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Hey Blues Fans,
After a week on the West Coast and then heading off for the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, we are finally almost caught up. Thank you for all your patience with our slow response to emails the last couple weeks.
We are pleased to welcome Fort Madison Guitars as a new sponsor this week. Chance McFadden and the gang claim the worlds largest Danelectro Guitar dealership and they tell us they are making some great deals for folks to spend their hard earned $$$$ on during this economic recession. Good timing as folks start to get their income tax refunds! Check out their prices and service. See their ad below for more info.
And speaking of great deals during the recession, Blues Blast Magazine is bringing back our Recession Blues Advertising Special and it is a great bargain for those looking for an affordable way to promote their summer Blues festivals or a new CD release.
Your ad can be viewed more than 125,000 times by Blues fans in all 50 states and in more than 80 countries for less than the cost of a small ad in your local newspaper. A GREAT way to get the Blues word out!
Ad space will be reserved on a first come first served basis. Space is limited during some summer festival periods so be sure to check out all the details in our ad near the Blues Society News section below. Reserve your ad space today!
2010 Blues Blast Music Awards - Bigger and Better in 2010!
Last year we had quite a few inquiries from Blues artists wondering how to get their recordings considered for nomination in the Blues Blast Music Awards. So this year we are going to include a process for those interested to send in their recordings for our nominators to consider.
We have 30 nominators and you can send in copies of your CD to be considered. The 2010 nomination process starts in March. We will have all the details for you in next weeks issue. Stay Tuned!
News from Blue Skunk Music
Blue Skunk Music is looking for touring blues and roots music artists that have existing recordings currently not being distributed. They are looking to expand their catalog with existing recordings from touring artists, to release and distribute digitally and/or physically. See details in our Blues Want Ad section below.
In this issue - Blues Reviews and MORE!
James Walker reviews a new CD from Christian Dozzler & Robin Banks. Belinda Foster reviews a
new DVD by Little Bobby & The Storm. John Mitchell reviews a new live CD by
Hamilton Loomis. Sheralyn Graise reviews a new
CD by The David Landon Band. Steve Jones reviews a new CD by
All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!
James Walker reviews a new CD from Christian Dozzler & Robin Banks. Belinda Foster reviews a new DVD by Little Bobby & The Storm. John Mitchell reviews a new live CD by Hamilton Loomis. Sheralyn Graise reviews a new CD by The David Landon Band. Steve Jones reviews a new CD by Jacob Merlin. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!
Featured Blues Review 1 of 5
Christian Dozzler & Robin Bank$ - Livin' Life
14 songs; 54:12 minutes; Meritable
Styles: Piano Blues in varying styles
My wife and I travel, working for a sub-contractor at different Southern U.S. power stations. After checking in at the Allerton Hotel, we needed a fix for our Sunday afternoon cabin fever and monotony. My wife insisted that we go upstairs to the 23rd floor’s jinkety sounding Piano bar named the “Tip Top Tap.” We figured it’d be just another round of cocktails and football playoffs.
Off the elevator and walking up to the door, we stopped and said, “Whoa, sounds like this joint is jamming!” Inside, looking around, we saw a crowd locked into a vapor of good tunes and good times. The greeter came up and welcomed us. We explained our situation of looking for a game and all, but this looked so much better that we told him, “We hit the jackpot today!”
The greeter explained the entertainment is a man and woman singing; the man played piano (and an accordion on one song). That was it, a simple piano and voice duo -- no guitar, drums, or backup band! While the music was, thus, limited, the piano player was well above average. He simply rocked the boogie on a couple of instrumentals! And, the singing was superb as they took turns singing solos, but only one duet. The songs were all originals which was pleasantly surprising.
Music played and people swayed as the afternoon glided into evening. Before we could unravel what we had witnessed, the last soulful note was morphing into a fond memory.
On the 23rd floor, we got “high” at the Tip Top Tap,
Dick & Edna
Dear Blues Fans,
Christian Dozzler is an Austrian born Boogie Woogie pianist, singer, and songwriter who now resides in Texas. This album is a collaboration with Canadian born and international singer and songwriter Robin Bank$, (sic) who sings on her own songs - half of the fourteen tracks here. Their friendship began in 2002 when Dozzler arrived in Dallas and met Bank$, herself a Texas transplant of 1999. A friendship was born out of mutual respect for their talent and love of the Blues. Many subsequent jams and gigs were shared, and Dozzler played piano on Bank$’ CD, “Live After Dark.”
