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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson RIP

Today is one of those days that you will remember for the rest of your life. You will remember where you were, and what you were doing when Michael Jackson died. Much like Elvis, Lennon, or some of you older folks, JFK. This is one of those days that is burned into your memory banks. Michael Jackson for all his problems was still an outstanding artist. He was a man that had his childhood stolen, and spent most of his adult life trying to find it again. In many ways a tragic figure, but perhaps that inner demon that propelled his personal life also created some amazing pop music.

From the blues perspective his later work is way too out there to fit here, but soulful funky music from the Jackson Five certainly fits the broad pallet here at Blues Historian. However, I feel guilty tonight posting his early work as a child, knowing how he was treated and knowing how that kid with the bright eyes and all that talent never had a childhood, never got a chance to grow up, and I bet if he had to do it again he might give up all the fame and money just to have a chance to be a kid again.

On a positive note the Jackson Five transcended race. I remember in 2nd grade my elementary school had desegregated. African American students from inner city Des Moines came north to my elementary school. It was an amazing experience because as children we had no preconceive ideas about race. However, we had a strange voting experience on who was the best band. The choices were The Jackson Five, or the Osmond Brothers. Now I know what you are thinking, the white kids voted for the Osmonds, and the African American kids voted for the Jackson Five. WRONG! The boys voted for the Jackson Five, and the girls voted for the Osmonds! Even now Donny Osmond makes me cringe:-) (sorry Donny:-) However, the Jacksons were cool.

God Bless you Micheal. I hope you finally can have the childhood you so richly deserve. We will always have your music, and hopefully tonight you are jamming with the best damn band in heaven.

Illinois Blues News

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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,

So much Blues, so little time! We hope you get the chance to get to some Blues festivals this summer. While the economy is in a mess, the business of the Blues rolls on and even seems to thrive in bad times.

Speaking of great festivals we are headed to Urbana, Illinois this weekend to see the Urbana Blues Brews and BBQ festival. This is only the second year for this festival from the folks at Fluid Events but somehow they have figured out how to provide a GREAT lineup and still make the festival FREE. Now that is a great thing in the current hard times.

Their lineup includes 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. A priceless line up all for FREE!

For more information see their ad below or CLICK HERE to visit their website.

There is also a great festival this Saturday in the little town of Slater, Missouri. The Bear Creek Blues Festival features Smokin' Joe Kubek & Bnois King, Howard & The White Boys, King King, The Meagan Boyer Band, Rich Berry, the Joe Lewis Band and Fletchers One Man Blues Band. See their ad below and visit their website for tickets and info at

Blues Wanderings

We made it to Blues On the Fox last weekend in Aurora, Illinois. The fest 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. It featured a lineup that included, 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. Below are a few pics of the fun including British Blues guitar sensation Davey Knowles, Lightnin' Malcom and Watermelon Slim


We will 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 Michael Packer. Mike O'Cull reviews a new CD by Buckwheat Zydeco. Michael Packer reviews a new CD by Greg Nagy. Eric Steiner reviews a new CD by The Chicago Kingsnakes.

Bob Kieser reviews day one of the Chicago Blues Fest this week.

Our classic Video of the week is from 1993 and features the last known recording of Chicago Bluesman Lefty Dizz.

For complete info visit:

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For Tickets and more info visit:

Featured Blues Review 1 of 4

Michael Packer - Rikers Island Blues

Iris Music Group

8 songs; Time 42:36; Splendid

Styles: Modern Electric Blues

What is an optimist? An optimist is a person who has been sentenced to prison, and on the way there, he/she says, “At least I’ll gain a deeper understanding of the Blues!”

Blues and jail have always seemed to co-exist, even spawning some great works like BB King at Cook County Jail or Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison. In Michael Packer’s case, his one year stint in stir at Rikers Island, New York, gave him both a chance to learn, and perform. Packer did three or four concerts with his in-house band while serving a year there for armed robbery.

“Rikers Island Blues” was not recorded at the famous New York gray-bar-hotel as one might infer from the name. Since there is no mention in the liner notes where it was recorded, I am unsure. The first song seems to be a studio song, and the remaining seven tracks are recorded live, somewhere. Track three, “I’m Tore Down,” is announced at Sweet Rhythm, a famous jazz club in Greenwich Village in New York City. The exact recording date is also unclear.

