Kat Danser
One Eye Open
Black Hen Music

Capturing Old-School Rhythm & Blues Magic in a Bottle.

Apparently I received a copy of Canadian minstrel, Ms Danser’s previous album GOIN’ GONE in 2018; it’s there in my music files; but I can’t find a review in our back pages; and it’s rather good; and I’m familiar with a lot of the players on board too.
I won’t make that mistake with ONE EYE OPEN; as it’s a bit of a doozy.
First of all check out the cover; it really is a pre-cursor to what you get inside; starting with the late night groove of Way I Like It Done, with Kat shimmying her way through a Bump n Grind Blues that’s full of New Orleans style piano from Kevin McKendree and a funky-ass rhythm section.
Things immediatly slow down on Track #2 Lonely & The Dragon; and while it’s probably the coolest song here; it will leave the average male listener coming out in a hot sweat as Kat Danser purrs her story like she-cat on heat.
Do you get a sense that this is no ordinary Blues release?
Each time I’ve played it something new has disentangled making me go back to the start of the track to get the best out of it.
While it’s difficult to put all of these tracks into one single basket; it’s fair to say between Kat and producer Steve Dawson they have delved into the hey days of Classic Rhythm & Blues, to come up with a very switched on and contemporay release; with the punchy Trainwreck and the righteous Gospel Blues mantra of Get Right Church sandwiching a Punk infused One Eyed Closed; yet all being closely related via Kat Danser’s fabulous genetics and Steve Dawson’s skills on the guitar.
With so much on offer to choose from as a Favourite Track where do I start?
Album finale Mi Corazon, sung in a haunting Spanish, is as left of centre as the Blues gets and has tickled my taste buds a few times now.
Frenchman Street Shake needs to be played L.O.U.D to get the best from it; not that it’s a ‘rocker’ Hell; it’s almost the opposite as it’s the epitome of good time New Orleans music with added geetar and funky horns; but the joy it evokes needs to be shared with your neighbours at every opportunity!
Then again, Bring It With You When You Come is as slinky as it is old-school groovelicious and even a tiny bit licentious too.
But, being the soppy old sod I am, I think I’m going for the heart-breaking ballad Please Don’t Cry with its swirling Hammond back-beat accompanied by a subtly supportive bass and drums ; which bizarrely sounds like Dusty singing Patsy in a sleazy Havana cocktail lounge circa 1960; and that’s exactly the imagery I would give an accompanying video …… but I am a hopeless romantic at heart.
For what sounds like a simply produced album; spanning several studios and homes during lockdown Steve Dawson has managed to capture some ‘real magic in a bottle’ here; and made me, for one want to trawl back through Kat Danser’s back catalogue to see if anything matches these apparent career highlights.

Released 19th February 2021


Duke Robillard and Friends BLUES BASH

Blues Bash
Stony Plain Records

“Nothing Fancy?” Nah … This is The Rhythm & Blues Supreme!

Michael John Robillard recently turned 72 years of age and shows no signs of slowing down.
Being the co-founder (with Al Copley) of Roomful of Blues back in 1967, ‘Duke’ has consistently produced a lifetime of great blues music. With well over 30 albums as leader or co-leader of bands and then another 30+ with various other bands and individuals, delivering great guitar and vocals on each and everyone.

Blues Bash is his latest studio offering, and another undoubted, sure-fire winner, with a total of 10 tracks flying through 42 minutes. Two instrumentals, three songs with Chris Cote on vocals and one with Michelle ‘Evil Gal’ Willson; leaving Duke to sing the other couple.
Backed by some stellar musicians, including some of the original Roomful of Blues brass section, this is a glorious vintage style, danceable blues party album.

