Saturday, October 29, 2016

Blues Blast Magazine Album Review: The DogTown Blues Band – DogTown Blues

Good day!

This CD review was originally published in the March 26, 2015 edition of Blues Blast Magazine. Be sure to check out the rest of the magazine at www.bluesblastmagazine.com

The DogTown Blues Band – DogTown Blues | Album Review

Self Release

www.thedogtownbluesband.bandcamp.com

12 tracks / 52:22

DogTown is the West Los Angeles neighborhood that separates the communities of Venice Beach and Santa Monica. In the 1970s it was the rougher part of town and it was the nexus of the skateboarding revolution that brought the sport into the mainstream. This neighborhood captures the essence of the LA surf and skate culture, and the guys from the southland-based DogTown Blues Band have adopted it as their moniker. The band recently self-released their debut album, DogTown Blues, which brings a cool mixture of blues and jazz for your listening pleasure.

Though they met up in Southern California, the band members bring diverse musical influences from all parts of the US to the studio. Producer, songwriter and guitarist Richard Lubovitch hails from Chicago, and in his career he has been a sideman for Rufus Thomas and Gatemouth Brown and run his own recording studio. He wrote eight of the twelve tracks for this disk, with help from singer Q. Williams and harpmaster Bill Barrett. They were joined in the studio by Wayne Peet on keys, Tad Weed on piano, Trevor Ware and Tom Lilly on bass, and Lance Lee on the skins. There is not enough room here to run down all of their CVs but they have a wealth of experience, having played with big-time acts that include Kenny G, Diana Ross, Edgar Winters, Kenny Burrell, and Lindsey Buckingham.

DogTown Blues kicks off with “She Was Not a Girl at All,” and right away the PG-13 rating is guaranteed for this album – do not put this in the mix for you kid’s next birthday party. Though these guys are top-flight musicians, they are still having a ton of fun. Q. Williams’ voice is throaty and full of wry humor as he leads the band through this hearty blues romp. Their sound is huge with piano, Hammond organ and a super-tight backline. You will find a similar humorous theme to the slightly misogynistic “Ugly Girl Blues” which brings things right into R-rated territory.

But these guys are no joke, as they can tear off some serious blues too. “Slow Jam Blues” is a guitar-driving instrumental with a killer harmonica lead. This is followed-up by the “Sexy Man Blues” which features Weed cutting loose on his boogie woogie piano for a couple of top-shelf breaks. “Drunkard Blues” slows things down a bit, and lets Q. Williams’ fabulous voice take the front of the stage with a rich foundation of organ setting the mood.

These tunes are interspersed with four covers, including a smooth instrumental version of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Wang Dang Doodle,” a 1960 tune that was written by Willie Dixon. Then there are three other songs that you would never expect to find from a group with “Blues Band” in its name. The first of these is an instrumental of the Young Rascals’ 1967 chart topper, “Groovin’.” The vocals are switched out for Barrett’s harmonica and Lubovitch’s guitar in this laid back jazz-influenced R&B tune, and it all comes together very nicely. It is interesting that the DogTown Blues band only did instrumental versions of these tunes, as it makes it seem like they have great respect for the originals, but want to make them their own by providing a different type of voice. It is a good strategy, as it makes the album much more interesting.

There is also a sweet re-do of the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s “Take 5” with Lubovitch taking on Paul Desmond’s sax part. Richard does a great job of capturing the sax feel with his axe in what is probably the most recognizable jazz hit of all time. The final cover finishes up the album and it is way outside the box: Frank Zappa’s epic song from 1969, “Son of Mr. Green Genes.” This one was an instrumental to start with, and Richard cut this fusion/prog-rock classic down to five minutes to make it more accessible. They also took a more laid back approach to bring it more into the conventional jazz realm, and it works out just fine.

DogTown Blues is well recorded, and the songs are sequenced seamlessly so that nothing is out of place and the album can stand a singular whole, not just a collection of diverse songs. This project is a terrific debut from the DogTown Blues Band, and they are going to have to aim high to top this one. If you like jazz and blues, it is worth your time to give it a listen!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

1983 Fender Japan JV-Series Squier Stratocaster Review

Aloha!

