Mike Zito- Eric Gales- Ricci/Krown- Sam Moss

Mike Zito - Blues for the Southside

Here's a live one from Zito that was recorded in November of 2021 at the Old Rock House in St. Louis, Zito's hometown. And there's so much good music here that it takes two CDs to hold it all. Zito wrote most of the songs here and the guitarist and singer starts the show with a trio of self-penned numbers, the slide guitar romp "Mississippi Nights," "First Class Nights," which sounds like it could've been a Bob Seger tune, and "Blues for the Southside," an instrumental where Zito lets his guitar do the talking as to how he feels about his beloved St. Louis Southside. The first cover Zito tackles is the Stevie Ray Vaughan-associated "Texas Flood" which he gives a heartfelt reading of both with his guitar and his vocals. The first half of the show wraps up with "Hell on Me," "Back Trouble" and "Make Blues Not War." The second half of the show finds Zito pulling up a few more covers and inviting guests up to the stage. First up is "Highway Mama" where Tony Campanella joins Mike for a guitar fest while Eric Gales does the same on a take on the oft-covered Jimi Hendrix tune "Voodoo Chile." One more hot guitarist is still to come as Dave Kalz steps on stage on the shuffling "The Road Never Ends," a Zito/Devon Allman co-write. Altogether the show presents 15 songs and ends appropriately enough with "Johnny B Goode," originally performed by St. Louis native Chuck Berry.

Eric Gales - Crown

The opening track of this generous 16-song effort, "Death of Me," begins with a bit of spoken word from Gales, "My name is Eric Gales. Any questions?" Should a listener actually have questions all they have to do is listen to the album. The smooth-voiced blues rocker wastes no time in firing up his guitar; "Death of Me" features an incredible mid song solo and a flourish of psychedelic guitar too. The album's title cut comes early in the track sequence and album producer and song co-writer Joe Bonamassa joins Eric on the funky "I Want My Crown" as the two indulge in a fiery guitar duel. The song is about obtaining the best things in life as well as being thought of as the best guitarist around and contains a quick bit of good-natured ribbing as Gales refers to Bonamassa with "I'm tired of hearing about Joe B!" Interestingly, the cut is followed by the slow R&B of "Stand Up," a Bonamassa song about being respected, period. Bonamassa is not the only artist spotlighted here; Gales' wife LaDonna, a background singer in his band, handles lead vocals on James Brown's soulful groove "Take Me Just as I Am." "Let Me Start with This" bears out the notion to just listen to learn what Eric is about as the lyrics explain just that, with guitar! By the time the album closes with the shuffling "I Gotta Go" fans will understand exactly why Gales poses wearing an ornate crown on the CD cover.

Ricci/Krown - City Country City

This recording from singer and harpoon man Jason Ricci and keys player Joe Krown opens with the War tune that gives this album its title; the sprawling instrumental originally from War's The World is a Ghetto album is abbreviated here and sees Ricci's harmonica playing the parts that were sax parts on the original. Ricci and Krown both pen tunes for the album; Krown's "Down 'n Dirty" is another instrumental showcasing his Hammond B3 skills while Ricci takes vocal turns that sound Dr. John-ish on "Badger the Witness" and the self-explanatory "Feel Good Funk." The pair also work up a nice version of Taj Mahal's "The Jimmy Smith Strut" and close City Country City with a super bluesy instrumental interpretation of Bobbie Gentry's "Ode to Billy Joe."

Sam Moss - Blues Approved

Here's a nice keepsake release from Moss, the highly-influential guitarist and singer from the '70s and '80s Winston-Salem and Chapel Hill (North Carolina) scene who died in 2007. Other area luminaries like Mitch Easter and Chris Stamey are involved here, and there's even a take on the cornpone country "Act Naturally" that was recorded in rehearsal of Sam's first band the Clique. Fans will love Moss originals like the finger popping "Rooster Blood" and the crying-in-my-beer slow blues of "King of My Hill" while also enjoying a disparate set of covers that includes Marvin Gaye's "Ain't That Peculiar," Michael Bloomfield's "If You See My Baby," a rip-roaring romp through Monkees hit "Pleasant Valley Sunday" and the not often heard Rolling Stones blues "Who's Driving Your Plane?"

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