Capsule Reviews by Mark E. Waterbury

Angels Sing the Blues
Earwig Music – Earwig CD4972
Culled from a 2007 concert, legendary blues ladies Shirley Johnson, Mary Lane and Liz Mandeville belt it out with a heady mix of grace and bawdiness. From the snappy shuffle of Mary’s version of “Just As Grown As You” to Shirley’s gritty treatment of “Unchain My Heart” and Liz’s Gospel-esque passion on “Angel From Montgomery, there is loads of great music here. With the phenomenal grooves of Johnny Drummer and the Starliters backing them, this is a funky blues lover’s dream. 

Blue Largo – Sing Your Own Song
Formed by a nucleus of guitarist Eric Lieberman and vocalist Alicia Aragon, this act has been around for a number of years and show their maturity and joy in creating music throughout this disc. Weaving in jazz, rock, and even occasional touches of rockabilly and reggae to their bluesy core, the music tends to the more uptempo and fun end of the blues spectrum, while still opening up their hearts on some songs. Some tasty musical interplays between guitars and horns really spice up some of the tunes. 

Chris Yakopcic – The Next Place I Leave
Yako Records – YAKO 701
Dayton, Ohio’s Chris Yakopcic injects a country-fried fervor into his brand of blues, and it works wonderfully on this, his sophomore effort. His guitar talents really highlight the music, as he finger picks and string bends with the best of them. His vocal range is not to be missed either as he caresses each of his well-crafted stories with just the right emotive flavoring. Backed by a swinging rhythm tandem with lyrics touching on subject matter ranging from humorous to heartbreaking, there are strong songs throughout the CD. 

Clarence “The Blues Man” Turner – The Caster Blaster
When your nickname is “The Blues Man,” then your music better back it up. Clarence definitely does that. While staying fairly simple stylistically, Clarence writes intriguing stories and conveys them with honest further and a rich but dusky voice. He adds in just the right touches of delectable guitar licks and his back up players kick in a solid dose of their own chops. Just some good, pure, honest blues here. 

Georgie Bonds – Hit It Hard
Roadhouse Redemption Records
Blues rocker George Bonds continues the rich tradition of the Philly area producing great musical talents. With this his third CD he is anything but a newcomer, if anything there is a maturity in his music normally found in long time veterans. You can never stress enough that you can create great blues music if you really convey your emotions, and he does that with his phenomenal vocal work. The music is as comforting as a visit from an old friend, with enough musical prowess to ratchet up the interest level. 

Hyperbubble – Live in London
Pure Pop For Now People – FOR07
I have found the music from this Texas-based electropop duo to be innovative and refreshing, but I did wonder what they would sound like live. There is some serious energy happening in this concert recording, with some of the more ethereal passages from their studio efforts culled so they can let loose with the more structured songs. The result shows just how talented they are at re-inventing the synthpop wheel and drawing the listener (and in this case from the sounds of it the concert crowd) into their strange but highly enjoyable universe. 

Jimmy Adler – Grease Alley
One of the better modern purveyors of down and dirty blues, Jimmy Adler cuts loose with another killer effort. With a number of talented guests joining him, Jimmy provides some entertaining blues ranging from mellow ballads to full on rockers. The rockabilly edge on some songs accentuated by wicked up-right bass licks kicks in an extra dose of intensity. Jimmy’s vocals and guitar work sparkle as always as he twists and turns through his home spun tales with generous portions of grit and guts. 

Steve Howell and the Mighty Men – Friend Like Me
Out Of The Past Music – OOTP 007
Steve Howell likes his blues rough-hewn and haunting, driving his emotional words home with an acoustic but non-the-less potent exclamation point. A veteran of the Ark-La-Tex scene his experiences in the music rich area pour forth like the Mississippi flowing through a back alley behind a row of juke joints. From the melancholy to the mean and lean, the songs really stick with you, both musically and with the soul-tugging stories they weave. 

The Reverend Shawn Amos – Loves You
Put Together 
The son of cookie magnate Wally “Famous” Amos, this Reverend preaches a brand of blues that deserves its own fame. While the typical blues stylings are somewhat apparent, Shawn is a good enough songwriter to do many different and subtly spectacular things with the music. An undeniable grittiness, robust vocals, killer guitar and harmonica riffs and tasty rhythms help create a blues machine that will drive straight at you, no matter if the song is mellow or rocking. 

Tom Carter – Look Around
This self-produced Atlanta singer/songwriter/mulit-instrumentalist has an undeniable knack for doing something special with various retro styles. When I can hear influences as diverse as Paul Revere & the Raiders, Rush, Tom Petty and the Kinks sneaking out amongst some smartly written tunes, someone has some serious talent here. There are both comforting hooks and a gritty edginess present, fueling the somewhat bluesy but melodic vocal snarl. This music has a feel-good rock vibe with many interesting songwriting eccentricities.

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