If you keep looking, eventually you will find a diamond in the rough, and that is the case with the gorgeous 1983 Fender Squier 1962 re-issue Stratocaster we are looking at today. This JV instrument has become my new #1 Strat, usurping my MIJ 1986 ’62 re-issue.

Maybe I should explain the whole JV thing. JV stands for “Japanese Vintage”, and was the serial number prefix for the first series of guitars that were built for Fender in Japanese factories, and they were produced between 1982 and 1984. These instruments were constructed at the Fuji Gen-Gakki factory in Matsumoto, Japan. This was the same factory that was building Ibanez and Greco guitars.

The JV-series instruments have become very collectible, and were built using the original blueprints to be authentic replicas of pre-CBS Fender models. These models usually got the full treatment, including vintage-style tuners and cloth covered harnesses, as well as the original body contours and neck radii. The quality of these put the US made Fenders of the time to shame, and therefore they were not imported to the United States, though I guess a bunch made it to Europe. I found this one at a second-hand store in Japan on one of my business trips, and had to bring it home.

Our subject guitar today is an non-export model Squier Stratocaster, and I think it is model ST62-65. You can decipher the model number pretty easily: ST = Stratocaster, 62 = 1962 reissue, 65 = 65,000YEN (original price). This instrument has a neck date of 6/10/83, and a body date of 6-83. This is fourteen months after the beginning of JV production.

This guitar is finished in creamy white with a rosewood fretboard. When I first saw the guitar and its JV-serial neckplate, I was pretty excited, but figured it must be a refinish or a fake – it just looked too good for a 33-year old guitar. But, I took it apart, and it is obviously all original, from the finish to the frets to the electronics.

It has the original electronics, but no cloth-covered wiring, so this must have been one of the cheaper models. The neck is very nice. The vintage-style tuners work fine, none are bent and they do not bind. The frets are good, with almost no; the neck is true, and the truss rod works freely. I did not like the nut as it was really short, so my tech installed a new one, set it up with 0.009s, and now it plays perfectly.

I believe this guitar is unmodified (other than that new nut), and I dig the vintage touches like the bent bridge saddles. By the way, I know that is a 1970s style Strat logo, but they still call this a 1962 re-issue. Go figure.

I might be selling my black 1986 E-serial Stratocaster, so drop me a line if you are interested. It is a pretty nice too!

Mahalo!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Karen Lovely – Ten Miles of Bad Road | Album Review

Karen Lovely – Ten Miles of Bad Road

Kokako Records

www.karenlovely.com

13 tracks / 51:32

Portland, Oregon’s Karen Lovely really hit it out of the park with her 2010 sophomore album, Still the Rain. With a trip to the 2010 International Blues Challenge in Memphis (2nd place!), and three 2011 Blues Music Award nominations, she received a lot of well-deserved recognition. Karen has not been resting on these laurels, though, and her latest album, Ten Miles of Bad Road, is also amazing, earning her another BMA nomination, a Blues Blast Music Award nomination, and the 2015 Blues411 "Jimi" Award for Best Contemporary Blues Female Artist. This all makes perfect sense, as she is a tremendous talent who works hard and inspires those around her to do their best.

Ten Miles of Bad Road has everything going for it, as it was put together in Los Angeles by the best in the business, including producer Tony Braunagel and engineer Johnny Lee Schell. Both of these fellows are members of the legendary Phantom Blues Band, and they also provided the drum and guitar parts, respectively. Karen took care of the vocals, and she was joined by Jim Pugh on keys, James “Hutch” Hutchinson on bass, and the late Alan Mirikitani on guitar. Listeners will hear a lot of other A-list talent that helped out on many of the tracks, all of which are originals.

The album kicks off with “Low Road,” a smoky blues rocker that was penned by Mirikitani, featuring super clean leads from him on guitar and cool Hammond B3 from Pugh. Karen’s vocals are smooth and powerful as she describes her emotions after a lover cuts town in the dark of the dawn. Reviewers compare her vocal style to other artists, but she really has a sound of her own, and her voice blends well with backing singers Julie Delgado and Kenna Ramsey. This is followed up by “Company Graveyard,” another song that was written by Mirikani, but this time with a driving roadhouse beat courtesy of Braunagel and Hutchinson.

