Jeff Plankenhorn

SoulSlide

Lounge Side

plankenhornSinger, songwriter and guitarist Jeff Plankenhorn, aka Plank, plays “The Plank” — a self-designed, resonator-shaped,  full-bodied electric guitar played lap-steel style while standing up.

“The Plank” allows Plank to realize his dream of mixing sacred-steel influences such as the Campbell Brothers and Robert Randolph with the Dobro stylings of Jerry Douglas and Josh Graves.

“SoulSlide” is his fourth album and third studio effort. Plank has played for Ray Wylie Hubbard, Willis Alan Ramsey, Slaid Cleaves and Joe Ely, among others. Before moving to Austin at Hubbard’s urging, he spent a year in Nashville learning to play Dobro, a skill put to great use here playing The Plank — which, not being a resonator, makes this latest release a bonanza of wonderfully wicked slide workouts.

Helping out are Brannen Temple on drums and Yoggie Musgrove on bass (the former rhythm section of late Texas guitar legend Stephen Bruton’s old trio), and guitar/keyboard player Dave Scher (not to be confused with Farmer Dave Scher of Beachwood Sparks). Making special appearances are singers Malford Milligan and Ruthie Foster, and former Fastball singer and guitarist Miles Zuniga (who co-wrote several of the songs with Plank, and contributes guitar and background vocals).

Showstoppers include Sam and Dave’s “You Got Me Hummin’ “; “Like Flowers,” a Plankenhorn original inspired by a line from the Charles Bukowski poem “People as Flowers”; the piano-guitar instrumental “Kansas City Nocturne”; “Vagabond Moonlight,” co-written by Plankenhorn, Zuniga and Brett Dennen; a never-released Ramsay cut, “Mockingbird Blues”; and Percy Sledge’s “Walking in the Sun.”gnm_end_bug

Tracks
1. Lose My Mind
2. You Got Me Hummin’ (feat. Malford Milligan)
3. Trouble Find Me
4. Like Flowers (feat. Ruthie Foster)
5. Dirty Floor
6. Kansas City Nocturne
7. Born to Win
8. Vagabond Moonlight (feat. The Resentments)
9. Mockingbird Blues
10. Headstrong
11. Live Today (feat. The Resentments)
12. Walking in the Sun

Total time: 43:48

External links
artist’s website
amazon.com
iTunes Store

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Colin Lake

One Thing That’s for Sure

Louisiana Red Hot

lakeColin Lake traded in the Pacific Northwest for the Deep South, relocating from Portland, Ore., to New Orleans and finding a mentor in musician Eric Lindell. “One Thing That’s for Sure” is Lake’s second post-migration album, continuing his metamorphosis into a notable blues/soul/R&B singer-songwriter who excels on slide and lap steel guitar.

On the title track he sounds like B.B. King jamming with the Subdudes. For “The World Alive,” Lake conjures cosmic pedal-steel sounds out of his lap steel. “I’m Trying to Tell You” gets funky with wah-wah and organ. Gospel-style background vocals and folksy harmonica grace the stripped-down “A Quiet Mind.”

“La Madrugada” is the album’s lone instrumental, comprising Dobro-like lap steel, organ and drums. On “Pay the Price,” Lake plays fuzzed-out electric slide à la Ry Cooder and sings like Ben Harper.

The record closes with “Lonesome for the West,” an eight-minute showcase for dueling and double-lead multitracked slide guitars.

By using a horn section on several songs, background singers here and there, and a guitar solo by Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars (on “She’s Mine”), Lake elevates himself to the real deal — and that’s one thing that’s for sure.gnm_end_bug

Tracks
1. One Thing That’s For Sure
2. She’s Mine
3. The World Alive
4. I’m Trying To Tell You
5. A Quiet Mind
6. La Madrugada
7. Pay The Price
8. Ninety-Nine Miles
9. Just Begun
10. If It Ain’t For You
11. Lonesome For The West

Total time: 53:05

External links
artist’s website
amazon.com
iTunes Store

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Ian Siegal & The Mississippi Mudbloods

Candy Store Kid

Nugene

When Luther Dickinson (touring with the Black Crowes at the time) joined brother Cody and British blues guitar man Ian Siegal onstage during their set at the 2011 Belgium Rhythm & Blues Festival, the seed was planted for the followup to Siegal’s “The Skinny” — last year’s wildly successful collaboration realized at Luther and Cody’s Zebra Ranch in Mississippi hill country.

Luther, unable to sit in for that album, generously lends his trademark slide guitar to Siegal’s even more brilliant new one. Cody produces again, actually getting to play drums (Rodd Bland helmed the kit last time), and guitarists Garry Burnside and Alvin Youngblood Hart return as well.

Luther and Cody’s regular band, the North Mississippi Allstars, haven’t had a studio release since “Keys to the Kingdom” in early 2011 — a tribute to their recently departed father, legendary producer Jim Dickinson. But they’ve toured some and Luther has been especially prolific, putting put out his first solo album, discs with side projects the Wandering and South Memphis String Band, and  a collaboration with David Hidalgo of Los Lobos and Mato Nanji of Indigenous.

The extracurricular activity no doubt renewed the Dickinsons: “Candy Store Kid” is the best aggregation of hill country blues artists in recent memory. The genre fits Siegal and his Howlin’ Wolf-style vocals like a glove, his seven original compositions sounding almost as authentic as those of real-deal musicians like Mississippi Fred McDowell, R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough. Also included are Lightnin’ Malcolm’s “So Much Trouble,” Garry Burnside’s “Strong Woman” and the obscure “Green Power” (plucked from Little Richard’s 1971 LP “King of Rock and Roll”).

