DarielB – Flying Under the Radar

CD Review: Fallin’ For Rhonda’s New CD

Posted in CD Picks by darielb on September 9, 2008

At the risk of repeating myself, Rhonda McDaniel is one rockin’ blues mama who just keeps getting better and better. She’s got a brand new self-titled CD being released July 18 on KHP Records and her many fans are going to love it. The CD, her first, is a mix of shag tunes, blues and a ballad or three.

“Putting out a CD has been a longtime dream of mine . . . it’s just something I wanted for myself,” Rhonda explained to me. “I was trying to reach a lot of different people. I hope the songs I chose were versatile enough, but I picked songs that I love to sing.”

Track one is a “I’m On Your Side,” a mellow bluesy piece by L.A. singer/songwriter Kevin Moore (aka Keb’ Mo’) that Rhonda has amped up a bit. “Walking After Midnight,” the famous Patsy Cline tune is next. Rhonda’s been singing this for years in her live shows, and makes it her own.

Track three, “Left With a Broken Heart,” is an obscure R&B tune penned by Marv Johnson and released by the Four Tops on their 1964 self-titled LP. Next is “Good Thing,” written by Levi Crawford, keyboard player and vocalist with the R&B group, Fat Jack Band. He also played keyboard, guitar, bass and sang backup on the recording. “I was honored,” Rhonda says, “when Levi called me to tell me about this song.”

Track five, Rhonda’s hit song “Why Am I Crying” was one of the top four during Spring SOS 2007 and spent five weeks at 1 on John Hook’s Beach Music Top 40 chart. In fact, it’s still charting.

“I just wanted to sing ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow,'” said Rhonda of track six. “I’ve always loved that song and I just wanted it on my CD.” As with her other covers, Rhonda makes it her own.

We jump now from Harold Arlen to Jim Quick. Track seven, penned by Jim, “Is My Mind Playing Tricks On Me,” is classic Quick. “I had gone to see Coastline,” Rhonda told me, “and outside in the parking lot, Casey [Meyer] was strummin’ his guitar and Jim was slappin’ his leg, giving me lyrics … and it took a little over a year, but I had a Jim Quick song.” Listen closely, you’ll hear Quick, Casey, Albert Rogers and Sam Bryant doin’ their stuff.

Number eight is Rhonda’s 2006 CBMA Blues Song of the Year, “You Got What It Takes.” This funky, R&B tune from Southern soulman Joe Tex takes on a definite blues bent in Rhonda’s hands.

Next comes what possibly may be my favorite track, “Talk To Me,” written by Kelley Hunt, a contemporary singer/songwriter/ keyboard player from Kansas City. After two different DJs sent her the song, she went with it. Rhonda does a great job with this sweet and bluesy tune.

Track ten is “Stop Look and Listen,” the duet with Rickey Godfrey that was released on the Keep On Shaggin’ compilation. Something different for both vocalists, this one is definitely shaggable.

“Fallin’,” Rhonda’s current release from the KHP compilation, Coast to Coast – Let’s Dance, is track 11. It’s currently charting at 27 on Hook’s Beach Music Top 40.
“Tom Polzin, president of the National Association of R&B DJs sent me this one, and it’s been getting a lot of attention, ” Rhonda said.

Finishing the CD are two covers, “Me and Bobby McGee,” a dance version which was included in shorter form on Locals 2, the 2007 CBMA Compilation of the Year and “At Last,” the Mack Gordon/Harry Warren song synonymous with Etta James.

I think Rhonda did a great job, especially for her freshman effort. I wish there had been a few more surprises on the disc. (She had already released several of the tracks on compilations, and four are well-known covers.) But her straight-from-the-gut voice and unique styling makes this well worth adding to your beach or blues collection. We’ll be hearing a lot more from her, I’m sure.

Rhonda is sure one busy girl. Besides pursuing a solo career, she’s been with BrassTyme, the high-energy McCormick, SC group, for over 16 years and continues to play with them. Her oldest brother, Mike Hill, bass guitarist for the group, is one of her major influences. While still a teenager, she toured all around the country with him in Amarilla, a country/Southern rock/variety band.

Plus, she recently joined forces with Bobby Simmons and Tony Kennedy – previously with the Rickey Godfrey Band– to form Freshwater, a variety trio that runs the gamut from beach & boogie to pop and blues.

Rhonda McDaniel will be at the beach this weekend (July 18 – 19, 2008) promoting her CD. Friday night, she’s booked with the Southern Soul Series at the O.D. Beach Club with Part Time Party Time Band. You can also catch her Friday afternoon at HOTO’s with Ray Scott of 94.9 The Surf as he broadcasts live.

If you’re wondering what’s next for Rhonda McDaniel, she’s too busy to think that far ahead. But Julian Fowler of Ripete Records, who has been coordinating the Southern Soul Summer Series with KHP, tells me her next CD will be Rhonda Sings the Blues. That’s great news for Rhonda’s blues fans.
Rhonda’s website
Rhonda’s MySpace Page


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