Wednesday, August 31, 2011

It’s Official – New Sony Reader Released - eBookNewser

Sony releases a new Wi Fi Reader that pretty much matches the Kindle II, and at the same price. I would think they would need to beat Amazons price or bring smething new to the game, but for those who wish to thumb their nose at the Giant that is Amazon, it does have Public Library download support built in.


Also from from Mediabistro,CNET reports that Barnes & Noble reported an uptick in both sales and revenue. This is despite the fact that books sales at the physical stores were down during the reported quarter.
Barnes & Noble’s Nook revenue up 140 percent

The reason Barnes & Noble had positive numbers is because of its Nook ebook readers and ebook sales.

It’s Official – New Sony Reader Released

By Nate Hoffelder on August 31, 2011 3:51 PM

Sony has just confirmed that the new Sony Reader, which had leaked over the weekend, is indeed coming soon.

The PRS-T1 is based on the latest generation Pearl E-ink screen, and it has wifi, a microSD card slot, and 2GB Flash storage. It supports all the same great annotation features as earlier Sony Readers and it adds support for over the air downloads from public libraries in the USA and Canada.

The retail for the US will be $149, and it is due out in October 2011. The retail for Europe looks to be 165 euros.

Also, when the T1 ships in October it will come bundled with a coupon for a free copy of the first Harry Potter eBook. This isn’t quite the exclusive content that some had expected, but this detail had already been leaked some time back.

It’s Official – New Sony Reader Released - eBookNewser

Nook ColorNewspapers, magazines, radio, TV and the “record” (CD) business have all been dramatically affected by the digital revolution that took places in the past few decades. Physical book stores have been hit especially hard by the combination of online book sales as well as ebooks. While Borders Books announced its shutdown earlier this year, CNET reports that Barnes & Noble reported an uptick in both sales and revenue. This is despite the fact that books sales at the physical stores were down during the reported quarter.
Barnes & Noble’s Nook revenue up 140 percent

The reason Barnes & Noble had positive numbers is because of its Nook ebook readers and ebook sales. Barnes & Noble reportedly has about 25% of the eReader market with the rest belonging to Amazon. While overall sales were up only 2%, Nook hardware and digital content sales were up 140%. Nook operations accounted for nearly 20% of Barnes & Nobles total sales for the quarter that ended on July 30.

The real test of Barnes & Nobles digital turnaround will come after Amazon releases a rumored color display Android tablet.

Nook Color Boosted Barnes & Noble’s Sales & Revenues Into Positive Territory -

Monday, August 29, 2011

Labor Day Week Sale Harry Shannon’s “Memorial Day”

Memorial Day

Memorial Day: A Mick Callahan Novel

This week only, author Harry Shannon has placed his novel, Memorial Day on sale for $.99 This is the first of the Mick Callahan novels we reviewed here on The Dirty Lowdown back in May and simply loved it.

In the mold of the classic hardboiled detective, Mick Callahan is an “everyman” hero, dealing with his own ghosts. He is a man who must walk the mean streets, who himself is not mean. Though tarnished, he is a complete man and a common man –if he wasn’t always, he is now. He is a man of honor driven to do the right thing, perhaps to redeem himself in his own heart, but also for those who need his help. His place is between the law and the bad guys, and his sense of justice, his sense of right and wrong aren’t necessarily defined by the dictionary or the legal books.Harry Shannon

Get this great first book in the series, and drop a comment to tell Harry how much you enjoy it.

Thanks Harry.

Music Review: “Boom” by Tom Hambridge


It just might be true that the best rock n roll music today is coming out of Nashville, Tennessee, the home of country music.Tom Hambridge’s new CD, Boom, out on Tuesday, August 30th makes a convincing argument for the truth to that statement.

Boom show cases Tom in all his disguises; first call studio drummer, outstanding vocalist, Grammy® Award-Winning Producer, ASCAP Award winning singer/songwriter, and Blues Music Award winner on multiple occasions. This is roots rock at it’s best, with it’s feet firmly spread all over the musical map of influence; blues, 60’s rock n roll, country, southern rock, and folk.

There are two, if not more tunes on this outstanding album that are ready made to rule the charts for weeks. First, Upside of Lonely, penned by Tom along with Gary Nicholson opens with a simple but infectious bass line reminiscent of Alannah Myles’ Black Velvet. Bass man, and fellow Berklee School Of Music alum, Tommy MacDonald lays down the bottom end throughout the CD with a quiet authority that makes this fellow bass player envious. And the guitar work of the prolific Rob McNelley (he plays guitar on a bunch of my favorite albums lately, and is on the new Shane Dwight CD as well as usually found accompanying Delbert McClinton) . Rob’s guitar work is the perfect yang to Tom’s spicy drums and voice.

My other favorite is Two Thumbs Up, which sounds like it was lifted from a 60’s rave up, despite the bluesy lyric. Kevin McKendree’s on keys shines in the accompaniment. I wanted to get up and dance and flirt and howl at the moon.

Tom Hambridge–“Boom”


Other favorites are Nine Pound Hammer, The Pistol, and I Got Your Country Right Here as well as the instrumental, Bangin’ Around which not only show cases Tom’s skills on the drums, but in typical fashion for Tom, isn’t JUST a drum solo, with parts written for the other band members with particularly nice piano work.

Superstar Records is supporting the release of this great CD with an extensive tour, which is already under way. The next event will be held in Nashville at The Bluebird Café on September 6. It’s planned to feature many of the top artists and songwriters that Tom has successfully partnered with over the years to write and produce Grammy™ nominated and hit songs and albums.

In addition to his CD release showcases, Hambridge is set to open a number of tour dates in July and August with good friends Lynyrd Skynyrd and, in September/October, with George Thorogood. Hambridge produced the new Thorogood CD, 2120 South Michigan Avenue, a tribute to the iconic Chess Records catalog, released in July from Capitol/EMI Records.

An update, since Tom’s killer release of Boom yesterday, it’s now available for download at CD Baby. This CD is so damn fun, you won’t want to miss out. It should be available shortly on iTunes so check back.

The Dirty Lowdown

Copyright © 2011 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Book Review: “The Arranger” by L.J. Sellers


The Arranger1 Roller Ball meets Frankenstein in this semi-dystopian, near-future thriller from award-winning journalist and acclaimed novelist of the Detective Jackson series: The Sex Club, Secrets to Die For, Thrilled to Death , L.J. Sellers. The Arranger is scary in it’s realism and the feasibility of it’s premise.

The story is set in the U.S. in the year 2023, just a short 12 years from now. And in that short futuristic journey America has been transformed into a world that is somewhat bleak with society in a repressive and controlled state.

