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April 29, 2008
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News, photos, reviews, live Blues links & MUCH MORE in this issue! - Scroll or Page Down!
Hey Blues Fans,There is so much Blues music within an hour or two drive that we made another triple play this week. We have come up with a way to make all the driving time useful too. We use it listen to some of the new Blues CD's we receive each week before we hand them off to our CD reviewers. Our Blue Monday drives are a two Blues CD trip and heading up Chicago way is a six Blues CD trip!
On Friday, we made it to Rutledge Youth Foundation’s Night of Blues in Springfield, Illinois. They had a great turnout for their Harley Raffle kickoff with music by a variety of folks including Shun Kikuta (guitarist for Koko Taylor in the photo to the left), Elizabeth Eckert (an American Idol contestant) and an Italian Blues guitarist Luca Giordano. Tombstone Bullet and Brother Ray and the Blades also played and it was a real treat when we got to see old friends Birdman on guitar and Hurricane Ruth sitting in on vocals.
Saturday we caught Memphis Blues sensation Eric Hughes in an acoustic duo show for a small but appreciative crowd in Normal, IL. He is an intense performer and it was great to see him play guitar, dobro, harmonica, washboards and even a a little jug band music! This was a much different show than what we saw in Memphis at the International Blues Challenge with Eric's band last winter. Quite an enjoyable show to say the least!
Finally we wouldn't even think of missing our good friends the Kilborn Alley Blues Band at Blue Monday in Springfield, IL. We asked, and and we were thrilled when they played a couple new tunes not yet recorded. They have got some good stuff coming on their next CD folks!
Their current CD Tear Chicago Down is up against some stiff competition at the BMA awards next week (Watermelon Slim , Bryan Lee, James Ulmer and Tommy Castro are the competition) but we are pulling for them.
One thing is for sure, if they don't get the winning nod this year, we have not heard the last of these young rising Blues stars. They are getting lots of festival shows this summer so be sure to check out their schedule and make it a point to see this great band!
Little Arthur Duncan Health Update
Chicago Blues harmonica great Little Arthur Duncan underwent emergency brain surgery on Friday, April 11, 2008. We have this update from Kevin Johnson at Delmark records - "Arthur's doing much better, but still a long way to go, still pretty out of it most of the time. But he is able to communicate, and is responsive, recognizing visitors, - having trouble breathing- was on respirator... We are encouraged- send positive thoughts."
Upcoming Show Reminders
We are at the start of the summer Blues Fest season with the first big event of the Central Mississippi Valley area being the Simply the Blues Fest in Ft Madison, Iowa on May 9th. They have a great lineup including Magic Slim, Eddie Turner, Leon Redbone, Jason Ricci, Diunna Greenleaf, Zach Harmon, Shawn Kellerman, 2008 IBC Winners, Trampled Under Foot and more. See their ad below for more details and get your tickets now.
There is also an excellent Blues event in a a couple of weeks in Chicago. The Blues and the Spirit Symposium put on by Dominican University May 22nd - 24th, is an educational symposium emphasizing the heritage of African-American Chicago and exploring the shared roots of Blues and Gospel. They only have ticket sales until May 6th so be sure to get your reservations this week! See their ad below for more details.
Blues Reviews This Week
James Walker reviews a great new CD by Mac Arnold. Ben Cox sends in a review of the new CD by Monster Mike Welch and also a review of the new CD by Charlie Wood. Gary Weeks reviews the new Kelly Richey CD and Chicago Editor Lordy sends us a 2-part venue review of just about every Blues Club in the Chicago area as he ties a Blues one on in what we call "Lordy's Excellent Chicago Blues Adventure". All this and much More! SCROLL DOWN!
May 9th & 10th - Fort Madison, IA
Friday May 9th
Saturday May 10th
Click image above to visit our website for more info!
(Note: Our prayers are with Little Arthur! The Backscratchers will perform with another harmonica player until Arthur recovers from surgery.)
Blues Link of the Week
This is a link just for fun! OK so who doesn't think that good Blues and good beer go together like America and apple pie? Having turned to home brewing our own beer to get some beer flavor, this site caught our attention right off. We understand where this band of Blues lovers is coming from being real Hop Heads ourselves! (It makes sense that if you like your Blues full of real emotion that you would like your beer full of hop flavor!)
These guys are a Blues band who all have day jobs in the beer industry with some big name west coast micro-brewers. The songs that play on their website are all FUN songs about making good beer! (Yup, we always have the stereo playing Blues and turned up LOUD when we homebrew!) So tap one and enjoy. Tell them the Blues Blast sent ya!
