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Cascade Blues Assoc – CD Review

Lisa Mann – Satisfied

Self Produced

Lisa Mann has created another sensational disc with her latest, Satisfied, that is chock-full of her amazing vocals and wonderful instrumentation featuring Her Really Good Band and a bevy of local musicians. Catchy tunes that demand continual replay and will have you tapping your toes and snapping your fingers along to each. All but four of the tracks were written by Lisa herself, further displaying a knack for clever songwriting that consistently grows stronger with each new recording she offers.

The core band of Lisa on bass, Jeff Knudson on guitar, drummer Michael Ballash and Brian Harris on keys have developed into such a sharp, tight and precise outfit that shines brightly throughout the disc. It is no wonder that they receive accolades every year from the Cascade Blues Association’s Muddy Awards and recently took home the award for most outstanding achievement in the blues from the Portland Music Awards. The camaraderie works to perfection on Satisfied. Lisa’s bass hooks are captured nicely next to Jeff Knudson’s sizzling guitar and Brian Harris’ intricate organ work.

The song selections are all highlights. There is no down moment at any point on the disc. There is a range of emotions throughout and numbers like the Peter Allen/Carol Bayer Sager track “Alone” can bring tears to your eyes while the humor of originals “I Was Gonna” or “See You Next Tuesday” will find you smiling to yourself. Knudson’s guitar work delivers crisply on Little Milton’s “Satisfied,” smolders on “Surrender To The Blues” and “Til The Wheels Come Off,” plus the acoustic work on “Have I Told You I Love You Today” is absolutely beautiful next to Lisa’s breathy voice.

There is no shortage of fantastic friends sitting in on the album, all professionals who bring their magic forth magnificently. Kevin Selfe’s snappy guitar on Johnny “Guitar” Watson’s “Don’t Touch Me” alongside the horns of Joe McCarthy, Dan Fincher and Brad Ulrich give this timeless classic a reading that’d make Johnny himself wishing he’d been part of this recording. Lloyd Jones inspired the song “Always Nobody,” where Lisa explains that sometimes you’re more appreciated outside of your own home town with Lloyd sitting in on vocals and guitar, while Brian Harris’ keys are rolling steadily. Mitch Kashmar’s chromatic harp is a grinding force on “Kings Of Black Gold” pounding the song’s flow matched intensely by Knudson’s guitar. That tune is followed by the brightly, happy go lucky harp of Joe Powers on “Doin’ Alright,” with Lisa’s feel good message fueled by a chorus consisting of a vocal cast of Sonny Hess, Brian Foxworth, LaRhonda Steele and Rae Gordon. Other great musicians on the disc include Kevin LaBaron on sax, Caton Lyles on percussion and former Insomniacs Alex Shakeri on keys and Dave Melyan on drums.

The best part of Lisa Mann’s music is that it can appeal to a variety of different genres. She may be a blueser at heart, but many of these songs can easily cross over to the pop and rock market. And it should be a winning disc wherever it is played and heard. Simply put, Satisfied is one satisfying album!

Total Time: 51:15 

See You Next Tuesday / Gamblin’ Virgin Mary / Satisfied / Surrender To The Blues / Have I Told You I Love You Today / Always Nobody / Til The Wheels Come Off / Catch Me When I Fall / I Was Gonna / Alone / Don’t Touch Me / Kings Of Black Gold / Doin’ Alright 

Reviewed by Greg Johnson
Cascade Blues Association 

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Blues Blast – CD Review

Lisa Mann – Satisfied

Self Release – 13 tracks / 51:09

When I got Lisa Mann’s latest CD, Satisfied, I was glad to find a fellow bass player who has the initiative to take the leading role in a band. She is accomplished in both roles, having won awards for both her vocals and bass playing from the Cascade Blues Association (she hails from the Portland, Oregon area).

Besides her performing roles, Lisa also has the principal songwriting roles in this release. She wrote nine of the thirteen tracks and they all have smart lyrics and great musical scores. It is nice that they give their customers over 50 minutes of music, as many new releases barely come in at 40 minutes these days.

One worry that I had before listening to this album was that if the leader and songwriter was a bass player, that this exercise would be a total bass wank-fest. It turns out that though the bass part is forward in the mix and a more complicated than on many blues albums, is never becomes overbearing.

“See You Next Tuesday” is the lead-off track on Satisfied, and right away the listener gets an up-tempo blues romp with Brian Harris on the organ and Jeff Knudson playing smooth licks on the guitar. If this is your first experience with Lisa Mann, you will find that she has a rich and full voice, and can really belt out a tune. It is a brief and humorous tune, which makes it like a good appetizer before a feast.

