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Winter 2017

Doug Collette By

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'Blues Deluxe' is a regular column comprised of pithy takes on recent blues and roots-music releases of note as well as spotlights on those titles in the aforementioned genres that might otherwise go unnoticed under the cultural radar.

Mark "Porkchop" Holder
Death And The Blues
(Alive Natural Sound):
2017

Portentous as the title sounds, this record's a catharsis in song if there ever was one. With his sturdy, nimble rhythm section, Holder aims to capture the essence of the blues with this skeletal sound and he does, through a brawling approach somewhat reminiscent of Johnny Winter. Like that late Texas blues icon, the portly guitarist/songwriter/leader is not only fundamentally earnest in his loyalty to the genre, but also because he plays with a hell-bent abandon, particularly when using a slide (on both electric and acoustic guitars. While there's nothing innovative here, Death And The Blues is the work of a superb stylist, the likes of which keeps this elemental American musical idiom alive and well.

Johnny Nicholas & Friends
Too Many Bad Habits
Self-Produced
2017

The familiarity of form and feel here, even apart from material like the Mississippi Sheiks' "Sittin' On Top of the World," makes the immersion in this double CD of twenty-six tracks a borderline luxury. The lack of affectation throughout is crucial and winning, rendering the variety of style on display here all the more laudable. Nicholas and his esteemed company (Johnny Shines, Big Walter Horton. et. al) mix elements of Western swing (apropos of a member of Asleep At The Wheel) with gut-bucket blues and seminal rock and roll, a blend recalling a timeless quality further elevated by a reissue of the original 1976 recording remastered in combination with a dozen heretofore unreleased cuts.

Kevin Breit
Johnny Goldtooth & The Chevy Casanovas
Stony Plain Records
2017

This idiosyncratic Canadian artist may sometimes sound tongue-in-cheek to a fault here, but, that's a passing fault because this all-instrumental romp that goes by in such a flash it begs (immediate) repeated play. A ninety-percent solo project recorded, mixed and mastered by KB himself, it's impossible to miss the unmitigated joy at the heart of playing, the largely impromptu feel of which insures nothing too studious happens here. Yet, this set isn't too lighthearted: there's an unmistakable undercurrent of serious loyalty to blues as well as offshoots of the genre (like swing) and those hearing it should further a rediscovery of the elemental joy at the heart of blues and, by extension, music at large.

Tracks and Personnel

Death And The Blues

Tracks: Captain Captain; Sad Days And Lonely Nights; Coffin Lid; Big Boat; Nobody Wants To Cry; Be Righteous; Bless Me Santasima; Billy The Kid; James Leg; What Is Wrong With Your Mind; Death And The Blues.

Personnel: Mark "Porkchop" Holder: lead vocals, guitar, harmonica; Travis Kilgore: bass, acoustic guitar, backing vocals; Doug Bales: drums, percussion, backing vocals.

Too Many Bad Habits

Tracks: CD1: Mandolin Boogie;Looks Can Be Deceivin'; Too many Bad Habits; Sittin' On Top of the World; Got the Train; Rock My Blues Away; Blues Walk; Grinnin' In Your Face; The New Canned Heat Blues; Blues Came Fallin' Down; Careless Love; Gettin' Outta Town; Hellhound On My Trail. CD 2: Move On Down the Line; Pump Jockey Blues; Believe I'll Make A Change; Prisoner Blues; Apple Grove Rhumba; Looks Can Be Deceiving; That's Alright Mamma; Hootie Blues; Money Marbles and Chalk; Lonesome Traveler; Froggy Bottom; Soon Forgotten.

Personnel: Johnny Nicholas-mandolin, piano, vocal, rhythm, lead guitars; ; Link Davis JR.: tenor sax; Bill Mabry: fiddle; RAY Benson: guitar; Johnny Shines: lead guitar, vocals; Boogie Woogie Red: piano; Big Walter Horton: harmonica; Tony Garnier: string bass; Martin Gross: drums; E.P. Jones: bass; Lucky Oceans:drums

Johnny Goldtooth & The Chevy Casanovas

Tracks: Chevy Casanova; C'mon, Let Go; I Got 'Em Too; The Knee High Fizzle; Cozy With Rosy; Zing Zong Song; The Goldtooth Shuffle; Crime Holler; A Horse By Another Stripe; One Mo Bo; Dr. Lee Van Cleef.

Personnel: Kevin Breit: voice, guitar, bass clarinet, upright bass, organ, melodica, vibraphone, percussion; Michael Ward-Bergeman: accordion; Russell Boswell: upright bass; Davide DiRenzo: drums; Vincent Hentry: saxophone, flute.

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