Album Reviews

Beth Hart - Fire On The Floor

beth hart fire on the floor cover


The music industry is one of those many businesses in which you may find either artists very good about selling an image of themselves far from their real personalities or others unable to fake, in the slightest, who they really are, what they stand for and the places in their souls where their songs come from.

The latters are those every day's heroes who wear their hearts on their sleeves and often make of music the only possible vehicle through which they are able to express their fears, joys, hopes and disillusions and in that respect, Beth Hart certainly fits the brief.

Written in a particularly difficult time of her personal life, Fire On The Floor, Hart's new album, is a definite step up from the artist's latest and commercially successful album, Better Than Home. Fire On The Floor it's an album that depicts perfectly the singer and songwriter's urgency to find refuge in one of the very few things that helped her throughout her life, which is writing music, as remedy to fight bad things happening while she was working on this record.

To help Hart to strike the right artistic balance between the power of her beautiful voice, the sharpness of her songwriting and to find the right musicians able to translate Hart's abilities into music, Oliver Leiber, one of the most acclaimed producers in the business, came into the scene.

Leiber's supervision on Fire On The Floor was certainly a vital element, especially by helping to bring into the studio to record with the L.A. artist top class musicians like Michael Landau on guitar or Rick Marotta on drums, just to cite few of them. Combining excellent studio musicians to the high quality of the songs written by this phenomenal singer/songwriter, it makes of Fire On The Floor one of the most accomplished and beautifully written albums of Hart's entire career so far.

It is a record made of two separate halves. The first part shows a dazzling Beth Hart exploring, through her unique voice, a serie of different genres with such vocal agility to render anyone listening to this record speechless. From the opener Jazz Man, a song evoking 30s and 40s smoky club's atmospheres to the playful and happy rootsy vibes of Let's Get Together, the Californian artist doesn't fail to impress on any moment of the album, no matter whichever style she sings. Hart's voice is one of the most beautiful instruments ever created by the hand of God, something that can recreate the same goose-pumping feeling that a guitar riff, a piano solo or an entire Horn Section can give, all at the same time through her incredible vocal versatility.

When Hart pushes on the rock and roll accelerator, she becomes absolutely unstoppable. Fat Man is a tune that Beth Hart wrote several years ago with a songwriter called Glen Burtnik but never finished completely, until now. Landau's guitar riff that runs throughout the song is infectiously mesmerising and Hart's vocals are as sublime and powerful as much as they sounded in a memorable live album at the Paradiso club in Amsterdam Hart recorded several years ago.

If there is something that Beth Hart is never short of, it's passion. Passion for life, people and love. That very same love that sometimes can be either the Baddest Blues or A Lie, as she sings halfway her new record, through a tune called, infact, Love Is A Lie.

Love is the key word that defines the second half of the album, in an initial downward spiral that finds its focal point in one of the most poignants songs Hart has ever written, called Woman You've Been Dreaming Of. The song tells a tale of betrayal, a moral one more than a physical one, in which the singer/songwriter describes in such an intense way, the pain, sadness and sufferance she is going through when she realises that the love of her life is losing interest in her.

Another splendid musical moment, among many, on Fire On The Floor is the song called Picture In A Frame. Hart becomes one of the most inspired lyricists in the world, especially when it comes to capture her emotions under form of a song, as in this case. The tune is all about the desire to bring back the initial sparkle between a man and a woman and to re-live those moments that built the palace of their love through a serie of images, moments stopped in time through the eyes of a camera. Hart's singing style is incredibly honest and it's impossible for the listener not to empathyze with what she is expressing through the magic of her voice. 

The closing song of this superb record is about something that Beth Hart has been mentioning few times lately, during press conferences. No Place Like Home talks about the need of the L.A. artist to be able to spend a bit more time in the comfort of her own place, trying to maximise every minute of her life, perhaps even at the cost of slowing down a little with her very intense Live Touring schedule.

Fire On The Floor is the culmination of what Beth Hart is in her entirety. One of the most naturally gifted female artists worldwide, a passionate and warm-hearted woman and, at the same time, a vulnerable and sometimes tormented soul. This is an album that shows an artist at the peak of her career, both as a singer and as a songwriter. It's Beth Hart's ultimate songbook and her personal masterpiece.





