Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Ronnie Earl travels down Maxwell Stree

The title of the new Stony Plain album by Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters, "Maxwell Street," is a reference to the late pianist (and former broadcaster) David Maxwell, to whose memory this recording is dedicated. Earl's guitar is joined by his band of David Limina on keyboards, Jim Mouradian on bass, Lorne Entress on drums and Diane Blue on vocals with Nicholas Tabarias appearing as a guest on guitar. This recording is split between instrumentals and vocals and provides plenty of space for Earl's guitar, but also allows Limina to showcase his piano and organ chops.

Using the word chops to describe Ronnie Earl or Limina's keyboards is perhaps inappropriate as both as musicians whose instrumental mastery is tied to a keen musical intelligence. Earl especially is a player of nuance and subtlety, with his employment of small changes in pitch, as well as his use of space recalling such blues guitar legends such as Earl Hooker, Johnny Heartsman, Clarence Holliman and Mel Brown. Listening to the spiritual feeling of the opening original "Mother Angel," and his T-Bone Walker tribute "In Memory of T-Bone," as Limina's hauntingly beautiful tribute to Maxwell ""Elegy For a Bluesman, and Earl's own "Blues For David Maxwell,” makes this evident. One also must note the responsiveness of Limina and the excellence of the rhythm section throughout.

Diane Blue has developed into an outstanding, soulful singer first heard here on the Earl-Blue original "Kismet," with its spiritual message, followed by a lengthy rendition of Otis Rush's 'Double Trouble," on which Earl again revisits one of his musical inspirations with both Limina and Earl taking lengthy solos. There is a surprising, bluesy rendition of the Gladys Knight and the Pips hit "Imagination," a nice reading of "You Don't Know Me," owing more to Ray Charles than Eddy Arnold, before the album closes with a moving rendition of the classic Peppermint Harris tune (credited to Don Robey), "As the Years Go Passing By."

Ronnie Earl, in his brief notes, comments about how deep Dave Maxwell's playing was, and that observation is true about the music here. Earl extracts so much emotion with his sublime guitar playing which touches deep into the listener's heart, and the result is the superb"Maxwell Street."

I received my review copy from a publicist. This review originally appeared in the September-October 2016 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 368). Here is a video teaser for Maxwell Street.


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Uh Oh! It's Lou Caputo Not So Big Band

Lou Caputo Not So Big Band
Uh Oh!
JazzCat 47 Records

Lou Caputo's Not So Big Band is a working big band that has 12 pieces, not the typical sixteen piece or larger variety. It has been together for over ten years playing various venues in New York City. Caputo is a multi-instrumentalist heard here on various saxophones and flute who has played in various show bands ranging from Motown to Harry Connick Jr, as well as Howard Johnson's 5 Bari Saxophone Group (Beartones), Warren Smith's Jazz Composer's Orchestra and the Ellington and Basie bands.

Others in the Not So Big Band include percussionist Eddie Montalvo (Grammy nominee, Latin Grammy winner, Fania All-Stars), saxophonist Virginia Mayhew (Saxophone Journal Saxophonist of the Year), trumpeter John Eckart (performed with Toshiko Akiyoshi and Lee Konitz), legendary bassist and jazz author Bill Crow (performed with Gerry Mulligan and Phil Woods), Geoffrey Burke (performs with Harry Connick Jr.) and percussionist and vibraphonist Warren Smith who has performed with everyone from John Cage and Gil Evans to Barbra Streisand. I am most familiar with Smith's work and also guitarist Joel Perry who I met decades ago in Buffalo (and who also spent years playing second guitar behind legendary blues man, Johnny 'Clyde' Copeland).

This is a marvelous swinging modern big band recording with some terrific renditions of jazz staples from the pens of Joe Henderson, Leo Wright, Jack DeJohnette, Oliver Nelson, Bill Crow, Chick Corea Tadd Dameron, Dexter Gordon, Mary Lou Williams and others. The disc kicks off with a driving rendition of Henderson's "Black Nile," that Caputo takes the first solo with his robust baritone sax followed by Perry's fleet guitar against Geoffrey Burke's arrangement. Trombonist Jason Ingram contributed and arranged the Latin jazz original "Los Cielos De Ayer," with Caputo on soprano, with other solos from trumpeter Dave Smith and guitarist Perry. Don Elliot's composed title track was apparently a popular number by the Nutty Squirrels. The loping groove and sound of the reeds give it a somewhat cool flavor with Warren Smith taking the first solo on vibes, followed by Kohn Eckert's nice middle range trumpet, Caputo's brawny baritone and a short bass solo from Crow.

