Friday, July 29, 2011
Playing 5 gigs in 4 days, including Sunday and Monday of this week, has got my schedule topsy turvy. (I always wanted to use the words topsy turvy in one of these notes) (I have no idea why)...
Friday (TONIGHT) we're headin' to Ottumwa for the Live After 5/TGIF celebration, 5:00-7:30 PM in Central Park (right next to The Hotel Ottumwa) free and open to the public, all ages welcome. Food and beverages are available for purchase. Girl Scout Troop 929 will be in the park with childrens activities. The series has been sponsored by the South Ottumwa Savings Bank for more than 10 years, we've been part of the series nearly every year. For more information, contact Pam Kaupins at (641) 682-7541, or go to www.sosb-ia.com...
Saturday (7/30) could be one of the most fun Downtown Davenport/Bix Street Dances of all time (and there's been A LOT of fun Bix Street Dances!) I went to Jr. High (Sudlow Tigers, baby!) and High School (D-town Central, home of the BLUE Devils) (ya shoulda seen me throw that ball) in Davenport. So there is literally a FOUR generation following of bands I've been part of in that town. Wayne Lyons, the bass player in Tortoise & The Hair usually shows up (don't laugh, Tortoise & The Hair won the daily competition at the Henry County (IL) Fair in 1967!) (a picture of Tortoise & The Hair can be found at http://www.theblueband.com/iablues.html) (Which one was Tortoise, anyway) (but I digress) Add to that, RAGBRAI ends in Davenport Saturday. The Blue Band has been part of about 25 RAGBRAIs over the years. Saturday should be a GIANT reunion-type crowd atmosphere, with people from all over the nation ready to get their BLUE on. We play the Main Stage, 2nd & Main St., 7:30p-9:30p...
Next week starts a two week run of dates with a number of substitute players. (what? band members have lives outside of the Blue Band?) (what could possibly be more important than playing the gig?) Mark and Al will be gone the first weekend of August, so our longtime friend, Iowa R & R Hall of Famer, Muddy Watson, will be the bass player and David Bassinger, the baritone sax player that plays with Eddie in the Diplomats of Solid Sound, will be Al's substitute in the horn section. Those guys will play with us Fri. Aug. 5 at The 503 in Iowa Falls and Sat. Aug. 6 at the Celebrate Washington Festival in Washington IA. Both horn section guys (Eddie and Al) will be gone on Aug. 13 when we play the Cedar Trails Fest, but Mark will be back and we'll be joined by Bob Guthart, who often sits in with us at The Hub, on second guitar and I'm still lookin' for a substitute horn player on that date. Altho' the nature of having substitutes cuts down on the available repertoire, I'm actually looking forward to the different sound we'll have for a couple of weeks. More on all this next week. I hope the substitutes know enough to BRING CAKE!...
The topsy turvy schedule really means that I have yet to finish the necessary radio production during these 3 days between gigs. It's 2:40 in the morning, I've got about another hour and a half to finish the show I'm workin' on and I'll have to be on the road around noon to make it to Ottumwa for set up time. I gotta go. See ya on the Blue Highway (use yer damn turn signal) (sorry, Dolores) Rub yer washboard to the tune of Goin' Home To That Old Hometown Of Mine, Strawberry shortCAKE is always a great way to celebrate a homecoming, and don't forget that we love you. Bob Dorr & The Blue Band
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Cover Photo © 2011 Marilyn Stringer
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From The Editor's Desk
Hey Blues Fans,
There are two good choices for a Blues festival suggestions for you to attend this weekend.
If you are on the east coast, it would be hard to find a better line up than The Pennsylvania Blues Festival has this weekend. This festival is new this year but the promoter, Michael Cloeren is well known by those who rave about his previous 20 year efforts with the Poconos Blues Festival.
His experience shows in this new fest which includes performances by Samuel James, Linsey Alexander, John Nemeth, Cyril Neville, Bettye Lavette, Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials and Otis Clay on Saturday and Steve Guyger & Billy Flynn, Big Daddy Stallings, The Lee Boys, Shakura S’Aida, Magic Slim & The Teardrops, Kenny Neal and Shemekia Copeland on Sunday. This one promises to be a first class event! See their ad below in this issue for further information and tickets
If you are in the upper Midwest there is a really cool festival called The Prairie Dog Blues Festival. This is the only fest we know of that is held on an island in the middle of the mighty Mississippi river. Their lineup includes The Jimmys, Reverend Raven & The Chain Smokin Altar Boys, Grady Champion, Bobby Rush, and Tinsley Ellis on Friday. On Saturday they feature The Terry Quiett Band, Meantooth Grin, The Lionel Young Band, Mud Morganfield, Bruce McCabe, Janiva Magness and Devon Allman's Honeytribe. We attended this one last year and it is a cool setting for a festival. Check out their ad in this issue for more information and tickets.
This Weeks Winning Voters
We drew four more weekly prize winners today from those who have voted. Kent Shaffer and Loretta Hale both won a copy of Robin Rogers' Back In The Fire CD and Chris Lewis and Daniel Charkarji both won free Blues Blast T-shirts.
If you haven't voted yet then you are missing out on a chance to win FREE Blues CDs, Blues Blast T-shirts or even tickets to the Blues Blast Music Awards. We are randomly drawing for prizes each week from those who vote in this years Blues Blast Music Awards.
And we will be drawing another winner for 2 free tickets to the Blues Blast Music Awards next week so don't miss out! CLICK HERE to vote NOW!
Speaking of tickets, Blues Blast Music Awards tickets are now on sale. The Blues Blast Music Awards are Thursday, October 27th at Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago. Get your tickets for this great event now, CLICK HERE.
Good Blues To You!
In This Issue
Chefjimi Patricola has our feature interview with Fiona Boyes. Bob Kieser has a photo essay of the 2011 Briggs Farm Blues Festival.
We have six CD reviews for you this week! Mark Thompson reviews a new CD from Terry Hanck. Steve Jones reviews a CD by Laurie Morvan. Rainey Wetnight reviews a new CD from Elvin Bishop. John Mitchell reviews a new CD from Quintus McCormick Blues Band. Ian McKenzie reviews a new CD from Dana Fuchs. Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony reviews a new CD from Ben Prestage. Jim Kanavy reviews a new CD from Lloyd Jones. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!
Featured Blues Interview - Fiona Boyes
Fiona Boyes is a dynamic and totally unique performer. She won the 2003 International Blues Challenge Solo competition and has been traveling around the world playing her brand of Blues ever since. At home with an acoustic guitar or banging heads with the big boys of the blues. We spent some time chatting right when she was coming out of the studio and about to play the 4th of July in Portland.
Blues Blast: I see you have come stateside this July, you will perform at the Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland. That's great, wish I could have made it this year. Is Portland your home away from home?
