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Saturday, August 25, 2007

What A Friday Night: The Saga Of The Grand Piano Bistro

I got into Des Moines early enough to check out the nightlife, and I wanted to see the new hot spot, The Grand Piano Bistro! I decided to ditch my bluesman attire for more urban professional clothes, a very nice, (and I mean Very Nice) BVU Athletics polo shirt, and matching BV cap! I must say that my disguise was very appropriate for this new hang out of the late 20s early 40s, I am too old for the meat market, but I want to been seen at location!! However, the door man must have sensed that I was not one of the trendy types when I was informed that he needed five dollars, an ID, and I couldn't go in because it was crowded!! Hmmmmmmmmmmm, what is this New York???? Studio 57???? However, your intrepid reporter was undaunted and I decided to watch the show from the large picture window outside the bar! I am pleased to report that I am glad I saved my five dollars. A couple of hammy piano players acting out for a bunch of drunken drinking like I'm 20, but I am really 40 crowd! I think the highlight of the show (or in this case lowlight) was when they did a dueling piano version of American Pie WITH AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION!! (really only Don McClain can get away with performing that song and making it work, any one else is just a parody) Needless to say I decided to move on to greener pastures and worked my way west to the legendary Blues On Grand.

I arrived at Blues On Grand in time to see former Australian now living in Michigan Harp player Harper. I don't know his last name, he goes by Harper, but his name is well deserved. This guy makes some of the strangest noises on that harp that I have heard, and I have had the pleasure of playing with some of the best in Kansas City. They didn't do some of the stuff this guy does. It is hard to explain. I almost think that he was humming and blowing at the same time to create these weird kind of glissando that bend way to smooth for a harp player. It is possible that it is something he learned from playing the indigenous instrument from Australia pictured above. He played a song with that and it was a very cool low sounding instrument that had some weird enharmonic going on. It is very much like the intro to the Globe Tracker series on Travel TV, or IPTV. Harper also can sing. He can sing in a straight blues style, but also can sing in a bass register, while his guitarist sing tenor that has a jazzy feel like the old Climax Blues Band. So it was a great night regardless of its start, and the BOG delivered as usual. If you want good music without the trendy drunks go get the blues at the BOG.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Another Long Weekend

Yup another long weekend planned. I need some time to decompress. The first week of school can be stressful. I may post something over the weekend if I can get access. Otherwise see ya on Monday.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Albert King and Stevie Ray Vaughn: Stormy Monday

Albert and Stevie jamming on the old standard.

Eric Clapton: Kindhearted Woman

An old Robert Johnson song revamped and modernized for public consumption. Still has heart though and thats what counts.

Central Iowa Solo and Duo Contest

Cibs is on a roll today Two press releases!!! This is the Solo Duo Contest. And yes, the Raccoon River Blues Boy was suppose to be me and Big Daddy Dennis Cain, but unfortunately I had to be at a school open house on that night, so Dennis went solo and moved on to the final!!!! Good luck Big Daddy!

Press Release-2007 Iowa Blues Challenge-Solo/Duo Acts Semi-Finals

Congratulations to the winners of the semi-final rounds of the 2007 Iowa Blues Solo/Duo Challenge. The advancing bands from rounds held in Des Moines and in Davenport will play in this order at the finals:

Boris & Tony

Raccoon River Blues Boy

This & That

Willie McKnight & Alan Smith

The finals will be held on Sept. 2nd, starting at 3:00 PM with 30 minute sets at Blues On Grand located at 15th & Grand in Des Moines.

The 2007 Iowa Blues Challenge has been proudly sponsored by Central Iowa Blues Society, Mississippi Blues Society, Lizard Creek Blues Society, Budweiser and Citadel Broadcasting/94.9KGGO & 98.3WOW

Check out for more information!

Gateway Blues Fest

Central Iowa Blues society has released a press release in regards to the Gateway Blues Fest September 2nd. Should be a hot time in the capitol city.






Located between Grand and Locust at 15th Street in Des Moines, IA

Matt Woods & the Thunderbolts 3:00-3:45

2007 Iowa Blues Challenge Winners

Lil’ Brian & the Zydeco Travelers 4:00-5:30

Jimmy Thackery & the Drivers 6:00-7:30 James Cotton 8:00-9:30

Freight Train Frank’s Harmonica Workshop-2:15 PM

All ages----limited to first 24 participants.