Across this set, they deftly blend Jazz, R&B, Creole, Country, Blues, and Boogie-woogie. The first earworm I was later singing to myself in the car is the perky “Last Time I Saw Texas,” written and sung in honor of the Lone Star State by Bank$.
For the soulful title track only, Dozzler moves over to electric piano and pounds out a mid-tempo number sung by Bank$.
The best Blues is found in “Story of the Blues,” a slower number sung poignantly by Dozzler. His left, bass hand is especially strong here, and the melody’s attention grabbing highs and lows make this seven minute song seem like three.
For fans of piano, pure artistry, and simplicity, “Livin’ Life” is a nice, tasty set..
Reviewer James "Skyy Dobro" Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ, Master of Ceremonies, and longtime Blues Blast Magazine contributor. His weekly radio show "Friends of the Blues" can be heard Thursdays from 7 - 8 pm and Saturdays 8 pm - Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at www.wkccradio.org in Kankakee, IL
To See James “Skyy Dobro” Walker's CD rating system, CLICK HERE
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
Featured Blues Review 2 of 5
Little Bobby & The Storm - A Night at the Empire DVD
Produced by Paul & Chris Dahlman
Directed by Mark Johnson, Mixed by Jon Borgen
A Frame By Frame Production
Little Bobby & The Storm’s “A Night at the Empire” is a DVD of the band’s May 28, 2009 performance at the Empire Arts Theater in Grand Forks, North Dakota. They’ve been described as a “hard hitting in your face blues band” but that might be a little misleading since they’re more than that. They’re a band whose traditional blues style is rich with soul, passion and audience connectivity. Their jams are moving, tireless and touching.
Little Bobby Houle, a third generation musician, was born on the Red Lake Indian Reservation and is the grandson of Bobby Houle--a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame, known for the 60’s hit single "Dream Night". While I’ve never personally met him I was told, and I quote, “He is not little. He’s a big guy and his father is a lot bigger, hence ‘Little Bobby’. Tab Benoit calls him Medium Bobby....”
Bobby (guitar/vocals) is supported by band mates Rod Bondy (Gibson Les Paul guitar), Mike "Axeman" Axvig (bass), Dan Dahlin (drums), and Paul Testa (Hammond B3 organ). I’m not a big supporter of the idea that you have to live a hard life to perform the blues, or we wouldn’t have young acts like Homemade Jamz Blues Band finding such early success. So, what I will say about that is if a performer can get in touch with their personal emotion, then they can get in touch with the blues—and I say this not to diminish the fact that Bobby is considered legally blind and served several years in prison. So I’m sure he has some personal and dark places to pull from. Wherever a performer pulls from emotionally is fine. The test is can they deliver a spell-binding show; and in this DVD, Little Bobby and The Storm DVD do exactly that.
Little Bobby & the Storm have done shows with blues greats such as Buddy Guy, Koko Taylor, Bo Diddley, Pinetop Perkins. Walter Trout, Johnny Winters, and more and have won numerous awards including being featured on the Beale Street Caravan in October of 2008. Albert King, B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Albert Collins, Buddy Guy and Jimmy Rogers are just some of their musical influences. The DVD showcases their ability to channel these early influences and even organist Paulie Testa’s Hammond B3 ivory-slapping style is reminiscent of the keyboard player’s style in a 70’s Albert Collins show at Buddy Guy Legends.
Bobby and the band play with as much soul and emotion as I’ve seen and the music has even greater impact when visually teamed with a DVD. Additional interest is added with shots of the flashing marquis, backstage/greenroom footage and scans of the audience. There are also bonus tracks of a younger longer-haired Bobby. You’ll enjoy watching this band as they offer up rather moving blues renditions.
In “If Trouble Was Money”, Bobby sings straight from the diaphragm of his heart. The DVD is worth the buy alone just to watch this one segment—but you’ll want to watch the entire show. Bobby’s note modulation, expression and phrasing are both original and influenced by the greats, all at the same time. The organ solo is as moving as the sax solos in Albert Collins shows of the past; In fact, paired with Little Bobby, it was a heart-bending, tear jerking blues guitar and organ exhibition that had the Empire Arts Theater audience ready to sell their soul to the devil from right there in their seats. And when Bobby hit the floor for some up-close and personal string bending, the guitar lick and organ rifts just didn’t want to stop until he reclaimed the stage to slowly and gently bring the audience out of their hypnotic crossroad state to slowly reclaim their bodies. The entire show was a magic carpet blues ride with the devil himself while the audience never had to leave their chairs. He and the band had them in the palm of their hands. And that’s the power of a good blues performer and band.
