Cover Photo © 2011 Marilyn Stringer
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From The Editor's Desk
Hey Blues Fans,
We have confirmation of a couple more artists coming to perform at the 2011 Blues Blast Music Awards on Thursday, October 27th, 2011 at Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago. Matt Hill and Peter Parcek, both nominees in the New Artist Debut category will be there. That means that all six of the nominees in that category will be joining Trampled Under Foot, Gina Sicilia, The Reba Russell Band, The Nick Moss Band, Bob Corritore, Eddie Turner, Teeny Tucker Band, Karen Lovely Band, Reverend Raven and the Chain Smoking Altar Boys, Tony Rogers and Rich Delgrasso & John Richardson for another GREAT show. To buy your tickets, CLICK HERE or scroll down to see more information in our ad below.
You can help sponsor this great Blues event!
If you have been to Legends before you know they have a great club but seating is limited. You can get guaranteed GREAT seating and much more with our mini-sponsorships. These include seats right in front of the stage to catch all the great music of this great celebration, a Blues goodie bag with event t-shirts, event posters and much more. Plus you will be helping us continue in our on going mission of recognizing the Best in Blues music! To find our more CLICK HERE.
Another great Blues celebration next weekend
Blues Blast Magazine will be attending the big celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the Rhythm Room in Phoenix, AZ next weekend. Club owner, Blues musician, record producer and radio DJ, Bob Corritore, has extended a gracious invitation and we could not turn down attending this three day celebration beginning on September16.
Over that weekend some of the great artists they are having include Tommy Castro and Robert Cray on Friday night, Bob Corritore & His Blues Friends with Mud Morganfield, Bob Margolin, Diunna Greenleaf, Dave Riley, Billy Flynn, Barrellhouse Chuck, Mookie Brill, Johnny Rapp and Brian Fahey on Saturday and Hans Olson, George Thomas & The Flamekeepers, Hoodoo Kings Tribute, The Rocket 88s With Johnny Rapp, Big Nick &The Gila Monsters, Long John Hunter, Tommy Dukes Blues Band and much more on Sunday.
Visit www.rhythmroom.com for more information.
Good Blues To You!
In This Issue
Terry Mullins has our feature interview with Shane Dwight. Marilyn Stringer has Part One of a photo essay on the historic Blues event, Bluestock.
We have five CD reviews for you this week! Rainey Wetnight reviews a new CD from Fruteland Jackson. John Mitchell reviews a new CD from Richard Ray Farrell. Jim Kanavy reviews a new CD from Barry Levenson. James "Skyy Dobro" Walker reviews a new CD from Shane Dwight. Steve Jones reviews a new CD from Vince Agwada. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!
Featured Blues Interview - Shane Dwight
When it finally hit Nashville bluesman Shane Dwight, it hit him harder than a ton of bricks.
Deep into the tracking for his latest album, A Hundred White Lies (R-Tist Records), Dwight was so overcome with emotion that he just couldn’t keep the floodgates closed any longer and they burst wide open, right there in the middle of Rock House Studio.
“On one of the songs, I broke down and just cried like a baby. And my producer, Kevin (McKendree) went, ‘Jesus, man. About time.’ Because he’d listened to all these lyrics and said, ‘this is the most personal stuff I’ve ever heard someone record. For you not to get choked up this whole time … it’s about time. Thank you!’” said Dwight.
One of the hardest things to do has to be when artists cut themselves wide open and stand there exposed, letting the whole wide world take a gander at things a lot of us would never dare discuss privately, much less display in a public forum.
In Dwight’s case, his soul-baring was centered around a nasty divorce he went through with his wife of 13 years.
“Yeah, I was with the same girl for 13 years – we were both barely out of high school when we married – and if you listen to the record, you can pretty much hear what happened in its entirety,” he said. “The whole story. The big, convoluted, dramatic, could-have-been-a-television story detail of the events that led to my divorce. It was really horrible. I know that’s not the first time something like that has happened to somebody, but if you listen to the lyrics of the songs, you can see what I went through. It was really just a circle of pain.”
The nature of those raw lyrics couldn’t help but have a profound impact on McKendree, as well. Not only did he produce and play keyboards on A Hundred White Lies, he was also Dwight’s next door neighbor and had a ring-side seat as much of the material on the album was being birthed in real life.
