Kingnaldo – Memorandum

Kingnaldo – Memorandum
Heretic Mute Records
Originally from Puerto Rico but now residing in the far western exurbs of Atlanta, Kingnaldo unleashes a powerful rock machine that feels a bit like Kings X in its dramatics, but has an edgier post-grunge depth as well ala Tool. He is adept at creating innovative soundscapes rather than typified song structures, while still keeping a thundering rhythmic flow through the songs. “Timeless Bliss” is a perfect example of how he balances his songwriting quirks, the seething intensity is both relentless and intoxicating. “Vital” has some hooky sensibilities, but is no less explosive while “Lcol” tilts in a subtle progressive direction. One of the highlights of the music is the guitar solo work, an often lost art with some of the modern purveyors of heavy music. The lyrics tend to be a bit dark, but are also thought-provoking and deal with intense subject matter, often in a more metaphorical format. The songwriting overall is sharp with intriguing contrasts in dynamics, and the musical prowess to back it up. There is not a lot of innovative heavy music happening right now, Kingnaldo definitely has something to say about that though.  – MW


John David Schrader – 21 Summers

John David Schrader – 21 Summers
John David Schrader has had a lot of tough things happen in his life. The Hudson River Valley native lost both parents at a young age and then when he was 21 he had to fight cancer himself. Whether his music is cathartic or introspective based on his experiences, what he does here on this, his fourth CD, he does very well. The lyrics are highly thought-provoking from heart-rending dark recesses of the soul to uplifting hopeful feelings. John conveys his word with a voice that is comfortably familiar but also displays emotions in just the right doses; he never seems to over or under do the vibe of the songs. Musically the songs tend to blend gritty rock with a folksy sensibility, somewhat reminiscent of Live’s later work. He has a good knack for writing edgy songs with the right doses of hooks, melded with interesting structuring and an subtle intensity that is intoxicating. Songs like “Thick As Blood,” “No Hero” and “Waiting On The Sun” are just a few of the real stand-outs. John is obviously a survivor and his life experiences have left a deep well of songwriting talent that will hopefully continue to be tapped far into the future. – MW


The Jackson Whites – Hard Luck Stories

The Jackson Whites – Hard Luck Stories
Jersey Delta Records 
The Garden State has always been a fertile ground for music from Bruce to Bon Jovi and everyone in between. The Jackson Whites unites the talents of many top Jersey grown musicians, unleashing a musical stew that more than carries on the proud musical tradition of the state. Some of the noteworthy players include Pat DiNizio of the Smithereens, Glen Burtnick of Styx, Tim Carbone of Railroad Earth and Jack Daley from Lenny Kravitz’s band. Incorporating gritty rock, bluesy passages, a touch of country here and big of Americana folk there, this is feel good music even when the subject matter may be a bit more serious. The lead track “Water” is a great microcosm of what you will be hearing throughout the twelve tracks. Sometimes the music seems a bit Springsteen-esque, but they can hardly be blamed for some emulating tribute to Jersey’s favorite son. Still, the music has it’s own distinct personality and the incredible talents of the players mesh wonderfully together without becoming pretentious or ego-stroking. A great tribute to a state brimming with talent. – MW


Elouise – Deep Water

Elouise – Deep Water
Broken Bellow Music
This L.A. based songstress/vocalist/cellist has something dark going on insider her. She lets it loose with her cohorts to intoxicating effect. Kisses of bluegrass, carnival music, folk and even a waft of punk fuel her tortured but poignant vocals as she weaves tales of her twisted gospel. This is not merely soul-snaring music, the claws will go deep inside you so you can feel what is happening…then you will understand. The musical is eccentric with horn ejaculations, piano, a variety of stringed instruments and stoic rhythm section, but the talent here is obvious. You know you have to strap in for this journey with the wicked take of the revival classic “I’ll Fly Away” that launches the CD. On “Saturn Bar” you can actually smell Bourbon Street after bar time while “Hurricane” feels like a fight with demons in some overgrown forest. “Shadow Of The Fines” is an amazing light of beauty shining through the gloom. Well the music tends to be undeniable dark (even the takes on “Amazing Grace” and “Silent Night”…yes, THAT “Silent Night”) there is so much depth to what is happening here that you can’t help but be enthralled by it. It may take a couple listens…it did with me, but I was then hooked. If you give it a chance you will be, too. – MW


