It’s no secret that my buddy, Joe Whitmer, is the proud producer of the International Blues Challenge. On the wall in Joe’s house is a picture of the young gunslingers (Sean Carney, Jonn Richardson and Nick Schnebelen) taken by Jenn Ocken, that Joe dearly loves. It’s a shot taken from the rear; a view that Joe appreciates, in part because oftentimes it’s the only view he gets. That said, the young gunslingers, Trampled Under Foot and Henry Gray all got together to record Blues Cures, a disc to support Sean’s cancer charity, Blues for a Cure. It’s a great disc for a worthy cause so hit it.
The disc opens up with a cut entitled, “Side Tracked”, an instrumental. Sean, Nick and Jonn are three of the best new guitarists in our genre and listening to them have at it with Trampled Under Foot backing them is a treat. Our next cut, “Love My Baby”, finds Danielle of Trampled Under Foot at the microphone. Danielle went toe to toe with Shakura S’Aida at the IBC two years ago and has one of the strongest female voices out there. There’s definitely no doubt that Danielle loves her baby. “I need my baby…like the moon need the sky….oh, my baby needs me too…and I don’t ask him why!” I have to admit that it’s hard to distinguish who is playing guitar when but the fretwork on this disc is amazing and it’s a good challenge to have to figure it out. Henry Gray is at the keyboards for our next cut, “Cold Chills”. “Cold chills…she made cold chills run all over me…oh…every time I start thinking about my woman boys…I get just as glad as I can be”. Andy Cornett lends his harp to this cut and adds just the right touch to this wonderful song by Henry.
Our next tune is “Crosscut Saw”, featuring the vocals of Jonn Richardson. Jonn is best known as the guitarist for Diunna Greenleaf & Blue Mercy and this is the first song I’ve heard him sing. Jonn’s got a strong voice and I can hear his Texas influences in some of the guitar playing on this cut. Nice job Jonn! “Jonny Cheat”, our next tune, has definite ZZ Top influences and finds Nick Schnebelen on the microphone. Nick’s got a touch of bad ass in him and the song fits. “When you lose the one you love…you know it cuts you pretty bad…more times than not…you know it’s another man!” Kind of wonder which end of the story Nick’s been on but that’s a question for another day. “Come on In” finds Henry back at the piano and the microphone. “Come on in…ain’t nobody home but me…we can drink a little liquor…drink a little wine…we can get drunk and have a helluva good time…come on in…ain’t nobody home but me!” Sean takes the microphone for the first time on our next tune, the Freddie King classic, “Use What You Got”. Here we find that Sean’s got an insight into how to keep his baby happy. “You’ve just got to use what you got…and it doesn’t matter about your sign!” Jonn’s guitar solo in this cut is tastefully done and I’m wishing I was there when this was recorded. The next cut, “Comin Home to You”, is a Trampled Under Foot staple featuring both Nick and Danielle. “Wheels racing down the track…and I ain’t looking back…I’m just coming home to you on an evening train!”
“Times Are Getting Hard” features more of Henry’s great keyboard work as he tells us just how difficult things are getting. “Too much taxes on your groceries…too much taxes on your meat…you ain’t got no money…you can’t even…find a job!” The call goes out to Jonn for another guitar solo and it’s plain to see that all of the young gunslingers are tremendously talented. Jonn’s back on the vocals for “Wait On Time”. “Well…I live the life I love…and I love the life I live…the life I live baby…is all that I’ve got to give…just wait on my baby…I’ll be there one day…Lord, until I get there baby…all I can do is hope and pray!” Up next is Nick, who isn’t shy about telling us his thoughts in “Ain’t My Problem”. “Sit there telling stories…not a one of them is true…you got to put down that bottle…spend some time fixing you…you’re money ain’t my problem…I got problems of my own…take all your worries and troubles…take them back inside your door!”
Blues Cures closes with another tune by Henry Gray, “How Could You Do It” and the grand finale, “Whoa Baby” that just feature Sean, Nick and Jonn. “Whoa Baby…won’t you stay for awhile…if you give me a couple of minutes…I just might make your style!” Beautifully done, with Nick doing the vocal honors, “Whoa Baby” is a great way to end this disc.
Kudos to Sean for putting this project together. Cancer has affected a number of people in Sean’s inner circle and this project is a worthy effort on their behalf. Henry, Jonn, and Nick, Danielle & Chris of TUF all deserve praise as well for their contributions to this project. To read more about the charity, Blues for a Cure, or to order a copy of this disc, please check out the website Sean has set up for this project at www.bluesforacure.com Sean, Trampled Under Foot and a host of other players are getting together in Columbus, Ohio in December at Whiskey Dick’s to do it all over again. If you’re in the Columbus area, check it out. You’ll be glad you did.
Kyle Diebler – Phoenix Blues Society President
Published in Blues Review – March 2009