Cover photo by Chris A © 2012 www.chrisaphotography.com
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In This Issue
We have the latest in Blues Society news from around the globe. Chris A. has our feature interview with Blues rocker Chris Duarte. Marilyn Stringer has a photo essay of the 2012 Blues Music Awards.
We have six music reviews for you! Sheila Skilling reviews a new release from Omar & The Howlers. Rex Bartholomew reviews a new release from Wendy DeWitt & Kirk Harwood. Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony reviews the new album from Big Pete Pearson and The Gamblers. Jim Kanavy reviews the new CD from Roy Trevino. John Mitchell reviews the new Mark Easton CD. Gary Weeks reviews the new release from Dan Treanor and Code Blue. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!
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Blues Artist looking for bookings
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Blues Blast Magazine Seeks Summer Festival Reviewers
Blues Blast Magazine is looking for a few good men (Or Women)! Over the 2012 summer season we are looking for folks who attend Blues Festivals and take good photos for festival reviews. If you attend multiple Blues Festivals or Blues shows and could volunteer to send us 500 to 1000 word reviews and some good photos, please reply to .
Reviewers are needed for the Southwest and Texas area, the Florida and Gulf area, the Eastern coast area and also on the European, Asian and Australian continents. A short sample of your writing, a sample photo and info on your Blues background would be helpful. Please include your phone number with the reply.
Saturday, May 26, 2012
7:00pm to 12:30am
Lady Carole & Her Knights
The Mojo Cats
Robert Sampson & Blues Gumbo
For Info visit:
Rutledge Youth Foundation
Capitol City Bar & Grill
3419 South Dirksen Parkway, Springfield, IL
This years bike raffle features a 2012 Heritage Softtail Classic
Featured Blues Interview - Chris Duarte
Chris Duarte Interview - Gilly's, Dayton, Ohio – May 3rd, 2012
Blues Blast: Hello Chris, welcome to Dayton Ohio! I see you're back out on tour with a new disc!
Chris Duarte: Yeah man , the name of the new album is Blues In The Afterburner and it's my sixth release on Shrapnel Records and my tenth release overall, not counting the fan club releases but I'm excited that I've got quite a catalog, I never thought I'd have 10 CDs.
BB: I understand you got turned onto music after watching the movie Fiddler On The Roof.
CD: Yeah, I mean it was the entire seed for planting music in me. The scene of the fiddler, banging out those notes on the violin was the coolest thing I'd ever seen in my seven years of life!
BB: What was it about the movie that inspired you?
CD: I think it was the haunting sound of the melody he was playing. It looked so cool with the imagery and I told my mom I wanted to play a violin. On the first day of school we went down to register for classes and in band I told them I wanted to play the violin. I was told “We have too many violin players, you're going to have to play the clarinet. My mom was like “No, we're not having a clarinet,” so the seed was planted!
BB: In 1994 Guitar World named you as one of the world's best bluesmen.
CD: Yeah I was really honored to have that happen to me. In addition my Texas Sugar album was named one of the top 10 blues albums of the year. That was quite a ride!
BB: What can fans expect from Blues In The Afterburner?
CD: Well ever since I started working with Mike Varney, (Shrapnel Records owner/producer) Varney is like, guitar, guitar and more guitar. When the tape starts rolling he wants me playing two seconds before we punch in, that's just how he is. Mike always says one of his mantras is play to your strength. So he wants me playing a lot of blues-rock stuff so that's what I've given on this new album. There are some shuffles, some kind of fun sort of things, toe-tappers plus some minor blues stuff. Plus Mike always throws me a bone and lets me do some rock stuff. There is a song on the album called “Summer's Child” that is sort of like “naff pop”, an English term and it's a pop kind of song but Mike lets me be an artist.
BB: We you do like to turn your amps up to 11 and rock when you play.
CD: Oh yeah, sometimes when you go to those higher registers, the colors that the guitar is able to create, the sonic sounds is very amazing. I also think music should evolve and I try to push the musical envelope by mixing in some of my jazz influences.
BB: You also have a tendency to insert interesting minor chords or a jazz licks into your tunes too.
CD: Oh yeah, I think I've been doing that my entire career. It came out in Texas Sugar and it's continued to this day. I want the music to keep evolving and even today, when we get a new guy in the band it's sort of like “Well, don't follow the record exactly” because we don't play them the say way we did when we recorded them. They have evolved and taken on a life of their own. I couldn't play them the same way night after night.
BB: What's the best thing for you about making your living playing the blues?
CD: That's it right there; I'm making my living playing the blues, playing the guitar. I'll put up with all the other things that come up, the half-baked hotels, the long drive, being away from family a long time just so I can get up on stage for a few hours to practice my craft. I think being allowed to perform for those few hours every day has made me the musician that I am. I'm addicted to getting on stage and playing.
BB: Would you tell us a little bit about your Hamiltone guitar you're holding.
