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NEW – For the Feral Heart

CHECK IT OUT – listen / stream it / buy it!


December 2022 Release

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Over the course of 12 previous albums Mick Kolassa has written and recorded many love songs – this album is NOTHING BUT LOVE SONGS! For the Feral Heart starts with blues but ventures into several other styles, taking the listener on a musical journey. For the Feral Heart includes blues, jazz, calypso, reggae, singer/songwriter and even America standards. With ten originals and two “covers”, the album traverses a lot of musical ground!

Kicking off with the blues-rocker “Running to You,” the album hits the ground running! “Elegant Angel,” a song celebrating a strong woman, is a blues/jazz number that features Memphis guitarist Mario Monterosso. Mick has re-arranged Dave Mason’s “Feeling Alright,” which is actually a song about a divorce, to take it back to the message of the lyrics – something it seems few fans have ever truly listened to– and Mick and Jeff Jensen enjoyed trading guitar licks on this song. “Love Ain’t Supposed to Make You Cry” is one of Mick’s trademark slow minor key blues songs, with Mario Monterosso adding his splendid guitar work. “Easy to Love,” a jazzy blues number about how difficult love can be to maintain, is followed by “I Keep Looking,” a more acoustic number that tells the uncomplicated story of a deep love that has no reason to end – ever.

The ballad “I Left My Heart in Birmingham” tells of the problems of a long-distance love affair with a slightly country feel, and “Love in My Size” is a singer-songwriter tune about an unexpected love. “Forever Sometimes” is a reggae song that celebrates an occasional love affair while the calypso tune “Hold On” tells of a deep commitment between two lovers who are going to stay with each other and get through any troubles. “Run Away With Me” is a gentle song about wishes that may not come true. Wrapping up the album is the wonderful old standard, “As Time Goes By” – and you are urged to play it again!

 

 

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CD Reviews – They Call Me Uncle Mick!

Hot Wax Album Review by the Rock Doctor

Mick Kolassa is one busy dude. I just reviewed his I’m Just Getting Started last month, and he’s already back with another one- must’ve recorded them at the same time.  They Call Me Uncle Mick is a return to Kolassa’s acoustic roots, with no amplified instruments used on any of the tracks- just Mick and his guys having a whole pile of fun.

As with his other records, The Call Me Uncle Mick is a likeable blend of originals and some very interesting covers.  Kolassa has made quite a hobby of uncovering songs that fit well into a blues form. He did it with The Beatles’ Help on his Blind Lemon Sessions disc, and he does it here with a startling version of Hank Williams’ I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry that might actually make you cry.  Other covers here include Joni Mitchell’s Woodstock (with a guest appearance by Watermelon Slim), John Prine’s Daddy’s Little Pumpkin, the old standard Sunny Side of The Street and Bo Carter’s 1931 gem My Pencil Won’t Write No More, which kicks off the album in fine style. At the other end he closes with a bit of fun called The Cheese Song.

As a singer Mick reminds me somewhat of Dr. John and the band as a whole swings with a natural ease, making TCMUM a blast to listen to.  With his producing partner Jeff Jensen Kolassa has assembled another true Free Range Blues Experience.  In a lot of ways it’s the opposite of the Orphan Jon album just reviewed but it’s just as valid a blues experience.  Wasted Youth is a remake of one of his own tunes and includes the legendary Bobby Rush on harmonica.  One of the best original songs on the album is the original My Woman She’s So Mean which will have some people saying “I think I know her” and others thinking “I used to live with her.”