Jeff Johnson’s “Gamblin’ Virgin Mary” comes next and changes things up a little as it starts out with a growly bass lick that proves that Lisa has got the blues pouring out of her fingertips too. Lisa switches to more a gospel tone with her vocals, and the keyboards are layered with honky-tonk piano and organ tones. Michael Ballash’s drums are perfectly in sync with Lisa, providing a solid foundation.

“Always Nobody” is another original song with funny lyrics, describing how humbling is it to be home when it seems like you are appreciated everywhere else. Fellow Oregonian (and one heck of a musician) Lloyd Jones is featured on vocals and guitar on this track, and his voice works in very well with Lisa’s. I wonder if he does not feel famous in Portland too…

From the title you can figure out that “Have I Told You I Love Your Today” is a love song. It also happens to be a very good pop/rock tune that is as radio-friendly as you can get, and is yet another great showcase for Lisa Mann’s vocal talents, too.

Carlo Bayer Sager’s “Alone” is just Lisa and her bass, and she has tastefully reworked this song to make it her own. Her raw emotion and beautiful voice make this one of my favorite tracks on Satisfied. This track provides also gives the listener a small rest before jumping back into the blues with Johnny “Guitar” Watson’s “Don’t Touch Me”, which has some awesome guitar work from Kevin Selfe, and horns from Dan Fincher, Joe McCarthy and Brad Ulrich.

After eleven tracks with the usual blues themes of hard times, disillusionment and love lost, “Kings of Black Gold” is a splash of cold water to the face with its heavy political message. I do not see Satisfied as a political album, so this track does not fit in with the rest of the tunes. Of course it is a well-written song, and Mitch Kashmar does a nice job with the harmonica parts on this track, so I did not let it bring me down.

The somber tone does not last though, as the album finishes off with “Doin’ Alright”, which is an upbeat tune with Joe Powers sitting in on the harmonica. Also featured is Brian Fowxorth, who takes over as drummer and adds a little soul with his backing vocals on this track. This song was a great choice for ending the album, as it brings things to close on a happy note.

So, the bottom line is that Lisa Mann and her group did a very good job on Satsified, which provides a little bit of everything from blues to pop and sadness to humor. This is a solid album with consistently catchy tunes and a passel of great musicians, and is well worth the ten bucks it costs to download it online. I can’t wait to see what she comes out with next!

Reviewer Rex Bartholomew is a Los Angeles-based writer and musician; his blog can be found at rexbass.blogspot.com.

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Mary4Music – CD Review

It’s been just shy of two years since the release of Lisa Mann & Her Really Good Band’s last CD and as expected – its still a really good band.

Led by Lisa Mann, on bass and vocals, Her Really Good Band consists of Jeff Knudson on guitars, Michael Ballash on drums, and Brian Harris on keys. Guest artists include: Lloyd Jones on vocal and guitar; Kevin Selfe on guitar; Dave Melyan on drums; Alex Shakeri on keys; Mitch Kashmar and Joe Powers on harmonica; Brian Foxworth on drums & backup vocals; LaRhonda Steele and Rae Gordon on backup vocals; Sonny “Smokin” Hess on guitar & backup vocals; Kevin LaBaron on saxophone; Joe McCarthy on trumpet; Dan Fincher on tenor sax; Brad Ulrich on baritone sax; and Caton Lyles on percussion.

Although I know the title of this song has nothing to do with it, by being old enough to remember the “Popeye” cartoons, the opening track sure did make me think one of it’s characters. On this original recording the line Lisa uses to brush off people who annoy her is “See You Next Tuesday”, obviously avoiding any immediate – and possibly future confrontation. Very much like the glutinous “Wimpy”, the “Popeye” character who constantly uttered the phrase “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today” as he attempted to avoid paying…..possibly ever. Musically, this track features the four band members doing what they do best – being a really good band.

“Satisfied” is a song by one of Lisa’s inspirations – the late Little Milton. Once again it’s another track that features the basic four and that usually means smokin’ rhythm from Lisa, Michael and Brian on the bass, drums and keys and lots of hot guitar leads from Jeff.

There’s no questioning her sincerity as Lisa emotionally admits it’s time to “Surrender To The Blues”. This may very well not just be the disc’s best song but possibly the best song I’ll hear all year long. There’s a phrase I repeatedly use to describe songs of this caliber and here it is – this is song of the year material. To me, this is what the blues is all about….well written melancholy lyrics that are sung with the heart and soul, slow and steamy rhythm that features deep and sultry horns and beautiful piano highlights, and of course, scorching guitar leads. Lisa, Jeff, Michael, Brian and the whole horn section – you all nailed this one. Thanks for making me feel this good.

