Album Reviews

The Tomas Doncker Band : Big Apple Blues

We got connected to the Tomas Doncker Band through his recent performances with Gregory Porter, but actually, his music has been part of the airwave all along. Released in 2014, the title track explodes with a Howlin' Wolf scream and then simmers down to grab your attention with an organ harp background vocals gone gospel to blues tension. Doncker is breathy and serious in his message and performance. The blues are a background that float across the landscape, which is a subtle effect. When the lead guitars come in, though, they hold nothing back and totally rock it out. "Can't Say No" is a fun funky rant that invites you in and keeps you hoppin'. Tomas Doncker has a southern swagger, despite his NYC placement on the map here. "The New Day" seems to be a storied ballad of Eastern seaboard life and a tribute to the folks who work real hard in the day to day life, living in faith and strength, wherever they can get it. Here we are blessed with Doncker's wisdom and witness.

Read more: The Tomas Doncker Band : Big Apple Blues

King King - Reaching For The Light



The quartet from Glasgow, Scotland, has really gone far since the time they released Take My Hand, their first album. Being labelled fundamentally as a blues band and recognized in the United Kingdom as one of the best bands around through their second album, Standing In The Shadows, Reaching For The Light takes a decisive curve in King King's style.

There is a kind of southern-rock approach to many of the tracks on the album and it is most interesting to feel echoes of different influences on the record. A highly interesting combustion of sound coming from bands like Bad Company, Genesis or even Traffic, through the terrific wall of sound created by Bob Fridzema in most of the tracks on the album.

Reaching For The Light is, perhaps, the most personal record the Scottish band has ever released. The great turn on of this record comes from a very compact sound, coming from all the influences of the band members and a maturity that makes this album one of the most interesting and listenable releases of this year so far.

Hurricane, the first single of the King King's new album, has got almost a modern prog-rock type of sound and it is one of those tracks that gets stuck in one's mind in the nicest way possible. You Stopped The Rain is very West Coast and has got the type of lyrics and sound that would be the best car radio companion in a journey on any Highway in America. Rush Hour is a perfect crossover between the type of sound that bands like Bad Company, Whitesnake or even more recently, Black Country Communion have been able to achieve. Lay With Me is a wonderful ballad that has got echoes of 70's sound perfectly modernised by a band certainly at the top of their game.

Reaching For The Light is an album masterfully played, with powerful lyrics and a robust sound that never cease to surprise the listener. It is an honest album, intimate at times but recorded with enormous craftmanship and certainly palatable to many music lovers out there.


Gio Pilato


Reaching For The Light is released on Manhaton Records and can be purchased on: Amazon

Album Press Release and Tour Dates: 


Stoned Side Of The Mule Vol. 1 & 2 - Gov't Mule

618Wc0Ed3CL20 years gone by and never a downside. This year in music has got a significant meaning for the carrier of the Gov't Mule. 20 years as a perfect music machine with an incredibly vast music repertoire. The phenomenal American collective has released, to celebrate this landmark in their career, 4 live albums in the last 4 months, each in a different music style, as an ulterior confirmation of their skills and versatility as a band.

After Dark Side Of The Mule (featuring Pink Floyd's classic hits), Sco-Mule (a jazz-infused performance featuring John Scofield, also reviewed previously on BBR) and Dub Side Of The Mule (a tribute to dub/reggae music, featuring Toots Hibbert), here comes the fourth and last release of this monumental artistic project. Stoned Side Of The Mule, as the album title may suggest, is a generous homage to the Rolling Stones music catalogue, with a carefully selected choices of tracks and not necessarily obvious choices to the Stones' super hits.

Recorded in 2009 at the Tower Theater, just out of Philadelphia, Stones Side... sees as Special Guests on horns two extraordinary musicians, Jackie Green and especially Steve Elson on saxophone. The two musicians contribute with their huge skills to embellish and enrich the sound of a band already at the top of their game. The whole performance get that extra notch that can be easily heard on tracks like Slave or Play With Fire, where the  luxury of having Green and Elson adds that almost orchestral sound element to the entire record.

Read more: Stoned Side Of The Mule Vol. 1 & 2 - Gov't Mule

Descendants Of Hill Country - Cedric Burnside Project


There is a marvelous music documentary aired by the BBC in England this year called Songs Of The South. In such documentary, the host went down to places like Georgia, Louisiana or Mississippi, trying to capture the true spirit of the blues. When asked by the host what really is the Mississippi Hill Country Blues sound, the hugely talented Cedric Burnside answered: "We like also to call it Field Music. It is music that one cannot really write, that type of music that has got no 16 bars, no 12 bars, it is just field music that comes from the heart. I am a Hill Country Man and I will die a Hill Country Man".