Tracks
1. Bayou Country
2. Loose Cannon
3. I Am The Train
4. So Much Trouble
5. Kingfish
6. The Fear
7. Earlie Grace Jnr
8. Green Power
9. Strong Woman
10. Rodeo
11. Hard Pressed (What Da Fuzz?)

Total time: 46:14

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iTunes Store

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Hans Theessink and Terry Evans

Delta Time

Blue Groove

Dutch bluesman Hans Theessink’s laid-back baritone perfectly complements Mississippi-born Terry Evans’ gospel-informed tenor. In the same vein as their first collaboration (2008’s “Visions”), “Delta Time” is all voices and guitars (Theessink on acoustic, Evans on electric). Ry Cooder adds fretwork to three tracks, and Evans’ singing mates Willie Green Jr. and Arnold McCuller harmonize with Evans on five selections.

Theessink, with four decades of touring and recording under his belt, is finally starting to make a name for himself outside of Europe. Evans, before becoming a solo performer, was a session vocalist for countless artists (Eric Clapton, John Fogerty, Pops Staples, Boz Scaggs, Maria Muldaur) and formed a duo with Bobby King that appeared on several of Cooder’s finer albums.

Serendipitously, the National Association of Music Merchants convention was happening in nearby Anaheim while “Delta” was being recorded in Los Angeles, leading to the National Reso-Phonic Guitars and Deering Banjo companies loaning some of their instruments. Theessink had a field day overdubbing National guitar, National mandolin and Deering gutstring banjo.

Top-notch recording and mixing to tape by Andrew Bush at Grandma’s Warehouse further enhanced the front-porch vibe, and mastering by Gavin Lurssen put the icing on the cake.

Tracks
1. Delta Time
2. Blues Stay Away From Me
3. It Hurts Me Too
4. How Come People Act Like That
5. The Birds And The Bees
6. Build Myself A Home
7. Down In Mississippi
8. Shelter From The Storm
9. I Need Money
10. Heaven’s Airplane
11. Pouring Water On A Drowning Man
12. Honest I Do
13. Mississippi

Total time: 58:18

External links
Hans Theessink’s website
Terry Evans’ website
amazon.com
iTunes Store

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The Blasters

Fun on Saturday Night

Rip Cat

A new Blasters album is nothing to sneeze at.

The roots rockers’ first four studio albums were released from 1980 to 1985, before singer Phil Alvin and lead guitarist Dave Alvin no longer saw eye to eye and Dave told his brother goodbye.

The group’s next 10 years saw a revolving door of lead guitarists, including Hollywood Fats, Billy Zoom, Smokey Hormel and James Intveld. In 2002 the band still had not produced another studio album, but the original Blasters lineup reunited for shows that year and the next that spawned two live albums before Dave Alvin left again.

The elusive studio album No. 5 finally materialized in late 2004 in Europe and summer 2005 in America. “4-11-44” featured lead guitarist Keith Wyatt (1996 to present) and drummer Jerry Angel (who joined in 1994).

“Fun on Saturday Night” narrows the waiting period between albums from 20 years to eight, and finds original drummer Bill Bateman back in the fold, having rejoined in 2008.

A more even effort than its predecessor, which nonetheless was an excellent release, “Fun” runs the usual gamut from blues to soul to rock to country and contains two new originals: a Phil Alvin song and a group composition.

The Alvin song, “Breath of My Love,” is an engaging and clever story-song about a man whose lover is “probably bipolar” — at least according to her psychologist — and tries to kill him in a fit of jealousy. Rendered doo-wop style, the tale’s ironic, cliffhanger ending is sure to please.

The group composition, “Penny,” features an astounding Howlin’ Wolf-type guitar lick, over which Alvin doesn’t so much sing as intermittently mutters assorted reasons why Penny shouldn’t (when he really means should) do those things she does.

Highlights among the covers comprising the rest of the disc include:

• The ripsnorting “Well Oh Well,” a 1950 R&B hit for Tiny Bradshaw.

• “Jackson,” popularized in 1967 but written in 1963 by Jerry Leiber and Billy “Edd” Wheeler, in which guest Exene Cervenka plays June Carter Cash to Alvin’s Johnny Cash (or Nancy Sinatra to Lee Hazlewood, depending on your taste).

• Sonny Boy Williamson II’s 1954 flip side, “No More Nights By Myself,” one of several songs John Bazz plays upright bass on.

• “The Yodelin’ Mountaineer,” a 1946 B-side by J.E. Mainer’s Mountaineers. Alvin’s yodeling is spot on, but the modern rhythm parts and solos place it in a new context.

Wrapping it all up is a Spanish-language version of the Blasters classic “Marie Marie,” retitled “Maria Maria,” with Kid Ramos guesting on bajo sexto.

Kudos to Alvin and Bazz for keeping the group going all this time. Despite only two new studio albums in 28 years, they’re still playing that “American music” like nobody’s business.

Tracks
1. Well Oh Well
2. Jackson
3. Breath Of My Love
4. Fun On Saturday Night
5. No More Nights By Myself
6. Love Me With A Feeling
7. I Don’t Want Cha
8. Please Please Please
9. Rock My Blues Away
10. Penny
11. The Yodelin’ Mountaineer
12. Maria Maria

Total time: 35:40

External links
artist’s website
amazon.com
iTunes Store

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