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June 4, 2008
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News, photos, reviews, live Blues links & MUCH MORE in this issue! - Scroll or Page Down!
This is a BIG Blues week! The 25th Annual Chicago Blues Festival runs this Thursday June 5th through Sunday June 8th in Grant Park in Downtown Chicago. They will have continuous music from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. each day. Admission is FREE!!!!!!!
They have 7 stages of entertainment this year and feature over 100 Blues performers representing a wide range of Blues styles.
The lineup features some of the BIGGEST Blues names including David "Honey Boy" Edwards, Pinetop Perkins, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, Bob Margolin, Johnny Winter, James Cotton, Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater, Lonnie Brooks, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Koko Taylor, Lil Ed and the Blues Imperials, Buckwheat Zydeco, Lurrie Bell and B.B. King. Plus nearly 100 MORE!!! This will be the largest single Blues Fest in the US!
We have the complete schedule with links to information about most of the artists on our website at: http://www.illinoisblues.com/chicago2008.htm. IllinoisBlues.com and the Blues Blast will be covering the whole event and will have reviews and pictures next week. See ya there!
We made it to a local watering hole, Shenanigans in Pekin, IL this weekend to see Russell Miller and 6V6.
Russell plays some real honest to goodness Blues. He and fellow guitarist Randy Hoffman, bass player Steve Mckimson and drummer Gene Duncan know the business end of a Blues song.
They played many originals and some great covers at a tiny bar in Pekin with about 20 Blues lovers cheering them on. If they come near your town they are definitely worth a listen. You won't be disappointed!
Blues Reviews This Week
Speaking of the Chicago Blues Fest, James Walker reviews a new CD by an artist who appeared at last years Chicago Fest, Wanda Johnson. Ben Cox reviews a new CD by Bettye LaVette. Bill Porter reviews a new CD by Big Joe Shelton. Chicago Editor Lordy reviews a performance by Chicago Express at Harlem Avenue Lounge. All this and much More! SCROLL DOWN!
Blues Link of the Week
Willie Dixon is remembered as one of the Chicago Blues greats. A fantastic musician and songwriter Willie devoted much of his time in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s to the organization he founded, BLUES HEAVEN FOUNDATION. His vision was to allow the echoes of great American Blues to continue to develop, to encourage a new generation of blues greats and to provide for the on-going welfare of senior Blues musicians.
BLUES HEAVEN FOUNDATION’S mission is to help artists and musicians obtain what is rightfully theirs, and to educate both adults and children on the history of the Blues and the business of music. To achieve this mission, they have successfully executed several programs, including The Muddy Water’s Scholarship, Music Clinics, Music in the Garden/Record Row Festival, and Emergency Assistance. The Blues Heaven Foundation is located in the former Chess Records Studios, 2120 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago. Visit their website and check them out. Tell them the Blues Blast sent ya!
They are also hosting one of the best after hours parties following the Chicago Blues Festival each evening this week. Check out the details of these limited seating events at: www.hotbluesnights.com
For more Blues links, CLICK HERE to visit the IllinoisBlues.com Links Page
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
Blues Society News
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Willie Dixon's Blues Heaven Foundation - Chicago, IL
Dixon Landing Music has teamed with legendary bluesman Willie Dixon's Blues Heaven Foundation to sponsor "HOT BLUES NIGHTS... LIVE AT 2120!" (www.hotbluesnights.com) This 3-day event, held June 5th - 7th at the historic former Chess Records Studios, 2120 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, will be an after hours party when the Chicago Blues Festival retires each evening. The line-up schedule includes:
The Henderson Music Preservation Society - Henderson, KY
The Henderson Music Preservation Society presents the 2008 W.C. Handy Blues and Barbecue Festival in Henderson, KY to be held June 7-14, 2008. Lineup includes, Bernard Allison, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Ana Popovic, Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band, Eddie Shaw and the Wolfgang, Zac Harmon, Big James and the Playboys, Alexis P. Suter, Tad Robinson, Organiks, The Daddy Mack Blues Band, BooBoo Davis Band, The Beat Daddys, Jimmy Duck Holmes, Dennis Stroughmatt and Creole Stomp, The Stella Vees, Velveeta Jones, Small Train - Featuring Jesse Sellers, Mojo Peddlers, Huckleberrys, Hog Maw Blues Band, Chad Nordhoff and Blues 4U. For more information visit www.handyblues.org or contact: email@example.com
The West Virginia Blues Society - Charleston, WV
The West Virginia Blues Society presents the Charlie West Blues Fest, June 28, 2008 at Coonskin Park, Charleston, WV. $12 Advance/$15 gate. The LINEUP includes Blues Crossing, Chad Freeman & Blue Revolution, Biscuit Rollers, The Carpenter Ants, Jill West & Blues Attack, Izzy & Chris, Patrick Sweany Band and Johnnie Rawls Blues Review. For more information please visit www.wvbluessociety.org
Madison Blues Society - Madison WI
Madison Blues Society’s 6th Annual Blues Picnic is Saturday, June 21, 2008 from Noon to 9:30 PM at Warner Park in Madison, WI. Fantastic line-up of local and regional blues bands including Shari Davis & the Hootchy-Kootchy Band, Joe Nosek's Blues Kids, Cash Box Kings, Danny Miller Band, Mud Angels, Paul Filipowicz and Otis & the Alligators. The show is FREE and open to the public.
