CD Reviews and Articles

Moondog Medicine Show

As someone involved in music all my life, first as a young fan , then as a musician/singer/songwriter, later as a reviewer, and more recently as Programming Director of The Blues Alley an online, mobile Blues radio station, I have heard a lot of music, a whole lot of music. Some has been very good and some… not so much.

Given my own background I have always appreciated the talent, hard work and dedication required just to get a band to the point where you are able to produce a CD; even today, when it is easier than ever to self-produce, this is still an amazing accomplishment. What is so much more amazing is when the band in question produces such a singularly excellent CD right out of the gate.

Such is the case with Moondog Medicine Show and their new CD, ‘Elixir’. From the opening chords of the first song, ‘Back Door’, to the final echoes of, ‘Can I Get a Hell Yeah”, this group of talented musicians,  Joel”JoMo” Newman, guitar, Keith “Polk Chop” Sylvester, bass, and Kenny “Scowlin” Jackson, drums, rocks you with their very own and very progressive groove. The songs here are not some watery broth of re-worked old Blues numbers but a spicy stew of Blues, Funk and Soul, well-seasoned by the peppery vocal delivery of front lady, Lana Spencer. This lady can sing!

Pop this into ol’ CD player and you’ve got yourself  one tasty and most satisfying musical meal; one which you will not tire partaking of  time after time after time.

Big Dog


Eddie Turner “The Turner Diaries”  2006 Northern Blues Music, Inc. NBM0036

 By: Bill “Big Dog” van Elburg

OK, I’ll admit it. On first listen to “The Turner Diaries” I thought, “Man, this is what Jimi might sound like if he was here today”. Come to find out, a lot of other people think so as well. Listen to “Dangerous”, “Cost of Freedom”, “Shake 4 Me” and “Jody” You’ll think so too!

On this follow-up to his 2005 debut album “Rise”, Eddie Turner exhibits more of the dead on guitar chops and bold rhythmic experimentation that helped him become a driving force behind the “Otis Taylor sound” during his five album tenure in that fine musician’s backup band. You can hear this familial connection on all the tracks here, but especially on “I’m a Man, I’m a Man”, and “Pomade”.

Produced by an Otis Taylor band mate, Kenny Passarelli,, a fine musician in his own right (bass, B3, Wurlitzer and Rhodes on this album) and backed by some exceptional session players like Mark Clarke on drums/percussion, David Givens ( guitar on track 9), Daniel Barnett (drums on track 8 & 9) and James Trujillo (bass on track 8), the twelve cuts on this album all share a deceptively straight ahead electric blues/rock style  that only serves to underscore the  amazing musicianship that is taking place in, under and all around the basic melodies.

Like any well-prepared dish, some flavors are bold and on top and others are subtle with little hints of something you can’t quite put your finger on. Others linger on the back of your tongue as a reminder long after the meal is finished. And what a meal this is. Somehow the term “polyrhythmic” seems cliché and inadequate to describe what’s happening here. Listen to the title track “The Turner Diaries” for a taste.

The last track on this fine effort is “I’m Tore Down” a good ol’, butt shakin’, feel good blues tune that pays homage to the roots. An excellent choice to finish this set with.

This is one of those CDs that makes me want to listen to it over and over and …

___________________________________________________________________________Bobby Rush “Raw” 2006, Deep Rush Records 1003

Every time I’ve seen and heard Bobby Rush with the “Booty Girl” backup singers, this is the music I wished I were hearing. Every time I heard the same old tired-…ed, funky, juke rap, this is the music I knew he should be making.

___________________________________________________________________________Bobby “Blackhat” Walters “You Changed Your Mind Again” 2007 Independent

It isn’t often that a person gets a chance to write a review of a CD put out by a musician they have not just heard play live, but actually know personally.

I have gotten to know Bobby “Blackhat” Walters through the Natchel Blues Network and heard him play and sing at a number of fundraiser jams and in Williamsburg where he and Tommy Parker had a Wednesday night gig at The Backfin Restaurant this past summer.

