Sunday, September 15, 2019

American roots artist Alice Howe debut album release "Visions"...classic and highly-listenable

“Sometimes we’re lucky enough to catch an up-and-coming artist as they fly into our radar. This is one of those times.” - American Blues Scene 

Vistas and the faces and emotions they summon unfurl with compelling grace on Visions, Alice Howe’s debut album. A modern love letter to 60's and 70's folk and timeless blues, Visions pays homage without succumbing to imitation, and offers an intimate snapshot of a young artist discovering her own power.

Produced by Freebo, Bonnie Raitt's beloved bassist for a decade, Visions follows the #1 Most Played Song on the FOLK-DJ charts, “Homeland Blues” from Howe's 2017 EP You’ve Been Away So Long. The album features a collection of new originals alongside Alice’s interpretations of iconic songs from her family’s vast record collection.

Visions was recorded in Bakersfield, CA, where the city's sun-bleached grit became a creative counterweight to Howe’s lush New England naturalism. American roots music became Howe’s playground: blues, bluegrass, folk, and pop––with celtic nods––take turns defining the sounds on Visions, anchored by her rich mezzo-soprano. An ace band backed Howe like she’d never been backed before, and the resulting collection is polished but energized by a young artist’s hunger to prove herself.

official website:

Marty's review: Alice Howe's debut album is a brilliant collection of folk-roots and blues compositions that are given special treatment by Alice's unique and original style and delivery. The five originals showcase Alice's delicate and accomplished songwriting skills and her renditions of established favorites like "Bring It On Home to Me", "Honey Bee" and "Don't Think Twice It's Alright" are given her own fresh interpretation and delivered in a style that is complimentary to the original yet sublime and textured and make them sound as almost new. Alice is backed up by a fine component of musicians that are equally stunning and create a musical atmosphere that is classic and highly-listenable.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Interview with author Sheree Homer for book release Under the Influence of Classic Country

Due for release in October 2019 is the fourth book by Sheree Homer entitled Under the Influence of Classic Country, published by McFarland.

It is a biography profiling thirty-six classic country and rockabilly artists. Exclusive interviews, archival reference material, and unearthed images showcase tales of life on the road, in the studio, and the genesis of landmark recordings. Some examples include Jerry Reed playing guitar on Elvis Presley’s recording of “Guitar Man;” Bill Anderson sharing the bill with Roger Miller on his first tour; Faron Young and Ernest Tubb having a passion for card playing; Hank Cochran penning Jeannie Seely’s hit “Don’t Touch Me” after driving past a mental institution; Mickey Gilley recording his first number one song, “Room Full of Roses,” as a throwaway B-side; The Oak Ridge Boys being offered “Achy Breaky Heart” before Billy Ray Cyrus; Jerry Seinfeld opening for Kenny Rogers; Charley Pride having his photo hidden from disk jockeys, so they wouldn’t discriminate; Loretta Lynn losing copyright to many of her hit songs, and David Frizzell and Shelly West’s “You’re the Reason God Made Oklahoma” being turned down by every major record label. Never before has such a prolific set of singers and musicians- e.g. Ernest Tubb, Waylon Jennings, Ray Price, The Oak Ridge Boys, Loretta Lynn, and Faron Young- been compiled.

   Complete list of featured artists: Faron Young, Loretta Lynn, Waylon Jennings, Ray Price, Mickey Gilley, Ernest Tubb, The Cactus Blossoms, The Secret Sisters, Pokey LaFarge, The Oak Ridge Boys, Bill Anderson, Jeannie Seely, Janie Fricke, Bobby Bare, Scotty Baker, Randy Rich, Carmen Lee, BR5-49, The Derailers, The Lucky Stars, Marcel Riesco, Lance Lipinsky, Charley Pride, Lefty Frizzell, David Frizzell, Joe Stampley, Teri Joyce, The Ragtime Wranglers, Sarah Gayle Meech, Kenny Rogers, Al Hendrix, Billy Harlan, Freddie Hart, Bill Carter, Jonathan Lyons, and Jerry Reed.

I asked Sheree a few questions about the book and her work:

M: What prompted or influenced you to write this book?