Read more: Descendants Of Hill Country - Cedric Burnside Project

Don't Forget Us - A Bad Think

abadthinkpressphoto1Michael Marquart, aka, A Bad Think, is certainly a unique artist. His rock-enter style has always been full of finesse and masterfully executed and his 6th release, Don't Forget Us, although an EP, is no exception.

After the 2014 Grammy Nomination for Rock Album Of the Year, the temptation of creating a commercial and radio friendly album must have been massive for the hugely talented Michael. Instead, A Bad Think put together on this new record, a marvelous music jewel made by seven gems that travels across different states of mind and music tempos.

One has the feeling Marquart is just following his instinct, whilst composing, not following a direct straight line but applying different variations to his work. This approach enriches the album in itself and allows the listeners to take advantage of the full versatility of this extraordinary musician. The instrumental closing Who We Are is, perhaps, the most surprising track of the record; a delicate tempo that run through the whole track, the perfect fade-out to this little, but intense, musical journey that is Don't Forget Us.

It is almost a pity that this is just an EP, therefore a record of a short length. However, if this is the shape of things to come, A Bad Think is a phenomenal music project destined to last for many years. A record to listen, enjoy and love in every moment of the day, wherever you may be.

Gio Pilato

Don't Forget Us is released on Windmark/The Orchard on April 21st, 2015


April 21st, 2015 - Grammy Award nominated artist, A Bad Think has release its new EP Don't Forget Us. today via Windmark Records. Produced, written and performed by Michael Marquart and mixed by Jason Elgin (Collective Soul, Creed), Don't Forget Us. is the 6th release under the moniker A Bad Think. The album was recorded in Los Angeles at Windmark Recording and in Windmark's east coast studio. Don't Forget Us. is a collection of seven masterfully crafted modern alternative songs that is a glimpse inside the mind of singer-songwriter and sole member Michael Marquart.

Read Also:

The Michael Marquart Interview

A Bad Think: Sleep

Caustic Love: (And Why We Love) Paolo Nutini

Paolo Nutini captured our attention on the world stage, when he was introduced as one of the youngest to sign with Atlantic Records before Ahmet Ertegun died. It was this honor that lead him to be part of the most historic music event of the decade, the Ahmet Ertegun Tribute in London, with the surviving members of Led Zeppelin reunited for the one-off show. One of the early performers, he kept his place as a smart historian and did not sing his own music, but dove into the archives of blues performing, "Mess Around " by Ray Charles.

This event happened the year after his UK release of the blue-eyed soul to pop record, These Streets, (Atlantic, 2006, UK, 2007, US).  With the hook-catchy "New Shoes" and the sultry-pining, "Last Request," doing well on radio charts and plays, the Paisley, Glasgow native was pegged by Atlantic to be a Scottish soul singer, causing a buzz, with his stunning Italian name.

Read more: Caustic Love: (And Why We Love) Paolo Nutini

Beth Hart: Better Than Home

There are things that sometimes, despite an artist's attempt to be as open and honest as possible, emerge only through their music. Better Than Home is an album that belongs to a different Beth, emotionally speaking, from her previous album Bang Bang Boom Boom. Yet it preserves her charisma, by telling her fears, hopes and passions through powerful lyrics.

Better Than Home fully analyzes Beth's living moments, and from a musical and lyrical prospective, the record never fails to thrill the listener. The album is perhaps the most personal Beth Hart has ever made. Despite the fact that the demons of her past life occasionally surface here and there, the record is infused with a great positivity and love for life.

Read more: Beth Hart: Better Than Home



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Blues and Delta Blues in particular, have always been the perfect archetype of music authenticity. America is often cited as The Root of the genre, the heart and soul of blues, but this record proves that also Italy is not so far fetched. And so happened that two hugely talented guitarists, such as American, Reed Turchi, and Italian, Adriano Viterbini, decided to join forces and give life to a delicate music portrait of Delta Blues with dark twists that cannot define any better the journey of the blues music of the last half century.

Although maybe a bit short on duration (sadly just about 28 minutes), Scrapyard undoubtedly homages any listener with 8 blues sketches of true intensity and beauty that it makes one wish the record would last forever. Echoes of John Fahey and Ry Cooder can be easily spotted in the fabulous catharsis the two guitarists are able to produce on each track, even without any rhythm section whatsoever. The track Gira is the joyous finale of a music experiment that, hopefully, will reserve us more and more beautiful records like this in the years to come.

A marvelous example of talent and simplicity and perhaps one of the best guides to blues newcomers that wish to learn and appreciate the purity of that wonderful genre that is blues.