It was there I first heard a number of the songs on this CD like the title song “You Changed Your Mind Again”, “Put on Your Red Shoes”, “Please Give Me a Clue”,  and “Nursery Rhyme Shuffle”. I especially like “I Hear Mama’s Voice” and “Grim Reaper” with its ominous guitar riff.

I’m continually impressed and amazed by his tasteful playing, thoughtful and intelligent lyrics, and smooth singing style. I could probably compare Bobby to few Blues Men past and present like Sonny Boy Williamson, whose song “Help Me” Bobby covers on this CD, but that would be a disservice to him and his unique talent so I won’t even try.

Buy this CD and decide for yourself. Bobby Blackhat is the man!!

___________________________________________________________________________Doug Cox and Sam Hurrie “Hungry Ghosts” 2005 NorthernBlues Music NBN0030

By: Bill “Big Dog” van Elburg

This eclectic 13 track gift from the Canadian roots and blues duo of Cox and Hurrie opens with a truly choice instrumental cover of Duane Allman’s “Little Martha”, followed with an wicked fine blues original by Sam Hurrie entitled “Cool Drink of Water”.

Having effectively set the mood for the rest of the disc these accomplished musicians move with grace from Doug Cox’s “Beware of the Man (Who Calls You Bro)” to the Sun House classic “Grinning in Your Face”.

Continuing to juxtapose originals against classics and traditional tunes both popular and obscure, the pair follow “Carry Me Away”, a Hurrie original with “No Expectations” by Jagger/Richards. “Fear” a Hurrie song precedes “Kansas City” and the charming instrumental, “Valse Frontenac”.

Tommy Johnson’s “Canned Heat Blues” is the creamy center between the two Oreo cookies of “Bad News” and “Red Haired Raga”, an Indian influenced Dobro instrumental. The first is another Cox offering and the latter a joint effort.

The only seemingly false note here is the inclusion of “Nap Time For Sammie” by Cox. It’s a saccharin little ditty that seems out of place in the middle of all the other good tunes. After a few listens however, it does start to grow on you thankfully.

So have ya few brewskis (or other favorite libation) and give this disc a spin, eh.

___________________________________________________________________________Interview With Eric Bibb at The Attucks Theatre

I was, of course, very nervous waiting to interview Eric Bibb, despite having a sense of him from his music as having a genuine warmth, generosity of spirit and open personality. I’ve been wrong before.

The first thing that struck me as Eric entered the room and introduced himself was his youthfulness (he’s actually a year older than I). Next was that he is a little shorter than he appeared in videos (and later on stage) where he has the look and presence of a much larger man. And yes… thankfully, his warmth, generosity and openness were in full evidence.

BD: Your tour calendar is really impressive. I mean, you’re all over the place!

EB:  (laughing) Yeah, we just came from Arizona.

BD: Then you’re going to be in… um?

EB:  Rockland, Maine.

BD:  I was thinking, what, in July you’ll be back in France and then… Sweden?

EB:  England then Sweden. Then back here for a couple of dates, the Poconos Blues Festival. Yeah.

BD:  That’s wonderful you’re keeping so busy. How many days a year are you on the road now?

EB:  Oh, maybe… one hundred forty six?

BD:  Well that’s not bad. So obviously you’re taking time for your family and to have some fun.

EB:  Yeah, but you know it feels like a lot because it’s not just the dates, it just takes so much time to travel just getting there, you know. Like when we go to Australia.

BD:  That’s a long trip. That’ll really wear you out. How many times have you done that now?

EB:  Mm, four.

BD:  Wow. I’m still looking to get over there one day.

EB:  Oh yeah, it’s lovely… a lot of lovely musicians and music lovers and festivals.     Really wonderful.

BD:  Sure, sure, that’s what we hear. You know, we do the Blues at the Beach festival in Virginia Beach every year and this past year we had Fiona Boyce. We really enjoyed having her.

EB:  Yeah, yeah, I’ve done some dates with her.

BD:  She has a really great personality… very accessible. Yeah. (pause)

So of course I had to take a look at your biography. You know, learn a little about your background? Wow, what in the world was that like? Growing up like that? I mean, not just with your dad who had his own musical background, but all the other people you came in contact with at such a young age.