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From The Editor's Desk
Hey Blues Fans,
Voting for the Blues Blast Music Award nominees ended at midnight last night with more than 6,500 votes cast. This is nearly twice the number who voted last year. Thank you for helping us recognize the best in Blues music!
The votes are being tallied and the winners will be announced at the 2011 Blues Blast Music Awards ceremonies on Thursday, October 27th, 2011 at Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago.
Tickets to the Blues Blast Music Awards are on sale on our website. Trampled Under Foot, The Reba Russell Band, The Nick Moss Band, Vincent Hayes Project, Rob Blaine & Big Otis Blues, Bob Corritore, The Sugar Prophets, Eddie Turner, Teeny Tucker Band, Chris O'Leary Band, Karen Lovely, Reverend Raven and the Chain Smoking Altar Boys, Tony Rogers and Rich Delgrasso & John Richardson have all indicated they will appear, plus we expect a few surprise guests also. It will be another GREAT show. Tickets to this historic event at the most famous Blues Club on the planet, are only $30! So get yours while you still can. To buy your tickets now, CLICK HERE or scroll down to see more information in our ad below.
Final Weeks Winning Voters
We drew six more weekly prize winners this week from those who have voted. Elizabeth Quinn and James Luizzo both won a copy of the new Shane Dwight CD, A Hundred White Lies. Julie Ward and Brian Tombaugh both won a copy of Robin Rogers' Back In The Fire CD, and Fiona Boyes and Ron Whitehead both won free Blues Blast T-shirts. Thanks to everyone who voted!
Good Blues To You!
In This Issue
New England journalist A. J. Wachtel has our feature interview with Chris Beard.
We have five CD reviews for you this week! Rainey Wetnight reviews a new CD from Kings Highway. Ian McKenzie reviews a new CD from The Terry Quiett Band. Gary Weeks reviews a new CD from Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Gene Rankin reviews a new CD from R. B. Stone. Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony reviews a new CD from Ron Hacker And The Hacksaws. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!
Featured Blues Interview - Chris Beard
Chris Beard - Prince of Blues
by A. J. Wachtel
The worst thing about being Prince of Blues must be dealing with the steady stream of know-it-alls and born skeptics who doubt your talent and credibility. In this opinionated world it sometimes gets difficult to separate the stars from the studio musicians. The best thing about being a member of the imperial elite must by waking up every morning and knowing that tonight's gig will allow you to mingle with the commoners and share an experience that transcends class and everything else. Read on and see how a member of the royal family lives the Blues.
Blues Blast: Tell me about your 2010 CD, Who I Am And What I Do. You have fellow sons of famous blues artists Ronnie Baker Brooks and Bernard Allison contributing to it on five of the twelve songs. Who are some of the other people who play on it?
Chris Beard: My new cd "Who I Am And What I Do" is about me and my music. The various styles of Blues that are incorporated in it and in my life. I wrote five of them and Ronnie co-wrote four of the songs on the CD. Me and Ronnie are great friends and I have the greatest respect for him as an artist. Ronnie is a great songwriter and that's why I came to him for his help doing this album. I with my life experiences and his knowledge and writing experience is what gives these songs their flair.
I hadn't written in years before this album: Ronnie gave me the push I needed to get started writing and the end result is what you get from two son's of Father's of the Blues. The song "That's The Way Love Was Meant To Be" by Bernard Allison I have always liked since I first heard it over ten years ago. Bernard and I are very close, like brothers so to speak. His father and mine were very close. I love his style and his father's work just blows me away. So I asked Bernard if I could record the song. I did a little a little re-arranging: added some horns and basically made it my own.
BB: How does it feel to be a member of the ultra-exclusive "artistic sons of well-known performers club" ?
CB: It is a great honor to be the son of one of the great blues artists of our time. Just like for me, as well as my friends, we have a responsibility to keep this music alive and carry it to the next level. Sharing our style of the blues with the world and also sharing our experience and knowledge and pass on what we've learned about this beautiful music we call the Blues.
BB: Your vocals have been compared to your family friend Johnny "Guitar" Watson-especially noticeable on Allison's ballad "That's The Way Love Was Meant To Be'. Tell me about Johnny's influence and who else you listen to for inspiration.
