Thursday, November 27, 2008
It's 4 o'clock in the morning on Thanksgiving Day. My HyVee deli turkey dinner (no styrofoam anymore! Recyclable plastic dishes!) is ready to be nuked and I've got a piece of punkin' pie to take the place of CAKE! Life is good. I'm thankful for my health (most of the tests from my physical examination had normal readings, those that were not normal can be adjusted mostly thru diet) (I TOLD you that if I went to the doctor, he'd just tell me to cut out CAKE) (he did not, however, say anything about Punkin' Pie) I am thankful that I get to work with some of our state's finest musicians and public broadcasters. I am thankful that you still come out and dance and have fun with The Blue Band (the crowd is STILL 50% of the show) I am thankful for your encouragement. I am thankful for the opportunities that still seem to be offered The Blue Band. AND...I am thankful that Sarah Palin is not going to be Vice President of the United States (that's a joke, lighten up) THANK YOU for being my friend/bandmate/public broadcasting co-hort...
I've had a few people say "see ya Saturday at Blues On Grand" NO, it's FRIDAY Night (11/28) at Blues On Grand, 15th & Grand Ave., Des Moines- 9:30p-1:30a. Remember, BOG is a "No Mustang Sally Zone" so you'll have to argue with the management on that one. We played it the last time we were there and it's taken TWO YEARS to get invited back!...
Next Thursday, Dec. 4, I'll be co-hosting PBS' debut HD showing of Roy Orbison's classic 1987 Public TV show "A Black And White Night" It airs statewide on Iowa Public Television at 10pm. I'm worried that HD TV is REALLY gonna show the lines and wrinkles on my face, the sunken/dark eyes, and the pounds that I've added since my new found fondness for punkin' pie. Fortunately, IPTV has brilliant technicians and make up artists and I'll probably be wearing the "official" Roy Orbison sunglasses, so it won't be as bad as it could be!...
Next Friday, 12/5 is the next Friday Afternoon Club show at The Hub, 4th & Main, here in Sparkle City, 6-9pm, OP Pizza available by the slice, let's make it the Cedar Falls Blue Christmas Party too! Ho Ho Ho Ho. Next Saturday, we play for the HyVee corporate Xmas party. I bet the food's good at THAT party! They'll probably have punkin' pie...
A date that I wanted to draw your attention to is Friday Dec. 26 at The Mill in Iowa City! I know it's the day after Christmas, but won't ya want to get away from the Family by then?! Or bring the family with you!! The food's always great at The Mill and it's an early showtime (8pm) (don't ya love those Geezer Gig hours?!) We really need a home in Iowa City, please help us fill the place...
Thank you for reading these silly notes. I put WAY too much time into them, I appreciate your toleration! See ya on the Holiday Blue Highway, rub yer zydeco tie to the tune of Santa Brought The House Down On Christmas Eve, punkin' pie makes a good CAKE substitute (as a matter of fact, I think I'll go have tomorrow afternoon's dessert RIGHT NOW) Watch out for Turkey's on the road, and always remember we love you. Bob Dorr & The Blue Band.
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November 27, 2008
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Blues Reviews and MORE!
Marilyn Stringer reviews the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise. James Walker reviews a new CD from Larry Garner. Mike O'Cull reviews a new CD by Gravel Road. Bluesman Bill Porter reviews the new Elvin Bishop CD. Ben Cox send us an interview with Blue Blast Music Award winner John Németh. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!
Live Blues Music Review
Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise – Pacific - October 2008
Review By Marilyn Stringer
The 11th Legendary Blues Cruise sailed from San Diego in October, headed to Cabo, Mazatlan, and La Paz. Hurricane Norbert took over La Paz before we did, but then who goes on this cruise for the ports? We go for the music (!!!) which starts at the 5 pm sailaway and doesn’t stop until just before we leave the boat on the morning of day 7. You can take music sleep breaks from 6am until about 10 am and shore time. The most incredible music on this trip starts at 1am when one of the headliners hosts the ProAm Jam at the pool deck stage.
