FolkWorld #58 11/2015

CD & DVD Reviews

Rhu Beag "Rhu Beag"
Own Label, 2015

A taste of traditional music from the far north west of Scotland, this relatively short CD unites four local musicians who play regularly together. Their music is natural, unpolished and unrefined, the genuine spontaneous product of Gaelic culture and good company. The region of Coigach looks across the Minch to the northern end of the Outer Hebrides, and inland to the fiddle and piping traditions of Lochaber and the central highlands. All of these combine on Rhu Beag's recording: piper Alasdair Fraser, accordionist Ali Beag MacLeod, mandolin and guitar master Kevin MacLeod, and the distinctive jaw harp of Will MacLean.
From big pipe marches to beautiful Gaelic waltzes, jigs and reels to strathspeys and hornpipes, Rhu Beag present pretty much what you'd expect from a local west highland session or ceilidh. About the only thing missing is a double speed Canadian Barndance: Kevin's mandolin solo on Old Toasty comes close, but switches into jig time for Roddie MacLeod of Polbain by Freeland Barbour, before finishing off with Lord MacDonald's Reel. Among many familiar tunes, there are some distinctive marches and waltzes: The Ross-shire Volunteers, Lady Lever Park, and Ali Beag's three Culkein Waltzes in particular. There's great variety here in only twenty-five minutes, from bagpipe solos to band selections, plus some unusual reels and jigs including The Steamboat which I had only heard as a Canadian tune called Uncle Jim's Jig. Rhu Beag certainly provides a good helping of highland music in its natural habitat.
© Alex Monaghan

Spillemand "Music from Carl Nielsen's Childhood"
Go Danish Folk Music, 2015

The celebrated (at least in Denmark) classical composer Carl Nielsen grew up on the island of Funen in the mid 19th century, and was exposed to a large amount of traditional music as a boy. His father was a fiddler, and Funen is still a place with a vibrant folk tradition, so 150 years ago there would have been no shortage of music and dance. This CD, packaged in a DVD-sized box, presents some of the music which the young Nielsen may have heard. There's a detailed booklet with notes on each track, but it's in Danish so it takes a bit of deciphering!
Fiddlers Christoffer Thorhauge Dam and Nikolaj Forskov Eriksen have researched the music of Nielsen's painter father, Niels Maler, and other folk musicians of the period. Fortunately, a lot of Danish music was written down at that time, so many of Niels Maler's pieces survive, although whether he wrote them or not is another matter. The first piece here is by Nielsen himself, Carls Første Polka, a simple melody but a great dance tune in these hands. Most of the other music on this rather short recording is attributed to Niels Maler - polkas, waltzes, a march and a coquettish mazurka, all slightly formal in the Danish country dance manner.
The pieces not written by Niels Maler have a more "folky" feel. The Francaiser credited to Jørgen Faellig may be the origin of Quebec's Reel de Montréal, or just a Danish adaptation of that tune. Laura Thorhauge Dam sings the sad little song Dybt I Havet, and seems to be depicted riding on a cow in the CD booklet. Jim var en Neger, probably best not translated, and Emil Horneman's The Brave Infantryman are melodies which might be sung or played in the local hostelry, or turned into backwoods fiddle tunes by Danish emigrants. The twin fiddling of Dam and Eriksen - unaccompanied - produces wonderful harmonies and countermelodies even for simple tunes, and this CD is worth hearing just for their musicianship, as well as for the fine old dance music which they play.
© Alex Monaghan

David Grubb "High Rise"
Own Label, 2014

A fascinating CD, and a remarkable debut from a young Scottish violinist and fiddler, High Rise is sometimes experimental, sometimes sentimental, and sometimes just plain mental. Around a core of traditional music, but with more than a touch of classical polish, Grubb has written all eight tracks. He did have help with the arranging from pianist Corben Lee and guitarist Daniel Whitting, which is just as well given the complexity of some pieces. Ten musicians, well over a dozen instruments, technomancy and trance-like vocals produce everything from soft rock to hard classical, with a folky thread which weaves and wanders. The quality of the compositions is mixed: some good pieces, and some startlingly excellent pieces. The recording and production is close to perfect, and the performance is equally impressive. Comparable to albums by Chris Stout, Oliver Schroer or Mike Vass, High Rise is likely to be in my 2015 Top Ten.
The plainsong intro to Sleeping Giant is soon joined by David's sweet string tone on a repetitive ground which adds galloping guitar and drums, and almost repeats too much. Then a complex new melody starts, martial music, somewhere between Ravel and Radetsky, cross-fading to a street scene, a piano bar perhaps. Coffee House continues the story, later in the evening, jazz fiddle with cutlery and clinking glasses in the background, mixing gypsy and folk rock. Glascade winds down the mood, ends the evening, turns out the lights. The clever Climb recalls for me the chore of carting gear up many flights of stone steps, agan and again, before the exuberance of 86th Floor Jig - some fine flute, and if ever a tune called for trumpet, this does. Two very similar melodies follow, the dreamily joyous Milestone and the simply beautiful Arc. Grubb ends this wide-ranging recording with a pair of monster tracks - nearly half the album in fact - which sweep across European and American folk styles, classical and experimental music, creating snapshots and cameos from Skye to Salzburg, Nashville to Naples. The Scottish influence is detectable most of the time, but like the listeners it can easily become lost in the mutiple levels and rooms of High Rise. No samples on the website currently, but you can find this on iTunes and Spotify.
© Alex Monaghan

