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Friday, August 14, 2009

Illinois Blues

Illinois Blues - - Blues news across the USA.

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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,

Here at Blues Blast magazine we think the state of the Blues is good, or as one song says "Hey, Hey, The Blues is alright"!

And now more news that shows that the Blues is alive and well, another "Blues Birth".

In April 2009, The Los Angles Blues Society was formed with the goal of improving and strengthening support for Blues music in Los Angeles and the greater Southern California region. Throughout this summer they are actively recruiting volunteers and members. Members receive numerous opportunities to get involved with Los Angeles Blues Society sponsored events, as well as receive event discount tickets, and invitations to live blues music events that help local charities such as food drives and charity fund raisers. The society is planning hosted blues music jams, club dates, festivals, Blues in the Schools, and educational seminars and workshops. You can find out more on their website

Blues Wanderings

We made it out to hear California Blues guitar woman Laurie Morvan this week. Laurie and her band were finalists in the 2008 International Blues Challenge. Her CD also made the finals of the best self produced CD the same year.

She gave a great show the included some of the songs from her new soon to be released CD and the crowd begged for one more at the end of the night. The new CD is called "Fire It UP!" and we will have a review for you in the next few weeks. In the meantime you can buy the new CD on her website at

In this issue - Blues Reviews and MORE!

James Walker reviews a new CD from Ana Popovic. Belinda Foster reviews a new CD by Terry Hanck. Mark Thompson reviews a new CD by Jennie DeVoe. Steve Jones reviews a new CD by Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters. Michael Packer reviews a new CD by Izzy & Chris. George "Blues Fin Tuna" Fish reviews a new CD by Chaz DePaolo.

Illinois Central Blues Club publicist Charlotte Montgomery sends in an interview with David "Honeyboy" Edwards.

Our Blues Video of the Week is a clip of John Nemeth playing live at the Knitting Factoryt.

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Guitarist Looking For Band

Guitarist looking for established touring blues band…40+ years playing experience…toured with Johnny Clyde Copeland before his passing as well as backed his daughter Shemekia before her signing with Alligator…played with or opened for Luther Tucker, Freddy Roulette, Albert Collins, John Lee Hooker, Elvin Bishop, Norton Buffalo, Eddie King…call at 608-214-7868 lv. Msg…or E-Mail @ keep the blues alive…..

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Featured Blues Review 1 of 6

Ana Popovic - Blind For Love

12 songs; Time 45:01 minutes; Suggested

Style: Blues-Rock; R&B; Jazz; Blues; Rock; Funk; Gospel

Earliest origins: chicken or the egg? Eclectic artist or Eclecto Groove Records label? As the story goes, the eclectic Ana Popovic came first, and then, Eclecto Groove Records was formed and created to support Ana’s diverse approach to music. “Blind For Love” is her second release on this American label, a subsidiary of California’s Delta Groove Records.

Briefly, In 2003, Serbian born Ana Popovic, one of Europe’s hottest artists, was the first continental European artist recognized by The Blues Foundation in the U.S., honoring her with a Blues Music Award nomination for Best New Artist Debut. Following two critically acclaimed CDs on Ruf Records, by 2007, Ana set her sights on the U.S. and signed her first American record deal with the Los Angeles based Delta Groove Music.


* This may not be the most objective review I have written as I am hopelessly in love with Ana. Having hosted her for two “Friends of the Blues” shows of our own and having seen her at two more live shows, I have become captivated by her unmistakable voice and masterful guitar playing. It also does not hurt that she is beautiful like a run-way model.

* This is not a Blues CD, although there are a couple of Bluesy numbers.

* Critical listeners may not enjoy having to pick and choose which songs to play (skipping less preferred styles). However, Ana fans and eclectic fans will enjoy every song.

* Featuring eleven of twelve original songs, "Blind For Love" is produced by Mark Dearnley (AC/DC, Tom Petty, Paul McCartney) and Ana Popovic. Ana on guitars and vocals is joined by members of her regular touring band - Ronald Jonker (bass) and Andrew "Blaze" Thomas (drums), plus special guests Tony Braunagel (drums) and Mike Finnigan (keyboards) from the Phantom Blues Band.

