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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Illinois Blues News


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Latest news, photos, reviews, links & MUCH MORE in this issue! - Scroll or Page Down!


TheBluesBlast.com quick website links: Reviews Links Photos Videos Blues Radio Blues Shows near YOU! Advertise for FREE! The Blues Blast Archives


Hey Blues Fans,

The voting for the 2009 Blues Blast Music Awards is now open. Anyone can vote for their favorite Blues artist and your vote gets you a free subscription to Blues Blast Magazine. (If you are already a subscriber, you are good to go and vote too!) To vote now CLICK HERE.

To see a complete list of the 2009 nominees CLICK HERE.

We want you to be an informed voter so our friends at GLT Blues Radio 24/7 have a "listening page" where you can sample the music of the nominees BEFORE you vote. CLICK HERE to listen now.

Voting will remain open until August 31st, 2009. Be sure to cast your vote to have a chance at the FREE prizes given away in random drawings each week to those who vote. You could win a CD, a T-shirt or FREE tickets to the Blues Blast Music Awards Ceremony on October 29th, 2009 at Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago by voting.

It's FREE and FUN so vote for your favorite Blues artists today, To vote now CLICK HERE.

Blues Blast Music Awards October 29th

The 2009 Blues Blast Music Awards will be held at Buddy Guy's Legends on Thursday, October 29, 2009. Information on the artists playing and how to purchase tickets will be announced soon. We will announce some attractive sponsorship opportunities and some special advertising packages for the 2009 artist nominees, their management or record labels next week.


Blues Wanderings

We went to Urbana, Illinois last weekend to see the Urbana Blues, Brews and BBQ festival. This is only their second year but they had about 5,000 fans on Friday night and even more on Saturday night in spite of temperatures in the mid 90's.

Their lineup included the Delta Kings, The Kinsey Report and slide master Sonny Landreth on Friday with the Impalas, Gina Sicilia, Bob Margolin, Eddy The Chief Clearwater, Pinetop Perkins and The Willie "Big Eyes" Smith Band and Buckwheat Zydeco on Saturday. Below are a few pics of the fun including Sonny Landreth, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith and Buckwheat Zydeco.

We will have a complete review of the festival in next weeks issue with pictures of all the Blues fun!


In this issue - Blues Reviews and MORE!

James Walker reviews a new CD from Cyril Neville. George Fish reviews a new CD by Jake Lear. Dale Clark reviews a new CD by Joe Castellano Super Blues Band. Eric Steiner reviews a new CD by Bobby G Blues Band.

Bob Kieser reviews day two of the 2009 Chicago Blues Fest and reviews the Blues On The Fox Festival.

Lisa Zimmer send us part one of a two part interview with Slide Guitar Virtuoso, Jeremy Spencer


Blues Want Ads

Blues Musicians Place Your Want Ad here for FREE

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

Guitarist Available for gigs

Guitarist Available for gigs or touring. Played with Johnny Clyde Copeland, Luther Tucker, Eddie King. Opened for John Lee Hooker, Albert Collins, Elvin Bishop. Travelled as Road Mgr. for Shemekia Copeland. Have professional equipment and 40+ years playing professionally. Looking for a touring blues band. Larry Pendleton bluzgtrman2k@hotmail.com ph. 608-214-7868

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


For Tickets and more info visit: www.mvbs.org


Featured Blues Review 1 of 4

Cyril Neville - Brand New Blues

M.C. Records

www.myspace.com/cyrilneville

www.nevilles.com

10 songs; Time 45:15; Library Quality

Styles: Postmodern Blues, R&B and Soul

“Ok, Cyr-relle, yes, you are famous - along with your brothers Neville. Now, here you come over to the Blues. You better be bringing the deep goods, because I am not going to line up to kiss your sandals simply because of your name and other outstanding vocal accomplishments!” -- That was my attitude as soon as the CD arrived with it title, “Brand New Blues.”

