© 2011 Blues Blast Magazine
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In This Issue
Terry Mullins has our feature interview with Wayne Baker Brooks. Marilyn Stringer has Part Two of a photo essay on the historic Blues event, Bluestock.
We have six CD reviews for you this week! Sheralyn Graise reviews a new CD from the Florida Folklife Collection. Rainey Wetnight reviews a new CD from Franco Paletta & The Stingers. John Mitchell reviews a new live CD from Peaches Staten. Jim Kanavy reviews a new CD from The Mighty Mojo Prophets. Mark Thompson reviews a new CD from Greg Nagy and Steve Jones reviews a new CD from Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!
From The Editor's Desk
For those of you who are planning to come to Chicago for the Blues Blast Music Awards at Buddy Guy's Legends on October27, we have some good news. The reservation deadline for discount rooms at the Official Blues Blast Music Awards Hotel has been extended one week!
We have negotiated a block of rooms at a discount rate of only $139 at the Essex Inn located just around the corner from Legends. The Essex has extended the deadline to book this block of discount priced rooms until September 22nd, 2011.
It is a nice hotel within walking distance of the awards show at Legends. Hurry though because there are only a limited number of rooms guaranteed at this rate. Get your reservation before they are gone.
Rooms are available at this discount rate for stays from Tuesday October 27 through Sunday October 30th so if you come to Chicago for the awards you can make a mini vacation out of it. You can to explore other famous Chicago Blues clubs, the Natural History or Science museums, The Shedd Aquarium, Navy Pier, The Sears Tower or other famous Chicago attractions. To book your rooms now CLICK HERE or call 800 621-6909 and ask for the Blues Blast Magazine discount rate.
Tickets for the awards are still available too. To get your tickets now CLICK HERE.
Good Blues To You!
Featured Blues Interview - Ronnie Baker Brooks
For as long as there’s been kitchens, parents have turned their children loose with a wooden spoon and an upside down pot, letting their young ones entertain themselves by striking pot with spoon, over and over again.
But for a young Wayne Baker Brooks, those free-form jams in the dining room with an assortment of kitchen utensils had a little more meaning to them.
They were song-writing sessions with his dad, Chicago blues legend Lonnie Brooks.
“Growing up, we would help dad write songs. Those were really my first lessons in song-writing – those times helping him,” said Wayne Baker Brooks. “He’d have me beating on a box or pots and pans with forks and knifes, playing the drums. And he’d have my brother Ronnie playing the bass lines on a guitar. Dad would sit there and say, ‘keep that groove right there. Don’t move.’ And he’d be thinking up lyrics as we played. And then he’d tell us where the turnaround was in the song. So in retrospect, that was my very first songwriting class, even though I didn’t know it at the time.”
While most of those pot-and-pan banging songwriting workouts with his dad resulted in fruit that was would soon find its way to one of Lonnie Brooks’ many releases on the Alligator Records label, the kind of fruit Wayne Baker Brooks harvests these days is a bit different than the traditional Chicago blues that his dad crafts.
And according to Wayne Baker Brooks, that’s by design.
“I could do an all blues album, 12-bar stuff, and probably get a lot of recognition just in the blues industry. And I’m fine with that,” he said. “But I’m influenced by a lot of other music outside of the blues. I grew up on everything from the blues to George Clinton, to Run DMC to Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. My dad introduced us to a lot of blues as babies. Actually, when we were still in the womb, he would put headphones on my mom’s stomach and that was our first introduction to music and the blues. I learned music by ear; I don’t know how to read music and I don’t know how to write music, except from the heart. I have to feel something in order for me to do something. It’s all about feelings and emotions for me. I can’t do anything that I don’t feel inside.”
And lately, that feeling inside has led Wayne Baker Brooks down a path that only a small number of artists have chosen to travel.
A path that has managed to span two wildly different worlds.
Released this past winter, the single “Something’s Going Down” is a fast and furious tune that takes a ghostly, bluesy vibe and melds it with some socially-conscious rhymes, and is underpinned by some old-school, soulful backing vocals.
Not his daddy’s blues, for sure.
“It (“Something’s Going Down”) is a unique, innovative blend of blues and hip-hop, with the legendary, multi-Platinum rapper Twista, Grammy Award winner GLC and the legendary blues harmonica player Sugar Blue,” Brooks said. “That single really helped the mainstream know who Wayne Baker Brooks is.”
Rap artists have long ago proven they are comfortable stepping outside of their normal zone and are routinely heard on a number of pop, rock and top 40 tunes these days.
But a big-time superstar like Twista free-styling over a blues track?
“Man, he absolutely loved it. I got another track with Twista on it and that kind of shocked me,” said Brooks. “I sent him two tracks so he could choose the one he wanted to work on. But he messed around and liked them both, so he did both of them. That lets me know that these youngsters do want the blues, but they just don’t know how to put them together.”
