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Friday, March 28, 2008

Chase Garret Update!

Iowa's own young phenom on the piano Chase Garret is performing at the Ark in Ann Arbor Michigan on April 4th and 5th. He is also scheduled to perform at the 11th annual Blues and Boogies Woogie Summit in New Port Kentucky in November. This kid is the real deal, and I should know! I can Boogie, but this kid smokes me! I bow to his greatness:-) Check him out on this great youtube video I found of him playing Honey Dripper.

Bob Dorr And The Blue Band Update

By Bob Dorr

ALRIGHT!! Thursday's snow here in Sparkle City moved our total up to the 4th snowiest winter OF ALL TIME! I've decided to pray for 14" of snow on Saturday April 5 just so I can say that I lived thru THE SNOWIEST winter of all time! (hey, we've endured so much of this #*%! stuff that we might as well go for the record) Why April 5? 1) it's the start of a 2 week stretch of no Blue Band gigs, so we wouldn't have to travel in it and 2) bad weather usually equals good public radio fundraising! Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! (most of you who know me must be thinking-Bob's finally gone over the edge)...

Saturday night The Blue Band returns to The Riverside Casino and Hotel, south of Iowa City, in Riverside IA. We play the Show Lounge 8:30-midnight. "Uncle Al" will join Heath in the horn section. The General Manager of the casino is Dan Kehl. He used to be a deck hand on the Riverboats we used to play in the 80s out of Dubuque and The Quad Cities. Now he's THE MAN at a multi-million dollar casino and I'm still hoping to make $100 singin' my songs! Maybe I'll hit the jackpot! We'll also be celebrating Pinkstuff's anniversary. PARTY IN YOUR ROOM! Bring cake!...

This Sunday night's Beatles Medley (8:06pm) on Iowa Public Radio's Studio One Network (formerly known as KUNI) will be a half hour of the Fab Four playing live, with performances from 1962-1966. I still can't get over how those guys could hit those 3 part harmonies with all the screaming going on and such primative sound systems to work with. The set includes Lennon's famous line delivered in front of the Royal Family: "those of you in the cheap seats, clap your hands, the rest of you rattle your jewelry!" Find your local frequency or listen on line at

Next Friday (April 4) is the monthly TGIF party at The Hub, 4th & Main, here in Seedy Falls. We play 5:45-9pm. I'm told that there will again be pizza by the slice. Remember, CAKE is good dessert after pizza...

Right after playing the last note next Friday, I'll zoom up to the radio station to beg for money (aka Fundraise). Actually, the first 45 minutes of the Down On The Corner show, which starts at 9pm, I'll be fundraising on tape. In theeeeory, I could be trading fundraising pitches with myself as co-host! IPR fundraising runs Apr. 4-11. Please make a pledge during my shows (Fri. 9-11pm, Sat. 7-10pm and Sun. 6-10pm) I REALLY need that job!...

I am told that I will be the subject of the cover story of the statewide Art Scene magazine in April. They even sent the editor of the magazine to do the story, interviewing me while I did my Backtracks show live last Saturday night on KUNI, errrrr The Studio One Network, I hope I don't sound too stupid! Their website is

Many people on this list have sent encouraging emails recently. It must be (embarrassingly) apparent that I'm struggling to hang in there. Like every small business owner, rapidly rising gas costs and a shrinking worker pool (good help is hard to find, especially for the wage I can afford to pay) combining with the fact that we have not been able to raise our fee (and still get gigs) has me thinking too much. The fact that we only have two gigs in April doesn't help! I'm sure that better weather and the summer festival season will draw me out of this funk. Luckily I have people like you still coming to the gigs, playing your zydeco ties, doin' the Boogaloo, and bringing CAKE!...

There probably won't be a Blue Note for a couple weeks now (The Hub on 4/4 and Prairie Meadows Casino 4/18 are the two April shows that are on the books) See yas at the casinos, drive carefully in any April snowstorms, be generous at the tip jar, good luck with the NCAA office pool (Drake and Duke REALLY messed up that bracket for me!) don't forget that CAKE is a wonderful mood enhancer, and always remember we love you...Bob Dorr & The Blue Band

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Skeeter Brandon RIP

In case you didn't read it in Bob Corritore's newsletter, Skeeter Brandon died. I don't know a lot about him, but I am sure that the people of North Carolina miss him dearly. I had a chance to hear him online and he had an outstanding voice. To check out his webpage go HERE.

