RMHQ EXCLUSIVE Rob Heron Interview

Rob Heron has a new album coming out this week.
Rob Heron has a new baby.
Rob Heron has a new tour.
Many new things happening at the same time for Rob Heron; but not necessarily in the order you might think.

First came the tour dates.
At the end of last year, Rob’s agent suggested the Tea Pad Orchestra get some dates on the calendar. Mainly weekend dates in October and November of 2022.
Then Rob decided he better record a new album for the tour, so he booked studio time in May with only one song written.
‘I need a deadline to work to’ Rob tells me. ‘So starting in January of this year I set aside every Thursday to write or finish a song.’
Clearly his plan worked.
With the help of collaborator and engineer John Martindale and his long time band of university brothers aka The Tea Pad Orchestra, they recorded the album in just three days.

June brought an event that had its own schedule – baby Oscar.
Some festival dates had to be cancelled.
I needed to be home in June for the baby but I’ve told my agent to book as many festivals as possible for next year. I just love playing out to the crowd, everyone there to enjoy the music’.
He’s beyond the camping days of festival going so he’s looking forward to putting it all out there on stage and then going back to the hotel.
Spoken like a new father.

Along with tour dates in the UK, Rob is hoping to take the new album to places they have played in the past such as the Netherlands and Germany.
We did a couple of short trips over after Brexit and didn’t really find any major issues, but I don’t think we’re at a level where it would really be a problem. We don’t have masses of kit or merchandise so it wasn’t too bad. And the turnout was really good, especially in Germany where they just come out for live music.’
He tells me the British audiences are a bit harder to convince and with touring the way it is at the moment post-pandemic and heading full-tilt into a recession, aiming for Thursday to Sunday means a better chance of a weekend crowd and gives him the weekdays for essential family time.

I asked Rob about his new album, especially the zydeco sound he’s captured on a couple of tracks, such as Snip Snap.
We just enjoyed adding those sounds to the record.’
Rob loves old styles. Two artists he mentions are CW Stoneking and The Wiyos. Modern artists who sound like they came from a time gone by.
A Call To Mother’s Arms’ is probably one of my favourite songs on the album,’ Rob offers. ‘It’s quite different to all of the other tracks. We put a (penny) whistle on it because the song just seemed to be calling out for it. So we did it and it sounded great.’

Those who know Rob, know he is a massive collector and audiophile with many hundreds, perhaps thousands of 45s and LPs.
It’s not hard to see where he gets his ideas and inspiration.
I asked Rob of his greatest single find and he told me ‘that’s impossible to answer because I have one of those every week. Last week I found BB King’s version of ’16 Tons’ and I was really excited because I love that version of that song and it’s hard to find.’
When I asked how he got into listening to music he credited hanging out with his dad as a kid, listening to folk and going around to festivals.
I knew since I was a young kid (growing up in Cumbria) I wanted to do something in music and I got my first guitar when I was about 10. When I decided to study music (folk music and performance in Newcastle), I knew that I would be working in music. In fact most of my band I met in school. Three of us still play so we work together really well.’
Rob told me as he was writing, he sent sound recordings from his phone to the guys so they would have an idea of what to expect when recording time rolled around.
And then, as time is money and their drummer lives in Bristol, they booked a day of rehearsal and three days in the studio to do all the tracking.
John has worked with me on our previous albums so I can tell him what I have in mind for a song and he can usually get the result I’m looking for’. The only song that was already written was the title track ‘The Party’s Over’ which Rob released to Bandcamp as part of a ‘lockdown’ EP.
That song was recorded on two track and sounded pretty rough and ready but I liked it and felt the song had evolved in its meaning, represented where we were now, especially with two of us in the band expecting children, as in the party IS over. How we’ve been doing it isn’t going to be how we do it from now on. No more coming in at 5am, more like waking up at 5am with the baby.’
Clearly with new families on board, focus has to shift a bit and touring, recording, etc. needs to be handled in a more family-centric way.

Finally I asked Rob, aside from the influences of old time American music, what did he listen to that is current? He mentioned Daniel Romano and Sierra Farrell (who they had the chance to support in their hometown).
I loved it, it was such a great night of music, one of the best in recent times’.

Discovery and inspiration are great things to Rob, the man with a thousand records. (And I think the new album explores both of these things really well.)
Our records, if you listen to them in order, show how we’ve evolved.’ Rob was very clear about one crucial detail. ‘We’re not trying to BE an American band. I am greatly influenced by what I love to listen to, but I am British and I write from my point of view and perspective, I just happen to include some of these great sounds I’ve heard throughout my whole life.’

I’ll leave you with this thought from Rob who loves finding ‘the next thing’.
You buy the record, great now what’s next? The best music is the music you haven’t heard yet’.