The Arranger: A Futuristic Thriller

The unemployment rates are above 20%, jobs have become a valuable commodity and those with medical insurance, or “med cards” are at a premium. Government is down-sized to the point of being nothing but figure heads, federal and state government has been in a financial crisis for more than a decade, and the measure of a presidency has become disaster response.

Corporations and big business are the true powers, as they control all government agencies and control who works where and the position they can occupy. Raises and advancement are history. Agencies such as OSHA are gone, the FDA is powerless and money for public services, i.e. the police and emergency workers, fire departments and EMT’s are very restricted.  Air travel is a thing for the elite and vacations mean you don’t go to work for a few days. The homeless are everywhere and poor people orphan their children because they simply can’t afford them.

The police are focused on violent crime, terrorists and the drug trade exclusively. People are expected to look out for themselves. Civil lawsuits and protection under civil law is a thing of the past. Oil and gas prices are prohibitive and only the wealthy regularly drive. The environment has been so damaged that people can’t spend much time outside. Temperatures regularly rise to above 130 degrees, violent and destructive storms are the norm.

Living in this world is former police detective and free lance EMT (unless you have a high level med card, ambulances and state sponsored EMT’s won’t respond to your call) Lara Evans is called to the scene of a shooting. The victim is a high level government official who wishes to avoid any media or police attention. He is bisexual and homosexuality is against the law with the norm being “don’t ask don’t tell”, but any scandal could cost him his job.

The victim, Thaddeus Morton, is the federal employment commissioner, and by being in this position,  he runs The Gauntlet. The Gauntlet is a cross between The Olympics and American Gladiator, a contest held yearly and sponsored by a big corporation with one contestant from each state chosen to compete through a series of local competitions. The contestant that wins the national Gauntlet wins for their state a commitment from the sponsoring corporation to build a factory in the winners state, brining tens of thousands of jobs to that state. It is a nationally televised event and draws the biggest viewer demographic of the year, with the audience voting to award extra points to contestants.

As it happens, Lara Evans is the contestant from Oregon, so she allows herself to be influenced into not reporting the commissioners shooting – a serious offense that could lead to her loosing her license to work as a free lance EMT. She does this in the hopes that he can help smooth the way for her in the competition. An underlying theme in this story is the capacity for corruption at all levels of society.

The shooter is quickly revealed to be Paul Madsen, a dumpy tech nerd in the Personnel and Payroll office, which has control over the national job pool. Morton initially reported the shooter to be his boy friend, but Paul has other motivations and through the narrative, the reader learns that Morton doesn’t know Paul or his motive to try and kill him. Paul is an orphan raised by a kind lady and is good at his tech job and finds himself in a position of compiling for his agency a list of replacement candidates for all important jobs in the public and private system.

Paul is also obsessed with a beautiful coworker, Camille,  who is a career climber and willing to do anything to advance herself. Paul knows that he stands no chance with Camille, he has a rather large and bulbous nose, is 40 pound over weight, has a weak chin, and isn’t very interesting, attractive or assertive personally.

Paul soon thinks that since he is privy to the national database of replacements for key positions that he can also manipulate the people that already have those positions and get them fired, then sell the position to one of the replacements. He does this and uses the money for plastic surgery, gym memberships, and drugs, which bare a resemblance to steroids, though this is never really stated, to improve his appearance and thus, win Camille. Camille also leads Paul on into thinking that if he could get her a better, more high profile job, that she will be “grateful” to him.

The suspense is built on the moral barriers that Paul will cross to fulfill his obsession, his journey from quiet geek to romantically obsessed, steroid drive criminal. At the same time, Lara walks her own fine line of moral ambiguity in exercising her influence over Morton, the commissioner of The Gauntlet. She uses this influence to allow her to possess a Taser and a fire arm while competing in The Gauntlet, but when her roommate, who she does not like, turns up murdered and she is the suspect, she doesn’t know whether Morton is framing her to get rid of her or if Morton’s  lover is seeking revenge. The beautiful, amoral Camille plays the part of manipulative femme fatale.

There are “Noir like” themes throughout the novel as both Lara and Paul wage a battle for their own redemption. Just how far will they go to achieve their goals?

The novel is very engrossing as we explore and come to believe that society could very soon become the picture painted by the author and explore the minutiae of that society; it’s technology, medical advances, entertainment as well as it’s degradation into a cold, bleak place for individuals and it’s fertile ground for corruption, both personal and societal. It’s a very good read for that reason, but the character development is, in my view, weak since most of the story is told through narration, instead of dialog. For that reason it is hard to empathize with or get to know the individual characters. The plot is outstanding and scary and oh, too real and Ms. Sellers does a great job in laying the scenery and conveying that sense of place but I would have preferred to have been “shown” not “told” and this could have been more fully realized through a dialog driven story. Over all, though, a very worth while novel and I look forward to exploring LJ Sellers work more fully.LJ Sellers

L.J. Sellers is an award-winning journalist, editor, and novelist and fellow Oregonian, living in Eugene. Her Detective Jackson series has won praise from readers and critics alike, and her two standalone thrillers, The Baby Thief and The Suicide Effect both garnered excellent reviews.

The Dirty Lowdown

The review Copy of The Arranger was provided to me by the author, L.J. Sellers.

Copyright © 2011 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved

New Release: “Clan” by Harry Shannon


Harry Shannon wrote "Night Of The Werewolf", published by Medium Rare Books in August 2003 but only around 100 hardcover copies were printed.It became a kind of cult classic. Finally, Harry has rewritten and polished the book and changed the title to Clan.

Description: They have been among us for thousands of years. One mysterious gene they carry lies dormant—until they change.
Joe Case is an ex-cop searching for the man who humiliated his sister. Kelly McCammon is a Hollywood executive running from the Russian mob.
Destiny leads them to tiny Salt Lick, Nevada…A town under siege.

Here’s what the early reviews have to say,

"CLAN is a thriller with a genuine bite. Once Harry Shannon gets his claws in you he will not let go! Highly recommended."
—Jonathan Maberry, New York Times Bestselling author of Patient Zero and Dust & Decay

“A scary-as-hell journey through nightmare country."
—Douglas Clegg, author of Goat Dance and Purity

"(Shannon’s) Impeccable pacing and eye for the terrifying will leave the reader shaken and unsettled."
—Publisher’s Weekly

"Harry Shannon is a writer who is not afraid to walk into the shadows and drag the things living there kicking and screaming into the light."
—Brian Keene, author of The Rising

And the reader reviews,

Harry Shannon mixes crime noir, a speedy thriller and old fashioned horror in this fresh and surprising action-adventure. Three different plot lines, each interesting to follow, eventually come together.

If you like werewolf tales then you'll be in heaven here. Shannon has a way of squeezing real scares out of this familiar horror monster; his werewolves have horrific heft. The story itself is fast-paced and fun, with mystery and humor in addition to the fear factor.
For exciting frights, look no further.