CB: I loved Johnny "Guitar" Watson. He was so cool and he had so much soul. He had the feel of the Blues from the old school but had a modern day feel with his music and had some great stories ! Others that have inspired me: Number One, my Dad with his traditional background and knowledge of the Blues has helped me out so much. I also loved the way Albert King played and his phrasing. His phrasing was off the hook. Man, Albert would be playing that guitar and it would sound like a rocket taking off at times. Luther Allison was so great. Way ahead of his time with his playing and the grooves and the beats he came up with in his music. Buddy Guy. There are so many great players that mold the blues to where it is today. But I must admit the funk and the modern feel that they all had has done the most with me. Along with Motown and all it brought to music. I incorporate it all into who I am and what I do.
BB: Your brother Duane is involved in alot of ways in your career. Does he see and hear things exactly like you or is it more a yin/yang relationship?
CB: Well A.J., as far as my brother goes, we grew up in the same house and both were exposed to the Blues at a young age. My brother is very talented and plays several instruments including guitar and keyboards. He also has a great voice. Like anyone else, I listen to what he has to say, listen to his suggestions and take what I need and leave the rest. My brother is also a great songwriter and wrote "After I Say I Do' the seventh track on my CD. My brother was the other ear i needed to complete the CD. He could hear what I could not and I was open to what he was saying. My brother was always more into r & b and funk then Blues so I took what knowledge he brought to the table and I mixed in what I already knew and it made what the world and my Blues fans are hearing today.
BB: What are some of the bands in Chicago you listen to and admire today?
CB: On the top of the list of bands I like and admire out of Chicago is Buddy Guy. He was and still is one of my mentors and one of the greatest guitarists of all time. He came up with the "great ones' and has learned from the best and I learn from him. Next there is the Brooks Family. First, there is Dad who is great in his own right with the different style of Blues he brings to the table. Then there's Ronnie and Wayne. Both have different styles but both are great and fantastic guitar players. They are like brothers to me. And both are great songwriters also. Then Little Ed Imperials with a very unique style of his own and a great artist himself. There's Rico McFarland and so many more great guitar players in Chicago it would take me all day to name them all.
BB: Your guitar playing is great and you have a unique and compelling voice. Your high-energy shows are legendary. You play guitar with your teeth too. What's the wildest thing you've ever done onstage?
CB: My show is all-inclusive. It's not so much what I do onstage as what I do off-stage. I'm audience driven and I make audiences part of my show. I walk in the crowd. I walk on the bar. I walk outside. I carry the audience with me as I play in the middle of the street on a good day when the weather is nice. I sit on women's' laps and sing to them. I get behind the bar and sip a coke with a straw while I'm playing. I do what feels good to me at the time.
I love to make the people happy and I love making my show different. The walk in the crowd thing goes way back to Guitar Slim's days. Buddy Guy does it. Albert Collins done it. I just add a little more flair to my show. I like to leave the audience excited they were there and had seen a great band and a great show.
BB: After your CD Livewire came out in 2005 you suffered a stroke and it took you two years to recover. What were some of the difficulties you faced and overcame and what role did your career as a Blues artist play as you got better?
CB: That was a crucial time for me when I had my stroke. The CD was released in May , 2005 and I had my stroke in June. I had to cancel a lot of show's, festivals and other dates. It was devastating for me; I had to learn how to read, write and talk all over again. My whole right side was paralyzed. The second day I was in the hospital my Dad brought me a guitar up. I couldn't do much but I tried and kept on trying. It took me about two weeks before i could even touch the strings with my right hand and even longer before I could really use my hand properly to strum. Or to hit the strings separately. I hired another guitar player and took him on the road a couple of months after I left the hospital because I wanted my music to remain the same: with lot's of guitar.
When I wasn't on the road I went to Occupational Therapy. I also went to a therapist that specialized in working with musicians. We have two leading music schools in upstate N.Y. The Eastman School of Music and The Hochstein School of Music. My therapist worked with musicians there and I went to therapy with her five or six times a week. I was determined to get it back no matter what anyone else around the country was saying.. Word was that I wasn't playing anymore and people were doubting my willingness and my will power. During the course of my recovery I remembered something my Dad taught me when I was young and wanted to play fast like some of the players I had heard. He said "take your time, the speed will come. Just take your time." Also, I remembered why I began playing in the first place. Making the guitar talk and say something with my phrasing and sending a message with my playing.
