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May 15, 2008
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Hey Blues Fans,
What a way to start the Blues Fest season! We made it out to the Simply The Blues Fest last weekend to catch a whole lineup of great stars including Magic Slim , Eddie Turner, Leon Redbone, Louisiana Red, Jason Ricci, Diunna Greenleaf, Zach Harmon, Shawn Kellerman, Trampled Under Foot and more.
They all played a great shows for an exuberant crowd but especially memorable was the set Saturday night by Diunna Greenleaf and Blue Mercy. Hot on the heals of her performance Thursday night at the BMA awards Diunna came storming out in full command of the stage. Her power and intensity were obvious as she belted out songs from her award winning CD, Cotton Field to Coffee House.
We have a review of Simply The Blues Festival by Ben Cox below in this issue. To see pictures of the fun, CLICK HERE
KBA winner and Oklahoma Blues Hall of Famer passes.
D.C. Minner, Blues musician, educator and founder of the Dusk 'Til Dawn Blues Festival died Tuesday May 6th, 2008. He was 73. Minner played with Freddie King, O.V. Wright and Chuck Berry in the 1960s. In 1991, D.C. and wife Selby started the Dusk Til Dawn Blues Festival in Rentiesville, OK , which has become a Labor Day weekend tradition for lovers of blues music for 17 years.
Plans for this years The Dusk 'Til Dawn Blues Festival continue. Minner’s home is the night club that sits at the front of the property where the festival is held. The festival will be held Labor Day weekend August 29th - 31st, 2008. Lineup has not yet been announced.
Bryan Lee out of the hospital
Bryan Lee was scheduled to perform at the 2008 Blues Music Awards last week in Tunica. They announced at the show that Bryan was hospitalized while on tour in Germany. Reports are that he is now out of the hospital and will be back performing this week at a show in Watseka, IL. Keep Bryan in your thoughts!
Blues Reviews This Week
James Walker reviews a new CD by Kenny Neal. Ben Cox reviews the 2008 Simply The Blues Fest and also a review of a new CD by Pauline York Band. Chicago editor Lordy tells us about a show by Deb Seitz at the Harlem Avenue Lounge. All this and much More! SCROLL DOWN!
Live Blues Review
Simply the Blues Festival - May 9th – 10th, 2008
Ft. Madison Iowa
Simply amazing. Between a torrential down pour and smoking hot blues, this Iowa festival brought an action packed lineup of rising talent and veteran performers to the rodeo town on the river this Mother’s Day Weekend. Between some ideal line-up changes and the laid back setting, any blues fan would’ve gotten lost in the blues this weekend.
The festival touted as simply the blues wasn’t simple in its performance ranging from the rock-laced hard-driving roots rock of Shawn Kellerman of Canada to the acoustic, sly comical lyrics of Leon Redbone to the straight-ahead Chicago blues of Magic Slim and the Teardrops, fans got a little of everything the entire weekend. Fans could have a taste of anything and everything they wanted the entire weekend.
The youth of the festival kick off the weekend with the Second Skinny Blues band straight from Ft. Madison’s high school ending Friday with the veteran Magic Slim and the Teardrops who blasted through a chronicle of many blues classics like slow jams “I Got A Crazy Woman” and “Help Me.” In between you could find the polyrhythmic scorchin’ blues of Eddie Turner and the Tin Pan Alley performance of Leon Redbone and the Delta itself personified in Louisiana Red. In the meantime, if fans wanted more local talent the Jefferson County Green Band held down the tiny blues tent off to the side.
On Saturday morning Blues kids got a chance to learn how to play the harmonica at a Blues Workshop by local harpsmith Hal Reed and several other performers. Then, the day kicked off in the rodeo barn and never let up. Saturdays show was another Promoter Matt Eimer's themed Blue shows this day dedicated to performers who have participated in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis.
Three-time participant Rich Berry from Kansas City kicked it off with his acoustic roots. Alvin Jett and the Phat Noiz Blues Band brought the funky-soul blues from St Louis next.