A mix of crime noir, thriller and horror, there is something for everyone here. I was lucky enough to read Night Of The Werewolf and it was a BLAST! Now I'm digging into "Clan"

The eBook became available on Amazon, for the Kindle and free Kindle app. It’s $3.99 on Kindle, soon to be on Nook. Just follow the links and get your for the weekend.

The Dirty Lowdown

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Music Review: “Long Drive” Reluctant Saints


“Writing a song to remember, is the hardest thing to do – Reluctant Saints Long Drive

Reluctant Saints1But apparently not for Atlanta’s own Reluctant Saints. It’s been a very long time since I opened the mail to a new CD, dropped that sucker in the player and was instantly blown the hell away. These five guys have it all. Musically, style, song writing talent four distinctive, yet cohesive lead vocalists that would stand out amongst the best in the business.

If you’re a musician and you hear a new band the first thing you do is listen with a critical ear; “the drummers got a fast foot, the lead guitar needs to pay attention to the band, the keyboard player acts like he wishes his instrument wasn’t in front of him, etc…” you can’t help it, you’re a musician, you want to hold the music at arms link and examine it. From the opening track, Blue Ridge Baby, by the second bar, I grabbed my bass and tried to join in. I wanted to play these tunes, I wanted to be part of this band. It was that good and these guys felt that together.

That first tune is a mid tempo ballad with a country feel underneath some nice guitar work. It has an Allman Brothers feel to it and a nice keyboard run in the bridge. Shine On Me shows off the groups vocal harmony’s, on another stand out lyric – this band really has four lead vocalists so this comes as no surprise. More nice guitar work.

Next up is the title track, Long Drive, just one of the standout tracks on the album. It has a more mainstream, modern rock feel to it and features a duet with Shana Alverson who headlines her own folk/country band out of Decatur, GA.. It’s a “comin’ home off the long road to an old love song.” Down In Nowhere immediately reminded me of Dan Folgelberg, both lyrically and in Mark Wilson’s vocal delivery. The piano work is real sweet here. There is something infectious about this tune and I keep finding myself looping it. There’s also a nice guitar fill in the bridge that serves to remind you that this ain’t no MOR tune.

Song To Remember Show cases Nathan Morgan kick ass vocals and guitar work. You listen to Nathan on guitar for just a few moments and you understand how he recently found himself playing Buddy Guy’s Buddy’s Chicago Club. He has got the licks, the feel, and despite his young age, can play the blues without trying to be a shredder. This may just be my favorite tune on the album. This reminded me of Lynard Skynyrd. check it out, see if you don’t agree.

Song To Remember–Reluctant Saints

Up next is I’ll Miss You When I’m Broke featuring the vocals of Jon Cole, who also does a great job on piano. There’s some sweet Hammond B-3 organ on this track added by Earth, Wind and Fire’s Oliver Wells. Descending has Brian Cameron back on lead vocals and the great Ike Stubblefield (Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raits) on the organ, and Tomas Ramirez doing some fine sax work. Check out Tomas' own album, The Lonely Vato he is a certified jazz, funk and blues legend from Austin, Texas and really brings that feel to this great tune.The vocal harmony’s really stand out on this tune.

Right Behind You is another personal favorite that made me think of The Bare Naked Ladies. it’s playful musically and vocally. Real fun rocker. Free is another great harmony guitar tune evoking the Allman brothers influence with Ike Stubblefield on the organ and even more great vocal harmonies. May There Be A Road is another great ballad featuring Jon’s tender vocals and sweet piano.

The album closes out with Black Texas Highway just to remind you these guys are a southern band and got country in their soul. that’s splashed liberally with some southern blues. the guitar run is memorable.

This CD doesn’t feature just another collection of “pretty decent musicians”. There is not a weak musician in the bunch. Every one of them are stand out instrumentalists and each could lead his own band on vocals. Additionally, there are some master song writers here.  Brian Cameron is actually Brian Cameron Wilson (who drops his last name on stage for obvious reasons), has a great feel for his guitar and has a marvelous expressive voice, as does Mark Wilson (his brother) on the bass. Being a bass player myself, Mark really impressed me. Nathan Morgan on guitar, lead and harmony vocals is the perfect compliment and completes that dual guitar role that helps these guys fulfill that classic southern rock sound. Jon Cole’s piano work runs the gambit from honky-tonk to jazz and his lead vocals are sweet as sun tea on a hot Georgia day. Gary Chumney makes the band complete on the drums and other percussion instruments.

Individually, it’s easy to appreciate these guys as fine musicians and it becomes obvious why they have had success in other bands, Steel Horses who had some regional success and opened for national acts Confederate Railroad and Jupiter Coyote, as well as winning American Idol song writing contests and have been featured on Ike Stubblefield’s albums. Individually they have also opened for Dave Matthew’s, Days Of The New, Buddy Guy, sang the National Anthem to open Major League ball games. But it collectively that the magic happens. They somehow become a sum greater than the individual parts. If these guys aren’t filling stadiums soon and ruling the iTunes hit lists there just isn’t any justice in the music world.

The album was produced by Paul Kelly, Reluctant Saints and Jonathan Beckner and recorded at Real 2 Reel Studios in Jonesboro, GA

The Dirty Lowdown

Copyright © 2011 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved

Review CD Provided by Mark Pucci Media and INIO Music.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Book Review: “Little Rock Girl 1957: How A Photograph Changed The Fight For Integration” by Shelley Marie Tougas

Little Rock Girl 1957

This review is a first for The Dirty Lowdown, which is befitting since the subject of this book was also a first, although infinitely more courageous and important. This book, Little Rock Girl 1957, meant for readers ages eight through about fourteen. That makes this the first “JUVENILE” book we have reviewed here. That said, I know an awful lot of adults that could benefit from a refresher course in American History. 

On September 4, 1957, less than two weeks from today, in Little Rock, Arkansas nine African American students defied their governor and started the fight to integrate Little Rock’s Central High School. Now known as The Little Rock Nine, those children faced both physical, verbal and emotional abuse few of us will ever face. And, with few exceptions, could not and would not find protection or support in adults, teachers, their fellow students or the community. The fight was not won that day, and it wasn’t won even that year or necessarily for years to come. Perhaps that fight still hasn’t come to an end.

First, the book.  The author, Shelley Marie Tougas set out to write a contemporary history aimed at an audience of fifth through eighth graders depicting an era that is every bit as important as many other milestones in American History. I think she achieved both goals. She researched the book very well, finding many photographs and interviews that haven’t seen the light of day in decades. The interviews and recollections of the children who were on the front line that day and in days to come, are especially poignant. Further, Ms. Tougas did not color the narrative with her own feelings and emotions. This is well documented history that an eight year old could easily digest and an adult could profit from as well.

