Great American Taxi

Dr. Feelgood’s Traveling Medicine Show

LoHi

GATWhen frontman Vince Herman returned full-time to his reactivated former group Leftover Salmon, the Colorado-based Americana/jam band Great American Taxi chose to keep on truckin’.

It was a good decision, as their fourth release turned out to be their best.

After settling on guitarist/banjoist/singer Arthur Lee Land as Herman’s replacement, they headed into Silo Sound Studios in late 2014 and early 2015 under the guidance of studio owner/engineer Todd Divel and Railroad Earth’s Tim Carbone, who also lends occasional fiddle.

Finding themselves between drummers at the time, Duane Trucks (Hard Working Americans, Widespread Panic and younger brother of Derek) filled in.

The resulting “Dr. Feelgood’s Traveling Medicine Show” shows the quintet shifting away from alt-bluegrass toward more of a rock-and-roll sound: The addition of Land sets up some fine Telecaster duels with Jim Lewin.

A slight bluegrass connection remains, with a few songs featuring banjo in a supporting role. But an approximately equal number of other tracks boast founder-keyboardist Chad Staehly’s electric piano, à la “Elephant Mountain”/“Ride the Wind”-era Youngbloods.

One of the banjo highlights is “Home.” Starting out with the sound of crickets and footsteps, the loping song waxes nostalgic as the protagonist recalls days of his not-quite-misspent youth.

“We Can Run” boasts a high-spirited performance by Staehly on Fender Rhodes, with the “feel-good” number riding out on an articulate guitar conversation between Land and Lewin.

“Like There’s No Yesterday” has a bit of a Grateful Dead “Jack Straw” vibe, even boasting a Jerry Garcia-like solo.

The title track is a surreal exercise in carnivalesque klezmer meets surf/twang meets Danny Elfman OST meets “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite.”

Those hoping to hear plaintive electric slide beautifully juxtaposed with acoustic rhythm guitar, military-style drums, and violin melding with the drone of a Hammond B-3 organ need look no further than “Mother Lode,” a shimmering slow-motion send-off that discusses the importance of persisting in one’s search for the Mother Lode — even in the face of growing old.gnm_end_bug

Tracks
1. We Can Run
2. Out On The Town
3. Sunshiny Days
4. All The Angels
5. Home
6. Louie Town
7. Everybody
8. Dr. Feelgood’s Traveling Medicine Show
9. Like There’s No Yesterday
10. Mother Lode

Total time: 42:47

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David Bromberg Band

The Blues, The Whole Blues and Nothing But the Blues

Red House

bromberg2“The Blues, The Whole Blues and Nothing But the Blues” is the best of David Bromberg’s four studio albums released since ending his 17-year recording hiatus 10 years ago — and also among his best ever.

His excellent previous three releases (2007’s solo acoustic “Try Me One More Time,” and the 2011 and 2013 band efforts “Use Me” and “Only Slightly Mad”) were just setting the stage for this superb compendium of standards and obscurities.

Robert Johnson’s “Walkin’ Blues” is fully electrified by Bromberg’s slide guitar and also features an ultrafine solo by second guitarist Mark Cosgrove.

Bromberg handles all solos — slide and otherwise — on the rest of the songs except for “Delia,” a guitar duet between Bromberg’s acoustic and producer Larry Campbell’s acoustic slide. The traditional song is reprised from Bromberg’s 1972 eponymous debut.

Other exceptionally noteworthy standards include Sonny Boy Williamson II’s “Eyesight to the Blind,” graced by Little Feat keyboardist Bill Payne’s nimble fingers on the organ as well as a quick fiddle solo by Nate Grower; and “Yield Not to Temptation,” a Deadric Malone (aka Don Robey) composition that was a hit for Bobby “Blue” Bland but which, as pointed out by Bromberg in his liner notes, received an inspiring treatment by Tracy Nelson, Marcia Ball and Irma Thomas on their 1998 summit, “Sing It!”

In the Obscurities Department, a bone called “How Come My Dog Don’t Bark When You Come ‘Round?” has been dug up — rare because it’s not the Prince Patridge number that Dr. John covered to great effect. Many have recorded and taken credit for songs going by that or similar names, including Memphis Slim, Lorraine Ellison and even Buck Owens. Bromberg says he doesn’t know who wrote this one, but learned it from a lead sheet while considering songs for a ’70s album: “I think the album I was doing was “Reckless Abandon,” he told Good New Music by email.

Another obscure gem is the sexual-innuendo-laden “You’ve Been a Good Ole Wagon,” a Bessie Smith tune written by John Willie (aka “Shifty”) Henry, with Payne on piano, Grower on fiddle and Cosgrove on mandolin.