Fiona Boyes: Yes, Portland has welcomed me with open arms! During our two year sojourn in the US, my husband Steve ‘The Preacher’ Clarke & I spent a year living in Portland and we really bonded with the city. In some ways it reminds me of my home town of Melbourne, Australia: it’s on a river, it’s got an arty coffee-shop culture – and there’s a great music scene and good musicians here. There’s a sort of critical mass when a town has good talent; it’s very inspiring. Actually, my first visit to Portland was for the Waterfront Blues Festival. It’s an interesting festival because although it is big and has great, varied programming, it also is a benefit for the Oregon Food Bank – so it has a community component as well. Very Portland…
BB: I checked your travel log/schedule on your site, goodness you are one busy lady !
How was the French tour – three weeks correct ?
FB: C’est fantastique! Alain Michel (PBox Blues) organized it….it was my first time touring in France. Everyone was so friendly; great audiences, venues and sound crews.
Most of the shows were at regional art centers, with very attentive listening audiences. In contrast to playing a rowdy bar gig, a concert setting is usually the perfect scenario to talk to the audience and tell them the stories behind the songs…but, of course, I don’t speak French! It was an interesting challenge. Most of the shows were solo, but I did do a couple of shows with French band ‘Bo Weavil’. They were great guys, with a very rootsy old-school sound.
My shows were all over the country (and one show in Belgium) so I got to see a lot of interesting regional areas. I used to be a graphic designer before going crazy and becoming a musician so I loved the chance to check out the architecture, street art and atmosphere of the places we visited. It was a great experience and we are working towards another tour in 2012.
BB: So with all this touring and playing for the folks, how do you find time to work on recordings? You have consistently put out quality work, most currently for Yellow Dog Records, what have you got under your sleeve for us?
FB: Here’s the scoop! I just spent a few days in the studio in Austin, TX, on my way to the Waterfront Festival and I am incredibly excited about the material we did in the session. My ‘Lucky 13’ and ‘Blues Woman’ albums were engineered by Stuart Sullivan (Wire Recording) and produced by Kaz Kazanoff (Texas Horns). Being in the studio with these guys is catching up with friends - I love the way they work and we have a really good relationship.
Logistics are tricky for me to juggle sometimes. For example, I started this year with 9 straight weeks on the road, all the time feeling very strongly that I wanted to record a new project by mid-year. The only time I had off was about 10 days in late May, when I started writing and compiling 16 tracks worth of material. I had to fit the recording into this trip to the USA because – well, the studio and the people I want to work with are not just down the road from my house in Australia! While my last two Yellow Dog records have been electric albums, this time I wanted to concentrate on more acoustic material.
I always have an interest in different regional styles, so this also has a range of material – but I’m exploring the breadth of acoustic and small ensemble styles. There’s lots of acoustic guitar, resonator, slide, acoustic guitar with piano and tuba, Mississippi Hills solo electric with percussion – even a song where I play lap steel… Bob Margolin also guests on a fantastic song which is about a friends’ experience, in her youth, of seeing Muddy Waters for the first time – his performance is absolutely wonderful. Most of the tracks don’t have drums or a formal rhythm section, but I have got a few tracks featuring Jimi Bott on drums. Watch this space for release details TBA because I am truly excited about this recording!!!
BB: Can you share with us how Fiona Boyes got here? An Australian, finger picking guitarist with a penchant for the blues?
FB: I never really related to pop or rock music as I was growing up. Then I got to college and met a harp player who introduced me to the Blues; I was instantly hooked. I thought, ‘Yeah, this is what I’ve been missing!’ So, I was a blues fan for many years before I started trying to play myself. While the Blues is not ‘mainstream music in Australia, it has a good following. My home town of Melbourne has traditionally had a strong blues scene and we have some great blues festivals around the country. I think Americans are sometimes surprised to discover how universal the Blues have become; how loved and followed they are all around the world.
BB: Did you still work with a band (The Fortune Tellers)? How did you decide to, almost, be a 'one-woman' band ?
FB: Currently I have two versions of the Fortune Tellers, in my ‘home bases’ of Melbourne, Australia, and Portland, OR. Both bands are extremely talented, professional players and cool people. I really wish it was possible to get them all together in the same town, or bring the US guys to Australia and vice versa just to let the people hear these guys. As I said, it’s hard juggling things between countries! My Aussie band is Dean Addison (upright bass) & Marky Grunden (drums) with Tim Neal (Hammond/sax) and sometimes Ali Penney (piano) and Niels Rosendahl (sax). Currently in Portland I am working with ex-Paul deLay bassist Dave Kahl, drummer extraordinaire Jimi Bott and Jim Wallace (harp). It’s a good format because we’ll add feature players too. My Aussie band has featured Duke Robillard, Debbie Davies, Hubert Sumlin, Bob Margolin and others – and we’ve added people like Kaz Kazanoff & the Texas Horns or Terry Hanck to festival shows with the Portland band.
Originally I got started playing solo acoustic finger-style blues in coffee shops in my home town. At the time there were more electric gigs around, so a year or so later, when I got a chance to join a band (Melbourne’s seminal all-female blues band ‘The Mojos’) I jumped at it. The Mojos stayed together for many years, but when the band finally broke up I felt I had the chance to ‘spread my wings’ musically and explore. Coming to America has been an incredible experience for me because I’ve had the chance to meet and, sometimes, play with some of my musician heroes. Playing solo, or electric with the band, are both equally enjoyable for me – but I guess that the ‘one woman’ band thing is really my roots!
BB: Mr. Hubert Sumlin has said some super things about you, as did the late Pinetop Perkins how did you meet them?
FB: The chance to meet and play with Hubert Sumlin came courtesy of ‘Steady Rollin’ Bob Margolin - and that is just one of many things I have to thank him for! After playing with Bob several times in the US (in fact he recorded with me on my ‘Live From Atlanta’ CD) we planned a tour together in Australia. The dates didn’t work out with Bob’s schedule, so I got a message to the effect of ‘well, how would it be if Hubert Sumlin came instead?’ I couldn’t believe it! The tour was a fabulous experience. Even better, I once spent the weekend with Hubert at his house. We got his huge old Cadillac out of the garage and drove it to the store. We just talked, jammed and sat together…Hubert smiling and shaking his finger… ‘That’s what I’m talkin’ ‘bout!’ In addition to being a highly distinctive, seminal guitarist, Hubert is also a very sweet gentleman. There is historic significance, of course, in Hubert’s links to Howlin’ Wolf, but that’s not the sum of his importance as a player – he continues to be a profound influence on guitarists across generations and genres. Incidentally, we went on to do two rescheduled Australian tours with Bob Margolin later…so that worked out really well. Bob is a very deep, soulful musician and I have learned a great deal from the opportunity to play and record with him over recent years.
