Friday, March 27, 2015

Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin - Common Ground

Subtitled "Play and Sing the Songs of Big Bill Broonzy", this is a self-explanatory release. The Blasters brothers are huge fans of old time blues/rockabilly/country/r'n'r and give it all a go in this project dedicated to the long career of this legendary bluesman.

I've been a fan of the Blasters since first seeing them in the clubs when I moved to LA and can attest that they are still a strong live act and Phil's voice is as spectacular and powerful as ever. Dave is, of course, an exemplary guitarist, with a strong style that emotes with the simplest lick, though he is capable of blistering leads.

Here the two show off Broonzy's terrific songwriting while making the arrangements their own with the help of a number of friends, including their old piano pounder, Gene Taylor. They move from acoustic blues ("All By Myself"), to electric swing ("I Feel So Good" - man, Dave's solo stings here!), to acoustic boogie-woogie ("How You Want It Done?") and more. Dave gets to take lead vocal while Phil blows harp on the tough blues "Southern Flood Blues"

The brothers have gathered some of Big Bill's best tunes here and all are performed by some of the current masters of the genre. Both Alvin's get to shine, instrumentally and vocally (trading off leads and harmonizing) and the backing musicians truly know how to power the blues.

Any fan of the Blasters - and of quality blues - will dig this one! Get it!

(And ya gotta love the front cover - some things never change!)

J.B. Hutto and His Hawks - Hawk Squat

This is another stumble'n'find for me and another Chicago bluesman, also recorded in 1968, this time
tipping his hat to the likes of slide-master Elmore James. The famous Sunnyland Slim joins in on keys and the rest of the combo consists of Maurice McIntyre on tenor sax, Lee Jackson on guitar, Junior Pettis or Dave Myers on bass and Frank Kirkland on drums.

J.B.'s sound is more traditional, late-60's, Chicago blues, with some rough-edged vocals (emotional and powerful, but not the best singer to come out of the town, by a long stretch) and some fine playing. Dig the raw guitar/sax interlude on stuff like "Too Much Pride" and the slippery slide work that spices up many of the tunes.

Of course, Hutto is no mere Elmore copiest, he has his own style and his music covers the gamet of the blues - slow'n'sizzlin', fast'n'swingin' and everything in between. The slide is not a constant feature, but adds cool texture and solos throughout. Some of the tunes will sound familiar - "Hip Skakin'" is a play on "Bare Footin'", "20% Alcohol" is reminiscent of "Big Boss Man", etc. - but all are groovy and fine blues.

Dig this man a lot, but can understand him not being in the top pantheon of bluesmen - just not as charismatic as some, and he also never really got a chance to shine, outside of local Chicago clubs. Fine release.


Jimmy Dawkins - Fast Fingers

I am continually amazed at the amount and quality of older blues music that I have yet to discover and how damn cool it is when I do. Again, not sure how I stumbled upon Jimmy Dawkins (Facebook, maybe?) but glad that I did! This CD includes tracks recorded in Chicago in '68 and '69 with "Fast Fingers" on guitar and vocals, Eddie Shaw on tenor sax, Lafayette Leake on piano, Might Joe Young on guitar (wow to all!), Joe Harper and Ernest Gatewood on bass and Lester Dorsie on drums.

The sound here is cool, soulful Chicago blues, in the Magic Sam vein, with skillful, biting guitar licks and runs throughout and Jimmy's edgy but melodic voice. Really great guitar stylings here, with surfy staccato, smooth frills, and standard blues riffs taking on new life. The band grooves and pulses behind him and get their own moment's in the spotlight, but mostly, this is all about Jimmy - and rightfully so!

Most of the material here is swingin', upbeat, jumpin' blues, but he does slow it down occasionally, like the BB King-ish "I Finally Learned a Lesson" and "You Got To Keep On Trying", although his style is rawer and more potent than even BB! Again, he most reminds me of Magic Sam - who is a favorite of mine - and his combination of blues and soul.

