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GLENNA BELL/Lone Star-Songs & Stories Straight from the Heart of Texas: It's a Texas thing, it's got to be. Recognized by the state as one of the state's musical treasures, Bell has songs that sound like they would inspire more suicides that early Leonard Cohen but she's actually smack dab in the heart of the Townes Van Zandt Texas troubadour tradition. Except for "Marie" or "Sanitarium Blues" she pretty much out Van Zandt's Van Zandt himself. Songs like this don't always inspire you to gargle with razor blades and it's sometimes nice to know you can get close to the edge as just another observer. Wild, deep stuff firmly in the literary tradition with no dust on it, here's a shining reason of why they love her so much on her natural stomping grounds. Check it out if you dare.

CASON FENTRESS/Clear Cool: This dude has had a rough go but he's come out the other side as a most righteous blue eyed soul man. The only flaw here is that it's only a 5 track ep, you want to hear more and you hope he obliges soon. Tasty stuff throughout.

GOLDEN STATE LONE STAR BLUES REVIEW: Is this what Paul Butterfield started? A bunch of white boys, not all from the south, that have been playing blues since the 70s, play here like they traded their souls to the devil for chops and amps at the crossroads. A total modern blues super group, if this doesn't get you fist pumping a jumping around, you better check your pulse to make sure you still have one. With Mark Hummel and Anson Funderburgh leading the charge, you know you're in good hands. A clean sonic recording, you get to hear what's probably still buried in those old Chess tracks that are due for another remastering. Hot stuff throughout that's tailor made for electric blues fans that want to keep the party going all night long.

ELIZABETH GEYER/The Bridge: A real session of adult music that hasn't been vetted by focus groups for soccer moms, Geyer is no stranger to taking the long way around to finding the right result. Championed by Bruce Lundvall just as he was descending into Parkinson's hell, you can tell he was impressed by the intense personalness here that's on a level of Joni Mitchell's pre-"Court & Spark" days. Traveling from Australia to Illinois to hook up with a new musical soul mate that provides an incredible setting for her lyrics and voice, it's might have taken the former trumpeter a while to find her voice as a vocalist and lyricist, but now that she's here, it's clear she's here to stay. Killer stuff for boomers that have given up on finding anything new ever again worth their effort.

SEAN NOONAN/Memorable Sticks: The jazz drummer is no stranger to pushing the envelop. Here we find him recording in a day at Atlantic Studios for release in Poland. A friendlier record than usual, we find he's found a sweet spot for the Euro malcontent with a taste for dissonance and drama and serves it to those left leaning taste in proper measure. This was made to go with clove ciggies and absinthe.

IN LAYMAN TERMS/Tangled: This debut album shows that crowd funding has taken a&r to the streets. A debut album by a pair of youngsters, the energy and the sincerity is what gives this self-styled blues rock trip it's oomph. With nobody looking over their shoulder, they had no motivation to sand off the rough edges. If Logan Layman's vocals borrow and mix up Janis and Bonnie Raitt, it's no matter because it's her own concoction. Same goes for Cole Layman's instrumentation. If he doesn't discern the differences between Memphis and Muscle Shoals, it's no matter, this generation has put a stamp on mash ups that past genre blenders never quite integrated. It works. There's only eight notes to screw with any way. Keeping traditions alive without genuflecting to them, if this is a throw back to anything, it's probably the white soul/rock bands of the early 70s this bunch probably never heard in the first place. Freedom sounds great. While it falls into the ragged but right category, this is quite the auspicious debut that knows how to go it's own way.

JOE BOUCHARD/Power of Music: Oh, hell. We only give geezers good natured ribbing when they've earned it. Bouchard probably dyes his hair since he was a founding member of BOC--but hell, give him his props since he's not only remaining relevant, he's cutting tracks for HBO's "Vinyl". He might have left BOC on ‘86, but he's still a metal head hell raiser that could give instructions in how to tear it up. The kids might now be into a reinvented Bieber but this stuff here is the tonic for pent up hormones in search of release for those who are ready to rock. Acknowledging his roots, he's even including a tip of the cap to the old Long Island days and Patti Smith. Here's the proof that real badasses never die or fade away. Hot stuff you don't have to be a geezer to appreciate!

KEN VALDEZ/Soul Renegade: A hard rocking blues rock shredder that's managed to fly a touch under the radar for a touch too long comes along with the kind of star studded, kick ass, high octane record that makes the vast wave that makes up the body of everyone else sit up and take notice. Already well known as a best kept secret, he's put in the time and the miles to make it all pay off. Bad ass stuff from a cat that's now ready to own the spotlight.

MELODY PARKER/Archipelago: This multi culti free spirit might seem like the modern day answer to a hippie chick, but she's had day jobs like building Foley stages for Pixar so you know we're not talking about some screwball art chick. Her music grew out of her free spirit dancing to tunes playing in her head and it's lead her to create an engaging, heady brew that crosses so many lines you don't really know what to call it except good stuff. Throwing the kitchen sink and everything in it into a mixmaster, if you listen closely enough you'll hear something from anything you've liked over the last 50 years somewhere in the mix and all of it roiled out slightly off center in a most tasty way. A delightfully wild and independent release, this is a sure bet for the sonically adventurous looking for something new that's completely different. Check it out.

MICHAEL DOUCETTE & TOM RIGNEY/Cajun Fandango: If you ever wondered what the actual sound of ‘le bon ton roulet' was, just give this record a spin. Two of the greatest contemporary roots fiddlers, who've been friends forever, finally made the time to hit the studio together and the results are positively incendiary. Backed by Doucet's crew and Caroline Dahl, these two tore it up live in the studio for a week and when they left with the tape under their arm, they also left behind the absolute definition of killer stuff. Not for Cajun fans only, even though they play like they should be dubbed The Hot Club of Ponchatrain, this is for all fans of bar raising instrumental prowess. A winner throughout.

DANIEL HUTCHENS/Beautiful vicious Cycle of Life: Part of a coterie of southern musical geniuses that seem to be unsung, he's known by insiders from Widespread Panic to Velvet Underground, all of whom have been beneficiaries of his musical largesse. A revered songwriter in Athens, GA., he doesn't hew to the alt.party line and pretty much seems to draw his own lines where he will. A busman's holiday record from his 20 year stint in Bloodkin, his unbridled, unharnessed southern bred creativity comes at you with the kind of ferocity that made outlaw country so compelling in it's original burst even if this isn‘t a country record. Here's to Hutchins not giving up and going to law school. Long may he run and may this be the set that makes him a household word.

JASON MILES/To Grover With Love Live in Japan: What contemporary jazz fan doesn't love to get some new Jason Miles material? Who doesn't think it's great when he gets the chance to do some housecleaning? You can pretty much be sure what he's got stashed in his closet is better than what most others labor over. Here we have the live version of his tribute to Grover Washington. The smooth jazz A team is in tow but there's way too much fire here to call this smooth. With a touch of Antisa in the mix, the vibe, the heat and the chops provide for a highly combustible mix that cooks with the gas on high. With a can't miss set list to work from and great playing the audience shows their appreciation for, you just have to ask ‘what took so long?'. Killer stuff throughout.

Volume 39/Number 156
April 5, 2016
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2016 Midwest Record

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