For more Blues links, CLICK HERE to visit the IllinoisBlues.com Links Page
Thursday, May 22 - Saturday, May 24, 2008
Phone: (708) 524-6050
Dominican University (located just minutes from the Chicago Loop) hosts the Blues and the Spirit Symposium, emphasizing the heritage of African-American Chicago and exploring the shared roots of Blues and Gospel.
Featured Blues Review (1 0f 4) SCROLL DOWN For More
Mac Arnold & Plate Full O’ Blues - Backbone & Gristle
15 songs; 78:40 minutes; Suggested
Genre: Down Home Blues, Chicago Blues
Remember the old “Big Mac Attack” burger ad? Well, Big Mac is back with a Blues attack! With artists like 66-year-old Mac Arnold back making good music, why do we suffer Blues pretenders? Arnold sings with confidence from years of experience, and that confidence is summed up in the title, Backbone & Gristle.
Mac Arnold has a long Blues pedigree including being in a band often joined by a young piano player named James Brown to a stint in Muddy Waters band to recording with Otis Spann and John Lee Hooker to working as a producer on Soul Train to fronting his own band, Plate Full O’ Blues. Mac now resides in Pelzer, SC, where at age ten he got his first taste of the Blues when he learned to play his brother William Leroy Arnold’s home-made gasoline can guitar. This album is dedicated to this older brother.
After getting back in the game and going back to his roots with 2006’s Nothin’ To Prove, Arnold serves up another tasty mess of Down-south-deep Blues and Chicago Blues in fifteen original songs written, arranged, and produced by the entire band. Arnold’s wearied but powerful baritone voice leads on all songs.
Mac Arnold is featured on all leads vocal, gas can on a couple, and some bass The more than competent band backing is Danny Keylon on main bass; Austin Brashier on guitar and harmony vocals; Max Hightower on keyboards, harmonica, and rhythm guitar; and Mike Whitt on drums. Special guests are Mark McMakin and Mike Murray on bass, Jim Peterman on Hammond B3 organ, and Steve Keeter on piano.
Studious notes from Brashier’s guitar in front of Hightower’s piano and Peterman’s organ open track one (“Love & Relations”), followed one minute later by Arnold singing some sage advice for lovers, “...just hold each other’s hand, open up your mind, just be truthful when you speak, don’t waste each other’s time.” And, off you go into seven minutes of wonderful, yes!, THIS-is-the-Blues
The second cut picks up the tempo slightly for Arnold’s heartfelt but humorous lyrics about meeting a young lady looking for genuine affection. Is the protagonist ready to provide? “U Dawg Gone Right,” sings Mac while plucking some notes on that gas can seen on the album’s back cover.
The title track (Cut three) opens with Brashier peeling off mean guitar licks to set the tone of Arnold’s story about his share cropping father’s advice born of hard work. “Son, if you listen to me, and do as I say, you’ll be a man we can depend on one day. But right now your backbone ain’t nothin’ but a gristle.” On the first guitar solo, Brashier flourishes on top of Danny Keylon’s steady pumping bass and pocket partner Mike Whitt on drums.
The instrumental “Blow Till You Blow” finds Max Hightower’s harmonica blasting and trilling in the finest of tradition.
By track 6, Mac relates a spoken word tale of the “Gas Can Story” and then proceeds to play rhythm on the barely-in-recognizable-tune instrument for “Gonna Move To The Other Side of Town.” Now, that’s as down home as coarse ground cornbread and greasy collard greens.
Mac can’t understand excess in “Things I Don’t Need” with Hightower leading on piano and Brashier slowly punctuating the mood with single guitar notes. A similar theme is found in the starkly arranged “The Garden Song” with only harmonica and guitar backup.
Most tracks run four to eight minutes with tracks 14 and 15 recorded festival live. Bob Margolin and Willie Smith show up nicely on 14. The set closing track 15 is a faster, uplifting eight minute live alternate version of the slower inspirational, studio track 10, “I Can Do Anything.” Both versions feature guest children on background harmony vocals.
Welcome back, Mac. First, you didn’t have Nothin’ To Prove, but, now, you done did prove Blues is alive and well in the Carolinas, and thanks to your CDs, all points beyond!
