National Women In Blues - Vol 1

Jomar Records

By Peter "Blewzzman" Lauro
January 2008

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This project has had me excited from the very first minute I was asked to be involved with it.

Working with Michele Seidman at the National Women In Blues Festival, and Scott Thornton at Jomar Records has been an absolute pleasure. Being asked to write the liner notes for the National Women in Blues CD was one of the biggest thrills that the blues has bestowed upon me. Now I get to savor the thrill even further, by sharing my thoughts about the music with all of you.

Man, it just doesn't get any better than this for this over zealous blues fan.

National Women In Blues is a compilation disc that includes 16 original tracks by 16 different and astounding, women in blues. These women are talented singers, talented songwriters, talented musicians and on top of that, they all have looks as well. I guess this is what it means to “have it all goin' on.”

In order to be fair to all of these lovely ladies, and more importantly - because each and every track certainly rates recognition, I'm going to say something about all the songs. Having said that, let's start talking about National Women In Blues.

The disc opens with Sandy Atkinson sexily telling someone to “Let Your Hair Down Baby,” - and fool around with me. Typically, words a man does not need to be told twice. This one features great vocals and guitar by Atkinson, and lots of rockin' by a great rhythm section.

On the next track, Patty Benson sings about how it took “2,666 Miles” to get over him. Hmmm, ya can't help but wonder if the 666-mile part of the trip is any indication as to how devilish this character really was. Lots of great horns and a hot organ back up Benson and her vibrant vocals.

Julie Black sings about what it takes to “Love This Momma,” and the sultriness with which it's sung makes you want to do just that. This beautifully delivered track is highlighted by a constant, soft organ in the background, and very smooth and precise piano playing. Good stuff right here.

The funksters and the dancers will absolutely love “On My Way,” by Kelly Dees. This one's got a totally frantic and funkified jam thing going on. Let the party begin.

Nicole Hart belts out some seriously soulful and very bluesy vocals on “Think About Love.” She really gets to show her broad and versatile range on this lovely ballad. This one's also highlighted by more great organ and guitar work.

“Ask Your Man,” by Pat Hunter is a great rhythm and blues number that's nice and heavy on the blues. Hunter’s strong vocals are nicely supported by several very good back up singers. The blues guitar on this one is some of the best on the disc.

If you've ever strolled the side streets of the French Quarter and wandered into one of those obscure joints that didn't have a sign out front, but did have a bar and a piano inside, then one listen to “Midnight Hour Blues,” by Sophie Kay will bring you right back to that joint. Great ‘Nawlins-style vocals and piano on this one.

“Watch Me Work It” is Andrea Marr’s contribution to the project. Having already had the pleasure of reviewing her disc of the same title, I knew what I was in for here. Marr displays lots of attitude on this strong vocal effort backed up by great organ and guitar work.

Octavia belts out the blues from the gut on “Service Call.” This one is good old raunchy blues at it's best. Hot, rippin' raw guitar, harmonica and vocals highlight one of the discs real smokers.

As Lara Price gets driven “Crazy,” she tells about it in this slow and soulful ballad. Exceptional vocals and outstanding low down and dirty blues guitar make this one the best. Eight minutes in length also makes it that much more pleasurable 'cause this is the kinda stuff you can listen to for hours on end.

Peggy Ratusz musically and vocally paints a very soothing, passionate and sensual picture as she sings about being on a “Sexual High.” Trust me on this one, this sultry mood setting music is not intended to be listened to while typing a review.

“Cheating On Me” by Suzanne Thomas is a nice blend of soul, R&B and funk. It features some of the disc’s best rhythm and has possibly one of the disc’s best guitar solos.

“That’s A Pretty Good Love” is a jumpin' jazzed up tune done by someone who's name you just may hear mentioned at this year’s Blues Music Awards - Gina Sicillia. Some great baritone sax and percussion work highlight this track.

Sarah Lemieuz is cooking up a “Blues Stew.” Just a few of the ingredients she's using are sass, soul and sultry - all in abundant amounts. Great vocals, guitar and possibly the discs best drum work highlight this one.

Michele Seidman, the Woman In Blues Festival organizer herself, sings about something I am all too familiar with, and easily relate to: “Middle Aged Bones.” As Seidman points out, “They may look good on the outside, but it feels so bad inside.” And I can't agree more with her claim that “they creek and they moan.” This one's good ol' rockin' blues.

Michele Lundeen - or to those of us who know her better as the “Queen Of Steam” - seems to be “Starting All Over Again.” Simply said, this track kicks ass. Lundeen has one of the most powerful voices in the blues today, and she's got the confidence to back it up. Having already done a review of her disc titled Song Inside Me, I was looking forward to hearing this one. Some top-notch accompanying musicians add to the quality of this one.

Seidman and Thornton should be very proud of themselves. They deserve tremendous recognition for their efforts: Seidman for being THE woman in The Women In Blues Festival, and Thornton at Jomar Records for putting it out. The disc will more than likely be the year’s best compilation CD.

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