Author Archives: Rick Allen

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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Jerry Douglas and Various Artists

Southern Filibuster: A Tribute To Tut Taylor
E1 Entertainment

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 (more…)

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Kelly Joe Phelps

Brother Sinner and the Whale
Black Hen

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 (more…)

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Darren Jay and the Delta Souls

Drink My Wine

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 (more…)

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Waylon Jennings

Goin’ Down Rockin’: The Last Recordings
Saguaro Road Records

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 (more…)

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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 (more…)

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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 (more…)

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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 (more…)

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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 (more…)

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