CD Reviews May/June 2003:

Zola Moon - Down To My Bones
Mark Carpentieri - The Best Of M.C. 1996-2002
Mitchell T. And The King B´s - Peace And Understanding
Mama´s Boys - Chicken And Waffles

REVIEWS by Willard Manus

Blues singer Zola Moon's latest CD, DOWN TO MY BONES, reveals her in a new and thrilling way. Working with just an acoustic guitarist on each of the 16 cuts--either Michael Carter, Burke Wallace (Kim Allison on one side only)--Moon's talent and voice shine through, uncluttered by over-instrumentation and hyper-technology. Here is just the sound of a human voice suported by the closest thing to it, a soft and skilful guitar.

Although Moon does deliver some traditional numbers, such as "St. James Infirmary," "Little Red Rooster" and "Tin Pan Alley" (plus a Willie Nelson tune, "Night Life"), she mostly concentrates on her own songs, which is good news, because she is a superb writer. Whether expressing defiance, sadness or salty humor ("Don't Come Knockin'), Moon always comes up with strong lyrics that catch one up in their honesty and emotion.

But above all, Moon is a singer and it's the quality, passion and musicality of her voice that make this CD the triumph it is.

To order a copy, call Cold Dish Management at (310) 542-8307 or visit or

M.C. Records, the New York-based label, is one of the success stories of the blues music business. Starting in 1996 with a CD by Big Jack Johnson, M.C. Records has gone on to become of the reigning independent labels, thanks to the taste and smarts of its CEO, guitarist Mark Carpentieri, who has put out one fine CD after another by the likes of Johnson, Ann Rabson and R.L. Burnside. Carpentieri was also responsible for signing Odetta to her first record date in 14 years.

Odetta is represented on Carpentieri's latest release, THE BEST OF M.C. 1996-2002, singing (powerfully) "Please Send Me Someone To Love" and "Bourgeois Blues." Also prominent on this anthology are Johnson (with 4 numbers), Rabson, Kim Wilson, Burnside, Luther "Guitar" Johnson, Sleep Labeef and others. A bonus is Maria Muldaur & Tracy Nelson sneak previewing their upcoming gospel CD.

Every cut on THE BEST OF M.C. reflects the company's commitment to hard-rockin', infectious, down-home blues and roots music. (631) 754-8725 or

Out of Texas comes a CD by one of the unsung heroes of the contemporary blues scene. MITCHELL T. AND THE KING B'S--PEACE AND UNDERSTANDING reveals, generously, the musicianship of Mitch Palmer. The CD's 19 cuts feature Palmer singing, playing guitar and/or harmonica backed up by a dozen topflight Dallas studio players. Palmer, who also writes songs, is a major talent who deserves wider circulation and coverage. He can rock ("My Baby's Got It"), wax lyrical ("My Good Friend") and even get funky ("Honey Let's Get High"). Silver Fox Music, 14232 Marsh Lane, #161, Addison, TX 75001. Call (214) 906-4737.

As a regular patron of Babe & Ricky's Inn (4339 Leimert Blvd., LA), I've often caught in performance such musicians as Johnny Mastro, Jeff Henry, Dave Melton, Jim Goodall and Kirk Fletcher. (They also play 250 out of town gigs a year). Now these young, talented and dedicated blues players have put together a CD called MAMA'S BOYS--CHICKEN AND WAFFLES. The "mama" in question is the proprietor of Babe & Rick's, Miss Laura Mae Gross, who has kept the club going against tough odds for many years. MAMA'S BOYS pays tribute to her and to straight-ahead, no-bullshit, gutbucket blues. Recorded live in the studio, into positioned mikes with no overdubbing, the CD is noteworthy for its honesty, purity and virtuosity.

Visit or call (562) 435-2993.