For today's Sound Check column, my thoughts about a mostly acoustic release make up the first review below; a rare three-CD set from a noted mostly electric blues player is considered next.
'Good Days A' Comin',' Ivas John (Right Side Up Records, HHHH 1/2)
This June 3 CD, which is likely available in other formats, comes from Southern Illinois singer/songwriter/guitarist Ivas John, who grew up as the son of Lithuanian immigrants in Chicago. He's supported by mandolinist David Davis, fiddler Robert Bowlin, fiddle/mandolin man Tim Crouch and folk duo The Gordons (dobro player Gary and harmony singer Roberta).
Ivas co-produced the album with Gary. It contains 12 songs: eight originals co-written by Ivas' father Edward and four classic covers.
My favorites include the sprightly "Goin' Back To Arkansas," the bluegrassy "Here I Am," the subtly swinging "Roll Mississippi" and "Payday Boogie."
Ivas' pleasing baritone voice and nifty "backing band" make this album a listening treat.
'Trilogy,' Ana Popovic (ArtisteXclusive Records, HHHHH)
This triple-CD was released in May, and it is also likely available in different forms. It comes from noted blues guitarist/singer Ana Popovic and is divided into time-of-day or night segments.
My favorite "Tonight" tunes feature an all-star New Orleans supporting cast: "Love You Tonight," "Train" (plus Joe Bonamassa), "If Tomorrow Was Today" and the regretful-sounding "Too Late."
The "Mid-Day" disc starts with a bang: A power trio of Ana, bassist Tommy Sims and drummer Edward Cleveland doing "You Got The Love" by C. Khan/R. Parker Jr. The rest of the disc isn't quite as cool, but the blazing instrumental "Who's Yo' Mama?" is one of my overall favorites. A collaboration with North Mississippi All-Stars bassist Mark van Meurs and drummer Cody Dickinson is my other fave.
The "Midnight" disc is produced by Delfeayo Marsalis, who adds trombone/horn to some of the jazzy tunes. My favorites are both versions of "Waiting On You," "New Coat Of Paint" and Ellington's "In A Sentimental Mood."
This album is certainly not for blues fans only. Lovers of Big Easy jazz, old-school R&B and blues will all find songs to enjoy here.
One reader's one-hit wonder
Patrick O' Donovan's favorite is The Grateful Dead's "Touch Of Grey."
I hope more readers will remember songs to email me about.
Ricky Flake, a former punk rocker and current music fan, lives in Biloxi. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.