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Friday, May 30, 2008

Jimmy McGriff RIP

Just received this from Bob Corritore via email.

  • RIP Jimmy McGriff 4/3/36-5/24/08: Jimmy McGriff was an amazingly gifted Hammond B3 Organ player who, though most embraced by jazz audiences, always considered himself to be a blues musician. His pioneering and spirited performances have left an indelible imprint on the legacy of his instrument. He passed away Saturday from what is believed to be heart failure at a nursing home in New Jersey. He was 72. Some of his most memorable hits include his instrumental version of Ray Charles' “I’ve Got A Woman”, the tonally textured “MG Blues”, and the rowdy blues shuffle “All About My Girl”. In later years, Jimmy teamed up with saxophonist Hank Crawford for some memorable albums (some produced by Bob Porter) and zesty live performances. His passing is great loss for both the blues and jazz communities. His masterful touch will never be replaced, while at the same time his influence will never be denied. For a complete bio of Jimmy McGriff, click here. For the Los Angeles Times article on Jimmy's passing, click here.

Jimmy McGriff on YouTube:

"Turn Blue" (with slide show)

"I Got A Woman"

Interview and organ demonstration

RIP Danny Rhodes

More sad news from Bob Corritore

  • RIP Danny Rhodes 1950-5/23/08: Though not a household name in the blues, Arizona blues singer/guitarist Danny Rhodes was loved by those that new him. He passed away on May 23, 2008 after a long bout with gastric cancer. He was 58 years old. Danny was based in Cottonwood, Arizona, and in addition to fronting his own popular band, he generously provided guest slots to many of Arizona's blues veterans at some of his standing casino gigs (Chico Chism, Big Pete Pearson, Tommy Dukes, Small Paul, and Sam Taylor, to name a few). Born in Cairo, Illinois and blues bred in Louisiana, Danny settled in Arizona in the 1980s. He wrote songs that were covered by Etta James, and was inducted into the Arizona Blues Hall Of Fame in 2006. To find out more about Danny, visit his website by clicking here. Memorial services for Danny will be held on Saturday, May 31, 2008 at the Riverfront Park softball field in Cottonwood, Arizona at 10am. More services on June 7, 2008 in West Monroe, Louisiana and June 14, 2008 in Nashville, Tennessee are scheduled; check Danny's website for more details. We are sorry to say goodbye to our friend.

Delmark Records Update

Hey Friends of Delmark!

DELMARK DOINGS Spring into Summer 2008

In its 55th year, Delmark Records’ release schedule is as busy as ever, with four recent Spring releases hitting the blues and jazz market
(Dave Specter, Mississippi Heat, Jason Ajemian’s Smokeless Heat, and Wally Rose) along with four new highly anticipated summer releases on the way- Byther Smith's first live CD and DVD (w/ Jimmy Burns' band), rising jazz star and trumpet phenom Corey Wilkes' debut as a leader (!), never before released '66 stride piano duets from Willie “The Lion” Smith & Don Ewell, and a '81 swingin' Chicago jazz session from Cy Touff (bass trumpet) & Sandy Mosse (Tenor sax).

Four new Delmark Releases - (Street Date June 17, 2008)

1) Byther Smith Blues On The Moon, Live at the Natural Rhythm Social Club (Delmark DVD 1796, CD DE 796)
- First live album from the most intense Chicago bluesman around! Hell no, he’s not retired!! This slashing guitarist, menacing vocalist, and original songwriter is still in prime form, despite false rumors of retirement. “Blues on the Moon” (DVD 1796/DE 796) was captured Live at the Natural Rhythm Social Club on Chicago’s South side from last summer with Jimmy Burns’ fantastic backing band and is Byther’s first live album.

Byther Smith is a fighter, a scrapper, a hard worker and a survivor. As a child in Monticello, Mississippi he lost both his parents; his mother when he was one year old and his father six months later. Shipped off to Arizona as a young man, Smitty took up boxing in part to deal with the pain. "I had 69 amateur fights and I only lost one." Smitty came to Chicago in the mid-’50s and by the early ’60s was playing at Theresa's Lounge, where he backed Junior Wells. He also worked with Big Mama Thornton, George "Harmonica" Smith and Otis Rush. He recorded his first LP for the Grits label in 1983, two for Bullseye in the early ’90s, and this is his fourth Delmark CD - his first live album. DVD contains one bonus track and Byther Smith commentary special feature.
(Also available: Mississippi Kid (Delmark 691), All Night Long (Delmark 708), Hold That Train (Delmark 774), Junior Wells, Live at Theresa's 1975 (Delmark 787))

2) Corey Wilkes Drop It (Delmark DE 582)
We’re very excited to announce the debut recording as a leader from Chicago jazz trumpet phenom Corey Wilkes, “Drop It” (DE 582) This hotly anticipated release features the diverse original repertoire of the charismatic young Corey- “it’s imbued with the blues, infused with the rhythmic primacy of hip hop, incorporating the poignancy of poetry, and it utilizes the improvisation of jazz, thus taking the music out of its normal stylistic boundaries to create something unique and original.” This Riverside studio recording (with an additional live title track) also features the talented keyboard work of Robert “Baabe” Irving and the beautiful vocals from Dee Alexander.

