Cyril Neville’s Magic Honey is an album dripping with blues as sweet as the title suggests. Formerly a vocalist for The Neville Brothers, The Meters, and currently for Royal Southern Brotherhood, Cyril Neville croons sweet blues on Magic Honey alongside guitarist Cranston Clements, drummer “Mean” Willie Green, Bassist Carl Dufrene, and keyboardist Norman Caesar. Additionally, Magic Honey features guest appearances by pianist Allen Toussaint, organist Dr. John, guitarist Walter Trout, and Neville’s Royal Southern Brotherhood bandmate and guitarist, Mike Zito.
Dave Alvin turns it up. The intensity, the focus, the volume. On Alvin’s new album Eleven Eleven, the man who many credit with pioneering what has come to be known as ‘roots rock,’ revisits the burning, guitar-centered blues rock that initially defined his career along with his band The Blasters in the late 1970s. After The Blasters, Alvin explored the path of American folk music, a road that led to classic albums and Grammy wins (for his album Public Domain: Songs from the Wild Land), establishing him as one of America’s most distinguished songwriters and California’s de facto roots music ambassador. Fast forward to Eleven Eleven and Dave is ready to raise the stakes again, calling on some Blasters including his brother Phil, with whom he duets for the first time ever on record. The inaugurals continue with Dave writing all the songs while on the road touring, a first for the seasoned performer. The new method clearly sparked new ideas for Alvin, with the blistering guitar runs and Bo Diddley beat of ”Run Conejo Run” sidling up alongside the gentle finger-picking of the tremolo-soaked ”No Worries Mija.” Eleven Eleven also features ”Harlan County Line,” the song featured, along with an Alvin cameo as himself, in FX original series Justified and Alvin’s highest and fastest-selling digital single ever.
If you like great blues guitar playing, soulful singing AND cool songwriting, then this album is for you. Special guest Buddy Guy’s bro Phil featured on several songs.
“Colin John is a bona fide triple threat. His guitar playing is freewheeling and intense but firmly grounded in the blues idiom. His singing is full-bodied and soulful. Finally, his songwriting skills are complex and mature. He is such a good guitarist that his playing skills alone make his music worth a listen.
But this guy can sing, too. John delivers his vocals with a passion and intensity hardly matched by most and doubtlessly exceeded by few. Like any good singer, he effortlessly conveys a full range of feeling- from humor to gravitas- making each song a different emotional experience.
And Speaking of songs, Colin John pulls another trick from his mojo bag-some of the most original songs you’ll ever hear a bluesman perform. John goes far beyond the expected twelve bar format of traditional blues, blending r & b, funk, jazz, pop and blues into a genre-defying mix that consistently satisfies. Contrary to expectations, the music does not suffer from John’s chameleon-like songwriting-if anything the variety reinforces the maturity and complexity of his work.
Anyone who goes to a Colin John gig is in for a great time. I watched these guys play and they are a smoking live act. The band includes Steve Calabria on bass, Chris Queen, organ and Scott Turner, drums. For blues fans and fans of good music, I strongly suggest you check out Colin John and his band. You won’t be disappointed.”
On this thoroughly enjoyable outing, the elder blues statesman does not stray from the formula that made the Grammy-winning Blues on the Bayou such an artistic and commercial success. Recorded at Dockside Studios in Lafayette, Louisiana, and once again produced by B.B. himself, the disc features a similarly rough and tumble electric trad-blues style. The five new songs are up to his usual standards, and all 14 tracks benefit greatly from the lithe, assured support of B.B.’s touring band, the B.B. King Blues Boys. His voice and guitar playing are supple and slinky; if only we all could be doing such vital, wonderful work at the age of 74.
Easily the biggest zydeco star of the 1990s, Beau Jocque heralded the rise of the genre’s new, urbanized style; infusing his high-octane sound with elements of rock, soul, hip-hop and even reggae, he bridged the gap between traditional Creole culture and contemporary music to create a funky, bass-heavy hybrid calculated for maximum mainstream appeal. Rounder has released some prime examples of contemporary zydeco, as this release from Beau Jocque and the Zydeco Hi-Rollers makes evident. Beau Jocque and company pound out some high-energy music here. This is not meant for relaxed listening; this is party music. Good-time classic “Keep a Knockin'” is given the full treatment, including a killer Hammond B3 solo. “Slide and Dip It” comes in two mixes: one zydeco and one “party dip.” Both are guaranteed to get your house rocking. “Going Down to the Country,” on the other hand, is a raw swamp blues while “She Wants to Sell My Monkey” is all but indescribable. Top these off with an outrageous cover of funk standard “Tighten Up” and you have a nonstop winner. These guys put the “Z” in zydeco!
The addition of jazz pianist Skip Rose gave a new dimension to the ensemble sound, and provided a perfect foil to Charlie’s own soloing — especially on the re-take of “Cristo Redentor,” extended to 11 minutes, shifting to double-time in spots. Rose’s instrumental, “A Nice Day for Something,” is a welcome change of pace, and Musselwhite’s “Blue Feeling Today” compares favorably to fine covers of Little Walter and Fenton Robinson tunes.