It is a straight forward history, 64 pages long and contains many historical photographs of the events started that day, and continuing through that school year. There are also many photographs and recollections from the recent past that put a very human face to these events. Many of the Little Rock Nine, the photographers and journalists, parents, supporters in the black community and nationally, contribute and tell a broader story.Little Rock guards

The stage was set for the events in Little Rock in 1954 when the United States Supreme Court ruled in the land landmark decision, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, that state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students unconstitutional. The decision overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896 which allowed state-sponsored segregation.

Three years later, 15 year old Elizabeth Eckford attempted to enter Little Rock Central High School, television cameras recording the moment, the a jeering crowd chanting, “two, four, six, eight – we don’t want to integrate.” Elizabeth, hugging her books and wondering where her fellow black students were, was alone.

Nine students had been handpicked by school official to integrate the school that morning. The night before, the eight other students had received a phone call from Daisy Bates, the president of the Arkansas chapter of the NAACP telling them to meet a handful of local ministers, both black and white, who would walk with them to the school to help them feel safe and to, perhaps, remind the hostile crowd of the importance of “tolerance”. I will come back to that word, “tolerance” in a moment.

Little Rock

Elizabeth did not get the word. Her family did not have a telephone. As she neared the doors of the school, she was seen looking around at the crowd of angry white people, spewing hate and following her to the entrance. She momentarily seemed to find hope in the soldiers with rifles near the school, guessing that they were there to make sure she and the other eight children got into the school safely. It was not to be. The governor of Arkansas, Orval Faubus, had ordered the Arkansas National Guardsmen to turn away the black students. Elizabeth was met by armed soldiers with crossed rifles to deny her the protection guaranteed under the Constitution of The United States.

As she turned away and walked back towards the bus stop she had just arrived at, she seemed to scan the crowd for support, only to be met with a woman lunging forward to spit on her. Another teenager, Hazel Bryan as seen in the Pulitzer Prize Winning photo on the cover of the book, a photo that would galvanize the world, and change forever the fight for integration, ran behind her shouting”Go home, nigger!” The man that took that photo, Will Counts said when he saw Hazel Bryan’s contorted, hate filled face in his view finder, he knew that he had captured an important moment.Little Rock2

Back at the bus stop, Elizabeth sat surrounded by the crowd, who having won for the moment, were still not satisfied. Someone can be heard calling for the mob to drag this 15 year old girl to a tree and hang her. A child. seeking nothing but an education should be hung for wanting what every American child is guaranteed. Three reporter, to their credit, formed a protective ring around Elizabeth to keep the crowd from getting to her. Reporter, Benjamin Fine from New York, sat down next to her and put his arm around her. The crowd was shocked, a white man with his arm protectively around a black child? Fine gave Elizabeth this piece of advice, “Don’t let them see you cry.” Grace Lorch, a white woman who supported civil rights, slid to the front of the crowd and admonished the hateful mob to leave her alone, “She’s just a little girl!”

There are many more tales of bravery, sacrifice, attacks on supporters, accountings of the battle between the Federal Government and a defiant Arkansas governor – President Eisenhower eventually Federalized the Arkansas National Guard and had to call out the 101st Air Born division to get the Little Rock Nine inside the school. Tales of how the photographer that took the iconic photo used a new technology in capturing the photo. Tales of how a future Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall argued Brown vs. Board Of Education and coined the phrase “Equal means getting the same thing, at the same time, and in the same place.” Tales of how the Little Rock school board almost completely had to elect new members to insure that the Supreme Courts orders would be carried out. Tales of the governor, in the ultimate act of cutting off your nose to spite your face actually closing all Little Rock schools for months instead of allowing black children to receive an education seated next to white students. There are tales of how journalists that supported the students were physically attacked.Lowel Milken Little Rock But the tale of bravery shown by Elizabeth Eckford and the other nine students that day and in the days to come is awe inspiring. What happened in Little Rock was not just a battle about whether black kids could attend one school. The conflict tested the Federal Government’s authority over state and local government. And what happened was one of the first steps in gaining under the laws of the land what every person was endowed with by his or her creator.

A number of the Little Rock Nine never got to graduate from Central High School. After the governor closed all the schools for the better part of the year, students, both black and white had to seek out an education in private schools, and in some cases in other states. A lot of students continued their education at home. Elizabeth finished out the interrupted year at Central but did not come back the following year, having accumulated enough credits to graduate early. Ernest Green, the only senior among the nine became the first black to graduate Central High School in May of 1958 months before the School Board, at the beckoning of the governor voted to keep the schools closed rather than integrate.

The thought that kept creeping into my consciousness as I read through this book was the language of the day. When the ministers decided to escort the students into Central High School they stated they wanted to remind the white populace to be “tolerant”.

Maybe words have a deeper definition to me than most, but it seems to me that people are tolerant of things that annoy them. You are tolerant of a stone in your shoe. You are tolerant of a neighbors dog that barks inappropriately. You are tolerant of rude waiters and bad service. You are tolerant of a plane that doesn't arrive on time. We shouldn’t be tolerant of our fellow citizens and human beings. We should be accepting. We should be appreciative of our differences, even thankful. I think that would be the lesson I would want my children to learn.

Little Rock J. thomas

In 1999 president Clinton presented to The Little Rock Nine, Ernest Green, Elizabeth Eckford, Jefferson Thomas, Terrence Roberts, Carlotta Walls LaNier, Minnijean Brown, Gloria Ray Karlmark, Thelma Mothershed , and Melba Pattillo Beals the Congressional Gold Medal, the nations highest civilian award.The street that runs next to Little Rock Central High School was eventually renamed for Daisy Bates, the local NAACP president and organizer for The Nine. Life Magazine voted Will Counts photo one of the 100 photographs to change the world.

As our children get ready to start the school year, this would make an excellent book to equip them with and could perhaps make them better citizens and human beings. The lessons of the Little Rock Nine and that point in our nations history in terms of importance for the future of this nation can’t be forgotten. In many ways, the fight is yet not over.


The Dirty Lowdown

The review Copy of Little Rock Girl 1957 was provided to me by the publisher, Capstone/Compass Point Books

Copyright © 2011 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved

Article first published as Book Review: Little Rock Girl 1957: How a Photograph Changed the Fight for Integration by Shelley Marie Tougas on Blogcritics.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

About « Spoilerville


Discuss books and stories after you've read them. Be warned! Spoilers appear here!

Author Jan Burke created this site as a way to allow authors and readers to discuss books without fear of causing riots on lists and blogs, and without spoiling the fun of those who haven’t read those books yet.

We’re in the early stages of setting this up, and new books and authors are being added. Please keep coming back!

We also hope the site will improve as I continue to learn how the hell to use Word Press.


Jan Burke

PS If you are an author who would like to be added, please read Information for Authors.