Jazz trumpeter Corey Wilkes burst on the Chicago jazz scene in 2002. Corey took on the ghost of Lester Bowie and filled the vacant seat in the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Big shoes to fill for a new musician but Corey isn't an ordinary musician. He began at the age of 10, made the Illinois All State Honors Jazz Combo in high school and honed his talent at Berklee College of Music. His soulful notes can be heard gracing a variety of projects such as DJ sets by DJ Logic, Osunlade and Josh Deep; tracks on Hidden Beach's Unwrapped Vol. 4, also recorded with Roscoe Mitchell, Art Ensemble, Tortoise, Ernest Dawkins, Nicole Mitchell and Ethnic Heritage Ensemble's Hot ’N’ Heavy (Delmark DVD 1574, CD DE 574). With Chelsea Baratz, tenor sax; Jabari Liu, alto sax; Robert "Baabe" Irving III, piano and Fender Rhodes; Junius Paul, bass; Jeremy "Bean" Clemmons, drums. Drop It is Corey's debut CD as leader.

3) Cy Touff & Sandy Mosse Tickle Toe (Delmark DE 583)
A long awaited swingin’ session from 1981 from Chicago jazz heavies Cy Touff and Sandy Mosse.

One of the few bass trumpet specialists in jazz history, Cy Touff (1927-2003) was a fixture in Chicago for decades. Touff recorded albums for Pacific Jazz and Chess' Argo in the ’50s. He worked in the studios, performed in clubs and recorded with Chubby Jackson and Lorez Alexandria in 1957, and with the group Hyde Park After Dark in 1981. Tenor saxophonist Sandy Mosse (1929-1983) was born in Detroit but spent much of his American playing time in Chicago. He moved to Paris at age 22 and recorded historical sides in the bands of Henri Renaud and Django Rheinhardt. He returned to Chicago in ’55 and recorded for Argo. Touff and Mosse co-led an octet in the late ’50s/early ’60s called Pieces of Eight. Mosse relocated to Amsterdam in the late ’70s where he spent his last years. Tickle Toe is a swinging 1981 date with John Campbell (piano), Kelly Sill (bass) and Jerry Coleman (drums).

4) Willie "The Lion" Smith & Don Ewell Stride Piano Duets, Live in Toronto 1966 (Delmark DE 249)
Early jazz fanatics will rejoice with a never before released live duet recording from 1966 from 2 legendary stride pianists, Willie “The Lion” Smith and Don Ewell, “ Sophisticated and rollicking piano instrumental duets!

Willie "The Lion" Smith in the 1920s was considered one of the big three of stride piano, along with James P. Johnson and Fats Waller. He was an influence on the young Duke Ellington. Although he was a braggart (with his cigar and trademark derby hat) and appeared to be a rough character, Smith was actually more colorful than menacing, and a very sophisticated pianist. Because he remained active into the early '70s, Willie "The Lion" Smith was considered a living link to the glory days of early jazz. A major if underrated pianist, Don Ewell was inspired by Jelly Roll Morton and Earl Hines, but could stride like Fats Waller, too. Ewell started leading his own trios in Baltimore in the mid-'30s; played during the New Orleans jazz revival (starting in the mid-'40s) with Bunk Johnson, Muggsy Spanier, Sidney Bechet, and Kid Ory (1953) and was with Jack Teagarden during 1957-1964. Ewell sometimes played duets with Willie "The Lion" Smith in the late '60s before moving to New Orleans, where he worked regularly during his last years. This 1966 date, recorded live at the Golden Nugget in Toronto, features duets by the two piano legends, and has never before been issued!
(Also available: George Lewis & Don Ewell, Reunion (Delmark 220), Dewey Jackson, Live at the Barrel 1952 with Don Ewell (Delmark 245)).

Recent Delmark Releases from the Spring, 2008

1) Dave Specter, Live in Chicago, on Delmark DVD- 1794 and CD - DE 794, with special guests Jimmy Johnson, Tad Robinson, and Sharon Lewis - , ,
We are thrilled with the return of outstanding blues guitarist Dave Specter to Delmark recording activity. “Live In Chicago” (DVD 1794/DE 794) is a “all-star blues/funk/soul revue” with special guests vocalists Tad “Mr. Soul/Blues” Robinson, the ageless Jimmy “The Bar Room Preacher” Johnson, and Sharon “The Texas Fire” Lewis each showcasing their unique talents while Specter lays down his deep blues/jazz guitar grooves. I challenge anyone to name another 79 year old who can play a more fluid and funky guitar than the legendary Jimmy Johnson! We just celebrated Specter’s new release with two CD/DVD release parties: one at Buddy Guy’s Legends (where Buddy Guy sat in with Dave and the supremely funky and soulful Jimmy Johnson) and one at Specter’s new music club in Evanston, S.P.A.C.E. Fantastic vocalists Tad Robinson (“What’s Your Angle?”) and Sharon Lewis (“Angel”) performed knock out sets both nights with Specter’s excellent band - Brother John Kattke (w/ Pete Benson at SPACE) (keys), Harlon Terson (bass) and Marty Binder (drums)

2) MISSISSIPPI HEAT, Hattiesburg Blues, (Delmark CD - DE 795), with special guests Lurrie Bell and Carl Weathersby - , , ,
Fantastic harp player/bandleader Pierre Lacocque and Mississippi Heat also return with their 2nd release on Delmark; this is a new ambitious studio CD and their best yet! “Hattiesburg Blues” (DE 795) features their dynamic lead vocalist Inetta Visor "Tiger Man", and Chicago blues guitar legends Lurrie Bell (“Chicago is My Home” should be a new Chicago blues anthem!) and Carl Weathersby ("Hell and Back"), along with relative newcomer Giles Corey (check out his catchy and funky "Say Something Good!") . The always reliable drummer Kenny "Beedy Eyes" Smith, The Chicago Horns, latin pecussionist Ruben Alvarez, and funky clavinet/keys from Chris "Hambone" Cameron also add significantly to this varied disc of almost all new original compositions from Pierre. You can listen to sound samples of this at

