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Author Archives: Rick Allen

Paul Asbell

From Adamant to Atchafalaya

On Chicago’s south side, Paul Asbell recorded and played with Howlin’ Wolf, Lightning Hopkins, John Lee Hooker, and other legendary greats, including holding down the rhythm guitar chair for the studio side of Muddy Waters Fathers and Sons LP. Moving east, he expanded his scope to work with Big Mama Thornton and folk, soul, and […]

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Craig Maki with Keith Cady

Detroit Country Music: Mountaineers, Cowboys, and Rockabillies

Craig Maki and Keith Cady provide a well-researched look at an overlooked part of Motor City’s rich musical history. They offer new or little-known information about the fertile Detroit scene that influenced people such as Del Shannon and Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen with Bill Kirchen. The Motor City nurtured many country and […]

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Port City Prophets


The Prophets are a blues-rock bar band that brings around a lot of people to music they might not otherwise have heard. The PCPs will remind you of both Grand Funk and ZZ Top. With the opening cut “Close Your Eyes,” they’ll also bring fond echoes of Lee Michaels to those who remember. When guitarist […]

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Sean Weaver

Half Past Midnight

Weaver’s album of solo guitar features instrumental treatments that range from “La Alborada (Little Music Box),” a heart-tugging classical piece by Francisco Tarrega, to Rodgers and Hart’s “Little Girl Blue,” to a beautiful working of Don McLean’s “Vincent.” The reflective mood of the album runs through high-stepping versions of Fats Waller’s “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” W.C. Handy’s […]

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The No Refund Band

The No Refund Band

Lead singer/guitarist Ricky Jackson sings with a brassiness and strength that doesn’t come along often in pop music. He’s also an impressive guitarist, partly in debt to the crotch-rock styles of Slash and Joe Perry. A bluesed-up version of the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” could have been troublesome. Instead, Jackson and gang take it somewhere between […]

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The Coal Men


The Coal Men – guitarist Dave Coleman and drummer Dave Ray – boast a cowboy romanticism that comes alive on their fourth album, Escalator. Coleman wrote or co-wrote all of the songs on Escalator with Ray, bassist Jay Hitchcock, or other collaborators, creating a definite band identity linking each cut. “Midnight You” and “Lonoke, Arkansas” […]

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The Northstar Session

Echoes From the Canyon

Sometimes it’s jaw-dropping incredible how some ensembles can make music together so well. Witness the acoustic guitar-and-piano trio of guitarists Matt Szlachetka and Kane McGee and keyboard man Dave Basaraba, who offer this double-CD collection recorded in an intimate live setting. With full harmonies and all instruments meshing so well, it’s striking how they work […]

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The Carper Family

Old-Fashioned Gal

Old-fashioned gals they may well be, but the Carper Family trio injects their traditional country and bluegrass music with some tasty modern vibes on their third disc. The Austin, Texas-based band comprises bassist and band namesake Melissa Carper, guitarist Beth Chrisman, and the brilliant fiddle and rhythm guitar player Jenn Miori. On this new album, […]

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Gustav Lundgren

Plays Django Reinhardt

Gustav Lundgren is boldly going where few other Gypsy jazz guitarists dare: the daunting and little-known world of Django Reinhardt’s later bebop music. Swede Lundgren is prolific in both the worlds of standard jazz guitar and Gypsy jazz, with seven previous releases to his name plus numerous others as a sideman. He has proved himself […]

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The Clutter Family

Freak It

A line in Bob Dylan’s “It’s Alright Ma, I’m Only Bleeding” goes, “If my thought dreams could be seen, they’d probably put my head in a guillotine.” Lyrics to Clutter Family songs like “I Love You, Jodie Foster” make one fear a similar fate for that band’s coguitarists/singers/writers Jim Earl and Chris Hobbs. Musically much […]

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