CD: Well this guitar it's the first time I've had it on the road. This guitar was commissioned for me by Darryl Agler, a man from Indiana. Jim Hamilton built this guitar for me. I got the guitar in 1995 in October. The only difference between this guitar and Stevie Ray's Hamiltone is obviously the name in the neck and my guitar has a cutaway in the body. None of Stevie's had a cutaway there. The pickups are Rio Grande Specials Rockin' Robin and I like the way they sound so I just left them in there.
BB: What's your current number one, go-to guitar and what other gear do you rely on?
CD: It's an “Xotic” model number XJS1, I think that's what it is. They endorse me, Xotic Guitars, they are made in America. They also make Xotic Pedals and that's the number one guitar. The Hamiltone is the backup. My number two, I was using my old 91 American standard Stratocaster, when my 1963 Strat was ripped off so it became the primary guitar until I got another '63 Strat. That guitar I retired, the second one, because I played it down the to nubs on the rosewood and I didn't want to put more rosewood on! That's how my daughter's going to get it when I shuffle off this mortal coil. Then I've got my “Chicago Bluesbox” amplifier that was made by Dan Berliner in Chicago, also used by Buddy Guy. I use an assortment of pedals Mojo Hand, Xotic, Brown Electronics, Guyatone and a variety of Boss Pedals that I've had forever. I also use Monster Cables I use Kanto cords which are unidirectional cords and you really do recognize a difference when you use them.
BB: In this day and age is there a single epicenter city of the blues in America?
CD: I think blues has been diffused in pockets around America. Kansas City has a great blues scene, Chicago has a great scene, Florida has a great scene. I think that's what makes it so special is it's so accessible for everyone. Blues Societies pop up because it's such a popular music but I don't think there is a single “home of the blues.” To me the music capital is still, for me, New York City. I love to play Manhattan. I consider America to be the center of blues and I'm very lucky to be here.
BB: Do you plan on playing the blues until you drop dead?
CD: Yes, literally. I don't want that to be prophetic but I want to do this as long as I can, as long as I have the health to do it. This is what makes me me, it gives me life, it keeps me going. Even if my fingers get cut up and it's hard on my body, I still need it for my soul!
BB: Where can fans find out more about you and your music?
CD: Well you can go to www.thechrisduartegroup.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ChrisDuarteGroup and www.chrisduartegroupfans.org simply put Chris Duarte in your web browser and you can't go wrong!
BB: Hey man, thanks for taking the time to talk with me today!
CD: Hey, thank you very much for doing this for me today!
PhotosPhotos by Chris A © 2012 www.chrisaphotography.com
Interviewer Chris Armold is a writer and photographer in Ohio. Much about him and his work is at:
Live Blues Review - 2012 Blues Music Awards
The 33rd Blues Music Awards was held in Memphis last Thursday night and it was a gala event. The evening was a great success for both the attendees as well as the winners. The room was filled with fans, friends, supporters, performers, and musicians from all over the world. It is always a fantastic event, with jams and gatherings up and down Beale Street the night before through Friday night. In addition The Blues Foundation is currently conducting the Campaign for the Blues Hall of Fame, a $3.5 million capital campaign to add Hall of Fame exhibits to their offices at 421 South Main. Please go to their website and find out how you can become part of the project or just donate: www.blues.org.
Before the ballroom opened for the non-stop evening of awards and performances, all by nominees, a reception is held in the lobby where everyone has a chance to reunite with old friends, meet new ones, and enjoy the performances from three of the nominees for Best New Artist. The entertainers this year were The Mighty Mojo Prophets, joined by Big Pete, and Sena Ehrhardt.
The first band to perform in the ballroom was The Bokeys with Otis Clay performing followed by Charlie Musslewhite who was the winner of 2 awards: Instrumentalist-Harmonica and Traditional Blues Male Artist)
The next performers were the winners of the Traditional Blues Album: Chicago Blues A Living History the Revolution Continues - Billy Boy Arnold, John Primer, Billy Branch, Lurrie Bell, Carlos Johnson. Performing were Mathew Skoller, Billy Flynn, Jimi Bott, Billy Boy Arnold, John Primer, David Maxwell, and Patrick Rynn.
The group included winner David Maxwell (& Otis Span) - Acoustic Album: Conversations in Blue
Next up was The Ruthie Foster Family Band with Hadden Sayers. The band won DVD: Live at Antone's - Ruthie Foster (Blue Corn); and Ruthie won the Koko Taylor Award (Traditional Blues Female).The band also includes Samantha Banks (drums), Tanya Richardson (bass) and Scottie “Bones” Miller (Keyboards). The band was THRILLED to win the award!
Additional performances during stage changes included Eric Bibb – winner Acoustic Artist, Ian Siegal & the Youngest Sons, and Doug McLeod.
The next band was a great combination of loved blues performers. Included in the band were Tracy Nelson, Reba Russell, Maria Muldaur, and Nick Nixon on vocals; Dave Keyes and Robert Tooms on keyboards; Terry Hanck on sax, Josh Roberts on guitar, and Wayne on bass.