S: I had wanted to write a book that featured rhythm and blues acts, but it wasn’t coming together like I had hoped, so I switched gears. In my last book, Dig That Beat, I profiled a couple of country acts, such as Buck Owens and Conway Twitty, and it was well received, so I thought it would be fun and interesting to talk to some of the legends that are still with us. It’s always important to me too to showcase some of the newer acts keeping the music alive.

M: Are you a fan or aficionado of the artists and/or music that you write about in the book?

S: I wasn’t always a fan of classic country. Growing up, I didn’t care for it all that much. I can remember hearing “Tulsa Time” by Don Williams and “He Stopped Loving Her Today” by George Jones and cringing. These days, I’ve developed a greater appreciation for both songs and the genre in general. However, I’m a much bigger fan of the faster country songs rather than the slow tear jerker tunes. I love Ray Price, Patsy Cline, Waylon Jennings, Ferlin Husky, Marty Robbins, and Faron Young. Since writing the book, I am definitely more knowledgeable about the genre.

M: How many books have you written prior to this one and are they similar in subject matter?

S: I have written four books total. My first, Catch That Rockabilly Fever, includes 46 rockabilly acts, such as Elvis Presley, Wanda Jackson, and Buddy Holly. Next, I wrote about Ricky Nelson. My third book, Dig That Beat, was a mix of my favorite genres: pop, classic country, rhythm and blues, and rockabilly. Some of the artists in that one include Dale Hawkins, Ray Campi, Big Jay McNeely, Robin Luke and Billy Swan.  All of my books feature biographical profiles that give an artist’s background as well as stories of life on the road and in the studio.

M: What sort of reader do you hope to attract for this book?

SI hope to attract people who are already fans of classic country, and also those who may only be familiar with a song or two but have chosen to dig deeper into finding out about its history.

M: Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

S: Usually, I include my favorites or friends of mine. I am partial that way. However, I also try to feature those who are popular with the masses; artists that I feel people would want to read about.

M: What kind of research did you do, and how long did you spend researching before beginning the book?

S: As far as research goes, I cited magazine articles, books, and websites. Even as I wrote, I was still looking up information, so for me it was a never ending process. It took me two and a half years to complete the book.

M: What did you edit out of this book?

S: I didn’t edit anything out after it was written. I decide beforehand which stories I will share. It varies with each artist. Sometimes he/she will tell me a lot of great information about his/her career and other times the interview may be short, so I have to fill in with stories I have read about them. However, there are recurring themes that the reader will find in each profile, such as the artist’s childhood background, how he/she got started in the music business, his/her musical influences, etc.  One of my favorite stories that I included in this book has to do with Ernest Tubb. His steel guitarist, Lynn Owsley, recalled how one evening he, Ernest, and some other members of the Texas Troubadours decided to play a game of craps. Owsley was winning all the money, so after a while he got tired and wanted to quit. At this point, it was just a game between him and Tubb. Tubb begged him to continue, but Owsley told him that he wasn’t going to borrow back any more money. Tubb then made him an offer of his ring or guitar in exchange for money. Owsley said no to both. Tubb then asked, ‘What do you want?’ Owsley replied, ‘Your bus.’ The bus ended up becoming Owsley’s possession for two weeks before Tubb could arrange enough funds to buy it back.

M: What was the most difficult part of writing the book?

S: The most challenging part in writing this book was tracking the artists down and setting up the interviews. Typically, I contact an artist directly. I have been on the music scene for years, and through attending concerts, I have befriended many of the singers or musicians. In the past, I have always just emailed or picked up the telephone to ask if they wanted to speak to me for a book. With Under the Influence of Classic Country, I had to contact press relations and management, so there was a lot of red tape involved. I had to sell them on the idea and provide my credentials. That’s a tricky endeavor because you never know if the artist will actually become aware of the interview request or not. It also depends on how busy he/she is. For example, I was supposed to speak with Brenda Lee, but there was a scheduling conflict, so it never happened.

M: Did the writing energize or exhaust you?

S: When I do a phone interview, which the majority of them are, I record the interviewee to ensure accuracy. This is the most exhausting and time consuming aspect in journalism. I am not a fan of transcription, but it is a necessary evil. I get the most pleasure out of the writing part, when I can put into words the artists’ histories.

M: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

S: I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a concentration in journalism, so I did a lot of writing in college. However, writing a book gave me the opportunity to conduct more interviews, become more focused with my writing, and more precise on what I wanted to say and how to say it. It also helped me develop my style.

