Bill Kirchen Trio at the Jumpin’ Hot Club Newcastle

Bill Kirchen
Jumpin’ Hot Club
The Cluny
26th July 2022

After more or less missing the last couple of support acts at The Cluny, we arrived bright and early ready for some unknown entity to entertain us at 8pm; only to find that tonight the doors didn’t ‘open’ until 8 and the support act was actually Bill Kirchen himself and he would do the first of two sets starting at 8.30.
This caused the dilemma of ‘should we buy a beer in Hall 1 and carry it into the venue next door, or be patient and buy it in situ?’
We took the latter option and took the opportunity of catching up with some friends we hadn’t seen in a long time (pre-covid if you must know).
Once inside, Hall 2 filled up nicely and was about 90% full when Bill and friends made their way onto the stage.
By way of introduction The Titan of the Telecaster thanked us for coming out on a Tuesday night; especially as there was a ‘big football game on TV*’ … then tell us that his wife was in the audience and this was the first time she’d ever been to the UK.

For some reason this elicited a huge round of applause.

Then with a minimum of fuss and barely a nod from Bill; the gig got started with the first of several songs that I didn’t recognise …. but that’s the joy of ‘live music’ isn’t it? At least it is for me; and my brother who was seeing Kirchen for the very first time.
This, though was followed by his ‘love song to his guitar’ …. Hammer of the Honky Tonk Hero; which was received like a long lost relative by the knowledgable fan club filling the intimate basement.
For the first time in the five times I’ve seen Kirchen play; the introductions to songs were generally kept to a bare minimum; which obviously wasn’t a real problem as his songs generally ‘speak for themselves’.

This first 45 minute set was balanced very nearly perfectly, with Kirchen/Commander Cody Classics like Semi-Truck and Truck-Stop At The End of the World neatly sandwiched between The Man at the Bottom of the Well and Word To The Wide from his DUETS album and Skid Row on My Mind (which has 3* and ‘beautiful’ in my notes); and eventually closing with a truncated rendition of Hot Rod Lincoln; if you can call 6 minutes ‘truncated’ ….. but fans will know what I mean.
The second half started with a Doug Sahm song I didn’t recognise and missed the title but I didn’t need an introduction to Tombstone Every Mile which followed and featured some of his finest fretwork of the evening; meriting 2* in my notes.
Another song from the DUETS album was next on the agenda and, while originally sung alongside Maria Muldaur, Bill went solo; and slowing I Ain’t Got Time For The Blues down to a midnight stroll it became slow and sultry which was a rare treat after all these years.
Someone to my left shouted out an inaudible request; which Bill queried and then with a mere nod to Paul on bass, went into something even slower ….. which turned out to be It Takes a Lot To Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry! The applause at the end was the loudest so far!
The pace then picked up for The Arkansas Diamond, before Kirchen handed over vocal duties to bass player Paul Riley; allowing Bill to go ‘all out’ on guitar duties (again; in my notes I wrote ‘does anyone play a guitar as sweetly?’)

I was again in uncharted territory, not recognising the next couple of songs and Bill didn’t seem to introduce them …. but it didn’t alter my enjoyment by one iota!

Then we were treated to another Dylan song, before which Kirchen told us he first saw His Bobness at Newport Folk Festival in ’64 when he was 16 and then “as we live in complicated times’ …… the trio gave us a punchy, powerful and 3* rendition of The Times They Are a Changin’ which again got a louder ovation than his own songs … odd that?
As it ended he gulped down more water before telling us that “what followed would be their final song ….. then they would pretend to leave the stage, we would cheer and demand more …. they would look surprised … and return to their original positions for the obligatory encore song.
When the laughter died down the band gave us a cracking version of Down To Seeds and Stems; which included a rather impressive whistling solo from the singer himself.
Then as promised, the band pretended to leave the stage/we shouted for more …. they obliged, with one of not just my Favourite Bill Kirchen songs, but all time songs …. Too Much Fun, which is and was a real showstopper in more ways than one.
The applause at the end was not just as loud as I’ve heard in years but absolutely genuine; which visibly appealed to bass player and album producer Paul Riley, who convinced Kirchen to put his guitar back on.
The flaw here was that Bill looked tired and didn’t seem to have anything prepared for such an eventuality … but after a brief conference the trio went into a Hawaiian/Surf instrumental that gave Bill the opportunity to regale us with his whistling abilities again …. but this really was the end; as he and Paul had to ‘sell us stuff’ from the merch desk.
As expected I enjoyed every minute of the gig; but more importantly my brother (who saw Dylan on the ’65 UK Tour) felt the need to buy a CD, although I’d offered to send him some downloads …. but, as he told me, “he just needed to buy a memory.”