3rd Annual 2007 IA Blues Challenge Solo/Duo Finals

at Blues on Grand 3 PM

Jam at Blues on Grand

hosted by the Jeff Banks Band 9:30 PM

Advance tickets are available at Blues on Grand or by calling 515-225-6638…...Sorry-no credit cards

Bring your lawn chairs…No umbrellas, pets, coolers or tents.

Vendors will have food and beverages for sale on site.

Hotel Fest Rates available at the Downtown Marriott (800-228-9290) and at the Hotel Fort Des Moines (800-532-1466). Just tell them you are coming for the Gateway Blues Fest.

Sponsors for the Fest are Central Iowa Blues Society, Budweiser, 95KGGO/98.3 WOW, Downtown Community Alliance. More information at

Arkansas Blues And Heritage Festival

Serena James from CIBS, just clued me into the 2007 Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival taking place, October 4,5, and 6th. It sounds like a great show here is the schedule from the website.

2007 Lineup & Festival Schedule


Main Stage - Thursday 10/04

12:00/12:25 - 2007 Emerging Artists
12:30/12:55 - 2007 Emerging Artists
1:00/1:25 - 2007 Emerging Artists
1:30/1:55 - 2007 Emerging Artists
2:00/2:30 - 2006 EA Winner - Jessica V & The Rhythmatics
2:40/3:15 - SBBS Winner - Big Red & The Soulbenders
3:25/4:10 - IBC Winner - Sean Carney Band
4:25/5:25 - Sterling Billingsley
5:45/6:55 - Diunna Greenleaf
7:15/8:30 - Wayne Baker Brooks
8:50/10:05 - Blinddog Smokin’ w/Special Guest Bobby Rush
10:30/11:45 - The Lee Boys

Main Stage - Friday 10/05

12:00/1:00 - RJ Mischo & His Red Hot Blues Band
1:15/2:20 - Lil’ Dave Thompson
2:35/3:45 - Sam Carr & The Delta Jukes w/Dave Riley
4:00/5:10 - Smokin’ Joe Kubek Band & Bnois King
5:30/6:40 - Pinetop Perkins & Bob Margolin
7:00/8:15 - Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials
8:45/10:00 - Sherman Robertson
10:30/11:45 - Michael Burks, Larry McCray, Carl Weathersby

Main Stage - Saturday 10/06

12:00/1:00 - Eugene “Hideaway” Bridges
1:15/2:20 - Willie King
2:35/3:45 - Terry Evans
4:00/5:20 - Anson Funderburgh & The Rockets
5:40/6:55 - The Robert Lockwood, Jr. Band w/ Wallace Coleman & Cleveland Fats
7:10/8:25 - Hubert Sumlin & The Willie “Big Eyes” Smith Band
8:45/10:00 - Kenny Neal
10:30/11:45 - The Mannish Boys

Houston Stackhouse Acoustic Stage - Friday 10/05

12:00/1:00 - Jason Freeman
1:20/2:20 - Eugene “Hideaway” Bridges
2:40/3:40 - Bill Abel
4:00/5:00 - Jimmy “Duck” Holmes

Robert Lockwood, Jr. Heritage Stage - Friday 10/05

5:30/6:40 - Dorothy “Miss Blues” Ellis
7:00/8:10 - Wallace Coleman
8:30/9:40 - Brad Webb
10:00/11:15 - Cleveland Fats

Houston Stackhouse Acoustic Stage - Saturday 10/06

12:00/1:00 - Mississippi Spoonman & Carla Robinson
1:20/2:20 - John-Alex Mason
2:40/3:40 - Moreland & Arbuckle
4:00/5:00 - Roy Book Binder

Robert Lockwood, Jr. Heritage Stage - Saturday 10/06

5:30/6:40 - Rev Payton & Big Damn Band
7:00/8:10 - Dave Weld & The Imperial Flames
8:30/9:40 - Blind Mississippi Morris
10:00/11:15 - Big Al & The Heavyweights

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Really good blues interview and article

The Vue Weekly from Edmonton has a really nice blues article for the upcoming Edmonton Blues Festival. The interview features Watermelon Slim, and Steve Berlin from Los Lobos. It covers, both the myth of Robert Johnson, and how age, and living the blues makes a difference. I like the article because it takles a couple of issues that we have covered here. Perhaps the best qoute from the story come from Watermelon Slim who talks about why Robert Johnson was so good.

