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500 HATS
SCOTT GRAY/Raincoats & Other Short Stories: He claimed being inspired by Leonard Cohen but he comes across as a fan of Michael Franks. Pleasant, amiable stuff for those who miss classic Billy Joel.

DAN McKINNON/The Cleaner: Sure, he's a white boy with the blues that admires all the greats from the 60s, but he's an amped up blues rocker that draws just as much inspiration from the Brits that took it and sold it back to us in that period. A solid shredder that never met a power chord he didn't like, he knows how to bring the sound and the fury to fans always looking for a new kick. Solid stuff.

ADRIAN CUNNINGHAM & KEN PEPLOWSKI/Duologue: Jazzbos of a certain age were spoiled by albums by Al & Zoot, Jai & Kai and others of that era that could just toss off great sets no matter what. With Renee Rosnes, Martin Wind and Matt Wilson backing them like a working quintet, this crew fashions a date that's right in the classic vibed pocket. A smashing date for listeners that really want to listen, you can't bring back the past but you can catch lightning in a bottle. Even if you're a whippersnapper, this is as close to the cool, groovy stuff you found cleaning out grandpa's basement after he died as you are going to get. Simply a great record that should be enjoyed by a wider audience than jazzbos.

JUSTIN SALADINO BAND/A Fool's Heart: A self styled roots rocker that wasn't even born before AM radio died as a music outlet has a lot more pop sensibilities than he's willing to admit to. Making his mark in the blues world in Canada, he's ready for some kind of real break out to take it all to the next level of the game. This is your chance to say you were digging him back in the day.

LAMONT DOZIER/Reimagination: Even if there's no new songs here, Dozier's tunes were so powerful that he still feels vital in his 80s revisiting past glories. A star powered set that doesn't round up the usual suspects, a bunch of Motown lovers were rounded up, many of them white and Brit, for the party. Produced by Fred Mollin, who has successfully headed up several of these kind of rodeos, at the end of the day, it's Dozier's show and he uses the spotlight well. Timeless stuff from a timeless cat that can only recognize jive moves from a distance. The stuff you were raised on and loved is revamped without sacrilege and is as vital as ever.

STEVE HILL/One Man Blues Rock Band: Honing his craft over 25 years, Hill has one more hill to get over. He raises such a racket that being a one man band is lost in a purely audio medium without the visuals. Nonetheless a bad ass blues rocker, Hill keeps it self contained knows exactly where he wants to go. Visuals or not, this white boy with the blues is a bad boy that's bad to the bone and this is really smoking.

MIKE AIKEN/Wayward Troubadour: When's the last time you really sunk your teeth into a good honky tonk album? The renegade that colors outside the lines but lives within the law nearly creates the sippy cup honky tonk genre here single handedly, but he's too much of a bad ass to go that way. A polished recording with a lot of Nashville crème rising to the top, it's almost like he's a family friendly Waylon, without the rumbling bass voice but no less powerful. Great country rock for the 10s.

RICHARD NOLL/Peaceful Being: Even if his primary instrument is recorder, he's not a total hippie as he can work an EWI as well. Making his debut after 20 years in the background, this long time New Mexico resident issues a set inspired by his countryside and dammed if I don't hear echoes of Aaron Copland and Ferde Grofe in his nature inspired works. Standing firmly on it's own two feet, this set is actually more Native American than hippie dippy granola munching music. We're always up for a set of bag breaking music and this peaceful set goes the distance on that route. Out of the ordinary and well worth your time.

SUGAR BROWN/It's a Blues World...Calling All Blues: You know how we're always talking about white boys with the blues? Have we got one for you. Brown is Asian born, Chicago raised and holds a Ph.D. in history using it to teach in Canada. Along the way he got into the blues in Chicago but put the music aside, until he realized that once it took hold it wouldn't let go. Since then, he's been tearing it up at all the blues competitions. This set finds him taking you on a tour of the blues hitting all the styles and modes popular from the 30s on forward. And, of course, hitting all the right notes along the way. If you chops were honed listening to Alligator blues, this set will be right in your wheelhouse. Killer stuff from the leading edge of yellow boys with the blues.

WATER SEED/Say Yeah!!: Recorded live at the Blue Nile, this Nawlins funky soul crew knows how to deliver the goods. A crackling live date that takes show band to the next level of the game, they aren't just here for the party---they are the party. With so many flavors to put in their gumbo, they don't discriminate and just use them all creating a sonic mash up that's bold and subtle at the same time loaded with a distinct heat that'll drive you nuts. Solidly smoking stuff from a regional crew that deserves international attention.

Number 41/Number 219
June 7, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2018 Midwest Record

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