The San Diego Blues Society hosted the pre-party/ reunion at the Holiday Inn with Café R&B and Lurrie Bell (Carey Bell’s son) performing. The next day, once the permanent stage was built over the outdoor pool deck and our mandatory fire drill was done, and the sun was setting over San Diego, we sailed away with Marcia Ball rocking at the pool deck. After a wonderful dinner it was time to hear the music. Leon Blue, Rev. Billy C Wirtz , and Eden Brent managed the two piano bars til the wee hours of the morning; John Nemeth, followed by Elvin Bishop at the Pool Deck; Watermelon Slim then Los Lobos in the Vermeer Lounge; and Ronnie Baker Brooks hosting the 1 am Pro Jam.
The next day we were at sea and the day was full of events from one end of the boat to the other. The Virgin (cruisers) got lei’d with Shane Dwight - the Returnees were surprised with acoustic Curtis Salgado and John Fohl. Chicago’s own Dick Shurman put on a workshop with Elvin Bishop and Magic Slim. Back at the Pool Deck Lionel Young – the IBC Acoustic winner – was working his violin/guitar – he plays it like both – with Harold Brown; Shane headed to the Crow’s Nest; and Kenny Neal, his mom Shirley, and lots of his family were doing a Louisiana Style cooking demo. One on the greatest benefits of the LRBC is the cruisers and performers get to hang out for the week – it is a floating hotel with nothing to do but play with each other-no cooking, no cleaning, no driving. The Q&A and story-telling workshops, the photo ops & autograph parties, and the relaxed week of socializing between cruisers and performers just don’t happen at regular festivals.
One of the workshops was “Chicago-Where the Blues Reigns Supreme” with stories from Dick Shurman, who grew up with all the old bluesmen in Chicago. Ronnie Baker Brooks, Elvin Bishop, Magic Slim, Koko Taylor, and Curtis Salgado, joined in the stories and performed afterwards. Our day in Cabo included Shane Dwigt and Randy Oxford taking over Cabo Wabo for the afternoon.
The afternoon included more performances from Earl Thomas & The Paddy Milner Band, David Jacobs-Strain, Tommy Castro, Koko Taylor (with Chico Banks filling in for one of her injured band members), Chris Thomas King, Magic Slim, Dr. John and Etta James (no photos). Curtis Salgado, a surprise guest played with just about everybody. And what a treat to just have him on the boat – alive and blowing strong!
The elegant dining room welcomes the blues cruisers in our shorts and flip flops but the music doesn’t stop for long, even fancy food!. There is always a pro-am jam going on at the crow’s nest or one of the bars, where cruisers play with the pros. We have costume themes every days - we parade and party the night away, including Mardi Gras, Day of the Dead, Soul Blues, and Pajama Party the last night. There were two different BBQ’s – one hosted by Watermelon Slim and the other by Harold Brown – and a birthday piñata. And then there are the Sweet Potato Queens who honored Jellybean Johnson with matching outfits, performing their own blues of style on “Give Me Back My Wig” day with Ronnie & Jellybean.
The rest of the week was jammed with so much music and blues-oriented activities you just don’t which end of the boat to jog off to next. No shuffleboard for us! Each performer had three acts, so it was possible to see everyone-but who would want to miss any? As the week zoomed by, the performers started joining in with each other and the fun escalated. What a thrill to see (and hear!) Ronnie BB, Elvin and Los Lobos together; or the 15 people on stage for Kenny Neal’s Jam, including his daughter Syreeta; the horns and keyboards from Etta James’ band in perfect rhythm with Randy Oxford, Ed Earley, and Jimmy Z, Mike Olmos, and Keith Crossan; or hear Tommy Castro, Jellybean Johnson, Lionel Young, Chico Banks, and Cesar Rosas all join in while Earl Thomas pops on stage for a song or two at 3am. And if you tired of that excitement, just wander around the boat and you will find Eden Brent or Rev. Billy or Leon Blue jamming with friends until ??? (which is exactly what their schedules say).
There is nothing more magical than the blues cruise, not only for the cruisers (and us ecstatic photographers) but the performers too-they are like kids playing together and having a blast! The blues are truly alive and the performances legendary on the Blues Cruise. To quote Elvin, who was laughing and jamming one morning about 4 am on his first cruise in Oct 2007 “Man! I can’t remember ever having this much fun on a boat without my fishin’ pole!”
This is NOT your normal cruise……or blues festival! See you in January 2009 for #12!