See also: Amazon profile 

List of other books by Sheree Homer

Friday, September 6, 2019

Pittsburgh Soul-Blues singer Billy Price new album release "Dog Eat Dog"..a blues-soul tour-de-force

2016 Blues Music Award Winner Billy Price first attracted national attention during his three-year association with guitarist Roy Buchanan. Price is the vocalist on two of Buchanan's LP's, That's What I'm Here For and Live Stock.

Since then, with the Keystone Rhythm Band, the Billy Price Band, and solo projects, Billy Price has recorded and released a total of 17 albums, CD's, and DVD's. In April 2016, he was officially recognized and inducted as a Pittsburgh Rock 'n' Roll Legend at an award ceremony.

Price’s album This Time for Real, with the late Chicago soul singer Otis Clay, received a 2016 Blues Music Award in the category of Best Soul Blues Album of 2015. His 2018 album Reckoning, produced by Kid Andersen at Greaseland Studios, was nominated for a 2019 Blues Music Award in the category of Best Soul Blues Album of 2018. His new album Dog Eat Dog, also produced by Andersen, was released on Gulf Coast Records in August, 2019.

official website:

Marty's review: The latest release by Billy Price is a blues-soul tour-de-force with 8 original compositions and 4 covers that showcase the dynamic and exceptional talents of Billy and his top-class group of musicians. The years of experience and well deserved accolades are truly evident on this polished production. Billy's soaring, soulful vocals are seductive and sonic as he delivers each track with a passion that is addictive and encompassing. Add to this the tight rhythm and brass sections plus flawless guitar licks by Kid Anderson and you have a album that is strong and finely-calibrated from start to finish. This will certainly please his current fans and gain some new ones along the way.

Monday, September 2, 2019

The 44's album release Twist The Knife ...razor sharp, hard edged blues-rock

After seven long years, The 44's return with Twist The Knife, a new album of blues-fired rocket fuel that pays homage to the greats while keeping a firm eye fixed on the future. Bandleader Johnny Main spent the past few years rebuilding the 44's with an all-new lineup, and the result is the best album of the band's long and storied career. "This is the first time I've really been able to stretch," says Main, whose guitar playing is the core of the 44's sound. His expert string work leads the band through a 33-minute rock and roll reclamation that spans everything from psychedelic blues-rock to vintage Michigan Avenue grooves and more.

"When you get right down to it, this album is about perseverance," he explains. "I was at a point where I had to decide whether or not to keep going, to keep this band alive. All those guys we look up to, like Muddy, Wolf, Albert Collins, Lightnin' Hopkins… they kept going right up until they died. I want this record to serve as a tribute to them, their inspiration is why I started this band almost 20 years ago, and its what keeps driving us today."

Marty's review: the aptly titled "Twist the Knife" is a collection of razor sharp, hard edged blues-rock that satisfies and delivers from start finish. Top-notch guitar, wailing harmonica licks and a tight rhythm section come together to create a pure blues release that pays tribute to past and present masters. Includes songs by the likes of Muddy Waters, Sam Hopkins, Doyle Bramhall II and T-Bone Walker. These guys know their blues and play it with passion and conviction.

Available on: iTunes,,
Distributed by: City Hall Records

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Jazz and Blues Music Worlds Meld on “Comes Love” as Vocalist Hannah Frank is Joined by Top Personnel

Chicago – Vocalist Hannah Frank, alongside top players from the blues and jazz scenes in Chicago, steps into the world of lyrical jazz vocals with Comes Love, a single on Random Chance Records (NYC). This single features the multi-Grammy winning Billy Flynn on guitar, alongside the eminent Dennis Luxion on piano, esteemed in the Chicago jazz world. 

On Comes Love, Hannah and this line-up interpret a jazz standard with deftness. The studio personnel includes veteran Jimmy Rogers drummer Dean Haas and Chicago bassist Ben E. Miller. The single is produced by Martin Lang, Chicago's amplified blues harp ace who has performed with West side blues icon Tail Dragger for decades and on Delmark Records. Random Chance Records is a NYC-based label founded by Richard Congress, author of Blues Mandolin Man, a book about James "Yank" Rachell. This is the label's first vinyl release.