The final word on They Call Me Uncle Mick is it’s a relaxed, jaunty and fun blues listening experience and, like his other albums, well produced to boot.  It sounds like everyone had a blast playing these songs, and you’ll find that as you listen some of that spirit will rub off on you too.  And as with his other albums, 100% of the net proceeds go to The Blues Foundation.   I’ll be playing this in the car on my way to work tomorrow, and I’ll walk in the door with a smile on my face because of it… you can’t beat that. ~ John Kereiff, The Rock Doctor


Le Zicazine

Mick Kolassa is undoubtedly one of the most prolific artists on the contemporary blues scene and only a few weeks after presenting his new electric album, “I’m Just Getting Started! », it is an entirely acoustic effort that he reveals this time with « They Call Me Uncle Mick », a disc for which he has once again brought together the gratin of Deep South musicians! Determined to do without any amplified instrument, the singer and guitarist invited his faithful accomplice Jeff Jensen on guitars and percussion, but also Rick Steff on piano, Carl Caspersen on bass, Tom Leonardo on drums, Eric Hughes on harmonicas and Alica Hasan on violin, also offering the presence of guests like Doug McLeod on guitars, Watermelon Slim on vocals and on harmonicas, Chris Gill and Brad Webb on slide, John Whittemore on vibraphone and, last but not least, Bobby Rush who places his harmonica on an acoustic re-reading of “Wasted Youth”, the tittle track of the album that Mick Kolassa came out a year ago. Elegant in his compositions, very precise in his covers, this bluesman with a very vast culture will offer us a great tour of the works of Bo Carter with “My Pencil Won’t Write No More”, John Prine with “Daddy’s Little Pumpkin “, Hank Williams with “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” or Joni Mitchell with “Woodstock”, but also a breathtaking version of the standard “Sunny Side Of The Street” and of course original pieces like “Used To Be” , “My Woman She’s So Mean”, “Why? » and « The Cheese Song », a piece in which he makes tribute to cheeses of all kinds. Totally devoted to the cause of a blues that he has anchored in the depths of his heart and soul, Mick Kolassa sings and plays with constant spontaneity but more than just an artist, he is also a human of incredible kindness and infinite generosity that we can meet on a daily basis in Memphis, whether in a concert hall where he goes to applaud his peers or in a club where he officiates as a judge during the ‘International Blues Challenge. And as for each of his albums, all profits from the sale of “They Call Me Uncle Mick” will be donated to the Blues Foundation to supply the funds intended for the health of musicians and the training of young people. Another reason to get two copies, including one to offer for example! (translated from French!) ~ ZiCaZic.com


La Hora del Blues

TRANSLATION: Mick Kolassa is a very prolific musician who always surprises the audience with new and interesting works. On this occasion and after his previous album in electric format, Mick returns once again to acoustic blues in an album produced once again by Jeff Jensen where all the instruments are not amplified and in which he offers us a repertoire of eleven songs, six of them own compositions and the rest from artists such as Bo Carter, Johnny Prine, Joni Mitchell or McHugh & Fields.

Kolassa’s suggestive voice and guitar find the magnificent support of an excellent group of artists, all of them stubborn connoisseurs of the secrets of acoustic blues, such as Jeff Jensen on guitar and percussion, Brad Webb and Chris Gill on slide, Eric Hughes, Bobby Rush and Watermelon Slim on harmonica (the latter also on vocals), Doug McLeod on guitar, Rick Steff on piano, Alice Hasan on violin, Carl Caspersen on bass, Tom Leonardo on drums and John Whittemore on vibraphone .

The result is a relaxed album where acoustic blues takes over the approximately fifty minutes of elegant and well-developed music and in which Kolassa’s sometimes harsh but always suggestive and well-tuned voice reels off incredible stories including in each and every one of the songs on the album. Good ‘unplugged’ blues by a more than remarkable ‘storyteller’ named Mike Kolassa. ~ La Hora del Blues


Michael Doherty’s Music Log

Blues man Mick Kolassa has certainly kept busy, releasing three albums in the last eleven months. The latest, They Call Me Uncle Mick!, contains a combination of original material and good choices of covers. The music here is acoustic blues. As is mentioned in the album’s liner notes, “No amplified instruments were used on any track, making this album purely acoustic.” Oh yes, acoustic and so damn good! Some talented musicians join him on this album, including three harmonica greats – Eric Hughes, Watermelon Slim and Bobby Rush. Jeff Jensen is on guitar and percussion, Tom Leonardo is on drums, Carl Caspersen is on bass, Rick Steff is on piano, and Alice Hasan is on violin. There are some other guests on various tracks. ~ MORE >>

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NEW – They Call Me Uncle Mick!