Fans of Mystery, Brooks’ 2004 solo release, shouldn’t fret about his dabbling in the world of hip-hop.
Because Wayne Baker Brooks sure hasn’t turned his back and abandoned the incendiary, guitar-driven blues that he cut his teeth on when he was growing up and gigging with his dad, along with Buddy Guy, Luther Allison and a score of other forefathers of the genre.
His latest single, “Changeling,” issued July 12 on Brooks’ own Blues Island Records, is proof positive of that.
“Oh, yeah. That was a song I recorded with Tom Hambridge, who has produced a host of others, like Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Shemekia Copeland and a lot of other big names,” said Brooks. “I’m so full of gratitude to be included on his producer’s list. That song is currently being picked up all over Canada and the United States right now, so it’s doing well. Those that knew me only as my father’s guitar tech now know I’m a major player in this industry.”
While he definitely has one eye on the future, with the way his music is composed to reflect our modern times, Brooks also has one eye turned on the past, taking a page out of the way the record industry used to do business – with artists releasing a series of singles before their long-player would ever hit the open market.
“I have 22 tracks finished and I feel like I can release a single every three to four months. And that seems to be working. I know people are waiting for a new album from me, but with the technology these days, it’s allowing us to bring back the old days,” he said. “If you look at the way hip-hop does things, they release mix-tapes, or even give away mix-tapes. People are so tired of buying an album and only liking one song on it. Nowadays, the people are only going to buy what they like - with iTunes and Amazon and Rhapsody and these other digital retailers selling singles – so I’m releasing the stuff that I think my audience will like. And that’s been working out. Not only are the people liking what I’m doing, the tastemakers are liking it, as well. And with this collection of singles, I have music for everybody. But the bottom line is, the audience is my boss. I listen to what the people want.”
And with the people digging the direction that he’s been heading in lately, Brooks is confident that following his heart is the only way to go, regardless of where that journey takes him.
“Well, each song I write is a part of me. I truly think that’s my strongest point –songwriting. I’m not looking to be a Jimi Hendrix or some singing sensation; I just love to write songs,” he said. “I want to be the best Wayne Baker Brooks that I possibly can be. I am trying to master the Chicago blues, but I also have this other side of me, where I would like to expand the blues. My whole purpose is to turn people on to the blues that know nothing about the blues. So I’m using that other side of me to grab that audience and say, ‘hey. This is where that music (popular) comes from.’ All American music comes from the blues and my purpose is to turn other people on to the blues. I’ve figured it out. That’s why I’m here.”
One heck of a busy dude, in addition to being a singer, song writer, guitar player and producer, Wayne Baker Brooks also owns a record label, is his own booking agency and manager, and he also owns his own publishing company.
But there’s yet another facet to Wayne Baker Brooks.
He’s also a published author.
Released in 1998, Blues for Dummies is 400 well-written pages that spotlights the founding fathers of the genre, gives insightful tips on how to listen to the blues and even tells the proper way to throw a juke joint-styled party.
Novices to the music, as well those well-versed in the blues, can all pick up a host of helpful information from Brooks’ book.
“That was an unexpected project. I came up with the idea and took it to IDG Books,” he said. “It was during the 1996 Chicago Blues Festival. It was the first time in seven or eight years that we didn’t have anything to do that weekend, so I went and hung out with a couple of my friends. And they were showcasing Muddy Waters’ house at the blues fest. So I walked into this shack that 17 people had lived in and I thought, ‘wow. This is the deep blues right here.’ But at the same time, I was so angry that they uprooted this man’s house to come and show people where he lived. I thought they would never do that to Elvis’ house – never do that to Graceland. Everybody knows who Elvis is, but everybody doesn’t know who Muddy Waters is. And that’s when I came up with the idea to write a book. People should know who Muddy Waters is. They shouldn’t have to uproot his house. People should go to Muddy Waters’ house just like they go to Graceland. So the next morning, I woke up and told my friends, ‘I’m going to write a book.’ And they laughed. I said, ‘I’m going to write Blues for Dummies,’ and then they really laughed.”
At that time, the … for Dummies series was red-hot. Taking advantage of that, Brooks found a willing publisher, IDG Books. After a meeting in a downtown Chicago restaurant that was full of businessmen in suits (“I was the only one in a baseball cap and jeans. I stuck out like a sore thumb,” Brooks said), he was given the green light to proceed. But in addition to coming up with the content for the book, he also had to come up with a blues historian and a blues legend to help verify facts and provide support when needed.
After a quick phone call to former Brownsville Station and noted lover of all things related to the blues, the late, great Cub Koda, Brooks had his historian on board.