**DELMARK CD release party for Mississippi Heat's "Hattiesburg Blues"
FRIDAY, MAY 30TH, BUDDY GUY'S LEGENDS with special guest Carl Weathersby!! 754 S. Wabash, @10pm

3) JASON AJEMIAN’s Smokeless Heat, The Art of Dying (DE 581)
We are proud to release the Delmark debut recording as a leader of bassist Jason Ajemian (Chicago Underground Trio) and Smokeless Heat, saxophonist Tim Haldeman, and drummer Nori Tanaka. Ajemian and this inventive group of creative jazz players from the prolific Chicago scene recorded “The Art of Dying” (DE 581) with vibist Jason Adasiewicz, trumpeter Jaimie Branch, and guitarist Matt Schneider. This is a wonderful example of a recording that will appeal to both avant-garde and straight ahead jazz lovers.
“From gorgeous ballads and ethereal tone poems to simmering blues and angular post bop, the rotating line-up handles each style with utter conviction and carefree conversational acumen. Another brilliant document verifying Chicago's ancient to the future jazz aesthetic, The Art of Dying is a vibrant example of what lies ahead.” All About Jazz

4) WALLY ROSE - Whippin’ The Keys (DE 248)
Rounding out our first of 2008 Spring releases is “Whippin’ The Keys” (DE 248), a masterful ragtime piano solo session from influential Bay Area Trad Jazz pianist Wally Rose. These 20 selections were originally on two Blackbird LPs from 1968 and 1971 and reissued here for the first time.

To kick off the summer festival season, many Delmark recording artists will be performing at the 25th annual Chicago Blues Festival; Jimmy Burns, Big Time Sarah, Lurrie Bell, Jimmy Johnson, Karen Carroll, Charles Wilson, Eddy Clearwater, Magic Slim, Lonnie Brooks, Aron Burton, Little Arthur’s Backscratchers, Sharon Lewis, Inetta Visor, Billy Branch, Plas Johnson, and more.
Mississippi Heat (Pierre LaCocque and Inetta Visor) will also be performing for Delmark’s annual Blues Brunch at Jazz Record Mart Sunday morning (June 8, 10:30am) before you head off to the Fest! Don’t miss the post Blues Fest night activities with some amazing shows for you to choose from, including shows at Dave Specter’s new club in Evanston ( S.P.A.C.E.) with Specter, Jimmy Burns, Jimmy and Syl Johnson all headlining, along with a near South side gig at Reggie’s Rock club with Tail Dragger, Byther Smith, and more!

Don’t miss the post Blues Fest night activities with some amazing shows for you to choose from, including Delmark related shows at Dave Specter’s new club in Evanston ( S.P.A.C.E.) with Specter, Jimmy Burns, Jimmy and Syl Johnson all headlining, along with a near South side gig at Reggie’s Rock club with Tail Dragger, Byther Smith, and more!

SPACE 1st Annual Blues Festival!
June 4th - June 7th, 2008, 1245 Chicago Ave, Evanston- 847-492-8860

-Wednesday June 4th: "Blues on the North Shore" with David "Honeyboy" Edwards, Eddy Clearwater, Barrelhouse Chuck & special guests. A Tribute to Chicago/Delta blues legend & 2008 Grammy Award winner David 'Honeyboy' Edwards. A celebration of his life, legacy and music. 8:00pm $25

-Thursday June 5th: Jimmy Johnson & Dave Specter
The legendary Bar Room Preacher meets Specter and his soulful, blues-drenched guitar. Featured together at Millennium Park and on Specter's "Live in Chicago" DVD & CD on Delmark Records. 9:00pm $10

-Friday June 6th: Jimmy Burns
Jimmy Burns' musical resume reads like a history of blues and R&B from the last fifty years - a charismatic performer with an expressive, soulful voice and a melodic guitar style to match. 9:30pm $10

-Saturday June 7th: Syl Johnson with Morris Jennings and Bernard Reed
Syl Johnson is one of the unsung heroes of Black American popular music and is a triple threat legend in blues and soul; he's a gritty blues harp man, a stellar R&B/Blues guitarist, and most importantly, one of the finest soul singers on the planet. 9:30pm $20

**Fri, Sat, June 6, 7 2008- post CHICAGO BLUES FESTIVAL - American Blues Legends Revue @ Reggie’s Music Joint
2105 S. State Street, CHICAGO, Illinois 60616, $15, 312-949-0120.
American Blues Legends Management Presents - Heroes of Chicago Blues All-Star Blues Festival Performance - Hosted by guitarists Rick Kreher and Cadillac Zack. Performances by Jody Williams, Eddie C. Campbell, Elmore James, Jr., Byther Smith, Tail Dragger, and many special guests!!!! DO NOT MISS this- this is the real deal shit, y’all!

Byther Smith and Lurrie Bell will both also be wowing the crowds at the prestigious Poconos Blues Fest at the end of July, and versatile bluesman and entertainer supreme Jimmy Burns returns to the one of a kind Sunflower Blues Fest in Clarksdale, Mississippi in August. Bay area guitar master Steve Freund was just booked for the famous Lucerne Blues Festival in Switzerland in November.

