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Hey Blues Fans,
The Essex Inn in Chicago at 800 South Michigan Avenue is the official hotel for the 2010 Blues Blast Music Awards. The hotel is located one block from Buddy Guy's Legends where confirmed artists Candye Kane Kilborn Alley Blues Band, Marquise Knox, Shaun Murphy Band, Mississippi Heat, Dave Riley & Bob Corritore, Zora Young, Quintus McCormick, Cash Box Kings and Jackie Scott & The Housewreckers will be appearing for this great event.
Fans coming to Chicago for the event can get a 20% discount off of normal rates by telling them you are there for the Blues Blast awards. Call them at (312) 939-2800 and mention the awards to get this discount on stays during October 27th to 29th for the awards show.
For tickets and complete information on the 2010 Blues Blast Music Awards on October 28th at Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago CLICK HERE. For info on the best seats, CLICK HERE
We made it out to the Blue Monday show put on by the Illinois Central Blues Club this week to catch a set by 2009 International Blues Challenge winner J.P. Soars and The Red Hots.
They have a new CD coming out soon. Based on what we heard at this show you want to look for it!
In This Issue
Marilyn Stringer reviews the 2010 Blues By The Bay Festival in Eureka, CA. We have six new CD reviews this week! James "Skyy Dobro" Walker reviews a new CD by Robin Rogers. Belinda Foster reviews a new CD by Brad Vickers & The Vestapolitans. Mark Thompson reviews a new CD from JJ Grey & Mofro. John Mitchell reviews a new CD by Grady Champion. Steve Jones reviews a new CD from Guthrie Kennard. Greg 'Bluesdog' Szalony reviews a new CD by Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!
Saturday - September 18
Eric Noden & Joe Filisko, Leroy Airmaster w/ guests Greg Koch & Jim Liban, Robert Allen Jr & the Zootsuits with Cadillac Pete. Grana Louise, Dennis Jones, Lil Ed and the Blues Imperials, Zac Harmon
Featured Blues Review 1 of 6
Robin Rogers - Back in the Fire
11 tracks; 47:28 minutes; Library Quality
Styles: Varieties of Contemporary Blues
If you do not have any Robin Rogers’s CDs in your home library, get this one immediately. And, if you have all of her releases, then you’ll definitely want this one, too. Pardon me for gushing like a school-girl, but this CD is fantastic. It starts out strong and just gets better from there!
How do “you” rate and judge an album? One valid method is: how many listens did it take until one liked it? My top rated CDs are the ones I enjoyed and related to with just one listen.
Loved-it-upon-my-first-listen makes Robin Rogers’s fourth album (second on Blind Pig) my pick for a guaranteed winner and best value for the dollar. One other measure cemented “Back in the Fire’s” top position: my wife also immediately liked it upon first listen as we were on a road trip – and she is fussy! Her comment, “This CD could be Album of the Year.”
Guitarist, singer, and harmonica maven Robin Rogers is an accomplished veteran of the music scene. Her life story (found in her bio on her website) reads like an unbelievable, exploitative Blues novel. If you read it as a novel, you might criticize it for being unrealistically over the top. Musically, the past fifteen years have seen her strongest writing and creating with musical partner and husband, guitarist Tony Rogers, in North Carolina.
Well planned variety reigns across the eleven songs on the CD consisting of eight Robin/Tony originals and three covers. Robin’s wonderful vocals are purely Robin but sometimes reminiscent of Reba Russell and other times Ana Popovic. With Jim Brock, a cohort over the past ten years, producing and adding drums and percussion, the overall instrumentation, and especially the meld, is superb.
Robin’s harp work is just killer - the most she has ever recorded, and Tony’s guitar work is perfectly in the mix whether playing lead or rhythm. He is not the main focus as this is not a guitar hero album. Mark Stallings on piano and organ is the butter on the rhythm bread laid down by Kerry Brooks on bass and Brock’s drumming. Horns are found on some tracks courtesy of Tim Gordon’s arrangements and saxophones and Jon Thornton on trumpet. The Rocking, inspirational final track, “What We Are Worth,” features a thirty voice backup choir directed by David Tang and some of Tony’s most harmonic slide guitar.
Little Willie John’s “(I) Need Your Love So Bad,” written with his brother Mertis, features a tasty, single note picked solo courtesy of Bob Margolin. “Ocean of Tears,” popularized by Big Maybelle, is radio ready with its Latin beat and Robin singing like she is going down for the third time.
“Don’t Walk Away Run,” written by Chuck Glass, opens with beautiful harmonica-over-organ belying the lyrics to come about necessarily leaving an abusive, alcoholic partner. The presentation’s relevancy is perfectly punctuated by Tony’s anguished mid-song guitar solo.
