gracie curran and the high falutin bandGracie Curran and the High Falutin' Band (from the album Proof of Love) - Can I get an AMEN? Gracie Curran and her mates, The High Falutin' Band have been touring around New England and up and down the East Coast for a couple years now. They've shared the limelight with some notable luminaries including Shemekia Copeland,Toni Lynn Washington and Sugar Blue and took home the prize as Boston's Best Blues Band in 2012.

Their debut album, Proof of Love, tears open your chest and breathes into your soul with a baptism of raw power and emotion. A five-alarm stew of blues, gospel and soul that burns in your gut like the first time you heard Aretha Franklin's "I Never Loved a Man." Pass the cool water, please. (Bill Hurley)

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Angela Perley and the Howlin' Moons (from the album Nowhere is Now Here - Angela Perley tells you right away in the song “County Fair” when she fesses up that “good time music makes me let down all my hair”. You have been warned. She and her band, the Howlin’ Moons, light a match and set fire to the five tracks that make up the group’s E.P., Nowhere Is Now Here.

“18 Feet Under”  is gossip delivered with a bit of homicidal advice and “Tangled Up on the Kitchen Floor” finds the singer beaten to the ground by a song on the radio.

“Brooklyn Girls” is a heartbreak tune from the one left behind that allows Angela Perley to fully crawl into the emotion. The pleas are tangible; the hurt physically seeps from the song.

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Black Prairie (from the album A Tear in the Eye is a Wound in the Heart - The Black Prairie debut felt a little like a side project for Decemberists members, Jenny Conlee and Chris Funk. Jenny shows up as a guest musician on multiple album credits and Chris is not only a strong session wing man but also works behind the board both producing, and playing on, numerous projects.

Carolyn Wonderland - Peace Meal - Carolyn Wonderland has a confidence in her playing that gives her a foot up on the blues ladder. Yes, Carolyn is a good songwriter with vocals that can roar in a whisper, and she is one A list guitarist. Listening to Carolyn on her latest release, Peace Meal, I get the feeling that the first fan she needs to please is the one behind the guitar and voice, Carolyn Wonderland. The daughter of a band singer, Carolyn picked up her Mom’s Martin at an early age. She mastered guitar, trumpet, accordion, piano, mandolin, lap steel and along the way discovering a talent for whistling. Peace Meal gives Blues as a prime influence while Carolyn guides the songs through psychedelic landscapes (“Usurper”), electric fire starters (“Victory of Flying”) and dirt road country folk (“Shine On”).

Peace Meal shows an artist taking chances with sound without moving away from her core. Carolyn Wonderland presents fine examples of all that she can do on the album. “Only God Knows When” is gospel harmonies catching the wave of a second line rhythm and “St. Mark’s” steps lightly as it creeps along under a confessional booth re-telling of what was amid hopes for the future. Carolyn’s music has been likened to Stevie Ray Vaughan on the guitar side and Janis Joplin references for her vocals. That description fits as influences and in some of the way the sounds manifest but Carolyn Wonderland is an artist that needs no RIYL’s attached. She nods to her Janis influences with a cover of Ms. Joplin’s “What Good Can Drinkin' Do”. Peace Meal hosts a few other covers alongside Carolyn Wonderland originals, offering versions of Bob Dylan’s “Meet Me in the Morning” and Elmore James’ “Dust My Broom”.

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The Slide Brothers (from the album Robert Randolph Presents the Slide Brothers) - Do not be fooled be the ‘scared steel’ name that the style of The Slide Brothers wears. The title, like one hour cleaning, is just a phrase attached, it doesn’t apply directly. The sound of scared steel was born in the House of God Church more than 80 years ago but has since crossed over to mainstream secular success. Robert Randolph has revitalized the sacred steel tradition in the modern era and the push he gave the band to put some rock, funk and ferocious blues on record is captured on their debut album title.