Tail Dragger Stomps the Ponderosa!

7th annual Ponderosa Stomp Music Festival in New Orleans, April 29, 30, 2008 ,

What, you’ve never heard of the Ponderosa Stomp? Dr. Ike and the Mystic Knights of the Mau Mau from New Orleans have put together one of the most talked about music fests in the world today. Now in its seventh year, the Ponderosa Stomp “is an American Roots music festival dedicated to recognizing the architects of rock-n- roll, blues, jazz, country, swamp pop, and soul.” You will not find another insane music lineup like this funky fest: a colorful cast of alive and (mostly) well characters from our favorite records, predominately from the 50’s and 60’s. Unsung musical heroes, overlooked sideman, almost forgotten one-hit wonders, screamers, shouters, pleaders, testifiers, pickers, horn blowers, piano pounders, and behind the scene makers are all found on stage and shaking their tail feathers and money makers on the dance floor at the Stomp in New Orleans!
There are so many acts I would love to mention, but of course I was especially excited this year as two of our favorite Delmark recording artists were performing! The infamous Tail Dragger, aka Crawlin’ James, the best Howlin’ Wolf influenced entertainer/singer on the planet, along with Syl Johnson, who possesses one of soul music’s greatest all-time voices, were both huge hits and performed some of the most talked about sets at this year’s 2 day Stomp.
Tail Dragger headlined Night #1 of the Stomp (2-3 am slot!) and had the faithful and converted smiling and grooving with his lowdown and gritty blues preaching, along with his floor stalking and in your face growl and prowl. The New York Times even wrote a glowing review of the Stomp and mentions our Tail Dragger! “The Tail Dragger, a Chicago bluesman in a suit and cowboy hat, glared balefully as he sang about woman trouble with a growl worthy of Howlin’ Wolf!” Our Chicago friends guitarists Rick Kreher (Little Arthur Duncan’s guitarist) and Rockin’ Billy (who also backed Chicago area Sun rockabilly legend Hayden Thompson’s set), and drummer Twist Turner were Dragger’s fantastic backing band, along with Memphis’ Bo-Keys bassist Scott Bomar (who produced the great soundtrack to Black Snake Moan!) Rick Kreher was particularly inspiring on guitar, having to be heard over the overly busy harp playing of New Orleans character/motor mouth J. Monque’D. Kreher even channeled some deep Muddy Waters slide guitar; I guess not surprising since Rick was Muddy’s guitarist for over 5 years at the end of his career.
Syl “Is It Because I’m Black” Johnson stormed through a set of inspired Memphis to Chicago Soul and Blues showcasing his still magnificent falsetto vocals, along with his ol’ friends from Memphis’ HI Records, the Hodges brothers, who supply the perfect funky soul rhythm, bringin’ us back to the ‘70’s Memphis Soul Stew. “Back For A Taste of Your Love” “Take Me To The River”, “Anyway the Wind Blows!”
The guy I wasn’t familiar with who blew me away was obscure Alabama soul man, Ralph “Soul” Jackson, who performed as part of Chicagoan John Ciba’s Rabbit Factory label Soul Review, backed up by the Checkmates, a killer young band from Oxford, Mississippi led by guitarist J.D. Mark. Ralph Jackson has got it all- charisma, great smile and wig, distinctive quivering pleading vocals, and dance moves/stage presence. Where has this guy been? You never know who’s gonna show up and play at the Stomp- the Memphis/New Orleans underground legend Alex Chilton (of Box Tops and Big Star fame) was seen playing guitar during Soul Jackson’s fantastic set, calmly chomping on his gum while burlesque dancers gyrated on stage with Jackson! Rabbit Factory also featured other fantastic obscure Southern Soul singers Herman Hitson and Roscoe Robinson.
Other highlights were Little Freddie King, Louisiana Red, James “Blood” Ulmer, Mac Rebbenack (aka Dr. John on guitar!), Travis “Scratchy” Wammack, the Mighty Hannibal, The Collins Kids, Tammy Lynn, Deke Dickerson (who is the not so secret weapon, backing up everybody!), Roy Head, Lil Buck Sinegal, Roky “13th Floor” Erickson, and so many more, including the act that was the runaway most talked about set of the Fest, ? and the Mysterians!! ? and the Mysterians absolutely devastated the crowd with raucous and primal ROCK ‘N’ ROLL, an exhilarating 2+ hour set to close out the Stomp. These Mexican-Americans from Saginaw and Flint, MI (!!) are known for their one hit from ’66, the garage rock classic “96 Tears.” Flamboyant lead singer Rudy Martinez (?) is the Mexican Mick Jagger/Iggy Pop and has to be seen to be believed!
The age defying ? and original guitarist Bobby Balderrama (complete bad ass!!) have unbelievably been together since ’62!! Words cannot describe this act; do yourself a favor and do not miss this band if they are in your area- “Do you Feel It Baby?!”
I’ll have to say, I dearly miss the cozier confines, looser vibe, and artist approachability of New Orleans’ Mid-City Lanes Rock ‘N Bowl, which was the previous home base of the Stomp in New Orleans (besides the first year, held at the tiny Fine Arts Theater where Swamp blues legend Tony Joe White of “Polk Salad Annie” fame resurrected his career!) Since Katrina, it has been held at the roomier House of Blues to accommodate the growing Stomp devotees, and to also help tighten up/organize the inevitable mixed up or delayed time slots in the all day/night schedule of over 30 acts!!
This year’s Stomp also had an added bonus of having special daytime music conferences with musicians, historians, and roots music biz heavies sharing and trading fascinating intimate stories about rock’s secret history. The big hit of the conference was the charismatic Joe Bihari of Modern Records fame who everyone seemed to want to be around, hanging on his every word - he never shook a DJ’s hand without mucho $ in it!
Thank you Ira Padnos, Uncle Tony, and Michael Hurtt and the rest of the Mystic Knights for another unforgettable Stomp. Let’s take the Stomp to Chicago, y’all!


