Monday, April 02, 2018

Charlie & The Bluescats Spring Tour 2018 Dordrecht

I know I said I'd be in Edam, punks. Turns out I got diverted to Dordrecht for a couple of reasons, one of them being that I had an invitation for the Ana Popovic's gig in the very same town on March 31st. As the guys were playing Jazzpodium DJS on the previous night, I decided to stay a few days in that beautiful old place. And I'm glad I did so, it was a wonderful experience. Now, back to business, punks. It didn't surprise me the great performance the guys put out there on stage on that Friday evening. As most of you punks know, a good band can only get better on the road. In fact, as performing artists and musicians, Charlie & The Bluescats came nowhere short of what I witnessed on Saturday on Ana's gig, and my message to all you punk promoters out there is: GET THEM CHEAP WHILE YOU STILL CAN! Business bullshit aside, the friendly audience that attended DJS premises on that Friday, March 30th, got an amazingly good bang for the buck performance from one of the best traditional electric Blues acts I've seen in recent years. The band was even tighter than in Monster, and if, on one hand, it sounds professional, on the other there's a perfect balance between that and the excellent craftmanship at managing emotions through dynamics and moments of sheer Blues power. I've heard often the now sometimes infamous cliché of "Keeping The Blues Alive", but one thing I can tell you, punks, Charlie is really doing what it takes to keep the Blues alive, that is, by performing them with a real Blues feeling.

Charlie & The Bluescats Spring Tour 2018 Dordrecht was really an amazing Blues concert. The DJS Blues and jazz club looked more like a juke joint than a fancy venue that night, just by sheer force of the great Blues power emanating from Charlie & The Bluescats. As soon as I finish this I'm packing and moving to the Hengelo area, where the final concert of the tour takes place next Thursday, at Cafe De Cactus. Don't miss it, punks!

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Charlie & The Bluescats Spring Tour 2018 Monster

For the first time in this blog, I decided to review live performances. For that purpose, I left 'Frisco and headed for Europe to check out the Blues scene in The Netherlands. No coincidence that one of my favorite bands is on tour over there, Charlie & The Bluescats from Portugal. Landing in Amsterdam, after an uneventful flight, I was rescued out of Schiphol by a drummer friend of mine and we both drove about an hour to Monster, a nice village facing the North Sea. The first gig of the Spring Tour 2018 was taking place at the Klooster Kelder, part of an event center that also houses the Blues aan Zee Blues festival in November. Blues aan Zee is, by the way, one of the most prestigious Blues institutions in Europe, with monthly events and a festival. Check them out, wonderful people promoting wonderful music, punks. After a quick bite somewhere in town, we settled in the club, sharing a table with a pair of Belgium beers. For this tour, Charlie got a wonderful band together, with Miguel Costa on bass and vocals, the amazing 70 years old Lenny "Lucky" Falcon on drums and vocals, and Marc Klaassen on keyboards. The show started with I Know, included in the band's latest album Withou You, previously reviewed here. Loud, hard, and emotional, as a Blues band should sound, they got ours and everyone's attention right from the start. This is a band that sounds even better live than on record, and that is always a good thing. Charlie's inspired vocals and gutsy, no clichés lead guitar drove a steady, precise, and creative rhythmn section, together with tasteful fills and harmonies coming from the piano and the hammond. The Bluescats repertoire is a mix of excelent original songs and a few classics, crossing here and there the boundaries to soul and gospel music, with convincing and powerful vocal performances from Miguel Costa, the bass player. Great to see and hear Lenny "Lucky" Falcon on an inspired cover of ZZ Top's Jesus Just Left Chicago. Overall, excelent vocal performances, from the deep and hard electric Blues of Charlie, to the soulful rhythmn and blues of Miguel, and the rockish feeling of Lenny. On top of that, punks, let me just say that this guy Charlie can play a mean Blues guitar. Mind you, he's not into that post SRV, blues-rock, guitar hero crap that you punks see a lot around these days. Although Charlie can venture into that every now and then, most of his guitar work is pure original vintage Blues, and for me, punks, that makes my day. I'd also like to add, as a guitar freak, that Charlie's tone is as good as can be, and I was told after the gig that he used the venue's backline. Turns out that what I thought to be a garden variety Fender Deluxe Reverb '65 reissue was in fact a vintage specs copy made by Mr. Ger Bus, one of the guys from the Blues aan Zee organisation. Watch out for this amp guru, guitar player punks, to my ears it simply doesn't get better than that. And that was also Charlie's view, as he himself explained.
Charlie & The Bluescats Spring Tour 2018 first gig in Monster was an amazingly good Blues party. Check the band's tour schedule on Facebook and don't miss them if they are playing near you, punks. I'm taking a short vacation and will be back with news from Edam, the fifth gig of the tour.

