Maria Muldaur
Meet Me at Midnite
Black Top Records

Muldaur made her first lasting mark on the pop world in 1974 with the "Midnight at the Oasis" single, and it wasn't until 1992's Louisiana Love Call CD that she began to climb out of the semi-obscure cult status that her stylistic experiments of the 1980s (two jazz albums, a couple of gospel discs and an album of swing tunes) had left her in. Now we have Meet Me at Midnite, a continuation of the swampy Memphis blues and soul vein established by Louisiana Love Call.

That's a criminally abbreviated history, of course, and through the course of a career that's carried her from mid-sixties Boston jug bands to today, Muldaur's picked up a duffel bag or two of vocal nuance and a world of seen-it-all authority. And like soul sister Bonnie Raitt, Muldaur brings it all to bear in her new work. Thematically, these new songs are all about love from the feminine perspective, and not surprisingly, the perspective is a broad one. Opening with "Trouble With My Lover" -- a Betty Harris tune about the eternal conflict between desire and good judgment Ñ Muldaur moves into the seductive slink of the title track and "Send the Man Back Home," a Rory Block-penned song about the pitfalls of home-wrecking. Standout tracks include the plaintive prayer ballad "Ease the Pain," and "Trouble With Love," with its classic line: "I don't need a man to be a big spender / I just need a man who's a credit to his gender." Strong, sassy stuff, and for my money more soulful than anything the over-esteemed Raitt has produced since her commercial rebirth.

-- Brad Tyer

Upcoming Events

Maria Muldaur plays at Billy Blues, Saturday, October 8.

EMI Records

You want a gimmick? How 'bout this: a band composed of the sons of music biz royalty. Drummer Erin Davis is the son of trumpeter Miles, rhythm guitarist Waylon Krieger is the offspring of The Doors' Robbie, and vocalist/bassist Berry Oakley Jr. is the spawn of the Allman Brothers bassist of the same name. Add unheralded keyboard player Lou Segretti and 17-year-old guitar prodigy "Smokin' Joe" Bonamassa to the mix and got ... what? A field day for whoever writes the press kits.

Also an album, which isn't half bad in a progressive Southern rock sort of way, especially considering how awful something so obviously pre-packaged could have sounded. Some of the arrangements -- "Cell Block," for instance -- are cleverer than you might expect from the Southern rock thang, and the playing is tight, but all Bloodline really has to offer, aside from novelty, is the firebrand fret work of Bonamassa, who makes a decent bid for guitar hero status with his flights. Only for the curious.

-- Brad Tyer

Bloodline plays at Millenium, Thursday, October 6.

Continental Drifters
Continental Drifters
Monkey Hill

Formed in L.A. and since relocated to New Orleans (thus the name?), the Drifters harbor alumni of the dBs, Dream Syndicate, Giant Sand, the Bangles and Tori Amos' band. What was originally nothing more than an all-star side project has since morphed into an honest-to-God band, and the results, in the form of this debut CD, argue that a good decision was made.

The sound is loose-limbed and tight at the same time -- something like you might expect from the Band, if that ensemble had possessed the talents of an unaffected female vocalist (Susan Cowsill) to draw on. Ex-Bangle Vicki Peterson also sings and plays guitar, solidifying the coed feel of the record, and making the Drifters come across as grittier Poi Dog Pondering. Like that now-disbanded Austin unit, the Drifters ain't nothing new, but in the world of laid-back country rock vibes (Gram Parsons is a favorite source of live covers), awfully damned pleasant.

-- Brad Tyer

Continental Drifters plays at the Satellite Lounge, Friday, October 7.

Chris Duarte Group
Chris Duarte Group
Silvertone Records

So there's this white boy, and he plays blues guitar like, well, you know, sorta like Stevie Ray Vaughan, but he's really worked on developing his own style and everything, and listen, this is the really special part, the cat's from Austin, and who's ever heard of anybody like that coming out of Austin? Okay, if that's a description that makes you yawn, imagine how I feel having to read the advance press on this stuff. If, on the other hand, the Austin guitar-slinger tag perked your ears, then pardner, you know what you like, and you're likely to like this, too.

Duarte is the latest in the proud march of white Austin blues guitar students to step out of apprenticeship and into the solo limelight, but unlike predecessor Ian Moore, who followed his tendencies toward arena rock into a debut marked by Hendrix/Frampton formulas, and unlike Doyle Bramhall II, who has yet to reveal his solo mode after the demise of the Arc Angels, Duarte has made a simple blues rock record, shy on the vocals, which is no particular loss, and strong on the guit. Duarte's a stunning player, he puts himself through impressive paces on this debut, and if he receives a yawn, attribute that to the boredom that comes with a glut.

It's not Duarte's fault that he's not the only bitchin' ax grinder in town, but it is to his credit that he sticks with his strengths. You've heard it before, but if you liked it then, here's some more.

-- Brad Tyer

Chris Duarte plays Saturday, October 8 at the European Tavern & Garden.

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