For a song catchy as the flu, check “Hittin’ on Nothin.’” Robin belts out, “All I get is talk, talk, talk! Hit the road Jack - walk, walk, walk. You ain’t hittin’ on nothin’ unless you got something for me. ...You promised me a mink coat for my birthday, and I ain’t seen mink, rat, or rabbit – make your exit, babe!”
Thank you Robin, Tony, and Jim; this CD will thrill every time it comes off my library shelf!
Reviewer James "Skyy Dobro" Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ, Master of Ceremonies, and longtime Blues Blast Magazine contributor. His weekly radio show "Friends of the Blues" can be heard Saturdays 8 pm - Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at www.wkccradio.org in Kankakee, IL.
To See James “Skyy Dobro” Walker's CD rating system, CLICK HERE
Blues Blast Discount Advertising Special
Blues Blast Magazine is offering a Fall Ad special. This is our lowest pricing of the year and offers an affordable & effective way to get the Blues word out! This 6 week combo rate of only $180 allows you to affordably add significant impact to your Blues ad campaign. It is a great way to kick up the visibility of you new CD release or Blues event!
Blues Blast Magazine is a great way to promote the Blues. More than 17,000 Blues fans read our magazine each week. They are located in all 50 states and in more than 80 countries. We also get more than 1,000,000 (That's ONE MILLION) hits and more than 25,000 visitors a month on our website. Normal 2010 Advertising rates are $45 a week for Blues Blast magazine ads and website ads are $70 per month.
BUT, for a limited time, you can advertise your Blues event or CD in six issues of Blues Blast Magazine and on our website for a month and a half for less that the cost of a small ad in your local newspaper. To get the special rate of $180 simply reserve your ad space by October 15th, 2010. Ads can be booked to run anytime between September 15, 2010 and March 31, 2011.
So for only $180 your ad can be seen more than 135,000 times by Blues fans who want to know about Blues events and music! Reserve your space today! Space is limited and will be sold on a first come first served basis. Ads must be reserved and paid for before October 15, 2010. To get more information email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 309 267-4425 today!
|2007 Blewzzy Award Best CD Winner & Blues Blast Magazine Best Song Nominee Release Second CD|
|Steve Gerard & The National Debonaires |
Words Are Like Bullets
|Order at www.blueedgerecords.com plus CD Baby and iTunes|
Blues Society News
You can submit a maximum of 175 words or less in a Text or MS Word document format.
The Decatur Blues Society - Decatur, IL
The Decatur Blues Society is holding their 1st annual "Blues Challenge" October 16th at the Bourbon Barrel in Decatur, Illinois. The winner of the band & the solo/duo divisions will receive a slot in the 2011 International Blues Competition in Memphis next February. In addition $1,000 travel money will be awarded the band winner, & $500 to the solo/duo winner. Information & entry forms are available at www.decaturblues.org Entry deadline is September 25th.
The Wichita Blues Society - Wichita, KS
The Wichita Blues Society presents the Fall Blues Crawl Sunday, Sept. 26 at 5p.m. in Wichita Old Town. Cost: $5 - get your wristbands at each of the venues and at the WBS tent in the Old Town Plaza. Who's Playing? Loft 150* - Nobody's Business, Heroes* - Berry Harris, Brickyard - Fabulous Fleshtones, Morts - JukeRoots, Larkspur* – Cleveland Blue (challenge winner), Rock Island Live – Josh Vowell & The Rumble (challenge winner), America's Pub - 360 Degrees and at Club Indigo - Made from Scratch. There will be an after party at 8 p.m. with Samantha Fish Blues Band from K.C. at America's Pub for more information visit www.wichitablues.org
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 $3 cover. September 20 - Rich Febec Blues Band, September 27 - Eric Guitar Davis, October 4 - Big Jeff Chapman, October 11 - Too Slim & the Taildraggers, October 18 - Reverend Raven & the Chain Smoking Altar Boys, October 25 - Perry Weber & the Devilles. http://icbluesclub.org/
The West Virginia Blues Society - Huntington, W.V.
The 4th Annual Appalachian Blues Competition is Oct.2, 2010 at Tomahawks Smokehouse & Saloon Sponsored by the West Virginia Blues Society. Winners in Band, Solo/Duo and Youth Division will move on to the International Blues Challenge In Memphis, Tn. Feb 2011. Entry fee is: $ 50. Cash Prizes will be, 1 St. Place $ 500 Band Winner, 2 nd. Place $200 Band, Solo/Duo Winner $ 200 and $ 100 Youth Division. Rules and App. at www.wvbluessociety.org or call, 304-389-1439. Deadline is Sept. 15, 2010.
