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Blues reviews: Sean Chambers stings his ax like Hubert Sumlin, Bob Corritore almost eats a Spider, the Koko Mojo Diner harbors hidden delights, the return of Kingfish and Mick Kolassa gets large!

Bluesology 101: A Tribute To Howling Wolf's Longtime Guitarist Hubert Sumlin, There's a Spider in Bob Corritore's Stew, What a Menu at the Koko Mojo Diner!, Is Kingfish the Future of the Blues?, Mick Kolassa Makes his Masterpiece


Sean Chambers

     Hubert Sumlin [1931-2011], the legendary Chicago blues guitarist, gave Howlin’ Wolf his musical bite. He slashed and burned while Wolf’s belligerent presence intimidated audiences into submission. That’s What I’m Talkin’ About: Tribute To Hubert Sumlin (Quarto Valley Records), by Florida guitarist/singer/songwriter Sean Chambers, dredges up Sumlin’s mastery of the six-string into an all-encompassing tribute of titanic proportions. With keyboards, drums and bass, Chambers sings and plays up a storm on his own songs plus those of Sumlin, Wolf, Willie Dixon and two blues mainstays: the 1930 Mississippi Sheiks classic “Sittin’ On Top Of The World” (covered by everyone from Bob Wills, Grateful Dead, Jack White, Cream and dozens of others) and “Goin’ Down Slow” (the 1942 St. Louis Jimmy song originally the b-side of his hit about an ugly girlfriend called “Monkey Face Blues.”)

Sean Chambers courtesy Mark Pucci

Sean Chambers courtesy Mark Pucci

Bob Corritore

     When you sit down for some fine dining, the last thing you want to shout is there’s a Spider In My Stew (Vizztone Label Group). That would be enough to give anyone the blues! Once on a lunch break at work, I bought some Chinese and there was a cockroach in my chow mein. But that’s a story for another time. Bob Corritore has some great friends and they all pitch in to make A Spider In My Stew one of the best blues albums of the year.


     I’m hungry. Let’s hit the Koko Mojo Diner. Volume #3: Southern Menu has “Hot Fish” by Blues Johnson, “Ham’n’Eggs” by Count Basie, “Onions” by John Lee Hooker, “Chicken Stuff” by Hop Wilson, and, for dessert, we can get a “Chocolate Sundae” by Kid King. On this menu, 28 delectable delights will tickle your tummy and—like many from Koko Mojo Records—it’s the artists you never heard of that are the most delicious like The Three Riffs, Danny Bell & The Bell Hops (“Chili With Honey”), Bulee Gaillard and his Southern Fried Orchestra and Mashed Potato Kendrick. Highlights abound. No clinkers. Even Louis Jordan, Etta James, Cab Calloway and Robert Johnson cook up some soul-satisfying entrees.


     Is a cat named Kingfish the future of blues? His self-titled 2019 debut hit #1 and remained on the blues chart for 91 weeks! Now 22, his 662 (Alligator Records) follow-up pays homage to the area code of his Clarksdale, Mississippi hometown where Bessie Smith died and where John Lee Hooker, Ike Turner and Muddy Waters lived. Ten miles from where Robert Johnson is said to have sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads, the town is steeped in blues history. Kingfish—real name Chris Ingram—grew up there and soaked it all in. Buddy Guy calls him an “explosion.” Producer Tom Hambridge—with three Grammys under his belt—might be looking at a fourth. He’s honed the lightning runs of Kingfish’s lead guitar, the soulful vocals and the masterly originals in five days of intense Tennessee sessions. You owe it to yourself to hear this kid.

Mick Kolassa

     Singer/Songwriter/Guitarist Mississippi Mick Kolassa has put it all together to create his masterpiece. Wasted Youth (Endless Blues Records) is the follow-up to his also-great If You Can’t Be Good. He wrote 11. The one cover is a spectacular melding of funk-band War’s 1971 “Slipping Into Darkness,” Jesse Colin Young’s 1969 “Darkness Darkness” and the 1858 folk song “Wayfaring Stranger” that he calls “Darkness To Light.” He straddles reggae and rock with a revolving-door cast (depending upon the track) of guitar (4), bass, drums (2), background vocals, harmonica (2), trumpet, sax, slide guitar (2), piano, organ, conga and violin.