Straight out of the Ike Turner catalogue, “Do You Mean It” gets the party started, genuine rockin’ and swingin’ R&B with Chris Cotes at the microphone and Duke replicating some of Ike’s stinging Fender licks.
Chris’s next singing has him covering a Roy Milton classic “What Can I Do” originally released on the Speciality Label in 1953, here not just featuring Dukes clean guitar but some terrific piano from Bruce Bears; and as you’d expect, very solid and tight horns.
The third and final vocal input from Cotes is a real lively rendition of T-Bone Walker’s 1953 R&B song “You Don’t Know What You’re Doing”, with the punchy triple saxes complementing Dukes marvellous, understated guitar.

Of the two instrumentals I particularly liked the cover of Lefty Bates’ “Rock Alley” with the sharp guitar picking and honking saxes, all guaranteed to get the rug rolled up and everyone out on the kitchen floor.
Just Chillin’ concludes the entire set and is a Robillard original tune that verges into slow, smooth jazz, opening with swinging bass and drums, then some mellow tasty Sax and subtle Hammond, before the main man’s magic fingers stride along with his beautiful touch and tone.

Returning to the remaining vocal tracks, Dukes’ Smiley Lewis impersonation on the Dave Bartholomew song “I Ain’t Gonna Do It” is a real N’Awlins floor shaker with Mark ‘Mr. B.’ Braun” the main feature on a lively piano intro, plus the further addition of the middle solo.
Bob Walsh takes over the 88’s, with Duke covering the vocals on his own composition “No Time” plus Mark Hummel providing West-side of Chicago sounding harmonica.
The boss also does a very credible vocal on Al Kings’ slow blues from 1966 “Everybody Ain’t Your Friend” and then again, likewise on his own song “Give Me All The Love You Got”, which has a wonderful 24 second blistering Texas Blues type introduction to a jumping shuffle.
Ironically, my favourite track though has ‘Evil Gal’ Wilson performing a cracking job on the cover of Helen Humes 1952 hit “You Played On My Piano,” another bouncy, jump-jive with trademark horns and further exquisite jazz guitar from Duke.

Despite the world-wide pandemic and all it’s restrictions, there have still been some excellent new releases these last few months.
Take my word for it, this is right up there with the best of them, Duke Robillard might bashfully tell you “It’s nothing fancy, just good old blues,” well it’s certainly that, but also refreshingly neoteric, all at the same time.

Jack Kidd – “Messin’ with the Kidd” on lionheartradio.com

Released on 20th. November 2020




Jimmy The Dog
Shuffle ‘n Swing
Self-Release/Studio Dawg

Contemporary Jumpin’ Jive with Plenty of Saturday Night Swing Too.

One of the best nights out I ever had was seeing Joe Jackson’s Jumpin’ Jive at Newcastle Mayfair.
I even wore a tuxedo jacket and bow-tie, and if I remember correctly and the album it came from was a staple on the stereo for months; alongside Louis Jordan, Cab Calloway and a rake of VA LP’s I bought in the same vein too.
Leap forward near 40 years and on the day that “We the cats ‘ll Hep ya” popped into my head; this charming re-release from Jimmy The Dog arrived.
With everything going on in the world during Autumn 2020 this just may be the album I’ve been willing someone to record; or in the case of Jim Ferrie aka Jimmy The Dog; re-release after a polish up and dust down.
While very much in the style of those Swinging Cats opening track Betty Boo has a contemporary ‘rocky’ edge to it; but that more likely due to Ferrie’s Gallus Scot’s brogue than anything else; the song itself is both danceable and fun, fun, fun.
What follows is generally in that style too; especially Time of My Life and while the band are much smaller than the orchestras you associate with Swing/Jazz but nor does it sound like it was recorded on a budget; as there’s no doubting the pedigree when you hear Playin’ in the Key of Relaxation, Angelina and/or Supposin’; but then again when the band consists of key members from Ronnie Scott’s house band; Dominic Thatcher, Max Fagandini and Louisa Minas class, sophistication and style are always going to be at the forefront; aren’t they?
Originally available as a download; for this CD Ferrie has included a splendiferous Christmas duet with Louisa; sounding uncannily like the double acts of my youth.
For a Favourite Track I’m torn.
Do I go for the Uber-Cool Swing-Noir duet that closes the album; Let’s Do It Anyway, which just oozes charm and sass; or my original choice of Workin’ On a Dream?
Probably the latter, with Ferrie crooning in a way that Alex Harvey would have been proud of; and not for the first or last time; the arrangement swings like those couples did in the 1970’s!
Shuffle ‘n Swing has been a total joy this week; a veritable Jazz-Swing antidote to both Coronavirus AND the USA Elections, which is quite some feet for what was originally a bit of fun in the studio.

