Ghosts of The Riverside Hotel
Swing Suit Records
Mick Kolassa was born in Michigan but has lived in the greater Clarksdale, Mississippi area for over twenty years. He is part of the Memphis blues scene and a member of the Board of Directors of The Blues Foundation. His first album released just last year was produced by Jeff Jensen and was titled “Michissippi Mick”.
This new album “The Ghosts of The Riverside Hotel” is also produced by Jensen. The band features Kolassa, vocals and guitars, performing eight new originals and four well conceived covers. The band is basically the same as last time with producer Jensen on lead guitar; Bill Ruffino, bass; Chris Stephenson, organ; and new member Robinson Bridgeforth, drums. Once again guest musicians include Victor Wainwright, piano; Brandon Santini and Eric Hughes, harmonica; and various other friends and locals.
Like the first album all of the proceeds from this project are being directed to The Blues Foundation and divided between The Hart Fund which supports musicians health concerns and services; and Generation Blues, which provides scholarships to our youth.
Kolassa opens with a blues rock version of Hank Williams “Ramblin’ Man” originally recorded by the country music icon in 1955. “One Meatball” written by Hy Zaret and Lou Singer was recorded by many artists including Josh White, Lightnin Hopkins, Dave Van Ronk, The Andrew Sisters and Ry Cooder; Wainwright is featured on piano. “Mama Told Me Not to Come” was written by Randy Newman. All the covers are exciting but my favorite is “Trouble” from Todd Snider.
Not surprisingly Kolassa is also a fine songwriter. His “Grapes & Greens” is a tribute to Muddy Waters. Kolassa tells us that Muddy not only taught us about music but he also showed us how to live. “I Always Meant to Love You” is another beautiful song featuring Jensen on guitar and the saxophone of Kirk Smothers. Smothers is featured again on “Nothin Left to Lose”. On the talking blues “If I Ain’t Fishin” Kolassa sounds like Commander Cody. “Whiskey Woman” features Stephenson on organ and backup singers Tracey Masteler, Annika Chambers, and Logan Layman. Kolassa’s other originals are equally fine.
This album is a labor of love performed by inspired musicians who care to make a difference. Kolassa’s talent is only dwarfed by his high regard for this genre; life is short it’s the music that lives on forever. This is recommended listening.