Archive for the CD Reviews Category

Thanksgiving Note from Les Kerr

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IMG_20131107_181640_322-1As we head toward Thanksgiving later this week, I just want to thank you for listening to my music, reading these newsletters and blog and for supporting my music by your encouraging words. Thanks to those of you in the Nashville area for making our show at the Bluebird Café this week a sellout! If you couldn’t get tickets, there are always a few that open up at the last minute, so do call the Bluebird and ask. You can also walk up just before showtime (9pm) to see if there are any available.

Also, here’s my latest blog that goes back to my early years as a radio news director and brings it up to the upcoming burst of radio shows I’ll be doing in several cities, beginning this Tuesday on Nashville’s WSM AM. Memories of this young news director and the full schedule of upcoming shows with links to listen online are all here. I hope you’ll enjoy it. Please click here to read.

Again, thank you so much and I hope you will have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Your friend,

P.S. – my new CD, The Americana Boogie, is available at my web site, . As you begin your Christmas shopping, I hope you’ll consider this collection of new music as a stocking stuffer (or gift for yourself!).  CD Review HERE

CD Review – Greg Dillard “Trapped in Paradise Again”

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Greg Dillard‘s debut album “Trapped in Paradise Again” is an instant hit. Trop Rock / Country / Americana or however you decide label it, you must get your hands on it. The album starts with ‘Trapped in Paradise Again‘. This is one we can all relate to in our day to day lives. ‘Out of My Life‘ and ‘Part of You‘ are both soul searching songs with beautiful lyrics. ‘T.U.I.‘ is a whimsical song that unfortunately some might be a victim of. There’s no point in speculating whether its success will be based on its quality; what we have here is a case of widespread crowd pleasability, which the album has in slabs.

1) Trapped in Paradise Again
2) Out of My Life
3) Part of You
4) My Favorite Place
5) We Can Make It
6) T.U.I. (Texting Under the Influence)
7) Don’t You Want To
8) Just to See You
9) Uphill Battle

Bio – Greg Dillard is a Trop Rock Singer/Songwriter currently residing in Tupelo, MS. Greg performs at venues all over the southeast and averages around 150 gigs a year playing his originals and a wide variety of covers that span numerous genres and decades of music.

Greg is currently working on his first solo project, “Trapped in Paradise Again,” which is scheduled to be released in the summer of 2013. Greg has also recorded CDs with full bands Bliss (Uphill Battle) and Busted Screen Door (Southern Belles and Shotgun Shells).

Greg is a member of the Country Music Association (CMA) and the Americana Music Association (AMA).

Greg’s Website and Contact Info can be found at



The Americana Boogie by Les Kerr – CD Review

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The Americana Boogie – Les Kerr

IMG_20131107_181640_322-1The Americana Boogie celebrates the musical genre Les Kerr calls his own: Hillbilly Blues Caribbean Rock & Roll! This collection of ten songs from Les’ pen includes the rocking title track, true its Americana monikor, the gutsy blues tunes Comfort Music and Understand the Blues, the Trop Rock influenced Old Lighthouse, Mississippi Sunshine and She Was There, and the Folk-tinged Hope and Love and Speak to Someone’s Heart. Rounding out the album with some expected Les Kerr humor are Schmooze It or Lose It and Retro.

In his first CD since the widely-acclaimed New Orleans Set, Les shows his songwriting skills and storytelling ability. Already popular concert additions, these songs are now available in this collection, The Americana Boogie.

Song List:
1) The Americana Boogie – the rockin’ opening track celebrates Americana music
2) Hope and Love – recounts the experience of Les’ friends on the Mississippi Coast during Hurricane Katrina
3) Old Lighthouse – Les grew up near lighthouses on the Gulf Coast and this song pays tribute to them and lighthouses everywhere
4) Comfort Music – just as “comfort food” makes you feel better, Comfort Music does the same!
5) Speak to Someone’s Heart – Les writes words and music but this song is for anyone who follows their passion
6) Mississippi Sunshine – a fond memory of sailing along the upper Gulf Coast
7) Retro – remember vinyl records and Elvis movies? You’ll enjoy this
8) She Was There – a tribute to Les’ stepfather, Bob Gordin, who introduced Les to sailing
9) Schmooze It or Lose It – this lighthearted look at networking applies to music, business, politics, and society
10) Understand the Blues – Les believes that everyone understands the blues, no matter what language they speak

Learn more about Les and all of his CDs at
The Americana Boogie is avalaible at,, I-Tunes, and other online sites and stores.