Released November 1st 2020



Dave Keys

NYC Native and 2 time BMA Nominee, keyboard slinger Dave Keyes releases his self penned single “It’s 7 O’Clock Somewhere” this very week.
The song pays, tribute to the frontline heroes during the Covid pandemic and the tradition that arose in Italy earlier in the year and went around the globe as fast as Covid-19 itself.
For Dave and his fellow citizens in NYC, every night at 7PM as shifts would change at the hospitals people would congregate in the streets, applaud, bang pots and pans from windows and make a joyous noise in honor of the selfless acts of these hospital workers.
The song is a rocking celebration of the human spirit and people bonding together in a crisis.
Keyes in addition to his own work, performs regularly and tours the world with Popa Chubby and R&R legend Ronnie Spector. 


and if you don’t want to actually buy, stick a few dollars, pounds, Euros, Scheckel’s, dubloons or whatever into a charity box somewhere, you know it makes sense.

PS ….. the photo at the top is my Granddaughter in London, cheering for the NHS and Key Workers.

Stray Cats ROCKED THIS TOWN: From LA to London.

The Stray Cats
Rocked this town: From LA to London
Surfdog Records

A Loud, Frenetic Look, Both Backwards and Forward.

I sometimes ask myself – what is the point of a live album?
To answer that, I usually consider the following:

  1. Is it a good souvenir of a show and a band?
    “Rocked this Town: From LA to London” is most certainly that – recorded across their 40th anniversary tour across a number of dates, it still manages to sound like one show with a well-paced track listing spanning the band’s career from the eponymous opener to the latest “40”.
  2. Does it have the hits?
    Yep – “Rock This Town,” “Runaway Boys,” “Stray Cat Strut” and more are played with gusto and energy and in the case of the latter, considerable swing too.
    Standout album tracks that I wasn’t previously aware of are in there too, such as “Double Talkin’ Baby” which sounds as fresh and sharp as ever. But ………. “(She’s) Sexy and Seventeen” feels a bit problematic to me (and me too Ed!) though; given the fact that the band aren’t anywhere near 17 any more; and this is 2020 after all. ‘Political Correctness Gone Mad’? I hope not; it just sounds ‘wrong’ on a number of levels; and as there really is so many other great tracks here; the world wouldn’t have missed it if it had been left in the dim and distant past. .
  3. Does it sound the same as the records?
    It’s recognisably the Stray Cats; but Brian Setzer’s guitar and vocal attack are a double-edged weapon – both sounding sharp AND gritty.
    The Rocker-Phantom rhythm section are as dependable energetic and driving as ever, with the added adrenaline that a live recording and years of playing gives.
    The mix is loud and lively and the production is tight yet expansive.
  4. Does it have atmosphere?
    In spades – not so much in terms of hearing the audience who are mixed a bit distantly, but in the frenetic rumble-tumble of rhythm and interplay, the shouts of delight and auditory nods and winks between the band and the clear respect between the players.
    They may have gone off and played the field, but together is where the Stray Cats magic happens.
  5. Does it have any extra or unusual tracks?
    The solo “Cannonball Rag” and the fiery “Miserlou” (of which the late Dick Dale would be proud) add variety, as does the “Hot Rod Lincoln”-esque “Gene and Eddie”, a musical and lyrical tribute to Messrs Vincent & Cochran.
    “My One Desire” is also available on the digital and vinyl versions of the release (but not on my review copy!)
  6. Highlights?
    “Blast off” is a raucous delight which sounds better than the studio version; and the scat vocals of “Fishnet Stockings” and syncopated interplay take it into different areas.
    The newer tracks like “Rock It Off” and “Too Hip, Gotta Go” venture at times into an exciting rockabilly Chocolate Watch Band garage-punk hybrid.
  7. Verdict?
    As well as looking back into the past, this live recording looks forward into the future – which suggest there’s still a lot of life in the old Cats yet!