All Photos By Marilyn Stringer Visit Marilyn's Digital Photography Website: http://mjstringerphoto.ifp3.com
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
Saturday, January 17th, 2009
Visit 9 of Chicago’s famous Blues clubs featuring 12 live blues bands!
For more Info CLICK HERE
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Bass player Wanted
Bobbie"Mercy"Oliver & Jam City revue Blues Band looking for a bass player skilled in playing real blues, ala, old school. Marshall, Texas 75670 firstname.lastname@example.org
Blues Music Reviews wanted
Blues Blast Magazine is looking for reviewers to review new Blues CD's. If you have a background and experience with Blues music and like to write we can provide new CD's for you to review. Person must be willing to write a minimum of one review every other week. Reviewer keeps the CD's for writing the review. If interested please send a sample of your writing and a short bio of your Blues background to email@example.com
Information on Guitar Player Willie Lee Johnson wanted
Looking for info on Willie Lee Johnson and The Rolling Crew. Wolf's first Guitar Player Willie Lee Johnson, who was he who else did he work with, was he someone else using this name? Any discography or history info out there? Also The Rolling Crew, They Did Home on Alcatraz and Cryin' Emma on Aladdin records. Who were the group members, did they do any other records or perform as any other group(s)?
Drummer seeks band
Former Walter Trout Drummer-----Joey Pafumi formerly with Walter Trout for 6 years 2002-2007--looking for full time touring band. Contact Joey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 818-749-8856
Blues Link of the Week
Last weeks links of the week were to Blues record companies so you could check out some of the best in contemporary Blues and give the gift of Blues this season. Our inbox was immediately flooded with responses from the record companies we did not include. So to be fair we found a great website which lists record labels of all genres of music.
allrecordlabels.com is a database of over 24,000 record label/netlabel web sites links indexed by genre, format, and location.
To use this site, click on the link above. Then you can go directly to all the Blues labels by clicking the genre link and then click the Blues link to see a list of over 800 Blues record labels. Each one has information on the label and a link to their website. But don't stop there. If you like Soul and R&B check out the links to Soul , R&B and Northern Soul
If you want to read one of our reviews by one of their artists before you buy a CD, CLICK HERE to go to our CD Review page to check out nearly 200 reviews of CDs from 2007 and 2008.
For more Blues links CLICK HERE to visit the IllinoisBlues.com Links Page
Featured Blues Review (1 of 3)
Larry Garner -Here Today Gone Tomorrow
Enhanced CD with 11 songs (62:16 minutes) and 1 video; Library Quality
Style: Blues / Soul
Dear Larry Garner,
I know you are not “Dear Abby,” but I need advice.
Igno Ray Moose
Living life, paying attention, and living with joy seems to be the credo of too-often-under-the- radar Larry Garner. Truth be told, Larry is one of contemporary blues’ finest. Human observation becoming songs is the genius of Garner who almost exclusively performs his own material. As you can see, many of his song titles and lyrics are like good “advice,” and the above is a very small sampling.
From Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 56-year-old Larry Garner is one of a handful of Contemporary Blues artists that actually plays blues, not rock. He is the epitome of a triple threat: a great singer, a terrific guitar player, and a witty songwriter. He is a three time recipient of Blues Songwriter of the Year award in Paris, a 2002 Louisiana Blues Hall of Fame inductee, and a five time nominee for a WC Handy Award in Memphis.
Folks in Europe were followers of Larry Garner long before most blues fans in the states. He had already toured extensively overseas, with two albums to his credit (debut on JSP in 1994), before Verve records issued his stunning 1995 domestic debut, “You Need to Live a Little.” 2008’s “Here Today Gone Tomorrow” is his eighth album featuring 10 original songs and one Muddy Waters cover.
Famous for telling stories from his experiences, the album opens with “Bull Rider” in which Larry relates how, at one of his Colorado concerts, he met a 21-year-old with the rough hands of a much older man. Garner failed at trying to guess his occupation - “Bull Rider.” But, why was he at a blues show instead of a country music concert? When he told Larry he loved the “lowdown dirty blues” and even had three of Garner’s CDs, Larry says, “I shook his ole rough hand again!” The song is musically a tasty guitar led, mid-tempo romp with keyboards, bass, and drums and background vocals by The Joe Sisters.
