CD Review: Jimmy Wolf’s I’ve Been Driftin’ From Door To Door
Friday, October 15 2010
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 Last year I wrote a review on Jimmy Wolf’s CD Deep Downtown and I was immediately aware that there was a new rock star, jazz monster guitar master to contend with in our community - whose resume is as long as your arm. He is unique in his approach to his craft and his playing suits my bike riding style to a tee.
Wolf was nominated 3 times for best blues recording at the 1999, 2000 and 2008 Native American Music Awards; nominated for Best Blues recording at the 2008 Syracuse Area Music Awards;  and awarded First Nations Composer & American Composers Forum Grant for outstanding performance and lasting contribution in 2008. He was also named the best blues release at the 10th Annual Native American Music Awards in 2008.
The title song of the CD, Driftin’ From Door To Door (originally composed by John Lee Hooker), has a real nice groove with a solid rhythm section foundation. The song addresses a life style change from the way things used to be and now that he’s found a stable relationship, “There ain’t no driftin’ from door to door” even though he used to.
Hell Hound On My Trail is a cover of a song originally penned by the inimitable and mysterious Robert Johnson considered by some to be the “Grandfather of Rock ‘n’ Roll”. This version of this song is dirty and low, slow but blistering. Ominous - sounds like a hellhound.  The delay on the vocal adds to that image.
The third track, Walt’s Circle, is good funky blues. The song is about taking a look at a bar scene, “Down at Walt’s Circle”. Got some nasty tenor sax playin’ in there. This is a strong cut. “They keep dancin’ down at Walt’s Circle Bar.”  Horn chords’ backing the solo is an idea whose time has come for Jimmy. I applaud him for venturing into this territory.
Wild Irish Rose is a song in honor of a wino’s beverage of choice. A woman that drinks this stuff is double trouble, but not necessarily more trouble than she’s worth. There is always a tinge of the old raw Jimi Hendrix in Mr. Wolf’s playing. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy his playing so much. It takes me back to another time when rock power trios were in abundance.
My Mind Is Ramblin is a Howlin’ Wolf (Chester Burnett) original, again with the funk blues thing. This is the thing that Jimmy and the fellas do so well, with solid guitar work and a great rhythm section. They are most assuredly on time.
Tail Dragger is a cover of a song originally written by Howlin’ Wolf and covered by the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughn and others. With some sweet slide work on the intro it moves into a funky guitar groove under a smooth and cool vocal.  Jimmy is an all around blues man as he plays a blistering harmonica that compliments his baritone guitar licks nicely. It is brilliant genius that allows a musician like Jimmy to pursue these traditions with courage and commitment.
I appreciate the fact that there’s only one “Native” oriented song, Indian Hawk, on this CD and I appreciate the fact that he ends his CD with it even more. Blues is still the blues no matter who invented it. There’s a Native quality to this song but it also crosses over into what is traditionally recognized as blues. The hard edged chord progression implies  a connection to a traditional Native philosophy.
The song is performed with spare instrumentation, Jimmy and his baritone guitar and a tambourine, Jimmy on vocal. Something spare like this is to be recognized for what it is. It don’t take much to make a joyful noise, does it Jimmy?

Jamison Mahto, Spirit Bear Productions, Rezz Dogg Reviews, This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
Brule’s The Collection is beautiful and enchanting
Friday, October 15 2010
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 Brule’s “The Collection”, a greatest hits CD produced by Tom Bee and SOAR, is new age but it’s Native American new age, which to me means that it is somehow authentic in a way that most new age is not.
The song All My Relations starts with a voice over prayer on top of the new age synth stuff.  It contains a very recognizable piano melody. The title should have been Mitakuye Oyasin. It consists of a very Native American, new age coloring and tone quality that is very peaceful and includes traditional vocal over top.
This song most certainly relates to the adopted child scenario of Paul LaRoche’s life, the beauty and wonder of a life that has gone full circle with the rediscovery of his biological and traditional Lakota family. It is a grand melody for a grand story.
The second track Spirit Horses starts with the spirit calling song of a sweat lodge ceremony, in a voice over top an up-tempo rock beat with the melody played by a flute/synth. It includes the edgy guitar that I look for in music, as well as a rain stick, and a traditional vocal with the light space air synth behind it all.
And Justice For All is a pledge of allegiance Native style. The vocal melody is majestic and beautiful, like the Rockies or the Black Hills. And the medicine rattle percussion really sets the sound apart, giving the song space.
The song Celebration Of The Heart reminds me I have one of these every time I get on my bike and ride the Minneapolis streets. Once again this song has a very beautiful and colorful melody on synth – as I scoot down the street in joyful hot dish potpourri celebration of time and memory and blood.
The song Stomp Dance’ title is another name for a grass dance and this one swings, up-tempo with some beautiful traditional vocables over top with birdcalls. It evokes in me the hit Superstition by S. Wonder. It compels me to dance down the pedestrian bridge north of the Walker, across the freeway through Loring Park, to the Espresso Royale where I stop for my coffee.
The song The Chosen One begs the question is it Jesus or Wovoka? This song features some tender romantic acoustic piano intro riffing and I have to admit LaRoche has a talent for the beautiful and melconcholy. He can somehow embody the grief of entire nations in a song. It is the nature of grief to seek healing, which is the foundation on which this music is built.
The World Is A Village and it takes an entire village to raise a child. It is played in an up-tempo World music beat that has elements of a Caribbean flavor to it. We must never forget that the first contact between the cultures was with the arrival of Columbus, not on the continent proper but in the Caribbean islands. And the Taino and Carribe peoples that were massacred indiscriminately should most certainly never be forgotten. It feels like a multicultural chanting group hug. The airy Peruvian flute really puts this one over the top and it definitely swings.
Track fourteen Fast Horse reminds me of rollin’ with the fast horse down the Ave in a ’70 merc Monterey with the slant roof, back window down, just smokin’ and jokin’, the rock n roll blastin’ my heart into the dawn because we only as free as we want to be. It rocks and swings with the traditional vocable over the top and it jams with passion with a hand clapping chorus.
We end The Collection with the track Star People as I pull up in front of the house on Park Avenue.  There is a theory that the stuff that began life on earth actually came here by way of a comet or meteor.  This is a very cool way of ending the CD.  This is almost house/dance music with flutes over a heavy rhythmic structure just made for dancing. The end brings it full circle by ending with a prayer.

