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Friday, May 15, 2009

Nellie Tiger Travis

slide show video
"Don't Talk To Me"
"Slap Yo' Weave Off (REMIX!)"
"Let's Get It Poppin'"
special edition of her CD "I'm A Woman" with 4 bonus tracks HERE
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: NELLIE!!!


Trouble No More In CIBS Blues Challenge Final

One of my old buddies from Des Moines has made it to the finals of the Central Iowa Blues Societies Iowa Blues Challenge. Hats off to Jeff for making it that far. There are a lot of bands who have never made the finals, and unfortunatly a lot of bands who seem to make it to the finals every year. Good luck to Jeff and all the bands as they head to the finals.

Here is a note Jeff sent out:

Whoa Yeah! We (Trouble No More) are in it!

Saturday night, May 16th from 10:30 to 11:15 PM Trouble No More will set the Hotel Fort Des Moines ablaze with good time danceable Blues that cannot be denied. The whole deal starts at 8:30 PM and features 4 acts that are competing for a trip to the International Blues Competition in Memphis next May. Admission is $10.

After years of competing in preliminary rounds with the likes of Blues Inc. and Trouble In Mind, I finally pulled together a group that made it to the finals. We clearly had the experience going for us in the prelim round at Zimm's in early April. For my part, I have my past mates in Blues Inc. and Trouble In Mind to thank for that.

The competition will be stiff, but we're gonna bring it on. Here's hoping maybe you can swing the night to come down and watch us light it up.

Best wishes,

Jenni Muldaur

radio & internet

Dearest Darlin' Album Cover
Jenni Muldaur
performing her new album

Dearest Darlin'
(Dandelion Music)

Monday, May 18 at 10pm
The Living Room
154 Ludlow Street NYC

Visit Jenni's home page here
for info, videos, dates and more. More?

John Rosenfelder/Earbender
John Rosenfelder
Earbender Media

(212)724-6828 | (917) 627-9341
Please visit the all-new
and follow @earbender on Twitter!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Charlie Patton: High Water Everywhere

One of them cool, and haunting videos that have been floating around Youtube for years. Don't know how they do it, but it is very weird.

Son House: Low Down Dirty Shame

Rare color footage of the great Son House. Son had a long career that spanned all the way back to Charlie Patton and Robert Johnson.

Junior Wells: Little By Little

The great harp man Junior Wells. I met him in Kansas City, and he was one cool cat!

Illinois Blues News

The FREE Internet Magazine - All news BLUES in the US!

© 2007 - 2009

Latest news, photos, reviews, 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,

This weekend there are a couple great live Blues events happening. The Doheny Blues Festival in Dana Point, CA features some huge names including Brian Setzer , Keb' Mo' (both solo and with a band), Elvin Bishop, John Németh and 10 more bands on Saturday. And on Sunday they have B.B. King, Derek Trucks and another 10 bands. WOW Big show! Check out the details at

Blues Blast magazine will have a review and pictures from our west coast reporter next week. Stay Tuned.

Also this weekend is the Chicago Blues Tour put on by Blues University in Chicago. Blues fans can preview the Chicago Blues Fest on Saturday, May 16th when the Chicago Blues Tour presents a “pub crawl” event connecting 7 Blues lounges hosting 8 live Blues bands and many special musical guests performing all night long.

They have shuttle buses connecting the 7 participating Chicago Blues clubs including the Wabash Tap, the Checkerboard Lounge, Rosa’s Lounge, Lee’s Unleaded Blues, Rooster’s Palace, Catcher’s Inn and Linda’s Place.

Buses shuttle between clubs from 8:30 p.m. until 1:30 a.m. Featured Blues performers are expected to include Deak Harp Band in a "Harmonica Showdown" with Harpmonster and Omar Coleman, Robert Pasenko & The 35th Street Blues Band, Tre', Lady Kat, Floyd Wilson, Reggie Tutt, Mz Peaches, Smilin’ Bobby, Killer Ray Allison, Chuck Crane, Linsey Alexander, Chicago Babe, Ramblin' Rose, Li’l Daddy, Li’l Ed & The Blues Imperials, Pete Galanis, Vance Kelly & The Backstreet Blues Band, Johnny Drummer & The Starliters, Fantastic L-Roy & The Bulletproof Band and Taildragger & His All-Star Chicago Blues Band. CLICK HERE for complete information and tickets and see their ad below.