Dirty Harry

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Ashley Heath and The Heathens Where Hope Never Dies (2018)

Well, here we are again, punks. This time to review the next release from the wonderful Ashley Heath. First, it's good to know that ol' soulful southern rock thang is still alive and kicking, yours truly being a big fan of The Allman Brothers Band and Little Feat, amongst others. Like those giants of yesteryears, Ashley has her own voice and style, but the infusion of blues, rock, soul, folk and country can be heard nevertheless. Great vocals, great guitars, great over all feeling, and five nice songs in this new release, out by April the 6th, I've been told. Let me tell you, punks, if she can reproduce this sound live, she'll be one of my favourite live acts this year. Great stuff, deep from the heart.
Ashley Heath and The Heathens Where Hope Never Dies is a pretty damn good EP for all those southern rockers out there, and them some. Pretty damn good bunch of songs, if you like nice music, anyhow. Run and get it, punks. NOW!!!
Dirty Harry

Friday, August 11, 2017

Pam Taylor Steal Your Heart (2017)

Did Bob Dylan sang the Blues? And how about Janis Joplin, or Tom Waits? Well, partly, but they were also singing a lot of other stuff. They were singing what we nowadays call Americana, that is, a mix of folk, country, blues, rock, and jazz, the bulwarks of american music. And that's what South Carolina born Pam Taylor is doing in this new record. You will find echos of all the people above and of a lot more, in the very finest tradition of american singer/songwritter artists. Pam uses the kiss (keep it simple, stupid) formula to great effect. In this age of guitar heros and studio production histrionics it's quite refreshing to hear such a straightforward approach to recording and production. The consequence is that you get to hear the song and vocal expression first and foremost. And that's essential because Pam displays a fine vocal performance on each and every song in this record, complemented by a tight and precise guitar playing.
Pam Taylor Steal Your Heart is a mighty fine effort in producing an all round americana album, with a bunch of excellent songs and professional performance. Go get it right now, punks!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Guilande Guilande EP (international release 2017)

Once again, punks, I find myself dealing with a non strictly Blues release. Yet, this is probably one of the best kept secrets in the music scene today. An obscure band from Portugal which features an almost obscure female singer, also Portuguese but with African roots. And this almost obscure female singer boasts one of the most powerful and soulful voices you've ever heard, punks. And I mean EVER, got it? There are four songs in this EP. Each of them with it's own character, and each of them very well tailored and crafted. My friend Leen tells me that one of the guitar players is Carlos Pereira, the Charlie in Charlie & The Bluescats, and I like his band a lot. He also writes most of the tunes in this EP. But as good as I think he is, Orlanda Guilande is the real deal. A vocal talent like you won't get easily every decade. Orlanda's voice has an incredible range, from baritone to soprano, which is absolutely fabulous for a female singer, and she does whatever she wants with it, always in perfect pitch, except when she decides to go out of pitch, which she does with absolute control. She can overdrive her voice, twist and turn it, go from soft to rough in a split second without blinking. I'm not comparing, but she can go from Mahalia to Houston easily, with all the Vaughan's and Franklin's in between. And I heard she can blow up microphones with a scream. All this delivered with amazing soulful and emotional power too. Follow the lyrics and the emotion and you'll find yourself happy and sad and everything in between according to her wishes. She can make you cry, both of sadness or joy.
Guilande EP brings you fine songs and most of all, reveals a new formidable talent in the international music scene. So you punks, general public, promoters, bookers, get it and get her ASAP. This kind of talent is truly scarce.

Dirty Harry
Nina Massara Watch Me (2017)

Well, well, well. Back from a long travel absence I found myself contemplating this photo from a danish girl with an italian name on the cover of her first album. My friend Leen sent me the stuff to see what I would make of it. Since then, I have heard the music and found out the girl loves places like New Orleans and Nashville. The plot thickened. In fact, the music tells it all and it's a mix of all the above. Sign of the modern times. A perfectly balanced, well performed and recorded album with New Orleans and country influences infused into an unmistakably bluesy atmosphere. Great musicians (I do love the guitar playing). And what about Nina? Well, she's not a blues, gospel, or country singer. And, after all, she's not american. Some would say tipically scandinavian, judging by other known female singers from that part of the world. I agree. But there's something more. Let me guess. I hear naughtiness. And that's why she can sing the blues, punks. Nina is a bad girl, not too much, just enough, that sings the blues from yonder danish fields to the Mississippi waters and Tennessee hills, and she does it in her own way, but just right.
Nina Massara's Watch Me is some twisted sort of a pearl in the blues, I mean, country, I mean New Orleans musical scene. You will dig it, punks, and you will scramble to get it. Right now! Punks!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Donald Ray Johnson and Gas Blues Band Bluesin' Around (2016)

Lawd have mercy! Aleluia Blues brother Donald and fellow Blues preachers in this outfit. The Blues sure is alive, judging by what they brought us punks recently. I never understood why there are so many people talking about keeping the Blues alive. Is the Blues dying? Damn, no, by all means, and this record is the very living proof of it. This record and thousands of others being released every year. The Blues will never die as long as there musicians who want to keep it alive. So stop winnin' about the Blues and book them musicians on your clubs and festivals. Enough preaching, punks. Donald Ray Johnson is a Blues veteran with an impressive curriculum and this wonderful record just adds to the legend. Backed by a first class European band, Donald presents us with a Blues gem. Great soulful vocals and an excellent overall performance in this record. Top shelf in any Blues collection. You can even let your hair down and dance to it, 'cause it sure sounds funky every now and then.
Donald Ray Johnson and Gas Blues Band Bluesin' Around is a must buy, punks. Don't make me chase you with my '44 Magnun. Run and GO get it right now!

Dirty Harry