ilana brings new life to the blues from an uncommonly heard source in the modern blues: the violin or “the fiddle” as Ilana likes to call it. “I’ve Got Something To Tell You” (2014) was ilana’s well-received debut, showcasing her unique improvisational blues fiddling. This refreshing blues/roots album features her passionate bluesy style, alongside Ronnie Earl’s unmistakable masterful guitar playing. It makes you wonder why you don’t hear more blues violin. The first cut, “Marlyn’s Blues” is ilana’s original and earned a finalist spot for “Coolest Blues Song in the World 2015” by Big City Blues Magazine. Master guitarist Ronnie Earl joins ilana on that song and a few others on this record, including Katz’s original “Runnin’ in Peace,” about her experience being 50 feet from the Boston Marathon bombing. Earl recorded another version of this song on his “Good News” record, each one featuring soulful singer Diane Blue.
Jesse Williams bass playing rounds out a number of the tracks, including Robert Lockwood’s ‘Take a Little Walk Me’ sung by Diane Blue, alongside Ilana’s bluesy fiddling and Earl’s stunning licks. But Diane isn’t the only singer on this record as Ilana’s heartfelt vocals on John Lee Hooker’s ‘Willow Tree’ work well alongside Ronnie Earl’s foot-tapping boogie sound, reminiscent of another era. Marylou Ferrante’s skillful acoustic blues guitar and singing are also featured, intertwined with ilana’s blues licks on a couple of Memphis Minnie songs in a different old-timey duet style that will take you back. This record has another special pairing: twin fiddling of ilana and the wonderful Dotty Moore whose magical harmonies on “Old Medeira Waltz” are often a favorite from the record. Ilana ends the record with a solo fiddle medley in a non-traditional violin tuning that brings the register down low. It’s a nice end-cap to the story that this record tells.
Big City Blues Magazine
Ms. Katz trained as a classical violinist, but her free spirit wouldn’t let her be restrained by its traditional confinements. In the tradition of old blues players this nonconformist found her niche playing on street corners and subways. The fiddle was a common instrument in the turn of the century blues but Katz playing this old timey style is a refreshing change from the rockin’ direction of blues today. In her debut release “I’ve Got Something To Tell You” she performs solo, as a duo, trio and quartet but each with her own unique arrangements. Inviting kindred spirits to join her, on this project are Ronnie Earl on guitar, Marylou Ferrante on guitar, banjo, vocals, Dotty Moore on fiddle, Jesse Williams on bass and Diane Blue singing on thirteen fiddle-driven classics and originals
Kicking off with John Lee Hooker’s “She’s Long She’s Tall (She Weeps Like A Willow Tree)” Ronnie Earl riffs and stomps out the beat as the fiddle sways and bends the notes and Ilana takes her only turn on vocals. Earl continues and Ilana leads the way on two instrumentals, “Marlyn’s Blues” for her mother and “PB Cracker Blues” dedicated to Ronnie, as Diane Blues joins on vocals for Robert Lockwood Jr’s “Take A Little Walk With Me.” Katz has a duo with Marylou Ferrante on guitar and vocals covering Memphis Minnie’s “Ain’t Nothin’ In Ramblin’” and “Frisco Town” then the traditional instrumental “Cruel Willie Blues,” with Katz’s ode to one of her cats “Conan’s Farewell” and Ferrante switches to banjo on “Johnny, Don’t Get Drunk.” Dotty Moore joins for dueling fiddles as they casually breeze through “Old Medeira Waltz” and “Shove The Pig’s Foot A Little Further In The Fire.” Adding a modern note Diane sings “Runnin’ In Peace” about Ilana’s experience at the Boston Marathon being only fifty feet from where the bombs went off as Ronnie uses the riff of “Two Trains Running” as the fiddle sets the pace. Finishing with a traditional instrumental Ilana hits some high points and low mournful tones on “Piney Ridge.” Ilana Katz Katz is keeping a blues tradition alive with “I’ve Got Something To Tell You.”
—Roger & Margaret White
Making a Scene – The Independent Musician’s Magazine
This is a modern approach to old time fiddle. Katz incorporates Blues and originals to augment her repertoire of traditional tunes. Her guest musicians include Ronnie Earl; Jesse Williams; Diane Blue; Marylou Ferrante; and Dotty Moore.
Earl sits in on guitar on John Lee Hooker’s “She Long She’s Tall (She Weeps Like a Willow Tree)”. Earl’s guitar and Katz’s fiddle begin to cook before he solos. Katz sings. On, Robert Lockwood Jr.’s ”Take a Little Walk with Me”, Diane Blue is the vocalist.
Lockwood is a favorite of Earl’s and his guitar is especially nice here. Katz includes two songs from Memphis Minnie. Both “Ain’t Nothin’ in Ramblin’” and “Frisco Town” are performed as a duo with guitarist and vocalist Ferrante. Katz has composed three instrumentals. “Marlyn’s Blues” is dedicated to the memory of her mom. William’s bass accentuates Katz’s fiddle and Earl’s guitar. This trio also plays on “PB Cracker Blues” named for the snack but definitely a treat for our ears. “Conan’s Farewell” is a dirge for Katz’s cat.
Katz is also a street musician. She and her busking partner were near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon when the bomber terrorized the city. Everyone was emotionally affected and these words poured from Katz. Set to music “Runnin’ in Peace” is heart felt as sung by Blue. Earl and Williams round out the ensemble. This song was also included on Earl’s most recent album on Stony Plain records.
Four traditional fiddle tunes are included by Katz. On “Cruel Willie Blues” Ferrante accompanies on guitar. On “Johnny Don’t Get Drunk”, Ferrante switches to banjo. Katz plays the fiddle solo on “Piney Bridge”. The most beautiful traditional tune here is the “Old Mediera Waltz”. Played by Katz and Moore on twin fiddles it evokes a myriad assortment of images.
These are very laid back sessions, informal and intimate. Katz is a breath of fresh air.
– Richard Ludmerer