The Rocking Magpie.
*The big football match was England Ladies playing in the semi-finals of the 2022 Euros!

Photo-set courtesy Harrisonaphotos

Mark Williams and Blue Horse FROM EARTH AND BROKEN SKY

Mark Williams and Blue Horse
From Earth and Broken Sky

Genre Bending Nu-Folk and Americana Plus Fabulous and Creative Storytelling.

Before we get started I have to issue the disclaimer that RMHQ Reviewer, Roy Peak is the bass player on this album; but that connection only got the album half way up the review ‘to do’ pile; an actual review only happens if I/we like what’s on offer or at least; we think it will be of interest to our readers.
FROM EARTH TO THE BROKEN SKY passes both tests with flying colours.
It appears that this is the third album from this troupe but the first to cross my path.
Bizarrely, opening track, Take A Ride reminded me of the band Traffic; and I can’t think why ….. but that influence pops up later too. The song itself is a lot of things; partly West Coast, Country Rock and part Folk Rock with lots of slightly odd undertones that combine to create an eminently listenable and enjoyable few minutes; and the perfect introduction to what is to follow.
This is followed by the quirkily titled Pirate In The Kitchen which opens with a winsome female voice (Geej Williams?) , followed by Mark Williams’ own raggedy velvet tones and a charming and laid back beat that enhances the flight of fancy and very imaginative song.
Especially with bands I’ve not heard of, I try to imagine what the songs would sound like ‘in concert’ and where that would take place.
Here; I expect Mark Williams & Blue Horse to turn up at a local tavern in and around Jacksonville Fl. on a Friday or Saturday night (and I’m not ruling out sunny Sunday afternoons either)or more likely a family friendly Festival where they would easily wins hearts and minds with Angel Rising and the endearing Folk song Dragos Wish, which feels like it’s even a bit theatrical the way it’s constructed and arranged.
The seamless way the band glide through the genres, without ever making songs sound out of place or jarring, probably comes from the disparate back story of each musician; Mark Williams and Roy Peak are both journeyman musicians; in the best possible manner; being able to adapt at the drop of a hat; filling in and fitting in whenever they are needed.
On the other hand Geej Williams is primarily a singer-songwriter and thespian; writing music for theatrical pieces across Europe and Asia; and then things really get interesting …. Noel Millan cut his musical teeth traveling the world playing in the US Navy Jazz Band; cellist Linda Minke has played in both the Chicago
Symphony and the Jacksonville Symphony; as well as playing on stage with no less than Dizzy Gillespie.
Victor Minke Huls is the lead cellist for the New World Symphony in Miami FL; and recently graduated as a Doctor of Musical Arts Student of Orchestral Conducting from Northwestern University Bienen School of Music!
Then there is Mike Koren another Doctor whose specialty is cardiology, though he has co-written a
musical “Child of the Seventies.”
Add all of those pieces together like a musical jigsaw; you get thoughtful and intricate songs like Dust Bowl, The Buffalo and Mining Town, which all err on the side of politics with a small ‘p.’
Juxtaposing these songs Williams drops in a couple of musical timebombs, that with so much going on around them, it’s all too easy to miss out on Love Comes Hard, the delicate instrumental Echoes From the Night and another instrumental (albeit with a windswept choir in the background) the genre bending Geejai …. but stick in and they will eventually capture your attention.
Which leaves just two songs to discuss; Love Comes Hard and Falling Down On Our Dreams, which I’m struggling to decide which is my Favourite Song. At present it’s the intense Country-Folk Rocker (with a pedal-steel at its heart) Falling Down On Our Dreams which sounds very personal; but covers what a lot of us feel in one way or another these days, privately and publicly.
Yet I’m still tempted to go for Love Comes Hard; something that could easily have been a Gordon Lightfoot or Stephen Fearing song, with a cello at its heart incase you needed any extra sadness!
In many ways it will be all too easy to reduce this album to ‘easy listening’ for when you’re reading or doing the ironing; as the melodies are quite majestic; but you will get the most benefit if you actually take the time to kick back in the fabulous and creative storytelling that runs through these songs like a golden thread.