Jimmy Buffett’s mellow ‘Songs From St. Somewhere’ includes Mardi Gras gem

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I have a new goal in life, thanks to Jimmy Buffett: I want to spend so much time drifting from one island paradise to another that I get completely careless about which one I’m actually on. “Where are you?” folks back home will ask when I take their calls. “Ahh, Saint somewhere-or-other,” I’ll reply, fiddling with the umbrella in my cocktail.

The tropical troubadour’s brand-new album is “Songs From St. Somewhere,” and if that sounds a bit jaded, the Gulf Coast native takes pains in his liner notes to explain otherwise. He gives credit to St. Barthelemy in the French West Indies as one of the sites where recording took place. And he explains that St. Somewhere is more a state of mind. “St. Somewhere is not a place you can get to by consulting your GPS or going on Google Earth … Music is the compass that charts your course to this imaginary rock,” he writes.

Still, when you can’t even come up with a real fictional name for your imaginary rock, you’re pretty mellow. And this is, even for Buffett, a relaxed album. His vocal approach is so easygoing that on some tracks it sounds more like spoken-word storytelling set to music than singing.

But he does invest himself in the stories, and they’re what stand out about this particular collection. A classic Cadillac and the circus performer who loved it? The ne’er do-well who steals a car from a Russian mobster? This is enjoyably weird stuff.

Buffett visits all his favorite ports of call, as he’s surely entitled to do at this point in his career. Want some jokey near-novelty songs? Here’s “Too Drunk to Karaoke,” with Toby Keith, and “Einstein Was a Surfer.”

Want to travel vicariously to some exotic locales? Cue up “Rue De La Guitare” or “I Want to Go Back to Cartagena.” Want some of those philosophical numbers where he arcs from his beach-bum image to metaphysical musings? Turn to “Somethin’ Bout a Boat” or “Tides” or “Colour of the Sun,” or check in with the “Oldest Surfer on the Beach.” (The last features guitar ace Mark Knopfler.)

In the middle of it all is “I’m No Russian,” an epic about a joyride in a borrowed Lamborghini. The real marvel isn’t that the references to drone warfare, the assassination of a Russian expatriate in England and the forcible suppression of a female Moscow punk band are all so completely facetious: it’s the song’s six-and-a-half minute runtime and Buffett’s funky willingness to delve deep into a shallow scenario.

A couple of notes on local flavor:

Firstly, Mobilian Will Kimbrough, who has worked with Buffett in the past, is featured as an “honorary Coral Reefer.” He’s credited as co-writer on “I Want to Go Back to Cartagena” and “The Rocket That Grandpa Rode,” and Buffett also includes a cover of his “Soulfully.”

Secondly, the rest of the world might miss this, but Mobile-area listeners won’t: In “Serpentine,” the pirate sings with considerable heart about the impact that Carnival season had on his formative years.

Beads and confetti were littering the air

When the Queen looked at me with her Ava Gardner stare

Though tomorrow would bring ashes and penance by the ton

Mardi Gras’s where I learned to have fun

There’s a flambeaux man with a gold earring

And the cold north wind smells like kerosene

I’m still in love with the Carnival Queen

Still want to wrap her in Serpentine

Like much of “Songs From St. Somewhere,” it’s on the mellow side. You couldn’t second-line to it. But I’ll bet you could slow-dance to it. And I’ll be that here in Mobile, at least, people will.

By Lawrence Specker | 

CD Review – Jimmy Buffett “Songs From St. Somewhere”

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Music Review: Buffett's first new album in 4 years, 'Songs from St. Somewhere,' lacks sparkJimmy Buffett’s “Songs from St. Somewhere” (Mailboat Records) contains a boatful of tunes about escapism, which is what Jimmy Buffett does the best.

There are 15 songs and a bonus track on Buffett’s first studio album in four years, but the best music on “Songs from St. Somewhere” come from somebody else.