The record will interest fans of blues, jazz, and the singer-songwriter genre. Hannah brings her ability to interpret songs, built on over a decade of performing in Chicago with her original folk/roots band. With Comes Love, she bridges earthy influences like Son House and Woody Guthrie with her new love of electric blues/soul in the vein of Magic Sam and Ray Charles— with a dash of Western swing.

Hannah Frank is a poetic songwriter and vocalist whose first forays dug into rural country blues, raw cowboy chords, and surprising lyrics. Soaking up Chicago’s legendary music, she added traces of jazz, world, rock and the energy of urban blues.

Her most recent music video is for her own blues-inspired song “Heart Hitter.”

In her original music, characters step out of songs as if out of a novel, delivered with a honey-meets-barbed wire voice. The effect is mysterious, evocative, and fun. Her lyrics are psychological rhymes full of stories of woe and wonder.


Vocals: Hannah Frank

Piano: Dennis Luxion

Guitar: Billy Flynn

Bass: Ben E. Miller

Drums: Dean Haas

Producer: Martin Lang.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Houston R'n'B powerhouse Cheyenne James album release Burn It Up...ecstatic and seductive

By the time Cheyenne James was 10 years old, the Houston powerhouse was singing Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday, and Etta James. Her giant voice, passionate performances, and taste for R'n'B won her the local nickname “Lil’ Miss Blue-Eyed Soul.”

15 years later, Cheyenne has performed at every country club and road house in southeast Texas as a solo act or with other incredible Lone Star State musicians. Texas may be big, but it isn’t big enough to hold her any more. With Burn It Up, Cheyenne is debuting on the national stage, showcasing her songwriting talents on six original songs and her versatility on material from artists including Willie Dixon and Van Morrison.

The multi-talented singer is also an acclaimed stage actress who has inspired comparisons to Sophie Tucker, an accomplished dancer, and, as demonstrated on the sizzling cover of Burn It Up, a fire eater. This 10 song debut from this Red Hot Mama is sure to scorch!

official website:

Marty's review: This aptly titled release from Cheyenne James is a solid dose of soulful, bluesy R'n'B that is big, bold and brassy. Cheyenne's incredibly powerful vocal chords are up front and centre with a passion and delivery that shakes the foundations. Supported by a tight rhythm section and hot guitar and harmonica licks that create an all round ecstatic and seductive sound, this is an album that is satisfying and soaring with the emphasis on grabbing your attention.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

London blues-rock trio Sun House EP release "Rosedale"...cranked-up and energetic power blues

With a classic blues guitar, tight drum backbone and a singer full of grit with a thumping bass on her shoulder, the Sun House trio are shaping their beloved blues into a 21st Century genre, with great success. This youthful band bring soul and raw emotion to every stage they play. Taking inspiration from B.B. King, Muddy Waters and Howlin Wolf, they merge their roots sound with modern day rock music. Formed in a basement in 2017, they have played a great amount of festivals and gigs across the UK, feeling most at home in the dark and dingy Rock n’ Roll venues.’

Rosedale was recorded at Metropolis studios, London, thanks to an opportunity won through the band's university. Sun House partnered with Pledge Music to help make the EP possible through the help of loyal fans pledging on exclusive items from the bands store.  This partnership has seen the EP be pre-ordered from across the globe, expanding the bands audience to a world wide scale. Tracks on the EP tell stories of old blues legends and heartbreak experienced by their female singer. 

Marty's review: raw and energetic blues-rock is what Sun House dish out and they do it with a confidence and in-your-face attitude that will certainly make you sit up and take notice. Taking their cues from the old masters of the blues and injecting a bit of cranked-up power and sassy vocals, this EP is sure to leave your heart thumping and your ears buzzing.


Monday, August 12, 2019

Blues harmonica player/singer Dov Hammer new album BlueSoul...solid and earthy blues with soul

Welcome to the Blue Soul of Dov Hammer - and get ready for some some hipshakin’, heartbreakin’, earthquakin’ Blues!

For almost 30 years Dov Hammer has plied his trade as singer, songwriter and harmonica player in various bands such as The Blues Rebels, CG and The Hammer and the Daily Blues, as well as backing top notch artists such as Joe Louis Walker, Lucky Peterson, Bernard Allison and many others.

