John 'blueshammer' Hammer
Blue Monday Monthly Magazine
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In This Issue
Terry Mullins has our feature interview with Gina Sicilia. Bob Kieser has a photo essay on the Old Capital Blues & BBQ Festival.
We have six CD reviews for you this week! Eric Steiner reviews a new CD from Watermelon Slim and Super Chikan. Rainey Wetnight reviews a new CD from Paul Metsa & Sonny Earl. John Mitchell reviews a new CD from The Soul Of John Black. Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony reviews a new CD from Douglas Watson R&B Revue. Mark Thompson reviews a new CD from Matt Schofield and Steve Jones reviews a new CD from Bobby Jones. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!
From The Editor's Desk
Hey Blues Fans,
We sent out a note last Friday about the passing of another Blues giant Willie "Big Eyes" Smith. He was 75. Here is the visitation & funeral information.
Visitation 10 AM to 10 PM - Sunday, September 25, 2011 at Leaks & Sons Funeral Home, 7838 South Cottage Grove, Chicago, IL 60619 773-846-6567.
Wake - Monday, Sept 26, 2011 10am until 11am and Funeral services 11am until noon at South Park Baptist Church, 3720 S. King Drive, Chicago, IL 60653 773 548-6566.
In the last few months we have lost quite a few true legends, Pinetop Perkins, David "Honeyboy" Edwards and now Willie Smith to name a few. Our recent interview of Willie in the May 26th issue may be the last one anywhere. To see that interview now CLICK HERE.
In that interview Willie said:
"I plan to keep on using what I got for as long as the good man upstairs will allow. There will be no slowing down or putting up my drumsticks and harmonica in the near future. Nope, not until they do me like Pinetop! I’m going to play right until the end. My intentions are to keep doing what I’ve been doing for quite a few years and then just lay down and go to sleep and don’t wake up.” And Willie did just exactly that!
With all the legends we have lost recently, you know there must be one hell of a Blues jam going on somewhere in the sky!
If you have the chance to see any of the Blues legends who are still with us, you better take the opportunity. Life is short! Live it to the fullest.
Good Blues To You!
For those coming to Chicago for the Blues Blast Music Awards at Buddy Guy's Legends on October27, we have negotiated a block of rooms at a discount rate of only $139 at the Essex Inn located just around the corner from Legends.
The Essex has extended the deadline to book this block of discount priced rooms again until September 30, 2011.
Rooms are available at this discount rate for stays from Tuesday October 27 through Sunday October 30th.
To book your rooms now CLICK HERE or call 800 621-6909 and ask for the Blues Blast Magazine discount rate.
Tickets for the awards are still available too. To get your tickets now CLICK HERE.
In an era when it’s considered a “brisk pace” for an artist to release a new album every five or six years, Philadelphia blues dynamo Gina Sicilia should probably be considered a “trend-buster.”
While the golden-throated Sicilia may not exactly be on the same timetable that a lot of acts back in the 1960s were, issuing two and sometimes three albums worth of new material in a year’s time, she is most definitely keeping a schedule that few of her peers dare to keep nowadays.
Since graduating from Temple University and announcing her arrival to the world of the blues with 2007’s Allow Me to Confess (Swing nation Records), Sicilia has not slowed down one bit.
In March of this year, her third full-length offering, Can’t Control Myself, hit stores shelves and radio airwaves, giving Sicilia a pretty impressive resume in a fairly short amount of time.
And according to Sicilia, that’s just the way she likes it.
“Every year, my influences change and I’m always writing songs and my song writing changes and I have all these new ideas, constantly,” she said. “I’m very enthusiastic about what I do and I love writing new songs and then recording them. I love putting out new, fresh songs. As long as I stay inspired and stay hungry, I don’t see that changing. I’d love to put out two albums a year, but I don’t know if that’s possible.”
From the looks of things, with the wave of momentum that Can’t Control Myself is still riding, Sicilia’s fans should have plenty to keep them satisfied until her next trip back into the recording studio.