My favorite song is the slow and easy R&B flavored title track featuring Ana’s breathy vocals and Finnigan’s piano work. Her understated mid-song acoustic guitar solo perfectly matches the mood of her plea to an unrealistic lover.

“Blues For M” is another fav; with its wonderful, extended mid-song electric guitar solo, it has a Blues feel (as the title implies). Whoever “M” is, he is one lucky guy. “Steal Me Away” is another in the Blues vein with deft slide acoustic guitar, simple backbeat, and backing vocals by Julie Delgado, Kenna Ramsey, and Billy Valentine.

For Gospel fans, “Putting Out An A.P.B.” opens with scorching electric slide guitar and is anchored by Finnigan’s B-3 organ. With hand clapping and foot stomping rhythm and full supporting harmony vocals, this number will shake the church rafters as it calls, “For the whole humanity for our ability to love.”

For Funk fans, check the heavy grooves on “Wrong Woman,” “Get Back Home To You,” and “Lives That Don’t Exist.” The latter features wah-wah guitar and lyrics that are frank and biting about handling (or not appropriately handling) fame.

For Rock fans, the opening track “Nothing Personal” kicks things off with a reminder that this girl can wail on guitar and still possesses powerful vocals. “Part of Me (Lullaby for Luuk)” is sung to her infant son and ends with a searing slide guitar while “Need Your Love” is filled with layers of lush power-chording guitars.

For Jazz fans, “The Only Reason” adds a nice taste of horns by Joe Sublett and Darrell Leonard, but Ana’s guitar solo seals the deal.

There is one final bonus: the liner notes include all lyrics, and it unfolds to reveal a 9 ½” x 14” flipside, color poster of Ana poised with guitar.

Well on the road to international stardom, “Blind For Love” demonstrates that Ana Popovic still has the fire-in-the-belly, visionary understanding, gifted songwriting-singing-guitar playing talent, and unique style to continue impressing and winning fans everywhere.

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.

Tab Benoit Kenny Neal Band Ronnie Baker Brooks Davy Knowles & Back Door Slam Kelley Hunt
Reba Russell Band The Underground Blues Division The Cate Brothers Josh Garrett & the Bottomline
Steve Smith and the Sneakers Stewart Mann and the Statesboro Revue Shae

For tickets and complete information:

Blues Society News

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

Please submit a maximum of 175 words or less in a Text or Word format ONLY.

West Virginia Blues Society - Charleston, W.V.

The West Virginia Blues Society will hold its Third Annual Blues Competition at noon on October 3, 2009 at Christopher's Banquet Center, 104 Van Kirk Dr., Fairmont, WV . Blues bands and solo/duo blues acts will compete for cash prizes and WVBS sponsorship to the Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee.

8 competition slots will be filled by regional blues acts from all over West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland and other states. This is the onlyBlues Talent Competition in West Virginia recognized by the Blues Foundation.

The first-place winner of Blues Competition will receive $750 dollars in cash and WVBS sponsorship to the International Blues Challenge in Memphis in early 2010. The second place winner will receive $200 in cash and third-place winner will receive $100 in cash.

Complete information, application & rules are available online at . Deadline for application submission is September 1, 2009. For more information contact Competition Director, Jack Rice at 304-389-1438 or e-mail:

Magic City Blues Society - Birmingham. AL

Magic City Blues Society presents Junk Yard Juke, August 15, 2009, 3:00 p.m. at 430 41st Street South, Birmingham, AL (behind Tres' Taylor's Art Studio) featuring Spoonful, Jonny Grave and Elliott & The Untouchables. Bring your chairs and coolers. Admission: $10. For more Information, contact Lee Mitchell 205-822-1705

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: August 19th - Levee Town

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. The next jam will be September 1, 2009, at 8 pm. The jam will feature a different house band each month. G - Funk The Tree Trunk will be our house band. You can check this band out on our myspace site. 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

Friends Of The Blues Shows - Kankakee IL

The Friends of the Blues 2009 Blues concert Series upcoming shows:

Tuesday, Sept 22 The Insomniacs return, 7 p.m., Kankakee Elks Country Club, 2283 Bittersweet Drive , St. Anne IL 60964 (815) 937-1228. Tuesday, Oct 13, Too Slim & The Taildraggers, 7 p.m. , Legacy Bar & Grill, 135 N Kinzie Ave (Route 50), Bradley IL 60915. (815) 936-1649. Tuesday, Oct 20, Paul Rishell & Anne Raines 7 p.m. , Legacy Bar & Grill, 135 N Kinzie Ave (Route 50), Bradley IL 60915. (815) 936-1649