Marie Fielding "An Seisiún"
Own Label, 2015

I've had this CD for a few months now. It was instantly clear that it deserved a review - but how to describe it? It's a solo album with extras - Fielding's fiddle plus half a dozen well-known guests from Scotland and Ireland. It's nestled firmly between the Scottish dance music tradition and the Irish session scene, with styles and material from both sides of the Irish Sea. It's half Marie's own compositions,a quarter by other contemporary folk musicians, and a quarter old traditional tunes. And it's more than the sum of these several parts.
Waltzes and reels, slides and horos, An Seisiún has a wide range of music. Some familiar tunes include Liz Carroll's Anlon McKinney, Simon Thoumire's Marvin Varnish, the traditional White Petticoat and the old slip jig Andrew Carr. I recently played through a book of Marie's compositions - her second, as it happens - and I imagined a much faster tempo for her Lazy Dayz, but it works fast or slow. O'Sullivan's Number 1 is pitched at the perfect speed on this CD, a catchy contrapuntal reel with knobs on. Fielding's two waltzes here are very different, one a slow country smoocher, the other a graceful modern whirl. There are many other nice touches, from the pub-themed names (Wine O'Clock, The Lock-In, The Parting Glass, Donogh Hennessy) to the red leather accessories, making Marie's third recording a polished and entertaining whole. Check it out - her website has samples.
© Alex Monaghan

Claude Quintard & Michel Esbelin "La Bourrée à Régis"
AEPEM, 2015

Emilie Dulieux "La Noce du Papillon"
AEPEM, 2015

Le Perdrix Rouge "Vendanges Tardives"
AEPEM, 2015

Philippe Frieur "Joueur de Musette"
AEPEM, 2015

Four fine bagpipe recordings from a central French label which is releasing a lot of great music. Quintard and Esbelin play the music of the Auvergne, one of France's major traditions. Their combination of the warbling cabrette and continental button accordion is very traditional indeed. Bourrées, polkas, waltzes, marches, scottishes and mazurkas pour out with a fine swing, perfect for dancing. Esbelin's fluid piping is impressive, while Quintard's accordion basses provide plenty of rhythm. This duo has a repertoire of attractive tunes, some with unusual melodies, about half composed in living memory, including several by Claude and Michel themselves. The title track is a fine example, an idiosyncratic bourrée, the first part one bar short of a standard measure - typical Auvergnat.
Emilie Dulieux is a young piper on AEPEM's youth label, but despite the budget price this is a first class recording which includes several master musicians as guests. Emilie plays fiddle and sings as well as playing pipes in several pitches. There is also clarinet, keyboards, button accordion, hurdy-gurdy, nickelharpa, and three other pipers on this CD. La Noce du Papillon consists mainly of Emilie's duets with various instruments, plus several pieces on solo pipes. Most of Emilie's music is song melodies, airs, and slower dance tunes, all sweetly played.
La Perdrix Rouge take their name from a game bird, and a tune in its honour. This trio of two pipers and a gurdier make a fabulous noise, still very much the traditional sound of central France, but mainly their own compositions. The playing is delicate and precise - Belle Endormie is a beautiful example, an air by Fabrice Lenormand on solo long pipes. Mirefleurs showcases the shorter musette of Philippe Beauger on his own tune, and the percussive hurdy-gurdy of Guillaume Bouteloup. There are also some excellent pieces chosen from other sources: Patrick Bouffard's Valse Nouvelle, Brigitte Gamba's Barbara, some traditional bourrées, and an Italian waltz of all things.
Philippe Frieur's album is a bit funkier, mostly his own tunes on a musette pipe, lower pitch than usual at 20 and 24 inches, with a whole folk band behind him. Philippe plays some bransles and bourrées, but Joueur de Musette is more about listening than dancing. There are many great tune names here, such as the intriguing La Gravière, the imaginative Bourrées pour Musette en Ré, and the irresistible Guanaja-Fanny. Every one of these four CDs is well worth seeking out - try the website.
© Alex Monaghan

Wör "Back to the 1780s"
Appel Rekords, 2015

Naragonia "Myriad"
Appel Rekords, 2015

Two Belgian releases with more differences than similarities. WÖR is a quintet playing Flemish dance music, and on this recording they've chosen all their material from 18th century collections to recreate a sort of Low Countries rave some time between the American Revolution and the Napoleonic wars - a period when there wasn't much going on except folk dancing. Saxophones and accordions hadn't been invented, not even in Belgium, but these are added to the timeless fiddle, guitar and bagpipes to create a sound which is lively and appealing while clearly close to renaissance music. There are elements of French, English and Danish traditions here - perhaps they had already been exported to Belgium in the 1700s, or perhaps they all sprang from a source somewhere near the mouth of the Schelde. We will never know. In any case, this is great foot-stomping music, at times beautiful, always enjoyable, a fascinating debut from a group I'd like to hear more of.
Myriad is the sixth album from an established duo of button box players. Toon van Mierlo adds sax and bagpipes, while Pascale Rubens plays fiddle and sings a bit. They are joined by half a dozen guests, collected over their twelve year career, who help them blend sounds from French street music to modern folk. There isn't an overall Naragonia sound - the duo seems to have grown as much apart as together - but many tracks have that spark of creativity or passion which makes new music so exciting. The resonances of Les Deux Frères, the vivacity of Bertille, the driving power of Konig Matijs and Jacky the Hero, are all very different. The final Sus the Shaker is a complete surprise, extreme bagpipe showmanship. Two songs in French complete the package - the words are printed on the CD sleeve. All twelve tracks are written by Rubens and van Mierlo, and each will appeal to different people.
© Alex Monaghan

