Press & Reviews

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

The reviews are coming in…

Living Blues

Kolassa’s title track scurries along at a frenetic pace, driven by Jeff Jensen’s scalding lead guitar and floating over a chorus of heavenly doo-wop style background vocals. It’s a good-time song with a nod-and-a-wink message that illustrates Kolassa’s canny ability to match a romping tune with an inspirational message. The song also contains the promise of the remainder of the album, which showcases Kolassa and his band’s meandering journey through a variety of musical styles.

Piercing and soulful lead guitar lines weave around a B3 in the slow-burning, minor chord A Good Day for the Blues, a reflection on the blues being just the right musical vehicle for a day when everything has gone wrong. We Gotta swings brightly with a New Orleans jazz vibe, riding along Marc Franklin’s blaring trumpet and Kirk Smothers’ swaggering sax, while the country blues I’ve Seen rides a shimmering harmonica wrapped around a sprightly violin. The jazz lounge romp Sweet Tea pays tribute to a long, tall glass of the southern drink, and the singer of the languorous Slow and Easy Love makes a promise to his lover of a night she’ll never forget. The album opens with the bright Memphis soul swayer I Can’t Help Myself, while the album closes with the poignant She Kept Her Head Up, Kolassa’s moving tribute to his daughter, Kassi, who’s been fighting breast cancer.

If You Can’t Be Good, Be Good at It! demonstrates that Kolassa has nothing to worry about: he’s both a good musician and songwriter and good at it, too! The songs on the album display his passion for the blues, illustrate the breadth of his musical range, and prove that any time is a good time for a Mick Kolassa album.

~ Henry L. Carrigan Jr.
Living Blues
January 2020, Issue#270

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 >>


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



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->>






CD REVIEWS — Double Standards

The reviews are coming in on the February 2018 release Double Standards!

Elmore Magazine

Mississippi-based guitarist and vocalist Mick Kolassa gathers a bunch of his friends for duets in this set of blues standards. Blues is often rowdy and raucous but here Kolassa and friends demonstrate how the idiom can be played with finesse and class… MORE 

Making A Scene

Mick Kolassa is a very likable guy and therefore as a musician he has acquired a lot of talented friends. When he decided to do an album of duets of blues standards to be called Double Standards, of course, he collected 12 of them to sing with him…MORE

American Blues Scene

Double Standards is a simple concept: singer Mick Kolassa duets on blues standards with talented colleagues. The result is a deceptively complex album of compelling takes on great blues songs, with Kolassa’s raspy tone surprising the listener with a jazzy delivery…MORE


Over the last few years, bluesman Mick Kolassa has become one of our favorite performers.  Never afraid to express what’s on his mind, that attitude carries over into his music, and it always leads to some fresh, old-school, down-home blues…MORE

Professor Johnny P’s Juke Joint

I’ve always enjoyed albums in which one artist explores music with several other artists in order to see what direction that collaboration takes…MORE

Michael Doherty’s Music Log

Last year, Mick Kolassa and Mark Telesca released You Can’t Do That!, an album of blues renditions of Beatles songs. Now Mick Kolassa is teaming up with several vocalists on his new release, Double Standards, a collection of covers of well-known blues tunes…MORE

Blues Bytes

Mick Kolassa’s latest release is Double Standards (Swing Suit Records), a baker’s dozen classic blues songs performed by Kolassa and a few of his friends, including such blues luminaries as Sugaray Rayford, Heather Crosse, Victor Wainwright, Annika Chambers, Tas Cru, Tullie Brae, Eric Hughes, Erica Brown, Patti Parks, David Dunavent, Gracie Curran, and Jeff Jensen. It’s a warm and intimate, seemingly loose affair covering a wide range of blues styles… MORE





The Beatles As Blues – ‘You Can’t Do That’

The Beatles As Blues – ‘You Can’t Do That’

“Michissippi” Mick Kolassa and Mark Telesca
do just that by bluesifying the Fab Four.

