Mr Tom’s Top Blues CDs of 2017

Because 10 just isn’t enough: My top blues and near-blues (that is, old-school R&B/soul and roots rock and roll) albums of last year. I won’t rank them except to let you know that my favorite record of 2017 was a tossup between this Hi-Style Records release by Jake La Botz, loaded with a bunch of tremendous songs, fine singing and playing, and a sound 100% all its own (production by Jimmy Sutton):

Jake

Jake La Botz – Sunnyside

and this outstanding, idiosyncratic, stone cold blues CD from Austin, Texas’s almost-under-the-radar all-star band, The Peacemakers, featuring Mike and Corey Keller, Johnny Bradley, Willie Pipkin, and Greg Izor:

peacemakers22

The Peacemakers

And now, 30 or so other albums you’ll want to have if you dig Real American Music, as it’s sometimes called, in alphabetical (not ranked) order, as they’re pretty much all indispensable, and I am enthusiastic about every one of them. (Cover art follows the list.)

Adrianna Marie & Her Roomful of All-Stars – Kingdom of Swing

Andy T Band feat. Alabama Mike – Double Strike

Chris Armour Quartet – Tele-Porter

B.B. and The Blues Shacks – Reservation Blues

Don Bryant – Don’t Give Up On Love

Rockin’ Johnny Burgin – Neoprene Fedora

The Cash Box Kings – Royal Mint

Chris Cain

Chris Corcoran Band – Blues Guitar Grooves

Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm

Daniel De Vita, Netto Rockfeller, JM Carrasco – Third World Guitars

Eastside Kings

Rick Estrin & The Nightcats – Groovin’ in Greaseland

Billy Flynn – Lonesome Highway

Various Artists of Greaseland – Howlin’ at Greaseland

Casey Hensley featuring Laura Chavez – Live

Egidio “Juke” Ingala & The Jacknives – Switcharoo

Greg Izor and Marco Pandolfi – Homemade Wine

Nathan James – What I Believe

Marquise Knox – Black and Blue

Miss Freddye – Lady of the Blues

Konstantin Kolesnichenko – Minor Differences

Martin Lang – Ain’t No Notion

The Love Light Orchestra featuring John Németh – Live from Bar DKDC in Memphis, TN!

Bia Marchese – Love Me Right

The Paladins – New World

John Primer & Bob Corritore – Ain’t Nothing You Can Do

Laura Rain & The Caesars – Walk With Me

Patrick Recob – Perpetual Luau

Chris Ruest & Gene Taylor – It’s Too Late Now

The Red Devils – Return of the Red Devils

San Pedro Slim – In Times Like These

Joakim Tinderholt – Hold On

Jimmie Vaughan Trio featuring Mike Flanigin – Live at C-Boy’s

Wee Willie Walker & The Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra – After A While

Monster Mike Welch & Mike Ledbetter – Right Place, Right Time

Peter Ward – Blues On My Shoulders

Kim Wilson – Blues & Boogie Vol 1

Oscar Wilson – One Room Blues

 

Adrianna Marie

Andy T

Chris Armour Quartet - Tele-Porter - cover

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Don Bryant

Rockin Johnny

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CBK

Corcoran

CrayPassport

Eastside

Estrin

Billy

Casey H

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What I Believe

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LLO

Bia

Paladins

Primer

LRC

Recob

Ruest Taylor

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sps

Tinderholt

Howlin'

 

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WWW

Ward

Welch

Wilson Kim

Wilson Oscar

 

 

 

 

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Coming Out Swingin’

Coming Out Swingin'

Candye Kane featuring Laura Chavez

Coming Out Swingin’

Vizztone, 2013

http://candyekane.com/

http://www.vizztone.com/new-music-store/

There can be no better proof of Friedrich Nietzche’s oft-quoted thesis “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger” than Candye Kane. The Los Angeles native, who has been performing American music, and blues in particular, since the 1980s, hit a career high water mark with her last two releases. Written and recorded with ace guitarist Laura Chavez, Superhero and Sister Vagabond were some kind of bravura indeed, made as they were after Kane was diagnosed, in 2007, with pancreatic cancer. Those achievements, and the heavy touring schedule she maintains, comprise a remarkable display of defiance, courage, and creativity–an artistic winning streak that continues on Kane’s brand new CD, Coming Out Swingin’, a varied set of roots music.

