Bman's Blues Report
Thursday, May 14, 2015
Painted Rock Records artist: Amy Hart - Live At The Mayne Stage - New release review
I just received the newest release, Live At The Mayne Stage, from Amy Hart and it a soft and rocky blues performance. Opening with In The Zone, Amy plays guitar and performs lead vocals backed by Wally Hoffmann on bass, PT Gazell on harp, Gene Bush on dobro and Matt McDowell on drums. An easy 12 bar blues format gives Gazell a good format to lay in some real nice harp riffs, Hart to show she has taste and flair on guitar and Bush to slide through a few of his own. Nice opener. Blues At The Top Of The Word opens with some cool slide work from Bush and Hart sits down in the groove vocally. Get Ready has a light taste of back beat under the blues rock feel. Primarily a pop track with a good melody, this track has solid instrumentation with quick riffs from Gazell, Hart and Bush. Put Me Back digs a funkier beat but with a "Crossroads" backbone. An understated slide solo from Bush and a cool solo from Gazell as well are nice compliments to Hart's strongvocal performance. Eased down to a country stroll,Blue Eyed Blues has an easy country swing feel. Gazell and Bush add nicely to the overall cohesive feel of the track. Ribcage has a nice blend of Texas blues and pop. Hoffman's bass line adds nicely to this track with Bush and Gazell creating the icing on Hart's solid vocals. Red Dress Blues has a solid R&B style with an understated Buddy Guy feel. Get The Girls Dancin' has a funky rhythm with slide guitar call and response with Hart's vocals. Bluesy ballad, Even Country Gets The Blues opens with a really syrupy silde intro. Hart takes this opportunity to really showcase her vocals and does a nice job. I particularly like solos from both Gazell and Bush on this track which aren't flashy but fleshy. Congratulations, another track with it's feet in R&B, may be my favorite on the release with just the right amount of beat, bite and blues. Rich Ass Daddy is a country 2 stepper with a bluesy feel. With it's standard 12 bard setup, Bush and Gazell each get their turns up front. Wrapping the release is You Drive Me, a blues rocker. Bush takes a fat slide solo on this track and Hart steps up with a little guitar flash of her own.
NATIONAL CD REVIEWS-by Bob Silvestri
Amy Hart-Congratulations-I just love when we get a disc from an artist we are not familiar with and they simply blow you away. Such is the case with the latest disc from Amy Hart titled Congratulations. This girl can flat out sing a song with a honey dipped voice that actually sings and doesn't try to overpower the song, the music or the lyrics. Recorded in Nashville Hart possess a deep sense of the blues that shines throughout the ten tracks on the disc. Highlights include "Put Me Back", "Even Country Gets the Blues", "When Love Comes To Call" and "Rich Ass Daddy". But it is the title cut "Congratulations" that really stands out. A hot bottom heavy blues thumper in which Hart proclaims "Congratulations you got the blues" all behind the Dobro playing of Gene Bush and the amazing lead guitar playing of Bob Britt. Hart also wrote or co-wrote the songs, co-produced the disc with bassist and husband Wally Hoffmann and added rhythm guitar to boot. Amy Hart's latest release Congratulations is a thoroughly entertaining disc. Go to www.amyhart.com to find out more.
LIVE AT THE MAYNE STAGE Amy Hart (Vizz Tone/ Painted Rock Records)
The Record Box for Friday, July 24th, 2015Canada Online News | Gonzoonline.ca! life.culture.whateverGONZOONLINE.CA|BY JOHN THE ROCK DOCTOR KEREIFF
Recorded a year ago at the semi-famous Chicago venue and filmed for a PBS special that aired this past spring, Live At Mayne Stage is the latest chapter in a rock solid career that has taken Hart from her native Chicago to Kathmandu. It’s also a real good time.