While the rendering is far from 12 bar, old school, classic Blues, Mr. Neville has delivered an impassioned and intelligent set that will please all but the fussiest of purists. His fourth solo effort, first since 2000, the album’s price would still be affordable even if there was only one song, the 8:43 minute rework of Bob Marley’s “Slave Driver.”

Bob Marley’s old Jamaican Blues song about the evil and guilt of slavery is kept intact in the first half of the lyrics, but Neville’s re-working of the second half produces a powerful indictment of the forces behind the displacement of New Orleans’ poorest citizens following Hurricane Katrina and the refusal to facilitate bringing these people back home from their refugee status. Cyril’s superb vocals are joined in harmony by producer Brian J. and Chauncey Yearwood above the solemn organ of Art Neville. Brian J.’s guitar is perfect in its early ominous tones which yield to scolding punctuation in the solo.

Producer/musician Brian J. of The Pimps of Joytime is at the helm of most production chores and co-wrote the original numbers. In addition, this amazing Brian J. plays all guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, and percussion – except for the few parts played by guests Tab Benoit (guitar), Art Neville (organ), Waylon Thibodeaux (washboard), Ivan Neville (organ), Ian Neville (guitar), Jumpin’ Johnny Sansone (harmonica), Hagar Ben Ari and Andy Cotton (bass), and Chauncey Yearwood (additional vocals and congas). Oddly, a drum machine is disappointingly programmed on a few cuts, including an otherwise stellar title track with Tab Benoit’s creative guitar.

Neville takes two more opportunities to lay bare the greed, incompetence and subsequent hypocrisy of government in “Cheatin’ and Lyin’” where he sings, “...makes me want to rise up for justice....” Tab Benoit adds a mean guitar solo to the accusatory “Mean Boss Blues.”

It’s not all political vitriol, however, as the album begins upbeat with Jimmy Reed’s “I Found Joy.” Sansone’s acute harp adds to the salacious fun found in the metaphorical kitchen in “Cream Them Beans,” a Gospel plea for strength is found in “Don’t Move My Mountain,” and there’s an absolutely wonderful cover of Bobby “Blue” Bland’s “I’ll Take Care of You,” written by Brook Benton.

One of the four Neville Brothers, Cyril Neville is the youngest, born on January 10, 1948, in New Orleans, LA. In 1967 (at the age of 19), Cyril began singing professionally, as he united with brothers Art and Aaron in the outfit Art Neville and the Neville Sounds, playing the New Orleans club circuit on a regular basis. 1970 saw the release of Cyril's debut solo single, "Gossip" b/w "Tell Me What's On Your Mind," which included backing music by brother Art's new outfit, the Meters.

The Meters eventually expanded their lineup by asking Cyril to join in on vocals and congas — contributing to such albums as 1972's “Cabbage Alley” and 1975's “Fire on the Bayou.” In 1974, the Rolling Stones offered The Meters a support slot on the bands sold out tour if they would hire Cyril Neville to sing and front the band.

His work as a human rights advocate does not stray far from his art. The joys as well as the complications and frustrations of growing up in the oppressed South can be heard through-out his solo and collaboration catalog.

In addition to his work with the Neville Brothers, Cyril has formed other bands over the years, including the Endangered Species Band in 1983 and the Uptown Allstars Band. Cyril also founded the New Orleans Musicians Organized (NOMO), which helps musicians who need business advice with their careers.

Cyril Neville has issued several solo albums on his own over the years, plus he has guested on various other artist's recordings, including albums by Edie Brickell, Jimmy Buffett, Dr. John, Bob Dylan, Daniel Lanois, Willie Nelson, Tab Benoit, and Big Chief Monk Boudreaux.
In the liner notes, Cyril says, “Thanks to my friend Tab Benoit. I should have listened when you told me to ‘go Blue’ five years ago, bro.” My Blues-fan-fears were clearly unjustified as Tab Benoit was spot on correct. You can just stay Blue, Mr. Neville.