Now comes “BlueSoul”, Dov Hammer’s new album, the first recorded under his own name since 2004’s “Going deep”. While that album was strictly stripped -down, raw acoustic Blues, BlueSoul” is a bubbling pot of Blues gumbo - a variety of styles ranging from Chicago to New Orleans, from traditional to modern and all points in between, all anchored by Hammer’s soulful vocals, soaring harmonica and unique songwriting. The songs deal with love and loss, going through challenges and changes and enduring trials and tribulations with grit and determination and some hard earned humor…

The album cover art was designed by Taloosh, a talented musician in her own right, whose unique art captures the special ambiance of Dov Hammer’s music.

Marty's review: Dov Hammer's "BlueSoul" is exactly what the title implies, solid, earthy blues with heavy doses of soul that is delivered with confidence and finesse from a masterful player, singer and songwriter that certainly knows his way around a good blues song. His deep and passionate vocals are at the fore and his stinging harmonica licks are stylish and throbbing. Add to that a solid rhythm section and you have a contemporary blues release that fires on all cylinders.

official website:

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Finger-style blues guitarist Terry Robb album release "Confessin' The Dues"..exhilarating and blistering

Terry Robb, hailed as one of the finest finger-style blues guitarists on the international scene, recently released his 15th solo recording Confessin’ My Dues. Drawing from the well of country blues to Coltrane, ragtime to Hendrix, Americana to American Primitivism, Confessin’ My Dues represents a lifetime of musical experiences and influences for Robb. Whether backed by his all-star band or flying solo, he moves deftly between instrumental tunes and lyrical numbers in 13 original compositions ranging from blistering instrumental blues and stunning ragtime finger-picking to soulful singing backed by a powerhouse rhythm section. 

Every release that Terry Robb puts out is a cause to celebrate,” says Greg Johnson, president, Cascade Blues Association. “There are not many guitarists in the blues or any genre that you can come by that are as detailed and clever with their creativity. Confessin’ My Dues is yet another example of Terry Robb doing what he does best – leaving us with a sense of awe and joy with every note he plays. It’s a winning formula that continues to lead the pack.”

A special Limited Edition Advance Release of Confessin’ My Dues at Music Millennium in Robb’s hometown of Portland, Oregon, rose to #1 in sales in its debut week.

Stream and download album here:

Marty's review: Terry Robb's latest release is a lesson in finger-pickin' blues guitar that is not only exhilarating to listen to but highlights his masterful strokes that leave one agape with his talent. The album's mix of vocal and instrumental tracks flows along at a blistering pace and has that rawness and emotion that you would expect from a roots-based production. The sparsity of the instrumentation is what makes it unique as it somehow manages a sound that is all encompassing and truly peripheral.  

Friday, August 2, 2019

Vocalist/Saxophonist Scott Ramminger fifth album release Rise Up.. a natural blend of blues, jazz and funk

Scott Ramminger has gone down a slightly different path on Rise Up, his fifth record since 2011. Where his previous studio discs have been heavy on horn sections and backing vocals, “Rise Up’ features only five players -- Ramminger on vocals and tenor sax; Wes Lanich on piano and Hammond B3, Shane Theriot on guitar, Paul Langosch on upright bass, and Emre Kartari on drums.

I set out trying to make a record that had a slightly different sonic footprint, sort of a stripped down, more acoustic vibe. I hired a fine jazz drummer and upright bass player. And at one point, with my producer hat on, I asked them to play less like we were at Blues Alley (a famous DC jazz club) and more like we were playing in a Brooklyn strip club in about 1960,” Ramminger says, laughing. He adds that the another idea that drove the record was taking this more acoustic sound across a wide range of groves and song types.

Rise Up moves from the opening shuffle, “Thinking About You,” to the laid back funk of “Rise Up,” to the old school R'n'B of “Daisy” to the swing of “The Feeling When I’m Falling.” The whole record is pretty woody and natural sounding -- a great sounding Yamaha Grand Piano, a real Hammond B3 and Leslie, killer upright bass, drums, my tenor sax, and a bunch of Shane Theriot’s cool old guitars and funky old tube amps.’