Illinois Central Blues Club - Springfield, IL

BLUE MONDAY SHOWS - Held at the Alamo 115 N 5th St, Springfield, IL (217) 523-1455 every Monday 8:30pm $2 cover - August 17th Levee Town Blues Band, August 24th Todd Wolf Blues Band, August 31 Kilborn Alley

Featured Blues Review 2 of 6

Terry Hanck - Always

Vizztone Records

12 Original Tracks 45 min 18 sec

Style: Jump Boogie Woogie Rocking Blues

Rating: Suggested

Sax Attack! Bam! Who doesn’t love a good sax man? From the golden days of Junior Walker and Charlie Parker to today’s Eddie Shaw and beyond, it seems like lately I’m gravitating more and more to bands with a rocking talented horn section.

Fuse together African American rhythm, blues, soul, early rock and gumbo mambo with a hint of Chicago-to-California American Bandstand and you have Terry Hanck’s latest release, Always. I have to admit at first I didn’t think I was familiar with the music of Terry Hanck until I realized he was Elvin Bishop’s sax man for 10 years and that I had also seen him perform live in Memphis at this year’s Blues Music Awards where he was a Best Instrumentalist-Horn nominee. Hey Terry, we can use you in the Carolina’s a little more often!

So in case there are others who don’t realize he’s shared the stage over his 30+ year career with the who’s who of blues, you might want to learn more about Terry through his CD Always and by checking out his website. Pop in one new release after the other, but it’s when you go behind the scenes to get to know the person behind the music that the music presents the energy and life of its owner and all that they’re feeling and trying to give us. Terry’s personality just shines through. You don’t have to be in the studio to hear the fun him and his buddies are having on this one!

So gather up your laid back blues-funk sense of humor don’t-take-life-too-seriously demeanor and enjoy Terry’s original 12 tracks. Terry comes out of the gate with track 1’s in-your-face sax and vocals in “Cupid Must Be Stupid” with friend/ band mate Elvin Bishop’s signature blues guitar rifts. And keep on smiling and swaying right on through to track 6’s “When I Get My Shit Together” which opens with some trash talking by Chris “Kid” Andersen (of Charlie Musselwhite, Rick Estrin & The Nightcats), drummer Butch Cousins, and Michael “Fly” Brooks. It’s a witty upbeat tongue-in-cheek poor-mouth bluesman anecdote about the grandiose spending of some new-found cash, once he gets his shit together, that is. And let’s hear it for those great guitar rifts by Johnny “Cat” Soubrand (his last name should be SOULbrand) that lay nicely on top of the rhythm section’s steady drive.

Jump in music time to the 70’s sound mixture of Stones, Eagles and War for Terry’s track 7 “Quicksand”, soundtrack for 2005 motion picture Forty Shades of Blue. Screaming on-the-money sax notes roll us right on into track 8’s jazzy swing stylings of the 50’s, punctuated with Jimmy Pugh’s Hammond B3 solo, Steve Berlin’s baritone sax and Cat’s soulful guitar licks. And of course, Terry brings it all back around with a sax ending like only he can do.

Track 9 takes to me that R&B beach rock era with Terry’s “Always” title track with the vocal help of Tracy Nelson and keys of Bob Welsh. Again, whether he takes it down or jacks it up, you can count on Terry delivering on the sax. His vocal ability is drawn from a veteran deep down passion for his music--playful, confident and real. Elvin Bishop lends his signature sound to Terry’s sax where the entire band gives us a much desired blues jam on track 11’s “Peace of Mind”. And boogie woogie right on out of here with the carnival west coast boogie blues of track 12’s “Deep Fried Twinkies”.

This is a fun and energetic CD which further validates the years of fan following Terry’s enjoyed at festivals, fairs and music venues along that great American Music Highway. Check it out, support live music and get your sax attack on!.