Startijenn "Skeud"
Paker Prod, 2015

Artist Video

Their name means "energy" in Breton, and Startijenn are certainly energetic. Almost every track on Skeud is a dance, from ronds to ridées. The melodies are unmistakably Breton for the most part, with some French influences (the waltz Amsked for instance) and plenty of modern ingredients.
Skeud can mean a few things: an image, a shadow, a projection, a recording. All of these could apply here - the silhouettes on the CD cover, the insert which opens out as a poster-sized photo, and of course the disc itself. This is an unusual recording in a few ways, in particular the instrumentation. Bombardes - Breton to the core - are joined by the small Breton bagpipe or biniou kozh, usually playing in the same register as the Northumbrian pipes. Nothing unusual so far, and even the addition of uilleann pipes is no great surprise - the Molard brothers and other Breton musicians adopted Irish pipes decades ago. There is no sign of the biniou bras, the Breton equivalent of the highland bagpipe, but it's hardly a parlour instrument. Instead, Starijenn add the diatonic button accordion, and the full rock band line-up of guitar, bass and drums.
The Fest Noz or Breton ceilidh is known for its long hypnotic pinkie-linked dances, and perhaps this is where Startijenn's taste for trance music comes from. Simple phrases repeated many times, powerful rhythms, and harmonic resonances: these are to be found on Strak Ha Pak, Tasmant ar Forbann, and the seven-minute title track. 'Ba 'r Mitar feels more Irish, elbow pipes and button box, recalling Spillane or McSherry or even Fred Morrison. The virtuoso Mougan is different again, a concert showcase for all six members of Startijenn, before the complex Breton rhythms of An Digoll. I have listened to Skeud on a couple of long car journeys recently, and it stays fresh after repeated plays, revealing new twists each time around.
© Alex Monaghan

Blackbeard's Tea Party "Reprobates"
Own Label, 2015

This ruthless band of tea clippers have made port once again. Port, brandy, rum - it's all the same to Blackbeard's Tea Party. Lashings of good music, but none of that other Pogues tendency - at least not in the seven songs here. Stuart Giddens sings ballads of blood and buccaneering, as well as writing cheery little ditties about the murderous Steam Arm Man and amiable axe-wielding Jack Ketch. Talking of axe-men, the foundation of these songs is electric guitar and bass from Martin Coumbe and Tim Yates, as well as two drummers just in case one falls overboard or something. Folk rarely rocked like Roll Down and The Slave Chase. In between the songs are a double fistful of feisty tunes where Giddens' melodeon takea a bit of a back seat.
The last member of the crew is of course Tom the cabin boy - better known as Laura Boston-Barber, demon fiddler, who drives these five instrumental tracks. Her style is versatile, tacking between Irish and oldtime, French Canadian and Scots. Tommy's Tarbukas, Le Reel du Pendu, The Star of Munster, Punters' Graveyard and a handful of the band's own compositions are freshly slaughtered and served up still dripping. It's not all piracy and pounding bass lines though: Blackbeard's Tea Party also turn their hands to more thoughtful songs. Stand Up Now is a version of the Diggers tale, set to a tune usually associated with the Burns polemic Ye Jacobites By Name. This album, the band's third, finishes with a chilling tribute to the dead of the Aberfan disaster in 1966 when a village school was buried by mud and mining spoil. Close the Coalhouse Door is a powerful and moving piece, ending an hour of fine folk and rousing rock.
© Alex Monaghan

Blackbeard’s Tea Party "Reprobates"
Own label; 2015

This is the fourth album for this English yet world folk rock outfit. The fiddle can fly, the percussion is unique, the guitar and bass rocks. There is nothing too distinct in the particular flavor of this directed energy. It’s not Irish, Gypsy punk, or worldly exotic, just rocking music in a folk base. It is fun and I enjoyed it even a bit more than I expected. No doubt it would be that much more rousing in a live setting. One can hope.
© David Hintz

Gráinne Brady & Tina Jordan "High Spirits"
Own Label, 2015

Two young musicians steeped in Irish and Scottish music - with the help of G&T in moderation - have joined forces to present an album of their own compositions extending the traditional repertoire. High Spirits contains twenty-three new tunes, roughly evenly attributed, some of them well established on the session scene such as Shetlag and Highland Coos, others spanking new such as Week 15 and The Quartz Jig. Gráinne plays fiddle, while Tina swaps between piano, flute and whistle. A few friends chip in behind the ladies, but High Spirits is pretty much a duo affair and this pair are used to performing it live too. In fact, the brief solos on Drive to Dublin Airport or Superknit are ample evidence that either of these performers can command an audience in her own right.
Gráinne Brady and Tina Jordan Rees as a duo manage to be more than just the sum of their individual talents. Their playing and composing styles complement each other, their instruments work very well together, and even their appearances are pleasingly complementary. They have so much in common - cats, composing, cocktails - and lontg experience playing together in sessions makes their music almost seamless. Sugar Blues is close to duet perfection - the next Phil & Aly maybe? Reels, jigs, polkas and more, the up-tempo side of High Spirits is as bubbly as you could wish. Waltzes and airs provide a balancing calm beauty, and in between are a couple of challenging 5/8 compositions where Tina and Gráinne can go a little mad. There's a surprising amount to enjoy on this recording - it's a real musical tonic. With just a splash of those aromatic spirits.
© Alex Monaghan