The Friends Of The Blues - Watseka, IL
2010 Friends of the Blues shows - September 21, Shawn Pittman, 7 pm , Kankakee Valley Boat Club, October 12, Too Slim & Taildraggers, 7 pm , Kankakee Valley Boat Club, October 26, Perry Weber & DeVilles, 7 pm , Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmen’s Club. For more info see: http://www.wazfest.com/JW.html
Mississippi Valley Blues Society - Davenport, IA
MVBS Presents Shawn Pittman Wednesday September 22 - The Mississippi Valley Blues Society presents the Texas blues of Shawn Pittman on Wednesday September 22 at The Muddy Waters, 1708 State Street, Bettendorf. The show starts at 7:00 p.m. Admission is $7, $5 for MVBS members. For more info, visit our website at www.mvbs.org
Featured Blues Review 2 of 6
Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans - ‘Stuck With the Blues’
14 tracks; 59 minutes 4 seconds
Styles: Down Home Blues, Rag-Time, Skiffle, Hokum, jump-blues with electric & acoustic guitar, upright bass, fiddle, clarinet, tenor & baritone sax, piano and percussion
Players: Brad Vickers, electric guitar/vocals; Margey Peters, electric bass/fiddle/vocals; Arne Englund, piano/electric guitar; Jim Davis, tenor sax/clarinet; Matt Cowan, baritone sax; Bill Rankin, drums; Dave Gross, upright bass; V.D. King, acoustic guitar/maracas/vocals; Bobby Radcliff, electric guitar.
Those ethnomusicologists Vestapolitans (say it fast three times) have done it again, with their 2nd release ‘Stuck With the Blues’. And by the way, since so many have asked what is a ‘Vestapolitan’, I’ll give it a shot—I’m assuming it’s a clever name for the band of players who embrace old-timey open D tuning and music. I’m sure you can send a FaceBook or Myspace message or an email to find out; they’d love to hear from you!
Much like their 1st release ‘Le Hot Blues’, this second release serves up an even bigger dollop of Blues, Ragtime, Skiffle, Swing, Early Americana Rock-and-Roll and original music that reflects the classics we all love and like to see covered including the stylings of the likes of Tampa Red, Jimmy Reed, Big Bill Broonzy, Jelly Roll Morton, Chuck Berry and beyond. And this time, they use a larger band and broader musical palette. Additionally two of the songs feature special guest, friend and guitarist—Bobby Radcliff (influenced by “Magic Sam” Maghett in the 60’s).
To refresh your memory, Brad Vickers—the leader of this troupe--has played, toured and recorded with a long list of great American blues and roots artists from whom he draws inspiration for his own songs—as evidenced by his original first track, ‘Stuck With the Blues’. Get ready—band mates Jim Davis and Matt Cowan come out blazin’ the tenor and baritone sax with a rock & roll intro alongside Brad’s electric guitar. Arne Englund shows us how it’s done on rock & roll piano and Margey does her thing with harmonic vocals and electric bass.
Move on into Mississippi territory with Track 2 ‘I’m Betting on You’. This time Jim delights us with playful clarinet shout outs as Brad and Margey do that vocal thing they do while the rhythm of the group beats along like a well-oiled jalopy.
Keep that Mississippi feel with some hill country droning in Track 3’s ‘Cold Fish’ and add the enjoyment of Margey on fiddle and Dave Gross on upright bass this time. By the way, this is one of the tracks Bobby Radcliff adds his electric guitar rifts. Love love love the horn solos of tenor and baritone sax! Howlin Wolf would have loved an invite to sit in on this Brad Vickers original!
Chuck Berry inspired Track 5 ‘What About Me’ will have you up and twisting your money maker to classic early rock & roll; enjoy the fancy ivory finger-work of Arne Englund, wow, Arne! And Jim gives us more tenor sax when he jumps into the jam. Keeping the beat is Bill Rankin, laying down the pocket on all the tracks.
Next, get ready for some upbeat Memphis string, jug and brass band inspiration with Brad and Margey’s ‘Vestapol Rag’ instrumental on Track 7. Then slide on into some Jelly Roll Morton with Margey’s lead vocal rendition of ‘Winding Boy’. Pick up the beat with Brad’s favorite Chuck Berry song ‘Jaguar and the Thunderbird’. The band knows how to get you moving with their house-band jam on this one.
Brad’s original Track 10 ‘I Want To Tell You Right Now’ reminds me of ‘I found my thrill on Blueberry Hill’ followed by the same early blues-rock time period sound in Track 11’s ‘Coming and Going’ while Bobby Radcliff adds another layer of fancy electric guitar rifts to Brad’s. Of course, on every track you can just count on my horn section, piano and pocket men!