Reviewer James “Skyy Dobro” Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show “Friends of the Blues” can be heard each Thursday from 4:30 – 6:00pm on WKCC 91.1 FM in Kankakee, IL
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
A Bolt From The Blue
"A wealth of vocal & guitar melodies, performed by front woman Laura "Torch" England and guitarist Kenny Cobb." - Blues Blast Magazine
To Purchase this CD CLICK HERE
To read the Blues Blast CD review CLICK HERE
Featured Blues Review (2 0f 4) SCROLL DOWN For More
Charlie Wood & the New Memphis Underground
Upon my return to my home in Illinois two artists came across my desk that still live and record amongst the invasion of the modern sounds. There names were a journeyman harmonica player named Billy Gibson and a virtuoso vocalist and keyboard player named Charlie Wood. I did my reading up on these two and came to find out that “red-headed Charlie” as he’s sometime affectionately called had toured the world with Albert King in 1990 up until King's passing. Wood impressed me and I’ve tried to keep up with him ever since.
Last year, putting together a crack band of talent from around the Memphis area, including musical partner/label mate Billy Gibson, Wood pounded out 4 covers and ten originals that are presented here. Wood’s musical career began in being tutored in jazz in high school and then eventually he found his way into Memphis soul music. This eponymous release gives the listener a blend of jazz, Memphis Soul, gospel, and Blues much in the likes of another great keyboard player Ray Charles. Wood’s appeal is that he gives us Memphis Soul Stew with a jazz sensibility and vocal nuance. Along with his fine musicianship (as well as the band), Wood remains ever conscious of the continued condition of the world around him (listen to “You Really Don’t Wanna Know”) without proselytizing the listener to his own view but still remain a staunch challenger with biting lyrics and by also being somewhat of a humorist with the ode to the American, over-caffeinated white collar worker called “Coffee Is For Me.”
Wood’s covers on the disc aren’t a simple reinvention of the wheel of his influences. He promptly adds in his jazz credentials while giving room to folks like Gibson and guitarist Joe Restivo to conjure their own unique styles as well without it all sounding like a jumbled coagulated jam session.
I think what I like about Wood most of all is his broad vision and spectrum. He just doesn’t want to appeal to one niche market; he wants to appeal to everyone with their ears to the ground for good quality music. He does, with both his smoky whiskey laced vocal and incredible dexterity on the keys have a seminal crossover appeal that most artists in Blues or neo-Memphis Soul would not have. To say that American music on Beale and in Memphis is gone would not be the truth, Charlie Wood and his cast are still around and kicking and they are kicking quite loudly.
Ben Cox is a Blues Songwriter, Musician, DJ and Journalist.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
Streaming Blues Link of the Week
The Texas Blues Café is a virtual cyber Blues cafe. The mission of the Texas Blues Café is to promote Blues back into American culture. They have more than 90 one hour Blues shows featuring a slew of Texas Blues bands.
This is pure Texas rocking Blues so take a deep breath, hold on to your hat and CLICK HERE to go right to one of their shows. Enjoy, and tell them the Blues Blast sent ya!
Check out other great Blues Music Streams Click HERE
Other IMPORTANT News Help Save the music! CLICK HERE to Keep Blues Radio Alive!
July 25 - 27, 2008
Big Boulder Ski Area
Lake Harmony, PA
Root Doctor, Teeny Tucker, Lil' Dave Thompson, Joey Gilmore, The Kinsey Report, Sharrie Williams, Michael Burks, Nappy Brown, Kenny Neal, Sugar Pie DeSanto, Jimmy McCracklin, Michael Roach, Johnny Mars, Byther Smith, The Holmes Brothers, Lurrie Bell, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Bobby Rush, Eric Bibb, Geno Delafose
Festival Website Click Here
Chicago Blues Update
Live Blues reviews by Chicago Blues editor Lordy
Blues Beat: Chicago (Photos by August Lord)
Lordy's Excellent Chicago Blues Adventure (Part One - Friday Night)
Sometimes I get so excited about the live Blues music scene here in Chicago, that I want to just pick you all up in my little Jetta and drag you around with me all weekend. It shouldn’t be a problem because, as you know, wherever you live, it is a suburb of Chicago. Allow me to guide you through a typical Blues odyssey here in the capital of the Blues.
Friday we start out at Moe Joe’s southwest of the city center. We are going to enjoy Barrelhouse Chuck and Gerry Hundt with a side of great New Orleans cuisine. Barrelhouse tutored at the side of his close friend Little Brother Montgomery and several other masters who have since gone to Bues heaven. He sings and plays and tells stories about his heroes. Check out his website for pictures of his memorabilia from his museum/home. This year Gerry Hundt had the honor of several nominations for Blues Music Awards. One was for his spot as one of Nick Moss’ Fliptops and the other was for his Chicago Blues Mandolin cd. Tonight he would get to his guitar, harp, mandolin, vocals and even slide mandolin. Chuck and Gerry will sit and talk with us during the break, and I might recommend that you pick-up some of their recordings while you’re here so we can have them autographed. Let’s say hi to harpist Joe Filisko at another table then hit the road.