‘I’m playing the blues ‘cause I play that I-IV-V progression’—no, no, no, that ain’t working out. There’s a lot more to it than that.”
Slim is getting at the fact that a little music theory and a few stories always came secondary to the actual living that those original bluesmen did. Johnson was as good as he was because he got out and travelled with his guitar, living life and learning songs and licks along the way and grinding it all into
his own style

National Women In Blues Festival

Just found a press release from Jazz News (Click here), about the 2nd annual National Women In Blues Festival. I checked their website, and it is a little early yet for details, but you can check out their website HERE.

Hey Chicago!! Join Gwen Mitchells Team: Hike For Lung Health

Gwen Mitchell runs one of the last real southside Chicago blues bars is seeking people to join her in the Hike For Lung Health. Here is an email that she sent out for people to join her. Also Gwen has suffered from a debilitating lung illness herself. So lets try to help out.

Donations or join my team

Gwen Mitchell-Lee's Unleaded

This year, I am participating in the Hike for Lung Health by joining a team
to help raise money for lung disease, research and education.

I will join thousands of others throughout the area to walk one or three
miles. I have joined the Hike for Lung Health, and am committed to raising
funds for the Respiratory Health Association (RHAMC) and its walk partners
as we aim to reduce the pain and suffering caused by lung diseases, the
third leading cause of death and disability in the United States.

Below is a link to my team page -- Please join my team and walk with us as
we work together in the fight against lung disease. Let’s walk!

Login to visit my personal web page and help me in my efforts to support
Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago

Gwen Mitchell

I got this email from a friend who had posted it on the Yahoo blues list,
and asked him to write a little more about Gwen and her place
this is what he sent me:

Ms. Mitchell, as she's universally known, runs Lee's Unleaded Blues for the
owner, Stan "Sarge" Davis. Lee's is the very last of the older-era Chicago
clubs still running in its original location (it was formerly Queen Bee's
before Leola Grey --Ms. Lee-- took it over in the early '80s). Such
stalwarts as Lefty Dizz and Junior Wells played there in the old days;
after it became Lee's Unleaded, it was home base for Buddy Scott, an
unheralded but important figure on the South Side blues scene. (Ms. Lee
sold the club to Davis a few years ago and moved back to Mississippi, where
she lives with her husband Ray.) These days Johnny Drummer usually holds
down the gig on Saturdays; other artists --Super Percy, Shorty Mack, New
Orleans Beau-- perform there on various other nights.

Lee's is one of the most well-known Chicago clubs; it's been featured in
magazines, newspapers, and documentaries, and aside from its proud status as
a venerated neighborhood establishment it also regularly attracts patrons
from around the world. It's one of the relatively few venues, though, that
can (and often does) thrive entirely on the basis of its local
African-American patronage.

David W.

I also have a personal stake in this as well. My mother died of a chronic debilitating lung disease that was not smoke related. These things are terrible and can strike anyone, so please help the cause.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Marcia Ball: Louisianna 1927

a nice clip of Marcia Ball from the Hurricane Katrina Benefit. Marcia is a heck of a blues piano player, and she has incredibly strong hands. A friend of mine let her use his keyboard for a gig in Des Moines. This was a rugged weighted keys digital piano. after the gig he had several broken keys! Its not like she is pounded on it like Jerry Lee, but she can really attack the keys with her hands. Truly amazing!

Willie Dixon & Stephen Stills: Seventh Son

Here is Willie Dixon and Stephen Stills doing the classic Seventh Son. This video comes from Chicagoblooz. Click here for more of his great blues collection.

Do You Know More About This Bluesman?????