Jamison Mahto, Spirit Bear Productions, Rezz Dogg Reviews, This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
Chase Manhattan’s Red Skin In A Black & White World is raw energy
Thursday, October 14 2010
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Chase Manhattan’s two recent CD’s qualify as bike riding music, as the material stands on its own in mirror reflection of the city streets that I ride. These streets on the south side of Minneapolis. Manhattan does that with his material and he does it well.
In track three Buggin Out on the first of two CD’s Redskin In A Black And White World, Chase speaks to his writing when he says, “I don’t trust my neighbors, I just focus on my paper.”
Track four Twin Cities Bounce one of the stronger songs is representing for our city. This young rapper keeps the spare sound of old school rap here and it sounds and feels like the south side.
The eighth track Low Key lyric goes “yeah, I’m stayin’ low key, when I roll streets, smokin’ dope G’s, makin’ OD, yeah I smoke weed, drinkin’ OE, f*** the Po-leese, wuzzit gon be?” Hey it’s a contemporary lifestyle isn’t it?
Track ten Chump Change is another very strong piece that talks about workin’ for the small money or coppin’ a plea, dropping a dime in return for a shorter sentence. When Chase’s lyric says “California Chump Change” he’s dissin’ the west coast rappers/hip-hoppers for sellin’ out to Hollywood. Hah, take that LA; the Minne-apple is in you face.

After a cool intro groove Chase’s CD Backside begins with For My Natives, and you better write a song in honor of those that came before, this one is a contemporary Native American history lesson. It includes a traditional style drum with a voice-over that sounds like a powwow announcer.
Track nine Imma Get Paid, consisting of a very hot funky beat intro, nice piano stuff and heavy bass, is a good thing to give the listener. You better pay attention to this one, as Chase nails it when he says emphatically, “Imma get paid, do my thang every day, chillin’ in the summer in the shade, grillin’ up some steaks, eyes glazed, rollin’ hays and the beer by the case, my system bangs, I’m switchin’ lanes on the highway, I ain’t never gon change, Imma stay the same, paper by chase around the state of ten thousand lakes,” He uses local ojibway slang (Ho-Wa! Boozhoo) to emphasize the point.
I like track twelve Roll Up a whole bunch. Wrap that blunt and fire it up. An arrival. “He rolled up in a brand new royal blue Escalade.” This song features a competent sound efx intro and a spare almost traditional drumbeat with some wood blocks. Spare sound for a first CD or two is good. Raw energy is what I look for in first works. There is plenty of it in these two works by the young up and cummer!
Chase finishes the Backside CD with L’n’dis or Lovin’ this.  This is a good ending to this CD. This brutha is straight, since unless you absolutely love it there’s no reason to do it because the dues you’ve got to pay are so high.  The only way to endure the challenges the music biz will throw at you is for the artist to have deep passion for the craft of making a joyful noise. This is also an indication again of how the new technology is affecting this society with the text message style of title.
I dig the spareness of the music. I am of the minimalist school of appreciation. Less is almost always more. This music is broken down to the basics. Synthesizer keys, beats over a thumpin’ bass line that backs lyricism that engages a persons notions of contemporary Native history and the connection to the African American community.  
We all know that Native people have been gangsta since 1492 out of the necessity for survival and the care of our little ones. Chase is just continuing a longstanding tradition of not copping out by taking a warrior poet position on the high ground.  
This is not Chase Manhattan’s last stand.  I know there’s more where this came from.  
For more info on Chase Manhattan, see:

Jamison Mahto, Spirit Bear Productions, Rezz Dogg Reviews, This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
Jana’s “New Moon Born” a strong performance
Tuesday, August 25 2009
Written by Jamison Mahto,
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Jana Mashonee
New Moon Born

Rain suits my current sedentary life style and although I enjoy having my reviews be authentic as I generally listen to the work while riding my bike down the paths of righteous profanity that meet at the intersection of Chicago and Franklin, Jana Mashonee will have to enjoy the ride that is my mind and my imagination.

Jana Mashonee’s latest CD, New Moon Born, has her face on the front insert and her beaty stunned me. I immediately had to stop myself from making snap judgments because in this business talent speaks far louder than it looks.  


Martha Redbone album "Skintalk"
Monday, August 17 2009
Written by Jamison Mahto,
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