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The Professor’s Picks: Lawrence Olds Band; David Michael Miller; Slam Allen; Shaun Murphy

professors picks

Is it just me, or does this year seem like it’s flying by? Henry and I have been up to our eyeballs in great music and it’s still coming in. Thanks goodness. That means we have all sorts of great new things to share with you and we’re on the prowl for even more. Thanks for listening to Time For The Blues, and let’s get to this month’s releases.

If you want an album that really swings in all the best senses of the word, check out Richmond’s very own Lawrence Olds Band’s new CD, Shades of Blue. This self-released album features 10 songs that are guaranteed to get you up and moving pretty quickly. This is definitely old school in its approach, with songs like “Summer Wind” set near “Kansas City” and “One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer.” The five-person ensemble have supplemented their sound with local stalwart Lindy Fralin lending his guitar work on a song he wrote, “Savin’ My Love For You,” and trumpeter Jonathan Greenberg on one song and saxophonist Kevin Simpson on a couple. Lawrence Olds has a rich and resonant voice, Chris Whiteman is on guitar, Charlie Kilpatrick on piano and organ, Carter Blough plays bass, and Todd Woodson is on drums. They may fall more on the side of jazz than blues, but man can they play. Just kick back and enjoy.

Quick, think of a style of blues that you like. Got it in your head? Good. Chances are you will find a great example of that style on David Michael Miller’s sophomore effort Same Soil now available on Food For The Soul Records. Miller displays his versatility throughout the record, sliding comfortably from the Delta to Gospel to smoky nightclub blues with barely a pause. The spirits of Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon are summoned for his powerful “Doing Me In, Doing Me Wrong.” Jeremy Keyes lights up the harp like Little Walter or James Cotton in a perfect complement to Miller’s voice and guitar work on the song. Miller and Company evoke the Allman Brothers on “If’in You Hear Me,” and do a damn fine job of it. Jason Moynihan’s raucous Sax gives “Born To Lose” a serious backbone, especially when trading off with Jim Ehinger’s B-3. This album has something for just about every blues lover and shows great promise for the future.

Now if you want something that gets into a groove right away and stays in high gear for a good while without shifting back, check out Slam Allen’s latest, Feel These Blues. Allen spent nine good years as the lead singer, lead guitarist, and frontman for James Cotton and is credited with writing and singing on Cotton’s comeback album Giant. This latest release on American Showplace Music is stripped down to its barest essentials with Allen handling guitars and vocals, Jeff Anderson takes on the bass chores, John Ginty on various keys and Dan Fadel on drums and percussion. Trust me if you like hard driving blues with a side of soul, get your hands on this on and hang on for a great ride. We’ll definitely be featuring some of this on Time For The Blues.

This month’s Gotta Have It Pick is Shaun Murphy’s Loretta. We featured a song from this amazing CD a little while back, and the more I listen to it, the more I like it. Murphy has always had a strong, assured voice, but on this CD, she not only steps into the spotlight, she commands it and dares anyone to try and take it away from her. She wrote or co-wrote more than half of the songs on this 12-song disc and has surrounded herself with some of the best musicians around. “Kiss Me Like Whiskey” is a throwback to those dark smoky clubs that will just tear your heart out. She then shows her versatility by rocking out on the title track. If you love the blues, or if you love the torch singers, either way you are going to be happy with this one.

Can’t believe another month has come and gone. We’re deep into the heat of summer, so stay cool, listen to the blues, and drop us a line to let us know if there’s anything you think we should cover. If you are an artist who has stumbled onto our little corner of the world and want to know how you can send us material, you can check out all the information here and we look forward to hearing from you.

Until next time, The Professor wishes you great music, great times, and great friends.