Bob Corritore Newsletter

By Bob Corritore

March 26, 2008

Tampa Bay Blues Fest

The Tampa Bay Blues Fest is coming up soon!! April 11, 12, & 13! Here is the schedule of performers slated to attend this years festival!

Friday - 4/11

Billy Gibson 12:30 to 2 pm

Nick Moss & the Flip Tops 2:30 to 4 pm

Lucky Peterson 4:30 to 6 pm

JAMES HUNTER 6:30 to 8

THE ROBERT CRAY BAND 8:30 to 10 pm

Saturday, 4/12

Trombone Shorty 1 to 2 pm

Tutu Jones 2:30 to 4 pm

TAB BENOIT 4:30 to 6 pm

WALTER TROUT 6:30 to 8

LOS LONELY BOYS 8:30 to 10 pm

Sunday, 4/13

Tad Robinson 1:00 to 2:00 Please note time change

California Blues ShowcaseFeaturing:

Chris Cain 2:30 to 4 pm

Janiva Magness 4:30 to 6 pm

ROD PIAZZA & The Mighty Flyers 6:30 to 8 pm

ROBBEN FORD 8:30 to 10 pm

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

2008 Iowa Blues Challenge

Just got this from the old email bag! Sound like some great shows! Show up and support your local blues bands!!!

Press Release-2008 Iowa Blues Challenge

The 2008 Iowa Blues Challenge features head to head competition culminating in a three band Final round to be held Saturday, May 17th, 2008 at the Hotel Fort Des Moines at 1000 Walnut Street in Des Moines, Iowa.

For the fifteenth year, the Central Iowa Blues Society, in cooperation with the Mississippi Valley Blues Society and Lizard Creek Blues Society, presents the 2008 Iowa Blues Challenge, an all-Iowa Blues band contest. This contest is open to any Iowa Blues band that has not been nominated for the Blues Music Awards (Handy’s).

Rounds will be held around the state of Iowa. Ten bands from the Des Moines

area will compete in 2 preliminary rounds, each band performing 30-minute sets.

Midnight Wine, Cold Shot, Avey Brothers, Trouble No More and Kent Burnside

& New Generation will start at 8 PM at Zimm's Food & Spirits on Thursday, April 10th.

The second round will be at Blues On Grand on Thursday, April 17th starting at 8 PM

with Hot Tamale & the Red Hots, Double Clutch, Case of the Blues, The Blues

Bureau and The Soul Searchers. A preliminary round will also be held in the Quad

Cities area at RIBCO on Saturday, April 12th at 8 PM featuring The Blues Explosion,

SLIM & the Bulletproof Boys, The Smokin’ Mojo Kings and Pocket Deuces Blues

Band. Two bands from Des Moines and one band from the Quad Cities will advance to

the Finals on Saturday, May 17th at the Hotel Fort Des Moines.

The Iowa Blues Challenge features one of the finest prize packages, for a contest of this kind, in the country. Prizes are awarded to the top bands, including---cash, travel expenses, recording time, as well as spots in the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival in Davenport, IA; the Nitefall on the River in Des Moines, IA; Simply the Blues Fest in Fort Madison, IA and the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee.

The 2008 Iowa Blues Challenge is proudly sponsored by Central Iowa Blues Society, Mississippi Blues Society, Lizard Creek Blues Society, Budweiser, Citadel Broadcasting/94.9KGGO & 98.3WOW, Junior's Motel, Rieman Music and Russell Bird Foundation.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

BF Burt At The Historical Building In Des Moines

Iowa City's BF Burt is putting on a show at the Historical Building of Iowa. It is a great show that covers the history of the blues in Iowa, and features performances of BF Burt and friends. Click on the picture for a bigger image with more details about the show.

Illinois Blues Blast Newsletter

All news BLUES in the US!

FREE Blues Internet Magazine


March 25, 2008

© 2007 - 2008

News, photos, reviews, live Blues links & MUCH MORE in this issue! - Scroll or Page Down! quick website links: Reviews Links Audio Interviews Photos Videos Blues Radio Blues Shows near YOU! Advertise for FREE! The Blues Blast Archives

Hey Blues fans,

We had a real treat this week. We found out at the last minute that Bobby Rush was playing Friday just a short drive of 10 miles away in Peoria, IL.