About « Spoilerville


This is a great site for discussion between authors and readers, if you have ever wanted to ask about plot points, characters or practically anything that might be considered a “spoiler” and therefore shouldn’t be in a review then this site is where to do it. Jan has made it free for authors, readers and fans. I have put a permanent like in my Blog List further down the page on the left (where the left column splits into two columns).  Join in the fun. And, thanks Jan.

The Dirty Lowdown

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Book Review: “The Charlestown Connection” by Tom MacDonald

Charlestown Connection1

“He never sold drugs, never touched little kids. he made his money on stand-up crime: forgery, sports fixing, cons, street hustles, the occasional heist.”

Equal parts whodunit, murder mystery and caper novel, with a dash of conspiracy thriller elements, a la The Da Vinci Code. But that’s where any equality ends. The Charlestown Connection goes beyond all of those to reach new heights in crime fiction. And this is a debut novel? Tom MacDonald, where have you been hiding? 

Imagine debuting in the major leagues by pitching to Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski and Jimmie Foxx, sticking with the Boston theme. Now, imagine you struck out the side on nine pitches. That’s what Tom MacDonald has done by choosing to walk the hallowed grounds of Boston’s Charlestown neighborhood, the turf of such super stars as Robert B. Parker, Dennis Lehane and Chuck Hogan, you fellas can move over and make room at the top, because Tom MacDonald deserves a seat. I’m not sure I have ever read a better debut novel. Mr. MacDonald set the bar high, then cleared it in Superman fashion.

This book just jumped the turn stiles to move to the front of the line for best crime fiction of the year. Both hardboiled and noir, without using the usual clichés. It achieves a hardboiled “feel” through setting, an edginess, a sense of  realness and the development of the characters. It gets it’s “noir-ness” not through the usual morally bankrupt cast of characters (indeed, even the bad guys have a certain shady attractiveness) nor through the commission of evermore despicable and lewd crimes until the protagonist is so irredeemable that the devil considers retirement. No, it gets that feeling of noir through a certain sense of stoicism by the main players, a sense of  darkness in the setting  inside one of America’s largest public housing neighborhoods and in Charlestown’s colorful, troubled, and criminal past as well as the mix of cultures.

Where most hardboiled fiction is dialog driven , “Charlestown” has full grown characters and is more developed through the internal dialog, and observations of the protagonist, than on snappy one liners and tougher than tough tough guys. Although some of the life situations of the main characters will be familiar i.e. a recovering alcoholic hero, a paraplegic side kick, they are either not over done or are used in such an original and fresh way as to avoid any thoughts of  cliché. And where noir tends to have a reliance on dark, brooding themes, a certain decay in the souls of the characters and a reliance on sex and sexual themes, or at the very least degenerate crimes and sins to drive the plot, this novel achieves that familiar sense of darkness without resorting to sensationalism, melodrama or gothic language.

From the opening paragraph, one of the best I have read in awhile, MacDonald establishes his debt to the greats of both those genre, while resolutely pointing the way towards the future and where, with a bit of artistry and a masters creativity, the genres can go:

“I drove my corroded Plymouth Acclaim down Bunker Hill Street and parked at a curb in Hayes Square. The car is too old to be worth any money, but not old enough for antique antique plates – a double indignity. The summer sun faded to dusk, giving the Tobin Bridge its twilight complexion. Like a tipsy lady in a dimly lit bar, the Tobin looks better at night than in the morning. A wino came out of the package store carrying a flat brown bag. He unscrewed the bottle cap, swigged and walked into the projects.”

Dermot Sparhawk is a half Micmac Indian, half Irish son of Charlestown. A one time All-American linebacker at Boston College and headed towards being a first round draft choice for the pros when a knee injury lead to a botched surgery ending all dreams of that future.  He now works for a food bank at Saint Jude Thaddeus church in Charlestown. He has tried to kill his disappointment with cheap whiskey until suffering a “rum fit” and being strapped in bed in a detox unit. He is twenty-nine days sober when his godfather, Jeepster Hennessy collapses at his feet inside the food bank, a knife in his back. Jeepster only has time to mutter a few cryptic words and to hand Dermot a ring of three keys before expiring.

Soon, a police detective, the FBI, some Irish mobsters, and IRA connected criminals, are asking puzzling questions and making threats. Dermot is prompted to investigate the murder. Soon, he comes to learn that all of the above had reason to suspect that Jeepster wasn’t the victim of a random crime in dirty neighborhood, a drug deal gone bad, and more than one on the list might have wanted to do Jeepster harm.

Dermot’s enquiries along with questions asked by the police, FBI, and the shady elements soon lead him to think that Jeepster may have double crossed  somebody in a criminal enterprise, and though a drug deal gone bad would seem to be the most likely factor, a high stakes poker game, counterfeit money, a failed delivery of  information or stolen property all seem like possible motives. Dermot, armed with so few clues, enlists an ex team mate, and his Indian cousin to help with his search. By tracking down on the internet some of the words mentioned by Jeepster – after getting realistically sidetracked by way too many search engine hits, the trio uncover a hidden chat room and apparent coconspirators that throw counterfeit art works into the mix.  mean while, the FBI’s Homeland Security branch is pursuing a Somali/ al Qaeda terrorist angle and even moves a female agent into Jeepster old apartment.

Dermot, using infinite patients, street smarts, intuition and his family and neighborhood connections pursues each clue doggedly, and encounters enough dead ends and red herrings to confound the most seasoned investigator. MacDonald uses a beautiful touch to hide which is which. Even the most experienced and adept at figuring out the puzzle, will be surprised, yet all the clues are there.

Employing all of the best elements from multiple branches of the crime fiction/thriller family tree against a historical backdrop of Charlestown and one of the most daring true crimes ever perpetrated, in addition to craftsmanship not usually found in a first time author, MacDonald has carved out a spot for himself at the very top. He is not an up and coming author, he arrived in style. Get used to seeing his name, because this author is going to be around for a long, long time.

Tom MacDonald was born in Dorchester, and raised in Braintree, so his easy Tom MacDonaldknowledge of Boston come naturally. After a career in business, he now runs St. Mary–St. Catherine of Siena Parish as Director of Social Ministries. MacDonald graduated from Stonehill College with a degree in sociology8 worked as a computer programmer before earning an MBA at Boston College. He then chose to pursue a writing career by attending University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA program, where he added that degree as well.

I want to thank the publishers, Oceanview Publishing for striking gold in bringing Tom on board for what I am sure will be a mutually satisfying association,  and with providing me with not only a reviewers copy, but a signed first edition. It’s future value will probably send future generations of mine to the finest schools.