Margey gets her vagabond on with her original ‘Hobo Jungle’ on Track 12. She can write, sing and scratch out a mean fiddle diddy. With her original ‘They Gave Us the Blues’, she pays homage to some of the old masters and legends, using a radio-commentator voice over in between lyrics as if she was reading from the personal journals of Scrapper Blackwell, Memphis Minnie (‘Won’t You Be My Chauffer’) and Tampa Red.
And end the CD with Jimmy Reed’s ‘I’m A Love You’, a jumped up version with all the players in the house, including V.D. King and Dave Gross.
What I like about this group is they are the real deal blues-early-rock-and-roll torch carriers, vowing to keep American’s Modern Music and history alive and strong every time they go into the studio. You can always, 100% of the time, count on strong jam interludes, blazing horns, a showcasing of every individual and their instrument (no one will go ‘unnoticed’ because they all are equally talented) and a consistent danceable, boogie-woogie, foot-tapping, thigh slapping cacophony on every track. This is their gift to you, and to the world. Thank you Brad Vickers & your Vestapolitans. Keep up the good work!
Reviewer Belinda Foster is a Web-TV Host for www.greenvillehd.com, a Columnist and Contributing Writer for Greenville SC Magazine “Industry Mag” and former manager of Mac Arnold & Plate Full O’Blues. She is a devoted promoter and support of live blues root music and history, making frequent trips to Clarksdale MS and the Delta Region. Her column “The Upstate Blues Report can be found on line at www.mega-scene.com.
Featured Review 3 of 6
JJ Grey & Mofro - Georgia Warhorse
With their first release nine years ago, Mofro introduced their unique sound to the world. It was a heady blend of funkiness nurtured in the Florida swamps combined with blues and southern rock influences. The band’s earthy approach attracted attention worldwide, seemingly keeping the band on a perpetual tour. When they changed labels in 2006 from Fog City Records to Alligator, JJ Grey’s name was highlighted to reflect his stature as the band’s driving force and principal songwriter.
His long-time collaborator, guitarist Daryl Hance, continued to be an integral part of Mofro on the first two Alligator releases but his name is missing from the credits for the latest recording, leaving Grey as the lone original member. Dan Prothero, head of Fog City Records, continues his streak as the band’s only producer. In the liner notes, Grey sings the praises of engineer Jim Devito and his Restrophonics Studio, the only facility that Grey has recorded in. And the results speak for themselves as both men are definitely attuned to sound that Grey is trying to capture.
Listen to the rhythmic pulse and taut guitar riff on “The Hottest Spot in Hell”. Chris von Sneidern on percussion sets a relentless pace behind Grey, who dials back the vocal intensity due to surging force generated by the band. The closing track follows, with Grey unleashing his magnificent voice on “Lullaby” with guest Derek Trucks adding a tortured slide guitar part to the proceedings. The title track is another highlight, with a sound like the Lowell George-era Little Feat. It refers to the nickname for a tough grasshopper that has qualities Grey sees in himself. “All” features an excited vocal by Grey and magnificent drumming from Anthony Cole.
Grey’s acoustic guitar is featured on the arrangement for “Hide & Seek” along with his patented soulful singing. Cushioned by a horn section on “The Sweetest Thing”, famed reggae artist Toots Hibbert joins Grey, setting up a vocal exchange that ends in a draw as each singer turns in a colorful performance. “King Hummingbird” tackles the quest of a man seeking redemption. The track steadily grows in power until Grey cries out in agony, seeking forgiveness. “Slow, Hot & Sweaty” is an apt title for a piece that could easily fill any dance floor in the country with its grinding rhythm. The track also brings to light maybe the only weakness of the project. Grey occasionally falls victim to using a certain snippet of lyrics repeatedly in a song, which detracts from the solid musical foundation on every cut.
Grey handles all of the vocal and remaining guitar parts in addition to playing piano, synthesizer, clavinet, talkbox and harmonica. Additional band members include Andrew rube on bass and lap steel guitar, Anthony Farrell on keyboards, Art Edmaistron on tenor saxophone, Dennis Marion on trumpet and Adam Scone, who brightens several tracks with his Hammond B3 organ. Together they energize Grey’s deeply personal compositions that take an unwavering glimpse of the world with all of its joy and pain, emotions that are expressed in Grey’s fervent singing. If you haven’t checked out any of the previous releases, make sure you give Georgia Warhorse a thorough listen so that you will no longer be deprived of the many savory moments served up by JJ Grey & Mofro.
Featured Blues Review 4 of 6
Grady Champion – Back In Mississippi - Live At The 930 Blues Café
14 tracks, 71.20 minutes.
