The Prohibition Blues

Karen Lovely CD coverFor a number of months now, Karen Lovely has been presenting a series of performances that she call “Prohibition Blues.” It is her chance to perform the music of those blues women from the 1920s and 1930s who helped define the genre in the early years. They’re her musical heroes. Have any doubt, just look at the tattoo on Karen’s arm that depicts many of them.

These shows are truly a lot of fun. The performers and many of the fans will dress up in period attire, with prizes for the best dressed. Prohibition era cocktails are also specially served at the shows to help make the atmosphere more authentic. Many of her fans have fallen in love with these shows and have been asking for her to put out a recording to help them relive all the fun. So that is exactly what Karen has done with her latest, appropriately titled “The Prohibition Blues.”

Recorded over two shows at Portland’s premier jazz club, Jimmy Mak’s, Karen assembled a line-up of the city’s finest musicians to capture the feel. Alan Hager’s rhythmic guitar allows the musical flow to work at the right pace, accentuated by the piano runs by Dave Fleschner and the exquisite horns of Brad Ulrich’s clarinet, Joe McCarthy’s trumpet and Doug Bundy’s sax and clarinet. The rhythm section is emphasized perfectly by Tyler Smith on bass and Carlton Jackson on drums. This is a dream team of musicians to have on hand when wanting to bring across period music and they provide the exact mood to bring out Karen’s essence and love for these songs. All mixed and mastered by Alan Mirikitani, who was also responsible for Karen’s previous releases, at Dawghouse Studios in California.

The selections are from some of the most beloved artists of the times. Ranging from Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey and Victoria Spivey to Ida Cox and Billie Holiday and more. Classic numbers like “Yellow Dog Blues,” “Everybody Loves My Baby,” “Nobody Knows You,” “Keep Sittin’ On It” and “Gimme A Pigfoot” sit alongside others that may not be as well known. All of them enjoyable and guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.

Mary Flower joins Karen on a couple numbers. Mary is one of the finest practitioners of acoustic guitar who can cover any era of music masterfully and she does just that on “Last Kind Words” and “Pick Poor Robin, with the two harmonizing vocally on the latter number.

Karen closes the album with a personal touch as she sings “Pennies From Heaven,” a song that she remembers as being her grandmother’s favorite and one that she would sing along with her. It also serves as a fitting final track for a recording full of sensational performances that have collected her Prohibition Blues shows for fans to be able to forever enjoy anytime they desire. For all lovers of early blues as presented by one of today’s top-shelf vocalists, Karen does it right.

Total Time: 43:18

Any Kind Of Man / Fifteen Cents / Gimme A Pigfoot / Yellow Dog Blues / Gin House Blues / Last Kind Words / Pick Poor Robin / Prove It On Me / Everybody Loves My Baby / Nobody Knows You / Keep Sittin’ On It / Pennies From Heaven