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Bluesology: Mighty Mike Schermer, Dennis Johnson, the ghost of Rev. Gary Davis and more

Mighty Mike Schermer gathers an A-List crew for his Little Village debut. Dennis Johnson's slide slithers like a snake. Gina Sicilia resurrects Rev. Gary Davis. The Hogtown Allstars go "Hog Wild." Corky Siegel is a one-of-a-kind harmonica man, the likes of which you've NEVER heard.
Mighty Mike Schermer

     Mighty Mike Schermer, 55, is Just Getting’ Good on his Little Village Records debut (eighth overall). His guitar, vocals and compositions, recorded at the prestigious Greaseland Studio of today’s go-to blues producer--multi-instrumentalist Kid Andersen in North Cali--has a plethora of talent making these grooves come alive. These cats have played with everyone from John Lee Hooker, Sly & The Family Stone and Elvis Costello to BB King and Little Richard. They add depth, soul, funk, grease and spit. John Nemeth and The Sons of the Soul Revivers add considerable vocal punch. Terry Hanck adds some scintillating sax. Ms. Kimmy Pickens pops on percussion and her vocals on “Spend The Night With You” may be the highlight of it all. Here's Mighty Mike and Ms.  Kimmy on the title track. 

Dennis Johnson cover

     Slide guitarist/vocalist/producer/composer/arranger Dennis Johnson’s self-released Revelation has drummer Anton Fig from Joe Bonamassa’s band, keyboardist Bob Fridzema from Water Trout’s band and his longtime bassist Johnathan Stoyanoff on nine tracks mixed by engineer Chris Bell (Kenny Wayne Shepard) and one mixed by Kevin Shirley (Aerosmith). Throughout, Johnson’s slide slithers like a snake in heat adding emphasis and lead lines to bolster this stoned blues-rock gem on to heights of glory so good, you’ll want to play it over and over and over. And then again.

Gina Sicilia

     Reverend Gary Davis recorded his “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” in 1960. There’s been a slew of covers since—most notably Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan and Hot Tuna—but when Gina Sicilia wraps her considerable lungs around it, all bets are off. It’s the stand-out track on a stand-out album—Unchange (VizzTone Label Group) masterfully produced by singer/songwriter/guitarist Colin Linden—that also has her totally transcending the 19th Century folk song “Make Me A Pallet On Your Floor.” Her soul and gospel influences shine through but this gal is blues to the bone.

Hogtown Allstars Hi-Res Cover

    Make sure you hear Hog Wild (Stony Plain Records), the debut of Toronto’s Hogtown Allstars. Killer singer Chuck Jackson blows harp while the keyboards, guitars and horns rock and stomp in your face like there’s no tomorrow. It’s an action-packed jam of titanic proportions.

Corky Siegel

     More Different Voices (Dawnserly Records), by Corky Siegel’s Chamber Blues, is like no blues album you’ve ever heard. Siegel, 78, is like no blues cat you ever heard. The Siegel-Schwall Band backed up Muddy, Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon and Little Walter when Chicago Blues exploded in the ‘60s. He was a longtime opening act for comedian George Carlin. He blows a mean blues harp, plays a barrelhouse piano and composes classical pieces that he puts in a big pot of gumbo with blues ingredients. His work with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic is well-documented. He’s been fusing classical music with the blues on eight albums. (He even co-produced Joni Mitchell’s original demo of “Circle Game.”)
This incredible indelible masterwork pits his harmonica up against a string quartet and the results are ethereal, mysterious, satisfying and wholly entertaining. Sax man Ernie Watts (Stones/Zappa) is on hand as is vocalist Tracy Nelson who is, in a word, stunning on her own “Down So Low.” Blues star Toronzo Cannon sings his own “Insurance” and Ukrainian Cantor Pavel Roytman sings a Jewish chant for peace.