The Casey Sisters "Sibling Revelry"
Old Bridge Music, 2015

A great title for a great CD. Whether playing under the Casey name, or using the Irish version Ní Chathasaigh, these three sisters from Cork have made quite an impression over the past thirty years or so. Nollaig's fiddle has featured in many great line-ups, particularly with her husband Arty McGlynn. Harpist Máire is probably best known for her collaboration with guitarist Chris Newman - and again, reader, she married him. All three sisters sing, but Mairéad has perhaps concentrated most on vocals, in addition to her fiddling and harping. Together here, The Casey Sisters present Irish dance music, airs and songs, as well as a six-movement suite composed by all three and verging on classical music.
Sibling Revelry starts with a hornpipe, an unusual choice, one of a handful of references to County Cork on this CD. There are reels, jigs, polkas and slip jigs, mostly played as ensemble pieces, with a lttle help from Arty and Chris. You can't have two harpists on a recording without including something by Carolan, and in this case it's the slow march Katherine O'More. There's a fine rendition of Bunting's rare air Connamara to balance the books. Nollaig plays the lovely Lament for General Monroe, and Máire's composition Harps in Bloom completes the slower instrumentals.
Despite the considerable composing talents of these ladies, almost all the material here comes from old collections or traditional sources. The slip jig Silver Slip is a version of the melody known in Scotland as Brose and Butter, and three more jigs are taken from the Goodman manuscripts. The song A Dhroimeann Donn Dílis is even older, and two other songs in English are at least nineteenth century creations: The Bonnie Boy in Blue, a Casey family favourite, and a Cork version of Dark Lochnagar which replaces the familiar tune with a little-known Irish air. The Mealagh Valley Polkas are another hand-me-down from the aural tradition, familiar enough to Munster musicians. Finally we come to The Brandonbridge Suite, ten minutes of relatively formal music beautifully played, with a steam punk hornpipe and a racey little reel to finish it off. There's really no more to tell: good music and plenty of it from a towering trio in the Irish tradition.
© Alex Monaghan

The Lomond Ensemble "The Lass of Pettie's Mill"
Shearwater Music, 2015

Music from the Balcarres Lute Book, a 17th century Scottish manuscript, is played here on pipes, flutes, harp, fiddle and of course lute. The Lomond Ensemble consists of the Bushby family (Caroline on clarsach, Malcolm on fiddle, and John on woodwind) plus Baroque lunetist Susan King. This is very much a home recording - if you want to pick holes in it there are plenty of places to start - but in general the musicianship is good and the tunes are well worth hearing. Solos, vocals, and varied instrumentation keep this CD interesting for almost a full hour, and there are many unusual tunes to enjoy.
From The Canaries to the final Lillybollaro there are half a dozen dance tunes here, not counting the title track which is one of many song airs which can be used for dancing. Only four of the songs here are sung - the rest are instrumental renditions, which could at a pinch serve for late Renaissance karaoke if anyone felt like leading a few choruses of Full Fortie Times Over or Cromlick's Lilt. Some pieces are well known - Port Atholl as a Rory Dall harp piece, The Lads of Gallowater and I Wish I Were Where Helen Lyes from versions published by Burns. Others are rarer, although not unique to the Balcarres collection: the delicate Sarraband, the elegant Montrose's Tune, and the intriguingly titled Cuttie Spoon and Tree Ladle which is close to the similarly cryptic pipe tune Tail Toddle.
© Alex Monaghan

Davide Salvado "Lobos"
Fol Música/Boa, 2015

Davide Salvado is a singer born in 1981 that similarly to other enthusiasts such as Mercedes Peón, he has put passionate efforts into the research of the rich traditional folklore in their Galician territories (NW-Spain). His voice and his skills playing traditional percussions have been valuable contributions in Galician folk ensembles such as Marful, and in the band of the gaita bagpiper Xosé-Manuel Budiño. Davide’s first solo album was ‘Arnica Pura’, produced in 2011 by the veteran folk artist Eliseo Parra (from Castile, Central Spain). He has also recently joined projects such as Kepa Junkera’s album ‘Galiza’, and also the CD ‘Rústica’, where Davide played together with top Galician artists such as Cristina Pato, Ánxo Pintos & Roberto Comesaña.[56] It is now in 2015 that he comes back with this second solo album named ‘Lobos’ (Wolves), produced by the string instrument musician Pedro Pascual, who played in bands such as X.M.Budiño’s, Laio, German Diaz’s Nuke Trio, Marful, Talabarte,... Davide Salvado’s voice & percussions are joined by several other talented top artists. The wind instruments are played by Xabi Lozano, who is an acknowledged member in the Catalonian band Coetus (frequently playing with Eliseo Parra). The fiddler in ‘Lobos’ is Quim Farinha, an ex-member of the iconic & now extinct band Berrogüetto, and later playing in the trio Talabarte. Another ex-Berrogüetto musician playing here is Santiago Cribeiro (accordion). Other percussion artists in ‘Lobos’ are Miguel Hiroshi and LAR Legido. What we can hear in ‘Lobos’ are basically nine Galician traditional songs plus one song which is a medley of Castilian folk tunes (‘Gora’). The frame drums & the powerful voice of Davide Salvado are brilliantly complemented by a broad diversity of instrumental resources of all kinds, developing colorful acoustic landscapes of refined beauty. This is the case in the last song ‘Liulfe’, a quiet traditional ballad, with Gema Pérez (fiddles), Pedro Pascual playing viola amarantina & 12-strings guitar, Pablo Pascual (double bass clarinet), and Manuel Paíno doing remarkable background sketches with the trumpet Miles Davis’s style.
© Pío Fernández

