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CD REVIEWS – If You Can’t Be Good, Be Good At It!

The reviews are coming in…


Reflections In Blue

Mick Kolassa is, without question, one of the finest songwriters in the business. He is also a fine guitarist, with a voice that suggests years of marinating his vocal cords in bourbon and fine cigars. His latest release, If You Can’t Be Good, Be Good At It, is powerful, soulful, poignant, and decidedly blues. With the exception of two well-chosen covers, he has written all of the tunes on the album…  MORE >>


Jazz Weekly

I love those blindfold tests when the listener is asked if the artist is black or white. Mick Kolassa, who plays guitar and sings, would have stumped me. He sounds like he came out of a STAX session of the 60s with a rough and tumble voice, particularly when teamed with the horns of Marc Franklin/tp and Kirk Smothers/ts on the funky “I Can’t Help Myself”, the blues jumping “We Gotta” and boogaloo-ing “Sweet Tea”. John Blackmon supplies a 60s drum… MORE >>


The Rock Doctor *****

If You Can’t Be Good was recorded in the middle of the pandemic- doing an album that sounds this together is no easy feat.  Mick and Jensen gathered some musical friends from Memphis and surrounding areas and the results I daresay are pure magic… a blues album for today that also carries a sense of blues history with it… MORE >>

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If You Can’t Be Good, Be Good At It – NEW CD!

October 15, 2020 Release

Mick Kolassa and Jeff Jensen have teamed up again to produce Mick’s best album yet! Together they have assembled a heaping helping of Mick’ Free Range Blues. Recording this album in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic was a challenge, but the guys pulled it off! Bringing together a group of musical friends, a group that only Memphis and the surrounding areas can provide, they’ve assembled a diverse collection of songs that are sure to please.

The album opens with “I Can’t Help Myself”, an R&B love song that is Memphis through and through. That’s followed by Mick’s “uncover” of James Taylor’s “Lo and Behold”, which starts out with angels singing then brings down fire and brimstone! The third track is the album’s title track: “If You Can’t Be Good, Be Good At It”, a phrase Mick often uses at the end of a conversation – inspiration comes from many places.

Track #4 is a powerful slow blues in a minor key: “Good Day For The Blues”, a song about everything going wrong. Next is “I’ve Seen”, in which Mick sings about what he has seen and what he most wants to see! In “We Gotta” Mick invites his lady friend to chase the stars and close down bars – soon! Living in the heart of the Mid-South, Mick has developed an appreciation for the region’s favorite beverage, “Sweet Tea”, so, of course, he wrote a song about it!

“Slow and Easy Love” is another slow minor key blues song that is quite popular with the ladies at Mick’s live shows – or at least they were when those were a thing! Mick wrote “Good Night Irene” (no, not that one) for a friend who is a DJ from Down Under.

“Who’s Been Talking” is a classic Howlin’ Wolf song, written by Chester Burnett himself. To record this Mick invited a very special friend – Blues Brother Willie “Too Big” Hall, to play drums – what a treat!

The album closes with “She Kept Her Head Up”, a song he wrote for and about his daughter, Kassi, and her battle with breast cancer. It isn’t blues, but that doesn’t matter!

This album is meant to be fun and sad, to take you up and down – and back up, and to give you plenty of reasons to go back and listen a few more times.

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CD REVIEWS – Blind Lemon Sessions

The reviews are coming in for Blind Lemon Sessions — Mick Kolassa’s January 2020 Album