There are a lot of other neat songs in this set, and there is not enough room for me to write about all of them, but here are a few other highlights from the disc:

- The title track, “Ten Miles of Bad Road,” brings in the killer horn section of Joe Sublett (sax) and Les Lovitt (trumpet), and this uptempo piece is very accessible, making it radio-friendly. But it is not a sell-out pop song, rather a cool and detached narrative of a relationship that may not be worth the effort that is being put into it. Lovely shows a lot of depth here as she can sing pretty much anything that is put in front of her and make it her own.

- Karen has the perfect voice for ballads too, and a good example of this is “I Want to Love You,” which features solid piano leads from Pugh and more sweet backing vocals from Delgado and Ramsey. With a more sparse instrumentation and a slower pace, the tightness of the backline of Hutchinson and Braunagel is quite prominent.

- The album closes out with “Frank the Spank,” a boogie that sets the tone for the story of a bartender who is too generous with his pours; Lovely’s vocals smoky vocals really drive home the point on this one. This tune is upbeat and fun, and Schell’s guitar is a cool counterpoint to the harmonica of the surprise guest artist, Kim Wilson. What blues album would be complete without some sort of drinking song?

Karen Lovely has raised the bar with Ten Miles of Bad Road, a classy set of a thirteen quality tracks with not a clunker to be found. It is gratifying to see her talent and hard work pay off, and if you are a fan of contemporary blues I highly recommend you pick up a copy of your own -- this is Karen’s best work to date. Also, head on over to Lovely’s website to check out her tour schedule, as she has some gigs coming up around the US. Once you hear her you will not be disappointed!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Philip "Phil" Chess: March 27, 1921 to October 19, 2016

Rest in peace, Phil, you had a great run!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Proline LST2BK Tripod Speaker Stand Review

Aloha!

Today we are looking at one of the workhorse components of my live sound set-up. I have been using a pair of Proline LST2BK tripod speaker stands for over 5 years, and these budget-friendly medium duty stands have been no trouble at all!

I bought these stands at the last minute before a show, and ended up selecting them because they were they were on sale and looked like they would be good enough. They are rated for 150 pounds each (really?), can adjust from heights of 45 to 73 inches, and include an adapter so they can be with speakers that have either 1 3/8” (35mm) or 1 ½” sockets. They are light and pack up small so they are easy to bring along on gigs.

The LST2BK stand has a steel center shaft with an aluminum housing and legs, and everything is connected together by kind of cheap looking plastic joints and hardware. All of the metal is powder-coated black, which goes with everything!

I have used these stands with many different models of powered speakers, including Yamaha DXRs, the ill-fated Mackie Thumps, and my current QSC K12 set-up. All of these speakers have 35mm sockets, and after a few years of moving the unused aluminum 1 ½ inch adapters around my shop, I finally tossed them in the recycling bin. I have not missed them.

Setting up the stands is easy: just extend the legs and lock them down, set the speaker height (preferably using the included locking pins), and crank down the height knob. I lost one of the locking pins a few years back, but the height knob still has sufficient tension to hold the mast in place, even with a 41-pound K12 in place. The stands are more stable than they look, though I usually take it easy on them and adjust the legs so that the mast is setting on the ground, which provides that extra bit of security.

They have worked very well: they have never fallen over, the joints are still tight, and nothing has broken on them; even the black finish has held up well with just a few scratches. I have seen reviews from people that complain that they have lost hardware or broken the plastic pieces, but maybe these are just folks that do not take very good care of their stuff. I would buy more of these in a heartbeat, and indeed, a few years back I ended up getting two more for a really big show I was doing.

The Proline LST2BK speaker stands work well, and they come in at a really decent price of $39.99 from most online sellers. They might not be as heavy-duty as some of the $100 stands on the market, but for most applications they will work just fine. Trust me!

Mahalo!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Blues Blast Magazine Album Review: Sugar Ray and the Bluetones – Living Tear to Tear

Hello!

