Joe Goldmark

Blue Steel

Lo-Ball

After seven solo albums of pedal-steel instrumentals (all of which include decidedly non-country covers), Joe Goldmark switched gears two albums ago by incorporating vocal numbers.

His new tack began with 2007’s “Seducing the ’60s” (Goldmark’s second all-covers album — the first being 1997’s “Steelin’ the Beatles”), of which half the tracks variously feature guest vocals by two male singers and one female singer. “The Wham of That Steel Man!” was his 2012 follow-up, a two-CD multigenre exercise comprising an instrumental disc and a vocal disc made up entirely of tunes sung by a female singer.

Now comes “Blue Steel,” another outstanding 50/50 instrumental-and-vocal set enlisting a male and a female singer, with one or the other contributing to the non-instrumental numbers.

This time there’s an R&B/blues/soul theme, a unique approach for a pedal-steel album but not without precedence if the criterion were to be “any type of slide guitar”: Jeff Plankenhorn, who plays a custom-built electric dobro, released an all-soul album entitled “SoulSlide” in 2016.

“Blue Steel” opens with a lively original instrumental, “Night Flight.” Recalling such rockin’ steelers as “Sneaky Pete” Kleinow and Red Rhodes, it’s highlighted by guitarist Gary Potterton’s (Tom Fogerty, Kate Wolf) succinct Duane Eddy-esque solo toward the end.

The first of the vocal numbers is “All Night Worker,” a Rufus Thomas hit in 1964, here sourced from the 1966 version by Tex-Mex band Los Stardusters. Former Hoodoo Rhythm Devils singer Glenn Walters provides the voice. The Stardusters arrangement boasts a “She’s About a Mover” groove, which might not be a coincidence: Los Stardusters were on the Texas-based Tear Drop label, founded by Sir Douglas Quintet producer Huey P. Meaux.

San Francisco singer Dallis Craft handles the female half of the album’s vocal equation, beginning with a stunning rendition of “A Love So Beautiful,” the Roy Orbison-Jeff Lynne co-write from Orbison’s 1989 comeback album, “Mystery Girl.”

And so the album’s pattern is established, with the balance alternating between instrumental and vocal selections. The rest of the vocal tunes are also covers, a refreshingly eclectic collection of songs by Jimmy McCracklin (“The Wobble”), Graham Parker (“Howlin’ Wind”), Lefty Frizzell (“Look What Thoughts Will Do”), B.B. King (“Beautician Blues”) and Dallas Frazier (“True Love Travels on a Gravel Road”).

The balance of the instrumentals are mostly Goldmark originals, with two exceptions: Bob Marley’s “Natty Dread” (sourced from eight-string jazz guitarist Charlie Hunter’s 1997 instrumental reimagining of Marley’s 1974 album of the same name) and “I Want to Be With You Forever” (written especially for “Blue Steel” by Bay Area guitarist and Goldmark colleague Jim Campilongo, who also plays guitars on the track).

Tracks
1. Night Flight
2. All Night Worker (feat. Glenn Walters)
3. A Love So Beautiful (feat. Dallis Craft)
4. Ginger Ale
5. The Wobble (feat. Glenn Walters)
6. Warm Rain
7. Howlin’ Wind (feat. Dallis Craft)
8. Natty Dread
9. Look What Thoughts Will Do (feat. Dallis Craft)
10. Tacky Tango
11. Beautician Blues (feat. Glenn Walters)
12. I Want To Be With You Forever (Jim Campilongo — guitars)
13. True Love Travels On A Gravel Road (feat. Dallis Craft)

Total time: 41:34

External links
artist’s site
amazon.com
iTunes Store

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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

External links
artist’s link
amazon.com
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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