Another stellar find! Highly recommended.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

RIP Sharon Tandy

Lots of greatness from this one - I especially love her work with Fleur de Lys:
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Sharon Tandy

recommended gigs

Friday Mar 27 - Super Zeroes, Analog Law at Babe's Rockin' Sports Bar
Friday Mar 27 - the Time Crashers with Greedy Mouth, Time Termination and more at OMD

Saturday Mar 28 - Whiskey Breath, Duane Marc, Hogjaw at Adrenaline
Saturday Mar 28 - The All Togethers and Josh Greenway at the Pioneer Saloon

Sunday March 29 - Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band with the All Togethers and Ditch Diggers at the Beauty Bar

Wednesday April 1 - Thee Mapes at the Double Down for Frank'n'Deans Weenie Roast

Thursday April 2 - the Delta Bombers at Viva Las Vegas

Friday April 3 - Scoundrels at the Double Down
Friday April 3 - Delta Bombers, Eddy Bear and the Cubs, Yawpers, Yosemite Slam at Triple B

Saturday April 4 - the Coffin Cats with the New Waves, Scoundrels and Dead at Midnight - the Dive Bar

Sunday April 5 - the Sonics at Viva Las Vegas - Mardi Gras Ballroom

Thursday April 9 - Bob Wayne, Fuzz Solow, All Togethers and the Bourbon Brothers at the Dive Bar
Thursday April 9 - the Psyatics, Heavy Glow, Cosmic Beasts, Core - the Beauty Bar

Friday April 10 - the Mapes, the Maxies and Alan Six - Atomic Liquors
Friday April 10 - Bob Wayne, Duane Mark, Whiskey Breath, All Togethers - Dive Bar

Saturday April 11 - Haunted Garage, the Time Crashers, Tartar Control, Radioactive Chicken Heads, Alexander the Terrible, Child Endangerment, Caliban and the Witch, Plague Doctor, the Rifleman and Firewater Folklore at OMD

Friday April 17 - the All Togethers at Artifice
Friday April 17 - 3d6, Lambs to Lions, SFT, Unit F, Horroripilation - Adrenaline

Saturday April 25 - the Swamp Gospel at the Double Down with Thee Fourgiven and the Psyatics
Saturday April 25 - the All Togethers at the Mormon Fort - 6:00pm

Friday May 1 - the return of the Holy Smokes at the Double Down with the Astaires, Ditch Diggers, Psyatics

Wednesday May 13 - Shanda and the Howlers with the Royal Hounds at the Griffin

Friday May 22 - the Humpers and the Hangmen at the Beauty Bar

Sunday May 31 - the Astaires with Sharks From Mars at the Double Down

Wednesday June 3 - Dick Dale at the Hard Rock on the Strip

What have I forgotten? Lemme know!

The All Togethers - To the Sober Go the Spoils

I have been meaning to get to this, the All Togethers latest CD, for a couple of weeks now, but life and sickness have kept me from getting much of anything done. The previous release from this self-proclaimed "hillbilly jazz" bunch, Ridge Runner, is at least a couple of years old by now and the group has had some personal changes since then. Ken (lead vocals, banjo, mandolin) and Cindy (stand up bass/vocals) remain and are joined by Michael (guitar/vocals) and Brenna (cello/vocals), who have now been playing with them long enough that they have meshed and melded into a strong, cohesive unit.

Most of the songs here will be familiar to those who have been watching this combo grow here in Vegas and the opener, "Self Defense", has a strong, percussive mandolin intro and really nice 4 part harmonies, which are prevalent throughout. "Run Away" highlights Ken's strong song-writing and Brenna's cello, adding a different texture to the mix, and the acoustic rave-up at the end is a nice touch, as well. Bringing the cello to the forefront again is "Shadowboxing" (which also has a hep vocal pause/hook) along with "Get Your Mind Right", before Michael takes the lead for the prohibition-esque ode to the imbiber, "Sonata In Whiskey". Keeping in the theme is "Copper Angel", bringing in the record's title to this romantic paean to Ken's moonshine still - some really creative instrumental interaction here, as well as lyrical cleverness.

