimate Yuletide collection from big band leader and former Stray Cats guitarist Setzer. This “best of” CD culls a greatest Christmas hits from his previous albums, Boogie Woogie Christmas and Dig That Crazy Christmas. But wait, there’s more. The collection includes two new originals and a DVD of the Orchestra’s exciting live show Christmas Extravangaza that clocks in with 25 songs in nearly two hours of nonstop jump blues, swing, and rock’n’roll fun.

B.B. King

A Christmas Celebration of Hope, MCA

In 2001, the King of the Blues paid tribute to another King with his Grammy-winning Christmas CD.  B.B. King and his Lucille inhabit Yule classics with blues power and emotions that ring true for this wonderful time of the year. B.B. and his swingin’ big band cover  “Lonesome Christmas,”  “Back Door Santa,”  “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” “Merry Christmas Baby,” and “Auld Lang Syne” in their own inimitable style. Proceeds from this CD’s sales go to City of Hope.

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Hambone’s Blues Party

 Top Spins for November 2009

Arthur Adams CD

Arthur Adams

Stomp the Floor, Delta Groove Records

This Los Angeles guitarist and vocalist is known as a first line studio musician.  He’s recorded with The Crusaders, Jerry Garcia, Bonnie Raitt, B.B. King and Nina Simone.  Arthur’s falsetto voice and sophisticated guitar work create a fresh, unique and stylish sound. It is great to hear this musician’s musician front and center.

 

Eugene Hideaway Bridges

Live in San Antonio, Armadillo Records

This CD, recorded live at Chango’s Havana Club, is one lively, jumpin’ Texas blues party.  For a live recording, the sound quality is quite good and you feel like you’re sitting in the bar as you listen to it.  Hideaway has been flying under the radar for a few years and maybe this release will get him the national buzz he deserves.

 

Long John Hunter

Looking for a Party, Blue Express Records

Texas legendary bluesman Long John Hunter may not be swinging from the Lobby Bar’s rafters in Juarez anymore, but he proves he still has some rocking left in him on this new album.  Producer Dennis Walker (Robert Cray’s old producer) recruited Cray alumni Richard Cousin and Jim Pugh to back Long John. It has been a while since Long John has put out a new record, and this one is most welcome.

 

Murali Coryell

Sugar Lips, Murali Music Records

Murali Coryell’s newest release is exceptional.  This Nashville recording features either his dad Larry Coryell or Joe Louis Walker on most of the songs.  Murali is a fine wordsmith and songwriter. Slow, fast and in between, Murali put his heart and soul into this emotional and introspective album.

 

Julius Pittman & The Revival

Bucket List, Maeco Records

Julius is one soulful vocalist and greasy keyboard player from Richmond, Va.  His record is old school R&B that features a full horn section and backup vocalists.  He does a fine version of “A Good Fool Is Hard to Find,” plus originals.

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Hambone’s Blues Party

 Top Spins for October 2009

Joe Louis Walker CD art

Joe Louis Walker

Between A Rock and The Blues, Stony Plain

JLW has put out a real fine contemporary blues disc.  Produced by Duke Robillard and backed by Duke’s band mates and session men, this record sizzles.  JLW has long been thought of as the one of Blues’ brightest young stars and this release adds to his reputation.  Slow, fast or in-between tempos, JLW demonstrates fine guitar work and emotional vocals.  Do yourself a favor and give this one a listen.

Darrell Nulisch

Just for You, Severn Records

Like fellow Severn Records recording artists Lou Pride and Tad Robinson, Darrell Nulisch sings soulful songs with an old-school feel.  Although this record clocks in at only 38 minutes, each song is carefully arranged and sounds great.  If you never heard the vocal stylings of Darrell, this new CD is Just For You!

Sean Costello

A Memorial Retrospective, Landslide Records

Guitarist and vocalist Sean Costello died too young in 4/08, one day prior to his 29th birthday.  This “best of” CD, features cuts from three previous albums and some live performances.  My favorite is the slow burner cover of Otis Rush’s “Double Trouble.”  I met Sean at Buddy Guy’s Legends about 7 years ago, he was quick to smile and mild mannered.  His death has robbed the blues community of an extremely talented performer.  Celebrate his life and his music with this fine retrospective release.

Tinsley Ellis

Speak No Evil, Alligator Records

Six-string gunslinger Tinsley Ellis, once again demonstrates his incendiary guitar work on this new album containing all original material.  Tinsley’s voice has grown more confident and his playing has never been better. Driving, smoking and going for the jugular best describe this outstanding new album. His tenacity reminds me a little bit of Son Seals.

Shirley Smith

In Hymn I Trust, The Sirens Records

Local record company The Sirens Records produces jazz and gospel recordings from under-the-radar musicians.  Shirley Smith makes her debut for this label with a nice mixture of spirituals, hymns and contemporary gospel music.  She sings all choir parts: soprano, alto and tenor in perfect harmony and her piano playing is quite vibrant.  You’ll feel both sanctified and blessed while listening to Shirley praise The Lord in song.

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Hambone’s Blues Party

 Top Spins for September 2009

Just as the summer is coming to an end, blues bands and record labels are harvesting their crops and putting out a lot of fine recordings.  Here are my top picks for September.

Quintus McCormick CD art

Quintus McCormick Blues Band

Hey Jodie, Delmark

Chicago blues guitarist and singer, Quintus McCormick has been a sideman for many top blues stars over the years.  With his first major label release, Quintus has stepped into the spotlight on center stage.  Backed by an all-star horn section with Kenny Anderson, Hank Ford and the ageless Willie Henderson, Quintus shines on with his original songs, tasty guitar licks and confident singing.  Jodie better watch out!!!

