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Saturday, June 4, 2011

John Paul's Flying Circus: I Wish You Would

This is my old buddy John Paul Drum from Kansas City Missouri playing at BB's Lawnside BarBQ in KCMO.  I played with John when he had the Hellhounds back in the late 80s.  Also playing with John is another old friend of mine Bill Dye on guitar.  John carries on the great tradition of blues harmonica players that have called Kansas City home.  From the late great Provine Hatch, to Lee McBee, to Mo Paul, and Trashmouth Tom Baker.  No doubt I am missing someone, because their were a lot of great ones down their in the 80s.  Enjoy some classic John Paul Drum.

Bob Corritore Blues News

Thursday June 2, 2011
  • Louisiana Red This Weekend at The Rhythm Room! The legendary Louisiana Red will have a rare US appearance this weekend, performing in Phoenix at the Rhythm Room on Friday and Saturday, June 3 and 4, 2011. Red, now 79 years old, has been making blues records since the early 1950s, and he brings with him the experience of learning to play at the feet of Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Lightnin' Hopkins, and many others. Red can call upon all of these classic styles and more, while simultaneously keeping his blues a highly personal and uniquely signature statement. Red's blues is among the strongest and deepest being played in today's blues world, and he is considered to be one of the greatest living slide guitarists, with over 50 albums to his credit, Louisiana Red has been living in Germany since 1983 and most of his shows are in Europe, so a US appearance is always a cause for celebration. Red performs this weekend with The Rhythm Room All-Stars (Bob Corritore, Chris James, Patrick Rynn, and Brian Fahey), Louisiana Red  and Bob have been the closest of friends for over 30 years, and so this will be a reunion of sorts. The Rhythm Room is located at 1019 E. Indian School Rd., Phoenix, AZ 85014. Doors open at 8pm, cover charge is $12. To see photo pages devoted to Louisiana Red, click here and here. We would also like to mention that Louisiana Red will be a special guest on Bob Corritore's radio show on Sunday, June 5th. Bob's show, Those Lowdown Blues, is broadcast each Sunday from 6pm to 11pm (MST) and can be heard in Phoenix at KJZZ 91.5FM and online at Red will provide stories and live performances for those radio listeners able to tune in.
  • New Diunna Greenleaf CD coming soon! Diunna Greenleaf is well known in blues circles for her powerful emotion driven vocals and her electrifying stage show. She will soon release Trying to Hold On, on her own Blue Mercy label. This CD features guest appearances by Bob Margolin, Anson Funderburgh, Smokin' Joe Kubek, Billy Branch, Bob Corritore, Rich DelGrosso, Mookie Brill, Chris James and Patrick Rynn, and of course her great band Blue Mercy. To see a sneak peak of the cover click here. We look forward to this highly anticipated release which Diunna assures us will be out shortly.
  • Delta Groove to release album by youthful Dutch harmonica player Big Pete! Not to be confused with veteran blues shouter Big Pete Pearson, this Big Pete stands 6' 2", has reddish-blond hair and rosy cheeks and is in his early 30s (Big Pete's last name is actually Van der Pluijm). His dynamic performances last weeked at the Simi Valley Cajun & Blues Music Festival showed the harmonica influences of William Clarke, Al Blake, and Lester Butler, and a sweet, full-toned natural voice. Delta Groove chief Randy Chortkoff reports: "I'm now in the middle of this massive Big Pete recording. We have a huge list of special guests on it. Jimi Bott and Willie J. Campbell, Alex Schultz, Kirk Fletcher, Kid Ramos, Shawn Pittman, Kim Wilson, Johnny Dyer, Rob Rio, Al Blake, Paul Oscher, Rusty Zinn, Mojo Mark, etc., etc... I must be totally CRAZY. An album on Big Pete who nobody knows and is from another country!  But Pete is sOOOOOO good and I can't help myself!" We look forward to the resulting album.  
  • Correction and insights about the Robert Nighthawk Maxwell Street video! Last week's newsletter featured a great clip of Robert Nighthawk performing on Maxwell Street with a down-home band that included John Lee Granderson on second guitar and a drummer that was credited by some  sources as Robert Whitehead. After stating this in the newsletter, we received a correction from Charlie Musselwhite, who was living in Chicago during that time. Charlie states: "That's not Robert Whitehead on drums. His name was Jimmy. Not sure of the rest of his name but his whole name might've been Jimmy Lee or Jimmy Lee Collins. The last time I saw Nighthawk, he had Jimmy with him and it was after a gig in Chicago and they were leaving right then to drive to Florida and Robert asked me to go play with them. That's the only video I know of John Lee Granderson. We did a lot of gigs together. This video is from the Maxwell St. Market area - the corner of 14th and Newberry to be exact. Of course, that corner no longer exists. Man! Those were the days!!!" This prompted a phone call to Dick Shurman who verified that the name of the drummer is Jimmy Collins per the notes on a P-Vine CD issue of ths material. Thanks to Charlie and Dick for this insight. To see this video, click here
  • Louisina Red 1983 Performance on You Tube! Here is a classic performance by Louisiana Red performing the "Future Blues" in Europe with an all-star band that includes Jimmy Rogers, Carey Bell, Lovie Lee, Queen Sylvia Embry and Charles Otis. This concert was part of the American Folk Blues Festival '83. Click here to see.