And then there’s the title song. “We thought that we’d finished recording the album,” Bromberg says in the liners, “which was already titled ‘The Blues, The Whole Blues and Nothing But the Blues,’ when (manager) Mark McKenna found this song by Gary Nicholson and Russell Smith. Of course we had to go back to the studio and record it.” The song originally appeared on an album by Memphis R&B group Fish Heads & Rice in 1994.

Bromberg concludes “Blues” with two new original compositions: the humorous “This Month” (“The first time that woman left me — this month — I couldn’t even tell you why”) and “You Don’t Have to Go,” whose lyrics are a mashup of several Chicago blues numbers including “Sweet Home Chicago” and “The Sky Is Crying.”gnm_end_bug

Tracks
1. Walkin’ Blues
2. How Come My Dog Don’t Bark When You Come ’Round?
3. Kentucky Blues
4. Why Are People Like That?
5. A Fool For You
6. Eyesight To The Blind
7. 900 Miles
8. Yield Not To Temptation
9. You’ve Been A Good Ole Wagon
10. Delia
11. The Blues, The Whole Blues And Nothing But The Blues
12. This Month
13. You Don’t Have to Go

Total time: 57:42

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Bob Weir

Blue Mountain

Legacy

weirIt’s hard to believe, but “Blue Mountain” is only Bob Weir’s third solo studio album and first since 1978’s “Heaven Help the Fool.”

Over the years, the Grateful Dead rhythm guitarist/vocalist has released several studio albums by side projects (Kingfish, 1976; Bobby and the Midnites, 1981 and 1984; Weir/Wassmerman, 1998; Ratdog, 2000), but this is the first new music under the name of just “Bob Weir” in nearly 38 years.

It took some young blood to get the old man of the “Blue Mountain” to come down to the Red River Valley and cut some new tunes — specifically Josh Kaufman, Josh Ritter and Aaron Dessner.

It was Weir’s mention of his love for cowboy music (developed while working a summer job on a Wyoming ranch when he was 15) to these pups that got the ball rolling.

Brooklyn-based Kaufman, whose résumé as a sideman includes work with Dessner’s indie-rock band The National as well as albums by folk-rocker Ritter, produced the record. Ritter — either alone or with Weir — wrote lyrics for all but a few songs, and Kaufman/Ritter/Weir supplied most of the music.

(Side note: Dessner and his brother Bryce, also in The National, curated “Day of the Dead”: this year’s 59-song compilation of exclusive Grateful Dead indie covers co-produced by Kaufman and benefiting the Red Hot Organization.)

“Blue Mountain” has an independent-Americana feel, with Weir’s central acoustic guitar often circled by Aaron Dessner’s electric. But the album — references to “Shenandoah,” “I’m an Old Cowhand” and “Ghost Riders in the Sky” aside — is not a bunch of songs in the vein of “El Paso” or “Big Iron.”

Rather, the mellow and mostly slow-mo (except for “Gonesville”) music takes the listener on a surreal journey back to Weir’s 15th summer — a ride that gets more enjoyable with each trip.gnm_end_bug

Tracks
1. Only A River
2. Cottonwood Lullaby
3. Gonesville
4. Lay My Lily Down
5. Gallop On The Run
6. Whatever Happened To Rose
7. Ghost Towns
8. Darkest Hour
9. Ki-Yi Bossie
10. Storm Country
11. Blue Mountain
12. One More River To Cross

Total time: 51:42

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Gonzalo Bergara

Zalo’s Blues

self-released

bergaraAfter six Gypsy jazz albums, Gonzalo Bergara returns to his blues-rock roots with all the zeal one would expect from someone who caught the late, great Dan Hicks’ attention.

When Bergara served as guitarist on Hicks’ 2004 release, “Selected Shorts,” the Argentinian was relatively unknown to the American public. The following year he began extensive touring as rhythm guitarist in John Jorgenson’s Gypsy jazz quintet, a gig that would last through 2008. After that he began recording a string of releases under his own name or as the Gonzalo Bergara Quartet.

Bergara told Good New Music via email how he met Hicks:

“A friend of my roommate was at the time using his studio for a project with Dan Hicks. The producer was Tim Hauser from Manhattan Transfer. This friend had heard through my roommate that I also could play not only blues but Gypsy jazz as well, and everybody at that time was not happy with the guitar player they had in the studio.

“So one day the studio owner dialed my number and had me play (Gus Kahn’s 1924 classic) ‘I’ll See You in My Dreams’ through the phone. Sounds crazy, but that’s how it went. I guess (Hicks) liked it OK, because the next day I was in the studio redoing all of the guitar parts. … He was a very special man; I loved working with him.”

Although his roots are in blues, unbelievably this is Bergara’s first blues recording.

“My first gigs as a musician were at the age of 16,” he told GNM in explaining his blues beginnings. “I first joined a group when I was 12, and after four years and lots of practice, we started sounding pretty good. We were invited to national television, and played  shows weekly in Buenos Aires and Argentina.

