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2009 Blues Blast Music Awards
We are pleased to announce the 2009 Blues Blast Music Awards. See the complete list of nominees below, SCROLL DOWN!
Like last year our friends and sponsors at GLT Blues Radio 24/7 have a created a "listening page" where you can sample the music of the nominees BEFORE you vote.
To check out the website and begin listening to these great artists now, CLICK HERE!
Voting begins on July 1st. Details on the voting and the Awards ceremony coming soon.
Blues Blast Magazine made it to the Chicago Blues Fest last weekend for three days of real Blues fun.
In fact it was so much fun you could say it was truly a "Blues Blast"! There are so many GREAT Blues musicians in Chicago it boggles the mind. Here are a few of the great artists who were there. (Charlie Musselwhite, Big Bill Morganfield, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith and Eddie C. Campbell)
We will have a review of the Chicago Blues Fest with pictures of ALL the fun in next weeks issue.
Great Blues Fests This Weekend
If you are in the Southwest part of the US check out the T-Bone Walker Blues Fest in Linden Texas this weekend where the headliners will include
The Rev. Jimmy Bratcher, Angela Hagenbach and Harper on Friday and Tommy Andrews Band, The Sons of Brazil, Roger "Hurricane" Wilson w/ Levee Town and Stacy Mitchart on Saturday. For tickets and complete info visit their website or see their ad below.
Also this weekend Blues On The Fox in Aurora, IL will feature Big James & the Chicago Playboys and Davy Knowles & Back Door Slam on Friday and The Hix Brothers, Henry Butler, Cedric Burnside & Lightnin’ Malcolm, Sugar Blue, Watermelon Slim & the Workers and Los Lobos on Saturday. Blues Blast Magazine will be there too so say hello to the photographer in the Blues Blast T-shirt!
In this issue - Blues Reviews and MORE!
James Walker reviews a new CD from Louisiana Red. Belinda Foster reviews a new CD by Shirley Johnson. Steve Jones reviews a new CD by Roy Rogers. George Fish reviews a CD by Curtis Salgado. We welcome new reviewer Craig Ruskey who reviews a new CD by Duke Robillard.
Ben Cox has a review of a show by British guitar sensation Joanne Shaw Taylor. Mark Thompson reviews the Chicago Recording Academy's Chicago Blues Fest kickoff show at Buddy Guy's Legends.
Our classic Video of the week is from 1965 and features Blues legend John Lee Hooker.
2009 Blues Blast Music Awards Nominees
The Blues Blast Music Awards recognize the best Blues performers and their music. Our nominators included Radio stations, Blues DJ's, Blues Bloggers, Blues Critics, Journalists, Festival Promoters, Managers, Musicians and Blues Societies. They have nominated the BEST in Blues Music today.
We want to recognize as many of these great artists as possible so we have included nominations for the top six artists nominated in each category for your votes.
BE AN INFORMED VOTER
Like last year our friends and sponsors at GLT Blues Radio 24/7 have a created a "listening page" where you can sample the music of the nominees BEFORE you vote. GLT Blues Radio 24/7 streams GREAT Blues radio to you FREE, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 356 days a year on the worldwide web!
To check out the website and begin listening to these great artists now, CLICK HERE Voting begins on July 1st. Details coming soon.
Best Contemporary Blues Recording
" At Least I’m Not With You” The Insomniacs
"Love Me Tonight" John Nemeth
“Live at Chan’s Vol 2” Nick Moss
"Clean Getaway" Curtis Salgado
"What Love Will Do" Janiva Magness
"Never going Back" Shemekia Copeland
Best Blues Band
Nick Moss and The Flip Tops
Lil Ed And The Blues Imperials
Kilborn Alley Blues Band
Watermelon Slim and The Workers
Best Traditional Blues Recording
"Chicago Blues: A Living History" Various Artists
"Sweeheart Like You" Guy Davis
"All Original" John Primer
"Lowdown Feelin" Mannish Boys
"Blues Attack" Shirley Johnson
"One Kind Favor" BB King
Best Male Blues Artist
Best Blues Song
“Bad Year Blues” Albert Castiglia
"At Least I'm Not With You" - The Insomniacs
"Mr. Coffee" Chris James & Patrick Rynn
"20 Years of B.B. King" Curtis Salgado
"Let Life Flow" Kenny Neal
"See That My Grave is Kept Clean" BB King
Best Female Blues Artist
Best New Artist Debut
"Stop And Think About It" Chris James & Patrick Rynn
"White Sugar" Joanne Shaw Taylor
"Austin To Chicago" Dave Herrero
"2 Man Wrecking Crew" Cedric Burnside & Lightnin' Malcolm
"Livin It" Guy King
"Mississippi Number One" Eden Brent
Sean Costello Rising Star Award
Kilborn Alley Blues Band
Joanne Shaw Taylor
Cedric Burnside and Lightnin' Malcolm
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Musicians Wanted for Gigs
Professional "Blues/Soul/R&B Singer and Nightclub Owner" seeks professional Blues Band or Musicians for house band, and working situations. Open weekends, but "Have Songs, Will Travel". Check out our live entertainment and special events venue at www.starlightstheatre.com and contact Jerry at email@example.com .
