Why so glum, blues fans? Your summertime blues is right here!
Frank Bang & the Secret Stash “Double Dare” (Blue Hoss) – Bang played guitar in Buddy Guy’s band for five years and he has a penchant for music that harkens back to ‘60s, what some would consider the golden era of blues rock; a perfect example is the Humble Pie-ish title cut where Bang plays scorching slide guitar riffs while singing about cutting off all his hair, looking for his stash and not owning one single cowboy hat.
Lisa Biales with Ricky Nye and the Paris Blues Band “Singing in My Soul” (Big Song Music) – Biales (pronounced “be alice”) has a voice that sounds quite a bit like Patsy Cline, and in fact she played Cline in a production of “Always, Patsy Cline.” The ‘50s is the tone here as Biales rocks up a cover of Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s “Strange Things Happening Every Day,” teases her way through Sippie Wallace’s “You Got to Know How” and employs a few bluesy double-entendres on her own “Magic Garden.”
Paul Gabriel “What’s The Chance…” (Shining Stone) – With guitarist Duke Robillard adding a sweet solo and the Roomful of Blues horn section putting extra zing in the swing of opening cut “Old Time Ball,” singer/guitarist Gabriel makes it clear that it’s time to party. The fun continues with the Stevie Ray Vaughan-swaggering “Ride, Ride, Ride,” the Allman Brothers-informed instrumental jam “328 Chauncy Street” and the slow and soulful “Roomful of Blues.”
Amos Garrett “Jazzblues” (Stony Plain) – Although he’s played most every kind of music and recorded with a who’s who that stretches from Emmylou Harris to Jesse Winchester, Garrett is primarily known as a blues player and has never until now released a jazz record. All of the cuts here, like bluesy renditions of Miles Davis’ “Freddie Freeloader,” Thelonious Monk’s “Blue Monk” and Freddie Hubbard’s “Little Sunflower” were recorded live at various venues in Canada and all but two are instrumentals.
Gina Sicilia “It Wasn’t Real” (Vizztone) – Sicilia sounds a little bit like Cher when she’s belting out this album’s title cut; the shuffling “Walkin’ Along the Avenue” has a sound that’ll be more familiar to fans of Maria Muldaur and “City By the Water” channels the soulful southern vibe that Allison Moorer is fond of. All but one song here was written by Sicilia and she’s penned an excellent batch to showcase her vocal style.
Randy Scott “Out of the Blue” (Favored Nations) – Scott won the Guitar Center’s 4th annual King of the Blues competition and his career launches big time here with debut album produced by Pete Anderson and featuring famed ax-slinger Albert Lee and members of Larry Carlton’s and Robben Ford’s bands. The guest players are nice but Scott plays and sings (and writes) like a pre-pop stardom Steve Miller, most noticeably on “Whiskey from the Bottle” and “Nothin’ but a Thang.”
Hans Theessink “Wishing Well” (Blue Groove) – The prolific Theessink’s latest is an acoustic effort and with the exception of pedal steel on a few cuts and a little percussion on two others he plays all the instruments: guitars, mandolin, banjo and harmonica. The song selection features many of Hans’ own compositions like the talkin’ blues “Wishing Well,” a couple interpretations of traditional numbers and covers of Bob Dylan’s “Ballad of Hollis Brown” and the late Townes Van Zandt’s “Snowin’ on Raton.”
Bart Walker “Waiting on Daylight” (Ruf) – Walker is a Tennessee-based player and here the singer/guitarist tunes into the Memphis sound, rocking up the blues with the help of a backing band made up of Memphis-based session men. The result on tunes like “It’s All Good” is a mash-up that sounds like B.B. King fronting the Allman Brothers. The album closes with a more direct tribute to the Allmans with a slowed-down version of their classic “Whippin’ Post.”
Austin Young & No Difference “Blue as Can Be” (Vizztone) – In this case Young is more than a surname; the singer/guitarist is still a teenager. Since he already plays like Stevie Ray Vaughan, writes or co-writes all of his own songs and has a deep knowledge of the electric blues there’s no reason to sit around and wait for him to become a wizened old blues man; dig now the SRV-like “Thunderhead,” the sublime Gary Moore tribute “Miss You Moore” and the rollicking homage to Muddy Waters, “Blue as Can Be.”
Mike Zito & the Wheel “Gone to Texas” (Ruf) – When last heard from Zito was blasting through a set of funky blues rock numbers with Devon Allman as a member of Royal Southern Brotherhood; here he’s back with another stellar solo effort, teaming with Sonny Landreth for the Louisiana blues of “Rainbow Bridge,” also featuring Susan Cowsill on vocals. The disk is full of stand-out tracks but fans of slide guitar-driven classic blues rock will especially enjoy “Don’t Think Cause You’re Pretty.”