“We lived right next door to them. We had dinner with them, spent Christmas with them, and they (the McKendrees) loved my wife,” Dwight said. “So when it all came down … it was really hard.”
While the nature of such material must be uncomfortable to put down into words on a piece of paper, for Dwight, writing about personal business is just the nature of the beast.
“There’s a double-edged sword there. On one hand, it’s easy to write about things like that because you know what happened – you’re not making it up,” he said. “On the other hand, it’s hard to write about such painful things because they really did happen to you. But I’m not a very good storyteller in the sense that I have a hard time making things up. I tend to write about what I know about, stuff from personal experiences, whether it’s about having a good time or about heartbreak. I envy artists that can completely create a scenario and write about that. I kind of speak more about stuff that happens to me, or around me.”
Dwight first crossed paths with McKendree when he relocated to Nashville from California, although it was a couple of months before the two actually met, even though they were living right next door to one another.
“I had lived there about four months and one of my other neighbors said, ‘there’s another musician that lives right next door to you. He plays with some guy named “Delbert.’” I go, ‘Kevin McKendree is my next-door neighbor? You gotta be kidding me,’” laughed Dwight. “And so we ended up meeting and becoming friends.”
The “Delbert” in question is of course Delbert McClinton, McKendree’s longtime employer.
In addition to McKendree on keyboards, the rest of Dick 50 - Rob McNelley (guitar), Lynn Williams (drums) and Stephen Mackey (bass), also play on A Hundred White Lies.
And according to Dwight, those cats sure know their way around the inside of a recording studio.
“Well, Delbert’s band has been playing together for years and they have their own way of doing things. The joke of the sessions became, ‘what are YOU going to play? Ha, Ha.’ We just kind of drew up the songs, talked about the feel of the song and then said, ‘1-2-3, go,’” he said. “We literally didn’t do more than one or two takes of each song. It’s mostly just the band playing live and then I went back and did vocal and lead guitar takes. It’s a very spontaneous, very reactionary recording. No one planned anything, really.”
And it’s obvious that Dwight is extremely happy with the end results of those sessions, no matter how personal and painful they may have been.
“It’s probably my best-sounding record, because they’re such great musicians,” he said. “But what’s really a pleasure to hear, is that it still sounds like one of my CDs. I just trip out - completely different cast of players, completely different vibe, but yet it still sounds like one of my CDs, it still sounds like me. It didn’t sound like me superimposed over something else; it really sounded like me, which was a pleasant surprise. I’m really proud of it. I did all my early demos for this project with Malcolm Bruce – Jack Bruce’s son. He was living in Nashville, too. The group of people that was involved in this project was really amazing when you think about it. Malcolm Bruce, Bekka Bramlett, the McCrary (Ann, Regina, Alfreda) Sisters … Kevin, Dick 50 … everybody. Really cool.”
Over the course of the past decade, Dwight has earned the reputation of being a first-rate guitar player and has spent a good chuck of that time on the road, playing anywhere and everywhere he could. He’s also issued six albums and one DVD, Live from the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise, during that span of time, meaning that you’ve got to be on the ball to keep up with the ever-busy Shane Dwight.
Born in San Jose and raised in nearby Morgan Hill, Ca., Dwight’s journey to the altar of the blues started out fairly innocently.
“What’s funny is I fell in love with the blues without really knowing the stuff I liked was the blues,” he said. “My parents listened to a lot of country and blues and old rock-n-roll, so I heard a lot of that as a kid. When I started listening to my own kind of music – harder rock and even metal - when I was about 17 years old, I started to realize that the stuff I liked was the bluesier side of that music. Even the metal. And when I started playing guitar, I started digging deeper and doing the research that everyone does and came to the realization that everyone does – all this music came from the blues. So I started delving deeper and deeper into the blues.”
That archeological expedition led Dwight straight to the doorstep of Bay Area legend John Garcia.
“Before I knew it, I was studying (guitar) with John Garcia who lived in the small town of Gilroy, not far from when I grew up in Morgan Hills. And he had played with (John Lee) Hooker for about 10 years. Matter of fact, when all the big stars like Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry would come to California, his band backed them up. He played with a lot of greats - everybody,” Dwight said. “So I started taking guitar lessons from him and he started feeding me all the good stuff. He’d go, ‘oh, if you like that, then you’ll like this.’ I’d show up for a half-hour lesson and would end up hanging out for two hours. He made me all these great mix tapes with all these wonderful blues recordings. He showed me the ropes of what the real-good blues were.”
