Sing and Never Get Tired
Little Pig Records
This is the Sojourners third album and it fully maintains the high standards these gentlemen have set in producing their music. Filled with Gospel and blues songs depicting the social injustice of our society and times, this album travels where few traditional Gospel albums tread. Mixing new songs with great works from the Staple Singers, the Dixie Hummingbirds, Sista Rosetta Tharpe, Nina Simone and Stephen Stills, it hearkens back to the 1960’s yet it is also is modern and timely.
The Sojourners are Marcus Mosely, Will Sanders and new member Khari McClelland. The sound is definitely more bluesy and raw, with both angry emotions and hope depicted in their songs. With every listen I became more and more enthralled with this great CD.
They open with Pops Staples “Don’t Knock” and Paul Pigat’s lead and rhythm guitar intro tell us from the start that this album might be a bit edgier. The beautiful harmonies come right into the mix and the trio grabs the listener and make them listen to their forthright testifying. Steve Marriner blows some mean harp to set the tone for “Christian’s Automobile,” a Dixie Hummingbirds classic from 1957. This interpretation is bluesier and more urbane than the original and they do the song justice. Still’s “For What It’s Worth” follows and by this point we feel are firmly entrenched into the 1960’s movements. Marriners’ harp again plays a big role along with the vocals– well done! The Gospel traditional “Ezekial” follows and the harmonies are again exceptional. Michael Van Eyes piano introduces “Milky White Way” as the boys slow the pace down and praise the Lord sweetly. “Dressed for Heaven” is a fellow Canadian Brandon Isaak song; Brandon is a member of the Twisters who, like the Sojourners, are Vancouver-based. It’s a sweet up tempo Gospel cut.
The Staples’ “Why Am I Treated So Bad” is a minor key and down tempo song that brings things down from the frenetic pace for a few moments. More well –done harmonies here. “Hiding Place” is an original by Marcus; the tempo remains down and mood is darker here. Marcus tells us in the lyrics that he does find respite in the Lord’s arms. The traditional “This Train” brings things back up with some rousing vocals and guitar and the same is true of the next traditional cut, “Welcome Table.” These guys can hold their own with any Gospel group!
Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released” gets covered next. Pigat again adds two throwback guitar lines that round things out nicely with the spectacular vocals. They close acapella with “I Ain’t Got No Home” using hand claps as percussion. Woody Guthrie’s folk classic is a great addition to the set and is a nice way to close out a fantastic album.
Also appearing are Rob Becker on bass and Geoff Hicks on drums. Produced by Paul Pigat of the band Cousin Harley, the Sojourners demonstrate their craft with even more emotion and edge. I think the album is a huge success and great follow on to their super 2010 release. If you like Gospel with a bluesy and updated flair this will really be a treat for you. These guys are a wonderful trio of harmonizing vocalists who deliver power and emotion with each line. Highly recommended!
Reviewed by Steve Jones
Angels & Clowns
Shining Stone Records
The guitar great Nuno Mindelis is a fixture in the Brazilian music scene and with this first US release his music is now readily available to listeners here. Although Portuguese is his first language, his lyrics and vocals are solidly Americanized. Born in Angola, his family fled to Brazil when he was 17 and the civil war took everything they had.
He released his first two CD’s with Double Trouble, Stevie Ray Vaughn’s inimitable back ups and has released several more. He was named top guitar player at the Montreal Jazz Festival in 2001 and was named one of Brazils 30 top guitarists by their edition of Rolling Stone magazine.
After learning all this, the bar was set pretty high for me and Nuno did not disappoint me. Backed by Duke Robillard’s Mark Teixiera on drums, Brad Hallen on bass and Bruce Bears on keys, this is a solid and enjoyable album. Duke makes a guest appearance as does vocalist Sonny Crownover. He penned 9 of the songs with a little lyrical help from fellow songwriters Stephen Barry and Mike Bowden.
The opening song is a good hook– “It’s All About Love” feature Sonny backing Nuno with Duke on rhythm guitar (and one solo). His Portuguese accent adds a neat and mysterious flavor to his vocals, and his guitar work is impeccable (here a Gibson SG, but a couple of Telecasters in most of the other tracks). It’s a sweet musical ride and sets the tone for a fine album. Duke is also backing on “It’s Only a Dream” which is a swinging and driving track with a vibrant and up front guitar sound. The pace slows for the title track, a thoughtful and interesting ballad.
He shows he can do traditional Chicago blues in tracks like “Blues in My Cabin,” with a big and rousing guitar lead. There are also two sweet instrumentals here, the first being a nice slow blues “Tom Plaisir” which has him “singing” with his guitar. He concludes with a swinging jazzy track, Jazz Breakfast at Lakewest” that is a rapid fire course in Brazilian jazz.
