John 'blueshammer' Hammer
Blue Monday Monthly Magazine
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In This Issue
Ian McKenzie has our feature interview with Popa Chubby this week.
We have six CD reviews for you this week! Mark Thompson reviews a new CD from Toronzo Cannon. Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony reviews a new CD from Patrick McLaughlin. John Mitchell reviews a new CD from Steve Gerard & The National Debonaires featuring James “Rock” Gray . Eric Steiner reviews a new CD by Big Mamma’s Door. Gary Weeks reviews a new CD by Big Daddy D And The Dynamites. Rainey Wetnight reviews a new CD from Dani Wilde. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!
From The Editor's Desk
Hey Blues Fans,
Here we go again! 2012 begins our 6th year of publishing Blues Blast Magazine.
As we start the new year there are plenty of challenges. A big one is the fact that an increasing number of you folks get your email on your smart phone. For us that means we will be working to make our weekly issues fit on android phones, Iphones, Windows phones and other devices including netbook PCs, Ipads and many other hand held forms of communication.
We will also be working to expand our presence on social networks. To meet these goals we are looking for some help. We need a couple folks to work as our social networking editors and we continue to look for someone to write some phone apps for Blue Blast Magazine. Please see our ads below and let us know if you can be of any help or know someone else who might be able to help.
Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!
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Blues Blast: How did you get into guitar playing and blues music - in particular in the early days?
Popa Chubby: I started off as a drummer when I was a boy, and then my parents decided the drums were too loud so I got into electric guitar. (laughs). And then -- when I was a little kid -- my dad took me to see Chuck Berry. And I was like, wow, that looks good. I think I’ll try that. And I did. (laughs). Then when I was a teenager I got into Led Zeppelin, and Jimmy Hendrix, and Jeff Beck and all that stuff and it kinda just rocked my word from there, you know.
BB: You were already playing guitar by then I guess?
PC: I was starting yea. I was trying to figure out Rolling Stones songs on my acoustic guitar.
BB: Did you ever have any lesson or are you entirely self taught?
PC: No, I never had any lessons. Man, I was a poor kid. My guitar lessons were getting a really crappy acoustic guitar that you could barely play and fixing the strings by hand and then putting “Brown Sugar” on my little record player and slowing it down to try to figure out what was going on. I had no idea that Keith was playing in open tuning, so I learned it all with regular chords, and kinda faked my way through it. When I was a teenager the big thing was to learn the “Heartbreaker” solo by Jimmy Page, which I think I’m still working on. (laughs)
BB: When did you first start working with a band then?
PC: I started playing with bands by the time I was 15. I got turned on to the likes B.B. King and Freddy King and Albert King… Otis Rush… and started to see the connection between those guys and blues rock guys. I started the Popa Chubby Band in 1990. Before that I had been just playing guitar and bass as a sideman with various people in New York and with varying degrees of success. I became the house band in New York City at a club called Maddy’s Car Wash -- a very famous blues club –in the 90’s. That started my journey if you will.
BB: Is that the way you got your nickname of Popa Chubby?
PC: One day in a jam session with Bernie Worrell from P-Funk. He was singing a song, “Popa Chubby, Popa Chubby” and as I’m working, I’m thinking that’s a great name for a band I think I’ll take that. The one thing I want people to do when they hear my music is to get to a new level of excitement. One that they didn’t have before they heard my music.
BB: One of the things that I think you’ve said is that you think that music should be dangerous, like the Ramones and the Sex Pistols and so on. Do you still feel like that?
PC: Elements of it, yea, definitely. Music should be everything. It should encompass everything. But I think that, you know, I like to see a band that makes me think, wow man, these guys are bad ass, you know? And you know all great rock bands on some level from Elvis Presley. Man, you know, when Elvis got onstage and shook his hips people were threatened.
BB: And yet you sit onstage and play things like “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” How does that fit together?
PC: Because there’s beauty too man. I like to offer everybody the full experience.
BB: And do you have a favorite blues, rock musician that you regularly listen to.
