JJ Appleton & Jason Ricci – Dirty Memory

JJ Appleton & Jason Ricci – Dirty Memory

Sometimes when you take a simple approach to the blues and add in some seasoned instrumental phenoms, you get something really special. That is exactly what you have on this project featuring blues harpist Jason Ricci (who tributed the late Paul Butterfield in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction), and relative newcomer JJ Appleton on guitar. This is the type of music created when you just let your feelings and talents flow in unadulterated fashion, creating music that is absolute killer. Choosing to record as a duo, the sound is still astonishingly full here thanks to their prodigious talents and JJ’s honestly emotive vocals. Jason and JJ really cut loose with the potent shuffle “Leaning Blues,” swampy groover “At The Wheel,” the hauntingly eerie “Demon Lover,” and a blistering cover of the Blind Willie Johnson classic “Nobody’s Fault But Mine.” Another wonderful cover that is a sort of blues-coming-full-circle effort is their take on the Stones’ “Black Limousine.” If you want to see why so many legends (Johnny Winter, Walter Trout, Susan Tedeschi among others) have tapped Jason to blow harp on their projects, check out “Jason Solo.” These guys compliment each other brilliantly, and one can only hope this is not a one time project and will be something they will do again many times in the future. – MW

http://www.mooncat.org   http://www.jjappleton.com


Capsule Reviews by Mark E. Waterbury

Chris Laterzo – West Coast Sound

Yampa Records – 41685-2

If Chris Laterzo is trying to define a “West Coast Sound” here, it is a rootsy blend of rock, folk, Americana, and other earthy styles that brim with vibrant life. Jangly guitars with a potent rough-edge fueled by organic rhythm grooves create an excellent vehicle for a smooth drawling emotive vocal vibe. The stories appear to come from the heart and life experiences, further adding to the musical intrigue. So if this is representative of the “West Coast Sound,” what an intriguing and entertaining sound it is.



Ebony Jo-Ann – Please Save Your Love For Me

Both a highly respected vocalist and actress, this is a stunning collection split evenly among original and cover songs. Ebony has one of those intoxicating voices that can be bawdy one minute and sorrowfully emotive the next. Her vocal control could be described as subtle pyrotechnics as she doesn’t just sing the words; she deftly accents each one to make you really feel what she has to say. Backed by talented players, this is a must for anyone who loves R&B-tinged blues with beautifully intense vocals.



John Ludi – Obsolescence

A veteran musician who found himself wanting to finally record the ideas floating in the musical part of his brain, John Ludi obviously was holding back some serious talent and passion – enough to create two full CDs worth of music. This CD has a comforting but edgy retro feel, sort of in a Bowie-meets-The Police vein, particularly with his husky vocals that also have excellent range. There is further depth to the song, with some having a folky vibe while other tilt more towards alt rock and plenty of provocative lyrics. Definitely some ear-opening tunes here.



John Ludi – Rage

While I am not sure that I would say John is “raging” on this CD, there is a nicely subtle increased intensity. What was ethereal on “Obsolescence” now has a more up-tempo, organic bite. Check out the new-wave punk vibe evident in “Puppet,” one of the stronger songs that also shows further proof of John’s vocal depth. The lyrics do seem tinged a bit darker here, still thought-provoking and accented by the musical fuels. All I can say is, “John, why did you wait so long?”



Little Boys Blue – Bad Love

Jaxon Records

Tennessee can be a musical cross-breeding ground of country and blues and Little Boys Blue proves how well that mix can work. The blues feel tends to dominate but the country feel kicks in adding some twang to the guitar licks, lending a nice edge to the songs. Check out a song like “Death Letter Blues” and you can really hear what I am talking about. Robust, smoky vocals, rock solid rhythms, and a nice touch of Hammond B-3 make for some meaty, dynamic music.



Tawny Ellis – Ghosts of the Low Country

The Muscle Shoals Sessions

The sixth recording from this Savannah, GA born country singer now living in L.A. is only a four song CD, but it is brimming with luscious vocal work and well-crafted music. Tawny seems to have deep country roots tilting towards the grand ladies, but has a modern sensibility to add just the right touch of hookiness, even on her outstanding take on the Patsy Cline classic “Walking After Midnight.” Recording the music at the legendary Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, AL, she channels her inner country gal to wonderful effect.



Ted Russell Kamp – The Low And Lonesome Sound

POMO Records

Known originally as a session bassist working with the likes of Shooter Jennings, Wilson Phillips and Jessi Colter among others, Ted Russell Kamp backs his solo singer songwriting with bass plucking instead of guitar. Not only does this offer a unique perspective, but it allows his emotive, subtly potent vocals shine. You also get to experience his words first-hand and he proves to be a wonderful storyteller. A bit country, a touch blues, and a waft of Americana, this music is both refreshing and mesmerizing.