The Dirty Lowdown

Article first published as Book Review: The Charlestown Connection by Tom MacDonald on Blogcritics

Copyright © 2011 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved




Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Music Review: Jackie Johnson “Memphis Jewel”

Jackie Johnson


With a rangy voice trained in a choir loft, Jackie Johnson harks back to the classic soul sound of Stax, and Motown days. Backed by an all-star band and a multi Grammy winning producer, Jackie shines through on blues, soul, and jazzy-rockin’ numbers as well as some well placed ballads.

The album opens with It Should Have Been Me the great Gladys Knight and the Pips tune. Jackie lets her voice out to romp on this tune, and Andy Roman of The Rays (The great studio band that backed Best Soul Blues award winner for 2009, Johnny Rawls on his recent albums). Andy really wails. Also of note here is the sweet piano work of Dan Ferguson and Reba Russell on backing vocals.

Next up is one of my favorites, the funky, Nothing Last Forever, written by Catfood Records owner Bob Trenchard (also a member of The Rays). Jackie’s voice goes from low menacing rumble to a cynical middle register sneer. Begs you to get up off it and shake it with your baby. The backing vocal shine on this one too, Reba Russell, Candice Reyes and Monica Guiterrez , cook throughout.

Track 3 is a tune written by Jackie Johnson (and her husband, Van) with a modern R&B feel. Nice guitar work on this ballad.

Track 4 is an interesting one. Smokey Robinson’s signature tune, Tears Of A Clown. The tempo is slightly slower than Smokey’s classic, but the vocal style is obviously modeled on the Motown great. I would have like to see Jackie and the band cut loose on this one, but it’s still a real nice track. Later on, Jackie really exercises her voice hitting the sweet highs as well as that “get-out-of-my-kitchen” lows. She could have used that ability to reach on this gem. The next tune proves that range.

A duet with the great Johnny Rawls on Rawls’ tune, Love You Still one of the many highlights on the CD. The tune has a very jazzy sophistication, but remains rooted in the blues, or as Johnny calls it, “southern soul”, baby. Reminds me of Otis Redding and Carla Thomas doing Tell It Like It Is. I’d have loved to hear these two do a duet on Redding and Thomas’ Tramp. Gimme a kiss, cause I love you still. Great horn section, great backing vocals, great keys and guitar. Great tune.

Next, they pick up the pace with the New Orleans jazz of Bright Side which will bring back memories of the Neville Brothers. It’ll bounce you around the dance floor or make you snap your fingers or clap your hands.

Next Jackie pays tribute to the great Anita Baker with a rather pedestrian version of Will You Be Mine It’s a professional job, but feels like a throw away. Filler, or not, you’ll soon forget it with the next tune.

Betty Wrights deep fried southern soul classic, Clean Up Woman. This rockin’ classic just cooks. Real nice guitar work by Johnny McGhee, listen for the sweet fills, and funky feel. (more about this over looked guitar man I a minute). Jackie’s voice doesn’t quite cover the four octaves of Betty Wright’s (whose does?) but she gets close and it’s really not necessary for this infectious dance tune that hit the pop charts in 1972 and stayed near the top for 14 weeks. The arrangement really stays close to the original but they cut loose here probably more than anywhere else on the album and if you are going to stay true to an arrangement, you could pick worse ones to echo.

The album closes out with three tracks that show off Jackie’s gospel trained voice, and the bands stretches out to bring it all back home.

Jackie Johnson is no stranger to the music scene, having released two albums, 1998’s Let Love Abide and 2000’s Here I Am, both gospel. She’s also provided backing vocals for the likes of the Staple Singers, Barbara Carr, Shirley Brown and Lenny Kravitz and Rufus Thomas. She’s is also a regular at Porretta Soul Festival In Italy since 1995 and also In Norway, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium and the United Kingdom. She performed at the Royal Albert Hall In London, England for The Who Teenage Cancer Trust Show 2002. In addition, Jackie has opened for Bonnie Raitt at the Montreux Jazz Festival, and performed with Aaron Neville at the House of Blues in New Orleans. It’s a treat to hear her headline and take center stage since she has really got the pipes for it. Hopefully we’ll be hearing a lot more from her. This album is a welcome reprieve from the auto-tuned, synth driven soul and R&B that is so prevalent today.

The band is top drawer too, which befits an artist with her talent. The Rays have been Johnny Rawls, the godfather of deep south soul, backing band since 1999. The Rays sound is rooted in Americana, with funk, jazz, soul and blues, rock and gospel influences all mixed just right to make their sound stand out. The Rays are songwriter/bassist Bob Trenchard (the owner of Catfood Records) guitar player, Steve Lott, Dan Ferguson, keyboards and Andy Roman, saxophone. J. T. Paz and Richie Puga, who have both toured with The Rays, played drums on the CD. They are joined on this recording by special guests, guitarist Johnny McGhee, former LA Motown studio musician for Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross and guitarist, arranger and leader for the group long time Funk mainstay, LTD. Lance Keltner from Rod Stewarts band also joins in on four tracks to add slide guitar.

This Memphis Jewel of a CD was produced and mixed by Grammy-winning producer Jim Gaines, (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Santana, Luther Allison), recorded at Sonic Ranch Studios in Tornillo, Texas, and Leeway Music in Memphis; and mixed at Gaines’ Bessie Blue Studio in Stantonville, Tennessee.

The dirty Lowdown

Copyright © 2011 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved

Friday, August 12, 2011

Book Review: “Cannibal Nights–Pacific Stories Vol. II” by Kiana Davenport


“Contrary to your belief, Doc, I think my brother is living out his full potential. As a high-spirited and well rounded sociopath.”

Brutally beautiful. As noirishly dark as the deep depths of the Pacific Ocean that spawned them. These stories of the people, places, exploits and exploitations of the islands of the Pacific will haunt you long after you close the book. Important literature for the 21st century. They are stories of tragedy and triumph, genius and depravity. Tales of love and betrayal told in a voice at times as soft and reassuring as the whisper of the sea yet as powerful as a tsunami. There is perhaps no better, nor more important story teller alive, recounting tales of Americas fiftieth state and the people, islands and waters surrounding and embracing her shores.

Assassin Orders Peking Duck -  The opening story recounts the reactions and fears of Hawai’i after the events of 9/11, by the populace as well as a Navy SEAL. In prose as vivid as a sunset, it is a tale of paranoia fulfilled in a world gone mad. Of a father and family’s hopes for the next generation dashed in a senseless act. It is a story of vengeance, nearly as senseless as the act that invoked it, yet somehow justified. It is a story where you “stop questioning what is good and what is bad and call a truce on metaphysics.”

Mysteries Of Rapa Nui - Transports you in a time machine to 1849 when Blackbirder's hunted the Pacific Islands for slaves and the means and methods a proud, dying race would go to to protect the few men left, and their way of life on Easter Island. It tells of a clash of cultures, one doomed and the other doomed in their soul.