Review by Nick Barber
Released 11th September 2020
Buy Don’t Spotify http://straycats.com/pre-order-stray-cats-new-live-album-rocked-this-town-from-la-to-london/


Sam Joyner
When U Needs a Friend

Soulful Blues Around Loving, Losing and Cuckolding.

Where I wandering aimlessly around a record shop with money burning a hole in my pocket; I’d certainly pick this album up just because of the cover; and the music inside certainly lives up to the ‘cool and sexy’ vibe that Sam Joyner exudes in his picture; especially on the rather racy opening track Must Be Jelly……. ooh ooh ooh…….. it sets the mood quite perfectly.
This is followed by the stomper Goin’ To Chicago which showcases both Joyner’s extraordinarily good piano playing and his audacious vocals too; and a couple of tracks later Them Bluez follows a similar path, physically and metaphorically on songs about ‘going back to his musical roots;’ and ………. both reminding me of Brother Ray at not just his finest; but coolest too.
What follows slips and slides through a wonderful amalgam of Blues and Soul that will have you dancing one moment, singing along the next and wiping a tear away in between.
For the first time in a long time this album is a Blues album based around the piano; which adds a dimension I’ve not heard for a long ole time.
Joyner really ‘brings it on home’ on Them Blues and Nothin’ You Can Do About Love; but personally I love the deep down and sensual songs like Natural Born Lover and the title track itself; When U Need a Friend; which features some sizzling slide guitar too btw.
Speaking of guitars; two new names to me, Seizo and Dan Aguilar add both sugar and spice when it’s needed in an understated yet wondrous manner well worthy of the legendary Steve Cropper.
There’s a Special Guest guitarist too, Li’l Ray Neal who appears on the swoonsome Hard 4 Tha Money and the rinky dinky Breaking Up Our Happy Home; which is worth the entrance fee alone.
I hear a whole lot of music at RMHQ and obviously a whole lot revolves around L.O.V.E but I’ve never ever heard anyone use the vegetable onion, as a metaphor but Hell Sam Joyner does that with aplomb on the heartbreaker Onions (Ain’t The Only Thing That Will Make You Cry); and this song also features some delicious backing vocals and harmonies from Karin Danger and Spring for added pathos too.
For my Favourite Song I’m going for a song that stopped me dead in my tracks the first time I played it; and each subsequent time it’s been on a player I have to give it my full attention.
Breakin’ Up Our Happy Home is a left of centre rarity; as it’s an epic Blues song of the finest vintage about a man being cuckolded!
There’s so much going on here and it ends with a magnificent twist in the tail; that I promise I won’t spoil anything for new listeners …….. oohee baby, it’s a stone cold Classic in the making; and again Brother Ray springs to mind every time I play it.
Which leaves one other song; Sam Joyner in Da House; which is my only criticism about this album. It’s a raffish self-appreciating toe tapper that should either be Track #1 or maybe even the closer and not just tucked away in the middle; but if that’s my only complaint the album can’t be too shabby; can it? #wink

Released August 9th 2020


The Proper Years
The Last Music Co.

Smile Inducing, Ageless Rockabilly via a Dollop of Boogie-Woogie and Honky Tonk.

This release is a very welcome retrospective “best of” covering all four albums the ‘Titan of the Telecaster’ Mr Bill Kirchen has recorded for UK based Proper Records.