“It’s been getting great reviews and they’re still coming in – almost six months after its release,” Sicilia said. “People have just responded so positively to the CD and I’m really proud of it. And recently, I shot a music video for the song “Addicted” off the disc. I shot it with Tanya Ryno, who is a producer, director and writer for Saturday Night Live.”
The video for “Addicted” can be viewed at www.ginasicilia.com.
A common denominator to Sicilia’s first three discs is the multi hat wearing abilities of Dave Gross. And from what Sicilia says, there’s not much that goes on in the confines of a recording studio that Gross can’t do.
“He’s an amazing producer and a multi-instrumentalist. On Can’t Control Myself, he played like 15 instruments and he also engineered it and produced it,” she said. “He’s really great to work with in the studio. He’s tremendously talented and very open-minded. He has a lot of really cool ideas - a very talented person who is just so passionate about music.”
As anyone who has even heard a brief sampling of Sicilia knows, she is truly blessed with an amazing set of pipes. From a gritty guttural growl to a silky-smooth purr, Sicilia simply lights up any track that she sings on, or any room that she sings in, with her endless depth.
After all, it’s one thing to be gifted with a voice that is the sonic equivalent of a hurricane, but it’s another matter altogether to have the skills to channel that power in any direction desired – something that Sicilia has no problems doing.
But what be a bit under the radar is Sicilia’s penchant for penning a great song. Obviously confident in her song-writing skills, eight of the 11 tracks on her debut disc were written by Sicilia herself and the majority of Can’t Control Myself was also self-written.
However, that’s really nothing new.
The 26-year-old Sicilia has been writing songs since she was a pre-teen.
“I’ve always loved music and have always been singing since I was very, very little. And I was about 12 when I started writing songs. Very simple songs,” she laughed. “I guess it was just something that was natural for me to do. I don’t really know how or why I started doing that (song writing), but I had ideas that I wanted to incorporate into songs. And I’ve been doing it ever since. I love writing songs as much as I love singing and I love singing a lot.”
Like most authors, Sicilia is never really sure when the idea or thought for a new song might present itself, or even where the subject matter itself might originate from.
“Every song is different. Some are inspired by my own experiences, through myself and my life, and some songs are inspired by people that I know and some are just total fiction,” she said. “I’m a people watcher and some songs are certainly inspired by that. And I like to think a lot – I’m a big thinker, so every song is different. You never know when you’re going to be inspired to write something. It happens in the strangest places sometimes.”
With the love of song already occupying a big spot in her heart since her earliest days, it was through the power of the television that Sicilia was first bitten by the blues bug.
“I’ve always loved soul and R&B and when I was about 14, I saw an infomercial on TV for a CD called Solid Gold Soul and it had soul and R&B artists on it from the 50s and 60s,” said Sicilia. “But it also had B.B. King and Bobby “Blue” Bland on it, and that kind of got me into the blues genre. And that’s about the time that I started writing it (blues songs), also.”
An adoring respect for all kinds of music strongly comes through when spinning one of Sicilia’s albums and one can pick up traces of everything from gut-busting blues to soul to jazz to country and even a bit of doo-wop from track-to-track.
That, too, is a natural occurrence says Sicilia.
“I guess it just happens. The more music you listen to and the wider variety of music you listen to definitely has an influence on you,” she said. “I’ve always kept an open mind and have always been open to different styles, so I’ve always been influenced by everything I hear – whether I know it or not. And that’s reflected in my signing. Everything inspires me. I mean, my idol is Sam Cooke and I love Otis Rush and gospel music … the list goes on. And I love country music, too.”
The blues has never really grabbed the headlines or gotten the attention that it deserves in Philadelphia, with sweet soul and smooth jazz being a prominent part of the City of Brotherly Love’s musical fabric.
But that doesn’t mean that the blues are not alive and thriving in the city.
“There is a really cool blues scene with some really cool musicians in Philadelphia,” said Sicilia. “The whole music scene in Philly is really cool. There’s some really cool venues here, like the World Café Live and Warmdaddy’s. I started out going to blues jams in Philly when I was still in college every week and I met my first band at Warmdaddy’s and had my first gig there.”