PC: It’s Jimmy Hendrix man, for me, all the time, Jimmy. Nobody, I mean nobody, has even come close. And on a compositional level no one has even come close to what Jimmy did. I still wind up listening to Jimmy I mean a lot of the time and I consider Freddie King to be the true link between blues and rock if you will.
BB: Tell me something about the making of the new CD [Back To New York City] .. a lot of tracks are songs that you have written yourself.
PC: I’m a songwriter as well as being a guitar player, on this record, man. I felt that the bar had been raised, and I needed to step up and show everybody what I could really do. And I think we really hit it. Everything from like from like straight out Texas blues on “She Loves Everybody But Me” to the quintessential power ballad on “A Love That Will Never Die”. I played some Spanish guitar on a song called “A Pound of Flesh”. We did a great cover of a Leonard Cohen song, “The Future”. The reviews that are coming in right now are saying that it’s my best record ever.
BB: In the later stages of this up-coming tour of yours, you’re working with Walter Trout. Have you played with Walter before?
PC: I have. We worked together in the past with great success. There’s a lot of mutual respect there. I think Walter and I have a similar sensibility and that we are coming from a similar place with music in general. We’re doing several gigs in Europe and than in London [and elsewhere in the UK]. And I think it’s going to be a really fantastic tour. It’s going to offer people more of what people used to get in the old school, man, when they used to go see a show and there would be like two or three great bands on the bill. You don’t get that so much anymore. And I want to be a proponent of bringing that back. What it really takes is for artists to lose their egos for a little while and I think Walter and I will be able to do that and put on a great show.
BB: Are you plan to do some cutting contest stuff with Walter?
PC: I never go onstage to cut anybody, man. I’m a big Tai chi guy. I believe that when you play with someone else you should challenge them to play better, not try to play better than them.
BB: You just mentioned Tai chi. I believe that you practice Tai chi and Chi Kung before you go on stage is that true?
PC: I practice it all the time, man, it’s been my saving grace beside music. It’s really been a revelation in every way. It’s been pervasive in my music. It’s made me a better player and a better human being. So I’m grateful for that.
BB: Anything big in the future for you?
PC: The CD and the tour’s pretty big. I plan to tour way into through 2012. I mean we already have dates booked so. The big thing was I spent two and a half years to make this record, man, and I made a record on a level I had never [achieved] before. I really suffered for this record.
BB: Did you now? Was that to do with the song writing? The emotionality of it or what?
PC: Everything, you know, the songs usually reflect my life. It’s been a difficult period in my life. The music’s gotten me through. And I think it’s reflected in the music. It’s a matter of [the tensions] between playing the blues and really feeling the blues and you can’t feel the blues until you really get in there and start to live. That was a big piece of me making that record. Now I’m going to be on the road for a long time, so after that I think – and this is just between me and you and whoever [is listening] –I would like to make a live CD-DVD combo.
BB: Tell me something about the band that you’ve got at the moment.
PC: A.J. Pappas is the bass player has been with me for about six years. And my drummer is just returned to the fold. Many years ago I played in a high school in Warwick, New York – we played for the student body. And then we answered questions about what it’s like to be a musician. None of the kids were like prepared except for one….this kid – he was about six foot eight tall, tattoos up and down his arms, spiky blond hair – came up to me and started talking to me. And his name was Chris Reading. Six months later he was on the road with me at 17. And he stayed on the road with me for five years. Then he had some family issues that he had to attend to so that he left the band for the last three years. But he’s just returned. Chris is by far the best drummer I’ve ever worked with. He’s now 25. You know, he’s mature well beyond his years. So it’s really, right now, we’re in the best place musically we’ve ever been.
BB: I noticed that in practically every picture of you, you have a rather battered old Strat that are holding playing.
PC: I do, that’s my number one. And that’s my baby …that’s the devil’s guitar.
BB: Do you have others besides that?
PC: I have 100 guitars. I have many old Strats, many old Les Pauls, I have a ’56 Les Paul, ’54 Les Paul, 335’s, Telecasters, you name it. There’s nothing that rocks like this one Strat. That is really the best guitar that I’ve ever owned. It just gets better with age. People say “you’re crazy. Why do you take it on the road?” And I’m like “you’re crazy ….why would I not take it on the road.”