I met Pinetop for the first time at the 2003 WC Handy Awards. Pinetop was always very sweet to me; he came into the studio to record a track with me on the ‘Blues Woman’ session. The song is called ‘Old Time Ways’ and is laden with good old fashioned Blues double entendres. He loved it and it seemed just right to sing those sorts of lyrics to Pinetop. He may have been in his mid 90’s but he was still such a ladies man! When we asked if he wanted to do another take, he thought for a moment and then replied, ‘No…I want to go outside and smoke cigarettes!’ I made a special trip to Austin, TX, last summer just to visit with him. We went together to his regular hangout at Nuno’s where he held court, nodding sagely to his many admirers. He played and sang about half a dozen songs with the house band that night and he was sounding great. What an incredible man…and I’ll admit I got tired in the early hours of the morning and left before he did.
BB: Your style of finger picking is very solid, hell, solid enough that you teach classes at Fur Peace Ranch. Any insights into how this unique style developed – it is a walking bass line, with percussive overlays, I find it fascinating to listen, and watch, you. Oh yeh plus I love your footwork – so does the 'soap box' need to be a certain height for ya when you play (do u carry yer own ?).
FB: An invitation to teach at Fur Peace is a real honor. I have been there a couple of times now and enjoyed it immensely. Hosted by Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Jorma Kaukonen and his wife Vanessa, the ranch is like a special universe where the guitar rules! The staff and students are wonderful and the atmosphere makes you feel really energized about your instrument.
As for style, I started playing guitar later in my 20’s and am self-taught. As I mentioned earlier, I started playing acoustic pre-war style blues first before borrowing an electric guitar and joining a band. Eventually the band broke up and I went back to doing more solo acoustic stuff again. At that time I had an agent who sent me out on a solo tour playing some very down-home country pubs. I suspect the patrons had never seen a woman guitar player in their bar before, let alone someone playing original acoustic blues material. It was hard work…but I suddenly realized if I really concentrated on keeping an insistent pulse to the music, then they’d drink and sometimes even dance. Or, at least it seemed less likely that they might hurt me! That was a pivotal part in the evolution of becoming a more percussive player.
My trusty plastic crate is very low-tech but effective….it sounds great through a concert system! I have a favorite brand of plastic crate and there are several stashed in different parts of the world. It was an organic thing – it was just the box I carried my gear in, but then I realized I could mic it up or use it to put my amp on…so darn handy…
BB: Your songwriting displays a well-groomed sense of humor to it. 'Two-Legged Dog', 'Chicken Wants Corn', there must be stories behind these ditties, no?
FB: Ah, yes! “Like a chicken wants corn”, was a direct quote from the great Bobby Rush. He introduced my performance at the 2003 WC Handy Awards. Being in Memphis for the Awards, soaking up the atmosphere, seeing all these famous musicians – it was incredible and surreal for me. My first trip to America had been only a few months earlier for the International Blues Challenge! It was a few years before I saw Bobby again, at the Blues Music Awards. After thanking him sincerely for his inspiration, I gave him a copy of my ‘Lucky 13’ album which features the tune. He was just releasing his new album ‘Night Fishing’…funnily enough, my next album, ‘Blues Woman’ has a song called ‘Fishing Hole’ which is almost an answer song. Definitely another Bobby Rush inspired tune. I love quirky turns of phrase - they tend to store themselves away in my head and then pop up in songs later. So, I have songs like ‘Two Legged Dog’ and ‘Drink to Your Health (Until I Ruin my Own).
BB: There is a great song 'Too Happy To Sing The Blues' it's so spot on, so many people say blues is a downer, to sad etc., we've heard this from neophytes all along, but that song sends a fun message making points that it ain't necessarily so !
FB: I wrote that song after being told that I smiled too much to play in a blues band! I’m a fan of the Blues and a passionate advocate. People don’t always realize what a wide ranging genre it is and that Blues has as many rich textures as humans have emotions: happy, sad, wistful, sexy, defiant... While I’ve written some very heart-felt tunes – even a few sad ones – I do tend towards the jaunty, sassy and celebratory end of the spectrum.
BB: Anything else you wish to talk about that we might want to know?
FB: Thanks for the opportunity to talk with you! I love playing the blues and I love to do my best for an audience, so where ever you are I hope to get a chance to play for you somewhere soon…
Interviewer Chefjimi Patricola is a classically trained chef, blues loving writer and creative master of Blues411.com. He can also can be found on FaceBook and at festivals and clubs in your neighborhood and town.
Featured Blues Review 1 of 7
Terry Hanck - Look Out
The cover of this disc states “Greasy Soul Rockin' Blues” and for once, there is truth in the advertising.
This is the kind of stuff that the King Record label was built on – the kind of records you used to hear all day long in the 1950's to early 1960's. It's not surprising that Terry Hanck grew up listening to the hot R&B and blues songs of the time. What is surprising is that the the 66 year-old Hanck is playing and singing with energy level of musicians several decades younger. His brawny tenor sax calls out like a voice in the wilderness, one minute soothing your soul and the next beckoning you to the dance floor. Equally impressive is his singing throughout the disc. Hanck manages to change his tone enough on several tracks that you might think someone else is handling the lead vocal. What is consistent is verve and zeal that Hanck infuses in every performance on the album.
Hanck spent ten years as a member of the Elvin Bishop Band before deciding to head off on his own. At one point, he befriended an aspiring guitarist during a tour stop in Oslo, Norway. Chris “Kid” Andersen later made the trip to California and was a member of Hanck's band for four years. After that, he did a stint with Charlie Musselwhite before accepting his current position with Rick Estrin & the Nightcats. Besides playing guitar on six songs, Andersen engineered the sessions, co-produced the recording with Hanck a and plays keyboards on two cuts. The rest of the band includes Johnny “Cat” Soubrand on guitar, Tim Wager on electric bass, Butch Cousins on drums, Bob Welsh on piano & Hammond B-3 and Lorenzo Farrel on upright or electric bass on three tracks and B3 organ on two others.
Hanck's musical preferences are readily apparent in the songs he selected to cover. “My Girl Josephine” has the easy-rolling tempo of New Orleans R&B, providing plenty of room for strong solos from Soubrand and Hanck. The band takes “Train Kept A Rollin'” back to its jump blues origins as the leader blows one exciting chorus after another over the hand-clapping rhythm. Freddie King's instrumental “Side Tracked” is another delight as Hanck's solo builds to a climax in the upper register of his horn before Soubrand's solo will leave you wondering where this talented guitarist has been hiding out. Hanck's muscular blowing and dynamic singing spark Chuck Willis' “Keep A Driving”. There are more guitar and sax fireworks on “Ain't That Just Like a Woman” before the tempo slows down for “Catch That Teardrop”, an R&B tearjerker with Andersen's guitar adding some heat. “You Give Me Nothing But the Blues” was popularized by Louisiana bluesman Guitar Slim but Hanck and the band turn it into a show stopping tribute to Jr. Walker and the All Stars. Soubrand's stinging guitar licks set the stage for Hanck, who blows the house down!