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
To See James “Skyy Dobro” Walker's CD rating system,
CLICK HERE

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.


A new CD from Michael Packer

Rikers Island Blues

CLICK HERE to buy the CD now

www.michaelpackerbluesband.com



Blues Interview

A Blues Chat With Slide Guitar Virtuoso - Jeremy Spencer (Part One)

Interview by Lisa Zimmer

First I would like to say, thank you, Jeremy, for taking time out of your busy schedule for this interview, particularly since you have just recently performed at and returned from the world-renowned Chicago Blues Festival.

LZ: I’d like to start by asking, how did that go; what songs did you perform?

JS: It’s usually hard for me to be objective when being asked how such events went, unless they were an obvious disaster! But judging by the crowd responses and in-person reactions afterwards, I think that everyone concerned was happy overall. I was especially encouraged by the positive responses of quite a few people (usually younger) who did not know who I was and did not relate me or my music to Fleetwood Mac. On top of that, those very people reacted mainly to my recent material. That is the best thing that can happen to an ‘elder statesman’ in music; it makes you want to go on!

LZ: And was this your first time returning to the ‘Windy City’ since recording the historical Blues Jam in Chicago album there with Fleetwood Mac, 40 years ago?

JS: This has not been my first visit to Chicago since making that FM album. My wife and I visited briefly in July 2006 to meet and discuss with the Blind Pig company, then a year ago I did a couple of gigs there with the Norwegian band, including one at FitzGerald’s, which was a success. A wonderful crowd. I like Chicago, and have generally found the people to be real.

LZ: In 1967, you joined Fleetwood Mac, bringing to the band the guitar stylings of Elmore James. What drew you in to play in that raucous, frenzied and unbridled style of blues, rather than, for instance, in a more subdued, melodic manner?

JS: I suppose in a nutshell, I was a raucous, frenzied and unbridled individual at times, and that came out! Inside though, I soon wanted to play more melodic and subdued. I was beginning to feel like Buddy Holly when he said he was ‘tired of screaming’ and began to record softer songs.

LZ: Of all the Elmore James songs that you have covered, which is your very favorite and why?

JS: I would probably say ‘The Sun is Shining’ (followed by ‘The Sky is Crying’). After all, ‘Sun’ was the one that turned me onto wanting to play slide and sing like him when I was sixteen years old. It was his impassioned singing and answering with those bending crying notes that got to me.

LZ: If by some blues miracle, you could have the opportunity to sit down and shoot the breeze with Elmore James, what is the first thing that you would say to him?

JS: When I get to my blue heaven, (not so far away) I will tell him ‘thank you’, that if it hadn’t been for him, and God having me hear him when I did, I would not be enjoying this beautiful way of expressing emotion through the slide.

LZ: In 1969, Fleetwood Mac recorded, Blues Jam in Chicago [Blue Horizon](aka: Blues Jam at Chess; Fleetwood Mac in Chicago 1969) at the internationally famous blues label Chess Record’s (Ter-Mar) studios, with legendary bluesmen including Otis Spann, Shakey Horton, S.P. Leary, and Honeyboy Edwards. Please give us some insight on what the sessions were like- the energy, the atmosphere, the vibes…. during that recording which went on to become a much-heralded and celebrated album in music.

JS: Sadly, there seemed to be a little resentment brooding with some, manifested by their joking between themselves. It stemmed from a sentiment in those days among some black blues musicians that white kids were getting rich off stealing their music (understandable up to a point, but I do feel we were giving them a lot of credit). I know Pete sensed it, and it affected the vibe of the session for him.

J. T. Brown, however, seemed to be a more traditional old school gentleman, and race and class didn’t faze him, thank God, and he and I just had fun playing together. We must have smiled the whole time, and I think that comes across on the album. He was like a grandfather to me and seemed to enjoy the novelty of this little whitey from another time and place being so taken with his music.

