June 25, 2010
- 2010 Blues Blast Music Awards nominations announced! Dave Riley & Bob Corritore / Lucky To Be Living nominated for Traditional Blues Album! The Blues Blast Music Awards are now in their third year and already have quickly become an institution in the blues world. The awards, put on by Blues Blast Magazine, will take place on Thursday, October 28th at Buddy Guy's Legends new location of 754 S. Wabash Ave., Chicago, IL 60605. This week the 2010 nominees were announced and among 6 very worthy candidates listed in the "Best Traditional Blues CD" category was Dave Riley & Bob Corritore / Lucky To Be Living on the Blue Witch label. To see the complele list of all the 2010 Blues Blast Music Award nominees click here. Voting to determine the winners begins July 8th, 2010 and continues until August 31st, 2010 at http://www.TheBluesBlast.com. Voting is open to anyone who is a Blues Blast Magazine subscriber. Subscriptions are free and you can sign up as part of the voting process. Thank you Bob Kieser and everyone from Blues Blast Magazine!
- Phoenix CD Party for Chris James & Patrick Rynn's new Earwig CD this weekend at the Rhythm Room! Chris James & Patrick Rynn's sophomore release, Gonna Boogie Anyway on the Earwig label, finds this unstoppable blues team exploring their award winning formula on a set of mostly original songs. Chris and Patrick will celebrate their new release tonight and tomorrow, Friday, June 25th, and Saturday, June 26th, at their monthly gig with the Rhythm Room All-Stars at the Rhythm Room. The Rhythm Room All-Stars lineup consists of Big Pete Pearson, Bob Corritore, Chris James, Patrick Rynn, and Brian Fahey. Gonna Boogie Anyway will be available for sale at this event! The Rhythm Room is located at 1019 E. Indian School Rd. in Phoenix, and doors open at 8pm with a 9pm showtime.
- Happy 70th Birthday Bob Porter! Noted producer/radio host/reissue compiler Bob Porter celebrated his 70th birthday with a wonderful jazz/blues party on Monday at Crowne Plaza Hotel in Englewood, New Jersey. The amazing house band at the party included Bernard Purdie, Melvin Sparks, Bill Easley, and Akiko Tsuruga and the night included guest appearances by David Keyes, Bob Corritore, Guy Davis, Angel Rissoff, Duke Robillard, Shemekia Copeland, and Lou Donaldson. Also in the house was the great Houston Person. Leave it to Bob Porter to find the perfect common ground between jazz and blues. Happy Birthday Bob Porter, and thanks for all that you have done and are doing for the blues!
- Chicago Recap! I always love going back to my home town of Chicago during the Chicago Blues Festival, as it allows allows for many great reunions and performance opportunities. Being back home also reconnects me with many fond musical memories and reminds me of what I most love about the blues. Chicago blues as a musical genre has a glorious, distinctive sound filled the tradition of its forefathers. Though many of the originals are now gone, the sound, albeit updated somewhat, remains intact and widely performed around the city. Speaking of forefathers, this year's fest honored the centennial of Howlin' Wolf's birthday, with many performances and panel discussions centered around the mighty Howlin Wolf. Here is an incomplete list of just some of the many highlights of my week in Chicago:
1) Harp & Soul Festival. Thanks to Lynn Orman, Scott Shuman, Bill Wax and Dave Specter for this magical night which was equal parts musical showcase and reunion. My set opened the show with a great group that included Billy Flynn, Chris James, Patrick Rynn, Bob Riedy, and a guest appearance by the legendary Sam Lay! Other sets were by Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, Rob Stone (with Sam Lay on drums!), Grady Champion, and Billy Flynn (who in addition to his fine guitar and mandolin work that night played some spectacular chromatic harmonica). Martin Lange also made a brief guest appearance,sitting in on Rob Stone's set.
2) Tail Dagger's set at the Front Porch Stage. Of all the shows at the Chicago Blues Festival, none captured the spirit of Howlin' Wolf better then Tail Dagger's Friday afternoon set at the Front Porch Stage! With a great band that included Jimmy Dawkins and Billy Flynn on guitars, and Martin Lange playing ferocious harmonica, Tail Dragger delivered the goods with no apologies!
3) Lunch with Amy Brat! Amy Brat is best known for her photography and for her work with the Windy City Blues Society, Amy has always been a goodwill ambassador for the blues. Though we have known each other for years through various blues events that we frequent, this was the first time we had to sit down and have an extended conversation. We met for a nice Italian meal at Cafe Baci on Michigan Ave and had a great conversation about how the blues fits into various forms of social networking such as Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace. BTW, I recently started a new Facebook page which you can visit by clicking here. Thanks Amy for the good information and advice!
