Twin City based Blue Moon continues issuing interesting blues from Minneapolis-St. Paul. A new release by LaVerne “Lady Blue” Johnson, Shady Lady, is a debut by a former Ikette. It is comprised mostly of her originals, although several songs allude to other, familiar, songs. Examples include Winds Beneath My Wings (a blues with the title taken from the song for which Bette Midler won a Grammy) and Your Man and Mine (which reminds one of You Can Have My Husband But Please Don’t Mess With My Man).
Lady Blues’ strength is as a singer, and she has a winning way of phrasing a lyric. My only criticism is the backing is too generic. It may be the engineering, and while drummer Bron Westland sets a groove, he comes off stiff and heavy. Bill Connor’s honking sax is one-dimensional and he sounds like he plays in overly loud bands. While Jay Doughty’s guitar is solid, Ivan Wallace’s solo on Your Man and Mine is too busy.
My criticisms should be taken in context. Lady Blue is a real talent and the backing is never less than workmanlike, but she would be better suited to a jazzier backing. Still this is an impressive, if imperfect, debut, and available from Blue Moon Records, PO Box 581364, Minneapolis MN 55458 if unavailable elsewhere.
This review originally appeared in the October 1994 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 195). I likely received a review copy of the CD from Blue Moon which may now be known as Cold Wind Records. Amazon sells this as a CD-R as well as a download and it is available as a download also on itunes.