The Robert Cray Band

This Time, Nozzle Records

I just saw Robert Cray at Naperville's "Last Fling."   He remains a popular bluesman for the new generation.  His new cd is filled with ballads and slow-tempo intimate songs.  It's a fine album, but he only really rocks out on one song.

Zora Young

The French Connection, Delmark Records

American blues musicians have always found open arms and engaged souls while performing in Europe.  Chicago blues diva Zora Young continues this tradition on her new release recorded in France with European musicians.  Zora mixes blues standards, gospel and country songs with three different bands backing her. She even covers Elvis' "In the Ghetto."  You'll like this one.

Johnny Rawls

Ace of Spades, Catfood Records

Milwaukee based Johnny Rawls is one of the most underrated talents in bluesland.  He has consistently put out well-produced, original deep Southern soul records for years. His new album is excellent. He plays old school soulful blues with funky beats and real life lyrics.  This record will be playing in my Cadillac for a long time.  Do yourself a favor and give it a listen.  If you don't like it, you better go see Dr. Feelgood, because you got a hole in your soul.

Mike Zito

Pearl River, Electrogroove Records

Young guitarist and vocalist Mike Zito continues to impress and make a name for himself across the country.  On this new recording, produced by David Z., Mike plays mostly original material with help from guest artists Anders Osborne, Cyril Neville and Susan Cowsill.  He grew up in New Orleans and returns there to cook up a gumbo of different styles of blues. With his husky vocals and hard rockin' guitar, Mike is well on his way to the big time.

Aaron Williams and The Hoodoo

It Ain't Easy

From Madison, Wisconsin Aaron Williams fronts a dynamite blues power trio.  The CD features original songs played with a sense of urgency and strength. They don't hold anything back and this is the perfect disc to kick off football season.

Hambone’s Blues Party

 Top 5 Spins for August 2009

Hambone has picked some hot, sultry and sizzlin’ new releases to go along with the dog days of summer.

tommy castro cd

Tommy Castro

Hard Believer, Alligator Records

West Coast singer and guitarist Tommy Castro makes his label debut for Alligator Records.  This new recording showcases Tommy’s fervid vocals and blues-infused rocking R&B.  Produced by John Porter, Hard Believer, features a tight band and hard-charging grooves. Old fans will rejoice and new fans will discover what the buzz is all about.

Blue Road

Live at Gabe’s Backstage Lounge, GMS Records

Chicagoland’s Blue Road band (formerly known as Blue Truth) is a veteran troupe led by guitarist Gary Gand and keyboardist Joan Gand.  Fronting this funky, rockin’ band is legendary blue-eyed soul singer Jimy Rogers.  In the 1960s, Jimy and his band The Mauds were the first white band to record at Chess Studios.  Some 40 years later, Jimy has blown back onto the local scene without losing any of his chops.  I recently had Blue Road perform on the air, and I can honestly say that I never had more fun with a band during my 15 years on the radio.  Jimy is one of the finest vocal stylists and dynamic entertainers in Chicago.  This excellently recorded live release captures a classic set of blues, soul and rock. Their version of “People Get Ready” is killer!!

 

Bobby Slim James

 Brand New Man, Anne G Records

Bobby Slim James is a veteran of Chicago’s South Side and West Side clubs.  On his new record, he has teamed up with renowned songwriter, promoter and publisher Bob Jones to produce a straightforward, no-nonsense contemporary urban blues CD.  I like this one a lot.

 

Dave Keller,

Play For Love, Tastee Tone Records

Dave Keller came to national prominence by singing on Ronnie Earl’s latest CD. On his new record, Dave demonstrates his impassioned vocals and fine guitar work.  A native of Vermont, Dave proves that creative blues music is not restricted to urban dwellers. Most of his songs are soulful and sanctified.  Not all blues songs need to be played fast, furious or loud, and Dave’s laid-back approach is refreshing.

  

J.P. Soars & the Redhots

Back of My Mind, Soars High Productions

Florida bluesman J.P. Soars won the 2009 IBC.  He has released a nice CD featuring his gruff vocals and gritty, stingin’ guitar. Whether performing creative originals or covering classics such as “Gangster of Love,” JP plays his heart out on each cut. His song “Will I Ever” is extra fine.  Check this one out.  http://www.jpsoars.com/

Hambone’s Blues Party

 Top Spins for June/July 2009: 

Due to the abundance of blues festivals in June, which kept him busy emceeing (and having fun), Hambone has combined his June/July Top Spins column this time around.

 Delmark Records' It Ain't Over - CD art

Delmark All-Stars

It Ain’t Over, Delmark Records

 This dynamic new release celebrates Chicago’s own Delmark Records’ 55 years of producing blues records.  Recorded live at Buddy Guy’s Legends in March 2008, this exciting CD features Lurrie Bell, Jimmy Johnson, Zora Young, Dave Specter, Eddie Shaw, Shirley Johnson, Tail Dragger, Aaron Moore and the late Little Arthur Duncan giving it their all onstage. Delmark also has released a DVD of the all-star tribute concert.

Candye Kane

Superhero, Delta Groove Records

Sultry singer Candye Kane delivers a powerful album following her near-miraculous recovery from pancreatic cancer last year.  This release contains mostly original material with Candye singing her heart out.  The liner notes contain some inspirational comments from this dynamic performer.

 

Eddie C. Campbell

Tear This World Up, Delmark Records

Eddie C. Campbell, “The King of the West Side Funky Blues,” has been under-recorded to date.  This new CD, produced by legendary producer Dick Shurman, showcases the best of this West Side guitarist.  Backed by an all-star band, Eddie, who just turned 70 years old, plays some classic-style blues with a sense of humor to boot.