Then, the 2008 IBC winners the Schnebelen siblings formally known as Trampled Under Foot amazed us with their award winning performances. Their performance was a highlight of the day as Guitarist Nick Schnebelen started off their show with a one man-band performances, stomping on the bass drum and beating out some old Delta style guitar sounds. However, it was sister Danielle with original songs such as “Honey Bee” thrilled the place flat with her raspy soulful voice. She made everyone stand up and recognize this young groups great potential.! Their performance set the tone for the evening as Shawn Kellerman, Zac Harmon, Diunna Greenleaf and Blue Mercy and Jason Ricci & New Blood gave performances that everyone danced and sang along to even in the blowing rain as the Blues fest continued and the weather began to storm.
Clearly, though the highlight performance was Diunna Greenleaf and Blue Mercy. Running on the high from being crowned Best New Artist by the Blues Foundation’s BMAs, Diunna gave one of the most riveting performances of the whole festival. With festival performer and guest guitarist Zac Harmon sitting in, Diunna jumped, shouted, and even walked to the back of the Rodeo Barn to sing to the crowd in the back creating a huge ruckus yhat brought the laid back crowd to their feet. After Diuna’s final song “Stay” in which she roused the audience with faith-pounding soul, almost like a church tent revival, she exhausted herself to a chair. If you weren’t a believer when you went in, you surely came out one.
Promoter Matt Eimer dedicated the final night’s performance to the late Sean Costello who was originally supposed to close the night in this headliner spot. Also, Simply the Blues did what we’ve seen no other festival do which is raffle off a guitar for local charities. This idea coupled with the harmonica workshop for the kids to start the day show that this festival isn’t simply about great performances but keeping music alive in a whole different way. Then, the rains came and Jason Ricci blew his harp as hard as the wind pounded outside to cap the night on Saturday evening.
If you weren’t done, the hotel jams on both nights were for anyone and everyone who might get the chance to jam with performers from the festival. In it’s fifth year, Simply the Blues has several more years ahead of it as its popularity continues to grow in mass. Simply the best of Blues!
Ben Cox is a Blues Songwriter, Musician, DJ and Journalist.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
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Blues Link of the Week
Willie Big Eyes Smith
Willie Big Eyes Smith is a true Blue legend. Born in Helena, AR, on January 19, 1936 Willie has played with everyone from Muddy Waters to Bo Diddley, Arthur "Big Boy" Spires and Johnny Shines. James Cotton, Pinetop Perkins. Buddy Guy, Howlin' Wolf, John Lee Hooker and Junior Wells. Smith is a multi talented musician and plays drums and harmonica plus sings and writes some mean Blues too. He has a new CD coming soon so stop in and check out his website. Tell them the Blues Blast sent ya!
For more Blues links, CLICK HERE to visit the IllinoisBlues.com Links Page
11th Annual Briggs Farm Blues Festival
Nora Jean Bruso, Big George Brock, Johnny Rawls, Lonnie Shields, Clarence Spady, Bobby Kyle, Colin John & Michael Hill, Kelly Richey Sarah Ayers Band, Donovan Roberts, Mickey Jr. Acoustic Blues Revue Mark Armstrong, Bret Alexander
Featured Blues Review (1 0f 2) SCROLL DOWN For More
11 songs; 50:11 minutes; Library Quality
Style: Soulful Louisiana Swamp Blues
They’ve killed Kenny! Those bastar...... Wait a minute! Kenny isn’t dead. Kenny Neal is alive and well, with a new album. My apologies for the lame South Park reference, but Neal has been missing from the scene for three years due to health problems. Those issues forced Kenny away from the studio and touring. His first release since signing with Blind Pig Records finds him returning with a renewed vigor and outlook on life.
Recorded in West Columbia, SC, Let Life Flow is full of the laid back, soulful grooves that have garnered him a solid fan base over the past 20 years. Usually the phrase “easy listening music” is the kiss of death, but taken as a sincere compliment, this phrase accurately describes the music which is as soothing as a good back rub. Scott Cable, along with Neal and his son, Kenny Jr. co-produced the album as a reflection of Neal’s optimistic sense of perseverance.
Let Life Flow marks the return of the multi-instrumentalist and modern swamp-blues maven. It is an inspired set that draws musically from Louisiana sounds, while striking a deep, emotional chord in response to the personal trials he has recently endured. In addition to his recent frailty, Neal suffered the passing of his father, Raful, a brother, a sister, and a drummer – all within eleven months in 2004-2005.