Rob Heron and the Tea Pad Orchestra’s new album ‘The Party’s Over’ is out on September 30 and their first single, ‘She Hypnotised Me’ (which puts me in mind of Jake Bugg meets Morphine with a voodoo vibe), is out now.
Catch them on tour throughout the UK in October and November.

Interview by Kris Wilkinson

Rory Gallagher DEUCE (50th Anniversary Edition Box Set)

Rory Gallagher
Deuce (50th Anniversary Edition Box Set)

“The man and album that changed my musical life” Johnny Marr

I only received this box set two weeks ago while I was away on holiday; and on my return had a host of single albums to wade through for review, so while I’ve been dabbling with these amazing (and occasionally mystifying) versions of songs from one of my favourite ever albums; and a ‘game changer’ for me, I’m not actually reviewing it here in the truest form.
‘Game Changer’?
Certainly; because this came out when I was +/- 14 and just discovering ‘Grown Up’ music; usually via my two elder brothers and their record collections.
In this case I distinctly remember my brother Melvyn returning home with this LP under his arm (possibly/probably in a JG Windows bag!) and immediatly placing it on the turntable in the family radiogram.
I sat transfixed for the three times he played it!

Move forward half a century; and I now own three other versions of my own and it is still a ‘go to’ alongside Blueprint every month or two… a timeless classic.

So; as I haven’t had time to review the multitude of ‘alternate takes’ and ‘live tracks’ here …. I will just let you have a gander at an abridged version of the Press Release.

When asked “How does it feel to be the best guitarist in the world,” Jimi replied: “I don’t know, why don’t you go and ask Rory Gallagher.”
Jimi Hendrix

The extensive celebratory release digs deep into the Rory Gallagher Archives and will include a new mix of the original album, twenty-eight previously unreleased alternate takes, a six-song 1972 BBC Radio ‘In Concert’, and seven Radio Bremen radio session tracks.
The package will contain a 64-page hardback book with a foreword by Johnny Marr of The Smiths, unseen images by the late Mick Rock, essays, and memorabilia from the album recording.
The 2CD and 3LP will be cut down versions from the deluxe box and there will be a special D2C 1LP of the “BBC In Concert – Live at The Paris Theatre, 13 January 1972.”

Released in November 1971, just six months after his eponymous solo debut, Rory Gallagher’s second album, Deuce, was the summation of all that he’d promised in the wake of Taste’s collapse.
Rory wanted to capture the feeling of a live performance, so he would look to record immediately after live concerts while keeping production to a minimum.

” As soon as I heard Cradle Rock, I was hooked. I thought, ‘This is what I want to be when I grow up.”
Joe Bonamassa

RELEASED September 30th 2022



CD 1

Used to Be – 50th Anniversary Edition
I’m Not Awake Yet – 50th Anniversary Edition
Don’t Know Where I’m Going – 50th Anniversary Edition
Maybe I Will – 50th Anniversary Edition
Whole Lot of People – 50th Anniversary Edition
In Your Town – 50th Anniversary Edition
Should’ve Learnt My Lesson – 50th Anniversary Edition
There’s a Light – 50th Anniversary Edition
Out of My Mind – 50th Anniversary Edition
Crest of a Wave – 50th Anniversary Edition

CD 2

Used to Be – Alternate Take 1
Used to Be – Alternate Take 2
I’m Not Awake Yet – Alternate Take 1
Don’t Know Where I’m Going – Alternate Take 1
Maybe I Will – Alternate Take 1
Maybe I Will
 – Alternate Take 2
Maybe I Will – Alternate Take 3
Maybe I Will – Alternate Take 4
Maybe I Will – Alternate Take 5
Whole Lot of People – Electric Alternate Take 1
Whole Lot of People – 6 String Acoustic Alternate Take 1
Whole Lot Of People
 – Deuce Album Session / Alternative Acoustic Take / 1971 *
Whole Lot of People
 – 12 String Acoustic Alternate Take 1
In Your Town
 – Alternate Take 1
In Your Town – Alternate Take 2
In Your Town – Alternate Take 3

CD 3

In Your Town – Alternate Take 4
Should’ve Learnt My Lesson – Deuce Album Session / Alternative Acoustic Take / 1971*
Should’ve Learnt My Lesson
 – Deuce Album Session Outtake / 1971*
Should’ve Learnt My Lesson – Alternate Take 2
Should’ve Learnt My Lesson – Alternate Take 3
There’s A Light – Alternate Take 1
There’s A Light – Alternate Take 2
There’s A Light – Alternate Take 3
Out of My Mind – Alternate Take 1
Out of My Mind – Alternate Take 2
Out of My Mind – Alternate Take 3
Crest of a Wave – Alternate Take 1
Crest of a Wave – Alternate Take 2
Don’t Know Where I’m Going – Home Demo
Maybe I Will – Home Demo
Should’ve Learnt My Lesson – Home Demo

