The Nighthawks- Paradise Kings- Delta Wires
The Nighthawks - All You Gotta Do - (Eller Soul)
Not many contemporary blues artists have a documentary film made about them, but the Nighthawks are flying high after this summer's release of "The Nighthawks - On the Blue Highway." Now on the heels of that look at the band's nearly 50-year career comes All You Gotta Do, a 12-song collection that includes songs you might not expect to be in the Nighthawks' repertoire. These guys (Mark Wenner-harmonica, Paul Bell-guitar, Johnny Castle-bass and drummer Mark Stutso) are consummate musicians so it's hard to single out standout tracks here, but an ominous sounding take on Randy Newman's "Burn Down the Cornfield," a swamp-rocking interpretation of Jesse Winchester's "Isn't That So" and a cover of the Ed Cobb-penned "Dirty Water," a hit long ago for the Standells, are likely to become favorites. The effort also offers several band-penned originals, with Wenner's slinky "Blues for Brother John" among the best.
Paradise Kings - Controlled Burn - (Self-released)
This Santa Barbara foursome wastes no time in getting the dance floor packed as the record begins with a rockabilly blues called "'69 Chevy," a real barn burner that's literally impossible to sit still for. The Fabulous Thunderbirds-recalling "Butter Me Up" finds the band in a funky mood, the strutting and amusing "I'd Sing the Blues if I Had 'Em" features singer Henry Garrett reeling off a litany of common complaints that belies the song title, and "Poor Me, Poor Me, Pour Me Another Drink" is a boogie that once again heads for the dance floor. A solid and fun set all the way through.
Delta Wires - Born in Oakland - (Mudslide)
This big seven-piece band has been honing their chops for some 30-odd years, so everything here is note perfect, and on opening cut "Sunny Day" singer (and harp player) Ernie Pinata's vocals and the band's backing groove perfectly channel the buzz of a bright and carefree day. "Vacation" has a different vibe; it's not about being on vacation but rather needing one, with Pinata's harmonica, Richard Healy's guitar picking and the band's three-man horn section stressing the point. Other highlights include the yearning "Your Eyes" and "Devil's in My Headset" but the bouncy "Fun Time" probably sums up this album the best, both musically and in title.