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MUSIC | LOCAL ANGLE

Making Music

Blues, techno-pop and boogie-woogie are among the recent CD releases produced by area groups.

July 09, 1998|BILL LOCEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Capsule reviews of the latest releases of local bands and those that play around the area with some frequency.

Gashouse Dave & The Hardtails, "Leavin' the Plantation" (Terra Nova Records)

"You know, it was like you could die at any second, but I loved it," said Gashouse Dave, recalling his tour of duty with Top Jimmy & the Rhythm Pigs. Dave Shorey, a.k.a. Gashouse Dave, a fixture on the L.A. blues scene, not only survived Top Jimmy but has also played with Mike Bloomfield, Big Joe Turner and plenty of others. This album is a bluesy, stream-of-consciousness collection of tales of life in the big city after about a fifth of Jack Daniels, a Dear John letter and an eviction notice.

GRADE: B+

Next gig: Aug. 1 at Cozy's in Sherman Oaks.

*

Dogwood Moon, "The Call to Infinity"

This acoustic duo offers solid songwriting and irresistible harmonies. Keeping it simple, Jonathan Grossman plays guitar and Laurie Gunning belts out the vocals with a voice as nice as any. Named for a flowering tree from the East Coast and that thing in the sky at night, Dogwood Moon will expand your horizons with songs that are mellow enough for mom, including "Big Dipper," "Flying" and especially "Infinity."

GRADE: A-

*

Shannon Beaty, "Shannon Beaty" (Teasdale Tunes)

Beaty is a singer-songwriter out of Agoura Hills who begins her album with "Queen for a Day," detailing her experiences as a beauty contest contestant. Beaty definitely would win the Skimpiest Swimsuit category since she appears on the album cover wearing nothing but a crown and a smirk. "Squeaky Fromme" details that certain someone weird enough to have a fixation on Gerald Ford and Charles Manson. The music is alternative techno-pop, the sort that was all the rage on KROQ about 10 years ago. Beaty has some trenchant insights into the airhead culture, and she can sing, which never hurts.

GRADE: B

Next gig: July 11 at the Roxy in Hollywood.

*

Rob Rio, "Swingtrain" (Boss Productions)

This is Rio's sixth and most recent album of raging boogie-woogie piano tunes--foot-friendly fodder for sure. With four instrumentals, "Swingtrain" contains more straight piano stuff than the others. There's also a cover of a hilarious Tom Ball & Kenny Sultan song, "Perfect Woman." Rio has even unearthed a nugget from Doug Clark & the Hot Nuts. Unfortunately, the title is unprintable in a family newspaper.

GRADE: A-

Next gig: Aug. 14 at Cozy's in Sherman Oaks.

*

Chris "Hammer" Smith, "Livin' on My Own" (Herman's)

Smith, who has been playing harmonica since 1967, has some all-star players on this one, including slide guitar player Sonny Landreth tearing things up on "I'm the One." The rockers rock, but some of the others are hit or miss, with "You and Me" missing by miles. Originally released in Europe.

GRADE: C+

*

Johnny Tucker & James Thomas, "Stranded" (Hightone)

Bass player James Thomas and drummer Johnny Tucker, longtime sidemen, have taken center stage at last. These guys have been singing together for more than 30 years, having met playing with Johnny Otis. For the last 15 years, they have backed blues man Philip Walker. These two concoct some soulful blues as they croon most capably on this collection, reminiscent of vintage Sam & Dave.

GRADE: A-

Next gig: July 23 at Cozy's in Sherman Oaks.

*

Monster Mike Welch, "Catch Me" (Tone-Cool Records)

Formerly "Monster Mike," Welch has reassumed human form where he remains a good, young blues guitar player. Welch has the obligatory incendiary guitar solos figured out, particularly on "Mole's Blues," and everything else is thoroughly professional, yet that "something" that would take this to the next level seems lacking.

GRADE: B-

Next gig: July 16 at B.B. King's in Universal City

*

Tony Galla, "A.S.A.P." (Mombo Records)

Galla has a long resume dating to the '60s when his band, Raven, landed a deal with Columbia with the help of Jimi Hendrix. These days, however, Galla has those blues. He has a voice that sounds like about every cool blues singer you can name, plus he cranks out some great guitar licks to pull it all off in fine fashion. The songs are upbeat, as Galla has the rockin' blues thing figured out.

GRADE: A-

Next gig: Tonight at Smokin' Johnnie's in Studio City.

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