Gio Pilato

Devil Down Records -

George Grant: I Got To Get My Mind Right

The only thing that's tough about listening to George Grant and The Mighty Templars is choosing a genre for categorization. Thankfully, our site lives on the boundaries and hates anything that is cookie cutter music, although we do love our sweets. George Grant and The Mighty Templars is high end quality soul. You hear every relevant instrument in just one song. Harp, funk guitar, blues riffs, smashing real time percussion and Grant's genuine soul groove vocals, complete with howlin' improvs. Where have you been? Get out from under your rock, because this is a soul gem.

The title track, "Got To Get My Mind Right" has enough brass to send us back to juxe joints in Chicago, but the guitar picks up and it sounds like a retro pre-Beatles tune. Backup singers and stepwise basslines bring us a Motown tone, without the tin garage sound, but that's refreshing, because Grant has his own sound going on, so dig it.

"I Really Loved You" is a slow ballad of emotional honesty with the pain of complicated love, "I cried for you, I cried for me, now I have to tell you, I just can't let it be ..." while, "Like A Fool" is a straightforward blues to soul clip with standard forms that stabilizes the set back to its basics of coming at ya, soul. Love the way the guitar solo and drums take this time during the bridge. "Let me tell ya bout the girl I lost ..." "Examine My Soul" has a marching beat in its initial drums, a welcoming blues intro, and folds into a gospel chant, complete with organ backups, which show Grant's wide range and grasp of the roots of rock, blues and soul. "New York Groove" is a fun cover of this rock classic with Grant's bold voice and tambourine harmonies, it has his signature sound.  

Here's the uptempo "Move On" and whoosh, do we love that harp!!

More Info about George Grant and The Mighty Templars:

Hailing From New York City via Pittsburgh PA, George Grant has infused the soul, rock and pop music of his youth into a bombastic sonic array. Growing up in a household where one could hear Steve Wonder or Jackie Wilson as readily as Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix, he honed his musical skills supplied by the best of three musical worlds - rock, soul and a solid foundation of pop AM radio. A veteran of the New York rock scene (as both a bassist and vocalist), George has now channeled these earliest roots into a rousing and sometimes heartbreaking new collection of original songs. Rooted in the sounds of Memphis, Motown and even Cincinnati, his music brings to mind an A to Z of old school soul music, from The Temptations to Otis Redding to Curtis Mayfield without skipping a beat - literally. Fans of newer soul acts such as Charles Bradley and Eli "Paperboy Reid" will also find this a very pleasing collection of finely crafted rocking soul meets classic 70's pop material.

JJ Grey & Mofro - Ol' Glory


Ol' Glory is released on February 23rd 2015 in Europe and February 24th 2015 in North America by PROVOGUE/MASCOT LABEL GROUP

In a time of over-refined and over-produced record making in the last twenty-odd years, this album arrives like a breeze of fresh air in the music business. Born in Jacksonville, Florida, JJ Grey has been nurturing the ambition to entwine the work of two of his most beloved music heroes, Jerry Reed and Otis Redding.

Read more: JJ Grey & Mofro - Ol' Glory

Fabrizio Poggi & Chicken Mambo - Spaghetti Juke Joint

 Fabrizio Poggi Chicken Mambo Spaghetti Juke Joint

When a new record by Fabrizio Poggi is released, the heartbeat of every blues fan of the genre begins to pulsate faster, as the sound of Fabrizio's harmonica.

Spaghetti Juke Joint is a tribute to those Italians who emigrated to America in search of work at the end of 1800, in the plantations of Mississippi and and that maybe, who knows, as some urban legend recalls, may have really opened a Juke Joint somewhere in-between the cotton fields. The disc itself pays homage to the genre in full 360 degrees. The sounds and rhytms that run through the record are suspended between the Delta Blues sound of Sonny Boy Williamson, the best period of the English blues masters such as Rory Gallagher and the blues rock of titans like Canned Heat and the late great Johnny Winter.

Read more: Fabrizio Poggi & Chicken Mambo - Spaghetti Juke Joint

Out On The Tiles

Ray Mason at the Thirsty Mind 2011

We caught Ray Mason at the Thirsty Mind in South Hadley, MA, last night. He continues to be a great showman with original songs, funny stories, audience engagement and most importantly, master guitar work. People were smiling, laughing and some toes were tapping as Mr. Mason used his unique vocals with his signature mix of folk, rock and upside down blues themes. His history brings the love of music throughout the years, the Yardbirds, Dylan, Buffalo Springfield, and to me, he sounds like a brighter version of Neil Young with an uptempo guitar style. He has toured with NRBQ and currently plays in the band he's lead for 20 years, The Lonesome Brothers.



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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!