Released August 5th 2022


Derrick Procell HELLO MOJO!

Derrick Procell
Hello Mojo
Catfood Records

Bringing Smoky, Smoochy and Soulful Songs To the Party Plus Some Tearjerkers Too.

There are many things that bring me to album for reviewing; obviously I may already know the act, sometimes my iphone does its magic; others it’s the actual artwork …. but sometimes; as in this case the album name intrigued me …. HELLO MOJO! Caught my attention as I uploaded it to the RMHQ ‘Supercomputer’ …. what could it mean?
Obviously I could have read the accompanying Press Release; but that would take the fun away …. IMHO.
So I pressed ‘play’ and sat back, coffee in hand.
Some sultry harmonica oozed out of the speakers followed by Procell’s velvety smooth baritone vocals singing Baby I’m Lost; in a way I might not have heard this century! There are far too many singers from my youth that he reminds me of; but it would be unfair to name any for you in case you would pre-judge this fabulous album.
I’m still not a lot clearer as to why the singer is welcoming his Mojo back (had he misplaced it with his glasses? Did he pawn it when times got rough?) but I’m sure glad he did.
To all intents and purposes this is a Soul Album of the finest hue; but with Classic R&B undertones; making songs like Broken Promise I Can’t Say No and the fabulous The Contender all timeless songs, but with 21st Century arrangements that will leave you glued to your seat.
Procell and producer Zac Harmon have a way of taking very average situations and turning them upside down and inside out until he’s created a song like A Tall Glass of You; which finds our hero ‘drinking to forget’ and name checking and dating the first time he drank various concoctions; until he can’t drink anymore and just needs A Tall Glass of You “and leave the bottle!
Occasionally; and this was a case in point; I seriously wonder how, after 100 years of Popular Music in a million guises, a songwriter can up with a new ways to say ‘I love you;’ ‘I wish you loved me’ or ‘I don’t love you anymore’ ... but thankfully they can and Derrick Procell and various co-writers certainly can bring new ways and songs to the party; with Who’ll Be The Next In Line and Bittersweet Memory being both smoochy songs and tearjerkers at the same time …… think Smokey Robinson covering The Best Of Al Green on a hot and sweaty Summer night.
Just when you’re least expecting it, tucked away in the middle Procell cranks the temperature up with the title track Hello Mojo! To some extent the ‘message’ probably applies to most of us who hear it; and the call and response chorus will be a sure fire winner in the clubs.
While the accompanying Press Release mentions Motown a couple of times; and I don’t totally disagree; if they are thinking latter day Motown; but to me this sounds like Derrick Procell and Company immersed themselves in Stax and Atlantic retrospectives until 5 minutes before they went into the studio; as these songs all have a mature edge to them that Motown rarely managed.
For my Favourite Song I’ve been playing three over and over again to see which would win; Colour of An Angel is absolutely fabulous; and I may come to regret dropping it out of the race so early; but initially the title Skin In The Game grabbed my attention; and the sizzling and sultry arrangement has kept it ever since …. it’s an absolute ‘certified banger‘ as my teenage Granddaughter would say.
Which only leaves one song; the intense and sensually stifling The Contender; which probably goes ‘hand in glove’ with Hello Mojo! with our man; in best Brando stylee in ON THE WATERFRONT begging for “one more chance/Just one more shot‘ at the title/girl.
Which all comes back to my wondering where writers get their ideas from …… who in their right minds would think a songwriter in 2021/2 would be able to take inspiration from a 1954 film; albeit a Classic to describe a tumultuous love affair?
Not me; but I’m so glad Derrick Procell and co-writer/bass player Bob Trenchard have much deeper and technicolor imaginations that I’ve ever had!
If you know a Soul/R&B fan who hasn’t bought new music since their College Days and constantly grumbles “They don’t make songs and albums like they used to” ….. but a copy of HELLO MOJO! for them ….. it’ll be lighting the blue touchpaper on a firework!

