Rick Galusha's Pacific St. Blues and Americana

Since inception (1989), Pacific St. Blues & Americana strives to be a discerning voice helping roots fans sift through the mountains of music released every year. We are not for everyone; we want to engage active, critical listeners that hear beyond d'jour. Interviews include: Johnny Winter, Bill Wyman (Rolling Stones), Jerry Wexler, Tommy Shannon & Chris Layton, B.B. King, Dr. John, Robin Trower, Robben Ford, Mato Nanji, Joe Bonamassa, Harry Manx, Sue Foley, Marshall Chess, Billy Lee Riley, Charlie Louvin, Kim Richey, Radney Foster, Eric Johnson, David Clayton Thomas, Al Kooper, Phil Chen (Wired, Blow By Blow), Ian McLagan, Art Neville, Southside Johnny, Miami Steve Van Zant, Nils Lofgren, Bruce Iglauer, Charlie Musselwhite, Studebaker John, Chris Duarte, Smokin' Joe Kubeck, Hamilton Loomis, Peter Karp, Roomful of Blues, James Harman, Hadden Sayers, Malford Milligan, Melvin Taylor, Otis Taylor, Dave Alvin, Coco Montoya, Jimmy Thackery, Marsha Ball, Maria Muldaur, Shelby Lynne, Magic Dick & J. Geils, Lil' Milton, BuddyGuy, Aynsley Lister, Matt Schofield, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Guy Clark, Joe Ely, James Cotton, Robin & Jesse Davey, Hugh Coltman (Hoax), Sean Kelly (Samples), John Entwistle (The Who), Mark Olson (Jayhawks), Walter Wolfman Washington, Anthony Gomes, Bob Malone, Chubby Carrier, Buckwheat Zydeco, Murali Coryell, David Jacob Strain, DeAnna Bogart, Michael Lee Firkins, Guy Davis, Jason Ricci, John Doe, Little Feat, Matt Woods, MikeZito, Peter Buffett, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Corky Siegel, Todd Park Mohr, Watermelon Slim, Magic Slim, Corey Harris,- - - - - - ------------------------Radio archives: http://www.kiwrblues.podomatic.com/. Playlists: http://www.omahablues.com/ Reviews featured in http://www.blueswax.com/. Email: KIWRblues@gmail.com Live online; Sundays 9 a.m. (-6 GMT) http://www.897theriver.com/

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Putumayo's tasty Christmas albums

Title: A Jazz & Blues Christmas
Title: New Orleans Christmas

Label: Putumayo
Writer: Rick Galusha

Long know for their colorful covers and faux-ethnic artwork covers, the Putumayo Recording label is a leading record label for compiling world music artists together onto an album that is both interesting and often entertaining. In 2006 they Putumayo released an album of Christmas songs fashioned out of the New Orleans genre. This year (2008) they are back with an equally interesting foray entitled, “A Jazz & Blues Christmas.” As a pairing these are the only Christmas albums to get repeated listening on my turntable this time of year.

Often Christmas and Holiday albums are rehashed efforts to modify traditional carols which, for me, are limited and lack freshness. How many versions of “Jingle Bells” can the average human withstand? Now I get to eat my own words as Ray Charles version of ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ is a marvelous interpretation from Florida’s street savvy master of soul – it is at once languid, bluesy, horn driven and captivating. Also featured are mainstay artists such as B. B. King, Charlie Brown, Ellis Marsalis and the New Birth Brass Band.

Thankfully Putumayo uses it strength in the market to introduce new artists with interesting additions the roots Christmas category. As a fan of roots music in nearly all of its genres there is a sassy quid pro quo when the performing act, Randy Greer and Ignasi Terraza Trio, perform, ‘Wrap Yourself in a Christmas Package.’ To find a Christmas album that is entertaining and seasonal is a rare gem.

These are two diamonds to consider for your December festival making.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Rick Fowler Back on My Good Foot album

Artist: Rick Fowler
Title: Back on My Good Foot
Writer: Rick Galusha

Rick Fowler’s latest album, ‘Back on My Good Foot’ is a well performed album. Fowler’s voice compliments the style and his high energy playing is tasteful and not over-bearing. He can play: he can sing… but like so many twang-bar kings, Fowler’s apparent weakness is his songwriting. From the opening bass lines of, ‘Infected with the Blues’ Fowler delves into blues clich├ęs including; preachers, crossroads, devils and demons. It shows that being a very good guitar playing does not make you a songwriter.

On, ‘Running from the Truth’ Fowler tries his hand at political commentary, taking a cynical stance towards our two party-system while offering no solutions; simply bitching. I can’t cite the source but, “Democracy is an absolutely terrible government – but it the best form of government on the planet.” In many ways cynicism is a cop out and makes for bad lyrical filler.

This is a fan’s album. It is very well played and arranged. The best track on the record is a cover of the Savoy Brown tune, ‘Hellbound Train’ where Fowler stretches out and showcases his chops. As a sideman Fowler has an impressive list of friends and employers. Occasionally a vanity project is a diamond in the rough but, ‘Back on My Good Foot’ is not cutting any new ground here.