Leo Wright's "Midnight in Berlin," is a  favorite selection with the late Chris White's arrangement and Caputo's outstanding alto (suggestive of John Handy) lending this a Mingus-like feel, with pianist Don Smith and Warren Smith adding solos. A Caribbean carnival feel marks the ebullient rendition of DeJohnette's "Festival" with Caputo's airy flute showcased along with the alto sax of Geoffrey Burke, drummer Mike Campenni before guitarist Perry's acoustic guitar leads to the close. Ryan Krewer's arrangement for "Stolen Moments" gives it a fresh sound as does Caputo's use of soprano and the performance also has Dale Turk's tuba solo. Chick Corea's "Guijara," is another latin flavored number with Caputo on flute (with trumpet like lines) followed by Perry's fiery electric guitar (evoking a jazzy Santana perhaps) and then some wonderful trombone from Ingram (set against Chris Rinaman's marvelous arrangement).

Bill Whited provided arrangements for the lovely rendition of Tadd Dameron's "If You Could See Me Now" (with marvelous ballad playing by Caputo on the baritone) and Dexter Gordon's "Fried Bananas." with Caputo on soprano, Dan Stein on piano and Virginia Mayhew on tenor sax. Virginia Mayhew arranged the closing performance, Mary Lou Williams' "Busy Busy Busy." Caputo is a superb player, and his Not So Big band is a sterling aggregation with a marvelous book, terrific arrangements as well as soloists and a marvelous rhythm section. The result is this excellent recording.

I received my review copy from a publicist. Here is a video of this outstanding band.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Toby Walker's Music Get's Much Mileage

Long Island's Toby Walker is among the most gifted acoustic blues and roots performers around today who has just released his latest album "Mileage." The title comes from the miles of traveling Walker has taken over the decades of his career illustrated from the stickers on his guitar case pictured on the cover. There is a nice mix of finger picking blues, some Doc Watson styled flat-picking and a Muddy Waters' cover ("She Moves Me") where his steel slide playing evoked the Black Ace.

Things get started with a delightful original co-written with Tom Griffith, "Seven-Dy Wonder," a humorous reworking of having a woman every day of the week theme with superb Piedmont styled guitar followed by a slightly rebranding of a classic Blind Lemon Jefferson recording, "See My Grave Is Swept Clean." "Jimmy Brown The Newsboy," is one of several numbers that have him in an old-timey/bluegrass/Irish folk mode reminiscent of Doc Watson, which similar wonderful picking on "Daly's Reel/Stoney Lonesome" and "Temperance Reel." Mookie Wilson's "My Baby Owns A Whiskey Store" is a delightful blues romp about having a new baby who takes care of Toby's needs since "he don't have to buy no more," set against a brisk, propulsive accompaniment.

Toby says he "can hardly get through without cracking up," when he performs Tim Wallace's "You Don't Really Care," and listening to this one wonders how many takes it took to record this delightful performance. It is followed by a classic honky-tonk styled country number, "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke." A brisk "Shortnin' Bread" is followed by a solo, acoustic rendition of Tiny Powell's recording' "My Time After A While." The original 45 was covered for Chess by Buddy Guy who copied Johnny Heartsman's guitar playing on Powell's original. Walker sounds vocally a bit like John Hammond here.

Other pleasures include another Walker-Griffith collaboration, "Shakin' Her Bacon," with amusing, slightly naughty lyrics with his strutting accompaniment, a lively interpretation of Fats Waller's "Lulu's Back In Town, the melancholy ballad "Delia," and the hokum fun of "You're Gonna Look Like A Monkey When You Get Old," where Walker's slide playing sounds like he is in a Western Swing group. It is an exhilarating close to an album of diverse and varied material that is superbly performed. This marvelous recording can be purchased from Toby directly,, as well as better retailers.

I received my copy directly from Toby. This review was written for Jazz & Blues Report which I do not believe has run it it and I apologize for not posting this review earlier. Here is Toby in live performance.


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Pennsylvania Blues Festival Celebrates 25 Years Of Pocono Blues.