So since I couldn't play fast in any way after my stroke I concentrated on saying a lot with as few notes as possible and sending a message out and speaking my feelings through my guitar. If I don't feel it I can't expect my audience to feel it. I love playing the Blues and I feel it through and through. One last thing about my stroke. While in therapy, my therapist told me the only way I was gonna be able to do what I used to do was to just do it. So that's when I told the other guitar player I hired "thanks but no thanks" and that's when I let him go and began to force myself to play more. And I put so much pressure on my poor left hand that it was doing a lot of the work. I got tendonitis and had to get a cortisone shot and then surgery. It was all worth it so there you go.
BB: I've seen you play both Les Pauls and Strats. What's the benefit of using two greatly different sounding guitars to create your sound?
CB: That's an easy question to answer. I love both of those guitars. First, both guitars have a different sound and I may use a different guitar on different songs on my records. So I like to duplicate what is there. they are both unique in their tones but they both sound great. I have several guitars, some of them you may never see onstage but I use them in the studio. Sometimes I bring them all out but most of the time I travel I just bring four. Two Les Pauls and two Strats. One is a maple neck which gives off a bright sound and the other is a regular rosewood and that is the same on the Les Pauls. I usually have all my guitars customizeded to where I like them to sound. And I change pickups to get different tones. I love guitars but the feel is the thing.
BB: You've toured with your Dad, Joe Beard, and old family friend Matt "Guitar" Murphy. What's it like touring with your Dad? Competitive? Any great father stories like "tuck in your shirt" or "comb your hair" ? Any great music stories about growing up in a Blues household?
CB: I have a lot of stories about my Dad and the great artists that have been in my life. When i was five, I played my first song which was "Green Onions" (Booker T & The MG's). My mother overheard me and said to my father "Look Joe, he's playing". He wasn't amazed. He was like "the boy is five years old. he should have been playing when he was like three" until waiting until I was five. One of my memories of Luther Allison was the time he came to play in Rochester, NY where we live. When me and my father and Luther were backstage and he said "I'm gonna call you two up when I go back onstage and I want you to come up and play with me. So he called us up separately and he had a blue Lucille that is the B.B. King version of the Gibson 355 and he handed it to me and said "play the motherfucker", so I did. That is one of the great things I remember about Luther. He was way ahead of his times musically and a very nice man. I remember Matt "Guitar" Murphy staying at our house when he was in town and he would fall asleep holding the guitar and I would ask him why and he said to me "I practice all the time and the guitar has to become an extension of your body almost like it's part of you". Also, Dad is very traditional when it comes to his music. He's not too fond of chords in his Blues. He wants the rhythm guitar player to do the same as the bass. He likes it real simple. He's never going to change; we've tried me and my brother. I remember playing with my father and he would give me this look like "you know better than that". I seem to have the same look with my band when they do something they're not supposed to do onstage.
BB: I've read that your Dad told you early on "If you can do it with your mouth you can do it with your guitar". How true is this and how important?
CB: This is very true. If I listen to the song or what the guitar player is doing enough I can mimic it with my mouth and then it's inside of me and when I pick up a guitar I can then figure it out that way. Like Dad said, if you can do it with your mouth you can do it with your guitar.
BB: How strong and influential do you think the Chicago music scene is currently?
CB: I do believe that Chicago is very influential on the Blues today because it is where a lot of the Blues players were molded and came out of it. It truly is the home of the Blues. Great players come out of there and I love playing Chicago. I've played there so much I feel like it's a second home to me.
BB: How can your fans keep up to date with your life and career?
CB: My plan is a simple one: keeping the Blues alive, carrying it to the next level and putting Chris Beard into the history of this beautiful music. This has been passed down to me and someone has to do it. I stay in touch with my fans through my website www.chrisbeard1.com , facebook, myspace and whatever way I can.
BB: Any advice to young musicians trying to get their music heard in these tough economic times?
