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Thursday, 06 January 2011

inthebeginning |  jerry w henry

Music The Perfect Gift

To my way of thinking, God gave us a wonderful gift, music. Each of us interprets this gift in a different way. Regardless, music inspires. This Holiday Season give the gift of music and inspire someone in your life.

These are not the super stars. These are the talented seeking to be super stars. Each is exceptional in their own right. Expand your music mind, take a listen.

T-Town should be very proud of the young musicians that recorded I Like It Like That (The Alabama Blues Project) which is blues and nothing but the blues. The liner notes tell us: The Alabama Blues Project teaches music through award-winning blues programs and these are it's elite students. The elite students are: Rachel Edwards, Tyler Carter, Jonathan Blakney, Bennett Limbaugh, Tasheka Spencer and Duncan King. I Like It Like That is dedicated to the late, great Willie King. This release was recorded at Duck Tape Music in Decatur, Alabama which is owned and operated by legendary performer, producer and engineer, Johnny Sandlin. It is amazing how good these young people are. But don't take my word for it, Google and listen.

A young group from Muscle Shoals, Planet Ink, is making a name for themselves fast, very fast. Their second release is self titled, Planet Ink (self-released), and listening makes it hard to believe that these young men are 14, 15 and 18 years old. They have been gigging for 5 years playing guitar heavy 70's rock. I had several to tell me that they are super high energy live act, somewhat like a very young Led Zeppelin. These 10 tracks proves they are not a novelty act and should not be underestimated. Part of this release was recorded at FAME studios, part was recorded at Studio 144 in Greenhill, Alabama and mixed & mastered at Jimmy Nutt's NuttHouse Recording Studio in downtown Sheffield, Alabama. It was produced by Jay Burgess, Sons of Roswell guitarist and Jimmy Nutt. Take a listen on ITunes, CD Baby and Amazon.

The Ugli Stick is no stranger to Tuscaloosa. They have gigged here many times. These Mobile, Alabama natives have released, Nostoi (self-released), which is a mixture of hip hop, pop, funk, jazz and rock. Nostoi was recorded at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals with producer Jimmy Nutt. This is a groove band that is destined for a tour bus to carry them from festivals to arenas all over this world. This just might be the most versatile band that I saw this year. Nostoi was released in 2009, but that doesn't matter because Nostoi is timeless. Killer groove band! Take a listen on ITunes, CD Baby and Amazon.

Madison County, Alabama's Barnstormers' release, Graveyard Town (GodHand Records), is all about the life and afterlife in a small, Alabama town. I guess Graveyard Town could be described as roots gothic. The Barnstormers find humor in some very dark subjects. Instrumentation and sound effects color these 11 tracks making them theatrical. Different and enjoyable. Take a listen on ITunes, CD Baby and Amazon.

The Jeff Jensen Band has released I'm Coming Home (Swing Suit Records), which is blues from the left coast. This is contemporary west coast blues at it's best. Special guest is Marcy Levy, she was the female vocalist on Eric Clapton's "Lay Down Sally." This album is really upbeat and energetic with a horn section that sounds like they are from Memphis. This is truly a fresh sound that is refreshing.

The Low Anthem release Oh My God, Charlie Darwin (Nonesuch Records) is both haunting and wide open Old Crow Medicine Showish at different times. This album has a juxtaposition of many styles which are all very well done. Among the 27 instruments on this album are zither, pump organ, Tibetan singing bowl and an oil drum. Unusual and enjoyable.

Hamilton Loomis has released Live In England (Ham Bone Music) which is blues mixed with soul, funk and rock. Loomis is an multi-instrumentalist playing drums, piano, guitar, bass and harmonica. Live In England takes hold of traditional blues and mixes it with experimental & some modern day originality. This creative listen is all good, the songs, the band and the vocals. He honors his mentor, Bo Diddley, with a great Who Do You Love Medley. A blues lovers got to hear.

This next release has been out a while. I am reviewing it to show that it is never too late. This is a 60's garage rock band that got back together after 45 years. Mike & The Ravens' No Place For Pretty (Zoho Roots) brings you back to dance music fit for a frat party. If you are into 60's garage rock, the pre British Invasion kind, then this one is perfect for you.

This release is actually 2 albums in one. Suzi Ragsdale has released Best Regards/Less Of The Same (Clyde Records) which is a 2 disc set by this in demand background harmony vocalist. Suzi has sung on more than 60 albums, many of them country hits. Her songs have been recored by too many country stars to list here. All this talent is in her genes being the daughter of country super star, Ray Stevens. She sang as a child (age 5) on his super hit in 1970, "Everything Is Beautiful." Each song is strong and worth listening to, with catchy folk rock tunes and clever & witty lyrics. Suzi does duets with Gabe Dixon and Rodney Crowell on a couple of tunes.

Bluegrass lovers can't miss with Special Consensus' release 35 (Compass Records). The title tells it all, this is their 35 anniversary. Country outlaw, Robbie Fulks, is a passed member of this veteran bluegrass band. This is high energy bluegrass played to it's precision best. If you do something for 35 years, it stands to reason, it's got to be a whole lot better than good. It is!

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