Reviewer Belinda Foster is a Columnist and Contributing Writer for Greenville SC Magazine “Industry Mag” and former manager of Mac Arnold & Plate Full O’Blues. She currently books blues-rock-jam musicians and is a devoted promoter and supporter of live blues root music and history, making frequent trips to “The Crossroads” and Clarksdale Mississippi, birthplace of the blues. Her column “The Upstate Blues Report” can be found on line at

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

Featured Blues Review 3 of 6

Jennie DeVoe - Strange Sunshine

Rubin The Cat Records

12 tracks/45:38

This recording has minimal blues content, no matter how far you care to stretch the genre’s boundaries.

Having said that, Jennie DeVoe is a singer/songwriter possessing a deep, powerful voice with plenty of range. For her fourth independent release, DeVoe and her band went to Bath, England for the recording sessions with producer John Paris, who has worked with PJ Harvey and Tracey Chapman. DeVoe wrote all of the lyrics and had a hand in formulating the music with guitarist Paul Holdman and several friends.

From the photos in the cd booklet, DeVoe appears as a hip flower child who is forty years too late for the party. Her compositions speak to real life situations but tend to be too quirky for their own good. Some tunes are ultimately interesting due to DeVoe’s vocal prowess. When she unleashes her voice on “No Damn Man”, she creates a fitting tribute to Aretha Franklin that bristles with emotional intensity. Another highlight is the lone cover, Shannon Curfman’s “Foolproof”. DeVoe shouts and hollers with conviction over Greg McGuirk’s Hammond B3 organ. “I Break Down” features another strong vocal from DeVoe as she wrings every bit emotion out of the soulful ballad. On “Nobody Loves You”, she proves that she can dial down the intensity and still be an effective singer. The closest track to straight blues is “The Healer”, with DeVoe repeating the title phrase a bit too much for my taste.

The band delivers a solid musical foundation throughout the recording. There are a handful of solo passages that serve as brief interludes for DeVoe’s vocals. At times, she brings to mind Rickie Lee Jones but with a huskier voice. This project is a very solid release that keeps the spotlight on a very talented singer. But Jennie DeVoe does not sing anything resembling traditional blues - so proceed with caution.

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

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

John Primer


Nominated for 2009 Blues Blast Music Award

Best Traditional Blues Recording

To Purchase the new CD CLICK HERE

To Read the CD review CLICK HERE

Vote for John Primer in the 2009 Blues Blast Music Awards

John is also Nominated for

Best Male Blues Artist

To vote now CLICK HERE

Blues Video of the Week

John Nemeth - Country Boy
Live at the Knitting Factory 2009

This week we feature Blues Blast Music Award nominee John Nemeth performing at the Knitting Factory.

John is one of the best Blues & Soul singers anywhere.

Check out this video to see why John is one of the great nominees for Best Male Blues Artist in the 2009 Blues Blast Music Awards. And be sure to vote for your favorite artist. To vote now CLICK HERE.

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


For other videos on our website CLICK HERE.

2009 Blues Blast Music Awards Voting Is Open

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 vote now CLICK HERE.

BE AN INFORMED VOTER - If you are not familiar with all of the 2009 nominees, GLT Blues Radio 24/7 has 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 continues until August 31st. Details of the Awards show on October 29th, 2009 at Buddy Guy's Legends coming soon.

