John 'blueshammer' Hammer
Blue Monday Monthly Magazine
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From The Editor's Desk
Hey Blues Fans,
We made an error in a link last week. In the review of the CD by Blinddog Smokin' we had a typo. The correct link to their website is http://blinddogsmokin.com. We regret the error!
James Walker gave their CD his highest rating last week. He has only given this rating 2 other times in five years of CD reviews! He suggested it was such a good CD that you might want to hold off on other CD purchases and get this new one titled Up From The Tracks. Apparently some of you took his advise to heart but were not able to get to the bands website to buy the CD.
To see his review of this fine CD again, CLICK HERE.
This Weeks Winning Voters
We drew three more weekly prize winners today from those who have voted. Kyle Teddy won a free Blues Blast T-shirt. Doug Minnich won an advance copy of the new Shane Dwight CD A Hundred White Lies. Liz Mandville won a free ticket to the Blues Blast Music Awards.
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 more winners next week so don't miss out! CLICK HERE to vote NOW!
Good Blues To You!
In This Issue
Chefjimi Patricola has our feature interview with Candye Kane.
We have six CD reviews for you this week! James "Skyy Dobro" Walker reviews a new CD from Head Honchos. Steve Jones reviews two recent CDs by Steve Miller Band. Rainey Wetnight reviews a new CD from Stan Erhart. Mark Thompson reviews a new CD from The Russ Tippins Electric Band. Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony reviews a new CD from Little Phil. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!
We caught up with Candye Kane recently to discuss her battle with cancer, her love of the Blues, her newest CD and several other things she has on her plate.
Blues Blast: OK, your health is the 800 pound gorilla in the room, it's probably been over talked, but people still want to know how you are doing. So how the heck are you ? ---- how much are you touring these days?
Candye Kane: I am still touring full time - about 250 days per year. I love singing and feel blessed and honored to be playing music. I am not happy unless I'm singing. Even if I take a vacation, which rarely happens, I end up singing karaoke or sitting in. My ex bf got so mad because he took me on a new years eve cruise one year, and I had to sing karaoke. Pretty soon, people were recognizing me and at midnight on new years, a bunch of fans came up to hug me. He yelled at me “I took you on the cruise to get you alone and you have to attract a crowd everywhere you go!!! “ I didn’t mean to ruin the cruise for him! I just HAVE to sing. People tell me to slow down but I live for music and am only happy when I'm singing. Plus with a kid in college (my youngest is a music major and a senior at UC Berkeley), I have to keep working as much as possible. People tell me to slow down but work is my life. I want to be singing the day I die.
As far as my health goes, its been three years since my cancer surgery. So far I am cancer free although I have been having some bouts of pancreatitis recently. God willing, I will stay cancer free. But I live each day to the fullest. Each record I make could be my last. Each trip to Europe or every show I do, might be the final one so I try and make every moment count.
BB: Your last release 'Super Hero' was about your battles and triumphs over the many adversities you have faced both recent and some in the past, but it also played as a paean for the 'every person' all of us. Did you expect it to resound so well with the audience?
CK: I think every song and each CD is a personal journey. You can't make art, and shouldn’t make it, expecting people to like it. You must do what is in your heart and hopefully it will speak to someone else. Writing songs with empowering lyrics has changed my life. I was fed a constant diet of debilitating words from the time I was a little bitty girl and then throughout my life, like so many of us, was told I wasn’t good enough, thin enough or talented enough to succeed. When I sing super hero 250 days a year, it makes me feel stronger. Most of the songs on super hero were deeply personal and I just shared them with the public because I was given the chance to do so. I am honored and shocked when anybody likes what I do.
BB: Have you found your 'tribe' here within the Blues Community ? I seem to have for sure. --- How did you find 'the blues' ?