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 - June 9 Shawn Kellerman from Ontario, Canada, June 16 Deak Harp Blues Band 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
Born In Arkansas
CLICK HERE to Purchase this CD
Friday, July 25, 2008
Saturday, July 26, 2007
Festival Website www.prairiedogblues.com
The only Blues festival held on an island in the middle of the Mississippi River!
Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin on St. Feriole Island
Featured Blues Review (1 0f 3) SCROLL DOWN For More
Wanda Johnson - Hold What You Got
14 songs; 56:02 minutes; Suggested
Style: Variety: blues, soul, R&B, pop, and gospel
Anyhoo..... why haven’t more people heard her? Why don’t you do a review of her? You review all these big name artists from the big labels, but why not give the little guy a break? She sang a cute song about being a “low maintenance woman who was allergic to mink.” Ain’t that funny?Yer fan,
Good news, however, I did get Wanda Johnson’s latest album to review. And, you are so right – she is great! Good thing I did find out about her because she is moving up so fast that I was in danger of being the last-to-know.
Wanda Johnson is a natural-born singer and entertainer who hails from a large family in a farming community in upstate South Carolina. Born in 1963 one of nine all-girl children, she has been performing semi-pro since the early 1990s.
Wanda is quickly gaining notoriety as a new star on the international scene. With three European tours under her belt, numerous USA festival appearances (including Chicago and Pocono), and three CDs in worldwide distribution ("Call Me Miss Wanda," "Natural Resource," and "Hold What You Got"), 2008 is going to be a big year for Wanda Johnson. Her website schedule shows continuous gigging in the Southeast with overseas touring in France, Macau (China), Poland, and the Czech Republic.
She writes much of her own music, and five of the fourteen numbers on this latest CD are penned by her. Performing live and on this CD, Wanda is, almost without exception, accompanied by Shrimp City Slim, aka Gary Erwin, the Charleston SC based label owner, producer, pianist, and composer who contributed seven album tunes.
Erwin’s deft keyboard work is a big part of the fun on the CD, and his band includes Silent Eddie Phillips – guitars, LaMont Garner – drums, Jerome Griffin – bass, Mike Kincaid – tenor sax, and Juke Joint Johnny – harmonica. All but the last two add backing and harmony vocals.
For blues purists, “Girlfriend,” a shuffle by Patricia J. Pruitt, is a 12 bar killer. Erwin opens with two fisted Chicago blues piano to accent the sad story revealing a man stealing best friend. The mid song slide-guitar solo is so completely greasy it’s just plain, down-in-the-dirt nasty. Man, I love it so much it will be on my radio show this week!
The catchy title track also opens with some bouncing piano before clever estrogen-laced lyrics send a message to women that my male brain probably can’t fully comprehend. “Hold What You Got” seems to celebrate full bodied women who should be proud of themselves as they are. “Hold what you got / don’t add no more to it. Hold what you got / don’t take none away....” And, “...that [formerly] skinny girl is a grown woman who can hold what she got / now she’s a big-legged woman / and not too bad on the top / I ain’t even jealous of you girl / hold what you got.”
