Cover photo by
Marilyn Stringer © 2012MJStringerPhoto.com
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In This Issue
We have the latest in Blues Society news from around the globe. Terry Mullins has our feature interview with JP Soars.
We have six music reviews for you! Rainey Wetnight reviews a new release from Marion James. John Mitchell reviews a new release from The Nighthawks. Steve Jones reviews a new CD from Jon Cleary. Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony reviews a new release from Daddy Long Legs. Rex Bartholomew reviews a new CD from The Michael Packer Blues Band. Mark Thompson reviews a new CD from Curtis Salgado. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!
From The Editor's DeskHey Blues Fans
If you are in the Texas area there is a great fest this weekend put on by our friends at The T-Bone Walker Blues Fest in Linden, TX. Their lineup includes Keb Mo, Lil' Ed and The Blues Imperials, Texas Johnny Brown. Lightnin' Malcom, Buddy Flett and several other great artists. For more info visit their website at http://www.tbonewalkerbluesfest.com or click on their ad below.
Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!
Free Blues Want Ads
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Musician looking for gigs
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Drummer with major label experience who has performed with national acts is available for touring/club dates. Over 20 years of experience on the road. Has recorded CD produced by Michael Hill which was nominated by the IBC for 2011 “Top 5 self-produced album.” Willing to travel. Call Doug 614-220-0932.
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Exciting new Blues act made up of some of the finest veteran players in the southeast seeks full time pro drummer ready to gig. We have booking services in place, excellent original material, and gigs booked into 2013. Based in Tallahassee, Fl area. Please, only pros with equipment, chops, and ready to travel. Please contact: email@example.com 229-502-4210 or firstname.lastname@example.org 850-559-9456 http://www.reverbnation.com/csholt
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Featured Blues Interview - JP Soars
Most musicians will tell you that at one point early in their life, they were struck with a defining moment, one that inspired them to channel all their time and energies into playing music for a living.
But for Florida bluesman JP Soars, he had not one, but two, such epiphanies.
And to say they were at opposite ends of the spectrum would be a huge understatement.
You see, JP’s jolts came from hearing Metallica for the first time, and then seeing and meeting B.B. King.
Born and raised in the remote locale of Cedarville, Arkansas (Population 1,394), Soars, who had started playing guitar at age 11, moved to West Palm Beach, Florida (Population 99,919) in 1985, at the age of 16.
In addition to the culture shock socially, Soar’s ears received another kind of shock when he was turned on to the then still embryonic sounds of the future masters of thrash metal from the Bay Area.
“I heard Metallica for the first time and had never heard anything that sounded like that in my life,” he said. “That totally opened up a whole new thing for me.”
That exposure to Metallica helped set Soars on a journey through the world of death metal, including a stint playing guitar for one of the genre’s founding fathers – Malevolent Creation.
But just two short years later, Soars had another one of those ‘ah, ha’ encounters.
“I got to see B.B. King and meet him backstage. So when I was 18, I started to get into the blues and learn how to play them,” he said.
So while traveling the globe, churning out head-banging tunes like “Nocturnal Overlord” Soars was also working on songs like “Go Back to your Used to be” in his spare time.
And in the end, the power of the blues was just too much for Soars to overcome, and he traded in his B.C. Rich for a cigarbox guitar, choosing the blues over metal.
“Well, I knew that I could be 75 years old and play the blues, but I couldn’t see myself being 75 playing metal,” he said. “In 2005, I quit the metal band that I was in – not because I didn’t like the music, but because I was maturing and my tastes in music were changing. In the metal scene, I noticed that I was getting older, but the demographics of the audience were getting younger. The gap was getting wider. And hopefully, you’re just not as pissed off at 40 as you were when you were 18.”
Not wasting any time since fully emerging himself in the deep end of the blues, Soars released Back of My Mind in 2008, followed by More Bees with Honey (Soars High Production) from last year.
The well-received More Bees (the infectious “Doggin’” was selected as Song of the Year on the nationally-syndicated Little Steven’s Underground Garage radio program) has certainly kept Soars and his Red Hots (drummer Chris Peet and bass player Don Gottleib) at a breakneck pace, burning up the road from coast to coast, in support of the album.
“This has been an extremely-busy year so far. It’s been great,” he said. “We’ve done a couple of tours with Southern Hospitality and done some stuff with Jimmy Thackery and we got picked up by Piedmont Talent and I’ve been working on some new songs, so things are going really well. Just great.”
While he is focused on creating new material for the follow-up to More Bees, Soars is planning to head into the studio before that, to do some recording with Southern Hospitality, a project involving himself, Victor Wainright and Damon Fowler.
“Oh man, I’ve known Damon Fowler for about 10 years now and he and I have always connected well, musically. And I’ve known Victor for about three years and it’s the same thing with him. First time I jammed with him, it was an instantaneous connection. Those guys are great players and it’s a lot of fun to play with them. But it’s just really taken off and has a pretty good buzz about it. We played a show in Wheeling, West Virginia, at a festival - it was the first show we ever did and that kind of blossomed into things. We’re trying to have it (the album) done before the Blues Cruise in January. Blind Pig will be putting that out.”
Soars is one of several guitarists in the world of the blues to have ties to the Natural State of Arkansas.
Another is current Eureka Springs’ resident Jimmy Thackery.
“Yeah, Jimmy lives in Arkansas and the first thing I said when I met him was, ‘Hey, you live in my old stomping grounds.’ And we kind of hit it off from that connection,” Soars said. “And he’s helped me out a lot. We try to get together and jam whenever he comes through Florida or when I go back through Arkansas.”
Soars and Thackery also got together and created some serious sparks on the high seas last year, treating the patrons on the Blues Cruise to a set of Razorback-rockin’ blues.
The results can be heard on As Live As It Gets – Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers Featuring JP Soars and the Hydraulic Horns.
“The sound guy on the pool deck recorded the first gig we did – we didn’t even know he was going to record it – and we checked it out and decided that it sounded pretty damn good,” said Soars. “So we decided to put it out and Jimmy and his camp got things together and put it out. It was totally an afterthought, totally unplanned. And that’s one of the beautiful things about it.”
If one didn’t know Soars’ ‘previous life’ as a guitarist of the spine-snapping Malevolent Creation, a listen to More Bees with Honey would do nothing to give that away.
The album is chock full of gritty electric blues, with a healthy dose of Hill Country style added into the mix.
“I love Hill Country blues. The first time I was exposed to that style was through Richard Johnston. And then I got to meet Jessie Mae Hemphill and spend about a week up at her place before she passed away,” said Soars. “That’s where I really started delving into that style. There was a guitar player that lived around there and he showed me the two most important things to her style – tuning and the right-hand picking technique. So when I got my first cigarbox guitar, I had an idea of what to do.”
Not only did Soars know what to do with a cigarbox guitar, he also knew what to put on one – a red Razorback – as evidenced on the cover of More Bees with Honey.
“Boy, let me tell you, you get some flack in certain parts of the country – like Alabama and Texas – for having that red hog on there,” laughed Soars.
Soars’ initial cigarbox was hand-crafted by one of the innovators in the field – Johnny Lowebow.
“The second time I went to the IBC (in Memphis), I saw him (Lowebow) and he was doing a workshop on cigarbox guitars. And I knew that he had built some of the cigarboxes that Richard Johnston used,” Soars said. “So I went and checked out the workshop and bought one of Lowebow’s cigarbox guitars. The only one I could afford was the two-string model. He had some really elaborate, nice ones, but I went for one that I could afford for $200.”
At about that same time, Soars’ brother, who is a carpenter by trade, had also built a guitar from scratch.
“It was the first one he had ever tried to make and it turned out really nice. The thing plays great. But anyway, I showed him the cigarbox I bought and he got excited and said, ‘Let’s try to build one of those things,’” Soars said. “The one that I play is the first one that we built. And now, we make them and I sell them, too. (at www.jpsoars.com). I get my brother to put them together and then I put the pickups in and tuning pegs on and stuff like that.”
Music, guitars and family have always been crucial elements of JP Soars’ life.
His dad, who is also a carpenter, introduced young to JP to the wonders of creating music with his own two hands.
“My dad played guitar, so I grew up with music around the house and I jammed with his buddies all the time,” he said. “And I had uncles that were into music and played, too. So I’ve always been around music. I always associated those times with happy time, good times. There was no arguing going on, there was no madness going on when we were playing music (as a family). Really peaceful times.”
Times these days have certainly been good for Soars and the Red Hots, with all the road miles they’ve logged over the course of the past couple of years resulting in an ever-building corps of fans.
“I’m farther along now than I would have hoped to have been five years ago. We’re an international touring act now, we get played on XM Bluesville … it’s (his career) definitely further along now than I anticipated it would be,” he said. “But it’s not near the point I would like it to be. I always want to strive to move forward and move ahead. I want to build on things.”
There have been plenty of rock (and even some metal) acts that have dabbled in the blues over the years. Unfortunately, however, a lot of them sound just like rock-and-rollers trying to play an art form they’re not entirely comfortable, or schooled in.
But apparently, at the core of JP Soars, there lies the soul of a bluesman - because his take on the blues is not paint-by-number, nor is it forced and un-natural.
“When I first started playing the blues, I would try to not let that (his background in metal) play into it at all. I didn’t want to sound like some metal guy trying to play the blues,” he said. “I wouldn’t let that vibe come into play at all. I tried to be as traditional as I could be.”
But gradually, over time, Soars just decided to let the music flow out of him the way it wanted to come out, with no restrictions or chains holding it back.
“Well, on some of my own gigs (early on), I started to throw a little of that energy, that vibe into it. And I noticed that people would respond to it,” he said. “So there was a point that I finally said, ‘You know what? I’m just going to play what I feel. If it feels good to me, chances are it’s going to translate to the audience and they’re going to feel it.’ So lately I’ve learned not to be so worried about appeasing the traditional side of things so much.”
Even though he’s been ‘120-percent’ into playing the blues since 2005, Soars took every available opportunity to lay down some gut-bucket tunes when he could find time, long before that.
“Since 1997 or so, I’ve been playing in blues bands whenever I could. I’d come home from a metal tour and two days later, I’d be going to do a blues gig,” he said. “Or I’d get done practicing with the metal band and go, ‘Gotta run guys, got a blues gig to do.’ So I’d been doing both for a long time. But finally when I quit the band, I decided to put everything I had into the blues. I knew if I wanted to have any kind of success with it, I had to put 120-percent into it. And that’s what I try to do. I want longevity. I want to do this forever.”
And if the public’s reaction on More Bees with Honey is any indication, the blues-loving masses would seem to be happy with the idea of Soars hanging around for a long time.
“I feel very fortunate and I don’t take it for granted for a minute,” he said. “I feel blessed and privileged that I get to do this and that people would want to come and pay something to hear me play. It’s really just a privilege and an honor.”
Visit JP's website at http://www.jpsoars.com/
Photos by Marilyn Stringer © 2012 MJStringerPhoto.com
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 Staples 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, Miss., eating copious amounts of barbecued delicacies while listening to the wonderful sounds of the blues.
Featured Blues Review 1 of 6
Marion James - Northside Soul
15 songs; 59:04 minutes
Styles: Gospel-Influenced Blues and Soul
To “testify,” whether in court, church, or the presence of company, means to proclaim that something is true. On “Northside Soul,” to be released on June 26th of this year, North Nashville veteran Marion James testifies that gospel-influenced blues and soul survive with a vengeance in the 21st century! Marion has been making records since 1966 when her debut single, “That’s My Man,” made the top ten on the Billboard charts. After a long hiatus in the 1980s, she returned in the early ‘90s with the southern-soul-drenched “Marion James and the Hypnotics.” “Northside Soul” was recorded over five days at Montrose Recording on the “Northside” of Richmond. Here are three out of fifteen tracks (seven originals and eight covers) that proclaim Marion James’ clear vocal and songwriting prowess:
Track 01: “I Fell”--Rarely have piano and guitar combined to evoke such a smoothly-powerful atmosphere as on the first selection of this album! Its theme is familiar: “I fell flat on my face when I fell for you!” However, the fresh and gritty realism of “I Fell” infuse new life into this tale of regret. It’s the perfect song for a relaxing evening at a nightclub, or taking your partner for a spin around the dance floor at home.
Track 03: “Corrupted World”--Co-written by Marion James and R. Fleming, listeners can imagine soft rain falling along with the mournful piano intro. This song is beautiful yet insidious, because its lyrics cut like a knife: “Parents don’t take time to discipline their children. Now we’ve got little gangs buying guns and killing…This world is corrupted, and we’d better give a damn.” The pervasive choral refrain of “It’s so corrupted!” throughout this five-minute polemic drums its moral into the ears and minds of blues fans everywhere. “Corrupted World” is simultaneously hot as a chili pepper and cold as ice.
Track 07: “Blues Recipe”--With tongue firmly in cheek, Marion James issues a sly rebuke to all of her rival musicians: “Everybody want to sing and play the blues. I’m not going to worry about you wannabes. Competition doesn’t bother me--I’ve got the blues recipe. A wannabe is everywhere; the real deal catches hell getting there….” Not only is this the most traditional blues number on this album, but also the best.
One might marvel at how Marion James’ vocals can be so understated yet so magnificent at the same time. Perhaps her secret lies in the fact that she doesn’t have to belt out the lyrics to her songs in order for them all to pack a wallop. Sit back, relax, and enjoy. From beginning to end, “Northside Soul” testifies that classic blues and soul never go out of style!
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.
Featured Blues Review 2 of 6
The Nighthawks – Damn Good Time
12 tracks; 42.10 minutes
As I set out to listen to the new Nighthawks CD it occurred to me that I have never actually heard one of their records before, so I approached this CD much as I would a debutant band. However, the band has been around since the early 70s and Jimmy Thackery is a well-known former member. Only harp player Mark Wenner remains from the original incarnation though guitarist Paul Bell and bassist Johnny Castle have both put in more than a decade. The newcomer is drummer Mark Stutso who, by circular coincidence, used to drum for… Jimmy Thackery! All of the guys sing and all do a good job. The material is a mixture of classics revisited and originals from within the band and from friends. Mark Stutso contributes four songs, three in collaboration with Norman Nardini. His fourth credit is on a tune composed with bassist Johnny Castle and Aaron Moreland; Castle also contributes one tune himself. Covers include songs made famous by Elvis, Canned Heat and Nat King Cole. This is the band’s first release on Severn and was recorded at the label’s HQ in Annapolis, MD, co-produced by Severn boss David Earl.
Mark Wenner’s harp is the main featured instrument and the template is set out straight away on the opener “Too Much” which Elvis once sang. A driving rhythm and highlight harp are enhanced by strong vocal harmonies. “Who You’re Workin’ For” comes from Billy Price and Glenn Pavone and is an up-tempo rocker with more strong harp. Title track “Damn Good Time” is the collaboration with Aaron Moreland and it is a mid-paced tune with a touch of soul in the arrangement. Johnny Castle’s “Bring Your Sister” brings in a touch of country rock on a really catchy foot-tapper with a twangy guitar solo from Paul Bell.
“Send For Me”, a 1957 hit for Nat King Cole, provides a slow, late night feel with nice guitar embellishments and gentle harp. “Minimum Wage” is the first of three Mark Stutso/Norman Nardini songs, mid-paced with more strong harp and harmonies. “Georgia Slop” is a well-known Jimmy McCracklin tune and has been covered many times and is always fun to hear with the tales of Peg Leg Lee’s bar where the dance is apparently demonstrated! “Night Work” reminded me a lot of Jimmy Thackery in terms of the vocal and guitar style.
Wilbert Harrison’s “Let’s Work Together” is a gem of a song, probably best known from Canned Heat’s version but has also been covered by a host of artists including Bryan Ferry and Roscoe Shelton/Earl Gaines (my personal favorite). The Nighthawks play it pretty straight and their harmonies are an asset on the familiar chorus. Charles E Calhoun’s “Smack Dab In The Middle” may be familiar from versions by Ry Cooder or Roomful Of Blues. I felt that this was one that did not work so well for The Nighthawks, as its stop/start rhythms are more suited to a jump blues or jazz approach. The album closes on two more Stutso/Nardini compositions. “Down To My Last Million Tears” has a strong vocal (I presume Stutso) and is probably as close to a ballad as we get on this album though it is probably better described as a slow rock and roll piece. “Heartbreak Shake” is a good album closer, plenty of twanging guitar, an urgent drum pattern and a catchy chorus.
So, my first Nighthawks experience was a good one. There is variety of pace here though with just the basic quartet there is not as much variety of sound as you might get if there were a wider range of instruments. I imagine that fans of the band will lap up this new effort and their debut on the LRBC next fall should win them some more fans for their feel-good roadhouse style of music.
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 enjoyed the Tampa Bay Blues Festival in April.
Featured Blues Review 3 of 6
Jon Cleary -Occapella!
I have always looked at Allen Toussaint as the epitome of New Orleans music. His songs run the gamut of fun and lively to deep and meaningful. He embraces jazz and blues and Cajun styles into an art form unique to his city and in a truly elegant style. Jon Cleary, an English transplant to the Crescent City for the past three decades, has released an album of Toussaint's music, ranging from the familiar to the more obscure and yet still meaningful stuff Toussaint has produced. His delivery and spin are uniquely his own; Cleary plays all instruments on the CD except on the first track. He also sings on each track, with the help of some of NOLA's finest. Cleary is no slouch himself, this being his sixth solo CD and having sat in with many a great musician over the years. His songwriting, piano work and vocals are superb, yet here he takes on a complete album of Toussaint covers, not as a tribute to Toussaint necessarily, but perhaps as a means to come home to his adopted place of residence in the Big Easy. He grew up a fan of Toussaint's, moved to New Orleans, and the rest is history. Cleary has himself become a fixture in the Louisiana Gulf Coast music scene.
I am not entirely sure as where to start, so let's discuss the opening track where Cleary has some "help". Dr John and Bonnie Raitt join Cleary in the vocals of "Let's Get Low Down" and Dr John even adds his guitar to the mix. Members of the Philthy Phew lay down the bottom end for this cut (James Singleton on bass and Terence Higgins on drums) and it is quite the auspicious beginning to an album by one master of New Orleans sound doing another masters' tunes. Cleary's piano is gusty and cool as are the vocals by all involved. Jon, Raitt and Dr. John get down together in a threesome of soulful, Cajun vocal charms. What a great way to start off the CD! The title track follows and it it gives us a better idea of the singular Cleay approach, where he adds all instrumentation but gets some great backing vocals. "Poor Boy Gotta Move" continues in a reggae-iffied Cajun style and then Walter Wolfman Washington joins Cleary on a stirring version of "Everything I Do Gonh Be Funky". It certainly, certainly is! He takes the song that is Lee Dorsey's and Cleary gives us a great take on it.
The album is filled with the fun and unique like "Popcorn Pop Pop" to more serious topics like "Viva La Money" This is funk and soul and oh so well done music top to bottom. If you are a Cleary fan, you will enjoy him playing around in the immortal world of Toussaint's music. If your are a Toussaint fan you will love how Cleary spins these tunes. If you are a fan of sounds from Nawlins you will also love this. If you are one of the above or new to this kind of music, it will serve to show what is going on and has been going on the that area for the past few decades; it would be a great primer to begin to survey all that New Orleans has to offer. I really enjoyed this CD and think that if your heart still beats that you will, too!
Reviewer Steve Jones is president 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 since 1996, he writes for and publishes the bi-monthly newsletter for Crossroads, chairs their music festival and work with their Blues In The Schools program. He resides in Byron, IL.
Featured Blues Review 4 of 6
Daddy Long Legs - Liars, Cheats & Scoundrels
Busted Flat Records
Out of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada comes a crunching, powerful force driven by punk-like energy in the form of Daddy Long Legs. A guitar, harmonica, bass and drums outfit without any outside help creates a joyful and intent noise. Only three songs of all originals qualify as blues. The rest is mostly of the rough, riff-driven variety. Something like the love-child of The Fabulous Thunderbirds and Black Sabbath. The guitar and harmonica throw the riffs back and forth. Guitarist-vocalist Mike Elliot has the right shop-worn, gravelly voice for the task at hand, and his guitar assault can be deadly. Junior Mallick’s harmonica work can be bluesy and/or rock-riff driven. Add a heavy drummer and a solid bass player and you’re in for a taste of the kind of rock music that restarts your heart and shoots the wax out of your ear canals. This should make for great cruising music.
The boys get right down to business with “Almost Crazy”. You just have to love a lyric like-“The voices in my head say that I’m doing just fine”. The harmonica along with guitar drives the monster riff home. For a curveball, the next song up is the hyped-up blues shuffle that is “Never Home”, were Junior gets the opportunity to tear off some wild harp riffs, followed by super-charged guitar. The vocals throughout the record are gritty and forceful, but highly intelligible, unlike heavy metal. “Better Men” “ups” the level on the “crunch-rock-o-meter”. The slow harmonica fueled blues of “What You Need” comments on life’s necessities-“No heart-shaped pool with a swim-in tiki bar”. A cut-to-the-quick blues-rock guitar solo closes it out. The tough and meaty riff of “Built To Last” will burn itself into the inner reaches of your brain. “Scream And Cry” offers more in a similar vein. The walloping drumming of Jeff Wagner propels the loping “Sleepwalker”. “There’s no point being good, if you’re the only one” is the sentiment expressed in “Have A Little Fun”. They even have a bit of a protest song railing against media manipulation and politics in “Had Enough”. The last “song” is the hidden track called “Kevin Doyle”, that is more of a brief rant of his name and “always a price to pay” over pounding drums, bass and screeching guitar. Must be an inside joke.
Needless to say the guys get the job done as a tight rockin’ unit. It’s all there-finely honed chops, heavy chords, top notch production values, the occasional humorous lyric and appropriately rough hewn vocals. If this wondrous concoction doesn’t spring clean your speakers, nothing will. If this band doesn’t achieve a prominent place among today’s rockers there is something drastically wrong with the cosmic equation!
Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony hails from the New Jersey Delta.
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Long Island Blues Society - Centereach, NY
The Long Island Blues Society will be hosting the following events:
7/17/12 Randy Oxford Band w/Special Guest Tommy Keys at 7PM Bobbique in Patchogue NY.
Free to LIBS Members, all others $10.
7/18/12 IBC Symposium & with LIBS General Membership Meeting. Discussion on going to Memphis as a competitor, fan & supporter. What to expect & what is expected of you. Location TBA.
Free to all.
8/12/12 Tas Cru. Frank Celenza opening, at 2PM Bobbique in Patchogue NY. LIBS Members $8, all others $10.
9/16/12 Long Island Blues Talent Competition (LIBTC) to select a representative for IBC. $10 donation to help defray winners expenses in Memphis. Location TBA. Now accepting applications for Band, Solo/Duo categories. Requirements on website www.liblues.org
Topeka Blues Society- Topeka, KS
The Topeka Blues Society presents the 3rd Annual Spirit of Kansas Blues Festival July 4th at Reynolds Lodge, 3315 SE Tinman Circle on the east side of Lake Shawnee in Topeka, KS. Music is from Noon to 9 p.m. followed by fireworks. Admission is FREE!
Headlining is Royal Southern Brotherhood along with 2012 BMA Best New Artist Debut winner Samantha Fish, Southern Hospitality and Biscuit Miller and the Mix. Also appearing are the Nick Hern Band, the Terry Quiett Band and the Solo Hogs.
There will also be food, arts and crafts and a car show. Bring your lawn chairs, tents and coolers. For more information go to www.topekabluessociety.org or find us on Facebook. Discounted hotel rooms are available at the Topeka Ramada Convention Center. Call (785) 234-5400 and ask for the SOK group rate.
Madison Blues Society - Madison, WI
More than 4,000 Blues fans are expected at the 10th Annual Blues Picnic on Saturday, June 23. There'll be 9 hours of FREE music from noon to 9:00PM!
NOON: Westside Andy & Glenn Davis Duo
1:25PM: Jimmys with Perry Weber
2:45PM: Joe's Blues Kids
3:35PM: Shari Davis and the Hootchy-Kootchy Band
4:55PM: Tate and the 008 Band
6:15PM: Howard "Guitar" Luedtke & Blue Max
7:45PM: Richie Rich and the Chi-town Blues Band
The Blues Kids are back again, part of the MBS "Blues in the Community" program. Everybody loves to hear these kids get up and blow their harps along with Madison Blues Artists. We'll have lots of great food, drinks and beer and don't miss out on the Prize Raffle and the 50-50 Cash Raffle. Get the full story at www.madisonbluessocety.com/picnic12.htm
Dayton Blues Society– Dayton, Ohio
The Dayton Blues Society will be holding our “Road to Memphis” Blues Challenge on July 22nd at Gilly’s Nite Club in downtown Dayton. We are now accepting applications for our Band and Solo/Duo categories. Please go to www.daytonbluessociety.com for complete details.
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.
CAMP DATES & CITIES
July 15 - 21 / Columbia College, Chicago, IL
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 - 2011 International Blues Challenge winner Lionel Young Band with opening act The Governor on 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. JJun 25 – TBA. Other ICBC sponsored events at the K of C Hall, Casey’s Pub, 2200 Meadowbrook Rd., Springfield, IL from 7:30pm - Midnight - Jun 30 – Matt Hill . icbluesclub.org
The Friends Of The Blues - Watseka, IL
Friends of the Blues present 2012 shows:
Tues, June 26, Tom Holland & Shuffle Kings, 7 pm, Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmen’s Club
Thur, July 12, Dave Riley and band (outdoors with opening dinner hour acoustic set by Sugarcane Collins), 7pm, The Longbranch Restaurant, L’Erable IL
Tues, July 17, Sugarcane Collins, 7pm, Kankakee Valley Boat Club
Tues, July 24, Laurie Morvan Band, 7 pm, Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmen’s Club
Thur, August 9, Too Slim and the Taildraggers, 7 pm, Kankakee Valley Boat 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
Thur, Sept 27, Jerry Lee & Juju Kings, 7 pm, venue TBA
Thursday, Oct 18, Morry Sochat & The Special 20s, 7 pm, TBA
Featured Blues Review 5 of 6
Michael Packer Blues Band – Live at the Turning Point
7 tracks / 42:13
I enjoy live albums for a few reasons: they have more character than studio albums, I get a better idea of what a band is really capable of, and they often offer up the greatest hits from an artist’s catalog. But I also view live albums with skepticism because they are usually made up of tracks drawn from an entire tour (or tours) so that the artist can hide any warts that may show up. Also, they are usually over-produced to the point that many of these albums become more of a sound engineering exercise than a performance.
This is what makes the Michael Packer Blues Band’s Live at the Turning Point a little more special. I cannot say for sure, but it sure sounds like this music was all taken from one evening. I had to search around a bit to figure out what the Turning Point is, and I believe it is the Turning Point Café in Piermont, New York. This is a great music club that is located a little north of The City, and has been host to many great performers, including Mr. Packer.
Michael Packer is a singer, guitarist and songwriter who was born in New York City in 1950. His music career kicked off with a bang after his group “Papa Nebo” was signed to Atlantic Records in 1969 by none other than Ahmet Ertegun. After tasting success with his project “Free Beer”, he battled his inner demons, which resulted in: 1. Dropping out of the music business. 2. Ending up on the streets. 3. Doing a year in Riker’s Island for armed robbery. He has been clean and sober for almost two decades now, and is back into the blues. Talk about the blues – he should write a book about them. I’d buy it!
Live at the Turning Point begins with an original song, “Mr. Packer”, and the tone is set for the rest of the album. Though he is from New York, Michael has a big chunk of Chicago blues in his heart and you can hear it in his growly voice and Rob Paparozzi’s sweet harmonica work. King Bear (great nickname, BTW) aggressively nails the bass line over Guy Powell’s drums. This is an uptempo number that shows that the Michael Packer Blues Band plays well together while having some seriously good times.
After listening to this first track, it struck me that this album is surprisingly well-recorded. This is a small venue, and I would expect tons of extra noise coming through the microphones, both from the audience and everybody on stage. But, the instruments and vocals came through as clear as a bell, even Ed Jackson’s bongos. They must have used a metric ton of microphones, throttled the band way back on their volume, or processed the heck out of it after the fact. Or maybe they just got lucky. Regardless of their methods, it worked out well, and listening to this album is an enjoyable experience. My only gripe would be that four of the seven tracks are covers, but they are all great songs.
Next up on the CD is a cover of “Can’t You See”, the 1973 Marshall Tucker Band hit that was written by the late Toy Caldwell. This track provides a temporary change in the band line-up, with David Maxwell on piano, Ed Snozzo on drums and the genius Felix Cabrera on harmonica. Felix has a great feel for the harmonica, and really classes up the joint wherever he plays. There is some really smooth guitar work on this song, and as it is not credited on the liner notes I figure it must be Michael Packer. It would have been nice to hear a little more back and forth between Cabrera and Packer on this one.
Chuck Berry’s “No Money Down” is also on Live at the Turning Point, with Mr. Paparozzi back on the harp, and Michael on the piano. You can never go wrong with a Chuck Berry cover, and having Powell and King Bear building the foundation guarantees a solid blues jam. You can hear the joy and fun in Michael Packer’s voice, which keeps this track real and makes me want to catch their live show next time I am in the tri-state area.
Blues legend Honeyboy Edwards makes a guest appearance on “61 Highway”, the Mississippi Fred McDowell tune. The song title refers to The Blues Highway which runs from New Orleans to Minnesota, and is probably a reference to Clarksdale, Mississippi at the junction of U.S. 61 and U.S. 49, where Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil. Anyway, Edwards voice and guitar define the blues, and he does a bang-up job on this track which is, unfortunately, the shortest track on the album.
The album finishes strongly with the fastest version of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Killing Floor” that I have ever heard. This nine minute track gives everybody a chance in the spotlight, and the opportunity to say goodbye before the album ends. By the way, I appreciate the shout-outs so I know who is playing which parts.
This is a fun album! If you want a feel for who the Michael Packer Blues band is and what they are all about, giving this a listen is the best way to find out.Reviewer Rex Bartholomew is a Los Angeles-based writer and musician; his blog can be found at rexbass.blogspot.com.
Featured Blues Review 6 of 6
Curtis Salgado - Soul Shot
There are few singers who who have had a career that approaches the scope of Curtis Salgado's illustrious track record. As the front man for his band, the Nighthawks, he was the toast of the music scene in the Northwest in the early part of the '70s. Curtis then teamed up with Robert Cray in a powerhouse aggregation that impressed actor John Belushi, who based his Blues Brothers act on everything he learned from Salgado about blues music. Later Salgado spent two years with Roomful of Blues before he returned to Eugene, OR, where he once again dominate the clubs with his band, the Stilettos. Tours with Santana and Steve Miller kept Salgado's name in the lights along with a series of excellent recordings under his name.
Several major health issues that included a liver transplant severely curtailed Salgado's career. Once he had regained his health, he celebrated his return in 2008 with the exceptional album Clean Getaway. Perhaps the best indicator of Salgado's skill as a singer is his nomination over the last four years for the Blues Music award for Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year, which he won in 2010 and this year.
His first release on Alligator Records is a career-defining moment that leaves no doubt that Salgado is a singer extraordinaire. With expert backing by the Phantom Blues Band – Tony Braunagel on drums, Johnny Lee Schell on guitars, Mike Finnigan on organ, Larry Fulcher on bass and Jim Pugh on piano – Salgado covers the gamut of human emotion, ranging from the depths of despair to the passionate embrace of love.
“What You Gonna Do?” is bursting with energy, making it a perfect start to the program. From there, you get one highlight after another. Slagado's voice soars on the opening of “Let Me Make Love to You” and then he utilizes his vocal strength to make his desires known. The horns – Joe Sublett on sax and Darrell Leonard on trumpet- push Salgado on George Clinton's funky “Gettin' To Know You”. Another cover, Johnny Watson's “Strung Out”, is a ballad with Salgado eloquently expressing the emotions of a man deep in the throes of love with Franck Goldwasser on lead guitar.
Salgado had a hand in writing “Love Comfort Zone”, which has another great horn chart that underscores Salgado's stirring vocal. On “Nobody But You”, he emphatically testifies about the strength gained from the love of a woman on a track written by Charlie Hodges that harks back to the glory days of Hi Records. “He Played His Harmonica” establishes a deep groove, giving the leader the leader an opportunity to show that “..he was as bad as Al Capone, on the Windy City saxophone.” Salgado fares well on Otis Redding's “Love Man” before demonstrating the full extent of his vocal range on “Baby, Let Me Take You in My Arms.” Salgado adds some upper register harp tones over the darker tone of another original, “She Didn't Cut Me Loose”, with producer Marlon McLain on guitar.
The closing number, “A Woman or the Blues”,burns with gospel intensity as Salgado fervently outlines the choice a that a man sometimes faces. He gets outstanding help from Margaret Linn, LaRhonda Steele and Sean Howard on backing vocals. It is a fitting close to what is undoubtedly the crowning achievement to date in Salgado's career to date. His immaculate phrasing and breathtaking tone plus the superb supporting cast make this a not-to-be missed disc – highly recommended!
Reviewer Mark Thompson retired after twelve years as president of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL. and moved to Florida. He has been listening to music of all kinds for over fifty years. Favorite musicians include Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Magic Slim, Magic Sam, Charles Mingus and Count Basie.
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