The disc features five of Hanck's compositions that match the quality of the rest of the material. “Appreciate What You Got” finds Hanck doing a humorous assessment of the current state of affairs and trying to stay positive. Another gem is “I Keep On Holding On”, with Hanck pouring his heart out to the woman he loves, refusing to give up on his dream. The arrangement of “Here It Comes” is dominated by Welsh on organ. “Girl, Girl, Girl” has a bouncy, reggae-influenced rhythm plus another strong vocal from the leader. Farrel's plucks some fat notes from his upright bass behind Hanck's late-night, smoky sax solo to open “You Coulda Let Me Go”, a slow blues with another fine vocal from Hanck. Soubrand rips it up on the closing number, paying tribute to Ike Turner's guitar style on “Just One More Time”, but not before Hanck makes a statement of his own on the sax.
This one is a party from start to finish. The joy and passion that Hanck brings to this project will win you over. When you add in the outstanding contributions of his band and guest musicians, it is easy to see why I include Look Out among the handful of exceptional recordings I have heard so far this year. It may be old school but it sure sounds good !!!!
Reviewer Mark Thompson is president of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL. He has been listening to music of all kinds for fifty years. The first concert he attended was in Chicago with The Mothers of Invention and Cream. Life has never been the same.
Featured Blues Review 2 of 7
Laurie Morvan - Breathe Deep
Screaming Lizard Records
I heard Laurie Morvan for the first time last year on her great CD "Fire It Up". She is a stellar guitar player with consummate phrasing and respect for both the music and the spaces between the notes. I love her technique and style. She is one of the rising stars in the blues guitar world and anyone who wants to hear the future of blues guitar should pick up one of her CDs and check her out.
Joined by her band (Lisa Grubbs - background vocals, percussion, Tommy Salyers - keyboards, Pat Morvan - bass, and Kevin Murillo - drums), Morvan again offers up all original music on this CD as on her last which won Best Self Produced Blues CD from the Blues Foundation Awards; she was a finalist with her prior CD in 2009, too.
This new CD follows the last with great musicianship and playing. I continue to be completely impressed with her guitar work. Another complete set of original songs are offered up here, and perhaps that is where my love of Ms. Morvan begins to wane just a little (not a lot, just a little). The lyrics to the songs sound a lot alike over the two albums I've listened to and are predictable; they remind me a lot of pop country song lyrics at times. She also belts them out quite well, but her voice sometimes lacks the bluesy edge we hear in other Blues CDs. Her vibrato and style does not sell me on her being "blues". It is more on an angst filled country rock sound that she offers up in her singing style. Many like her vocals, but they don't sound completely like blues to me.
Those flaws are minor and minor flaws aside, she can wail with the best of them, and you may actually like her singing style. Where she really excels is in her guitar work. She is impeccable and not over the top. I love her guitar phrasing and approach to songs. I would love to see her live and see what she sounds like out of the studio!
She starts off with the funny and cute "No Working On Drinking Hours", a sort of novelty song about separating your work and play. Then she gets mostly into the slower tracks are ones that appealed less to me, but showed promise and great guitar licks. "Saved by the Blues" is nice slow rock/blues, but the lyrics and story feel a little overused while "Back Up the Train" is straight up and visceral slow blues delivered in gut wrenching style, by far the best of the slower tracks. "It Only Hurts When I Breathe" offers nice guitar and soulful singing. "I've Had Enough" gives us some wah-wah pedal and better lyrics with wicked guitar. "Bad Love Blues" is more of that slow blues rock as is the closing "Long Time 'til I'm Gone".
When she steps up the pace the songs get better and better. "Mojo Mama" may have predictable lyrics, but it steps up notch in tempo. "Beat Up from the Feet Up" offers some nice driving guitar and a good blues story with a fun title line. "Hurtin' and the Healing" is mid tempo, some more nice solo work. "Thelma and Louise" is a female escape song paying homage to the famous film and it's characters. Clean guitar lines abound here. Most of these songs are somewhat restrained- I'd love to hear Laurie get loose and let it all go.
Morvan is an extremely great guitar player. She's a great musician who understands music and how to perform. I truly look forward to seeing her live soon!
Reviewer Steve Jones is secretary of the Crossroads Blues Society and is a long standing blues lover. He is a retired Navy commander who served his entire career in nuclear submarines. In addition to working in his civilian career, he writes for and publishes the bi-monthly newsletter for Crossroads, chairs their music festival and work with their Blues In The Schools program.
Featured Live Blues Review
Briggs Farm Blues Festival
July 8-9, 2011
Photos by Bob Kieser
I made it to the Briggs Farm Blues Festival in Nescopeck, Pennsylvania a couple weeks ago. It was my first time at this festival and I was impressed. The fest is held on a private farm owned by Richard Briggs. They offer onsite camping and the large number of campers give this festival a unique feel. I was told that the line for the choice of the first come first served camping spots started at 4:30 AM the morning of the first day of the fest.
This was the 14th annual edition of this festival. That experience was evident. The fest was very well attended and very well organized.
The fest had 2 stages and provided continuous entertainment throughout the days. I found myself mostly staying at the main stage although I did make it to hear the music on the “Front Porch” stage on a few occasions.
The main stage lineup started off on Friday night with Terry “Harmonica” Bean. Terry is best known for his one-man-band act, stomping out the drum beat on a wooden box, while playing harmonica and guitar. I have enjoyed his busking on Cherry Street every year for the last few years during the King Biscuit Festival in Helena Arkansas each October.
This was my first time hearing him perform with a full band and it was a great set and nice change of pace. He played with his one man band mode on the other stage later the next day so the crowd got to see both of his performance modes.
Next up was a solo performer named Eli Cook. Eli was a last minute replacement for Chainsaw DuPont and his large voice and driving guitar sound was a pleasing show.
Next up was Teeny Tucker. I have had the pleasure of becoming friends with Teeny and her band over the past couple years and I always really enjoy her performances.
Teeny Tucker is nominated for Female Blues Artist of the Year in the 2011 Blues Blast Music Awards.
The headliner act on Friday was Andrew “Jr. Boy” Jones. Andrew put on a great show that had the crowd in a party mood dancing like mad. It was one of the best sets I have seen him do over the last few years.
On Saturday the main stage lineup started off with Jimmy “Duck” Holmes. Holmes played a great solo set that honored the Mississippi style of artists like Skip James.