Blues Wanderings

We made the trip to Fort Madison for the Simply The Blues Festival last weekend. The festival featured some great Blues artists including Bobby Rush, International Blues Challenge winner JP Soars and Australian artist Harper among many others. We will have a complete review and photos in next weeks issue.

In this issue - Blues Reviews and MORE!

George Fish Reviews a new CD by Robson Fernandes Blues Band. James Walker reviews a CD from Luke Mulholland. Michael Packer reviews the new CD by Shawn Kellerman. Mark Thompson sends us a review of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Fest. Gary Weeks send us a review of a live show by Smokin Joe Kubeck and Benois King Live at Blind Willies in Atlanta.

Our Blues video of the week is a clip of Etta James and Dr. John singing the classic "I'd Rather Go Blind". All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!

For tickets and info CLICK HERE

Watseka Theatre Blues, BBQ & Arts Fest

May 30th, 2009 Watseka, IL

Outdoors on The "Quality Blues Fest Stage"

11:00AM The Watseka Wonder Blues Band w/ Jeff McCord

Noon SGT. Kaper's Lonely Hearts Club Blues Band
w/ Jim Marshino & The Cherry Pickers

1:00PM Hounds Tooth

3:00PM Little Johnny Blue Moore

5:00PM Curtis and the Mayfields

6:00PM After Midnight Blues Band

Move indoors to the Theatre Stage at 7:30PM

8:00PM Queenie and the Blue Cats

10:30PM Doug McDonald & the Blue Mirror Band

For tickets and complete info: CLICK HERE

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.

Information Wanted on Chicago's Club 708

Looking for information about an old south side Chicago blues club called the 708 Club that was at 708 E. 47th Street, Chicago and was run by Ben Gold and his brother. Interested in information from about 1954 to 1959 because the 708 Club was called, “The southside’s leading blues house,” by the Chicago Defender in 1957. Also, according to several sources the club played host to Muddy Waters, the 4 Aces, Howling Wolf, Memphis Slim, Jimmy Rogers, Willie Mabon, Otis Rush, Billy Boy Arnold, Little Walter, Snooky Pryor, Magic Sam, James Cotton, Buddy Guy and David “Honeyboy” Edwards; among many others. Records indicate that the club closed in early 1959. Want to find out why. Contact

Blues Interviewers wanted

Blues Blast Magazine is looking for volunteers to interview Blues musicians for the magazine. If you have a background and experience with Blues music and like to write we can provide leads to conduct interviews with the artists. Person must be willing to write a minimum of one interview every other week. This is a great way to beef up your resume. If interested please send a sample of your writing and a short bio of your background to

521 Club Information Wanted

Looking for any photos or info about the 60's-70's club in Brooklyn called the 521 club. Regulars there were artists like Millie Jackson, Little Johhny Taylor, The Invitations, The Persuasions, EB Davis, Sterling Harrison, etc etc. Thanks for any help.

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 presents

Matthew Skollar Band

The Rivoli Theatre - Monmouth, IL

CLICK HERE to Purchase Tickets

Friday, June 19

The Rev. Jimmy Bratcher

Angela Hagenbach


Saturday, June 20

Parkville Community Band

The Skip Hawkins Band

Tommy Andrews Band

The Sons of Brazil

Roger "Hurricane" Wilson w/ Levee Town

Stacy Mitchart

Featured Blues Review 1 of 3

Robson Fernandes Blues Band – Cool (Live Music, Brazil)

12 tracks - Time: 44:44

I was intrigued by this CD, Cool by the Robson Fernandes Blues Band, from the time I first received it for review from Blues Blast—because it came in the original mailing wrapper from São Paulo, Brazil. I knew Brazilian musicians were well established for excellence and innovation, as so amply demonstrated by bossa nova; and so I wondered, “What can Brazilians do also with the blues, this now universally admired and played, this now truly international, musical art form?”