Starting out on the west side of Chicago, Amy Hart found herself playing with Junior Wells and opening shows for the likes of Koko Taylor and James Cotton. These days her touring band includes Gene Bush (former student of Mississippi John Hurt) on dobro, Grammy nominated blues harpist PT Gazell, her husband Wally Hoffman on upright bass, and Matt McDowell on drums, with Amy on guitar and vocals. Mayne Stage has a softer, more organic feel than her previous work, with a nod to her own personal journey of and years of writing, traveling and living. This isn’t the really gutbucket stuff that sometimes makes for high drama in the blues, but it’s mighty tasty nonetheless with solid, funky grooves that you could hang your jacket on.
There’s nothing quite equal to the thrill of a band of musicians that plays and works well together, and Amy Hart’s band has that thing that comes from talent and experience. They’re having a great time on stage, and you can feel that feeding back to the audience as well. According to the inner sleeve all 12 of these songs are Amy Hart originals too- somewhat unusual in the blues, where including a handful of ‘standards’ is de rigeur. She definitely has a way with words, tells a good story and is a solid guitarist too, serving the song as a player instead of hogging the spotlight with lengthy solos. She has a great band here and there’s room enough for everyone to express themselves as players.
Live At The Mayne Stage is one of those albums you like a little more with each play- this disc will mean something else, something more to me tomorrow than it does today, and that’s pretty cool.
ESSENTIALS: Congratulations, Ribcage, Get The Girls Dancin’
- See more at:
Blues Blast Magazine,
August 2015 John Mitchell - ReviewAmy Hart – Live At The Mayne StageVizztone 2015www.amyhart.com12 tracks; 51 minutes
Chicago native Amy Hart followed her muse to spells in Nashville and Florida, her style evolving into a blend of Americana, country and blues. Here she returns to her native city for a live set recorded at the historic Mayne Stage Theatre in July 2014. Amy describes “Blue Eyed Blues” as “kinda old-timey… like me” and it’s an apt description of the band’s relaxed country blues style. Amy sings and plays guitar, accompanied by husband Wally Hoffman on bass, Matt McDowell on drums, Gene Bush on dobro and PT Gazell on harmonica.All the material is original, written by Amy herself who often draws on her own experiences for inspiration, a good example being “Blues At The Top Of The World”, a song inspired by her headlining slot at the Himalayan Blues Festival in Kathmandu. Amy dedicates the gently swinging “Get Ready” to husband Wally and she sounds serious in her intentions to “love you till the end of time”. Amy hits a slightly tougher blues stride on “Put Me Back” which has fine solos from Gene and PT and also takes the opportunity to preview a couple of tunes from her next album: Red Dress Blues is a strong song, a more upbeat blues which finds Amy out on the town in her red dress intent on having a good time to drown her sorrows at the end of a relationship.“Get The Girls Dancin’” describes how the band approaches a gig and the recipe is provided at the beginning as Amy describes precisely the band’s approach: “Bassman rubs the fretboard with his fingers and thumbs; grease it with harp and you’re almost done.” “Congratulations” with its jaunty riff and lyrics tells the listener that “God only hears you when you’re down on your knees. Congratulations baby, you got the blues”, the song also providing the opportunity for Amy to introduce her key accompanists Gene and PT.“Rich Ass Daddy” is a comic song in which Amy tells us that she is looking for someone who will provide for her financially, regardless of their physical size. Amy closes the set with another new song inspired by her husband Wally who enjoys driving a ’59 Chevrolet Apache truck. “You Drive Me” is a pleasantly upbeat tune in which Amy confesses that “you drive me like that old truck”.Overall this is an album that will appeal to those who enjoy that place where blues and country meet. Not a straight blues album, no Chicago blues riffs in sight but the music is solidly played and was clearly very well received by the live audience at the Mayne Stage.