Cannibal Nights, Colonial Afternoons - Recounts the last days of the painter Paul Gauguin. Exiled and without a patron, he is exploited by those who wish to preserve his marketable genius by condemning him to a world where no medical help is available. It’s the tale of the struggle for a mans soul, between the ancient gods of the island jungles and the imported gods of the west. Riddled with tropical ulcers, syphilis and a half dozen other diseases he is cared for by the local population with whom he has a love/hate relationship. He comes to understand that it is neither love nor lust that drives him insane, but his art. It’s also the tale of a practical joke and how the natives that did care for Gauguin exploited the greed of those who bled him dry and left him to die.

The French Foreign Legionnaire’s Bâtard - Tells of a brilliant Tahitian woman’s quest for knowledge, her heritage and love. It recounts her joy in discovering a new world and how she rose above petty prejudice only to be undone by a simple lie.

Flashness - Is a warning of the consequences of senseless acts of hatred. It is a tale of rape and revenge told in stark prose and vivid detail, a portrait painted in reality that will leave you hiding your eyes in shame.

These and the other stories in Cannibal Nights Pacific Stories Volume II are told in sparse realistic prose, yet the words convey a depth that is somehow poetic. You will feel the power of the sea and the power of the spirits of the people that inhabit the islands. Beautifully brutal and brutally beautiful, Kiana Davenport is a master story teller and chronicler of the deep history, beauty, spirit and emotion of the Pacific Paradise and all her peoples. I’ve heard Ms. Davenports work described as “Pacific Noir” yet it is so much more than that. Noir conveys a sense of souls lost, and not worth redeeming.  True, these are tales of murder, rape, lust and doomed love. They are tales of greed and exploitation, tales of theft of wealth and innocence. They are stories of loss, but not irredemption. The individuals may be irrevocably lost, a swim in a dark sea, yet their souls, their hearts and dreams are admirable and most definitely will be and are worthy of redemption.  Kiana DavenportThese stories are quiet simply great literature.

KIANA DAVENPORT is descended from a full-blooded Native Hawaiian mother, and a Caucasian father from Talladega, Alabama. Kiana has travelled widely to the islands of the Pacific and collected the oral histories and stories of the peoples, some of which form the basis of her works. She has also lived on Tonga, which is the back ground of one of the stories in Cannibal Nights and assures me there really is a portrait of George Bush in the hotel. She also is acquainted with many families that lost loved ones, several of them college students killed in the Al Qaeda nightclub bombings in Bali in 2003.

Kiana is the author of the internationally best-selling novels, Shark Dialogues , Song of the Exile , House of Many Gods, and a forthcoming novel, The Chinese Soldier’s Daughter, from Riverhead/Penguin. Cannibal Nights is the second collection in the Pacific Stories series following on the success of House Of Skin, Prize Winning Stories.

A graduate of the University of Hawaii, she has been a Bunting Fellow at Harvard University, a Visiting Writer at Wesleyan University. Her short stories have won numerous O. Henry Awards, Pushcart Prizes, and the Best American Short Story Award, 2000. Her novels and short stories have been translated into twenty-one languages. She lives in New York City and Hawaii.

The Dirty Lowdown

Copyright © 2011 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved

Article first published as Book Review: Cannibal Nights: Pacific Stories Vol. II by Kiana Davenport on Blogcritics.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Lowdown for August…

3-6-11_1378B-Edit Billy Hunt

I’ve been remiss in posting The Lowdown for a while, the doctors have been keeping me busy. But, there’s a lot of fun stuff happening here and I thought I’d catch up.

First, I’ve been trying to expand the mix as far as the books I am reviewing and we led off the month with an interesting auto biography, Simply geniusSimply Genius by one of the most innovative thinkers and interesting musicians, scientists and philosophers of the 20th century. See the review of Simply Genius. “Simply Genius” is filled with wonderful insights into an extraordinary life and mind that reveals that a man of genius is also just a man.

Then I indulged myself with a boo of one of my favorite musicians, Tom WaitsTom Waits on Tom Waits. To set the stage, I moved my office, bass, keyboard and laptop outside to a weedy part of the garden, put on my best Goodwill Blues Brothers suit, complete with a beat to shit “Stingy Brim” Stetson (see the photo). Tom Waits has that kind of effect on me. The book is mostly interviews with Tom over the past nearly 40 years, follow Tom’s  improvisational adventure in this inebriational travelogue. At his darkest he becomes a seedy slathering of organic word ooze that nails your attention span to the wall and keeps it there. He’s the perfect sound track for a film noir. Maybe a black and white porn film shot on 8mm. He’s a professional enigma.

Then, because I can’t stay away from great fiction for very long, I jumped into a great, fun read. by Raymond Benson – The Black Stiletto. Serious, adult novels about caped or costumed super hero crusaders never work…until now. Fans of action-adventure are going to love this. Black Stiletto1

Benson brilliantly forms the story and masterfully turns it from a comic book, to an adult novel. The scenes, the descriptions of the city, the language, the music, the current events all make the story real and familiar. The action is perfectly paced, and the fight scenes, technically described are at once fast and realistic but don’t slow the story. The characters come alive in personality and motivation. Benson uses, whether intentionally or by instinct a great “device” in suspending our disbelief through one of the narrators, The Black Stiletto’s –Judy Cooper/Talbot – son, Martin who discovers through Judy’s diaries that before he was born she was a costumed crime fighter.

The plot is simple, but beautifully crafted in the way that Benson fulfills it. The pace is excellent, filled with just the right amount of detail, personal revelations of the characters, and realism in action as well as background. Martin’s eventual realization - which is shared by the reader - that every so often, a few individuals in this world appear that transcend mere mortals and become something unique and important. And his mother is/was one of those people. I look forward to the next Black Stiletto book next spring.

CannibalNights copy

My next review, which will be up before the weekend is Cannibal Nights: Pacific Stories Volume II by Kiana Davenport.

Cannibal is the second collection of short stories about Hawaii, and the Pacific following on the foot steps of House of Skin K DavenportHouse of Skin.

Cannibal Nights is brutally beautiful and told by the most important author of our fiftieth state. You’ll have to wait for the review, and for me to completely digest this brilliant collection of noirish, darker than the depths of the ocean surrounding the people and the islands she writes of.

Kiana Davenport

Kiana Davenport is one of the most important and poignant authors of the 21st Century. Descended from a full-blooded Native Hawaiian mother, and a Caucasian father from Talladega, Alabama. Kiana is the author of the internationally best-selling novels, SHARK DIALOGUES, SONG OF THE EXILE, HOUSE OF MANY GODS, and a forthcoming novel, THE CHINESE SOLDIER'S DAUGHTER, from Riverhead/Penguin.