A real standout is an ode to BB King titled, “For You Mr. King.” Besides Garner on guitar, Jared Daigle, who tours in the US with Larry, shows off incredible fret work. Shedrick Nellon, another road warrior, appears on bass while Nelson Blanchard plays keyboards and Kirk Meyer drums, as they do throughout the CD.Other guests are: Stanley “Buckwheat Zydeco” Dural on accordion in “Heavy Pieces,” Henry Gray playing piano and Oscar “Harpo” Davis on harmonica in “The Last Coke,” plus Miguel Hernandez – bass; Rudolph Richard, Andy Squint, and Elvin Killerbee – guitars; and JR Daniels – saxophone in various songs.The embedded video that plays on computers is a 2003 showcase of Garner’s guitar playing. Recorded at Le New Morning in Paris, France, Garner performs a stirring rendition of Henry Gray’s “Cold Chills” backed by drums, bass, and keys.
Yes, I know – So much blues; so little time. But, if Larry Garner is an artist you have missed, then I guarantee you will enjoy his original music, life stories, and “advice.” If not, I will fax you a check refund.
Reviewer James “Skyy Dobro” Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show “Friends of the Blues” can be heard each Thursday from 4:30 – 6:00pm on WKCC 91.1 FM in Kankakee, IL
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
The River City Blues Society presents
Wednesday Blues Featuring Chicago Blues Legend
December 10, 2008 - 7:00pm
2801 Court Street
Pekin, IL 61554
Map to Club CLICK HERE
8-time Blues Music Award Nominee
Best Blues Song - 2008 Blues Blast Music Awards
Featured Blues Review (2 of 3)
Gravel Road - Shot The Devil
Uncle Larry’s Records
Just as the alt-country movement of the last decade or so has added (or more correctly maintained) a deeper and roots-ier element to the country music scene, bands like Gravel Road, who consider themselves alt-blues, are doing the same thing in the blues community. Their sound is unlike most of the blues we are used to listening to and combines elements and attitudes whose paths don’t usually cross to create new music that is, at times, as strange as it is compelling.
It is honestly hard to come up with a sonic comparison to draw to describe Gravel Road and the music on the latest CD Shot The Devil. They are rock-influenced, but not in the more obvious Kenny Wayne/Bonamassa style one expects when thinking blues/rock. Instead, imagine something closer to ZZ Top meeting Black Sabbath fronted by R.L. Burnside and the picture will start to emerge. There is plenty of heavied-up blues guitar here, but it goes in service of the groove rather than the typical long wanking solo.
The band calls their music “dark blues” and that is a pretty fair description of their vibe. This is music for soul-selling more than party-starting, more crossroads-at-midnight than Saturday-night-juke-joint. Much of the record gets kind of hypnotic and keeps the listener engaged in the feel of the songs.
One spin of the title track “I Shot The Devil” will make clear the things that are hard to describe about the band. Gravel Road is at once deeply rooted and completely modern and that is the crux of their appeal. It will probably take more than one listen to get what is going on here, but the time is worth investing, as the world needs more people making this music their own rather than repeating what was done half a century ago.
By Mike O'Cull
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
Blues Society News
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River City Blues Society- Peoria, IL
In conjunction with the Concorde Inn and the Captains Wheel Lounge in Pekin, IL the River City Blues Society is pleased to announce their new series of weekly Blues Shows in Central, Illinois starting Wednesday, December 10th, 2008. These Early shows will run each Wednesday from 7:00pm to 11:00pm and feature the best traveling regional and National Blues musicians. The shows will feature a budget priced cover charge of $3.
The kick off performance on December 10th features Nick Moss and the Flip Tops. Other shows scheduled are: December 17 - Russell Miller and 6V6, January 7th - Studebaker John, January14th - Scott Holt, January 21 - TBA, January 28 - James Armstrong
Mississippi Valley Blues Society - Davenport, IA
MVBS has three upcoming Blues events.
1.) Patrick Hazell at Nan’s Piano Bar Nov. 28 In Fundraiser for MVBS - "Merry Christmas, Baby" will ring in the Season with Patrick Hazell, at Nan's Piano Bar atop the Freight House, across the tracks from scenic LeClaire Park on the Davenport levee, from 4 until 7 p.m. on the day after Thanksgiving (Friday 28 November 2008). Admission is $10 for this fundraiser for the Mississippi Valley Blues Society.
