Once more your rockin’ writer felt the need to resurrect his “Listen Again” series. For those of you just joining us, the “Listen Again” series is a series in which we revisit albums that for one reason or another didn’t receive the attention or acclaim they deserved when they were originally released. Whether it was the recording was ahead of its time, broke away from the artist’s usual style, was poorly publicized or initially misunderstood, the “Listen Again” series urges music fans to listen again.
This time we revisit Kaye Bohler’s Live at Moe’s Alley. But for those who missed the first piece on Bohler, perhaps a refresher is in order. Bohler is a San Francisco Bay area-based singer/songwriter and 25-year veteran performer.
She currently performs with a backing band named the Kaye Bohler Rhythm and Blues Band. On this live 2003 release Bohler is backed by a bevy of other artists including: Bruce Ferrell (guitar), Keith Milne (bass), June Core (drums), Michael Peloquin (harmonica and saxophone), Jeff Lewis (trumpet), and Richard Palmer (organ and piano).
The twelve-track disc—released just in time for Christmas of 2003—opens on a song called “If You Know It”. It works well enough as a lead-in but one can’t help but wonder if the playlist on this CD matches the actual order of her live performances since this cut is but a warm-up for Bohler as there is much more to come here. The second selection is her cover of Arguslies McGlothin’s “Welcome Blues” which is a more apt album opener to this live blues offering.
The next number is “Hard to Sing the Blues”. This is a welcome tune to Bohler’s repertoire. It’s nice to hear the blues belter sing a song about someone who makes her so happy it’s hard for her to sing the blues. Not all blues songs have to be sad or sorrowful, boys and girls. Bohler co-wrote it with Ferrell and Milne.
“I Just Couldn’t Stand It No More” follows. This is a lively rendition of a song by Leroy Kirkland and Mamie Thomas. She turns it up a notch with her fetching, sexy cover of “Come to Momma” by Will Mitchell and Earl Randle and makes even those in the know forget it was written by men. (Yeah, we know who our Momma is . . .)
Her original song “Wrong Man Blues” is next. It’s the first example of what she can do as a solo songwriter. Yes, it is an expected prerequisite but it is a blues performance and it is her own song and apparently it is also a bit of a fan favorite to boot so it works here.
No doubt one of the highlights to her live gigs is her noteworthy cover of Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind”. Not a lot of croonin’ cuties out there today are doing James tunes so this is both refreshing and memorable.
When Kohler breaks into “Broke and Hungry” it might make music fans stop and think. This is her personalized presentation of a tune by Sleepy John Estes. She makes it work too before moving into “Blue Collar Mama” which she co-wrote with her backing band Core, Ferrell and Milne.
While one might find it hard to visualize her as a “blue collar mama” she certainly can make folks believe she’s a “Flamin’ Mamie”. She does the Willie Dixon standard proud with this female-fronted cover. Also included here is the lengthiest track “I Want To Know” which runs over eight minutes in length and serves as a good lead to the closing cut “Waiting for My Time to Come”
This apt autobiographical album end-note offers another example of her solo songwriting talents but also an insight as to why she is still working so hard in this industry. All she wants to do is “sing the blues. “ With a running time of over 67 minutes, this work also presents an honest example of Bohler and her band complete with some spontaneous moments one doesn’t get on polished studio recordings.
In fact, if one does the homework it’s easy to locate positive reviews of her performances at this venue. As is the customer, of course, during live performances the musicians are often given a chance to stretch and play solos which lengthen most of the tracks but that’s part of the legitimate live experience and only adds something to the audio experience.
Kaye currently continues to perform live gathering support for her upcoming project: Handle The Curves. If you have the chance, check her out and you just might agree that Bohler makes it seem like it isn’t “Hard to Sing the Blues”. If you’ve never listened to Kaye Bohler’s Live at Moe’s Alley, listen to it. If you’ve already listened to it . . . listen again.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.