Released August 1st 2022


Ricky Ross SHORT STORIES Vol. 2

Ricky Ross
Short Stories
Cooking Vinyl

A Very ‘Grown Up,’ Articulate and Occasionally Poetic Collection of Songs

It’s difficult to know where to start with Ricky Ross; lead singer and songwriter with Deacon Blue, who were always much more than ‘just a Pop band’ ….. try listening to Raintown, released 35 years ago and it still sounds contemporary and adventurous today in 2022.
He’s had quite a succesful solo career that ran alongside; and in recent years has hosted a very succesful and Award winning Americana radio show on BBC Scotland.
So; what to expect from a solo album called SHORT STORIES Vol.2?
Well; whatever I expected isn’t what we receive.
As with most every other song here, the opening track finds Ross playing the piano while an orchestra swoops in and out as he sounds like his eyes are closed tightly shut while he sings a sad ballad with poetic undertones; The New World.
Perhaps these songs are based around happenings in Ross’s life; but to me they sound truly imaginative and even visionary as he creates mini rock operettas, leaving the listener to interpret accordingly and picture the scenarios in their own heads.
Perhaps All Dressed Up and Your Swaying Arms are literal observations; but there’s also a dreamy landscape in the way Ross describes memories of his childhood and on the latter it could be an unrequited love or a break up in his words ….. everyone who hears it will have their own opinion.

There’s a darkness here that appeals in a way it shouldn’t; but as Gretchen Peters famously sang ‘Sad Songs Make Me Happy’ and there are plenty of these here; that’s for sure.
Even on a song titled I Was The Beatle,s Ross manages to find the heartbreak and melodrama in a childhood romance that never progressed as he was ‘The Beatles and you were the Rolling Stones‘ and “You were living and I was thinking.”
I think we all may have had relationships like that …. some worked, others like this … fell by the wayside but still leave a scar.
You’ve probably worked out that this a deep and indeed, slow album …… beautiful in parts and deliberately cerebral in others; where Ricky Ross may even be challenging the listener to understand his words on Bethlehem’s Gate and The Unpath, which again sounds like a poem set to a delicate musical score.
What with the Beatles/Stones backdrop to another song, I was actually a bit disappointed to find that The Foundations wasn’t a bouncy sing-along like the pop group of that name produced in the 1970’s but actually a very clever tale of a break up; and an unmentioned single by The Foundations is his heartbreaking soundtrack ‘Spinning round/spinning round.’
We’ve all been there ….. some more recently than others I presume.
While there’s not a song here that I will ever feel the need to skip over; there are a couple that really, really appeal to my own sensibilities.
The Unknown Warrior is the starkest song on the album; just Ricky, his piano and a song about young men marching off to WWI if I’m not mistaken through these tears in my eyes.
Still Walking and Spanish Shoes are quite similar in context but entirely different in the way Ross tells these stories of love; with the former being a love a father has for his son and the romantic memories of walks the pair do/did together in the hills and glens of Scotia. The latter is more personal and a damn sight darker as the singer walks through an empty city, with only the moon for company as he walks away from a relationship …. possibly a lover; and if he makes it to the morning …
If I get out of here
I’m going to wear my Spanish Shoes
To make you feel good
And make me feel good too
Obviously life’s not always that simple; but this is a song after all.
The tipping point for this song to be my Favourite is the lines:
I stepped out and caught a bus
Rode into the city
Thank you driver/have a good day
As an ex-bus driver I’m pleased to hear that even in his time of despair Mr Ross can still find the time to be courteous to this much maligned worker.
It’s no surprise that this is a very ‘grown up’ collection of songs; destined to be the ‘go to’ when things get too much to bear and you need to hear someone else who has suffered like you; but can articulate your feelings in song.

Released 5th August 2022



The Sadies
Colder Streams
Yep Roc

Dallas Good’s Last Hurrah! The Sadies Live Magic is Finally Caught on Disc.

Released in the wake of the sudden and unexpected passing of Dallas Good in February, there might have been a tendency to have viewed this review in an overly sentimental light, but thankfully there’s no need. Having seen the Sadies several times live, I’ve never been in doubt about their ferocious and thrilling ability to blow away any audience – but on record I’ve often been a bit disappointed – that’s not necessarily down to the recorded quality on offer – it just hasn’t always matched the live experience – that was, until now.

The Sadies have always soaked up and developed a mix of Garage, Surf, Psychedelia and the strangest parts of the Country spectrum; and that’s what’s on offer here – the big difference for me with this release is the production by Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry – if ever someone’s caught ‘fire in a bottle’, Parry has done so here.