And things have been on an uphill climb for Sicilia and her band (Dave Gross (guitar); Tom Papadatos (drums); Scott Hornick (bass)) ever since, culminating in what has been her busiest and most productive year to date.
“It’s been a really great year for me – a lot better than 2010,” she said. “A lot of things changed for me this year and I’ve done a lot of fun and exciting things. I got my first manager this year – Cindy Da Silva – and to start off the year, I got to go on the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise, which was an incredible experience. I would do that again, anytime they ask me. It was so much fun and I was so honored they asked me to do it.”
Sicilia and her crew have played all over the map this year and come mid-September, they head to the west coast for a string of shows in sunny California.
“These guys have been playing with me for quite a while now and we’re a happy little band. We have a lot of fun,” she said. “We love traveling and playing music.”
Armed with a degree in journalism from Temple University, Sicilia might not have thought that less than a half-decade later, she’d be rubbing shoulders with Bob Margolin, Debbie Davies, Tommy Castro and Taj Mahal and others over the crystal-blue waters of the Caribbean.
“If you’d asked me five years ago where I’d be now, I’d probably have had no idea,” she said.
And as for five years on down the road?
“I see myself still touring and putting out albums and hopefully, doing some fun and exciting things. Hopefully, I can become a better singer and a better songwriter and play in some really great venues. That’s what I’m hoping for.”
Interviewer Terry Mullins is a journalist and former record store owner whose personal taste in music is the sonic equivalent of Attention Deficit Disorder. Works by the Bee Gees, Captain Beefheart, Black Sabbath, Earth, Wind & Fire and Willie Nelson share equal space with Muddy Waters, The Staple Singers and R.L. Burnside in his compact disc collection. He's also been known to spend time hanging out on the street corners of Clarksdale, Mississippi, eating copious amounts of barbecued delicacies while listening to the wonderful sounds of the blues.
Watermelon Slim and Super Chikan - Okiesippi Blues
Okiesippi Blues is an imaginative pairing that brings together two Clarksdale, Mississippi bluesmen in a sparse, stripped-down, rough-hewn sound. While field hollers, rambling stories, and songs evoking truckers’ slang on citizens band radio may not be for everyone, these facets of the blues work with Watermelon Slim and Super Chikan at the helm. “Trucking Blues” features a spirited discussion of Chikan’s Peterbuilt trying to keep up with Slim’s freight-shaker, and there’s the usual nod warning about “smokey” and a reference to a certain set of “blonde seat covers.” Each has spent hours and days behind the wheel of big rigs as longhaul truckers, and “Trucking Blues” is a highlight of this CD based on their prior careers.
The CD’s title recognizes each bluesman’s home: Slim has spent decades in Oklahoma while Chikan has been a lifelong Mississipian. “Northwest Regional Medical Center Blues” will not endear Mississippi tourism officials to one of their newest neighbors, but this rambling story tells the sad story of a one-way ticket out of town after being mugged. Before Okiesippi Blues, I didn’t think of Slim as a Gospel singer, but “Thou Art With Me” is a spiritual song regardless of your religious affiliation.
The duo’s a cappella take on Mississippi Fred McDowell’s “Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning” may stumble, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank the guys for a heartfelt rendering using only hand-claps and stomps in accompaniment. The CD closes with “Moonshine,” with Slim’s harp following Chikan’s deceptively simple lead guitar parts. I didn’t expect that “I’m a Little Fish” would firmly plant itself in my brain, but this silliness just shy of four minutes is memorable, partly for Super Chikan’s background vocals and partly the expert, uptempo guitar parts.
Reviewer Eric Steiner is President of the Washington Blues Society in Seattle, Washington. The Society was the recipient of the 2009 Keeping the Blues Alive Award in the blues organization category. Please visit www.wablues.org for more information on the Washington Blues Society.