CK: I started out as a hillbilly and pop singer. I was inspired by what I heard on the radio as a girl - and that was Carole King, Linda Ronstadt and Carly Simon. Through them, I discovered Hank Williams, Sr. and Patsy Cline and through them discovered Kitty Wells, and the Carter Family. Because of songwriters like Roger Miller and Harlan Howard I learned to really value songwriting and became obsessed with good writing. My first bands and first experiences with the record business were in country. I yodeled, played rhythm guitar, wrote songs and had a hillbilly band. We shared bills in punk rock Hollywood with the Blasters, X, Dwight Yoakam and Los Lobos and got a record deal with CBS Epic in 1986.
The 80s in Hollywood were super inclusive and you could see all kinds of music on one bill. I miss those days when you could see diverse music in one show on one night. I ran across Joe Liggins and the Honeydrippers when they played at a friends wedding in Malibu and started sitting in with Joe and his band. I would go to some rough neighborhoods in Compton to sit in with Joe.
He was a great pianist and could play all kinds of country and rockabilly - from Ray Price to Big Joe Turner. He was the bomb. Eventually I met and married Thomas Yearsley, bassist from the Paladins and moved from my East LA home to live with him in San Diego. For the first time, exploring his blues vinyl collection, I heard Elmore James and Howlin' Wolf and it gave me goose bumps the same way the Louvin Brothers had, the first time I heard them. I started collecting blues women and because of the Paladins and all of their road miles, I learned how to run a road band. I opened for them in Austin at Antones and met Susan Antone, Clifford Antone's sister. We hit it off and she encouraged Clifford to sign me to Antones Records. Cliff loved my songwriting and put me in blues school. He took me under his wing and introduced me to Stevie Ray Vaughn, Hubert Sumlin and my new label mates, Kim Wilson, Marcia Ball and Lou Ann Barton among others. I was studying and sitting in with the best musicians in the live blues music business. It was a dream come true.
BB: Speaking of tribes, tell me a little about your experience at the Blues Music Awards? What was it like as a 'fan' of the blues to be there?
CK: For years it felt like I wasn’t accepted by the blues community, even though I have been touring full time since 1994. I think the blues is such underground music, they really want to be taken seriously. I have a good sense of humor about myself and wrote some songs that were silly like “Masturbation Blues” and “All you can eat and you can eat it all night long.” I saw similarities with what I was doing and with what Memphis Minnie, Julia Lee and Saffire - the uppity blues women were doing. But the blues people weren’t too keen on a girl with a checkered past who was playing piano with her breasts and singing songs about sexuality. I think they were afraid of me - so for my first eight cds, my audience was mostly rockabilly kids, fat girls, men who liked fat girls, gay people and porn fans.
I have only started getting attention and praise from the blues community in the last few years, since my first record for RUF. I had already made three albums for Antones, and been on Discovery, Sire/London, Rounder, etc and no one in the blues world paid me any mind. Some of the hardcore blues venues that have been in business for decades, only booked me for the very first time in the last year.
Working with the great Bob Margolin on the Guitard and Feathered CD really changed things for me and helped my credibility with the blues people. I think his acceptance and love for me made the blues people take a second look. I love coming to Memphis and being in the same room with all my friends whom I have known for years like Charlie Musselwhite and Rick Estrin. They always loved and accepted me. It just took the blues fans and club owners a bit longer to catch on. Some are still slow to budge from their stereotypical assumptions about what I am about. (And as you know, I'm still trying to convince Roger Naber that I am a blues artist now and remind him that its been years since the days I played western swing at the Grand Emporium in Kansas City!) But I am super grateful and glad to be part of such an amazing community now and feel accepted by almost everyone. I still shake things up now and then by wearing my doll-head dress or speaking out about legalizing prostitution, but overall I feel really vindicated to finally be included after so many years of hard work.
BB: Who were some of your musical influences?
CK: My biggest blues influences are Etta James, Big Maybelle and Johnny Guitar Watson. Other singers I admire and emulate are Kay Starr, Patsy Cline, Little Jimmy Scott and Mildred Bailey. I also love songwriters like Lowell George, Saffire - the Uppity Blues women, Dave Alvin and Rick Estrin.