Bobby at 75 years young is showing no sign of slowing down his pace of 300 shows a year. He and his band were in fine form.

It is no mystery why Bobby Rush has been nominated so many times for Performer of the year in the Blues Music awards.

Bobby Rush is a true entertainer and one hell of a nice guy to boot!

To see the pictures, CLICK HERE

BIG Festival News!

Many of you have had the pleasure of attending the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival in Davenport, Iowa. This Fourth of July weekend festival is in it's 24th year and as usual their Blues lineup is STELLAR.

This years performers include Kilborn Alley Blues Band, Ben Prestage, Kal David, Steve James & Del Rey, The Kinsey Report, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Elvin Bishop, Otis Taylor, Kent Burnside, Phil Guy, Paul Geremiah, Teresa James, Big Pete Pearson, Jimmy Thackery, Koko Taylor, Billy Boy Arnold, Jody Williams, Boo Hanks, Alexis P Suter, Doug MacLeod, John Nemeth, Junior Watson, Marie Knight, Denise LaSalle, Big George Brock, Tinsley Ellis, and The Holmes Brothers. If you have never attended this Festival, you need to put it on your Blues " Bucket list" as a MUST DO! For complete details on all of this years performers CLICK HERE

More Blues reviews!

We have 7 Blues reviews for you this week! James Walker reviews the new CD by Smokin’ Joe Kubek & Bnois King. Blues trooper Ben Cox again pulls out all the stops this week with 5 reviews. Ben reviews last weeks performance by Andrew "Junior Boy" Jones at Blue Monday, and new CD's by the LA Blues Alliance, Mason Casey, Mem Shannon and Mike Morgan & the Crawl . Chicago editor Lordy reviews a show by Studebaker John & The Hawks at The Blues Island Pub. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN

Blues Want Ads

Place Your Blues Musician Want Ad here for FREE

Guitar for Sale

I have a Kay old Kraftsman hollow body electric jazz guitar nearest I can date is in the 1940's but it reeks of blues. Body has no cracks that I can see. Neck is straight as an arrow. I have pictures of this beautiful piece of history. $600.00 OBO For more info contact Junior Thomas 251-580-8008

Musicians Wanted

My name is Herbert Bass and I write blues lyrics and sing. I have only song in church and the blues around my friends. If there is a band that needs a good blues singer and writer contact Herbert Bass

Place "workin Blues performers" Want Ads here for FREE. NO Commercial Ads!
Buy or sell equipment , musicians wanted, gigs wanted etc. Limit 100 words.

All ads submitted will be used if space allows. If space is limited, a selection of ads submitted will be randomly selected to appear in the Blues Blast. Send your ad submission to

March 28 -30, 2008 Marble Falls, TX

Check out their Fest lineup and all the related events at:

Blues Link of the Week

Rob's Blues Blog

Rob Lehrian has created this impressive Blog he describes as " a site the average Blues fan might enjoy, including a weekly update of new releases, the occasional review of a new release that sticks out, along with artist profiles on those artists who have impacted my life and who are not well represented on Myspace."

But he is being very humble! There is a ton of information here that we are sure you will like! We think Rob writes some great CD reviews and we hope to convince him to share some of them with you in future issues of the Blues Blast!

Visit his site and let us know what you think. Tell him the Blues Blast sent ya!

For more Blues links, CLICK HERE to visit the Links Page

Thursday, May 22 - Saturday, May 24, 2008


Phone: (708) 524-6050

A Symposium on the Legacy of Blues & Gospel Music

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.

  • Panels and presentations with Timuel Black, Portia Maultsby, Horace Maxile, Paul Garon, Sterling Plumpp, Gayle Dean Wardlow, Barry Dolins, Jim O’Neal, Marie Dixon, Bob Davis, Bob Koester, Fernando Jones, Bob Marovich, David Whiteis, Scott Barretta, Salim Muwakkil, Sandra Pointer-Jones, Suzanne Flandreau, Bob Riesman, Stephanie Shonekan, Morris Phibbs, Bob Jones, Billy Boy Arnold, Stan Mosley and others

  • Blues Workshop with Billy Branch and Gospel Workshop with James Abbington
  • Multimedia Presentations, Raeburn Flerlage Photography and Outsider Art Exhibits
  • Musical Appearances by Larry Taylor, James Wheeler and Bob Stroger
  • Bronzeville Tour with a stop at the Blues Heaven Foundation, located in the former Chess Records
  • Chicago Blues Club Crawl
  • Otis Clay and Sharon Lewis in Concert CLICK HERE to see schedule and registration information

Streaming Blues Link of the Week

Michael Cloeren, Founder of The Pocono Blues Festival started Mountain of Blues for his weekly Blues radio shows. The site features numerous archived interviews and shows featuring National and International Blues Greats. To see play list of their more than 200 archived shows CLICK HERE.