 Ronnie Baker Brooks is one of this year's headliners

September 16, 17 & 18, 2016, blues returns to the Split Rock Resort in Lake Harmony, Pennsylvania for the Pennsylvania Blues Festival. Among the acts on the two stages at this year's Festival will be Ronnie Baker Brooks with special guest Eddie Clearwater, Zac Harmon, Ronnie Earl, Toronzo Cannon, The Delmark Chicago Blues Revue and Gaye Adegbalola & the Wild Rutz.
It was August 1 and 2 of 1992 when the Big Boulder Ski Resort hosted the very first Pocono Blues Festival with a lineup that consisted of Son Seals, Lonnie Brooks, Kenny Neal, Big Jack Johnson & the Oilers, Willie Kent & the Gents with Bonnie Lee, Johnny “Clye” Copeland, Bobby Radcliffe, The Bob Margolin Blues Band, George “Mojo” Buford, The Clarence Spady Band, Queen Bee and the Blue Hornets, and the The Dukes of Destiny. I first attended the Pocono Blues Festival in 1994 for the third festival whose lineup included Johnny Clyde Copeland, Denise LaSalle, Carol Fran & Clarence Holliman, Larry McCray, Sugar Blue, Billy Boy Arnold with Bob Margolin, Long John Hunter, Honeyboy Edwards, Fruteland Jackson, Fenton Robinson and others.

For 19 years Big Boulder hosted what became known as the Blues Lover's Blues Festival. Most every significant blues act (many no longer with us) with the exception of B.B. King performed at the Festival including Buddy Guy, Luther Allison, Guitar Shorty, Lowell Fulson, Little Milton, Otis Rush, koko Taylor, Saffire-The Uppity Blues Women, Shemekia Copeland, Ruth Brown, Smokey Wilson, Mavis Staples, Jerry McCain, Eddie Clearwater, Trudy Lynn, Robert Lockwood Jr, Phillip Walker, Bobby bland, Artie 'Blues Boy' White, Texas Johnnie Brown, Long John Hunter, Otis Clay, Irma Thomas, Marva Wright and many more.

After 19 Festivals, the owners of Big Boulder decided for a change in the off-season activities and the Festival, rechristened the Pennsylvania Blues Festival moved to Blue Mountain Ski Area for 4 years and presented such performers as Otis Clay, Shemekia Copeland, Lil' Ed&The Blues Imperials, Magic Slim &The Teardrops, Kenny Neal, Bettye LaVette, Brooks Family Dynasty, Billy Branch & The Sons of Blues with Lurrie Bell, Demetria Taylor & Carlos Johnson, Joe Louis Walker, Teeny Tucker, Otis Taylor, Eugene Hideaway Bridges, Corey Harris, Bobby Rush, Ruthie Foster, Sista Monica, John Primer, Alexis P Suter, Guy Davis, Eddie & Vaan Shaw, James Cotton, Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters, Barbara Carr, Jarekus Singleton and many more. Then in 2015 the Festival moved to Split Rock with a line-up that included Shemekia Copeland, Lil' Ed &The Blues Imperials, Walter "Wolfman" Washington & the Roadmasters, John Nemeth, Victor Wainwright & the Wild Roots, Sugar Ray & the Bluetones, Selwyn Birchwood, Vaneese Thomas, and Dwayne Dopsie & the Zydeco Hellraisers.
Mikey Junior Revue helps the Festival Get Underway. Here he is seen from 2015 Festival

This is an impressive history of performers that will be celebrated by this year's event. Friday night's line-up in the Split Rock Galleria Governor's Ballroom features the Mikey Junior Revue starring the marvelous harmonica player and his band and a number of blues performers from the Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey and Northern Delaware region. It should be quite an enjoyable early evening event for blues enthusiasts.

On Saturday the Festival gets into full swing. At 11;00 AM in the Galleria Governor's Ballroom, Ronnie Earl will offer a guitar master class (separate charge will apply). At 1;00PM, Slam Allen opens the Main Stage with his highly entertaining set. The guitarist and vocalist fronted James Cotton's band for a number of years and on his own puts on a superb live show. Reviewing his album "Feel These Blues" I wrote "There is nothing fancy about Slam Allen with his rocking, B.B. King influenced guitar and his strong vocals. His vocals strike me as his greatest strength although he is no slouch as a guitarist." Up next on the main stage is Zac Harmon. Harmon, a former winner of the International Blues Challenge, certainly has established himself on the blues circuit, becoming a favorite attraction, especially on the Festival circuit, with his hot guitar, varied repertoire and gospel-soul rooted vocals.

