Blues Blast Magazine reviews Lisa Mann’s Old Girl

Lisa Mann – Old Girl
Jay-Ray Records – 2020

There must be a house in Portland, Oregon, that is really rocking as Lisa Mann is married to another bass player, Allen Markel, who tours with Sugaray Rayford amongst others. Born in Virginia and based in the Pacific North West, Lisa has established a good reputation as vocalist, songwriter and bassist across a series of albums since 2010. She won the Blues Blast Sean Costello Award for Rising Star in 2014 and was nominated for a BMA as bassist in 2015 and 2016. Since her last album Hard Times, Bad Decisions in 2016 she has consolidated her reputation with several European tours as well as festivals across the states.

Lisa’s latest offering is just five tracks but they are all excellent and well worth readers’ attention. Lisa wrote four of the songs and tackles a Sister Rosetta Tharpe tune to complete the project on which she is backed by her touring outfit ‘The Really Good Band’: Lisa on bass/vocals, Jason Thomas on guitar and Michael Ballash or Dave Melyan on drums; Louis Pain adds organ to two cuts and Sonny Hess, Brian Foxworth, Larhonda Steele and Arietta Ward add backing vocals to one track.

The title track has a mournful country feel as Lisa bemoans that she is competing in a world where youth is often championed over more mature figures: “I ain’t 24 but I don’t need you to get the door. Most of my days I’m feeling strong and I think I believe I can get along as an old girl”. With some ringing chords from Jason and warm accompaniment from Louis “Old Girl” makes a good start to the EP. The strange title “It’s The Monkeys Or Me” is apparently based on a true story in which girl meets boy and all proceeds well until she gets inside his house in which there are actual monkeys, hence the title as she lays down how the future will be. The amusing lyrics are sung over an upbeat, rocking tune with strong guitar. Lisa takes a wry look at the difficult life of the musician in “Everybody’s Making Money”: “I believe this is the life for me but making music is not easy, you see, everybody’s making money but me”! The cover of Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s 1938 song “That’s All” is probably the track with the highest blues quotient and elicits a fine vocal from Lisa and plenty of solid blues guitar work from Jason.

Saving the best till last “Around Here” pays tribute (anonymously) to musicians who have passed on to the great gig in the sky, the gospel feel accentuated by Louis’ organ and the vocals. The chorus sums up the song’s intentions perfectly: “Around here we revere the ones that came before. We may not know them but they’re our legends for evermore. They may not be pictured in the Rolling Stone magazine but we will remember them always, round here.” Lisa sings beautifully in a soulful style, brilliantly supported by the backing vocalists. Prepare to be moved by this fine song which is more than worth the purchase price of the disc on its own.

A super mini-set which whets the appetite for another full album from Lisa.

~ John Mitchell, Blues Blast Magazine – July 30, 2021


Making A Scene reviews Old Girl

Old Girl
JayRay Records

As a child West Virginia born Lisa Mann relocated to Portland. Originally inspired by rock bands she gravitated to the Blues when she began her professional career at the age of nineteen. Early influences included Etta James, Koko Taylor, Bonnie Raitt, and Little Milton. Mann has shared the stage with Paul deLay, Lloyd Jones, Kevin Selfe, Karen Lovely and Duffy Bishop. Mann recorded her debut album “Self Material” in 2006; and followed up with 2008’s “Chop Water” recorded with members of The Insomniacs. In 2010 Mann released her self-titled third album. The following year she and “Her Really Good Band” represented the Cascade Blues Society at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. In 2012 Mann released “Satisfied”; and in 2014 “Move On”, a tribute to her mother, that reached the Top 20 on the Roots Music Report Blues Chart. In 2015 Mann won The Blues Blast – Sean Costello Rising Star Award. Mann also won back to back Blues Music Awards for Best Instrumentalist – Bass in 2015 and 2016. Mann’s last album was 2016’s highly acclaimed “Hard Times, Bad Decisions”.

“Old Girl” is a five song EP co-produced and recorded by Kevin Hahn at Portland’s Primal Studio. Mann, bass and vocals, is featured with “Her Really Good Band” including Jason Thomas, guitar; and either Michael Ballash or Dave Melyan, drums. Special guests include organist Louis Pain who played in the Paul deLay Band; and backing vocalists LaRhonda Steele, Arietta Ward, Sonny Hess and Brian Foxworth. Included are four new originals and one inspired cover.