  

Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters

Living in the Light,   Stony Plain Records

This is the best album I have heard all year.  Plaintive, emotive and downright bluesy, guitarist Ronnie Earl lets loose on this CD.  Kim Wilson is a guest vocalist and Dave Limina provides the grease on the organ.  Don’t miss this one!!!

 

Greg Nagy

Walk That Fine Thin Line, Big O Records.

Flint, Michigan native Greg Nagy plays a tasty guitar and has a fine soulful voice. The CD boasts some nice production and a good band. Nagy’s a fresh talent on the blues scene in the Midwest to watch.

 

The 3rd Annual Delta Groove All-Star Blues Revue

Live at Ground Zero, Delta Groove Records

This two-CD set features the Delta Groove recording artists: The Mannish Boys, Finis Tasby, Philip Walker, Mike Zito, Kid Ramos, Jackie Payne, Steve Edmunson, Jason Ricci and others.  The live performances sound great and have a true live quality.  I could feel the vibe in the club as I listened to these discs.  Some of the performers really stretch out to the pleasure of the crowd.  I dig this one!

  

Richard Ray Farrell & The Spanish Band

Camino de Sanlucar

Recorded in Spain with guitarist Raimundo Amador (a full-blooded Gypsy from Seville), this new release from guitarist Richard Ray Farrell has a nice mix of bluesy originals and well thought out covers. The Spanish band provides a different, spicy, spirited groove.  It’s the perfect record for a hot summer night.

Duke Robillard’s Jumpin Blues Revue

Stomp! The Blues Tonight, Stony Plain Records

Duke returns to his roots with a rockin’ CD featuring early R&B hits from the 1940s and 1950s.  Many of his former band mates from Roomful of Blues help create a swinging new album that is sure to put some slip in your hip.  Jump Blues fans will rejoice and flip their wigs when they put this one on the Hi-Fi.

 

Rick Estrin & The Nightcats

Twisted, Alligator Records

Little Charlie has left the band and young turk Kid Andersen has replaced him. The formula, however, remains the same:  original material, great lyrics, tight band and a whole bunch of fun.

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Hambone’s Blues Party is broadcast from the back seat of Hambone’s Cadillac, parked on the corner of Jazz Avenue and Blues Boulevard. His radio show can be heard on WDCB 90.9FM and simulcast at www.wdcb.org every Thursday night from 10 pm to midnight CST. Hambone features the best of contemporary blues and classic R&B and soul.  He plays blues with some rhythm, blues with some jump and blues with some soul.

Hambone’s Blues Party

 Top 5 Spins for May 2009: 

 Chicago Blues Harp CD art

Chicago Blues Harmonica Project

More Rare Gems, Severn

 As the name suggests, this new release features seven Chicago harmonica players:  Reginald Cooper, Charlie Love, Harmonica Hinds, Little Arthur Duncan, Jeff Taylor, Russ Green and Big D backed by an all-star band. There are a variety of styles demonstrated by these harp masters who prove that blues harmonica is alive and kickin’ in Chicagoland.

 

Linsey Alexander

My Days Are So Long, Hoochieman Music

Chicago’s own Hoochie Man, Linsey Alexander, has released a self-produced CD featuring all original songs.  This recording features the late Chico Banks on guitar. Linsey is a spirited entertainer when he performs live and this CD captures that spirit.

 

Omar Dykes

Big Town Playboy, Ruf

Texas blues singer Omar teams up with Jimmie Vaughan, James Cotton, Lou Ann Barton and Lazy Lester to create a true blues album. Omar has a “whiskey and cigarette” voice that oozes emotion and style. This is straight-ahead blues, Texas style.

 

Kermit Ruffins

Livin’ A Treme Life, Basin Street Records

Trumpeter and vocalist Kermit takes us down to the Treme (tray-may) District of New Orleans with a mixture of jazz, blues and New Orleans Second Line music.  Kermit is recognized as the musical ambassador of the Crescent City, so sit back and enjoy this musical ride through the streets of The Big Easy.

 

Going Fishin’

The Great Fishing Songs Ever, Sony Music

In honor of springtime, I pulled out this old compilation that features classic songs about fishing from 1951-1994.  Included in this set are such classics as:  “Catfish Boogie” by Tennessee Ernie Ford and “The Fishing Hole” by Andy Griffith.  So bait your hook, throw out you line and catch the big one.

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Hambone’s Blues Party

 Top 5 Spins for April 2009: 

Nick Moss Chan CD art

Nick Moss & The Flip Tops w/ Lurrie Bell

Live at Chan’s: Combo Platter No.2, Blue Bella Records

Chicagoan Nick Moss returns to Chan's in Rhode Island with a smoking live recording featuring Lurrie Bell.  Nick and Lurrie recreate the Southside blues joints with some head-cuttin’ guitar licks.  Nick has always stayed true to traditional Chicago blues while bringing a sense of contemporary urgency to his live sets.  This record is best served hot!!  Enjoy.

 

Lubriphonic

Soul Solution, Lubricated Records

Chicago-based Lubriphonic plays “groovy organic funky rock.” This new hard-charging release has catchy original tunes and fine musicianship.  I had not heard them until I received this CD and I have been playing it non-stop ever since.  Need a little soul in your life?  Pick up “Soul Solution.”