Them Travelin’ Birds – The Dreaming…It Was Colorful

Often eccentric and unafraid to push the envelope, the songwriting pair of Cassandra O’Connor and Tracy Hui whip up a frenzy stew of alt folk, new grass, blues boogie, and other organic stylings. The odd pairing of Cassandra’s bluesy vocal croon and Tracy’s growling rasp is highly flavorful. The lyrics are quirky and often wickedly humorous, and there is some seriously mean banjo plucking going on here. Sounds a bit like the Violent Femmes hanging out in deep Appalachia with…well, we won’t speculate. It also sounds deeply fresh and exhilarating, definitely worth a listen.



Tommy McCoy – 25 Year Retrospect

Earwig Music – Earwig CD 4971

If you are not familiar with hard working, hard playing blues master Tommy McCoy, there is no better way to get acquainted than with this excellent 2 CD set. Spanning his quarter century of turning his talents in songwriting, vocal work and guitar mastery loose, you have a veritable feast of blues styles here. From quietly painful ballads to snarling rockers and smoky back-alley gut-busters, you have plenty to savor.



Patricia Bahia – Save Your Heart

Patricia Bahia – Save Your Heart

Dream Songs Records – DSR002

When you start your career singing in an inter-faith Gospel choir where you cross paths with the likes of Linda Ronstadt, Joan Baez, and Bonnie Raitt, you may learn a thing or two. Patricia Bahia sounds like she learned a lot. Excellent vocal control with a very solid range and the ability to temper her emotions in the proper doses that fit the songs, Patricia really sparkles with her latest release. From the ethereal power-pop pf “Resilient” to the snappy feel-good lilt of “Good Day,” and the heart felt ballad “Blue On Top Of Blue,” she obviously has a deep pool of songwriting talents to pull from as well. The songs all have a subtle edginess to them, even the hookier ones like “Uncharted,” and the lyrics are honest, intriguing and appear to be straight from a soul who has lived the stories or is intimate with the subject matter. Inspiring music from a lady who knows what power music can have – she is also a cancer survivor – this music is so full of life and passion that it is positively irresistible. – MW



Capsule Reviews by Mark E. Waterbury

Chris O’Leary – Gonna Die Tryin’

American Showplace Music – ASM5227

Chris O’Leary served his country for seven years and now the former Marine is tearing up the blues like like a tank through flypaper. Blending wafts of Motown, funk, rock and jazz, Chris packs a nuclear punch with his robust vocal croon and wicked harp licks. Backed by a core of talented players, he takes you on a musical journey that you can feel deep in your soul. Semper Fi. Chris – you cook!



D’Mar And Gill – Take It Like That

Vocalist/guitarist Chris Gill and drummer “D’Mar” Martin drive this bare-bones blues machine that really showcases the talent of the players as well as Chris’ emotion-dripping vocals. These guys keep it simple and it works wonderfully, telling stories with well-crafted songs and thoughtful lyrics. They are not reinventing the wheel, but they make sure you are in for a smooth ride.



Eddie Cotton – One At A Time

DeCamp Records – DC100315

This Mississippi born and raised minister’s son preaches the blues with sinfully delectable vocals and fire-and-brimstone-fueled guitar licks. Writing all the tracks on this his second album, he mixes tried and true blues styles with a subtle edginess that really catches your ear. From quietly emotive to explosively raunchy, Eddie runs the blues gamut in highly entertaining fashion.



The Jimmys – Hot Dish

Brown Cow Productions – BCP003

Highly regarded Wisconsin musician Jimmy Voegeli cranks out another wild ride with his band of top notch players. Melding big-band swing with funk, rock and blues, the thirteen tracks are brimming with incredible licks, potent rhythmic grooves, and, of course, Jimmy’s throat vocals and keyboard prowess. This is a dance party and listening party rolled into one rollicking masterpiece.



Lara & the Bluz Dawgz – Howlin’

Lara Germony and her musical cohorts put a rather interesting slant on the blues. There is a lot of excellent instrumental backdrops here often edging into R&B and jazz fusion territory. The most ear-catching element is Lara’s voice, which has a sort of country edge from the grand-dame era kissed with the emotive timbre of Bessie Smith. This gives incredible life to the songs and brings them several notches above your typical blues efforts.



State Shirt – Lost HIlls

Los Fucking Angeles Records – LFAD8

Ethan Tufts, the brainchild behind this L.A.-based music project has done a masterful job of giving retro synth-pop a modern slant. This is intoxicating, atmospheric music with quirky songwriting, provocative words, and nifty rhythmic and instrumental fills that take this far beyond the realm of being merely a lyrical soundscape. The talent runs deeper, the hypnotic grooves run deeper – these are songs that pulse with vibrant life.



Todd Wolfe Band – Long Road Back

American Showplace Music – AMS5117

Guitarist Todd Wolfe known for his work with Sheryl Crowe and Leslie West among others continues his solo career with a killer CD. He has this knack for taking simple somewhat understated blues songs and lacing them with phenomenal musicianship, emotive vocals, and thought-provoking lyrics. He really lets you into his stories here with a vibe that even on the rocking songs seems sort of laid back, but has just the right dose of potency.