BB: You currently have a play about your life being put on out on the west coast. Tell us about it - how did it come about - how is it doing - heck, who plays you !
CK: The Toughest Girl Alive was drawn from my Memoir of the same title. I plan on publishing it by the end of this year. It was adapted to the stage by the head of the San Diego Ballet, Javier Velasco and starred Bethany Slomka as all the female characters in my life (my mom, Courtney Love etc) and Rob Kirk as all the male characters in my life - (Dwight Yoakam, Gene Simmons etc) I play myself in the play. I tell a story and the actors chime in as we act out different scenes. The play features snippets of 23 original songs of mine and we were just accepted at the New York City Fringe Festival where we will be performing it from Aug 12-28, 2011. The San Diego Critics Theatre Guild voted it Critics Choice, beating out several Broadway Plays. It was sold out every night. It was a challenge singing and remembering two hours of dialogue but it was the greatest experience of my life and I cant wait to do it again!
BB: OK here's a good one ....Tell me about 'Sister Vagabond' your new release that you are just finishing up. Please give us some dope on it.
CK: Sister Vagabond will be released August 16th on the Delta Groove Label. It’s my second cd for Delta Groove and my twelfth release. I am writing you from Thunderbird Analog studio in Oceanside now where I am listening to Laura Chavez rip on her guitar solos. Laura has been playing with me for three years and she is just amazing. We write great songs together and really have a great time working together. We produced Superhero and we are also producing Sister Vagabond. I found Laura when Sue Foley told me to hire her. Sue has always been my favorite guitarist and Laura far exceeded my expectations. She is just a fireball of talent and only 29. My ex husband, Thomas Yearsley is engineering the cd and it features some awesome guests like Nathan James and Steve Hodges from Mavis Staples band. But mostly it is our live band with Kennan Shaw on bass and Paul Fasulo on drums. Some highlights include a remake of Brenda Lee’s, Sweet Nothings and of course, a bunch of Kane/Chavez originals.
BB: Candye, what else would you like to do?
CK: In addition to touring the world, since 2005, I have been involved as the co-founder of an amazing charity called United by Music. UBM is a non-profit organization where we mentor people with disabilities and teach them how blues songwriting and performance can change their lives. It has taken me to the World Congress for Down syndrome in Cape town, South Africa and in Dublin, Ireland.
We have just started raising awareness about UBM here in the USA. Our Northwest division is spearheaded by Barbara Hammerman in Tacoma, Washington who has been a KBA recipient. We have recently enlisted musicians - Kenny Neal and Karen Lovely to help us and will start conducting auditions in the Northwest to find disabled people with talent to perform at the Waterfront Blues Festival in 2012. We would love to one day see UBM become as big as the Special Olympics and give people with disabilities world wide a chance to strut their stuff onstage with so-called able bodied, able-minded musicians and teach them how the blues can give them power and self esteem. www.unitedbymusic.org.
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.
Head Honchos’ - Head Honchos’
7 songs; 24:49 minutes; Meritable
Styles: Contemporary Blues-Rock
How many speeding tickets do you currently possess (where three tickets means loss of license)? None: feel free to play Head Honchos’ in the car, and crank it up. One ticket: play this CD at lower volumes. Two citations: play only at your own risk. This is head banging, pulse pounding, heart racing Blues-Rock played in American kick-ass style!
The first song on the Chicago area’s Head Honchos’ debut album is Don Nix’s “Going Down,” (curiously credited to “King”). It simply screams, “This is a Rockin’-the-Blues CD, and we’re damn proud of it!” Head Honchos' explodes some of most incendiary Chicago Style Blues/Rock you’ll hear. For example, “Lucky’s Train” with its wailing harp will blow the wheels off that locomotive. Then, “Whiskey Devil” kicks it up a botch from there!