What these particular four Brazilian musicians do is perform very compelling and convincing late 1950s Chicago blues in a way that is not only idiomatically correct enough to satisfy any critic, but also play them vibrantly and with soul. The Robson Fernandes Blues Band—Fernandes on vocals and amplified chromatic and Marine Band harp, Danilo Simi, guitar, Renato Limão, bass, and Victor Busquets, drums—are all accomplished musicians steeped in the music and knowledgeable of its playing. They form the solid musical core at the center of Cool, and are joined by three equally masterful guests: Marcos Ottaviano, guitar solos on tracks 2, 5 and 6; Troy Jennings, alto, tenor and baritone saxes on tracks 1, 2 and 6; and Ari Borger, piano on tracks 7 and 9.

Ottaviano and Simi dish up some truly tasty and accomplished guitar solos, with Jennings doing the same on tracks 1, 2 and 6, where the advantages of multi-tracking are fully utilized on the latter two tracks for a full multi-sax sound and use of multiple saxes for solos. Borger’s piano adds a positive emphasis to track 9, and on track 7, a rocking New Orleans-style cover of the Smiley Lewis/Dave Bartholomew tune, “Down The Road,” does a masterful job of incorporating Jerry Lewis glissandos, multiply-hit single high notes and piano exuberance into his solid blues playing. This, to me, is at the top of compliments I can give for piano playing, for I truly consider The Killer to be one of the greatest piano players ever in popular music, and once complimented Deanna Bogart by saying she sounded like Jerry Lee himself. “Is there any other?” she beamed back.

And certainly worthy of note is the driving, enthusiastic drumming of Victor Busquets, who embellishes his rhythmic pounding of the skins several times with a percussive clapping of the drumsticks together.

Of the 12 tracks on Cool, only three are covers—track 8, Little Walter’s “It Ain’t Right,” and two Smiley Lewis numbers: the above mentioned “Down The Road,” and the opening live track, “Big Mamou,” which Lewis co-wrote with Link Davis. The other nine are Robson Fernandes originals, with the five vocal numbers jointly written by him and his co-producer and engineer, Carlos Sander. Robson’s solo songwriting efforts are all instrumentals: the rhumba-beat second track, “Cool;” the fast sixth track, “Outside Out Rhumba;” the slow and ruminative track 9, “She’s Gone;” and the final track, “Low Stomp,” with Fernandes playing Sonny Boy Williamson II-style acoustic harp, complete with Williamson’s signature low-note guttural chords, accompanied only by Danilo Simi on acoustic guitar.

All the song lyrics are in English, which are articulated crisply and precisely, and thus easily understood. Moreover, Robson Fernandes’s singing of the English lyrics in his Portuguese accent adds an interesting timbre to his vocal sound. The five English-language vocal originals demonstrate a mastery of the Chicago blues lyrical content as well as an approach that is distinctive and not simply derivative. That does indeed hold for all five—track 2, “The Time That I Loved;” track 3, “Mean Old Girl;” track 5, “I Love You So,” which I discuss further below; “So Far Away,” a lament not of yearning but of indignation that his lover lives so far away; and “I Ain’t No Good.” These are excellent songs that any blues band would be proud to cover. I especially like the originality of the good bad boy portrayed in “I Ain’t No Good”:

You know, I ain’t no good, no
Till I get it done
You know, I ain’t no good, no
Till I get it done
I’m your good lovin’ baby
Let me show you some

I love to live my life, baby
Any way I can
I love to live my life, baby
Any way I can
Yes, need a good lookin’ woman
Who leaves me like I am

Fernandes plays excellent amplified harp solos on both chromatic and Marine Band throughout. While his basic harp style has been strongly influenced by the playing of Little Walter (but what modern harp player hasn’t been influenced by Little Walter’s definitive style?), he is his own original harpman as well, and frequently, with great effect, augments his basic playing with trills and runs, a technique that’s also notably used by Australian blues harp player Harper.

All of the songs are done as electric combo blues, with two exceptions—the above-mentioned instrumental, “Low Stomp,” and the vocal, “I Love You So.” “I Love You So” takes as its melody a slow-rhumba version of “Snatch It Back And Hold It,” the opening track on Junior Wells’s first album for Delmark, Hoodoo Man Blues. But the musical arrangement incorporates into it the classical string playing of Heitor Fujinami and Mauríco Takeda, violins, Abrahão Saraiva, viola, and Vitor Visoná, cello, making it reminiscent of B.B. King’s “The Thrill Is Gone” as well.