Opener “Stop and Start” is a scorching piece of Garage Punk-Psychedelia that could have sprung from (a better produced) Nuggets compilation – no need to wish that it was 1965 again.
“Message to Belial” takes the Stranglers’ “Golden Brown” time signature and trippy feel, but takes us to far darker, more sinister places, (the irony of the opening lines, although directed elsewhere are contain an eerie prescience
Long lost, all but forgotten/My dearest departed, oh, where have you gone?
whereas “More alone” brings in the signature twang of the band and also contains lyrics that tug at the heartstrings and the dark side of the mind
I paid my respects to a close friend I lost yesterday.“

“So Far So Few” dips back into the 60’s West Coast before excess made things sloppy; with some thudding Keith Moon-esque drum fills from Mike Belitsky as does “No-One’s Listening.”
“All the Good” treads the most ‘old-timey path’ with rhythmic walking-pace banjo and stellar acoustic guitar lead and it’s matched as a quieter number with “You Should be Worried” with its warm acoustic picking juxtaposed with the disturbing mantra of
I’m not worried about you/But you should be worried about me.”

Punkiest cut yet is the storming “Better Yet”, again with echoes of the early Who in its rhythmic shifts -only louder, angrier – and just……..better…
Cut Up High and Dry” asks
Is a better home awaiting, lord in the sky?” (the foreshadowing of these lyrics gets spookier…) and benefits from gorgeous sympathetic production from Parry, transforming a medium paced Sadies standard into a classy mix of shimmering sound and dynamics.
“Ginger Moon” races towards the album’s close with one of the finest Sadies vocal performances cut to disc and a red-hot guitar solo that will have you reaching for ice cubes to put on your ears.
Things come to a conclusion with the instrumental “End Credits” – a Calexico/Morricone type soundscape that thunders away into the distance.

The late Dallas Good’s “Anti-bio” for the album joked that
Colder Streams is, by far, the best record that has ever been made by anyone. Ever.
Well, that’s quite a claim, but it certainly beats a lot I’ve heard over the years; and to paraphrase his words – it is, by far, the best record that’s been made by The Sadies……. ever.
A fitting farewell to Dallas Good and hopefully it’s not the end.

Review by Nick Barber
Released 31st July 2022


RMHQ Radio Show Ep11 on Nova Radio NE

RMHQ Radio Show Ep11
Nova Radio NE
Newcastle upon Tyne
Sunday 24th July 2022

Here we go with another eclectic mix of Americana and Roots Music from across the Globe. As usual there’s a mix of brand new songs, old songs, Classic songs and songs you never knew you loved.

EP11Lydia LovelessSteve Earle
Steve EarleHarlem River Blues
Justin T EarleToday and a Lonely Heart
Faye FantarrowBoom
Durham County PoetsBack at The Groove Shack
Brian SetzerChequered Flag
Chuck BerryRoll Over Beethoven
Rocky BurnetteMystery Train
Tex Perkins & The Fat Rubber BandPay the Devil His Due
Texas MarthaBorn to Boogie
Chuck LeavellMean Mistreator
Johnny WinterGoing Down Slow
Mary GauthierDrag Queens in Limousines
Luke James WilliamsOff to Get Lost
Bobbie GentryHe Made a Woman Out Of Me
Misk Hill RamblersWhen Coal Was King
Tom T HallI’m a Coal Mining Man
Bobbo ByrnesLast Hurrah
HumbirdWolf Alice
Hector GannettInto the Deep
Anna LavigneFoolish Heart
The SadiesGinger Moon
Bobby BlackhatWhen I Cry It’s Ugly
Shemekia CopelandFried Catfish & Bibles
John PrinePeople Putting People Down
Bill KirchenHot Rod Lincoln

Wyatt Easterling FROM WHERE I STAND

Wyatt Easterling
From Where I Stand

Laid Back Country/Folk Hybrid That Will Capture Your Attention and Not Let Go.