CB: I suggest this to all young musicians trying to get their music heard, try and get a record deal. They can also try using CD Baby , iTunes. If they really want some feedback send it to Bruce Igluger. i don't always like his methods but he's an honest man and will tell you the truth. Mostly, keep true to yourself and keep an open mind and be willing to learn. And if you stay out there, be seen- hard work pays off. Keep doing what you're doing and the audience will come. If you've got something good someone will want a piece of you. That is the way this world is : Write good songs that people can relate to and can put themselves in your music.
Interviewer A. J. Wachtel is a long-time entertainment journalist in New England and the East Coast who currently writes for The Boston Blues Society and The Noise Magazine. He is well known in the Boston and N.Y.C areas for his work in the Blues for the last two decades.
Featured Blues Review 1 of 5
Kings Highway - The Line
Rat Pak Records
10 songs; 45:20 minutes
Styles: Blues Rock
One would not expect a man with the name of Cedric D. Square to sing the way he does. Characterized as a “powerhouse vocalist,” his timbre is a querulous cross between a poor man's Stevie Ray Vaughan and Darius Rucker (“Hootie” from Hootie and the Blowfish). It's one of two notable aspects of Kings Highway's sophomore release, “The Line.” Its other one is the complete blurring of “the line” between rock and blues. Ordinarily, this would not bar an album from fans' collections, but here it might. Pure blues is a distinct genre, and connoisseurs know what musical arrangements constitute it. Do those of “The Line” qualify? It's up to listeners to decide. To Kings Highway's credit, all ten tracks are originals, written and arranged by its two brash lead guitarists, Michael Schultz and Mike Stone.
Not to be confused with central Illinois’ “King’s Highway,” this band was originally formed in 2008 by Schultz, drummer Tommy “Tomahawk” Purcell and Cedric Square in southeastern Wisconsin. The band released their self-titled debut album in 2009 and became an instant regional hit with their explosive live performances. Kings Highway took on a new dynamic in 2010 with the addition of noted guitarist and producer Mike Stone, before entering the studio to record this full-length effort. Bassist Guy Bazilewich recently joined the ranks, adding even more dimension and texture to the band's signature sound.
Surprisingly enough (or not), the best song on the album is its first one. An instrumental, “Giddy Up!” conjures images of not only the Kentucky Derby, but also the Indianapolis 500, in a listener's mind. Its galloping pace begins with “Tomahawk” Purcell's rat-a-tat drums and ends with a cliffhanging note. One honestly cannot tell where this song ends and the next one begins simply by listening. “I'm On Your Side” and the title track are slow ballads in which Square exudes the most emotion. They're persistent earworms, especially with the “la-LA-la-la-la” refrain on the former song. For a rip-roaring rocker that provides a bigger jolt than caffeine, check out the ninth selection: “I think I know what you need—what you need,” Square brazenly insinuates. “We're gonna make you shake and move; 'Tomahawk', will lay the groove. It's on! Yeah, it's on!” Square's vocals may be an acquired taste, but Kings Highway definitely toes “The Line.”.
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.
Thursday October 27th, 2011 Buddy Guy's Legends, Chicago, IL
Gina Sicilia, Matt Hill, Chris O'Leary Band, Vincent Hayes Project, Tony Rogers, Rob Blaine's Big Otis Blues
plus a few surprise guests!Advance tickets are $30 plus $3 handling. To get YOUR tickets now CLICK HERE
PLEASE NOTE: *Tickets are General Admission. Doors open at 5:00pm.
Seating is "first come first served". Show sold to SRO (Standing room Only) Get there EARLY for a seat! NO REFUNDS!
Want guaranteed seating right in front of the stage?
Buddy Guy's Legends has limited seating. With our Mini Sponsorship packages you can be sitting right in front of the stage to hear performances by the 2011 Nominees! Our Mini Sponsor packages include guaranteed seating, Blues memorabilia "Goodie Bag" and sponsor name listed in souvenir program.