In “Pontiac Blues” Sonny Boy Williamson II sang of driving his baby in that straight-eight Pontiac and turning on the radio to “dig the boys from the North,” who represented the epitome of good blues. Well, now we have some boys from the far, far, far South whose blues we can dig that way as well. So if you’re ever in São Paulo, Brazil and have a yearning for some Chicago blues, just look up the Robson Fernandes Blues Band. You’ll get an earful!

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.

4th Annual T-Bone Walker Blues Fest
June 19-20, 2009
Music City Texas Theatre -
Linden, Texas

Jimmie Vaughan

Gary Nicholson

Bugs Henderson

Guitar Shorty

Danny Johnson

The Wolf Tribe

The Bluebirds

Joe Jonas Band

Bobbie Oliver & Jam City Revue

Pleasant Hill Quilting Group

David “Honeyboy” Edwards

Wes Jeans

TuTu Jones

19th Street Red

Bernie Pearl

Betty Lewis & the Executives

Marquise Knox

Kayla Reeves

Colton O’Neill Band

Featured Blues Review 2 of 3

Luke Mulholland Band - Further

Self release

8 songs; Time 31:24; Meritable

Style: Pop-Rock, Blues-Rock

Come on you Baby Boomers, admit it. You were raised on Rock and spent much of the 1970s “Rocking.” You are Blues fans now, but every once in a while, you enjoy a little Rock music to take you back. If this describes you, give 19 year old guitar hero Luke Mulholland a try.

Currently touring as the opening act for Dickey Betts, Luke received his first classical guitar at age 10 and quickly progressed from playing “little classical ditties” to “playing power chords” in the vein of bands like Blink-182 and Limp Bizkit, to finally trying to master the guitar technique of music from his parents’ generation, such as Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page.
By 13, Luke was writing songs and performing locally in Toronto, Canada. Luke was also busy at work in his bedroom, writing and recording his debut album, “Road Home,” on a sixteen-track digital workstation, handling all guitar, bass, drum programming and vocal duties.

Six years, three more albums and countless gigs later, Luke has an impressive stat sheet. After winning a local vote-based competition, he opened for Bon Jovi in Toronto, playing to a crowd of 18,000 and receiving accolades from Richie Sambora for that night’s performance. He has also opened for Loverboy, late guitar legend Jeff Healey, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Blue Oyster Cult, Dickey Betts and Mountain – not to mention his headlining shows in the US and Canada. Currently, Luke is a Boston, Massachusetts resident attending the world-renown Berklee School of Music.

Luke’s latest record, “Further,” was recorded in December 2007 in Toronto, and I can only infer from the lack of liner notes that it was recorded entirely by Luke and Steve Major. The CD finds Mulholland’s lyrics improving, his vocals sounding more mature, and the music with more improvising.

The album features the single “Drowning,” a bouncy pop tune highlighted by acoustic guitars and electric guitar leads underneath Mulholland’s solid vocals detailing his relationship with a girl who has been steadfast in support.
The album’s title track, “Further,” simmers at mid tempo with Mulholland exploring lower registers on his guitar and tossing in a tasty slide solo mid-song.

“The Last Verse” adds organ to the soaring mix as Luke is not too young to appreciate contemporary changes that are not for the better. He and his guitar lament the disappearance of the Classic Rock he fell in love with. For that, he uses a metaphor of a young girl who died before her time.

“Rambling On My Mind” is as close to Blues as the CD comes. Curiously, Luke credits himself as the author, but the song’s roots are clearly from Robert Johnson. It does feature some tasty slide guitar work and an exceptionally strong bass line.

Luke Mulholland is someone I would like to see live because I know he could burn masterfully on a slow blues number. It is not what this album is about, but I know he has it in him in his limitless future.

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,

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

Featured Blues Review 3 of 3

Shawn Kellerman - Blues Without A Home

Shawn Kellerman is from Canada but has planted himself and his guitar in the roots of the blues having lived in Mississippi. He is considered by critics a guitar wizard who defines modern blues. He has performed with Mel Brown,Deborah Coleman and Bobby Rush.