Sugar Ray & The Blue Tones hit the stage next. The band included Sugar Ray Norcia, Monster Mike Welch (guitar), Michael “Mudcat” Ward (bass), and Anthony Geraci, (keyboards).
Stepping in at the last minute for the scheduled Duke Robillard, Joe Louis Walker did a great set with Biscuit Miller and Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne. Biscuit Miller won Instrumentalist-Bass
Trampled Under Foot performed next with guest Samantha Fish. (This cub reporter happened to take a fast break at the wrong time and missed Samantha with the band but TUF is always a good show). Pictured are the Schnebelen siblings Kris (drums), Nick (guitar), and Danielle (bass/vocals).
Tab Benoit swept the evening with three awards: Contemporary Blues Album-Medicine; Contemporary Blues Male Artist; and B.B. King Entertainer. And true to form, he brought the band that always plays hard and has as much fun. And true to form, when Tab gets in front of a mike and feels the urge to tell a story, he does. After receiving his third award, he decided it was time to entertain the room with one of his comedic stories. The band included: Lazy Lester, Mike Zito (guitar) Johnny Sansone (harmonica), and Scot Sutherland (bass).
Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks did a beautiful acoustic duet set. The Tedeschi Trucks Band won both Band and Album:Revelator. Susan Tedeschi won Contemporary Blues Female Artist and Derek won the Gibson Guitar Award.
Terry Hanck was awarded Instrumentalist – Horn. His band included JP Soars (guitar), Stephen Dees (bass) Victor Wainwright (keyboard), and Chris Peet (Drums). Star Studded Cast!
Rich DelGrosso entertained with his mandolin accompanied by Jonn Del Toro Richardson on guitar and Chris Peet on bass.
The next performance was Alexix P Suter and her band.
There were three additional performances, all after midnight, and after my bedtime…..Bob Corritore & Diunna Greenleaf, Big Joe Shelton, and Grady Champion wrapping up the evening.
Additional Awards presented were:
Samantha Fish-Best New Artist Debut: Runaway; Bobby Rush-Soul Blues Album: Show You a Good Time
Denise LaSalle -Soul Blues Female Artist: Curtis Salgado-Soul Blues Male Artist: Chris Layton -Instrumentalist-Drums
And I will give an award for the most excited recipient of the evening: Johnny Sansone for Song: "The Lord is Waiting, the Devil is Too" He thanked everyone and let out a loud, long howl!
BMA Winners Not Present:
Instrumentalist-Other: Sonny Rhodes, lap steel guitar
Pinetop Perkins Piano Player: Marcia Ball
Historical Album: Chess Records - Smokestack Lightning/The Complete Chess Masters 1951-1960 (Howlin' Wolf)
Rock Blues Album: Dust Bowl - Joe Bonamassa
A full list of the nominees and winners can be found on the Blues Foundation’s website. www.blues.org. And much thanks to Jay Sielman, Joe Whittmer, and all the staff and volunteers for a very special evening. And big congratulations going out to all the nominees and winners. Support the blues! Go see these great performers, buy their music, spread the word!!
Photos & Comments By Marilyn Stringer © 2012 MJStringerPhoto.com
Featured Blues Review 1 of 6
Omar & The Howlers – Essential Collection
CD 1: 15 tracks; 64:36 minutes. CD 2: 15 tracks; 58:56 minutes
Omar, where have you been all my life? Or perhaps, considering that Kent “Omar” Dykes has been “making the Blues rock” for 50 years and has a string of hits longer than my arm, the better question is - Where have I been? If you aren’t already hooked on this Austin-based band, then this 2-CD set called Essential Collection is the perfect introduction.
Generally, I do not have much appreciation for a CD until I’ve listened to it two, maybe three times. However, Essential Collection was the exception to that rule, as I liked it almost immediately. I think you will, too, and here’s why: it contains Omar’s best work, and (for those with a low tolerance for boredom) it has lots of variety.
The set includes one disc that’s a “best of” Omar & The Howlers’ work, spanning 20-some years. The other disc contains 15 of “Omar’s Picks,” that highlight his “influences and heroes” – songs he feels are his best work, or of significance to him because of the memories they hold, or the people he has been privileged to work with. You sense that he had trouble narrowing this down to 30 choice cuts, because there is no filler here. Every song is a keeper. And if you like what you hear, you can always go back and check out some of his earlier albums.
Essential Collection is a great synopsis of Omar’s best, as it offers more variety than your local all-you-can-eat buffet. With some CDs, you get two styles: fast blues and slow blues. With Essential Collection, you get songs like “Magic Man” and “Got My Heart Set On You,” with a Bo Diddley-type rhythm. This makes perfect sense as both Omar and Bo Diddley were born in McComb, Mississippi (population less than 15,000). You get “Boogie Man” and “I’m Wild About You,” giving the nod to John Lee Hooker; and “Tears Like Rain” that sounds just a little like Stevie Ray Vaughan. You also get a bit of swamp rock, jazz, Cajun-style, hill/rockabilly, slide and yes, some sweet, slow blues.
It’s hard to narrow down my list of favorite cuts on these CDs, but one would have to be “Work Song,” a jazz tune written by Nat Adderly, with lyrics by Oscar Brown, Jr. I grew up hearing this as an instrumental, but Omar’s vocals make it even more appealing. I also really like “Bad Seed,” with its Latin beat and muffled-sounding guitar; “Burn It To the Ground,” which is your classic blues revenge rant; and “Life Without You,” featuring some moody minor chords and a terrific guitar solo.
Even Omar’s voice displays amazing range and diversity. His classic sound is a low growl that’s a bit like Howlin’ Wolf – but closer to Wolfman Jack (with a southern accent). You’ll hear more of a standard, mid-range voice in “I Want You” and the Willie Dixon tune, “Built For Comfort.” In “Mississippi Hoo Doo Man,” you’ll hear a somewhat higher-range, John Fogerty-style, yell; and with “Alligator Wine,” Omar’s high-pitched, screechy yell almost puts you in mind of AC/DC.
In addition to having virtually no filler and great variety, this 2-CD set also passes the American Bandstand test - in other words, you can dance to it. Close your eyes and listen (especially to the live cuts), and you’ll be transported to some outdoor blues festival where half the crowd is perpetually dancing…people are smiling, Omar is smiling, and everybody’s having a good time. My one, small complaint with this Essential Collection is that you lose the vocals a little bit in Track 2 of CD 1, “East Side Blues.” This is understandable in a live cut, but unfortunate, as I believe this to be one of the best songs in the set.
Congratulations, Omar, on your 50 years in the business. This Essential Collection is sure to thrill your old fans and gain you some new ones. Here’s wishing you many more…years and fans.
Footnote: Throughout this review, I have extensively referenced Omar (Kent Dykes) himself, with little mention of his band, The Howlers. This is not meant to dismiss their considerable contribution to the final product. It is because The Howlers appear to be an ever-changing group. Check out Omar’s website and you’ll see an extensive list of band members – and this doesn’t even include collaborations with other headliners, like Jimmie Vaughan. This is not unusual for someone who has performed for decades and thrives on variety (e.g. Eric Clapton).
Reviewer Sheila Skilling is a self-professed “blues fan by marriage,” who was hooked by her husband’s musical preferences, but reeled in by the live performances of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy and others. She lives in the Minneapolis area.
Featured Blues Review 2 of 6
Wendy DeWitt ∙ Kirk Harwood - Industrial Strength
13 tracks / 43:40
I have not heard much boogie-woogie music lately, and that is a shame because it always puts me in a good mood when I hear piano with a deft left hand hammering out those dancing rhythms. Fortunately, I just got turned on to Industrial Strength, the latest release from Wendy DeWitt and Kirk Harwood (and a few of their friends), which is full of Texas/Chicago boogie-woogie at its best.
Wendy DeWitt, “The Queen of Boogie Woogie,” is from Northern California and supplies the piano expertise and vocals for this project. She has been in the business since the 1980s, both with her own band as well as working with legends such as Otis Rush, Hank Ballard and Sam Moore. Her piano has plenty of Otis Spann and Tommy Thomsen influence, and though I am pretty sure there is more than one self-proclaimed queen of boogie-woogie, with this pedigree Wendy has as much right to sit on the throne as any of them.
Kirk Harwood performs the drumming chores, as well as a few vocals, and also lives in the Bay Area, though he is originally from Chicago. Though he was schooled as a jazz drummer, he has branched out in more rocking ways, having toured with harp legend Norton Buffalo, and playing with Huey Lewis and Roy Rodgers.
Industrial Strength not only shows off Wendy’s piano prowess and vocal chops but also her creativity, as she has provided nine original tracks for this album. The album kicks off with “Nervous,” a good example of a Wendy DeWitt instrumental that is a timeless tune that could have been performed in the 1950s or just yesterday. It sets the tone for the album by displaying her mad piano skills and the perfect interplay between her and Kirk Harwood. There is a similar them on the two cover instrumentals, “Boogie Woogie Stomp” by Albert Ammons and “Bass Key Boogie” from the legendary Eurreal Wilford “Little Brother” Montgomery.
The Gershwin standard “Summertime” comes up next, and this is a version like you have never heard before. It is a fast tempo mash-up that starts with “Flight of the Bumblebee” as the intro before Ms. DeWitt starts her smoky vocals. Nancy Wright (again from the San Francisco area) joins in on the saxophone, and she blows a huge sounding horn. I groaned a little when I saw this song on the CD package, but their fresh take on it blew me away.
Industrial Strength is not entirely high-energy boogie-woogie, and it is sweet that DeWitt and Harwood slow things down and provide heartfelt soul tracks too. “Lucky Old Sun” is performed to a standard that rivals Louis Armstrong’s version, and provides tasteful guitar work from Anthony Paule. Another guitar ace, Steve Freund, can be found filling out “If I Could Just” which is a beautiful original ballad.
A few other notable guest guitarists make appearances on this album. Norton Buffalo alumnus Dave Aguilar also throws in a few licks and tears it up on the straight-up blues tune, “It’s Too Late.” And Wendy’s mentor Tommy Thomsen throws a little swing picking around on “Wings of Love.” This is neat stuff!
The most fun track on Industrial Strength has to be “Love and Appreciation,” which has a bit of everything in it, including a little whistling, some jaunty and clever lyrics, and Marty Eggers on tuba. You don’t get much tuba in today’s popular music, it seems.
After the up tempo instrumental “San Francisco” the album slows to the finish with “Gone” which is a baleful lament of friends who have moved on. Steve Freund comes back for this closer and his guitar provides a great counterpoint to Wendy’s voice. That man has soul oozing out of his fingertips.
Though boogie-woogie may seem like a niche of the blues that not everybody will be able to get into, a lot of creativity and energy has gone into making all of the songs on Industrial Strength unique. It is very accessible, and I think it will appeal to a diverse cross-section of blues and/or piano enthusiasts. Check it out if you get the chance!
Reviewer Rex Bartholomew is a Los Angeles-based writer and musician; his blog can be found at rexbass.blogspot.com.
Featured Blues Review 3 of 6
Big Pete Pearson and The Gamblers - Choose
Modesto Blues Records
Born in Jamaica and raised up in Austin, Texas Big Pete eventually established himself as Arizona’s King Of The Blues. He played his first gig at the age of nine at The Triple J, an Austin juke joint, unbeknownst to his grandparents who thought he was playing guitar and singing with a spiritual group at the church. He’s been playing the blues with various bands since then for sixty-seven years. Blues seems to run in the family, as he was a mentor to his cousin W.C. Clark. Big Pete’s large and gruff voice sounds like the blues. On this, his first recording with his Italian band The Gamblers he receives sturdy backing with a sound rooted in the deep blues. There must be something in the pasta…these guys nail an authentic blues sound with licks to spare. This is all done with guitar, bass, drums and piano. No additional musicians are used. The resulting stripped down approach is refreshing. Thankfully the guys are allowed to stretch out and show what they can do. And they do it in grand style. Pete wrote all but one of the tunes. The other was contributed by the band’s Guitar Ray Scona.
The jaunty groove of “Travelin’ Man” gets things moving along with lively piano and hints of the guitar goodness yet to come. “I’m a travelin’ man, but I think I’m headin’ for a dead end.” This fits well into the pantheon of blues road songs, as guitar and piano are given breathing room. “Hole In My Pocket” unfurls as a tale of getting one’s heart broken, taken at a slow pace. The title song reflects on decisions the narrator must make. Guitar Ray gets his first chance to shine here as he unleashes licks recalling Freddy and Albert King. His arsenal of blues guitar licks seems endless. Piano player Henry Carpaneto also gets to show off his Chicago style on the “88’s”. “Gambler’s Groove”, Guitar Ray’s songwriting contribution, is an instrumental with commentary and coaching supplied by Big Pete. It has a late night feel with able backing of the rhythm section, as Ray and Henry unearth Chicago style grooves that would make the masters of the blues proud. Ray unveils his adequate slide guitar skills on “Hard Times”. A tom-tom beat leads into “Mini Skirt”, an appreciation of the feminine form. “Slippery When Wet” ventures into risqué territory without crossing the line. The only minor misstep is on Guitar Ray’s vocal on “The Love You Don’t Have”, were his accent makes it hard to understand some of the lyrics.
Big Pete’s warm and booming voice backed up by a band that knows its way around the blues makes for a soothing musical experience. Their no-frills sound must approximate the live experience. A sound that is rooted in the blues basics like this should have the blues Gods smiling in that juke joint in the sky.
Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony hails from the New Jersey Delta.
Featured Blues Review 4 of 6
Roy Trevino – Roy Trevino
10 Tracks; 43:45
Roy Trevino is a Texas guitar slinger and veteran of the road band Kingpin. Trevino is from South Texas but he studied guitar with a legend of the Northeast, Ronnie Earl. Roy Trevino has also played with Esteban Jordan, Marcia Ball and Chicano bluesman Randy Garibay. Kingpin recorded two albums and often played with Lazy Lester when he would tour in Texas. Roy Trevino has had an eclectic musical education and his music reflects it on his debut album, simply titled Roy Trevino.
Produced by Grammy winner Jim Gaines, the disc, on Troubadour Records, reveals a jack-of-all-trades scattering his talents in a multitude of directions loosely tethered by smooth blues guitar. The band assembled for the album consists of bassist Chris Maresh, who plays Eric Johnson, Church House recording studio owner David Boyle on keyboards, and drummer J.J. Johnson, who has played with John Mayer and is currently a member of the Grammy winning Tedeschi Trucks Band. Producer Jim Gaines has worked with several big names including Stevie Ray Vaughan and Santana, both of whom Trevino counts as major influences.
The Santana influence is apparent in many of the songs. Trevino’s playing is melodic, lyrical, and like Santana, Trevino’s lines slither through the songs like a sidewinder in the Texas desert. His tone is smooth, his fingers are precise and he has a knack for punctuating the lyrics with memorable musical accents. He directly embraces his Mexican/Latin heritage with a trio of songs including the sublime “Sin Ella,” the Jeff Beck-style instrumental ballad “Trinidad” which showcases Trevino’s bent note precision, and “La Luna,” inspired by South Padre Island. Unfortunately, Roy stays in the islands for a rather pointless cover of Bob Marley’s “Lively Up Yourself.” If Trevino wanted to play something funky, I feel sure he could have come up with his own tune as he did on the nine other tracks on Roy Trevino. With an album clocking in at less than 45 minutes, every minute counts and this Marley cover is lackluster filler at best.
“The Boy Can Play” is another misstep with its insipid name checking of famous blues guitarists in the lyrics. I’ve never understood the “name-drop” song. Are the listeners really impressed that you can name a dozen blues legends? I’d be more impressed if you could play the way they did; with originality, character, and finesse. Trevino is clearly a talented guitar player with a killer tone and chops to match but he needs to grow into his own identity and not worry about listing his influences in song. Maybe he just felt a need to pay tribute to his antecedents but it comes out seeming contrived and trite.
Still, two misses out of ten is 80% and that’s pretty good for a first album. Opener “Gloria” is, according to Trevino, his attempt at a blues mass and it incorporates stellar slide guitar, gospel, and down home Texas blues into a stand-out track. “Going Away” explodes with blues power into an AOR rocker, and “Hurricanes” opens with some gritty slide then a Bo Diddley beat and a slinky riff ride the storm out across gulf. Trevino has a Jeff Beck tone in his slide playing on this song, as well as “Gloria” and for all the name-dropping I’d say he’s most influenced by tone masters like Beck, Santana and the guy who regularly employs two of his band mates – Eric Johnson. Trevino’s dedication to tone makes this whole thing worthwhile and keeps it cohesive even though the styles are all over the map.
Reviewer Jim Kanavy is the greatest guitar player in his house. He has been reviewing albums in his head for 30 years and in print since 2008, and is deeply committed to keeping the blues alive and thriving. For more information visit http://jimkanavy.com.
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Crossroads Blues Society - Rockford, IL
Two hot June shows coming up in Rockford!!! Walter Trout is appearing at the Adriatic at 327 W.Jefferson St in Rockford, IL on Tuesday, June 5th at 8 PM. Advanced tickets are only $15, with admission $20 atthe door. Tickets are available at the club, online at http://crossroadsbluessociety.blogspot.com/. Get tickets early as this may sell out!
Bryan Lee appears at Mary's Place at 602 N Madison St in Rockford, IL on Wednesday June 13th. Admission is $10; advanced tickets get reserved seating. Tickets at Mary's place or through Crossroads Blues Society. Call 779-537-4006 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info on either show.
The Blues Kids Foundation - Chicago, IL
The Blues Kids Foundation presents Fernando Jones’ Annual Blues Camp. This fun-filled experience awards scholarships to over 120 Blues Kids (ages 12 to 18), affording them a “priceless” fun-filled experience. They will learn and perform America’s root music in a fully funded, weeklong program with like minded others under the tutelage of national and international instructors. Blues Camp is in residence at: Columbia College Chicago, Huston-Tillotson University (Austin, TX) and the Fender Center (Corona, CA). This series is designed for America’s youth and educators. To be a sponsor call us at 312-369-3229.
AUDITION DATES & CITIES
Saturday, April 21, 2012 10am - noon, Columbia College Music Center, 1014 S, Michigan Chicago, IL
Saturday, May 12, 2012 10am - noon, The Fender Center, Corona, CA
Saturday, May 26 Time TBA at Maria Maria's, Austin, TX
CAMP DATES & CITIES
July 15 - 21 / Columbia College, Chicago, IL
June 17 - 23 / Fender Center, Corona, CA
June 13 - 16 / Huston-Tillotson University, Austin, TX
The Ventura County Blues Society - Ventura County, CA
The Ventura County (Calif) Blues Society has their weekly "BluesJam" series at The Tavern in Ventura every Wednesday. The Ventura County Blues Society's Sunday Blues Matinee Concert Series kicks off Sunday, July 8 with Chris Cain, Tommy Marsh and Bad Dog, and Kelly's Lot, at the High Street Arts Center, in Moorpark, Calif. Info: http://www.venturacountybluessociety.org/.
Prairie Crossroads Blues Society – Champaign-Urbana, IL
Prairie Crossroads Blues Society shows: Friday, June 1, 1st Friday Blues, Tee Dee Young, WEFT and Memphis on Main, Champaign. For more info: http://prairiecrossroadsblues.org.
The West Virginia Blues Society - Charleston, W.V.
The Charlie West Blues Festival is a FREE event, held on May 18,19 & 20, 2012 on the beautiful banks of the Kanawha River in Charleston, WVa .A tribute to our military, an opportunity to show patriotism and loving support for our troops and their families. The Charlie West Blues Fest is produced by the West Virginia Blues Society.
This years lineup includes Kenny Wayne Shepherd, on Saturday, brought to you by Charleston CVB, Ruthie Foster, Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers, Johnny Rawls, Fiona Boyes, Slim Fatz,Jill West & The Blues Attack,Six Kinds of Crazy,Mel Melton & The Wicked Mojos, Mahajibee,Dennis McClung Blues Band,Ms. Freddye,The Carpenter Ants,Diddly Squatt, Lascivious Deacons and the Shaune Booker Band. Our second stage will feature the best in local and regional music for your enjoyment. After Jams to be held at the Sound Factory on Friday and Saturday. Music starts at 6 o'clock on Friday and runs to 11 pm. Saturday will be noon to 11 pm and Sunday is 1 pm to 9 pm. More details can be found at, www.charliewestbluesfest.com For more info contact Jack L. Rice, West Virginia Blues Society, 304-389-1439, Bkravenhawk@hotmail.com or visit www.wvbluessociety.org
The Diamond State Blues Society - Middletown , Delaware
The 1st St. Georges Blues Fest sponsored by The Diamond State Blues Society is Saturday, June 16th, 2012, Noon to 8pm rain or shine, on the grounds of The Commodore Center, 1701 N. DuPont Hwy., St. Georges, Delaware. Featured are Garry Cogdell & the Complainers; lower case blues with special guest Johnny Neel; Dave Fields, Brandon Santini & his Band; J.P. Soars & the Red Hots; and headlining is The Bernard Allison Group. Details and links to tickets at www.DiamondStateBlues.com.
Mississippi Valley Blues Society - Davenport, IA
The Mississippi Valley Blues Festival in Davenport, Iowa is June 29th & 30th, and July1st. Scheduled performers include Mathew Curry and The Fury, Earnest ‘’Guitar’’ Roy, Sugar Ray and the Bluetones, Liz Mandeville and Donna Herula, Kenny Neal and Super Chikan Johnson on June 29th, Terry Quiett, Bryce Janey, Ray Fuller and the Blues Rockers, Doug MacLeod, Preston Shannon, Ernest Dawkins Quartet, Guitar Shorty, Moreland and Arbuckle, Coco Montoya and Kelley Hunt on June 30th. Lady Bianca, Paul Geremia, Johnny Rawls, Trampled Under Foot and the Brooks Family Blues Dynasty featuring Lonnie Brooks, Ronnie Baker Brooks and Wayne Baker Brooks, plus Bobby Rush with “The Double Rush Revue” on Sunday July 1st. http://www.mvbs.org
River City Blues Society- Pekin, IL
River City Blues Society presents: Bringing The Blues To You with the following shows at Goodfellas 1414 N. 8th St, Pekin, Illinois - Matthew Curry & the Fury, Friday May 25th 7:30 pm – 11:00 pm. Admission for these shows is $5.00 non-members $3.00 members. A special show featuring the 2011 International Blues Challenge winner Lionel Young Band with opening act The Governor is Friday, June 22 From 7:00 pm – 11:00 pm Admission: $5.00 For more info visit: www.rivercityblues.com or call 309-648-8510
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 8:00pm $3 cover.May 21 – Rev. Raven & the Chain Smokin’ Alterboys, May 28 – Lionel Young Band, Jun 4 – Big Jeff Chapman Blues Band , Jun 11 – Deb Callahan, Jun 18 – Sugar Ray & The Bluetones Jun 25 – TBA. Other ICBC sponsored events at the K of C Hall, Casey’s Pub, 2200 Meadowbrook Rd., Springfield, IL from 7:30pm - Midnight - May 12 – Eddie Turner Band, , - Jun 30 – Matt Hill . icbluesclub.org
The Friends Of The Blues - Watseka, IL
Friends of the Blues present 2012 shows:
Tues, June 19, Sugar Ray Norcia & Bluetones, 7 pm, Kankakee Valley Boat Club
Tues, June 26, Tom Holland & Shuffle Kings, 7 pm, Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmen’s Club
July – Sugarcane Collins - details TBA
July - Dave Riley – details TBA
Tues, July 24, Laurie Morvan Band, 7 pm, Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmen’s Club
Wed, August 22, Smokin’ Joe Kubek w/ Bnois King, 7 pm, Kankakee Valley Boat Club
Thur, Sept 6, Ivas John Band, 7 pm, venue TBA
Tues, Sept 18, Smilin’ Bobby, 7 pm, venue TBA
Thursday, Oct 18, Morry Sochat & The Special 20s, 7 pm, TBA
Featured Blues Review 5 of 6
Mark Easton – Grind
Plastic Donut Records 2012
10 tracks – 42.22 minutes
Mark Easton is an Australian bluesman who has released live albums in the past but for this project he played all instruments. The album has six original songs and four covers. Opening track “Moving On” features Mark’s gruff vocals over an insistent riff on steel guitar, drums that bring to mind North Mississippi and some nice guitar embellishments. “My Baby Gets What She Wants” is more aggressive, Mark’s vocals taking on a threatening tone which finds a match in the guitars, both slide and electric double tracked together. “April Morning” is an acoustic track which makes a good contrast with the preceding songs.