And as for the blues legend? That shouldn’t have been hard to find with Lonnie Brooks sitting right in the living room, right?
Wrong, says Wayne Baker Brooks.
“I told dad the name of the book was Blues for Dummies and he said, ‘man, I ain’t going around calling nobody a dummy, dummy.’ I felt like I was on Sanford and Son for a minute and he was Fred Sanford calling (me) Lamont a dummy,” laughed Brooks. “But he said no, he didn’t want to do it. So I told him to just go to a book store and he’d see the … for Dummies series everywhere. It was a big brand. So he went to the bookstore and saw the series and came back and said, ‘man, I saw Wine for Dummies and Math for Dummies and Sex for Dummies ...’ So I said, ‘are you going to do it then?’ And he said, ‘hell no! I’m still not going to do it.’”
Faced with the prospect of throwing in the towel, since he had already promised the publisher that Lonnie Brooks would be the legend involved with the book, Wayne Baker Brooks nevertheless stayed the course and called John Lee Hooker, B.B. King and Robert Cray to see if they were interested in coming aboard.
They were. All three of them.
“They all graciously said they would love to do the book. So I thought, cool, I can choose any one of the three to be my co-author,” said Brooks. “So the next day, I went back to my dad and told him that I had talked to John Lee, B.B. and Robert and that they all said they would be involved in the project. And then he said, ‘for real? They said they’d do it?’ And after a quick minute, he said, ‘never-mind. I’ll do it.’ So (helped by a little peer pressure) dad got involved after all. So that’s how the book came about, how Cub Koda and my dad got a part of it. A lot of people at the time the book came out thought I was coat-tailing my dad and everything. They did not know that I actually came up with the idea, spearheaded it and got all those cats involved with it. That was one of the best times of my life, man.”
Even though his calendar stays filled with the projects that he’s concentrating on as a solo artist, Wayne Baker Brooks still makes sure to leave enough open time to take the stage with Lonnie and Ronnie, treating blues fans worldwide to the real-deal as a part of the Brooks Family Band.
“We just did a very successful mini-tour up in Canada and we’re looking to do a lot more,” Brooks said. “A lot of people know who my dad is and in the last decade or so, they’re learning who me and my brother are. But playing with my dad and brother is just so much fun. We’re all going to find time to make this happen a lot more these days.”
Not only does it give the Brooks kids an opportunity to spend time with their dad, the Brook Family Band gives Lonnie a chance to just focus on nothing but just playing the blues.
“The whole purpose of doing the Brooks Family Band is so my dad can relax,” Brooks said. “The only thing he has to do is turn on his amp, grab his guitar and get up there and turn the people on. So the role between Ronnie and I is to just let dad have fun and not have to worry about the stuff he has to when he’s running his band. We have a lot of fun when we do the Brooks Family Band and we plan to keep on doing it.”
Not content to just lay back and wait for people to discover the healing power of the blues on their own, the way Wayne Baker Brooks sees it; it’s his duty to personally help lead the un-initiated to the wonderful world of the blues.
“Blues music gets a bad rap. It’s usually associated with being down, sad and depressed. It has a negative name. But I look at blues music as an oxymoron,” said Brooks. “Because when you hear blues players play blues music, it’s joyous. You get up and dance and move around and get rid of your blues. But youngsters can’t seem to associate blues music with being a positive. But I truly believe that while blues was derived from hardships, it was a way to make people get over those hardships. That’s why blues is appreciated worldwide. When you listen to the blues, you tend to forget about your own blues.”
And if those efforts require the use of hip-hop - or other forms of popular music – to turn newcomers on to the blues, Brooks is more than willing to get involved on that level, as well.
The way he sees it, getting people to embrace the blues might help solve this country’s health-care crisis.
“I know it’s going to take me a long time to get the mainstream to appreciate what I’m doing, but if I could gather someone with a big name – like Kayne or Jay-Z – and get them in the studio, man you have no clue how many blues followers we’d have after that record,” he said. “I’m dying to do something like that. And the reason why is to turn more people on to the blues. That’s needed more than ever now. People are so eager these days to go to the doctor or the physiatrist or spend all this money on pills, when all you’ve got to do is go and support your local blues band. You’ll have a good time AND forget all your problems. That’s why those Blues Cruises are the biggest thing out there now. You’ve got a whole week of just listening to the blues and having a damn good time. Those people have found that one week of the blues is worth 52 weeks of therapy.”
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 6
Blues Music from the Florida Folklife Collection - Where The Palm Trees Shake At Night
Various Artists - 17 tracks
Florida Blues has been documented since the late 1920s. Of course, it existed before ethnomusicologists documented it. In 1978, the North Florida Folklife Project reexamined and documented performances throughout the state. The tracks on Where The Palm Trees Shake At Night were recorded from 1977 to 2002. The recordings were made in Florida but all of the musicians are not necessarily Floridians. But, all perform in the Piedmont tradition, like Cephas and Wiggins.