This quite well done and it is worth picking up and listening. Mr. Mundelis is a great guitar player and musician whom I would enjoy seeing and listening to live!
Sweet Potato Pie
The Charles Burton Blues Band
From San Diego to Los Angeles or Honolulu to Tokyo, the Charles Burton Band has covered it all. Labeled as San Diego's World Blues Ambassador, Charles Burton has played blues, country, rock, and roots music for forty years plus. Born in Los Angeles in 1958, he started playing guitar at the age of six playing in country bands in the 1970s. In the 1980s he played in Honolulu, Tokyo in the 1990s, and most recently in Fresno California. In 1995 he was a headliner along with Hosea Leavy at the Fresno Blues Festival. More recently, in 2009, he won San Diego's International Blues Challenge finals. 2009 was a good year for Charles as he also took first place in San Diego's King of the Blues competition. He sites his influences as legends like Johnny Winter, Eric Clapton, Albert King, Freddie King, and B.B. King. One strong influence that he points out, was the exposure to music from foreign cultures, such as Japan, Thailand, and the Persian Gulf during his military career. Reviewing his own work, he makes the statement "I draw my influences from all forms, types, styles, genres, and concepts of music."
He compares his own vocals to Johnny Winter, the "growl-master" himself, which is a fair assessment after listening to Sweet Potato Pie. He describes his blues as "heavy on guitar, smooth vocals, and barbecue grease." His fifth album Sweet Potato Pie is a collection of 13 lively, self penned blues tunes. He opens with "Shake It," a tune where he unloads with vigor and passion, rocking the house with his high energy guitar. With the dynamic guitar solos and the powerful harmonica of Karl Cabbage, it sets the tone for the whole album. He follows up with the steady drivin' shuffle "Double Up" and the tasty road house number "Drivin' Home," featuring Chill Boy on shared vocals and lead guitar. Burton really shifts gears on the instrumental "New York Jump," a jump blues-rockabilly-jazz flavored tune that would raise the eyebrows of Brian Setzer. Pack your bags for Beale Street and a road trip to the IBC as you head down highway 55 "Goin' To Memphis." Burton leads into a series of fiery guitar solos as he bends notes with ease throughout the powerful instrumental "Crackdown." The ballad "Livin' Without You" starts out as a slow, soulful tune with long piercing guitar solos combined with Burton's vocals. The title track "Sweet Potato Pie" gives you that New Orleans beat with a slice of slide guitar delivered by Charles Burton. "New Boogie" combines Slim Harpo's "Hip Shake" with John Lee Hooker's "Boogie Chillen'" to create a superb tune bound to please all blues fans. "Used To Love That Woman" brings back the talented Karl Cabbage on harmonica, blended with the versatile guitar solos of Burton. You are sure to enjoy the shuffle "Brown Paper Bag" and the slide guitar solos of Charles Burton. "Your Number" adds that West Coast sound paralleled to the blues group The 44s. The Charles Burton Band completes the album with a backstreet alley jazz tune "Drop A Dime."
After listening to Sweet Potato Pie, I think you will agree that The Charles Burton Band is one of the best West Coast blues bands performing today. This is the type of band you could assume would deliver a stellar live performance!
Reviewed by Rick Davis
When It Comes To The Blues
Bluzpik Media Group, Inc.
JC (Joseph Cannizzo) is a guitar player now based in South Florida, but originally from New York. He played in rock bands around the NY area and put together the Stevie Ray Vaughn tribute band ‘Crossfire’ in 1994. He moved to Florida in 2003. I believe this is his 3rd disc.
This disc contains 9 originals written by JC and other band members. The five piece band gives a full sound. It is a modern blues sound, which is not trying to recreate the past.
The CD opens with the title cut. It’s a slow groove with some nice harmonica fills from Niles Blaize. It’s a pretty strong piece of music. “Deliza” follows with some extended keyboard fills. “Grand Ole Girl” fires out more with some snappy rockier guitar and some harmonica fills. Track 4 ‘Blues. Bleus, Blues” could be more powerful. This song could jump out at you, but feels tethered a bit. The band slow it down with some nice soulful vocals on “Tell Me Why” There are some powerful riffs near the end of this five minute effort.
Bernie Rose supplies some nice piano work on “One More Time”. Vocals again could be a bit more out in front on this cut. JC makes a political statement with “American Way” It might be a good song for Congress to listen to! JC cranks up his guitar on “Chosen One”. He has some chops. The final cut is “”I Wonder” slows back down a bit. I suspect this one might get an extended play in a live setting.
This is a disc we all can relate to. No gimmickry in the guitar work, and a full sound. He vocals are not great, but the will suffice.
Reviewed by Mark Nelson
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