This CD review was originally published in the March 5, 2015 edition of Blues Blast Magazine. Be sure to check out the rest of the magazine at www.bluesblastmagazine.com

Sugar Ray and the Bluetones – Living Tear to Tear

Severn Records

www.sugarrayandthebluetones.com

www.severnrecords.com

12 tracks / 59:05

Sugar Ray and the Bluetones have been doling out their distinctive brand of blues from the Northeast for over 35 years, and they are playing stronger than ever as evidenced by their latest Severn Records release, Living Tear to Tear. Their sound is a fun blend of harmonica and piano heavy Chicago-influenced blues with some amazingly rocking guitar. The overall effect is timeless and this album could have been recorded fifty years ago, except that modern production values lend it a crystal-clear listening quality.

None of these guys have limited their careers to what they do with the Bluetones, however. The Grammy-nominated singer and harpman, Sugar Ray Norcia, did seven years with Rhode Island’s storied Roomful of Blues and has appeared on over 50 albums with artists as diverse as Ronnie Earl, Otis Grand, Ann Peebles, Jimmy Rogers, Pinetop Perkins, J. Geils, Sax Gordon and Duke Robillard. He is joined on this disc by Monster Mike Welch on guitar, Mudcat Ward on bass, Neil Garouvin on drums, and Grammy-nominee Anthony (no nickname) Geraci on the piano. These musicians have performed with Big Mama Thornton, Hubert Sumlin, John Hammond, Johnny Winter, Otis Grand, The Mannish Boys, Sugaray Rayford, and Debbie Davies, to name just a few.

Living Tear to Tear was recorded at Severn Studios in Annapolis, Maryland, and is an hour-long show of solid blues split up into 12 tracks. These are mostly original tunes penned by Norcia, Welch, Ward, and Geraci, as well as a few well-played covers. They kick off the set with one of the originals, “Rat Trap,” and right away their decades of experience shows as they proceed to tear the roof off the house. Sugar Ray’s harmonica tone and timing are perfect and it is apparent why he is a first-call harp player. His vocals are throaty and Welch’s guitar work is as clear as a bell.

The band slows things down for “Here We Go” and Monster Mike (nicknamed by Dan Ackroyd) adds a little reverb to the guitar while the rock solid backline of Ward and Garouvin (Groovin!) keeps the beat steady. Geraci cuts loose on the keys while Sugar Ray does a good horn substitute with his harmonica on “Things Could Be Worse,” which is a good reminder for all of us.

“Misery” is the longest tune on Tear to Tear, coming in at over eight minutes, and they picked a good song to cut loose on, as this slow-roller brings all of the finer elements of this quintet into play. The lyrics are indeed full of misery as Norcia promises to “…sit here and keep on drinkin’, till I drink my baby off my mind (you might have to cut me off this time).” Welch throws down his best solo of the album on this track, and that is saying something! This is the standout track of the release, with “I Dreamed Last Night” and its wonderful piano from Geraci taking a close second place.

The cover tunes are as well done as the originals. Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Ninety Nine” is a respectful take on the original and it is a delightful romp with subtle guitar work from Monster Mike behind a harmonica-heavy front end. And Lightnin’ Slim’s “Nothing but the Devil” (which was also done well by Rory Gallagher), closes out the set with distorted and growly vocals, bar room piano and the classic story of a man done wrong.

Sugar Ray and the Bluetones’ Living Tear to Tear is one of the best new albums of any genre that I have heard in the past year, with stellar performances from each of the five artists on the bill. It is a must-buy if you like classic harmonica-soaked Midwestern blues, so check it out and see for yourself -- you will not be disappointed!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Lifetime 6 Foot Folding Table Review

Aloha!

I know: “Why are you reviewing a table on a music blog?” Well, when I was setting up for a show last Sunday I realized how much easier packing my car is with this Lifetime 6 foot folding table. This thing is a folding table plus, since it also folds in half!

I have used this table for about 3 years now, and it has been awesome. It has a blow molded HDPE top that does not scratch easily and has not turned weird colors after being used in the bright sun. The legs and frame are 1-inch tubular steel that is powder coated for corrosion resistance.

