Ilana Katz Katz
Subway Stories: All Trains
Blues & Roots Fiddle
Vizztone Label Group
The modest Ilana Katz married Warren Katz to become a double Katz. She started as a busker and still plays fiddle in the Boston subway system. In 2014 Ronnie Earl included her song “Running in Peace”, about the bombing at the Boston marathon, on his “Good News” recording. Earl also appears on Katz’ 2014 debut “I’ve Got Something To Tell You”. Her follow up recording 2016’s “Movin’ On” included Creole fiddler Cedric Watson and guitarists Bobby Radcliff and Barry Levenson.
Katz, fiddle and vocals; is again joined by former Canned Heat guitarist Levenson. Her rhythm section includes Hank Van Sickle, bass; and Mike Sandberg, drums, percussion and background vocals. Special guests include Sugar Ray Norcia, harmonica; and Anthony Geraci, piano. Katz has written six new songs; five with Levenson, who also contributes three more. Also included are three traditional tunes and one cover.
“Don’t Forget” is a fiddle boogie on which Katz sings and plays tribute to some of our blues masters. “Poison Days” includes the lyric “no more bitter family ties”. Levenson’s guitar solo on the latter is impressive as are the tones Katz gets on her fiddle.
“Subway Blues” features Norcia. Levenson’s rhythm guitar, Katz’ friendly vocal and the combo of harmonica and fiddle are quite fantastic. “The Blues is my companion but the low life takes its toll”. “Tribute to Slim Harpo” again features Norcia on harp “when I turn on the radio they’re always playin’ Slim Harpo”.
Pianist Geraci is featured on Levenson’s “Like A Wino”, on Katz’ “Road to Nowhere” and on “Don’t Cross That Line”; the latter a Katz/Levenson co-write. Roosevelt Sykes’ “Ice Cream Freezer Blues” is fabulous with Katz, Geraci and Levenson.
“Requiem” and “The Excuse” are both jazzy instrumentals written by guitarist Levenson who duets with Katz.
The traditional tunes are “Riley and Spencer”; a haunting version of “Motherless Child”, and the medley that closes the album “John Brown’s Dream/Subway Light of Mine” with the lyric “my fiddle and my bow, let it shine, shine, shine, let it shine”.
Katz’ helps fund the Killer Blues Headstone Project which provides headstones for those former Blues musicians lying in unmarked graves. Katz is a breath of fresh air.
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