BB: It would be terrible if you lost it though.
PC: Yea, but you know what it would be more terrible if I never played it.
BB: Popa one of the things that I like to do when I’m interviewing people is to ask them what is the very best thing that has ever happened to you as a professional musician.
PC: Many years ago I got a call from a woman saying “my fiancé is your biggest fan in the world and he’s gravely ill; his dying wish is to have a visit with you.” I was on the road, but I immediately said yes. That’s just my nature, I want to be there for people. And then I got a little scared. I mean it was like, wow! But I went and saw this guy ,and he was in such suffering and pain and turmoil. And I hung out with him, and I played him a song. I played “Same Old Blues” by Freddy King. And all his pain went away. I saw his pain vanish. It was really moving, man. And I realised it had very little to do with me. You know, I was just the vehicle.
BB: What’s the very worst thing that’s ever happened to you while you’ve been working in the profession?
PC: Oh man, you know…you don’t dwell on that, you know there’s always some crap that happens. There’s some bad sound or some crooked promoter or some missed flight or .. The worst thing was I was trying to travel to Europe to do a weekend of festivals. And right as I got on the highway the New York City blackout happened. I didn’t have enough gas to turn around so I drove to the airport. And wound up sleeping on the floor for the next 23 hours. So, you know, every once in a while you’re going to come across that too. But it’s not that bad really in the grand scheme of things.
BB: Thank you so very much for speaking to me, especially for revealing some of those little personal things.
PC: Great pleasure my friend. Great pleasure..
Interviewer 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 two web-cast regular blues radio shows. One on www.phonic.FM in Exeter (Wednesdays: 1pm Eastern/ 12 noon Central), the second on KCOR – Kansas City Online Radio (on Fridays at 1pm Eastern/ 12 noon Central) www.kconlineradio.com.
Blues Blast Advertising Special - Lowest Prices Of the 2012 Season
Blues Blast Magazine is offering a winter advertising special. This early bird special for the 2012 season will be our lowest pricing of the 2012 year. It offers an affordable & effective way to get the Blues word out! This 6 week combo rate of only $300 allows you to affordably add significant impact to your Blues advertising and promotion campaign. It is a great way to kick up the visibility of your new CD release, 2012 Blues Festival or event!
Normal 2012 Advertising rates are $65 an issue for Blues Blast magazine ads and $90 per month for website ads.
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Blues Blast Magazine is a great way to promote the Blues. More than 21,000 Blues fans read our magazine each week. They are located in all 50 states and in more than 80 countries. We get more than 2,000,000 (That's TWO MILLION) hits and more than 35,000 visitors a month on our website.
To get this special rate simply reserve and pay for your ad space by February 15th, 2012. Ads can be booked to run anytime between now and September 30, 2012 for your 2012 Blues festival, CD release or other Blues related product.
With this special rate your ad can be viewed more than 175,000 times by Blues fans who want to know about Blues events and music! Reserve your space today! Space is limited and will be sold on a first come first served basis. Ads must be reserved and paid for by February 15, 2012. To get more information email email@example.com or call 309 267-4425 today!
Toronzo Cannon - Leaving Mood
In the12/28/11 edition of the Chicago Tribune, one of the featured articles was the last in a series by music writer Howard Reich on Blues music in Chicago, a piece entitled “Is this the twilight of blues music?”.
Reich identifies a number of serious issues including the continued loss of legendary musicians like Pinetop Perkins, Hubert Sumlin and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith as well as a suffocating lack of exposure in major media outlets even in the city that claims the music as its own. The writer also comments on the difficultly that newer musicians have in gaining a foothold in the blues clubs, even though it makes sense for the clubs to nurture new voices that might catch the ear of a new generation of listeners.
If blues music is dying, you would never know it after you listen to the first major label release by Toronzo Cannon. Schooled in southside clubs like Theresa's Lounge, Cannon has been honing his craft in Chicago clubs for over a decade as a leader and a sideman for artists like Wayne Baker Brooks and Joanna Connor. Now his blistering guitar work, knock-out songs and soul-wrenching vocals make it clear that Cannon has the ability to help keep the blues tradition alive and vital.
