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November 2012 CD Reviews  

 Claude Hay


How do I describe the sound of Australian singer/guitarist Claude Hay?  How about this, in a blender put equal parts of Cry of Love, Brother Kane, a couple of scoops of Billy Squire and a dash of Cheap Trick.  But Ron, those are all rocker dudes!  That’s because that is what this CD is for the most part.  It is a great CD that has Hayes moving away from traditional Blues and back to his love of Rock.  A lot of the stuff skirts the Blues and some of it steps right in it.  I will highlight the bluesier stuff for you.

“Stone Face” is structured around the acoustic slide guitar and it grows on me every time I listen to it.  Hay sings “Stone Faced Worker, Don’t Care Do You - Retail Murder, - They Just Want Your Money Now.”  The stomper “Narrow Mind” is true Blues where Hay speaks to the narrow mindedness of the people in charge and tells us its time for a change and a new face. “Blues Train” is a speed demon of a song that has some fast picking on what sounds like a banjo.  I’m not sure because I see no banjo listed in the notes but I do see that Hay makes some of his own instruments.  The sitar is listed but come on?  I found a slightly striped down version of the Beatles “Come Together” to be quite appealing.  The Funk of “Turn It Up” closes out this CD.  Turn it up indeed, the Funk infused with some killer slide and a monster guitar solo, has this one going over the top!  Hay tells us to turn it up, I did and played it again!

Hay wrote, arranged and produced everything except “Come Together.”  He also played all the instruments and did all the vocals except for three guest musicians playing in four spots. If you are anything like me and grew up a child of Rock (I didn’t get fully infused with the Blues until the early 90’s) and then found the Blues, you will love this CD.


Ron Hoerter


 Mitch Woods 


I was excited when I saw this package arrive in the mail. Just a couple months earlier, Mitch Woods had performed at the Big Bull Falls Blues Festival here in my hometown of Wausau, Wisconsin.  I’m sure Mr. Woods made a lot of new fans that night as I don’t ever remember him playing in this area before.  I have been a fan for years and was really looking forward to his performance, I was not disappointed.  For what ever reason this past year, Big Bull had a tent post right in the middle of the stage where the lead performer would be, Woods just moved his keyboard over and went to town with his set.  He even used the pole for a prop when he danced around it later in the show.  He could have let this upset him but he incorporated it into the show and had fun with it.  That word fun, describes Mitch Woods and his music to a tee.  Fun, fun, fun!!

Woods mixes Boogie Woogie, Jump Blues, Swing and New Orleans Rhythm and Blues into a tasty Gumbo for all to enjoy! “Solid Gold Cadillac” starts things off and you know you are in for a treat. “Down Boy Down” features some hot sax work by Amadee Castenell.  Take a trip down to New Orleans on “Mojo Mombo” where Woods channels Professor Longhair. “Boogie Woogie Bar-B-Q” is pretty self explanatory, man am I hungry!

“I Got A New Car” is a tongue in cheek stroll through the aspects of owning a new car and then realizing you don’t have enough money left to even eat properly.  The swinging “Queen Bee” features Adam Gabriel on a scorching guitar solo. “Crawfishin’” will have you chair dancing!  A fifties Rock feel is what you will find on” Long Lean And Lanky.”

Things get changed up a little on” Third Degree” with some deep Blues guitar and vocals by bass player Cornell Williams.  This song reminded me of the late great Luther Allison’s “Bad Love.”  Jackie Brenston’s “Rocket 88” is considered to be the first Rock & Roll song.  Woods and crew do it that justice and more! “In The Night/Lambaya Puf De” just boogies along and then following a drum solo by Larry Vann, morphs into the traditional Turkish song. “House of Blue Lights” is a fine way to close out the show and damn, I’m still hungry!

The accompanying DVD gives you a great look behind the curtain at the bands trip and show in Istanbul.  Like I said…fun, fun, fun!!