Limited number of sponsorships available, first come first served! For more information CLICK HERE
Featured Blues Review 2 of 5
The Terry Quiett Band - Just My Luck
Lucky Bag Records
12 tracks - 49mins 53 secs
Terry Quiet and his band members hail from in and around Wichita, Kansas, but their music smacks of the delta, the east coat and the west coast all spun into an amalgam of delightful music. This is a CD that should grace the shelves of anyone claiming to be a fan of contemporary blues and blues rock. First let’s say that Terry is an accomplished and inventive axeman, who clearly has his soul firmly planted alongside the roots of the blues, but who has an edge on contemporary trends that make his work outstanding.
The CD is produced by Grammy-winning producer Jim Gaines (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Carlos Santana, Steve Miller Band, George Thorogood, Luther Allison, Albert Collins) and the band consists of Terry Quiett, vocals, guitar; Aaron Underwood, bass, backing vocals; and, Rodney Baker, drums. All the tunes are written by Quiett and range from the opener, "Karma" which comes with some augmented chords making it sound wonderfully jazzy. More jazzy feel from "Work For It" which has a strong George Benson feel to the axe work. On the other hand, "Big Man Boogie" has an attack that has the feel of the iceman, Albert Collins. Wonderful!
A change of pace and sound comes along with "Judgement Day", Quiett here on resonator and with a vocal that sounds steeped in Delta Blues and Gospel.. The next track, "Next up, The Woodsman" also comes with some resonator, but this one has has a doomy vibe and shortly morphs into a blues rock style with some searing guitar that Billy Gibbons or Warren Haynes would be proud of. The vocals here are a tad more country than blues, but IMHO, there’s nothing wring with that!
The closer, "Close To You" comes with a similar contemporary country sound and lyrics that will mean, without doubt, that the song will be covered before too long by some big name act.
In short, this is an excellent CD and it’s strongly recommended. It’s gonna get a good deal of air play, including by me. More please Mr Quiett!
Reviewer Ian McKenzie lives in England. He is the editor of Blues In The South (www.bluesinthesouth.com) a monthly flier providing news, reviews, a gig guide and all kinds of other good stuff, for people living and going to gigs along the south coast of England. Ian also produces and presents two (different) web cast blues radio shows; one on www.phonic.FM in Exeter (Wednesdays: 1pm Eastern/ 12 noon Central, 10am Pacific) and the second on KCOR (www.kconlinereadio.com) on Fridays at 12noon Central.
Blues Society News
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The Prairie Crossroads Blues Society - Champaign, IL
The Prairie Crossroads Blues Society will be holding its Blues Band Challenge on Saturday, October 22, 2011. This event will take place at Memphis on Main, 55 E. Main St., in downtown Champaign. Our winner will be heading down to Memphis, Tennessee to compete in The International Blues Challenge in January. If you think your band is up to the challenge, then you need to enter today! For more information about this exciting event, please visit our website at www.prairiecrossroadsblues.org.
The deadline for all bands to enter The Prairie Crossroads Blues Society Blues Band Challenge is September 20, 2011.
Colorado Blues Society - Boulder, CO
The Colorado Blues Society’s IBC Finals are coming up. On Sept 18, our IBC Solo/Duo Finals will start at 2 PM at the Boulder Outlook, Boulder, CO. We have 8 outstanding Solo/Duo acts. On September 25, CBS is holding our IBC Band Finals at the Buffalo Rose, in Golden, CO. Show starts at 2 PM and will include the 8 winners from our preliminary rounds. On Oct 23 we will hold our Youth Showcase auditions at the Dickens Opera House in Longmont, CO. Last year our S/D winners, Big Jim Adam and John Stilwagen made the Finals in Memphis while our Band entry, the Lionel Young Band, WON the Band Finals in Memphis. The CBS' entry was the Solo Duo Memphis winner in 2008, and winning BSPCD in 2010, so you can be sure there will be plenty of talent at all of these great events! www.coblues.com