The Shreveport Times has an interesting story about a 90 year old bluesman from New Orleans who has shown up in Shreveport playing the blues out of the back of his car. His name is McCoy Williams, but that is about all you learn from the article. I would like to know is he living in his car?? He has CDs and cassettes for sale, so where did he come from?? There must be a history of him in New Orleans. The article is way too short, and makes me worry about this forgotten bluesman. Anyone with any information please comment or email me.

Blues Reviews From The Kansas City Star

The Kansas City Star has a handful of blues reviews HERE. The Star features review of Marcia Ball, Joe Bonamassa, Robben Ford, Gary Moore, and a cool old recording of Johnny Winter with Muddy Waters, and James Cotton.

Janiva Magness Signs With Alligator Records

Press release from Jazz News, reports that Janiva Magness has signed with Alligator Records. This is big news since Alligator is one of the top blues labels around. for more info CLICK HERE.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Guy Forsyth: Mona

Another video shot by Jan of Guy Forsyth. A cool version of an old Bo Diddly song.

Gene Krupa: Drum Boogie

Here is one of the video's that Jill mentioned in the comments section. It is Gene Krupa playing drums on the song Drum Boogie. Gary Cooper is the actor that briefly is featured sitting in the audience. Barbra Stanwyck is the singer. The clip comes from the movie Ball Of Fire. You need to stick it out to the end to watch Gene Krupa play drums on a matchbox with a pair of matches!!

Thanks Jan for finding a cool video!

State Historical Society Of Iowa News Release

Just received this important news from SHSI. Of course the upcoming movie Mississippi Blues is coming up September, 6th and 8th, but another film in February also has a blues connection. Here is the release from SHSI:

Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs

600 E. Locust Street

Des Moines, Iowa 50319


Contact: Jeff Morgan, 515-281-3858

Historical Museum announces 2007-2008 film series

Mississippi Blues kicks off “Movies at the Museum” in September

DES MOINES – The State Historical Museum today announced its 2007-2008 “Movies at the Museum” film series begins in September with Mississippi Blues, a documentary that explores the origins of the blues.

In Mississippi Blues, filmmakers Robert Parrish and Bertrand Tavernier document their journey through America’s Deep South searching for the roots of blues music. Along the way, they uncover unlikely characters and compile some of the most amazingly raw performance footage ever put on film.

Co-sponsored by the Central Iowa Blues Society, Mississippi Blues will be shown at 7 p.m. Sept. 6th and 2 p.m. Sept. 8th at the State Historical Museum, 600 E. Locust Street in Des Moines’ Historic East Village. Admission is $5 at or at the door; CIBS members receive $1 off the admission fee. Beer and wine will be available.

Following the Sept. 8th matinee, Tom Gary, author of A Place Called Center Street, will lead a historical discussion – “Center Street Retrospective” – with Hobart DePatton and Iowa Blues Hall of Fame members George Davis, Mel Harper, Ron McClain and Harlan Thomas, who will also perform.

DePatton is the son of Robert E. Patten, who operated a Des Moines printing business serving the African-American community from the 1920s to the 1960s. Patten printed many of the social club events posters that provide a glimpse into Des Moines’ Center Street nightlife, which is showcased in the Historical Museum’s exhibit, Patten’s Neighborhood: Memories of the Center Street Community.

In addition, the museum also will receive donations Sept. 6th and 8th for the Jimmy Pryor Music Scholarship Fund, which supports Iowa students enrolled in a music program at an accredited college or university. The legendary Jimmy “Midnite Cowboy” Pryor was inducted into the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame in 1990, and died in 2006.

Following is the State Historical Museum’s 2007-2008 “Movies at the Museum” schedule:


Mississippi Blues – co-sponsored by the Central Iowa Blues Society

Thursday, September 6, 7 p.m.

Saturday, September 8, 2 p.m.

Admission: $5 at or at the door

Directors Bertrand Tavernier and Robert Parrish filmed entirely in America’s Deep South exploring the origins of the blues. They capture the authentic sounds; people singing in churches, homes, cafes and farms.


Special World Premiere – Lost Nation: The Ioway

Thursday, October 11, 7 & 9 p.m.

Admission: $14 at or at the door

World Premiere event includes movie, reception, atrium displays, Ioway drummers and dancers from Oklahoma, and Q&A with filmmakers.

Friday, October 12, 7 & 9 p.m.