Ron Hoerter


 Johnny Mastro & Mama's Boys's


Southern California’s Johnny Maestro & Mama’s Boys serve up a smorgasbord of Blues in this outing. There is a raw gutbucket feeling to this CD no matter what style of song the boys are playing.  Track number one is “Luke’s Stomp,” this acoustic track builds up energy as it rolls along.  By the end of the song, all you can think is where is this going to take me?  “Thunder Roll” is kind of an Industrial, Alternative dirty take on the Blues.  Like a high speed car chase” Knee High” grabs a hold of you and takes you for a thrilling three minute ride!  The more traditional sounding “Junker’s Blues” leads you right into the fast paced acoustic“Mr. JJ’s Man.”  The strumming guitar and harp playing will have you stomping your foot. 

The hard drivin’ “Hurt” is a real guitar/harp grinder that will leave you wanting more.“Tonight We Ride” is an Elmore James style slide piece.  A little off of the beaten path is how I would describe “The Light.”  The slide driven rocker “Francine” will put people on the dance floor.  We shift gears again with the haunting acoustic track “Spider. “Roller Coaster” is a little acoustic instrumental gem.  The sweet harp and blending of the vocals push “My Rocket” while the guitar solo takes it even higher.  The CD closes out with “Temperature,” another off the beaten track type song, with a guitar solos from some other planet!

Along with Mastro on harp and vocals, the band is made up of Smokehouse Brown on guitar, Mike Hightower on bass and Jim Goodall on drums.  Special guests include Peter Atanasoff on guitar, Kirk Fletcher on guitar, Scott Abeyta on guitar, Max Bangwell on drums and percussion and percussionist Lisa Cee.  I gave this CD a first listen while sitting around the campfire at night and listening to it now brought me right back to that night a few months ago. Vivid images with a sound track as good as this.  People, this is the real deal go check it out!


Ron Hoerter


 Joanne Shaw Taylor


Joanne Shaw Taylor has always leaned way more toward Rock than Blues.  Well I am here to tell you she has now fallen over.  I am quickly reminded of Taylor’s guitar shredding ability, when the opening track “Soul Station” kicks into high gear.  I smell scorched air coming out of my speakers. The mid tempo “Beautifully Broken” is a song that I could see getting airplay in many different radio formats.  I feel the same way about “You Should Stay, I Should Go,” a song in which Taylor sings about a failed relationship that she is taking responsibility for.  You can hear the Hendrix influence in the rhythm guitar on “Piece Of The Sky” and the combination of the vocals and guitar solo, make you feel like you are soaring up in the sky!

I suppose the acoustic “Army Of One” could be described as a Blues song but I don’t really feel it quite that way.  It feels more to me like an acoustic Folk jam, with some great mandolin playing by David Garza.  Garza also does all the keyboard work on this CD and sets the organ bed on “Jealousy.”  Taylor sings “I can’t rid myself of jealousy – Jealousy it’s thick as mud - It’s in my veins – It’s in my blood.”  The combination of the organ, vocal and guitar solo is just plain haunting!  On “Almost Always Never” you are reminded about how things used to be and how you thought soon things are going to change.  Looking back, maybe it wasn’t so bad?  “You crash, you burn – But you’ll live and you’ll learn.” “Tied & Bound” just rocks from beginning to end and is my favorite song on the CD.  The organ and guitar solos just push this tune into the stratosphere!

“A Hand In Love” is upbeat and a little on the Pop side but the guitar solo is Blues. I keep feeling that “Standing To Fall” is going to build and build until I get this monster guitar solo.  It teases me, teases me some more and then does just that!  I’m not quite sure how to describe “Maybe Tomorrow” but I really like it and there is really a lot going on in this song.  Of course the guitar is the driving force. “Lose Myself To Loving You” is a beautiful ballad that closes out this CD and the title says it all. 

Other contributing artists are Billy White on Bass and acoustic slide along with J.J. Johnson on drums.  Joanne Shaw Taylor played our 2011 Blues Café’ and she just ripped it up.  The social network commentary and videos of the show that were posted, buried the other artists on the bill by a huge amount. I know she made a lot of fans that night.  Those fans and all fans of Joanne Shaw Taylor will find a lot to like here, just like I did.  If you are just an average Blues fan and are not familiar with her work, this will probably rock too much.


Ron Hoerter  




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