Best Contemporary Blues Recording

" At Least I’m Not With You” The Insomniacs

"Love Me Tonight" John Nemeth

“Live at Chan’s Vol 2” Nick Moss

"Clean Getaway" Curtis Salgado

"What Love Will Do" Janiva Magness

"Never going Back" Shemekia Copeland

Best Blues Band

Nick Moss and The Flip Tops

Lil Ed And The Blues Imperials

Kilborn Alley Blues Band

Mannish Boys

The Insomniacs

Watermelon Slim and The Workers

Best Traditional Blues Recording

"Chicago Blues: A Living History" Various Artists

"Sweeheart Like You" Guy Davis

"All Original" John Primer

"Lowdown Feelin" Mannish Boys

"Blues Attack" Shirley Johnson

"One Kind Favor" BB King

Best Male Blues Artist

John Primer

Bobby Jones

Nick Moss

Lurrie Bell

John Nemeth

Elvin Bishop

Best Blues Song

“Bad Year Blues” Albert Castiglia

"At Least I'm Not With You" - The Insomniacs

"Mr. Coffee" Chris James & Patrick Rynn

"20 Years of B.B. King" Curtis Salgado

"Let Life Flow" Kenny Neal

"See That My Grave is Kept Clean" BB King

Best Female Blues Artist

Shirley Johnson

Robin Rogers

Diunna Greenleaf

Shemekia Copeland

Eden Brent

Janiva Magness

Best New Artist Debut

"Stop And Think About It" Chris James & Patrick Rynn

"White Sugar" Joanne Shaw Taylor

"Austin To Chicago" Dave Herrero

"2 Man Wrecking Crew" Cedric Burnside & Lightnin' Malcolm

"Livin It" Guy King

"Mississippi Number One" Eden Brent

Sean Costello Rising Star Award

Eden Brent

Kilborn Alley Blues Band

Joanne Shaw Taylor

Albert Castiglia

Dave Gross

Cedric Burnside and Lightnin' Malcolm

Featured Blues Review 4 of 6

Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters - Living in the Light

Stony Plain Recording Company

12 tracks/78:13

Ronnie Earl’s approach to both his life and music are thoughtful and reflective. The original tunes and the choices for covers allow you to feel the compassion of this man in his work. A great set of musicians joined him for this album and he gets them to perform in the same manner; they really deliver the goods. This is an exceptional CD with a dozen solid and soulful tracks.

Kim Wilson provides vocals and harmonica on three cuts. Robert Jr Lockwood’s “Take A Little Walk With Me” is downright full of the blues. In “Child of the Survivor” Earl’s lyrics allow Wilson to delve respectfully into the Holocaust. Earl (the child of two survivor parents) asks in his song, “Have you heard the blues, do you know the blues, do you know what it’s like to hear the cry of the Jews?”, and Wilson’s demonstrative vocals impress while his harp punctuates this touching track. “Donna Lee” is another original song in the traditional Delta blues style with Earl’s masterfully picking at his guitar and Wilson showing great restraint on both the lyrics and harp in this slow and seductive blues.

Bob Dylan’s “What Can I Do For You” features Dave Keller backed by the 10-person choir from Earl’s First Baptist Church of Littleton asking both vocally and with their music what they can do for the Lord. Keller’s great vocals are featured on another number, the powerful opening song penned by Earl “Love Love Love.”

“S.O.S.” and “Recovery Blues” are examples of Earl’s seductive charms. These two songs are slow but searing guitar instrumentals featuring Earl at his best with Dave Lumina’s Hammond B3 organ harmonizing and testifying nicely along with the guitar. The CD is full of thoughtfulness and restraint, showing the human is greater than the instrument and that music does not have to be excessive to be impressive. Earl’s guitar and the supporting work of Wilson, Keller, Lumina, Jim Mouradian on bass, Lorne Entress on drums, David Maxwell on piano for a couple of tracks, Rod Carey on bass for one cut and Jason James on second guitar on another give us a clean and beautiful set of songs to kickoff the summer with! If you love the blues delivered by musicians in touch with both their souls and their instruments, you cannot pass this one up!.

Reviewer Steve Jones is secretary of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

New CD From

South Side Cindy & The Slip Tones

This Time

To listen & purchase this CD now - CLICK HERE

Featured Blues Review 5 of 6

Izzy and Chris - Preachin The Blues Vol I

80/20 Music Entertainment

Izzy was born in Weirton, West Virginia and began playing guitar at age 9.When he was 17 he went to New Orleans and his world changed when he picked up a copy of Robert Johnson's music at a flea market off Bourbon Street. Chris was born in St. Louis and by age 7 was playing piano. It wasn't until later in his life he began playing the harmonica. He became the harmonica player for the late great Pittsburgh guitar player "Smokin Joe' Bisgella.

'Steady Rollin Daddy' the first track on this marvelous CD features Izzy on guitar and vocals and Chris on harmonica. 'All I Ever Wanted' ,reminds me of the late Dave Van Ronk in finger styling and song content. 'Shame, Shame, Shame" and 'Leaving You' are both terrific blues about love gone wrong. You can practically see the train tracks when Chris blows his mournful harp. 'Back To Memphis' is about Izzy's desire to get back to Memphis where he placed third overall in the International Blues Challenge in 2007.They went back as a duo in 2008

'Flat Broke and Busted' is a song of the times and a song blues musicians and now ordinary people can relate you. 'If You Hear Me Crying' and 'Gotta Find My Baby' feature strong vocal, guitar and harp. 'Country Blues #5', sounds like they are in a house in the country and Izzy and Chris are just sitting on the front porch playing their instruments, occasionally waving to a car that might pass by. The whole CD kind of sounds like this, really down home. 'Fentanyl Blues' is a song about drug and alcohol withdrawal and the life of one addicted and losing it all. Sad ,but a great song. The CD ends with 'Preaching the Blues' and that's exactly what they do and they converted me.