Of the album, Kenny said: “With all the tragedy and darkness I’ve been through in the past three years, I’m finally seeing the light. I’ve been waiting for a long time for a record company to say ‘Make a record that you feel good about.’ Blind Pig Records gave me that opportunity. And my new CD, Let Life Flow, is coming straight from my heart.”
Neal, born and raised in Baton Rouge, began playing music at a very young age, learning the basics from his father, singer and blues harmonica player, Raful Neal. Family friends like Lazy Lester, Buddy Guy and Slim Harpo also contributed to Kenny’s early musical education. In fact, it was Harpo who gave the crying three-year-old a harmonica to pacify him. Learning to play the harmonica, he also mastered the bass, trumpet, piano and guitar. At 13, he joined his father’s band and began paying his musical dues. Four years later, he was recruited and toured extensively as Buddy Guy’s bass player.
Following Buddy's advice to concentrate on his guitar playing, Kenny crafted a successful career in which he has shared the stage and worked with a who’s-who list of blues and R& B greats including B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt, Muddy Waters, Aaron Neville, Buddy Guy, and John Lee Hooker.
Signing with Alligator Records in 1988, Kenny began releasing a series of consistently lauded albums. After his impressive run with Alligator, Kenny switched to Telarc, and continued to release albums highlighting his developing skills as a songwriter. His 2004 release with Billy Branch, Double Take, garnered Kenny a W.C. Handy award for Best Album.
This album opens with the uplifting title track that just instantly sets the delightful mood and groove. Joe Campbell and LeRoy Harper add horns behind Jimmy Adams piano all punctuated by Kenny’s mellow guitar picking.
Packing a little more punch from the horns, Neal lays down gritty guitar work on “Blues Leave Me Alone.” Frederick Neal adds the keys here.
Opening with Lucky Peterson on organ, the third track, the stirring ballad “You’ve Got To Hurt Before You Heal,” has a gospel sound. Kenny’s vocals resonate with an emotional feeling that convinces listeners the singer truly has lived, loved, lost, and healed.
Next, Kenny treats us to his learned harmonica as he recites some stereotypical nouns about his home state on the funky “Louisiana Stew.” “Starlight Diamond” also showcases his harmonica prowess on this easy-going 12 bar shuffle.
Displaying a social consciousness, “It Don’t Make Sense You Can’t Make Peace,” has Latin-tinged grooves that drive the message. Robin Rogers and Shelly Magee add background vocals
Welcome back, Kenny, we missed you. Let Life Flow does more than announce Neal’s return, it soothes and inspires with a heartfelt sentiment born of the real-life, human struggles to which any listener can relate.
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.
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.)
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
July 25 - 27, 2008
Big Boulder Ski Area
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
Friday May 16th, 2008
For more info Call 309 637-2200
Chicago Blues Update
Live Blues reviews by Chicago Blues editor Lordy
Blues Beat: Chicago (Photos by August Lord)
Deb Seitz Blues Band at the Harlem Avenue Lounge
On her return engagement to the Harlem Avenue Lounge, Deb Seitz brings her own Deb Seitz Blues Band. Deb seems to have captured some special energy in this hybrid ensemble. She has performed with each of them in several configurations and under several names in the dynamic south suburban blues scene. Frank Anastos, one of the lead guitar players, currently is Deb’s duet partner in the popular Seitz & Sounds. Frank is a guitar jukebox and wraps his accompaniment around Seitz’s songs seamlessly. Anastos also contributes to the vocals. The other lead guitar is in the hands of “Hollywood” Johnny Cosgrove. Cosgrove and Seitz are label mates on SOPRO. Mike Bailey on bass, along with Hollywood Johnny have appeared on several Seitz recordings. Bailey is solid and steady on bass as he synchs with rhythm mate Dan Wiles on drums. Wiles is an in-demand veteran drummer on the South side. On this particular night, another friend SOPRO artist Tony Ferraro (Chicago Horns) brought his sax. I know it’s hard to get six-piece gigs on a regular basis, but I’d sure like to see more Tony in the Deb Seitz Band.
It was hard to believe this was a maiden voyage for this particular group, because it was magic. The Dan Wiles – Mike Bailey connection was in the pocket all night long. When you add Ferraro’s growling sax, wailing sax or honking sax, you get all the color you need. Now for the twin lead guitars: They each played in their own style and in their own time. They played off each other and I suspect at times they played for each other. With two leads, they were able to speak when they had something to say, rather than throw notes at us. “Hollywood” Johnny Cosgrove has a Bloomfield-esque touch that literally gave me goose bumps.