 Zac Harmon always puts on a great show

Pianist Anthony Geraci may be best known for being with Sugar Ray & the BluetOnes, but last year he put together a wonderful album with the Boston Blues All Stars and they follow Zac Harmon on the main stage. Reviewing his Delta Groove release "50 Shades of Blue" I wrote "Anthony Geraci is a first-rate blues songwriter and a terrific keyboard player." I expect his live revue will certainly be as entertaining as that terrific recording. Geraci is followed by Kenny Neal who will bring us his his own very personal style, rooted in the swamp blues of his father Raful and the likes of Slim Harpo. A threat on guitar, lap steel and vocals, Kenny Neal always delivers strong deep blues.

Closing the Main Stage on Saturday will be the high energy blues of Ronnie Bake Brooks who will have a full horn section and also special guest, Blues Hall of Fame inductee, Eddie 'The Chief' Clearwater. Son of blues legend Lonnie Brooks, Ronnie helps keep the family blues tradition alive and replaces the originally scheduled Buckwheat Zydeco who has health issues.

Guy Davis will be a highlight in Saturday's tent stage performers

In the Tent Stage will be performances by the marvelous singer-guitarist Guy Davis along with Canada's Blackburn Brothers who will be joined for one set by Harrison Kennedy. Slam Allen will also perform a set in the Text Stage. After the main festival acts conclude, there will be performances by Beareather Reddy and Zac Harmon in a special showcase at the Resort.

Gaye Adegbalola & the Wild Rutz perform at the Blues Brunch

Sunday, September 18 opens with a blues brunch that features music from Gaye Adegbalola & the Wild Rutz. Gaye, a founding member of Saffire-The Uppity Blues Women, founded this vocal quartet (with occasional guitar and percussion accompaniment) that is focused on their marvelous vocals and harmonies. There debut VizzTone album "Is It Still Good to Ya?" only hints at how wonderful this group is.

After the brunch folks can head to the Main Stage for the spectacular sacred steel of The Campbell Brothers who present the opening Sunday afternoon gospel blues set. They are followed by the Andy T Nick Nixon Band bring the solid guitar playing of Andy T and the strong vocals of Nick Nixon. About this Nashville based band, and their debut recording on Delta Groove, "Drink Drank Drunk," I wrote "Andy T impresses with his fluidity, tone and taste while Nixon brings pretty of heart and soul to his nuanced vocals." I am looking forward to finally hearing this band.

Alligator artist Toronzo Cannon plays today's Chicago Blues

Chicago takes over the main stage next with Toronzo Cannon whose Alligator album, "The Chicago Way" is getting much well-deserved praise. Cannon, who is a bus driver in Chicago, brings together his life experiences and what he observes to his powerful songs. After two terrific albums on Delmark, he signed with Alligator and about "The Chicago Way" I wrote, "As a songwriter, as well as a singer-guitarist, Toronzo Cannon brings grit and passion. His playing is varied ranging from blues-rock to jazzy flavored while his singing is robust resulting in the mostly compelling performances here. "The Chicago Way" is one of most striking recent new blues releases."

Following Cannon will be the Delmark Chicago Revue featuring The Mike Wheeler Band with Jimmy Burns & Peaches Staten. Wheeler is a wonderful singer-guitarist who brings in a deep dish of soul and funk to his blues. A veteran of Big James Montgomery and the Chicago Playboys, his 2013 Delmark debut "Self Made Man" was quite impressive and indicated a very distinctive talent. Appearing with Wheeler is the marvelous singer-guitarist Jimmy Burns who also mixes rhythm and blues with his Chicago (and delta) blues roots. Vocalist Staten is a tough vocalist with influences from Koko Taylor, Mavis Staples and Etta James amongst others. She had a wonderful album on the short-lived Swississippi Records label that Mike Wheeler played on.