About nine months after the recording, J. T. called me in London from Chicago, and played me a 78 rpm over the phone of Elmore’s ‘Coming Home’, telling me the story of how Elmore had cut it the day after coming out of hospital. About three months later, J. T. died. He was ‘Coming Home’.

LZ: What was it like to work under the supervision of the multi-faceted Willie Dixon who was known to be a stickler for perfection?

JS: Willie played the bass on my tracks, and he was okay. Being a big boss man of blues, he was mindful of diplomacy. I didn’t notice him being a musical stickler at that time, though.

LZ: While in Chicago for the festival, did you get a chance to drop by the Chess ‘’2120 South Michigan’’ studios which is now a museum or go to any of the blues clubs such as Kingston Mines, Buddy Guy‘s Legends, or Rosa’s?

JS: After the slide workshop, I received an invitation to go by the Chess studio that evening, and I regret that I didn’t go, due to some other plans that had come up. I look forward to another opportunity. I did get to play a couple of numbers with Dave Herrero at Kingston Mines in the middle of a Jimmy Burns’ set when we first arrived. Friday night of the fest we did a show at Reggie’s, which again was a lot of fun with a good crowd. Then the Tuesday night before we left Chicago, I was able to play three numbers at Buddy’s Legends. He had shown up for his 20th anniversary of the opening of the club. (He remembered the Chicago 69 session by the way!) The crowd was very enthusiastic. I am not familiar with Rosa’s.

Next Week- Part Two of the Jeremy Spencer interview!

Interviewer Lisa Zimmer is a music journalist based in the San Francisco Bay area. Over the years, she has conducted numerous interviews with recording acts such as Bob Weir; Eric Burdon; Savoy Brown; Canned Heat; and Francis Clay. Her interviews and various articles about music have been featured in an array of publications. She is also co-producer of the annual Stevie Ray Vaughan and Albert Collins Birthday Tribute radio show, including co-conducting interviews with musicians such as Tommy Shannon; Chris Layton; Doyle Bramhall II; Lonnie Mack; Johnny Winter; Robert Cray; and Buddy Guy. Other aspects of the music business in which she has been involved are photography; album jacket design; record retail; music merchandising; and publicity.



Blues Society News


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

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: 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 of guitar, 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 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

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 markredmiston@msn.com

BLUE MONDAY SHOWS - Held at the Alamo 115 N 5th St, Springfield, IL (217) 523-1455 every Monday 8:30pm $2 cover - June 29 - Deak Harp


For info and tickets visit www.briggsfarm.com


Featured Blues Review 2 of 4

Jake Lear - Lost Time Blues

www.jakelear.com

11 tracks

Total time: 47:42

Binghamton, New York singer/songwriter/guitarist Jake Lear, who debuted impressively with his Love and Charm CD in 2007, has just issued his second CD, Lost Time Blues, featuring his band, bass guitarist Carlos Arias and drummer Mike Ricciardi, and guest musicians Pete Ruttle and Brian O’Connell. Arias, originally from the Basque region of Spain and now dividing his time between Argentina, Binghamton and Spain, and Ricciardi, who’s drummed behind Foghat, Badfinger and other international recording artists, lay down a solid beat behind an impressive, rocking array of blues and folk-blues tunes. Jake Lear, who’s composed nine of the 11 tracks on Lost Time Blues, said he wanted to make a “somewhat disjointed” CD that incorporated several differing approaches. He’s succeeded, and succeeded very well.

But what impressed me most about Lost Time Blues is that this is a real booty-shaking CD that’s a great party album, with 11 very danceable songs. However, the CD’s highly danceable repertoire of nine rockers, three folk-rock tunes, and two slow numbers in no way detracts from the incisiveness and creativity of the songs themselves. This is a solid CD for listening as well as for hip-shakin’, feet-movin, finger-poppin’ good times.