The recording opens with the title track and a country styled vocal; Mann sings from the perspective of a mature woman competing in a world filled with more youthful contemporaries, as guitarist Thomas and organist Pain complete the production. “It’s The Monkeys or Me” is a hilarious song inspired by the true story of her friend’s romance involving pet primates. “Everbody’s Making Money” includes the lyric “making music isn’t easy you see, everybody’s making money but me”; Thomas takes an infectious solo while Ballash hammers out the beats.

Mann pays tribute to Sister Rosetta Tharpe, a musical pioneer and inspiration, on “That’s All”, a plea for love and equality, written by Tharpe and first recorded on Decca Records in 1938. The gospel styled closer “Around Here” pays tribute to local legends “they may not be famous, but we will remember them around here” and features the background vocalists.

Too short of a recording; this is just a taste of what’s to come from the talented Mann. These well-crafted performances should leave you begging for more.

~ Richard Ludmerer – Making A Scene, Issue 358


Lisa Mann on the cover of Blues Blast Magazine

LisaMannBluesBlastCoverTerryMullinsInterviewChristmasTerry Mullins interviews Blues Blast’s Sean Costello Rising Star award winner Lisa Mann in this Christmas edition of Blues Blast Magazine excerpt: The bass-playing dynamo took home the Sean Costello Rising Star Award at this year’s Blues Blast gala, after she had practically burned down the stage with her performance earlier in the evening at the annual shindig. And even more recently, Mann found her name on the list of nominees for Best Bass Player at the upcoming Blues Music Awards (BMAs) in Memphis.

“It’s been kind of a whirlwind and a lot of this has really taken me by surprise. A lot of the guys that were up for the Sean Costello Award have some history and labels and people behind them. And me, I’m an indie artist … but apparently I have more fans and friends than I knew were out there,” she said. “For one thing, (awards and nom inations) it means fan recognition. It’s kind of like getting a big round of applause. But it’s also getting recognition from my peers. I was so honored just to get the nomination for the Blues Blast award in the first place, because I know they (nominators for Blues Blast awards) are people who are in the industry and are people who listen to a lot of blues. There’s so much good music out there, for them to choose me was a big honor. That industry recognition is really special. And it’s the same way with the BMA nomination. Just to be put in the company of such great bass players is really an honor. It feels really good and I feel really humbled.”

Mann and The Really Good Band won a Muddy Waters Award – presented by the Cascade Blues Association – for Contemporary Blues Act of the Year this past November, while Mann was also named Bass Player of the Year and her latest album, Move On, took Recording of the Year honors that were handed out by the association.


Blues Music Magazine – Review



Lisa Mann is from Portland, Ore., and has been a mainstay of the Northwest music scene for several years. She was inducted into the Cascade Blues Association’s Hall of Fame in 2011. In 2011 she and her Really Good Band represented the CBA at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis where they were semi finalists. Mann plays bass, sings, writes nine tracks, and also produced this fine (and diverse) disc. Her solid band is made up with Jeff Knudson’s guitar, Michael Ballash’s drumming, and Brian Harris’ keys. Lloyd Jones also makes an appearance adding his distinctive voice and guitar.

“See You Next Tuesday” starts this album in good-natured high-gear fashion featuring Mann’s hard-hitting vocals and a powerhouse performance by the entire band. More high-paced antics ensue on Little Milton and Oliver Sain’s “Satisfied” that finds Mann and company flying low to the ground with solid keys from Harris, heady guitar from Knudson, and Mann’s powerful vocals. “Always Nobody” adds Jones’s guitar and vocal; it’s a short and sweet tune where they blend well together. The mood shifts on Mann’s “Have I Told You I Love You Today,” with acoustic guitar, bass, and drums shining a light on Mann’s diverse vocal styles and her keen and heartfelt songwriting skills. This tune might start softly, but concludes with a rush courtesy of Knudson’s soaring electric guitar. Mann shows off her vocal range covering the moody and gentle “Alone.” Mann’s voice soars on Maxwell Davis and Johnny “Guitar” Watson’s “Don’t Touch Me,” where it’s blues time in high style especially with the addition of horns. Mann’s “Doin’ Alright” takes us home funky with gospel undertones and exciting vocals by Mann and guest Brian Foxworth who sings background and plays drums.

For the moment, Mann is mostly a Northwest regional secret, but I suspect that brighter days are within range for Mann, as she’s a talent to be reckoned with. With music that deserves to appear on North American radio charts, she should begin to receive an abundance of strong press reviews, and thus be in position to garner fans from coast to coast.

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By Bob Putignano
As Published in
Blues Music Magazine
Issue One