Ronnie Earl closes Sunday's Main Festival Stage

The Main Stage closes with Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters.Earl's career included stints in Sugar Ray & the Blue Notes, then replacing Duke Robillard in Roomful of Blues before his own solo career leading the Broadcasters. Among the most accomplished guitarists, Earl is not simply known as a virtuoso, but a player of impeccable taste, tone, nuance and imagination. Recently listening to some of the legendary Earl Hooker's club recordings, Earl was one of the few contemporary guitarists who evokes Hooker's style without copying or imitating. His most recent recording was a tribute to Otis Rush and Magic Sam, and his sterling playing on it similarly calls to mine their originals while coming out as all Ronnie Earl.

The Tent stage opens with Harrison Kennedy for the first of his two sets. Kennedy a former member of The chairman of the Board is a compelling singer and astute songwriter. Also performing with be singer saxophonist Vanessa Collier who this writer has heard great things about along with additional sets from The Campbell Brothers and the Andy T Nick Nixon Band.

Michael Cloeren, who puts together the Festival, has certainly does it again with this sterling line-up. For more information on the Pennsylvania Blues Festival including videos of the performers, ticket and lodging information, visit

It should be noted that six weeks after the Pennsylvania Blues Festival, Split Rock will host the first Pennsylvania Music Festival. Also produced by Michael Cloeren, this festival brings a variety of performers from assorted musical genres including blues, roots rock, bluegrass and the like. Notable performers of interest to blues fans includes the zydeco of CJ Chenier & The Red Hot Louisiana Band, the riveting singing of Alexis Suter, and the blues-rock of Devon Allman and the Royal Southern Brotherhood. Other performers include the country roots rock of Girls, Gun and Glory, and roots-rock songwriter Paul Thorn. For more information on the Pennsylvania Music Festival visit

This preview of the Festival appeared originally in the July-August 2016 Jazz & Blues Report. There are more videos of the performers and a more detailed preview of the Festival on the Festival's website which is linked above. One month from the date of this post, the Festival will be in full swing.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Fuernado Huergo's Swinging Hashtag

Fernando Huergo
Zoho Music

Currently a professor at Berklee School of Music, Argentine-born bassist Fernando Huergo brings the tango as well as the folkloric music (including the chacerera 6/8 folkloric rhythm) of his native land together with the American Jazz he also grew up listening to his seventh recording and label debut for Zoho. As quoted in Bill Milkowski's liner notes, "I’m from Argentina, I love the music from there, is in my blood. I love Astor Piazzolla and I love folklore music, but I also love Duke, Monk, Mingus and Benny Golson and all the jazz greats. So I tried to combine those things and create something hopefully interesting.”

With his electric bass and group of Yulia Musayelyan on flute, Rick DiMuzio on tenor sax, Leo Genovese on piano and Fender Rhodes and Franco Pinna on drums, Huergo provides 8 originals and four interpretations from Thelonious Monk, Wayne Shorter, Mongo Santamaria and Billy Strayhorn. "Hashtag" is a diverse program of swinging grooves and moods wonderfully played with the leader's bass anchoring the music. The Argentinian rhythms provide accents underpinning the performances here starting with the opening title track with Genovese's Fender Rhodes and Pinna's touch and rhythms provide a base for Huergo's scintillating solo followed by DiMuzio's robust tenor. Throughout, the blending of sax and Musayelyan's flute lends a delightful flavor. Genovese (who I first was exposed to as part of Jack DeJohnette's Quartet with Joe Lovano and Esperanza Spalding), also dazzles here.

The twelve song program mixes the leader's wonderful originals with interpretations of some classic and less familiar compositions including a fresh rendition of Monk's "Evidence" which opens as a duet with Pinna before the horns state the theme with clipped phrasing followed by some stunning piano from Genovese. Huergo's ballad "Cerca (To Fran and Clara)" opens with statement of the theme from the horns with a lovely flute solo from Musayelyan and Pinna is employing brushes. "Troesma" has more lovely voicings, as well as incorporating tango rhythms from the horns on the head with the flute sounding more probing and insistent here (and there is nice counterpoint exchanges on the main theme between her and DuMuzio here) while Genovese dazzles with his technique and imagination. Wayne Shorter's lovely "Infant Eyes" showcases the leader's virtuosity on the electric bass (Jaco Pastorius is obviously a major influence on him) as well as his arranging skills, while again the quintet freshly interprets Mongo Santamaria's "Afro Blue."

The album includes tributes to Weather Report ("Weather") and Astor Piazzolla ("Astor") and closes with a choice performance of Billy Strayhorn's "U.M.M.G. (Upper Manhattan Medical Group)." It is easy to recommend "Hashtag" with its mix of strong and varied compositions, scintillating arrangements, strong solos and marvelous ensemble playing.