Congrats go out to the amazingly talented Nicole Mitchell and Kahil el’Zabar for just being nominated for the ’08 Jazz Journalists Assoc. awards for Flutist of the year and Up and Coming Musician of the year for Nicole, along with Percussionist of the year for Kahil!!

On a sad note, our dear friend Little Arthur Duncan has been making a slow but encouraging recovery after being hospitalized with hemorrhaging in the brain and has been breathing on and off with a respirator. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Arthur!
We also want to express our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Chicago jazz legends who recently passed away, pianist John Young (’22-’08) and 95 year old saxophonist Franz Jackson, along with long time Willie Kent blues drummer Dave Jefferson.

Look ahead to the fall for a wonderful tribute concert to Delmark and Bob Koester in celebrating 55 years of blues and jazz!! This will be at our friendly neighboring venue, Old Town School of Folk Music (celebrating their 50th!!) with a Dave Specter’s Blues/Jazz Summit with many special guests!

Kevin Johnson
Director of Promotion
Delmark Records- 55 years young this year!
4121 North Rockwell
Chicago, Illinois 60618
(773) 539-5001

Illinois Blues News

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May 28, 2008

© 2007 - 2008

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

Hey Blues Fans,

What a busy Blues week! Wednesday we made it out to see Bryan Lee. We were thrilled and relieved to see that Bryan is on the mend from a bout of illness. He played as passionate as ever.

Bloomington/Normal, Illinois continues to be a great Blues town with both promoter and Blues Society support for bringing in live Blues.

Please support them by attending these great Blues events!

To see all the pictures of Bryan and his band, CLICK HERE

Blues And The Spirit Symposium

We also spent 3 days in Chicago last weekend at Dominican University for the Blues and the Spirit Symposium. Lots of great music and scholarly discussion about African American Culture and the relationship between Gospel and Blues. Each day there were keynote address's by noted scholars and professors, panel discussions by industry professionals and lots of live Blues, Gospel and Soul music.

Thursday started with a tour of Chicago's Bronzville Area famous for the development of the Chicago Blues sound that ended with a stop at the old Chess records recording Studio at 2120 S. Michigan Avenue.

Later Thursday after some interesting panels discussions Dominican hosted an opening reception where we heard Bluesman Larry Taylor and the Taylor Family Band.

After wards a small group of us made it out for the Thursday night Blues Jam at our good buddy Ken Zimmerman's Harlem Avenue Lounge where Pistol Pete was holding down the stage show. See Ken's ad below for a less crowded alternative to an after fest Blues music destination following each night of the Chicago Blues Fest.

Friday it was more scholarly discussions and a concert by Jim Wheeler band. Later we got to see performances by Sharon Lewis and Texas Fire followed by Soul master Otis Clay.

Saturday the Symposium continued throughout the day ending with a performance by Fernando Jones students at the final fish fry.

After the final fish fry our good friend Steve from the Chicago Blues Tour had busses waiting to take the whole group of attendees on a Chicago Pub Crawl to see some real Chicago Blues in the neighborhood juke joints. Pubs we visited included Lees Unleaded Blues to hear Johnny Drummer and the Starlighters, Linda's Place to hear Fantastic L-Roy and The Bulletproof Band and Rosa's Lounge for another show by Sharon Lewis and Texas Fire.

Dr. Janice Monti put together a great successful event a Dominican University. Look for this symposium to be even bigger and better next time as word of this great Blues conference spreads. Don't miss it next year!

To see some of the photos from this great Blues event, CLICK HERE

Rooms are still available for the Chicago Blues Fest.

LAST CALL! We are passing along the note below about some reasonably priced rooms still available at the Travel Lodge in downtown Chicago just steps away from Michigan Ave. & Grant Park and two blocks from Buddy Guy's Legends. (First Come First Served!)

2 full sized beds w/kitchenette $110 + 15.4% tax per room per night. 1 king size bed, suite, w/kitchenette $115 + 15.4% tax per room per night. 1 king size bed $99 + 15.4% tax per room per night. Contact Linda Kibak, Linden Travel 212 784 0265 email:

"Blues Basics" Series Returns

By popular request this week we re-run a series of brief articles aimed at those who are new to the Blues. We ran this series last year for those who get that blank look when you mention Robert Johnson, Reverend Gary Davis or any of the Blues legends from the past. It becomes a monthly series starting this issue with another look at Blues Legend Albert King.

Blues Reviews This Week

James Walker reviews a new CD by Rob Roy Parnell. Rob Paullin is back this week with a review of Scott Albert Johnson's new CD. Ben Cox reviews a new CD by The Blues Experience w/Cash McCall and a review of of a CD by JW-Jones. Jeremiah "Little Junior" James reviews a CD by Homemade Jamz Blues Band. All this and much More! SCROLL DOWN!

Willie Big Eyes Smith

New CD

Born In Arkansas

CLICK HERE to Purchase this CD

Blues Society News

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

Max of 125 words, Text or Word file ONLY.

