Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
I do love a feel good story. Well, that is the story of Ten Penny Gypsy. Justin Patterson and Laura Lynn Danley make up this dynamic duo. Look at that cover. I don’t usually mention an album cover in my reviews, but this cover art says so much. They are in love and doing what they love. Who could ask for anything more? Well, a little more cash wouldn’t hurt. But besides that, how many people can say that they are happy at work and love their job? Ten Penny Gypsy can. (more…)
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Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
I find myself listening to this over and over again. It is quirky and down right fun. Two qualities that I cherish deeply. It’s minimalistic with  a very simple arrangement. Proof that complicated does not always win. This is genius in its simplicity and transparency. What you see is what you get. And what you get is Gene Turonis or Gene D. Plumber.
Gene is a real, working plumber. It isn’t just a moniker, it is Gene’s trade. Gene hopes to retire and spend his time on his passion, music. How can we not root for that? We all love a great story. Just look at all of the pre coverage for The Kentucky Derby and The Preakness. They always highlight a horse or person or two with a compelling story. Once that feature runs, the odds of the horse actually go down. Which means people love to get behind something that makes them feel good. 
Gene is my Pants On Fire. I am going to bet on Gene. And Gene has a good chance of winning. His style is very charming and really easy listening. These songs sort of get into your mind and soul. Gene also has a very unique and infectious singing style. This is the kind of voice that has traction. Once you give a listen to a couple of songs, you start to really crave Gene’s voice and playing style. 
I’d Have to Be Crazy (Track 8) is a great song with some really thought provoking lyrics. The backing accordion is both beautiful and haunting. The Tex/Mex guitar is also a very pivotal component of this song. I gravitate to songs that are unconventional. This is the kind of song that belongs on my number one playlist, right beside May the Road Sing With You by The Amadans. 
The album starts out with a really nice Tejano ditty, All The Pretty Girls (Track 1). That also happens to be the name of the album. Again, simplicity reins supreme. But that is not a bad thing. It works very well with Gene’s music and especially on this song. The lyric are a flat out hoot. It’s light hearted, yet serious. 
The transition into the next song, Round And Round We Go (Track 2) is absolutely flawless. Another song heavily influenced by that Tex/Mex sound. It’s the accordion and flamenco style guitar playing that gives this song that Spanish and Western atmosphere. Another example of how simple doesn’t mean bad. I am truly impressed that simplicity can sound so swell.
Let’s all get behind Gene. He is a little left or right of center and that is what makes life “so darned interesting“. It’s music like this that people remember, not the polished, overproduced garbage that the labels mainly put out. There is still indie music and artists out there. Gene Turonis is ground zero for the movement. 
Listen to All The Pretty Girls
Buy All The Pretty Girls

 

 

Reviewed by Bill Tokash
Red Shahan was born in Bluff Dale, Texas, a small town southwest of Ft Worth, but he spent a fair amount of his formative years as an emerging artist in the Lubbock area after attending Texas Tech. His sophomore release, Culberson Country is a slice of pure, sun-drenched, West Texas singer-songwriting perfection. His outstanding first release, Men and Coyotes, has a slightly less gritty Ryan Bingham, Texas Roadhouse feel. But on Culberson County, Shahan couples his smooth, lonesome vocal style with simple, evocative, small-town narrative songwriting that sounds to me like what Whiskeytown would have sounded like if Ryan Adams had been born on a ranch somewhere between Big Spring and Sweetwater.

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Reviewed by Bill Tokash
During the interview after Dale Watson’s performance to close out the 39th season of Austin City Limits, he cited a John Lennon quote about how an artist’s originality comes from their inability to emulate their influences. When I heard that line from Dale, it quickly sunk in that no other statement about artists and their influences could better capture the true spirit of why artists make the music they do. Every single musician that first picks up as guitar or a microphone, or sits down at a Hammond organ or a pedal steel guitar to try to play starts out trying to play songs they love. And then they go on from there once they start to write their own songs and develop their own style. (more…)

Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
Another album with a very high listenability index. The music is blues based, but contains a lot of buried treasures in addition to blues. There is an ubundance of vocal styiling, Vaudeville, burlesque, and some Caribbean influence. It’s Koko Taylor, meets Tom Waits, meets Harry Belafonte. Tami has a very strong and sultry voice which is perfectly suited for the songs on Sassafrass! (more…)

Reviewed by Bill Tokash
It was one of those perfect early spring nights that Chicago music fans dream of all winter long. Perfect sunny, warm weather. A perfect venue. And a fantastic band that perfectly matches the aesthetic of the venue. The Empty Bottle has long been one of my favorite places to see a show, and last Friday the triple bill lineup headed up by hometown Bloodshot Records artist Sarah Shook and the Disarmers exceeded everyone’s expectations. (more…)

Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
What’s in a name? A name is the first introduction to a person or a thing. I think a name is very important. So when I think of Joe’s Truck Stop, the name conjures up images of something familiar and something comfortable. The name is very welcoming, they serve one and all at Joe’s. The customer service and execution by the folks at Joe’s is second to none. (more…)