Dwight took that knowledge and ran, crafting together the Shane Dwight Blues Band, quickly developing into one of the West Coast’s hottest purveyors of the blues. In a nod to Garcia’s old boss, the group’s first album was titled Boogie King, with the title track serving as a tribute to the late, great Hook.
Paying back what Garcia had gifted to him, Dwight soon became a sought-after guitar instructor himself, showing a whole new generation of young players where the likes of Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix got their inspirations from.
“It was awesome, man. When they get it, they really get it,” he said. “It was amazing to see some of them at such a young age, sponge it up so quickly.”
While he immensely enjoyed teaching guitar at the School of Blues in San Jose, after a while, that workload also began to take its toll on Dwight.
“There was a moment when I touring, doing shows and had 40 students,” he said. “And I was working seven days a week. I did that for about three years straight and I just burnt myself up real bad. So when I got to Nashville, I just decided to concentrate on being an artist for awhile. I was just a little too wound-up working all the time, so I had to kind of back off. But I really miss the kids.”
Dwight’s move from the Bay Area to Music City wasn’t part of some grand scheme – rather, it just happened kind of naturally.
“I just kind of fell in love with the city, to be honest,” he said. “I was just ready to live somewhere else for awhile. And I was talking to Rick Booth at Intrepid (Artists International), who I’d just signed with and he said, ‘if you’re going to move anywhere, you should check out Nashville.’ So I went there and I was hooked. I just loved the music scene and the house prices, especially compared to Silicon Valley. But I just fell in love with the place. So we just picked up and went – never looked back. There’s just a great community of music people here.”
With each album he releases, Shane Dwight inches one small step closer to carving out his own identify, his own niche, within the world of the blues.
And if things go according to plan, A Hundred White Lies may turn out to forgo those small steps for a giant leap forward, with Dwight having no plans to slow down anytime soon.
“I spent a lot of time learning how to play Albert King and Albert Collins and Son House and Robert Johnson and Muddy and Hubert and Stevie Ray note-for-note. I wanted to understand how they got their sound … I was just so enthralled with all the blues greats,” he said. “And now, I’ve kind of taken that influence and the country influence and the rock-n-roll influence, the R&B – I’ve taken all that stuff and tried to infuse those into my own thing. I’m just trying to play the stuff that comes to me - I’m not trying to be this or that. For me at this point, I’m trying not to mimic what people have done in the past, like I was in the beginning. I’m trying to trust my instincts and I hope that people will dig that.”
For Dwight, the absolute bottom line is all about crafting the songs that he plays.
“I love writing music, that’s probably my favorite thing to do,” he said. “I love to perform and will always be a junkie for getting up on stage, but I really love writing music. I hope that starts to shine through and people will come to be aware of my writing. I’d love to write for other people, as well as write my own hit songs. I’d really like a Gold record. At one point in my life, I’d like to be able to sit back and look at that thing (gold record). And I want that only because that means that I’ve affected that many people in a good way. That way I could look back and say, ‘I had the same affect on people that all those great artists that I listened to had on me.’ That would make me happy.”
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 5
Fruteland Jackson - Singing the Blues with Stories Vol. 1
“The Life and Legend of Robert Johnson”
“Stewball – The Blind Racehorse”
IT Records #IT004
2 stories; 1 song; 30 minutes
Styles: Spoken Word with Sound Effects in 2 Blues Stories; 1 Blues Ballad (song)
In the days when diversions of the Digital Age were fanciful dreams, sagas and tall tales were king. Stories not only kept us entertained, but in some cases, kept us alive. When there was no Facebook, there was fiction. When LinkedIn did yet exist, legends did. Fruteland Jackson, three-time Blues Music Award nominee for Best Acoustic Album and Best Acoustic Artist, feels the importance of stories deep down in his bones, especially as they relate to his favorite genre. In Singing the Blues with Stories, Volume One (available only by digital download), Fruteland combines two of his favorite anecdotes with a mesmerizing ballad in the middle. Three tracks plus one song equals magic!