Smokin In Steele BBQ and Blues Fest June 3-5 2011!!!!! NOW!!!

Sorry I missed this last night, but I was taking a day off from the computer so I missed an important email from John Hammer

Hey Friends;
Just  reminder and sincere invitation to join us at Smokin' in Steele BBQ and Blues Fest June3 -5 at the Steele Co. Fairgrounds in Owatonna. On Fri and Sat. we will be opening at 11am for lunch. At 5:30 pm Fri, the Sena Ehrhardt Band takes the stage, followed by Boom Boom Steve V & The Knockouts, with Reverend raven & The Chainsmokin' Altarboys closing the show. On Saturday Mark Cameron band opens at 10:30am on the outdoor stage, followed by Annie Mack at noon. At 2pm Bruce McCabe & the Rich Poor Men kick things off in the beer garden, followed by The Trent Romens Trio, The Fabulous Lovehandles and Becky Barksdale closing things out. Mike Fugazzi and Drew Hurst will be playin' during breaks. We have the Hot Rod Garden Tractor pull again, an ACO Cornhole Beanbag toss tournament, free harmonica lessons for kids, a kids Q competition and Crunch from the Timberwolves will be on hand. The music is ONLY $4 a day at the door or $5 for both days in advance. And the BEST part is; this is a fundraiser for the Special Olympics. Check out for more info and please join us if you can and share this with your friends! -John
John 'blueshammer' Hammer
Blue Monday Monthly Magazine
Hammered By The Blues Weekly Radio
KOWZ 1170am/ 100.9fm
510 West McKinley
Owatonna, MN 55060

Illinois Blues News

Cover Photo by Marilyn Stringer © 2011

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 From The Editors Desk

Hey Blues Fans,
Many of you may have seen the subject of this weeks cover story playing with Blues Legend David "Honeyboy" Edwards. Michael Frank has toured and performed with Honeyboy for the last 40 years. So you may just think of him as that harmonica player playing with Honeyboy but Michael Frank's legacy in the Blues record business has had a greater impact than his music alone. Check out Terry Mullins interview story below in this issue.

Good Blues To You!
Bob Kieser

 In This Issue
Terry Mullins has our feature interview with Michael Frank. Photographer Marilyn Stringer has a photo essay on the 2011 Doheny Blues Festival. Our featured video of the week is a clip of Chicago Bluesman Jimmy Burns.
We have eight CD reviews for you this week! Rainey Wetnight reviews a new CD from Donna Herula. Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony reviews a new CD by Al Basile. John Mitchell reviews a new CD by Marcia Ball and also a new release from JP Soars. Ian McKenzie reviews a new CD by Hugh Laurie. George "Blues Fin Tuna" Fish reviews a new CD from Johnny Rawls and a new one from Michael Packer. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!

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Blues Blast Magazine is looking for experienced writers to complete interviews and other writing assignments for the magazine. These are paid positions. Must have experience writing or a background or degree in journalism or publicity. Must also be familiar with Blues music. Successful applicant must be willing to complete one interview or writing assignment or more each week. Preference given to those with experience writing for other Blues publications.
If interested please send a resume, a sample of your writing and a short bio of your Blues background to Please include your phone number in the reply.

