Archive for the ‘Blues’ Category

Sarah Alt (aka Salt) has just been promoted to Detective-Atlanta Homicide Squad. As the only female on the day shift, and known to typically work alone, almost as a hazing ceremony she is given the 10 year old cold case of blues singer Mike Armstrong’s death. Originally ruled an accidental drug overdose, there is new evidence, in the form of convicted felon Dwayne Stone’s testimony, that Armstrong was intentionally given a ‘hot dose’ of heroin. However, it is Stone who shot Salt a year ago, from which she still carries the physical and emotional scars. Stone will be trading his information for a reduced sentence and Salt will be working towards that goal when corroborating his testimony…another emotional scar.OutOfTheBlues

Salt carries other emotional scars as well, especially that of finding her policeman father’s body after his shotgun suicide when she was nine years old.

When Salt’s cold case intersects with a recent high profile murder, everyone gets involved, from detectives to narcotics to SWAT and the action builds up.

Out of the Blues by Trudy Nan Boyce attracted my attention because of its blues orientation and apparently Atlanta was a hot spot of early blues activity. In an era when hip hop and rap are at the top of the charts, the popularity of the blues seems to be declining and the plight of the old bluesmen is going virtually unnoticed, Boyce brings it to the forefront. Readers can visualize the dusty, dirty clubs that the book’s rag tag blues band is forced to play in. One of the characters is a down on her luck, homeless former blues singer.

Boyce’s (a former police officer) debut novel is a great start for a series, which I hope this is. She’s has a great set of characters in Salt, her detective boyfriend Wills and their dogs, the transgender desk sergeant, Rosie, Thing One and Thing Two, etc. There is an adequate split between police procedural and action. All the characters are believable. The book has an evangelical bent to it, which is not one of my favorite subjects, but it wasn’t an overpowering slant to the book.

While Boyce’s prose are a little hard to follow/read at times, Out of the Blues is still quite readable, maybe a little slower read, but readable. Her descriptions, especially blues related sounds or feelings, are a little over the top, kind of like she went to writing school and this is what they taught her…not naturally flowing is probably a better way to describe it.

While I don’t normally give star ratings, I’d probably give Out of the Blues three and a half stars. Boyce has the characters and plot down, now she just has to make the words flow more smoothly. I’d definitely read her next book and am actually looking forward to it.


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Dion DiMucci Concert

OK, since Ticketmaster, for some reason, will not let me post a review on their website of the Dion concert at Westbury Music Fair last Friday, I’m forced to do it here. I will state categorically, it was a total disappointment.

untitledRather than seeing the current, blues singer, Dion, who produced three great blues albums, beginning with the one shown here, Bronx in Blue, we were forced to see the ‘oldies’ Dion…an hour and a half of oldies, with one…yes one…current acoustic blues song thrown in. Once he finished that song a few people shouted out “We want more of that.”, so I wasn’t the only one expecting some new material. But he would hear none of it. It was back to loud oldies. Guess you have to expect that when the average age of the audience was well above my considerable age.

But, the thing I don’t understand is this: if you’ve spent the time to redefine yourself (Bronx in Blue was recorded in 2006, Son of Skip James in 2007 and Tank Full of Blues in 2012, so he’s spent a good 6 years producing these CDs), why wouldn’t you put the songs out there and sing them? Why live in the 60s when you’re current in the new millennium?

So, Dion, if you read this (which I doubt you will), you can pander to the senior citizen population who are living in the past or you can entertain those of us (I’m close to senior citizen age) who live in the day and maybe in the process you’ll pick up some younger fans. Otherwise, those great blues CDs are going to languish on the remainder shelves of music outlets. Just ’cause you’re 70, doesn’t mean you have to act like it.

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