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!" ( 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:
Thursday June 5th - Nellie "Tiger: Travis, David "Honeyboy" Edwards, The Blues Experience with Cash McCall, Alex Dixon, Steve Bell and Billy Branch Friday June 6th - David Jacobs-Strain, Billy Branch And The Son’s Of Blues, The Blues Experience With Cash Mccall, Alex Dixon, Steve Bell and Muddy Waters Jr. plus other Special Guests Saturday June 7th - David Jacobs-Strain, Lurrie Bell & Family, The Blues Experience featuring Cash Mccall, Alex Dixon, Steve Bell and Muddy Waters Jr. This is a limited attendee engagement......only selling approximately 115 tickets/night! Tickets are available at Additionally, the museum will be open from June 5th - 8th for tours.

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 2 Texas Groove from Springfield, IL, 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:

Blues Basics

NEW to the Blues? Sometimes it is hard for those new to the Blues to explore this journey called the Blues!'s weekly spotlight introduces (or reminds experienced Blues fans) about a Blues artist or subject worth knowing about. This week we take a look at one of the most influential guitarists ever, Albert King.

Albert King

Born Albert Nelson on Apr 25, 1923 in Indianola, MS he started out playing gospel music in Arkansas. After King heard some early Blues artists like Blind Lemon Jefferson, he began playing Blues instead.

A large man at 6 foot 4 and 250 Lbs, King's left handed guitar style had a significant effect on his sound. Instead of bending notes up like a right handed guitarist, King pulled the notes down resulting in a distinct sound. The sound of his single note sting bending style is still copied by both Blues and Rock guitarists. His signature use of the Gibson Flying V guitar also continues to influence rock guitarists.

King played in Arkansas until 1953 when he moved to Gary, Indiana where he ended up playing drums in a group with Jimmy Reed. At about this time he changed his name to Albert King shortly before he met and played with Willie Dixon.

In 1954 King moved to St Louis where he headlined clubs and enjoyed his first successes recording. His single "Don't Throw Your Love on Me So Strong" made it to #14 on the national R&B charts in 1961.

King's real stardom started after he signed with Stax records in 1966 where he teamed up with Booker T. & the MG's to produce a soul Blues sound which provided some of his most notable work. His 1967 release "Born Under a Bad Sign" was a huge success that influenced both Blues and rock guitarists including Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. In 1972, he released "I'll Play the Blues for You" which continues to influence Blues artists today.

All Music Guide has a biography and a complete discography of Albert King. CLICK HERE to read to read more about him. They also include 15 second samples of most of his songs for you to listen to.

There is also an good biography of him by Greg Johnson on the Cascade Blues Society's website. CLICK HERE to read it.

You can see some videos of this great Bluesman on our website. Click the links below to see the videos

- Albert King with the Blues Breakers

- Albert playing "The Sky is Crying" with BB King, A young looking Stevie Ray Vaughn and Paul Butterfield on harp.

- 1978 PBS Soundstage footage of Albert with Luther Allison, Pinetop Perkins, Jerry Portnoy along with Neal Schon and the rock band Journey.

We have many more videos of Blues masters on our website. CLICK HERE to view them.

Featured Blues Review (1 0f 5) SCROLL DOWN For More

Rob Roy Parnell - Let’s Start Something
Blue Rocket Records

12 songs; 42:29 minutes; Splendid

Style: Southern Blues-Rock / Texas Roadhouse

Usually artists do not like to have their music put into any category. They like to think their songs and styling are unique enough to defy all labels. So, Rob Roy Parnell must be having a good chuckle at my expense as I try to describe his fine new album of very enjoyable music. It is we reviewers who feel the need to label and categorize as a service to our readers.

Attempting to label his second CD, I concocted the phrase “Southern Blues-Rock.” While the music is not “Blues” enough to satisfy purists, it is neither Country enough nor Rock enough for those purists either. It is thankfully blues based, and Rob Roy plays harmonica that clearly leans on 12-bar influences.

Similarities to Delbert McClinton can be heard, in both likeable vocals and instrumentation. Kevin McKendree plays honky tonk piano on most tracks lending both lead and rhythm support to mainly James Pennebaker on lead guitar. Delbert’s saxophone player, Don Wise, checks in on a couple of numbers. Recorded at Omni Studios in Nashville TN, all the songs reflect a full sound that comes from professional production verses the many home-grown-studio-productions.

The first track, “I Know Better” immediately illustrates that full production with Wise on saxophone and Scott Ducaj on trumpet. James Pennebaker provides both rhythm guitar throughout and lead in the first mid-song solo. Beside him is McKendree’s two fisted piano pounding, Lynn Williams on drums, and Steve Mackey on bass. Rob Roy takes a tasty harmonica solo, and all except the horns join in on background vocals supporting Parnell’s lyric about heartbreak causing him to get smarter faster.

Pennebaker’s lead guitar drives the second track, “Sorry As They Come,” over his double tracked rhythm guitar for a nice effect and sound. McKendree scoots over to B3 organ so that Lewis Stephens can take over on piano.

Sweet screaming Southern-style slide guitar opens the third track causing a quick look to the liner notes. Sure enough, it is Rob Roy’s brother, famed slider Lee Roy Parnell. “Long Distance Love” also keeps Pennebaker’s guitars for the road-house rocking drive accented with piano flourishes.