Touring Guitarist Available
Professional studio and touring guitarist available for traveling. George Walker has played with Barry White , Lou Rawls, Freda Payne, Bill Cosby and more. I would like to play all styles. Please contact at firstname.lastname@example.org 402-496-2233 Video and sample CDs available on request.
Web Design Intern wanted
Great opportunity for a motivated college student who wants to work with a large music organization. Do you have experience and training with web design? Do you know how to work with simple SQL databases on the web? If so we seek an intern who wants beef up their resume. This in an unpaid internship but will be a GREAT reference for a web designer in the music business world. If interested please send your resume to
Featured Blues Review 1 of 5
Louisiana Red & Little Victor’s Juke Joint - Back to the Black Bayou
Ruf Records GmbH / Bluestown Records
12 songs; Time 39:04; Library Quality
Styles: Chicago Blues, Modern Electric Blues, Slide Guitar Blues
When I was introduced to Texas guitar slinger Jim Suhler, my friend played “Too Poor to Die” from the “Live at Blue Cat Blues” CD, with Alan Haynes. It was an “Oh My Gawd” moment! Then, when I saw Suhler live in 2008, he opened the show with a burning version of the oft requested number.
As good as Suher can cover the song, the originator’s latest version takes the listener all the way back down home! Louisiana Red (born Iverson Minter, 1932, Bessemer, Alabama) wrote and first recorded the both humorous, poignant and recessionary apropos single for Glover Records. On “Back to the Black Bayou,” Red re-records the song in a version that will send Blues purists to heaven (if they are not too poor to die).
Re-recording and showcasing Louisiana Red on his classic songs is the essence of this new CD. Produced by Little Victor, and originally released on Bluestown Records, it was recorded at the Juke Joint Studio in Notodden, Norway, a state-of-art, old-school analog studio with a 24 track 2" tape machine, vintage RCA ribbon microphones, rare tube limiters and the original 1960s Audiotronics mixing console that once belonged to the Stax Studio in Memphis.
Little Victor has long idolized Red and has a long history of performing with Red (a resident of Germany since 1981) playing second guitar and harp. That gave Victor an inside prospective of the artist and his repertoire. Love and mutual respect between artist and producer is the cornerstone of this record. Victor carefully chose some of his favorite numbers and surrounded Red with a stellar band. Red is naturally featured on guitar and vocals, Little Victor handles guitar and harmonica, Robert Alexander Pettersen drums, and Bill Troiani plays upright bass. Special studio guests include Kim Wilson, Bob Corritore, David Maxwell, Reidar Larsen, The Hawk, Josten Forsberg, and Peter Lundell.
The results exemplify the producer's loving vision of a definitive Louisiana Red record. It is filled with Red’s deeply felt vocals, fine guitar, harp and lots of terrific, gritty, raw electric music. Red wrote all of the tunes on this one and incorporates some of his life experiences, as he has in the past. The liner notes for each song are interesting and a very welcome addition.
The Album opens deep in the gut bucket with “I’m Louisiana Red.” Minter has recorded this twice on different labels (Roulette and Atlantic), but this fresh take finds Kim Wilson’s harp in first position and top form.
Following “Alabama Train,” a signature tune of Red’s with Bob Corritore’s powerful harmonica work, a stunning 12 bar tribute to Elmore James comes on “Crime In Motion” with Red playing some blow-the-doors-off slide guitar. “Sweet Leg Girl” also shows off Red’s weeping slide on a slow blues of the finest Chicago Blues vintage.
Every song is a winner; not a throw-away in the bunch. More standouts are the rockabilly “I Came From Louisiana” with the Bo Diddley beat and the Muddy Waters instrumental tribute “At The Zanzibar.”
Having recorded more than 50 albums and best known for his song “Sweet Blood Call,” Minter came by the Blues early on when he lost his parents early in life. His mother died of pneumonia shortly after his birth, and his father was lynched by the Ku Klux Klan when he was five. He was brought up by a series of relatives in various towns and cities.
Red recorded for Chess Records in 1949, before joining the army. After leaving the army, he spent two years in the late 1950s playing with John Lee Hooker in Detroit. His first album, “Lowdown Back Porch Blues,” was recorded in New York with Tommy Tucker and released in 1963, with second album “Seventh Son” released later the same year. He maintained a busy recording and performing schedule through the 1990s, having done sessions for Chess, Checker, Atlas, Glover, Roulette, L&R and Tomato among others.