This somewhat short CD contains seven power-house tracks, four which are originals and three cover interpretations: the aforementioned "Going Down," Aaron Neville’s "Fire On The Bayou," and Wilson Pickett's "99 1/2 Won't Do" with great singing, harmony, keyboards, and some tasty wah guitar.
Head Honchos' is a four piece band consisting of Rocco Calipari (Guitar/Vocals), Rocco Calipari Jr. (Guitar), C.C. Copeland (Bass), and Scott Schultz (Drums/Vocals). Special Guests on this release include, Steve Ball (Keyboards), Phil Smith (Percussion), Joe “J.B.” Brown (Saxophone), Mitch Goldman (Trumpet), and Jo Jo Dotlich (Harmonica on one cut).
Fans of Chicago’s Howard and the White Boys will already recognize the name of Rocco Calipari as he has been their long-time lead guitarist. When not performing with Howard McCullum as one of the “White Boys,” Rocco sings vocals and fronts Head Honchos' with his son. Calipari is also a guitar teacher and a seasoned touring artist.
Head Honchos’ infusion of guitar Rock with Blues is an interesting and often exciting mixture. While no new ground is being broken here, the crew can be proud of their product, the soul in their music, and their efforts to keep it real while all around turn to Rap. But, it’s probably safer to listen at home than in the car, there, Lead-foot.
Reviewer James "Skyy Dobro" Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ, Master of Ceremonies, and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show "Friends of the Blues" can be heard Saturdays 8 pm - Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at www.wkccradio.org in Kankakee, IL. To See James “Skyy Dobro” Walker's CD rating system, CLICK HERE.
The Steve Miller Band - Bingo!
Space Cowboy/Loud and Proud/Roadrunner Records
10 tracks (14 on the Special Edition)
The Steve Miller Band - Let Your Hair Down
Space Cowboy/Loud and Proud/Roadrunner Records
The 2011 Blues Music Award Rock Blues Album nominee Bingo! and the companion piece Let Your Hair Down come from the same session where Miller returns to the blues roots he was firmly entrenched in prior to moving to San Francisco in thelate 60’s. After his psychedelic period discovered he could parlay his blues, masterful guitar and echo filled vocals into legendary pop rock music. His big selling album 1974 to 1978 Greatest Hits still sells well and attests that he was able to turn out tune after tune that could sell millions of copies in a mere five year period. But a 17 year hiatus took Miller away from the studio and record releases and the Gangster of Love that some call Maurice kind of disappeared from the music scene except for the occasional summer tour. Now the Space Cowboy is back, he’s come full circle to his roots and has released two sets of tunes that are a tribute to the music he grew up on and with. And while I was skeptical at first, the more I listen, the more I say, “What the hell; it’s good, it’s fun and it is well done”.
Steve Miller learned guitar at a young age and was influenced by many, including family friend Les Paul. He was very hot on blues music as a youth, but after wandering through the psychedelic world he eventually developed the pop sound that would allow him to sell over 30 million records. He began to return to the blues in the 1980’s where he did some less well received albums, and even strayed into jazz a bit. Now he has returned and is only doing covers of traditional cuts that he loved and still loves. He hooked up with Sonny Charles in 2008 and with him laid down the tracks that make up these two albums. Also on the CDs is Norton Buffalo, the eternally great harp player, session man and vocalist who passed away of lung cancer shortly after laying down these songs. Steve shares the microphone with Charles, so don’t expect every vocal to be the echo box sounding Space Cowboy lamenting and baring his soul to you, but that does not matter. Charles is also convincing in delivering his songs. His vocals are similar to Millers’ in some ways and they trade off nicely, with Miller doing his trademark vocal sound while Charles lays off the effects and does his more with a straight up sound.