 

Billy Boy Arnold, John Primer, Billy Branch, Lurrie Bell

Chicago Blues: A Living History, Raisin’ Music

Larry Skoller (brother of blues harpist Matt) produced this double CD which pays tribute to Chicago Blues Masters.  The first disc features songs recorded from 1940 to 1955.  The second disc features tunes from 1955 to the present.  The Living History Band is made up of Matthew Skoller, Billy Flynn, Felton Crews, Johnny Iguana and Kenny Smith.  They back the musicians noted above. Carlos Johnson and Mike Avery also turn in great guest performances.  A very informative 24-page booklet denotes the songs, the musicians and the history of Chicago Blues. For more info visit: www.chicagobluesalivinghistory.com

 

Buckwheat Zydeco

Lay Your Burden Down, Alligator Records

Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural, Jr. has been playing his style of Zydeco for over 30 years.  This new record features guests Warren Haynes and Sonny Landreth. Just in time for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, this CD will have you partying like you are walking down to the French Quarter.

 

Ry Cooder

The UFO Has Landed, Warner Brothers/Rhino

 This is the first ever anthology of guitar wizard Ry Cooder.  A true musician’s musician, Ry has been producing Americana music on record since 1970.This double-disc offers a sampling of Ry’s music throughout the years.  This is truly a special treat.

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Hambone’s Blues Party

 Top 5 Spins for March 2009: 

 shirley johnson cd

Shirley Johnson

 Blues Attack, Delmark Records

This Chicago blues diva has a new hot CD on Delmark.  Shirley’s new release is enhanced by an All-Star Chicago blues band along with a kick-ass horn section (Lawrence Fields, Kenny Anderson, Hank Ford and Willie Henderson).  The 14-song disc features both originals and classic covers (Ray Charles, Wilson Pickett). Shirley has always been a great live performer and her new CD allows her to translate that live energy into this recorded session.  Get ready for a Blues Attack.

 

Eric Lindell

Gulf Coast Highway, Alligator Records

Eric Lindell’s third release on Alligator Records continues his rise to stardom.  Eric plays catchy tunes with irresistible laid back grooves.  His songwriting is refreshing and his presentation is real.  Although not “strictly blues” and not easy to categorize, if I had to label his music it would be “Funky American Soulful Original Music with a New Orleans Vibe to Boot” (or something like that). Eric is one of my favorite young artists, and if you have not yet had the pleasure of hearing him, do yourself a favor and check out this CD. (Release date: March 24)

 

Seth Walker

 Leap of Faith, Hyena Records

Produced by tunesmith Gary Nicholson, this new album by Seth Walker is very impressive.  The album demonstrates Seth’s vocal and six-string talent along with some fine lyrics.  Seth sounds great swingin’ and swayin’ as well as when he sings plaintive ballads.  The production is top notch and this CD will be spinning on my home juke box for quite some time.  Nice!

 

Red Holloway

 Go Red Go, Delmark Records

Tenor sax man Red Holloway has produced a smoking hot new CD.  Backed by Chris Foreman on the B-3, Henry Johnson on guitar and Greg Rockingham keeping the beat (with special guest George Freeman), Red gives a lesson in jazz.  Red attended Du Sable High and was taught by legendary band-taskmaster Captain Walter Dyett.  Now in his eighties, Red shows he can swing with the youngest of cats.  I’m truly entranced by this album.

 

Johnny “Guitar” Watson

 Best of the Funk Years, Shout

Let’s travel in The Way Back Machine and give another listen to an original guitarist and vocalist Johnny “Guitar” Watson.  This CD covers his famous hits including, “Gangster of Love,” “A Real Mother For Ya” and “Aint That a Bitch.”  The mid-1970s never sounded so funky.

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Hambone’s Blues Party

 Top 5 Spins for February 2009:

 john-nemeth-cd-art 

John Nemeth

Love Me Tonight, Blind Pig

On his new album, John Nemeth continues to impress with his vocals and harmonica playing.  This CD contains almost all original material and John demonstrates a musical prowess beyond his years.  It’s good to see young cats creating such fine music.

 

The Derek Trucks Band

Already Free, Victor Records/Sony Music Entertainment

This is an excellent CD produced by slide wizard Derek Trucks.  Soulful tunes, slow grooves, gospel-tinged and rockin’ blues, this new release has it all.  There are so many good songs on this album, it’s hard to pick a favorite. This is one of the best sounding CD’s I have heard in years.  Do yourself a favor and give it a listen.

 

Bobby Jones

Comin’ Back Hard, Delta Groove

Backed by the all-star band, The Mannish Boys, Bobby Jones sings his heart out on this new release.  From straight-blues, to soul to classic R&B, Bobby gives us a lesson on the true meaning “vocal stylist.”  The band is tight and Bobby shines throughout this recording.

 

Shemekia Copeland

Never Going Back, Telarc Blues

Blues diva Shemekia Copeland really shines on her new record.  She has always possessed some strong pipes, but shows a new sense of sophistication and style on this album.  The song list mixes various styles and tempos which allows Shemekia to demonstrate her vocal dexterity.  This is a really fine CD.

 

Ruthie Foster

The Truth According To Ruthie Foster, Blue Corn Music

Backed by veterans Robben Ford and Jim Dickinson, Ruthie Foster has put together a soulful and spiritual recording.  All around, her performance is top notch.  The more I listen to it, the more I like it.  She has a great voice and really knows how to sing.  You will dig this one.

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Hambone’s Blues Party

 Top 10 CDs for 2008

Before we head into 2009, I thought it would be cool to recall my favorite releases for 2008.  Here are my Top 10 in no particular order:

 January 2009:

  liz-cd-art 

Liz Mandeville

Red Top, Earwig Records

Chicago blues diva Liz Mandeville is sassy and sultry.  Many have called her the "Bette Midler of the Blues."  Her new album displays her tenderness, her toughness and her ability to rock.