To go right to their archived shows list and hear some Blues, CLICK HERE. 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!

The Rutledge Youth Foundation’s Annual Harley Raffle
Kickoff Party

A Night Of The Blues

Friday, April 25th, 2008 - 7:00 PM – 12:30 PM

Capital City Bar and Grill
3149 S. Dirksen Parkway - Springfield, Illinois

FREE Admission

Rutledge Youth Foundation 217-525-7757


Tombstone Bullet

With special guests

(Guitarist for Koko Taylor’s Blues Machine)

Elizabeth Eckert (of American Idol)

Luca Giordano (Italian Blues Artist)

Brother Ray and the Blades
(Former Tonguesnatcher Review members and

Blues Society News

Send your Blues Society's BIG news or Press Release to:

Max of 125 words, Text or Word file preferred.

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
March 31 - Suzy and the Smokers, April 7 - The Blu Tonz, April 14 - Pleasure Chest with Robert Sampson, April 21 - Bryan Lee, April 28 - Kilborn Alley Blues band

West Virginia Blues Society - Charleston, W.V.

Recording artist “Little” Toby Walker will be in Charleston to perform at The Clay Center, as part of the Woody Hawley Concert Series on Saturday, April 19th, and will be sticking around to teach 12 lucky guitar students at one of his “On the Road Guitar Clinics” the next day, Sunday, April 20th, 2008. This special clinic will be held at Cheap Beats Music Store, “D” Street, in S. Charleston from 2pm until 3:30pm. Cost is $30 per student, pre-registration required by April 15th. To register, contact Jack Rice, President of the West Virginia Blues Society, by calling 304.389.1439, or by email: Class size is limited 12 students on a first-come-first-served basis.

Mississippi Action for Community Education - Greenville, MS

31st Annual Mississippi Delta Blues & Heritage Festival - Poster Contest. (MACE) is accepting entries for the poster design for the 31st Annual Mississippi Delta Blues and Heritage Festival to be held on September 20, 2008. The theme for this year’s festival is: "Rollin’ Goin’ Home to da Blues".

Winning entry will receive $500 cash. Entry deadline is April 30, 2008. Mail entries to: Mississippi Delta Blues Festival Poster Contest, 119 South Theobald Street, Greenville, MS 38701. Contact William Brown at 662-335-3523 or for more info. Visit , for contest rules and application form.

The Grafton Blues Association - Grafton, WI

The Grafton Blues Association will host it’s annual Blues in the Schools and Scholarship fundraiser with the Legends of Chicago Blues!
Pinetop Perkins - Hubert Sumlin – Willie “Big Eyes” Smith and Bob Stroger will take the stage on March 29, 2008 at Circle B Recreation Center in Cedarburg Wisconsin. More information is available on our website

Featured Blues Reviews

Smokin’ Joe Kubek & Bnois King - Blood Brothers
Alligator Records

By James “Skyy Dobro” Walker
14 songs; 60:24 minutes; Suggested

Secret to success revealed! Over the years, what is it that has proven, again and again, to be the “make or break” for blues acts? Hitting the road and touring is the answer. It has worked for Smokin’ Joe Kubek and partner Bnois King as their willingness to live the hard-road life has landed them a coveted spot on the Alligator Records label, a new album, and, yes, another extensive tour. Good thing they thrive on “Live” and have for almost 20 years.

Kubek is a rocking and fierce picker and slider; King is a jazz-inflected chorder (who can also solo with plenty of wrist and elbow sparks). The finest example of this seemingly juxtaposed combination is found on the six minute track 13, “The Pleasure Was All Mine.” Paced at mid tempo, the song’s tone and lyric are introspective, and the guitars play both Allmanesque twin harmonic chords and wonderful haunting solo runs. Here is the harder picking of Smokin’ Joe during the first solo break with King on a later one, single picking notes in bursts of bell tone clarity. Kubek explains the relationship succinctly: “I pull the blues out of him, and he pulls the jazz out of me. Bnois knows so much about jazz it’s amazing.”