Volunteer CD Reviewers Needed
Blues Blast Magazine gets quite a few CDs from independent artists and labels so we are again looking for volunteer reviewers to help us get all these great CD's reviewed.
You must have a good command of the English language and good grammar, a background or experience with Blues music and a desire to help these hard working artists get their music reviewed. We mail you the CD's and the reviewer keeps the CD for completing the review.
Interested individuals must be willing to review a minimum of 2 CD's per month. Previous writing experience preferred! So if you want to help drop us a line at . Please include your phone number and some information about yourself and your background and experience with Blues music.

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 Featured Blues Story - Michael Frank

Used to be, you couldn’t drive across town without running across three or four of them.
These days, you can drive through three or four towns and not run across any of them.
They are the independent record store, and like an ever-increasing number of things, they are vanishing quicker than the speed of sound.
While that makes it a struggle on a music lover looking to get turned on to some exciting new tunes, those struggles are doubled or tripled on the artists and record label executives just looking to get their works in front of the public.
Michael Frank knows all too well about those struggles.
The visionary that created Earwig Records from scratch well over 30 years ago, Frank, like a lot of us, is trying to come to terms with the way music, especially blues and roots-related music, is being consumed in 2011.
“Back when I started in this business, every town had a record store - more than one,” he said. “But it’s just not that way anymore. They’re going out of business at a rapid rate. Back in the 1970s, there were a lot more independent record stores than there were chain stores. Then the chains like Tower, Virgin, Best Buy and Sam Goody came along. But there were lots and lots of independent record stores and distributors could get records in those stores because a lot of the buyers in those smaller stores were also the store owners. And they were fans (of the blues) and were not necessarily interested in just sales stats. They believed in customer service and when a customer wanted a record, they would get it for them. Those days are gone.”
Those days may be gone, but thankfully labels have Earwig have managed to weather the storms of these trying times.
Since making its way out of the Windy City in the late 1970s, Earwig Records has managed to not only survive, but to continue adding to the rich heritage of the blues, despite detriments like the ever-changing musical climate and the somewhat limited attention span of a younger generation of music lovers.
Good thing then, that when Frank decided to start a record label in 1978, getting rich quickly was nowhere to be found on his mission statement. Nor was even being the CEO of his own company a determining factor.
Then, as now, it was all about the music.
“I was really just a fan. I had a couple thousand LPs that I’d collected and had read all the blues books and subscribed to Living Blues magazine when I was in college,” said Frank. “But when I moved to Chicago, I had no real designs on being a professional musician, or starting a record label. I just wanted to hear and hang out with the blues guys I’d listened to on my LPs and read about in the magazines.”
However, as fate would have it, Frank would go on to become both a professional musician and record label founder.
He had moved to Chicago from Pittsburg in the summer of 1972 and by the time fall of that year rolled around, Frank managed to meet one of those bluesmen that he had read about – David “Honeyboy” Edwards.
Not long after meeting the legendary bluesman who once ran with Robert Johnson and Johnny Shines, Frank, who blows a mean harp, found himself smack in the middle of the Chicago blues scene as leader of the Honeyboy Edwards Blues Band.
And almost 40 years later, Honeyboy, now 95 years young, and Frank, can still be found traveling all around the globe, spreading the gospel of the true Delta blues.
Those long days and nights on the road together for four decades have forged a bond between the two men that Frank is rightfully proud of.
“Our relationship has many dynamics. When we’re hanging out, he relates to me as a friend. When we’re playing together, he relates to me as bandleader and boss,” he said. “If he’s unhappy with my playing, he lets me know in no uncertain terms. But then we’re also good friends. We like to hang out and ‘people watch.’ And we joke around and have a good time. So we have the camaraderie of two guys - two guys in a band traveling around together. Things between us go farther than just me being the bandleader and him being the star.”
To be able to call one of the last remaining original forefathers of the Delta blues a close friend must be special indeed. And having access to a living, breathing play-by-play of things that happened nearly 100 years ago takes things to another level entirely.
“He’s one of the few from his generation that still has a great memory. He’s almost got total recall,” said Frank. “He remembers details – fine details – of his life, going back to early childhood. His memory is just so unique, especially in the specificity of it. He knows it’s a special gift he has and he talks to me about that. He can just roll back the recesses of his mind and conjuror up so much stuff. And I’m fortunate that he’s shared so much of that stuff with me, stuff that often times he doesn’t wish to share with other people.”
If you live as long as Honeyboy, you’ve probably seen it all. Good and bad.
