"Live From Bluesville" - reviews!
Fiona Boyes / Mookie Brill / Rich Del Grosso: Live from Bluesville
Sing Out! The Folk Song Magazine, Autumn, 2008 by Gary Von Tersch
Blue Empress / Vizztone 205
This eleven track project is the debut collaboration of three award-winning musicians--Australian-based guitarist and husky vocalist Fiona Boyes, upright bassist Tom "Mookie" Brill (who also adds harmonica on a crackling cover of Sonny Boy Williamson's "Early In The Morning") and mandolin maestro Rich DelGrosso. Brill and DelGrosso also sing on three tracks each. Recorded live at XM Satellite Radio's Washington, D.C. studio in just four hours, the trio crisply create a tantalizing tension between familiar blues patterns and the ongoing reinvention that surfaces with each new generation of performers.
Five originals (three by Boyes and two from DelGrosso) seamlessly complement a well chosen, half-dozen classics. Other vintage reworkings dip into the song bags of Howlin' Wolf (a properly eerie "Smokestack Lightning," with Brill taking the powerfully expressive vocal) and JB Lenoir (a foot tapping, hypnotic delivery of his stark "Mississippi Road," with Boyes working solo) as well as Magic Sam, Lightnin' Hopkins and Arthur Crudup--with Brill again singing and slapping rockabilly-styled bass for all he's worth while DelGrosso adds some combustible mandolin fills in tandem with Boyes' scintillating acoustic finger-picking on "My Baby Left Me." Marvelous stuff!
Boyes' trio of originals are uniformly memorable. Particular picks are an easy rocking homage to cannabis titled "Homegrown Sin," which also displays more of her impeccably dynamic, cliche-free guitar chops, and the no-nonsense "Good Lord Made You So," with her tough-as-nails vocal and some infectiously syncopated guitar and mandolin interplay. DelGrosso's compositions, a jocular confessional titled "Hard To Live With" and an accusatory "Get Your Nose Outta My Bizness!," are absorbing as well. Both also feature his commanding, whiskey-soaked vocal alacrity (in duet with Boyes on "Bizness!") along with his dramatically penetrating yet breezy mandolin playing. Required listening.—
Gary Von Tersch
COPYRIGHT 2008 Sing Out Corporation
‘The best in contemporary blues music and all that other stuff in between that is pleasing to the ears.’
Monday, February 16, 2009
Top 25 Soul & Blues Releases of 2008
Out of the 200+ blues and soul releases last year and the nearly 100 reviewed by Juke Joint Soul, I’ve narrowed down my 25 favorite releases. These discs got repeated listens and are continually in my car. I absolutely enjoyed them and hope that you did, too. I’ve included the list along with some thoughts about the albums….
*Rich DelGrosso/Fiona Boyes/Mookie Brll – Live From Bluesville – Blue Empress Records
This acoustic blues journey, thrown together on the spot, shows that the old and the new can meet and work well together. Though done acoustically, there is something wholly contemporary and fresh about this recording that stuck out from the rest of the traditional, acoustic releases this year. The exuberance and fun heard in the playing of these songs also make it a joy to revisit.
- Ben the Harpman
FIONA BOYES, MOOKIE BRILL, RICH DELGROSSO - Live From Bluesville
Blue Empress / Only Blues Music (Aust)
Recorded live at Bluesville Studios in Washington, DC, as the name of this record would suggest, is a moment in time - a moment created by three smooth-as-butter musicians for whom the blues is their lifeblood. Australia's own Queen Of The Blues Fiona Boyes captains the ship, he subtle guitar and gruff vocal taking charge over the fantastic blues mandolin of Rich DelGrosso and upright bass and harmonca of Mookie Brill.
This is front porch, feet up, smoke tendrils drifting upwards on the warm evening breeze type of blues. Sonny Boy Williamson's Early in the Morning gets this sublime treatment along with Chester Burnett's Smokestack Lightning, as do a smattering of Boyes and DelGrosso originals, in what is a record which taps at your feet, moves your fingers and just makes you feel cool.
- Sam Fell Australian Guitar Magazine Vol 69 '08
FIONA BOYES, MOOKIE BRILL & RICH DELGROSSO
Live From Bluesville
VizzTone Label Group
A recent press release from a record label announced that it has secured ‘airplay’ for one of its artists in Courtyard by Marriott hotel lobbies. The same artist’s CD, it added, is in rotation at Whole Foods checkout counters. Weird, you say? Well, that’s what record companies have to do now that Clear Channel and a few other mega-corps own most of the nations’ radio stations and can’t be bothered to introduce new artists. But at least there are two satellite services, XM and Sirius, that are good places to find new, interesting, and sometimes great music.
Live From Bluesville, featuring guitar/singer Fiona Boyes, standup bassist Mookie Brill, and blues mandolinist Rich DelGrosso, comes from a live session aired on XM’s Bluesville channel last year. The CD essentially consists of what the trio preformed in the studio, with a bit of polishing by production maven Mark ‘Kaz’ Kazanoff and his associates. It’s an 11-track treat from start to finish.
Boyes, Brill, and Blues Revue contributor DelGrosso aren’t a formal band. They first linked up at a Beale Street show during the Blues Music Awards a few months before this session, liked how they sounded together, and accepted an invitation to do the XM show with only a loose set list and no formal rehearsal time. Their material reflects a shared fondness for Sonny Boy Williamson 1, Howlin’ Wolf, Magic Sam, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudup, and JB Lenoir. Boyes and DelGrosso also contribute originals, and all three players take turns at the mike. Boyes is an effective singer and a fine instrumentalist, weaving acoustic guitar around DelGrosso’s mandolin. At times, especially on the Boyes original ‘Homegrown Sin’, the trio recalls early Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks minus the aren’t-we-clever factor. They turn Wolf’s ‘Smokestack Lightning’ into an airy acoustic romp and work up a bit of Fifties rockabilly fun on Crudup’s ‘My Baby Left Me’.
Live From Bluesville represents the sort of musical experience that doesn’t happen often enough these days, at least on commercial or even public radio, and it makes good cause for subscribing to satellite radio. It deserves to go into the heavy rotation at Whole Foods, and maybe Winn-Dixie, too.
- Bill Wasserzieher, Blues Revue magazine Oct/Nov ‘08