The CD has been produced and mastered however; all of the recordings have been preserved and are available to the public without enhancement at the State Archives of Florida. What does this mean? It means that it is free. One can access the recordings or obtain a complimentary copy by contacting the State Archives of Florida at www.floridamemory.com/collections.folklife/audio.cfm for a free download.
Outside of Miami, Florida must be in a time warp. Although the tracks were recorded from 1977 to 2002, the CD sounds more like the earliest documented music. That is, it sounds more like the 1900 to 1920s. I was around and listening to music in the late 1970s. It is not like anything I heard in Northeast Ohio in that time period.
Much of it has to do with the majority of the musicians were elderly at the time of the performances and are playing in a style that predates the era. But then, whoa, in one of the oldest sounding tracks, “Apple Farm Blues,” Mose Williams mentions a snow mobile. Double whoa! A snow mobile in Florida at that! The one standard that I am familiar with is “Key To The Highway,” which withstands the test of time. My favorite tracks are “Step Up A Little Bit Bigger” by Sammy Lee Williams and “Have To Pay The Cost” by Johnny Shines.
So, if you enjoy Piedmont picking and barrelhouse piano or better yet, if you have deep roots in Florida, then obtain Where The Palm Trees Shake At Night.
Reviewer 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 2 of 6
Franco Paletta & The Stingers - Can’t Kick Love
9 songs; 38:22 minutes
Styles: Swing Blues, Chicago Blues
Franco Paletta and the Stingers will remind die-hard fans that the blues has different flavors. While one artist plays Piedmont-style and another Delta-style, the Stingers’ particular flavors are Swing and Chicago-style blues in their hot debut release, “Can't Kick Love.” As a sorbet is delightfully cool on the palate, “Can't Kick Love” will refresh listeners with its suaveness, originality, and commitment to catchy songs! Each selection has been written by Paletta and arranged by the band—a welcome change from nothing but covers. Accompanying Franco’s vocals and harp are bassist Timmer Blakely, electric and acoustic guitarist David Ward, and drummer Jon Beyer. Together with keyboard guests Steve Kerin and John Soller, they make a formidable “swarm.”
The Stingers have their home base “hive” in Portland, Oregon, “buzzing” around to local venues and even planning future trips to Washington. In 2007, lead singer Paletta won the “Journey to Memphis” competition and had the honor of representing the Cascade Blues Association at the International Blues Challenge.
Here's a question for music fiends: Is it a mistake for a band to perform a song on an album that almost completely upstages the title track? In this particular case, this reviewer answers, “Heck, no!” The first number, “I Can't Stand It,” does exactly this. It's a maelstrom of guitar, harp, and boogie piano by Steve Kerin, sucking listeners into its swirling vortex of energy. It won't bring one down, however. On the contrary, it will spring one UP onto the dance floor! Then, the second cut, “Love Me One More Time,” with Paletta’s resonant vocals and killer harp cements the idea that this CD is a winner.
Want to relax a little? Check out “Pretty Senorita” with a spicy tang and chromatic harp. Try the upbeat sing-along hit “Crazy 'Bout You Baby.” This CD ends with as much of a bang as the one it started with, as proven by its final track, “Baby Won't Let Me Ride.” It's a tongue-in-cheek lament about a horse—supposedly—and a “real strong man, now, [who] just can't be denied.” Once blues fans stop smirking, they'll start playing air guitar on the galloping solo in the middle of the song!
Overall, “Can't Kick Love” simply kicks! According to the band's website, they are as yet unsigned with a record company. That's a shame, because Franco Paletta and his Stingers definitely deserve to be.
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 - Bluestock - Part Two
1st Annual Bluestock - August 26-28
Hunter Mtn Ski Resort, Hunter, NY
Beginning on Saturday, the Hunter Mtn area, along with Tannersville & Wyndham NY received more than 12 inches of rain over the next 24 hour period. The bridge that crossed the river leading up to the resort was closed. Those of us at Hunter Mtn. were trapped on Sunday and we eventually lost all power. But in the true spirit of the blues family we made the best of it.
Saturday started early for Robert Cray and Buddy Guy. But in the true spirit of all bluesman, they were happy to play whenever Steve needed them. Buddy was working on his coffee but neither one of them seemed impaired by the early hour or sunlight. Robert started out the sets with Tony Braunagel on drums, Richard Cousins on bass, and Jim Pugh on the keyboards, and sang to perfection.
Buddy was Buddy – smiling and playing to your heart. Ric Hall always rocks! Half way through the set, out came 12 year old Quinn Sullivan and blew the crowd away. He played note for note with Buddy, sang with the maturity of a seasoned bluesman, and left everyone wondering how a 12 year old can generate that much talent.