Kirchen originally rose to fame in 1969 when he relocated from Michigan to San Francisco, with his band Commander Cody & The Lost Planet Airmen, where they quickly established themselves as an alternative to the hippy/flower power/rock bands of that era.
Bill split from the band in the mid-1970’s and remained in music, mostly in the DC area, establishing himself with other Telecaster contemporaries and increasing his twanging reputation. His signature sound is often referred to as “dieselbilly” allowing him to effortlessly fuse country, blues, rock-a-billy, western swing, honky-tonk and boogie-woogie, without the blinking of an eye. If ever anyone blurred the lines of accepted musical genres, then here is your man.

So, in 2006 he recorded his 7th. solo album and his first for Proper Records entitled “Hammer of the Honky-Tonk Gods”.
Since then 3 more have followed and the 37 tracks here, spread over 2 CD’s, provide a superb reconsideration for anyone who is a fan but for whatever reason missed out on this quartet of work. Fact is, even if you’re not a fan, but are intrigued, then this is a wonderful way to get to know the unique and compelling Titan of the Telecaster by adding him to your music collection.

When Paul Riley went to work with Malcolm Mills at Proper Records, over 20 years ago,  he told me that their mantra would be “All Killers, No Fillers” and ladies & gentlemen that is exactly what you get with this double album. The tone is therefore set, right from the very first number, being the title track from his first Proper album and regales the history of Leo Fenders luthieral creation. “Get a Little Goner” is a slice of humour, playing on words that may not be in any dictionary, but that just makes the enjoyment all the betterer, if you know what I mean.
There are several covers, including an extremely interesting rendition of “Devil with a Blue Dress On”, which is out of the Motown catalogue plus a couple of Dylan’s best with “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry” and also “The Times They Are A-Changin”, the latter featuring his long time friend Austin de Lone.

Here, Merle Haggards “Shelly’s Winter Love” takes on an Everly Brothers type sound with the help of Paul Carrack and Nick Lowe adding the Don & Phil harmonies to perfection.
I particularly liked “I Don’t Work That Cheap”, which has the old Commander himself – George Frayne, engaging in some classic boogie-woogie piano whilst Maria Muldaurs’ bawdy vocals illuminate “Ain’t got time for the Blues”.
Talking about Chicken” almost stole the show for me but, my favourite track has got be the revised hit from almost 50 years ago, the elongated, enigmatic “Hot Rod Lincoln” which has additional sounding snippets of so many musical legends that had me grinning for hours afterwards.
(#EDITOR’S NOTE – Bill doesn’t mention them ……… but Rockabilly Funeral and Down to Seeds and Stems are totally unmissable ….. just saying.)

Bill Kirchen certainly presents his music with a smile on his face, often relaying lyrics with humour and wit, not necessarily PC correct in today’s woke culture but, nonetheless many of these songs had me chuckling.
Prior to setting pen to paper I asked my FB friend James Oliver (recipient of the 2020 Blues in Britain – Emerging Artist Award) just where Bill Kirchen sits in his all-time personal heroes of the Telecaster list; and without any hesitation James stated he is up there at #1.
Say no more, Squire!

Review courtesy Jack Kidd
“Messin’ with the Kidd” WEEKLY RADIO SHOW on lionheartradio.com

Released in 24th. July 2020

Wily Bo Walker and Danny Flam AIN’T NO MAN A GOOD MAN (Deluxe Edition)

Wily Bo Walker and Danny Flam
AIN’T NO MAN A GOOD MAN (Deluxe Edition)

Taking British R&B to a Whole New Swampy and Rapscallion Level.