Altogether, the eight song set is some enjoyable real-deal Blues. The opening track may be an original (again, scant liner notes), but the remaining seven live tracks are mostly well chosen covers like “The Thrill Is Gone” and “I’m Tore Down.” While one can imagine Packer’s vocals being stronger as a young man, he commands plenty of respect from his fellow all-star musicians, who are loose and in the groove. The biographical shuffle “Born in New York City” was written by Packer, and it features Felix Cabrera’s deft honking on harp.

The live songs feature Michael Packer on guitar and vocals, James Cotton's piano player David Maxwell, Guitarist Jimmy Vivino from the Conan O'Brien show, Lou Marini from the Blues Brothers and Saturday Night live, Cuban born harmonica ace Felix Cabrera, Ed Jackson on bongos, King Bear on bass and Nat Seeley on drums.

Packer is a singer, songwriter and guitarist who was born in New York City in 1950. In 1969 he formed the group “Papa Nebo” which included saxophonist Bob Mintzer. Papa Nebo recorded an album for Atlantic records after they were personally signed by Ahmet Ertegun.

Eventually Packer started another project “Free Beer” which recorded three albums for Buddha and RCA records and toured extensively with the likes of the Atlanta Rhythm Section, Dr. Hook, and Clifton Chenier to name a few. All of the albums made the Billboard top 100.
After dropping out of the music scene in the late 80s, Packer hit the skids. His drinking had escalated, and he found himself living on the streets. He did a year in Rikers Island for attempted robbery, but that seemed to be the turning point in his life. Even in prison he had a band. HBO did a special "The Prisoners of Rikers Island” in which he appears.

Michael Packer has been sober 15 years now, and life is good especially his music. He has become a well known and respected member of the New York City Blues Scene. The Michael Packer Blues Band has received rave reviews for the “Live at Sweet Rhythm” album (Woodstock Records). A Best of Michael Packer has been released and also reissues of his earlier recordings of Papa Nebo and Free Beer.

In 2009 Michael Packer and percussionist Ed Jackson were semi-finalists in the solo/duo competition at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis.

Michael Packer has lived the blues, and now, he is back playing the blues with style.

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.

For more info visit:

Blues Video of the Week

Lefty Dizz

Last known recording

1993 Buddy Guys Legends

This week we feature a 1993 video by Chicago Bluesman Lefty Dizz. One of the best and baddest guitar players ever to come out of Chicago.

Lefty put his all into every performance and is remembered as a true performer for his stage antics. He played a right handed guitar which he flipped upside down without restringing the strings.

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


For other videos on our website CLICK HERE.

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 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 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

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

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, . 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

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

Featured Blues Review 2 of 4

Greg Nagy - Walk That Fine Thin Line

Big O Records

'Walk That Fine Line' is the debut album from Michigan's guitarist-vocalist-songwriter Greg Nagy. Nagy is also the guitarist in the popular blues band Root Doctor.

The title cut 'Walk That Fine Thin Line', features some tasty guitar work and soulful vocals from Nagy on this very commercial sounding track. 'For The Love Of A Woman' is an upbeat blues piece with some nice harmonies by the background singers and the band is in the pocket. 'Blues Will Take Good Care Of You' is a jamming track that could also make some contemporary jazz radio playlists.

Nagy comes down home with the funky 'Won't Cry' (a little short but so cool I had to listen again).'M&O Blues' is a walking blues with a tremolo sounding guitar giving the tune a nice effect.

'Sunrise' is another contemporary commercial track with great harmonies and excellent piano work by Al Hill. 'You Can Love Yourself' is a blues tune with a nifty hook. Nagy laments about love on the slow blues 'Not Falling In Love'. He brings us back with a rockabilly blues on 'Jenny, Jenny, Jenny'. The album ends with the Otis Redding like 'She's My Baby'.

Greg Nagy is truly an accomplished guitar player. He knows when to show his stuff and when not to. A lot of guitar players I have listened to seem to play all they know in each solo, so it's like, yeah, your fast but once you hear one cut you've heard it all. Not the case with Greg Nagy and he was a pleasure to listen to.

My favorite tracks are the title cut 'Walk That Fine Thin Line' and 'Wont Cry' but the whole CD is good and very radio friendly. I am sure blues radio promoter Todd Glazer up there in Alaska won't have any problem getting Greg Nagy some airplay...EXCELLENT RECORD!