For more information contact the Blues Society at email@example.com or call (563) 322-5837
2.) David (Bernie) Berntson, a Tulsa Oklahoma musician and educator, is returning to Galesburg, his hometown, to play a performance to raise funds for the Mississippi Valley Blues Society. On Saturday November 29, he will be playing harmonica for the Big Blues Blowout, at Budde's Pizza and Good Spirits, 425 East Main Street, in downtown Galesburg from 8PM till midnight.
Backing up David will be local musicians Chuck Jones, Ian Johnson, Justin Mooney, and Curtis Hawkins. Other blues friends will be sitting in with the Bernie though out the night. All the proceeds from a $3 cover charge and a 50/50 raffle will be donated to the MVBS, which sponsors a 3-day blues festival every summer in Davenport, Iowa.
David is a founding member of the Pine Street Persuaders, a Galesburg blues band formed in the late 1970's. In 2006, David won a second, Keeping Blues Alive Award, in Education, from the Blues Foundation.
3.) The Mississippi Valley Blues Society presents Chicago bluesman Joe Moss at the Iron Wheel Pub—1211 W. 5th St. (Old Hwy. 6) in Wilton, Iowa—on Friday December 5. The show starts at 7:30; admission is $10, $8 for MVBS members.
The Blues Society of Omaha - Omaha, Nebraska
The Blues Society of Omaha, for the third consecutive year, will tie-in their Annual Holiday Party with Omaha Rockabilly guitarist Lash Larue's Toy Drive for the Children of the Pine Ridge Reservation. The event will take place from 5pm-9pm on Sunday, December 7, 2008 at BarFly (707 N. 114th St.) in Omaha, NE.
Featuring The Dallas Blues stars with Mike Morgan and The Crawl, featuring Jim Suhler. The Side Effects will open the show followed by The Loose Brothers. Admission is $10, or a new unwrapped toy. Proceeds from the beverage sales will also benefit the Toy Drive. Details at: www.omahablues.com
Illinois Central Blues Club - Springfield, IL
ICBC BLUES GIVES BACK TO THE COMMUNITY WITH FREE MUSIC AND FOOD AT A BLUES CHRISTMAS PARTY - The Illinois Central Blues Club in conjunction with the Illinois Arts Council, announces a Blues Christmas Party Sunday, December 7, 2008 from 5:00pm – 8:00pm at Robbies, 4 Old State Capitol Plaza, Springfield, IL. The Blues Expressions will provide “postwar” blues music with choice selections from artists such as B.B. King, Albert King, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Sonny Boy Williamson and Muddy Waters.
Blue Mondays- Held at the Alamo 115 N 5th St, Springfield, IL (217) 523-1455 every Monday 8:30pm $2 cover - December 1 - Nick Moss and the Flip Tops, December 8 - The Workers (Watermelon Slim's Band) with special Guest Bill Lupkin, December 15 - Studebaker John, December 22 - Scottie Miller and the Uptake Inhibitors, December 29 - Sally Weisenburg and the Famous Sidemen
The BEST Way To Promote YOUR Next Blues Project!
BANDS, BARS, AND LABELS: Is your promo material getting you the gigs and business you desire? If not, call music journalist and copy writer Mike O'Cull for all your promotional needs. Mike is a veteran music journalist and musician and writes for the Illinois Entertainer, IllinoisBlues.com, and www.Chicagomusicguide.com and can deliver the highest quality promotional writing around quickly and at a reasonable price.
Mike's specialties include bios, press releases, liner notes, and web content. Full press kit design, including graphics, is also available. Clients include The Joe Moss Band, Carl Davis, TruSoul Entertainment, B.A. S. Entertainment, and many others. Samples available on request. Email firstname.lastname@example.org , call Mike O'Cull Music at 847-608-0357, or visit us online at www.myspace.com/mikeocullmusic for more information.
Mention the Blues Blast for a $10 new customer discount.
Featured Blues Review (3 of 3)
Elvin Bishop - The Blues Rolls On
Elvin Bishop’s “The Blues Rolls On” is a well crafted CD by a guitarist/singer/songwriter with solid credentials and a long legacy of great blues. Elvin’s professionalism and good natured personality is evident in the music and liner notes on this CD. He’s assembled a tremendous line up of guest stars and gives them room to shine: BB King, James Cotton, Kim Wilson, George Thorogood, Angela Strehli and many more.