The album starts with the Robert Randolph instrumental "Ted's Jam". It features some great guitar playing and a stand-up rythym section with Joesph Veloz on bass and Andrew "Blaze" Thomas on drums. On "Good Times" there is some fantastic B3 by Lucky Peterson. The song reminds me too much of the 80's hit by Robert Palmer "Addicted To Love".

"Counterfeit Man", I just couldn't get into. It was just not my type of feel. "Give me the Blues' is a good song and Kellerman can really play. The band really smokes on this cut. Shawn brings it down on "Love is Sweet" with some inventive guitar, nice tone and chord changes while Lucky Peterson jams on the B3 and Clavinet. This track is exceptional. The musicians feel it and in listening to it so did I.

"Love is Music" boogies along and you can tell Lucky Peterson and the band are having fun. Great Hammond work! "Big Mama's Door" is another form of modern blues but sounded a bit long.

"Pretty Woman" by A.C Williams is a great song but all this version didn't add much to the original .The CD ends with "Jelly Roll" a modern blues in the Led Zeppelin vein.

Shawn Kellerman can certainly play the guitar and maybe considered by some a guitar wizard and innovative. I didn't hear it all the way through on this album but I did hear moments of brilliance.

I did not care for Shawn's vocals. No soul or passion in his delivery. He sounds like he doesn't mean it.

Shawn was smart to add Lucky Peterson to the mix on this recording. Lucky Peterson is the real deal. My favorite track which is very close to a masterpiece in modern blues is "Love is Sweet". Check it out.

Reviewer Michael Packer is a singer-guitarist from NYC who fronts his own band "The Michael Packer Blues Band". He has been performing for over 40 years and has recorded on major labels Atlantic and RCA.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

New CD by

BJ Allen


Blue Voodoo


"From fun to funky to soulful ballads and back again" - Blues Blast Magazine

To read the complete review CLICK HERE

Available now at:

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.

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: or call Peggy Brown @ 601-613-7377

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. May 15th – Dave Lindsey Band

Friends Of The Blues Shows - Kankakee IL

The Friends of the Blues has started their 2009 Blues concert Series. Here are their currently scheduled shows. May 26 – The Insomniacs, Kankakee Elks Country Club Kankakee Elks Country Club, 2283 Bittersweet Drive, St. Anne IL. 815-937-1228, May 30 – 2nd Annual Blues & BBQ Festival, Watseka Theatre, downtown Watseka, IL June 16 – Joanne Shaw Taylor, River Bend Bar & Grill, 6070 E. Route 17, Kankakee IL. 815-933-0610 Aug 11 – Laurie Morvan, Kankakee Elks Country Club 2283 Bittersweet Drive, St. Anne IL. 815-937-1228

Mississippi Valley Blues Society - Davenport, IA

Join MVBS and the QC Bandits for a fundraiser at the Modern Woodman Park Saturday May 16th—6:00pm as our QC Bandits send the Kane County Cougars home with the blues.After the Game get your blues with Morry Sochat and the Special 20s. A portion of ticket sales at MVBS office will be donated back to MVBS by the QC River Bandits. Catch morry and the boys at the damview inn for an after the game show. Bring your ticket stub from the game for $1.00 off a pint of great river brew.

The Mississippi Valley Blues Society and the Dam View Inn present Joe and Vicki Price at the Dam View Inn, 410 E. 2nd Street in downtown Davenport, on Friday May 22. The show, a fundraiser for the Blues Society, starts at 9 p.m., and admission is $5. For more info contact call the MVBS office at 563-32-BLUES.

Illinois Central Blues Club - Springfield, IL


Held at the Alamo 115 N 5th St, Springfield, IL (217) 523-1455 every Monday 8:30pm $2 cover - May 18 - Tombstone Bullet, May 24 - Bruce Katz

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: May 20 - Deak Harp, May 27 - The Insomniacs, June 3 – Rob Williams' Soggy Bottom Blues Band, June 10 – The Plateros, June 17 – Joanne Shaw Taylor, June 24 - Gina Sicilia

For more info visit:

For complete info visit:

Live Blues Review 1 of 2

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival 2009

Photos by Mark Thompson

I arrived in New Orleans mid-week in order to attend the second night this year’s Ponderosa Stomp held at the House of Blues for the second time. The Stomp is always a wild and wooly affair that mixes obscure musicians with the once famous for an entertaining evening that can end up being a musical marathon.

