6 May 2011                                                                                     John-Alex Mason
May CD Report
Summer is almost here, and festivals are lining up. CD releases (and mp3's,
for that matter) are entering the market in masses; let's see what the artists
and bands have in store right now.

John-Alex Mason: Jook Joint Thunderclap

Easily one of the albums of the year. The young man from Colorado makes a
perfect outing with his sixth album. The mixture of North Mississippi, Delta and
African influences oozes creative thinking and respect for the roots. Cody
Burnside's rap on two songs is something else. Excellent guest performances
also from Cedric Burnside (drums) and Lightnin' Malcolm (guitar, bass). CD
includes 10 songs, and by tweeting or sharing on Facebook you can get two
more! Winner: Riding On

North Mississippi Allstars: Keys to the Kingdom

The NMA pay tribute to the father of the Dickinson brothers, Jim Dickinson. Whilst
the previous album, a stupendous "Hernando", was somewhat blues-rock
-oriented, this time we hear county(ish) echoes. Song quality doesn't compare to
"Hernando", even though you can find more depth in the lyrics department. The
guys discuss life and death virtually on every track: "I ought to be as brave as he
was on judgement day", sings Luther Dickinson about the late dad. Winner: The
Meeting, with Mavis Staples on vocals

Andres Roots: Roundabout

The founder of Estonian national treasure, Bullfrog Brown, releases his first
actual solo album. Guest soloists include Alabama's Eric "Red Mouth" Gebhardt,
Sweden's Bottleneck John, and Scotland's Dave Arcari. Songs are pure class, with
Roots's melodic and rhythmic understanding ever-present--his slide guitar skills
are not to be forgotten, either. Young harp wiz Jantso Jokelin (from Turku,
Finland) appears as well. Winner: Watcha Do, with Black River Bluesman & Bad
Mood Hudson

T-Model Ford & Gravelroad: Taledragger

Blues at its brilliant best. The 80-something bluesman backed up by a tight,
young band. The album is also available on vinyl. The group use tried-and-true
classics and convert them into new tunes. Case in point: "Same Old Train", a
song based on "Mystery Train" but given a full T-Model/Gravelroad treatment.
Produced, middle-of-the-road music given the finger. Winner: I Worn My Body for
So Long

Paul Thorn: Pimps and Preachers

Ninth album from the boxer-turned-musician. Life, experience and career have
Thorn's music. The songs are far from spectacular, but the artist is able
to express his "own thing", although the influences of his idols are easy to spot
out. This CD has obviously done the trick, as Mr Thorn is looking forward to an
extremely busy gig schedule. Winner: The title track

New CDs from Finland

Wentus Blues Band: Woodstock

The band recorded the album at Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, NY. The CD is
quality from top to bottom, even though
Wentus trusts in "basic blues" to a
surprising extent. Sound is near perfect (thanks to house engineer Justin Guip),
and all members of the six-man ensemble are at their best. With the backing of
German label Ruf Records, the door is open for an audience much wider than
before. Winner: Moving My Wheels, with words by former Cream lyricist Pete

Baby Boy Varhama & The Jinx: Long Time Comin'

Who would be more suitable to interpret good old country blues than a historian?
Baby Boy Varhama, a school history teacher, and his band sat down at a country
house, picked a bunch of golden oldies, and let the tape roll. You've heard these
songs (Johnson, Patton, Estes, you know the drill) millions of times, but the group
adds a unique, North European touch. "We make the songs our own while trying
to preserve the original idea", Varhama says. Winner: Walkin' Blues
Micke & Lefty feat. Chef... or Lefty, Micke and Chef that is
Micke & Lefty feat. Chef: Up the Wall

It's not a show band, it's not a comedy act--but the trio is undoubtedly Finland's
most entertaining group in the blues (or, probably, any other genre). In spite of
being entertaining, Micke Bjorklof, Ville "Lefty" Leppanen and Miikka "Chef"
Kivimaki have gained a lot of admiration and respect. This album adds to that.
Blues, country and folk are merrily mixed together, highlighted by three-part
harmonies and Lefty's unearthly guitar chops. Check out
the video for the title
song. Winner: You Better Me

Little Miss Rock & Roll featuring The Fintones

Jane Kitto, an Aussie, teams up with rockers from Finland, Sweden and Norway.
The line-up performs R&R in the footsteps of Wanda Jackson and Brenda Lee.
Stylish shades of pop are heard here and there. The raw sound of
Ms Kitto
combined with Finnish ax man Archie Hamalainen's British-infuenced rhythm &
blues guitar work makes an impression. A perky live act, too. Winner: Mean Mean


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