TAGS Amy Hart, Chicago, Gene Bush, Himalayan Blues Festival, John Mitchell, Matt McDowell, Mayne
Frank John Hadley -
July 2012 p 53
2011: Amy Hart, "Congratulations," Painted Rock
“Congratulations” es hasta el momento el mejor y más explosivo álbum grabado por la cantante Amy Hart y es en este álbum donde la cantante impone su ley y su profundo amor y conocimiento por el rhythm and blues, un género que conoce bien y en el que se desenvuelve como pez en el agua. Con “Congratulations” Amy vuelve a sus orígenes mas blueseros de Chicago, aquellos tiempos en los que abría sus conciertos para músicos de la talla de Koko Taylor, Junior Wells y James Cotton. Este nuevo disco ha sido grabado en Nashville y Amy ha aprovechado para rodearse de unos músicos fuera de serie, unos auténticos ‘asesinos’ de los estudios de grabación, como pueden ser Bob Britt a la guitarra, Wayne Killus a la batería, Mike Rojas teclados o Wally Hoffmann al contrabajo entre otros. Son un total de diez canciones de corte blues contemporáneo, expuestas con vehemencia y bien desarrolladas, destinadas a un público no solamente aficionado al blues, sino también expuestas con la capacidad de aglutinar nuevas audiencias, unas audiencias que estoy seguro disfrutaran con la música que Amy Hart nos presenta. MUY BUENO.
"Congratulations" is so far the best and most explosive album recorded by singer Amy Hart, where she gives the best of herself and shows her deep love and knowledge of rhythm and blues, a musical style she knows very well. With "Congratulations" Amy returns to her Chicago blues origins, those times where she opened for such outstanding musicians like Koko Taylor, James Cotton and Junior Wells. This new album has been recorded in Nashville and Amy has surrounded herself with a a bunch of amazing musicians, who are real 'killers' of recording studios, such as Bob Britt on guitar, Wayne Killus on drums, Mike Rojas on keyboards or Wally Hoffmann on double bass among others. The cd includes ten contemporary blues songs, displayed with passionate vehemence, that not only will please deep blues fans, but as they are also performed with the ability to agglutinate new audiences, that I am sure will enjoy with music Amy Hart brings us in this new cd. GREAT.
February 12, 2012: Amy Hart, "Congratulations"
Ever taste something when you were younger and forever thereafter pursue another taste of it? Maybe a permanent supply? Like a certain type of jeans, a handmade ice cream, an award, a state of well being, success? You had it once. You want it again.
And when you find it again you will celebrate your accomplishment. Well, Amy Hart. Congratulations. Your ten track album Congratulations is just that. It is the essence of what you tasted when, as a kid, you garnered local musical notoriety in your hometown. Granted. Your hometown was not exactly backwoods. Chicago is the big Midwest city of North America. It is where Blues and Jazz electrified.
Amy, look, you chose quite a hard life to get another taste. That first taste opened some big doors. You warmed crowds for Koko Taylor, Junior Wells and James Cotton. Pretty damn impressive. But, as Ringo once wrote “If you want to play the blues, you’ve got to pay your dues,” and now you have. You left Chicago, wandered through the weirdness of 1980’s Hollywood, moved to Nashville in the 1990’s, then in the 2000’s moved to the Sunshine State and played the Gulf Coast circuit. Yes, you have paid your dues and it shows.
Ms. Hart. Again, congratulations. You have arrived. And you deserve it. I can’t think of ten more compelling modern mainstream blues tracks. At least, not since Bonnie Raitt and Sheryl Crow became celebrated superstars. All those years wandering in the wilderness have paid off. They meld together on Congratulations and present a distinct, irresistible concoction. Your writing is incredible. Your voice exudes the pain of the blues.
You picked your back up band well. You got your Nashville friend Wayne Killius to play drums; Rascal Flatts back up band mate Howard Duck to tickle the ivories; John Fogerty and The Judds guitarist Bob Britt to wail; legendary Nashville session musician of all session musicians, bassist Steve Bryant, and Dobro of Dobroists, Gene Bush. You take care of the vocals, rhythm guitar and the songwriting.