CD 4

Should’ve Learnt My Lesson – Radio Bremen 21/12/1971
Crest of a Wave – Radio Bremen 21/12/1971
I Could’ve Had Religion – Radio Bremen 21/12/1971
For The Last Time – Radio Bremen 21/12/1971
Messin’ With The Kid – Radio Bremen 21/12/1971
Don’t Know Where I’m Going – Radio Bremen 21/12/1971
Pistol Slapper Blues – Radio Bremen 21/12/1971
Used To Be – BBC In Concert – Live at The Paris Theatre, 13 January 1972
Should’ve Learnt My Lesson – BBC In Concert – Live at The Paris Theatre, 13 January 1972
Out Of My Mind – BBC In Concert – Live at The Paris Theatre, 13 January 1972
I Could’ve Had Religion – BBC In Concert – Live at The Paris Theatre, 13 January 1972
Crest Of A Wave – BBC In Concert – Live at The Paris Theatre, 13 January 1972
Messin’ With The Kid – BBC In Concert – Live at The Paris Theatre, 13 January 1972

Paul Jones THE BLUES

Paul Jones
The Blues
Umbrella Music

A Fabulous Masterclass in British Blues

Paul Jones has been one of my favourite singers since my pre-teen years in the 1960’s with Manfred Mann; and even through his solo period before he launched The Blues Band one of my brothers had a solo album of his that I played regularly.
So; it was with more than a degree of excitement that I set about listening to this career spanning retrospective.
Even though I consider myself a ‘fan’ there’s still more than a few songs here that I either don’t know or have completely forgot over the last 50 years or so.
The first of these is opening track; the low down and mean old Blues missive; Without You; but with hindsight it really is as good a way to introduce Paul Jones and his diverse back catalogue as it not only showcases his majestic voice but his mastery of the harmonica too.
Personally I’d have liked the tracks to be in chronological order; but that’s a minor point and easily forgiven as the balance is actually nigh on perfect from start to finish.
His all too brief stint in Manfred Mann is represented by 5-4-3-2-1; and with not hearing it for decades has been an absolute blast; and I’d forgot how raw it actually was; and just may have been my own introduction to the joys of a well played Harmonica.
Of the other songs that I recognised from the first few bars, and essential additions to Paul Jones’ ‘story’ are the original Blues Band song which introduces the members one by one; I’m Your Kingpin (which was a mainstay of just about every bar band I heard in the 1970’s! and the Chicago infused It’s Got To Be The Blues which was another song that sent me down a musical rabbit hole many years ago.
Without pretending I know what I’m talking about, there a couple of songs here that are very much ‘of their time’ and the world would keep spinning if The Dog Presides, The Pod That Came Back and Choose Or Cop Out had been missed off here.
But there are more than enough diamonds that I’ve re-discovered like the raunchy Suddenly I Like It; the sensual Like Mother Like Daughter and Noah Lewis Blues to more than make up for those three.
Treating this retrospective as a Brand New Album makes choosing a Favourite Song a bit easier; as Paul’s ode to Sonny Boy Williamson is exciting beyond belief; and the finale; a sweet ballad, I’ll Be Home Again Tonight shows what a terribly underrated singer Paul Jones has been over the last 60 years.|
For the life of my I can’t place the rip-roaring stompers, Living For The Day and It Sure Feels Good; but I know them, yet neither appear to be anywhere in my collection; so I guess they must have impressed themselves on me in a live setting …. and if they has; then they both deserve their place as my Favourite Song here.
While this is meant to be a retrospective of his career … NO I’ve Been a Bad, Bad Boy or High Time?
I know Paul Jones is a multi Award winning British Blues Icon; but that still doesn’t stop him being underrated and undervalued by the music paying public at large; so it’s not too late for you to buy a copy for yourself and one for a friend who deserves to hear a bundle of fabulous British Blues sung by a Mastercraftsman.

Released September 30th 2022


Rob Heron & The Teapad Orchestra THE PARTY’S OVER

Rob Heron & The Teapad Orchestra
The Party’s Over
Teapad Recordings

From New Orleans To Newcastle via New Jersey and New Mexico.

Even I have been known to usy the ‘lazy’ description of ‘genre defying’ to describe music over the years; but that is exactly what Rob Heron and his Teapad Orchestra are and it’s deliberate too.
While there are influences coming out of every groove or diode, these crazy kids genuinely have a distinctive sound all of their very own.
For the uninitiated, this is the band’s 5th full length album and (hilariously IMHO) tackles all of the things that effect the average and not so average, 30 something in 2022.