Though a product of his tutelage with some of the greatest blues artists in history (Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Lightnin' Hopkins, Elmore James and others), his music retains an individual stamp of personality, while remaining true to his teacher's lessons.
In 1983 he won a W.C. Handy Award for Best Traditional Blues Male Artist. He has lived in Hannover, Germany since 1981, and he continues to tour, including regular returns to the US.
Ok, Blues purist whiners, put you CD purchasing money where your mouth is and get this album of ground pounding, nitro burning, real-deal Blues! You won’t find contemporary, old school blues produced and packaged with any more care, love and devotion that this one!
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.
For more info visit: http://www.urbanablues.com
Blues Video of the Week
John Lee Hooker
This week we feature a 1965 video by Blues Legend John Lee Hooker from the 1965 American Folk Blues Festival.
Hooker was in his prime here but had not made the the big time of Blues yet.
It is easy to see that he would continue on to be regarded as one of the best ever in a few years..
To see this cool video on our website, click the play button below.
For other videos on our website CLICK HERE.
Blues Society News
Please submit a maximum of 175 or words or less in a Text or Word format ONLY.
River City Blues Society- Peoria, IL
The River City Blues Society's Wednesday Blues Series features the best traveling regional and National Blues musicians each Wednesday at 7:00pm. The shows are held at the Dragon's Dome, 3401 Griffin Ave in Pekin, IL. Admission is $4. Shows scheduled are: June 24 - Gina Sicilia, July 1 - Kilborn Alley Blues Band, July 8 - The Avey Brothers, July 15 - Nick Moss & The Flip Tops, July 22 - Joanna Conner w/ Donna Herula opening act
The Alabama Blues Project - Northport, AL
The Alabama Blues Project's award-winning Summertime Blues Camp gives students the opportunity to take music workshops in their choice ofguitar, harmonica, drums or voice with some of the greatest professional musicians in our state, including Shar-Baby and Debbie Bond. Students who show exceptional skills will also be offered intermediate level classes. In addition, the Summertime Blues Camp offers art classes headed by internationally renowned artists including Lonnie Holley and Miz Thang, lessons in songwriting, life skills and blues history. The Blues Camp will also feature some very special guests including B. J. Miller and Dr. Burt!
Blues Camp is 9 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. from Monday, July 13th to Friday, July 17th. Friday's session will be an Open House Blues Café where the young musicians will showcase their talent with a music performance and art show. Family, friends and the wider community are invited!
The cost for Blues Camp is $200 per student. There are scholarships available for families with a limited budget. Space is limited and on a first-come, first-serve basis. Please contact Cara Smith a.s.a.p. at (205) 752-6263 or to register your child(ren) today. Thank you!
The Madison Blues Society - Madison, WI
The Madison Blues Society presents their 7th Annual Blues Picnic On June 20th, 2009 from Noon to 9:00PM at Warner Park in Madison, WI. MBS calls their event a “Blues Picnic” because of the family-oriented atmosphere. This event is free because we believe that Blues music should belong to all of the people, regardless of their ability to pay, as it has been throughout American history.
Performers include Aaron Williams and the Hoodoo, The Karri Daley Band, Joe Nosek's Blues Kids, The Cash Box Kings, The Jimmys, Linsey Alexander, and The Groove Hogs. The event is Free and open to the public. For more information visit : www.madisonbluessociety.com/picnic09.htm
Blues Blowtorch Society – Bloomington, IL
3rd Friday Blues - The Treehouse Lounge, 2060 Ireland Grove Rd, Bloomington, IL (309) 662-5231 A blues show the 3rd Friday of every month at 7:00 PM. June 19th – Watermelon Slim & The Workers
The Arkansas River Blues Society - Little Rock, Arkansas
The Arkansas River Blues Society presents a monthly Blues jam at Juanita’s, 1300 Main Street, Little Rock, Arkansas the first Tuesday of every month, beginning July 7th, at 8 pm. The jam will feature a different house band each month. Unseen Eye, from Hot Springs, has been chosen as the first house band. Admission is $5 for the public and $3 for members of ARBS. Participating musicians are FREE and this is an open jam. For more information contact Babs at 501-920-7783 or check out www.myspace.com/arriverbluessociety
Central Mississippi Blues Society – Jackson, MS
The CMBS presents Blue Monday at Hal & Mal’s (200 Commerce St., Jackson, MS) every Monday night. Doors open @ 8:00 and music begins @ 8:30. Cover is $5.
The Blue Monday Band is comprised of the “best of the best “ musicians in the Central MS area. Featured artists are King Edward, lead guitar/vocalist and Pat Brown, Abdul Rasheed and Dennis Fountain as vocalists. Other regular band members are Dwight Ross and Rick Lewis (drums), Keith Collins (bass), Johnny Sharpe (keys) and Malcolm Shepherd (CMBS President) on Congas. Most of these musicians appeared in The Last of the Mississippi Jukes.