Giovanni "Gio" Pilato






Fire On The Floor is out now in Europe and due to be released in the United States on 3rd February 2017 via Provogue/Mascot Label Group



"Buy a record, support the artists, preserve the future of music"

Aynsley Lister - Eyes Wide Open

Music is and will always be the best and healthier therapy to help fighting personal or professional issues in one’s life. You can be either a music fan or an Average Joe or a very skilled and talented artist like Aynsley Lister. aynsley lister

His brand new record, Eyes Wide Open, the eighth of his career, displays an artist that seems to have finally found the perfect balance between inspired song-writing and his personal passion for blues, rock, funk and soul.

Lister’s new record is one of the most honest and open autobiographical records that Bluebird Reviews has heard for quite some time. The strong will from Lister to re-connect with music and his fans transpires immediately through the album’s opener, All Of Your Love. The tune has a crisp, bluesy attack and the main guitar riff that support the whole track is a perfect reminder of the artist’s big passion for the Led Zeppelin’s sound.

Read more: Aynsley Lister - Eyes Wide Open

Eric Johnson - EJ

Music, like all the arts in general, is able to express its very best when an artist trusts his instinct and let the immediacy flow in his works in total free form.

Truth to be told, Eric Johnson has never before been widely known as a musician who composes music and record his songs after one or two takes in studio but rather as an artist that likes to control minutely every single aspect of the making of an album, before he decides to release it.

The fact that Johnson, after thirty years since the release of his masterpiece album Tones has finally decided to record and release his very first acoustic album is already an event in itself. Moreover, the fact that his new album has been recorded almost entirely live in the studio, without recording separately the vocals from the music is something truly exceptional, for a perfectionist like the Texan artist.

EJ, Johnson's new record, reveals an intimate side of the Guitar Maestro in this stripped-to-the-bone album. In the 13 songs included in the album, 9 of them original, Johnson gives free rein to all his phenomenal artistic background, through a series of sonic captions that express and confirm, once again, Johnson's great compositional talent.

Read more: Eric Johnson - EJ

Albert Castiglia - Big Dog

You can always detect when an artist truly feels the music within and is committed to it, either when playing on a studio album or in a live performance. There are certainly not many musicians out there able to do that as well as Albert Castiglia, combining artistic honesty, passion and integrity with so much genuine talent, either when he is recording a studio album or when he's playing live.

Castiglia's new record is called Big Dog and it is, without a shadow of a doubt, the pinnacle of his career so far and the perfect portrait of an artist in constant growth. Produced by a giant of the genre, his lifelong friend, fellow guitarist and singer/songwriter Mike Zito, Big Dog reveals many different angles of Castiglia's artistry, both as a guitarist and as a singer/songwriter.

The Florida-based Guitar Prodigy is one of the most inspired and eclectic blues/rock musicians of the current blues/rock music scene and among the very few artists able to cleverly add, here and there in his songs, little funky sections to his unmistakable high-fuelled guitar style. As he so well does, for example, in the album's opener, Let The Big Dog Eat.

Read more: Albert Castiglia - Big Dog

Tweed Funk: Come Together

Tweed Funk are a 6 piece Memphis blues-n-soul outfit by way of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Fronted by Curtis Mayfield alumni vocalist, Joseph “Smokey” Holman, their horn driven sound effortlessly finds a home in the soul and blues genre.

The recipient of 5 WAMI awards in their native state affirms these guys are hardcore and love their art. Their most recent output is the aptly titled, Come Together.

Special guests here on their fourth outing, Come Together, are Doug Woolverton, of Room Full of Blues fame, and backing vocalists, Chrissy Dzioba and Sara Molianen of The Whiskeybelles. This augmented edition lends an indispensable helping hand here in form of jazzy, soulful performances.

Read more: Tweed Funk: Come Together

Holly Hyatt And Jon Burden - Shufflin' The Blues

Music was considered back in the days one of the most powerful arts, able to bring people together everywhere in the world. That was a time when artists would come on stage at a music festival, armed just with a guitar and their voices to bring joy in the lives of thousands of people. The sound was simple, direct, without any artefacts of any sort, pure stripped-down music right to its bone.

This recipe has been at the heart of any music genres, folk, rock, blues, you name it. Times and technology have then, through the years, partially dismantled the concept of that straight-to-your-face music approach and because of this, it is an absolute joy to see that, in this present time of the world, there are artists brave enough willingly to play simple and wonderful music belonging to a sadly bygone era.

Holly Hyatt and Jon Burden from Canada, on their third official release called Shufflin' The Blues, bring back, under form of a live concert, the purity and beauty of playing acoustic and semi-electric blues without any overdubs or programming in a 9-tracks live performance recorded at The Silverton Gallery in British Columbia.

