Jack Daniel Time (Mudpuppy Recordings): Ford recorded this set at Red's Lounge in Clarksdale with some assistance from Terry "Harmonica" Bean, guitarist Bill Abel, and drummers Sam Carr and Lee Williams. Ford works through a fairly typical set of his raucous, rowdy Delta blues, but the bonus is the three acoustic tracks he turns in, which are pretty neat and show a side of him that many had not previously seen. All of Ford's CDs are a lot of fun, but this one may be my favorite for many reasons (Ford is really in his element here and it's a really relaxed, laid-back set...the acoustic tracks are really good), but the biggest is the inclusion of my all-time favorite blues instrumental, "Red's Houseparty."
Another Cow's Dead (Roesch Records): Behind this slightly twisted album cover lies some fantastic music. King passed away a couple of months ago, but he left us this stellar set of soul-soaked blues released during the late 90's. He played guitar in Koko Taylor's band for years, so he was criminally underrecorded. This album features several members of the Blues Brothers horn section (Birch "Slide" Johnson, Alan "Mr. Fabulous" Rubin, and Blue Lou Marini, plus Ronnie Cuber) on several tracks. King's own tunes are a mix of soul and blues, with standouts like "Kitty Kat," "Walk Right On In," and "Hey Mr. Bluesman," and the covers are in the same mold, with one of the best being King's version of Luther Ingram's "(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want To Be Right." It's too bad this guy didn't get a few more opportunities in the studio.
Pistol City Holiness: Wow! This one knocked me for a loop when I heard it a couple of years ago. I'll make this as simple as possible.....if you're a blues/rock fan, you NEED this disc. You will listen to it and listen to it and then listen to it some more. Perkins has played guitar with artists ranging from Vassar Clements, Ray Charles, Jerry Jeff Walker, Carole King, and Guy Clark, but on this release, he is all about the blues. From the opening cut, "Break," you will be hooked. He also does one of the best versions of Freddie King's "Goin' Down" that you will ever hear. Others tracks that need to be heard include the instrumental "Cherryfish and Chicken," "Train at Night," and the track on the video below, "Devil's Game." Perkins recently did the music for the upcoming movie, Deadline, and the just-released soundtrack is excellent, so by all means, check out Dave Perkins. You can thank me later.
Hope Waits (Radarproof Records): Waits is a Louisiana native with a deep, sultry voice. Her debut release, out in 2007, is an impressive mix of blues, soul, and jazz. She might remind some listeners of Norah Jones a bit, but her vocals are edgier and sometimes almost hypnotic. The arrangements are very sparse, giving her incredible vocals plenty of room. For me, the best tracks were the jazzy interpretation of Jackie Wilson's "I'll Be Satisfied," an intense version of Otis Redding's "Cigarettes and Coffee," and Bob Dylan's "Ring Them Bells," but the biggest catch of all is the dazzling reading of "Drown In My Own Tears." Waits makes the Ray Charles standard her own with a breathtaking performance. This is the only release for Waits so far, but hopefully there's more in the works.