Ramminger contends that the varied backgrounds of the players juxtaposed against the variety of styles and grooves create an interesting effect on the record. “Basically Paul Langosch on bass and Emre Kartari on drums are mostly jazzers. Paul played with Tony Bennett for years. Wes, on keys who went to Berklee and can play all kinds of music, but is primarily a blues and rock guy.” Shane Theriot on guitar can play anything, but is best known for playing in the Neville Brothers and for currently serving as the musical director on “Live From Daryl’s House” and being the guitar man in Hall and Oates. I am mostly a blues, roots, old school R'n'B guy. So it makes for some interesting musical moments, I hope.”

official website:

Marty's review: Scott Ramminger's "Rise Up" is a down to earth, back to roots blend of jazz, funk and blues (with a touch of soul) that resonates with very note and beat and will have you snappin' and tappin' with every track. Scott has surrounded himself with a very proficient bunch of musicians that bring everything together with style and perfection. Scott's vocals are stylish and natural and are a cohesive fit with this tight and finely-calibrated production. Scott has deliberately kept the album to 8 tracks and this works well as it is not over or under done, a clever move (so is it an extended EP or a mini-LP?). Whichever way you look at this will warrant repeat listens.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

The Weary Times release debut self-titled album..steeped in Vintage Blues and early Rock ‘n’ Roll

Boise, Idaho-based The Weary Times recently released their debut self-titled album, The Weary Times.  The ambitious 13 song set was produced by lead singer and songwriter Ryan Curtis with help from the album’s engineer Nathan Barns at Osmosis Studios, Boise, ID and Tom Meyers who mixed the record at Ground Control Recording in Seattle, WA.  

Steeped in Vintage Blues and early Rock ‘n’ Roll, the new record showcases the band’s wide ranging sound, ironed out over years playing bar-to-bar across Idaho and the Pacific Northwest.  The lead-off single “Best for You” is a soulful garage rocker, with Farfisa keys and a big, wall of sound chorus, filled with echo and early 60’s fuzz.  Juxtapose that with do-wop cuts like “Why are you so Lonely” and “Give and Take”, both interesting and darker takes on the staple format of the tender 1950's love song.  “I’m far too old to leave a good looking corpse, but I ain’t young enough to change course” Curtis sings in "Give & Take", a lonely hearts ballad of an aging loner looking back on his wasted youth.  

Hard Times” originally released as single in 2018 and “Piece of Mind” show a more soulful side of the band.  They also showcase keys player Michael Swain’s retro electric piano and over-driven Wurlitzer organ, distinct vintage sounds that are all over the record.  Also, ever present is lead guitar player, Michael Simon’s slow hand playing style reminisce of the British blues rock movement of the mid-sixties. He comes front in center on the album’s bluesier cuts like “I Don’t Know Why", “Anymore”, and “I ain’t Done Drinking”.

Marty's review: The Weary Times' debut release is roots based blues-rock with a 60's vintage style vibe and flavour that is playful and highly listenable. Musically, the electric piano and lead guitar are what drives the album and Ryan Curtis' lead vocals have that soulful-bluesy feel that fit right in with the tight overall production. It's an album that is rich in feel-good sounds and warrants repeat listens.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

The Ellis Mano Band debut album release Here and Now...searing rock and blues-inspired songs

In Switzerland, the members of The Ellis Mano Band are not unlike the Wrecking Crew or the Funk Brothers; top flight studio musicians and elites in the bigger-than-you’d-think Swiss music scene. Vocalist Chris Ellis was a regular on Swiss and German television and radio and on the summer open air concert scene. Edis Mano was a stadium-filling celebrity in the Balkans as a youth, before backing all the top names in Switzerland. Top session bassist Severin Graf is known in Switzerland as “Mr. Groove.” And drummer Nico Looser backed Tracy Chapman and others while working in the US before serving for years in the band of Switzerland’s top late night TV show. He also played on Bob Dylan protegee and band alumnus Scarlet Rivera’s album “Journey With An Angel” (on which Dylan also appeared), and toured with her as well.

But as they spent years supporting other artists, the members never got much time to make music of their own. Now, after a year-long collaboration, the formidable foursome has developed a set of searing rock and blues-inspired songs that make up their debut album Here and Now. With this album The Ellis Mano Band presents a rich tapestry of universal joy and sorrow; the dive into a bottle after a heartbreak in “Whiskey”, the search for home in “Where We Belong,” and the searing sensuality of summer and new love in the title track “Here and Now.”

official website:

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Brett Spaulding and The Psychic Spies release "Livin' To Play"..infectious and instantly accessible

Brett Spaulding was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta and has been on the local music scene for over a decade, sharing the stage as a sideman with The Mike Clark Band, Donald Ray Johnson, Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne and more. Spaulding also co-fronted the Silvertone Devils with guitar virtuoso Brent Wright, under whose guidance Brett studied; learning in depth about chord
inversions, harmony, and most importantly discipline.