Read more: Holly Hyatt And Jon Burden - Shufflin' The Blues

Bridget Kelly Band - Outta The Blues

bridget kelly band


2014 has been a memorable year for the Bridget Kelly Band. Their second album Forever In Blues received numerous accolades, both from the press and blues fans in the United States. making many believe that the band must have been feeling slightly under pressure through the making of their third album.

Outta The Blues, their new record, confirms once more the elegance and class of a band that is able to spread their music wings even further on their new offer, by combining the unmistakable trademark sound coming from Beale Street in Memphis with a more robust Texan blues/rock one.

The outcome is a wonderfully crafted album, in which the arrival of a brand new rhythm section made by Mark Ambrecht on bass and Alex Klausner on drums, add the perfect sonic ground to the silky, smooth voice of band leader Bridget Kelly and the powerful guitar sound of that magician of the instrument that is Tim Fik.

Recorded at Alpha Sun Studios in Gainesville, FL, Outta The Blues is a record that dazzles the listeners in many ways, either by offering moments of flawless vocal deliveries by the very talented Bridget Kelly, such as in tunes like When The Nighttime Comes, Lovely Time In June and Sweet River Blues or through the many thunderous guitar solos of Tim Fik. Fik's pinnacle of artistry on guitar reaches the absolute best in the song Dangerous Man, containing an authentic killer solo.

The band is in great form and there are moments of sheer brilliancy on the album. The cover version of Up And Gone/Smokestack Lightning is truly inspired. The song is the perfect fit for Bridget Kelly's singing style and the musical ability of each individual band member.

Touches of funk emerge here and there on Outta The Blues, making tunes like If You See My Baby or Hard Time In The City sound even more palatable and entertaining, ulterior signs of an artistic maturity that gets better and better on each passing albums of the Bridget Kelly Band.

The powerful Rocket To The Moon closess the record in the best way possible, through another excellent performance of the whole band in a tune that fully showcases the band's craftmanship in all its beauty.

Outta The Blues is a message of love and passion for the blues and also a record that confirms, once again, the Bridget Kelly Band as among the best blues crusaders worldwide.




Giovanni "Gio" Pilato





Outta The Blues is out now and it is available via Amazon


"Buy a record, support the artists, preserve the future of music"

Joe Bonamassa - Live At The Greek Theatre

live at the greek theatre

Joe Bonamassa is not just one of the most celebrated guitarists of this generation but also somebody that likes to express his talent through venues of a certain grandiosity. Last time he chose to record a live album in a fairly small club was few years ago at The Borderline in London, UK, at the time of The Tour De Force project. Since then, all of his live albums have been recorded in some of the most important music venues worldwide.

Located few miles away from where the Guitar Maestro lives, The Greek Theatre is a magnificent structure situated almost opposite to Berkeley University in California, the perfect place for Bonamassa to end the 14-dates Three Kings Tour, dedicated to Albert King, Freddie King and B.B. King's music.

In comparison to his previous live release, a tribute to Howlin' Wolf's wide discography, Live At The Greek Theatre shows a greater determination and passion in honouring three of all-time giants of the blues genre.

Although the choice of songs selected by Bonamassa maybe sometimes debatable for each of the Three Kings, there is no doubts that the 10 musicians accompaining Bonamassa on stage put their very best effort and craftmanship to please the crowd in this very special night of music.

The show is divided in three different segments of six songs each, starting with Freddie King, continuing to Albert King and concluding with Bonamassa's most favourite Blues Guitar Hero B.B. King. Out of the whole setlist, there are some serious highlights and occasional little disappointments, mostly due to a bit too much over-arrangements on some of the tracks perforrmed.

Sittin' On The Boat Dock is one of those tunes that should have given more justice and retribution to Freddie King's talent, at the time the song was released and it is great to see Bonamassa paying respect to this music jewel by performing a splendid version of this great song at this show. Albert King's Breaking Up Somebody's Home and Angel Of Mercy are, though, the real stand out tracks of the entire show, with the latter especially played with such intensity and passion by the American guitarist, something that Bonamassa has reserved just to defining moments of his live activity, like the 2009's Royal Albert Hall concert, for example.

As one would expect, Bonamassa leaves the B.B. King section for last, with some highs and lows. While Hummingbird's arrangement is a little bit too overstretched, on the other end Nobody Loves Me But My Mother, one of Bonamassa's most favourite B.B. King songs, is pitch perfect and shows, once again, the reason why the blues genre and Bonamassa's talent are a match made in heaven.

The encore includes three songs, one for each of The Three Kings, in which the instrumental Freddie King's Hide Away is the perfect platform to showcase, once again, Bonamassa's majesty on guitar.