The show started at 6 p.m. with blues harp maestro Jerry McCain backed by Lil Buck Sinegal and the Buckaroos. McCain was in good spirits and turned in good set, sparked by his dance moves borrowed from the James Brown playbook.

The next set had Lil Buck and band backing the annual set from the Louisiana swamp blues legend, Lazy Lester. Lester turned in a more focused set than usual, blowing some crisp harp licks throughout the set. He had guitarist James Burton as a special guest. Burton traded solos with Lil Buck, who’s inspired work matched Burton’s note for note.

Another highlight was an appearance by Texas guitar slinger Long John Hunter, who was backed by Deke Dickerson & the Eccofonics. Hunter started off a bit tentatively but a slow blues tune gave him the chance to show off his skill on the guitar. Late in the set he held his guitar out with one hand and continued his solo, the type of showmanship that was a staple of his famous shows in Juarez, Mexico.

Other highlights included a set from songwriter Dan Penn that was marred by some technical issues but it was a treat to hear him perform classic songs like “Dark End of the Street” and “I’m Your Puppet”. Wanda Jackson showed why she was the queen of rockabilly in the 1950’s. The evening ended at 4 am as Question Mark & the Mysterians rocked the house with “96 Tears”.

After a short visit to a hotel bed, it was off to the first day of the four day Jazz Fest weekend. Opening the Blues Tent was Jumpin’ Johnny Sansone on harmonica and accordion, featuring selections from his latest release, Poor Man’s Paradise. His rendition of the title cut served as a poignant reminder of the work that still needs to be done in the Gulf area. Then Little Freddie King took control and laid down some real blues, just like he did at the very first Jazz Fest.

Later in the day, Lil Ed & the Blues Imperials unleashed a high-energy blues program that rocked the tent. The highlight occurred when Lil Ed left the stage and ventured deep into the rows of seats, bringing the entire audience to their feet and ripping off stinging slide licks the entire time.

The ten stages at the festival site feature a daily feast of music that often causes attendees to wish they could be at three or four places at once. The Fais Do-Do Stage had Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys followed later by the zydeco sweetheart, Rosie Ledet, The Congo Square stage closed with Solomon Burke, who quickly proved that his marvelous voice has retained it’s power. His rendition of “That’s How I Got to Memphis” was a stunning achievement and the highlight of the day.

Friday’s schedule featured some of the city’s best clarinet players, so I missed Marcia Ball and Bonnie Raitt on the Acura stage. But there was no way I was going to miss the legendary Doc Watson at the Blues tent. Doc may not be able to pick guitar like he did in his prime but his voice was clear and strong. His set unfolded like a master class in American roots music. Watson’s take on the classic “Summertime” was one highlight of the set.

Next up were local legend Walter “Wolfman” Washington and his band, the Roadmasters. Expertly mixing funk, soul and blues, Washington dazzled the crowd with his guitar and his soaring vocals backed by a full horn section. Closing the Blues tent was John Schofield, the renowned jazz guitarist, joined by the Piety Street band that included Jon Cleary on keyboards and vocals. The group performed a set of gospel songs from their current release with Schofield contributing several marvelous solos that were definitely rooted in the blues.

Saturday featured sets from Sherman Robertson, Bryan Lee and Chris Thomas King. I heard the last part of King’s set, backed by drums and bass. He was tearing into a slow blues with his guitar and made me regret I hadn’t heard more. But later I talked to several people who commented that for most of the set, King and the band had not been in sync. John Mayall was the day’s headliner.

I made in time on Sunday to catch most of Kenny Neal’s set. Backed by a band filled with family members, Neal dazzled with an engaging smile and a sincere performance that had him on guitar, harmonica and a lap slide guitar. One highlight was “Blues Falling Down like Rain” and Neal ended the set with “Let Life Flow”, the title cut from his latest release and the recent winner of the Blues Music award for Song of the Year.