From there we get a Roarin' 20's banjo number, "So What?" and then Michael adds a lovely guitar intro (and solo) to the somewhat threatening and frightening (but beautifully melodic) "When the Night Comes". The added percussion towards the end is particularly creepy, as well. More jumpin'n'jivin' in their cover of "Darktown Strutter's Ball" and then the proceedings finish up with a new, upbeat take on "I Heard You Paint Houses" (that also appeared on Ridge Runner).

I'd have to say that this co-ed combo is probably my favorite acoustic combo in town (though they do have some strong competition here) and this recording is a high quality representation of their sound, with terrific tone, superior playing throughout and great songwriting. Hop a freight train, drain a can of Sterno and grab this wherever you can!

Friday, March 20, 2015

another 60's great gone

Michael Brown, keyboardist/songwriter for The Left Banke, RIP
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Thursday, March 19, 2015

recommended gigs

Friday Mar 20 - the Beau Hodges Band at the Container Park

Wednesday Mar 25  - The Swank Bastards at the Double Down
Wednesday Mar 25 - The All Togethers and Brandon from Whiskey Breath at the Griffin

Friday Mar 27 - Super Zeroes, Analog Law at Babe's Rockin' Sports Bar
Friday Mar 27 - the Time Crashers with Greedy Mouth, Time Termination and more at OMD

Saturday Mar 28 - Whiskey Breath, Duane Marc, Hogjaw at Adrenaline
Saturday Mar 28 - The All Togethers and Josh Greenway at the Pioneer Saloon

Sunday March 29 - Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band with the All Togethers and Ditch Diggers at the Beauty Bar

Wednesday April 1 - Thee Mapes at the Double Down for Frank'n'Deans Weenie Roast

Thursday April 2 - the Delta Bombers at Viva Las Vegas

Friday April 3 - Scoundrels at the Double Down
Friday April 3 - Delta Bombers, Eddy Bear and the Cubs, Yawpers, Yosemite Slam at Triple B

Saturday April 4 - the Coffin Cats with the New Waves, Scoundrels and Dead at Midnight - the Dive Bar

Sunday April 5 - the Sonics at Viva Las Vegas - Mardi Gras Ballroom

Thursday April 9 - Bob Wayne, Fuzz Solow, All Togethers and the Bourbon Brothers at the Dive Bar
Thursday April 9 - the Psyatics, Heavy Glow, Cosmic Beasts, Core - the Beauty Bar

Friday April 10 - the Mapes, the Maxies and Alan Six - Atomic Liquors
Friday April 10 - Bob Wayne, Duane Mark, Whiskey Breath, All Togethers - Dive Bar

Saturday April 11 - Haunted Garage, the Time Crashers, Tartar Control, Radioactive Chicken Heads, Alexander the Terrible, Child Endangerment, Caliban and the Witch, Plague Doctor, the Rifleman and Firewater Folklore at OMD

Friday April 17 - the All Togethers at Artifice
Friday April 17 - 3d6, Lambs to Lions, SFT, Unit F, Horroripilation - Adrenaline

Saturday April 25 - the Swamp Gospel at the Double Down with Thee Fourgiven and the Psyatics
Saturday April 25 - the All Togethers at the Mormon Fort - 6:00pm

Friday May 1 - the return of the Holy Smokes at the Double Down with the Astaires, Ditch Diggers, Psyatics

Wednesday May 13 - Shanda and the Howlers with the Royal Hounds at the Griffin

Friday May 22 - the Humpers and the Hangmen at the Beauty Bar

Sunday May 31 - the Astaires with Sharks From Mars at the Double Down

Wednesday June 3 - Dick Dale at the Hard Rock on the Strip

What have I forgotten? Lemme know!