I can’t keep up date with Wily Bo Walker’s musical releases. Sometimes they are brand new songs and others remixes and AIN’T NO MAN A GOOD MAN (Deluxe Edition) is a wonderful hybrid of the two; with album #1 being all new songs featuring Wily Bo and the Danny Flam Big Band while album #2 is full of yet more re-mixes of Mr Walkers recent songs put through the veritable musical mixer.
So, let’s start with the new stuff; which is why you will be parting with your hard earned pocket money.
The title track Ain’t No Man a Good Man storms out of the speakers and not just grabs you by the throat; but shakes you to the core and hardly leaving you able to breathe.
Walker’s expressive and rasping vocals are marched perfectly by Danny Flam’s Big Band and perhaps it takes such a big sound to bring out the best in not just his words, but Walker’s vocal enthusings too ……. as he ain’t sounded much better than this!
The themes here are not just very cinematic but timeless and full of raw energy, none more so than the swinging R&B of Velvet Windows (Treme Trippin’) which fair rattled the office window when turned up to 9.
When you hear songs like Fool For You (2020 Hindsight) and Ain’t Hungry No More you will wonder why the grave voiced Wily Bo and the majestic Danny Flam Big Band don’t have their own Saturday night TV Show; but sometimes we like to keep some things a secret, don’t we?
It’s far too obvious to compare this album to Dr. John’s output; but there certainly is plenty of Gris Gris in Did I Forget (to tell you I love you?) and Time to Forget You; but to these ears, there’s more than a smidgen of Georgie Fame and Zoot Money in their too; making this British R&B on steroids!
If you even vaguely like Van Morrison’s Big Band excursions, you will simply love Wily Bo’s sultry and storming version of St. James’ Infirmary Blues to death!
Album #1 closes with an amazing reinvention of Build My Gallows (Ain’t No Return) and on any other album this dark and brooding five minutes would easily be my Favourite Track, but …….. there’s the enigmatic Night of The Hunter which is most obviously thematically linked to the film of the same name; and certainly lives up to its Film Noir credentials too.
Historically I’m not re-disposed to re-mixes of songs; but here I can’t urge you strongly enough to buy the Deluxe Version or else you will miss out on hearing I Want To Know (NY Funk Mix) and When the Angels Call Your Name (Bourbon Street Mix) as both sizzle like a bloody steak on a red hot BBQ.
Drive (Two Lane Blacktop Mix) and Walk In Chinese Footsteps both deserve a courteous mention too; with the latter making me hunt out my old Was Not Was 12″ singles for the first time in years.
I’ve always loved Bo Diddley; but never imagined someone could re-imagine Who Do You Love? in the way Wily Bo does with his NYC Chiller Mix; but it’s truly amazing ……… think of it as a Michael Jackson/Tom Waits mash-up featuring Miles Davis and the Meters then mixed by Aaron Neville!
Then; last but not least there is the majestic For The Children which I don’t believe I’ve heard before in any guise; but have fallen head over heals in love with.
There you have it, Wily Bo Walker (and friends) have come right out of left field to deliver not just one; but two stunning new albums that I can’t recommend highly enough.