The size is fairly standard, as it is 72 inches long, 30 inches deep, and 29 inches tall. When folded in half, it is a very manageable 36 inches by 30 inches by 3 inches. It only weighs 26 pounds, yet the manufacturer says it can hold up to 469 pounds. I am a little skeptical, but if you spread the weight over the whole thing it might work. All I know is that I can pile a couple of road cases and 12-inch powered speakers on it with no trouble at all.

Like I said, I have been using this table for years, and over this time I have not had any issues with it. Nothing has broken on it, it folds and unfolds easily, and there is a even a padded handle for carrying it around. Given a choice, I would prefer a smaller overall size, as I never need quite as much real estate as this one takes up. Lifetime has a 5-foot fold in half table that is only 27 inches wide, which would be a better size for me, but nobody local to me seems to be selling them.

Anyway, if you are looking for a highly portable table for gigs, I would highly recommend picking up one of these Lifetime folding table. They are only around $45 each, and you can find them at you local Lowe’s or Home Depot.

Mahalo!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Sari Schorr – A Force of Nature | Album Review

Sari Schorr – A Force of Nature

Manhaton Records

www.sarischorr.com

www.manhatonrecords.com

12 tracks / 57:00

Sari Schorr is an amazing blues singer from Brooklyn, and I am not the only one who thinks that she has tremendous potential. In fact, legendary producer Mike Vernon (Eric Clapton, David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac, John Mayall) put his retirement on hold to oversee the construction of her debut album, A Force of Nature. This is not an overnight success story as Sari has been working for years, touring the US and Europe with esteemed artists such as Joe Louis Walker and Popa Chubby, and she was recently inducted into the New York Blues Hall of Fame.

A Force of Nature was cut in Seville, Spain and London, England, and a cadre of top-shelf musicians were called on to back up Sari. The core band is made up of Innes Sibun and Quique Bonal on guitar, Jose Mena on drums, Nani Conde on bass, and Julian Maeso behind the keyboards. The list of guest artists is equally impressive, with contributions from Walter Trout and Oli Brown on guitar, as well as the keyboards of John Baggot, Jesús Lavilla, and Dave Keyes.

There are a dozen tracks on this album, and Sari collaborated on the writing of nine of them. First up is “Ain’t Got No Money,” a guitar-heavy blues rocker that kicks off with a slick intro from Sibun. He is a heck of a blues guitarist, but even that is overshadowed when Schorr starts to sing, as her voice is powerful with a more than respectable range and an abundance of emotion. This is backed up by “Aunt Hazel,” a rock song where Sari gets to cut loose and bemoan the results of substance abuse, accompanied by the rock-solid backline of Mena and Conde. This is one of my favorite original tracks from the album, as all of the parts fit together with precision without losing the feeling of spontaneity.

Walter Trout joined in with his guitar to help cover one of his own tunes, “Work No More.” Trout recommended this song, and it is a personal message for a friend he knew who had passed away. The respectful words are an honest eulogy for a wonderful woman, and Sari does a fabulous job of delivering them with emotion. Trout wails throughout this rocking track, with a little help from Baggott on the organ and Keyes on the piano.

The other two covers are really cool too! Schorr takes a legitimate run at Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter’s “Black Betty,” and delivers the goods. This track is not a fast-paced rocker like the Ram Jam or Spiderbait versions, instead starting with a bare-bones acoustic guitar accompaniment, which transforms into a powerful piece of grinding blues-rock featuring organ from John Baggott. The final cover is on the other end of the spectrum, and Sari’s soulful and bluesy interpretation of The Supreme’s 1965 Motown hit, “Stop! In the Name of Love” is like no other version you have ever heard. Rietta Austin does a lovely job with the backing vocals on this track – you can't do this song without harmonies!

As you would expect from Vernon, the production values are first-rate, and this is a very well recoded and mixed project. The balance of the instruments and vocals is perfect, and the songs are sequenced so that the listener does not ever become weary of the content. For once, I have no complaints at all!

A Force of Nature is a stellar debut from Sari Schorr, and she certainly has plans for the future. Tour dates are scheduled throughout the US and Europe, Mike Vernon has agreed to work on Schorr’s next two albums (maybe he is just semi-retired), and she is writing new material with Innes. With Sari’s talent and Mike’s experience, her future is bright indeed!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Dean Custom Zone 4-String Bass Review

Greetings!