Backed by a top-notch Chicago band, Liz blasts through original material with a humorous zest for life.  Her songs "Spanky Butt" and "Guilty of Rockin' All Night" will have you dancing in your living room.

  lil-ed-cd-art

Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials

Full Tilt, Alligator Records

Lil’ Ed’s newest CD on Alligator Records celebrates his reputation as the best houserocking bluesman in the land.  Lil’ Ed’s slide guitar, singing and songwriting have matured with each of his albums.  This one is sure to please his fans, Ed Heads, and make new fans, too.  As the title suggests, it’s pedal-to-the-metal and balls- to-the-wall good-time party music that has an irresistible groove.

 

Clarence Spady

 Just Between UsSevern Records

From Scranton, Pa. Clarence Spady delivers a soulful blues delight.  He is a skilled guitarist, emotive singer and inventive songwriter.  This CD has an irresistible groove and gets better with each listening.  If you don’t like this release, you better go see Dr. Feelgood, because you have a hole in your soul.  Just Between Us is my favorite record of 2008.

 

Curtis Salgado

Clean Getaway, Shanachie Records

Curtis Salgado allegedly was the inspiration to John Belushi for his Blues Brothers’ persona.  After a recent battle with some medical problems, Curtis has come back with a fabulous new CD.  He has one of the sweetest voices in blues and soul. There is not a bad cut on this entire CD

 

Dave Herrero

Austin to Chicago, Ferey Records/ Hero Music Group

Dave Herrero joins forces with Felix Reyes to produce an exciting new CD.  Dave’s guitar work and emotive vocals will knock your blues socks off.  Mixing Texas feelings with Chicago blues, Dave is one of the young turks of the local blues scene that will soon be in the spotlight.  Some songs are tender, others are rough & tumble. Dave Herrero brings a maturity to his music that belies his age.

 

Patrick Green

Popcorn Man, Across the Border Records

Houston’s Patrick Green, a.k.a. The PG Man, played one of the most entertaining sets that I have ever seen at this year’s Chicago Blues Festival.  The PG Man is a confident vocalist and true showman.  He’s soulful, funky and fun.  His tune, “Got Me on the Lockdown” was playing in my house all summer long.

kenny-neal-cd 

Kenny Neal

 Let Life Flow, Blind Pig Records

Let Life Flow is a truly inspirational offering from Kenny Neal. This CD sounds like Kenny is playing right in your living room.  A nice mixture of soul, blues and classic R&B (“Since I Met You Baby”), “Let Life Flow” is a personal testament from one of blues’ true superstars.

 dave-specter-cd

Dave Specter

Live in Chicago, Delmark Records

Recorded at Buddy Guy’s Legends and Rosa’s Blues Lounge, Dave Specter has produced a great live CD with an all-star blues band.  Following in the tradition of blues revues, Dave features three different vocalists, each with their distinctive style. Tad Robinson brings his soulful sound, Jimmy Johnson demonstrates his unique and strong voiceand Sharon Lewis spices up the mix.

Dave adds a couple of original instrumentals that showcase his blues/jazz guitar grooves.  This is an extra-fine CD from first song to last note. Also available on DVD.

 

Eric Lindell

Low on Cash, Rich in Love, Alligator Records

An irresistible album that grooves throughout all the songs.  Mostly original compositions highlight Eric’s second release on Alligator Records.  It was released early in the year and still is on my jukebox at home.  I can’t get enough of Eric Lindell and can’t wait for his next release.

 

Mighty Mike Schermer

 Right Hand Man, Fine Dog Records

Bay Area session guitarist Mighty Mike Schermer backs 13 different singers on this exciting CD.  Soulful tunes from Earl Thomas and Howard Tate are topnotch, along with some fiery vocals from Angela Strehli.  All styles of blues are covered here and Mighty Mike shows why he’s a top axman.

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Hambone’s Blues Party is broadcast from the back seat of Hambone’s Cadillac, parked on the corner of Jazz Avenue and Blues Boulevard. His radio show can be heard on WDCB 90.9FM and simulcast at www.wdcb.org every Thursday night from 10 pm to midnight CST. Hambone features the best of contemporary blues and classic R&B and soul.  He plays blues with some rhythm, blues with some jump and blues with some soul.

Hambone’s Blues Party

 Top Christmas Spins for

December 2008:

  allen-toussaint-cd 

Allen Toussaint & Friends

 A New Orleans Christmas, NYNO Music

Legendary New Orleans composer and producer Allen Toussaint takes us down to The Big Easy for a unique Christmas CD.  James Andrews’ version of “Christmas in New Orleans” is played every year at Hambone’s house. The New Birth Brass Band’s “Santa’s Second Line” will have you dancing around the Christmas tree.

 

Various Artists

Savoy Jazz Christmas Album:

Christmas Blues, Savoy Jazz

A hip album from Savoy Jazz artists. If you can find this CD, it is worth it for the following three cuts:  Jimmy Butler’s “Trim Your Tree,” Debbie Dabney’s “I Want to Spend Christmas With Elvis” and Johnny Guarnieri’s “Santa’s Secret”. This last song reveals the secret to Santa’s smile (just don’t let the kids hear it).

 

Various Artists

Blue Yule:

Christmas Blues and R&B Classics, Rhino

This hard-to-find holiday CD features cuts from classic R&B artists like Louis Jordan, Roy Milton and Jimmy Liggins.  It also features Eddie C. Campbell’s holiday hit, “Santa’s Messin’ With the Kid”.

 

Los Strait Jackets

13 Rockin’ Christmas Instrumentals, Yep Rock Records

A truly rockin’ release from those masked marvels of surf music.  You will never view Christmas music as boring after hearing this CD.