This is an album from another artist that’s been around the block for a lot of years; releasing three previous albums, but our paths have not crossed until now.
That said, Wyatt Easterling has been and still is a man of many talents that criss-cross the industry, from A&R, PR, house songwriter to hosting his own songwriting retreats in France, with several household names helping out.
Regular readers will know that counts for nothing unless I like the album in question; and I most certainly do.
After a couple of weeks listening to lots of Blues albums and releases from spiky young singer-songwriters; Wyatt Easterling has proved to be the perfect laid back antidote to have on while I sat soaking up the sunshine in my back garden.
The title track From Where I stand opens the disc; and it sounds like a ‘sigh’ set to music; as Easterling; a man of a certain vintage gives us his thoughts on the world around us collapsing around our feet. It’s nowhere near as political as that sentence suggests; and the nearest acts I can think of to compare the singers’ style to is …. John Denver and David Gates, who were both quite the cool dudes many years ago and still get irregular plays on the RMHQ stereo when the mood takes us.
Yep; this is a ‘laid back’ album; but fear not ….. Easterling really can write a song that captures your attention the first time you hear it.
Prime examples would be This Old House, Where The River Goes and the gorgeous Travelling Light, which closes the album in the most darkly romantic of fashions.
It wasn’t until I was sitting in the garden listening on headphones that I realised what intricate arrangements these songs have and the stories too are deceptively complicated; but not so much that it puts you off …… as it would be all too easy imagining someone like Ronan Keating making another comeback with Love Says it Best or perhaps even Keith Urban covering That’s How She Moves Through The World; but being a terrible Music Snob, I’d always remind people that I preferred the original by Wyatt Easterling!
As I say this has been a perfect soundtrack to several lazy days in the garden; but a couple of Easterlings’ songs really transcend that scenario.
I Know Who You Are is a deliberately biting tale of unrequited love; that smoothly blends modern Folk with Country Music and will make most listeners wipe a tear from the corner of their eye at least once.
Bigger Than Dallas; on the other hand is a bonafide Country love song that has a story with more twists and turns than a hill country road.
Which then brings me to my Favourite Song here ….. the delightful Throw Caution To The Wind; which sounds like a co-write between Tom Paxton and Gordon Lightfoot and grips the heartstrings and doesn’t let go until you are gasping for breath. Perhaps, and I’m sure it has helped in my decision making; but Easterling sounds like he’s been listening to some of my most recent and intimate conversations about what I/we do with my/our lives ….. but which of me and Mrs Magpie would be Thelma and which Louise is still up for debate.
In many, many ways this album has been a delightful discovery …. proving that age is no barrier when writing a song or indeeds, songs from the heart.

Released 29th July 2022



Mick Kolassa
I’m Just Getting Started
Endless Blues Records

The Blues Comes in Many Shades; and Here We Add a Couple of New Shades To the Palette

This is Mick Kolassa’s 11th album which shows he already knows his way around The Blues, and even a cursory listen here shows what a talented singer and songwriter he is.
For some inexplicable reason I’ve always liked a title track to open an album; and that’s what we get here; the autobiographical and slightly tongue in cheek I’M JUST GETTING STARTED, where Mick takes us through every stage of his career from his Daddy giving him advice at the beginning through to him claiming
I’ve got me lots of tricks
ain’t no one’s seen yet!”
and you’d better believe it, Brothers and Sisters!
The thing I like most about this album; and that’s not to say there are any weaknesses; is the way the songs are front and centre. Sadly; in my experience too many Blues artists let the music especially their guitar playing dominate proceedings; and/or fiddling around with the vocals in one way or another; Mick Kolassa on the other hand regularly switches things around to get the best out of his words and stories.
Track #2 What Can I do? is a delicious slow burner, about a love affair going nowhere and I likes it a whole lot; especially when his voice drops an octave on the last line of the chorus.
I don’t know what to call it; but Kolassa is the opposite of a ‘one trick pony’; as he uses a variety of styles to catch your attention; with the dark and moody Alibis And Lies being a N’Orleans shuffle with a cornet/trumpet slicing through like cut throat razor; and bizarrely (on paper) he follows that with Friday night Dive Bar re-make of Milk Cow Blues called Leavin’ Trunk which is as raw and authentic as the Blues gets in 2022; and you hardly notice the change in pace at all.
I think that may be why I’m liking this album so much; is Kolassa’s ‘authenticity’ throughout; he sounds like he’s either ‘living the songs’ as he sings them, or ‘actually lived the story’ he’s singing about.
Prime examples would be the punchy version of John Hiatt’s Real Man, or That Kind of Man and especially the sizzling Take Me Away which won’t leave a dry eye in the house.
I’ve played the rambunctious final track How Much Can I Pay You a few times now, trying to unravel what it’s ‘really about’ and I think it’s as simple as being a fun song about a ‘rough old girl’ in a bar that the band are playing, and the type of tongue in cheek, saucy song we associate with Muddy Waters or even Louis Jordan; and it’s an absolute doozy.
As I say regularly, there are no obvious singles here; and why should there be with so few outlets for coverage; but that doesn’t stop a couple of songs from standing out like a poppy in a field of golden wheat.
First of my options for Favourite track is the slow and intricate Hard Hearted Woman; which features some superb guitar and organ interplay that sounds like a fog that the lyrics cut through like early morning sunshine.
Then there’s the funky ass, harmonica drenched Bigger Dreams, which just might be my current ‘signature tune’ and Rick Steff’s piano playing is straight out of the Professor Longhair playbook too.
Which brings me to my actual Favourite Song; the stunner Trying Not to Let The Darkness In; which has more or less applied to me a lot in recent years, and will tug at the heartstrings of all so many people who get to hear it; and the construction is quite majestic too.
As we all know, the Blues comes in many shades; and Mick Kolassa has created a couple of new shades of his own here and may even be colouring outside of the lines occasionally; but if that is what it takes to create songs like these; who am I to complain?