The album’s loosely defined concept is the lost island of St. Somewhere, a phrase coined in the late 1970s by colorful Boston Bruins center Derek Sanderson. The album’s most brilliant performance comes in Buffett’s cover of the Jesse Winchester lost-at-sea love ballad “I Wave Bye-Bye.” Allen Toussaint covered “I Wave Bye-Bye” on last year’s Winchester tribute album “Quiet About It” that Buffett assembled (also featuring James Tayor, Rosanne Cash and others) and released on Mailboat . The Louisiana-born singer-songwriter was fighting esophageal cancer. Buffett’s sparse and sincere version holds up well against Winchester and Toussaint.

Django Walker, the son of cosmic cowboy Jerry Jeff Walker, co-wrote “Somethin’ About a Boat,” framed by easygoing John Prine rhythms, and the record’s greatest surprise is the tender “Oldest Surfer on the Beach,” written not by Buffett but by Mark Knopfler, who also plays guitar on the track. Buffett is in good form with the coastal Colombian cumbia-driven “I Want To Go Back to Cartagena” which features Colombian singer Fanny Lu. Emilio Estefan produced the Spanish bonus track of “Cartagena.”

The bad news is when Buffett tries to dip his toes into the same country-music waters that delivered crossover success with the Alan Jackson collaboration “It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere.” This time redneck Toby Keith gets the call for “Too Drunk to Karaoke,” anchored by crunchy and cloying Bachman-Turner-Overdrive guitar riffs. You’d have to be pretty drunk to enjoy this song, co-written by Buffett, Mac McAnnaly, Shawn Camp and my Nashville bud Pat McLaughlin.

Buffett’s other songs are so topical and novella-driven they create a narrow scope: the rockabilly-tinged “The Rocket That Grandpa Rode” closes out with tributes to Neil Armstrong, Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock, and on the folk-rock “I’m No Russian,” Buffett goes to bat for the persecuted band Pussy Riot in between lyrics like “I’m no Russian/not even Prussian/Some say I’m nervy/Hell I’m from Jersey…..”

The musical tide can be high during moments on St. Somewhere, but there needs to be more down-to-earth sentiment in the style of Jesse Winchester.

Simple can be beautiful.

Dave Hoekstra

Jimmy Buffett, Songs from St. Somewhere

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Songs From St. Somewhere

Jimmy Buffett, Songs from St. Somewhere (Mailboat Records) * * 1/2

At 66, Jimmy Buffett is still filling arenas, releasing studio albums every few years when many of his peers coast on nostalgia, and he’s got an empire of restaurants, beers and hotels to manage.

Still, no one takes the time to write more thoughtful liner notes than this guy. “ St. Somewhere popped out of a toaster of tropical tales that was powered by books that I had read, or stories I had been told by my seafaring forefathers. Like Treasure Island, Kinja and Margaritaville, St. Somewhere is not a place you can get to by consulting your GPS or going on Google Earth. The islands I have spent a good deal of my adult life on, over, under and around … are situated between the tip of Florida and the northeast corner of South America. The island where much of the work on this record was done is St. Barthelemy.”

All of that in a lavishly illustrated booklet in a world of downloads where few read lyrics or include liners anymore. But Buffett owns the label, too. He can give himself the lavish treatment along with an expense account as St. Somewhere, his 26th studio album, was recorded all over the world. The 16 songs were cut in studios in Miami (with Emilio Estefan producing a redundant Spanish version bonus track of I Want to Go Back to Cartagena, which differs only in the addition of guest vocalist Fanny Lu), Key West, St. Barts, Nashville, Austin and London.

But unlike the return to form songwriting that populated Buffet Hotel, his 2009 album, St. Somewherefinds Buffett and his Coral Reefers sailing into Holiday Inn lounge territory on an overlong set of overly polished tropical ballads with lazy steel drum rhythms and slick production from long-time collaborators Mike Utley and Mac MacAnally. There is an occasional rouser, like the rather predictable Too Drunk to Karaoke duet with Toby Keith and, by comparison, the superior Dire Straits-like pulse of Useless But Important Information, in which the head Parrothead tackles Twitter.

Buffett and MacAnally come through with the most winsome melody line ( Serpentine) but only Mark Knopfler, who appears on two tracks, writes a true Buffett song that could stand alongside keepers on ‘70s albums like Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes.