The music is a comfortable blend of blues styles, without being overly produced or contrived. The 12 cuts on this CD flow and each one showcases a different musical influence from Elvin’s 40-plus year career. John Nemeth and Angela Strehli nail Ray Charles’ 50’s hit “The Night Time is the Right Time.” Ronnie Baker Brooks has just the right vocal inflections and tasteful guitar riffs with Blues Cruise musician Tommy Castro on “Yonder’s Wall.” Remember that song from Elvin’s stint with Paul Butterfield in the 60’s? Besides Elvin’s Chicago blues roots, we’re reminded of his 70’s adventures with a fun new version of Struttin’ My Stuff. Elvin’s time in the South is included with a Clifton Chenier Zydeco song: “Black Gal” featuring Andre Thierry on accordion and RC Carrier on vocals. Listen for the comment about Charlie Daniels on “Oklahoma.”
You’ll hear excellent guitar performed by Elvin and his pals; Warren Haynes, Derek Trucks, Ronnie, Tommy Castro, BB King, as well as some not-so-famous, but seasoned veterans like Mike Schermer. The newly discovered Clarksville “Homemade Jamz band” features 9 year old Taya Perry on drums. They cook on a Jr Wells tune. Every rhythm section on the CD incorporates an energetic blues feeling, without resorting to hard rock, or overly mixed kick and tom tom sounds. Production is very good, musical and well balanced. Horns and harmonica provide lively background and solos, without being overly bright or harsh. (Did I mention James Cotton and Kim Wilson?)!
Three unexpected highlights are: the solo slide-guitar autobiographical foot-stomper “Oklahoma,” a brief behind-the scenes interview with BB King, and a tribute inspired by listening to Jimmy Reed on KLAC as the tubes in his 1950’s radio glowed late at night.
The anecdotes on the CD provide interesting reading. I didn’t know Elvin jammed with the Allman Brothers at the Fillmore! The music backs up his “been there, done that” career in a very accessible, affable manner. For lovers of contemporary blues with an interest in post-war and 60’s blues, this CD bridges past and future blues and is a welcome addition to your library.
Reviewer Bill Porter fronts the Bill Porter Project and also performs with Fishbone Willie.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
CLICK HERE to Purchase this CD
Blues Blast Magazine is proud to be a media sponsor of the 25th International Blues Challenge. The silver anniversary of this great Blues competition promises to be one the best ever put on by the Blues Foundation.
In case you are not familiar with this event, it is an international search for the best undiscovered Blues band on the planet. Each year the Blues Foundation's 160 affiliate Blues societies from all over the globe hold "local" or "regional" Blues challenges.
They send the winners to compete in the semifinals in Memphis in February. There are categories for both bands and solo/duet acts.
In 2008, 100 bands and 60 solo/duo acts filled the clubs up and down Beale Street for the semi-finals on Thursday and Friday. This is a Blues show you do not want to miss. It is literally the worlds largest gathering of Blues Bands!
Beale Street is the legendary Blues Mecca in Memphis. Each club on Beale has 6 or 8 acts competing in the semi-finals. By the rules of the competition, each act plays exactly 30 minutes all using the same stage setup for a panel of judges and a packed crowd of Blues fans. They are judged on Blues content, vocal and/or instrumental talent, originality and stage presence by a different panels of judges each night (See scoring criteria HERE).
The scores are averaged and the top scoring act from each club advances to the finals that are held at the Orpheum Theater on Saturday. (To see some photos of last years fun CLICK HERE)
Tickets to this historical event are just $75 and include entrance to all the clubs on Beale Street both Thursday and Friday and the finals on Saturday. CLICK HERE to get yours now.
Be sure to get your hotel reservations NOW too as some of the host hotels are already sold out! CLICK HERE for hotel info
Featured Blues Interview
John Németh Interview
By Ben Cox
Photo by Susan Walker
I caught John Németh on a day off from his busy schedule to sit down on the phone for a real laid back interview. Németh has toured over 200 dates this year out in support of his critically-acclaimed release Magic Touch on Blind Pig Records. Earlier in the month, Németh capped 2008 with 2 awards from IllinoisBlues’ Blues Blast Music Awards. He was the only multiple award winner of the night.