Greg Nagy "Stranded"
BIG O Records, 2015

Michigan based Blues musician Greg Nagy (guitar, vocals) has released his third solo album with 7 original songs and 3 cover versions. For the recordings he invited his former band mate Jim Alfredson (keyboards, backing vocals, percussion), Joseph Veloz (bass), Scott Veenstra (drums), Bill Vits (percussion) and a handful of guests.
They start off with the title track by Jeff Paris and Rick Whitfield, a soulful Blues featuring the female voices of Marcia Allen and Jen Sygit. Glenn Giordano takes the drum sticks for Alfredson’s “Walk out that door” and the melancholic ballad “I won’t give up” (Alfredson/Nagy) has been recorded with Jim Shaneberger on bass and Dave Gross on drums. My favourite song is “Long way to Memphis” (Nagy/Shaneberger/Schantz), Jim Shaneberger plays terrific bass lines, Karl Schantz creates the drum pace and Nagy adds his guitar and sings the Blues rock. “Still doing fine” is a happy tuned Soul rock with the original line-up and Zach Zunis plays a wicked lead guitar on the slow Blues “Sometimes” (Alfredson/Nagy).
Greg Nagy is a great Blues singer and musician, the songs are beautifully arranged and his band does a fine job.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

We Banjo 3 "Live in Galway"
Own label, 2015

Artist Video

We Banjo 3 is a Folk quartet from Galway featuring Enda Scahill (banjo), Fergal Scahill (fiddle, percussion, bodhràn, guitar), Martin Howley (banjo, mandolin) and David Howley (vocals, guitar, mandolin). They invited a bunch of excellent musicians and singers and recorded 15 traditional and covered songs and tunes.
Peter Berril (trumpet), Pat Corless (trombone), Kenny Talkowski (tenor & soprano saxophone) and Nick Roth (alto sax) join them for several songs and tunes, the traditional set “The bunch of green rushes/Salt Creek” is a brilliant sample. 2 banjos, fiddle and guitar set the pace for the rhythmic set “Sail away Ladies/Because it’s there”, Tom Portman on Dobro and Damien Mullane on melodeon join in for the second tune by Mark Simos. Berril arranged the brass quartet for Guy Davis’ Gospel song “We all need more kindness in this world”, David makes the audience sing along and the guys play some wicked improvisations. Then the four guys play the traditional set “Padraig O’Keefe’s/The foxhunters slip jig/Roddy MacDonald”, showcasing their virtuosity on 2 banjos, guitar and fiddle. The trio Jigjam, Jamie McKeogh (vocals, guitar), Cathal Guinan (upright bass) and Daithi Melia (5 string banjo), join them for the up-Beat song “Tickle me pink” (Johnny Flynn), David sings a duet with Jamie. My favourites are Liz Carroll’s beautiful “Air tune”, brought forward with guitar, banjo, fiddle and mandolin, and “High on a mountain” by North Carolina singer/songwriter Ola Belle Reed, showcasing Norianna Kennedy’s and Nicola Joyce’s (The Whileaways) brilliant voices.
We Banjo 3 don’t limit their repertoire to classic Irish songs and tunes, they add music from the other side of the Atlantic as well as from South Africa (J. Flynn), may be that’s in addition to their brilliant musicianship the secret of their success.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Scott Ellison "Elevator Man"
Red Parlor Records, 2015

Scott Ellison (vocals, guitars, slide guitars, bass) is a Tulsa, Oklahoma, based Blues veteran, performing since the 70s. His new album with 13 original songs was produced by Walt Richmond and features Charles Tuberville (guitars, vocals, bass), two bass/drums teams, another drummer, Jimmy Markham on harmonica and the brilliant backing vocals of Marcy Levy.
John Parris on bass and Robbie Armstrong on drums create the fine Blues rhythm for the slow Blues “Behind that smile” (Ellison/Walker), passionate vocals by Levy and Ellison as well as the fine guitar sound make that song to the first highlight. The same line-up create the intoxicating pace of the title song by Ellison and Hutchison, Soulful Blues-rock with awesome guitar playing. Gary Gilmore on bass and Jamie Oldaker on drums play the shuffling Blues rhythm on “Jesus loves me (Baby why don’t you?)” (Ellison/Lupton) or the laid back pace of “Wear out your welcome” (Ellison/Tuberville). “School girl” (Ellison/Tuberville/Richmond) is a bluesy Rock’n’Roll with Chuck Blackwell on drums and the final “She’s on my trail” (Ellison/Tuberville) shows some stunning playing together of harmonica and guitar.
Scott Ellison is permanently touring North America, I bet he would rock the European stages as well.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Ghost Town Blues Band "Hard road to hoe"
Own label, 2015