Many a joke has been created by men about the “perfect woman.” Most include something about a father who owns a liquor store. In “Allergic To Mink,” Johnson beats all us men to the punch (line), “I’m a low maintenance mama, allergic to mink.” In this mid-tempo romp, each line is punctuated nicely by alternating harmonica, piano, guitar, and sax giving the song more of the creativity that makes the whole album a winner.
Most of the songs run three to four minutes which is significant. Too many times it seems, if an artist can not find a muse to craft a solid song, they can always improvise one ponderous extended guitar solo after another. But, that wears thin and ultimately exposes the truth.
As I said at the top, I know essentially nothing about Erwin Music and Wanda Johnson. But, all I need to know is contained in this wonderful release revealing there are some hugely talented musicians and composers and one rising star of a singer in South Carolina.
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 tickets and more info!
Featured Blues Review (2 0f 3) SCROLL DOWN For More
Big Joe Shelton - Black Prairie Blues
Hey blues lovers; have I got a CD for you! Want to go to an authentic Mississippi juke joint with ribs, cat whiskey and blues? Pick up Big Joe Shelton’s latest CD: Black Prairie Blues. You’ll be transported to the northeast, “Black Prairie Region” of the Mississippi blues trail in a heartbeat. Every song has a killer feel, powered by a solid rhythm section featuring bassist Ean Evans (Lynyrd Skynyrd, Outlaws) and drummer Bryan Owings (Delbert McClinton, Amazing Rhythm Aces). This CD is electric, driving blues with a Southern barrel house feel.
You’ll get your hard earned dollars worth on this 15 song CD. Joe wrote or co-wrote every cut, which makes him a triple threat: singer, song writer and Mississippi saxophonist. Being from Chicago, I didn’t know what a Mississippi Saxophone was. It’s a blues harp and oh boy, can Big Joe work those reeds! Joe’s sound favors the big, fat harp sounds of Little Walter and James Cotton. And why shouldn’t it? After all, he moved from the deep South to Chicago in the 70’s, where he honed his blues licks listening to Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy and the flourishing Old Town Chicago blues scene from Maxwell Street to the South Side.
Joe’s vocals remind me of the growling sound of Howlin’ Wolf’s six-foot-four delivery. No Bee Gee’s falsetto on this album! You’ll hear plenty of honest, dig down and bare-your-soul BLUES. The listener will surely find lyrics they can relate to on this real life tapestry of life.
Haven’t we all been at a relationship “crossroads” and anguished over track 15’s simple question: “If you don’t want me, be a woman and tell me so. I’ll just pack my things and go.” This track is punctuated by Edwin Daniel’s, six string pentatonic perfection. Instrumental performances are strong on every cut. Other cuts feature Drew Dieckmann’s tasteful blend of Clapton-meets-Cropper guitar riffs and Uncle Wayne’s, ”no-doubt-about-it” approach to the blues . Big Joe immerses himself with top notch musicians like 2003 Living Blues Artist of the Year, Willie King. Keyboards are perfectly blended by the talents of Bobby Shannon and John Simpson. The songs are strong and the production is good.
The liner notes and lyrical content reveal Big Joe’s positive message, as illustrated in “Hope we Live to See the Day (… where we love one another like the Good Book says…). Give this “new” artist (with over 30 years’ experience) a chance.
If you like the electric Delta Blues flavor of R. L. Burnside, Mark Hummel, Slick Ballinger and Jr. Kimbrough, you’ll like Big Joe Shelton. To purchase this CD, CLICK HERE.
Reviewer Bill Porter is the front man for the Bill Porter Project an Illinois based Blues band.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
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
Chicago Blues Update
Live Blues reviews by Chicago Blues editor Lordy
Blues Beat: Chicago (Photos by August Lord)
Chicago Express at Harlem Avenue Lounge
It often seems that you no sooner think of someone or something, and it shows up. In the past few months we have seen The Chicago Horns, The Chicago Rhythm & Blues Kings, Nu Blu and Big James & The Chicago Playboys. All these bands feature full horn sections in their presentation of the blues. It seems that I take horns for granted on recordings where they often go unnoticed. Hearing them live, and in your face however, is a totally different experience.