Izzy and Chris have dedicated themselves to the blues. They sound older then their years. I guess the blues can make you age fast. They really have quite a unique authentic quality about them. I highly recommend this CD..

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.

Featured Blues Review 6 of 6

Chaz DePaolo - Bluestopia

Rojer Records

9 tracks Total time: 38:36

New Jersey blues guitarist Chaz DePaolo has an impressive and extensive vita—top shows and festivals in the U.S., Canada and Europe, and opening for artists such as Buddy Guy, Hubert Sumlin and Commander Cody. So one would naturally expect impressive guitar picking on Bluestopia, and one gets it amply on this short, nine-track CD that is considerably shorter than most CDs released now. (A demonstration that good things come in little packages?) His single-string electric picking is elegant and tasty, and he adds just enough short, occasional bursts of elaborate technique that keep it interesting; yet he never gets carried away with the flash. The late 1960s produced an ample supply of extremely able rock and blues-rock guitarists that seminally influenced the younger guitarists that came around, and DePaolo incorporated the influences from these masters well.

Chaz DePaolo is also an able vocalist who uses his crying lower-range tenor voice to strong effect, and a solid songwriter who wrote solo five of the nine songs on the CD, four vocals and a longish instrumental final track, “Slideadelica,” as well as co-writing track 7, the vocal “Baby I’m So Lonely,” with K. Comer-Harris. DePaolo’s lyrics use effectively the elemental wording and repetition with permutation that is at the heart of the traditional blues approach.

Musically, Bluestopia leavens the blues with East Coast rock and jazz influences, with jazz mixed with blues amply demonstrated by saxophonist Robert Chaseman, who infuses blues/R&B sax with the atonalities and virtuoso techniques of modern jazz. He is a most able second soloist who is an adept accompanist as well, and his brass reed instrumentalism is featured on eight of the nine tracks here. Chaseman plays tenor sax on seven of these tracks, and soprano sax on track 6, “Pearly Gates.” Muddy Waters Blues Band alumnus David Maxwell is another regular presence, playing accompanying piano on four tracks. Rounding out the band are Cliff McComas, drums on all tracks, and bassists Mike Santoro, who plays on six tracks; John Bongiovani, on two tracks; and Lou DeMartino on one.

Also featured on Bluestopia are guest musicians Dave Lewis on Hammond B3 organ, accompanying on track 2, “You Know My Baby,” and accompanying with a solo on “Baby I’m So Lonely,” where he is joined by Tom Reese on solo flute. Bob Platt plays the B3 on “Slideadelica;” Eddie Jackson adds bongos emphasis on track 8, “It’s Not You It’s Me;” and Kirk Reese delivers a modern jazz-influenced piano solo on Bluestopia’s second instrumental, track 4, “Look At That Girl.” Rounding out the guest musician list is Electro Groove Records harp ace Jason Ricci, who delivers an amplified harp solo on “Slideadelcia” with note switching that is, in Johnny Cash’s memorable words, “faster than kiss a duck.”

Two DePaolo originals, track 6’s “Pearly Gates” and the instrumental showcase “Slideadelica,” are slide guitar numbers based on traditional Delta blues sounds: DePaolo plays traditional acoustic slide on “Pearly Gates,” a citified country blues that adds bass, drums and sax;” and elaborate electric slide unadorned and adorned with wah-wah effect on “Slideadelica.” His original, track 7’s “It’s Not You It’s Me” is a rocking rhumba, while the other instrumental on the CD (which is an instrumental, even though credits list DePaolo on vocals), “Look At That Girl,” is a jump number based on 1940s and 1950s jazz that has an early 1950s R&B sound as well, notably because of Robert Chaseman’s repetition of the melody line in a sax-riffing manner. The DePaolo original, track 3’s “Woman in a Black Dress,” is an ominous slow blues that pays tribute to lust. Two songs come from classic bluesmen—Albert King’s “Down So Long” that opens the CD, and Roscoe Gordon’s 1952 signature song, “No More Doggin’,” track 5, which is arranged as a vigorous rock number. Tracks 2 and 7, the DePaolo original, “You Know My Baby,” and his co-written “Baby I’m So Lonely,” respectively, are up-tempo vocal numbers with a strong 1960s and 1970s rock feel.