Lear lists his main influences as T-Bone Walker, Freddie King, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Bob Dylan, and those influences are there in Lost Time Blues, along with the electric Chicago blues of Jimmy Rogers and J.B. Lenoir. Sharing space with this solid blues core is also another solid core built around the classic guitar-driven rock ‘n’ roll of Ronnie Hawkins, Link Wray, Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins and early Elvis Presley, along with a dollop of early Rolling Stones, the Mamas and Papas, white country-rock, and that early folk-rock paradigm, “Corrina, Corrina,” from the Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan LP.

The six vigorous rockers are the Lear-composed tracks of track 1, “Streets of Michaelangelo” (a Dylanesque title if there ever was one); track 3, “Leave This Town;” track 5, “Sure Gonna Miss You;” track 6, “Sometimes;” and track 9, the John Lee Hooker-like “Blues 3 Ways” (with, as the notes say, “[a]dditional lyrics…borrowed from Bob Dylan and Son House”). There’s also a sterling rock arrangement of Big Bill Broonzy’s “Key to the Highway ”(track 8). If these don’t move you to the dance floor, you’re likely to be declared legally dead!

Acoustic guitar-driven folk-rock is expressed in track 2, Willie Brown’s “Ragged and Dirty (an old song most familiar in its Sleepy John Estes Rendition, “Broke and Hungry”), and the Lear-composed country-rockers “Muddy Water” (track 4, about a flood) and the philosophical screed, “Lost Time Blues” (track 10), with Lear’s guitar riffing joined by Brian O’Connell’s banjo. O’Connell plays gospel-inflected organ on the Otis Redding/Percy Sledge-inspired slow soul blues, “Boogie Woogie Woman,” a song great for holding your baby tight while you slow dance romantically. Another slow blues here is the last track, the pensive and lyrical “Bluebird” (both also Lear-composed).

O’Connell adds his organ talents to “Streets of Michaelangelo” as well, and Pete Ruttle plays somewhat Dylanesque harp on “Ragged and Dirty.” Jake Lear plays electric guitar on all tracks where he doesn’t play acoustic, and his electric solos are excellent, tasty, wonderfully understated, and, even though long, with several songs featuring two guitar solos, never subject to overlong gonzo technique-for-technique’s sake flash.

Like Ruttle’s harp, Jake Lear’s singing and songwriting can be described as Dylanesque as well. His vocal style is reminiscent of a lower-register Bob Dylan, and his masterful songwriting partakes of those deliciously surprising lyric twists that are so much part of Dylan’s songs, with their infusing into the mundane and standard the brittle and surrealistic.

All these making Lost Time Blues one strong effort from Jake Lear that’s both artistically compelling and fun to listen and dance to. Add to its credit the two Anna DeMauro photo montages that grace the front and back covers, and this CD becomes a visual knockout as well as an aural one.

Lost Time Blues can be ordered from Jake Lear’s website, above. Buy this CD for your next blues bash, and not only will you have a party to remember, you might even have this reviewer crash it as well. “Hey, hey, hey, good to see ya, hand me a cold one. Wow! Dig that Jake Lear Lost Time Blues CD! Hey baby, wanna dance?”

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.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.


12th Annual Prairie Dog Blues Fest

Friday, July 31, 2009

Queenie & The Blue Cats Curtis Salgado The Groove Hogs Ana Popovic The Swamp Kings

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Perry Weber & The Devilles, Dave Weld & The Imperial Flames Jimmy Thackery & The Drivers Johnny Rawls Lil' Brian & The Zydeco Travelers Davy Knowles & Back Door Slam Jon Justice

Festival Website www.prairiedogblues.com

The only Blues festival held on an island in the middle of the Mississippi River!

Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin on St. Feriole Island


Featured Blues Review 3 of 4

Joe Castellano Super Blues Band - Blues & Soul with My Latin Side

Blues Promotion Association, 2008

Two discs. Disc One 58:41; Disc Two 53:57

I remember some years ago watching David Letterman introducing a musical guest, twitting his not very bright side-kick Paul Schaffer. The guest artist had a new album, and Dave asked, “Paul do we call this an ‘album’ or a ‘CD’?” And Paul replied authoritatively, “We call it a ‘CD.’ It is a new CD.” Of course, Letterman was right. The compact disc is nothing more than a blip or maybe a bump in the history of recording technology. How many of my readers have owned the same album on vinyl, and tape, and CD? An album of music, a deliberate collection and strategic presentation of some recordings first made possible by the long playing phonographic record, is an artistic statement that is meant to deserve our attention. Some of the things that get sent to me for review are albums; some, like this one, are only CDs.

CDs are relatively cheap and easy to create. (1) They serve as a way to advertise yourself in getting “gigs” (which, by the way, is a performer’s business lingo and totally different from a “show”—the audience member’s word for what they hope for when they go out). The person behind the bar in the crappiest tavern in North America knows to ask the punkiest kid who comes through the door looking for a place to play, “You got a CD?” The kid knows this and whips it out. (2) CDs can be sold during and after gigs as a second stream of income for the artists; even beginning performers hope to also sell these on-line and at local record stores. (3) CDs flatter the musicians’ egos that they are recording artists, advancing their creativity, leaving their mark, that with this tangible and portable device they may get popular and critical recognition—radio play. (4) CDs are amazingly democratic, suggesting an astonishing equivalence of the many musical performances. They promise to bring us all the great music the old major-label system neglected or even suppressed. But CDs can easily enough be simulations of albums—illusions of musical innovation, surpassing performances, inspiring messages—passed off in deceptively shiny jewel cases.

Joe Castellano was born in Sicily in 1966. He is often called “Dr. Joe,” though I haven’t been able to figure out why. Castellano may or may not have started his band on lottery winnings. It is a big (up to fifteen players performing at one time?) stage act that tours Europe in the summers. This CD consists of live takes from his band’s “Blues & Wine Soul Festival Summer Tour 2008.” It is my best guess that this two disc set primarily fulfills the second function noted above: it is something to sell at these amphitheatre events. I’ll bet the live show is fun—a sort of Las Vegas-ish blues-funk-Latin-disco-soul revue. Castellano comes to the U.S. to rent soul cred, utilizing excellent players: r&b stalwart Roy Roberts, sax men Gordon Beadle and Waldo Weathers, guitarist Chris Cain, new soul singer Simone De, and backing singer Kenyondra Bennett. Castellano obviously turns to the Americans especially (Roberts, Weathers!) for the authentic voices.

Eleven of the eighteen songs are Castellano originals, but the real inspiration and success of the act is in the tributes to Otis Redding and James Brown, and to a lesser extent a funked up version of the Doobie Brother’s “Long Train Running.” The Brown medley is the whomping big closer. So, if you have music money burning a hole in your pocket, why in the world would you buy this when you can buy the Brown and Redding originals? I cannot think of a single reason.

It is hard to make a consistently good live recording. Remember, there are fifteen musicians on this stage to be mic-ed and balanced; and an essentially self-produced, not-really-a-real-record company effort is not likely to have the resources to pull it off. That is exactly the case here. The subtle choices the musicians are making are obscured in the high energy blast of the live show. The stage-ness of the recording makes the music seem to come from “over there.” Even if you needed a version of James Brown for the car, this one would soon fall into disuse because the recording does not keep its promise of force and clarity.

Mama Clark always got on me when I made fun of people, but I would be remiss not to say the most entertaining thing about this CD is the amazingly bad English from the song titles (“I Wanna Talk You About a Woman”) to the liner notes (“Joe Castellano has made important tour sharing the stage with the most legendary Band of both genders in question.”) Fortunately, you do not have to buy the album to enjoy this verbal slapstick. It is on ample display at www.joecastellanobluesband.com/english/drjoeeng.htm . Dr. Castellano needs to put less trust in computer generated translation. And you need to be on the look out for some great blues albums.