I received my review copy from a publicist. This review originally appeared in the July-August Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 367). Here is a video of Fernando Huergo performing.


Thursday, June 02, 2016

Falls Church Hosts the Blues June 10-12

The Annual Tinner Hill Blues Festival returns to the City of Falls, Church Virginia starting on Friday June 10 and running through June 12. Presented by The Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation, the weekend has programs for hard core blues lovers as well as families and folks looking for a terrific time.

The Festivities include a juried Art Show, "The Blues In Paris," at Art and Frame of Falls Church at 205 W. Jefferson St. From 5 to 8 PM, there is a free kickoff reception at Applebee's located at 127 E Broad St. Appearing at theh erecption will be one of the DC area's favorite blues artists, Memphis Gold.  At 8:00PM there is the fabulous ticketed show, Blues & Soul Divas with Mable John, Trudy Lynn, and Gaye Adegbalola with the Wild Rūtz at the State Theatre (Doors open at 7:00PM). I have already previewed this show, Several Falls Church clubs are also presenting blues that evening.

Saturday, June 11 opens with some free blues music being presented at the weekly Falls Church Farmer's Market. Also taking place on Saturday Morning will be a workshop "History of Women in Blues" that will be presented by Gaye Adegbalola at 10:30 AM in the Falls Church Community Center. 11:30AM at the Mary Stiles Library there will be a participatory book reading and sing along with "Emily Sings"and at 11:30AM there will be a Mini-Film Festival at the Community Center including “John Jackson: a Blues Treasure”, Award winning documentary on the life and music of John Jackson, and "E. B. Henderson" by film maker Bob Burnett, a ten minute film on how Dr. E.B. Henderson was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

Cherry Hill Park itself hosts a day of Blues, Brew & BBQ. Gates open at noon and the program starts at 1:00PM with the opening performers being the Mike Terpak Blues Explosion. Their website describes itself, "Based out of Washington, DC, the band explodes with virtuoso guitar work by Bill Kotapish, hard driving rhythm by drummer Brian Alpert and bassist Jerry Stewart, and dynamic organ and vocals by Mike Terpak. All are veterans of popular local, regional and national bands, like Jimmy Thackery and the Assassins, Tom Principato Band, Bob Margolin, However, and The Hitmen." Here is a sample of their music.

Next Musical act with be Carly Harvey and Kiss & Ride. Carly Havey is a terrific jazz-infused, blues and soul vocalist.  Her band Kiss & Ride is is a high energy blues ensemble lead by Carly Harvey. They strive to extend blues to younger audiences to bridge the age gap between blues aficionados.It performs a combination of originals, blues standards, and cool bluesy arrangements of current popular music.

Charlie Sayles & the Blues Disciples featuring Tony Fazio follows with a set spotlighting the distinctive blues harmonica and vocals of Charlie Sayles. Since being discovered playing on the streets of Manhattan decades ago, Sayles has taken his blues from off teh street into clubs and festivals around the world, and his current Blues Disciples include guitarist Tony Fazio, providing simple, solid support for Sayles very personal songs and Mississippi saxophone explorations by Sayles.

Once a mid-teen guitar sensation, Andy Poxon has won the praises of the likes of Duke Robillard and Mark Wenner as he has matured and grown as a singer and guitarist. Of his most recent recording, "Must Be Crazy" I observed that his "continual growth and maturity as a guitarist and a singer is established right away. here is someone who has listened to vintage B.B. King, Pee Wee Crayton, Tiny Grimes, T-Bone Walker and the like and brings a lot of heart and personality to his vocals …" He is a terrific performer whose star is definitely on the ascenscion.

About 50 years ago among the first blues albums I purchased were John Lee Hooker's Live at "The Cafe Au Go-Go"and Otis Spann's "The Blues Is Where It's At." The backing band on both was the Muddy Waters Blues band, and the bassist at the time was one Mac Arnold. After spending some in time in Chicago, Arnold moved to the West Coast where he continued his musical career. After retiring from show business to be an organic farmer, Mac is back with his own band and a "plate full" of music, building a new foundation in blues, soul and funk.His band consists Austin Brashier on guitar and vocals, Max Hightower on keyboards, harmonica, guitar, bass, and vocals, Tez Sherard on drums and vocals, and Mac Arnold on vocals, bass and Gas Can Guitars, and have been touring clubs and Festivals with his own brand of music. Writing about his 2010 release Backbones & Gristle I observed "Arnold  has an appealing baritone with a natural  delivery, and he gets solid support … [and the album was] full of intriguing originals (mostly by Arnold), heartfelt singing and songs, and first-rate musicianship."