Paul Metsa & Sonny Earl - No Money Down (EP CD and DVD package)
6 songs; 24:34 minutes on EP CD, 2 songs; 08:44 minutes on DVD
Styles: Folk; Folk Rock; Electric and Acoustic Blues; Country
Blues Blast Magazine, ostensibly, has one chief purpose: keeping the blues alive. One might wonder, then, why an album produced by MaximumFolk would find its way here. Paul Metsa and Sonny Earl's third release, No Money Down, is primarily a Folk album (best example, Goebel Reeves’s “Hobo’s Lullaby”). Three original tracks are interspersed with three covers (“Who Do You Love,” River Hip Mama,” and Hobo’s Lullaby”). All six songs exude a soggy and half-finished air. There is a bonus DVD included of this duo performing “No Money Down” and “Whiskey or the Rain.” However, this reviewer does not find either music video much of a “bonus.” Metsa and Earl are Minneapolis music veterans who have been a duo over ten years.
To his credit, Sonny Earl plays decent harmonica. Metsa performs enthusiastically, to his own credit, but is missing something. He talks, rather than sings, and his vocals occasionally lapse into growling sound effects. In order to understand the mind-boggling mystery that is “No Money Down,” let's take a look at the effort put forth into the bonus DVD. As the old saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” This reviewer was left breathless, speechless, and incredulous!
“No Money Down” is a meditation on moolah and the harsh state of the economy these days. At least, that's what it's meant to be. Instead, as viewers watch the video of this song, they'll be treated to some perplexing sights: a little girl pouring a jar of change into Metsa's suitcase, signs exhorting “SAY NO TO WAR!” and “STOP,” and, most shockingly, Sonny Earl soliciting a modestly-dressed prostitute. As the two musicians stroll along PhotoShopped boulevards and invite random people to be featured on the chorus, they don't even look like they're playing their respective instruments, and their lips do not synchronize with the audible vocals. “You can wish for the world if you want it, but no money down!” Metsa sneers as a spinning globe appears on the screen with the subtitle “WISH” on the bottom.
The second DVD entry, the Countrified “Whiskey or the Rain,” features dancer Jeanie Pebbles in an unsettling avant-garde interpretation of the relaxing song. Our friend PhotoShop again features prominently, combining with Pebbles' flowing red dress and half-strip-teasing style. (Honestly, this video is exactly as described!) The song’s highlight: there is a tasty Dobro solo mid-song courtesy of Al Oikari who also adds piano.
In the songs, the boys do an electric tribute to Bo Diddley with “Who Do You Love” featuring San Francisco blues guitarist Ron Thompson on electric guitar. A lively original string band number, “Dirty Dishes,” is performed in the tradition of the Mississippi Sheiks and features Minneapolis folk godfather Bill Hinkley on fiddle and mandolin. Charlie Musslewhite and Junior Boy Jones’ tune “River Hip Mama” finds Metsa and Earl nodding to Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, whom Paul and Sonny credit as their inspiration.
While this EP/CD and DVD will appeal to their fans, I believe I was too distracted to fully appreciate their talent. Just in case one wants more of Metsa and Earl, they have other offerings: Live at Famous Dave's BBQ and Blues Festival 2006” and White Boys Lost in the Blues.
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.
Old Capitol Blues & BBQ Fest
August 26-27, 2011 - Springfield, IL
I headed to Springfield, Illinois on Friday August for the Old Capitol Blues & BBQ Fest. I am not sure how many year in a row this fest has been going but I have made it to this fest most years for the last 5 years and it is always a great event.
On Friday things kicked off with a band from Springfield called Black Magic Johnson. Led by drummer and harp player Reggie Johnson, this is one of the best bands from the Springfield area in my opinion. They did a great job of starting off a great night of music.
Next up was one of my favorite Chicago area bands, Eric "Guitar" Davis & The Troublemakers. As usual, Eric played and intense set of real Chicago Blues including tunes for his newly released CD, Trouble Makin' Man. Look for a review of the CD and a feature interview of Eric in an upcoming issues of this magazine.
The final act of the evening was called Treble Clef Palette. They played a lively set of mostly jazz with an occasional Blues tinge. Enjoyable set!