Live At The Greek Theatre is a highly entertaining show but we already knew very well Joe Bonamassa's stature as a performer or his artistry as a guitarist, prior to this new release. The American guitarist seems to be able to express his very best, artistically speaking, particularly when he feels a song close to his heart and soul, a little like he does on Angel Of Mercy, as previously stated and that is the Bonamassa that so many music fans love and respect.

Bonamassa has showed on this album, once again, that when it comes to put up a sumptuous live show, very few are able to do so as well as it does in nowaday's music business and credit to him for doing always a lot for the blues and the survival of the genre. Now it's time for the Guitar Maestro to concentrate his attention on following up his latest studio album, Blues Of Desperation and write again his own masterpieces, like he did on albums like You And Me, The Ballad Of John Henry or Black Rock, for example. Because we are sure that Bonamassa has got still plenty left to gift the fans with, as a songwriter. Until then, let's enjoy his personal homage to The Three Kings through the beautiful Greek Theatre show.




Giovanni "Gio" Pilato



Live At The Greek Theatre is due to be released on 23rd September 2016 and it is available via Mascot Label Group/Provogue


"Buy a record, support the artists, preserve the future of music"


How Long? - Little Mike

little mike


Every time Muddy Waters chose to take an artist under his protective wing, his choice was never dictated by chance but by an immediate gut feeling for pure talent. The twenty years-old from Queens, New York that he chose back in the days, has come a long way. Mike Markowitz, aka Little Mike, has not only perfectly assimilated the lesson of his all-time idols, such as John Lee Hooker and Pinetop Perkins, to name a few but also had the privilege of playing with them.

Through the musical path that led him to play with the cream of the blues and blues/rock worldwide and to become one of the most loved and respected multi-instrumentalist blues in the whole blues scene, since the mid-eighties Little Mike has been one of the greatest torchbearers of the genre, along with his own band, The Tornadoes. The American artist has been carrying religiously the traditions of the American blues, thanks to his immense talent and a deep understanding of the roots of the genre, incorporating in his own music formula the sound of the Delta Blues, the big-band and foot-stomping sound of the Chicago Blues and even the more contemporary New York style.

How Long ?, Little Mike's new solo album, is the perfect reflection of what Markowitz loves musically the most: an insane passion for blues united to the greatest respect for those blues masters which have inspired him professionally and personally. The album is a true homage to blues, although it als offers, at times, interesting insights about Little Mike's universal love for music through different sonic elements embroided in his style and in his songs. 

When it comes to play harmonica or piano, everybody knows that Little Mike is a real phenomenon but often many forget how much of an excellent singer the American artist is too. On thie latter, his great skills as a vocalist can be fully admired in tracks like When My Baby Left, Eddie Taylor's cover Bad Boy and the song that closes the album, Sittin 'Here Baby, the definite proof that we face a true artist in many respects.

How Long? gives many moments of high artistic level, together with those already mentioned above. The class of the New York born and raised bluesman emerges repeatedly on both the instrumental Cotton Mouth and Sam's Blues, where his superb harmonica playing dictates the music tempos to the talented musicians that have accompanied him in the studio for this album. Smokin 'is perhaps the song that symbolizes the most Little Mike's charisma, with the artist tailoring a wonderful blues uptempo, built with his favourite instruments, harmonica and piano in a rousing and highly entertaining tune.

One of the most beautiful surprises of the album is the song Not What Mama Planned, a track that incorporates shades of blues, jazz, funk and even tinges of Southern Rock. Whatcha' Gonna Do also offers a different angle of Little Mike's vast music background, by carrying throughout the song a beautiful, harmonius and solid R&B sonic carpet. Two songs which are true testimony of the musical impact that artists like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Robert Cray, with which Little Mike has performed with throughout his career, have also given to the rich and eclectic sound of this very talented artist.

How Long? is a record that entertains, captivates, surprises and moves at the same time. The album is a timeless journey in the traditions and history of the blues, performed by an artist at the peak of his career and able to understand the artistic importance and the social impact that a genre like blues gave and still gives to all the music coming from every part of the planet. How Long? is more than a record, it is food for soul because written, played and sang by the soul of a true bluesman.




Giovanni "Gio" Pilato





How Long? is out now and it is available via Amazon and ELROB Records.


"Buy a record, support the artists, preserve the future of music"

An Evening With Todd Rundgren, Live At The Ridgefield - Todd Rundgren

todd rundgren


In an ideal musical encyclopedia, it becomes an impossible task to place Todd Rundgren in a specific category. Multi-instrumentalist, producer, singer/songwriter, sound engineer and, most of all, a great music experimentalist, the Pennsylvania-born artist has written among the most inspired musical pages of the last half a century of music history.