“Many, many years ago, a very famous horse race took place in Dallas, Texas between a common, ordinary gray farm horse named Stewball, who was matched against two of the fastest thoroughbred racehorses in the world...” So begins Fruteland's narration of “Stewball, the Blind Racehorse”--an inspiring yarn that rivals that of Secretariat. “Big Red” may have had a heart that was twice as large as a normal horse's, but according to this tale and the following acoustic blues rendition, Stewball bested a mare, Molly, and a stallion, Wild Bill, minus sight in two eyes! Even if listeners “sneak a preview” of the song before hearing the ten-minute story, they will exhort its hero along with Fruteland, “Run, Stewball, for Molly's gone!” In “The Life and Legend of Robert Johnson,” Jackson combines fact with legend into a spooky sixteen-minute suspense-fest if ever there was! Fruteland's voice was digitally engineered when he portrayed the character of the Devil, so listen closely (if the shivers don't come first!)
Fruteland Jackson has been involved in storytelling most of his life in one way or another. During his grammar-school years, he wrote and read short stories aloud that made his classmates laugh! He first experienced a professional storytelling in the 3rd grade while at the public library. He was intrigued and fascinated by the visuals created in his mind by the storyteller. He discovered that his grandparents and uncle were natural storytellers without the formal title. Throughout his career as a musician, he has visited classrooms presenting Blues in the Schools programs and storytelling.
“Be careful, young man, what you ask for”--so the snake doctor warned Robert Johnson. Asking for two fantastic stories done in mesmerizing style? You'll certainly find them here!
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 One
1st Annual Bluestock - August 26-28
Hunter Mtn Ski Resort, Hunter, NY
For eight months blues fans were excited and looking forward to attending the 1st Annual Bluestock Festival in Hunter, NY. Steve & Jeff Simon, promoters, had a vision to combine Woodstock with the Blues Cruise and put on the biggest land festival and party the blues has seen. People were coming from far & wide and “ Every contingency was planned for” said Steve Simon, “every contingency except a hurricane.” But with the impending weather and the recent stage mishaps at Ottawa, Indiana, and Belgium, safety was top of the list. Staying in constant contact with the weather bureau, highway patrol, and all government agencies that could direct them, they still pulled off a spectacular festival. They set up the festival in the rain on Thursday, the sky dried up for Friday night’s lineup, and by the end of the Friday evening performances the next two day’s lineup had changed. Robert Cray & Buddy Guy were going to play back to back Saturday at noon and 1:30. While they played all the vendors moved their booths inside the ski lodge, two indoor stages were set up, and at 3:00 everyone headed indoors just as the rain began to drizzle down. According to Steve, they reverse engineered how long it would take to take down all the stages before the sprinkles turned into high winds and torrential downpour from the approaching hurricane. All the campers were moved into the basement of the ski resort – everyone pitching in to help each other. It all went without a hitch. All the performers that had made it there shortened their sets and played back to back on Saturday – only two bands – Zac Harmon & Ty Curtis didn’t make it. Sunday was cancelled.
The entire process was brilliant! 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. The Sunday Jam at Villa Vosilla down in Tannersville continued with those staying there. And the lobby at Hunter Mtn became the gathering place for the rest of us. We were cut off from the other side of the road. We had a jam later in the day with Kirsten Thien and friends long after it was pitch black in the building, stairways, and rooms. Monday brought us blue skies, no power, and the roads were washing away, preventing many to return home. I caravanned out across partial roads and made it to the ALB airport. Many weren’t so lucky. Last I heard Mitch Woods was still at the New Villa Vosilla Club 88.
Friday was a gathering of the friends who still decided leave their eastern seaboard homes and those of us who flew in from somewhere. The stages were set up side by side, with no break in the music, the concept being that your seat was good for all music, and stages looked out at the chair lifts & mountain.
Opening the festival was Lionel Young Band. Lionel was the winner of the 2011 IBC – Band, and the only person to also win the individual IBC in a previous year. He plays electric violin and guitar and his band is multi-talented. He puts on a great show and ends it with an a capella version of “Bring It On Home To Me” that should be performed at every venue he plays for – make sure you request it! His band includes: Kim Stone-bass, Dexter Payne-sax/harp, Jay Forrest-drums/vocal, Andre Mali-trumpet.
