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Marty Gunther’s Red, Hot ’n Blues Music Reviews - November 2023

By Marty Gunther




Red Hot ‘n’ Blues Reviews for November 2023


Christone “Kingfish” Ingram – Live in London

Alligator Records

The brightest star in the blues today, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram caught the world by surprise with this beefy release, which hit the street recently without previous fanfare. It’s a dazzling, 107-minute set captured live in England this past summer, an event that was well worth the price of admission and more.


Just the third release from the young giant whose career began in his early teens, Kingfish is backed by his skintight road band – keyboard player DeShawn Alexander, bassist Paul Rogers and percussionist Chris Black – as he reinvigorates songs from his first two CDs, adds a few new tunes and throws in a single cover for good measure.


Searing and spontaneous throughout, high points abound in this feast for the ears. Don’t miss “She Calls Me Kingfish,” “Fresh Out,” “Another Life,” “Hard Times,” “Mississippi Night,” “Something in the Dirt,” “You’re Already Gone,” “Listen,” “Not Gonna Lie,” “Midnight Heat,” “662” and “Long Distance Woman.”


Candice Ivory – When the Levee Breaks: The Music of Memphis Minnie

Little Village Foundation LVF 1057

Tennessee-born vocalist Candice Ivory bills herself as The Queen of Avant Soul, but she goes old-school with a twist as she explores the vast musical legacy of Memphis Minnie on this disc and does it in a way no one has done before, an amazing accomplishment considering that several tunes here have been a part of the American songbook since the ‘40s and have been covered thousands of times in the past.


Produced by guitarist/bassist Charlie Hunter at Earthtones Recording in Greensboro, N.C., and featuring contributions from pedal steel master DeShawn Hickman, Candice’s warm alto soars throughout atop highly percussive accompaniment throughout.


Choice cuts include “Me and My Chauffeur,” “When the Levee Breaks,” “When You Love Me,” “Blues Everywhere,” “Crazy Crying Blues,” “World of Trouble,” “Hole in the Wall,” “Hard Down Lie,” “HooDoo Lady” and “New Bumble Bee.”


Mike Bourne Band featuring Johnny Burgin – Cruisin’ Kansas City

Blue Heart Records BHR 029

After long stints in Atlanta and Chicago, guitarist Mike Bourne is back home in his native Kansas City where he’s paying tribute to several of the legends who inspired him and made the city the music mecca it is today. It’s a sprightly mix of jump blues, swing and more.


Mike skillfully handles vocals with six-string master Johnny Burgin joining forces on 11 of the 13 cuts. They’re aided by organist Dave Creighton, bassist Patrick Recob, drummer Adam Hagerman and a full horn section, along with Chicago pianist Johnny Iguana. Harp player Davin “Big D” Erickson and drummer Rob Lorenz both passed away since recording the closing track, “Kansas City Grease.”


You’ll enjoy “Cruisin’ Kansas City,” “Lose Your Rings Keep Your Fingers,” “Humpty Dumpty,” “Help Somebody,” “Too Young to Be Old,” “Loose with the Truth,” “Running Song,” “Dangerous Game” and “Kansas City Grease.”


Johnny Rawls – Walking Heart Attack

Catfood Records CFR-033

A giant in the world of soul blues for the past 50 years, Blues Music Award winner Johnny Rawls is like fine wine and getting better and better with age. And he’s at the absolute top of his game with this disc, a collection of ten silky-smooth tunes that glides smoothly out of the gate and delivers powerful emotions from the opening beat.


Self-produced in Texas but mixed by Grammy winner Jim Gaines in Tennessee, this set includes six originals written by Johnny or in partnership with label owner Bob Trenchard, one tune by label mate Derrick Procell and three rock-solid covers with backing from Catfood’s house band, The Rays.


Take a head-first dive into “Walking Heart Attack” – the description of a beautiful lady, “Trying to Live My Life Without You,” “Free,” “Tell Me the Truth,” “Born All Over,” “Heal Me,” “One More Sin,” “Lies” and “Mississippi Dreams.”


