by Dan Ferguson
Passport to the Blues
Stoney Plain Records
Local blues guitar demigod Duke Robillard is smiling pretty big on the cover of his new Passport to the Blues. The joyousness translates straight from cover to contents with Robillard spreading the wings wide, so to speak, playing like he's having a ball. Winner of "Best Traditional Male Blues Artist" by the Blues Foundation earlier this year, Passport balances the traditional side with forays into sectors beyond. It's a good look as The Duke goes for the full house from the swizzle stick cocktail cool of "When You're Old You're Cold" to the hip-shakin' chow mein garage rock of "Hong Kong Suite."
Sonny & the Sunsets
Tomorrow Is Alright
Fat Possum FP1225
Hailing from the Bay Area, Sonny Smith has had a split career to this point balancing music and art. His mindboggling art show called "100 Records" (visit www.sonnysmith.com/?page_id=18) which recently wrapped up in Brooklyn allowed him to combine those talents. With his Fat Possum debut Tomorrow Is Alright, it's back to music. Sounding like some long lost Southern California folk-pop artifact, it's a collection of slightly skewed, beachy and lo-fi leaning nuggets on which Smith's quirky songs and gift for crafting tantalizing melodies has high listener appeal. Recommended. Visit www.fatpossum.com.
(Dan Ferguson is a free-lance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 - 9 pm on WRIU-FM 90.3. He lives in Peace Dale and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)