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CD REVIEW -- Ivy Ford
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Time To Shine


Ivy Ford Time to Shine CD

By Linda Cain

The label “child prodigy” is often overused. But when it comes to Ivy Ford the description rings true. Raised in north suburban Waukegan, Ivy learned to play music at an early age. She is mostly self-taught on piano, alto saxophone, drums, bass and guitar. At age 13, she began performing live with a Kenosha, Wisconsin band, The Real Deal. In 2012, at age 19, she joined a local blues band, which evolved into Ivy Ford and the Cadillacs.

Once she was old enough to get into bars, Miss Ford began to perform with her mentor, blues guitar hero J.B. Ritchie. She has since shared the stage with blues luminaries Joe Moss, Toronzo Cannon and Tom Holland. After receiving exposure by playing in Chicagoland’s blues clubs, Ivy’s stand-out talent earned her many prestigious bookings including opening for Buddy Guy at his club in 2015. She also represented the Crossroads Blues Society, based in Rockford, IL, at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis in February 2018. Ivy’s riveting performance won her a spot in the semi-finals, after competing against a couple hundred blues acts from around the world.

And now at age 25 Miss Ford has released her sophomore CD, appropriately titled Time To Shine. The uplifting title track kicks off this 10-song disc of all original tunes. The only musicians on the album are Ivy’s rhythm section: Willie J. Rauch on bass and Dave Axen on drums. Upon listening to the album, you’d think that Ivy was getting more help in the studio, but no she isn’t.

Miss Ford plays all the guitar parts and sings lead and backup on all the tunes. This young artist is so versatile and multi-talented that she ably delivers ten captivating tunes with only three pieces. Blessed with a powerful voice that swoops, soars, growls and purrs, Ivy is a natural for the blues, although she also dabbles in country and rock.

“Time to Shine,” is an upbeat gospel-inspired song with a positive message; Ivy’s deep knowledge of music history is on display here, as the rhythmic, joyful tune recalls songs by Sister Rosetta Tharpe. She performed this number in Memphis during the IBC competition and made a big impression!

“Hate To Have To Go” showcases Ivy’s very impressive lead and rhythm guitar skills on this Chicago style blues number that recalls Magic Sam. Miss Ford’s sultry voice beckons her lover, letting him know that absence will surely make her heart grow fonder.

She serves up slow, sensuous blues with a moody melody on “Ain’t Had Enough of You.” The song is an indictment about a fickle man who loves ‘em and leaves ‘em but always leaves ‘em wanting more! Miss Ford’s nimble fingers create some strong string bending, plus a flowing cascade of notes that perfectly serve the song’s emotive, bluesy feel.

Miss Ford also knows how to pen some good-time, barroom anthems such as “Girls Night,” a bouncy jump blues number on which she gives her guitar a rhythmic workout designed to get bodies on the dance floor. “It’s girls night, so boys got to go.” See ya later fellas.

“Mama Don’t” is another tune designed to get booties shakin’ with bassist Rauch and drummer Axen providing the funky boom boom bottom to Ivy’s chickie wah wah guitar. Try to sit still when you hear this one.

Time to Shine closes with the most personal song on the disc, “Don’t Handle Me,” on which the feisty blues youngblood answers those who would underestimate her and keep her down due to her youth.

She declares:

Now I know what you see. When you’re lookin’ at me

“Young, dumb. I ain’t been around the block”

But I got a surprise for you! And it might be quite a shock

What I know they don’t write in books. Ain’t got no class in school

I got my PhD in life’s degree

Boy, I ain’t no fool!

Don’t handle me baby! 

Ivy Ford has only lived life for a quarter century, but she is often described as an “old soul” who is “wise beyond her years.” Her self-penned songs show a musical and lyrical maturity, along with a deep understanding of the blues genre that fans of all ages can relate to. Anyone who has ever seen her vivacious live performances will be interested in adding Time To Shine to their music collection. It won’t be long until this rising young star is discovered by the movers and shakers in the blues music biz. And then you can brag that you knew her when!

For info or to buy the CD:

Linda Cain is the editor and founder of Chicago Blues Guide.

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