Well, today we are looking at a series of the homeliest basses that I have ever reviewed on Rex and the Bass. Nobody would argue that the Dean Custom Zone basses are certainly an eyeful, no matter how you look at them!

You will not find many Dean instruments on my blog, because I find most of them to be really hard to look at, so they are not what I play. But, that being said, most of the ones I have tried have been playable and capable of getting the job done. And that is what Dean has been about since 1977: getting tools into the hands of musicians, and usually for a pretty good price.

The Dean Custom Zone basses are available in incredibly garish colors, including Yellow (which I have never actually seen), Nuclear Green, and Fluorescent Pink. To put the appearance completely over the top, the color extends form the body to the fretboard, which is a breathtaking visual effect.

Once you get past the hue, these basses are pretty standard fare. The bodies have sort of a Precision Bass profile with point horns; they are carved from basswood, which is a soft wood that is easy to work with and still has nice tonal qualities. The body is loaded up with a passive P-bass style pickup that is wired through a tone pot and a volume knob. As there is no pickguard, there is a control cavity in the back, which would make adding active electronics quite a bit easier.

The 34-inch scale maple neck has a 1.5-inch wide nut, and there are black block inlays and 20 frets stuck into it. On the back of the headstock there is a set of black die-cast tuners, which match the die cast bridge. Everything does with black, apparently.

The Zone basses are made in China, and the build quality of the one I tried out is acceptable. The finish is a bit rough on the fretboard but the neck binding is clean and the frets are reasonably level. The one I tested was brand new and the set-up was really bad - it took an hour of fiddling around to get the intonation and action into the acceptable range. One this was done, there was not much to complain about. The neck has a comfy C-shape to it, and is very Jazz Bass-like, and the output of the pickup was strong and pleasant. As a bonus, this one was really light, weighing just a bit over 8 pounds. This would be a good rock bass, particularly for novice players.

Dean did ok with the Custom Zone bass, and they are certainly cheap enough, with a street price of $199.99 (list is $337.99), which includes a 5-year warranty. No case is included, so you will have to find your own (or not). Certainly you will want to try before you buy, as the pictures do not do these justice!

Mahalo!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Smoky Greenwell – South Louisiana Blues | Album Review

Smoky Greenwell – South Louisiana Blues

Self Release

www.smokygreenwell.com

12 tracks / 51:00

Smoky Greenwell has certainly earned the distinction of being a fixture of the New Orleans Blues scene, and in his career he has played with War, Johnny Neel of the Allman Brothers, Warren Haynes, and many more, as well as fronting his own band. He has not been shy about recording his own work either, with eleven CDs in his catalog, with his the most recent releases being last year’s amazing Live at the Old U.S. Mint and his solid new release, South Louisiana Blues.

For South Louisiana Blues, Greenwell has collaborated with some of the best musicians that the Crescent City has to offer, including co-producer, songwriting collaborator and guitarist Jack Kolb, bassist David Hyde, and Doug Belote on the skins. Guest artists include none other than keyboard master Johnny Neel, Joe Krown (also on the keys), drummers Willie Pankar and Pete Bradish, and back-up singers Lynn Drury and Dana Abbott. Smoky brings the lead vocals, his harp and a tenor saxophone to the mix for this project.

This disc was cut by David Stocker at NOLAs Audiophile Recording Studios, and it includes a dozen tracks, with five songs that were written by Smoky and/or Jack. Many of the other tunes were written by folks with connections to the Deep South, which is where the album title came from. First up in the band’s set is an original boogie, “Animal Angels” with a cool 1960s groove and sinister vocals plus plenty of sweet harp from Greenwell. You can tell he has been playing the harp for four decades! This is followed up by a swamp rockish rendition of Wilbert Harrison’s classic “Let’s Work Together” with Johnny Neel behind the piano, heavily processed guitar from Kolb, and lovely backing vocals from Drury and Abbott.