Grady Champion won the IBC in 2010 and as a consequence has since appeared at the Chicago Blues Festival and will be on the Pacific LRBC in October. This CD was recorded live on the very memorable date of 07/07/07 and has since been sold at gigs. Earwig Records picked up the distribution of the CD following Grady’s IBC win, making the CD available far more widely.
As you would expect from a live disc, the atmosphere of the live experience is there and Grady has given us a value for money CD here. The material covers his own material from earlier releases on Shanachie as well as a dip into the catalogues of the greats of the Blues. Grady wrote or co-wrote 8 of the 14 tracks, the remainder coming from Howling Wolf, BB King, Jimmy Reed, Willie Dixon and Curtis Jones (the final credit is for the Intro spoken by guitarist Eddie Cotton).
The band is a five piece, with Grady’s son Marquise on bass, Frank White on drums, Calvin Wilson on keys, Eddie Cotton on guitar and Grady on lead vocals and harp. Everyone covers backing vocals and there is a short rap on one track by the splendidly named Jacktown Swiff! On one track there is a substitute drummer, Xavres Good.
After the intro Grady sets off into Willie Dixon’s “I’m Ready” and we are immediately in Muddy Waters territory. Grady’s harp and Eddie Cotton’s guitar take us back to Chicago in the 60s, immediately followed by a medley of Jimmy Reed’s classics “Baby What Do You Want Me To Do/Bright Lights, Big City”. Grady has a strong voice with just a touch of ‘growl’ and the versions of these classic tunes are well done.
There is then a run of three self composed tunes. “You Got Some Explaining To Do” and “Policeman Blues” are co-writes with Dennis Walker who used to write with and produce Robert Cray and did the same for Grady’s first Shanachie release, “Payin’ For My Sins”. “You Got Some Explaining To Do” moves along really well with a hook chorus of the title and a nice guitar solo. “Policeman Blues” recounts an incident when Grady was pulled over by the cops and handled rather roughly. Lovely piano and understated guitar underpin the vocal and we are definitely in soul territory here until the short rap vocal appears but does not overstay its welcome. Between those two songs is “1-800 Blu Love”, a funky little number with solid harp and guitar breaks in the middle.
Extended versions of Wolf’s “Spoonful” and Curtis Jones’ “Lonesome Bedroom Blues” follow, both done well. Again, Grady’s voice is ideally suited to a song like “Spoonful” which we all know so well. The song is taken at a slightly brisker pace than in many versions and the bouncy beat on the chorus sets up the solos well (harp and guitar). “Lonesome Bedroom Blues” is a slow blues and a feature for Eddie Cotton’s plaintive guitar, backed by piano and organ. The introductory section is as good an example of the slow blues as you will find and we should remember John Mayall saying that the true test of any guitarist is when he is asked to play a slow blues.
From here to the end of the album it’s all original material apart from a version of BB King’s “Why I Sing The Blues” which is sympathetically done in a funky upbeat style with solos for everyone. The originals start with “Love And Memories”, a ballad rather than a slow blues, telling the story of Grady’s late Mother, with fine harmony vocals and an emotive guitar solo adding to the real sense of loss in the lyrics. Oddly the tune is faded out at the end of the guitar solo, so there may have been a technical problem.
“Wine And Women” is a cautionary tale of the pitfalls that a young man may fall into and the recommendation is not to mix them! “Brother, Brother” is a highlight, with a strong organ background and vocal. Not really blues, but very effective, with a strong guitar solo more in a rock vein than elsewhere on the CD. I liked this one a lot!
“I’m Yours” is another ballad and another one that is edited short during the guitar solo. We then close with “Blues On Christmas” which makes a rather strange ending to the CD as it was clearly not seasonal for July! It’s a straight blues tune based on the traditional motifs of Christmas trees, etc, complete with a touch of “Jingle Bells” at the end.
Overall this is a good CD with many highlights. It should get Grady wider attention through the wider distribution and I am sure that we will see him on lots of festival bills in the future.
Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He is looking forward to attending the Blues Blast Awards in Chicago in October.
Sean Costello Memorial Fund's Second Annual Benefit Concert
A Blues And Roots FestivalPerformances by Burnt Bacon, Candye Kane, Coy Bowles and the Fellowship, Jon Justice, Seth Walker, and Sonia Leigh
Sunday, October 10, 2010 at 5:00 PM
Tabernacle's Cotton Club
152 Luckie Street, Atlanta, GA
A limited number of advance tickets are available at http://www.seancostellofund.org. Tickets are also on sale at http://www.livenation.com (search Sean Costello) and at the Tabernacle Box Office. Advance ticket purchases will include a special DVD of Sean. Ticket cost is $30.00 (plus applicable service fees) in advance and $35 (plus applicable service fees) at the door. Sponsorship information is available at http://www.seancostellofund.org/sponsors.html
The Sean Costello Memorial Fund for Bipolar Research is uniquely focused on the needs of musicians with bipolar disorder. The Fund supports and conducts research on bipolar disorder and creativity while promoting awareness, providing education, and serving as a resource for these musicians and their support systems in order to foster acceptance, functioning and health.
