"James Ronstadt & The Dynamic Shuffle Kings"
James Ronstadt & The Dynamic Shuffle Kings
No one has been more visible in recent years keeping blues music alive in Honolulu -- blues harmonica music in particular -- than Hawaii-born blues veteran James Ronstadt. Ronstadt has been around long enough that he sings the blues from personal experience rather than imagination. The voice of experience is also found in his writing.
Ronstadt gets excellent support here from the other members of the group: Rick Baldwin (guitar), Gil Farias (bass) and James Ganeko (drums).
Their remake of "Walking The Dog" is a solid introduction. Ronstadt solos on harmonica, Baldwin distinguishes himself on guitar, and Farias and Ganeko are showcased on the bridge. Ronstadt addresses the problematic aspects of Las Vegas with "Down In Vegas" and gets excellent support on a Christian blues number, "No One Else To Turn To." A live track, "Blood Sausage," closes the set in great style.
Jazz singer Maggie Herron checks in from the Big Island with this memorable collection of jazz staples, pop hits and originals. Herron also serves as keyboardist; she plays the bass lines as well as electric piano. Paul Lindbergh (tenor sax and flute) and Danny Steiner (drums) complete the roster.
The trio open with an attention-worthy version of "All Or Nothing At All" that starts off soft and introspective, then grows in passion and intensity. The selections that follow give Herron a chance to share different facets of her impressive vocal capabilities, while "Billy's Bounce" lets the group stretch out instrumentally.
Paul Hanna/Follow No Trends
Singer-songwriter Paul Hanna's second Follow No Trends project is an engaging collection of 17 original songs loosely organized in four suites. Hanna plays all the instruments and sings all the vocals in creating a musical journal of personal experiences. His imaginative use of tempos, vocal arrangements, lyric images and combinations of instruments make this "personal album" surprisingly interesting.
This is by no means a commercial project in pop terms, but Hanna's work is substantial and intriguing nonetheless.
, who has covered the local entertainment scene since 1972, writes reviews of recordings produced by Hawaii artists. See the Star-Bulletin's Today section on Fridays for the latest reviews. Reach John Berger at firstname.lastname@example.org