Also to be covered this month is The Charlestown Connection by debut author Tom MacDonald.Charlestown Connection MacDonald has been called the heir apparent to Lehane and Parker for Boston Crime Fiction. I just received a signed first edition as well as the ARC in Kindle format from the publishers, Oceanview Publishing, and thank you very much. You’ll be hearing a lot about this book and this author. The book was released on August 1, 2011 so be one of the first to read it, it’s available at all the online retailers as well as your favorite book seller as the publisher is really hyped on this book and has a big promotion on the agenda.

Also on the agenda this month is a first for The Dirty Lowdown, a Juvenile Biography. Yep, you read that right. But what an important story. The book is Little Rock Girl 1957: How A Photograph Changed The Fight For Integration.

Little Rock Girl

In Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957 Nine African-American students made history when they defied a governor and integrated an Arkansas high school in 1957. It was the photo of one of the nine trying to enter the school—a young girl being taunted, harassed and threatened by an angry mob—that grabbed the world’s attention and kept its disapproving gaze on Little Rock, Arkansas. In defiance of a federal court order, Governor Orval Faubus called in the National Guard to prevent the students from entering all-white Central High School. A chilling photo by newspaper photographer Will Counts captured the sneering expression of a girl in the mob and made history. Years later Counts snapped another photo, this one of the same two girls, now grownup, reconciling in front of Central High School. A part of the Captured History series.

The book is aimed at grades 4 through 8 and would be a great education to the real history and struggles of minorities for children, as well as adults who need a little reminder. The ARC was provided through NetGalley and Capstone/Compass Point Publishing. seriously, get this book. It’s only 67 pages of one of the most significant historical events in this country. Nuff’ said.

I’ll also be reviewing a book for a friend, Oskaloosa Moon by Gary Sutton. Oskaloosa

OSKALOOSA MOON recaptures beauty, pain and adolescent struggles in a mid-American farm village. Fender skirts, corn fields, a shocking new music called Rock and Roll, white bread and Velveeta, and older kids 'making out' punctuate the coming of age for the young boy they call "Moon". He's illegitimate. Disfigured. And Oskaloosa's civic leaders are embarrassed by his presence. Surviving bullies, making and losing friends, stumbling between jobs, and traversing the country in early adulthood, Moon eventually leaves town, gets educated and finally scratches out his own path. In the spirit of Mark Twain's "Huckleberry Finn" and movies like "Forrest Gump", OSKALOOSA MOON reveals the adventures of an outcast boy who was unwilling to be invisible.

Gary Sutton

Gary Sutton is a retired CEO, inventor and author. His BS is from Iowa State, he's an OPM alumnus of the Harvard Graduate School of Business and took postgrad work at Christ Church, Oxford.

His wife, Nancy, is a retired teacher with a BS from Iowa State and AA from Mesa College. They live in La Jolla, California, have two daughters, two sons-in-law and four exceptionally bright, athletic, entertaining and beautiful grandchildren.

Gary self-published Oskaloosa Moon through CreateSpace and I am proud he asked me to review this beautiful piece of work. Look for the review early next week.

And finally, I can’t forget the music that rocks my world. The sound track that keeps my blind eyes searching. I’ll be reviewing three new albums all in the “Blues” vein.

First, is Memphis Jewel by Jackie Johnson Memphis JewelCatfood Records just signed Memphis-based soul/blues singer Jackie Johnson, and the album became available on July 5.

The new CD was produced and mixed by Grammy-winning producer Jim Gaines, (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Santana, Luther Allison), recorded at Sonic Ranch Studios in Tornillo, Texas, and Leeway Music in Memphis; and mixed at Gaines’ Bessie Blue Studio in Stantonville, Tennessee.

One of the many highlights on Memphis Jewel is a stone-cold soul/blues duet with Jackie Johnson and Blues Music Award-winning singer Johnny Rawls on “Love You Still,” a song that recalls the classic duets of Otis Redding/Carla Thomas and William Bell/Judy Clay in the glory days of Stax Records. You can hear samples on the left, near the top of the page or by following the links to Amazon. I want to thank Mark Pucci at Mark Pucci Media for providing me with the CD.  Born and raised in Memphis, Jackie Johnson grew up singing gospel music while attending the same church as the legendary Rufus and Carla Thomas. While in her late teens, she first toured overseas with Rufus Thomas. In addition, Jackie has opened for Bonnie Raitt at the Montreux Jazz Festival; performed at the Royal Albert Hall in London as special guest with Belinda Carlisle, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page at the World Health Organization Cancer Trust Benefit; performed with Aaron Neville at the House of Blues in New Orleans; and toured Italy and Spain as lead vocalist and background singer several times.

Reluctant Saints

I’ll also be taking a listen to Long Drive by Reluctant Saints. This is the latest release from Atlanta-based group, Reluctant Saints on INIO Music.

The band’s CD showcases a blend of country, Southern rock and jam influences and features special guest Hammond B-3 legends Ike Stubblefield (Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Wonder) and Rev. Oliver Wells (Earth, Wind and Fire). Long Drive was produced by Jonathan Beckner and the band and recorded at Real 2 Reel Studios in Jonesboro, Georgia. The album was released in July.

clip_image002Soon arriving in the mail is the latest from Tom Hambridge, Boom, Grammy™, ASCAP and multiple Blues Music Award-winning Tom Hambridge’s latest CD, Boom!, has been announced for August 30th release by Superstar Records. Hambridge wrote or co-wrote all of the album’s 11 tracks, collaborating with such acclaimed American songwriters including Gary Nicholson, Delbert McClinton, Jeffrey Steele and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Johnny Van Zant.

Boom! perfectly showcases not only Tom Hambridge’s skills as a singer and drummer, but also his multiple award-winning talents as a songwriter and producer. He’s backed by an all-star cast of musicians including Delbert McClinton band members Rob McNelley on guitar and Kevin McKendree on keyboards. Other players include long-time Hambridge band member Tommy McDonald on bass, as well as Nashville stalwarts Mark Jordan on piano, Kenny Greenburg on guitar and Michael Rhodes on bass.

Utilizing all of his blues, rock and country influences, songs on Boom! I’m looking forward to this one.

John and I on the deck in Tigard

And, in closing, I’d like to take the time to celebrate my baby brother, John William Puddy’s Birthday on August 12th. He was my best friend, one of the smartest guys I ever knew, and a fellow graduate of The Steely Dan University. I lost him in 2005, R.I.P. Deacon Blue. I know you are learning to work the saxophone and drinking scotch whiskey all night long…


Also, my brother Christopher Thomas Puddy, who would have celebrated his birthday on August 19. He’d be 45 today, except he was murdered in New Mexico in 1992. R.I.P. bro.

And, that’s the….

The Dirty Lowdown

Copyright © 2011 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved