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From The Editor's Desk
Hey Blues Fans,
Voting in the 2011 Blues Blast Music Awards begins at midnight tonight.
Why should you care? Our mission at Blues Blast Magazine, simply stated, is to recognize the artists that play this wonderful music called the Blues. Which is why we created these awards 4 years ago. The thirty nominators of this years nominees are like a critic's awards and your votes will recognize these great artists as a people's choice awards.
So be sure you vote to help us accomplish this mission to recognize the BEST in today's Blues.
OK, do you want another reason to vote? How about the chance to win FREE Blues CDs, Blues Blast T-shirts or even a couple tickets to the Blues Blast Music Awards ceremonies at Buddy Guy's Legends in October? We will begin randomly drawing for prizes each week from those who vote in this years Blues Blast Music Awards.
Speaking of tickets, Blues Blast Music Awards tickets will go on sale tommorrow. We will also have details about a block of discount rooms for those who want to make it to this great Blues celebration.
The Mississippi Valley Blues Festival
We are headed to Davenport, Iowa this weekend to hear some great live Blues at the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival. This three day festival, now in it's 27th year, begins on Friday and runs through Sunday. They have a great lineup that includes Jimmy Burns, Eric Gales, Paul Rishell and Annie Raines, RJ Mischo and Smokin’ Joe Kubek & Bnois King on Friday July 1st. Saturday the lineup includes Chocolate Thunder, Kevin Burt, Lionel Young Band, Johnny Nicholas, Ryan McGarvey, Peaches Staten, Mississippi Heat, Joe Louis Walker and a Koko Taylor Tribute featuring Nellie “Tiger” Travis, Chick Rogers, Jackie Scott and Delores Scott. The fest finishes up on Sunday with performances by Studebaker John and the Hawks, Harper, Rich DelGrosso and John Richardson, Sherman Robertson and Otis Clay.
Blues Blast Magazine is proud to be a sponsor of this great festival this year. Stop by our booth at Blues Central and say hello for a chance to win a FREE Blues Blast t-shirt.
Good Blues To You!
In This Issue
Many folks worry that Blues is a dying art form but Terry Mullins has our feature interview with The Homemade Jamz Blues Band. This group of siblings, who aren't who are just teenagerst, prove that Blues is alive and well!
We have Part 2 of the photos from the Chicago Blues fest from Bob Kieser and Marilyn Stringer.
Our video of the week is Smokin’ Joe Kubek & Bnois King.
We have nine CD reviews for you this week! Steve Jones reviews a new CD by Teresa Lynne. Rainey Wetnight reviews a new CD from Jean Shy & Friends. New Blues Blast reviewer Michael Ford reviews a new DVD from The Don Ray Band. John Mitchell reviews a new CD by B Street Blues. Sheralyn Graise reviews a new CD from Carol Lockridge. Mark Thompson reviews a new CD from Lightnin' Malcom. Gary Weeks reviews a new release from Anthony ‘Swamp Dog’ Clark . George "Blues Fin Tuna" Fish reviews a new CD from Cousin Harley. New Blues Blast reviewer Jim Kanavy reviews a new CD by Sweet Claudette. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!
Featured Blues Interview - Homemade Jamz Blues Band
Ryan Perry laughs when talking about all the one-liners he’s heard people utter about the name of the band he shares with his younger brother and even-younger sister.
He’s heard the one about how his band is better than a store-bought band and he’s heard the one about how his band would probably go good with an order of homemade biscuits.
He’s also heard the name of his band mangled and mispronounced on more than one occasion – going from Homemade Jazz to the Homemade Blues Jam Band and even on to Grape Jelly?!
To set the record straight folks, the name of the band that 19-year-old Ryan, 17-year-old Kyle and 12-year-old Taya Perry from Tupelo, Mississippi share, is called Homemade Jamz Blues Band.
“Our name has been miss-spelled and miss-read so many times – probably more times that it has been said right,” said Ryan. “It’s really funny. But it adds to everything we’re about.”
But take some advice.
That old warning about judging a book by its cover should really be heeded when it comes to Homemade Jamz Blues Band.
Even though Ryan is just barely past his senior prom – while Kyle and Taya have yet to don their tux and evening gown – Homemade Jamz are veterans at cranking out hardcore, authentic delta blues, with a trio of albums out as crown jewels in their already impressive resume.
And that’s not child’s play.
Ryan handles the guitar and vocal duties for the group, while brother Kyle lays down the bass and sister Taya keeps time on the skins.
But the family affair that is the Homemade Jamz Blues Band is not solely limited to the Perry siblings.
Mom Tricia and dad Renaud are also in the central orbit of the band’s universe.
“Mom is the one that holds everything together, just like a mom should. She handles managing the band and does all our media and publicity and she also keeps everyone in check. She basically holds down the fort,” laughed Ryan. “And dad, he’s our harmonica player and he writes the lyrics to our songs.”
Just as Renaud Perry’s children have grown as musicians over the course of their four-year-old recording career, he too, has evolved and turned into a first-rate author of blues tunes during that span of time.
“Me and Kyle will take care of most of the music and then dad will come behind us and put words to the music. And dad really didn’t start writing lyrics until after we were already established as a band,” Ryan said. “And in that short time frame, in my opinion, he’s turned into an amazing writer. Almost all of the original songs we play have been put together in less than a week’s time and a lot of those in less than two days time. He’s lightning-fast when it comes to writing lyrics. I couldn’t keep up with him if I wanted to.”
But as anyone who has lived under the same roof with a brother or sister knows, there can be a fragile balance involved in the day-to-day existence between children forced to spend major time together in a small space.
In other words, chances are, there’s going to be some major blowups during the course of a typical day.
And while the Perrys are by no means different than other sets of brothers and sisters, according to Ryan, there is a distinct line between what goes on in the family’s living room and what goes on under the bright lights of the bandstand at a gig.
“We get along just like any family. But when it comes time for music, everyone tightens up,” he said. “Say me and my brother had an argument earlier in the day. When it comes time for music, all that is put aside. And I think we all understand that. When it’s time to rehearse or set up the equipment on stage, it’s not time to play or to joke around or to be mad at anybody. We’re here to entertain people and that’s what we’re going to do until it’s done. Afterwards, you can do whatever you want. But from the time we step out of the van before the performance until after we step off stage after the show, that’s music time and serious time.”
That’s pretty mature stuff for a young man just now old enough to vote. That also helps to explain why Ryan, Kyle and Taya have been able to keep a tight focus on their music and their careers, even when the daunting task of going to school, finishing homework and then climbing on stage for two hours that night was at hand.
And how many teenagers do you know that could resist the temptation of blowing off band practice to spend a day hanging out at the lake with their friends?
Neither of those have ever been issues, says Ryan.
“School and music has never been a problem for any of us. It’s when the social life comes into play that things can get stressed,” he said. “It’s when our personal phones are ringing with invitations to go to a party or to go to the pool, or hang out at the mall that can make things tough. But you know, that’s going to happen to everyone eventually. That’s just part of growing up and having a career, or a job, or responsibility. Your social life is just going to have to take a back seat. So I guess that just started a little bit early for us, but we manage to have a good balance that works for us. We’re not hermit crabs by any means. Not by a long shot.”
Witnessing Homemade Jamz do their thing on stage, it’s very evident that they’re not “hermit crabs.”
The band, which won the third annual MS Delta Blues Society of Indianola’s Blues Challenge in 2006 and also was the youngest band ever to compete in the International Blues Challenge in 2007, remarkably coming in second out of 93 bands, is all about youthful exuberance when the spotlight is turned on.
Ryan moves around with all the confidence and conviction of a front man who is truly comfortable doing what he does – belting out gritty blues burners with the passion and soul of a bluesman three times his age. And his guitar licks are beginning to carve out their own identity, leading him down the path to being instantly recognizable when he turns up the heat on a scorching solo.
And if you think flying up and down the neck of a Stratocaster takes skill, trying maneuvering around something that looks like it belongs in a Midas commercial - homemade guitars and homemade basses, crafted out of spare car parts by former military tank mechanic Renuad Perry.
And as cool as those works of art look on stage these days, if Ryan would have had his way, those eye-catching axes may never have seen the light of day.
“My dad was helping me restore my first car - a 1983 Thunderbird – and one of the things I bought for it was mufflers,” he said. “When they came in the mail, my dad said, ‘why don’t we mess around with these and try to build a guitar?’ And I definitely did not want to do that. I wanted them on my car. I was ready for it to be finished. But a couple of days later, he took them from me said, ‘Ryan, I’m going to go ahead and make some guitars out of these.’ I finally said, ‘OK, but you owe me some new mufflers.’ Well, I haven’t got the money or the mufflers back yet, but I guess I did get them back in the form of a guitar. A week after he took the mufflers, he came back with them and told me to plug them in. And I played the muffler guitar and it played really great. My dad doesn’t know a lick of guitar, but everything about it was right – the intonation and how it was built was perfect.”
Initially meant to basically be mounted on the living room wall as a conversation piece, dad’s muffler-guitar had other ideas and took on a life of its own.
“I played it at a show and everyone just went crazy,” said Ryan. “So I decided to keep it in the show. Then dad built my brother a bass guitar version and we’ve been playing them ever since. Every year or so, dad builds another pair of them and this past April, he just finished building numbers 10 and 11. And they just get better all the time. They really help to add to the excitement of our shows.”
But maybe the most remarkable thing about Homemade Jamz in concert is the bond that Kyle and Taya have forged, locking together and morphing into one outstanding rhythm section.
“My sister is doing things in the past month or so that I’ve never heard her do before on the drums. Stuff I’ve never even heard her practice on,” Ryan said. “Amazing stuff. At soundchecks, she’ll go into drum beats I’ve never heard her attempt before and it’s some high-level stuff. And the same thing goes for my brother. He’s coming up with some amazing bass riffs and is developing new tricks all the time. So the rhythm section I’m behind is just awesome! And it’s really just a plus that it’s my brother and sister doing it.”
Much like a history book can trace the development and origins of a nation in a step-by-step fashion, the first three discs from Homemade Jamz – Pay Me No Mind (2008); I Got Blues For You (2009); and The Game (2010) – serve as a sonic growth chart for this still-blossoming band.
“From the first CD to the third one, all of us have come up so much. And I find it amazing to listen to just how much we’ve come up year-after-year,” Ryan said. “And what really kills me is that since the start of 2011, when the third CD dropped, everybody’s playing has come up three times as fast as I think it ever has. I really think we’ve got such a good connection that a lot of bands may not have, because we’ve been around each other all our lives.”
Just like its droning, trance-like pull has had on true connoisseurs of the blues for decades now, the rich and fertile musical climate just beyond the borders of Homemade Jamz’ own backyard has started to cast a major spell on the way the Perrys approach their own music.
“When I first started playing, I was into Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Carlos Santana and B.B. King,” said Ryan. “Those were the big four for me, the first guys I was really exposed to. I still love them today, but right now I’m getting closer to my roots. I love me some Mississippi hill country blues. R.L. Burnisde and Junior Kimbrough – the old-school, raw, raw blues. It’s funny, but with Mississippi hill country blues – either you get it or you don’t. But it’s some of the best music I’ve ever heard in my life. And it makes it even more special because we’re living right in the north Mississippi area, not far from Holly Springs where Junior used to have his club and where R.L. lived and played. So to be able to say we’re from the north Mississippi hill country area where so many of those great artists lived is very cool.”
That tip-of-the-cap to the Kimbroughs and Burnsides may soon find its way onto the grooves of Homemade Jamz’ next album.
“Most definitely. The hill country has really been an inspiration to most of the music we’re making now and I’ve got a feeling that CD number four is going to dwell heavily in north Mississippi hill country blues,” Ryan said. “And hopefully everybody will enjoy it. Not everybody knows about that style of music, so to be able to be a part of that and expose people to that kind of music – and artists like Junior and R.L. – is just a really cool thing.”
With the heat of summer starting to edge toward its peak, and with Kyle and Taya out of school for a couple of months, Homemade Jamz is ready to get down to business.
“Once the Fourth of July weekend kicks off, July is absolutely the heaviest month we’ve ever done,” Ryan said. “We’re going to be in France for two weeks and the day after we get back, we have to start a trail that goes from Ohio to Michigan and all the way to Canada. We’re driving that. And on the way back down home, we’re going to be connecting shows as we go, so we’re literally going to be gone the whole month of July. Some people might consider that to be too busy, but we consider that to be a blessing. As long as our phone keeps ringing, we still have a career. The worst thing a musician can go through is when that phone stops ringing.”
As for the name Homemade Jamz –that had to come straight from the desk of some marketing company on Fifth Avenue, right?
“We were in practice one day and said, ‘hey, we’re a band now. What should we call ourselves?’ And we threw around a whole bunch of names and some of them were really stupid and none of them really worked for us,” Ryan said. “I forget who, but somebody said, ‘why don’t we just call ourselves Homemade Jamz?’ Because our music, after all, is homemade. So we decided that if that was the best idea we had that night, we’d roll with it until we could come up with something better. But then when we were announced (at the next gig) as Homemade Jamz, everyone thought that was really a unique name. So it stuck.”
Just because Homemade Jamz is rapidly securing their place among the heavyweights of the blues, that doesn’t mean that they sit around and play dusty old 78s of long-forgotten blues songs all day long.
They are, after all, still young adults with an ever-expanding taste for what they like to listen to in their down time.
“We pretty much listen to all types of music. We all have pop, rap - old school, new school - jazz, contemporary, light rock, as well as blues in our music collections,” Ryan said. “For me, it really depends on my mood for the day, as to what determines what music I'll listen to.”Interviewer Terry Mullins is a journalist and former record store owner whose personal taste in music is the sonic equivalent of Attention Deficit Disorder. Works by the Bee Gees, Captain Beefheart, Black Sabbath, Earth, Wind & Fire and Willie Nelson share equal space with Muddy Waters, The Staple Singers and R.L. Burnside in his compact disc collection. He's also been known to spend time hanging out on the street corners of Clarksdale, Mississippi, eating copious amounts of barbecued delicacies while listening to the wonderful sounds of the blues.
Featured Blues Review 1 of 9
Teresa Lynne - Tear Drop Collector
Sugar Dog Productions
Teresa Lynne has been a fixture in Colorado blues for 21 years. This is my first exposure to her music and I wish I had heard of her earlier! A gripping vocalist and poignant harp player, Lynne is the real deal. She can belt out a tune with the best of them and can hold back and be equally effective with softer ballads. I hate to use stupid and prosaic comments, but one does not see that many female harp players of her caliber let alone female harp players in general. I was very, very impressed with this set of nine super originals and one outstanding cover.
I must admit that before I even played the CD I saw she was covering Gershwin's "Summertime" and I cringed a little. How many jazz singers have done that one and how many have hacked it up in a schmaltzy manner? Well, Lynne does a more than admirable job with it; she delivers a bluesy rendition with some exceptional harp work that really presents this standard in a whole new manner. It is a truly creative and well done cover. But even more impressive are the other nine songs that she wrote entirely or in part and delivers with gusto.
She opens with one of my favorites of the CD- "Dreamboat Sinkin'", where one can appreciate her ironic humor about how her man (the "dreamboat") is sinking in both her estimation and relationship. With beer and remote in hand and a growing gut, she calls out for a raft at the end of the track. I was both amused by her lyrics and impressed by her musicality. Chris Cain makes a guest appearance on this one, making it even more special. The title track is another excellent track, and she once again nails it. Bob Margolin appears on "Should Have Been Mine", a grooving and shuffling track where both Margolin and Lynne shine brightly. "Lucky Moon" is a beautiful slow cut where Lynne shows us here sultry side- well done! Top to bottom she has written some really nice songs and delivers them with exceptional vocals and some really piquant harp work.
Her band is equal to the task, featuring Rick Ross on guitar on the majority of tracks, Jimmy Lange on B3, Ritchie Foelsch predominantly on bass and Jerry Alan on drums for the most part; they are her regular band, The Dreamboats. Jerry Glaze adds some very sharp trumpet on "Summertime" and Jim Beckstein fills in admirably on piano on another. This CD will not disappoint you- I loved it and think blues fans really need to get to know this great singer, song writer and harp player! I recommend this one strongly!
Featured Blues Video
Featured Blues Review 2 of 9
Jean Shy & Friends - Blow Top Blues
King Edward Records
15 songs; 69:48 minutes
Styles: Strong female vocals in Blues; Jazzy Blues; Soul-Blues; R&B
One thing is evident about Jean Shy: Last names don't reveal anything! This Chicago born now Germany living sassy songstress is anything but shy, and the blues world is better for it. Jean's style is more smooth and jazz-influenced than that of vocalists like Shemekia Copeland, but that's a good thing. When it comes to the blues, some artists put their all into the vocals. Others concentrate upon the instruments (especially guitar). Jean Shy specializes in mood. “Atmosphere” is her middle name, evoking memories and relaxation with every fine-tuned track. Listeners will appreciate the heartfelt yet subtle effort she infuses into each song.
“Blow Top Blues,” with its five originals and ten covers, is Shy's third CD released in the United States, along with 2005's “One Day” and 2008's “The Blues Got Soul” (for which she received a nomination for 2009 Blues Music Award Soul Blues Female Artist of the Year). As a matter of fact, three songs here (“Wouldn't Wanna Be You,” “Livin’ the Blues,” and “We Like the Same Thang”) had versions also included on 2008’s “The Blues Got Soul.” Most of her albums have been released in Europe, in countries such as Poland, the Netherlands and Germany. Maybe that's why the final song on this album is “Sag Mir Wo Die Blumen Sind” (Pete Seeger’s “Where Have all the Flowers Gone?”). Far from detracting from her repertoire, Shy's European tours and performances have only enhanced it. The proof? Listen in!
Collaborating with such ensembles as the Climax Band Cologne, the Jazz Band Ball Orchestra (JBBO), and the Shy Guys, Jean has selected her finest works for “Blow Top Blues.” Five of the songs are powerful originals: “Party on the Weekend,” “Maze/I Just Wanna Escape,” “The Other Side of Blue,” “Livin' the Blues,” and “We Like the Same Thang.” The last of these is a hilarious highlight, proving that opposites attract: “I say two for tennis. He watches a boxing match—but when it comes to lovin', that man's where I'm at! We like the same thang!” However, for this CD's true masterpiece, back up to the soulfully ominous track number seven, Sharp and Silbar’s “Wouldn't Wanna Be You.” Shy echoes original writers’ warning: “You're not the first he's drawn into his flame. He means to do you wrong and have no shame. I wouldn't want to be you right now.” This song's hook is just as infectious as any of Lady Gaga's stammering starters, and twice as good!
It's a pity the United States blues world hasn't gotten to know Jean Shy much sooner than the early 2000's. Jean Shy is an internationally acclaimed singer, songwriter, music producer, and actress. Europe, share the love—she's a keeper!
Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 31-year-old female Blues fan. She brings the perspective of a younger blues fan to reviews. A child of 1980s music, she was strongly influenced by her father’s blues music collection.
Featured Live Blues Review
2011 Chicago Blues Festival - Part 2
Photos by Bob Kieser and Marilyn Stringer
The final two days of the Chicago Blues Festival were every bit as good as the first day. Some of the great acts heard on their Crossroads Stage Saturday included Dave Herrero and the Hero Brothers.
They were followed by The Duwayne Burnside Band
And then George Stancell Band featuring Willie Buck rounded out the Crossroads stage on Saturday.
On Sunday the Crossroads Stage performers included a set by Jerekus Singleton.
Next was Rob Blaine's Big Otis Blues.
Rob Blaine took third place in this years International Blues Challenge representing Chicago's Windy City Blues Society. Rob also won the coveted Albert King ward for being the best guitarist in the IBC.
Next up was Bobby Slim James with Lee Shot Williams and JoAnne Graham.
The last performance we caught on the Sunday Crossroads stage was Theo Huff with Jeanie Holiday and Ronnie Hicks. We were really impressed by the show from Jeannie Holliday. She had the crowd in the palm of her hand!
Another stage called the Mississippi Juke Joint featured Jarekus Singleton on Saturday.
He was followed by Dexter Allen. This was our first time hearing Dexter. Good Stuff!
He was followed by California Bluesman Zac Harmon. Zac rose to fame when he won the International Blues Challenge a few years ago and he continues to be a great performer to see and hear.
On Sunday the Mississippi Juke Joint stage performers included Ben Wiley Payton,
The great Jimmy Burns
And Chicago favorite, Nellie "Tiger" Travis.
Another stage called the Front Porch Stage started off Saturday with Fernando Jones and the Blues Kids and the Columbia College Blues Ensemble. Quite a talented group of young musicians!
Next up was Fruitland Jackson.
Sam Lay Blues Band was up next and he had some great players with him including Billy Branch on Harmonica.
Saturdays final Front Porch Stage act was Willie "Big Eyes" Smith Band doing a tribute set for the great Pinetop Perkins. It featured Barrelhouse Chuck on Piano, Bob Stroger on Bass and Kenny "Beady Eyes" Smith on drums.
On Sunday the Front Porch stage featured Nick Moss Band with special guest Curtis Salgado.
Another great act on Sunday was Mud Morganfield. Mud is the son of Blues Legend Muddy Waters. He had an all-star band that included Bob Corritore on harmonica, Barrelhouse Chuck on Piano and Kenny "Beady Eyes" Smith on drums.
The final Front Porch Stage act was John Primer. John played with Willie Dixon's All Stars and was the guitarist for Muddy Waters in the last years of his career.
The Windy City Blues Society Street Stage had a great list of artists the last two days too. We heard a set by Charles "Delta Blues Hawg" Hayes on Saturday.
They were followed by a great set from Lurrie Bell and many other great acts both of the last two days.
Saturday at the Petrillo Shell was challenging for all – the temperature dropped and the mist became rain. But admirably the Dave Spector Band, featuring Jimmy Johnson, and the Carl Weathersby Band, with Corey Denison wailing on guitar, didn’t seem to have their spirits dampened.
Carl Weathersby Blues Band
By the time Billy Branch and The Sons of Blues, with a full horn section, and Ariyo (keyboard), and Dan Carelli (guitar) took over the stage, the crowd was a sea of ponchos and umbrellas. Billy brought out Magic Slim and they played a fantastic set, after which many of us had to wrap up our equipment against the rain. But as we huddled under the trees, I could hear Billy and the Band, and they were on fire!
Sunday on the Petrillo Shell was a night of finales, tributes, and awards. The evening opened with Nellie “Tiger” Travis singing a beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.
Strutting on the stage and blasting out the blues, Shemekia Copeland, thrilled the crowd. Her voice, style, and charisma have matured and she is clearly coming into her time.
And just when she thought she was done with her set, a crowd of people, including her mom, Bruce Iglauer, Shemekia’s manager, and Cookie Taylor Threatt, Koko Taylor’s daughter, filled the stage and surprised Shemekia with a special coronation. Koko was always very fond, and impressed with Shemekia’s depth of soul in her music. After much secretive planning, Cookie presented Shemekia with Koko’s “Queen of The Blues” Tiara, declaring her the New Queen of the Blues. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house!!
That wasn’t the end of declarations and proclamations. Wayne Baker Brooks opened the next set and then brought out his dad, Lonnie, to the stage. After Lonnie spritzed up his guitar neck and fingers, and started digging in, the music was stopped and Lonnie was then honored with the reading of his history and giant contribution not only to the Chicago area, but to the blues in general. June 12 was then declared Lonnie Brooks Day, now and forever more, by the mayor and city of Chicago. More emotion and wet eyes – it was so great to see such a fantastic bluesman, as well as kind soul, being honored.
And with that, Lonnie joined the band, and his son, Wayne, and wowed the crowd. The blues festival finale was a great gathering of everyone’s favorites: Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater, Shoji Naito (harmonica), “Iron Man” Burks, and Rick Estrin, all Celebrating 40 Years of Alligator Records and Bruce Iglauer. Shemekia joined the entire band for the finale, ending another great festival in true Chicago style.
(All of Marilyn Stringer's festival photos can eventually be found at http://MJStringerPhoto.com).
The Moon Is Rising:
Songs of Robert Nighthawk
From the uproariously funny to the beautifully dramatic, Chicago blues singer and slide guitarist, Donna Herula, performs the neglected songs of slide guitar master Robert Nighthawk in a country/Delta Blues acoustic style. Solo slide guitar; duets with harmonica, guitar and violin.
Blues Society News
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Blues Society of the Ozarks - Springfield, MO
The Blues Society of the Ozarks based out of Springfield, Mo is happy to announce the line up for the 15th Annual Greater Ozark Blues Festival to be held at Chesterfield Village in Springfield, Mo September 9 & 10, 2011
We are proud to present on Friday September 9, 2011 Mary Bridget Davies Band, Larry Garner & Lil Ed & the Imperials on Saturday September 10, 2011 the line up includes: Terry Quiett Band, Grand Marques, JP Soars and the Red Hots, Shaun Murphy, and Joe Lewis Walker. For more information and tickets visit our web site at www.greaterozarksbluesfest.com or 417-860-5078
Topeka Blues Society - Topeka, KS
The Topeka Blues Society presents the Spirit of Kansas Blues Festival 2011 July 4th at Reynolds Lodge, 3315 SE Tinman Circle on the east side of Lake Shawnee in Topeka, KS. Music is from noon to 9 p.m. followed by fireworks. Admission is FREE!
The lineup includes 2011 Grammy and BMA award winner (with Kenny Wayne Shepherd) Buddy Flett, 2011 IBC Runner-Up and "Love, Janis" star Mary Bridget Davies Group, 2011 IBC finalists Grand Marquis, The Bart Walker Band with Reese Wynans (Double Trouble) on Hammond B3 and Paul Ossola (G.E. Smith and the Saturday Night Live Band) on bass, Mike Farris (Screamin' Cheetah Wheelies) with the McCrary Sisters and 2010 BMA Song of the Year winner Mike Zito.
There will also be food, arts and crafts and a car show. For more information go to www.topekabluessociety.org or find us on Facebook. Discounted hotel rooms are available at the Topeka Ramada Convention Center. Call (785) 234-5400 and ask for the Blues Society Group 6617.
Mississippi Valley Blues Society - Davenport, IA
The Mississippi Valley Blues Society presents the 2011 Mississippi Valley Blues Festival July 1-3, 2011 in Davenport, IA.
Artists scheduled to perform include Linsey Alexander, Jimmy Burns, Eric Gales, Paul Rishell and Annie Raines, Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers, RJ Mischo with Earl Cate with Them, Smokin’ Joe Kubek & Bnois King,“Way of Blues” Revue from Mississippi on Friday July 1st, Chocolate Thunder, Kevin Burt, Lionel Young Band, Johnny Nicholas, Ryan McGarvey, Peaches Staten, Mississippi Heat, Joe Louis Walker and a Koko Taylor Tribute featuring Nellie “Tiger” Travis, Chick Rogers, Jackie Scott and Delores Scott on Saturday July 2nd, and The Candymakers, Winter Blues Kids, Studebaker John and the Hawks, Harper, Chris Beard, The Paul Smoker Notet, Rich DelGrosso and John Richardson, Sherman Robertson, Mitch Woods and his Rocket 88s and Otis Clay on Sunday July 3rd.
For more information or to purchase tickets visit www.mvbs.org or call (563) 322-5837
The Blues Blowtorch Society - Bloomington, IL
The Blues Blowtorch Society presents the 2011 Central Illinois Blues Challenge on July 15 & 16, 2011 at The GE Employees Club 1750 General Electric Rd, in Bloomington, IL during the Ain't Nothin But The Blues Festival. The winner will be sent to Memphis in early 2012 to compete as our representative in the International Blues Challenge. To be considered bands must apply by June 18, 2011. The solo/duo acts competition is to be determined based on interest.
For further information please contact Deborah Mehlberg, Entertainment Director at: Deborah464@aol.com or visit www.bluesblowtorch.org and http://www.aintnothinbuttheblues.com/
The Friends Of The Blues - Watseka, IL
2011 Friends of the Blues shows - July 13 - Reverend Raven & C.S.A.B., 7 pm, River Bend Bar & Grill. For more info see: http://www.wazfest.com/JW.html
Illinois Central Blues Club - Springfield, IL
The Illinois Central Blues Club presents "Blue Monday" every Monday night for the last 25 years - BLUE MONDAY SHOWS - Held at the Alamo 115 N 5th St, Springfield, IL (217) 523-1455 every Monday 8:30pm $3 cover. July 4 - Deb Callahan, July 11 - Rockin' Jake, July 18 - Chris Bell & 100% Blues, July 25 - Bill Evans Birthday Party, August 1 - Lionel Young Band, August 8 - Ben Prestage, August 15 - Bryan Lee, August 22 - Grady Champion, August 29 - RJ Mischo. icbluesclub.org
Featured Blues Review 3 of 9
Don Ray Band – Live in Nashville
Margdon Music DVD
16 tracks – 84 minutes
The Rutledge is a music venue in Downtown Nashville drawing up to 250 patrons if the band is hot. It’s not renowned for its kitchen but it is for its acoustics and lighting: and since you’re not going to eat your live DVD it proves itself a good place to record one. The Don Ray Band call Tennesse’s self-styled ‘Music City’their home although members have been drawn there from all corners of the USA. In October last year they headed for The Rutledge to capture their stage show which Don describes as –“Music with a Blues Feel that Tells a Country Story” (and if that sounds like a man trying to cover several bases, remember Ray Charles!)
Performers on "Live in Nashville", include Don Ray (Vocals/Percussion), Jonathan Armstrong (Keyboards/Vocals), Donnie Lee Clark (Electric Guitar/Vocals), Curtis Jay (Bass Guitar), and Scott Thompson (Drums). There is a host of special guests , included Shaun Murphy, Curt Ryle, Tim Beattie, Trez Gregory, and Laura Vida. Don and the guys have thoroughly networked the Nashville scene through song-writing collaboration and studio work and had no difficulty in attracting quality musicians to contribute to this project.
Three quarters of this set is composed of songs from their recent CD ‘Lonesome Rider’ with another couple from their acclaimed ‘On Top of the Heap’ debut album.
The pattern in set from the concert’s opening number –‘In Your Eyes’(Track 1)- with a succinct, cleverly crafted song with a powerful vocal delivery by Don. The vocal line is strongly supplemented by the guitar of Donnie Lee Clark playing a glittery turquoise Telecaster.( I imagine you have to be very confident of your playing to tote that to some of the roadhouse gigs they play!) Despite some tasty piano from Jonathan’s Kurzweil PC 88 it’s Donnie that dominates instrumentally throughout. The opening number establishes, too, that ‘Southern Rock’ is very much the bedrock of the band’s sound and it’s not until ‘Love Is’ (Track 13) that Don declares that the band will –“Blues you one time”.
That number, featuring former Little Feat’ vocalist Shaun Murphy, provides the highlight for ‘dyed-in-the-blues’ fans with her impassioned vocals recalling Etta James’ Chess recordings. More in this reflective vein would have raised the ‘blues-quotient’ of the DVD considerably.
That’s not to say that this DVD isn’t an attractive proposition for blues fans There’s lots to enjoy here with Don’s voice strong throughout and lots of variety provided from guests as with Trez Gregory and Laura Vida’s vocal and visual contributions to the up-tempo ‘Boom Chika Wah-Wah’(Track 5) telling of a country boy being led-astray in the big city –and enjoying it! Guitarist and co-writer Curt Ryle joins the band, too, and throws in a very tasty solo in ‘I Can’t Find My Angel’(Track 7)
Don later brings onto stage Tim Beattie, blues harpist and co-writer of the song they perform, the atmospheric "Gone Nowhere" (Track 10), Tim plays in the band Smoky Lonesome and lovers of blues harp will certainly want to keep an eye out for them..
Don was originally a drummer and then drummer/vocalist before he stepped out from behind the kit. That was a good move as the combination rarely works (remember Ringo?) but he can’t quite kick the percussion habit completely. Throughout he supplements Scott’s fine drumming with cowbell, electronic drums and a tom-tom kit as if he can’t quite ‘give-up the day job’. He has no need to, though, as his vocals and presence dominates the stage.
Fans of the band will find this DVD a great keepsake and fans of Lynyrd Skynyrd-esque Southern Rock will finds lots to enjoy too . The band is tight, the songs are compact and the sound is clear. Only one thing puzzles me –we hear the audience but never see them. Isn’t that unusual on a live DVD?
Reviewer Michael Ford is a retired school principal living in the North of England. He is a heavily involved volunteer in the organization of Bronte Blues Club (www.bronteblues.com) and writes for and performs in the house-band there. He has played in bands over the years opening for such artistes as Clarence Carter, Howard Tate, Dorothy Moore, Sherman Robertson, Doug MacLeod, Mojo Buford and Larry Garner.
Featured Blues Review 4 of 9
B Street Blues – Car Won’t Go
Norm T Recording 2011
10 tracks; 51.29 minutes
B Street Blues hail from New Hampshire and are a trio although on this CD they are supplemented by a wider range of musicians on most tracks. The main band consists of Norm Tiedemann who sings and plays guitar, Dave Schaefer who plays drums and Chris Chesna who plays bass. Norm wrote all the songs here, with assistance from Dave on five and Chris on two. The band plays mainly in their local area but hope to tour more widely, possibly if this CD gives them additional exposure. In this reviewer’s opinion, it should.
The additional players on the CD are mainly guitar and keyboards, with horns added to two tracks and Richie Cole (who played with Buddy Rich at one time) on alto sax on two tracks. The main guest is Jack Pearson who played guitar with the Allman Brothers in the late 90s. Jack plays guitar on seven tracks as well as Hammond B3 on eight. Other guitarists involved include Linwood Taylor from Joe Louis Walker’s band.
The music here is reasonably varied with more than a touch of southern rock in some tracks. Opening cut “Big Blue Blues” comes out of the traps with a catchy tune, backed up by the horns, a lyric about whether a modern white man can sing the blues: “Never shot a man in Memphis, I drive an SUV; I work for a hi-tech firm that will be the death of me. Now you tell me that I can’t sing the blues. Won’t hurt you to listen, you got nothing to lose. Go on, cut me a break, I just wanna sing the blues.”
“Live Bait” is just the trio working over a crunching guitar riff. “Monica” has definite Allman echoes, the dual guitars of Norm and Jack Pearson laying down a solid base over which third guitarist Peter Early places a dynamic solo. Jack also provides some strong B3 on this track. The title track “Car Won’t Go Blues” is next up, another fast paced rocker with Richie Cole’s alto to the fore.
In recent years BB King has been name checked in outstanding songs from the likes of Robben Ford and Curtis Salgado, so why shouldn’t B Street Blues have a go? “King Of The Blues” is their tribute to the master: “Ain’t no one gonna fit his shoes ‘cos he’s the King of the Blues” is the chorus, with some nice lines such as “What you see is what you get, singing me a story like he wrote it just for me”. Some entirely appropriate BB-like guitar playing enhances this track, the second with horns who provide a little background colour to the production. It is worth noting that the horns on this and opener “Big Blue Blues” were arranged by drummer Dave Schaefer.
“Set A Spell” is an acoustic interlude with most of the sparse instrumentation played by Norm. The title does not refer to the world of Harry Potter and wizards, rather taking a quiet break from the hectic pace of life. James Montgomery plays some down home country harp and Dave and Chris are credited with ‘gobo’ and ‘squeaky rocking chair on porch’ respectively! “Spinner” offers something different, an instrumental with some definite jazz leanings, with the stop/start drum patterns, the swirling ‘cool’ organ, the alto of Richie Cole and the guitar playing of both Norm and Jack Pearson.
After those two quieter tracks we return to a slow electric blues with a familiar title: “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet”. No sign of BTO here though as Norm recounts his modest opinion of himself: “I don’t claim to be no prize, I’m just the way that God made me. What you see is what you get and you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.” There is some good guitar playing from Norm here at both ends of the song though the middle section is Jack Pearson’s, with both an organ and a dramatic guitar solo. “The Damage Is Done” is another strong riff with funky drums and a guitar solo from Linwood Taylor that shows that he has learned a few tricks from JLW!
The final track is also the longest at over 8 minutes. “Honesty” is a slower tune with strong guitar lines and the organ underpinning everything. “Honesty, I count you as my friend. I need you more than ever now to carry me to the end” is an example of the lyrics of this rather sad and reflective song, a worthy way to close the CD.
From the large number of additional players and the overdubbing of Jack Pearson’s significant contribution, I suspect that the disc has been some time in the making but the time spent has been worthwhile as there are several excellent tracks and no real weaknesses. It would be good to see this band get a wider audience outside their local area..
Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music.
Featured Blues Review 5 of 9
Carol Lockridge - You Make Me Blue
I’m sometimes apprehensive about listening to new music from folks I have not heard of. I’m also leery of self produced, self recorded, self promoted artist who have written all of their own material. Add to it that this artist is out of Fort Wayne Indiana! So, needless to say, I was hesitant to listen to You Make Me Blue by Carol Lockridge.
Ms Lockridge was born in Ypsilanti Michigan but raised in Detroit. She paid her dues in clubs, theaters, and stages in and around the Detroit area. She is first and foremost a vocalist. However, she is also a multi instrument musician and actress. From Detroit she moved on to Fort Wayne Indiana. For most artists that may seem to be the end to a promising career. But people there listen to music too. In Fort Wayne, she has worked with all of the top local musicians at popular clubs and has opened for Bobby Rush, Latimore, and Denise LaSalle. In 2006, as Carol Lockridge and Friends, she won the Indiana Blues Challenge and went on to Memphis to compete in the International Blues Challenge. In 2010, she was named the Indiana Blues Woman of the Year. Also in 2010, she released You Make Me Blue. It was an all out effort on her part. She wrote all of the songs, played keyboards on most of the tracks, plays guitar on some, sings lead vocals on all tracks. To keep it all in house, she owns all of the publishing rights through own publishing company. She then established her own record label, Soundin’ Good Record Company. Just to show that she can work with others, her daughter, Tiesha Smith, provides backup vocals on three tracks. Her other credited vocal partner is Maurice Turner.
There is a curious mixture of blues, soul, ballads, and gospel. It’s common practice for conflicted blues artists to add a gospel song at the end of a disc. This disc however, has a religious song near the beginning and an ode to a departed seven year old boy. To add these songs in the midst of soul, blues, and ballads was a bit confusing (and depressing). All of the songs are “blues” oriented, except the aforementioned, but the bluesiest is “Walking A Thin Line.” It has the tempo, beat, and music to match. It’s my favorite. “Single” is the most upbeat. I enjoyed the horn in “You Are My Miracle,” especially at the close of the track. I also enjoyed the “a cappella” version of “You’re So Special To Me” which includes a percussive beat with the vocal rhythm section.
The tracks are heavy on chorus but they do tell a story. The music is lyrical. Ms Lockridge proves that she is an accomplished instrumentalist as well as a savvy business woman. The CD is certainly not an amateur production. My apprehension was unnecessary.
Reviewer Sheralyn Graise graduated from the University of Akron a while back. A former Social Services professional, she is now pursuing other interests such as music history, writing, and photography. She has been a member of the Blues Foundation since 2001.
Featured Blues Review 6 of 9
Lightnin' Malcolm featuring Cameron Kimbrough - Renegade
Teamed up with drummer Cedric Burnside as the Two Man Wrecking Crew, guitarist Lightnin' Malcolm established his credentials as true practitioner of Mississippi hill country blues. Now he is the leader – singer, guitarist and songwriter plus playing drums and bass on one track each. His musical cohort, drummer Cameron Kimbrough, is the grandson of Jr. Kimbrough, who along with R.L. Burnside defined the trance style of playing that defines the hill country music.
The guitar-drum combo puts a lot of pressure on the guitar to bolster the rhythm pattern from the drums while simultaneously adding accents to keep the listener's attention. Malcolm succeeds admirably – in fact, he focuses almost exclusively on the rhythm, keeping his solos brief and devoid of any histrionics.
Check out his nasty tone and forceful guitar playing on “So Many Women”, his vocal riding the relentless beat supplied by Kimbrough. The title cut is an instrumental with crashing cymbals punctuating Malcolm's taut guitar lines. “Stop Fighting Over Me” is another example of the blues stripped down to the basics as guitar and drums intertwine to form a forceful rhythm pattern while Malcolm pleads for some peace in his love life. The Jimmy Reed-style groove on “Come Go With Me” features hand-clapping, tambourine from Rosalind Wilcox and Malcolm handling the drum track.
The dark, primal guitar tone Malcolm employs on “Foxfire Ranch” makes that instrumental track special while his blustery vocal on “My Lyin' Ass” is another highlight. Three cuts feature the Lucero Horns – Jim Spake on baritone sax, David McNight on tenor sax and Nahshon Benford on trumpet. On these tunes, Malcolm shows his fondness for reggae music, the Caribbean version of hill country music. The horns energize “Guilty Man” before supplying a soulful backdrop for Malcolm's vocal duet with Nadirah Shakoor on “My Precious Jewel”. On “North Mississippi”, J Grubbz injects a rap segment rides Malcolm's guitar, briefly showing that these two styles can work together effectively.
Malcolm's thick guitar tone on the ballad “Last Night I Held an Angel” serves as a contrast to his sensitive vocal. “Tell You Girl” is another love song with a lighter touch that almost seems out of place in the midst of the deeper grooves of the other tracks. The duo bring the disc to a close with a fine performance on “You Better Recognize”, a swaggering, stompin' hill country blues.
Despite the inherent limitations of working in the guitar-drum format, Malcolm and Kimbrough consistently make this music sound fresh and vital. If you are longing for a chance to listen to a record that celebrates rhythm and feel over instrumental prowess, this record will cure what ails you. Just remember to play loud and make sure there's room to dance!
Reviewer Mark Thompson is president of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL. He has been listening to music of all kinds for fifty years. The first concert he attended was in Chicago with The Mothers of Invention and Cream. Life has never been the same.
Featured Blues Review 7 of 9
Anthony ‘Swamp Dog’ Clark – Raw
Self Release – 2010
7 tracks; 35.41 minutes
With so many harp players like Charlie Musselwhite, Risk Estrin, Kim Wilson and James Cotton playing all over the circuit, other talented harp players stand a chance of being pushed into the background.
Such is the case with Anthony ‘Swamp Dog’ Clark. It’s a name that won’t ring a bell with too many blues fans all over the country. Only a good press agent and a heavy touring schedule can get any blues musician established. And if you’re not on a major record label, you’ll independently release it yourself.
The CD offers only seven tracks clocking in over thirty-five minutes. No writer credits indicate who wrote the tracks.
Altogether it’s a nice little package. Leading track “One More Mile To Go” with its rocking groove gets things off to the right start with Clark’s nicotine-inflected vocals and leading harp lines.
Shuffles are the carte blanche of the blues and here Anthony makes use of that in the dancer “Do Unto Others.” Clark doesn’t over-play. He can solo on the instrument but makes a point of keeping any hot-dog tendencies in check. It seems Anthony’s philosophy of playing the blues is always to approach it with a team attitude. Special guest Nadine Rae adds vocals to “Do Unto Others.”
With bassist Charles Adkins, drummer Andy Hamberger, and guitar players Ken Sparks and Glenn Alexander, Clark has truly assembled a tight outfit of musicians. Which truly helps if you’re going to get down to business of playing slow blues. This happens nicely in the basement dirty tune “Jump.” The band outright cooks as Clark’s levitating harp lines soar above the ensemble.
The energy picks up a few notches as the band shifts into a fast shuffle of the boogie blaster “Moanin.” Although it ends too quickly, the good time atmosphere continues in “Old Man” which in a live setting would go down like gangbusters for anybody wanting to let loose. Again Anthony’s harp playing is refrained and never going over-the-top into wild histrionics.
Clark loves them shuffles. So the “Swamp Dog Shuffle” is appropriately titled with the guitar players displaying hot chops with attitude. It could be the ultimate barn-burner on this cd as the whole band turns up the heat.
Final track “Hoochie Coochie Man” is a fitting finale. Ending a cd on a Muddy Waters number can be a positive thing and Clark does it proudly.
Taking on the role of a producer was a good move for Anthony. Rather than let these tunes be marred by over-production and unnecessary bells and whistle effects, he was able to create a live atmosphere as if this band was playing a blues jam on a Wednesday night. Raw truly sticks to a blueprint of authentic blues and certainly serves the purpose of making you catch boogie fever.
In an age where posers and wannabes want to clout you over the head with below par quality and brashness, Clark marches to his own drummer and is smart enough to realize that traditional blues can go a long way and still maintain a strong cult following for those who want to go to the clubs and have a good time.
With the right press juggernaut rolling behind him, Clark deserves a chance like anybody else to get booked into blues clubs across the states. No doubt a Friday or Saturday night audience would love this style of blues. Unless the man only does this as a part-time thing and has a steady day job. Maybe going on the road isn’t what he wants.
This journalist has never seen his name advertised. The greatest compliment that can be paid is remembering this name and catching this musician live at the nearest venue.
Review Gary Weeks is based in Marietta, GA.
Featured Blues Review 8 of 9
Cousin Harley - It’s a Sin
13 tracks - Total time: 38:26
Cousin Harley is a trio comprised of Paul Pigat, vocals, Gretsch guitar and steel guitar; Keith Picot, electric bass; and Jesse Cahill, drums. Their CD, It’s a Sin, is 13 tracks comprising seven vocals and six instrumentals, 11 of them written by Paul Pigat; one, track 6, “2 Bottles of Booze,” co-written by Pigat and A. McLaughlin; and one, track 8, “I’ll Keep My Old Guitar,” written by A. Hofner. In many ways this is quintessential Canadian blues of that paradigm type established by the Northern Blues label—extraordinarily virtuoso guitar music that bursts across all genre lines. This is music that frequently incorporates elements into one song that embrace one or more diverse genres in order to create a music that’s eclectic, but not syncretistic. The music of It’s a Sin is best described as based on what to Canadians would be South of the Border music: U.S. roots and pop music that, in this case, comprises blues, country, swing, rockabilly, jazz, and even square dance, 1950s rock instrumentals, punk, and even surf rock. An extraordinary potpourri, original songs put together out of these elements, musical edifices built out of the bricks of the U.S. musical heritage.
Recorded and released by Little Pig Records, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, It’s a Sin is a product of Canada’s vibrant West Coast music scene. It’s geographically, but not musically, distant from the more-established Canadian music of the eastern provinces of Ontario and Quebec. As the recordings released by Northern Blues have long demonstrated, Canada has many outstanding guitar and other stringed instrument players. Paul Pigat is definitely one of these—displaying not only a technical mastery of the electric and steel guitars, but also a felicitous sense of how to incorporate this virtuosity effectively into compositions both artistic and soulful.
Just to indicate the diversity of the musical influences found and combined on It’s a Sin, consider these thumbnail descriptions. From the opening cut, we have a punk-rock beginning that glides into rockabilly on the vocal “Conductor Man,” while the first instrumental, track 3, “Beaver Fever” is a felicitous, bouncy rag. The second instrumental featured, track 5’s ‘Ballad Of El Swartho,” connects the Latin-based basic melody elements with jazz and blues bridges. Track 12, the vocal, “Sweet Little Angel,” is straight-ahead Bob Wills-style country swing, and track 7, “Hoss’ Hoedown,” is a square dance tune played at frenetic speed. Its predecessor, track 6, the vocal “2 Bottles of Booze,” is modern blues that will recall the recordings of Stevie Ray Vaughan. Track 10, “Red Haired Baby,” is another “pure” modern blues, while the instrumental track 9, “Swingin’ Like A Mofo,” incorporates jazz, country and R&B into the blues. Track 11’s instrumental, “Spooks,” evokes horror-movie ghost sounds in a music that’s eclectic and vaguely Hawaiian. But swing elements predominate in track 2’s vocal, “She’s Comin’ Back.” Track 8’s vocal, “I’ll Keep My Old Guitar,” is a steel-guitar driven old-timey rag, and track 4, the vocal “It’s a Sin,” incorporates elements from early 1960s surf rock. The final track, the instrumental “Spaghetti No Sauce,” borrows substantially from late 1950s rock instrumentals as well as from surf music. All these tracks are played excellently and felicitously through incorporating both Gretsch electric and steel guitars in the instrumentation, with backup form bass and drums.
The lyrics to the vocals are just as felicitous as the instrumentation. It’s a Sin is a highly creative CD that guitar aficionados will love. It’s a Sin is further graced by excellent and roots-evocative graphic artwork on the back and front covers, the inside sleeve and CD tray, and on the CD itself.!
Reviewer George "Blues Fin Tuna" Fish hails from Indianapolis, Indiana, home of blues legends Yank Rachell and Leroy Carr. He has written a regular music column for several years. He wrote the liner notes for Yank Rachell’s Delmark album, Chicago Style. He has been a blues and pop music contributor for the left-wing press as well, and has appeared in Against the Current and Socialism and Democracy.
Featured Blues Review 9 of 9
Sweet Claudette – Shaking Up The Bucket
9 tracks, 52:31
Sweet Claudette has been called Detroit’s Matriarch of the Blues. In 2010 she was nominated for a Detroit Black Music Award, and was included in the Alabama Women of the Blues showcase. Sweet Claudette was born in Heflin, Alabama but her family moved to the Motor City where she and her band regularly take to the stages with their blend of funky and smooth urban rhythm and blues and jazz. Sweet Claudette is back with her first album since 2009’s That Man’s Got To Go.
Shaking Up The Bucket kicks off with the funky wah-wah guitar groove of the title song. Described in the liner notes as a song that “pushes the seat huggers to get up and shake it loose,” it easily meets that goal. Every member of the extensive band gets a solo turn in this revue style showcase. This is a hot band with three guitar players, brass, woodwinds, and keyboards as melodic instruments while the thumping bass and drums drive the groove. This is a formidable band that probably energizes crowds at every stop.
Shaking Up The Bucket has some new tracks and a handful of favorites like “Sending You To Man School” and “Ain’t Gonna Wash Your Dirty Clothes” from her previous records that are currently unavailable. The former has a smooth jazz sound with Sweet Claudette’s sultry vocals layered on top. She has definitely had some bad times with men and isn’t shy about calling them on their bad behavior. The surprise element of “Sending You To Man School” is the flute solo by Deblon Jackson. Her solo is part John Coltrane and part B.B. King and completely fresh and revelatory. It is a masterstroke in an otherwise average song.
“Crying Over The Same Man” has some tough and terse guitar riffs and the guitar players blend styles expertly to create rich textures. The horn flourishes punctuate the riffs and Claudette’s savory delivery elevates the track to unexpected heights. This song includes one of her more clever lyrics, with the phrase “wife-in-law” drawing a wry smile. The red hot guitar solos are fierce and furious making this track the high-water mark of energy on the album.
The disc ends with an extended jam on Jaco Pastorius’ “The Chicken.” It may seem like an odd choice for a blues band, but makes perfect sense in conjunction with the jazzy blues and R&B on the rest of the disc. The horns and flute get much of the spotlight on this track and deservedly so. The horn arrangements on the entire album expertly straddle the fence between supporting and propelling the music. With the number of musicians playing on the disc, there is a distinct chance the music could have become cluttered and cacophonous which is not the case on this CD. Every member accents the others and as a bandleader, Sweet Claudette allows her musicians room to express themselves. They are a cohesive unit working toward a united goal of making the best possible music.
It has been said that Sweet Claudette is to lyrics what Thelonius Monk was to the piano, in the sense that her lyrics are eccentric or quirky. Monk’s piano playing was often disjointed, atonal, angular, and abrupt. Unfortunately, lyrics are often diminished when they have these qualities and many of the songs on the album suffer in this way. Word choices are odd, rhymes often seem forced, and in songs like “Been There Done That,” the lyrics are trite. “Ford Taurus SEL” is a song in support of the auto-workers of Detroit and it praises one of their products, but it’s also supposedly a driving song. The liner notes say “If you love yourself some red-hot wheels, with an airy sunroof and wind whipping in your face, this one is for you” - that description is not encapsulated in a Ford Taurus; SEL or otherwise.
Beyond the lyrical idiosyncrasies, Sweet Claudette displays fine command of her voice and her style adds character to the songs. The band is tight and all throughout the disc there is a sense that this music would truly come alive on the bandstand. Until you get out to see Sweet Claudette, you can shake up the bucket at home with her latest CD.
Reviewer Jim Kanavy is the greatest guitar player in his house. He has been reviewing albums in his head for 30 years and in print since 2008, and is deeply committed to keeping the blues alive and thriving. For more information visit http://jimkanavy.com.
Not familiar with some of the 2011 nominees?
Hear music by these great artists NOW on WGLT's Blues Blast Awards Listening Site
Complete List of Nominees
Contemporary Blues CD
Traditional Blues CD
Robin Rogers - Back In The Fire
Eddie Turner - Miracles & Demons
John Németh - Name The Day
Damon Fowler - Devil Got His Way
JP Soars - More Bees With Honey
Buddy Guy - Living Proof
Bob Corritore & Friends - Harmonica Blues
Studebaker John's Maxwell Street Kings - That's the Way You Do
Charlie Musselwhite - The Well
Magic Slim - Raising The Bar
Song Of The Year
New Artist Debut Release
| Shake Your Boogie (Big Joe Williams) |
from Reverend Raven & The Chain Smokin' Altar Boys - Shake Your Boogie Still the Rain (Dennis Walker/Alan Mirikitani)
from Still The Rain- Karen Lovely
Living Proof (Tom Hambridge/Buddy Guy)
from Buddy Guy - Living Proof Don't Walk Away Run (Chuck Glass)
from Robin Rogers - Back In The Fire
The Well (Charlie Musselwhite)
from Charlie Musselwhite - The Well Almost A Memory by Wayne Russell
from Reba Russell Band - 8
| The Sugar Prophets - The Sugar Prophets Chris O'Leary Band - Mr. Used to Be |
Rob Blaine - Big Otis Blues Vincent Hayes Project - Reclamation
Matt Hill - On The Floor Peter Parcek - Mathematics of Love
Female Blues Artist
Male Blues Artist
|Teeny Tucker||John Németh|
Best Blues Band
Sean Costello Rising Star Award
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