The album starts in a gloriously morose manner with Go Home (The Party’s Over) not just an ode to the aging process and the end of their ‘drinking and carrying on’ around Town on not just a weekend, but a school night too*.
Methinks this will be the start of any or all gigs this Summer and forever.
The party cranks up on the swingtastic She Hypnotize’s Me, which has a full on brass section ‘giving it laldy’ as if they are auditioning for a New Orleans funeral! It’s no wonder they chose this as the first single; it has ‘radio’ stamped all over it.
It’s safe to say that Rob Heron follows his very own path musically; as the third song; My Salad Days Are Through, he dives headlong into Western Swing, with Rob yodelling the opening and alongside an emotionally charged harmonica on a heartfelt look at the past via a nod to the future.
My salad days were ended,
When she no longer depended,
On my love.
Oh, my salad days are through
Just when you think you’ve got a handle on the band’s ethos …. and this is very much a band effort, they knock you sideways with the witty and wordy Country AND Western tinged The Horse You Rode In On; which includes the first whip-crack in a song I’ve heard since The Legend of Xanadu back in 1968.
All of the best party records have a tearjerker or two in there, don’t they?
The Teapad’s grab your heartstrings on the bittersweet ballad Trouble Is and don’t let go until you’re coughing up black stuff. It’s a similar sensation with the brass infused R&B of Remind Me Tomorrow; although that jaunty melody and rip-roaring sax are deceptive …. but trust me; as many people will cry along to this missive as those who dance to it at the end of the evening.
I can’t exactly remember the first time I saw the Teapad Orchestra; possibly SummerTyne or as a support at the Jumpin’ Hot Club; not that it matters but it was a long time ago and the band members were still at Uni; and now they are all growed up and in relationships; some with a family …. and following almost constant touring around Europe in that time, the music they create here is actually spectacular and incredibly well thought out from start to finish.
If pushed I can give you an argument why any single song here is my Favourite; but for purposes of brevity I’ve somehow managed to shrink that down to three songs to battle it.
Rob has never shied away from left of centre causes in his songwriting; and here he includes Right To Roam as a Cowboy ballad; although it’s actually about his beloved home county of Cumbria and the fences going up around the beauty spots in the Lake District and beyond.
I’ll pitch up my little tent,
Light a fire, sing a lament,
But I’ll never feel alone,
In the hills, by the lakes, of the place,
That I call home
The Honky Tonky Polka infused tune Snip Snap Shout is probably the one song most people would suppose was ‘A-Typical’ Teapad Orchestra; and it is as it’s a mighty fast pace and features their trademark Accordion every thirty seconds; and trust me when they play this live smoke will come out of that squeezebox as the pace trebles!
As is my won’t I’m actually selecting a song that genuinely took me by surprise; but knowing Rob … shouldn’t have.
A Call To a Mother’s Arms starts and ends as a simple Country Shuffle and you won’t catch the twist the first few times you play this song … but when you do it will feel like a punch to the gut. Without giving anything away it’s a response to the flag-shaggers around the world and; especially the likes of Toby Keith and his ilk.
It’s back to Newcastle meets New Orleans with the album closer; the really clever The Doctor Told Me; which while observed and told by a young singer, it’s a tale of aging and living a long and fulsome life; that he wants to carry on after death … as ‘smoking and drinking and carousing…. can’t kill me again.’
While I still love the urgency and passion in The Teapad Orchestra’s early recordings; but the more I’ve played THE PARTY’S OVER the more I think it’s their finest album to date; but that shouldn’t be a surprise as I said that about the last one too.

*Obviously appealing to their 30 something demographic; I find this hilarious as I’m older than not just Rob; but all of the band members parents!

Released September 30th 2022


RMHQ Radio Show Ep:21 @NovaRadioNE

RMHQ Radio Show
Episode 21
Nova Radio NE
September 25th 2022

Another week – another radio show.
Half way through tonight I questioned ‘what is Roots Music’? I’m certainly not sure; it’s the same with ‘Americana’ …. define it if you can.
So as usual the RMHQ Radio Show was a head eclectic mic of Country, Blues, Folk and all points in between.
While we play a lot of album tracks; this episode includes a couple of bonafide EXCLUSIVE First Plays of singles by Steve Pledger and Don Gordon’s Bandolier; plus a song sung last Sunday night in a North Shields pub that turned up on YouTube on Monday, which prompted an e-mail to the singer; and on Thursday a ‘polished up’ version appeared by e-mail; and it’s really quite magical.