That ended the outdoor festival and the indoor dueling stages began. All the bands put on their best shows, filling in for other performers as needed. Shakura S’Aida’s drummer & bass player backed up
Albert Cummings – his band couldn’t make it for Saturday. In order of performances were (and to keep this article short):
Ronnie Baker Brooks
Curtis Salgado Big Band
Moreland & Arbuckle
Tommy Castro Legendary Blues Revue with Deanna Bogart, Joe Louis Walker, and Rick Estrin
Alexis P. Suter Band
Port City Prophets
Mitch Woods’ Club88 played well into the night and thinking we would see them the next day at Villa Villosa, we braved the storm and headed back to the hotel. But unless you were on that side of the torrent river, you didn’t get to go on Sunday.
Radio host Terance Slagle (The World of Blues) gave us a quick look at the raging storm. Later that afternoon we all headed down to the lobby, and listened to the fully acoustic sounds of Kirsten Thien and Pat Pepin, later joined by Jimi Patricola and Kit Holiday, powerless in the storm.
By 4 pm the rain and wind were howling, the power was gone and soon the only light was from my camera flash. But the final treat of the night was when Steven Simon showed up, peeled back the piano cover, quieted the noisy crowd and gave us a beautiful song on the piano and clarinet, accompanied by Jersey Dave on the harmonica. It was truly the brightly burning candles on the icing on the cake.
Steve’s wave goodnight was accompanied by his ironic thought “This is first festival that no one can leave from!” not that anyone wanted to…..
Next year – four days & no hurricanes!!
(We who attended this festival saw first-hand how much love and commitment the Simon brothers have to the blues & music community and we are all extremely grateful for what they accomplished! Thanks from everyone who was there!)
Marilyn Stringer is a noted photo journalist and frequent Blues Blast Magazine contributor. For more of her photos visit MJStringerPhoto.com.
Thursday October 27th, 2011 Buddy Guy's Legends, Chicago, IL
Trampled Under Foot, Reverend Raven And The Chain Smokin' Altar Boys, Karen Lovely Band, Eddie Turner, Bob Corritore,
Rich Del Grosso & John Richardson, Peter Parcek The Sugar Prophets, Teeny Tucker, Reba Russell Band,
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 begin as low as $250 for two people and include guaranteed seating, Blues memorabilia "Goodie Bag", limited edition event poster, limited edition Blues Blast Awards T-shirts and sponsor's name listed in the souvenir awards program.
Limited number of sponsorships available, first come first served! For more information CLICK HERE
Featured Blues Review 3 of 6
Peaches Staten – Live At Legends
9 tracks; 58.58 minutes
Peaches Staten started out by getting up to sing at Rosa’s Lounge where she was working as a waitress. Positive crowd reactions encouraged her to branch out and over the intervening years she has established herself on the Chicago scene as well as touring in Europe. Peaches has a powerful voice and also plays washboard from time to time. This was the last CD recorded live at the old Legends (23 May 2010), many of the tracks coming from an earlier independent release entitled “Time Will Tell”. Of the nine tracks, four are originals, the rest coming from the likes of Alberta Adams and Chico Banks, as well as covers of “I’d Rather Go Blind” and “Bad Case Of Lovin’ You”.
Peaches’ band The Groove Makers is made up of veteran players in other Chicago bands: guitarist Mike Wheeler and bassist Larry Williams play with Big Ray & Chicago’s Most Wanted as well as Big James’ Chicago Playboys; drummer Cleo Cole also plays with The Playboys and keyboard player Brian James is another of Chicago’s Most Wanted. Swississippi label boss Chris Harper sits in on harp on four cuts.
The CD is superbly recorded and the vocals are crystal clear. Most of the tracks are extended, giving plenty of space for the musicians to demonstrate their mastery of their instruments. The album opens with a pair of original tunes. “Long Distance Phone Call” is a catchy opener with strong organ and guitar solos at its heart. Peaches is missing her man and is determined to speak to her man, even if it is at 2.00 a.m.! “Don’t Rush Me” is a deeply soulful tune which gives us plenty of opportunity to hear Peaches’ voice at close quarters – Peaches says at the end of the tune that “it’s always nice to have some space”. This is a lovely tune riding on a cushion of gentle keyboards and sympathetic backing vocals.
Chico Banks wrote “It Must Be Love” for Mavis Staples and you can see how the song would have worked for Mavis but Peaches makes it her own. The keys provide something of a horn arrangement for the song, Mike Wheeler’s wah-wah adding drama to the tune. Chris Harper joins in on the next tune, another original entitled “Gotta Find My Man”. This one is definitely in New Orleans style, with the washboard busy alongside the keys and drums keeping your feet moving all the way through. I can imagine that the dance floor must have been full for this one on the night!