Check out “Chico's Song”, Cannon's celebration for the late Chico Banks with a foot-stomping rhythm, sweet guitar licks and Matthew Skoller's superlative harp playing. On the opening cut, “She Loved Me”, Cannon explores the darker side of life with a guitar tone that harks back to Hound Dog Taylor. Special guest Carl Weathersby shares the spotlight with Cannon on “Hard Luck”, both men laying down incendiary guitar solos, with Weathersby breaking a string in the process.
Cannon gets first-class support from Roosevelt Purifoy on keyboards, Larry Williams on bass and Marty Binder on drums. Rhythm guitarist Lawrence Gladney co-wrote seven tunes with Cannon and contributed two originals - “Come On” finds Cannon bemoaning his fate after the end of a relationship and pleading his lover to return home while “Baby Girl” has a funky, strutting beat that underscores Cannon's exuberant performance. Weathersby returns on “Earnestine”, handling the lead guitar parts while Cannon focuses on singing while Purifoy dazzles with a brief solo on the organ.
On the title cut, Cannon slows the pace to describe a man losing control of his life, taking the song to an unexpected conclusion. He avoids making the vocal too strident, which adds to the sense of despair. Another highlight is “Open Letter (To Whom it May Concern)” that finds Cannon using a distorted vocal to comment to on the sometimes cutthroat nature of the Chicago blues scene. The song features an insistent guitar lick and more stellar harp accompaniment from Skoller. Cannon displays his soul influences on “You're a Good Woman” with Purifoy on the Rhodes electric keyboard. Another highlight is the smoldering rendition of Nina Simone's “Do I Move You”, with Cannon's earnest vocal matched by his impeccable guitar work
Delmark Records deserves praise for continuing their tradition of releasing recordings by working Chicago blues musicians. While some fear for the future, Toronzo Cannon uses vibrant material coupled with his unbridled enthusiasm to provide ample evidence that the blues tradition is safe in his hands. His energetic approach is sure to connect with blues lovers all over the world. Expect to see this one on some of the lists for top Blues recordings for the year!
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.
Patrick McLaughlin - Self Titled
From Columbus, Ohio here comes another in a long line of blues-rock guitarists fronting a power trio. His first release displays that he has guitar chops to spare and a commanding voice with a soulful edge to it that is easy to listen to. His playing has evolved as the result of being a band leader for ten years. A tight rhythm section follows his every move. The one pitfall is the mostly mundane and commonplace lyrics as well as the repetitiveness of them.
Patrick handles rhythm and lead guitar parts on most songs, giving them a beefy quality. He leads right in with slide guitar that almost talks, laid over a catchy rhythm guitar riff on “Working Hard”. Here as throughout the record the sound is fresh, clean and full of tone. It seems like the guitar playing stays close to the standard styles, until you see him taking more chances from the half-way mark on. The guitar tone and watching the turns they take are an adventure to behold. For many of the songs, the lyrics are repeated too many times rather than developed. “I’ve Got You” is a blues shuffle ala Stevie Ray Vaughn or Melvin Taylor. He can sure build a liquid guitar solo. The underlying riff that runs through “There’s More To Life Than This” provides a warm cushion for the tune to ride upon. “Constructing A Guitar Solo 101” should be the subtitle for “Motion Of Emotion” a tale of love’s complications. The moody and soul-drenched vocal emotion is supported by the bluesy guitar in “Ready Set Leave”, a tale of love gone wrong. The lone instrumental “One More” closes out the cd. It begins life as a slow blues underpinned by the crisp drumming of Darrell Jumper, then Patrick’s guitar starts spewing out licks.
This is a display of a solid dose of blues-rock with a strong leaning towards traditional blues. Patrick has an uncanny knack for a keen interaction between his vocal and his guitar. They seem to follow each other and at times intertwine. He gets able support from two different drummers and the steady bass beat of Molly Young. Rather than firing off mile-a-minute guitar barrages, he unleashes well thought out and executed solos that practice tension and release along with nuance. All songs are band efforts that reflect the best qualities of a well crafted blues song. These guys and gal have the sturdy foundation to keep building and growing upon.
Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony hails from the New Jersey Delta.
Steve Gerard & The National Debonaires w/ James “Rock” Gray – Voodoo Workin’
10 tracks; 30.52 minutes
This is the third CD from Steve Gerard and his band The National Debonaires, but this one has something special about it. Steve had relocated to Jackson MS in search of the roots of the real blues and there heard a local blues singer, James “Rock” Gray. Now in his seventies and a former friend of Sam Myers and Elmore James, James had never been recorded. In addition to that discovery, Steve managed to get Doug “Mr. Low” James to produce the horn parts in between his touring commitments with Jimmie Vaughan, so this recording has two former members of Roomful Of Blues on it, as Preston Hubbard is on bass. The rest of the band is Dwight Ross Jr. on drums, Mike “Shinetop Jr.” Sedovic on keys (recently with Trampled Under Foot on the LRBC), James on vocals and Steve on guitar. Greg Demchuk adds harmonica to one track.
The CD features three songs written by James and the remaining seven cuts were selected to suit his voice and style. The three originals are all soulful ballads. “One Of These Days” has swirling organ and plucked guitar underpinning James’ vocal. “Please Stay With Me”, a love song pleading for the girl to stay, adds saxes to the mix, a beautifully balanced tenor solo gracing the break. “Sweet Little Woman” opens with slow piano before the whole band joins in under James’ warm vocal extolling how wonderful his woman is. The horns are again spot on in support and another sax solo, this time on baritone, is the main solo feature.
The other seven tracks come from seven different authors. “Voodoo Workin’” comes from the pen of Charles Sheffield and is a lively opening track with strong organ and guitar accompaniment. “Michelle” is perhaps not the most frequently heard song by Willie Mabon and here comes across with more than a touch of New Orleans rhythm. In similar vein Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew’s “My Girl Josephine” mines that NO groove, both tracks featuring Doug James’ excellent horn arrangements. Big Joe Turner is the source for “TV Mama” and is an opportunity for Steve to offer us his version of the Elmore James 12 bar riff as well as some fine piano playing from Mike Sedovic; plus, of course, that wonderful lyric about “my TV Mama, the one with the big wide screen”!
Ain’t Gonna Let Her Go” comes from the pen of Jimmy Anderson and features the harp playing of Greg Demchuk and the piano and organ, the horns sitting this one out. Big Jay McNeeley’s “There Is Something On Your Mind” particularly suits James’ voice, the horn arrangement acting like a comforting warm blanket wrapped around his vocals as he pleads with his girl to think of him. Steve Gerard also offers us a fine solo on guitar here. Nappy Brown’s “My Baby”, with its refrain of “Is you is, is you still my baby?” has something of a somber arrangement to close the CD.
James has an excellent voice, with a ‘lived-in’ quality that reflects his advanced age, but he remains clear and communicates all the material superbly. The CD is therefore essentially about James’ vocals, but the accompaniment is excellent and supportive, notably the horn arrangements from Doug James. My only complaint was that the CD was not longer – I can listen to this sort of music all day and night!
Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music.
Big Mamma’s Door - Handbagged
British blues fans across the United Kingdom nominated Big Mamma’s Door in six categories for 2011 British Blues Awards. While none of the nominees were honored with an award at this past September’s third annual Newark Blues Festival in Nottinghamshire, this London-based five piece blues band is a welcome new blues discovery for me. Big Mamma’s Door received the following well-deserved nods: Best Album (Handbagged), Best Original Blues Song (“Handbagged”), Best Female Vocals (Fiona McElroy), Best Keyboard (Henri Herbert), Best Drums (Rob Pokorny), and Best Bass (John Culleton).