Ep 21Buffalo SpringfieldFor What it’s Worth
James Edwyn & The Broken BandNever in Her Eyes
Buddy & Julie MillerStorm of Kisses
Steve PledgerSalt From the Sea
Annie KeatingKissed the Wrong Guy’s Girl
Rose’s Pawn ShopOld Time Pugilist
Roy BuchananYou Can’t Judge a Book By the Cover
Erja LyytinenBad Seed
Albert CollinsI Ain’t Drunk
Paul JonesIt’s got to be the Blues
Joanne Shaw TaylorJust No Getting Over You
Don Gordon’s BandolierCryin’ Out
James ‘Super Chikan’ JohnsonFred’s Dollar Store
Allan CaswellSometimes It’s Your Job
Jesse Malin (ft Bruce Springsteen)Broken Radio
Laurie BiaginiHey Mr DJ
Lady NadeSweet Honey Bee
Tommy WomackJob Hunting While Depressed
The MagpiesSweet Dreams (are made of this)
The Louvin Bros.Let her go; God Bless her
Bridie Jackson & the ArbourAll You Love, Is All You Are
Luke James Williams (Hector Gannett,ONE MORE BOTTLE OF WINE
Jasmine Weatherill & Aaron Duff
HerrickSunderland Road
Howlin’ Wilf & The VeejaysI Got My Eyes On You
Hokum HotshotsGuitar Swing
The Sadies & Garth HudsonThe Shape I’m In
Buffy St MarieUniversal Soldier
Rob Heron & Tea Pad OrchestraThe Horse You Rode In On
Ceitdh MacFreetime

Courtney Marie Andrews LOOSE FUTURE

Courtney Marie Andrews
Loose Future
Fat Possum

A Ride Into Emotional Uncertainty, Coloured by A Growing Musical Variety

“Old Flowers” was the classic breakup album – its “never going to let love in again” (from “Carnival Dream”) , was the vow of a person hurt, but as we know – never say never.
“Loose Future”, as its title suggests sees our heroine taking steps forward (musically, emotionally and lyrically) towards a place where options need to be kept open and change – if not embraced – faced with philosophical grace.

The title track had already been released as a pre-album taster and its mix of familiar melody embraced in a ‘trippier’ arrangement (cooing percussive dove sounds, anyone?) than CMA had previously explored acts as a template for the directions that this release is going to follow.

“Older Now”, is more acceptance of the past and determination to move forward because
I’m ready for a change”.
Plenty of “ooh-oohs” are going to make this – dare I say it – an audience participation number too.

“On The Line” drifts back to more melancholy territory – largely chiming guitar and vocal and it’s an acknowledgment that you can’t escape the past
“you only call when it’s your love on the line”.
CMA may have “gotten used to moving on” but the claws of the past don’t go away so easily.

Another pre-release track “Satellite” – again, insanely catchy with spaced out, phased backing shifts back towards a more hopeful point in time, as CMA enthuses about
my favourite piece – of the sky”.
It’s an ode to the powers of emotional recovery.

“These Are The Good Old Days” embodies the realisation that living in – and grasping the moment, especially for someone who feels so strongly and projects possible outcomes onto an unfixed future is an acceptance that is needed to counter the vagaries of excessive hope.
Musically it’s wrapped in slow, descending guitar lines and a philosophical delivery, with an emphatic chorus of self-conviction.

Musically, “Thinking On You” is in some ways, classic Courtney.
The arrangement harks back to the sound of earlier albums, but then goes up an epic notch with swathes of strings that lift this into classic ballad territory – it’s another track where the mix of past and present combine to forge something new – and stronger.

“You Do What You Want” sees CMA again evaluating
you’re the kind of person that everyone forgives”.
Narrative flashes of former times reveal how (bad) behaviour in some people is overlooked and accepted, because the other side of that person somehow eclipses that which we’d rather avoid.
It’s Courtney on the cusp, striving for balance and perspective.

This internal dialogue goes further on “Let Her Go”, but in a less obvious lyrical/poetic form.
Framed in the form of an observation on an abstract relationship, the role of the narrator is to comment and offer thoughts on being trapped in a situation that’s difficult to escape.
The title answers the question, in melancholy/philosophical terms.

The uncertainty and imbalance of emotion that runs through the album comes to a head on “Change My Mind” where CMA admits that
I’m not used to feeling good” and “I keep looking for ways to being let down”.
It’s a tale of someone compulsively addicted to disappointment, but still hanging on with the slight glimmer of hope that inevitably will bubble to the surface.
This one’s for the permanent pessimists amongst us.
Many emotional chords will be struck – it’s an absolute gem of a song.

The album closes with “Me and Jerry” a story of two imperfect like-minds; but without putting a label on what that relationship is – but admitting that the quest to emotionally do so is placing the narrator
out of my mind” – ever different, ever the same.
Melodically it’s perfectly formed in a mixture of memorable melody and anguished moments of delivery.

Courtney Marie Andrews has titled this album perfectly – written in a period in time when she was practising daily songwriting discipline, that’s given the album an emotional consistency in its exploration of imbalance and volatility.
Add into that an exploratory musical mix (this reviewer loved the trippy bits, but especially the strings) and it’s clear that Courtney is not making hardened plans, because life isn’t like that, but being led by the muse, the head and the heart.
You won’t regret continuing the journey with her.