We jump on I-55 North for the short run between Plainfield and Darien, and stop at the 8700 Room. This is the bar area of The Carriage Greens Country Club. The Carl Davis Band is just getting ready to start, but I have just enough time to introduce you to Carl, Anthony Tabion (keyboards), Pete Scach (bass) and Lenny Spatafore (I love that name) on drums. It doesn’t take singer, guitarist and songwriter Carl Davis long to get the place up and dancing. This is too good, so we’ll stay for a few sets. I’m glad you asked, and yes they do have a new and successful cd titled Someday. After hearing some of those tracks live mixed in with some great new material we get Someday and ask when the next one will be out. It is only about 11:30, the night is young and you have already met six of the nicest guys in the biz.Further on up I-55, which here in Chicago is the Stevenson Expressway, we exit at Harlem Avenue. Next stop (you guessed it) is The Harlem Avenue Lounge in Berwyn. The Pat Smillie Band is an R&B revue band that fills the large stage at HAL. That’s Brother Alton Woodley at the keys and Big John Merideth with his very large left handed six-string bass (think tree). That’s Al Wittek playing a Les Paul now, but before we leave we will hear him on the lap steel. The name on the bass drum says Sambo and is stomped by Arthur “Sambo” Irby. I think Sambo is one of the most talented guys around. He drums, he sings, he plays imaginary harmonica and…wait a minute he’s standing on his drum stool. The requisite girl backup singers are the lovely and talented Ashley Stevenson and Jackie Patton. I wish Tina Howell was with them tonight. You have to meet her sometime. Ashley and Jackie don’t spend the full set on stage. We can be gentlemen of course and let them share our bar stools. By the way, that hug was from Ramblin’ Rose. Wait until you hear her version of “Give Me One Reason”. Here is another signed cd to add to your collection. Well the party is over, for now. You and I just can not be the last ones out of this bar, so we talk to our bartender Dre (yeah I like blue jeans too), and Kenny Z the proprietor for a while. Dre prepares the best scotch on the rock around. I think they want to go home, so on to home. I love the chirping of birds in the morning, when the sun is coming up and I am coming in.
What do you know? It’s Saturday and as sure as night follows day, I will pick you up tonight for round two. (The Saga continues next week with part two of Lordy's Excellent Blues Adventure. Stay Tuned for the Saturday night tale next week!)
To see a Chicago Area list of upcoming events CLICK HERE
Chicago Bluesman Bob Levis with a host of Chicago area Blues greats including Lonnie Brooks, Brother Dave Kaye, Steve Ditzell, Westside Andy Linderman, Dennis "Link" Leary, Larry Pendelton, Jimmy Voegeli, Ted Lawrence, Marty Binder and Dave Wood.
"Authentic sound, infused with gritty energy of Chicago Blues." - Blues Blast Magazine
CLICK HERE to Purchase this CD
Featured Blues Review (3 0f 4) SCROLL DOWN For More
Monster Mike Welch - Just Like It Is
Monster Mike Welch’s musical influences speak in his head all the time, ever-channeling a path from the past through his guitar and songwriting. Lauded at the tender age of 13 as a Blues guitar virtuoso, Welch’s voice with his instrument continues to burn bright and strong. At 28, Mike along with many younger artists continue to be the torch bearer of the traditional electric Blues.
From B.B. King, to Freddy King, Otis Rush, and Buddy Guy you can hear it all in little under an hour re-channeled through this “kid” from the East Coast. With the early sixties B.B. King influenced guitar on “I’m Gonna Move to Another Country” to the instrumental bonanza like Freddy King's “Sticky Whisket,” Welch provides the punch of all the electric Blues guitar greats without sounding like a complete knock-off of any one of the aforementioned individuals. On these 11 originally penned and 2 covers, Welch gives us the rich warm guitar tone of a mature player, though his age belies the statement.
Welch’s backing band of Anthony Geraci on keys, Brad Hallen on bass, and Mark Teixiera on drums are completely with him, strongly steeped in the rich hallows of Chicago Blues of years gone. Geraci conjures thoughts of the great piano players of these old days when he cuts loose on the anchoring solo in the Otis Rush minor key sounding but Peter Green penned “Love That Burns.” Hallen and Teixiera never move from the groove at all, and are solid as an iron bone throughout the album.