Knopfler’s Oldest Surfer on the Beach is everything one finds appealing in vintage Buffett: a smart seafaring tune that evokes time and place, an engaging melody and a warm vocal from the lead salt. Should Buffett pop out another studio album, a new producer who could push the star and his band back to their guitar-oriented roots would be the best ticket.


Kenny Chesney – Life On A Rock – Album Review

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Kenny Chesney's 2013 album, Life on A RockJust last summer, Kenny Chesney was feeling “like a rock star” with a brand new hit album and an amped-up lead single. Though he originally had no plans to release new material so soon after his 2012 Gold-certified album, Welcome To The Fishbowl, a batch of songs Kenny penned over the past several years began to take shape as something more than just a personal labor of love.

Life On A Rock, Kenny’s 14th studio album hit stores April 30, is an introspective, songwriter’s record destined to take more than a few fans by surprise. Though the chunky power chords of the lead single, “Pirate Flag,” will sound familiar, the windswept lyrics hinting at escape are just the beginning of an incredibly personal journey that charts a different course.


Working again with longtime producer Buddy Cannon, Kenny strips away the distortion and discards most any evidence of a country anthem over 10 mostly acoustic songs. The rhythmic title track features a few electric guitars through the chorus, but really, the percussive acoustic verse and soft bongos play a bigger role here in a song enjoying the times when the cell phone is left in the room.

Kenny wrote or co-wrote eight of the album’s songs, many of which offer poignant moments where the 45-year-old singer takes time to reflect on relationships and life. The John Mellencamp-influenced chords of “When I See This Bar” lead into a vivid portrait of the sights and sounds of good times and bar band roots. Through crystal clear notes and warm harmonies, Kenny rolls easily through revolving melodies on “Lindy,” a sentimental sketch of a homeless man he calls the “salt of the earth.” He plays piano at the church when nobody’s watching, he sings with empathy. And perhaps the album’s best song, the powerful closer, “Happy On The Hey Now (A Song For Kristi),” contemplates the memory of someone lost too early with a beautifully touching tribute. The sound of waves lead in and out of the song as the ocean and island life play an even larger part on this record than his others.

The gentle “Marley” sings of the deeper messages in the reggae legend Bob Marley’s words and the peaceful feeling his music evokes with a sound like a thoughtful night spent near the shore. “Spread The Love,” written with and featuring The Wailers and their current singer Elan, is a straight up reggae tune with keys that strike the backbeat while Kenny implores others to leave all our problems behind and spread the love. And on an excellent duet, Willie Nelson joins on the playful, “Cocunut Tree,” a simple song about simple pleasures full of catchy hooks and wonderful vocal interplay.

Laid-back melodies often match the album’s soothing grooves. Kenny’s most dynamic vocal performance, however, comes on the old school, jazz inspired “Must Be Something I Missed,” which provides some of the project’s darker themes. I don’t call it living, I just exist, he sings with a touch of pain lurking under the surface. Yet, these feelings are the anomaly as most of the album takes a warm look at life, as heard on “It’s That Time Of Day.” What a wonderful time we’ve all shared my friends, he offers sincerely over soft guitars and light steel drums. Kenny shares a wonderful time with his listeners as well on Life On A Rock, slowing it down to ponder the course he’s traveled and to reflect on what it means at this point in his career.

Key Tracks – “Happy On The Hey Now (A Song For Kristi),” “It’s That Time Of Day,” “Lindy,” “Must Be Something I Missed”


CD Review – Bob Marley – Legend Remixed

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Album Review: Bob Marley & The Wailers – Legend Remixed


by Justine Amadori Ketola


Its a very serious challenge, to remix Legend, mainly since it is the second highest selling album worldwide of all time next to Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon. Produced by Ziggy MarleyStephen Marley and Jason Bentley, the first thing one notes is that the sequence is changed. By virtue of the songs being remixed, so must the sequence.

Waiting In Vain remixed by Jim James of My Morning Jacket starts off this version of Legend and what is immediately apparent is that these vocal tracks, isolated, evoke an emotion like meeting an old friend again and picking up a topic you have in common, but on a deeper level. The songs use different tracks than those original, familiar final takes included on Legend, it‘s like an insider’s ear to what was happening in the studio when they were originally recorded.