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. Sept. 5 – Andrew Jr. Boy Jones, Sept. 12 – Mojo Cats, Sept. 19 – Rich Fabec, Sept 26 – The Sugar Prophets, Oct. 3 – Blues Deacons, Oct. 10 – Too Slim & The Taildraggers, Oct. 17 – Southside Jonny & Kicked to the Curb, Oct 24 – Bruce Katz, Oct. 31 – Studebaker John and the Hawks. icbluesclub.org
The Baltimore Blues Society - Baltimore, MD
The Baltimore Blues Society will present the 15th Annual Alonzo's Memorial Picnic, Sunday Sept 4 on the Grounds of the Rosedale American Legion. Headlining will be Debbie Davies. Also appearing are IBC winners J.P.Soars and Grady Champion, The local super group DMV Young Guns (Matt Kelly - winner of 2010 IBC Albert King Award, Robert Frahm, Rich Sampson & more) and Ramblin Dan Stevens. Guests can pack their own picnic coolers and BYOB. F&B is available on site. Music runs 1-830pm. Advance tix are $25/Gate$35. Send SASE by August 23rd to: BBS Tickets - Alonzo's, PO Box 4522 Baltimore, MD 21212 More info at www.mojoworkin.com BBS info line 410-744-2291
The Friends Of The Blues - Watseka, IL
2011 Friends of the Blues shows - Tuesday, August 30, Damon Fowler,7 pm, Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmen’s Club, 2672 Chippewa Drive, Bourbonnais IL (815) 937-0870. September 8, The Sugar Prophets, 7 pm, Kankakee Valley Boat Club, September 29, Vincent Hayes Project, 7 pm, Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmen’s Club, October 11, Too Slim & the Taildraggers, 7 pm, Kankakee Valley Boat Club, Friday, October 28, The Reba Russell Band, 8 pm, Kankakee Valley Boat Club,November 10, Ivas John Band, 7 pm, Venue TBA, December 1, Dave Herrero, 7 pm, Kankakee Valley Boat Club. For more info see: http://www.wazfest.com/JW.html
The South Skunk Blues Society - Newton, IA
The South Skunk Blues Society is pleased to announce a lineup that you will surely enjoy for the 19th annual Bowlful of Blues on September 3rd at Maytag Park in Newton, Iowa. Gates open at noon and the show will end at 10 PM. Bring your family and friends for an exceptionally enjoyable day of music. The festivities begins at 12:30 when Mojo Machine takes the stage. The afternoon will continue with the Jeff Banks Band and the Gary Gibson Group. It will conclude with double headliners: The Bel Airs and Andrew Jr. Boy Jones. Rob Lumbard will entertain between bands throughout the festival.
Tickets are $15.00 in advance and can be purchased at Zzz Records in Des Moines, Mattinglys Music and Hy Vee in Newton, The Music Shop in Grinnell or on line at southskunkblues.org Mark you calendars and plan to attend the 19th annual South Skunk Bowlful of Blues at beautiful Maytag Park on Saturday September 3rd, Labor Day weekend! southskunkblues.org
West Virginia Blues Society - Charleston, WV
The West Virginia Blues Society will be holding it's 5th. Annual Appalachian Blues Competition Oct. 22, 2011. The Blues Society will be sending two acts to Memphis, Tn. for the International Blues Challenge, Band Div. and Solo/Duo Div. If, you think your Act is ready to take the next step, then, this IS the competition to enter ! For Application and Rules contact Competition Director Jack Rice at, firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-389-1439.
Competition will be held at: The Sound Factory 812 Kanawha Blvd E, Charleston, WV 25301-2807 · 1 (304) 342-8001 Stay tuned for more info at, www.wvbluessociety.org
Cascade Blues Association - Portland, Oregon
The Cascade Blues Association, in celebration of their 25th anniversary, have released a compilation CD titled Puddletown Blues, Vol.1 that features selections from a dozen blues artists from the state of Oregon, or with ties to the state.
Most of the tracks are from live performances and only one has previously been released before. Artists included in this collection are Billy D & The Hoodoos, Boogie Bone, Duffy Bishop, Fiona Boyes, Hawkeye Herman, Kevin Selfe & The Tornadoes, Lisa Mann & Her Really Good Band, Paul deLay, Robbie Laws, The Strange Tones, Terry Robb, Ty Curtis Band and Woodbrain. This CD can be purchased on-line at www.cascadeblues.org.
Also, watch for our 25th anniversary concert happening on Saturday, September 17th at The Melody Ballroom in Portland, featuring performances by The Robbie Laws Band with special guest from Memphis Brandon Santini, Karen Lovely, The Lloyd Jones Struggle and Chad Rupp & The Ruppshakers.