Last year I told myself, “How can this aging superstar release a CD of pretty famous and over played covers and make it worth my while to listen?”, so I first ignored Bingo!. Then Bill Wax played some cuts on Sirius/XM Bluesvilles and my mind opened a bit. I sampled the CD on line and liked what I heard. Then Blues Blast assigns me the new CD to review, so what could I do but get the first CD together with it and write about them together? After all, they are really one big, long session of music. And while I still ask myself, “Why is Steve Miller doing this?” the answer seems to be, “Because he likes it and is good at it.” It’s not going to sell millions like he used to nor is it going to get him on the mainstream radio, but I doubt Steve is looking for that anymore as he approaches being 68 years young. He is touring extensively each summer, playing and singing what he likes and packing large halls and festivals while giving them both the famous pop they expect and his very old and newly re-done blues.
Bingo! Features classic blues cuts like “Rock Me Baby”, “Ooh Poo Pah Doo”, “Tramp”, “All Your Love (I Miss Loving), Come On (Let the Good Times Roll)” and others, while Let Your Hair Down has “Snatch It Back and Hold It”, “The Walk”, “Can’t Be Satisfied”, “Sweet Home Chicago”, “Love the Life I Live” and more. I feared that Bingo! Would be the great songs and Hair a bunch of left-overs but that was not the case. Both CDs exude great guitar work, clean and cool vocals by Miller and Charles and nice harp and vocals by Buffalo. Kenny Lee Lewis plays rhythm guitar and sings, Joseph Wooten adds B3, piano and keys and some vocals, Gordy Knudsen plays drums and Billy Peterson is on bass and vocals. Joe Satriani adds his stratospheric guitar on a couple of cuts for Bingo! (including “Rock Me Baby”) yet is somewhat restrained and humbled by Miller and does justice to both songs. Michael Carabello adds some congas and percussion on both while Adrian Areas adds timbales and percussion. Cover art on both is quite nice, too; Storm Thorgerson who did many a Pink Floyd album cover gives us two very cool ones for Miller.
Miller sums it all up on the opening song to Bingo! , which is Jimmie Vaughn’s and Paul Henry Ray’s “Hey Yeah”: “Hey everyone, I think I’ll take this time to have some fun. I know we’ve just begun I think I’ll go ahead and play my guitar some.” That’s just what he’s doing on both of these CDs. He serves up some of his traditionally cool vocals, lays out some eminently wicker guitar licks and just lets it hang out. Miller’s pop fans will like this and his early fans should eat this stuff up, too- we have a storied blues rocker showing us in the studio and on the road that he can still wail and groove with the best of them. Lucky for us blues fans he’s doing that in his old neighborhood of the blues. He works over the music with that sound that made him a star, but it never sounds cheap or tawdry. It’s simple –it’s just Space Cowboy blues!
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.
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The South Skunk Blues Society - Newton, IA
The South Skunk Blues Society is pleased to announce a lineup that you will surely enjoy for the 19th annual Bowlful of Blues on September 3rd at Maytag Park in Newton, Iowa. Gates open at noon and the show will end at 10 PM. Bring your family and friends for an exceptionally enjoyable day of music. The festivities begins at 12:30 when Mojo Machine takes the stage. The afternoon will continue with the Jeff Banks Band and the Gary Gibson Group. It will conclude with double headliners: The Bel Airs and Andrew Jr. Boy Jones. Rob Lumbard will entertain between bands throughout the festival.
Tickets are $15.00 in advance and can be purchased at Zzz Records in Des Moines, Mattinglys Music and Hy Vee in Newton, The Music Shop in Grinnell or on line at southskunkblues.org Mark you calendars and plan to attend the 19th annual South Skunk Bowlful of Blues at beautiful Maytag Park on Saturday September 3rd, Labor Day weekend! southskunkblues.org
The Baltimore Blues Society - Baltimore, MD
The Baltimore Blues Society will present the 15th Annual Alonzo's Memorial Picnic, Sunday Sept 4 on the Grounds of the Rosedale American Legion. Headlining will be Debbie Davies. Also appearing are IBC winners J.P.Soars and Grady Champion, The local super group DMV Young Guns (Matt Kelly - winner of 2010 IBC Albert King Award, Robert Frahm, Rich Sampson & more) and Ramblin Dan Stevens. Guests can pack their own picnic coolers and BYOB. F&B is available on site. Music runs 1-830pm. Advance tix are $25/Gate$35. Send SASE by August 23rd to: BBS Tickets - Alonzo's, PO Box 4522 Baltimore, MD 21212 More info at www.mojoworkin.com BBS info line 410-744-2291
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
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
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.