The Blue Monday Band plays the first set and then the event turns into a jam. For more info see: www.centralmississippibluessociety.com or call Peggy Brown @ 601-613-7377
Mississippi Valley Blues Society - Davenport, IA
The Mississippi Valley Blues Society presents British sensation Joanne Shaw Taylor on Thursday June 18 at Creekside Bar and Grill, 3303 Brady Street in Davenport. Admission is $8.00, $6.00 for MVBS members. The show starts at 7:00 p.m. For more info call the MVBS office at 563-32-BLUES.
Illinois Central Blues Club - Springfield, IL
The Illinois Central Blues Club will be conducting its Third Annual Blues Challenge during the Old Capitol Blues & Barbeque, August 29, 2009 beginning at noon. Deadline to apply is July 15, 2009. Official rules can be viewed on the ICBC’s website, www.icbluesclub.org . The Challenge includes both the band competition and the solo/duo competition on the same day. The winner of the band challenge will receive $1,000 and the winner of the solo/duo challenge will receive $500 in travel monies to represent the Club at the Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis, TN January 20-23, 2010. Inquiries regarding this press release should be directed to Mark Edmiston, President of the Illinois Central Blues Club, at (217) 679-0721 or e-mail email@example.com
BLUE MONDAY SHOWS - Held at the Alamo 115 N 5th St, Springfield, IL (217) 523-1455 every Monday 8:30pm $2 cover - June 22 - Harper, June 29 - Deak Harp
For complete info visit: www.bearcreekblues.com
Featured Blues Review 2 of 5
Shirley Johnson - Blues Attack
14 tracks; 62 mins 53 seconds
Style: Chicago Style Blues, R&B, Funk-Soul and Gospel Roots
Rating: Library Quality
Some say there’s a female blues singer revival going on and perhaps that’s true, especially at a time when we’re mourning the loss of the great Koko Taylor. That’s why I hope you’ll take a minute to check out native Virginian Shirley Johnson and her long history of singing the blues via that well-known gospel-pop-soul train that eventually dropped her off in her now Windy City home over 25 years ago—the same home that produced the likes of Sonny Boy Williamson, Howlin’ Wolf, and Muddy Waters.
I’d like to think this ‘revival’ isn’t so much a revival after all. What are we reviving? There’s always been leading edge pioneering African American female blues singers. Our veterans aren’t going through a revival; they’ve never stopped! And those like Shirley Johnson have made and continue to make a historical impact that illuminates the female’s vital role and contribution to blues--back then and now.
So get this straight: Shirley isn’t good or in demand because she’s been singing for 50+ years; she’s been singing and in demand for 50+ years because she’s GOOD! And at age 60, she’s still bringing it. How many Shirley’s do you know who can boast of being a product of the blues movement from the 60s to the present? Whether you take in her show at the downtown Blue Chicago club where she’s had a regular gig for over 17 years or buy her CDs, you should add Blues Attack to your collection.
Blues Attack is Shirley’s first release since her Delmark best seller debut Killer Diller in 2002. It was recorded in June 2008 at Riverside Studio in Chicago with a reunion of the Killer Diller bandmates and songwriters Maurice John Vaughn and Roosevelt Purifoy on keys, the legendary Chicago Horns, and back up vocalists Roberta Thomas and Danielle Smith. With the addition of Herb Walker of the Tyrone Davis camp and the BBKing stylings of guitarist Luke Pytel, you’ll be in sweet home Chicago before you know it.
From the moment Blues Attack hits your player, Track 1’s “You’re Reckless” gets straight to the point of dishing out that comforting Chicago smooth blues auto-pilot groove. Guitarist Luke Pytel lets us know early on that he’s a BB-style man and pianist Roosevelt Purifoy tickles an ivory solo for Shirley to do her thing. They showcase their talents again in Track 2 Blues Attack. It’s obvious Shirley takes the stage and the studio with only the best players who feel the music the same way she does. In Blues Attack they add just enough light jazzy classic soul and funk to support her veteran convicting blues delivery.
In the next 3 tracks, “My Baby Played Me For A Fool”, “634-5789”, and “Just Like That”, Shirley and the band move effortlessly back and forth between classic soul old school complete with background vocal harmony and horns to the more classic blues upbeat tempos with female attitude. Here in South Carolina, we’d be a shagging to some of these tunes…ahem, that’s a Carolina dance style, not London’s definition….
In Track 6 “You Shouldn’t Have Been There”, Shirley sings like she knows from experience what it feels like to find out your lover’s been slipping out. She emits raw emotion, and with the band’s laid back melancholy rhythmic rolls, you might just find tears in your eyes. She takes you there with her. And coming at you with head-on sentiment is exactly what a blues musician is suppose to do—move you.
But you won’t stay down for long! Shirley’s picking up the groove in Tracks 7 and 8, “I’m Going To Find Me A Lover” and “Felt So Good”. With belting vocal conviction and the sassy background horns and horn solo, look out….you’ll be right back up.
There’s no effected pretense with Shirley. Unlike some artists, she doesn’t have to scream, screech or stretch at the top end of a note to hit a note, she simply nails it from the heart and has that natural voice range to do it--the note, the pitch, the soul and the story line. She’s a story teller who paints a mesmerizing visual ethereal environment using the powerful passion that’s behind her singing.
And finally! Someone who can take a cover song and make it their own, “Unchain My Heart”. A little drum roll shimmer, some sliding caresses of the piano and organ keys, Shirley’s gospel ‘well well, I know you don’t love me no more baby, I know you gotta another woman somewhere’ puts you right there in the front row of church where Shirley’s about to get unchained from the pulpit. You’ll also love the background old school vocal harmony and doo wops of Roberta Thomas and Danielle Smith. There’s a classic revival 60’s feel to this one; you’re going to love her version.
Track 10’s “Selfish Kind of Gal” takes us back to Chicago; Shirley hands off the middle to Roosevelt who tears it up on the organ solo. Horns rock out the start of Track 11 “Take Your Foot Off My Back”. Shirley and her funky groove players then settle into a hypnotic R&B beat with attitude. “Lost And Alone”, “Let It Rain” and “You Just Using Me” finish out this superb aggregation of from-the-heart players and singers who do it with feeling, the way music’s suppose to be done.
This is what blues, R&B and Soul are really all about—if you can’t sing it, play it, feel it or listen to it from the heart, then you probably should just go mechanize and digitize in another genre. There’s no hiding emotion when it comes to Shirley. She’s going to pull you in, just like the preacher, whether you ever thought you could open up that heart-door or not. We all need some gritty spirituality seasoning in our blues diet. Get it here with Shirley Johnson’s Blues Attack!
Belinda Foster is a Columnist and Contributing Writer for Greenville SC Magazine “Industry Mag” and was former manager of Mac Arnold & Plate Full O’Blues. She currently books blues-rock-jam musicians and is a devoted promoter and supporter of live blues root music and history, making frequent trips to “The Crossroads” and Clarksdale Mississippi, birthplace of the blues. Her column “The Upstate Blues Report” can be found on line at www.industrymag.net
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
For Tickets and more info visit: www.mvbs.org
Featured Blues Review 3 of 5
Roy Rogers - Split Decision
Roy Rogers latest effort showcases this slide master’s guitar in a variety of styles across the CD’s dozen cuts. His reunion with label Blind Pig also happens to be his first studio recording with his band, The Delta Rhythm Kings. He experiments in style with the songs he has penned for this new album and I have to say he succeeded quite well in his efforts.
Rogers aptly described his effort CD in the accompanying promotional material. He noted: "My influences are from all over the map. I love combining different elements on a recording, but ultimately it is about 'the feel' of a total record. I hope that shines through in a positive way for people." That is certainly evident and he slides his way from jazz to a grungy sounding combination of blues and rock and to country, with several stops in between. Several of the tracks stay true to a bluesy rock/rockabilly style that Rogers is quite adept at, but it really gets interesting when he branches out into the other worlds.
The opening track “The Calm Before the Storm” is a song about a cheating woman who is living through the calm before a confrontational storm, but this tune is anything but calm. Rogers blasts his way into this CD with a grunged-out driving beat and fuzzed out and distorted guitar work. When I first heard it I knew that this CD would be a little different.
He then shuffles into the next track, a catchy little honky-tonk track called “Patron Saint of Pain”. Here he sings of a woman walking into a disastrous relationship with a guy he calls the Patron Saint of Pain. Some barrelhouse piano riffs by Phillip Aaberg and Roy’s electric slide convinced me this was going to be a fun ride.
“Rite of Passage” is a great instrumental jazz track with George Brooks’ tenor sax featured. In the middle of it all the song swings over to a greasy slide guitar solo from Roy. A stark contrast to most of the songs on the album, it may be my favorite cut. The other instrumental is a short and almost Spanish acoustic guitar-styled number with Roger’s soloing and sliding his way through. Very interesting and quite good!
If you are a Roy Rogers fan, you’ll love his newest set of songs. It gives one a great sense for the talents of this experienced musician. His slide guitar work is so much more than solid and his vocals are more than up to the task. This CD is fresh and full of great music in a variety of sounds, styles and tempos. The Rhythm Kings (Steve Ehrmann on bass and Billy Lewis on drums) and the other accompanying guest musicians blend together well. Roy Rogers and Blind Pig have put together a great effort here!
