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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Best of Des Moines Blues, Blues Army of Des Moines, and Saving the Blues One Soul at a Time.

Sorry for not blogging, but life is busy, and the blue class was canceled. Apparently college kids are not interested in the blues.  Probably a fairly true statement not because they dislike the blues, but have never heard it, or realized that they have listened to it.  Every time you watch TV, or a commercial you hear the blues.  It is used a lot in popular entertainment, and yet the kids seem unaware of its existence.

 However, if you need a blues fix I am posting now at the Best of Des Moines Blues. It is part of the Blues Army of Des Moines an attempt to save the blues by promoting local blues musicians.  Trust me it could be a long up hill battle, but if your town is like Des Moines you have probably seen fewer places playing the blues, and even fewer local bands playing the blues.  Certainly national acts still come through Des Moines, but how can you have a local blues scene without a blues bar, or local blues bands?????? 

If you like come join our fight.  You don't need to be from Des Moines to join the blue army, just like us on Facebook. I will still stop by from time to time to post here, but mostly I will be working on the Best of Des Moines blues Vlog. 


Blues Historian

Monday, February 10, 2014

Tyrone Davis - Can I Change My Mind

The late great Tyrone Davis! 

Bobby Rush - I Ain't Studdin You (Live)

Twerking before it was called twerking.   Bobby Rush and his dancers have been twerking long before young white girls started doing it.  You would be amazed at the number of people who tell me that young kids don't like the blues, but they sure do still steal from the blues:-)   I also caught my kids at the high school a few years ago listening to Clarence Carter!  

Friday, January 31, 2014

New Artist of Southern Soul

2009 video of FaLisa JaNaye nice Southern Soul and another blues artist you probably haven't heard about.  Keep checking in here for the next few months to get educated about the best blues you have never heard.

"Little Bluebird" - Johnnie Taylor

The late great Jonnie Taylor.  Just had to put another one of his songs on the blog!

"Hoochie Momma" - Marvin Sease

The Great Marvin Sease!  For the next few months I am going to highlight blues that you probably didn't know exsisted.  Especially if you live north of Kansas City, St. Louis, and Memphis.  Do yourself a favor and do a search on Youtube of Southern Soul, and hear some great blues.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

State of the Blues

With the current State of the Union speech, I thought it was time to deliver a State of the Blues post. Realise that this only represents Central Iowa, but I assume it is probably true through out most of the upper Midwest. The reality is that the Blues is hurting. Perhaps the fact that Des Moines was named the richest city in the US, means we no longer have the blues. However, as one of the many poor people in Des Moines, I can tell you that, that is BS. We have had some rough years in the blues. The KBA Award winning blues bar, Blues on Grand closed, KBA Award winning DJ Andre Mosqueda retired from KGGO, and the number of bands playing the blues and only the blues you could count on one hand. Perhaps the near death of the Central Iowa Blues Society, and the stagnation of the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame also played a part, perhaps it was the economy, or the dearth of "National Acts" calling themselves blues, that really were playing mediorce classic rock,or Jazz crooners with a blues twinge pretending to be jump blues bands. Whatever the reason for the decline and there are many, we must look to what we can do, and not lament what we have lost.
I think everything starts locally. Local blues bands are what really creates a scene. It is impossible to build a scene on national acts (some of which are marginally blues) who might come through town once a month, and expect to have a local scene. The guys who are in the trenches are the guys who keep the music alive. We must realize that the blues is older than anyone alive today. It began after the Civil War, in a time we historian like to call reconstruction. It has risen and fallen with the times. Its first big break was with WC Handy when he started to write down the music on sheet music. Then in the early 20s it was the Female Blues singers, the in the late 20s, and 30s, it was the country bluesmen. In the 40s it was jump blues, 50s Chicago blues, 60s blues revival with both British and American bands covering old blues tunes, While the 70s were a downtime, Soul, Funk, and Disco, were homes for many a blues performer. The 80s brought the blues brothers, and Stevie Ray, and the 90s saw the blues societies all over the country at their height. So the question is how do you fix it. I think if you look at all the births, and deaths of the blues, it all starts local. Local bars, and local musicians playing the music in a honest fashion. Second, we need to look to the Southern blues performers for inspiration. I have said this before, but the best blues right now is being made and performed in the South. Younger musicians, who play in a style reminiscent of ZZ Hill, Little Milton, Denise Lasalle, and Clarence Carter, or what I would call the Malaco sound, are playing some great blues. There are some older cats, like Latimore, still out there, and a lot of musicians too numerous to mention, but that I plan on highlighting on the blog this year. All from the south.
So what positives in Des Moines can we count on? First, Tom, at the Hull Ave, wants to dedicate his bar to the blues. This will help, having a bar to call home of the blues. As musicians we also need to realize that we are rebuilding, and we might need to take a pay cut. I know how much money goes through the till in each place I play, and I know how much we can make. Right now we need to lower our sites until people start coming back in the door and drinking drinks. Second, we need to find a home for the Hall of Fame other than the website. I think we have an answer to that, but it is in the works, more later if it happens. Third, the Blues Society has new leadership, and they have reached out to players in away that makes me think that change could happen. This is good for everyone. Fourth, having a jam session dedicated to only the blues. The only one that I am aware of is the Sunday night Jam at the Hull Ave. The number of local players coming out has continued to grow, and it is good for the local scene to have a place to hear and play the blues. Fifth I personally think it is time to retire the Blues Challenge. It has not helped the local scene, in pits band against band, and player against player. Too many hard feelings have happened due to the challenge. There are better ways to send a band to Memphis than making artist compete against artists. Finally blues on the radio is still going on in Des Moines, while we lost Andre on KGGO, I heard today that he will be back on KFMG! Bob Dorr is still on IPR, and there are multiple DJs, on KFMG that play the blues.
Things may look bad, but we have a small group of people trying to keep the blues alive, and in the long run that is what is needed to build the blues back up to where it was 10 years ago. We need to remember that we have been here before. in the early 90s things were very much like they are now including pay. So with some hard work, and building local we can turn the ship around.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Eric "Guitar" Davis RIP