On Saturday the show started off with a solo performer named Brian Curran. Brian treated the crowd to a nice set of folk and delta style blues and some great slide playing.
Next up was an unusual duet called Hooten Hallers. There was quite a bit of hootin' and hollering as drummer Andy Rehm and guitar player and singer John Randall worked through a set of material which reminded this reviewer of our friends Reverend Payton's Big Damn Band. The set included some hillbilly rock, country blues and delta hill country blues.
As the sun went down The 44's with Kid Ramos took the stage. The band includes harmonica player Tex Nakamura (Formerly of war), singer guitarist Johnny Main, upright bassist Mike Turturro (Formerly Lynwood Slim/Candye Kane), drummer J.R. Lozano plus guitar sensation Kid Ramos. If you have not had the pleasure of seeing these guys, you want to, believe me! They were spectacular.
The headliner of the whole festival was Jimmy Vaughan with special guest Lou Ann Barton. Jimmy showed off his legendary guitar playing and Lou Ann came out toward the end with a great vocal showcase of Blues. A great band fronted by two real pros. It was a wonderful ending to the fest.
The Old Capitol Blues and BBQ Fest is usually the last weekend in August and in addition to some great music on the main stage our friends at the Illinois Central Blues Club always hold their Blues Challenge on Saturday afternoon before the main stage music gets started. (We will post some photos of the Challenge soon!) The event also includes a sanctioned BBQ contest so there is always great food to go with the great Blues. And admission was only $5 each day! Be sure to put this one on your festival schedule for next year!
Reviewer and photographer Bob Kieser is the publisher of Blues Blast Magazine.
The Soul Of John Black – Good Thang
10 tracks; 39.53 minutes
John “JB” Bigham is The Soul Of John Black and apart from some support on backing vocals from Jonell Kennedy and Nikki Costa, keys from Adam McDougall and drums by Oliver Charles, this is entirely John’s own work. He wrote all the material (with assistance from Chris Thomas on two tracks), played all guitar parts and lead vocals and produced the CD. He even did the CD cover artwork! This is his third CD, the previous one “Black John” produced something of a ‘hit’ record in “Betty Jean”.
The music is mainly soul and funk with all bass parts being synthesised. To my personal taste this gives a rather repetitive feel to the music with tracks such as “Oh That Feeling” outstaying their welcome. John has a good voice and I preferred a straight soul song like “How Can I”, with its 70s feel (think Earth, Wind And Fire) to some of the funkier pieces such as the title track.
There are some traces of the blues in this material. “My Brother” starts with some nice acoustic guitar in a country blues vein but the track is overtaken by synthesised bass sounds. “Strawberry Lady” has some well played acoustic slide and a catchy chorus but the song is quite repetitive.
I was interested to listen to “New York To LA” as it is subtitled “inspired by Duke Ellington and I have always been a fan of the Duke. However, I could not detect the link here on a track with a less convincing vocal from John who tries to find a higher register for the song.
I must admit that this is not my sort of music so I am probably not the best person to review this CD but, for me, the material was not strong enough and the music too limited to sustain my interest. I am sure that others will disagree and enjoy The Soul Of John Black.
Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music and is currently planning his trip to the Blues Blast Awards in October.
