Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet

CATHY LEMONS & JOHNNY ACE

Lemonace

2011-01-13

Review of Lemonace by Steven “Nick” Nickelson: Back in the 90's, blues was kind of poo pooed, and it was tough going for most blues artists – but that's what the blues is all about, right? Several artists carried the torch until the rest of the music world woke up from their hairspray-induced coma and rediscovered the blues. Then the world “discovered” blues artists like Cathy Lemons (“the finest female vocalist with straight hair”), who joined up with bassist Johnny Ace to form LemonAce, picking up lead guitartist Pierre Le Corre, and Artid “Stix” Chavez on drums to round out the sound. This is the first cd that was co-written mostly by Cathy & Johnny (mostly Cathy), and there are some moments of real brilliance (“Used To These Blues”, “Shoot To Kill”, “I'm Not The Woman I Used To Be”); however, there are more not so brilliant cuts (“Sink Or Swim”, “Brand New Day” seem to be the most in need of work). Cathy really knocks it out of the park on “When Bad Luck Looks Good”, and her most capable bandmates jump right in and make their presence known. If you look up the bio on this couple (Cathy Lemons and Johnny Ace), you can see that their history goes back to the 1980's, so they have certainly been steeped in the blues. I have to wonder, though, why it has taken so long to release a record – particularly when you hear the mournful piano playing by pianist David Maxwell, who so ably carries the day on “Gimme A Penny”. I might add that this cd is blessed by having not only David Maxwell, but also, Tommy Castro and Ron Thompson, who contribute fabulous guitar licks (Ron is particularly resonant with his slide). It seems that most albums (with very few exceptions) lately have a few great of possibly great cuts, a few mediocre cuts, and a couple forgettable – this cd is no different. “I Got It” falls into the mediocre category, as does “Stay”, “Get This Thing Offa My Back”, and “Move On”. Having watched a few videos, I have to categorically state that this band is much more of a live show band than a studio band,. If they are in the area, you owe it to yourself to go see them. Just my two nickels. ----Nick

ARTIST BIO Cathy Lemons was born August 13, 1958 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. She would move 15 times before the age of 13 before settling in Dallas, TX. "You have to be tough just to survive the Texas heat--110 degrees 6 to 7 months out of the year." Commenting on what the blues scene was like in Texas when she was growing up, she says, "It was a great place for blues . I had a chance to see many fine talents in their early stages of development like Anson Funderburg, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Lou Anne Barton. . In Dallas and the surrounding towns, there were not many clubs to play, and many of us were just struggling so hard to make a dime. So, Texas musicians tended to really stick together back then. There weren't too many freelance type players. You made a band--and you worked with only that band. I liked it that way. California players fail to see their greatest weakness, which is in my opinion, not enough knowledge of the roots of blues, and not enough respect for what a band is--when you work together as a whole for the greater good of that whole. If you let ego get in the way, the music somehow dies. Music is about giving." Since 1995 Cathy Lemons with her fabulous bass playing partner Johnny Ace, have worked with some of the finest musicians on the scene: Ron Thompson, Paris Slim, Steve Freund, Rusty Zinn, David Maxwell, Paul Oscher, Danny Carron (guitarist for Charles Brown), Anthony Paule, and Johnny Talbot (guitarist for Bobbie "Blue" Bland). Cathy Lemons and Johnny Ace recorded their first CD "Dark Road" on The Saloon Recordings label in late 1999 and received fabulous reviews from all the major blues magazines. Then they re-formed their band in 2006 to include Pierre Le Corre on guitar and Artie "Stix" Chavez on drums and began to write songs on a serious level.

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Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

The opinions expressed in these reviews are those of the individual volunteers that submitted the article and do not necessarily reflect the views of WYCE or GRCMC; nor its staff, donors, or affiliates.