Mid-Mississippi Muddy Water Blues Society -Quincy IL.
The MMMWBS is now co-hosting the "SMOKE ON THE RIVER BBQ & BLUES FEST" Sept 9th & 10th in Quincy's Kesler Park. A sanctioned KCBS BBQ Contest and Blues Festival, with 2 Bands on Friday (Blue-Eyed Soul and Dave Chastain) , acoustic Blues Saturday afternoon (Rich Berry), and 3 Bands on Sat.nite (BJ Allen & Blue Voodoo, Rockin' Jake, and The Reba Russell Band). Info for the event can be found at quincyblues.com
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
Featured Blues Review 3 of 5
Kenny Wayne Shepherd - How I Go (Special Edition)
17 tracks - Time: 75:43
On his last studio release in 2004, blues-rock guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd decided to go in a different direction. By taking over the majority of lead vocals and seeking mainstream acceptance, he puzzled and alienated his fan base. Surely a musician whose best playing cards was in the blues-rock formula didn’t want this game plan to happen.
In an attempt to rebuild his career, he wisely released the 2007 CD/DVD package Ten Days Out, a documentary capturing Shepherd playing with old masters of the blues, some of them now deceased. Live! In Chicago released last year continued the same momentum showcasing Shepherd jamming with legends such as Bryan Lee and Hubert Sumlin.
Now with the release of How I Go, Shepherd seems more intent than ever to return to the blues rock roots that were his claim to fame in the first place.
The biggest boost to morale is having long time vocalist Noah Hunt singing on many of the tracks. His deep throaty vocals have always been the perfect fit for Kenny’s driving guitar work. But it’s the choice of material that drags this record across the finish line.
Some solid covers are thrown into the mix. The Beatles’ “Yer Blues” certainly wallops a helluva slam more than the version originally released on The White Album. And although “Cold” sounds like a tune attempting to garner radio airplay acceptance, it’s still passable with Hunt’s impassioned singing. Opening cut “Never Lookin Back” is a good choice as any to open an album infused with the muscular blues rock that catapulted Shepherd into the spotlight when he was a teen-ager.
With a special edition cd featuring 17 tracks, there is some filler that could have been left off. While “Cold” is a rocking ballad, it sounds best suited for the MTV era of the 80’s. The best injection of energy is saved for “Anywhere The Wind Blows,” the roots rock cousin of “Blue On Black” that rocks its way into an ominous sounding “Dark Side Of Love.” The vibe gets amplified further in “Heat Of The Sun” with Shepherd wrenching emotional dripped notes seeking retribution from sin.
Enlisting his old song-writing team of Mark Selby and Tia Sellers, whose work was of great help on past albums, proves a god-send. Even better is having drummer Chris Layton, bassist Tommy Shannon, Stevie Ray Vaughan’s rhythm section play on the tracks.
Though the production can veer off into slickness that borders on overkill, Shepherd achieves a healthy balance on the material at hand. With How I Go, Kenny Wayne seems to be marking an evolution of how his music will progress from this time forward.
Of course when Shepherd tries his hand at the bluesier material he when we love him the most. You don’t find too many artists covering Bessie Smith. So when Kenny takes on “Backwater Blues,” he unveils an Elmore James spirit into his riffing that robs from “Dust My Broom.” And hearing “Strut” is the next best thing to Clarence Gatemouth Brown with its Texas signature beats.
This record would have been the logical follow-up to 1999’s Live On. At this juncture, Kenny encountered detours, personal and musical, that seemed to be derailing his career.
Seemingly Shepherd has resolved these issues. While How I Go may not be his strongest effort, it still contains some worthwhile blues-rock that makes you replay some of the tunes over and over. And if something like that is happening, then it’s indicative that Kenny is getting back on the right track. Let’s hope he can get on a roll and not take too long between releases from this point on.
Reviewer Gary Weeks is a contributing writer. He resides in Marietta, GA.
For those of you who are planning to come to Chicago for the Blues Blast Music Awards at Buddy Guy's Legends in October, we have some good news. We have negotiated a block of 25 rooms at a discount rate of only $139. Our official hotel for the awards is the Essex Inn located just around the corner from Legends. This block is available until September 15th, 2011.