Spaulding started The Psychic Spies with bassist Chad Holtzman while doing a regular house gig at The Blues Can in Calgary. Together they started recording demos in Chad’s studio, Stationblissmusic and began work on what would become their newest release, Livin’ To Play.

Livin’ To Play is a guitar driven album, laced with heavy grooves, tight harmonies, and pop melodies. Influenced by a cross section of music including The Beatles, Steely Dan, The Foo Fighters, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. “We were trying to go for simple but sophisticated”, says Spaulding. “We also just followed our hearts and went where the music took us. If a mistake was made, but you could hear something cool in it, it got shaped into a part instead of erased as an

Brett Spaulding and The Psychic Spies put on a great live show full of energy and originality, and have translated that sound to this album successfully. Livin’ To Play is comprised of nine original and masterfully written songs with a multitude of sounds including rock, blues, funk, R'n'B and pop. The Psychic Spies are Chad Holtzman on guitar, bass and back-up vocals, Brent Wright on slide guitar and back up vocals, Stephen Fletcher on Keyboards and Emmet VanEtten on drums, percussion and back up vocals.

Marty's review: "Livin' To Play" is an infectious and instantly accessible release that is produced with heavy doses of R'n'B flavored contemporary blues-rock, crisp and clear harmonies, raunchy guitar licks, tight rhythms and an up-front attitude that grabs you by the throat and gets your attention. The energy and passion shine throughout and it guarantees repeat rotations.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Down Home Blues Chicago Vol.2: Sweet Home Chicago...5 CD set with 94 Page Book...vintage blues at its best

Just released, the definitive collection of Chicago blues music from the mid-1940's to the early 1960's, Down Home Blues: Sweet Home Chicago (WNRCD5106) is the second volume of Chicago Blues post war down home blues music from Wienerworld, recorded from the mid-1940's through the golden decade years of the 1950's up to the early 1960's.

It is a five CD set, packaged in a deluxe digipak with an outer slip case, featuring 135 tracks by 46 artists, all remastered and including alternate takes of well-known recordings. All unissued and alternate take records are from Peter Moody’s private collection, many of which are otherwise unavailable.

  • Features 46 artists who were influential in developing the Chicago blues scene including Elmore James, Howling Wolf and Jimmy Rogers. Includes early down home blues recordings from Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley just before they were on the cusp of taking their music into the new big world of rock and roll. 
  • Includes an outstanding 94 page book, featuring a new essay by renowned blues historian Mike Rowe on the post war Chicago scene; over fifty rare period photographs illustrate the essay throughout; full track details, as well as full sessionography. A feature page section on some of the artists and a five page gallery of original 78 and 45 record labels.
Peter Moody, the compiler, was frustrated that as he worked on the Chicago 5CD Fine Boogie set that was released in 2017, he was finding that he had many more prime recordings and ideas to bring to the ears of the blues music audience so he started work on this follow up collection.

Continuing the mix of well-known artists to the lesser-known, all the recordings are prime Chicago masterworks. With big hitters like Muddy Waters, Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson, all their tracks are alternate takes or originally unissued masters by the record companies, most of which are currently not available on release. Mixing with these three there are many more stars of this down home genre including Albert King, Jimmy Reed and Memphis Minnie, again with alternate recordings of their best well-known music. In this golden age of blues, there were so many superb recordings being made it was impossible to issue many of them into the singles record buying market place. Eventually when the new long playing albums began to surface they began to cater for this wealth of music when recording in later years.

Marty's review: I've been collecting compilations of historical blues recordings for many years now, and there have been several outstanding releases which take pride of place, but this most comprehensive and definitive collection of vintage Chicago blues certainly has to the rate as one of the finest ever produced. I can only appreciate the time and effort that has gone in to the creation of this release. The quality and mastering of the recordings is exceptional, and the 94 page accompanying book is crammed with historical mini-biographies about the artists, rare pictures and complete sessionography.