With literally thousands of live performances thrilling music fans all around the world, all of their recent releases have topped the Living Blues radio poll charts. As a result, it is hard to think of a bigger name in today’s Texas Blues than these two.

Born in 1956, Kubek grew up in Irving TX. Knocked out by the British invasion, Kubek soon discovered the likes of Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf after first hearing Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck. By age 19, he was backing many famous blues players in the area, including legend Freddie King. One night, he even had the chance to play B.B. King’s guitar, Lucille. “King admired my enthusiasm and he encouraged me, which really meant a lot. When times got hard, I always remembered how B.B. King had given me some encouragement,” Joe reports.

Bnois (pronounced buh-Noyss) King was born in Delhi LA in 1943. He was inspired to play guitar by his high school music teacher. Before long, Bnois was playing blues cover songs with a local band. On his own, he traveled through Texas, Oklahoma and Colorado. King made his way to Dallas in 1979, gigging with jazz bands until he hooked up with Kubek.

In 1989, Kubek met guitarist/vocalist Bnois King at a Dallas jam session. The two melded their seemingly divergent styles into one a potent guitar combination. Calling themselves “The Smokin’ Joe Kubek Band Featuring Bnois King,” they released their debut CD, Stepping Out Texas Style, in 1991. As their popularity continued to build, Kubek and King began playing over 150 dates per year all across the United States, Canada and Europe.

Blood Brothers, produced by Kubek and Alligator president Bruce Iglauer, features fourteen rocking blues songs (thirteen originals) filled with Kubek’s more than competent fretwork and King’s smoky vocals and economical but tasty guitar playing. It was recorded with Kubek and King’s road-tested touring unit: Paul Jenkins – bass, Dave Konstantin - drums and with John Street - keyboards on six tracks.

Iglauer is excited, “Joe is an amazing guitarist who can play anything in blues, from the most traditional Texas style to totally blowout blues-rock. Bnois is a gorgeous singer with deep Texas soul, and his guitar playing is subtle and melodic. Together they make an unbeatable two-man front line backed by a solid, versatile rhythm section.”

The first song, “My Dog’s Still Walkin’” gets right to the business of showcasing their no-holds-barred brand of soul-charged, Texas rockin’ blues. Then, the second track, “Don’t Lose My Number” features Smokin’ Joe on his famous slide guitar. So, within two songs, newcomers are introduced and old fans are reassured.

While most songs log in at three to five minutes, an exception is an eight minute, slow-burning cover of Lightnin’ Hopkins “Stop Drinking.” Other standouts include an up tempo and melodic “Must Be Karma” with a theme popularized by TV’s My Name Is Earl. “Freezer Burn” is a nod to Texas’ Ice Picker himself, Albert Collins. “Coleman Avenue” is a look at Bnois King’s earliest inspirational introduction to blues. Best song title, “Midlife Crisis, Midnight Flight” – a rip snortin’ rocker. The best dance number is “Cold Folks Boogie.”

With Blood Brothers and a massive tour planned, Kubek and King -- band mates and blood brothers -- are ready to grow their Texas blues family.

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.

LA Blues Alliance - What A Life

Babyree Records
Run Time: 63:48

The LA Blues Alliance is quite a cast of characters. Most of them you’ve probably heard but you didn’t know their names. Some of them are stellar all stars in the blues realm. Holding it all together is the legendary television score producer Mike Post. I bet you’re wondering how this makes a blues album.

Held down with some of the best blue-eyed soul vocals and Hammond B-3 work you’ll ever hear, Mike Finnigan (The Serfs, Dave Mason, Crosby Stills & Nash, Jimi Hendrix) opens up the album with his self-penned title track full of blue-eyed soul rock of years gone by. Sonny Landreth adds some great slide work while the legendary Stanley Behrens (Canned Heat) takes up the harp chair.

Covers are the spotlight of the album. “TV Mama” featuring the laid back baritone of Keb Mo hearkens to any smoke filled LA Blues Club of days gone by, again with some great punctuation from Finnigan on the organ. Amy Keys (studio & backup vocals for Phil Collins, Michael Bolton, and Joe Cocker) belts out the Stevie Wonder “Maybe Your Baby” with Behrens grabbing at you with his harp work on this track.