Next up was James Armstrong Band. I last saw James at one of the River City Blues Society’s Wednesday night Blues show a couple years ago. His infectious enthusiasm in that performance ended up with a long bunny hop line following him all around the venue on an extended guitar solo walking through the crowd.
This show had the same lever of intensity and the crowd loved his walk through the packed audience and his entire set.
Next up was Alexis P. Suter Band. Alexis has a full band with a couple of backup singers which she used very effectively on her gospel and soulful set
She got an ovation and had to leave the crowd wanting even more when she finished her encore.
The headliner on Saturday was the great Eddie Shaw & the Wolf Gang. Eddie was in fine form and his experience with such legends as Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf could be seen in the way he knew how to please a crowd. He is probably one of the best known sax players in Blues music.
Eddie's son, Eddie Van Shaw is his guitar player and he plays a really cool guitar. I has 3 necks, a six string, a seven string and a twelve string. This triple neck monster weighs in at over 40 pounds. But Eddie Jr. didn't look like he has any trouble taming this guitar beast as he used all three of the necks like the pro he is!
My first time at the Briggs Farm Blues Fest was a great experience. I want to thank both Richard Briggs and Ginny Buckley for their fine hospitality. They know how to make a hard working Blues photographer feel appreciated.
I would recommend this festival to anyone. It has a feel and atmosphere like none other I have ever attended. Check it out next year.
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Capital Region Blues Network - Albany, NY
The Capital Region Blues Network of New York are presenting Slam Allen and The Foy Brothers at The Parting Glass in Saratoga Springs on July 29th at 8PM.
This is a fundraiser for the newly formed Capital Region Blues Network. Tickets are $15.00 in advance at http://www.capitalregionbluesnetwork.org/fundraiser/ Tickets will be available day of show for $20.00 and all CRBN member's will be able to buy a pair of tickets for just $10.00 each For more information www.crbn.org
Santa Barbara Blues Society - Santa Barbara, CA
Win an Ocean View Cabin on this October’s Bluescruise! One week vacation for two people on the ultimate floating blues festival. It's the last Pacific blues cruise, and it's sold out! Set sail from San Diego to the Sea of Cortez, October 23-30, 2011 aboard Holland America’s 5 Star ms Zaandam. Raffle tickets are only $20 each, or 6 tickets for $100. No more than 500 tickets will be sold. Have you ever bought a Lotto ticket? Why not enter a contest where you actually have a decent chance of winning?
If you buy 1 ticket in our Bluescruise Cabin Raffle your odds of winning are 1 in 500. Buy 6 tickets and your odds of winning increase to 1 in 83! This assumes that we sell all 500 tickets. Last year, we only sold a little over 250 tickets. If we don’t sell all 500 tickets, your odds of winning are even better. The winning ticket will be drawn at our September show.
Win the vacation of a lifetime. Get your tickets today. Send your check to: Santa Barbara Blues Society. P.O. Box 30853. Santa Barbara, CA 93130 Be sure to include your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address. More info at www.sbblues.org
West Virginia Blues Society - Charleston, WV
The West Virginia Blues Society will be holding it's 5 th. Annual Appalachian Blues Competition Oct. 22, 2011. The Blues Society will be sending two acts to Memphis, Tn. for the International Blues Challenge, Band Div. and Solo/Duo Div. If, you think your Act is ready to take the next step, then, this IS the competition to enter ! For Application and Rules contact Competition Director Jack Rice at, firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-389-1439.
Competition will be held at: The Sound Factory 812 Kanawha Blvd E, Charleston, WV 25301-2807 · 1 (304) 342-8001 Stay tuned for more info at, www.wvbluessociety.org
Sacramento Blues Society – Sacramento, CA
The Sacramento Blues Society is pleased to again be a sponsor for the Northern California Blues Festival August 5 &6, 2911 at the Auburn Regional Park 3770 Richardson Drive, Auburn, CA.
The lineup includes Kenny Neal Band, Carolyn Wonderland, Dennis Jones Band, Caravan of All Stars, Jeff Watson Band with Daniel Castro & Terry Hiatt, The Soulshakers, Population 5, Big Brother & The Holding Company, Mick Martin & The Blues Rockers, Todd Morgan & The Emblems. Family friendly with lots of food, music & fun. Be sure to drop by the Sacramento Blues Society's tent and pick-up this year's festival t-shirt. The proceeds will support our "Blues In The Schools" program! For festival & ticket information: http://www.sacblues.com/
Cascade Blues Association - Portland, Oregon
The Cascade Blues Association, in celebration of their 25th anniversary, have released a compilation CD titled Puddletown Blues, Vol.1 that features selections from a dozen blues artists from the state of Oregon, or with ties to the state.
Most of the tracks are from live performances and only one has previously been released before. Artists included in this collection are Billy D & The Hoodoos, Boogie Bone, Duffy Bishop, Fiona Boyes, Hawkeye Herman, Kevin Selfe & The Tornadoes, Lisa Mann & Her Really Good Band, Paul deLay, Robbie Laws, The Strange Tones, Terry Robb, Ty Curtis Band and Woodbrain. This CD can be purchased on-line at www.cascadeblues.org.
Also, watch for our 25th anniversary concert happening on Saturday, September 17th at The Melody Ballroom in Portland, featuring performances by The Robbie Laws Band with special guest from Memphis Brandon Santini, Karen Lovely, The Lloyd Jones Struggle and Chad Rupp & The Ruppshakers.
Mid-Mississippi Muddy Water Blues Society -Quincy IL.
The MMMWBS is now co-hosting the "SMOKE ON THE RIVER BBQ & BLUES FEST" Sept 9th & 10th in Quincy's Kesler Park. A sanctioned KCBS BBQ Contest and Blues Festival, with 2 Bands on Friday (Blue-Eyed Soul and Dave Chastain) , acoustic Blues Saturday afternoon (Rich Berry), and 3 Bands on Sat.nite (BJ Allen & Blue Voodoo, Rockin' Jake, and The Reba Russell Band). Info for the event can be found at quincyblues.com
Topeka Blues Society - Topeka, KS
The Topeka Blues Society and Uncle Bo's Blues bar will be hosting their 3rd Annual Youth Showcase on Sunday, August 7th at Uncle Bo's, 420 E. 6th, Topeka, KS beginning at 1:00pm. Any young person that loves blues, plays an instrument or sings and wants to participate or see others their age play is welcome. The guest artist this year is 2010 International Blues Challenge finalist Sonny Moorman who will host the event, perform some of his songs and answer questions about being in a band.
On Sunday, August 14th the Topeka Blues Society will host their 3rd International Blues Challenge, also at Uncle Bo's Blues Bar. The event begins at 1:00pm and the following acts will perform: Band Competition - Coyote Bill, Ellie Smith and the Commotion, Nick Hern band with Margo Martinez and Where's Joe? Solo/Duo Competition - The Blue Devils and Two Blue.