Ben Cox: Thanks for speaking with me today, John. I really appreciate it. I won’t keep you long since I know it’s a day off on a weekend. I don’t get those very often myself so I know how much I like to soak in the day and relax.
John Németh: I hear you, Ben. Yeah, we spent most of the day getting the house ready for relatives coming in this week for the Thanksgiving holiday.
BC: It’s been a big year for you with tours with Junior Watson, making a record with Elvin Bishop, and award nominations. What’s 2009 look like for you?
JN: Well, 2009 will start off with my second release for Blind Pig Records called Love Me Tonight. It features my road band of Bobby Welsh, Dmitry Gorodetsky who’s played with Duke Robilliard and Roomful of Blues and June Core. It has ten originals and one cover on it.
BC: Any special guests?
JN: Yeah, Elvin Bishop plays on it.
BC: Are there going to be any tours with Elvin or Junior Watson again? I know Junior doesn’t like to tour very much and Elvin does some dates around the country.
JN: Not sure. We’ve got nothing on the books right now. Junior doesn’t tour much and Elvin doesn’t either. Elvin does some fly out gigs to places. In fact, I just did Prairie Home Companion with Elvin a few months ago in Tulsa. It’s the biggest audience I’ve ever had.
BC: We don’t get it here in Illinois. What’s its like? I’ve heard a lot of things about it.
JN: It’s a live variety show where they tell stories, have live music. It’s an all original show every week and it runs for two hours. It’s really pretty cool. That Garrison Keeler guy has got a really good thing and he’s really sharp.
BC: Have you ever thought about Austin City Limits?
JN: Oh, I’d love to be on that show but I don’t know what it takes to get on there. If you know someone there, please let them know.
BC: I’ll see what I can do and pass along your music.
JN: Thanks, I’d greatly appreciate that Ben.
BC: I know a lot of people ask you about being from Idaho and there’s not really a big blues scene there yet. How did it work for you starting out?
JN: Oh, it worked great up there. One thing about Idaho is if it’s good, they like it. I worked in Boise pretty regularly from 1993 to 2004. I did pretty good for myself.
BC: Was California a real change in scenery for you?
JN: Well, up in Idaho it’s a mountain desert with sagebrush and flat plains on high elevation with not a whole lot of big cities. Down here in California there’s houses everywhere and out in the country, its kind of like “Little House on the Prairie.” (laughs) No, I really like it here in California. The coast is beautiful and the people here and Idaho are really friendly.
BC: What about the music scene? Is there any real big difference?
JN: Down here in California, man, music is some people’s life. It’s there job and they take it really serious. Musicians in Idaho its more of a full time hobby and a way to make money on the side. Don’t get me wrong they are great musicians in Idaho but out here in California people got to practices, listen to music, go to jam sessions full time. They work in music all the time. Another big thing is that there’s a real camaraderie and friendly competition amongst musicians.
BC: Kind of a circle of friends, right?
JN: Right. It’s all friendly competion, ya’ know. Good competition.
BC: Who were some of the California musicians you met when you moved?
JN: Well, one of the first guys I met was Kid Andersen and then Mike Schermer, a guitar player, then June Core and Elvin Bishop, and one of my favorites Jackie Payne. He’s a great singer man. Then, all the guys in my band.
BC: I remember reading that you didn’t pick up blues till later on in your early music career after hearing Junior Wells. You also have developed a 50s R&B sound and 60s soul sound that’s in your music. Where did you get that from?
JN: I didn’t pick up the fifties R&B stuff till about 1997 and when I started playing with Junior Watson. I first put together a band with horns. We did some Big Joe Turner and stuff from the Specialty & King Record labels. I did a jazz trio too based off the Nat King Cole Trio. The 60s soul and Oakland grease I didn’t get till I moved out here to California and started listening to Roger Collins, Freddie Hughes, and Little Johnny Taylor.
BC: Man, I love Little Johnny Taylor.
JN: Yeah, I like him too. He’s got more of a gritty and blues approach than the other soul singers who are more smooth.
BC: Well, John I’m definitely looking forward to the new record this coming year and I appreciate hearing about it.
JN: Yeah, the new record is great. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. The songwriting to my singing is all good. There’s some great guitar playing on this record, too. My guitar player just knocked my socks off with how good he was. He’s got some killer solos on there and he also played organ and piano, too.