Bluesland Horn Band – Six

Self-produced

An eight-piece ensemble based out of Calgary, Bluesland Horn Band has been dominating Canadian airwaves consistently since reforming after a nine-year break in 2014. And they deliver a tidal wave of horn-fueled pleasers in this set, which mixes Memphis soul, Big Easy second line with dashes of gospel and swing, too.


The group’s led by guitarist/producer/songwriter Terry Medd with Marty Cochrane on harp and vocals. Their three-piece brass section pumps out a rock-steady groove. Their skintight arrangements and original tunes are packed with classic appeal, and they keep the beat infectious on everything they do.


If horns are your thing, you’ll love “My Old Truck,” “Creole Queen,” “Rock My Roll,” “Keep the Devil Behind,” “Alley Shuffle,” “Holy Water,” “Not Ready,” “Solitaire” and “So Long, Goodbye.”


Teresa James & the Rhythm Tramps – Rose-Colored Glasses Vol. 2

Jesi-Lu/Blue Heart Records BHR 054

Grammy nominee Teresa James delivered a ray of light in a dark world with an album packed with songs of love, life and hope on Rose-Colored Glasses two years ago, and she keeps the positive vibes flowing strong with this set of tunes, all of which were penned by co-producer/bassist/hubby Terry Wilson.


Teresa possesses one of the sweetest voices in the entire world of music, and – as usual -- she’s backed by several of the top musicians in Southern California and Nashville. The set was engineered by friend and fellow Grammy honoree John Porter (Jon Cleary).


Raise your spirits as you give a listen to “I’d Do It for You,” “Better Angels,” “Lean on Love,” “That’s What I’m Talking About,” “I Don’t Need Another Reason to Fall in Love,” “The Heart Wants What It Wants,” “Just Don’t Think About It,” “Brand New Flame” and “Second Chances.”


Keith Scott & the Electric Blues Junkies – One Nation Under the Blues

Universal Mind Records

A 40-year veteran of the Chicago blues scene with Jimmy Dawkins and other major talents, Keith Scott delivered a straight-ahead Windy City pleaser two years ago with World Blues Society, but he shifts gears on his latest effort, an all-original blend of blues and blues-rock, some of which is delivered with a well-modulated retro-psychedelic feel.


Keith handles double duties on six-string and harp on this one with multi-instrumentalist Marvin Jackson – a longtime bandmate of Albert Collins – on drums. The lineup also includes Dave Zollo on keys with Doug McBride on pedal steel and Tony McQuaid on second guitar.


A thoroughly eclectic mix, tune in to “Bring It Back,” “I’m Going Down to Memphis,” “Marvin Shuffle,” “World Comin’ Down,” “Down on My Luck,” “World’s Gone Putin’,” “Betty Lou,” “Home to You Baby” and “One Nation Under the Blues.”


Dave Keller – It’s Time to Shine

Tastee Tone Records TT3046

A frequent BMA nominee in the soul-blues category, Vermont-based vocalist/guitarist Dave Keller does something different on his latest CD: He turns up the heat on a blazing blues-rock set that was recorded live in one room of a remote cabin near the Canadian border. The soulful end result – which was captured by longtime Ronnie Earl engineer Huck Bennert – mirrors Dave’s powerful shows on the road.


Keller’s backed by Ira Friedman on keys, Jay Gleason on drums and Alex Budney on bass with guest appearances by Mark Earley on saxes and Tom Palance on trumpet. And Annika Chambers-DesLauriers provides backing vocals on the all-original set.


“Waiting for the Sunshine” drives steadily to open. Other must-listen tracks include “The Truth of the Blues,” “789-0133,” “My Time to Shine,” “The First Time Without You,” “Paint a New Life Together,” “Full Measure of Pleasure,” “Something ‘Bout a Sad Song” and “Hard to Believe.”


The Dig 3 – Damn the Rent

Self-produced CD

Composed of a trio of the best veterans the Illinois music scene has to offer, The Dig 3 took the world by storm with their eponymous debut CD last year, hitting the No. 3 spot on MOJO Magazine’s blues album of the year chart. And they continue their steady ascendency with this sensational follow-up.