There will be a silent auction of various blues memorabilia, autographed photos/posters and other items at both events to benefit the Topeka Blues Society. More information is available at www.topekabluessociety.org.
Cincy Blues Society - Cincinnati, OH
Cincy Blues Society presents the Cincy Blues Fest August 5 & 6, 2011. Cincinnati's Sawyer Point Park will be rocking with local and national blues performers. This year, the Budweiser Main Stage features Eden Brent, Big James Montgomery and the Chicago Playboys, Rick Holmstrom, Moreland & Arbuckle, Ben Prestage, and Tad Robinson, as well as Cincy Blues Challenge winners Miss Lissa & Company and Brian Keith Wallen.
Festival admission is $15 per person Friday and $15 per person Saturday (2-day passes will be sold for $25 at the gate on Friday), children 13-18 are only $5 each day, and children 12 and under (with parent/guardian) are free. A full list of performers and scheduled times is available on Cincy Blues Fest's website: http://cincybluesfest.org
Blues Society of the Ozarks - Springfield, MO
The Blues Society of the Ozarks based out of Springfield, Mo is happy to announce the line up for the 15th Annual Greater Ozark Blues Festival to be held at Chesterfield Village in Springfield, Mo September 9 & 10, 2011
We are proud to present on Friday September 9, 2011 Mary Bridget Davies Band, Larry Garner & Lil Ed & the Imperials on Saturday September 10, 2011 the line up includes: Terry Quiett Band, Grand Marques, JP Soars and the Red Hots, Shaun Murphy, and Joe Lewis Walker. For more information and tickets visit our web site at www.greaterozarksbluesfest.com or 417-860-5078
Illinois Central Blues Club - Springfield, IL
The Illinois Central Blues Club presents "Blue Monday" every Monday night for the last 25 years - BLUE MONDAY SHOWS - Held at the Alamo 115 N 5th St, Springfield, IL (217) 523-1455 every Monday 8:30pm $3 cover. August 1 - Lionel Young Band, August 8 - Ben Prestage, August 15 - Bryan Lee, August 22 - Grady Champion, August 29 - RJ Mischo. icbluesclub.org
Featured Blues Review 3 of 7
Elvin Bishop's Rainsin’ Hell Revue - Live on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise
13 songs; 58:18 minutes
Styles: Rootsy Rock and Roll; Barroom Boogie; Classic Rock; R & B
Summer has always been a time for blues, brews and barbecues. Genre veteran Elvin Bishop did some traveling in 2010 on the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise. He also did plenty of “Raisin' Hell”--hence, a review of his “Revue”! This particular writer has been familiar with his music ever since she was a little tyke. What else can she say for a final verdict on this live album except, “It's Elvin Bishop! How can one possibly go wrong?” All of the thirteen songs here are surefire crowd-pleasers, and zero are forgettable. Long-time, as well as new listeners, will proudly add this CD to their blues collection.
As the liner notes state, Raisin' Hell is “a revue in the classic sense of the term—various band members moving in and out of the spotlight for their featured numbers, a wide-ranging array of talents and styles represented, all presided over by the good-humored and congenial master of ceremonies Elvin Bishop.” Featured here are such noteworthy artists as John Nemeth, Finis Tasby, and Bishop's long-time band mate, saxophonist Terry Hanck. For the Rhythm and Blues Cruise enthusiasts, the three display their vocal prowess on “Fooled Around and Fell In Love,” “River's Invitation,” and “Cryin' Fool” respectively. Kid Andersen plays some wicked guitar solos on such songs as “Whole Lotta Lovin'” and “Bye Bye Baby.” Everyone puts his (or her, in background vocalist Lisa Leu Andersen's case) best foot forward, and thus everyone basks in blues glory. This is no slapdash effort, an album cranked out in a hurry because the musicians are short on cash. This is a labor of love, and all on the Cruise know it.
The biggest highlights on this album are two numbers that reference current events: “What the Hell is Going On?” and “Dyin' Flu.” One is up-tempo and the other slow, but both are tongue-in cheek: “Scared to read my paper. Can't look at TV. The world's getting way too crazy for me!” the first laments wryly. The second, complete with a monologue by Bishop himself, starts out: “Now, do you remember last year about this time, they were telling us on TV that we're all going to die from the swine flu. You remember that? Well, I see we're still here, and I'm glad of it!” We blues aficionados are, too. Keep on sailing, Elvin!
Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 31-year-old female Blues fan. She brings the perspective of a younger blues fan to reviews. A child of 1980s music, she was strongly influenced by her father’s blues music collection.
Featured Blues Review 4 of 7
Quintus McCormick Blues Band – Put It On Me!
14 tracks; 64.25 minutes
Quintus McCormick has been fronting his own band on the very competitive Chicago blues scene for a number of years and made a big impression with the 2009 release of his first CD “Hey Jodie”, the title song of which was nominated for a Blues Blast Award last year. The second album is now here and Quintus and his band seem to have avoided the pitfalls of the notoriously ‘difficult’ sophomore release with a superb CD which offers over an hour of varied and original music. Quintus wrote all the material this time round and the recording was completed in just two days in Riverside studios, Chicago. The band consists of Quintus on guitar and vocals, John Chorney, keys, Vic Jackson, bass and Jeremiah Thomas, drums. The four piece Chicago Horns (Kenny Anderson, trumpet, Hank Ford, tenor, Jerry DiMuzio, baritone, Steve Berry, trombone) add substantially to 5 tracks and Billy Branch plays his trademark harp on three tracks.
What impressed me in particular was Quintus’ ability to tailor his voice to the song. As a stark example opening cut “You Just Using Me” is a classic Chicago shuffle, barrelling along at pace with strong piano and harp. Here Quintus sings in shortened phrases and mid-range voice. Second cut “Talk Baby” is far more of a soul track, the rhythm propelled by Quintus’ plucked guitar and percolating keyboards, the whole taken up a notch by the strong horn arrangement. Here Quintus’ vocal is in a higher register, giving that ‘pleading’ tone that soul is all about.
It is not just the voice that Quintus flexes on this CD. Third track “How Quick We Forget” is a slow, late night soul blues (more great horn arrangements). Quintus’ voice gets down low here but his guitar shows a different side. On the first two tracks his style was single note, plucked playing. Here he adds some distortion to offer a soaring solo that matches the nature of the song perfectly. “Same Old Feeling” is another soul blues, horn supported song, with warm vocals and a little touch of George Benson style guitar on the outro.