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Triangle Blues Society - Raleigh, NC
Triangle Blues Society is proud to announce that the 2011 TBS Blues Challenge will be held on Saturday, October 1, 2011 in downtown Raleigh, NC at Volume 11 Tavern 658 Maywood Ave. Raleigh, NC. This is a qualifying event for the Blues Foundation's International Blues Challenge (IBC)) in Memphis, TN. Winners in the band and solo/duo categories will be eligible to compete in the IBC (Feb. 1-4, 2012). The TBS Blues Challenge is a professionally judged competition open to North Carolina blues acts. For more information and tio download an application, visit our website at www.triangleblues.com
Blues Society of Western PA - Pittsburgh, PA
On October 22 at the Clarion Hotel, 401 Holiday Drive, Pittsburgh, PA The Blues Society of Western PA presents Blues Goes Pink- Divas Return Show from 1 pm – 9 pm. $12 to public, $10 to all blues members from any society. All proceeds to benefit Adagio Health to provide breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings for underinsured women in Western PA. For more information visit Blues Society of Western PA at www.bswpa.org or call 724-378-8926
The Windy City Blues Society - Chicago, IL
The Windy City Blues Society is proud to announce the 2011 Chicago Blues Challenge (CBC). The CBC is a series of musical competitions that will determine which blues band will represent Chicago and The Windy City Blues Society at the Blues Foundation’s 2012 International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis, Tennessee. Once again we will be holding three distinct competitions: Band Competition, Solo/Duo Competition, and the Youth Showcase. Proceeds from the CBC events will be used to underwrite the expenses incurred by the musicians that win the final round of competition and move on to Beale Street in Memphis, TN.
The Chicago Blues Challenge will be held on Sundays in September and October culminating in the Finals in November. Venues will be announced shortly. Applications for performers that wish to participate in the Chicago Blues Challenge can be found on the Windy City Blues Society Website - www.windycityblues.org.
Band Application Deadlines - For September dates applications must be postmarked by September 19th For October & November dates only, applications must be postmarked by October 3rd. Solo/Duo & Youth Showcase Application Deadlines - Applications must be postmarked by September 30. The Chicago Blues Challenge Finals will be held Sunday, November 13. For more information about the Windy City Blues Society and the Chicago Blues Challenge please visit www.windycityblues.org or visit our Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter Sites.
San Luis Obispo Blues Society - San Luis Obispo, CA
Upcoming Events - Ana Popovic headlines the season opener for the San Luis Obispo Blues Society on Saturday, September 24 at 8:00pm at the SLO Vets Hall (801 Grand Avenue). The Cadillac Angels open the show. Tickets are $17 for Blues Society members and $20 for the general public. All tickets are sold at the door. SLO Dance offers free dance lessons at 7:30pm. 21 and over, please. For more information, call 805/541-7930 or visit our website at www.sloblues.org. The San Luis Obispo Blues Society presents seven dance concerts a year. Other upcoming concerts include Sista Monica on October 29 and Kim Wilson’s Blues All-Stars on December 3.
The Decatur Blues Society - Decatur, IL
The Decatur Blues Society will hold their annual Blues Challenge on Sept 24 at the Bourbon Barrel, 1355 N Route 48 in Decatur IL. A band and a solo/duo acted will be selected to represent Decatur Blues Society at the International Blues Festival in Memphis Jan 31-Feb 4. Entry information and entry forms are available at www.decaturblues.org. Entries must be postmarked by Sept 10. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
The Prairie Crossroads Blues Society - Champaign, IL
The Prairie Crossroads Blues Society will be holding its Blues Band Challenge on Saturday, October 22, 2011. This event will take place at Memphis on Main, 55 E. Main St., in downtown Champaign. Our winner will be heading down to Memphis, Tennessee to compete in The International Blues Challenge in January. If you think your band is up to the challenge, then you need to enter today! For more information about this exciting event, please visit our website at www.prairiecrossroadsblues.org.
The deadline for all bands to enter The Prairie Crossroads Blues Society Blues Band Challenge is September 20, 2011.