  

Chris Cain

Christmas Cain: Blues for the Holidays, CCM

West Coast bluesman put out this EP ten years ago. Chris Cain’s musical talents shine on this disc which contains mostly original songs regarding holiday issues. 

  

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

Whatchu’ Want for Christmas, Big Bad Records

West Coast Swing Band BBVD, made this EP for kicks.  It contains some swingin’ Christmas tunes including their cover of “Zat You Santa Claus”.  The hidden gem on this release, however, is “I Wanna Be Just Like You” (the monkey song) from the classic Disney movie The Jungle Book.

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Hambone’s Blues Party is broadcast from the back seat of Hambone’s Cadillac, parked on the corner of Jazz Avenue and Blues Boulevard. His radio show can be heard on WDCB 90.9FM and simulcast at www.wdcb.org every Thursday night from 10 pm to midnight CST. Hambone features the best of contemporary blues and classic R&B and soul.  He plays blues with some rhythm, blues with some jump and blues with some soul.

Hambone’s Blues Party

 Top 5 Spins for November:

mavis-hideout-cdMavis Staples

Live: Hope At The Hideout, ANTI- Records

            Chicago’s own living legend Mavis Staples recorded a live set at the funky  Hideout club in summer 2008.  Mavis’ voice is in fine form and her band, led by Rick Holmstrom on guitar, never oversteps its bounds. I have seen Mavis a number of times; performing in front of an appreciative audience always brings out the best in her.  Top songs from this set include:  This Little Light, Why Am I Treated So Bad and Down in Mississippi.  From spirituals to R&B to Civil Rights protest songs, no one brings the depth of experience and emotion to a tune as does Mavis.  This is truly an uplifting and sanctified album.

 

delmark-55th-cd Various Artists

55 Years of Blues, Delmark Records, CD & DVD

            Bob Koester founded Delmark Records over 55 years ago.  This release contains a CD of various blues artists that have recorded for Delmark over the decades.  From Big Joe Williams to Otis Rush to Magic Sam to Syl Johnson, this album demonstrates the history of the blues.  As an added bonus, this package also contains a DVD of live performances. Your blues experience is enhanced when you can watch bluesmen like Jimmy Burns, Byther Smith, Dave Specter, Tail Dragger and the late Little Arthur Duncan, perform on the DVD.

 

Joe Louis Walker

Witness To The Blues, Stony Plain Records

            Joe Louis Walker has been powerful force in the blues for over 20 years. He is a triple threat: guitarist, singer and songwriter. His new CD, which was produced by Duke Robillard, bears witness to his life as a bluesman.  JLW tackles all styles of blues in this release.  There is a smoking and scintillating duet with Shemekia Copeland on the cut Lover’s Holiday. You will enjoy this one a lot.

 

Sarah & The Tall Boys

Shiny and New, Indie Release

            This Chicago band is hard to categorize: part alt-country, part blues. Simply put, they play great Americana music.  Sarah Potenza has a huge, throaty voice. This album features mostly original songs with an excellent backing band. They played live in the radio studio last week on my show and I was impressed with their performance and material.

 

Big Mama Thornton

Hound Dog/The Peacock Recordings, MCA

            Hambone thought it would be nice to hop into the Way-Back Machine and listen to some classic female R&B. Discovered in Houston by legendary entrepreneur Don Robey in 1951, Big Mama Thornton is best known for recording the original version of Hound Dog in 1952.  Elvis would top the charts with his cover in 1956. Big, brassy and ball-bustin’, Big Mama took grief from no one. Unfortunately, she never received the accolades she deserved. If you like raucous, rockin’, blues-shouting R&B, you’ll dig this. 

Hambone’s Blues Party is broadcast from the back seat of Hambone’s Cadillac, parked on the corner of Jazz Avenue and Blues Boulevard. His radio show can be heard on WDCB 90.9FM and simulcast at www.wdcb.org every Thursday night from 10 pm to midnight CST. Hambone features the best of contemporary blues and classic R&B and soul.  He plays blues with some rhythm, blues with some jump and blues with some soul.

Hambone’s Blues Party

 Top 5 Spins for October:

magic-slim-cd-artMagic Slim & The Teardrops

Midnight Blues, Blind Pig Records

Magic Slim’s new album is nothing but true, straight-ahead, raw and intense blues.  He gives this release a different texture by adding horns and special guests Gene Barge, Lil’ Ed, Otis Clay and Lonnie Brooks.  Magic Slim is 70 years young and is one of the last living “true” bluesmen who journeyed up from Mississippi to Chicago in the 1950s.  Nothing fancy, just real-deal Chicago blues.

Taj Mahal

Maestro, Heads Up International

Taj Mahal has been a musical maestro for over 40 years.  His musical style is as diverse as can be.  This new CD features Los Lobos, Ziggy Marley, Ben Harper and Jack Johnson among others.  Each song is a musical treasure that gets better with each listening.  Treat your ears and soul to a beautiful, eclectic release from Taj.

Jimmy Thackery and The Drivers

Inside Tracks, Telarc Blues

I used to hear Jimmy play guitar for The Nighthawks in the 1970s during my college days in Washington, D.C.  Since that time he has developed into a fine triple-threat.  He’s a well-respected singer, creative songwriter and incendiary guitarist. His new CD is full of original compositions.  If guitar is your thing, give a listen to Jimmy Thackery’s new recording.  

Cedric Burnside & Lightnin’ Malcolm

2 Man Wrecking Crew, Delta Groove Music

Cedric is the grandson of the late Mississippi blues legend R.L. Burnside.  He and his musical partner Lightnin’ Malcolm have teamed together to re-define North Mississippi Country Blues.  This CD has a hypnotic feel and irresistible groove.