Blind Lemon Pledge – Pledge Drive

Blind Lemon Pledge – Pledge Drive
Ofer Records
When you take your first couple names from a blues legend, you better do it right. Blind Lemon Pledge AKA James Byfield does more than just do it right. He creates blues that can be haunting or hilarious, sad or happy. He also weaves a veritable road map of regional blues stylings; you may go from the back streets of south Chicago to the bowels of the French Quarter, sometimes in the same song. You could start out rocking the night away in an east Texas honky-tonk, and finish up hanging with the “in” crowd in the Village. Pledge makes this mosaic work, however, in several ways – the most notable being his breathless, subtly powerful voice that can handle whatever directions the songs go with stoic but enjoyable ease. Second, he leaves a signature feel template just hovering below the surface that helps keep the sounds fresh without straying too far away genre-wise. This is ear-opening, inventive blues and I would think Blind Lemon Jefferson would be more than pleased to have a name-sake reference creating music like this. – MW


The Alexis P Suter Band – All For Loving you

The Alexis P Suter Band – All For Loving you
American Showplace Music – ASM7006
This is the second CD I have heard from this rootsy blues singer and her cohorts, and I have to admit, I am hooked on the way this lady belts out her vocals. Calling her a powerhouse seems to fall woefully short, and I am not being hyperbolic by saying that. Just the first two songs are such perfect examples of her vocal talents, launching the CD with the rollicking rocker “Talk To Myself,” and following it with the seething, emotive pukse of “Can’t Find A Reason.” You don’t even get done saying “wow” though when you hear “Another Place And Time,” a ballad that shows a stunning octave range from her deep baritone warble. The songs are all quite strong on this CD, running the gamut of blues, funk, R&B and rock, often in delectable hybrid fashion. Alexis could probably do an acappella CD and make it intense, but adding in a trio of players who flat out smoke really takes this over the top. To put it in plain language, Alexis P Suter should be a star on today’s blues scene.  – MW


Capsule Reviews by Mark E. Waterbury

Ameet Kamath – Into The Night
Grant Road Records 
Born and raised in Mumbai but now a resident of the Twin Cities, singer-songwriter Ameet Kamath creates a mesmerizing blend of cultural influences into his music. The subtleties of Indian music mesh wonderfully with the varied musical architecture of his new home. R&B, jazz, Americana, and rock are twisted into a mosaic that has both hooky qualities and enough eccentricities to make you really notice the talent put into the creation. Add to that the great stories he weaves and you have an excellent CD here. 

Chase Walker Band – Not Quite Legal
With his sophomore effort, rootsy Chicago singer/songwriter/guitarist Chase Rice displays depth and maturity stunningly considering  he is only eighteen years old. Riding the fence between blues and rock with judicious applications of folk and country as well, Chase is a strong songwriter with a bluesy, slightly Petty-ish voice and can tear up the six string with the best of them, especially noticeable on his smoking version of Hendrix’s “Red House.” Look out for this kid! 

Emily Maguire – Bird Inside A Cage
British singer-songwriter Emily Maguire graces us with another collection of wonderful tunes brimming with uplifting lyrics punctuated by her sweetly emotive voice. From Joni Mitchell-esque folk to hooky pop structures and bare-bones ballads, Emily has a knack of creating feel good music full of warmth, life and hope. Her vocal work and the ethereal but crisp instrumental backdrops are the perfect vehicle for her heartfelt words, enticing you to experience her emotions and stories along with her. 

Jon Spear Band – Live at the Southern: Live Music Is Better
Bind Racoon Records – 
A lot of people do agree that live music is better and the Jon Spear Band’s performance in Charlottesville, VA captured here definitely stamps an exclamation point on that claim. The sizzling blues rock master and his cohorts are at their best here, and you can easily kick back and imagine yourself in the crowd. Several extended versions really ramp up the music intensity. This is a close as you can get to a live show with the Jon Spear Band, but even if you have seen them before, this will help keep the memories blazing. 