The horns take a break on the next two tracks. “I Got It Babe” is one of those ‘bragging’ songs that tells all listening girls that Quintus is really all they need: “Make you holler and scream, make you feel like you’re sweet sixteen”. “The Blues Has Been Good To Me” brings Billy Branch’s harp back on a slow, rolling blues. The piano playing on this one is great too! “Loveland” has the horns again on an uptempo stomper and we are again in the soul dimension here; a tune that makes you move, even when seated in front of the laptop! Quintus just plays rhythm on this one, leaving the horns to testify throughout and a short electric piano solo towards the end.
“Don’t Know What To Do” is a song about ‘the morning after’ a party night out. Quintus has spent all his money, is stuck between two lovers and is a bit lost…best to get it all out of your system with some tough guitar and harp playing! “Change” provides a complete contrast in sound with Quintus’ guitar to the fore from the very start on a slower paced blues. It’s a song that could well have had a horn arrangement on it, but the band do an excellent job, the piano and organ ably supporting Quintus’ striking guitar playing and soulful vocal.
Title song “Put It On Me!” reminds me of Muddy’s “I’m Ready”. The rhythm section does a great job on this one (and throughout) with sharp drumming keeping all the players on their game. Quintus conjures up a very strong guitar break and the piano features throughout. “Sadie” is also upbeat, a song about a girl that simply won’t leave Quintus alone – poor chap! She inspires some very nice guitar plucking too!
“Say Lover” marks the final appearance of the Chicago Horns, and what a send-off! Quintus is definitely back in soul crooner mode here and the horns really soar on a classic soul cut: “Maybe we’ll meet some other time, who knows, a few years it might be fine. Love so sweet when we were together.” Electric piano is the solo featured instrument, but it is the horns that are the stars here. “Lady Blue” starts with an extended instrumental section before the vocal comes in. Some relaxed playing from the entire band on this gentle blues ballad. The final cut is “Hallelujah” which, as the title suggests, closes the CD with a nod in the direction of Quintus’ former gospel career.
I was very impressed with this CD. Quintus is clearly a triple threat with his versatile singing and playing and his song writing ability. I would expect this CD to add to the buzz that Quintus created with his first CD and is clearly an early contender for the Blues Blast nominations for 2012.
Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music.
Featured Blues Review 5 of 7
Dana Fuchs - Love to Beg
13 Tracks: 50mins 54
Dana Fuchs was born in New Jersey and raised in Florida and by sixteen, after singing with the First Baptist Gospel Choir in her home town, she began singing in public. At sixteen, she fronted a popular local band at a local Holiday Inn. Dana has a powerful voice and it comes as no surprise to me that she sung the part of Janice Joplin in a version of the musical play Love Janice, in an off-Broadway production.
Dana with her band, including the producer of this record John Diamond (who plays guitar in the band) have toured in the US, Canada, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany and Norway and as I write are about to front the Maryport Blues Festival in the UK following the withdrawal of the previous headliners, the Fabulous Thunderbirds. Well nice going!!
The CD is superb with twelve tracks, ranging from the fiery to the thoughtful. All the songs, with one exception, are Fuchs/ Diamond originals and from the first notes come with a band of exemplary musicians (special mention here to drummer Carter McLean and bass man Whynot Jansveldt (is that his real first name?) and an accolade for the excellent Hammond stuff from Glen Patscha. A fabulous BIG sound with phenomenal drive.
The only cover in the set is the Otis Redding original I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now) and it is outstanding, really full of emotion and fully justifying its inclusion in the set. The remainder of the songs are a mix of hard edged blues-tinged rockers and nicely arranged slower pieces. There is an edge of contemporary ‘new country’ in the mix on one or two of the tracks and it works really well. This one was a wonderful surprise. Nice stuff Dana. Keep on keeping on..
Reviewer Ian McKenzie lives in England. He is the editor of Blues In The South (www.bluesinthesouth.com) a monthly flier providing news, reviews, a gig guide and all kinds of other good stuff, for people living and going to gigs along the south coast of England. Ian is also a blues performer (see www.myspace.com/ianmckenzieuk) and has a web cast regular blues radio show on www.phonic.FM in Exeter (Wednesdays: 1pm Eastern/ 12 noon Central, 10am Pacific).
Not familiar with some of the 2011 nominees?
Hear music by these great artists NOW on WGLT's Blues Blast Awards Listening Site
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Contemporary Blues CD
Traditional Blues CD
Robin Rogers - Back In The Fire
Eddie Turner - Miracles & Demons
John Németh - Name The Day
Damon Fowler - Devil Got His Way
JP Soars - More Bees With Honey
Buddy Guy - Living Proof
Bob Corritore & Friends - Harmonica Blues
Studebaker John's Maxwell Street Kings - That's the Way You Do
Charlie Musselwhite - The Well
Magic Slim - Raising The Bar
Song Of The Year
New Artist Debut Release
| Shake Your Boogie (Big Joe Williams) |
from Reverend Raven & The Chain Smokin' Altar Boys - Shake Your Boogie Still the Rain (Dennis Walker/Alan Mirikitani)
from Still The Rain- Karen Lovely
Living Proof (Tom Hambridge/Buddy Guy)
from Buddy Guy - Living Proof Don't Walk Away Run (Chuck Glass)
from Robin Rogers - Back In The Fire
The Well (Charlie Musselwhite)
from Charlie Musselwhite - The Well Almost A Memory by Wayne Russell
from Reba Russell Band - 8
| The Sugar Prophets - The Sugar Prophets Chris O'Leary Band - Mr. Used to Be |
Rob Blaine - Big Otis Blues Vincent Hayes Project - Reclamation
Matt Hill - On The Floor Peter Parcek - Mathematics of Love
Female Blues Artist
Male Blues Artist
|Teeny Tucker||John Németh|
Best Blues Band
Sean Costello Rising Star Award
Featured Blues Review 6 of 7
Ben Prestage - One Crow Murder
Ben Prestage gives a new and refreshing life to the term “one-man-band”. What he conjures up here is a band sound in the truest sense of the word. His foot-drums provide varying rhythm patterns in the course of one song. The beats he uses are never steady during the course of a song, thus conveying a sense of movement. This along with the creative patterns he attains on his guitars and harmonicas that baffles one’s ear to realize all this juxtaposition of sounds is emanating from one creative mind. And from what I understand with minimum over-dubs. He has absorbed various forms of American roots music over the years and applies it to his music. Elements of blues, folk, ragtime and old-timey music are fused into the sounds he produces.
Ben’s early and later life was one long music history lesson. His great grandmother was a vaudeville musician who toured with Al Jolson as well as participating in medicine shows. Her daughter was a boogie-woogie piano player who played for Ben when he was a youngster. His grandfather and father enlightened him to blues music as well as the sounds and culture of Mississippi in general. Ben then continued his musical upbringing in rural Florida and later as a street busker on Beale Street in Memphis.