Saturday, October 13, 2 & 7 p.m.

Sunday, October 14, 1 p.m.

Admission: $8 at or at the door

From the creators of the award-winning documentary, Villisca: Living with a Mystery, comes the world premiere of Lost Nation: The Ioway, which tells the nearly forgotten story of Iowa’s early inhabitants. Filmmakers Kelly and Tammy Rundle trace the story of the Ioway – from their ancestors, known as the Oneota, to their present day locations in Kansas and Oklahoma. The dramatic saga of Iowa’s early inhabitants unfolds in this documentary.

Between 1676 and 1802, the Ioway found themselves caught between warring European superpowers culminating in the Louisiana Purchase. The film explores how the small tribe was caught between colonizers and, by virtue of the Indian Removal Act of 1830, how they were gradually pushed out of the territory just before the state of Iowa was named after them. The documentary brings together commentary from historians, archaeologists, anthropologists, Ioway Elders, and new footage of historic sites, photographs, documents, art from the Smithsonian Institute, and other national museums, music, legends, dances, powwows and reenactments. The Rundles will conduct a discussion of the film following the movie Thursday through Saturday. Melinda Carriker, caretaker of the 1700 Ioway Village at Living History Farms, will answer questions after Sunday’s screening.



Thursday, November 1, 7 p.m.

Saturday, November 3, 2 p.m.

Admission: $5 at or at the door

Children of United States military personnel share intimate memories about their unique childhoods – growing up on military bases around the world, and then struggling to fit into an American lifestyle with which they have little in common. Narrated and featuring songs by Kris Kristofferson. Interviews include General Norman Schwarzkopf.


Anthem: An American Road Story

Thursday, December 6, 7 p.m.

Saturday, December 8, 2 p.m.

Admission: $5 at or at the door

A captivating, cross-country adventure brought to life by two young women who take the road to explore and expose the American Dream. Armed with a Powerbook and a couple of cameras, filmmakers Shainee Gabel (writer/director of Golden Globe-nominated A Love Song for Bobby Long) and Kristin Hahn (Executive Producer of Academy Award-winning The Departed) find themselves driving recklessly through the back roads of Aspen with Hunter S. Thompson, chilling out with Willie Nelson on his tour bus, musing with Robert Redford in the mountains of Sundance and inadvertently breaking the rules in the West Wing – all the while chronicling the people they meet along the way in gas stations and diners. Anthem is a unique and irreverent time capsule of the American Spirit at the dawn of the 21st century. Starring: Chuck D., Rita Dove, Geraldine Ferraro, George McGovern, Willie Nelson, Robert Redford, Tom Robbins, George Stephanopoulos, Michael Stipe, Studs Terkel, Hunter S. Thompson, John Waters and many others


The War Room

Thursday, January 17, 7 p.m.

Saturday, January 19, 2 p.m.

Admission: $5 at or at the door

This popular documentary The War Room takes us inside Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign and the exciting, topsy-turvy race that proved to be one of the most memorable in U.S. history and came to define American political discourse for the 1990s. Director D.A. Pennebaker provides a personal, up-close view of the two principals: campaign managers James Carville and George Stephanopoulos as they try to stay on top of the exploding maelstrom of events – from scandalous, personal smear tactics to the rise of quixotic spoiler Ross Perot. With remarkable confidence and media-savvy, they maintain order and forward momentum by steering public discourse away from negative issues of character and draft-dodging and back to the focus of their candidate’s policies. They also create convincing catchphrases (It’s the Economy, Stupid!) and keep the perspective on domestic issues tailor-made to benefit Clinton. The War Room is a harrowing emotional roller coaster of unfolding drama and suspense, loaded with historic significance and personal intimacy.


Genghis Blues

Thursday, February 7, 7 p.m.

Saturday, February 9, 2 p.m.

