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Author Archives: Rick Allen

Big James and the Chicago Playboys

The Big Payback
Blind Pig Records
 
Big-James

With a frenetic, funky solo and smooth dependable rhythm on this disc’s first cut, co-producer James Montgomery’s “The Blues Will Never Die,” Mike “Money” Wheeler demonstrates right off the bat how he earned his nickname. Wheeler is obviously influenced by Ernie Isley, whose mixed rep has him sometimes dismissed as derivative – an ersatz Hendrix […]

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Della Mae

Acoustic e.p.
Self-distributed
 
Della-Mae-THUMB

The women of Della Mae kick off their latest with a version of the traditional “Bowling Green” followed by Lester Flatt’s “Head Over Heels,” firmly establishing their commitment to bluegrass and eliminating any doubt about whether they’re simply an all-girl gimmick band. The members of Della Mae are so well-matched it doesn’t matter if the […]

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Jerry Douglas and Various Artists

Southern Filibuster: A Tribute To Tut Taylor
E1 Entertainment
 
Jerry-Douglas-THUMB

Tut Taylor is a self-taught virtuoso who plays his Model 27 square-neck Dobro with a flat pick. He first caught the public’s ear while playing with Vassar Clemens in the Dixie Gentleman, and the two later joined Norman Blake and Randy Scruggs to work with the late John Hartford. At 86, Taylor no longer performs […]

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Kelly Joe Phelps

Brother Sinner and the Whale
Black Hen
 
Kelly-Joe-Phelps

Heartfelt personal developments inspired Phelps to write 11 of these 12 biblically themed gospel/blues songs. Accompanied only by his brilliantly played slide acoustic, he helps expand appreciation of blues styles other than vintage Mississippi Delta and Chicago electric varieties. Those popular styles define the blues for some, drawing much of their character from vocal and […]

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Darren Jay and the Delta Souls

Drink My Wine
Self-distributed
 
Darren-Jay

Darren Jay may not be in Gregg Allman’s class as a singer, but he’s still effective. As a guitar player and arranger, though, he can stand with many, and he leads this big eight-piece delta soul band like an expert muleskinner. It doesn’t hurt to have a rhythm section like bass player Laura Cupit and […]

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Waylon Jennings

Goin’ Down Rockin’: The Last Recordings
Saguaro Road Records
 
Waylon-Jennings

Waylon was one of the first country music “outlaws” to rebel against the Nashville machine, and one of the ways it showed was that he never abandoned his guitar onstage – unlike many other country artists of the 1970s and ’80s. Even though most of the heavy lifting went to guitarist Reggie Young and steel […]

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Guy Forsythe

The Freedom To Fail
Blue Corn Music
 
Guy-Forsyth

Call this music “Americana,” if you have to put a label on it. The opener, “Red Dirt,” establishes straight away the muscular Midwestern quality that reflects Guy Forsythe’s musical coming of age in Kansas City, a locus for many musical styles. Blues, jazz, R&B, and rock and roll – Forsythe puts them all to good […]

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Rick Berlin and the Nickel and Dime Band

Always On Insane
Self-distributed
 
Rick-Berlin

It’s not glam rock, although “(I’m A) Slut” sparkles with a certain Bowie/ Roxy Music sexual ambiguity. It’s not Captain Beefheart’s industrial-strength experimental rock, though “Karaoke,” with a West Coast cool sax solo from Don Govoni furthers the Beefheart connection. Whatever elements make up Berlin’s musical amalgam, he often sounds like he’s working off pure […]

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The Cash Box Kings

Holler and Stomp
Blind Pig
 
CASH-BOX-KINGS-THUMB

The Cash Box Kings are part of the multi-ethnic, crossgenerational, Chicago-based community of musicians that includes the Killborn Alley Blues Band, guitarist Billy Flynn, producer/multi instrumentalist Gerry Hundt, and other like-minded souls. Like the others, the Kings put as much fire into country blues like the title track as they put back porch soul into […]

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Shelby Lynne

Revelation Road
Everso Records
 
SHELBY-LYNN-THUMB

Revelation Road comes from an artist who knows exactly what she wants and how to get it, and can come up with an end product that displays brilliantly the worth of the work put into it. This may be a country record ostensibly, but Alabama native Lynne, who has a musical and spiritual kinship with […]

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