RIP Samuel Charters


Samuel Charters, Foundational Scholar of the Blues, Dies at 85 
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I must admit that I am not well versed in his works, though obviously, as with any rock'n'roller, I am indebted to him. I will be looking into his books.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

RIP Andy Frasier of Free

FREE BASSIST ANDY FRASER DEAD AT 62
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Very sad - I have always been a big Free fan and their song "All Right Now" is a true classic.

Hate reading about these rockers dying far too young.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Bourbon Brothers, All Togethers, Fuzz Solow and Charlie Overbey at the Dive Bar Mar 11, 2015

The Dive Bar does it again with another high quality night filled with talented acoustic/roots/blues/hillbilly/country/what-have-you music from start to finish.

Starting at a reasonable 9:30-ish time, the Bourbon Brothers took the stage with their two-acoustic act filled with folk music from around the world. Starting with a Croatian tune (first time for that at the Dive Bar?), they moved through originals and covers that gave the feel of Greek, Russian, Gypsy and assorted other flavors of traditional music. Both Elliot and Will are fine guitarists and vocalists who work off of each other well - trading guitar licks and chords, lead vocals, harmonies and making a cool, joyful noise. First time seeing this duo but it won't be the last!


In efforts of full disclosure, I did play a solo set this evening as well, as Prophet Greene and had a good time, despite being a bit rusty on this act. But then we got RR'n'RR'n'R faves, the All Togethers and they had a particularly strong set this evening, though I don't remember ever seeing a bad set by this combo. The sound was especially good (thanks, John Kirby!) and cellist Brenna continues to impress as I see her play with the gang more often. I was a bit hesitant about the addition of a cello but she does create some sweet sounds and a second female vocal enhances the 4 part harmonies. There were some new songs off of their upcoming CD (To the Sober Go the Spoils - release party Friday March 13 at the Forge!) and each member is standing out more - guitarist Michael gets in a few more licks, there was a song with mandolin and cello trade-offs and an update on "I Heard You Paint Houses", from their first CD. Always a good time!

Another one of my favorite local acts is one man band, Fuzz Solow, stirring up blues and funk in his own personal style. From his usual opener, Howlin' Wolf's "Built For Comfort" to an original "Midnight Sun" to Robert Johnson's "Crossroads" (by way of Cream) to a funky "Red House" and "Manic Depression", the man always entertains while he amazes with his guitar prowess (and, using a splitter, bass joins in, as well) as he stomps out the beat. He pulls out his out cigar box guitar for some slide blues and rallys the crowd by the end of the set. Another man that needs to be seen!

Headlining the evening (and going on at a fairly reasonable time - thank you to the Dive Bar for keeping things moving) was Charlie Overbey and the Broken Arrows, featuring old pals JImmy James and Dave James (Hangman and Super Bees, respectively), as well as an ace steel player (JC, I believe), and a fine bass/drum combo highlighting well-written songs like "Whiskey and California Weed" and "1975". Charlie is a graduate of the punk rock scene but has a good ear for country melodies and his voice blended well with the drummer's, while Jimmy, Dave and JC traded licks. Great seeing good friends (who are excellent players) and hearing new sounds.

Not a bad note throughout the night! Thank you Dive Bar!

recommended gigs

Thursday Mar 12 - the New Waves at the Bunkhouse

Friday Mar 13 - the All Togethers CD release party at Forge in Boulder City
Friday Mar 13 - Thee Swank Bastards at the Double Down
Friday Mar 13 - Bogtrotters Union at Hennesseys

Saturday Mar 14 - The Two Tens at the Dive Bar
Saturday Mar 14 - Whiskey Breath at the Dillinger
Saturday Mar 14 - Bogtrotters Union at Water Street Parade

Sunday Mar 15 - Anvil at Adrenaline Sports Bar
Sunday Mar 15 - Bogtrotters Union at Water Street Parade