“There’s stuff that’s even in his documentary that he doesn’t want to talk about anymore. Some of those memories are really painful,” Frank said. “I mean the times that he went through … the social climate, the political climate; he’s just got such a first-person memory of a lot of things that I wish he would share more with people. But I understand why he doesn’t want to talk about a lot of those things.”
While blues fans have become accustomed to Honeyboy being something akin to the Energizer Bunny for the past few decades, taking the stage whenever and wherever he’s asked to, Frank says his longtime comrade may finally have to ease up a bit on his performance schedule.
“He is beginning to slow down a bit,” he said. “Not in his desire to play – he still enjoys getting on stage and playing his songs and the interaction with the audience – but sometimes his hands and arms don’t do all the things they used to, or that he wants them to do.”
With the fact that Honeyboy just can’t perform night, after night, after night, like he used to at the front of his mind, Frank is coming to grips with how things might evolve on down the line.
“I think about the future a lot these days,” he said. “I’m in a transitional state right now. My business has been both as a record label owner and band manager of Honeyboy Edwards. And honestly, Honeyboy has been the major driving force in terms of the way most of my time and energy has been spent. And now I’m being forced to deal with the dilemma of focusing so much time on one client. I’ve got a lot of records and the distribution and outlets of a lot of the bigger labels, but I’ve focused a large amount of my time and effort on Honeyboy’s career for many years. And for 25 out of the 38 years, I’ve also had a job in child welfare, so between all these different things, it’s been really difficult to just focus on running the record label and selling a bunch of records.”
Quantity may not be at the heart of Frank’s business model, but quality surely is.
“I’ve always wanted to put out quality products,” he said. “Something that would add to the legacy of the genre and the artist’s repertoire. I never wanted to just put out a record to have a new release on the market. That’s not what this is about.”
Central to the coming-of-age of Earwig Records is Bob Koester, founder of Delmark Records and owner and operator of Chicago’s famed Jazz Record Mart.
For just like Alligator Records’ founder Bruce Iglauer and Blind Pig Records’ leader Jerry Del Giudice, Michael Frank did a tour of duty at the venerable store, selling blues and jazz platters, along with helping visitors to Chicago find the hotspots to go and hear live blues and jazz music.
L to R - Bruce Iglauer - Alligator Records, Jerry Del Guidice - Blind Pig Records,
Bob Koester - Delmark Records and Michael Frank, Earwig Music
While Frank was the store’s blues expert during his tenure there, Koester saw that the four walls of his unique store, just like with Iglauer and Del Giudice, could only contain Frank for so long.
“Oh yeah, I was a little bit prodded by Bob Koester (to start a record label),” Frank said. “Over time, Bob saw I was doing all this stuff with Honeyboy and Kansas City Red, so he kind of encouraged me to do something with it. But it was really going to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in 1975 that really got me thinking about recording.”
Although at the time, due to his involvement with Honeyboy, it would have almost been a sure bet that Earwig Records’ first release would have featured the Honeyboy Edwards Blues Band, that was not the case.
That honor went to another band. One that called the Helena, Arkansas/Clarksdale, Mississippi area home.
The Jelly Roll Kings.
“I was a fan of Frank Frost and Jim O’Neil (co-founder of Living Blues magazine) was a friend of mine and I told him I was going to New Orleans and would like to meet Frank and the other two guys in the band, Sam (Carr) and Jack (Johnson), on my way down. Those guys (Jelly Roll Kings) were not really well-known at all, at that time,” he said. “So Jim told me that Frank Frost lived in Lulu, Mississippi and I found him and heard them on the way down and then on the way back from New Orleans. And that sound they made just stuck in my head. So in 1978, I recorded them. And that was the first record I put out. I really just wanted to share my feelings and appreciation for these musicians with the rest of the world and the only way that was going to happen was if I started recording these guys. I know it’s kind of backwards, but I wasn’t concerned about making a lot of money.”
So you’ve got your first official release, Rockin’ The Juke Joint Down by The Jelly Roll Kings. Now where do you find the inspiration for a name to give to your budding new blues label?
In Frank’s case, it came from the very un-bluesy Rod Serling.
“The name Earwig came from a Night Gallery show that my sister told me about,” Frank said. “This episode had an earwig in it and I wanted the name to have something to do with the ear and music going into the ear and the power that brings. So when I heard about the earwig – it had the pinchers and grabbed a hold of people – I liked that. And it was something I could create a logo with. A dancing earwig. So that was the idea. Plus, Bob (Koester) told all of us in the early days of the alphabetical record bins, you should have a name that started with a letter early in the alphabet.”
Some 64 releases later, roots-music aficionados know that if it says Earwig on the outside, it will contain authentic blues and jazz on the inside.
“Artistically, my records stand up to any of the other blues labels,” said Frank. “But commercially, because of the nature of who I’ve chosen to record, along with where my time and energy has been focused and changes in the marketplace, my label has struggled. So now, I’m starting to focus on some of our other artists. So I’m still sorting the future out right now.”