Released 27th July 2022



Kirk Fletcher
Heartache By The Pound
Ogierea Records

Late Night Listening For Lovers Everywhere, From The Soulful End of The Blues Spectrum

In recent years the company who sent me this album have been sending more and more albums that Bluesy; but more notably Loud and Rocky; so this album sat on the desk unplayed and unloved for a couple of weeks.
Then after farming out the albums for the team to review there it was, looking up at me like Little Orphan Annie. So, into the office CD player it went ….. and within a minute I felt like I was having an epiphany of the musical kind!
That first song; Shine a Light On Love has more than a hint of both BB and Albert King about it for me to take it back to the start and hunt out the headphones so as not to be disturbed.
Kirk Fletcher has a voice like worn velvet and his guitar playing is pure liquid gold ….. just like the two Kings I mentioned earlier; and when the female backing singers cut in I was whisked back the days when the Old Grey Whistle Test would throw a random song like this into their weekly TV programme and change my world forever.
It turns out that this is the LA native’s seventh album and the Muscle Shoals production is all over it like a rash; with songs like The Night’s Calling You, Wrong Kind of Love and the title track Heartache By The Pound couldn’t have been recorded anywhere else; plus the pick of the litter session musicians aren’t here by accident either.
These songs are very much from the Soulful end of the Blues spectrum and destined for late night listening when either you’ve just fallen in love or broken a relationship; such is the cleverness in Fletcher’s writing; as many songs here can be interpreted in several ways …… listen carefully to the slinky Night By Myself or Wrong Kind of Love and tell me which they are; a ‘falling in love song’ or a ‘breakup song’.
On the other hand I Can’t Find No Love sounds exactly what you’d expect; it’s a Tearjerker Deluxe; and the type of 45 that teenage girls would wear out playing over and over and over again in their bedrooms. (I’m out of touch…. does that still happen with downloads and Spotify?)
There are so many singers I can compare Kirk Fletchers’ vocals too; but what’s the point? He sounds like his larynx is soaked in honey and the way he delivers his words you believe 100% that he means what he’s singing …. not least on another tearjerker; Hope For Us which may be a love song about a significant other or more likely; a love song for the world we find ourselves in in 2022 ….. and is sure to be the closer at his gigs.
That leaves two very different songs for me to choose my Favourite between; and again I can picture being a young man and hearing both on the radio and simply ‘having to buy them ASAP‘ ……. the powerful Afraid to Die, Too Scared to Live is very much a song ‘of our times’ and has the hallmark of a man who has lived the words in the story (which I’m not going to spoil… but the title tells you a lot).
The other is the most uptempo song here and a veritable Soul Stomper; the type we’d associate with Otis Redding at his best; but Wildcat Tamer is a Tarheel Slim song from 1959 that I’ve never heard before and deserves this funky makeover.
I seem to have spent the last few weeks listening to a lot of folky singer-songwriters with the occasional Alt. Country band thrown in for good measure; but Kirk Fletcher and HEARTACHE BY THE POUND has been a real antidote and been my ‘go to album’ at the end of the day ….. and I think it could be for you to.

Released July 29th 2022


Whiskey Myers TORNILLO

Whiskey Myers
Wiggy Thump/Thirty Tigers

Grown Up, Articulate Southern Rock With More Twists and Turns than A Switchback Mountain Road.