For volunteer opportunities, silent auction donations, and more information, please visit http://www.seancostellofund.org
Featured Blues Review 5 of 6
Guthrie Kennard - Matchbox
I’ve listened to this CD many times now and every time I come away with a new and different impression. At first it seemed to be a nice short set of songs with Dylan-esque gravelly vocals. I wasn’t at impressed at first as I am now. Vocally, it is a crackle-filled approach to singing, with drawn out nasal sounds and a little distortion thrown in. That’s only where part of the charm of this comes from; Kennard’s singing adds a little backwoods authentic sound to the songs.
What really sounds cool and made this album for me is the blend of acoustic, baritone and electric guitar work by Kennard with some slide, electric, acoustic, resonator guitars and mandolin interspersed throughout by four other artists. Couple this web of six string harmony with Kennard’s angst filled lyrics, and you have an interesting little CD with acoustic and electric guitar blended together well and vocals by Kennard and backed occasionally by a few more of his friends .
Who is Guthrie Kennard? He’s a Texas based singer-songwriter who was originally from Richmond, VA and transitioned to Texas between 1968 and 1971, when he made Texas his permanent new home. From his website bio: “He recorded with Smokin’ Joe and Doyle Bramhall, Sr, on Bird Records. Opening for artists including Robin Trower, John Mayall, Taj Mahal, Leon Russell and Donovan He toured Europe with Grammy winner Marc Benno, and co-wrote “Laverne” on Benno’s album “Snake Charmer.” While in Europe Guthrie played some great venues like the Womad Festival, The Colne Festival, Nuits de Blues, the International Music Festival in Turkey and most recently the Cork Jazz & Blues Festival in Cork Ireland. After a career of collaboration with some great musicians, Guthrie finally broke out on his own as a singer / songwriter to tell his own story on his first CD “Ranch Road 12” produced by legendary Texas troubadour Ray Wylie Hubbard. Now with his newest projects “Unmade Beds” released October 2009 and “Matchbox” to be released in early 2010 Guthrie continues to brand his own unique style of music.”
Kennard delivers a sound that is a blend of Piedmont and Texas hill country with lyrics filled with life’s struggles, hopes and despair. Songs like “Another Day, Another Dollar”, “Streets of Juarez” and “Bristol” evoke pictures of lives without hope, a dark and somewhat grim but realistic commentary on life in Kennard’s eyes. The melodies are simplistic yet haunting, and when you blend Kennard and the sounds of the other musicians the songs begin to grip you and tear at your soul.
The 10 tracks here depict an experience of life in Texas, a world where happiness is fleeting and every small moment of joy should be savored for it may be the last. As I said, these tracks grew and grew on me. Filled with darker themes and grit, but still a very interesting listen!
Reviewer Steve Jones is secretary of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL.
Featured Festival Review
Blues by the Bay - Eureka, CA
Labor Day Weekend -2010
What a great way to end the summer with a drive over the Golden Gate Bridge, through the redwoods, and land in Eureka, CA. The festival hosts one stage with a lineup that was “monster”. I use that word because it just kept getting better with every set and half way through the second day, I couldn’t think of any other word to describe this festival. And the drummers that day were beyond monster.
Saturday started out foggy but broke out into great sunshine. The protected bay next to the festival was full of boats enjoying the music and the crowd was the largest they had seen – double from previous years. Everyone was waiting for a good time and got what they came for. The first set was a local singer/songwriter – The Anna Hamilton Trio – and was just a really pleasant way to start the day. Anna was full of great stories and songs and stayed at the festival the whole weekend and jammed Saturday night at the Casino.
Next up was Otis Taylor, with his daughter Cassie on bass and Larry Thompson on drums. Otis loves to interact with the crowd encouraging everyone to come closer and eventually he traveled through the festival with his harmonica. He is always a treat and Cassie singing the blues with her dad is pretty heart-warming.
I was really looking forward to seeing the Ty Curtis Band again. I saw them in Portland and was so impressed with them. They came in 2nd at the 2009 IBC’s and that win was well deserved. Ty rips on the guitar while Hank Shreve matches his finesse on the harmonica and keyboards. Willie Barber was on bass and Dave “Super D” Brown was keeping it lively on the drums. They got the festival in full gear.