Covers of “Evil Woman” (Canned Heat) and “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” (Sonny Boy Williamson) follow but I’m afraid that neither worked well for me. In the first song there are a variety of guitars, one of which is a wah-wah effect that did not seem to fit well; the second is one of those ‘standard’ blues songs that we hear all too often and this version adds nothing new. Mark’s harmonica opens proceedings over a slowed down rhythm and a vocal that ends up being more creepy than lustful. Returning to his own material “Monkey” is an amusing slide-driven piece about evolution and “How Do You Sleep At Night?” a brooding tune in which the singer is clearly obsessed by his woman. The final original is entitled “Beach Bumming” but there is no sign of The Beach Boys here as Mark speaks rather than sings the lyrics over a repetitive riff.
The CD closes with two covers. “Camioux” was a new song to me but my research indicated that it comes from a German duo called Boozoo Bayou who are described as being “noted for their distinct blend of Dub sounds with eclectic rhythms” and this version has some of those features. It is no surprise that Hound Dog Taylor is an influence on Mark’s work so it is fitting that the closing track is a cover of “Let’s Get Funky”. The energetic drumming and frantic slide guitar are very typical of Hound Dog and the track works well.
Playing all the instruments on an album is no mean feat and hats off to Mark Easton for his endeavors here. If you enjoy the blues of artists like RL Burnside and Hound Dog Taylor this could be a discovery for you.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 recently enjoyed the Tampa Bay Blues Festival.
Featured Blues Review 6 of 6
Dan Treanor and Code Blue – Bad Neighborhood
Another band emerging on the scene wishing to stake out their territory as certifiable blues-rockers is Dan Treanor’s Code Blue. With the release of Bad Neighborhood, it’s clear to see they want to be taken seriously.
All tunes are written by Treanor and his band mates more than once rise to the occasion of providing an anchor for his keyboard and baritone guitar work. The singing he leaves to Marc Bilker whose raspy whiskey soaked vocals suit the material just fine. Treanor’s main strengths rest in his harmonica playing which are comparable to Blues Traveler’s John Popper. If it’s sometimes over busy, it’s probably trying to keep up with guitarist Steve Mignano.
Dan’s Hohner Harmonica playing is no doubt the centerpiece to the music. It works its magic in the cut “The Garden” weaving counterpoint against Mignano’s guitar lines while guest Konor Hunter-Crump’s fiddle playing is very much integral to the tune’s bubbling groove.
Certainly a wise choice in opening with “On Fire” that is an all-out rocker with Mignano and Treanor leading the cavalry. At best Mignano’s guitar playing is languidly and his liquid notes ring of Sonny Landreth who it seems he is trying to portray especially in “Sea Of Tears” with it ominous sounding New Orleans vibe.
Of course more than likely the band won’t stay in this type of basement too long. The band sounds like they are starting to have fun in “Ole Mama” as if they are making a journey to Jazz Fest for the first time. The echoed and haunting guitar effects are what keep “Mona Lisa Smile” down-home and mysterious with Dan’s harmonica playing finding a voice in a song of melancholy and sorrow.
If you have been waiting for the band to wrestle with the ghost of John Lee Hooker than “Voodoo Blues” will more than float your boat. Using ZZ Top’s La Grange as the obvious model, Mignano works his furious Sonny Landreth notes only he’s throwing some Duane Allman into the mix with Treanor furiously keeping up breathing frenzied harmonica playing.
After a workout like that, this group earns a break to take things a little easier. They cool their engines in “NYC Talking Blues” which lazily lopes only this time Treanor adds a little keyboard playing that is nowhere near the level of his reputed harp histrionics. The absence of a bass player is not sorely missed because at this point the sounds become mesmerizing enough to catapult you to the nirvana you want to reach.
And if you think the playing wasn’t busy enough, than you will get your fill on “Sinkin Down” which is a Bo-Diddley type rocker with Kyle Roberts’ tribal drumming working a jungle rhythm fierce enough to wake up the natives. The happy go lucky shuffle of “Deep Sea Fishing” is the best backdrop to feature Treanor’s shot at becoming a more than adequate keyboardist. And Mignano seems to get his ya-yas out in ripping slide work blending Sonny Landreth and Duane Allman capabilities.
The finest moment is reserved for the final and longest track on the album. Clocking in at a little more than seven minutes, “Low Down Man” is a pulse raising number with Bilker’s shouting vocals akin to a desperate man in need. The tunes races to a crescendo only interrupted with a brief drum solo by Kyle Roberts. Than its back to the hyper drive boogie worthy enough to send a Bonnaroo audience into psychotic delirium.
No new ground is broken on this release. What comes across is a band of musicians who are having fun in the studio and use blues as a springboard for music that grows quickly on you with repeated listening.
ReviewerGary Weeks is a contributing writer. He resides in Marietta, GA.
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