Smoky must be a fan of Cornelius Greene, a native of the Sportsman’s Paradise who you may know better as Lonesome Sundown. There are three songs from this master of swamp music: “Lonesome Lonely Blues,” “I Had a Dream Last Night,” and “I’m Glad She’s Mine.” The latter is a slick bit of rhythm and blues with Smoky’s mellow vocals and sweet saxophone, a tight guitar solo from Kolb, along with the added bonus of thumping drums from Pete Bradish and a consistent 12-bar blues riff from Neel and Hyde. This is one of the standout tracks from the disc, in my opinion – it has it all! Other interesting covers include countrified versions of Wilie Dixon’s “Two Headed Woman” and Bob Dylan’s “Dirt Road Blues.”

There is also a passel of neat instrumentals to choose from, including Cal Valentine and Wally Cox’s “Boogie Twist,” featuring cool B3 from Neel, the funky “Pick It Up,” and Jack Kolb’s “The Hunch,” which has (not surprisingly) all kinds of cool guitar stuff going on and a raunchy harmonica solo from Greenwell. The last of these is the closer, “Walking with Mr. Lee” which allows Smoky to cut loose one last time on his sax to the accompaniment of clanking beer bottles and the reverie of bar patrons.

South Louisiana Blues is a really cool release from Smoky Greenwell and his friends, and it has a lot going for it. For starters, there are the pure talent and decades of experience that make Smoky the real deal, his band mates are all consummate professionals with great chemistry, and the disc is very well produce and recorded. It has a warm and full sound, and the material is enjoyable to listen to time and again. Check it out for yourself and make sure you head over to Smoky’s website to check out his calendar; it would be awesome to catch one of his Monday night blues jams the next time you are in New Orleans!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Hosa Velcro Cable Tie Review

Howdy!

I have been toting stacks of cables to shows for years, and no matter what container I stick them in they always seem to get tangled up, causing consternation when I do my set-up. To mitigate this, I have experimented with many different types of cable ties, and my favorites so far are the Velcro ones that Hosa makes.

Hosa Cable ties are not terribly complicated pieces of equipment, as they are just black Vecro pieces that are sewn together so that there is a pocket in the middle that allows you to pass the cable through (even with a larger XLR head). This allows them to remain with the cable (and not get lost) even when the cable is uncoiled. They are about 8 inches long, so if you use them on shorter cables there will be quite a bit of Velcro left over, but you can always break out your scissors and trim them to fit.

There is not much else to say – they do the job and they come in black, which goes with everything.

Hosa Velcro cable ties are cheap enough, with most places selling 5-packs for 4 or 5 bucks. So, if you need to manage your cables better, what could it hurt to give these a try?

Mahalo!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Inventory Update: 4th Quarter of 2016

Hi there!

Another three months have gone by, and here is the quarterly list of what is stacked up in the studio. The pile has gotten smaller since July, but things are always coming and going. If you see anything here that you cannot live without, drop me a line. It is all good stuff…

First off, the basses:

∙ 1974 Aria Telecaster Bass (apart for repair)

∙ 1980 Yamaha Pulser Bass

∙ 1986 MIJ Fender 1962 re-issue Precision Bass

∙ 1990 Ibanez SDGR Bass

∙ Sadowsky NYC Original P Bass

Electric Guitars:

∙ 1983 Squier JV ‘62 re-issue Stratocaster

∙ 1986 MIJ Fender ’52 re-issue Telecaster

∙ 1994 MIJ Fender ‘62 re-issue Stratocaster

∙ 1990 Gibson Les Paul Standard

∙ 2010 Gibson Explorer with custom pimp paint job

∙ LTD George Lynch Kamikaze 1

∙ Memphis Cigar Box Guitar by Matt Isbell

Acoustic Guitars:

∙ Martin Backpacker steel string

∙ Kala solid mahogany soprano ukulele

∙ 1980s Goya G-312

∙ Takamine EF341

∙ Takamine EF341SC

Amplifiers:

∙ 1967 Acoustic 260 Guitar Head

∙ Genz Benz Shuttle 9.2 with Aguilar GS112 and GS112NT Cabinets

∙ Fender Acoustasonic 30 DSP

∙ Fender Champion 300

Check in again in December to see what is still around. As always, you know it will be different!

Mahalo!