An often-overlooked force of nature, Andrew Duncanson – longtime front man of Kilborn Alley Blues Band – handles vocals and guitar in partnership with harmonica master Ronnie Shellist and former Nick Moss & the Flip Tops’ Gerry Hundt, who handles guitar, harp, mandolin, organ and percussion.


Don’t miss this one. It drives steadily throughout. Choice cuts include “Take a Ride,” “All the Love That I Got,” “Dip My Toe,” “Chuck & Willie,” “Coconut Curry Dance,” “Blanco Boogaloo,” “Red-Tailed Hawks,” “Old Dog” and “Southern Fantasy.”


Jason Ricci & the Bad Kind – Behind the Veil

Gulf Coast Records

There’s no more talented a harp player on earth than Jason Ricci these days, and he puts all of his skills on display in this debut release for Mike Zito’s Gulf Coast Records. It’s a masterful, multi-dimensional treat that opens with the dark, gritty music he’s known for but quickly turns upbeat with numbers that reflect his current home in New Orleans.


Joining Jason on vocals is his wife, Kaitlin Dibble, along with guitarist Brent Johnson, his usual skintight rhythm section -- anchored by bass player Jack Joshua and drummer John Perkins -- and special guests including superstar label mate Joanna Connor, vocalist Lauren Mitchell and Big Easy fixture Joe Krown on keys.


A high-energy feast for the ears, you’ll dig “Casco Bay,” “5-10-15,” “Baked Potato,” “Cirque du Soliel,” “Wrong Kind of Easy/Nobody But You,” “Ain’t She Fine,” “Why Don’t We Sleep on It,” “Terrors of Nightlife,” “Shipwreck” and “Hip-Hug-Her.”


EG Kight – Sticks & Strings

Blue South Records BSR00823

One of the most beloved artists in Southeast, honey-voiced Georgia peach EG Kight delivers what she terms “country-flavored, Southern-fried blues,” and she’s at the top of her game for this welcome return to the studio. It’s a 10-tune set, which is delivered in three-piece, acoustic format.


EG’s a masterful guitarist and songwriter. She penned nine of the numbers here and is backed by Ken Winn on second six-string and Gary Porter on drums. The veteran road warrior covers the gamut of relationship problems here, all of which are delivered with a relaxed, front-porch appeal.


Kick back and give a listen to “Talk to Me,” “If You Have No Reservations,” “Come and Go Blues,” “Already Gone,” “God, Goats and Guitars,” “My Baby’s Hidin’ Something,” “Changes Coming Down” and “I Won’t Ever Give Up.”


Willie J Laws Jr. – Too Much Blues

Pilot Light Records

Musical nomad Willie J Laws Jr. has led the house band at House of Blues in Las Vegas, enjoyed a long residency at Margeritaville in New Orleans and picked up awards in San Diego, Memphis and Boston, too, but bills himself as “The Last Prophet of the Funky Texas Blues.” One listen to this and you’ll understand why.


A native of Taft, Texas, mentored by Lone Star State guitar god Phillip Walker and currently calling Massachusetts home, Laws incorporates a heaping helping of R&B into the nine originals and three covers that populate this one, which include guest appearances from former Muddy Waters harp player Jerry Portnoy and Grammy-winning guitarist Paul Nelson.


Songs that’ll funk you up include: “Regl’ Ol’ Blues,” “Better Off Blue,” “Getcha’ Knee Off My Neck,” “Love Before You Die,” “Sorry Charlie,” “Too Much Blues,” “You Don’t Love Me (U Love What I Do),” “Ain’t Going to Texas,” “The Right” and “Who’s That Lady.”


Bob Corritore & Friends – Somebody Put Bad Luck on Me

SWMAF Records/VizzTone Label Group

The music keeps flowing from Bob Corritore’s vault at The Rhythm Room in Phoenix, Ariz., thus providing a tidal wave of delight for fans of old-school blues in recent years; the hits keep coming with this 16-track collection. And as usual, Bob’s superb harp work serves as a supporting force behind several of the top names in the business.