Hanbagged features nine songs that range from the rollicking “We Got a Good Thing Going” and “Another Night” to the sad and contemplative love song “Letting You Go.” Mal Barclay’s exceptional guitar paired with Henri Herbert’s nuanced piano playing ushers in “A Little Mad About You,” and I particularly like the way John Culleton and Rob Pokorny lay a strong bass and drum foundation to “Give It to Me” (and the song ends with a tasteful and short drum solo). I hear a lot of Professor Longhair, Roosevelt Sykes and Henry Gray in Henri Herbert’s piano playing, and it’s a consistent bright spot on a consistently satisfying blues album. When not working with Big Mamma’s Door, Mel and Henri play with The Cadillac Kings, a popular British six-piece swing band.
I hope that British blues fans continue to support Big Mamma’s Door as they look forward to the 2012 British Blues Awards next September. In the meantime, visit www.bigmammasdoor.com and listen to several professionally-produced videos from their performance at the High Barn on St. Patrick’s Day, including “Handbagged,” “Letting You Go,” and “A Little Mad About You.”
Reviewer Eric Steiner is president of the Washington Blues Society Washington Blues Society in Seattle, Washington, and a member of the Board of Directors of The Blues Foundation in Memphis, Tennessee.
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Minnesota Blues Society - Minneapolis, MN
In celebration of the Society's 10 year anniversary, Greater Twin Cities Blues Music Society (GTCBMS) has changed their name to: Minnesota Blues Society, to better reflect their constituency. Get Out of Town" (GOOT) Fundraiser, Sun., Jan 22, 3:00pm, Minnesota Music Cafe, 499 Payne Ave., St. Paul, MN, 651-776-4699. Suggested donation: $10, Come support Minnesota's 2012 IBC representatives, Annie Mack and Tom Kochie; and Javier and the Innocent Sons. Music by former IBC representatives: Steve Vonderharr, John Franken, Good Time Willy, Davina and the Vagabonds, Scottie Miller, Papa John Kolstad, Jeff Ray, and Harold Tremblay. Visit our new website at www.mnbs.org for more information.
Capital Region Blues Network - Albany, NY
The Capital Region Blues Network is proud to announce The Mid-Winter Blues Bash on Friday, January 27th at The Roadhouse Grille (27 Fuller Road, Albany) at 8PM. Tom Townsley and Seth Rochfort will be coming in from Syracuse to open the night, followed by The Matt Mirabile Band with special guests Tom Healey and Tas Cru. Tickets are $10.00 at the door and $5.00 for Capital Region Blues Network members. For more info see our website @ www.capitalregionbluesnetwork.org
Grafton Blues Association - Grafton, WI
The Grafton Blues Association (GBA) and State of Wisconsin will be represented at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee for the 4th consecutive year. The GBA will be sending a band (Tweed Funk) and solo/duo act (John Stano) this year. A Send-Off Party/Fundraiser will be held January 20th at the Black Swan Room in Grafton.
The Send-Off Party/Fundraiser starts at 7 pm and will feature music from both John Stano and Tweed Funk. Friday, January 20th, 2012; 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm; Black Swan Room; 1218 13th Ave, Grafton, WI 53024; Suggested Donation - $10; Drinks, Raffles, and Door Prizes. www.graftonblues.org
The Diamond State Blues Society - Wilmington, Delaware
The Diamond State Blues Society in Wilmington, Delaware has two great events coming up. The first is Saturday, January 14th for our "Goin' to Memphis Fundraiser Party" on behalf of the DSBS IBC entrant for this year, The Blue Cat Blues Band. The show is from 3 to 10pm and will feature 8 great regional blues bands: at 3pm- Scoville Blues; at 3:45pm- April Mae & the June Bugs; at 4:30pm- Johnny Never & the Solar Pimps; at 5:15pm- Alicia Maxwell & the Diamond Dawgz; at 6pm- Mikey Jr. & the Stone Cold Blues; at 6:45pm- The Billy Pierce Blues Band; at 7:30pm- Venom Blues; at 8:15pm- Nuthin' But Trouble; and at 9pm- The Blue Cat Blues Band. It will be a day of HOT Regional Blues and to raise some funds to get our IBC entrant to Memphis!
