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Lynchburg, Va 24502-0064
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Contact Webmaster: Ree Breeden


CD Reviews by JRBS members, musicians & guests.


Home | CD Reviews

The following CD reviews reflect the opinions of the reviewers only and not of the organization.

“New Orleans Christmas”

Various Artists

Putumayo World Music, #P256

By Rusty Wilbourn


This is a collection of Christmas songs played by some of New Orleans best known jazz artists.  Most notably, Ellis Marsalis records “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” in smooth jazz piano style, and Big Al Carson with Lars Edegran & his Santa Clause Revelers doing a Dixieland rendition of “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.” My favorite cut is Ingrid Lucia’s version of “Zat You, Santa Claus?” a Louis Armstrong classic.


Putumayo World Music, better known for their recordings of music from African and Asian nations, released this CD world wide in October.  The promo copy I got was packaged in a cardboard sleeve like a miniature LP jacket.  I wish all record companies would follow suite.  The hard clear plastic boxes that are most common these days are too fragile and usually end up in the trash after the first time they are dropped.  Besides, they are useless to those of us that store our CD’s in CD notebook folders.



New Orleans Playground

Various Artists

Putumayo Kids, #P257

By Rusty Wilbourn


On this CD, there’s New Orleans Jazz versions of some classic children’s tunes, “Row Row Your Boat” recorded by Dr. John, and Hack Bartholomew’s version of “When The Saints Go Marchin’ In.”  There’s also Buckwheat Zydeco’s “Skip to My Blues” which has the lyrics from the original children’s song but certainly not the original melody.  Fat’s Domino’s “Whole Lotta Lovin’ and “Ya Ya” from Lee Dorsey (“Sittin’ in La La waitin’ on my Ya Ya Uh Huh”) are pushing the border between children’s songs and love songs but I suppose most parents would be OK with it. “Ain’t Got No Home” from Clarence “Frogman” Henry may be a little creepy to young children especially when he sings  “I ain’t got no mother, I ain’t got no father, I ain’t got no sister, I ain’t got no brother….” in his frog voice. 


As a whole, this is a great children’s record for birthdays, sock hops and slumber parties but I’d be wary of playing it around toddlers and preschoolers.  It may a little intense or “above their heads.”


John Hammond in Concert

Nov. 11, 2006

Ashland Coffee and Tea

By Rusty Wilbourn


Arriving early (around 5 p.m.) for a show not scheduled till 8, I sat in the coffee shop with my laptop and a cup of peppermint tea writing my weekly newspaper column. No one else was in the room until John Hammond and his wife sat at a table and ordered.  On my way back to the counter for a refill I stopped and introduced myself. A brief but very informative conversation ensued.  I mentioned that we were right up the road from the Hohner USA office and he was unaware of this fact. I learned that he’s a devout Hohner harmonica player and he buys them from Joe Filisko, THE top harmonica customizer.  I have never met Filisko but John Hammond is the third person I’ve spoken to that said Joe is not only a harmonica master but also a really nice guy.  I have to say the same about John Hammond.   


The show was awesome!  For those of you that have never been to Ashland Coffee and Tea you are really missing something.  A coffee house, lunch spot and general hangout for locals during the day, Ashland Coffee and Tea brings in nationally acclaimed acts every weekend and attracts audiences from all over the state.  Check out their website, (  You’ll see I’m not lyin’.


Hammond is a treasure trove of blues trivia and nostalgic stories. Especially about the Chicago blues scene in the early sixties.  He became friends with Michael Bloomfield in school and thanks to Bloomfield he was afforded the opportunity to meet and hear many of the great Chicago blues artists as a teenager including Howling Wolf, Mississippi John Hurt and Sonny Terry. 


Hammond learned to play the guitar and moved to Los Angeles in 1962 to pursue a career in music.  He took a job pumping gas at the Wilshire Blvd. Shell Station.  One day, a Porsche convertible pulled up to the pump.  The driver was wearing a big white cowboy hat and headed for the restroom as soon as he shut down the engine. On the passenger’s seat was a Martin D-45 guitar.  No case, the guitar was just laying there in the sun.  Hammond says he overfilled the Porsche’s tank because he couldn’t keep his eyes off the guitar.  When the driver returned he noticed John staring at the guitar and asked if he played.  Hammond picked up the Martin and played a little for the driver in the white cowboy hat.  The driver said “I can get you some gigs!” and John Hammond’s music career was launched.  The driver in the cowboy hat was Hoyt Axton.


After earning a few bucks as a musician Hammond returned to Chicago in a newly purchased car and met up with Bloomfield again.  One day Bloomfield took Hammond to meet Big Joe Williams who Hammond described as being “about five foot two inches tall and five foot two inches wide.”  When Big Joe learned that Hammond had a car he allowed John to drive him to his gigs and even sit in on the harmonica.


John Hammond is a very intense and physical performer.  One of my Bluegrass/Americana playing friends said (in front of his wife) that Hammond beats the $**+ out of the guitar.  On the night I saw him he played two guitars. One appeared to be an old Martin auditorium style (maybe a ooo28??), and the other looked to be a National Steel Resonator.  He never broke a string and even manually stretched the low E string on the Martin when he was re-tuning it after playing a song in drop D.