4) Interview with Clarence Stevens and Cookie Taylor. While at the Chicago Blues Festival, I stopped by the Koko Taylor tent. Though Koko had passed about a year ago, her daughter Cookie, is maintaining the tent and Gary, Indiana blues radio host Clarence Stevens and Cookie were taping interviews for his "Blues You Can Use" radio show. How reaffirming to have Koko's daughter thanking me in the interview for recording her mother (Koko Taylor is featured on the opening track of my new CD, Harmonica Blues, on the Delta Groove label)
5) Billy Flynn's gig at The Smoke Daddy! Billy Flynn has a magical quality of bringing a scene together for his shows at The Smoke Daddy. He is a great musician who is best known as a guitarist, but also plays great mandolin, harmonica, and drums. Billy had invited me to make a guest appearance on his Friday show. Billy's core group included Eddie Kobek on drums (recently back from a year long playing hiatus), and Mike Flynn (Billy's brother) on the bass! Guests appearances were also made by the legendary Jody Williams, Dave Waldman, Martin Lange, Scott Dirks, Kate Moss, Rockin' Johnny, and Eugene Plotnick, a fine harmonica player from New Jersey who I met that night. A real Chicago blues party!
6) Saturday with Sam Lay and Bob Riedy! It has been a joy to have become good friends with Bob Riedy over the last few years, and to be regularly included on his shows. Bob was a major musical and business force in the seventies, and more then anyone else, can be credited for bringing blues to the north side of Chicago during that time period. His RMR productions created booking arrangements with various clubs to rotate blues bands from his roster of great talent. Bob has been a major influence in my life as an example of how to combine business savvy with musicianship. The Bob Riedy Blues Band was part of the lineup of a new stage at the Chicago Blues Festival called the Street Stage, which was booked and coordinated by the Windy City Blues Society. This stage was a big hit at the festival because of its very entertaining and high quality rotation of acts. We had a 5pm slot on Saturday with a one hour show. The great Bill Lupkin kicked off the set singing and playing harmonica for the first half of the show. Then they called Sam Lay and I up to perform together for the remainder of the set. Though raining at that point we had a huge crowd, many of whom had umbrellas and raincoats and endured the weather for our set! Other band members include Jon Hiller, Mark Wydra, Jim Wydra, and Frank Capek. Later that night, the same band would appear at Dell Rhea's Chicken Basket in Willowbrook for a fun show that would be filmed as part of a documentary DVD project that Bob Riedy and David Jack are working on. The Chicken Basket is a wonderful stop on Route 66 complete with great home-style meals. I had a wonderful chicken dinner complete with some of great chicken dumpling soup, the best biscuits ever, and the locally brewed root beer called Route 66 Beer! The car ride home with Sam Lay, Bob Riedy, and photographer Daniel Swadener was hysterical with Sam Lay cracking jokes the whole time. It is a great honor to be included in this group!
7) Delmark Blues Brunch. It is a tradition to go to the Delmark Blues Brunch at the Jazz Record Mart on the Sunday of the Blues Fest. The brunch provides a showcase of Delmark artists as well as great gathering of blues people and a great excuse to do some nice CD and LP shopping! I had to stop in to visit with my lifelong friend of Bob Koester. I started going to the JRM when I was in my early teens. and Bob and his wife Susan have seen me through all my stages of life. It was great to hang with my former employers Tail Dragger and Willie Buck, who have both come into prominence in recent years from their recorded work on the Delmark record label. Also performing at the brunch were John Primer, Eddie C. Campbell, Scott Dirks, Martin Lange, Little Al Thomas, Quique Gomez, Pierre Lacocque (of Mississippi Heat), and many others. The blues was alive and well that Sunday Morning at JRM!
8) Buddy Guys Legends! I was able to attend two shows at the new Buddy Guy's Legends; the Grammy chapter blues show, and Li’l Ed and the Blues Imperials. The new club maintains the vibe of the original club, but with a slightly larger room, a better sound system, and a fresh coat of paint! What a blues party!
9) Joe Filisko's Harmonica Class! Joe Filisko is a proactive force of blues harmonica, as a great performer and recording artist, a craftsman of his namesake brand of customized harmonicas, and as a nuturing teacher of the instrument who has had a class at the Old Town School Of Folk Music. It was an honor to be invited to speak at this class on the Monday after the festival. Joe has cultivated this earnest and suppotive enviroment for his students, of which many have gone on to be highly respected working musicians around the Chicago area. After some class instruction by Joe (which I thoroughly enjoyed) there was a break before my presentation. Joe had four of his star students (Zoe Savage, Kirk Manley, Grant Kessler, and Highway Rickey) start out the presentation with a song each. I was knocked out by each of their performances, and it highlighted the level and commitment of the class! Then I was called up for my presentation, which I approached with equal parts performance, history, and philosophy. The class asked many informed questions (about Big Walter, Paul Butterfield, producing records, etc.) and I did my best to answer each one in the most informative way. The positive feedback that I received from the class was reaffirming and overwhelming. Along with the students, I was pleased by the attendance of harmonica aces Scott Dirks, and Ivan Marcio who came by to check out the class, as well as my longtime blues buddy, Paul Hopkins, whom I used to see many a show with in the 1970s! Thank you Joe, for the honor of participating in your great class!
All in all, it was a wonderful trip, and it appears that the blues is going strong in Chicago. Many more great moments occured that were too numerous to mention, but I have listed some of my favorites! Thanks to Barry Dollins for years of service to the Chicago Blues Festival as word has it that he will soon be retiring from the fest's coordinator position.