“I Know You Love Me Baby” is introduced by Peaches as being by Tina Turner though is credited on the sleeve as being BB King and Saul Bihari’s “You Know I Love You” – I think that I will take Peaches’ statement as the accurate one, as I can certainly imagine Tina singing this in her earlier days. No matter, Peaches’ version is a stomper, with Chris Harper’s harp to the fore. The cover of “I’d Rather Go Blind” is the longest track at over 10 minutes and opens with a spoken introduction, asking the audience about being really in love before the song we all know so well starts for real at about two minutes in, sparsely accompanied by just piano and guitar before the rhythm section joins in. The band supports Peaches brilliantly throughout, from the subtle guitar and piano fills at the beginning to the excellent extended solo that Mike Wheeler provides in the middle of the song.
For those who, like me, know Moon Martin’s “Bad Case Of Lovin’ You” from Robert Palmer’s version, Peaches’ interpretation will be something of a departure as most of the rock elements of Palmer’s version are stripped away in a much funkier approach. More strong guitar and synth horns push this one along. The final original in the set is “Hole In The Wall” an uptempo stomper which appears to be about Peaches preferring to leave home improvements to others! Mike Wheeler conjures up another stirring guitar solo and Chris Harper returns for this and the final tune, “Keep On Keepin’On” which Peaches introduces as an Alberta Adams song, though here it acts as a vehicle for all the band members to take a bow and a short solo - a solid, uptempo closer to the set.
This was my first opportunity to hear Peaches Staten and I was impressed. She has a powerful voice, but never seems to force herself into the hoarse/growling tone that some female blues singers appear to find necessary. Her band for this date was exceptional and the recording is excellent – a CD well worth investigating.
Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music and is currently planning his trip to the Blues Blast Awards in October.
Blues Society News
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Triangle Blues Society - Raleigh, NC
Triangle Blues Society is proud to announce that the 2011 TBS Blues Challenge will be held on Saturday, October 1, 2011 in downtown Raleigh, NC at Volume 11 Tavern 658 Maywood Ave. Raleigh, NC. This is a qualifying event for the Blues Foundation's International Blues Challenge (IBC)) in Memphis, TN. Winners in the band and solo/duo categories will be eligible to compete in the IBC (Feb. 1-4, 2012). The TBS Blues Challenge is a professionally judged competition open to North Carolina blues acts. For more information and tio download an application, visit our website at www.triangleblues.com
Blues Society of Western PA - Pittsburgh, PA
On Sept 17 the Blues Society of Western PA presents Helping the kids Lose the Blue starting at Clarion Hotel, 401 Holiday Drive. Pittsburgh,PA .$25 at door. Blues members of any society $15. Includes food and band...Ms. Freddie and Blue Faze. All proceeds go 100% to helping “at risk” kids.
On October 22 also at the Clarion Hotel, 401 Holiday Drive, Pittsburgh, PA The Blues Society of Western PA presents Blues Goes Pink- Divas Return Show from 1 pm – 9 pm. $12 to public, $10 to all blues members from any society. All proceeds to benefit Adagio Health to provide breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings for underinsured women in Western PA. For more information visit Blues Society of Western PA at www.bswpa.org or call 724-378-8926
The Windy City Blues Society - Chicago, IL
The Windy City Blues Society is proud to announce the 2011 Chicago Blues Challenge (CBC). The CBC is a series of musical competitions that will determine which blues band will represent Chicago and The Windy City Blues Society at the Blues Foundation’s 2012 International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis, Tennessee. Once again we will be holding three distinct competitions: Band Competition, Solo/Duo Competition, and the Youth Showcase. Proceeds from the CBC events will be used to underwrite the expenses incurred by the musicians that win the final round of competition and move on to Beale Street in Memphis, TN.
The Chicago Blues Challenge will be held on Sundays in September and October culminating in the Finals in November. Venues will be announced shortly. Applications for performers that wish to participate in the Chicago Blues Challenge can be found on the Windy City Blues Society Website - www.windycityblues.org.
Band Application Deadlines - For September dates applications must be postmarked by September 19th For October & November dates only, applications must be postmarked by October 3rd. Solo/Duo & Youth Showcase Application Deadlines - Applications must be postmarked by September 30. The Chicago Blues Challenge Finals will be held Sunday, November 13.
For more information about the Windy City Blues Society and the Chicago Blues Challenge please visit www.windycityblues.org or visit our Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter Sites.
The Golden Gate Blues Society - Redwood City, CA
The Golden Gate Blues Society presents The International Blues Challenge – Fourth Preliminary Round, Sunday, September 18, 2011, 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm at Biscuits and Blues, 401 Mason Street, San Francisco, CA, Performers: Delta Wires, Eddie Neon and Mari Mack & Livin’ Like Kings. For more information visit www.tggbs.org.