All this comes together to make Bluestopia a felicitous mixture of traditional and contemporary styles that effectively combine blues and blues-rock with East Coast R&B, rock and jazz. Just call Bluestopia a utopia of contemporary blues!

NOTE: This review is an extended version of one that originally appeared in my July 26, 2009 “Blues and More” column for the Bloomington (IN) Alternative.

Reviewer George "Blues Fin Tuna" 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.

Featured Blues Interview


The Last living link to Robert Johnson

By Charlotte A. Montgomery and Mark R. Edmiston

We had the honor of interviewing Delta Blues musician David “Honeyboy” Edwards during the IH Mississippi Valley Blues Festival on Friday, July 3, 2009. Mr. Edwards, a legend in his own right, is the last living link to Robert Johnson, considered to be the “Grandfather of Rock ‘n’ Roll”. Born in 1915, Mr. Edwards was recorded by folklorist Alan Lomax in Clarksdale, Mississippi for the Library of Congress in 1942 but did not record commercially until the 1950’s. A few other important dates in his life: 2002 he received a Lifetime Honor Award from the National Endowment for the Arts, National Heritage Fellowship; in 1996 he was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame; 2005 he won the W.C. Handy Blues Award, Acoustic Blues Artist of the Year; 2007 won Acoustic Artist of the Year, Blues Music Award; and finally in 2008 won the coveted Grammy Award.

How do you begin an article about someone who so much has been written? First, before I begin to recount his recollections, I want to stress how bright, witty, and charming I found Mr. Edwards, who seemed to be this 20 something trapped in a 94 year old body. His recollections turned back the hand of time to when he was 22 years old traveling with Robert Johnson. Memories, that seemed to haunt when they can be recalled with such clarity.

ICBC: Mr. Edwards, first of all, let me wish you a Happy Belated 94th Birthday. The smile that stretched across his face showed me that no matter how old you are, you still like hearing Happy Birthday.

Michael Franks (his manager and fellow musician): We actually have a surprise for him during today’s show in celebration of that. (the surprise was a birthday cake shared by everyone in the audience).

ICBC: Mr. Edwards exactly how did you come by the name Honeyboy?:

HONEYBOY: Well, it was my older sister who first called me Honeyboy. I was about one and a half years old and I was trying to walk and I fell. She said “Look Mama at little Honeyboy tryin’ to walk.” And the name stuck.

ICBC: Your website credits you with authoring ‘Sweet Home Chicago’. What was your inspiration for that song?

NOTE: Although Robert Johnson is credited with authoring Sweet Home Chicago, recorded November 1936, he met Honeyboy in the summer of 1936. While the authorship of this song may be in dispute, the atmosphere in the 1930’s created an environment where musicians ‘borrowed’ from others. One line in the song “Cryin’ baby, honey, don’t you want to go”, has to make you wonder with a Honeyboy. As an aside fact; earliest recordings of a similar song dates to 1928 by an Indiana musician under the title “Kokomo, Indiana”. In 1928, could a 13 year old Honeyboy have been influenced by this 1928 racial hit recording, and then play his concept for Robert in the summer of 1936, who in turn ‘borrowed’ it to record in 1936?

HONEYBOY: I played with all those great bluesmen like Robert Johnson, Elmore James, Big Walter Horton. All those great bluesman were in Chicago. I first met Robert Johnson in 1936 when I was 21 years old. I had just left Memphis and was walking to Clarksdale. I saw him walkin’ down the street, bein’ followed by some lady that was drunk. And she was askin’ him to play “Terraplane Blues” that she said she just heard on the radio. She didn’t even know it was him who had made that song. He started playin’ that song and a big crowd gathered all around him to hear him play.