Released 31st July 2020

Kenny ‘Blues Boss’ Wayne GO, JUST DO IT

KENNY “Blues Boss” WAYNE
Go, Just Do It
Stony Plain Records

Boogie-Woogie Maestro Delivering All Killers and No Fillers

American born, raised by his Preacher-man father and now a resident of Canada, 75 year old Kenneth Wayne Spruell has been a working keyboard musician for 6 decades and releasing albums of his own since the mid 1990’s.
Indeed, “Go, Just Do It” is his 11th. studio album and many of the previous releases have featured a host of impressive A-Listers from the Blues field, indicating his prominent standing within that genres community.
It’s no wonder that “Blues Boss” is a Boogie-Woogie Hall of Famer, plus a winner of a Juno Award and also of multi-Maple Blues Awards as he clearly demonstrates his considerable keyboard & vocal skills on this cracking classic, but surprisingly contemporary blues album. Ten of the tracks are originals with 3 covers, which are a brace of Percy Mayfield songs plus a well worn and well loved JJ Cale classic.
There’s a solid horn section from Jerry Cook and Vince Mai, plus harmonica parts from Sherman Doucette. Guest vocals are provided by Grammy Winner, Diane Schuur plus 2 other Canadian award winners in Dawn Tyler Watson & Julie Masi and an added bonus with rapper SeQual bringing things into the 21st. Centuary on one track.
All in all it’s an absolute joy and goes against the grain of blues music’s reputation of being down and depressing. Oh yes indeed, this is fun and uplifting and deserves to have a much wider circulation. Kicking off with the title track, “Blues Boss” delivers a cool organ vibe with a punchy brass backing and Dawn Tyler Watson sharing the vocals, as she also does on the funky “Sorry Ain’t Good Enough”, once again with the horns earning their keep.
Diane Schuur shares the vocals and adds classy, jazzy intonations on Percy Mayfields “You’re in For a Big Surprise” and then it’s rapper SeQual who adds the modern twist on the other Mayfield track “Don’t Want to Be the President”.
Julie Masi makes her vocal contribution on the piano led “You Did a Number on Me” whilst there are 2 terrific instrumentals in “Bumpin’ Down the Highway” and the albums boogie-woogie closer “Let the Rock Roll”.
I’m not too sure I can elevate any one track to be my favourite, as I particularly like the uptempo, Okie shuffle cover of “They Call Me the Breeze”, whilst the “T&P Train” really chugs along.
Then again the gumbo flavoured Allen Toussaint sounding “Lost & Found” just about gets the nod over the jump blues of “Motor Mouth Woman”.
I’ll probably change my mind tomorrow, and you know what, that’s not a bad thing, simply, that’s how it goes with special albums that deliver all killers and no fillers. Special it is and I highly recommend that you check it out for yourself, you will not be disappointed.

Released in 12th. June 2020

Review by Jack Kidd “Messin’ with the Kidd” on http://www.lionheartradio.com  

Blues Escape ft Johanna Lillvik BLUES ESCAPE

Blues Escape ft Johanna Lillvik
Paraply Records

The Coolest Scandi’ Boogie-Woogie Jazz Blues You Will Ever Here.

Here’s a thing!
Who knew that there was a vibrant Blues and Jazz scene in Scandinavia? Obviously there’s no reason there wouldn’t be, but it’s never crossed my path before and took me by surprise when I received this album a few weeks ago.
The result of a meeting between the versatile artist Johanna Lillvik and blues band Hill Blue Unit at Alingsås jazz club (Sweden) in November 2016. It was the 1st time that Johanna had sang blues and jazz in public and the collaboration was only expected to last for one concert but here we are, many gigs and festivals later with a scintillating debut album.
Erring more on the Boogie-Woogie and Jazzier tinges of The Blues, revolving around Orjan Hill’s rinky-dink piano. Torban Stenson’s dazzling sax playing and Johanna’s gutsy vocals opener, Evil Gal Blues bounces around like a mischievous musical imp, leaving you in no doubt about the combined talent on show here.
Quite often this type of Jazz-Blues is best heard in a live setting; which I’m sure is true here too; but when you hear Johanna’s sultry delivery of That’s How I Got My Man and Trouble in Mind, especially if your lights are turned way down low and you are onto your third glass of something strong and alcoholic the recorded artifact comes into its very own too.
While I recognise some of the songwriters names, the only song I think I’ve heard before is the razzle-dazzling Pig Foot Pete; and this merry combo certainly do it justice.
With music of this ilk, there’s never any room for error; but while note perfect and constructed like a house of cards; there is still plenty of Soul and passion in everything on offer; and in the case of The Dream/Marie Laveau it sounds quite uncanny the way the instruments and Lillvik’s fascinating voice (a sexy mix of English with Swedish enunciation) combine to make music that should only come from the Southern States of America.
This only leaves one song; and in some ways an odd choice for Favourite Track status; but I do like ‘left of centre’ and Junker Blues fits that bill like a delicate hand in a velvet glove.
Somewhere in my collection I actually own a CD called REEFER SONGS, and most are in this vein (sic) but there’s something about the way Johanna Lillvik and the multi-talented chaps around her combine make shivers run up and down your back, as your toes tap and your lips mouth the chorus.
I’ve always had eclectic taste music wise; and I think I’ve fallen in love with not just Johanna Lillvik but Hill Blue Unit; and when they come together as Blues Escape my world just got a little bit better, one fabulous song at a time.

Released May 15th 2020