Matt Isbell (guitar, cigar box guitar, vocals), Preston McEwen (drums, vocals), Jeremy Powell (acoustic grand piano, Hammond B3, Wurlitzer, vocals), Alex Piazza (bass, vocals), Suave Jones (trombone), Richie Hale (tenor sax) and Vicki Loveland (background vocals) are the Ghost Town Blues Band. The Memphis, TN, based band recorded 9 original tracks by Isbell and 3 cover versions for their third album.
McEwen grabs the push broom and Isbell the shovel to dig a hole on the title track, a shuffling Blues-rock with Isbell playing the delta bottleneck slide guitar, made from his grandmother’s silverware chest. On “Big Shirley” the guys accelerate the pace, up-Beat Boogie Woogie with grand piano, horns and Rock’n’Roll guitar. Brandon Santini plays the mouth harp and sings on “My doggy”, a great Blues about Marry Dog Isbell, who joins in howling in perfect D. Isbell plays a wicked guitar part on the Blues-rock “Tied my worries to a stone”, accompanied by his perfectly harmonised vocals and the band’s brilliant Rock groove. “Nothin’ but time” is a slow Blues by Paula Smithhart, bass, drums and Hammond B3 lay the beautiful sound carpet for Isbell’s fine guitar playing and passionate singing, and “Dime in the well” is a Country stomp featuring Isbell’s 3-string cigar box guitar.
The new album of the Ghost Town Blues Band is a brilliant mix of Blues styles, the guys are great musicians and Isbell’s songs are perfectly crafted.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Beth Hart "Better than home"
Mascot Music, 2015

Singer/Songwriter Beth Hart from Los Angeles is currently touring worldwide to promote her new album with 11 original songs.
With her powerful voice Beth sings “Might as well smile”, a mid-tempo Blues with horns and a great female choir to add a touch of Soul. The pace is slowing down even more for “Tell her you belong to me”, Beth sings about fighting for a man with eminent passion. Then the musicians accelerate the pace for “Trouble”, intoxicating Soul-Rock with an eerie mid-section, Beth’s vocal performance is brilliant. The very personal title track is a masterpiece of song writing and Beth captures you with her awesome singing. “St. Teresa” is a sad but wonderful piano ballad about a man in the death row and “Mechanical heart” a Rock ballad with piano, strings and much heart ache again.
Beth Hart is a fantastic singer and is accompanied by fine studio musicians, unfortunately I could not find any information about the live line-up.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Gov’t Mule "Stoned side of the mule vol. 1&2"
Mascot Music, 2015

Gov’t Mule were founded by singer/guitarist Warren Haynes (The Allman Brothers Band) in 1994, today’s line-up include Matt Abts (drums), Jorgen Carlsson (bass) and Danny Louis (keyboards, guitar, vocals). On the occasion of the band’s 20th anniversary they released a live recording with 13 Rolling Stones covers.
They start off with “Under my thumb” and Warren’s vocals match perfectly with Mick’s, his singing and the band’s playing create the same intoxicating sound as the original. A brilliant version of “Paint in black”, Warren’s passionate singing on “Angie” or “Wild horses” make you forget that they are covers. Danny and Warren’s singing on “The bitch” is awesome and accompanied by virtuoso saxophone playing. The show ends with their breath-taking version of “Brown sugar” after 71 minutes of first-class Rock music.
Gov’t mule create their own sound without changing the songs, they are brilliant musicians and singers and I pet fans of the Rolling Stones will appreciate the Stoned side of the mule.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Tom Russell "The Rose of Roscrea"
Proper Records, 2015

Singer/songwriter Tom Russell is one of the pioneers of Americana music, he’s making music since 1976 and has published a considerable number of albums. His latest release is a double CD featuring some legendary Americana icons and offering 2 hours and a half of brilliant music.
The ballad of the west starts with an orchestral overture featuring Jimmie Dale Gilmore telling the story of a young Irish lad crossing the Atlantic to become a cowboy on “The last frontier”, one of the main themes appearing several times. “Johnny Behind-the-Deuce” is an outlaw spoken “Guilty” and bound to the gallows uttering his last words and ordering his last meal (duet with David Olney). The Irish lad has left his homelands, because he couldn’t be with his love, “The Rose of Roscrea”.If this here was a Broadway show “You gotta have a dance”, featuring fiddler Fats Kaplin. We hear the reflective story of the Comanche’s “Last running” for the buffalo or “Cowboy voices beyond the campfire” sung by Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and David Massengil including historical recordings by Tex Ritter and Jack Hardy. John Trudell, a member of the Santee, sings the Sioux chants and Thad Beckman tells the story of Little Big Horn, “Crazy Horse/Custer’s luck”. Female guest singers include Maura O’Connell from County Clare (“I talk to god”), Californian singer Eliza Gilkyson (“The bear”) or NYC based Gretchen Peters and Mexican singer Ana Gabriel on “Guadeloupe/Valentine de la Sierra”. Between the songs and the epic story there are several reflective soliloquies like the “Old rattlebag Blues”. The album ends with Maura O’Connell’s breath-taking rendition of the beautiful title song.
Tom Russell and Barry Walsh have produced a wonderful cowboy folk opera, worth to consider bringing it to the Broadway.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