The calibre and plethora of artists is what makes this collection so unique. Along with the more well known artists such as Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Big Bill Broonzy, Otis Spann, Muddy Waters and Elmore James, there are the lesser known performers such as Pete Franklin, Freddie Hall, Morris Pejoe, Herman Ray, Lazy Bill and Big Boy Spires, and its the inclusion of these that creates the adventure in discovering "new" and forgotten tracks and artists that blues fans and music aficionados will more than appreciate and savour.  

The packaging is well constructed with a foldout digipak for the 5 discs, the colour and black and white 94 page book and a sturdy slip case to house them all in. Add this to your blues collection as it will certainly become a collectors item.

Available here: Wienerworld ; Amazon ; Amazon UK

Friday, July 19, 2019

Georgia-based roots artist Aaron Matthew's acoustic guitar and harmonica EP release "Bottle and Blues"

Recently released is a new album collaboration between roots guitarist and songwriter Aaron Matthews and the legendary Freedm of Montreal! The project is called "Bottles and Blues" and is one is for all fans of blues and roots acoustic music! It consists of 4 original songs and 2 cover songs recorded live in studio and on stage.  

Aaron Matthews: "I hope that listening to this album brings you the same transcendence and enjoyment we experienced in writing and recording it. Perfect for contemplating life and grooving away to the blues."

stream and download the album here:

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Marty's review: Bottle and Blues is an all acoustic roots music treat that embodies the essence of raw blues and recorded "as it happened" with no overdubs or anything fancy. Aaron Matthews and FreedM relay their passion and playfulness of their music by keeping it simple and down to earth. They inject an energy and emotion that is infectious and engrosses the listener into their own little place of blissfulness. I call it "front porch music", just close your eyes and find your own paradise. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Vocalist Paula Harris new release "Speakeasy".. a synthesis of Jazz and Blues with Soul and Funk

Paula Harris’ newest release “Speakeasy” digs even deeper into her connection with mid-century jazz and blues legends. A completely acoustic album featuring a classic trio format of piano, bass and drums, “Speakeasy” is a true synthesis of Jazz and Blues with bits of soul and funk thrown in at times. 

Perhaps the two most surprising elements are the fullness of sound they achieve and the absence of a guitar.  Pianist, Nate Ginsberg (Herbie Hancock, Sly & The Family Stone etc.) bassist, Rich Girard (Mose Allison, Lou Rawls) and drummer Derrick “D’Mar” Martin (Little Richard) create a sound that is simultaneously vintage and modern, and both elegant and earthy. 

The project offers ten new originals and two new songs penned by bay area friends. They also cover Billie Holiday’s “Good Morning Heartache” by giving it a backbeat groove, Donnie Hathaway’s “More Than You’ll Ever Know”, Louie Jordan’s “Is you Is or Is you Ain’t My Baby” and Thelonious Monk’s “Round Midnight”, for which Paula penned all new lyrics and gave a slightly more driving groove. “Speakeasy”also features Big Llou Johnson, the voice of “Bluesville” on Sirius Radio, in the duet “Something Wicked” and the Grammy-winning former Santana trumpet player, Bill Ortiz on several cuts. 

Monday, July 15, 2019

Dundalk, Ireland songwriter Finnian second single release "Where We Go"...a leap of faith

Finnian is back with his second single! 'Where We Go' takes influence from the folk/Americana greats and you can hear a real Neil Young and Van Morrison influence. The song is about dreaming big and how people shouldn't be afraid to make that leap of faith. In it he portrays an image of young love and youthful friendship. It begs the question of what the future holds whilst simultaneously reminding us to live beautifully in the moment, the way young people should, the way everyone should.

Finnian is a songwriter from Dundalk, Ireland. He started out as a folk based singer/songwriter renowned for a strong and dynamic vocal. He has been praised by peers in the industry and audiences throughout Ireland and Europe for his honest, clever and thought provoking lyrics and although playing as a solo acoustic based artist is something that he thoroughly enjoys and executes with a passion and energy that has received critical acclaim he decided to add another dynamic to his music. 

Just over a year ago he put together a band of greatly accomplished musicians in their own right and submerged himself in the hunt for a new sound. Something that would merge lyrics and music more consistently.

His first full album 'Under The Influence', due for release in Summer 2019, is the embodiment of two years of hard work and is a hugely ambitious yet solid projection of that sound he was searching for.