10 July 2022

Blue Monday Monthly “Badder to the Bone” Cool Review-Interview

Some interviews are straight others take a winding path. This is my first interview-review and I sort of like how it came out this month on BLUE MONDAY MONTHLY by Kyle Christen…

“Not quite sure how I came across Detroit blues rocker Eliza Neals, but it was a few years ago, and what I heard then go me thinking that we at BMM needed to talk with her. Following the excellent CD “Black Crow Moan,” from 2020, the pandemic hit, affecting everyone, musicians, live performances, new CD’s coming out, even us writers. But the time is now, and the 8th release of her career is just out, titled “Badder to the Bone.” Is it ever a winner! Nine originals with one cover of excellent soulful, sensuous, low-slow, and rib meat-rocking blues.

I was honored to speak with Eliza about the new one and asked her what does she think of this release? EN: It’s one of my favorites, because as musicians, we want one better than the last, right? I really love it, it’s exactly how I wanted it to come out. I had certain people in mind that I wanted to use for the solos by the way my songs should sound. It really came out good. I like how it flows.

First tune up for me is called “Queen of the Nile,” which features a guest, namely Texas native Lance Lopez on lead guitar! Having worked with Lance a few years ago, I just knew this would be good. Some nice bluesy licks leading in, and it’s where you start diggin’ her voice. A little coarse, but so fine, and also soft but sultry, sweet and sassy… all of the above! It’s only the 2nd cut but Lance is already the coup de-tat. Dark and smokey, this one would be great to hear last in a set and then we can all head out for a much needed break.

Next up is “Lockdown Love,” with co-producer Michael Puwal on guitar, and his heavy rhythm licks get you saying “Ohh…Yeah!” A lament to what we’ve just been through, featuring lyrics of: “Lock Down Love, I got my groceries by the phone. I got nowhere to run. I get my strenght from up above. Thank God you love me, ’cause I’m eating like a pig, ice cream and peanut butter pancakes, chocolate chips, and I’m 5, 10, 20 lbs. wow, cause this being cooped up is sure making me grow.” Some screaming ‘leads and the band is cooking!

Following up is “Bucket of Tears,” which is stuff us blues lovers want. Great wah-wah guitar, with a solo that will melt you, and the drums of Brian Clune kick your ass. The other drummers adding their talent on various cuts are Skeeto Valdez and Shakey Fowlkes (plus Tim Grogan.) My next fave so far! I picked out the next cut, titled “Got a Gun” and despite the title… lets dance! The tale of a man who is using his girls CC to buy stuff, but “he won’t be gettin’ too far. Night after night I keep waitin’ for you.” That’s a warning.

Excellent picking from another guest, Detroit’s own Billy ‘JC’ Davis. You might remember him as a member of Hank Ballard & The Midnighters, and their memorable singles a few decades ago like “Kansas City” and “Finger Poppin’ Time.” At age 84, Billys got the chops of someone much, much younger! So I asked Eliza how this one came to be. EN: It’s a song I started out on piano. It’s got the bass, the drums, the percussion instruments, I came up with the bass line. And that turned into a guitar riff. I wanted to do a real old school Motown feel. It was just like one of those humorous blues tunes. Something crazy, I studied with Barrett Strong for years. (Author’s note: Google Barrett and see the songs he wrote that you know and love). I was a protege, and he was the mentor. I tried every trick I know, and it just kind of came out! Just forget your troubles, but don’t take it too seriously.

Blue Monday Monthly Review+Interview cool "Badder to the Bone"

Blue Monday Monthly Review+Interview cool “Badder to the Bone”

“Heathen” is now up, and you will love Eliza on this one. “Where you going you mean son of a gun, night time, drinking moonshine, playing with a loaded gun.” Pay attention, buddy, ’cause I think she’s just being nice! Featuring the keys of John Galvin, who has been a member of southern rockers Molly Hatchet for years, the disc also has Peter Keys appearing of four cuts playing the 88’s. I love this one, Kymberly Wright adds some great backing vocals, and the disc is getting better as we go. The bass players holding it down and playing great are Paul Randolph and Jason Kott.

The only cover is the Blind Faith hit “Can’t Find My Way Home,” and you will like her style! Lance Lopez returns on guitar, which is heavy dripping blues and all is good. The band provides a wall of sound against Eliza’s magical voice, and I double secret dare you to try this one in your headphones. Excellent job and a great choice. To finish out is the reprise “Queen of the Nile II,” and it’s a killer. Lance just shreds it, and I’m figuring Eliza does all the backing vocals here. More of the blues, as “One kiss and you’re through, gonna make you lose your mind.” I’m all in, and you should be too. That’s all we need to know, that its good, right? Eliza at her best.

Speaking of my friend Lance, Eliza told me how he came to be playing on this disc. EN: I met Lance at Paul Nelson’s house. I got to know him better when I was opening for Walter Trout at a festival, and we got talking, and I was like it would be great to work together. At that time, I was writing “Queen of the Nile,” and thought, who do I want to do the solo? So I called Lance, and he’s so great, he said, “Yeah, let’s make history!” I was in Nashville and Peter Keys (Lynyrd Skynyrd) was already there, and we had Tim Grogan (Desert Rose Band) on drums. Jason Kott was playing bass, so I played it for them twice, and they went for it!We did it live in one take, if you can believe that, and Lance’s solo was amazing. He really played exactly what I wanted. One of my absolute favorite tunes!”

My Final question for her was what is up next? EN: I have some fun things coming up this summer, We’re planning a big tour of Florida in October. In September, I’m hoping we’re going back to Spain and the UK. I have a spot at a festival in Detroit on July 2nd, which is a tribute to John Lee Hooker. I am one of the artists featured along with Bette Layvette and Ana Popovic. Slowly but surely, I’m re-booking everything that got cancelled, you know what I mean? Working on getting all my shows back to where we were before the pandemic. It makes my day when people love what I put out. It’s like walking around naked and making sure people like it! 

That’s a great stopping point for me, and the rest of our male readers. I really appreciated her serenades over the phone throughout our conversation! For all things Eliza. including where to get this disc, videos, other merch, check out www.elizaneals.com. There you will see comments from Buddy Guy, Mick Jagger, Walter Trout, Tony Joe White, and others who have worked with and played with her. How can you go wrong with their options? Eliza is coming and it’s hard, hot and heavy. We can use a blues songstress to carry us on, and she is it. Terrific release from a terrific performer.

So there you have it. Great CD from a performer who is out there and working hard for us blues lovers. All you promoters need to take a look and get her out on the festival circuit in the upper Midwest. You won’t go wrong, and your attendees will thank you!”

Blue Monday Monthly Review+Interview cool "Badder to the Bone" pt2

Blue Monday Monthly Review+Interview cool “Badder to the Bone” pt2


Thank you John Hammer for connecting me to Kyle it was a fun interview and fantastic review. Blues Monthly Monday is always on my horizon and it’s great to grace their pages. Photos by John Hammer from the Prairie Dog Blues Festival 2019 what a fun show!