BC: It’s going to be a highly anticipated release. I’m sure of it. I also wanted to say it was the highlight of my evening a few weeks ago to present you with the Sean Costello Rising Star Award.
JN: Yeah, man that whole evening was just excellent. I was thrilled to get that. The performances that evening were all just killer from start to finish. You know, every artist just went out and gave it there all. You guys really have a good thing going there.
BC: I think everyone is already making plans for 2009.
JN: That’s good. That’s really a good idea and the performances were just smokin’ all night. I had a great time.
BC: You have a Happy Holidays and we’ll see you down the road soon.
JN: You too, Ben. Thanks for the interview this afternoon. We’ll be seeing you. Bye..
Interviewer Ben Cox is a DJ, journalist and musician. Visit his Blues Blog at http://jukejointsoul.blogspot.com/
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
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Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
After you’ve enjoyed the holiday tomorrow, please be sure to tune in to WSHA this weekend, where I’ll be performing live with John Dee:
Sun., Nov. 30, 5-7 pm
Andy Coats, live broadcast with John Dee Holeman
WSHA Radio, 88.9 FM
Shaw Univ., Raleigh, NC
Drew Questell will be wrapping up the show for us, starting at about 7 pm.
For those who are out of state, there is also an internet stream of the broadcast.
I wish you all a safe and happy holiday season.
Happy Holidays everyone! Great CD's make great gifts. Here's some
ideas from the Murali Coryell catalog:
Murali Coryell-The Same Damn Thing http://cdbaby.com/cd/murali6
Murali Coryell-Eyes Wide Open http://cdbaby.com/cd/murali3
Murali Coryell-Strong As I Need To Be http://cdbaby.com/cd/murali
Murali Coryell-Don't Blame It On Me http://cdbaby.com/cd/murali5
Upcoming Live Shows:
Friday, November 28th, 2008
Bull's Head Inn - http://www.bullsheadinn.com/
solo acoustic - 9:00pm
120 Sarah Wells Trail
Campell Hall, NY
amazing food, great bar
Saturday, December 6th, 2008
Black-Eyed Sally's - http://www.blackeyedsallys.com
350 Asylum St
Hartford, CT 06103
Sunday, December 7th, 2008
The Grog - http://www.thegrog.com/directions.htm
13 Middle Street
Newburyport, MA 01950
w/Parker Wheeler and friends
Friday, December 12th, 2008
Buddy Guys Legends - http://buddyguys.com
754 S. Wabash
Saturday, December 13th, 2008
Big Cities Lounge -
905 E. State St.
Rockford, IL 61104
Friday, December 26th, 2008
Billy's Lounge - http://www.billyslounge.com/welcome.html
1437 Wealthy St. SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49506
GR's home of the blues in East Town
Saturday, December 27th, 2008
McGuire's Resort - http://www.mcguiresresort.com/
7880 Mackinaw Trail
Cadillac, MI 49601
Sunday, December 28th, 2008
Union Street Station - http://www.myspace.com/unionstreetstation
117 S Union St
Traverse City, MI 49684
Wednesday, December 31st, 2008
Frank Guido's Little Italy - http://www.frankguidoslittleitaly.com/
New Year's Eve
14 Thomas St
Kingston, NY 12401
Saturday, January 3rd, 2009
Joseph's Grille - http://www.josephsgrille.com/index.php
1033 Bellevue Ave
Langhorne, PA 19047
Friday, February 13th, 2009
Theodores Blues, Booze, & BBQ - http://www.theobbq.com/
201 Worthington St
Springfield, MA 01103
Saturday, February 14th, 2009
Keltic House - http://www.thekeltichouse.com/
Valentines Day - 10:00pm
1004 Main St.
Fishkill, NY 12524
Friday, February 20th, 2009
Billy's Lounge - http://billyslounge.com
1437 Wealthy St. SE
Grand Rapids, MI
Saturday, April 18th, 2009
The Turning Point
468 Piermont Avenue
Piermont, NY 10968
Wednesday, May 13th, 2009
Skip's Lounge - http://www.skipspartyplace.com/Schedule.html
112 West Maumee
Angola, IN 46703-1944
National Blues Night at Skips Party Place!