Crank it up a notch - if possible. Wake up the neighborhood! Shane Dwight is the guy for that! His combination of Rockin’ Blues, Americana, Alternative County, and pure Rock N Roll, all combined into his original songs, can always get everyone fired up. And I think he blew the fog away. His band members – Kit Bergman on drums and Kevin Stewart on bass – keep up with him with their own style. Shane is always fun to watch (and shoot – if I can up with him!).
Ok, so as much as the lineup was killer already, I always will travel far and wide to see Curtis Salgado and have since I first heard him in the early 90’s. And when he has Lloyd Jones and The Big Band with him, I am in Blues Heaven. Curtis can sing and play the harmonica like nobody on this planet. I turn to mush and want to capture every note in photos. Lloyd Jones has so much fun playing guitar, and is so good, that you just want more. Dave Mills (trumpet & master arranger) & Gary Harris (sax), Dave Fleschner (keyboards), Russ Kleiner (drums), and good buddy Tracy Arrington (bass) all complete the “perfect blues band”. How come their set went so fast?
Finishing out the day, but adding to the great fun, was the Commander Cody Band (aka George Frayne). Playing around on the keyboards, Commander Cody just takes you back to the fun years with songs like Hot Rod Lincoln and gets the crowd singing and smiling and remembering those Happy Days. His band included Ron Marone (guitar), Tim Eschliman (Bass), Dave Zirbman (steel), and long-time band member Steve Barbuto (drums). We got to spend the evening with George and Steve and Tracy A. at the Blue Lake Casino after the festival, host to many of the bands and the Saturday night jam with the Red Mystics. It is a great place for jamming, gambling, socializing, and a good night’s rest before the festival the next day.
Sunday started early (9:15) but the sun was up and the first band was not going to allow any snoozers in the crowd. Considered the best dance band in the Eureka area, Dr. Squid was the right medicine for the Sunday morning opener. If the crowd wasn’t lined up along the sides dancing it was because they were waiting in the coffee line. Dr. Squid (not sure which one was the Doc) consists of Eldin Green (sax), Bob Martinez (drums), Jim Dale (bass), Rick Nelson (keys), and Bridget Devaney (vocals).
Following their late night jam at the Casino, the Red Mystics didn’t seem to notice that it was still before noon. Although they sounded great the night before, they seemed to improve on the big stage. The festival grounds were the perfect size to hear the music from anywhere on the grounds. Nicole Falzone (drummer and lead vocals) has a beautiful, joyful voice. JP Durand (lead guitar) had so many styles on the guitar – from sultry Latin to deep, soulful, blues. Liza Carbe played a mean bass and Drake Shining pulled off a new one – he played his Apple computer. Seriously, he hooked up the Apple and could cover anything on the keyboards through his computer. I was fascinated and had a long chat with about it. “It’s pretty easy to pack in the suitcase. Why not?” I really enjoyed the mystical Red Mystics and would love to hear them again.
Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers were up next and seemed to be in high spirits. I have never seen Rod having such a good time. He was giggling and laughing through the set and it was just fun. The band and crowd picked up on it and it was one of the best sets I have seen them play. And Rod is great for working his way through the crowd. Honey was fantastic on the keyboards, Henry Carjaval wailed on his guitar, up on his toes and playing with all his might, and David Kida started the run of the monster drummers. And it was so great to have Gary Harris, from Curtis’ band on Saturday, come and play the sax with Rod.
The next band, and a new treat for a lot of us left coasters, was Teresa James and the Rhythm Tramps. Teresa is pure southern sweetheart. I just saw a quote on Amazon. “Teresa James sings like a healthier Janis Joplin and a whiter Aretha Franklin and plays piano like Dr. John’s little sister”. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Love her band! It included Jerry Peters on two saxes (at the same time), Mike Menrell (bass), Tommy Kay (guitar), and monster drummer, number two, Herman Mathews.
Kick it up a notch. Again. Walter Trout. He lands on stage and never stops. BBC Radio One says Walter Trout “the Stratocaster Master is number six of the Top 20 guitarists of all time” and BBC Disc Jockey Bob Harris calls him “The World’s greatest rock guitarist”. I believe them. So while Walter is blowing away the guitar, Ronnie Smith (Tommy Castro’s drummer) and I are at the side of the stage, awestruck, watching Michael Leasure go monster on the drums. This was the third monster drummer in a row and Ronnie was the fourth. Each one topped the next. Walter’s band includes Rick Knapp on bass and Sammy Avila on the B3. He also brought up a guest guitar player for a quieter song. What a set. And by this time the wind had picked up to about 20 miles an hour and the temps were dropping. Nobody even noticed.