With fan favorites like "Six String Telephone", "Little Boy Fly On" and the two bonus videos "Lord I'm Singing The Blues" (Net Jams TV Video of the Year) and "Worried", you’ll be pleased with having this one in your collection. It’s hard to believe a true blues band of this caliber hasn’t been sent to the IBC. But it doesn’t really matter because they’re winners already. You can teach technique but you can’t teach passion and these guys have passion. I was told Bobby will play guitar until his fingers bleed, that he’s a generous person, and loves putting together benefits and fundraisers. So keep your eye on them for future CDs and DVDs; with hundreds of originals in Bobby’s back pocket, they’re currently working on new original material with plans to put out another CD this year. Show ‘em some love and buy the DVD today.
Reviewer Belinda Foster is a Columnist and Contributing Writer for Greenville SC Magazine “Industry Mag” and former manager of Mac Arnold & Plate Full O’Blues. She currently is working with Big Star Media Group as a blogger for their Big Star Live project, streaming Ground Zero Blues Club concerts live Wed-Sat in high def. As a devoted promoter and support of blues root music and history, she makes frequent trips to Clarksdale MS and the Delta Region. Her column “The Upstate Blues Report” can be found on line at www.mega-scene.com .
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
Blues Want Ads
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Record Label Seeks Artists
Blue Skunk Music, a blues/roots label based out of Chicago, is looking for touring blues and roots music artists that have existing recordings currently not being distributed. We are looking to expand our catalog with existing recordings from touring artists, to release and distribute digitally and/or physically. We currently have digital distribution across the globe with 120 different companies that distribute to 300+ digital download and streaming music services. We have physical distribution throughout the US, Canada and parts of Europe.
A list of distributors & submission information can be found at our website, www.blueskunkmusic.com .
Drummer Seeks Band
Steve Parrish / drummer available for road
work with professional blues group. Equipment, attitude and chops are at
peak performance. Playing since 1966. Audio/video promo available.
Featured Blues Review 3 of 5
Hamilton Loomis – Live in England
12 songs; 72.50 minutes
Texan Hamilton Loomis has been a regular visitor to the UK in recent years and has developed a loyal following here, so it is a logical step for him to record his first live CD here. The CD was recorded at two venues, the Famous Monday Blues in Oxford and the Liverpool Marina, with no overdubs. The sound is extremely clear and precise, recorded on an Alessis HD24 (according to the sleeve notes – for the technically minded). The band consists of Hamilton on guitar and harp (played through an adapted vacuum cleaner!), Stratton Doyle on sax and keys, Kent Beatty on bass and Jamie Little on drums. All are in Hamilton’s regular US band except Jamie, who plays with many visiting acts to the UK, such as Sherman Robertson.
Hamilton’s two previous CDs were released on Blind Pig, Kickin’ It in 2003 and Ain’t Just Temporary in 2007, but this time he has released the CD himself and will be promoting it at gigs and through his website. The 12 tracks here include three tunes from each of those two CDs, one from his 1999 self release All Fired Up, a Bo Diddley medley and what I take to be four new songs.
The CD opens with a brief introduction from the Oxford show, followed by an instrumental entitled Pull Strings which features Stratton Doyle’s tenor sax strongly. If any song sums up Hamilton Loomis it must be "Workin’ Real Hard", an account of the life of a blues player (“sleep all day and play all night”) which also includes a short clip of Stevie Wonder’s "Master Blaster". Next up is "Legendary", slower than most of Hamilton’s material. What it is is a long version of a track from the 1999 All Fired Up CD which includes a snippet from Joe Zawinul’s "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" that gives Stratton Doyle a chance to show his abilities and remind us for a moment of Cannonball Adderley.
"No No No" and "Best Worst Day" are both crowd pleasing songs from the Blind Pig CDs and bookend a short instrumental which features bass player Kent Beatty on his own composition "Come Back To Me".
"Time" appears to be a new song before the longest tune "Bow Wow" appears. Clocking in at over 9 minutes this gives all members of the band a chance to shine, with an excellent guitar solo driven by the drums, as well as what sounded to me like a short taster of "Smoke On The Water" (though it is not credited on the sleeve notes).