The Lucky Losers "A Winning Hand"
West Tone Records, 2015

Cathy Lemons and Phil Berkowitz teamed up to bring back the female/male duet to the Blues, together with the Lucky Losers, Marvin Greene (guitar), Steve Evans (bass), Kevin Zuffi (keyboards) and Robi Bean (drums), and some great guest musicians from the San Francisco Bay area they recorded their debut album with 12 original and covered songs in three different sessions.
Norwegian born guitarist Kid Anderson co-produced the album and adds his playing on some of the songs like the opening track “Change in the weather” (Berkowitz/Caron), Chris Burns plays the Hammond B3, Michael Peloquin (tenor and baritone sax) made the horn arrangements for sax, trumpet (Tom Poole) and trombone (Mike Rinta) and Berkowitz plays harmonica, Soul, Blues and Funk fused perfectly together. The title track by Cathy is a soulful Blues featuring New York born guitar player Steve Freund and “What was it what you wanted” (Bob Dylan) a funky Blues-rock with Andersen on rhythm and Greene on lead guitar. Other highlights are the slow Blues “Cry no more” (Charles Brown/Al Shanklin) or the beautiful waltz “Don’t you lose it” (Berkowitz/Caron) with Joe Kyle on upright bass, Jay Hansen on drums, Chris Burns on Wurlitzer and Andersen on guitar. My favourite song is Lemons’ intoxicating Blues-rock “Detroit city man”, her powerful voice is driven by drums, bass, harmonica and guitar (Andersen) and she really goes wild.
They are currently touring the West, unfortunately I’ll be there only in December.., it would have been a must to see those brilliant musicians on scene.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Whelan "The Story of Ike Dupree"
Presidio Records, 2015

New York’s upcoming Blues master Sid Whelan (guitar, vocals) teamed up with bassist Marco Panascia, drummer Richard Huntley, percussionist Mark Manczuck, keyboard player Jerry Z, two horn sections, one from North Carolina and one from New York, and a vocal ensemble directed by Darryl Tookes to record his second album with 13 original songs.
Fred Wesley (trombone) made the horn arrangements for the Charlotte, NC, sessions, 8 songs, starting off with “Nothin’ but the Blues” featuring Capathia Jenkins’ powerful backing vocals. Whelan has a hoarse voice perfectly fit to sing the Blues and is supported by the brilliant vocal ensemble like on the title track. Wesley’s great horn arrangements and the backing vocals on “Ice water” are awesome and Michael Lee Breaux adds his virtuoso tenor saxophone solo, brilliant Soul music. Jazzy horns, driving bass lines and cool singing are topped with another tenor sax solo by Breaux on “The rainmaker” and Robbi Hall Kumalo sings a beautiful duet with Whelan on the jazzy “Steak for two”, crowned by a stunning guitar solo. Ron Horton’s (trumpet) New York horn section accompanies the slow Blues “Lighten up” and Michael Blake plays a superb solo on tenor saxophone. Finally Randy Weinstein gives a splendid guest performance on harmonica on the stomping “Too cold Ohio Blues”.
The new album of Sid Whelan offers some of the best Blues musicians of the New York and Charlotte area, he is a brilliant singer, songwriter and guitar player, listen to some samples at Sid's homepage!
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

The Betty Fox Band "Slow Burn"
foxy cavanagh productions, 2015

Blues, Soul and Funk singer Betty Fox (vocals, acoustic guitar) hails from Florida and is a new upcoming star on the Blues scene. Together with her band, Kid Royal (guitar, vocals), Barry Williams (bass), Sam Farmer (drums) and Shawn Brown (keyboards) she recorded 13 original songs for her second album.
Kid plays the legendary guitar riff of James Brown’s Sex machine on the opening track “Think about it” to Betty’s breath-taking singing, she has a powerful Soul voice and gives the riff a new sound. The title song is a beautiful Blues ballad showcasing her stunning vocal performance, reminding me of Janis Joplin or Patty Smith, and on “Solid ground” she sings the Blues matching the likes of Ella Fitzgerald. The band as well is brilliant no matter if they play the jazzy up-beat Jive “Please come home”, the slow Blues-rock “Remember me” or the funky “Let the light shine”. Another highlight is “Goodbye”, showing equally the brilliant musicianship of the band and Betty’s vocal prowess. The songs cover different styles and the arrangements are simple without any unnecessary frippery, just plain and honest Blues.
The Betty Fox Band is getting known all over the USA and hopefully will spread the wings to inspire the European audience as well. Check them out!
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

The Josh Garrett Band "Honey for my Queen"
Own label, 2015

Louisiana based Blues musician Josh Garrett (vocals, guitar) has released his 4th album with 10 original songs, recorded with a line-up featuring Blues harp, piano and B3, fiddle, drums and bass.
The title song is a stomping Blues featuring piano, harp, drums, bass, guitar and Josh’s laid back vocals. Mississippi born Blues man James Johnson joins Josh on guitar for the up-beat Blues “Same boat” singing a great duet with him. “Goodnight, goodnight” showcases a stunning duo by Josh on resonator slide guitar and Clay White on Blues harp and the band gets wild for the up-beat instrumental “Slide in G”. Josh’s virtuoso guitar licks and riffs dominate the slow Blues “Ain’t nobody’s business” and Waylon Thibodeaux adds his awesome fiddling to “Dat’s alright with me”.
Josh Garrett’s new album introduces some excellent Blues musicians from the South, he’s a fine songwriter and guitar player, but his vocal performance lacks some power and passion.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