Recorded at The Ridgefield Playhouse in Ridgefield, Pennsylvania, Rundgren's new live album is the one that better paints the most faithful portrait of one of the most original artists ever. This live concert, recorded at the end of 2015, incorporates the highlights and, at the same time, some of the less known songs of Rundgren's incredible career.

Despite a slightly shaky start on I Saw The LIght, one of his most famous hits, Todd Rundgren and his band lead the crowd through a whirling and enthralling setlist, combining the most glorious moments of Rundgren's solo career with many songs not played by the American artist for a very long time, belonging to his 70's music projects Nazz and the prog-rock orientated one called Utopia.

What really impresses about Rundgren's performance on this live album is, at this time of his life and career, the capacity of combining a hugely inspired and eclectic songwritng with a truly unique interpretation of his songs, through his voice able to carve a song in the same way a sculptor does with one of his most precious works.

It's incredibly difficult to pick highlights in a stellar performance like this that combine Philadelphia Soul, Funk, Rock and even Ska. Thankfully, Rundgren dig so much deep in his vast music catalogue and gifts the Ridgefield crowd with a stellar version of Lost Horizon, a splendid soul tune from the 1985's album A Cappella. Rundgren's interpretation is certainly one of the best he has ever done in a live format of this song. Buffalo Grass, Kiddie Boy and Drive are epic rock and roll music lashes, in which Rundgren reminds us once again how talented he is as well as a guitar player.

Bang The Drum All Day, another of Rundgren's pinnacles of his great music career, is pure joy to listen to, with that catchy ska tempo that brings the whole Ridgefield Playhouse to a total  crowd partecipation. Love Science, available only on the DVD that comes together with the CD, transports the crowd in a funk universe through a stunning rendition of a song that shows once again Rundgren's great ability to evolve himself as a musician. Ability combined with an incredible understanding of music at 360 degrees that very few artists in their lifetime have been able to match.

An Evening With Todd Rundgren - Live At The Ridgefield is certainly, among the many live albums that Rundgren has released in his fabulous career, the one that shows the most the talent, artistic honesty and versatility of this American artist. At the respectable age of 68, his energy and passion for music are highly infectious and admirable at the same time. Rundgren is an unstoppable music machine and a highly meticolous connoisseur of any music genres. As he sings in another of his most famous hits and closing track of this live album, One World, "... Down here in the street, we got it under control...". Judging by this fabulous performance, there is no doubts that he still has got it all under control.




Giovanni "Gio" Pilato




An Evening With Todd Rundgren, Live At The Ridgefield is out now and can be purchased here


"Buy a record, support the artists, preserve the future of music"

Brigitte Rios Purdy - EP

BRP 001


Sometimes artists have to pursue their dreams a little bit harder than the normal, especially in a tough world like music business. Brigitte Rios Purdy is a young American singer and songwriter that has been known for some times in the American music scene as one of the finest Blues and R&B performers of the country.

The self-produced debut EP from Rios Purdy is a musical box full of unexpected jewels, in which the American artist showcases extraordinary vocal skills and an impressive versatility in the six tracks (5 original and 1 cover) present in the album.

Rios Purdy released, back few months ago, her debut single called Lucille, Don't You Weep, a song with clear references to B.B. King signature guitar. This blues ballad exalts many aspects of the singer's capacity to move flawlessly through different tonalities within the song, thanks to her unique voice. A voice that shines, on this occasion, at its best for style and execution and it is certainly one of the highlights of the EP.

Read more: Brigitte Rios Purdy - EP


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Out On The Tiles

Dream Theater: Albany, NY, October 15, 2011

At The Palace Theatre,


Dream Theater knocked my socks off! There is no better way to say it. They were better than I ever imagined. I first heard them around 1992 with their now classic song, "Pull Me Under." I have considered myself a 'mild' fan over the years. Well, they just released their 11th studio album, "A Dramatic Turn of Events." (Roadrunner Records). It's a great album. To see them live was just, Wow! They played for 2 hours. I wish I would have payed more attention to these great architects of music.

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Maine Music News

Dont let the name fool you! Maine Music News provides live concert reviews and photography for shows throughout all of New England. Our photographers cover shows in Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts and anywhere else we can! Our writers provide detailed album reviews and expertly written interviews as well. We may be called Maine Music News, but we dont let the Maine border stop us!