Reflections In Blue

The roles of the songster, singer/songwriter, storyteller, bard, minstrel, bluesman, griot, etc. is one of the most important positions in the business of making music.  One major purpose behind having a band performing was to allow patrons to cut loose, have a few drinks and to lay down all the burdens of a week on the job.  That was true in the 1920s, when recorded music was in its infancy and it is true today.  The Blind Lemon Sessions fits that bill in every sense possible way.  It is easy on the ear, entertaining, easy to dance to (if that’s your thing), easy to get lost in, gives lots of food for thought, and is just plain fun.  Even in these trying times, this album makes it possible to lay all the BS aside and simply relax.  No musician could ask for anything more.  Mick Kolassa shows what he is truly made of…and I am impressed.  This album hits all the right buttons, then turns around to hit them a second time.  There will always be those who will say “It’s not Blues”, but that’s just fine…they said the same thing about Muddy Waters and countless others as well.  This recording is loaded with timeless classics, original tunes that hone right in on life in the here and now and a cover of the Beatles’ “Help” that makes more sense than the original.  The cherry on top is that all net proceeds from album sales go to charity.  Kick, who plays 6 & 12 string guitars, baritone guitar, baritone ukulele, banjolele & percussion on the album as well as doing vocals, is joined by David Dunavent (guitar, slide guitar, banjo & percussion), Seth Hill & Bill Ruffino (bass), Eric Hughes (harmonica) and Alice Hasen (violin).  This one might not feature screaming guitars and high-tech pyrotechnics, but the content is solid, the performance is superb, and it is done in a time-honored tradition.  Mick Kolassa is a songster of the highest order.  Even the hardcore headbanger deserves a moment now and then to regroup.  This one’s a no-brainer.  Give it a listen.  You won’t regret it.

Bill Wilson, Reflections In Blue


 

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Blind Lemon Sessions – NEW CD!

January 2020 Release

Mick Kolassa began this acoustic album when Thomas Schleiken, of Blind Lemon Records, invited him to do some shows in Germany and record a couple songs for a compilation album.  What began as a couple songs kept expanding into this – where Mick got a chance to play some of his old favorite songs, as well as a couple of new favorites and some new compositions.  It also gave him a chance to stretch his vocal cords and different guitar chords as he traveled through several keys and subgenres of music – a little more exploration of Free Range Blues™.  Mick confesses that a few numbers on this album are not blues, or even blues-ish, especially two of his new originals (which are probably best considered “Americana”).  But here you have it, music played without electricity!

The album opens with Mick’s take on the Lonnie Johnson song “Mr. Jellyroll Baker”, a song Mick has been singing for about 50 years.  Up next is an original “Text Me Baby”, an “old style” song about a new way to communicate.  In “Keep On Truckin” Mick adds a banjolele to the mix, and with “I Want To Be Seduced” a baritone ukulele lends its voice to the song.  Throughout this album unamplified stringed and percussion instruments carry the music forward.

Mick’s song “Mr. Right” reflects the sexuality of old blues songs, while “Bad Things”, written by Jace Everett, is a modern take on the same subject.  Two classic old songs, St. James Infirmary and Ditty Wah Ditty, that have also long been in Mick’s repertoire.  “Recycle Me” is another original of Mick’s that is fueled by his sense of humor.  “Help”, the well-known Beatles song, is played as a plea rather than an upbeat number, reflecting the depth of the lyrics.  The album closes with “The Space Between Us”, a short song about the end of a long relationship – inspired by a movie title, not any personal experience.

Mick was fortunate to be joined on this album by some dear friends and talented artists, as you’ll soon find out! 

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CD REVIEWS – 149 Delta Ave

The reviews are coming in for 149 Delta Ave — Mick Kolassa and the Taylor Made Blues Band’s September 2018 CD release…


Reflections In Blue

Mick Kolassa surpassed my expectations, for which I owe him and the band an apology.  149 Delta Avenue is one of the finest pieces of blues and deep Southern soul I have heard in a while I have heard in a while.  Primarily original tunes, with a few great covers thrown in for good measure, 149 Delta Avenue is a near-religious experience…  MORE->>


Don and Sheryls Blues Blog

Mick Kolassa has become one of our favorite players in contemporary blues.  On his last two albums, he recorded other folks’ material, and it is great to see him back in his element dropping some cool originals on his latest set,  “149 Delta.”… MORE->>

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