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 15 - Bryan Lee, August 22 - Grady Champion, August 29 - RJ Mischo. icbluesclub.org
Stan Erhart - Missing You
Hack Bondo Records
14 songs; 57:11 minutes
Styles: Blues Rock, Jazzy Blues, Roots Rock
It may be nearing the end of July, but it's the middle of baseball season! One may wonder how this relates to blues music. However, there's a connection in the case of Stan Erhart and his tenth release, “Missing You.” In the blues, as in baseball, all artists have hits and misses. Sometimes they score a “home run,” making the crowd go wild. At other times fans think “Stee-rike!” when they hear one of their songs. “Missing You” has both hits and misses among the eight original tracks and six covers.
HITS: The opener, “Hey Baby (I Need You Tonite),” catches one's attention with Mike Emerson on keyboards and Nancy Wright's tenor sax. Even though Erhart's vocal style is flat and understated, it's hard to resist singing along when he suggests, “Something's wrong with me. You can make it right!” The title track, also called “Melodia in Bb [B-flat],” is a soothing instrumental that's perfect to peruse while enjoying a summer drink. Soon, “Please” arrives—the closest Stan comes to pure blues on this CD. Listeners will love its harmonious chorus and red-hot guitar solo. Everyone in the band (including Michael Warren on bass and Randy Hayes on drums) is “batting” at their best.
STRIKE OUTS: This reviewer knows that when a band plays a cover song, the goal should be to equal or surpass the original, but it's hardly fair to expect that every time. However, sometimes Erhart takes this for granted and doesn't seem to put enough effort into making his own interpretations sound unique. Case in point: the puzzling “Mystery Train,” first played by Junior Parker. It may be great in Parker's repertoire, but it's cringe-worthy here (especially when Erhart sings, “Train, train...”) Strike two is “Buster's Movin'.” It may be an original composition, but from the way a trilling flute overpowers all the other instruments, it will most likely be the only version ever released. Strike three is a plodding rendition of Willie Dixon's “I Just Want to Make Love to You.” Sorry, Stan, but on these numbers, YOU'RE OUT!
Originally from Kansas and now based in San Francisco, Erhart and his posse have been making rounds throughout the Golden State. Earlier this month, he presented the fourth-annual “Vet's to Vet's” Music Festival in Princeton Harbor. If he wants to be in the blues major leagues, though, he'd better work on his “batting average”!
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.
Not familiar with some of the 2011 nominees?
Hear music by these great artists NOW on WGLT's Blues Blast Awards Listening Site
CLICK HERE to vote now
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
The Russ Tippins Electric Band - Electrickery
Arty Music Productions
The promotional material that accompanied this release touts guitarist Russ Tippins as a popular performer in the North East section of England, due in large part to his well regarded solo acoustic set. For this release, Tippins favors the blues/rock power trio format that was the rage in England during the 1960s when bands like the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Cream ruled the airwaves along with the Who and Led Zeppelin, also power trios that featured a singer as the front man.
Tippins pays respect to the past on the opening track, a straightforward cover of the Hendrix tune “Freedom” with John Dawson contributing a pounding bass line and drummer Ian Halford matching him with a strong beat. Things pick up on the next song, “Little Josephine”, with a potent vocal from the leader over a guitar line that harks back to the Peter Gunn theme. Tippins delivers another stellar vocal on “Comeuppance” that is matched by his furious slide guitar playing. While the pace slows on the ballad “She’s Gone”, the band maintains the intensity level as Tippins alternates blues licks with power chords and some rapid-fire picking.