The Jordan Patterson Band – The Back On Track Recording Project
Flaming Cheese Records – fc2016-0201
It has been twenty years since the debut CD of this Alberta based vocalist/harmonica player, and one may wonder, why? Throw the speculations out the window as this CD is a wonderful gift. Traditional blues powered by snarling guitar riffs and harp-blowing in the vein of Paul Butterfield will make you happy he is back on track. He’s also not afraid to add touches of folk, funk and other stylings into the tunes, but if you want to hear the essence of Jordan, check out “If You Help Me Please.” Traditional blues-rock at its killer-best. 

Kalo – Dear John
Born in Israel and now residing in Oklahoma, Kalo saunters down various blues paths, creating a heady mix of enjoyable songs. From loud, brash fat-corded stompers to smooth R&B groovers and multiple stops in between, Kalo handles it all with talent and passion. Her voice is equally up to the task of handling everything from gut-busting howls to heart-tugging emotive croons. This is diverse and entertaining music at its finest. 

Markey Blue – The Blues Are Knockin’
SoulOSound Records 
This duo of vocalist Markey and guitarist Ric Latina will let you in for a great ride if you open the door to them. Markey’s voice is seems in a nice mid-ground between the two Bonnies (Raitt and Bramlett), handling the rockers and ballads with emotive grace and power. Rick can shred the blues with the best of them, unleashing a fury of licks while still being able to throttling back when it works. Backed by a core of talented players and with lyrics straight from the heart and soul, this is blues that is not merely knockin’, it will knock you out! 


Ted Russell Kamp – Flying Solo

Ted Russell Kamp – Flying Solo
Poetry Of The Moment Records
Hard working L.A. singer/songwriter/musician Ted Russell Kamp graces us with a wonderful collection of acoustic tunes. It is not at all cliche to say this music comes deep from Ted’s soul and heart, because one listen to the powerfully emotive lead track “Life On The River” and you will be hooked. There is great depth to Ted’s songwriting here, from the honky-tonk groove of “If I Had A Dollar” and the pained blues of “Hold On” to the bluegrassy “Old Folks Blues” and rocking edge of “Nothing To Lose.” Ted shows an excellent knack of being able to hold you in rapt attention through a dozen acoustic tracks that are both bare-bones but also feel really full – something that is not always easy to do. Considering his work-ethic background and talents in both performing and songwriting, I can’t help but think that Chris Stapleton came up this way. That may seem like a bit heady or even hyperbolic praise, but take a listen here and I dare you to tell me the potential is not there, because it undoubtably is. – MW


Steven Casper & Cowboy Angst – I Feel Like I’ve Got Snakes In My Hand

Steven Casper & Cowboy Angst – I Feel Like I’ve Got Snakes In My Hand
Silent City Records
So-Cal’s Steven Casper weaves influences ranging from rockabilly, surf rock, country, blues into some that is edgy and potent, but also hooky and comforting. The music boogies right out of the gate with an instrumental called “For A Few Dollars Less,” setting the stage for the mayhem that is to follow. Undeniably toe-tapping romps like “Driving Fast” and “She’s Bad” display Steve’s Dylan-meets-Mark-Knopfler-meets-Bowie vocal timbre, and the prodigious chops of his players. Jangly guitar chords and fat, sizzling riffs are fueled by rollicking rhythms and some tasty keyboard work. “Maria” has a touch of Hispanic influence with a smoothly rocking groove. “Slow Dancing” proves Steve can also handle ballads with grace and emotion. This is only a six song EP debut but you just know that there is a massive tank brimming with talent and innovative passions just waiting to be unleashed. Watch out for this guy! – MW


Capsule Reviews by Mark E. Waterbury

Debbie Bond – Enjoy The Ride: Shoal Sessions
Blues Root Productions – BRP1601
Debbie Bond’s deep Alabama roots shines through in her robust, soulful vocal work. Like Ann Wilson on a Bonnie Raitt trip, Debbie belts it out with the best, but also shows deft vocal and emotive control and an excellent range. The music co-written by partner Rick Asherson is non-pretentious feel good blues, rock and soul, the perfect compliment to Debbie’s vocal prowess. If you love ladies who sing the blues, don’t miss out on this one! 