Oh, yes. The songwriting. It is extraordinary. Congratulations, is a barn burner of a blues rock opener. Get Ready does that major minor seventh thing that marches right out of the register all led by you, Ms. Hart, right to “the end of time.” Put Me Back is an amazing twelve bar blues. Your voice has me. Your lyrics beckon me. And my, you can cross-dress a tune. What do you get when you cross Even Cowgirls Get The Blues with Dion’s I Wonder Why? Your Even Country Gets The Blues.
You can get as funky as funky can get. There is New Orleans, L.A. and Nashville in the mix now, not just Chicago. You combine them and Get The Girls Dancing. There is a lot of hard work and broken dreams behind this but, Amy, it has paid off.
When the track When Love Comes To Call came on I was ready for that slow anthem of a love ballad. And when you follow it with Rich Ass Daddy, it‘s a kick. A rocking ‘n’ rolling rollick of blues fun and sass.
Look Ms. Hart. I mean no disrespect. There’s a solid Nashville country feel to some of your ballads. For you, that is a good thing. Be That Way is a nice enough track with a sweet guitar and catchy hook. But, frankly I don’t think you need my opinion. See, the next track Ribcage scares me. It is so, so . . . well, you’re no longer a wide-eyed kid from Chicago are you? Amy, that’s right, your living and playing the blues. Nothing proves that better than track number ten, I’ve Got A Friend. Sparsely orchestrated. Stripped to the bone. We get to look into your blues soul.
So Ms. Hart, how does it taste? Can we have more?
- Old School
November 23, 2011: Amy Hart, "Congratulations"
Amy Hart hails from the Chicago area and got her start playing festival stages. Since then, she has been rocking everywhere from the Gulf Coast to Nashville. Landing a hit in the movie soundtrack for Girls Just Want To Have Fun, she has also worked with Tim Tobias and John Ryan (Styx, Doobie Bros.). Congratulations is her 2011 release.
“Congratulations” is the title track for this album and it is a worthy piece. Funky and full of energy, the picking of the guitar carries you right into a strong percussion element. An electric guitar wails and keeps pace with the drums and Hart’s bluesy vocals. This song has to be my favorite on the album. It has all the elements of a great rock and blues song. The bittersweet flavor of the vocals and the twang of a little country showing through now and again make this a song that goes beyond just one genre.
“Rich Ass Daddy” is a fun frolic filled with bold longings of the heart. Smokin guitar playing blazes across the stage with this one. The percussion and the guitar do a musical dance around each other, each vying for attention. Stoking the fire are Hart’s vocals, wishing for a “big fat rich ass daddy.” This song will make you laugh out loud and you won’t be able to stop yourself from dancing around the living room. The guitar is what makes it hot and you can see in your mind a young woman scoping out some rich Texas billionaire to be her next sugar daddy. This song gave me a chuckle, but I loved the composition and the creative energy that spun out of it like a force of nature.
“”Be That Way” leads in with strong guitar playing that will make you pause and listen. The vocals Hart projects are elegant and more country than some of the pieces on this album. The lyrics are slow and thought provoking and have an almost melancholy quality to them. This piece has great harmony and is very compelling. Musically, it is well defined and the subtle balance between the softer multi-instrumentation is well done.
Amy Hart’s newest album Congratulations is a great example of a musician that can go from rock to blues to country without even trying. Hart’s vocals can be steamy and full of fun like in “Rich Ass Daddy” or turn your heart inside out with songs like “Be That Way.” Any way she spins it, Hart has the talent that will continue to take her places. If you like music that crosses musical genres and has a heart give this album a try.
November 25, 2011: Amy Hart, "Congratulations"
This release returns Ms. Hart to her ‘blues’ sensibilities. Having grown up in Chicago and opened for the likes of Junior Wells and Koko Taylor her roots are strong and they are shown off very well here.
Opening with the title track ‘Congratulations’ we have a nice shuffle that at once introduces Ms. Harts’ voice and song writing talents. Dealing with bottom of the barrel life situations termed as hitting the jackpot, and shooting the moon which leads to the road to redemption by getting the blues.