The Mike Henderson Band "If you think it’s hot here…"
Eller Soul Records, 2014

Missouri born Blues musician Mike Henderson (vocals, guitar, harmonica) launches his comeback with his new band featuring Kevin McKendree (piano, B3), Michael Rhodes (bass) and Pat O’Connor (drums). He recorded 3 original songs, 7 cover versions and one traditional, produced and recorded by McKendree at The Rock House in Franklin, TN.
They start off with Henderson’s heavy Blues-rock “I wanta know why”, playful piano and guitar riffs driven by drums and bass with a stunning intermediate guitar solo. Hound Dog Taylor’s Boogie “Send you back to Georgia” gives McKendree the chance to show his brilliant playing, intoxicating pace and Henderson’s great singing make it really hot... the title track by music producer R. S. Field is a slow Blues featuring Don Underwood on guitar and the voices of Chris and Morgane Stapleton. Then they come up with some great covers, “Mean red spider” by Muddy Waters, “If I had possession” by the King of the Delta Blues Robert Johnson and Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Unseen eyes” are brought forward with breath-taking musicianship and passionate singing. Finally Henderson grabs the harmonica to play the “Rock House Blues” (Henderson/McKendree), awesome playing together with McKendree on piano.
They play each Monday at the Bluebird Café in Nashville, stop by if you’re nearby, you’re in for a really hot Blues night.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Jim Jones "Race with the Wind"
Own label, 2015

Western legend Jim Jones (vocals, guitar, mandolin, bass) recorded his latest album with 12 original songs and one cover version in Socorro, NM, together with Mariam Funke (guitars, keyboards, mandolin, flute drums) and some great guest singers and musicians.
The title track is a Cowboy story about chasing and catching mustangs, Amy Blackburn on strings and Kristyn Harris on upright bass join in to create the galloping pace. Jones creates a romantic and somehow melancholic Western scenery, “Good ride” is a nice fiddle dance tune, “Rustler’s moon” a romantic bandit story brought forward as a lazy two-step and “You can’t get there from here” an ironic Country-Blues. The romantic cowboy waltz “Waning moon” is more than one can bear, started laughing out loud hearing that melodramatic song. Texas singer/songwriter Allen Thomas wrote the ballad “Smoke of the brandin’ fire” and Jones’ “Long may you ride” are some more heart-breaking stories of the West.
You wonder if they are serious, the songs are like emerging out of an old Hollywood Western, on the other hand it’s a nice listen, if you don’t take it too serious.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

Deb Ryder "Let it rain"
Bejeb Music, 2015

Chicago born singer/songwriter Deb Ryder recorded her sophomore album in the Los Angeles area, produced by drummer Tony Braunagel and her husband and bass player Ric Ryder. Guest musicians include Mike Finnigan (piano, B3), Johnny Lee Schell (guitar, engineer, mixing), additional guitar players Kirk Fletcher and Albert Lee, Kim Wilson (harmonica), James Hutchinson on double bass, David Fraser on accordion and last but not least the horns of Lee Thornberg (trumpet, trombone) and Lon Price (saxophone).
Deb has a powerful voice and sings with much emotion, “That’s just how it is”, a terrific Blues-rock with bass, drums, B3 and Fletcher playing awesome lead and rhythm guitar. “Can’t go back again” is a brilliant Chicago Blues with Thornberg’s horn arrangement, piano and Schell and Fletcher on guitars and the up-beat Gospel “Cry another tear” a perfect showcase for Deb’s breath-taking singing. Hutchinson plays the double bass on the hauntingly beautiful piano ballad “Kiss and dream”, accompanied by a lovely horn arrangement and Deb seducing the listener with her soulful singing. On the title track Deb sings the Blues supported by Wilson on harmonica, awesome guitar licks by Fletcher and the backing vocals of Schell and Finnigan. Lee’s typical Country Rock guitar and the piano dominate “Ma misere”, accordion joins in and the guys play an intoxicating Country Blues. Another highlight is the final southern Blues “Round and around” featuring harmonica, slide guitar by Schell, bass and a stunning vocal arrangement.
Deb Ryder has already received the Sean Costello Rising Star Award and is a nominee for the 2015 Blues Blast Award, certainly this extraordinary Blues singer will make her way up to the top, one of my favourite Blues albums of the year.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

River Drivers "River Drivers"
Own label, 2015

The River Drivers are a Pennsylvania based 4-piece Folk formation featuring Kevin McCloskey (vocals, guitar, mandolin, banjo, bass), Mindy Murray (vocals, guitar, banjo), Marian Moran (tin whistle, low whistle, concertina) and Meagan Ratini (fiddle). For their self-titled debut album they recorded one original song by Mindy, 2 traditional songs and 8 cover versions.
The late Dominic Behan wrote the lyrics of “Come out ye Black and Tans” to a traditional tune, a rhythmic Folk song about the Irish fighting for independence. Kevin sings Ewan MacColl’s classic “Dirty old town” with powerful voice and Mindy wrote a song about the battle of striking coal miners against lawmen and strike-breakers at “Blair Mountain”, West Virginia 1921, a wonderful up-beat folk song driven by acoustic guitar and banjo. Another highlight is Dick Gaughan’s “Erin go bragh”, guitar, mandolin, fiddle and tin whistle accompany Mindy’s singing. Woody Guthrie’s lyrics about the plane wreck at Los Gatos 1948, “Deportee”, resulting in the death of 28 Mexican farm workers and 4 Americans has been brought to music by a school teacher named Martin Hoffman, Kevin sings it with much devotion. The traditional Irish song “Billy O’Shea” is brought forward in an intoxicating pace and offers great singing together of the guys.
The four River Drivers have a recorded authentic Folk music without compromises, a pity they didn’t add some more of their own song writing.
© Adolf „gorhand“ Goriup

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