Admission: $5 at or at the door

The extraordinary odyssey of a U.S. musician of Cape Verdean ancestry to Tannu Tuva in central Asia, where nomadic people throat-sing more than one note simultaneously using vocal harmonics. A bluesman, Paul Pena, blind and recently widowed, taught himself throat singing and was by chance invited to the 1995 throat-singing symposium in Kyzyl. Helped by the “Friends of Tuva,” Pena makes the arduous journey. Singing in the deep, rumbling kargyraa style, Pena gives inspired performances at the festival, composes songs in Tuvan, washes his face in sacred rivers, expresses the disorientation of blindness in foreign surroundings, and makes a human connection with everyone he meets. It is unlikely that you’ve ever seen a film quite like Genghis Blues. A totally fascinating portrait of a San Francisco Bluesman and his trip to the land of Tuva. This is the kind of film that film festivals were meant to show.


Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme

Thursday, March 6, 7 p.m.

Saturday, March 8, 2 p.m.

Admission: $5 at or at the door

Explosively documenting the story of a group of underground hip-hop MCs & DJs from the early 1980s to the present day, Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme is a documentary that explores the world of improvisational rap – the rarely recorded art form of rhyming spontaneously, or “off the top of the head.” Made over the course of more than seven years, mostly with borrowed or stolen cameras by a co-operative of students, b-boys, DJs, and MCs. Known as The Center for Hip-Hop Education, Freestyle takes the viewer on a journey through the previously unexamined dimensions of hip-hop as a spiritual and community based art form.

Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme combines the best of independent art house cinema within the hip-hop mix tape format. The project features appearances by: Supernatural, Mos Def, Freestyle Fellowship, Lord Finesse, Cut Chemist, Craig G, Juice, DJ Kool Herc, Boots of the Coup, Medusa, Planet Asia, Sway, Crazy Legs, Jurasic-5, Wordsworth, Bobitto Garcia, and The Last Poets.


Our Brand Is Crisis

Thursday, April 3, 7 p.m.

Saturday, April 5, 2 p.m.

Admission: $5 at or at the door

For decades, U.S. strategists-for-hire have been quietly molding the opinions of voters and the messages of candidates in elections from the Middle East to the South American jungle. With flabbergasting access to think sessions, media training and the making of smear campaigns, we watch how the consultants’ marketing strategies shape the relationship between a leader and his people. Our Brand is Crisis is an astounding look at one group’s campaign to elect the President of Bolivia and its earth-shattering aftermath.


In the Mirror of Maya Deren

Thursday, May 1, 7 p.m.

Saturday, May 3, 2 p.m.

Admission: $5 at or at the door

Deemed “Fellini and Bergman wrapped in one gloriously possessed body,” Maya Deren is arguably the most important and innovative avant-garde documentary filmmaker in the history of American cinema. Using locations from the Hollywood Hills to Haiti in the 1940s and 1950s, Deren made such mesmerizing documentaries as At Land, Ritual in Transfigured Time, and her masterpiece, Meshes of the Afternoon, which won a prestigious international experimental filmmaking prize at the 1947 Cannes Film Festival. Starting with excerpts from these documentaries, In the Mirror seamlessly and effectively interweaves archival footage and observances from acolytes and contemporaries such as Stan Brakhage and Jonas Mekas with an original score by experimental jazz legend John Zorn. Documentarian Martina Kudlacek has fashioned not only a fascinating portrait of a groundbreaking and influential artist, but a pitch-perfect introduction to her strikingly beautiful and poetic body of work.

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs is responsible for developing the state’s interest in the areas of the arts, history and other cultural matters with the advice and assistance from its two divisions: the State Historical Society of Iowa and the Iowa Arts Council. DCA preserves, researches, interprets and promotes an awareness and understanding of local, state and regional history and stimulates and encourages the study and presentation of the performing and fine arts and public interest and participation in them. It implements tourism-related art and history projects as directed by the General Assembly and designs a comprehensive, statewide, long-range plan with the assistance of the Iowa Arts Council to develop the arts in Iowa. More information about DCA is available at


just a quick update. I have a hole in my ceiling! yup I know it sound like a blues song:-) So you won't hear much of me for a couple of days. Also work is starting up, and this is the one and only post I will send from here. I hope tonight to get a least a quick post up about the Marshalltown gig, and a few other posts in the next few days. Futhermore, Blogger has added polls to blogs, so I might toy with a poll tonight. Also Jill suggested a couple of videos that I will make sure to get on line. (Thanks Jill, that will make this weeks work load easier:-) It may take a few days or a week to get back to top speed, so hang with me please!