Hamilton was mentored by Bo Diddley and played with him on a number of occasions. Given that Bo passed away earlier in the year it is not surprising that Hamilton does a medley of "Bo Diddley/Who do you love?" However, he does so on a signature Bo cigar box style guitar which Bo himself gave him and autographed it “from the man”.
The final track on the CD is another from Kickin’ It called "Get My Blues On". However, there is also a bonus track "Turnin’ Heads" which is also clearly live and not obviously an encore, but which, like the previous track, gives solo spots to all the band.
This is an enjoyable CD which offers a great introduction to Hamilton Loomis’ music. He is a great live act and well worth catching if he passes your way, but in the meanwhile this is a good place to start.
Reviewer John Mitchell is a Blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live Blues music.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
Festival & CD Advertising Special
Blues Blast Magazine festival advertising rates slashed
(Ads must be reserved by March 31st, 2010)
Blues Blast Magazine is a great way to promote the Blues. More than 15,000 Blues fans read our magazine each week. They are located in all 50 states and in more than 80 countries. We get more than 1,000,000 hits and more than 20,000 visitors a month on our website.
If your Blues Society is organizing a Blues Fest we offer cost effective advertising that really "Gets The Blues Word Out"! If you are a Blues performer, we can help promote your new CD. We know times are hard and Blues music is the Music for the times! So for a limited time Blues Blast Magazine is offering "recession prices" on festival and CD advertising.
Normal 2010 Advertising rates are $45 a week for Blues Blast magazine ads. Website ads are $70 per month on the main homepage area.
BUT, for a limited time, you can advertise your Blues event or CD in Blues Blast Magazine for less that the cost of a small ad in your local newspaper. If you reserve your ad space by March 31st, 2010 we are offering a special combo rate of $180 for six weekly issues of Blues Blues Blast Magazine AND an ad on our website.
So for $180 your ad can be seen more than 125,000 times by Blues fans who want to know about Blues events and music!
Blues Society News
You can submit a maximum of 175 words or less in a Text or MS Word document format.
Mississippi Valley Blues Society - Davenport, IA
The Mississippi Valley Blues Society presents Eric Sardinas and opener Joanne Shaw Taylor on Sunday February 14 at the Lodge, Utica Ridge and Spruce Hills Drive in Bettendorf. The show in the Mozart Ballroom starts at 5 p.m. and admission is $20, $15 for MVBS members. Sardinas and Taylor will each play a set before they join each other on stage. Both of these artists visited the Quad Cities last year to critical and popular acclaim.
Also the Mississippi Valley Blues Society Education Committee is especially fortunate in being able to get one of the very top blues educators, guitarists, and singers — Clarksdale, Mississippi resident Johnnie Billington—for a Black History Month Blues in the Schools residency for the week of February 8-12, 2010. Billington’s residency will have him presenting workshops in numerous Quad-City area schools, as well as giving free, open-to-the-public performances: Wed. Feb. 10, 7 p.m. — Mojo’s in the RME, Davenport, IA. Thurs. Feb. 11, 5 p.m. — United Neighbors, 808 Harrison St., Davenport, IA and Fri. Feb. 12, 4 p.m. — Martin Luther King Jr. Center, 630 9th St., Rock Island, IL. For more info call the MVBS office at 563-32-BLUES or visit our website at: http://www.mvbs.org .
Blues Kids of America - Chicago, IL
Blues Kids of America is offering a free Professional Development Workshop Wednesday, February 10, 2010 at 3:30PM at Columbia College Chicago Music Center, 1014 S. Michigan Avenue Chicago IL 60605. The session "Use the Blues to Improve Literacy & Help Close the Achievement Gap: Music as a Second Language" is designed for Teachers, Administrators and LSC staff. Participants do not have to be musically inclined and can earn CPDUs
The Workshop is hosted by Fernando Jones, Columbia College Chicago, Blues Ensemble Director and Illinois State Board of Education Professional Development Provider. The workshop is designed to engage administrators and teachers (pre-K through university), by demonstrating how to improve literacy, attendance, discipline and academic success using America’s root music, the Blues.