And on Saturday, March 3rd it's the Diamond State Blues Society's 15th Annual House Rockin' Party. Opening the show at 3pm will be Nuthin' But Trouble, followed by Florida's great Blues Guitarist, Albert Castiglia, and headlining the show is the ironman himself, the phenomenal Michael Burks! Full details can be found at www.DiamondStateBlues.com
Dayton Blues Society – Dayton, Ohio
The Dayton Blues Society presents the 4th Annual “Winter Blues Showcase” on January 21st 2012, The event spotlights this year’s IBC representatives Gregg “GC” Clark & Brian Lee (Solo/Duo) and The Noah Wotherspoon Band (Band) opening for this year’s headliner Big Bill Morganfield, son of blues legend Muddy Waters. Gilly’s 132 S. Jefferson St. 6pm—Meet & Greet w/ Big Bill Morganfield ($5), 8pm— Gregg Clark & Brian Lee, 9pm— Noah Wotherspoon Band, 10pm— Big Bill Morganfield (Muddy Water’s Son), DBS Members—$20 / Non DBS Members— $25, For more info go to www.daytonbluessociety.com .
Prairie Crossroads Blues Society – Champaign-Urbana, IL
Prairie Crossroads Blues Society shows: Friday January 6th, 1st Friday Blues, Hurricane Ruth, winner of the Prairie Crossroads Blues Society IBC Challenge, 8pm studio visit to WEFT 90.1FM during the Blues Live show, 10pm, performance at Memphis on Main, Champaign. $5 non-members, $3 members. Friday April 6, 1st Friday Blues, Johnny Rawls. For more info: prairiecrossroadsblues.org.
River City Blues Society - Pekin, IL
River City Blues Society presents: Bringing The Blues To You with the following shows - Jan 11th at 7PM - Brandon Santini. Location Goodfellas 1414 N. 8th St, Pekin, Illinois 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm $5.00 non-members $3.00 members. For more info visit: www.rivercityblues.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. Jan 9 - The Brandon Santini Blues Band, Jan 16 - The Groove Daddies, Jan 23 - Mike Zito, Jan 30 - Tombstone Bullet, Feb 6 - Matt O'Ree, Feb 13 - Hurrican Ruth, Feb 20 - The Distillery, Feb 27 - The Blues Deacons. icbluesclub.org
Big Daddy D And The Dynamites – Down, Boy!
Where can you find some good time blues? You might just hit the mother lode with Big Daddy D And The Dynamites’ Down, Boy!
You would think guitarist Duke Robillard had his hand in the production. While the spirit of Roomful of Blues lurks behind the scenes, the band themselves produced this work and it aims on capturing a live vibe that could set crowds on fire.
The biggest strength is in the songwriting by primary writers Drew Hall and Big Daddy Darryl Porras. Bonus points have to be given to these guys for coming up with material that doesn’t steal too much from musical clichés we have been accustomed with for too long.
Saxophonist Gary Regina’s playing colors the songs to push them into smoky after-hours club jazz territories. Hall and Porras’ guitar work together recalls the precision of B.B. King and the ferocity of Michael Bloomfield. There is no sparring off between the two men that would have the effect of a cat fight. Make no mistake about it. This music would be embraced at a club or at a blues festival anywhere in the world. It’s intoxicating enough to make you forget about all your worldly troubles.
If you want to jump-start a blues party, just put this cd on and see the results. Porras original “I Thought I Heard” is a pure house rocker with such a giddy musical take that will wake you up from an eternal sleep. Regina’s sax playing emerges front and center with drummer Carlos B. Jones adding his slithering grooves.
While band members are given enough solo space to strut their stuff, there is no overabundance of solos to take the material beyond time marks it doesn’t need to be.
To guide your ship on your personal oceans of blues, set your sails on the track “I Ain’t Puttin Up with What You’re Putting Down” that draws from the wellspring of deep Chicago Blues. While the song intro somewhat recalls Stevie Ray’s “Riviera Paradise,” it wisely steers clear from any Lone Star state shading.
Safe to say this might be the type of music to look for when everything else is a tired hand. There’s the easy going groove in the slippery greased instrumental “Are You Feeling Me?” Drew Hall’s “Next Train” is aptly titled because the speed it moves on is moderate enough with its bare –bones guitar work. But it’s not too quick-paced to give you a heart attack.