By JD Nash – American Blues Scene

It’s well known that the Beatles began as a skiffle group in England. Steeped in blues and R&B influences, they almost single-handedly created the genre of pop music. But what would have happened, had they directed themselves away from the sounds of Chicago, and more toward those of Clarksdale? Two Delta blues disciples, and major Fab 4 fans, have figured it out.

“Michissippi” Mick Kolassa and Mark Telesca have done what many said couldn’t be done. They bluesified a small chunk of the Beatles songbook. What’s more, they’ve done it brilliantly. You Can’t Do That! on the Swingsuit label is parenthetically described as an Acoustic Blues Beatles Tribute, and that description is spot on.

Kolassa (vocals, guitar, percussion), who finds his greatest joy in finding the blues hidden in every song he hears, found a Beatles soul-mate in Telesca (vocals, guitar, bass) at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis a couple years back. They began sharing their individual interpretations of blues style mop top songs, and before long were collaborating on the creation of this album.

Memphis based blues wild man, Jeff Jensen joined the mix, adding both his incredible guitar and producing prowess. The remaining artists are made up of James Cunningham (drums/percussion), Marc Franklin (trumpet and flugelhorn), Eric Hughes (guitar and harmonica), and Tommy Boroughs (fiddle and mandolin). Then the magic really began.

This is a completely acoustic release. There are no amplifiers or effects pedals. Instead, we get the back porch feel of resonator and acoustic guitars, along with other traditional, and some not-so traditional instruments. Furthermore, the combination of vocals provided by Kolassa and Telesca, as oxymoronic as it may first seem, blends into an astonishingly delicious stew.

When we hit play, the muted Dixieland trumpet of Franklin blessed our ears. But, this can’t be a Beatles song – can it? “I’ve got every reason on Earth to be sad. I just lost the only girl I had.” That’s blues, all blues and nothing but the blues. They’re also the opening words to the 1964 Lennon/McCartney song, “I’ll Cry Instead.” Originally so rooted in country/western that Chet Atkins covered it two years later, it comes across here as swanky, and blues-filled.

The second track, “Can’t Buy Me Love,” has Telesca providing the vocals on a capricious version of the #1 hit. Perhaps the most poppish of the songs on You Can’t Do That!, it was also the original A-side of the title track on 45. Speaking of the title track, Kolassa again does the singing on a not-so famous classic. The duo decided on this one as a title for two reasons. One, the original song has a deep blues connection in the writing, and two, because that’s what a lot of people told them when they heard about the project. Hughes provides both guitar and harmonica on this one, coming across as true country blues.

Hughes’ harmonica also adds some appetizing appeal to the slow drag rendition of “I Feel Fine.” On “Fixing a Hole,” it’s Telesca providing some sweet Spanish guitar work, and a powerful vocal delivery. We first hear Boroughs on “Lady Madonna,” his gypsy style, crying fiddle adding some perfect accompaniment as well as a tasty little solo. “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road,” originally from the notorious White Album, gets the full on blues treatment with some satisfying slide flavor.

Mixing a combination of hit songs, along with some lesser known classics, gives You Can’t Do That! another step above some earlier attempts to bluesify the Beatles. This is not just a blues tinted greatest hits project. It is rather, a collection of personal favorites, dissected by a group of master craftsmen, then given new life, sans electricity.

Retaining the songs’ origins by keeping all the tracks under the four minute mark, our personal favorite is the shortest track on the album. Clocking in at just 1:38, “She Came In Through the Bathroom Window,” is a bluegrass hit. An upbeat finale’, including Boroughs’ deft mandolin playing, it’s like all the fireworks going off at once.

Songs written by Lennon and McCartney have been covered ad nauseum. John wasn’t really a fan of most Beatles music, while Paul seems thrilled whenever anyone covers his songs. There are Beatles fanatics that won’t like this album. “Sacrilege!” we can hear them cry. But to our ears, You Can’t Do That! is pure bliss. Kolassa, Telesca & Company have taken the heartfelt lyrics of one of the world’s most popular songwriting teams, and matched the music to their individual moods. We can’t imagine it being any better – unless of course, they come out with a sequel.