“I have always loved the format of a trio,” he said, “the freedom and space it gives me. Mariano (D’Andrea) and my brother Maximiliano (who both play on ‘Zalo’s Blues’) joined me when I was 16, and we did lots of things together, but I also played with other trios in town when I needed to.”

“Zalo’s Blues” is roughly half vocal numbers, half instrumental. The vocal tunes — Bergara’s first on record — are as good as any upper-echelon blues-rocker’s, and his singing voice carries not even a trace of an accent.

The instrumental cuts range in influence from Charlie Christian to T-Bone Walker to Stevie Ray Vaughan to the Hellecasters, and draw attention to the fact that this platter is nothing if not a tone fest.

Perhaps he was waiting until he felt his singing/songwriting skills were fully developed before “going electric,” but if Bergara’s first crack at it is this good, the listener’s imagination runs wild thinking about what lies ahead.gnm_end_bug

Tracks
1. Drawback
2. Drinking
3. Singing My Song
4. You Don’t Have To Go (Jimmy Reed)
5. Dirty Socks
6. Gonna Go
7. No More
8. Woosh
9. Been Runnin’
10. Levi
11. Ines
12. Won`t Stay With You

Total time: 37:30

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Joecephus and the George Jonestown Massacre

Mutants of the Monster: A Tribute to Black Oak Arkansas

Saustex

Jim Dandy to the rescue — sort of.mutants

“To the rescue” because all profits from the sale of “Mutants of the Monster: A Tribute to Black Oak Arkansas” will benefit Memphis-area animal rescue The Savior Foundation.

“Sort of” because it’s not a Jim Dandy or Black Oak Arkansas album, although Dandy (aka Jim Mangrum) and BOA guitarists Rickie Lee Reynolds and the late Jimmy Henderson make guest appearances.

Rather, it’s power trio Joecephus (aka Joey Killingsworth) and the George Jonestown Massacre backing a revolving cast of contributors that includes Jimbo Mathus; Shooter Jennings; and members of Nashville Pussy, Butthole Surfers, Hawkwind, Supersuckers, Lucero, Black Flag, Dead Kennedys and Dash Rip Rock.

But the abundance of punk-rock credentials can be misleading: This is Southern rock of the highest caliber, befitting one of the genre’s finest “guitar army” bands.

Mathus puts a spin on homespun “Uncle Lijiah” with a big assist from Robby Turner (Waylon Jennings, Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Stimpson), whose pedal steel graces the song throughout and subs for the banjo normally found at the end. Turner also stretches the ending into a compact jam, recalling the stylings of New Riders of the Purple Sage steeler Buddy Cage.

For sheer instrumental madness, it’s hard to top “When Electricity Came to Arkansas.” ANTiSEEN singer Jeff Clayton sets it up with the song’s brief “Hey, yeah” chant before turning the song over to Reynolds, Black Flag guitarist Greg Ginn and Killingsworth, who take the listener on an extended trip to triple-guitar heaven.

Shooter Jennings has fun with the double-entendre lyrics of “Hot Rod,” and Hawkwind’s Nik Turner embellishes “Swimmin’ in Quicksand” with a sax solo straddling the fence between melodic and improvisational.

An unexpected highlight lies in “The Wild Bunch,” sung by pro football player turned country singer Kyle Turley. Bolstering Turley’s performance is some amazing playing by Willie Nelson’s harmonica player, Mickey Raphael, who gets to fit more notes into a song than ever before.gnm_end_bug

Tracks
1. Hey Y’all (feat. Blaine Cartwright and Ruyter Suys)
2. Uncle Lijiah (feat. Jimbo Mathus and Robby Turner)
3. Hot Rod (feat. Shooter Jennings)
4. Swimmin’ In Quicksand (feat. J.D. Pinkus and Nik Turner)
5. Hot And Nasty (feat. Eddie Spaghetti and Brian Venable)
6. When Electricity Came To Arkansas (feat. Jeff Clayton, Rickie Lee Reynolds and Greg Ginn)
7. Short Life Line (feat. Bill Davis)
8. Fever In My Mind (feat. Jim Dandy)
9. High ‘N’ Dry (feat. Whiskeydick)
10. Lord Have Mercy On My Soul (feat. Jeff Clayton and Paul Leary)
11. Mutants Of The Monster (
feat. Christopher “C.T.” Terry and Micheal Denner)
12. Mad Man
13. Strong Enough To Be Gentle (feat. Ruyter Suys and Jimmy Henderson)
14. Jim Dandy (feat. Jello Biafra and Ruyter Suys)
15. Rock ‘N’ Roll (Nine Pound Hammer, feat. Joecephus)
16. The Wild Bunch (
feat. Kyle Turley and Mickey Raphael)
17. Keep The Faith (Kentucky Bridgeburners)

Total time: 1:05:43

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