August 2022 Release

ORDER HERE ->


CHECK IT OUT – listen / stream it / buy it!

With this album Mick Kolassa has once again returned to his acoustic roots. No amplified instruments were used on any track, making this album purely acoustic. Once again working with producing partner Jeff Jensen, they have assembled a true Free Range Blues experience! Opening with Bo Carter’s 1931 gem “My Pencil Won’t Write No More” Mick let’s everyone know that this album is about fun! The second track is a remake of Mick’s song “Wasted Youth”, this acoustic version features the one and only Bobby Rush on harmonica. The great John Prine’s “Daddy’s Little Pumpkin” is next, followed by Mick’s “Used to Be” which features Doug McLeod on guitar.

Continuing Mick’s hobby of “uncovering” songs that fit well into a blues form, Hank William’s “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” is presented in a very different way. Doug McLeod also played on Mick’s original “My Woman She’s So Mean” – a song about a very troubled and troubling lady. Next, he is joined by the one and only Watermelon Slim as they celebrate a very bluesy version of Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock” – a song they’ve played together often.

Mick’s song “Why?” asks a critical question of an overly critical friend. The old standard “Sunny Side of the Street” lightens the mood, and the lightness continues with Mick’s song “Bless His Heart” – which is build around the classic southern put down. The album closes with Mick’s homage to cheese – of all kinds.

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CD REVIEWS – I’m Just Getting Started!

Making A Scene!

Eleven albums in, bluesman Mick Kolassa is proclaiming a reset of sorts with his latest, I’m Just Getting Started. Having just moved to Memphis from Mississippi and having overcome his wife’s passing due to cancer and his own battle with COVID-19 in recent years, no one can fault Kolassa for announcing a fresh start. Kolassa has branded his style as Free Range Blues, a means of including sub genres of the blues and even faint touches of soul and jazz. Collaborating again with producer and guitarist Jeff Jensen, they’ve tapped into the well of Memphis session greats including keyboardist Rick Steff, and the modern-day two-piece Memphis Horns team of Marc Franklin and Kirk Smothers, among thirteen musicians or vocalists listed in the credits. Kolassa knows the blues idioms inside out, whether acoustic or electric and beyond being prolific and versatile, he consistently proves to be one of the genre’s better lyricists and writers, holding sway with his gravelly, burnished voice.

He begins with rollicking title track, stating “I’ve got tricks no one’s seen yet” typifying one of the blues most popular strains, tongue-in-cheek braggadocio with Brandon Santini (curiously not listed in the credits) pushing the tune along on his blues harp. The slow soul blues of “What Can I Do?” features the tasteful lead guitar of Dexter Allen, who otherwise plays bass on ten of the dozen tracks.  The uplifting “Bigger Dreams” glides along with stellar piano from Steff and a sprinkling of blues harp. “Alibis and Lies” touches on jazz with a late-night vibe, a song about modern day tourist trap called Beale Street. It’s a cover of a tune originally done by Chainsaw DuPont and includes terrific guitar from Jensen.

Speaking of covers, Kolassa and Santini then dig into Sleepy John Estes’ “Leaving Trunk,” a tune forever associated with Taj Mahal. It’s the first song that Kolassa and Santini ever played together dating back many years. To their credit, they author a funky arrangement rather than mimicking Taj’s approach. Kolassa and crew tackle two other covers, John Hiatt’s “Real Man,” delivering with a mix of straight-ahead vocals and talking blues macho style, punctuated yet again with blues harp and Steff’s B3. The other is from the one hit wonder, Pacific Gas and Electric’s, rock hit, “Are You Ready?” Kolassa and crew slow the tempo, giving it a slinky roots-gospel feel, with strong backing vocal form Donna Jones Nickelson and well-articulated guitar lines from Jensen. It’s a standout track.