I find myself hearing old recordings with new horn-sensitive ears. Again, no sooner do I have these horny thoughts, than Chicago Express plays at Harlem Avenue Lounge. This septet fronted by singer Burt Cosby, sports saxophones, trumpet and trombone (and flute). The saxophones were handled by Clif Lee, and the brass by Larry Bradley. They both chipped in with lead vocals, harmonies and contagious showmanship. Bradley’s to-do list also included flute and harp. Lou Weckler thumped the five string bass and Jeff Nelson was the lead guitar player. Tony Buckner was on keys and Frank Galasso rounded out the veteran troupe from behind the red Pearl drum kit.
The band announced that they have been playing together for twenty-one years. That means in the short span between me being forty-ish and now, they have developed a noticeable tightness. Speaking of which, think of the horn riff on the song Tighten Up. I didn’t think much of it when I heard the record years ago, but it sounded new and interesting hearing live horns belt it out. Think about the song Low Rider and whereas I used to focus on the deep voice singing it, I now hear the horn riffs responding. Larry Bradley had a novel way of doing the round robin solo presentations by the members. Take note and watch for it when you see Chicago Express live (affirmative nods are in order). Cosby’s blues pipes were as convincing as the instrumentalists were, in both hard and soft tunes. His introduction to one song was “we’re goin’ down to where the mans hang out.”
Include that in the same set with “Gonna Sell the Bitches Car and Buy Myself a Cool Guitar”, and you would think they wouldn’t be hired for any bra-burning gigs. In reality, The Chicago Express plays a variety of gigs, including weddings. I won’t hold that against them because they gave me a song with a lead and three harmonized responses (Knock on Wood). I have always been a sucker for layered voices. I had high expectations when I saw the word Chicago in their moniker, and I was not disappointed.
To see a Chicago Area list of upcoming events 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
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The Code Blue Band
Tight at Midnight
Intensely energetic R&B, funk, and rockin' Blues
CLICK HERE to buy the CD
Featured Blues Review (3 0f 3) SCROLL DOWN For up
Bettye LaVette is one of those good stories of the record business. She’s the kind that you don’t hear and see every day. She has never sold her sound or her soul to the big labels to sell records. Her unabashed style and grace coats every song. With 2005’s “comeback” album I’ve Got My Own Hell to Raise, LaVette finally started getting credit and nods from the record labels and the Grammy nominators. With 2007, the world came calling and Scene of the Crime delivered. Recorded in the landmark FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama; LaVette returns to familiar territory where she recorded the 1972 sessions of Child of the Seventies which remained shelved by Atlantic Records for almost 30 years.
Bordering on a cover album, similar to the formula of Hell, LaVette crisses and crosses between genres interweaving her inspired interpretations with each vocal phrase. LaVette wraps her raspy vocals around Eddie Hinton’s "I Still Want to Be Your Baby (Take Me Like I Am) with a stern conviction when she preaches: “I’ve Been This Way Too Long to Change Now.” Much like contemporaries Little Milton and Solomon Burke, LaVette doesn’t shy away from country and western. With the second track of the album “Choices,” LaVette revives a late-catalog George Jones classic about redemption and personal epiphany with Spooner Oldham offering a beautiful piano solo. It is in these bare minimal settings with just vocals and an instrument or two that LaVette’s beautiful vocal nuance is allowed to spread its wings.
If Tina Turner were to come back to her roots at classic R&B and soul, she would find herself out of business already because LaVette has taken the throne. Drifting back and forth over Don Henley, Ray Charles, Willie Nelson, John Hiatt; this album was a shoe-in for folks to take notice of it. However, it is the Elton John album cut from 1970’s Tumbleweed Connection, “Talking Old Soldiers,” that landed LaVette the hallmark of her career. With the defiant, expressive, anecdotal sounds in each lyric of the ballad; you would believe that LaVette had lived every letter in the story of the old hag drinking at the bar that she’s singing about.
Finally, LaVette puts you to bed again with the bare minimum arrangement on the country & western cheating song "I Guess We Shouldn't Talk About That Now.” As LaVette’s vocals fade out the track, you the listener will yearn for more. You’ll play it again and again picking up something new each time you listen. With LaVette being a victim of timing for a release year, she probably should’ve won something big for this album. However, that’s been the story of LaVette’s career. She’ll take the lumps and sing about it later. Then, you’ll buy the album.
Ben Cox is a Blues Songwriter, Musician, DJ and Journalist.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
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