The roster runs deep on this one with appearances from Bobby Rush, Thornetta Davis, John Primer, Carl Weathersby, Johnny Rawls, Eugene “Hideaway” Bridges, Francine Reed, Tia Carroll, Oscar Wilson, Diunna Greenleaf, Jimi “Primetime” Smith, Willie Buck, Sugaray Rayford and Lurrie Bell – all of whom are accompanied by all-star backing in never-before-released performances.


The hits run deep here. Give a gander to “This Little Voice,” “Midnight Love,” “Somebody Put Bad Luck on Me,” “I’m as Good as Gone,” “Stranded,” “You Don’t Want to Love Me,” “Draw Me Closer,” “Tough Enough,” “I Don’t Know,” “Help the Poor” and “Let Me Find Out Your Name.”


Ole Lonesome – Tejas Motel

Gulf Coast Records

A blues-rock band based out of the swamps near Beaumont, Texas, Ole Lonesome is a gritty five-piece ensemble with a contemporary, but old-school feel. They make their debut with this potent set, an atmospheric, driving mix of blues-infused originals.


The band’s fronted by Zachary Feemster, a singer whose mid-range voice comes with the slightest Gulf Coast twang. He shares guitar duties with Greg Achord, and they’re anchored by Greg Mosely on keys with Jimmy Devers on drums and J. Wesley Hardin on bass. Label owner Mike Zito sits in on one cut.


Powerful but never overbearing throughout, you’ll enjoy “Yvette,” “Gold Chevy,” “Steady Mistreater,” “Easy Street,” “Lo Key,” “The Fool,” “Natural Fact” and “Tejas Motel.”


HOLIDAY TREATS

Lisa Biales – At Christmas

Big South Music

Cincinnati songbird Lisa Biales keeps the heat on high with this swinging set. Nine of the ten tunes are originals, and all of them feature world-class backing from producer/drummer Tony Braunagel and Taj Mahal/Phantom Blues Band bandmates Johnny Lee Schell and Joe Sublett along with top talents from both coasts. Top cuts include “At Christmas,” “That’s What I Like About Christmas,” “The Boy I Met for Christmas,” “Lulu Magoo,” “Christmas Record” and “Christmas Cheer.”


Various Artists – The Alligator Records Christmas Collection

Alligator Records 9201

Here’s a holiday treat you won’t want to miss: Alligator Records has been keeping the thermostat on high intermittently since the early ‘90s with rereleases of this heartwarming Christmas treat. If it’s not in your collection, here’s another chance to throw another log on the fire and cuddle along with Koko Taylor’s “Merry, Merry Christmas,” Kenny Neal’s “Christmas in the Country,” Lil’ Ed & the Blues Imperials’ “I’m Your Santa” and other pleasers by Katie Webster, William Clarke, Tinsley Ellis, Charles Brown, Son Seals, Lonnie Brooks, Little Charlie & the Nightcats, Elvin Bishop, Saffire – The Uppity Blues Women, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown and Charlie Musselwhite.


Various Artists – Stax Christmas

Stax Records/Craft Recordings

What better way to spend the holidays than celebrating with never-before-released recordings of Otis Redding and Carla Thomas and other artists who kept America grooving in the ‘60s and early ‘70s. That’s what you get in this package. The Staple Singers, Booker T. & the MG’s, Isaac Hayes, Albert King and Rufus Thomas are present, too. And you’ll also be singing along with The Temprees, The Emotions, Cix Bits and The Rance Allen Group as you cuddle by the fire.



About the Author: The blues came calling for Marty Gunther in the 1960s, when he witnessed Muddy Waters, Mississippi John Hurt, B.B. King and Howlin' Wolf perform at the Newport festivals in his native Rhode Island. A longtime Chicagoan who's now based out of Mason, OH, he's a professional journalist and harp player who studied under Sugar Blue before co-founding the Nucklebusters, a band that's filled clubs in south Florida since the '80s.

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