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Author Archives: Rick Allen

Guy Forsythe

The Freedom To Fail
Blue Corn Music

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

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

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

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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The Clutter Family

The Clutter Family
the clutter family THUMB copy

Whatever else happens to The Clutters, they will never be invited to Sarah Palin’s house for Thanksgiving dinner – the name of their song about her can’t even be printed. But they are clever satirists and seriously talented folk/rock musicians who work from way beyond the edge. Their music is obviously Beatles- (“JonBenet,” “Wear This […]

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Phil Lee

The Fall and Futher Decline of the Mighty King of Love

There’s something special about a songwriter who can break your heart and make you come back for more. Phil Lee does it in style with “Cold Ground,” a song about unimaginable grief. Lines like “I’m not a tough guy but I can fake it for a while” pierce like darts with the song’s witty lyrics […]

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Hans Theessink & Terry Evans with Ry Cooder

Delta Time
Blue Groove

Despite the title’s implication of down-and-dirty blues, this is closer to what we think of as folk music. Of course, the blues is exactly that, but Theessink and Evans’ blues is more the folky, ragtime-influenced East Coast blues and gospel-anchored music of Pops Staples than Delta blues. It’ll be considered “blues” in Europe, but “folk […]

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Steve Hunter

The Manhattan Blues Project

Picking a highlight of Steve Hunter’s latest is a tough chore, as there’s many tracks to recommend. Top of the list may be his lovely interpretation of the Marvin Gaye classic “What’s Goin’ On.” Or perhaps it’s his breathtaking, almost solo instrumental of “Solsbury Hill” with bassist Tony Levin. Hunter created the deceptively simple sounding […]

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Big Daddy Love

Let It Grow
Little King Records

This North Carolina-based band makes its own rules. Call their music bluegrass or newgrass, Southern rock, hippie country, or anything else, and it’s still refreshingly original music from a quintet whose members must have kept their ears and minds open to a variety of musical sounds. “Sweet Water” starts out like a James Gang outtake […]

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Paxton Norris

Something's Gotta Give

Norris is an unabashed acolyte of Duane Allman. “Your My Girl” (sic) is a soul ballad that has the late guitarist’s stamp all over it. “It’s Alright,” an uptempo boogie, and “Hard Luck Case,” a slice of swamp jazz/rock thickened by Mike Lynch’s B-3, would both have fit on Eat A Peach. But Norris is […]

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