Closing the musical performances this afternoon is the sensational Victor Wainwright & the WildRoots. Wainwright is a multiple Blues Music Award winner, having been chosen piano player of the year in 2013 and 2014 and more recently the Entertainer of the Year and Blues Band of the Year in 2016. A Savannah, Georgia native, his mix of boogie woogie, country honk and blues piano makes for some rollicking music and with his band he is an exciting live performer in addition to a strong singer.

After the music ends at Cherry Hill Park, there will be a blues crawl at various Falls Church venues. Performes for the Blues Crawl include JC & Lava Lamps at Ireland's 4 Provinces; Tom Yoder at Clare & Don's Beach Shack; Southbound Steele (Rick Steele & Charles Solomon) at Argia's along with mini pop up concerts at surprise locations in the City of Falls Church.

Sunday June 12, there will be an Old Fashioned Blues Gospel Concert & Picnic. Bring a blanket, lawn chair and picnic. There will be Free tea and lemonade. It will feature the NENO Project, plus outstanding church choirs, others tba.It takes place from 2 to 5 PM at the Tinner Hill Historic Site & Park, 108 Tinner Hill St. in Falls Church.

The Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation in part celebrates the civil rights heritage of the first rural NAACP chapter.  For more information on the Festival visit

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Jonn Del Toro Richardson Tengo Blues

Jonn Del Toro Richardson is likely best known as guitarist with the terrific singer, Diunna Greenleaf. He also collaborated with Rich DelGrosso for a warmly received recording. "Tengo Blues" is a solid new self-produced recording by him that is distributed by VizzTone. This was recorded in Austin and produced by Jonn and Anson Funderburgh, who also plays on three selections. The band backing Jonn includes Nick Connolly on keyboards, Nathan Rowe on bass, Wes Starr on drums and the Texas Horns with Kaz Kazanoff. The leader wrote all 13 songs, with Gary Vincent and Anson Funderburgh each contributing to two songs.

Ax expected from both Del Toro Richardson's playing and the band assembled here, one has some nicely played songs that cover a variety of musical textures and flavors. He comes across as quite an appealing vocalist. A good singer, Del Toro Richardson sings honestly and with heart while laying down plenty of strong guitar. There is an almost Koko Taylor groove for "I'm Her Man," which is a celebration of his guitar as he sings he can make her laugh, cry, moan and sigh. "Love If You Want It," is not the Slim Harpo number but an original that is built on a lazy Jimmy Reed shuffle groove. "Triple Lindig" is a jazzy instrumental (very nice guitar) with Connolly on organ and horns adding to the flavor of this performance and followed by the Tex-Mex flavor of "The Moment" with the Texas Horns adding a mariachi feel along with some superb trumpet.

A Memphis funk groove is present on "Can't Run From Love," with a catchy lyric that "you don't find love, love finds you." "Get Me Back To Texas," one of the songs which Anson Funderburgh is present has a groove that evokes Hound Dog Taylor. "This I Know" is a swamp pop ballad the performance of which sounds like a Gulf Coast adaptation of a Charles Brown number and has a nicely played and paced guitar solo, while "Tell Me Pretty Baby" is updated T-Bone Walker styled jump blues with terrific guitars from both and "Wild Ride" is bluesy rock and roll with Connolly's rollicking piano coming off like Johnnie Johnson.

The title track, "Tengo Blues" is a splendid organ-guitar instrumental with a latin groove that displays Del Toro Richardson's inventive, fiery playing as Rowe and Starr provide a crisp groove with a touch of a latin accent. With solid production and marvelous Performances, "Tengo Blues" is a fine showcase for Jonn Del Toro Richardson's considerable talent.

I received my copy from the record company. This review originally appeared in the March-April 2016  Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 365) on page 16 (you can download the issue at, although I have made a few stylistic changes from that review. Here is Jonn Jonn Del Toro Richardson in performance, and if this doesn't knock you out, I do not know what will.