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Author Archives: Rick Allen

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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Diunna Greenleaf

Trying To Hold On
Blue Mercy

Texas blues singer Greenleaf has gathered a host of noteworthy guest guitarists to help highlight her considerable virtues and versatility as a writer and singer. Three of the tunes here – “The Beautiful Hat,” “You Don’t Feel That Way,” and “’Cause I’m A Soldier” – show she’s got an artful hand at producing too. Like […]

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Amy Black

One Time
Reuben Records

There’s a solid old-school thump to Amy Black’s modern, acoustic-guitarbased blues. Sometimes (as on “Stay”), she leavens her music with a rockabilly flavor with the help of fiddler Dan Kellar, who gets some of his best moments on the title cut and the dark “Ain’t No Grave (Gonna Hold My Body Down).” Adding to the […]

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Grant Dermody

Lay Down My Burden
Grant Dermondy THUMB

Harmonica whiz Dermody is the honcho on this tribute to the real roots of modern blues and popular music, and he employs a host of fine guitarists to help. Dermody is smart enough to make sure things work organically; no one crowds anyone else. The arrangements and instrumentation are sparse, and though the overall tone […]

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Arty Hill

Another Lost Highway

Good musicians just might outnumber good songwriters, but don’t tell Arty Hill. This album of 11 originals out of 12 cuts sports snappy country swing and blues numbers like the energetic “Mae Dawn” that prove that not only do they write ’em like they used to but folks like Hill do a darn good job […]

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