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.

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

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

Buckwheat Zydeco - Lay Your Burden Down

Alligator Records

Buckwheat Zydeco (aka Stanley Dural) leads the hottest zydeco band around and is a bona fide American music legend. He is the preeminent ambassador of Louisiana zydeco music and is celebrating 30 years in the business with his first release on Alligator Records Lay Your Burden Down.

This latest effort is the most ambitious, varied, and deepest of BZ’s career and shows his vocal, accordion, and organ skills in as good a light as they have ever been seen. The album also features five new Buckwheat originals along with some reinterpretations of songs fans might not expect him and the band to tackle. The album opens with “When The Levee Breaks”, which classic rocks fans associate with Led Zeppelin but really dates back to Memphis Minnie. The track moves from a blues lament to a two-step, giving it an almost ‘jazz funeral’ vibe.

Another successful cover is BZ’s reading of “Let Your Yeah Be Yeah” by Jimmy Cliff, which is sweet and soulful. Other writers covered here include Captain Beefheart, Bruce Springsteen, Warren Haynes, and J.J. Grey. Special guests performing on the CD are Haynes, Sonny Landreth, and Trombone Shorty.

Lay Your Burden Down, produced by Steve Berlin of Los Lobos who also plays on the disc, pushes the boundaries of zydeco/roots music in a positive way and shows how much commonality there really is amongst the American musical styles. This is the way the old-school music we all love is going to survive and flourish in the 21st century: by bringing new elements into it, which turns new fans on to it, and making everyone realize that, no matter what type of music it is, a master like Buckwheat can transform all of it into pure bayou soul.

It may have been 30 years in the making, but Buckwheat Zydeco has turned in the record of his life and it will be fun watching this music make its way around the world.

Reviewer Mike O'Cull is a noted Chicago music writer and Blues Blast contributor. Visit his MySpace page at:

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

2009 Blues Blast Music Awards

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.

To see a complete list of the 2009 nominees CLICK HERE

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. To check out the website and begin listening to these great artists now, CLICK HERE Voting begins on July 1st. Details coming soon.

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

The BEST Way To Promote YOUR Next Blues Project!

BANDS, BARS, AND LABELS: Is your promo material getting you the gigs and business you desire? If not, call music journalist and copy writer Mike O'Cull for all your promotional needs. Mike is a veteran music journalist and musician and writes for the Illinois Entertainer,, and and can deliver the highest quality promotional writing around quickly and at a reasonable price.

Mike's specialties include bios, press releases, liner notes, and web content. Full press kit design, including graphics, is also available. Clients include The Joe Moss Band, Carl Davis, TruSoul Entertainment, B.A. S. Entertainment, and many others. Samples available on request. Email , call Mike O'Cull Music at 847-608-0357, or visit us online at for more information.

Mention the Blues Blast for a $10 new customer discount.

Live Blues Music Review

The 26th Chicago Blues Fest - Day One June 12,2009

The 26th edition of the Chicago Blues Fest took place as usual in the heart of the city, Grant Park. With more than 70 artists on five stages, this is a very large festival. Last year on the 25th anniversary there were seven stages and more that 110 artists so this fest was a bit more manageable to cover. There was actually time to enjoy some of these artists as you worked your way from stage to stage to photograph the artists.

On Friday the festival started off at noon with tour de force of Blues in the schools. Several groups representing various Chicago public schools performed with Bluesman Carl Weathersby playing guitar for the groups. It was great to see so many kids singing and playing harmonica. The Blues is alive and well in the Windy City.

There were a number of great Blues performers on Friday. We got to see Gloria Thompson Rogers, The Blues Experience with Vince Agwada and Chicago singer Mary Lane in the early afternoon

Donna Herula is a Chicago dobro player who played some great delta Blues and we saw Eddie Taylor Jr. sitting in with Harmonica Hinds

There were four stages running during the afternoon. As we made our way around the stages we got to see both of Muddy Waters sons perform, Big Bill Morganfield and Mud Morganfield on the same stage.