San Luis Obispo Blues Society - San Luis Obispo, CA
Upcoming Events - Ana Popovic headlines the season opener for the San Luis Obispo Blues Society on Saturday, September 24 at 8:00pm at the SLO Vets Hall (801 Grand Avenue). The Cadillac Angels open the show. Tickets are $17 for Blues Society members and $20 for the general public. All tickets are sold at the door. SLO Dance offers free dance lessons at 7:30pm. 21 and over, please. For more information, call 805/541-7930 or visit our website at www.sloblues.org. The San Luis Obispo Blues Society presents seven dance concerts a year. Other upcoming concerts include Sista Monica on October 29 and Kim Wilson’s Blues All-Stars on December 3.
The Decatur Blues Society - Decatur, IL
The Decatur Blues Society will hold their annual Blues Challenge on Sept 24 at the Bourbon Barrel, 1355 N Route 48 in Decatur IL. A band and a solo/duo acted will be selected to represent Decatur Blues Society at the International Blues Festival in Memphis Jan 31-Feb 4. Entry information and entry forms are available at www.decaturblues.org. Entries must be postmarked by Sept 10. Contact us at email@example.com with any questions.
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. 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 Friends Of The Blues - Watseka, IL
2011 Friends of the Blues shows - 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
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.
Featured Blues Review 4 of 6
The Mighty Mojo Prophets – The Mighty Mojo Prophets
13 Tracks, 45:22
The Mighty Mojo Prophets have released their self-titled first CD and at first listen it is reminiscent of fellow west coast blues bands like The Paladins and Little Charlie & The Nightcats. But to call them a West Coast Blues band would be an injustice to this California combo. They may have a foot firmly planted in the soil tilled by Big Joe Turner and T-Bone Walker but they reach far beyond the Golden State to Texas, Chicago, the Mississippi Delta and beyond.
Guitarist Mitch Dow gets some classic Elmore James tones and harp-man Alex “Lil A” Woodson explores the sounds of Little Walter, James Cotton, and fellow west coaster Charlie Musselwhite. Vocalist Tom “Big Son” Eliff delivers his vocals in a casual manner exuding style and confidence that his Mojo is working just fine and the rhythm section of drummer Johnny Minguez and bassist Scott Lambert are adept at keeping things moving from sea to shining sea.
Their songs, mostly written by Eliff and Dow, are succinct but pack a lot of top-notch playing into the short spaces of time. In fact, each tune could be considered a time capsule in the sense that they each capture a moment that is both of an era and timeless in the same instance.
Opening with a brisk shuffle that could have been born in Chicago in 1951 or Austin, Texas in 1981, they’re off and running with “Evil Sometimes.” “Friday Night Phone Call” could be a Saturday night fish fry or high school hop with guitar licks reminiscent of Bill Haley & The Comets over the swing of Louis Jordan. “Life’s A Hurtin’ Thing” could be a Jimmy Smith or Jimmy McGriff organ trio tune or a Mighty Flyers vamp, and album closer “Travelin’ Man” captures the lonesome train station blues of the Delta where the Southern crosses the Dog and a sorrowful harp blows like the wind of discontent.
Mitch Dow gets extra miles with some raspy slide guitar on “Night Train” while Woodson blows the Mississippi saxophone announcing the departure for parts unknown. Eliff sings with the sorrow of a man deserted at the station, scorned by love, a lover, and life. It is a shining moment where all their talents come together with profound results.
Guitarist Mitch Dow also gets time to shine on his jumping instrumental “Da Switch.” He mixes up the tones on his guitars with the rhythm guitar slightly distorted and drenched with reverb while the solo guitars vary from crisp and clean to icy cool like Albert Collins. Again, it is a short tune that comes on, says what needs to be said and gets out. It is an exercise in restraint that owes as much to Jimmie Vaughan as it does Freddie King. Dow uses the spaces to let this and many other songs on the album do some breathing and we’re all the better for it. His riffs convey notions, emotions and motions without being overbearing or too busy and Tom Eliff’s smooth singing is always bolstered by the band. They play for the song, making each one count.
Alex Woodson plays some lowdown harp on “Hoodoo Lover” while Eliff’s vocals work their spell on the unsuspecting object of his affection. In songs like this, “Evil Sometimes,” “Night Train” and others, Eliff captures the spirit of old blues lyrics without sounding trite or hokey. Musically, stylistically, and lyrically this new band captures the essence of the old and offers a contemporary adaptation of their influences. Hopefully this disc is the first of many for this Long Beach area band.
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.
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 22th, 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.