His rough-hewn and throaty voice lends a quality of otherworldliness to the songs as it spews out the creative lyrics that hold the listeners’ attention. Lap steel guitar almost sounds like a second voice in his able hands as it careens through his songs. Occasional rudimentary harmonica adds another sound to move the tunes along. The sound he ends up with is far from the monotonous plodding one some might associate with one-man- bands.
The lead-in song, “Tell The Devil I’m Gone”, gets things going on the right foot(no one-man-band pun intended) with plenty of rhythm and some “snaky” slide guitar. Images of the city’s past and present are peppered throughout “I Wish I Was In New Orleans”, a song that benefits from a close approximation of a second-line drum pattern, authentic to the New Orleans R&B sound. In “One Crow Murder” the author comments on his status as a loner in the musical sense at least: ”I’m my own sidekick and partner in crime”. Here he is referring to the term for a group of crows, a murder, rather than something more ominous. His deft acoustic finger-picked guitar technique and use of tension and release make this an appealing number. Ben’s more ominous side is shown to great effect in “Shine, Moon”, which features his own background vocals, a thumping bass drum and some marvelously disjointed guitar work as he comments about the moon looking down on the various conditions on mankind. A cover of the Tampa Red And Georgia Tom’s “If You Want Me To Love You” offers up lyrical humor ending with: ”If you want me to love you and make me love you too you gotta take a butcher knife, cut off your head, mail me a telegram sayin’ your body’s dead”. Talk about asking too much of some one. He does a turn as a one-man jug band complete with kazoo on a cover of former member of Will Shade’s Memphis Jug Band’s Dewey Corley’s “Fishin’ In The Dark”.
Ben Prestage does a fine job of bringing the one-man-band into the future while fleshing out his sound. What we get here isn’t a museum-piece, but rather a traditional form updated with references to present day life. Over the course of eight originals and five covers we get to witness a craftsman at work. He is just as able on the upbeat tunes as he is on the more serious fare. A pleasurable alternative to much of today’s music is contained within. Before I go, a humorous footnote. I viewed an online video of Ben in which he introduces himself on each instrument of his one-man-band line-up.
Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony hails from the New Jersey Delta. He is the proprietor of Bluesdog’s Doghouse at http://bluesdog61.multiply.com.
For those of you who are planning to come to Chicago for the Blues Blast Music Awards at Buddy Guy's Legends in October, we have some good news. We have negotiated a block of 25 rooms at a discount rate of only $139. Our official hotel for the awards is the Essex Inn located just around the corner from Legends.
It is a nice hotel within walking distance. Hurry though because there are only 25 rooms guaranteed at this rate. Get your reservation before they are gone,
To book your rooms now CLICK HERE or call 800 621-6909 and ask for the Blues Blast Magazine discount rate.
Featured Blues Review 7 of 7
Lloyd Jones – Highway Bound
16 Tracks, 45:06
Lloyd Jones is a bit of an open secret in the blues and roots music world. Charlie Musselwhite and Joe Louis Walker are his friends. He’s toured with Earl King, Big Mama Thornton, Otis Clay, Etta James and many more. He’s shared the stage with legends like Albert Collins, Taj Mahal, B.B. King, Dr. John, Junior Wells and Buddy Guy. Robert Cray openly praises him. Coco Montoya and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, among others, have recorded his songs; Coco’s version of “Love Gotcha” has appeared in HBO’s True Blood series and Lloyd Jones’ own “Highway Rider” has been heard during A&E’s Dog The Bounty Hunter reality series. And, Jones is a fixture of Delbert McClinton’s annual Sandy Beaches Cruise. So who is Lloyd Jones?
Lloyd Jones hails from Portland, Oregon and has been a part of the west coast music scene for 30 years. Jones won 30 Muddy Awards from the Cascade Blues Association and in 2007 he received their Lifetime Achievement Award. He has also been inducted into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame. He usually performs with his band and plays fluid electric blues and R&B. Highway Bound is his first “solo” recording. On Highway Bound, we hear only Lloyd Jones’ gritty, whisky soaked vocals and exquisite acoustic picking with occasional sit-ins from Charlie Musselwhite and Curtis Salgado and one solo electric romp through Robert Johnson’s “Last Fair Deal Gone Down.”
Jones effortlessly slips a few originals in among the classic blues standards covered here and in the tradition of traveling minstrels of the early 20th Century, Jones demonstrates his mastery of several styles of music, not just blues. Traveling musicians like Skip James, Robert Johnson, and Big Bill Broonzy had to know the popular tunes or they wouldn’t get work. Jones clearly understands the tradition and mixes blues, jazz, folk and pop style picking occasionally in the same song. Some songs, like “Key To The Highway,” he rearranges for solo guitar, making it a less jaunty, swaggering shuffle. He makes into a more linear rhythm and showcases his picking skills. On Blind Willie McTell’s “Broke Down Engine,” Lloyd’s picking and weary vocal delivery conjure images of a man on a dusty country road in the sweltering heat with a week’s pay burning a hole in the pocket holding his bandana. He’s flagging a ride and looking for a cure for the blues. Like the minstrel thumbing a ride, the guitar lines are constantly in motion, propelling the songs forward. He is Highway Bound after all.
Not surprisingly, traveling is a common theme that runs through the Highway Bound like the I-5 cuts through the continent from Mexico to Canada. From the direct references of bouncy opening original “Travelin’ On” and Bill Bill Broonzy’s “Southbound Train” to the late night musings of a road weary travelers on “Good Night Irene” and W.C. Handy’s “Make Me A Pallet On The Floor.” There’s even a bit of a tongue-in-cheek traveling salesman blues in “Ice Cream Man.” Lloyd drives the truck while Charlie Musselwhite rings the bell and dishes up tasty harp to the regular stops.
Throughout Highway Bound Lloyd Jones demonstrates his love of these blues. He inhabits the songs. Modern listeners are accustomed to high energy, electrified full-band bombast but Jones takes us back in time, to the origin of this music, performing the songs in the manner in which they were probably conceived: by a singer and their guitar on the road somewhere between Hopeless and Last Nickel. The songs needed to be portable but had to remain active enough to hold an audience’s attention on a lone musician. Jones manages just that with his percussive attack, walking basslines, foot stomping percussive accompaniment and a vocal delivery that wraps the whole thing in a burlap sack, throws it over a shoulder and carries it on down the line. Hopefully this Highway Bound musician will be coming to your town soon. Until then you’ve got this remarkable disc to soothe your aching soul.
Reviewer Jim Kanavy is the greatest guitar player in his house. He has been reviewing albums in his head for 30 years and in print since 2008, and is deeply committed to keeping the blues alive and thriving. For more information visit http://jimkanavy.com,
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