Even Muddy Waters widow, Mrs. Morganfield was there to see her boys perform and you could see how proud she was. They were joined on stage by other members of Muddy Waters band including Blues patriarch Pinetop Perkins on piano and Willie Big Eyes Smith on harmonica

As the afternoon heated up we got to hear more great Blues including Andrew Junior Boy Jones, Sherman Moody Thomas and and harmonica legend Charlie Musselwhite

As evening approached we headed to the huge Petrillo Music Shell stage to hear the days headliner acts. First up was real Chicago legend Shirley Johnson.

Shirley is breaking out big time now with a new CD on Delmark records called Blues Attack. The record is climbing the charts and was just nominated for Best Traditional Blues CD in the Blues Blast Music Awards. Shirley was also nominated as Best Female Blues Artists in the Blues Blast Music Awards. It was easy to understand why the nominators chose her as she delivered a great set with a crack band of Chicago's best musicians playing many of the songs from the new CD.

To finish of the first day was another Blues legend, Eddie C. Campbell who was celebrating his 70th birthday. Eddie first came to Chicago at the age of 10 and played with all the greats, everyone from Howlin' Wolf and Little Walter to Little Johnny Taylor to Jimmy Reed and even the great Willie Dixon, who hired him as a Chicago Blues All-Star in 1976.

Most of the time we would consider half the great talent we saw the first day a fantastic Blues festival, But this was just the start and with 2 more days to come, we headed back to rest up for the great show on day two.... Stay tuned!

Review and photos by Blues Blast Editor Bob Kieser.

Blues Blast Magazine - Summer Advertising SALE!

Blues Blast Magazine is running an advertising special for Blues festivals and new CD releases during July through October. Are you a promoter or a Blues Society having a festival anytime during July through October? Is your band's CD being released in the coming months?

If so we are offering a great deal to get the Blues word out for you. Your ad can be seen each week by 12,000 Blues fans in all 50 states and in 60 countries for a very low price of $30 a week. (Four Week minimum!)

So for the low price of $120 your ad will be seen nearly 50,000 times by real Blues fans. How is that for a deal? You want more you say? OK then we recommend our combo rate where for an additional $20, your ad will also run at the same time on our website at Our website gets 10,000 visitors and more than 800,000 hits each month.

The sale prices are good for ad space reserved through July 31st, 2009. Available advertising space is limited and is offered on a first come, first served basis so contact us today at to start getting the Blues word out about your Blues event or CD!

Featured Blues Review 4 of 4

Chicago Kingsnakes - Snapshots

MusicKing Records

The Chicago Kingsnakes are celebrating their 26th year in the blues, and their latest sampler, Snapshots. Snapshots catches this exciting four-piece unit at the top of their game. Founded in 1983 by James “Ang” Anderson, the band features Ron Berry on bass and vocals and Gus Gotsis on drums. Nelson Keaton joined in 2001 to round out the sound on harmonica, and he opens the disc off with a spirited “Leave It Where I Put It.” Nelson smokes on the set’s closer, “Whammer Jammer,” and fans of post-war, urban harp blues will revel in the way he plays the Mississippi saxophone. For me, the most memorable cut is “Get Out of Memphis,” thanks to Ang’s vocals and guitar leads, and the way the band updates a traditional blues sound.

Over the years, the Chicago Kingsnakes have released nine CDs, and some are hard to find. Thankfully, the web site, , offers samples from 2004’s Grass Roots and 1998’s Blues Island, plus a video from their 1994 Chicago Blues Festival performance with Byher Smith. Prior to that festival, the band toured Finland and the Netherlands with Smitty, and they also shared the stage with Buddy Guy, Albert Collins, and Sugar Blue. There are six live cuts totaling a half-hour on Snapshots, and I hope that this CD gets the band more work. The band has received local and international recognition for decades, ranging from Midwest BEAT (sadly no longer in print), to the world’s blues magazine, Blues Revue.

In July, the band will play the Friends of the Blues Concert in Burbonnais on the 28th, followed by a gig at Harlem Avenue Lounge in Berwyn on the 31st, and in August, they’ll play the Chicago Botanical Garden in Glencoe on the 4th, and return to Indianapolis’ Slippery Noodle at the end of the month. If you’re in the region, check out the Chicago Kingsnakes for an exceptional evening of live blues.

Reviewer Eric Steiner is 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.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

Live Blues Calendar

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Performance dates were submitted by Musicians, Club Owners, Blues Societies and Blues festivals. is not responsible for errors or omissions.

CLICK HERE - for the Latest Complete Blues Calendar on our website at:

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