To book your rooms now CLICK HERE or call 800 621-6909 and ask for the Blues Blast Magazine discount rate.
Featured Blues Review 5 of 6
Greg Nagy - Fell Toward None
In sports, there is a commonly used term known as the “sophomore slump”. It refers to an athlete who has an impressive rookie season but fails to come close to matching that level of performance in their second season. A young athlete can find it difficult to deal with the higher level of expectations and added attention that comes with from exceeding expectations in the first season.
Greg Nagy certainly seemed to be positioned to fall victim to the dreaded curse. His first solo recording, Walk the Fine Thin Line, garnered a nomination for a 2010 Blues Music Award in the Best New Artist Debut category in addition to getting plenty of critical acclaim. But fear not – on his new project, Nagy further develops his intoxicating blend of musical influences into a distinctive sound that is brimming with confidence.
Opening with a tune from the Freddie King catalog, “Pack It Up”, Nagy offers plenty of his expressive vocal style and cutting guitar licks while the Motor City Horns – Keith Kaminski on tenor & baritone sax, Mary Byerly & Bob Jensen on trumpet,John Rutherford on trombone - add some punctuation to the arrangement. The rousing tempo on “Wishing Well” serves as a launching pad for a wah-wah soaked guitar solo from the leader while the rhythm section of Jim Shaneberger on bass and Kevin Depree on drums never waver in their support. Nagy and Jim Alfredson, now part of the Janiva Magness Band, were members of the group Root Doctor out of Lansing, MI. Alfredson's original ballad, “I'll Know I'm Ready”, is a highlight as Nagy delivers an emotionally charged vocal over Alfredson's sensitive keyboard accompaniment.
The funky run-through of “Can't Take It No More” is another strong performance that echos the Root Doctor legacy with Nagy burning up his guitar fretboard on his closing solo. The Nagy/Alfredson tune, “Still Means the World to Me”, finds Nagy crying out his heartache over an unfaithful lover that he just can't let go. The horn section pumps up the arrangement on “Be With You” and Nagy responds with a soulful vocal that makes this track another highlight.
Two cuts feature the leader with just the rhythm section in support. “Facebook Mama” is a Nagy composition that finds him adopting the Stevie Ray Vaughan effects-laden guitar sound on a tune that takes a witty view of the social networking phenomenon. “Here Come My Baby” is taken at a rapid pace with the leader again demonstrating his impressive guitar skills. The brooding title track closes the disc. It expertly combines blues and soul into a haunting number that Nagy sings with just the right amount of tension and longing.
There are a number of musicians that have successfully blended some of the best elements of blues, soul and R&B music. You can add Nagy to the list with John Nemeth and Tad Robinson. He is on a roll and shows no sign of slowing down. One listen to this fine recording will be enough to convince you that Greg Nagy has manged to avoid the “sophomore slump” and take his artistry to a higher level.
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 6 of 6
Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers - Almighty Dollar
Rod Piazza has been featured on over two dozen CDs and has appeared on so man more. Born in 1947, he's been around and played now longer than the guys that mentored him. So what can we hear that is new and different, with a fresh sound to it?
Well, this CD qualifies! A couple of the recent Mighty flyers' recent CD's seemed a little repetitious to me. Their live performances always amaze me, but some of the recent CDs have been good but not truly great. However, after hearing this one, I must truly say that Rod, his quartet and his friends have created a very hot, tight and fresh sounding CD. I enjoyed this one from top to bottom!
In addition to his band this CD features guitarist Rusty Zinn, seasoned bluesman Johnny Dyer, bassists Hank Van Sickle on upright and Norm Gonzalez on electric bass, and saxophonist Jonny Viau. They blend well, and Dyer's vocals on his tracks add a nice dimension and contrast. Zinn is a special guitar player, but I also have a warm place in my heart for Piazza's regular axeman Henry Caravajal who is always stellar. Wife Honey on keys is always steady and great, and Dave Kida is a rock on the drums.
The title track is a testament to the current times. It swings and rocks in that West Coast bluesy sounding way that Piazza has perfected. "Move Out Baby" opens the CD, and Rod, Honey and the band just let is all hang loose with this really jumping tune. "Ain;t No Business" is of course an old vaudeville blues classic with a very nice, new coat of paint on it; Piazza sells this one with his laid back vocals and Honey's keyboard playing is also up to the task.
Every track here is a good one; top to bottom this is an excellent, well-done CD with great tracks you will want to listen to over and over again. Highly recommended!!
Reviewer Steve Jones is secretary of the Crossroads Blues Society and is a long standing blues lover. He is a retired Navy commander who served his entire career in nuclear submarines. In addition to working in his civilian career, he writes for and publishes the bi-monthly newsletter for Crossroads, chairs their music festival and work with their Blues In The Schools program.
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