Next up was Bob Margolin & Matt Hill. They are a great combination of styles – “Steady Rollin’” and Melon Squeezin’ Belt Snappin’ Matt. And in the true nature of the Blues Cruise, guests are always welcome. Bob brought up Richard “Rosie” Rosenblatt on harmonica, then Chris O’Leary joined in on vocals/harmonica, and joining the band for a few final numbers was Lionel Young. Chuck Cotton kept the beat going on drums.
With the sun starting to set, Trampled Under Foot, kept the pace high. Opening the set was Nick Schnebelen’s solo on the drums & guitar. He was then joined by siblings Danielle and Kris. They are a cruiser favorite and added more fans after their performance.
Tab Benoit and Johnny Sansone brought the New Orleans Cajun blues to the stage. He is always great!
As soon as Tab finished his set, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Ave hit the stage and true to form never dropped a beat or an ounce of the energy level. I have seen them a number of times and what really caught my attention was the amount of energy expended by the drummer & percussionist throughout the entire set and how they stay in perfect synchronization yet moving so fast. Trombone Shorty is someone who should never be missed if he is anywhere near you.
The final outdoor act was Elvin Bishop. What can I say about Elvin other than he is a classic who just gets better every time I see him. And the band is just the best. Being from the SF Bay, we get to see them perform quite often, but when they get together with Elvin, it is always a favorite. Band: Bob Welsh-guitar, Ed Earley-trombone, Bobby Cochran-drums, Ruth Davies-bass, Steve Willis-keyboards/harmonica/accordion. And special guest was Tab Benoit. Who could ask for more?
Being long past midnight, Mitch Wood’s Club 88 was already in full swing inside the ski lodge. Mitch, along with Billy Gibson & Dave Fields, had the “piano bar” jamming in full swing. When I finally arrived (being the last person in the pit for Elvin), Tony Braunagel was just stepping down from the drums to be replaced by Tab Benoit, Rosie was on harmonica, Petey Hopkinson on guitar, Johnny Sansone & Shakura S’Aida starting singing duets, Bob Margolin on guitar, and so it went on into the wee hours of the morning.
Thus ended the first day of this historic event as the area buttoned down for the coming of Hurricane Irene. Next Week- Part Two Bluestock survives the Hurricane!
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 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
Richard Ray Farrell – I Sing The Blues Eclectic
Blue Beet 2011
12 tracks; 44.40 minutes
I had never heard of Richard Ray Farrell before receiving this CD for review but some internet searching reveals that he was born in 1956 in Niagara Falls, NY. He headed off to Europe after high school and started busking in Paris in 1975. He lived in Spain, then Germany, working with local bands and backing visiting Americans including Frank Frost and RL Burnside. He played in a band with ex Mothers Of Invention drummer Jimmy Carl Black before moving back to the States in 2001 to the Philadelphia area where he plays in an acoustic blues duo and has released two previous CDs on his own Blue Beet label.
On this new CD Richard handles all vocals, guitars and harp, with Mike Lampe on upright bass, Ira Kaye on drums and Bill Heid on keyboards. Guests include Marco Pandolfi on harp, Brian Cox on sousaphone and Mark Magnani on washboard, each guesting on two tracks each. A trio of backing singers assist on the final track, “Ride That Freedom Train”. The CD was recorded in Newtown, PA and consists of entirely original material by Richard, who also produced the album. One other interesting detail is that the sleevenotes include a note from Dennis Walker who knows a lot about making great records with Robert Cray and pays fulsome tribute to his friend Richard’s talents.
The CD opens with the low notes of the sousaphone on “Ol’ Man Blues”, a back porch blues with plucked acoustic guitar and harp. Across the CD there is a wide variety of styles, so I imagine that Richard placed this track first deliberately, rather than the more obvious choice of track two, “Cherry On The Cream”, an electric tune that is really catchy: “I got a woman, she’s so cute, for her there ain’t no substitute” is the opening line. The piano on this track is excellent and Richard gives us a nice plucked solo in T Bone style. “Bad As You Wanna Be” features guest harp player Marco Pandolfi on a fast-paced shuffle that bounces along before another shift in styles to solo acoustic slide on “Memphis Bound”. On a tune that recalls “Can’t Be Satisfied” Richard recalls some of his European experiences: “Had a little girl up in Stockholm Sweden, she gave me everything I was needin’, but I just couldn’t quit that travelling bug”. The first time I have heard Sweden and needin’ rhymed!