Finnigan and Keys also provide one of the coolest covers I’ve heard in a long time with the gospel blues of Johnny Cash’s legendary “I Walk the Line.” Finnigan calms down the blue-eyed soul and gives us some old school blues on the oft-covered “Death Letter” with Keb Mo accompanying on mandolin on the all acoustic track. The other acoustic disc gives us a blues-induced version of Mo and Keys (playing the part of Momma) on Smokey Robinson’s “Shop Around.” Behrens troubling vocals on the Howlin’ Wolf classic “Who’s Been Talking” is easily forgotten by his outstanding harp work on the track.

There are a few holes in this album, which is bound to happen when you get folks together who are predominantly rock and pop players, even Landreth’s playing borders on blues-rock most of the time. However, this is a feel good album with enough highlights and gems, especially in the covers that will make any blues fan proud to listen. Keys’ sultry jazz-inflected soul voice that either in the forefront or in the back ground along with Keb Mo’s rootsy acoustic slide playing help to anchor the disc in the blues. Not to be left out, Mike Finnigan’s raspy blue-eyed soul is also a pleaser to the ears and his B3 work is second to none these days. If you’re a fan of most of these folks past works, this environment with the high level of talent in the disc will surely interest you. CD is available from all major record outlets.

Reviewer Ben Cox is a Blues Songwriter, Musician, DJ and Journalist.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

Mason Casey - Sofa King Badass


Run Time: 54:32

States side, Mason Casey is probably a virtual unknown to many. Now, if you say the name Wilson Pickett, ears will perk up. Jimmy Johnson and people start coming out of the wood work in Chicago just to get a glimpse. Steve Cropper and ideas of years gone by in Memphis conjure in the mind. Where does Mason Casey fit in? Let’s call him the guy in the right place at the right time.

Casey toured a lot with Pickett near the end of his life as his band’s harmonica player and backup vocalist. Pickett’s friend and producer (along with blues legend Little Milton) Jon Tiven heard Casey and then Casey & Tiven went on to release 3 popular CDs in France before Northern Blues decided to pull the trigger on a North American release. The product is what you have here, the little bit crass (just say the album title slowly and you’ll get what I mean) and whole lot of soul-blues of Sofa King Badass.

Casey’s gruff John Hammond-esque vocals give you stripped down blues rock on “You Make It Hard” and the Pickett and Don Covay penned soul of “Nine Times A Man.” The rest of the album besides a few gems pretty much lie within this realm, bordering on formulaic at times but still very upbeat and listenable. Check out “Blue Hair Woman” which easily could be a missing southern rock gem; the Texas-styled shuffle appearance of “That’s My Heart;” and the funky album title track, which really isn’t ready friendly but pure good fun and funky as all get out!

The highlights of the disc that stand out from the rest are the appearances of Jimmy Johnson on lead guitar. Johnson never sounded better. Sounding much like the funky soul-blues of his Delmark Records’ releases Johnson unleashes an immaculate assault on guitar, a pure fury for a guy pushing into his 70s! He outshines producer-guitar player Tiven on the disc that it’s immediately noticeable. Johnson’s effortless work is not meant to outshine anyone but he’s so good, it’s hard not to say it here. “Chesterfield County Jail” and “Take Me to the Airport” will be just 2 more notches for Johnson in his otherwise vastly immaculate catalog. These sides also offer Casey a chance to leap off on, providing some great harp accents in and around Johnson on the two tracks.

Steve Cropper also makes two appearances on the CD on “Let Me In” and “Done Crying” and they appear to fall in with the rest of Casey’s work on the CD, nothing extravagant or noteworthy; just good.

I give Casey credit, much like the liner notes suggest; he is different. He’s not like most in that he either plays straight-ahead blues rock or sound like a classic too much. He’s right in the middle. The songs are good. The release is solid, anchored by a legend. I would say it’s a good spring board for Mason Casey to jump from and improve on as his names’ sake will grow here in his homeland.

Check out Mason on Myspace at or learn more from the Northern Blues website.

Album is available from all major record outlets.