I was pretty sure that if I hadn’t actually reviewed one of their earlier albums; I must at least have owned one or two ….. but neither were true; so this their sixth full length release is my ‘entry’ to Whiskey Myers.
First off I have to tell you is that there is a ‘big ole sound’ here from start to finish; and while you’re likely to find this front and centre in the Southern Rock section of your local record store or online retailer ….. there is so much more than one simple genre; with twists and turns in each individual song that all add up to a Helluva cracking good album!
The first surprise I suppose is the Mexicali trumpet/brass opening instrumental track Tornillo; named after the Border Town and studio that the band holed up in for three solid weeks recording these songs.
Then; if the opening verse of second song John Wayne,doesn’t grab you by the short and curlies; you sure ain’t gonna like what follows!
It doesn’t take a great stretch of the imagination to picture singer Cody Cannon, eyes closed and gripping the microphone as if life depended on it, rasping ….
Grandpa had a rifle that he took from a Vietcong
But he pawned it on a geetar when he got back from Saigon
Every night I think of him when I sit down to play!

Then the band kick in like a runaway Dodge Charger on a zig-zagging hillside …. HELL YES! This is very much for me, that’s for sure …. and the band haven’t even come close to peaking on that song!
As I said earlier, Whiskey Myers are first and foremost a Southern Rock band who know how to Boogie; and on Feet’s and Bad Medicine (which features the McCrary Sister on backing vocals btw) they can boogie with the best of them (no names – no pack drill!) but some of their subject matter (and I’m not discounting Bad Medicine for one minute here) is as far removed from the cliches that their contempories have churned out for decades as is humanly possible.
The (Power) ballad World Gone Crazy certainly isn’t what I would normally expect; and name checking Levon Helm is always going to get them bonus points at RMHQ too.
The Wolf is a bonafide ‘stomper’ but the first time you hear it you won’t know if they are trying to be latter day Depeche Mode filtering through AC/DC; but that’s the point of ‘evolving’ isn’t it? Plus it’s another helluva song that will scare the neighbours when played at 11 the next time you have a BBQ.
Then, there’s the haunting Antioch …… which starts out like a front porch Blues tune then slowly drags itself through the nettles out back; stinging everyone who hears it ….. and when you unravel the story you won’t be able to think of a better arrangement to accompany Cody’s deep words.
Unlike a lot of albums I receive from bands of a ‘Southern’ persuasion; the only gun I can find here is the one Grandpa pawned for a ‘geetar’ in John Wayne and there certainly doesn’t appear to be any songs celebrating drinking beer on a tailgate while watching young girls in cut-off’s dancing; this album is a whole lot more grown-up and aimed at a more educated ‘blue collar’ audience.
I’m sure that the more I play it Mission To Mars will unravel a lot more than it already has; but at the moment it sounds and feels like a sideswipe at the billionaires who are squandering on their riches while the poor get poorer ….. and if that’s the case; more power to Cody Cannon’s pen.
Even with all of that going on; Whiskey Myers still find time to slide in a couple of beautiful love songs; starting with Heavy On Me, which uses the Nirvana slow/slow/fast fast/slow slow format to keep the listener on their toes as Cody pours his heart out in a song.
Then; there’s the album closer; the mellowest song here; albeit with a razor sharp message Heart of Stone, where Cody sounds uncannily like a young Jon Bon Jovi; but don’t let that put you off as the song could be about many of us these days.
Where to go for a Favourite Song?
The rocktastic Other Side was an early contender; and still holds up today; but the dark ballad For The Kids with its sublime slide guitar intro and deep ‘message’ has caught my attention in recent days and back in the day when Guns n Roses ruled the airwaves could easily have been a Top 10 hit for Whiskey Myers.
But, there’s another song that has intrigued me right from the first time I played the album; and that’s The Wolf.
At face value it’s a ‘four to the floor’ belter; but John Jeffers’ mellifluous guitar licks and the addition of the brass section coupled to a bass line that makes your teeth rattle as Cody sings (raps?) a glorious story of life on the road and the effect leaving his loved ones behind has on him makes this a very special song indeed. So today …. I’m going for The Wolf as my Favourite.
I’m still not convinced that I don’t own an earlier Whiskey Myers album; but if I don’t then that’s obviously my loss ….. but for the time being I’m more than happy playing this album aat 7 or 8 in the car as long as the sun is shining.

Released July 29th 2022