“Starting Over Again” moves the musical focus again, this time Richard conjuring up the spirit of the classic soul sounds and doing a great job. His vocals are pitched just right, the piano and Hammond underpin the tune and his guitar solo is right in line with the sounds of Memphis. Hearing “Listenin’ To The Fallin’ Rain” without the benefit of the CD cover you might think that this was a new John Hiatt record. The tune opens with some lonesome harp, twinkling piano and warm bass but it is Richard’s vocal that is the star turn here: “Tell me how you doing these days? Are you living with your folks in the country, are you back in LA? Do you ever get lonely, does it bring back the pain when you’re standing by your window listening to the falling rain?” are the final lines of this superb song.
A more bluesy approach follows on “Leisure Man” with more strong harp playing by Marco Pandolfi, the lyric telling us that Richard is “100% signifying, known throughout the land”! “Steady Eatin’ Woman” adds a touch of humor with its tale of the girlfriend who is eating Richard out of house and home yet never seems to put on any weight: “If there’s one thing you got, darling, that’s appetite. Burgers and fries, pancakes by the stack and eight times a day you’re ready for another snack.” A mid-paced shuffle with nice piano and more T Bone style guitar from Richard. “Little Suzie” takes the pace up a notch with the story of a girl who likes to dance.
“Sweet Dreams Of You” is a relaxed affair, the double bass and brushed drums starting off the tune before Richard’s warm vocal and the featured piano playing of Bill Heid come to the fore on a tune that has more than a hint of jazz in its styling. In contrast “Skitchin’”is an instrumental feature for Richard’s guitar playing, the drums driving the tune along at a fast pace. Final track “Ride That Freedom Train” brings the album to a close with a touch of gospel.
The title of the CD (not to be confused with the 1970s Weather Report album of similar name!) indicates that Richard Ray Farrell intends to demonstrate his versatility and that is certainly achieved here. There is a lot to enjoy here across a wide spectrum of blues and roots music.
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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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. 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 - 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.
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
Barry Levenson – The Late Show
15 Tracks, 77:20
Barry Levenson is a producer, arranger, studio musician, and live performer. He is originally from Pittsburgh, studied music in Boston, and currently works in Los Angeles. He’s played with Big Mama Thornton, Canned Heat, and Lowell Fulson. He’s been around the geographical and musical block a few times. This becomes evident in the first few minutes of his new CD.
The disc begins with “Riley’s Shuffle/Blue Tears” which despite the title sounds more like Freddie King than the fabled Blues Boy. It also shows that Levenson has an affinity for the Lone Star State, throwing in licks reminiscent of other famous Texans like Albert Collins, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown and Jimmie Vaughan. Levenson’s sweet Stratocaster tone even conjures hints of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s gentler moments as this Texas barn burner settles into the smoldering second half. The “Blue Tears” portion of the track features some delicate fretwork and shimmering tones worthy of Jeff Beck and Roy Buchanan.
The funky R&B strut of “Whole Lotta Blues” brings the music of Memphis through Detroit, on to Chicago O’Hare and flies it out to sunny California. One of a handful of vocal tracks on a mostly instrumental album, “Whole Lotta Blues” features Mary Williams’ smooth voice singing a chorus that perfectly sums up the disc: “For a little bit of money you get a whole lotta blues.”
The Late Show seems to be a metaphor for a variety show on the old late night TV line-ups when there were only three channels and half the sets were black & white and the rest were pieces of furniture big enough to solve the homeless problem. There had to be something for everyone. With Levenson’s Late Show, listeners get something for and from everyone. Levenson’s “bits” showcase the styles of Muddy Waters on “One For Muddy,” the cool sounds of Albert Collins permeate much of the album but he gets a standout homage on “Turn Up The A.C.,” the New Orleans funk of The Meters gets the Buddy Guy treatment on “Meters Runnin’,” and The Late Show closes with a sublime tribute to Grant Green on “Green Is Blue.”