“That Kind of Man” and “Take Me Away” are both smoldering love songs with Jensen in the former using the wah effect tastefully, which is rare for any guitarist. In the latter, Kolassa hits deep soul territory, underpinned by Steff’s B3. “Trying Not to Let the Darkness” is a trademark minor key Kolassa slow blues, autobiographical perhaps given the issues he’s grappled with in recent years. As if to move away from the gloom, he ends with a couple of humorous tunes, “Hardhearted Woman” (“she’s got no soul”…”she could crush any man”) and one that might have been best left out, “How Much Can I Pay You?” about stripper who goes too far, but in a twist it’s the male who wants to pay her for putting her clothes back on. Smothers’ burning tenor sax solo redeems the tune somewhat.

That last one aside, this is a varied program of solid songs and instrumental performances that continue to show why Kolassa is one of our most vital contemporary bluesmen. If he is really just rebooting, the future is even more promising. ~ Jim Hynes, Making A Scene!


Blues Bytes

The incredibly prolific Mick Kolassa has released 11 albums since 2014, the latest titled I’m Just Getting Started! (Endless Blues Records), and it’s as high quality a set of his “Free Range Blues” as the previous ten. For this latest effort, Kolassa gives listeners a dozen tracks, eight originals and four tasty covers previously associated with Taj Mahal and Sleepy John Estes, Chainsaw Dupont, John Hiatt, and Pacific Gas & Electric.

Kolassa is backed by a fine set of musicians that include Jef Jensen (guitar/producer), Dexter Allen (bass/guitar), Rick Steff (keys), John Blackmon (drums), Brandon Santini (harmonica), Bill Ruffino (bass), Andrew McNeill (drums), Marc Franklin (trumpet), Chris Stephenson (keys), Kirk Smothers (sax), J. Remy Williams (keys/backing vocals), and Julia Melah and Donna Jones Nickleson (backing vocals).

The title track opens the disc, and Kolassa delivers it with such verve that you figure he might have 11 more albums in him down the road. The soul blues ballad, “What Can I Do?,” features Allen on guitar, the encouraging “Bigger Dreams” implores listeners not to give up on theirs, and “Alibis and Lies,” previously done by Chainsaw Dupont has a jazzy feel, while the deliciously funky take on “Leaving Trunk” is a nice showcase for Kolassa and Santini.

“That Kind Of Man” is a smooth ballad with a ’70s R&B/soul vibe, thanks to Jensen guitar and Steff’s work on the keyboard. “Are You Ready?” was originally recorded by rock band Pacific Gas and Electric in 1970. Kolassa’s version is taken at a more leisurely, bluesy pace than the original, but retains the gospel feel of its predecessor. “Take Me Away” and “Trying Not To Let The Darkness In” are both slow burners, the former leaning toward soul and the latter toward the blues side of the spectrum.

The album wraps up with a funky blues cover of John Hiatt’s “Real Man,” along with two more originals — the swampy blues track “Hard Hearted Woman,” which warns of a female to be avoided, and the humorous “How Much Can I Pay You?,” about a lady who’s having too much fun for all the other patrons at the club.

As always on Mick Kolassa’s albums, 100% of the net proceeds from I’m Just Getting Started! go to the Blues Foundation, where it is split between the Hart Fund and Generation Blues. I encourage you to check out this excellent effort and listen to some good music while helping to support a worthy cause. ~ Graham Clarke, Blues Bytes


Midwest Record

11 albums in and this white geezer with the blues is delivering testament with the title track. Moving beyond the normal scope of white boy blues, he veers into white boy soul and jazz as well, delivering it all with his usual aplomb and gusto. With a sound and feel like everyone snuck into Muscle Shoals after hours and was drinking hooch out of jelly jars when no one was looking, this might be the rocket fuel that ignites a whole new sound and fury. Solid. ~ Midwest Record


Hot Wax Album Review by the Rock Doctor

More ‘free range blues’ from Mick Kolassa on this, his 11th album.  I’m Just Getting Started is more of the down home blues Mick is noted for as he slips into more soulful stuff and a certain jazz feel at times that reminds me of Gaye Delorme.  Cool stuff, this.