Reviewer Steve Jones is Secretary of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
For info and tickets visit www.briggsfarm.com
Featured Blues Review 4 of 5
Duke Robillard's Jumpin' Blues Revue - Stomp The Blues Tonight
Stony Plain Records (2009)
16 tracks, 66 minutes. Recommended
Duke Robillard should be no stranger to blues fans around the globe regardless of stylistic preferences; his music catalog now encompasses more than thirty years with the guitarist having offered everything from straight-ahead electric blues to swing, jazz, rock n' roll and full-tilt rhythm and blues. His latest is a reminder to the multiple efforts of the great Johnny Otis whose recorded efforts over the years were often packaged as all-star blues and R&B shows.
Roomful Of Blues alumni play a large role here with horns provided by Doug James, Rich Lataille, Al Basile and Carl Querfurth. Acoustic and electric bass chores are capably handled by Jon Ross and Marty Ballou, while Mark Teixeira delivers the riveting backbeats. Bruce Bears contributes piano throughout and the vocals are courtesy of Robillard and the fabulous Sunny Crownover.
Musically, this disc is right up Duke's alley, reflecting the numerous and diverse styles of horn-based jump blues that first inspired the Rhode Island native four decades ago. Whether it's the slow and blistering “Three Hours Past Midnight” with Duke mimicking Johnny "Guitar" Watson's acidic Stratocaster tone, or “Jumpin' The Bone” and “Frankie And Johnny” where he calls on the ghosts of T-Bone Walker and Tiny Grimes respctively, Robillard has all cylinders wide open.
Be sure to catch his dizzying whammy bar antics on Ike Turner's “Tore Up” as well. Crownover shines beautifully on “Look But Don't Touch”, “Million Dollar Secret”, “For You My Love”, “Ain't Nobody's Business”, “I Wanna Hug You” and “Hands Off!” Her phrasing is pure and unfettered and she never once falls victim to slavish interpretations of the classics she's featured on.
Stomp The Blues Tonight should easily garner votes as the best dance recording of the year and it wouldn't come as a surprise if it took home a few more honors at next year's Blues Music Awards. A hands-down winner on all counts.
Reviewer Craig Ruskey is a New England native who has been listening to Blues for more than thirty-five years. He has played guitar for twenty-five years in a number of regional Blues bands and has toured with Luther "Guitar Junior" Johnson. Craig has been actively writing about Blues music for more than ten years. He contributes reviews to a number of blues forums and websites and his reviews have been published in both Blues Access and Living Blues magazines.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
Friday, July 31, 2009
Saturday, August 1, 2009
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
Live Blues Music Review 1 of 2
Joanne Shaw Taylor LIVE - Pekin, IL June 17, 2009
"Don't get me wrong, I'm not a Blues Rock hater. I'm going to go out and see if the hype is really true. Can she play with the fire and reckless abandoned that her heroes played with night in and night out for the next ten years? Can she give us the legendary live albums and performances that people will be talking about for the next ten years? Is she ready for these weighty comparisons? Only time will tell. This is a pretty solid first effort that will no doubt bring some otherwise fair weather fans out to the festivals this year to catch a glimpse of the pretty blonde haired girl who can play like the big boys only better. Is it probably fair that I'm judging so harshly, probably not but hey, I'm just one critic. Pick up the album and judge for yourself."
That was the last paragraph of my review of Joanne Shaw Taylor’s White Sugar debut on Ruf Records from last May at my site Juke Joint Soul. I’m not a big blues rock fan. In fact, most of the time, it gives me a solid headache. However, one would ask me: “Ben, why would you drive 2 hours north to see said blues rock girl?” The answer is in the above paragraph. I was intrigued. I was curious. I wanted to see if the pretty blonde haired girl from the Black Country of England could get down and get it with the big boys. I wanted to see if she could crank out the energy to 10 for a 3 hour show and not let up. I wanted to see if she would fall into the trappings and noodlings of some of the other disciples of the blues-rock pathos. To put it simply, I wanted to see firsthand what I was hearing for myself.
The answer to my questions came swift and complete as Taylor hit the stage at the Dragon’s Dome in Pekin, IL on Wednesday June 17. As stated in the CD review, Taylor can play with the big boys and her licks do hit with a ten ton hammer, directly to the heart. I was overtaken with surprise as she mixed in originals from her debut, almost playing the album in its entirety along with several familiar covers. Taylor packed in one of the largest crowds I’ve seen at the Dragon’s Dome, though reports from some of the frequent goers say they’ve only had one or maybe two bigger shows. The fact of the matter though, the crowd stayed for the entire three hours. That’s no small feat on a middle of the work week gig.