Another interesting topic is ‘Put Me Back’ a rhythmic prayer to the Lord to Put Me Back together right this time. Penned as an every woman “dilemma, she is scattered on the carpet, sprinkled on the floor and other domestic situations. Kids are screaming, dog has up and died, baby’s started drinkin’ and when he does he likes to fight”. This is done to with a steady beat, that has a rock-a-billy meets the blues edge to it. Another fine display of her songwriting abilities and feel for the subject.
‘Rich Ass Daddy’ is a rockin’ statement that states outright that she needs a big fat rich ass daddy to take care of her and the young buck broke-assed punks should let her be. It harkens to a phrase my daddy once told me before passing, ‘it’s just as easy to fall in love with a rich girl as it is with a poor girl, so choose wisely’. HAH ! A fun upbeat song that I can see becoming a theme of sorts for the women in the audiences as she tours.
This is a fine release of ten well-written with songs dressed up nicely and ready to be seen marching in the cotillion through the streets and clubs along Blues Street. Stop and give them a listen and get a feel for what goes on inside the heart and soul of Ms. Hart, and when you are through, offer her congratulations on a very tasty release.
2011: Amy Hart, "Congratulations"
Amy Hart grew up in Chicago and was immersed the rich blues heritage of that town. She has a sweet-and-sassy way with a story, and has opened for Koko, Cotton, and Jr. Wells. Her latest set was recorded right here in Music City, and is entitled “Congratulations” and is ten tracks that pair her with some of the finest session cats anywhere, including Bob Britt, Wayne Killius, and Mike Rojas, to name a few.
These ten originals showcase her writing chops and that sweet vocal delivery that goes from breathy to brazen in one note. The leadoff title cut is a good example of her boldness, tellin’ a no-good, unemployed, bottom-of-the-barrel-of-luck lover, “Congratulations, you’ve got the blues!” A woman who’s reached the end of her rope seeks help to “Put Me Back together right this time,” and features some funky guitar work. And, cool slide and B-3 back Amy in her recipe for “a guaranteed good night,’ “Get The Girls Dancing.”
We had two favorites, too. Brush-stroked drums, muted piano and the hard-luck lyrics of a broken-down truck at 3 AM, right after love has gone straight to hell, is the theme of the torchy “Even Country Gets The Blues.” And, broke-ass punks need not apply as Amy needs “a big fat rich-ass daddy takin’ care of me,” because “money can’t buy love, but it’ll sho’ nuff buy the groceries!”
Amy Hart’s looks at life and love with a touch of attitude may remind some listeners of Lucinda Williams, and “Congratulations” is a well-crafted and very well-performed set!! Until next time.
2011: Amy Hart, "Congratulations"
Amy Hart’s new album came in the mail on the same day I got five other CDs for review, and this was clearly the cream of that particular crop, a sassy set of blues, all ten tracks written and sung by Ms. Hart in richly distinctive style. I just knew I was in good hands from the opening track—“Congratulations”—which kicks off the album with some cagey lyrics and great guitar licks by Bob Britt who puts in fills between the choruses like a master mason laying brick.
Amy Hart is not famous, and that’s just not fair. With this review, I’ve got a pretty good shot at bringing Amy Hart to your attention for the first time. She used to gig around Lake Tahoe a decade or so ago, and she had a previous album that didn’t get much attention. To the best of my knowledge, she’s never played Chico but, with this new album, it’s entirely possible she’s going to get better known right quick, here, there, and everywhere.
For those of us who like the blues (with a little country flavoring) there’s not much here that’s not to like. Her voice has a quality all its own, and she’s got a sure bead on the blues sensibility. When she sings about her hopes of finding a “Rich Ass Daddy,” she’s just pure-dee attitude, but she shows a sweet side on the closing track, “I’ve Got a Friend.” For Congratulations, she deserves congratulations.