Over the years, Earwig has put out releases from such artists as Johnny Dawkins, Homesick James, Louisiana Red, John Primer and Sunnyland Slim, along with the afore-mentioned Honeyboy Edwards.
And on a good number of those releases, Frank has also served as producer, in addition to label owner, harmonica player and talent scout.
So just what does it take to catch the ear of Michael Frank?
“I listen for talent. I’m attracted to talent and character,” he said. “When I’m listening to anybody, whether I happen to be working or not, I listen for a lot of elements. Those elements are a strong musical performance, meaning the way the music is delivered, and I also listen for the quality of the song. I listen for the presence of a melodic hook and the way the language fits into the song, how it moves and rhymes. And I look for character development in the song. And when I make a record, I want all those elements to be present to make a great record. I want to be emotionally moved by all those elements. And if I get all those parts, I’m wowed. And I figure if I’m moved that way, then there’s a pretty good chance that most people that hear it will also be moved at some level. The artistic drive and the personal history of a performer is what always gets me interested in them.”
Getting the music-buying public to let loose of their hard-earned cash is the lifeblood of any record label, big or small. While that may be basic economics, for Frank, it is still secondary to the way he feels about the artists on his roster.
“Only after I put out several records did I start to think, how can I sell this record?” he said. “I probably should have thought of that from the start. But I was much more into the emotional aesthetics of how I felt about the artist and the songs. But the reality is, as my catalog got bigger, I had to at least consider more and more whether the artist is working enough and covering enough territory to at least have the possibility of making some sales. Because not every artist is driven or motivated to help sell their own CDs. All of the record labels now count on the artist to buy some CDs from us and resell them (at live performances). And I have recorded a few artists who thought that was beneath them to do that.”
Just like the way that music finds its way into the hands of its consumers these days, blues music itself is undergoing a metamorphous of sorts. While blues may still be what a lot of musicians play in 2011, what lies at the core of their sound is very different from what it was years ago.
“In my view, there’s a difference between a musician who plays the blues and plays them well – and a bluesman. It’s a lifestyle, the dedication to play the music you choose to play despite the financial outcome that makes you a bluesman,” said Frank. “It’s a lifelong commitment. It’s a dedication. Nowadays, a lot of younger musicians are playing their version of the blues and they may have a lifelong commitment to that. But there’s still a difference. The blues are more removed from their indigenous folk nature these days. To me, blues the way it was originally conceived is really folk music. That’s opposed to what’s now called folk music in most cases. Folk and blues and jazz in its early development came cross-generationaly within a local community. People developed it by singing about their experiences within their own community. That’s not so much the case with younger artists these days. Their community is the other artists that they’ve learned from. It’s not just so organic. That doesn’t mean it’s not good – it’s just different.”
Different is also the way that all record labels are going about their business since the dawn of the new millennium.
Blues music has never been easy to get to the masses, but that has changed a bit over the past decade or so.
“In some ways, it’s harder to market and sell the blues these days, because of the economy,” Frank said. “But in some ways, it’s also easier. Because of the tools we have like the internet. So it’s a mixed bag. But we (record labels) have a way to connect with so many more people now, through the internet, so the opportunity is still there to expand and grow. We just have to learn about, and then use, more direct marketing than we might have before.”
So instead of sitting back and waiting for what the wind blows his direction, Frank is actively expending his efforts into making sure Earwig Records remains a viable link in the chain of the modern day blues industry.
Along that involves traditional things like issuing new compact discs on a yearly basis, as well as a few things that might not be considered so traditional.
“I’m starting to develop some information and products that can help artists facilitate their own careers, rather than just relying on the record label to do it, which is the old model,” he said. “It used to be, an artist gets signed to a label and the label makes them a star. Well, that was a myth for the most part. As a lot of artists, especially on the big labels, found out – if you don’t reach certain (sales) numbers, you’re out. There was no real loyalty. But I’m developing services for the artist that doesn’t really need to have a major - or even large independent label – behind them. And the reality is, a lot of artists fall into that category. So that’s the direction I’m going in.”
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 Staples 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, Miss., eating copious amounts of barbecued delicacies while listening to the wonderful sounds of the blues.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