Taylor mixed in covers of Otis Rush, Freddie King, Jeff Beck, and ultimately Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Taylor wowed the crowd with her lightning-fast and honorable cover of Vaughan’s “Rude Mood.” She then followed it with her set closer, Hendrix’s “Manic Depression.” Taylor’s phrasing is very energetic and full-fledged fire. Even for heavy traditionalists like me, it’s easy to see that the talent and knowledge of her instrument is truly there, bar none. The thing about her guitar work, though, that sets her apart from the rest of her blues-rock brethren is her use of dynamics. Rather than playing at one volume and one speed all night long like the rest, Taylor knew when and how to bring the volume and the pace way down for maximum effect and then drop the pedal to the floor for fire-breathing intensity. This last statement also says a lot about her timely rhythm section, who were just thumping right on time. It was excellent foray into the power trio setting.
As a critic, once in awhile it’s good to eat your words or be pleasantly surprised by an artist. Taylor did just that and I’m glad to say it’s so. She’s an exciting performer that will no doubt bring a lot of new fans to the blues via her dose of blues-rock. Watch out blues fans and see if she’s on the road to your town.
Reviewed by Ben "the Harpman" Cox. Visit his website Juke Joint Soul
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
Live Blues Music Review 2 of 2
The Chicago Blues Fest Kick-off Jam - Buddy Guy's Legends Chicago, IL June 10, 2009
On Wednesday, June 10, Crossroads newsletter editor Steve Jones and I made it to Buddy Guy’s Legends club for an exciting event that heralded the start of another Chicago Blues Fest. The show was hosted by the Chicago Chapter of The Recording Academy. This is the local chapter of the organization that stages the annual Grammy Awards. The show was a fundraiser for the Academy’s Professional Arts Education programs that are held throughout the Midwest, and a tribute to Chicago’s rich musical heritage.
Arriving at the club, we were directed to a press table where we joined Blues Blast editor Bob Kieser. As Bob gave us the latest news in the blues world, the friendly staff at Legends came by with a seemingly endless supply of tasty treats including some delicious mini-crab cakes. Each of us took a moment to check out the silent auction items that included a framed photo of the late queen of the Blues, KoKo Taylor, and another package that include an original artwork featuring piano legend Pinetop Perkins. Both packages also included your choice of ten CDs from the Alligator Records catalog.
Radio personality Buzz Kilman and NBC5 entertainment reporter Lee Ann Trotter were the hosts for the show. The music started off with the Brother John Kattke Band featuring the leader on guitar and vocals backed by a three piece horn section and the great Marty Binder on drums. Kattke used his wah-wah pedal effectively on a couple of tunes and turned in a strong version of “I’ll Play the Blues For You.”
Next up was guitarist Vino Louden, a long-time member of KoKo Taylor’s band. Louden suffered life-threatening injuries in an auto accident a year ago. After being told he would never walk again or have the use of his left arm, Louden proudly took the stage for his first live appearance since the accident and proceeded to show the audience how wrong the doctors were.
The highlight of his set was a moving cover of the bobby Blue Bland classic, “IE2ll Take Care of You.” Kattke remained on stage and switched to keyboards for Louden’s set.
Each artist got to do a set of four of five songs. Matthew Skoller was next and started his portion of the show with a hot instrumental featuring his splendid harmonica work. Backed by Nick Moss on guitar, Skoller later did an emotional tribute to Junior Wells on “Hoodoo Man Blues.”
Following Skoller, the band did an instrumental that featured Nick’s inspired guitar playing that was one of the evening’s highlights. That was the set-up for the appearance of Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick fame. Brother John switched back to guitar and traded licks with Nielsen on powerful version of “Ain’t That A Shame”. Nielsen then asked if anyone wanted to come up and sing with the band on “I Want You to Want Me” A woman quickly volunteered and did a decent job on the vocal while Nielsen ripped off some monster power chords on his guitar.
The next highlight was a set featuring Pinetop Perkins, who was quite dapper in his suit and Fedora hat. Perkins may be 95 years old but he can still navigate a piano keyboard, which he aptly demonstrated on “Down in Mississippi.” Part of the way through his set he was joined by his former band mate Willie “Big Eyes” Smith on harmonica. Smith has developed into a fine harp player and his presence elevated the energy level on the stage. Perkins picked out a rolling boogie pattern on “Big Fat Mama” and traded vocals with Smith on “Got My Mojo Working”.
The band switched around a bit as Moss was joined by his regular drummer, Bob Carter, and his wife Kate on bass, with Brother John back at the keyboards. They did several tunes that gave Nick the space to showcase his prodigious talent as a guitar player. Another musical highlight occurred when Lurrie Bell added his guitar to the group. Lurrie took the lead vocal on “Don’t Lie to Me”20as he and Moss took turns dazzling the audience with masterful fretwork. Willie Smith returned to the stage and added his harp to “I Got My Brand on You.” It was a treat to be able to hear Moss and Bell trade licks.