Another of Lisa’s nine original tracks is “Catch Me When I Fall”. In addition to Lisa and Michael providing their usual strong rhythm, “Smokin” Sonny Hess’ masterful guitar work and Kevin Labaron’s wailing sax make this another strong track.

“Alone” is a very appropriately titled song that Lisa chose to do as a solo. It’s all about her beautiful voice and her bass guitar. Really well done.

Another of the four covers includes a retro sounding track called “Don’t Touch Me Baby”. This one’s highlighted by Lisa absolutely belting out the blues, and some incredibly amazing guitar playing by someone I’ve had the pleasure of working with in the past – Kevin Selfe. Another awesome tracks deserving of several replays.

Other tracks on “Satisfied” include: “Gamblin’ Virgin Mary”, “Have I Told You I Love You Today?”, “Always Nobody”, “Till The Wheels Come Off”, “I Was Gonna”, “Kings Of Gold” and “Doin’ Alright”.

Over the years Lisa Mann has won many awards given out by her local blues society – The Cascade Blues Association – and I’m happy to say that I was in the audience when she represented them in the 2011 International Blues Challenge. Had the judges felt as I did, she would have won.

To get to know more about Lisa Mann, you can visit her at www.lisamannmusic.com. When you do, please tell her she’s totally “Satisfied” the Blewzzman.

Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro :: April 2012
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 Keeping The Blues Alive Award Recipient

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Bass Musician Magazine – Interview

Lisa Mann

by Brent-Anthony Johnson

When I listen to Lisa Mann, I’m reminded of how fleeting and yet beautiful life can be. Her song “Someday” from her most recent release, 2008’s “Chop Water”, was my theme song as I ran through one of the craziest month’s I’ve ever experienced during December 2008! Thank you, Lisa!

The fourteen deftly written tunes featured on the disc run the gamut from grinding blues to 8th note-driven rockers like “Wake Me”, to thoughtful ballads like “Dance A Little Closer”… and each song is driven by Lisa’s bad ass bass playing! This diminutive groove machine and two-time winner of the Cascade Blues Association’s Muddy Waters Award (for Bass Player of the Year); 2008

Vocalist of the Year and 2007 Famecast Band Competition finalist (2nd Place) is someone everyone should hear from much more often than we do! You can learn more at www.lisamannmusic.com and www.myspace.com/lisamannmusic

BAJ: Hi “Li”! Thank you for the warmth and humorous grit of “Chop Water”, and thank you for joining us here at Bass Musician Magazine! I wanted to begin by chatting about your response to our interview request, “I’m just a meat & potatoes bass player!” You’re hardly a pedestrian bassist. Also, let’s talk about your choice to employ the 6-string bass guitar… that isn’t the choice of the average bassist! Let alone the choice of many bassist/lead vocalists! What is the basis of your Instrumental choice, and in what ways does the 6-string support you – as you support your “Really Good Band”?

LM: First I’ll say, thanks so much for the interview and the kind words! Well, I guess the 6-string thing started when I was in my late teens… I was a fan of classical music and started playing Paganini and Bach on my 4-string bass and I guess I just ran out of frets. The very first 6-string I laid eyes on, I bought- that was my Warwick Thumb. I think it was a good investment. Since then I branched out into many styles of music including blues and R&B, and I find that having a 6-string allows for fat deep notes as well as double-stops to accentuate the chord progressions. I play a lot of trio shows, and when the guitarist begins to solo, it’s nice to keep those chords alive underneath him as the rhythm guitar drops out. I also have the opportunity to play solo shows with a 6-string (“At Last” being a good example), although the chord voicings can be a little limiting based on tuning and the size of the fretboard.

BAJ: While we’re “here”, let’s talk about your gear, in general… What areyou playing, and how did your tone come together?

LM: I have the Warwick I mentioned before, it’s a neck through body 1989 Thumb with big flat frets, so it almost has a fretless flavor to it. It has a great mid-range response that some soundmen find unnerving, but I love the way it grunts. I mainly save that bass for shorter performances and for the studio, as a solid bubinga body makes it a full 14 pounds. My main working axe is an early 90’s Tobias Killer B 6-string. It plays very smooth, although I wish the upper horn was further over that 12th fret so I wouldn’t have to stretch for my F and low C frets. I play through a Gallien-Krueger RB 800 bass head; I’ve used them for years, and have a Genz Benz four ten with big fat ports in the bottom.

 CLICK HERE for the rest of the interview >> 

 

 

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