Welch’s tenor seems a little undersuited for the task at hand at times, but they are confident and tend to grow on the listener after repeated listens. Vocally, Welch is very reminiscent of his contemporary and friend Nick Moss. By little less than midway through the album on a bad-love-gone-wrong song “Don’t Expect Me To Cry,” Welch’s swagger and angst aptly fit and remove a little from the crooning vibrato tenor he provides on the majority of the disc. “I’m Not A Stupid Man” would be the other penchant to know-it-all swagger in his voice when he tells us he’s not about to cheat on his lover.
Ben Cox is a Blues Songwriter, Musician, DJ and Journalist.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
Intensely energetic R&B, funk, and rockin' Blues
Featured Blues Review (4 0f 4) SCROLL UP For More
By Gary Weeks
As a live performer, Richey goes all out. Tearing and slashing at the guitar, her music is always a full out assault without too much time to catch your breath. The stage is a liberation zone which Kelly embraces wholeheartedly.
Kelly Richey's latest release Carry The Light finds the artist addressing important world social issues that in turn become strong lyrical statements. The CD divides itself between ballads, moderate paced numbers and smoking rockers.
Title track "Carry The Light" drives along the message of love and music underscored by scalding guitar lines. A slow paced "What In The World" finds a human race reflecting on their inner strengths and looking to rebuild a faith once lost. Here Kelly shows her usual guitar showmanship and evolving artistic abilities.
Kelly is not abandoning the rockier side of things either. Opening track "Leave The Blues Behind" is a fast gallop into guitar inferno "I Want You". A catchy riff makes "No More Lies" a candidate for a Govt Mule record with Kelly's fretwork being front and center. A dark force pervades "When All Is Said And Done" then transforms into positive waters with a glimmering solo.
The lyrical nature of "Time For A Change" makes this ballad a focused effort on achieving world unity. A unity counteracted by losing one's way on the gentle "Jericho Road".
While some of these numbers may be soap-boxy, they are reminders we live in a grim world. Corrupted as the human race is, Kelly knows the healing power of music. And of musicians deserving to carry the light, she has our many blessings.
Blues Want Ads
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Blues Society Seeks Artist Dressing Trailers for Blues Festival
The Mississippi Valley Blues Society (Davenport, IA) seeks some Blues fans who have a large vacation trailer and want to attend one of the best Blues Festivals on the planet for FREE.
If you have a large travel trailer, touring coach or motor home (Air Stream etc) that we could use as a dressing room for our festival performers during the MVBS festival (July 3-5th, 2008) we can offer FREE VIP backstage passes and Hotel accommodations at our Festival hotel (The Lodge) in Davenport, IA in return for the use of your mobile trailer. For more information please contact the MVBS office at (563) 322-5837 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
"workin Blues performers" can place Want Ads here for FREE. NO Commercial Ads!
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Illinois Central Blues Club Springfield, IL - Blue Mondays
Held at the Alamo 115 N 5th St, Springfield, IL (217) 523-1455 every Monday 8:30pm $2 cover - May 5 Chris Cain from California, May12 Blues Deacons from Champaign, IL, May 19 Dan Sanchez & the Kings of Pleasure from the West Coast, May 26 Stone Cold Blues Band from Springfield (formerly KMC), June 2 Texas Groove from Springfield, IL, June 9 Shawn Kellerman from Ontario, Canada, June 16 Deak Harp & Rev Robert from Illinois, June 23 HARPER from Australia, June 30 Levee Town from Kansas City
The Blues Blowtorch Society - Bloomington, IL
Blues Blowtorch Society presents Too Slim and The Tail Draggers Thursday, May 08, 2008 in a 7:00 PM Early Show at NV Ultra Lounge, 107 East Beaufort St. Normal, Illinois 61761 Tickets are $5.00 At The Door
Mississippi Valley Blues Society - Davenport, IA
The Mississippi Valley Blues Society presents The Chris Cain Band Sunday May 4th at Creekside Bar and Grill, 3303 Brady Street in Davenport, IA (563) 324-4619 The show starts at 8:00pm $5 cover
Friends of the Blues - Watseka, IL
The Friends of the Blues presents 2 "Early" shows. Friday, May 9 - Too Slim & The Taildraggers will be performing at Brandon Casey’s, 235 N Kinzie Ave (Route 50), Bradley IL and Tuesday, May 20 – Bryan Lee will be at Brandon Casey’s. For more information call 815-802-0202.
Live Blues Calendar
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