As with previous records, I’m Just Getting Started is a mix of lively originals and spirited covers.  The sweet spot for me is their noir jazz take on Alibies & Lies, originally done by Chainsaw Dupont.  Mick is joined on the Taj Mahal classic Leaving Truck by Brandon Santini, and they get together again on John Hiatt’s Real Man.  Songs like these sit quite comfortably with tracks like Trying Not To Let the Darkness In, a minor key slow blues that Kolassa’s fans will appreciate; I have 8 of his albums so yeah, I’m definitely one of those fans.

I’m Just Getting Started was produced once again by Jeff Jensen, who helped Mick gather together a number of seasoned musicians to help bring these dozen songs to life.  Too many involved to mention here, but I was well pleased to note that bassist Dexter Allen, a groove master par excellence, plays on all but 2 of the numbers.  You can hear and feel the miles Kolassa has traveled through this life, which gives his blues the right weight… he’s not singing these songs for any commercial consideration beyond making a living.  No, I really believe Mick sings stuff like Are You Ready and Trying Not To Let the Darkness In because he feels it deeply, which makes this album a very soulful experience.

As I’ve noted with previous Kolassa albums I’ve reviewed, 100% of the net proceeds from I’m Just Getting Started will go to The Blues Foundation.  There, it will be split between The Hart Fund and Generation Blues.  If you’re a blues believer, I suggest visiting www.blues.org to find out what you can do to help support this music.  In the meantime, put Mick Kolassa’s new disc on and let the mighty Mississippi carry you away… you’ll want to dance, think, and maybe even have a good cry or two.  That, fellow babies, is the magic of the blues. ~ John Kereiff, Rock Doctor


The Rocking Magpie

The Blues Comes in Many Shades; and Here We Add a Couple of New Shades To the Palette

This is Mick Kolassa’s 11th album which shows he already knows his way around The Blues, and even a cursory listen here shows what a talented singer and songwriter he is.
For some inexplicable reason I’ve always liked a title track to open an album; and that’s what we get here; the autobiographical and slightly tongue in cheek I’M JUST GETTING STARTED, where Mick takes us through every stage of his career from his Daddy giving him advice at the beginning through to him claiming
I’ve got me lots of tricks
ain’t no one’s seen yet!”
and you’d better believe it, Brothers and Sisters!
The thing I like most about this album; and that’s not to say there are any weaknesses; is the way the songs are front and centre. Sadly; in my experience too many Blues artists let the music especially their guitar playing dominate proceedings; and/or fiddling around with the vocals in one way or another; Mick Kolassa on the other hand regularly switches things around to get the best out of his words and stories.
Track #2 What Can I do? is a delicious slow burner, about a love affair going nowhere and I likes it a whole lot; especially when his voice drops an octave on the last line of the chorus.
I don’t know what to call it; but Kolassa is the opposite of a ‘one trick pony’; as he uses a variety of styles to catch your attention; with the dark and moody Alibis And Lies being a N’Orleans shuffle with a cornet/trumpet slicing through like cut throat razor; and bizarrely (on paper) he follows that with Friday night Dive Bar re-make of Milk Cow Blues called Leavin’ Trunk which is as raw and authentic as the Blues gets in 2022; and you hardly notice the change in pace at all.
I think that may be why I’m liking this album so much; is Kolassa’s ‘authenticity’ throughout; he sounds like he’s either ‘living the songs’ as he sings them, or ‘actually lived the story’ he’s singing about.
Prime examples would be the punchy version of John Hiatt’s Real Man, or That Kind of Man and especially the sizzling Take Me Away which won’t leave a dry eye in the house.
I’ve played the rambunctious final track How Much Can I Pay You a few times now, trying to unravel what it’s ‘really about’ and I think it’s as simple as being a fun song about a ‘rough old girl’ in a bar that the band are playing, and the type of tongue in cheek, saucy song we associate with Muddy Waters or even Louis Jordan; and it’s an absolute doozy.
As I say regularly, there are no obvious singles here; and why should there be with so few outlets for coverage; but that doesn’t stop a couple of songs from standing out like a poppy in a field of golden wheat.
First of my options for Favourite track is the slow and intricate Hard Hearted Woman; which features some superb guitar and organ interplay that sounds like a fog that the lyrics cut through like early morning sunshine.
Then there’s the funky ass, harmonica drenched Bigger Dreams, which just might be my current ‘signature tune’ and Rick Steff’s piano playing is straight out of the Professor Longhair playbook too.
Which brings me to my actual Favourite Song; the stunner Trying Not to Let The Darkness In; which has more or less applied to me a lot in recent years, and will tug at the heartstrings of all so many people who get to hear it; and the construction is quite majestic too.
As we all know, the Blues comes in many shades; and Mick Kolassa has created a couple of new shades of his own here and may even be colouring outside of the lines occasionally; but if that is what it takes to create songs like these; who am I to complain? ~ The Rocking Magpie


