Thursday, February 23, 2012

Can't Keep Sista Monica Down

One of the most impressive blues performers of the past decade has been Sista Monica Parker. She certainly can belt out a vocal, but also can powerfully deliver a lyric without raising her voice, and she has always led terrific bands. Word that she had overcome serious health issues was certainly welcomed by knowing blues fans and she has another superb new recording on the Mo Muscle label, Can’t Keep a Good Woman Down.

In addition to her regular band, anchored by Danny B. Ceconcini on keyboards, there are guest appearances by Larry McCray and Chris Cain on guitar. She presents us with a program of 11 originals (well one is a James Brown adaptation) and two covers to show that the “lioness of the blues” is back and as strong as ever.

Sista Monica at 1997 DC Blues Festival. Photo © Ron Weinstock
The title track and the closing, It’s Good to Be Alive, obviously relate to her overcoming her recent health problems. Cookin’ With Grease is a rocking, funky number that has her recall her musical roots and lets folks know that when the groove is right, you really are “cooking with grease,” while Put It in the Crock Pot is a funky tribute to James Brown and the JB’s that the Godfather would likely appreciate. Both Willie Nelson’s Funny How Time Slips Away and Sam Cooke’s A Change Is Gonna Come, have been recorded extensively. Her performance of the Cooke classic is solid but she really puts more of her stamp on Funny, with her delivery of the lyric.

Songs like Show Me What You’re Working With, Put Your Money Where Your Mouth, The Truth and The Bigger They Are the Harder They Fall, certainly represent what Solomon Burke once described as “the woman of today” who doesn’t take nonsense from her partner. This is not to say that Sista Monica cannot be romantic as she caresses the lyric of Leave the Door Open and Surrender to Love.

Sista Monica is as compelling a vocalist as anyone in the blues and with this disc has added to her substantial body of recordings. This will be among my favorites of the year and is highly recommended.

This review appeared in slightly different form in the September-October 2005 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 276) and the August 2005 DC Blues Calendar, and my review copy was provided by Sista Monica. Sista Monica is still putting out some great music. Her most recent album is Living In The Danger Zone band information on her music can be found at My review copy was provided by Sista Monica.  Below is Sista Monica performing.

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