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.


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