Some participants will receive harmonicas and classroom resources. Jones is also a “Keeping the Blues Alive Award” recipient in education. For further information go to www.BluesKids.com or confirm your reservation by contacting Fernando at Bluesnewz@aol.com or (312) 369-3229
Crossroads Blues Society - Rockford, IL
Crossroads Blues Society and Big Cities Lounge present Kim Wilson Thursday, February 11, starting at 8 pm at Big Cities Lounge, 905 E. State St., Rockford, Illinois . The band will include Billy Flynn on guitar and Barrelhouse Chuck on keyboards. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door.
Crossroads Blues Society also presents The Carolina Chocolate Drops, Sunday, March 7th at 7 PM at Big Cities Lounge. Tickets for both shows can be purchased in advance at Big Cities or by calling Steve at 779-537-4006. These shows will probably sell out in advance so don't count on tickets being available at the door. Kim Wilson tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door, and Carolina Chocolate Drops are $20 in advance, $25 at the door. The other two past shows were sold-out, so don't wait - get your tickets now at Big Cities - or by contacting Mark Thompson at Kahunablues@aol.com
The Friends Of The Blues - Watseka, IL
Spring 2010 Friends of the Blues shows- March 16 - Shawn Kellerman, 7 pm , Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmen’s Club, April 13 - Perry Weber & DeVilles, 7 pm , Kankakee Elks Country Club, April 17 - Joel Paterson Trio, Kankakee Valley Boat Club (“Rockin’ the River”), April 20 - Too Slim and the Taildraggers, 7 pm , Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmen’s Club, June 22 - Al Stone, 7 pm , River Bend Bar & Grill. For more info see: http://www.wazfest.com/JW.html
The Blues, Jazz & Folk Music Society - Marietta, Ohio The Blues, Jazz & Folk Music Society will hold its 18th Annual Blues Competition on February 19 and 20, 2010, at the historic Lafayette Hotel in Marietta, Ohio. Blues Bands and Solo/Dou blues acts will compete for cash prizes and BJFMS sponsorship to the International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis. More information: contact Steve Wells at 304.295.4323 or email@example.com Illinois Central Blues Club - Springfield, IL BLUE MONDAY SHOWS - Held at the Alamo 115 N 5th St, Springfield, IL (217) 523-1455 every Monday 8:30pm $3 cover.
Feb 8 - James Armstrong, Feb 15 - The Sofa Kings,
Feb 22 - Reverand Raven and the Chain Smoking Altar Boys
River City Blues
Society - Peoria, IL The River
City Blues Society has started booking more of their weekly Blues shows.
The shows start at 7:00pm at Good Fellas Pizza and Pub, 1414 N 8TH St
Pekin, IL. Admission for all shows is $4 or $3 for RCBS members. Shows
currently scheduled are: Wednesday February 24 -
Jett & the Phat noiZ, Thursday March 4 -
Biscuit Miller, Thursday
March 11 -
Thursday April 1st -
Motor City Josh.
For more info visit
The Blues, Jazz & Folk Music Society will hold its 18th Annual Blues Competition on February 19 and 20, 2010, at the historic Lafayette Hotel in Marietta, Ohio. Blues Bands and Solo/Dou blues acts will compete for cash prizes and BJFMS sponsorship to the International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis. More information: contact Steve Wells at 304.295.4323 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Illinois Central Blues Club - Springfield, IL
BLUE MONDAY SHOWS - Held at the Alamo 115 N 5th St, Springfield, IL (217) 523-1455 every Monday 8:30pm $3 cover. Feb 8 - James Armstrong, Feb 15 - The Sofa Kings, Feb 22 - Reverand Raven and the Chain Smoking Altar Boys
River City Blues Society - Peoria, IL
The River City Blues Society has started booking more of their weekly Blues shows. The shows start at 7:00pm at Good Fellas Pizza and Pub, 1414 N 8TH St Pekin, IL. Admission for all shows is $4 or $3 for RCBS members. Shows currently scheduled are: Wednesday February 24 - Alvin Jett & the Phat noiZ, Thursday March 4 - Biscuit Miller, Thursday March 11 - Shawn Kellerman, Thursday April 1st - Motor City Josh. For more info visit http://www.rivercityblues.com/Events.htm
Featured Blues Review 4 of 5
The David Landon Band - This Time
After attending college in Boston, David Landon went to Paris to hone his chops. He worked the streets and club scene in Paris and around Europe. When he returned to the states, he settled in the San Francisco Bay area. David is also the owner operator of Whip Records recording studio and record label, which he literally built from the ground up. He is not just the owner. His resume also includes recording engineer, producer, and session player, as well as singer, songwriter, guitarist, and band leader. The David Landon Band is made up of music industry veterans. David and/or members of his band have played with Lenny Williams, Tommy Castro, Coco Montoya, Eric Gales, Frankie Lee, and Earl Thomas. The band plays regularly at Bay area venues such as Biscuits and Blues and the Boom Boom Room. This is David’s fourth CD. All of the songs were written and arranged by David.