The Two Man Wrecking Crew – drummer Cedric Burnside & guitarist Lightnin’ Malcolm – were next up. These guys blew me away last year at the Chicago Blues Fest. They sounded great but the larger stage prevented them from really connecting with the audience. The final act in the Blues tent was Louisiana native Buddy Guy, who was in his full entertainment mode. Several people later voiced their disappointment that Buddy didn’t play a solid set of down-home blues instead of pandering to the crowd.

It was another year of fine weather – only 15 minutes of rain late Sunday afternoon – and a wealth of music that boogles the imagination. After the fest, there is plenty of music available in clubs throughout the greater New Orleans area. Coupled with the unique cuisine, the New Orleans Jazz Fest is tough to beat for music fans of all persuasions.

Reviewer Mark Thompson is president of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

Live Blues Review 2 of 2

Smokin Joe Kubeck and Benois King Live at Blind Willies, Atlanta, GA -April 24, 2009

Photos and article by Gary Weeks

Touring for 20 years and now residing with Alligator Records, Smokin Joe Kubek and Benois King have the best of both worlds. Their Texas blues may not be so in-your-face and brain rattling as their contemporaries. But then again it never was.

Both guitarists have developed a chemistry and never let their style of jamming result in a train wreck. Their contrasting approaches to guitar playing just seem natural. Kubek will unleash stinging phrases from the fretboard while King acts as a pivotal point for jazz chording that is a backdrop for his soulful vocals.

Playing three sets, their music typified everything about Texas Blues: roadhouse rockers and up-tempo shuffles with enough scorching guitar licks to add Tabasco Sauce flavor.

The rhythm section, bassist Paul Jenkins and drummer Carole Dierking, were made for a comfortable groove pocket.

King holds down the rhythmic jazz inflections proving he can do lead guitar work. It doesn't come with Kubek's fire but it is none the less magic. His Gibson hollow body works well with Joe's Strat sound.

The band gathered momentum in the second set. Playing cuts from their latest CD "Blood Brother," . They reached back into their repertoire of material from their days with the Blind Pig and Bulls-Eye labels. Benois King is a friendly front man who engages the crowd. There were no long pauses or excessive stage chatter. They went from one song to another through an impressive set list.

What's great about Kubek is he doesn't cop a Stevie Ray bag of licks. Sure he plays a Strat. The sounds are his own and his slide work has enough supple economics to slither like snake oil.

As the evening wore on, the Friday night crowd began filtering out of the club. If you were lucky enough to stick around, there was a treat to be tasted.

Ending their third set with a bluesy instrumental, blues rocker Chris Duarte, with his wife in tow, entered the club. Coming onto the stage, Kubek handed Duarte his guitar and came to sit on the long bench facing the side of the stage. While Duarte is notorious for being a Strat man of musical havoc, he stayed within the blueprint of the song comping colorful blues textures. Being that Blind Willies attracts more purists, hardly anybody knew who Duarte was with the exception of one or two people. It wasn't Eric Clapton that walked into the club. Just another former Texas native who now makes his home in Georgia. It's the kind of thing you want to give your friends a hard time about simply because you hung in for the night.

Smokin Joe Kubek and Benois King aren't about blowing off the roof. They just concentrate on grooves that can get the people dancing. When they pull it off effortlessly, they have done their job well and can drive off to the next gig satisfied because of a solid night's work.

Review and photos by Gary “Wingman” Weeks

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

New CD from Alex Dixon Band

Rising From The Bushes

Hit #4 on the Roots Blues Charts prior to its release!

Now Available to download at Amazon, iTunes, Rhapsody and other digital sites. You can also purchase the CD at

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Blues Video of the Week

Etta James w/ Dr John
I'd Rather Go Blind

This week we feature a video by the great Etta James. In this clip Etta sings a particularly soulful version of her big hit "I'd Rather Go Blind" and is joined on stage by Dr John.

The result is a true classic rendition!

To see this cool video on our website, click the play button below.


For other videos on our website CLICK HERE.

The Smokie Blues International Festival - August 14 - 16, 2009

The Golf Hotel, Carnoustie, Scotland

For tickets an info or

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