Colorado Blues Society - Boulder, CO
The Colorado Blues Society’s IBC Finals are coming up.On September 25, CBS is holding our IBC Band Finals at the Buffalo Rose, in Golden, CO. Show starts at 2 PM and will include the 8 winners from our preliminary rounds. On Oct 23 we will hold our Youth Showcase auditions at the Dickens Opera House in Longmont, CO. Last year our S/D winners, Big Jim Adam and John Stilwagen made the Finals in Memphis while our Band entry, the Lionel Young Band, WON the Band Finals in Memphis. The CBS' entry was the Solo Duo Memphis winner in 2008, and winning BSPCD in 2010, so you can be sure there will be plenty of talent at all of these great events! www.coblues.com
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. Sept 26 – The Sugar Prophets, Oct. 3 – Blues Deacons, Oct. 10 – Too Slim & The Taildraggers, Oct. 17 – Southside Jonny & Kicked to the Curb, Oct 24 – Bruce Katz, Oct. 31 – Studebaker John and the Hawks. icbluesclub.org
The Friends Of The Blues - Watseka, IL
2011 Friends of the Blues shows - September 29, Vincent Hayes Project, 7 pm, Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmen’s Club, October 11, Too Slim & the Taildraggers, 7 pm, Kankakee Valley Boat Club, Friday, October 28, The Reba Russell Band, 8 pm, Kankakee Valley Boat Club,November 10, Ivas John Band, 7 pm, Venue TBA, December 1, Dave Herrero, 7 pm, Kankakee Valley Boat Club. For more info see: http://www.wazfest.com/JW.html
West Virginia Blues Society - Charleston, WV
The West Virginia Blues Society will be holding it's 5th. 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, email@example.com 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.
Douglas Watson R&B Revue - Broken Hearted Man
Wow! The first thing you notice is that big booming textured VOICE. Think a bigger-voiced and bluesy Lou Rawls. Being raised in Chicago by blues pianist “Lovie Lee” Watson and wife has paid off big time for prodigal son Douglas Watson. He grew up listening to his father practice with Muddy Waters at their house. At different times the elder Watson also accompanied Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker and B.B. King. Douglas himself played sessions with Koko Taylor, Albert Collins, Lonnie Brooks and others, as well as being a member of A.C. Reed And the Sparkplugs. Now working out of Canada, Douglas and band do themselves proud on this mini-cd.
I guess quality beats quantity, but being so talented I’m sure they could have rustled up four more tunes. Well for now, I’m happy just being introduced to this talented singer and his crack band. Douglas also doubles as a serviceable bass player. Producer Pat Temple supplies a tasty harmonica and Chris Latta is an all-around guitar player. Maciej Lukasiewicz energizes the songs with his powerhouse drumming. Special guests flesh out the sound with organ, sax and background vocals.
The title track kicks in with harmonica and the sax of John MacMurchy in tandem, negotiating through every tight turn. Then hear comes that voice, followed by a ripping guitar solo courtesy of Chris Latta. Harmonica takes the horn part on a riveting version of “Ain’t Nothing You Can Do”, here called “When You Got a Heartache”, usually associated with Bobby “Blue” Bland and Van Morrison. Douglas’ voice goes from a rasp to the deep bottom in the course of the song like a soulful dive-bomber. Watson original “The Best Way I Can” is funky all over with swagger in his “proud peacock’ vocal. Some sexy sax cements the deal. Cool slow soul territory is explored in “Let’s Straighten It Out” replete with organ, sax and harp and another biting guitar solo.
Do we need another cover of Z.Z. Hill’s blues standard “Down Home Blues”? The answer would be yes in this case, if you are partial to spot-on vocals, guitar and the harp-sax section revisited. The short journey winds up with another slow soul-burner. “Please Don’t Let Our Good Thing End” gets uplifted by churchy organ and a John MacMurchy sax solo and over-dubbed sax section.
The band readily handles blues, R&B and soul music with professional ease on this satisfying effort. I think Oliver Twist would back me up in saying: “Please, sir, I want some more”.
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 50 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. This block is available until September 30th, 2011.
It is a nice hotel within walking distance. Hurry though because there are only 50 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.
Matt Schofield - Anything But Time
Some months ago, a good friend of mine was raving about an exciting new guitar player that he had discovered. This friend loaned me a couple of cds to listen to so that I too could be enthralled by this latest discovery. After listening to a live recording from 2007, I wrote off Matt Schofield as another in a long line of guitar players who need to fill up every inch of space with the sound of their guitar. Schofield and organist Johnny Henderson took lengthy solos throughout the disc and while they are great players, they failed to hold my interest.