It is a nice hotel within walking distance. Hurry though because there are only 25 rooms guaranteed at this rate. Get your reservation before they are gone.
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Featured Blues Review 4 of 5
R. B. Stone - Lonesome Traveler's Blues
Middle Mountain Records
R. B. Stone's more of a singer-songwriter than he is a bluesman, but this effort is made successful by a truly solid backing band, with excellent electric lead, slide, and National Steel guitar work.
The songs range from solid and tight to clichéd, with the balance to the "solid" side. The best are the lead-off tune, "Mississippi Woman" and "Man With A Minivan". The former is an ode to a hot mama, with strong vocals and harp and an excellent backing band, while the latter is witty, funny and makes much of not having the sexiest car in town. Equally good: the "Devil's Satisfied", chronicling the several ways down.
The weaker ones are "Fair Weather Friends" and the "Find Yourself A Fool", where the singer's lack of vocal strength and control show that a better singer could make far more of the tunes.
The guitar playing is top-notch throughout, but the harp-playing ranges from only competent to uninspired.
Stone's a damned good songwriter, and the backing band's superb. Get an equally strong singer and harp-player, and this stuff could well make the charts.
Reviewer Gene Rankin is a retired lawyer, a blue-water sailor, and a blues musician and enthusiast for over 50 years.
Featured Blues Review 5 of 5
Ron Hacker And The Hacksaws - Filthy Animal
As a mainstay of the San Francisco blues scene for umpteenth years, Ron Hacker has developed a greasy slide guitar sound equal to his greasy, weathered vocals. Seeing a line-up listing of guitar-bass-drums instantly makes me cringe as visions of hackneyed blues-rock bar bands dance through my head. Thankfully that is not the case here as Ron and co-horts adhere to a well-grounded gritty blues sound. Ron and crew know their way around a swinging blues groove. Veteran bass player Artis Joyce is there and every turn in the road, oft times providing a very melodic pattern. He served time with Charlie Musselwhite as well as many other blues outfits. Drummer Bryant Mills provides snap, crackle and pop as needed. The vocal approach on the cover tunes doesn’t mimic the original, rather Ron’s weathered blues voice fits like a glove, as if he wrote it.
Not a bum track to be found hereabouts, but I’m partial to the two associated with Howlin’ Wolf and one each by Mississippi Fred McDowell and Son House. He takes The Wolf’s “Evil” at a slower pace and shoots it full of some ominous sliding slide guitar. “Meet Me In The Bottom” starts life with some nifty stick work and proceeds as a pretty straight reading with the usual spot-on slide work. The Son House signature tune “Death Letter Blues” works more than just fine as an electric tune featuring and some nice, melodic bass playing. Hacker commits himself just as well on acoustic slide as witnessed on Fred McDowell’s down-home “Goin To The River”. The give-and-take duet between Leah Tysee and Ron on Memphis Minnie’s “You Gotta Move, Part 1” that kicks off the cd is seamless craftsmanship at its best. I’m liking Leah’s honey-soaked blues voice. The original “Bad Boy” benefits from some Debbie Davies stinging solos to compliment the stinging slide. His voice here just drips with world-weary sincerity. A Slim Harpo instrumental tune I’m unfamiliar with, “Gonna Miss You”, is a virtual showcase for more slithering slide. Come to think of it this record is a slide guitar lover’s paradise. The leader’s knack for writing originals that sound from back in the day is shown again on “Why”, a song of lost love. The excellent saxophone playing of Nancy Wright adds to the bar band vibe of the tune. “Filthy Animal (Chameleon)” is a band workout based on Herbie Hancock’s “Chameleon” that highlights the finger work of bass man Artis Joyce along with drummer Bryant Mills’ snappy drumming.
Records like this make a reviewer’s job easy and more enjoyable. It’s like an old and reliable friend or an old battered pair of slippers. It’s funky and raggedy in a perfect way. Ron’s gravel voice and gritty guitar tone mesh to create rockin’ blues goodness. The rhythm section does more than back him up, they add nuances so you hear new things at every new listening. And I for one will be doing much more of that.
Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony hails from the New Jersey Delta. He is the proprietor of Bluesdog’s Doghouse at http://bluesdog61.multiply.com.
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