Review by Nick Barber
Released October 7th 2022



Dr. John
Things Happen That Way
Rounder Records

This Party Gets Real and Raw and Absolutely Rockin’

“One, two, tree, fowuah…”
That voice!
That piano!
Unmistakable and sorely missed.
We lost Mac a little over three years ago and yes, it’s funny how time slips right away…..And as the record boldly states … “Things Happen That Way.”

As if dropped from heaven at a time when we desperately need his cooler than cool, Dr. John’s new record, “Things Happen That Way” opens with a haunting rendition of “Funny How Time Slips Away” in true Dr. John style; as if he’s sending us a message from the great beyond. 
Absolutely nothing is missing from this tasty gumbo of New Orleans Blues. 
The Voodoo builds on “Ramblin’ Man.”
Bones shakin’ and slide guitar sneaking right up your spine, hitting every tiny tingle in your body, Malcolm John Rebennack Jr may be deceased, but he ain’t gone.
Not by a long shot.  

“Holy Water” is the track that stopped me cold and took me “there.”
Katie Pruitt’s voice shines bright against the wear & tear of Dr. John’s in this tale of redemption and forgiveness. 
It’s a march that gets you set up straight and thinking while the dobro slides you back down easy to realize that we are all just human.

The party gets real and raw and rockin’ on “Sleeping Dogs Best Left Alone.” The R&B and Soul drips like honey from the brilliant background singers, horn section and wah-wah electric guitar solo.
“Clean & Unclean. Seen & Unseen.” Get your cans on and dig these lyrics my friends.
There is GOLD in these hills and y’all better get ready to whistle while ya work, and mine the wisdom righ-chere.

Dr. John has never been afraid to touch on the “stuff” that might ruffle a feather or two.
Maybe that’s why he wore so many.
Always ready and able to take on a massive topic and boil it down to its divine essence, all the while keeping it groovy, the introspective “Give Myself A Good Talkin To” is one of those tunes that brings a moral compass to a gunfight and wins every time.
Truth be told.
Even in 2022; I still have a private weekly dance party to Dr. John’s GENIUS record, “Locked Down (2012),” and I highly recommend that y’all do the same — “Things Happen That Way” appropriately finishes off the record with a sigh, a tear and then a smile.
A classic on a classic.
What could be better. 

Dr. John’s final studio album features three brand new tunes, as well as hypnotic & psychedelic version of Dr. John’s 1968 classic “I Walk on Guilded Splinters,” and some cool, fresh takes on classic songs penned by Willie Nelson, Cowboy Jack Clement, Hank Williams, and an incredible Louisiana shuffle “End of The Line” by The Traveling Wilburys, featuring Aaron Neville.
Guest appearances by Katie Pruitt, Willie Nelson and Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real bring the family circle, full circle, and may that circle remain unbroken and ever-expanding throughout the universe and down thru many generations of artistic heritage, keeping the memory and the  music of Dr. John alive forever.

Review by Emily Duff
Official release September 23. 


Kaz Hawkins MY LIFE & I

Kaz Hawkins
My Life & I
Dixie Frog
All Killer, No Filler N’orn Irish Powerhouse R&B Belters and Ballads