That aptly titled cut opens the program with Fred Rautman’s thumping drums, then unfurls into a hard-swinging number. Like a jump blues band-scaled version of the Brian Setzer Orchestra, the soloists–on guitar, clarinet, piano, trumpet, and trombone–trade eights during a frenetic middle section. Assertive and assured as ever, Candye sounds a warning to stay out of her way and testifies to the strength she draws from her supporters. In “I’m The Reason Why You Drink,” a tough box shuffle with stormy accents, Kane answers (somewhat mysteriously) in the first person the question why some can’t drink like gentlemen. Take note of Billy Watson’s gritty harmonica break and Chavez’s guitar solo, in Buddy Guy’s early style. With brash tone and a wily, descending-chord approach, Chavez drives the swinging “You Ain’t All That”; her solo expertly echoes the snarl in Kane’s lyric, an unabashed putdown nearly as unrelenting as “Positively 4th Street.” The slow, minor blues “Invisible Woman” addresses the unfair challenge faced by the vast majority of women who do not meet the standard of physical perfection pushed by the media and advertisers. Kane’s all-too-accurate lyrics are matched by Chavez’s inspired guitar work, a marvelous display of dynamics and phrasing.

Swingin’ includes  a number of soul-inflected cuts. In Kane’s hands, the Elgins’ gorgeous mid-tempo R&B ballad “Darling Baby” sounds about 10 years older than its 1965 origins, due chiefly to an arrangement that leans heavily Jonny Viau’s saxophones and the romantic grind of the rhythm section (Rautman and Kennan Shaw, bass). Rick Estrin’s “What Love Can Do,” another suave, impassioned number from the same, doo-wop-inflected tradition, is handled to perfection. Moving forward stylistically, “When Tomorrow Comes” is jaunty soul in the mode of Solomon Burke’s classic Atlantic sides. The horns, by Viau, Bill Caballero, and April West, combine with Lee Dombecki’s organ to make a luscious bed. Chavez’s solo is both melodically and rhythmically hip. Finally, the rip-roaring R&B stunner “Rise Up!” nods to the dramatic buildup in the Spencer Davis Group’s “Gimme Some Lovin’” and features a beautiful, hushed breakdown in the middle section. The horn charts, including call-and-response during the verse and a chorus part that buoys the whole enterprise, are outstanding.

Kane and Chavez tackle other genres with equal success. “I Wanted You To Walk (Right Through That Door),” a unique minor key number, is marked by a brisk two-step beat; deep, spy-film-soundtrack tremolo on the guitar amp (and more brilliantly creative playing by Chavez); and a terse, effective harp break. The lyric extends the great tradition of clock-watching songs; I love the shiver in Candye’s voice at the 1:55 mark–eight p.m., by the song’s timeline. Kane sings the roots-rocking “Barbed Wire Mouth” with attitude to spare. Chavez singes it with breaks straight out of “The Crawl” and adds a few space guitar touches. Her introduction to “Au Revoir Y’all” has a bit of the flavor of Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell”’; her solo conjures images of a daredevil aerialist in free flight, over a New Orleans, second-line groove. In closing the album, the band swings Lalo Guerrero’s “Marijuana Boogie” at a smoking (ahem) pace, with fat guitar chords, cymbal hits, and Kane’s rap en Español giving way to Sue Palmer’s powerhouse, boogie-woogie piano break.

Laura Chavez commands every bag she plays in, and her red Stratocaster sounds oh, so good. Anything I say about her tone, touch, taste, and style would fall short: She is a key player, and a star. And Candye Kane’s richly textured voice is better than ever. Her confidence, emotion, and intelligence are always unquestioned, and her technique, with effects like swoops, squeals, and glides; vibrato; dynamic volume and intensity; and perfect phrasing, cuts across the range of styles on Swingin’.  Together, they are at the top of their game, and Coming Out Swingin’ is a splendid album. Long may Candye Kane continue to carry her message of hope, and to make music as irresistible as this.

TOM HYSLOP

CD for review was provided by Vizztone Records.