Callenberg – Lost In The Mail
Bend Records – BENDCD002
Swedish alt rockers Callenberg producing music that is refreshing, intriguing and in many ways intoxicating. Pulsing ambient soundscapes with folksy subtleties and the right wafts of rock sensibility create songs that are both catchy and edgy. Emotively mesmerizing vocals and provocative stories are afloat on a sea of wondrous musical eccentricities. This group continues to show further maturity in their songwriting capabilities. 

Mark Cameron – Playing Rough
COP Records
From the wilds of southern Minnesota, Mark Cameron plays both rough and smooth. That is always the proper recipe for great blues; rough edges but a smooth delivery, and Mark’s vocals run their own balance of smoothness and emotive timbre. Comforting grooves and stoic rhythms are punctuated by searing guitar and harp licks. With both deep roots and edgy modern sensibilities, Mark channels his feelings through some very enjoyable tunes. 

Mary Ann Casale – Restless Heart
Subcat Music Records
Long Island born Mary Ann Casale has one of those husky, folksy voices that is infectious and works well with whatever music is augmenting it. You have a tasty feast here ranging from coffee-house folk to burlesque blues, from Americana rock to country boogie. Whatever the styles, Mary Ann’s vocals will snare you with their honest emotion and the intriguing stories conveyed. 

Trey Forbes – Restless Freedom
The music by this indie singer-songwriter is a bit on the raw side, but he makes no apologies for doing things a bit different, and that in itself makes this an intriguing CD. Wide ranging influences from West Coast punk to country folk, there is often an haunting ambience to the songs, giving them a nice edge and enticing you to hear more. Lyrically dark but also provocative, this music is interesting in all the right ways. 

Walter Forbes – Bull-Bat Time/Just For Fun
Veteran Georgia based song-smith and actor Walter Forbes seemingly has fueled a lifetime of musical and life influences into this highly enjoyable duo of CDs. Twisting and turning down the back roads of folk, country, Americana and Appalachian, this is story telling music at it’s purest and finest. From humorous to heartbreaking, life experiences to introspective views, this is music where you can hang on every word but also savor the musical and vocal talents that swirl around them like a cool Southern breeze. 

Mike Jacoby – NorthEastSouthWest
Born on one coast and now living on the other, Mike Jacoby draws influences more from the heartland and the south. Organic and folksy at times, and in your face rocking at others, this is a delectable blend of various tendrils of Americana. From the rocking “Nevermind Me” to the rollicking country blues of “Explaining To Do” and the sweet folk ballad “Lie In Bed,” Mike is quite talented in creating comfortingly intriguing music. 

Peter Karp – The Arson’s Match
KarpFoley Music
There are live albums and then there are live albums, and this one you can almost feel the sweat coming off Peter Karp and his cohorts as he unleashes his fiery blues/Americana rock gospel on the audience. Joined by legendary Stones guitarist Mick Taylor, Peter, Mick and the boys sizzle through a ten song set with crisp but lively production that transports you to the front row. You may end up sweating after listening to this, too. Also, 100% of the sales of this CD go to ovarian cancer research. 

R.B. Stone – Some Call It Freedom (Some Call It The Blues)
Middle Mountain Music
Actually you can call music from this stoic Ohio born blues master a lot of things. You can call it rock, you can call it country, you can call it roots and, yes, you can call it blues. You can also call it smoking as it is that type of blues that will just about literally cause smoke to waft from your CD players. Even the mellower songs have a potency to them, with snarling guitars, thick rhythms and R.B.’s robust vocals. I call it a killer CD! 

Von Zimmer – Freddie’s Extra Teeth
Tasty Treat Records
South Dakota does not sound like a state where you would expect edgy, punk influenced music to come from. Von Zimmer is changing that in a loud and distorted but clear voice. There is a depth of punk influences, from the early NY glammers to the L.A. hard core scene, with the added subtleties of folk, pop and Americana. It’s raw, it’s noisy, it spits in your face lyrically, but wasn’t that what punk was about? Von gets it and unleashes it with serious fervor.