What a difference a few years make!! Schofield’s latest studio recording finds his musical vision honed to a laser-sharp edge, undoubtedly helped by having Grammy Award winning John Porter on board as the producer. There is still plenty of Schofield’s fine guitar work, which earned him the awards for Guitarist of the Year and Album of the Year for his Heads Tails & Aces release at the 2010 British Blues Awards. His crack band – Henderson on Hammond B-3 organ, bass keys and electric piano with Kevin Hayes on drums – provides all the support that the leader needs. The project was recorded at the Music Shed studio in New Orleans and features the great Jon Cleary on keyboards for three tunes.
The title track opens the disc with Schofield musing on how when all things are considered, time is the only thing of real value in life. It is one of eight songs Schofield composed with his writing partner, Dorothy Whittick. “Shipwrecked” sports a bouncy rhythm behind the leader’s ardent vocal and fiery guitar work. Schofield pays homage to the Jimi Hendrix guitar style on the ballad “Dreaming of You”. The band slips into a funky groove on “One Look (And I’m Hooked)”, with Cleary on clavinet and Schofield dropping his voice down into the baritone range. Cleary switches to piano on the shuffle “Don’t Know What I’d Do”, plunking away while Schofield turns in another blazing solo. “Share Our Smile Again” is a contemporary love song that hits home due to Schofield’s convincing vocal and ringing guitar chords.
The band builds a smoldering layer of tension on “See Me Through” until Schofield cuts through it with a burst of fleet-fingered playing. He is equally convincing on another slow blues, “Where Do I Have To Stand” with his spirited singing and fluid guitar lines a high point on the disc. Schofield covers “At Times We Do Forgot”, a Steve Winwood tune that makes it clear that he is equally adept in a rock music vein. On “Wrapped Up In Love”, Schofield bends and squeezes taut phrases out of his guitar strings in tribute to Albert King.
This very impressive project should garner Schofield a wider audience both in the US and around the world. It is a masterful effort that highlights Schofield’s many talents and the impressive contributions of his road-tested band. It also shows that Schofield may have what it takes to appeal to listeners beyond the blues genre. This one is highly recommended!
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.
Bobby Jones - You Ain’t Got No Proof
Desest Sounds Records
Most of you have lately heard Bobby Jones and his great work with the Mannish Boys over at Delta Groove. What we have here is the Southern soul singer returning to his roots. This is a smooth and suave set of tunes, done in a sort of sexy, juiced up, R-rated way. Bobby gets it on, wants to, or talks about how he used get in on in most of these cuts that get into relationships, both good and bad. There is a South meets North sound to the CD, with a lot of retro Philly and Detroit R&B and soul sound to it. It is not the blues he’s released with Delta Groove here- this is soul music done by a guy who has his funk, feeling and groove on.
The lyrics range from getting a restraining order from his sister who ran away with his wife, being conned by a hooker whom he thought just had the hots for him, and the title track where he boldly states his woman ain’t got know proof that he’s been cheatin’ on her. These are deep, soulful, fun songs, done up by a man who seems to have been there and done that.
The title track opens the CD and it is a funky an grooving song that also gets reprised as an instrumental (with only female background vocals on the response lines). It’s a great cut; the instrumental could have been left out, but the title track really sets the table for a fine soul CD. He sings and coos about how “This Is Your Night” where it’s his woman’s birthday and how he’s gonna treat her right. “Little Sally Walker” is the track about his “friend” that costs him $200; even though he was conned he seemed to think she was worth it. He gets down and bemoans the end of a relationship in “Stick a Fork in Me”; every track here drips collard greens, corn bread and Southern soul done up with a little bit of that Nawthun and brassy sound. “Wife and Sister” closes the CD, and one has to wonder what the source for this one was. His sister and wife are lovers who run off to Georgia, get a restraining order against him.
From top to bottom this is not a CD for the family, but it is grown up, cool, fun and interesting. Bobby’s a great artist- he lays down track after track of original tunes that were sometimes sad, sometimes a little funny, and sometimes both. His singing is smooth and he makes you believe and feel what he feels. Blues fans who are soul music lovers will eat this CD up. I thoroughly enjoyed it!
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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