Tippins injects little twists and variations into each song that hold your interest even when his lyrics fail to match the quality of his arrangements. “Number Thirteen” is one cut where the band’s enthusiasm and soaring voice carry the day.
“This Building’s on Fire” is a high octane rockabilly romp that gives Tippins a chance to demonstrate his dexterity with the guitar, firing off notes so fast that at times your ears will struggle to keep up with what he is playing. Even at the frantic pace, Tippins manages to play creative lines that make this track a highlight.
The rhythm section lays down a nice shuffle beat on “Chuck It” that the leader uses as a springboard for more tasty guitar work as he belts out his tale of the downward spiral of his life. The guitar intro to the title track reaffirms Tippins debt to the Hendrix legacy before the tune shifts to a hard, funky groove that Tippins rides with clean, fluid lines that also echo the Carlos Santana guitar style. “Lawrence” is a stadium rock anthem with Tippins delivering a masterful vocal performance. At times on this track, the band sounds like a hard rocking version of Journey (a comparison meant only in the most positive sense) with Tippins’ voice soaring over the music.
“Indy Boogie” is just that – a hard rockin’ tribute to the band’s experience at a festival in the Indiana city that featured a storm, power outage and plenty of great people. Tippins throws an AC/DC lick into his solo and once again sings with lots of energy. The disc closes with an listed bonus track – a tribute to Led Zeppelin as the band covers “The Lemon Song”. Again, Tippins doesn’t stray to far from the original version but he shows that his impressive vocal range comes close to matching a youthful Robert Plant.
This one is not for the blues purists. Tippins is an outstanding singer and songwriter with a style that is definitely more rock than blues. But if you enjoy some variety in your musical playlist – and especially if you are a member of the original Woodstock generation – Russ Tippins offers a look back to the days when rock music really did rock. This disc held up through repeated listens and is worth checking out.
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.
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Little Phil - Never Gonna Give It Up
Georgia native Little Phil is one in the long line of white guys longing to be southern soul singers. He began his career at the age of thirteen with Little Phil And The Night Shadows, a hot band on the Atlanta scene who recorded for Dot Records. Here he enlists Jimmy and Jack Hall of Wet Willie fame. Phil gets an “e for effort” as about half of the time things click here. The backing musicians are adequate and even the use of programmed brass, drums and strings works 90% of the time. You can hear glimpses of Gregg Allman’s phrasing in his delivery. His coarse voice works best when he puts more energy behind it. Three-fourths of the songs were written for this release.
The tunes are of the gritty R&B or slow soul-ballad variety. He even manages to inject a bit of humor into “Tampa With My Baby” by using the pun-“I’m goin’ to Tampa with my baby, but we ain’t leavin’ home”. This song also includes the best blues guitar solo provided by Mike Lowry, who unfortunately only appears on this one track. Some nice New Orlean-ish piano makes an appearance here as well courtesy of Rick Phillips. Phil and band workout nicely on the slow groove of “Nothing But A Thang”. The title song employs an uplifting gospel fervor that bolsters a repetitive groove(a compliment) that features a catchy slide-guitar solo by Rick Hinkle. It’s another of those tunes that benefit from repeated spins. The slow R&B ballad “Midnight To Daylight” benefits from some mellow Jimmy Hall saxophone and the piano of Rick Phillips. “Belinda” almost sounds like a patented Gregg Allman girl-name song, that also boasts some biting guitar by Rick Hinkle. Here as is most often the case here, the programmed brass actually works, providing just the right punch to the sound.
All-in-all an uneven effort, but when it works it works. A little more effort in finding or writing more unusual songs with more original lyrics would help. The feel and intent are apparent. But good intentions don’t always deliver the desired results. If you are a devotee of smoldering southern soul this guy is worth keeping an eye on.
Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony hails from the New Jersey Delta. He is the proprietor of Bluesdog’s Doghouse at http://bluesdog61.multiply.com.
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