Author Archives: Rick Allen

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 (more…)

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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 (more…)

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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 (more…)

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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 (more…)

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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 (more…)

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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 (more…)

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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 (more…)

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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 (more…)

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Big James and the Chicago Playboys

The Big Payback
Blind Pig Records

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 (more…)

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Della Mae

Acoustic e.p.

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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