June 17-18, 2011
RHUMBOOGIE AT Music City Texas
6th Annual T-Bone Walker Blues Fest
Robin & The Bluebirds
Bill Lynch & The Midwestern Icons
Buddy Flett
The Ominous Anonymous
Peterson Brothers Band
Pleasant Hill Quilting Group
Allen Fox Band
Ezra Charles Band
Omar Sharriff
Diedra & The Pro Ruff Band
Bobbie Oliver & Jam City Revue
Matthew Davidson Band

Presented by Metro PCS
(903) 756-7774           Ticket pricing: Online

 Featured Blues Review 1 of 8

Donna Herula - The Moon is Rising (Songs of Robert Nighthawk)
DH Records
12 songs; 38:15 minutes
Styles: Acoustic resonator guitar Delta Blues and Country Blues
Veteran Blues fans are undoubtedly well-versed in the songs of Robert Nighthawk. However, for this reviewer, Donna Herula's “The Moon is Rising” was my first real introduction. Perhaps the best thing that can be said about a tribute album is that it makes one remember—or discover—how great the original artist was. Herula will make one glad to revisit Nighthawk and his masterpieces. Surprisingly, on this CD presenting ten of them, there are also two covers of other bluesmen's hits: Jim Jackson's “Gonna Move to Kansas City” and Tommy Johnson's “Maggie Campbell.” Either way, they're all her own arrangements and refreshingly inspiring!
Chicago area’s Donna Herula leads an enthusiastic ensemble with her sharp-timbre vocals, outstanding and accomplished picking and sliding on National steel resonator guitars, and PorchBoard Bass (foot stomp) with tambourine attachment on each song. In this age of all-too-often mumbled lyrics, Herula makes sure that every word rings true in listeners' ears. Completing her team are her husband Tony Nardiello on Collings guitar, John Jochem on Hohner harp, and Inna Morris Melnikov on electric violin only on this CD's title track. Together, they prove excellent musicianship doesn't always require slick production or fancy tricks with sound editing. When it comes to the blues, simple and resonant sound often trumps avant-garde arrangements. This is the case here. It was also the case when Donna won the 2010 Chicago Blues Challenge solo-duo category with harpist John Jochem and represented the Windy City Blues Society at the 2011 International Blues Challenge last February in Memphis.
Her vocal range has the clarity of a bell and the bite of a dagger! On some songs, she sounds so much like Annie Raines (of Paul Rishell and Annie Raines fame) that a house guest thought we were listening to Annie. Particular high points include the title track, “Crying Won't Help You,” “Bricks in my Pillow,” and the final song, “Every Day and Night.” After many consecutive samples, these were the numbers that stuck in this reviewer's head the most. Sometimes, songs may not particularly make one stand up and rave, but at least listeners will remember these four after the final notes of this CD die down.
What inspired Herula to perform the songs on this, her second album? What drew her to Nighthawk and his life experiences yielding pure blues? In the liner notes, she reveals: “Few people know that Nighthawk wrote varied and beautiful songs over several decades that are relatively unknown. I had the good fortune of performing these songs for the Robert Nighthawk Centennial Commemoration at the 2009 Chicago Blues Festival.” She has certainly done him credit here, with her heartfelt homage!
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 the 1980s music, she was strongly influenced by her father’s blues music collection.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Video
Our Blues videos this week is one of Chicago Blues legend Jimmy Burns.
Click picture above to watch this video on our website  Jimmy Burns - Stop The Train
This is a video of Jimmy Burns and his band playing live. Jimmy and his band will be opening up the tent stage of the 27th annual Mississippi Valley Blues Festival at 5:00pm on Friday July 1st. See their ad above in this issue. To check out the rest of the lineup for this great Blues festival CLICK HERE.