Rory Block

Blues Walkin’ Like a Man, Stony Plain

Rory Block has long been recognized as one of the top acoustic blues artists.  On her new CD, she pays tribute to Son House.  From Jinx Blues to Death Letter, Rory does Son House proud.

 Hambone’s Blues Party

 Top 5 Spins for September:

lil-ed-cdLil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials

Full Tilt, Alligator Records

Lil’ Ed’s newest CD on Alligator Records celebrates his reputation as the best houserocking bluesman in the land.  Lil’ Ed’s slide guitar, singing and songwriting have matured with each of his albums.  This one is sure to please his fans, Ed Heads, and make new fans, too.  As the title suggests, it’s pedal-to-the-metal and balls- to-the-wall good-time party music that has an irresistible groove.

Chris James & Patrick Rynn

Stop And Think About It, Earwig Records

Guitarist Chris James is from San Diego and bass man Patrick Quinn hails from Toledo, but together they have put out a real-deal Chicago blues album. Backed by a tight, veteran band including Sam Lay, Chris and Patrick play old-school, Post-War Chicago Blues.  It’s hard to believe that these young cats can bring forth such authenticity and feeling to their playlist, but they do, in spades, with spirit and conviction. 

Johnny Rawls

Red Cadillac, Catfood Records

Johnny Rawls has put out a string of great soulful albums over the past few years. This new release is one of his best. His formula works every time:  good lyrics, inventive songwriting and soulful production.  Take a soulful ride with Johnny Rawls in his Red Cadillac. 

Curtis Salgado

Clean Getaway, Shanachie Records

Curtis Salgado allegedly was the inspiration to John Belushi for his Blues Brothers’ persona.  After a recent battle with some medical problems, Curtis has come back with a fabulous new CD.  He has one of the sweetest voices in blues and soul. There is not a bad cut on this entire CD.  I consider this one of the best releases of the year.

James Hinkle

Some Day, Blue Lights Music

James is a Fort Worth bluesman.  His new album presents fresh sounding and well-crafted songs.  His style is hard to categorize since it’s not straight blues.  I would call it good music!!

Hambone’s Blues Party is broadcast from the back seat of Hambone’s Cadillac, parked on the corner of Jazz Avenue and Blues Boulevard. His radio show can be heard on WDCB 90.9FM and simulcast at www.wdcb.org every Thursday night from 10 pm to midnight CST. Hambone features the best of contemporary blues and classic R&B and soul.  He plays blues with some rhythm, blues with some jump and blues with some soul.

Hambone’s Blues Party

 Top 5 Spins for AUGUST:

liz-mandeville-cd

Liz Mandeville

Red Top, Earwig Records

Chicago blues diva Liz Mandeville is sassy and sultry.  Many have called her the "Bette Midler of the Blues."  Her new album displays her tenderness, her toughness and her ability to rock.

Backed by a top-notch Chicago band, Liz blasts through original material with a humorous zest for life.  Her songs "Spanky Butt" and "Guilty of Rockin' All Night" will have you dancing in your living room.

Los Fabulocos

Los Fabulocos, Delta Groove Records.

Veterans of Southern California Chicano music scene team up with former Fabulous Thunderbirds' guitarist Kid Ramos for a rocking and smoking release.  The music is defined as "Cali-Mex" and is the perfect summertime companion.  With some songs in English, others in Spanish, this CD has an irresistible groove.

Freddie Hughes

I Know It’s Hard But It’s Fair, Blues Express Records.

West Coast vocalist Freddie Hughes mixes gospel, doo-wop, soul and blues for a “throwback, old-school” sound.  Singing and harmonizing is a lost art, but Freddie’s vocals are outstanding.  His take on Johnny Taylor’s “What About My Love” is a knockout.

Jackie Payne/Steve Edmonson Band

Overnight Sensation, Delta Groove

Jackie Payne is an old-school vocalist and Steve Edmonson is a young incendiary guitarist.  Together they have put out some fine records for Delta Groove.  This new CD features covers of classic R&B songs “Your Good Thing (Is About To Come To An End)” and “I’ve Never Found A Girl.”  This album displays a full band, nice choice of songs and Jackie’s voice is in fine form. You love this one, I guarantee.

Robin Rogers

Treat Me Right, Blind Pig Records

Robin Rogers’ new CD on Blind Pig showcases her vocal range.  She’s a powerful singer and displays a great range on this well-produced CD. I enjoyed this one a lot.

Hambone’s Blues Party is broadcast from the back seat of Hambone’s Cadillac, parked on the corner of Jazz Avenue and Blues Boulevard. His radio show can be heard on WDCB 90.9FM and simulcast at www.wdcb.org every Thursday night from 10 pm to midnight CST. Hambone features the best of contemporary blues and classic R&B and soul.  He plays blues with some rhythm, blues with some jump and blues with some soul.

Hambone’s Blues Party

 Top 5 Spins for JULY 2008:

 janiva- magness

Janiva Magness

What Love Will Do, Alligator Records

Janiva’s new CD on Alligator is her official coming out party.  She’s a refreshing song stylist who can sing all types of blues.  Her career is about to take off and this new CD showcases her strong yet supple voice. This album features an excellent mix of styles and is really well produced. 

Wiley & The Checkmates

We Call It Soul, Rabbit Factory Records

Herbert Wiley has been playing soulful blues in Oxford, Mississippi for over 40 years.  A cobbler by trade, he works on soles during the day and plays Southern soul at night.  He does a funky version of “Ode to Billy Joe” and there’s not a false note on this record.  This is one of my favorite albums of the year.