I first encountered Kaz Hawkins way back in 2013 at the inaugural Belfast Skyline Americana Festival; when in the middle of the afternoon she made a short and sharp appearance, which garnered this in my review …
The stage was cleared and refilled with military precision for the fulsome figured Blues ‘belter’, Kaz Hawkins, who immediately cranked the party up a couple of notches with her raucous Honky Tonk songs, and I feel I really must mention the outstanding Lipstick and Cocaine from her forthcoming album in September, which was a real pot-boiler.”
I reviewed her subsequent debut album, but while tenuously following her career on Social Media; I never received anything else until two weeks ago when this retrospective arrived.
After a couple of plays; I began regretting calling her a ‘Blues Belter’ back in ’13; as she is much much more than that; starting with the pure Gospel of opening song Pray, which is full of nuance, subtlety and passion; and will blow your socks off so hard you may never find the left one!
This is followed by the wistful and simpering heartbreaker; Because You Love Me with Sam York’s gentle and evocative piano playing hatching thoughts of this being sung late at night in the Bada Bing! nightclub, with Tony Soprano crying his eyes out in the corner.
Later there’s a song called Surviving which uses a similar template; but listen very carefully two or three songs and you will hear a woman unburdening herself of a time in her life that needs putting out of harms way; in a way I’ve rarely heard in 50 years of buying music.
There are 17 tracks here and I can’t possibly tell you about each and every one; life’s too short, so if I miss anything out it’s not because it’s a ‘duffer’ …. it’s not – there ain’t any filler here – it’s definitely all KILLER!
Kaz covers a couple of Classic Blues tunes; and certainly puts her own inimitable spin on them; starting with Feelin’ Good; which sounds as if it was written with her in mind as she uses her voice like a sonic missile at times.
The two Etta James covers: ‘Something’s Gotta Hold On Me’ and ‘At Last’, show new listeners where she’s coming from; but Kas sure ain’t looking back here; she shines them up for 21st Century cosmopolitan listeners; and the results are absolutely glorious.
The other ‘cover’ is/would be a song that she would be contractually obliged to include in every set of hers growing up in the bars and clubs in and around Belfast; and that’s her funky big band rendition of Van’s Full Force Gale which more or less stands head and shoulders beside the Master’s original …. honest!
Of the others, Hallelujah Happy People! is every syllable as exciting and tragically beautiful as it was that first afternoon 9 years ago; and Drink With The Devil tells it’s very own story that will have many of us smirking at the memory.
I’m pleased to report that there is plenty of light and shade here; with Kaz showing what a truly wonderful ‘singer’ she is on Don’t You Know, Believe With Me and the gut wrenching ballad; Surviving when the arrangements allow her to take us on an emotional rollercoaster that will leave even the average music fan a tear stained wreck the first time they hear them.
For my choice of Favourite Song I’ve managed to narrow the field down to three songs that all could and should be Classics of the genre if only the world was a fair place.
The album closes with Shake which lets Kaz finally loose her stays and give it some welly! Boy is it a way to leave the listener wanting more.
The River That Sings is one of those beautifully maudlin songs that; perhaps I’ve got this wrong; but will resonate with anyone who has moved away from the family home to seek their fortune; and even only mentally, this song draws them back like a magnet.
The other is from her Live album; and is the song that captured my heart that weekend in Belfast when I first saw Kaz Hawkins …. Lipstick and Cocaine. If you already know this song … you know it is a heartbreaker par excellence and if you haven’t …well…. you’re in for a very rare treat. While I’ve found numerous songs here that have knocked me sideways; Lipstick and Cocaine is a diamond in a pile of ruby’s and topaz ….. it shines like no other.
It’s still not too late for Kaz Hawkins to get the reward that her talent so deserves; and that talent deserves nights singing these songs at the Royal Albert Hall, Carnegie Hall, the Philharmonie de Paris in her adopted homeland and of course the Waterfront in the heart of Belfast.

Released September 23rd 2022.


Jimmy Hall READY NOW

Jimmy Hall
Ready Now
Keeping The Blues Alive

A Mesmerizing And Deeply Emotional Collection of Contemporary Yet Timeless Blues Tunes

Jimmy Hall has always been a “larger-than-life” and charismatic presence as the vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and front man of the legendary Mobile, Alabama Southern Rock band, Wet Willie. The Wet Willie Band was an exceptional, yet incredibly underrated band that toured with the Allman Brothers in 1971 and enjoyed a few chart hits, one reaching the Top 10. Interestingly comprised of Jimmy, his brother Jack and their sister, Donna, among others, and eventually the sensational singer, Ellie Brooks, this “family” band went through many changes from 1971 to 1979.  Jimmy’s long career as a solo artist kept that genius alive, raised the ante and sweetened the pot. 

“Ready Now,” produced by Blues guitarist, and legend in his own right, Joe Bonamassa, is a superb and soulful brand new record that re-establishes and solidifies Hall as a formidable force of classic, genre-defying Roots Rock and roll that grows out of the rich Southern soil of Country, Blues and; of curse Soul.

Straight out the gate this record satisfies and lifts me up.  “Jumpin’ for Joy” defines Feel-Good Anthem and “Rise Up” will not let you down either.
“Dream Release” is a beautiful surprise in all its glorious, 1970’s blue-eyed soul vibe that recalls that enduring Wet Willie sound, as well as one of my favorite bands, The Left Banke. 

With a band of seasoned, sensitive players including Joe Bonamassa, Josh Smith, Reese Wynans, Michael Rhodes, Greg Morrow, Warren Haynes, and Jared James Nichols, Jimmy Hall succeeds in winding us through a complex journey of well-crafted songs, stellar performances and musical tasty-treats in every color and tone of the Rock & Roll rainbow.  

Jimmy’s harmonica looms large on these tracks, and thank The Good Lord it does!
Jimmy Hall is a bona fide harp virtuoso and his gritty, low-down in the dirt sound adds flourishes that tip the tunes into a steamy, blues-drippy swamp of finger-lickin’ goodness.
“Will You Still Be There” and “Eyes in the Back of Your Head” are perfect examples.

“Without Your Love” featuring Jared James Nichols on guitar is a beautiful love song that shimmers with the interplay between Nichols’ guitar and the B3 organ that ties this confessional story of second chances and redemption together, bringing Hall’s plaintive and apologetic vocal into the realm of raw and real admission to accept responsibility like a man and move forward, ever wiser.  I felt true penitence and was moved to tears. 