Ben Cox is a Blues Songwriter, Musician, DJ and Journalist.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

Mem Shannon - Live: A Night At Tiptina’s
Northern Blues

Run Time: 74:06 Live Recording

Amalgamation, noun- To combine or unite into one form.

The above definition properly describes one of New Orleans’ most talented sons in Mem Shannon. Since his 1996, Mem has owned the New Orleans blues, jazz, and funk scene. Heading into the BMA’s, Mem’s chalked up two more nominations to his already numerous accolades and two prior BMA nominations. With catchy lyrics and his blend of blues, jazz, and seminal fusion funk…this release was one of the best live recordings to come out in recent years.

The set features a lot of work from his I’m From Phunkville release on Northern Blues from a few years ago. The set gets kicked off with the funk-blues of “Payin’ My Dues,” which Mem roars through with some fleet-fingered fretwork spinning a yarn about the hard realities of a musician on the road who’s down on his luck. Mem goes into straight funk with “Smell Something” on the next track, sounding like a latter day Sly & the Family Stone/Tower of Power B-side. The horn punctuations and the tight rhythm section work are complete and concise throughout. The blues motifs of “No Religion” don’t sound tired or over-stated as it sounds like a man scorned by God and everyone, with Mem’s tasteful and funky guitar work following in toe throughout.

Mem shows that he’s not afraid to dip into pop/rock culture to mine some lyrics from Tom Petty on “I Won’t Back Down.” However, it sounds nothing like the original, as it’s laced with New Orleans R&B and funk that gets the young crowd going. Mem’s depth of passion for storytelling continues with the touching lyrics of the ballad “Forget About Me.” Listen to the keys of Rhock Dabon on the next track, the Neville Brothers’ song “Voodoo” along with the horn punctuations and solo. Throughout the disc, you can tell that Mem is laid back and relaxed, letting go vocally and unhinging his guitar on some attacks that would make the guitar-heads out there lean in and steal a lick or two.

I can’t say enough about this disc. You can feel the energy teeming from it from out and around the edges as you crank it at work and at home. The set is never unbalanced and there isn’t a song here that isn’t a keeper. The last two tracks stretch on over ten minutes allowing for Mem Shannon and his Membership band to unloose and display that they are all well-seasoned veterans and a tight working unit, where none of the parts are bigger than the sum. If you’ve never caught the former cab driver from the wards of New Orleans live, this disc will surely convince you to check out Mem Shannon next time he’s in town.

This album is available at ever major record outlet. Visit Mem Shannon at his website at or look him up on MySpace.

Ben Cox is a Blues Songwriter, Musician, DJ and Journalist.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

Mike Morgan & the Crawl - Stronger Every Day
Severn Records

Run Time: 67:25

Mike Morgan has been touring around Texas since 1990 blending all of his influence of Texas Blues, classic R&B, and even a hint of the Chicago sound. Morgan originally began playing blues exclusively after hearing Stevie Ray Vaughan’s worldwide debut Texas Flood in 1985. Immediately some folks through up their hands, but I say wait! He’s not another clone folks. Legendary harmonica player and vocalist Darrell Nulisch took him under his wing and went out on tour with him for a few years and gave him a dose of all types of blues, eventually veering Morgan to strike out on his own with Kansas City native and R&B crooner Lee McBee. He and McBee toured together which eventually led to McBee striking out on his own and leaving Morgan to do his first lead vocal work.

This disc sees Morgan and McBee reunite and another special guest in the form of roots music newcomer Randy McAllister. Morgan finds himself going back to the R&B formula on three-quarters of the disc. McBee croons and soars over the Jimmie Vaughan-esque guitar attack on the blues ballad of “Sweet Angel.” Morgan demonstrates some prowess on vocals and harmonica on “You’re the One (I’ll Miss the Most).” Randy McAllister trades in his roots rock for straight ahead classic R&B on the plea to the world in “Where’s the Love.”

Morgan takes off the writer’s hat on only one song on this set, demonstrating his depth as an artist and his abilities as a guitar player. He turns in a Fabulous Thunderbirds reading of Gatemouth Brown’s “Okie Dokie Stomp.” Speaking of depth of guitar playing, “Stomp” is no phone-in on guitar! Also, check out the jumpy Freddie King-like funk on the instrumental “Funky Thang.”