La Hora del Blues

With eleven albums published so far, singer and guitar player Mick Kolassa comes back to the front line with the energy, passion and enthusiasm of a beginner but, at the same time, with the professionalism and knowledge he treasures, thanks to the experience in the music field gathered over the years.

Produced by Jeff Jensen, Kolassa shows an undeniable authority in the whole recording, walking with professionalism along blues and other similar styles such as jazz, soul, funky, groove, gospel or rock, in thirty-five minutes of excellent music and twelve songs, eight Mick Kolassa’s own compositions and four versions “Alibis And Lies” coming from Steve Pasek, “Leavin’ Trunk” by Sleepy John Estes, “Are You Ready?” by Charlie Allen & John Hill and “Real Man” by John Hiatt.

Mick Kolassa is backed in the album by Jeff Jensen on guitar, Dexter Allen on bass and guitar, Rick Steff on keyboards and John Blackmon on drums, plus different collaborations by Bill Ruffino, Andrew McNeill, Marc Franklin, Chris Stephenson, Kirk Smothers and the backing vocals of singers J. Remy Williams, Julia Melah and Donna Jones Nickelson. As he usually does, all the album proceeds will go to support The HART Fund and Generation Blues programs, sponsored by the Blues Foundation.

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I’m Just Getting Started!


July 15, 2022 Release

ORDER HERE –>


CHECK IT OUT – listen / stream it / buy it!

With his 11th album Mick Kolassa declares, I’m Just Getting Started, and what a start. Roaming through his “Free Range Blues” Mick serves up several subgenres of blues. Working again with producer Jeff Jensen, they have assembled a cadre of seasoned musicians to bring you a selections of ear opening tunes. Opening with the title track, “I’m Just Getting Started”, Mick declares that he’s got moves ain’t nobody seen yet. In the second track Mick steps away from the classic blues and brings you a Soul blues tune called “What Can I Do?” that features some stellar lead guitar work by Dexter Allen, who also played bass on ten of the tracks on this album.

Mick then asks listeners to dream “Bigger Dreams” and not give up on the ones they have. Mick and the band move in the direction of jazz with their cover of “Alibis and Lies”, a song about modern day Beale Street originally done by Chainsaw Dupont. Joining Mick on his version of the Taj Mahal classic “Leaving Truck” is Brandon Santini – this is the first song Mick and Brandon ever played together, many years ago, and they bring it with a new and funky groove. Brandon also joined Mick in presenting their take on the John Hiatt tune “Real Man”. The other cover on this album is a very bluesy/roots gospel take on the Pacific Gas and Electric rock classic “Are You Ready”.

The love songs “That Kind of Man” and “Take Me Away” are presented with a mixture of Soul and blues rock, while “Trying Not to Let the Darkness In” is one of Mick’s classic minor key slow blues songs. Closing out this new album are “Hard Hearted Woman”, a tune about a lady who should be avoided, to say the least, and “How Much Can I Pay You?” a comical song about a patron at a club who gets more than a little carried away with her celebrating.

All combined, these songs represent an expansion of the Free Range Blues Mick is noted for, and he’s just getting started!

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