In a Cracker Barrel gift shop, I once saw a humorous plaque that read, “If Mama Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy!” Rob Roy must have seen the same sign, because he and Will Indian wrote lyrics to fill in the details for their song, “If Mama Ain’t Happy.” Jonell Mosser adds appropriate female background vocals to the bouncy, upbeat number. “Better get it right, and make it snappy!”

Rob Roy Parnell has already “started something” – it appears to be a successful recording career. Never mind the labels, just categorize it as a fun set.

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

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Bluesfest International
July 10 - 13, 2008
Windsor, Canada

Featured Blues Review (2 0f 5) SCROLL DOWN For More

Homemade Jamz Blues Band - Pay Me No Mind

Northern Blues

Wow! These kids can play. They are collectively 37 years old and are as good as anyone out there three times there age. They got that hungry and lean sound that the old blues used to have. 15-year old Ryan Perry holds down the guitar and vocals like a young Buddy Guy used to up in Chicago. With 13-year old Kyle Perry on bass and sister Taya Perry at nine on drums, these kids have a long future ahead of them.

This family all hails from the great state of Mississippi and carry the musical heritage of the state around with them. With their dad Renaud Perry helping with harmonica and writing most of the songs, they keep the blues alive and well.

Check out young Ryan’s howl on the lowdown on the first track “Who Your Real Friends Are” and the soul of “Time For Change.” Ryan also pegs John Lee Hooker with “Boom Boom.” It is not a two-bit version of this song but straight ahead boogie like John Lee used to do it.

These kids cover all the versions of the blues. They can put soul and funk and that nasty Chicago sound all into it. This CD has it all right here. Who said you have to be an old man or woman to sing blues? These young kids will show you all you have to have is that feel. They got that raw sound you would hear in a Mississippi Juke Joint or a South Side Chicago club. Kyle & Taya on the rhythm are in the pocket. They never sound too fast or too slow. “Boom Boom” is a hard song to play the rhythm to right. These kids have got it down pat. Also, check out that chug-a-lug sound of the song “Jealous” and you’ll see what I mean.

You might be a little hesitant for a kid to preach to you about the love and heartache between a man and a woman but young Ryan can preach it just as good as any old man can. Don’t let there age fool you. This is one of the best blues CDs I’ve heard this year. They may have come in second place in Memphis last year at that blues challenge but they proved that they don’t need a trophy to be the best. Definitely get your hands on these jamz cause they are spreading the blues so thick, it’s just like jelly roll.

By Jeremiah "Little Junior" James

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11th Annual Briggs Farm Blues Festival
July 11 & 12, 2008
Nescopeck, Pennsylvania, USA
Camping On Site

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 570-379-2003

The Code Blue Band

Tight at Midnight

Intensely energetic R&B, funk, and rockin' Blues

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Chicago Blues Update

Live Blues reviews by Chicago Blues editor Lordy

Blues Beat: Chicago (Photos by August Lord)

Lordy will return soon with more live Chicago Blues reviews.

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Featured Blues Review (3 0f 5) SCROLL DOWN For More

The Blues Experience w/Cash McCall - The Vintage Room
Dixon Landing Music
Run Time: 46:23

Sometimes the blues run in the blood. This CD unites the first generation of postwar Chicago blues with the modern day offspring (literally) of today. Featuring Steve Bell (Carey Bell’s harmonica-playing son), Alex Dixon (piano-playing grandson of the great Willie Dixon) and the old school Cash McCall, this CD is a throwback and not a throw away.

Produced and mostly written by Alex Dixon, the album features Chicago Blues tried and true. Nothing fancy here. No wah-wah pedals, no special guitar effects, just the bare bones. Most of these themes and riffs you’ve heard before. However, these themes and riffs are coming from the source of their originality, handed down a generation of course.

McCall’s guitar and vocals sound like a seasoned veteran filled with raw emotion and informed living. McCall’s vocals are assured on the tired standard of “I Just Want to Make Love to You,” recorded here for the sake of posterity. As written by Dixon, McCall has performed the song for over 25 years in his live shows and never touched it in the studio. It shows. He has the vocal nuance of the once-famed partner of Dixon’s grandfather, Muddy Waters.

What Dixon has borrowed in melody from his grandfather he hasn’t stolen in songwriting. He talks of people’s zeal to get ahead in the world with “Slice of That Pie.” Bell’s harmonica soars up and above the stinging guitar and vocals of McCall. Always in the background adding the Otis Spann-like piano is Dixon. Dixon tells us a story about the modern-day Job from the Bible in “Catch Me Before I Go,” telling us of a man who has everything taken from him but instead of enduring, he runs off. “One Touch” talks about a man’s arrogance to get any woman he damn well pleases. “Gypsy Woman” is an interesting prequel (hey I thought they only had those in Star Wars movies) to the classic song “Hoochie Coochie Man” about what went on before he came around.

If you’re a traditional Chicago Blues fan and are itching for that old sound, this album is just as it states on the cover, vintage, in sound. This is coming from the source. No frills. Just straight ahead, no watered down blues lite here! Expect a lot more of this great sound from the second generation of Willie Dixon and his friends!

Album is available from CD Baby. Find out more about The Blues Experience at and .

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

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Featured Blues Review (4 0f 5) SCROLL DOWN For More

JW-Jones - Bluelisted
Northern Blues

Run Time: 51:59

On his fifth release for Canadian stalwart Northern Blues, JW-Jones enlists two of the greats in West Coast guitar and produces one of the best blues guitar albums of the year. With Little Charlie Baty (Little Charlie & the Nightcats) and Junior Watson partnered up, JW-Jones tries to solidify his credentials with the ten originals and four covers on this latest offering.