 Featured Blues Review 2 of 8

Kenny Kilgore - Bad Luck Blues
Big Bender Records
13 songs; 52:56 minutes
Styles: Electric Chicago Blues, Modern Electric Blues; Memphis and Cajun/Southern
“You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” says the old saw, reminding us to put our best foot forward. Even before I heard the first song on Kenny Kilgore's fantastic, fifth solo album, “Bad Luck Blues,” the impression I received was: “No matter what, this man has a great sense of humor!” The CD cover photograph shows a distinguished gentleman straightening his tie—while looking in a cracked mirror—under a ladder. A picture like this is most fittingly taken on one particular Friday. Guess which one!
As for Kilgore himself, he is a multiple-genre, guitar maven from Atlanta who's toured with Tinsley Ellis and played alongside notable blues and rock stars such as Billy Boy Arnold, Lazy Lester, Floyd Dixon, Jody Williams, Kid Rock, and many more giving him an impressive pedigree from a twenty-something year career. Currently, Kenny is lead guitarist for The Shadows, the house band at the famous Blind Willie’s Blues club in Atlanta.
It turns out superstitious listeners have nothing to fear when they peruse “Bad Luck Blues.” None of its thirteen songs (four of them instrumental originals) carry the curses of flat riffs, missed notes or ho-hum lyrics. Naturally, one will favor some songs over others, but there are no outright flops! There is a lot here to love with covers of songs by the likes of Freddie King and Percy Mayfield.
That said, let's address the music itself. The title track, coined by Billy Boy Arnold, is addicting and atmospheric. There's an aftereffect on Chicago Bob Nelson’s vocals that makes it have a slight but haunting echo. Nelson also adds deft harmonica to the proceedings.
Track five, Elmore James’s “You Got to Move,” is the album's first song that might perturb some people. Why does Chicago Bob Nelson, singing as the song's narrator, tell his longtime lover to take a hike? “You won't work no more. You won't cook. You won't sew. You won't even scrub the floor! You've got to move!” Three words for him: HIRE A MAID! I can’t help this, but whenever Nelson sings “move,” as “moooove,” a picture of a cow tends to move into my head! Kilgore lays down some sweet and smoking slide guitar on this one.
Look out for naughty number nine—an anthem dedicated to cheating! Sandra Hall belts it out on “Breakin' Up Somebody's Home” with no guilt or cringing shame. She's looking for love, even if it IS in all the wrong places. The rhythm is one long quarter note, followed by a teasing couplet. Why does Hall find adultery so appetizing? “Got nowhere to turn. Tired of being alone. Feel like breakin' up somebody's home! Whoo—I like it, like, like it like that!” This reviewer does, too.
Kankakee, Illinois’s favorite daughter and now Atlanta resident Francine Reed turns in an outstanding vocal delight on Mayfield’s “Please Send Me Someone to Love.”
Lazy Lester brings his Cajun influence as he wonderfully sings and plays harmonica on two of his biggest hits written by Excello Records producer Jay Miller, “I’m a Lover Not a Fighter” and “I Hear You Knocking.” For other highlights, check out the Kilgore jumping, instrumental originals.
Last impressions count, too, and “Bad Luck Blues” is a surefire winner! Its impressions are lasting!
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 the 1980s music, she was strongly influenced by her father’s blues music collection.
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 Featured Live Blues Review