Reviewed by Dale Clark

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.


The Barefoot Band, Fertile Soil, Rockin Daddy-Os, Rich McDonough & Rough Grooves, Carlos Johnson.

Admissions is still only $10

For ticket and complete Information visit www.spartablues.com


Live Blues Music Review 1 0f 2

The 26th Chicago Blues Fest - Day Two June 13,2009

The second day of the Chicago Blues fest started of with a short rain shower as we headed to the Front Porch Stage to hear an Earwig records tribute which included Bob Corritiore, Chris James and Patrick Rynn.

A great set to catch was Lurrie Bell. Sitting in on harmonica was Chicago's own Matthew Skollar. They played an intense set of real Chicago Blues.

We caught an interesting performance by Holle Thee Maxwell followed by a set by Chicago guitarist "Killer" Ray Allison.

Then we headed over to the Juke Joint Stage to see a set from Eden Bret. Eden was riding high after having just won 2 Blues Music Awards in May. She was also just nominated in the 2009 Living Blues Awards and received 2 Blues Blast Music award nominations. This gal is on the rise!

Eden was followed by Mississippi Bluesman Lil Dave Thompson. Dave puts on a real show with his great guitar playing.

Other great acts in the afternoon included Lil Ed and the Blues Imperials. This group is nominated for a Blues Blast Music Award as Best Blues Band and it was easy to see why.

Other performers throughout the day included Cyrus Hays, Travis "Moonchild" Haddix and Samuel James.

Rounding out the afternoon were performances by Chicago Blues guitar legend John Primer. John is the real deal and has played with almost every great Blues band in Chicago over the years. He is nominated for two Blues Blast Music Awards in his own right for Best Male Blues Artist and for Best Traditional Blues CD. He is also nominated for Best Traditional CD on the great CD Chicago Blues: A Living History along with other Chicago greats Billy Boy Arnold, Billy Branch and Lurrie Bell. The final performer we saw before the headliners was Nolan Struck and King Edward.

As I headed to the Petrillo Band Shell photo pit it struck me that I had seen a ton of great Blues talent this day. WOW! Any of the acts during the day on any of the stages could have easily been a headliner at another festival but this was the Chicago Blues Fest and the headliners were yet to come.

First up was Walter Scott with Miss Peaches, Claudette and Miss Jessie. This was a GREAT show.

Next up was Trudy Lynn with the Chicago R&B Kings. This lady had the crowd in the palm of her hand for the whole performance. Talk about a great backup band, WOW!

The final act was Blues and soul legend Bettye LaVette. Bettye is one serious performer and gave the crowd a great show. A very fitting final performer for day two of the Chicago Blues Fest.

So we again headed back to rest up for the great show on day three.... Stay tuned for Day 3, next week!

Review and photos by Blues Blast Editor Bob Kieser.




Live Blues Music Review 2 0f 2

Blues On the Fox - Aurora, IL - June 19 & 20,2009

Blues On the Fox festival in Aurora, Illinois is literally held on top of the Fox river. Fans sit on the bridge across the river smack dab in the middle of downtown Aurora. This year was their 13th year and you could tell these folks have done this all before! Rain and severe weather caused the cancellation of the fest on Friday but a local pub took the situation in hand and we got to see Fridays performers in the local club, Ballydoyle Pub.

First up was Big James & the Chicago Playboys, We have had the chance to hear this great Chicago group many times but this had to be the best set we have ever heard for Big James. He has a new CD released on Blind Pig records and the band was spot on this night.

The headliner for Friday night was Davy Knowles & Back Door Slam. Back door Slam was nominated for a 2008 Blues Blast Music Award for their debut release last year. Since then Davey Knowles has left his former band mates and has a new CD that was produced by rock legend Peter Frampton.