The first track “Double-Eyed Whammy” quickly hammers the nail in the coffin that the offering is going to be a good one with JW, Little Charlie, and Junior calling and responding back and forth on the R&B laced bounce. JW shows his growth and maturity on the next disc as both a singer and a guitar player conjuring the funk and soul-blues of Stax-era Albert King on “Looking the World Straight In the Eye.” JW gets his regular band mates to take over on “Can’t Play A Playboy” and they are able to stand up to special guests Larry Taylor and Richard Innes who guest on most of the album in the rhythm section. Jones never pails next to all the experience, but shows depth, control, and excitement throughout the album.

A prime example of control is Jones’ ability to lay back and just sing a song on “Wasted Life” where Little Charlie noodles out his jazzy style while Watson interlaces “dynamic rhythm” as the liner notes state, throughout the melancholy tale of a wasted lover. “Heavy Dosage,” a West Coast swing number, allows all three players including the rhythm section to just stretch out into familiar territory.

Little Charlie Baty drifts into a former part of his trick bag, slipping into a phenomenal amplified harmonica solo on the slow cell phone blues of “Out of Service Blues.” Baty gives the guitar work fully over to Jones and Watson and gives quite an expressive solo that usually would have been reserved for band mate and harpsmith Rich Estrin in the Nightcats. However, Baty demonstrates once again why he’s a revered player in all circles, even though this is rumored this might be his last full on effort in the blues arena for some time.

Jones turns in some great earmarks on this record, demonstrating more maturity in his vocals and guitar playing compared to last year’s Kissing In 29 Days. His covers of B.B. King’s “That’s Wrong Little Mama” and “Waiting On You” never border on sheer imitation but sound more like Jones’ own.

Running on the heels of being dubbed one of Canada’s best blues bands and with the instant street credentials with Junior and Little Charlie in his corner, JW-Jones is ready to continue on his already successful path. If anything, this should at least garner him a nod next February in the Best Guitarist category. With his vocals and songwriting following quickly in tow, JW-Jones is ready to be put on your Blues List.

Visit JW at his myspace at: . CD is available from all major music outlets.

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

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

Mud Angels

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

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Featured Blues Review (5 0f 5) SCROLL UP For More

Scott Albert Johnson - Umbrella Man

Umbrella Man, the first release by Jackson, Mississippi-based singer-songwriter Scott Albert Johnson, is a bit of a tricky album to write about. Not because it doesn’t have a lot of quality material on it—it does—but because it takes a jolting turn well into the cut list. I was all set to write, “Summertime is almost here, and here is the perfect collection for a long, slow summer…,” but as I got closer to the end….. More on that as you read on.

It is good to get to review a disk with virtually all original material, especially when it’s all quality stuff.

Umbrella Man, recorded at four different studios in Jackson, Mississippi, and New Orleans over a span of three years, and featuring a variety of backing musicians, offers up ten cuts, nine of which are Scott Albert Johnson originals. Most of the cuts are good, easy listenin’ blues or soft jazz, tailor-made for a hot summer evening. Here’s a look at what we found:

Cut one, “Spaceship,” is a non-sensible but lyrically clever song about hopping on the old space ship and escaping, all done in a pleasant New Orleans shuffle style. Next comes “Turn Out Fine,” a Little Feat style, almost improvisational jam featuring a wide-ranging harmonica solo, all as a tribute to seeing an old girl friends who, as the title suggests, turned out just fine. Following is Wynton Marsalis’ “In the Court of the King,” a breezy harmonica instrumental featuring the laid-back keyboard stylings of Mike Hood and the complimentary stand-up bass of Jason Stewart.

“What About Your Man?” conjures up images of Robert Cray as Johnson segues into the first real blues song on Umbrella Man in a song about our sometimes confusing inability to avoid temptation. “Hollywood” is next, a thoughtful song about chasing dreams—and the occasional consequences. “Hollywood” is easily the strongest and most commercial song on the disk, and if Randy Newman were to get tired of writing his own stuff….

Finding one’s roots and trying to re-learn some of life’s lessons is the theme of “Magnolia Road.” Then Johnson picks up the tempo with “The Yuppie Husband’s Lament,” a wailing blues number about dumping your cheating old lady and bailing out—in your BMW!

Next is “Walkabout.” Here’s where the disk begins to take a somewhat unpleasant turn. “Walkabout” is an unusual sounding instrumental featuring Phil Jones on the Didgeridoo, a traditional Australian wind instrument. Light up the bong and lava lamp…. Then comes the title song. “Umbrella Man” starts with some heavy-sounding guitar licks and ends up making you wonder when he’s gonna go shoot up the local post office. Frankly it’s a bit disturbing, although well done and thought provoking. Both “Walkabout” and “Umbrella Man” are interesting songs, but to me, they just don’t seem to fit the overall tone of this collection.

The disk ends with “The Best of Me,” a transition back to light blues, or even folk music, as Johnson sings of leaving something of value to the next generation from the troubles of the current generation. It’s a nice one to wrap up the CD.

If you’re into harmonica blues and having some summertime fun, this one may be for you. And if there’s some cuts on it you don’t like, with today’s technology you can just zap the cuts you don’t want when you download Umbrella Man to your I-Pod. That’s what I’ll probably do! One and a half Jax Beers up for Umbrella Man.

By Rob Paullin

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