“Love For It” is my new “strut.”
This tune has a built in power-stance that could drive away the doubts and demons anytime, anywhere.  Jimmy’s performance and the background vocals on this song are goosebump inducing till the very end. 

Hall’s voice is strong and expressive and really shines on the title track, “Ready Now,” which features brilliant slide guitar work by the outstanding, Warren Hayes who, as the kids say, SLAYS!
Jimmy Hall is obviously ready now, and how lucky are we, that he’s collaborated with Joe Bonamassa for this album and remains a mesmerizing front man with this deeply emotional new collection of tunes, extraordinary musicians and massive commitment to his immense talent, faith and powerful belief in himself and the potency of his timeless music. 

Reviewed by Emily Duff
Released September 16th 2022




Sunny Sweeney
Married Alone
Thirty Tigers/Aunt Daddy Records

Country Songs That Are Double Dipped in Sour Mash, Then Rolled in Heartbreak!

Without being a ‘spoiler’; this album couldn’t be any more ‘Country’ if it was double dipped in Sour Mash and then rolled in heartbreak!
Opening track, Tie Me Up is the type of (female) Country Song that people wearing Willie or Dolly t-shirts think doesn’t get made anymore …. but they are wrong, wrong, wrong.
It’s not as kinky as the title at first suggests; as Sunny firmly tells her man ….
You can tie me up
You can take my time
You can tattoo your name on this heart of mine
You can tie me up
…… but you can’t tie me down!

Let’s just say Sunny Sweeney is a ‘spirited’ woman …. and pretty much ‘speaks’ to and for women everyware; especially on the finely detailed Wasting One On You; where she tells ‘him’ that she isn’t wasting anymore cigarettes worrying about him and his dalliances.
How’d I End Up Lonely Again is a Country Heartbreaker that will get repeat plays in houses and apartments late at night all over the world when the kids are fast asleep; and the lonely female can’t get any sleep at all.
There are a lot of men who will associate with Fool Like Me, which follows a similar trajectory, with Sunny pouring her broken heart out over a stark piano and intricate and claustrophobic backing from the band shadowing her.
I’ve got a whole collection of heartbreak songs in Blues, Rock and even Folk varieties but nobody ‘gets it’ better than a Country singer; and Sunny Sweeney does it better than most.
Invariable singing about a broken heart from the bottom of her own heart and making each word sound like she’s lived the story herself, with the crunchy Country Rock Ballad Leaving Is My Middle Name being one of the best; and when you hear the opening lines, when she tells you that it’s not always the man’s fault and make you take a deep breath so as not to miss a note ….
I came here tonight for a good time
I can have one of those on my own
Thanks for the wine, but just keep in mind
I’m looking to leave here alone
I’m a heartache waiting to happen
I’m a chance you don’t want to take
One your Mama warned you about
A chance you don’t wanna take!”

There are so many memorable songs here, it’s hard to believe this is still only Sunny’s 5th album in 15 years; the writing, phrasing and invariably the arrangements are superb and far more ‘genuine’ Country than anything you will hear on Country Radio or see at the CMA’s.
There’s no filler here; and at times Sunny Sweeney even takes huge risks with the way she creates her songs; not least the closing song Still Here, when if you close your eyes you would think you were listening to Nanci Griffith; and much earlier on A Song Can’t Fix Everything she bares her soul alongside Paul Cauthen, without the aid of a safety net; and then on Easy as Hello she enters Stevie Nicks territory, in words and deeds and comes out totally unscathed.
Choosing a Favourite Song here is as difficult as ever; as each individual song has touched me and/or tugged at my heartstrings at one time or another; but the title track Married Alone is actually quite astonishing; even by Country standards; and I’d gamble there’s not a person who hears this duet with Vince Gill doesn’t wipe a tear from their eye; even if they are in the stablest of relationships (like I am!), especially when the pair combine on the chorus
There may be rings on our fingers, but we’re married alone,”
a the pedal-steel wails in the background like a coyote on the prairie that smells imminent death.
Just shading that beautiful heartbreaker, is actually the song that follows it and the one that provides the light to a lot of shade; Someday You’ll Call My Name, a co-write with RMHQ friend, Miss Brennen Leigh; which is Country Rock Deluxe; and when you first hear it you presume it’s another break-up song; albeit a cracker ….. but it was actually first written ten years ago when Sunny Sweeney was a struggling songwriter and this was/is an FU to all those ‘suits’ that turned her down!
This really is a Country album that I can’t recommend highly enough; and after many years flying under the radar has all the hallmarks of being a game changer for this fabulous singer AND songwriter.

Released September 23rd 2022