Now place Deb Seitz in front of this group. Wow. It was obvious she was as entertained by her band as we were, and her subsequent smile was contagious. Did I mention that Ms. Seitz is a great blues singer? Music reviewers around town are in agreement with me on that point. From diva growls to soft and sweet, she has it covered. Her stage presence is engaging and comfortable. Did Deb and her band capture lightning in a bottle for their inaugural show, or can we expect this kind of great entertainment from them again? Join me next time they play and we can enjoy them together.
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 (2 0f 2) SCROLL UP For More
The Pauline York Band - Get Down and Ride!
Run Time: 58:04
As she states in her opening number, Pauline York is real. There’s no frills, nothing fancy, just straight ahead rootsy blues, rhythm and blues, and garnished with a little bit of funk. Hailing out of the Joliet IL area, York and Co. debuted in 2001 with the critically acclaimed release Blackberry Wine and then released Muddy Water in 2004. Blending a singer-songwriter sensibility with incorporations of various influences, York is a bright torchbearer for the next generation of American music.
York brings the funk on Get Down and Ride telling she is real, she’s simple and she’s willing to stand up and play with anyone. Her woman-empowered ideals don’t come off as preachy or overly political. She is simply a woman who knows who she is and she is not afraid to sing about it.
Choosing interesting covers throughout the album, York’s straight ahead approach fits the entire playlist here very well. With Barrelhouse Chuck on keys for “Howling Wolf” and “Reap What You Sow,” York demonstrates a deep knowledge of early Chicago Blues with her stripped down, no nonsense approach. On the title track, York shows off her ability to pen and play a catchy funk number without coming off as some folks sometime do, schmaltzy.
Her funk is stripped, ripped, and gritty and makes you tap your feet. York’s sounds a bit screechy at times but her voice is her own and she never pretends to imitate. She sings the songs as herself.
Her singer-songwriter approach seems a bit folksy for a blues crowd on “Brand New Day.” Both the album cut and the alternate take, seem disjointed here with the rest of the album. Her voice, her guitar, and her writing style seem better suited to stay in the blues/soul/funk based music that fills the rest of this disc.
Check out Pauline York at the Washington Street Jazz & Blues Festival this summer. Her CD is available from her website or from CD Baby. Visit Pauline on her re-vamped MySpace Page: http://www.myspace.com/paulineyork
Ben Cox is a Blues Songwriter, Musician, DJ and Journalist.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
The Code Blue Band
Tight at Midnight
Intensely energetic R&B, funk, and rockin' Blues
CLICK HERE to buy the CD
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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 email@example.com
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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 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 the 2008 Central Illinois Blues Challenge on September 21, 2008 at the Tri-Lakes in Bloomington, IL. The winner will be sent to Memphis in early 2009 to compete as our representative in the International Blues Challenge. This year we are limiting the number of bands to five. To be considered bands must apply by July 18, 2008. The solo/duo acts competition is to be determined based on interest. For further information and submission guidelines, please contact Deborah Mehlberg, Entertainment Director at: Deborah464@aol.com
Capital Area Blues Society - Okemos, MI
The Capital Area Blues Society's Blues Brawl kicks off the concert season Sunday, May 18th. 2008 at The Green Door, 2005 E. Michigan Avenue, in Lansing MI. The show starts at 3:00pm. Admission is $5. Eight bands compete to represent CABS in the 2009 International Blues Challenge. Winning band receives $500 in cash, and gigs at the Old Town Blues Festival, the Mill Street Blues Festival in St. Louis (MI), the Barn Tavern in Grand Ledge and more. For more information go to www.cabsblues.com or www.myspace.com/CapitalAreaBluesSociety ; or contact CABS President Toni Alexander at firstname.lastname@example.org
Friends of the Blues - Watseka, IL
The Friends of the Blues presents another "Early" shows. On Tuesday May 20 – Bryan Lee will be performing at Brandon Casey’s, 235 N Kinzie Ave (Route 50), Bradley IL For more information call 815-802-0202.
Live Blues Calendar
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