From Huffington Post

All I can say isn't it about time we get rid of SOME of the guns???????   We lost a good one, and he was not the only person shot in Chicago.  1/2 a block down a deacon of a church was also shot in his car.  The uneducated will blame Chicago, but they have pretty tough gun laws, but Gary Indiana doesn't and that is where all the guns are coming from. 

Sad thing is Eric Davis was a good one, and at 41 in blues years very young.  Tis a sad day indeed.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Chick Willis RIP

Chick Willis the "Stoop Down" man died on Saturday night.  He was 79.  More information at this link HERE>

Will try to find a better video of Chick Willis. This one is a little out of tune for some reason.

Friday, November 15, 2013


All start cast of blues performers playing and singing the blues. I am guessing 1980s due to Billy Ocean being in the mix, plus Stevie Ray Vaughn.  I am sure I posted this years ago, but a lot of the videos i posted originally have disapeared.  Plus this video is worth reposting:-)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Muddy Waters - Champagne & Reefer

Just thought a great Muddy Waters tune was due today:-)   Plus my friends Johnny Reefferseed Express are playing at the Hull Ave tonight (E9th and Hull Ave, Des Moines Iowa, 6pm-10pm)
Support your local blues performers because with out them there is no local blues scene. 

More Paramount Records!

Great day for Paramount record lovers!  Found another article about the small Wisconsin furniture company turned record company to sell record players!  This one is from NPR, and discusses research of Scott Blackwood, and a reissue of Paramount recordings.  Unfortunately I couldn't find a link to the reissue or who is putting it out on the NPR site. The article is here on the NPR webpage

However, they did mention Revenant Records, so I checked them out and found the Paramount box set HERE Unfortunately all 5000 copies must have been sold because it is out of print!  ARGH!  The article from NPR is only a few days old!! I guess you will just have to look at the site and wonder what it would have been like to own a flash drive with 800 Paramount recordings on it, and all the rest of the cool stuff that came in the box. 

Bobby Parker RIP

Blues and soul guitarist Bobby Parker died October 31st at the age of 71.  His hit Watch Your Step influenced John Lennon on two Beatles songs Day Tripper and I Feel Fine
His Obit can be found here on the Washington Post

Another Blues Historian

Article from Penn State about blues historian Jerry Zoltan and his research on Paramount records.  Paramount was a furniture store in Grafton Wisconsin in order to sell record players, Paramount started to record music. The most sought after being blues recordings of artists like Blind Lemon Jefferson, Charlie Patton, and Skip James.

To read more click HERE. To read the Wiki about Paramount click HERE.