Reflecting the Concerns of the Community  May 12 - 18, 2004 Vol. 5, Issue 48

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Lots of Records in Record Time

Tony Peyser
Mirror contributing writer
   Guitar Shorty’s Watch Your Back is old school, big city electric blues. (The explosive first track is even called “Old School.”) Shorty was mentored by Willie Dixon and a mentor to Jimi Hendrix. I didn’t know about the latter connection before I listened to the album and Hendrix’s screeching solos came to mind. “Let My Guitar Do The Talking” is swaggering and brash. With a groove like “Who Do You Love,” it’s a scorcher for true blues fans.
   Brian Joseph’s third album, King Of Echo Park, is unpretentious, funny and insightful. A picture on the back shows the L.A.-based Joseph standing in a swimming pool wearing a black suit and a black hat with his arms open, his eyes closed and a huge grin. That exuberance is in every track. From the knucklehead romance of “Cal’s Chevy” to the criminal irreverence of “Hallalujah,” Joseph has a folk-pop gift, a heap of talent and a welcoming spirit.
   Produced by Norah Jones sideman Kevin Breitt, John and the Sisters self-titled debut is blocks from anything normal; call it screw-loose blues. “Too Damn Big” rumbles to life as rough-hewn John Dickie shouts, “Get that dog off the furniture!” That’s precisely what this album is all about: misbehaving. This track stubbornly refuses to sit and beg; it just takes what it wants. And the funky “L.A.” will make fans of War roar.
   Speaking of Norah Jones, Jolie Holland sounds more than a little like her on her second solo album, Escondida. Holland’s also reminiscent of alternative-folkies The Be-Good Tanyas, which makes sense she was a founding member of the group but took off before the band did. The Texas native’s songs are like torchy lullabies by the house band in an opium den. Holland is sexy, soulful, sinful and impossible to resist.
   Parkinsong Volume One: 38 Songs Of Hope is a double-CD aimed at raising money for Parkinson’s research. It’s dedicated to Selma Urken Litowitz, a beloved New Jersey educator whose former student —- Daily Show host Jon Stewart —- insists “she was the only teacher who liked me.” There are stunning contributions like Neko Case’s impassioned “I Wish I Was The Moon” and Steve Forbert’s wistful “It’s A Shame, You Know.” Dave Alvin’s father died of Parkinson’s and his paternal shout-out here, “The Man In The Bed,” is as powerful a song as I’ve ever heard.
   Amazon has Watch Your Back for $13.99 and John and the Sisters for $16.98. CDBaby has King Of Echo Park for 13.97. Miles Of Music has Parkinsong for $17.99 and Escondida for $12.49.
   * On May 12, Graham Parker is at The Knitting Factory. On May 15, Guitar Shorty is at Harvelle’s and Little Charlie & The Nightcats are at Cozy’s. On May 16, Brian Joseph is at McCabe’s. On May 17, Jolie Holland is at The Troubadour. On May 18, Catherine Feeny — a real comer who I’ll soon review — is at Club Lingerie.
   * The Goofy Band Name Of The Week is … Hostile Amish.




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