Some of the tracks towards the middle of the disc stretch on to over six minutes, kind of slowing down the vibe a bit. If the song structure were tightened and shortened a bit, leaving the more classic R&B feel to the songs wouldn’t seem so much of a stretch here. Morgan himself also overreaches his bounds vocally on the first track to the disc “All Night Long” which might make some folks shake their heads. Besides these two criticisms, the disc is something different with a little classic R&B mixed with Texas Blues.

Visit Mike on the web at Severn Records website or at his management’s website: His CD is available at all major record outlets.

Ben Cox is a Blues Songwriter, Musician, DJ and Journalist.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

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Live Blues reviews

Andrew “Jr. Boy” Jones - The Alamo, Springfield IL

Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Patrick’s Day can be a rough and rowdy time, and it sure was at the Alamo in Springfield IL this past Monday night for Blue Monday. Andrew “Jr. Boy” Jones fit the bill as he served up the near capacity crowd of regulars and St. Patty’s Day revelers with his heavy dose of Texas-induced soul-blues.

From the opening number to the final chord, Jr. Boy brought one of the largest dance crowds to the Alamo that I’ve seen in recent times with doses of funk, Texas shuffles, and soul-fused ballads. Playing songs off of his latest release Jr. Boy Live and off of his last studio release Mr. Domestic, Jr. Boy hardly played a cover all night long; showing the blues fans and the non-blues folks that you can be original and still get funky.

The covers that Jr. Boy did give the crowd were two very familiar songs from the Pop-R&B realm, Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On?” and Ray Charles’ “Georgia On My Mind” with the latter being joined by local Springfield, IL trumpeter Frank Parker.

Jr. Boy’s crowning achievement, in between playful banter from the crowd, was his story about the title track to his last studio release “Mr. Domestic” in which he spins the tale of a bluesman without a job doing chores for his woman. The rapid-fire guitar attack and the tongue-in-cheek lyrics were a bargain at the $2 admission. At one point the police and ambulance showed up just to see what the good-timing ruckus was all about! Jr. Boy also paid great homage and tribute to his late mentor Freddie King. Jr. Boy rocked the Springfield crowd, who stayed up till the last chord well past the 1AM call. Next time Jr. Boy’s in your town, don’t miss this playful, high-energy performance and all around great musician. To see all the pictures of the fun CLICK HERE

Ben Cox is a Blues Songwriter, Musician, DJ and Journalist.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

Chicago Blues Update

Live Blues reviews by Chicago Blues editor Lordy

Blues Beat: Chicago (Photos by August Lord)

Studebaker John & The Hawks at The Blues Island Pub

Studebaker John & The Hawks made their first appearance at The Blues Island Pub, in (of course) Blue Island. This place is easy to get to off I-57 and is a great venue for live blues music. Studebaker John Grimaldi (I just knew it would be a cool Italian name) is well recorded on Blind Pig records and most recently on the Evidence label. He is a prolific writer and manages to keep songs pertinent and fresh within the blues idiom. I sure would like if you came with me to one of Chicago’s great venues to see the Hawks, but you don’t have to because John travels…a lot. You can find him all over our great country and we also share him with Europe where he has another strong fan base. Additionally if you’re a label reader like I am, you will see his credits for bringing life to the recordings of others.

His guitar work is mostly slide. Not being a player I found it interesting that he fingers the board so much during the slide that I thought he may have had a standard tuning. Actually it was a bare bones Danelectro in an open E tuning through a Musicman amp. I wanted to ask him to teach me how to play guitar over the first break, but it took him that long for him to tell me who Dan Electro was. Bob Halat was on bass and knows John’s catalog cold. Studebaker sometimes steps out of the purist progression and Bob is right there with him. Mr. Paul Ashford seemed to me to be a perfect trio drummer. The word backbeat comes to mind. His rig was set up in a different low-rider look. I know who cares how it looked because it sounded great. Studebaker John & The Hawks held us in place all night with original after original. I have been following John long enough to recognize some of them as his standards and my favorites.

Look through his catalog for songs like Ride, We Were So Happy Together, and If I Had a Nickel. Better yet, check to see when Studebaker John & The Hawks come to your burgh. I don’t remember my favorite song of the night, but I do remember my favorite note. It was a long, slow three step bend that John sucked through his harp. John has made quite a reputation in our genre, and has done it by doing his thing, his way. You have to respect that.

Besides he actually does have a Studebaker Hawk. How cool is that?

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