Such direct emulation can often be hamfisted but Barry Levenson pulls it off with aplomb. He has his own style and is a supremely skillful instrumentalist who manages to blend the music of his heroes with his own, creating something fresh that nods to the past but keeps a firm hold on the present and future. Not only is Levenson a remarkable guitarist, he is also a gifted writer. Blues instrumentals can often be used as an excuse to show off, play fast, dazzle for a few minutes, lose focus and fizzle out altogether. 64th notes are exciting but you can’t really hear them all. Barry knows this and has constructed instrumentals with a variety of styles, all with lyrical melodies that’ll you’ll want to sing. Some trick you into hearing phantom syllables like words that dangle on the tip of your tongue, slightly out of reach of your brain but there none-the-less. “Rush Hour” is fine example of this phenomenon where Levenson combines minor key blues ala Otis Rush with a little Fleetwood Mac via Santana. The melodies carry the familiar pieces to an epicenter of deconstruction where something new and ethereal emerges.
Levenson uses his considerable skills as an arranger in an inspired way offering a fresh approach to music that is now a century old. The Late Show indeed offers something for everyone, from the virtuoso instrumentals, gospel infused blues, Chicago stomps, and Texas shuffles to the jazzy vamps and vocal highlights including longtime collaborators Johnny Dyer and Finis Tasby. The Late Show is a nearly complete experience. The only thing missing is the color test screen and a slightly off-key horn ensemble playing a horribly loud version of the National Anthem as it goes of the air. .
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 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.
To book your rooms now CLICK HERE or call 800 621-6909 and ask for the Blues Blast Magazine discount rate.
Featured Blues Review 4 of 5
Shane Dwight - A Hundred White Lies
12 songs; 49:57 minutes; Suggested
Styles: Roots Rock, Soulful Americana, Rock and Roll, Jazzy Rhythm & Blues, Contemporary Blues, Blues-Rock, Alt-Country
When it comes to seasonings, the three basics are salt, pepper, and Nashville. Nashville has added flavorings to songs by diverse artists from Bob Dylan to Neil Young to Delbert McClinton to, now, Shane Dwight. Originally from California, Dwight is now a Nashville resident, and his seventh studio CD is loaded with a little more twang in the guitar, a slight drawl in some vocals, and a whole lot more vocal harmonies and melody in the mix.
Born on the East Side of San Jose in Morgan Hill, California, Shane Dwight, over the past 10 years, has performed over 2,000 live shows, released seven CDs, been a repeat performer on the Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruises, and performed at some of the biggest music festivals around the world. Yet, he has flown under the radar of many Blues fans who know him by name only. That’s about to change!
Moving to Nashville three years ago brought mixed results. On the plus side, Shane signed a record deal, enrolled with a major booking agency, and became connected with top-notch managers, producers and musicians (Delbert McClinton’s crew on this CD).
On the down side, it put a huge stress on his marriage. Constant touring and road separation from his wife proved to be too much, for both of them. Crushed by their separation, eventual divorce, and his own culpabilities, Shane began writing these soul-baring songs. Eleven of the twelve cuts are originals written during that sad, dark period. The best emotional songwriting is known to flow from an ailing artist’s soul. “She Struts 22” is about the temptations that all touring artists go through. “Love’s Last Letter” and “Broken” are songs written about the pain of separation; and “True Love’s Gone” sums it all up.
The most accessible song musically is the first track, "Call Me." The Jazzy number is as ready for radio as a jack rabbit is for a date. Suave yet shameless, this opening anthem will grab listeners by the ears AND feet. It's a full-production number, swinging with Dwight's creative, growling guitar, Kevin McKendree's killer keyboards, and Bekka Bramlett's beautiful background vocals. This song highlights the often-overlooked fact that bands are ensembles. When everyone plays together in balanced harmony, with no heroes, a Blues miracle happens!
Being the title track, one might rightly suspect that "A Hundred White Lies" packs a wallop. Correct, but the main power is in the lyrics. Musically, it is ominous and understated, putting one in mind of a sneaky marauder. It's a ballad about cheating, and the "hundred white lies" unfaithful lovers tell: "He told her the first one, so not to break her heart. It spared her that pain, but that was just the start. He told one more about where he'd been, [and] didn't hear the door when the devil came in...." With the desperate plea of "just one more, just one more!," Shane Dwight drives home the point that deceit becomes a habit until it’s too late.