Billy Branch arrived at the club after playing the national anthem before the White Sox game. Branch stated that he only missed one note in his rendition. He led the band through several selections including an energetic “Eyesight to the Blind”, his harp playing as strong as ever. Branch then invited Tracee Adams to the stage for “Rock Me Baby” and her powerful voice woke the crowd up. Her performance injected plenty of sparks into the classic tune. The next special guest was singer Nellie “Tiger” Travis, who also dazzled the crowd with a rockin’ “Let the Good Times Roll”. Travis has a strong, expressive voice and knows how to win over an audience. Branch executed some intricate lines on his harp, at one point hitting and holding a note to great effect.
Michael McDermo tt was up next. This hometown boy is more of a rocker but he started his set with “In My Time of Dying” on acoustic guitar. Another song repeated the phrase “drunk again” and its’ dark nature made it a blues tune at least in spirit.
Then it was time to make the long trip back home. It was an exciting evening and the show certainly served as a tremendous start to the Chicago Blues Fest weekend. Thanks to Robin Clement of the K101 Agency for inviting us and arranging to get us on the press list. Also a big thank you goes out to The Recording Academy- Chicago Chapter- for staging an event featuring some of the best blues musicians in town. Make sure you look for ads for next year’s event and get an early start on the festivities.
Reviewer Mark Thompson is president of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL
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Featured Blues Review 5 of 5
Curtis Salgado - Clean Getaway
Four-category 2009 Blues Music Award nominee Curtis Salgado lets it all hang out on Clean Getaway with 12 cuts of masterful soul, R&B and rock, all with a touch of the blues. Clean Getaway is a masterful effort that readily evokes the classic work from late1960s-early 1970s labels such as Stax, Hi and Atlantic, along with the classic male singers from those labels Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and Al Green. A demonstration that soul is alive and well indeed, not ready either for the scrap heap or the museum display case.
The 12 songs on Clean Getaway are all very good songs, with none of them the familiar chestnuts we all heard then on Top 40 radio. The only song that might be taken as an obvious cover would be track 10, Al Green’s “Let’s Get Married;” but here as elsewhere, while Salgado’s vocals may evoke memories of Green, or on other tracks, Otis Redding or Wilson Pickett, they only evoke, don’t copy, thus making Curtis Salgado sound throughout just like—well, Curtis Salgado!
Plus, there’s a lot of variety in the song types, styles and delivery. While much of the CD might be called straight-ahead classic soul, track 5, “What’s Up With That,” is in a traditional B.B. King mode, with driving horns and solid King-like guitar work from Johnny Lee Schell. Another song evoking this particular King of the Blues (for there were two others as well, Albert and Freddie), track 8, “20 Years Of B.B. King,” builds around the melody and guitar work of “The Thrill Is Gone” with reference in the lyrics to several of King’s familiar works to limn a classic blues of betrayal. This particular song was nominated for Song of the Year at the Blues Music Awards this past May. One of my favorites, track 3, “Who’s Lovin’You,” is a stream-of-consciousness portrait in pure emotion, much like Otis Redding’s “Try A Little Tenderness” or James Brown’s “Please, Please, Please.” But track 9, “Heartache,” is piano driven New Orleans R&B, with the delightful augmentation of Julie Delgado’s emphatic soulful cries, while track 7, “I Don’t Want To Discuss It” and the final track, the Eric Clapton/Bonnie and Delaney-penned “Bottle Of Red Wine,” are rock ‘n’ roll. And while love and its vicissitudes are at the top of the themes addressed, the opening cut, “Clean Getaway,” tells instead of chucking it all and making that “clean getaway” into an anonymity free from one’s troubles.
Musicianship is solid, built around the seminal studio Phantom Blues Band at its core, with several guest musicians, background singers, and the multi-tracked sax of Joe Sublett and trumpet of Les Lovitt providing a solid horn section on five cuts. Salgado adds harp complement to his vocals on four tracks, playing bluesy around the melody line on track 2, “Both Sorry Over Nothin’;” track 4, “My Confession;” track 6, “Alone;” and more traditional blues harp solos on “Bottle Of Red Wine.”
As Indianapolis bluesman Governor Davis keeps reminding us locally, while blues did have one baby and they called it rock ‘n’ roll, blues also had another, and they called it soul. Curtis Salgado’s effort on Clean Getaway recalls the work of Little Milton and Z.Z. Hill, who could not only move naturally and effortlessly from blues to soul, but always put some of that blues with a feeling into their soul work as well. Summing up Clean Getaway—fresh, sparkling wine from those old bottles of the soul tradition that just tastes good again and again!
Reviewer George Fish lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, home of blues legends Yank Rachell and Leroy Carr, and writes a regular music column, “Blues and More” for the online Bloomington (IN) Alternative. He’s also published in the regional Indiana blues and alternative presses as well as Living Blues and Blues Access, and wrote the notes for Yank Rachell’s Delmark album, Chicago Style. He has also published on blues and pop music for the left-wing press as well, and has appeared in Against the Current and Socialism and Democracy, as well as the online Political Affairs and MRZine.
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