Stephen Marley takes one of four turns at the console for Legend Remixed with Three Little Birds, developed with DJ/producer Jason Bentley of KCRW in Los Angeles. It serves as the anthem for Hyundai’s new suite of features that allow drivers to enjoy a stress-free ownership experience. Apparently Hyundai also supported the creation of the “Making of Legend Remixed” documentary, a short film featuring interviews with the Marley family and the musicians and remixers involved. The song itself has a very Melody Makers feel, and features samples of Carlton Barrett’s drum tracks.

Could You Be Loved by RAC has great outtakes, with Bob’s 1-2-3 intro, the “1” replaced by “Come now” and ambient noise from the studio musicians. This is a sort of Afro-Beat, guitar-centered version with a new bassline. Bob’s vocal tracks here sing the variation “It’s good to be loved” with a haunting, spartan mix, and, “Can you be love? And Be Loved?”  An abrupt switch to a fragment of the tune Chant Down Babylon and another “1-2” close the tune. These outtakes are taken from the Criteria Rehearsals filmed by Neville Garrick back in 1980.

The Thievery Corporation is extremely suited to this type of project, and their version of Get Up Stand Up soars as “Now we see the light,” is looped, Peter Tosh’s vocals stand out more in the mix, and a new interpretation of the bass line is divinely seasoned with soundsystem effects. It‘s head bopping with a sweet mixdown, Bob and Peter trading lines in the front.

Roni Size supremely remixed I Shot the Sheriff, coming in at 6 minutes. Carlton Barrett’s drums are given the spotlight between a heavy drum and bass jungle mix, and the lyrical storyline is transposed a bit – the sense of him telling us of his misfortune almost conversational here when the lines are rearranged.

Stephen takes on Easy Skanking with an amazing alternative take of Bob’s vocals, especially the iconic, “Excuse me while I light my spliff” and iyatta patois version that sings, “Herb for I wine, honey for I strong drink”.

Ziggy’s Redemption Song has a true Nyabinghi style drum track running through it as well as mento-flavoured guitars and harmonica. Its a loving tribute to this songwriter and performer – evocative, redemptive and patriotic, like Jamaica and the Diaspora’s love note from Bob’s ever-living spirit.

Is This Love was released as a single, remixed by Jason Bentley, it uses a quote from Bob who speaks, “Know good music, different music, good vibrations” as a type of calling card for the remix project. This a strong dance groove, the “willing and able” looped to keep you moving!

Reggae veteran guest, Lee “Scratch” Perry appears on what was his original Black Ark studio tune, Punky Reggae Party where he meets Z Trip, to “take a joyful sound.”  He intros the song saying, “Z Trip, Run the Track”  and during the song announces, “Lee Perry… professional,  Admiral, General”…and “a powerful song, you bring back the fun.”  Using vinyl scratching effects and a scratched “Punky” vocal make this a fun tune indeed. The driving Barrett bass line is re-interpreted, with Perry interspersing his own oddities.

Although there are no straight up hip hop and reggae producers remixing these tunes (besides the Marley’s themselves), it is an ambitious record and leaves a lot to ruminate over.

Original Source

Bob Marley & The Wailers – Legend Remixed


Release date: 6/25/2013



01. Waiting In Vain (Jim James Remix)
02. Stir It Up (Ziggy Marley Remix)
03. Three Little Birds (Stephen Marley & Jason Bentley Remix)
04. Could You Be Loved (RAC Remix)
05. No Woman No Cry (Stephen Marley Remix)
06. Get Up Stand Up (Thievery Corporation Remix)
07. Satisfy My Soul (Beats Antique Remix)
08. I Shot The Sheriff (Roni Size Remix)
09. Exodus (Pretty Lights Remix)
10. Easy Skanking (Stephen Marley Remix)
11. One Love/People Get Ready (Photek Remix)
12. Redemption Song (Ziggy Marley Remix)
13. Is This Love (Jason Bentley Remix)
14. Jamming (Nickodemus & Zeb Remix)
15. Punky Reggae Party (Z-Trip Remix feat. Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry)
16. Buffalo Soldier (Stephen Marley Remix)