Rock and roll will never die, even on Blues albums! "Love's Last Letter" is an exuberant throwback to the “Let It Bleed” days of the Rolling Stones, carrying fans on a whirlwind roller-coaster ride. It has a tempo drag racers would love, relentless intensity, Bekka Bramlett's incredible background vocals, and a hidden warning in the chorus: "Crying all night will make you feel better. The arms of another are giving you shelter. Your mama always said you could do better...." If listeners lay the lyrics aside and lose themselves in the music, they'll find that their dancing shoes won't stop moving.
"Black Ice" is dangerous for vehicles, and when it comes in female form, for unsuspecting touring artists, too! After helping out a gorgeous tavern patron, the narrator of this song finds he's "backsliding" at breakneck speed: "Closing time at the bar, you had too much to drink, you wanted to leave your car. You smiled at me, and then I knew this might be a hand I was bound to lose. You're just BLUES! You're bad NEWS!" There's "one in every bar," as Shane Dwight cautions, who "doesn't have a problem wrecking your home tonight...." The lyrics here are just as addicting as Dwight's wickedly-good guitar refrain.
"Love That's True" is a peppy number as close to “pure blues” as Dwight comes on this CD. Featuring Shane's slide guitar talents and deft acoustic and Dobro work from both Kevin McKendree and Rob McNelley, this song marries Blues and Country with the delightful vocals of the McCrary Sisters--Ann, Regina, and Alfreda. The chorus girls cry "Whoa, whoa, whoa--boy, can I come with you?" However, Dwight dismisses them with a backwoods gentleman's flair: "No, no, no--I'm waiting on a love that's true."
Sure, there will be those who prefer Memphis Blues spice instead of Nashville’s, but if you ever loved Rock and Roll, you will dig this album. Shane Dwight’s unabridged honesty in telling his story has translated into songs emotionally and musically addicting for the rest of us, too.
Reviewer James "Skyy Dobro" Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ, Master of Ceremonies, and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show "Friends of the Blues" can be heard Saturdays 8 pm - Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at www.wkccradio.org in Kankakee, IL. Amy Walker contributed to this review. To See James “Skyy Dobro” Walker's CD rating system, CLICK HERE.
Featured Blues Review 5 of 5
Vince Agwada - Basic Blue
12 tracks/65 minutes
Vince Agwada is not a household name. This blues-rocker plays an incendiary guitar and he and his band can light any place on fire. He should be better known and his second album perhaps can now help correct that. This one follows up his 2008 effort "Eyes of the City" and it was all written and produced by Vince. Agwada has been a fixture on the Chicago blues scent for 25 years. Starting at Theresa's and Buddy Guy's Checkerboard Lounge, he jammed and played with the best of them, including Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Otis Rush, Syl Johnson and Magic Slim. The late Lefty Diz let Agwada sit in on the Blue Monday jams as a teenager. Agwada has also toured for decades with an equally impressive list of legends. Now with two CDs released, the world has a great sampling of what this guy can do.
The driving and dirty beat of "Chi Town State of Mind" openedthe CD and it up almost literally beat me to a pulp. I was tired after listening to it- it was that big of a song! The pile driving beat, heavy guitars, and down and dirty harp are Chicago blues and rock taken to an intense level. Followed up by another rocking song called "Blindsided", we get more stinging guitar. Minus the harp on this one, the solo work revolves completely around Agwada's guitar play. He plays his heart out again, but then follows those two up with a funked-up song with lots of the clavinet called "President". It offers a contrast to the rockers and shows us some diversity. The instrumental "Head Too Tight" offers more cool stuff, with sax and some more keys added. He also shows he can handle the slow stuff with "Black Rain", where his guitar wails so well.
Orlando Wright, Andre Howard and Vic Jackson are mostly on bass, Clyde Davis, Brady Williams and Steve Gillis are mostly on drums, Roosevelt Purfoy adds his keys and many others contribute here. Sugar Blue makes an appearance on two of the tracks and Larry McCray adds his guitar to the mix on one of them- "Right on Time"; very nicely done. The Chicago Horns join Sugar Blue as guests on "Shake It Up", too. The title track is down tempo, rocking blues, one of the slower tracks. He closes with "She Never Said", the second instrumental and third slow song, allowing listeners time to recover their heart beats as he closes in a nice and mellow manner. Funky, bluesy, rocking stuff all over the place- It is all quite the experience. If you like guitar and lots of it you will love this. Agwada lays it on heavy and shows us what he's got. Just be ready because it is a hot and heavy ride!
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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