The Tommy Castro Band brought us back to reality with the great blues we love to hear from him. He is the epitome of the crowd favorite for dancing and grooving and always lives up to the “Best Blues Band” award he received earlier this year. Tommy is great for playing out in the crowd, dancing with Scot Sutherland (bass) and giving his band all the just due and time for their talents with great solos. And what was great, this was Tony Stead’s home town area – pretty cool to have his family and friends see him perform. Always a great set from Tommy and the band: Ronnie Smith (drums), Tony Stead (keys), Scot Sutherland (bass), Tom Poole (trumpet), Keith Crossan (sax).
After two extended sets from Walter & Tommy, in anticipation that Kim Wilson might have difficulties getting to Eureka in time, it was time for Kim Wilson & The Fabulous Thunderbirds. The sun was setting, the wind was blowing, the air was chilly, and the stage and festival grounds were not set with lights. But, Fabulous is what Kim and the band brought to Eureka for the final act. They zipped up the fleeces and put on a show that really completed a great festival. They played their hearts out and the crowd stayed until the last note was played. They are: Kim Wilson (harmonica/vocals), Johnny Moeller (guitar), Mike Keller (guitar), Randy Bermudes (bass), and Jay Moeller (drums) - and they really are Fabulous.
Thanks to all the staff and volunteers and sponsors for a great festival. It is definitely a great way to spend Labor Day Weekend. And thanks to the Blue Lake Casino for their support and participation in the festival. For more info: www.bluesbythebay.org
Photos & commentary by Marilyn Stringer (go to MJStringerPhoto.com for an eventual full set of photos)
Featured Review 6 of 6
Ronnie Earl And The Broadcasters - Spread The Love
After wading through countless cd's of well intentioned "blues musicians", it's sure a welcome relief to get back to a practitioner of the real thing. Ronnie Earl and his cohorts couldn't make a bum recording if they tried. His name on anything is an endorsement of a quality and heartfelt endeavor. Here he sticks to strictly instrumentals with the only outside help being a few substitute bass players on a handful of tracks. Past efforts have included guest vocalists and instrumentalists, as well as a gospel vocal group offering occasionally. Blues and forays into jazz and ethereal spiritual instrumental excursions owing to Roy Buchanan, and to a lesser extent Carlos Santana, are the fare here. Earl regularly leaves space for Dave Limina to exhibit his considerable skills B-3 organ and/or piano skills, all the while ably anchored by Jim Mouradian and Lorne Entress on bass and drums respectively. Ronnie is one of the select few guitarists working today who has an encyclopedic vocabulary of blues styles at his disposal. His spirituality transmits from his brain to his fingers to the strings to the listeners ears down to their soul. The only thing keeping him from a larger audience is his more recent reluctance to perform too far from his New England home. the faithful who seek out his recorded output are well rewarded time after time.
After a driving version of Albert Collins' "Backstroke", the second tune "Blues For Dr. Donna" is a guitar-bass stroll thru the Delta, often conquering up Lighting Hopkins, offered as a tribute to his wife. Kenny Burrell's "Chitlins Con Carne" is given a pretty straight reading, giving equal time to Limina's organ. The specter of Roy Buchanan is invoked on the soaring Buchanan-style blues of "Miracle" bending and squeezing notes leading into scattered-note-flurries reaching for the heavens. Duke Pearson's "Cristo Redentor"(usually associated with Charlie Musselwhite's harp version) and the Duane Allman tribute "Skyman" again find Earl exploring Roy's more spiritual side ala Buchanan's "The Messiah Will Come Again". "Skyman' is an exercise in moody string-bending that doesn't attempt to replicate Duane's style. Drummer Lorne Entress' "Patience" is a tranquil gospel-inspired tune. About three-fourth's of the material here finds Ronnie in various blues styles. "Blues For Slim" is a slow but tough Chicago blues workout, while "Tommy's Midnight Blues" builds from a short Otis Rush intro-into a brief quiet Buddy Guy-string-squeezing segment into a hard-charging Chicago blues attack. T-Bone Walker is the inspiration for the jazzy-blues featured in "Ethan's Song". "Spann's Groove" is a boogie-woogie piano workout for Dave Limina. The musical journey is closed out with an acoustic finger-picked front porch blues via "Blues For Bill".
As Ronnie Earl continues to build on his guitar canon we get to reap his spiritual sincerity. Often while listening, especially to his more spiritual toned songs, you get that feeling of unfulfilled-musical-searching that Miles Davis had in his music. Ronnie may never find that perfect note, but listening to him try will be something to bring enjoyment and fulfillment to anyone who opens their heart to it..
Reviewer Greg 'Bluesdog' Szalony is from the New Jersey Delta. He is the proprietor of Bluesdog's Doghouse at http://bluesdog61.multiply.com .
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