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JOHN McNAMARA/Rollin' With It: An award winning blue eyed soul man form Oz, the tapes rolling at Ardent Studios, first and second generation Stax cats wailing up a hurricane in the background---you tell me this isn't a recipe for a killer recording. Note perfect throughout, this guitar slinger has modern soul/blues on the natchurl tip by the truck load. This might be the real thing two generations removed, but you aren't going to get anything closer or better in 2017. Killer stuff throughout and a trip to Memphis soul/blues heaven for the true believers.

SAM GLEAVES & TYLER HUGHES: Once upon a time, the folk music boom was subversively dubbed the folk music scare due to everyone that picked up a guitar thought they were the new Dylan. Super sweet, home grown sets like this would have inspired manques to move the boom into the scare since they are so natural and real. This is a subversive set in the true spirit of the original movement folk music. A male duo honoring home spun women writers and singers without changing the pronouns--I guess that fits in with today's transgender stuff but this duo isn't looking to dig any more deeper than give props where props are due. Given the high sign by organic stalwarts like John McCutcheon and Cathy Fink, this organic duo from the land from whence they sing do not disappoint. Easily making today's issues sound like they were written in Phil Ochs' original time, this is the kind of folk music you don't have to be reticent about admitting to your kids you like. First call throughout and an example for comers to follow.

ED MAINA/In the Company of Brothers: It's hard not to like something that really comes from the heart. Maina is an educator that took 13 years to make this smooth jazz set because he squeezed it in between raising a family, his job, his side jobs and getting a hold of the cats he wanted. You've got to respect the heart that went into this set, especially since the sax man backs it up with the kind of chops that go the distance. A sweet, snazzy set that's much more than a place holder in the canon, it's time to appreciate the gifts this cat steps up to share. Well done.

JASON KAO HWANG/Sing House: You want wild and wooly improv? Here it is. The jazz/classical fiddler fiddles away with abandon, as does the rest of his crew, taking you on an omnibus, world tour of free jazz that'll toast your synapses. Not for the faint of heart, this is the sound of taking Miles' extremes to extremes.

SARAH COPUS/Moorland Winds: No longer just a cute kid helping mommy out in the recording studio, still counting as a tyro at 13, this award winning Celtic harpist might not have an E ticket to Taylor Swift sized wealth but if we measure her success on artistic merit, she might be the reigning queen of the galactic playground for many years to come. A solidly wise beyond her years recording, don't patronize her for being 13 years old---admire the chops anyone would sacrifice something just to approach. Perhaps the best indigenous Celtic inspired recording to come along in many years, this young ‘un is going to have some mighty proud moments to look back on. Killer stuff throughout.

BOBBY BARE/Things Change: If you loved those under promoted Columbia recordings of Bare's, you'll find the only thing missing here is Shel Silverstein---and Bare pulls the pen mighty enough for you to think Uncle Shelby is hitting the rum somewhere in the background. With the classic Nashville A team backing him up and the presence of Chris Stapleton to underscore the title track's vision, the reliable, solid pro shows he's lost nothing off his fastball. A classic country set throughout, this is what long time genre fans have been calling for across many years. So what if he's over 70? Revere it . Killer stuff throughout.

WAYNE OLIVIERI/Eclectic Mind: Southside Johnny meets Michael Hurley meets the associates of Bruce Hampton and....wild pop ensues. Crazy stuff that works in places in ways that you'd least expect it to, long time under the radar rocker Olivieri shows that time, tide, fashion and coloring inside the lines mean not a whit to him as you follow him on his Pied Piper inspired path. With in the moment lyrics that'll resonate with you throughout, this is the classic feeling set that hippies liked to champion before they found jobs on Wall Street and discos full of coke. A fun time for anyone that likes fun. (And this is only his solo debut after all the times and skins he's been through).

SONIA AIMY/Nigerian Spirit: From Nigeria by way of the Canadian arts council, this killer world beat/soul/jazzy/gospel recording starts out feeling like it might be a kumbya recording but you lose that vibe fast if you are paying attention. Recording like a true citizen of the world that hasn't forgotten her roots, Aimy's true soul full of wild abandon is inspired by the matriarchs of her lineage that threw it up to the glory of the gods---and then some. High octane world beat that could have been produced by Paul Simon in the 80s, this is one smoking set that's hard to resist or put down. Killer stuff throughout.

NICK SCHNEBELEN/Live in Kansas City: The blues award winner's family band might be in the rear view mirror but his smoking passion to be the best guitar slinging white boy with the blues is running at full speed ahead. A sweat soaked set that doesn't follow any trajectory other than the original northern migration, he sounds like the kind of cat that would have opened for Muddy at the Aristocrat Lounge only to be subsequently fired for being a tad too good. Killer stuff for the purist that wants that Howlin Wolf wail to come right from the soul, again. Hot stuff throughout.

BRAD STIVERS/Took You Long Enough: I know how you hate singers and slingers that put on patented moves that are just dripping with moves to show how authentic they are (stop here to parenthetically roll your eyes) but Stivers isn't one of them. A hot and heavy white boy with hard rocking Texas blues that would make his spiritual fore fathers smile approvingly, he's the real deal that's fully formed in the here and now. Entertaining without being a jive ass, Stivers hits it out of the park for the next two cats to step up to the plate as well. Smoking stuff throughout.

Volume 40/Number 186
May 6, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2017 Midwest Record

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