He’s equally brutal on his harmonicas.  Playing on a neck rack he throws his head back and thrusts his face toward the sky.  With eyes closed and cheeks puffed out he manages to get blow bends out of the high end of the harp.  Something most harp players can’t do even when the harp is safely cupped in two hands.  I was in awe.


Hammond has primarily played classic blues tunes through out his career but recently took to song writing. At the show I saw he played his original “Push Comes to Shove.” His newest CD of the same name is due out in January 2007. It includes five new originals plus two tunes by G Love (of Special Sauce fame) who is also the producer.


JRBS members can catch John Hammond at The Ellington on February 17, 2007.



Bernard Allison

Energized” Live in Europe

Ruf Records, #RUF-1113


By Rusty Wilbourn

Copyright 2006


A concert recorded in the Musa in Gottingen, Germany Oct. 2005.  Notable cuts include “It’s a Man Down There” Credited to George T. Crockett and Jack Daniels, a swinging version of the tune “One Way Out” made popular by The Allman Brothers Band in the 70’s and “Too Cool” co-written by Allison and Bruce McCabe.  The longest jam during the concert was “The Walk” at over eleven minutes.  This slide guitar shuffle leads the listener to assume that Bernard Allison is a huge Bo-Diddly fan.  So much so that he wears a snakeskin shirt and has stuffed rattlesnakes on his hat.


It used to be that live albums were poorly recorded with no studio mixing and editing.  The actual live shows sounded better, even it you were standing in front of the bass guitar speakers.  Today that has changed. If it wasn’t for the occasional applause from the audience or the artist talking to the crowd: (i.e.: “Thanks for coming, I’d like to introduce the band” etc.) you’d never know you were listening to a live recording.  Except of course for the instrumentals, and Bernard Allison‘s 2 CD set “Energized“ is chock full of instrumentals.   Great jams from Allison’s guitar, Jassen Wilber’s bass, Mike Vlahakis’ on keyboards and Andrew Thomas on the trap set.



Sue Foley

“New Used Car”

Ruf Records, #RUF-1116


By Rusty Wilbourn

Copyright 2006


Sue Foley has evidently been cutting records for quite some time.  The oldest one on her website is “Young Girl Blues” released in 1991.  After that she’s released another every year or two with the exception of 2000 when she released two.  It’s funny, I’ve never heard of her.  I try to stay abreast of the blues artists that are currently producing material.  Half the reason for her anonymity is that although she hails from Canada her records are released in Europe.  Ruf Records is a German based concern and the only show currently listed on her website is in New Brunswick Canada.  Her performance schedule is rather light. 


“New Used Car” consists of 12 tracks all written by Foley.  It seems to me, a man, that the record is aimed at the women’s market.  The CD is pink and most of the lyrics are about feelings, something us men don’t have.  “Absolution,”  “Deep Freeze” and “Found My Love” could definitely be described as blues but the rest of the tunes are leaning towards rock.  Unfortunately, none of it stands out and her vocals are wanting.  It almost seems at times like she’s attempting to get the sheep like warble that Stevie Nicks has and other times she‘s trying to sound like Edie Brickell but slightly off key.  I’m sorry to say that “New Used Car” hasn’t got any shine to it.  Perhaps some of her earlier work is better.



Old Crow Medicine Show

“Big Iron World”

Nettwerk Productions #Nettwerk 0-6700


By Rusty Wilbourn

Copyright 2006


My first encounter with Old Crow Medicine Show was a few years back at the Rhythm on the River Concert in Scottsville, VA.  The opening band was Old School Freight Train and the headliner was Hackensaw Boys.  Both local groups from Charlottesville and billed as Bluegrass bands.  Old School Freight Train was finding recognition thanks to collaboration and support from David Grisman, Jerry Garcia’s Bluegrass pickin’ buddy.  Hackensaw Boys, a hodgepodge group of buskers from the Charlottesville Downtown Mall had to cancel at the last minute and OCMS stepped in to take their place.  They were impressive.  Versatile and creative with high energy.  Later when I got a chance to see Hackensaw Boys I realized the Scottsville audience had enjoyed a rare treat.  Hackensaw Boys are entertaining and fun but not near the caliber of OCMS.  Not long after the entire country was introduced to OCMS on the Late Night with Conan O’Brien show.  I caught that appearance also.  They played Dylan’s “Wagon Wheel,” one of the more popular cuts on their first CD “O.C.M.S.”