Tuesday Mar 17 - the All Togethers at the Backstop Sports Pub
Tuesday Mar 17 - Bogtrotters Union at Triple B with Civilians, Brock, and Lawnmower Death Riders

Friday Mar 20 - the Beau Hodges Band at the Container Park

Wednesday Mar 25  - The Swank Bastards at the Double Down

Friday Mar 27 - Super Zeroes, Analog Law at Babe's Rockin' Sports Bar

Sunday March 29 - Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band with the All Togethers and Ditch Diggers at the Beauty Bar

Thursday April 2 - the Delta Bombers at Viva Las Vegas

Friday April 3 - Scoundrels at the Double Down
Friday April 3 - Delta Bombers, Eddy Bear and the Cubs, Yawpers, Yosemite Slam at Triple B

Saturday April 4 - the Coffin Cats with the New Waves and Dead at Midnight - the Dive Bar

Sunday April 5 - the Sonics at Viva Las Vegas - Mardi Gras Ballroom

Thursday April 9 - Bob Wayne, Fuzz Solow and the Bourbon Brothers at the Dive Bar

Friday April 10 - the Mapes, the Maxies and Alan Six - Atomic Liquors

Saturday April 11 - Haunted Garage, the Time Crashers, Tartar Control, Radioactive Chicken Heads, Alexander the Terrible, Child Endangerment, Caliban and the Witch, Plague Doctor, the Rifleman and Firewater Folklore at OMD

Saturday April 25 - the Swamp Gospel at the Double Down with Thee Fourgiven and the Psyatics
Saturday April 25 - the All Togethers at the Mormon Fort - 6:00pm

Friday May 22 - the Humpers and the Hangmen at the Beauty Bar

Sunday May 31 - the Astaires with Sharks From Mars at the Double Down

Wednesday June 3 - Dick Dale at the Hard Rock on the Strip

What have I forgotten? Lemme know!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter

I have been familiar with this band by name only for decades but now that one of the members (Sandy - guitar) lives in Las Vegas, I finally have a copy of their record! This 1989 Voxx Records album apparently collects all of the HGD's recording on one 12" LP and no one has of yet released this on CD, which is a damn shame, as this bit of 60's-styled coolness should be heard by all!

Mostly led by Emily's (first names only on the sleeve!) lovely voice, the band creates a terrific batch of jangly pop, often with layers of 12-string guitar, drivin' drums (Rey) and some (uncredited) roaming bass lines. The powerful-pop one-two punch of "Love is Blue" and "Fell For Words..." opens, followed by a rollickin' "Don't Ask My Name (Just Call Me Jack", with its groovy feedback solo and "Gloria" steal. Guitarist Gordeen takes lead vox on the moodier "Somethin' About Today" (really reminds me of something that I can't place - maybe early, melodic Joy Division) and then keyboards join the mix for "Jonathan". They get a bit rougher and noisier in (and add manipulated vocals, keys, and Pink Floyd-ish sounds to) "Out of My Head" and Emily really does get a chance to scream (as she is credited).

Flip over the vinyl and we get a 12-string riffer in "Popular Trend" - nice drawn out feedback/vocals/something - and then there's a version of the Shadows of Knight "Dark Side" (funnily enough, I had just listened to that before putting this on). The Shads are on of my fave bands and that's one of my fave songs by them, so I'm not gonna say that this meets or exceeds their version, but it has a fine intensity all of its own and builds nicely. Another exceptionally catchy guitar riff opens "You're Pushing Me Too Far" and the two ladies get to join in on some fine harmonies on this memorable rocker. They slow down to a swingin' bass groove on "Cat's Got 9", which some sweet 60's melodies, a cool, Caribbean feel, and call'n'response vocals.

Really dug this bit of 60's styled pop quite a bit! Hopefully, people will search this one out. Produced by a member of TV Personalities, too!