This Time has twelve radio friendly tracks whether pop or FM format. “The Biggest Fool,” the opening track, is a rocking number about a musician who loses his woman over a one night indiscretion. It has good organ and guitar solos. The second track, “Think Twice,” warns his new woman not to do what he just did. The CD generally follows in a logical storyline progression. “Say Goodbye” is very Motown like. “My Girl” by the Temptations comes to mind. The theme of indiscretion is carried through. Charles Mc Neal, a guest musician, interjects a soulful sax solo.
Speaking of Motown, the next track, “Who’s Lovin’ You,” even borrows a Motown title. Continuing in the storyline, now that they have said their goodbyes, he’s missing her and asking the age old question, “who’s loving you.” It has a long gospel like instrumental section that I call “taking it to church.” “Log Jam” is a honky tonk instrumental jam. “One Hundred Years” and “Ducks In A Row” are rock and roll numbers. “I’m Gonna Quit You” is a slow blues with stinging guitar. It’s about a bad habit he can’t quit- his woman. This one is a sure bet crowd pleaser at a live show.
In “A Man’s Gotta Be A Man” the storyline fellow has finally got his act together and sends this woman packing. “You’ve Done Nothing Wrong” is an ironic tale. “This Time” is the title track and rightfully so. It’s a very nice ballad. The CD should have ended on “This Time.” The last track, “Goodbye My Friend” ends the story on a goodbye note but the tone of the song seems out of place with the previous tracks.
The songs have standard blues themes, “I did her wrong, she did me wrong, I want her back, I can’t get enough,” but they are done in a fresh way. This Time is a good CD.Reviewer Sheralyn Graise graduated from the University of Akron a while back. A former Social Services professional, she is now pursuing other interests such as music history, writing, and photography. She has been a member of the Blues Foundation since 2001.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
Featured Blues Review 5 of 5
Jacob Merlin - Alchemy of Soul
Merlin. The name conjures up the images of wizards, hats, castles, and the magical alchemy that is inherent to the Arthurian legend. It is also the name of a talented, young musician whose musical alchemy stirs up a sorcerer’s brew of magical musical treats.
Keyboard wizard Jacob Merlin hails from Portland, Oregon, but his music comes from a deeper and more exciting world of funk, New Orleans jazz, and soul. His songwriting, piano and keyboard playing and use of horns are truly magical. I had no idea what to expect from “Alchemy of Soul”, but it serves up a magical mix of really fine music! Tower of Power’s Mic Gillette adds his trumpet, flugelhorn and trombone to Merlin’s band, which features Michael Suffin on guitar, Erik Mimnaugh on bass, and Jordan Ruback on drums. The horn section is Renato Caranto on tenor and soprano sax, Andy Fuller on trumpet and Rick Tippets on trombone and tuba. Rick arranged all the horns and is Jacob’s father. Background vocals are provided by Kristina Rae, Debra Arlyn and Malia Tippets.
The CD opens
with a dervish of a song “Come to Papa” that seems like a New Orleans
marching (or maybe even a swinging kelzmer) band backing up Merlin’s
soulful vocals. The whirl of the music sets a tone for a really well
done album of music. The backing horns and solos are solid and strong
here and throughout the CD. The CD touts “Cover Me” as it’s single; this
cut is a very soulful and laid back track with breathy and expressive
vocals by Merlin and Rae with subdued but moving backup music.
Orchestrated horn interplay with the keyboards and main band and Merlin’s vocal work and it all works so sweetly. At times one could close their eyes and imagine that this could be the band Chicago playing back in the 70’s (when they were tight, creative and had not become the formulaic hacks that they became in the three decades after that). At other times Merlin and company sound a bit like Steely Dan or Earth, Wind and Fire. Whatever they are doing, they need to keep it up because they have a superb sound and create really impressive music. If you like jazzy, funky stuff with great vocals, keys and horns then do not miss this CD; Jacob Merlin is a man on a mystical mission of musical wizardry!Reviewer Steve Jones is secretary of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
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