While “Soul Power” in ways can live up to its moniker, it doesn’t become too much a candidate for American Hit Parade. Jones’ quirky time-signature beats might be difficult for a normal blues-rock drummer to grasp. And the guitar playing takes this number into a jam-band spirit that even their contemporaries would find hard to tackle.
Imagine Bo Diddley meeting the Allman Brothers and you wind up with “Welcome Sweet Sunshine” which with its free-wheeling style would go down like hotcakes with the Bonaroo audience wanting to shake it on down. Only the fun doesn’t stop there at this halfway point. In the instrumental “BroomHilda,” you get to catch a breath after moving your tail feather for so long. And “Hip-Deep In The Blues” seems to be the illegitimate son to Muddy Waters’ “Got My Mojo Workin.”
Kudos are to be given to these guys for turning their backs on the too-often blues rock used to get their message across. The biggest compliment the blues can receive is that some individuals are interested in taking elements from the past but are able to modernize them in a way with the best results possible.
Reviewer Gary Weeks is a contributing writer. He resides in Marietta, GA.
Dani Wilde - Shine
11 songs; 52 minutes
Styles: Blues Rock, Jazz-Influenced Blues, Ballads
For a moment, imagine digging through moist sand at the beach. Its tiny granules mostly do one of two things: adhere to one’s palm, or slip through one’s fingers entirely. More often than not, however, a fragment glistens, reflecting the sunlight at just the right moment and making one gasp! This is exactly what happens with the eleven “grains” of song on singer, songwriter, guitarist, and humanitarian Dani Wilde’s third release, “Shine.” Each one of the nine originals and two covers is distinctive if one takes a close-enough look. Produced by legendary British bluesman Mike Vernon, this album is nothing less than a huge achievement. The young Wilde, according to her website, was “brought up in Wiltshire, England on everything from Stax and Motown, to Folk, Rock ‘n’ Roll and Chicago Blues.”
Which tracks Shine the most? Most certainly these three:
Track 4: “How Do You Do It”--This torch number showcases Dani’s lovely high-pitched vocals like no other song on the album. Simply, the girl sounds like a girl -- here accompanying herself on background vocal harmony. Despite the Rolling Stones’ hit “Miss You” preceding it, this is Shine’s first earworm. Every phrase emerges flawlessly, not only from the lead singer’s lips but also from Pete Wingfield’s caressing piano and Laura Chavez’s guitar on a sizzling mid-song solo! The theme is familiar: unrequited love (“Darling, don’t you look at me that way. You know I can’t belong to you…”). However, Wilde’s fresh interpretation of this theme will make listeners hold their partners on the dance floor before it’s too late!
Track 5: “Red-Blooded Woman”--If some blues fans consider themselves purists, they should take heed as Dani proves she’s got more than ice water in her veins! She minces no words, and misses no nearly-operatic notes, as her brother Will “Harmonica” Wilde and guitarist Ben Poole back her up. As the song concludes, listen closely. One might feel a noticeable chill rush down one’s spine as Wilde whispers the final word: “you.” The effect is absolutely magnificent, especially considering her repeated requests beforehand!
Track 7: “I Don’t Even Care”--Another, and perhaps better, title for this song would have been “Fifteen Dollars in my Pocket,” because that’s all that the narrator has left after fleeing from a bad marriage. “You never believed in me. I’m sure you take me for some kind of fool, but you want me to be your wife, clean hospital floors for the rest of my life. You act like you don’t love me at all!” “I Don’t Even Care” reflects not only the blues played or sung, but the blues lived. This reviewer wonders: is it autobiographical? One thing’s sure: it feels more authentic than the next track, “Abandoned Child,” though the latter is sadder.
Mike Vernon, the album’s producer, gives these props to “the artiste herself”: [Dani] has a very individual guitar technique that echoes past ages,” and “Dani gave absolutely everything to these sessions. I was really impressed, and I believe it shows in the final results.” One thing’s for sure: in the blues world, Dani Wilde knows how to Shine!
Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 32 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.
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