Dave Herrero

Austin to Chicago, Ferey Records/ Hero Music Group

Dave Herrero joins forces with Felix Reyes to produce an exciting new CD.  Dave’s guitar work and emotive vocals will knock your blues socks off.  Mixing Texas feelings with Chicago blues, Dave is one of the young turks of the local blues scene that will soon be in the spotlight.  Some songs are tender, others are rough & tumble. Dave Herrero brings a maturity to his music that belies his age. 

Patrick Green

Popcorn Man, Across the Border Records

Houston’s Patrick Green, a.k.a. The PG Man, played one of the most entertaining sets that I have ever seen at this year’s Chicago Blues Festival.  The PG Man is a confident vocalist and true showman.  He’s soulful, funky and fun.  His tune, “Got Me on the Lockdown” has been playing in my house all summer long.

Stevie Wonder

The Definitive Collection, Universal

I saw Stevie Wonder at Taste of Chicago a few weeks ago.  It was the highlight of my summer.  This “best of” collection is a nice retrospective of his long list of hits.  It is truly amazing how many great songs he has written and recorded since he was teenager at Motown.  If you haven’t listened to Stevie for a while, do yourself a favor and pick this one up.

Hambone’s Blues Party is broadcast from the back seat of Hambone’s Cadillac, parked on the corner of Jazz Avenue and Blues Boulevard. His radio show can be heard on WDCB 90.9FM and simulcast at www.wdcb.org every Thursday night from 10 pm to midnight CST. Hambone features the best of contemporary blues and classic R&B and soul.  He plays blues with some rhythm, blues with some jump and blues with some soul.

Hambone’s Blues Party

 Top 5 Spins for June 2008:

specter-dvd

Dave Specter

 Live in Chicago, Delmark Records

Recorded at Buddy Guy’s Legends and Rosa’s Blues Lounge, Dave Specter has produced a great live CD with an all-star blues band.  Following in the tradition of blues revues, Dave features three different vocalists, each with their distinctive style. Tad Robinson brings his soulful sound, Jimmy Johnson demonstrates his unique and strong voice and Sharon Lewis spices up the mix.

Dave adds a couple of original instrumentals that showcase his blues/jazz guitar grooves.  This is an extra-fine CD from first song to last note. Also available on DVD.

 Clarence Spady

 Just Between Us,  Severn Records

From Scranton, Pa. Clarence Spady delivers a soulful blues delight.  He is a skilled guitarist, emotive singer and inventive songwriter.  This CD has an irresistible groove and gets better with each listening.  If you don’t like this release, you better go see Dr. Feelgood, because you have a hole in your soul.  Just Between Us is my favorite record of 2008.

Kenny Neal

 Let Life Flow, Blind Pig Records

Let Life Flow is a truly inspirational offering from Kenny Neal. This CD sounds like Kenny is playing right in your living room.  A nice mixture of soul, blues and classic R&B (“Since I Met You Baby”), “Let Life Flow” is a personal testament from one of blues’ true superstars.

 

Mighty Mike Schermer

 Right Hand Man, Fine Dog Records

Bay Area session guitarist Mighty Mike Schermer backs 13 different singers on this exciting CD.  Soulful tunes from Earl Thomas and Howard Tate are topnotch, along with some fiery vocals from Angela Strehli.  All styles of blues are covered here and Mighty Mike shows why he’s a top axman.

War

 The Best of War, Rhino

Hambone pulls out an oldie to help celebrate summer. Songs like “Low Rider,” “Cisco Kid” and “Spill the Wine” are made to be played in the hot sun.  War’s funky percussion  (“…more cowbell…”) and great arrangements make their songs stand the test of time.  So roll down your windows and turn up the volume.

Hambone’s Blues Party is broadcast from the back seat of Hambone’s Cadillac, parked on the corner of Jazz Avenue and Blues Boulevard. His radio show can be heard on WDCB 90.9FM and simulcast at www.wdcb.org every Thursday night from 10 pm to midnight CST. Hambone features the best of contemporary blues and classic R&B and soul.  He plays blues with some rhythm, blues with some jump and blues with some soul.

Hambone’s Blues Party

Top 5 Spins

 for May 2008:

eddy-chief-cd-artEddy “The Chief” Clearwater

West Side Strut, Alligator Records

Eddy Clearwater’s new CD is a fine example of West Side Chicago Blues.  Produced by Ronnie Baker Brooks, this release packs an energetic and powerful punch. Rockin’, groovin’ and soulful. 

Eric Michaels Organ Trio 

 Something Blue

This CD, featuring Eric Michaels on the Hammond organ, blends jazzy riffs with bluesy emotion.  Eric’s B-3 is dripped in grease and swings hard throughout the CD.  His tasteful vocals add to this straight-ahead, soulful and constantly inspired album. This CD will certainly please the soul/jazz crowd.

Marcia Ball

Peace, Love & BBQ, Alligator Records

Swamp Boogie piano player Marcia Ball mixes New Orleans R&B with emotive ballads on her new CD.  Marcia’s high-spirited live concerts are transcended in these songs.  This release will put a smile on your face and some hep in your step.

Al Basile

The Tinge, Sweetspot Records

Former Roomful of Blues horn player Al Basile reunites with producer Duke Robillard with an album dedicated to the “tinge” style of Jelly Roll Morton.  From the first song to the last note, this recording offers a tasteful mix of blues, soul and jazz.

Tom Principato Band

Raising The Roof!, Powerhouse Records

Washington, D.C. guitarist Tom Principato has been keeping the blues alive in our nation’s Capitol for over 30 years.  A smokin’ guitarist, Tom is also an inventive songwriter.  The last song on this CD is entitled: “They Called for ‘Stormy Monday’ (But ‘Mustang Sally’ is just as Bad!).”

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Hambone's Top Spins
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