NOTE: In the DVD “Honeyboy”, available on-line through Earwig Records, Mr. Edwards recounts how after the crowd gathered, the police had to move them to the alley to prevent blocking the road. After sometime when he was able to approach Mr. Johnson, he asked “You ever been around Tunica Mississippi?” To which Robert Johnson replied “Yes”. Mr. Edwards then further inquired, “You know Willie Mae Powell?” Robert Johnson said “Why yes, she’s my girlfriend.” That’s when Mr. Edwards let him know that Ms. Powell was his first cousin.

HONEYBOY: We got together after day that and started playin’. In 1937 he was 26 and I was 22. We played together when he was seeing my first cousin, but in the fall of 1937 I went to New Orleans. When I went back in 1938, we started back playin’ together again. We were livin’ in this small town, you know the kind where everyone knows your business? Well, Robert was seen everyday walkin’ to this married woman’s house. Everybody in town was talkin’ about it.

At the time I was playin’ with Sonny Boy Williamson, and we decided to go down and play with Robert. About one o’clock in the morning, someone offers Robert a bottle of white whiskey and the seal was broken. Robert started to take a drink out of it and Sonny Boy knocks it out of his hand and says, “Man you never drink from a bottle that’s had the seal broken!” Then they bought him another bottle and that seal had been broken too, but Robert drank from it anyway. About 2:30 in the mornin’ Robert started getting’ sick. You see the man who owned the place was married to the woman he’d been seein’. That white whiskey had been poisoned. When I visited him he was walkin’ around holding his stomach cryin’ in pain. We knew he’d been poisoned. The woman folk was tryin’ to give him baking soda and whatnot to help, but nothing’ was helpin’. He died on Wednesday, the 16th of August (historically that day was a Tuesday). We buried him the same day cause we didn’t have no embalmin’ or nothin’, and it was really hot in August. You couldn’t keep a body long. We had to get him in the ground quick. The next day his sister came down from Chicago and had him dug back up so he could be put in a casket.

You know, I never heard Robert cuss, but he sure liked his whiskey and women. And sometimes ya’ just gotta’ leave them women alone. You know what I mean?

NOTE: Researcher Mack McCormick claims to have interviewed Johnson’s alleged poisoner (owner of the juke joint Three Forks Store near Greenwood, Mississippi) in the 1970’s and obtained a tacit admission of guilt from the man.

HONEYBOY: There was always lots of drinkin’. Willie Johnson, you couldn’t keep him from drinkin’. He was playin’ with Howlin’ Wolf, who didn’t drink at all. And they was fightin’ right here on the bandstand cause Howlin’ was trin’ to get him to quit drinkin’. Somebody threw Johnson a knife to use and Howlin’ just said, “I’ve had enough”, and pulled his 45 pistol on Johnson. Johnson stopped then.

NOTE: Since Sonny Boy Williamson’s half sister was married to Howlin’ Wolf, and he traveled with Honeyboy, we have to assume may have had first- hand knowledge of this event.

ICBC: What advice do you have for blues musicians just getting started?

HONEYBOY: If you like what you’re doin’, just keep doin’ it, and don’t stop doin’ it. If I woulda’ listened to people, I wouldn’t be here today.

Too many musicians think they have to play a lot of chords. But it only takes a few good chords to make the blues. They come up to me layerin’ all these chords and I can put them down with just one good chord.

Honeyboy tosses his head back with laughter having acknowledged his bragging rights.

Michael Franks: Honeyboy we have to do a sound check.

Honeyboy smiles and me and lets me know with a wink that he has to go. With that, it was done. We exchange pleasantries and I can’t help but feel that I have lost the best chance of learning first-hand about America’s recent past from a first person perspective.

The DVD entitled “Honeyboy, Why I started singing the blues? Hard Times.” By Free Range Pictures, encapsulates the life and music of the man. The publication “The World Don’t Owe Me Nothing, The Life and Times of Delta Bluesman Honeyboy Edwards” by Chicago Review Press is a first-hand person account of the difficulties growing up African American in the Delta and the struggles experienced by notable and infamous blues musicians of the day. Honeyboy has a gift for recall and recounts details about his life and details about his fellow musicians that makes it very difficult to put this book down. This first person autobiography paints such a descriptive picture of American’s past and this generation that you find yourself caught up in the history of this man. Both the DVD and the publication is available through

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