Although OCMS is known as a bluegrass or country band, a copy of their new CD “Big Iron World” found its way into the JRBS mailbox.  I’ve got the privilege of reviewing it, and I’m pleased to announce that these local boys from the Shenandoah Valley just keep getting better and better.  And yes, there is blues on this CD.  “Down Home Girl” by Jerry Leiber and “Minglewood Blues” by Noah Lewis are both traditional twelve bar numbers.  The original cuts “New Virginia Creeper” and “Let It Alone” definitely qualify as Ragtime or Jump Blues. The first single released on the CD, “James River Blues” is an OCMS original lamentation to the James River Batteau of yesteryear. It can’t be classified as blues but it’s still immensely enjoyable as is the rest of the album.  Dylan fans will be enchanted with “I Hear Them All” and “Bobcat Tracks.” The only disappointment is track two, “Cocaine Habit” which is nothing more than a continuation of  “Tell It To Me”  the cocaine song off their first CD.  One wonders why these guys insist on discussing this subject on both CD’s.


It may be wrong doting on local boys made good but in this case it’s well deserved.  I predict we’ll be seeing videos from OCMS on CMT soon. Their future includes the  Country Music Awards and perhaps even the Grammys.



Robin Trower

“Living Out Of Time”

Ruf Records, #RUF-1111


Rusty Wilbourn

Copyright 2006


Robin Trower is a British Stratocaster player that enjoyed great success in the 70’s. His first notable work was with Procol Harum.  Their hit song, “Whiter Shade of Pale” featured Steve Winwood on vocals and keyboards.  Later in the same decade Trower teamed up with vocalist /bassist Reg Isidore to record a couple albums of original music under his own name.  His style of guitar playing was compared to Jimi Hendrix and riding on the immense popularity of the recently deceased guitar prodigy Robin Trower found huge success with rock singles, “Bridge of Sighs,” “Day of the Eagle” and “Too Rolling Stoned.” 


“Living Out of Time” is a live recording from the Sept. 2005 Rockpalast Crossroads Festival in Bonn, Germany.  Trower’s new band includes Davey Pattison on vocals, Dave Bronze on bass and Pete Thompson on drums.  The band’s sound, including vocals, is virtually indistinguishable from the original 1970’s group. The album features the three songs listed above plus ten more Trower originals. The band is on tour and will be playing the Birchmere in DC on Oct 8 for those of you that care to catch his live performance. I would imagine everything you’ll hear is already available on this CD. The site is



"35 X 35"
Alligator, # ALCD120/21

Austin Pankey

This double CD celebrates Alligator's 35 years in blues music. The unusual thing about this compilation is that it features the first recording of these 35 artists who have been or are on the Alligator label.

Included here are the following highlights: Big Walter Horton, "Have a Good Time," Albert Collins; "Honey Hush," Professor Longhair; "In the Wee Wee Hours," Buddy Guy; "Are You Losing Your Mind?," Johnny Winter; "Don't Take Advantage of Me," James Cotton; "High Compression," Lonnie Mack; "Satisfy Suzie, "Roy Buchanan; "When a Guitar Plays the Blues", Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, "She Winked Her Eye", Saffire-The Uppity Blues Women, "Wild Women Don't Have the Blues", Luther Allison, "Bad Love", and Shemekia Copeland, "Salt in My Wounds".

Overall, this is a very nice and listenable commemoration of the 35 years that Alligator Records has been in business.

"Shoulder to Shoulder"
Alligator, ALCD 4910

Austin Pankey

This new album from Cephas & Wiggins has 12 tracks of very nice blues in the Piedmont style.

7 of the tracks were written or co-written by John Cephas including "Ain't Seen My Baby", "All I Got is Them Blues", "Seattle Rainy Day Blues", and "The Blues Three Ways". In addition, there's "Catfish Blues (James), "Susie Q" (Sonny Boy Williamson) and "Three Ball Blues (Fuller) that were written by other blues artists. "The Blues Three Ways" was recorded live on March 7, 2006, at the Democratic Club in Washington, D.C.

Overall, this is another outstanding album by these masters of the Piedmont Blues.


Eddie Turner
“The Turner Diaries”
Northern Blues Music, #NBM0036

By Rusty Wilbourn
Copyright 2006

“The Turner Diaries” is Turner’s personal thoughts and opinions of himself, current issues and his relationship with others be they lovers or friends. Not unlike the type of writings one would find in a diary or on the newest form of self-expression spanning the internet, the blog. As we all know, real men don’t keep diaries so Turner has set his to music. Rockin’ music that is meant to be played loud. This is not an album for the Mississippi Delta Blues fan. It’s more in line with the style of Hendrix or Robin Trower. Electric and loaded with effects.

The portrait photography on the cover and inside jacket employs an interesting effect as well. Turner, having a caramel complexion is dressed in a black t-shirt and his arms and face are covered in writing, presumably the original manuscript of one or more of the songs on the album. It gives the appearance that he’s covered head to toe in a tanning booth tattoo. Interesting……….

All songs on this CD are Turner originals and the band is tight consisting of guitar, bass, drums and keyboard. Lots of sound from a small ensemble. Turner is a masterful electric guitarist both on the frets and the effects pedals. The question about this album is; is it blues? There’s not one song that follows the classic twelve bar progression. Only track eight, “Shake 4 Me” has characteristics of what is traditionally considered blues. If this record finds its way into the major music stores it should probably be filed under Rock, not Blues.

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Contact Webmaster: Ree Breeden
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