Davey treated the crowd to some cuts from the new album and from his debut release. This young man is 22 years old and plays like Eric Clapton and John Mayer combined. Look for him to hit the Grammy Award nominations soon! (Likely in the Rock category)

On Saturday the weather cooperated and the fest started off with a local band, the Hix Brothers. Young Blues talent proving that the Blues is NOT a dying art.

Up next was Blues piano sensation Henry Butler. Taking the stage as the days only solo act he fearlessly recked the crowd with his amazing piano and soulful voice. See this guy if you get the chance!

After Henry's set the solo act was replaced with a duo, The Juke Joint Duo to be exact, Cedric Burnside & Lightnin’ Malcolm. They were just nominated for two 2009 Blues Blast Music Awards and it was easy to see what the nominators saw in these guys. The played some great hill country Blues to a very enthusiastic audience.

After the duo we got to hear harmonica virtuoso Sugar Blue. Sugar Blues hails from New York and he and the band put on one heck of a big city show for the Aurora, IL crowd playing selections from his 2007 release "Code Blue".

Then we got to see Watermelon Slim & the Workers. These guy have been nominated for every kind of Blues awards there is including a nomination for Best Blues Band in the 2009 Blues Blast Music Awards. They put on a heck of a set okaying tunes from his last couple of CD's.

This guy is a real showman and an intelligent artist. His next CD, set to be released in July, is called Escape From The Chicken Coop. It is Slim's first country album. Somehow we feel he might be just a popular with country fans as he is with Blues fans. Look out Country Music Awards here comes Watermelon Slim!

The headliner for the Blues on the Fox was Los Lobos. These guys are very famous and very talented. They put on a great set, but to us it was not quite Blues which was what should have capped off this great fest. Their set was very danceable and the large Hispanic population in Aurora cheered them on.

This was our first trip to Blues on the Fox. It wont be our last. Check them out next year!

Review and photos by Blues Blast Editor Bob Kieser.



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Featured Blues Review 4 of 4

Bobby G Blues Band - Bitter Cup

www.myspace.com/bobbygbluesband

Length: 51:30

Rating: A Solid Blues Record

One unexpected discovery for me at this year’s Blues on the Fox festival was Aurora, Illinois’ own Bobby G Blues Band at his CD release party after the festival was called due to rain. Bobby G’s a rock-solid bass player who has shared stages with some pretty influential bluesmen, including Larry McCray, the late Willie Kent, and Buddy Guy.

Bobby G’s latest CD features nine original songs, and it kicks off with a firey “Went Out Last Night” that showcases a very talented six-piece blues band. This long, introductory jam sets the stage with fine harp work from Tony Medina, the choice lead guitar chops of Al Spear, followed by some nice touches on rhythm guitar from Orpheus Golden.

Since I got back home from Bobby G’s CD release party in the historic Leland Building, I’ve listened to Bitter Cup a half-dozen times. Four of the nine songs clock in at over six minutes each, and while that may challenge some radio programmers, I like the way Bobby G provides opportunities for each of his sidemen to stretch out and strut their stuff.

While there’s some pretty hard-charging blues on Bitter Cup, Bobby G and the guys slow it down a bit on two romantic ballads tailor-made for the dance floor: “Miracle” and “Lovely Night for Romance.” Bobby G’s working to promote live blues music in the far Western Suburbs of Chicagoland, and I recommend this outfit highly. Live, they mix up the set lists with some inspired versions of classic covers, and I enjoyed “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” the night I first discovered this band. I was pleasantly surprised at Tony Medina on congas, and the twin keybards, too, that contributed to the band’s big sound.

Follow Bobby G and his band on his MySpace page, and check out live audio recorded at the Ballydoyle Pub (Blues on the Fox’ official after party club) at http://959theriver.cellit.us/ courtesy of FM 95.9, The River.

Eric Steiner is the President of the Washington Blues Society in Seattle, Washington. The Society was the recipient of the 2009 Keeping the Blues Alive Award in the blues organization category. Contact Eric at president@wablues.org for more information.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.


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