Doheny Blues Festival
Dana Point, CA - May 21-22
Photos & Commentary by Marilyn Stringer
The Doheny Blues Festival is one of the largest and most popular festivals in southern California, located at Doheny State Beach. There are three stages which rotate sets and styles over the two day festival – there is always something for everyone with the headliners chosen to pull in all age groups. This year was no exception.
The BACKPORCH STAGE starts the festival each morning with an acoustic set, working up to a full roar by end of the day. Before the festival begins, the waiting patrons were entertained by Gino Matteo in the parking lot.
SATURDAY morning started with the songs and stories (and great humor) of Doug McLeod. Eden Brent brought a four piece band and upped the energy with her bawdry barrelhouse style of piano playing. Lee Rocker, originally from The Stray Cats, brought his unique bass antics and high energy band, including Buzz Campbell on the red Gretsch. The final band on the Backporch stage was White Boy James, whom I am truly sorry I missed - their competition was the 3 hour Hendrix set.
SUNDAY: The morning’s Backporch Stage opener was David Hidalgo and Cesar Rosas, with friends, in an intimate set. They played as part of the Hendrix set the night before, and (as you all know) are the founding members of Los Lobos and both exceptional singer/songwriters. Following David & Cesar was Cedric Burnside on acoustic guitar. Awarded the 2010 “Drummer of The Year” Cedric has a new band, The Cedric Burnside Project, and Sunday morning he was solo guitar ballads and vocals. (He joined Big Head Blues Club on drums later).
The last band of the day, BB & The Blues Shack (direct from Germany), ROCKED the small stage! Because the audience had seen them the day before on the SJ stage, they flooded the smallest venue and the party was in full gear when I arrived. And to top it off, Candye Kane, who had joined them many times in Europe, and just there enjoying the festival, joined them for the last song of the afternoon. The Backporch stage is up close, personal, and always full of fun!
SAILOR JERRY STAGE: The second largest stage, located in the middle of the festival, hosts three bands each day while the other two are doing their set changes. The entire festival converges here and the bands are always high energy.
SATURDAY: The 44’s is an LA based blues/rock/roots band that has a large following, which I am sure increased after Saturday’s performance. The band includes Johnny Main-guitar, Mike Turturro-bass, Tex Nakamura-vocals/harmonica, and special guest was Kid Ramos – guitar.
Turn up the volume. Direct from Germany! Presenting: BB & The Blues Shack. Best European Band, Best German Blues Band. Big Hit at Doheny – crowd favorite by virtue of the fact that the crowd that flooded the Backporch Stage the next day never stopped dancing to their “swinging and grooving blues”. Below are brothers Michael & Andreas Arlt with Dennis Koeckstadt on the keyboard. Good Job on that booking, Omega!! I would go to Germany to see them again!
The Funky Meters, originally a studio band for many artists, have since evolved into a popular funky groove dance blend of sounds that keep the audience hollerin’ for more. Founding members Art Neville (keyboard) and George Porter (bass) were joined by New Orleans native Brian Stoltz (guitar) and Russell Batiste Jr on drums.
SUNDAY: Sailor Jerry would be proud – the party just kept going on Sunday with Ana Popovic blasting away the morning fog with her “smoking electric funk slide guitar, jazzy instrumentals, tight blues groove” and her great shoes (ok that is just from a female perspective – the males might be admiring something else). Ana and bass player, Ronald Jonker, got down on the grooves and the stage, while Stéphane Avellaneda wailed on the drums! Nothing like a good dose of Ana for your Sunday morning blues chaser!
Walter Trout, along with Sammy Avila (keyboard), Rick Knapp (bass), and monster drummer Michael Leasure, kept the SJ stage energy level at a frenzy. Mesmerizing and great blues and a huge, well-deserved following.
I am not sure the crowd left after Walter Trout’s set in anticipation of seeing The Original Blasters. Singing to a “standing room only” packed festival, beach balls flying, and 10,000 people dancing and singing, The Blasters took us all to a very happy place that we just didn’t want to come back from. FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY, Dave & Phil Alvin reunited the band to give us the pioneer sounds of blues, punk, rockabilly, R&B, American Music. The rest of the band included Bill Bateman-drums, Gene Taylor-keyboards, John Bazz-bass. Looking out across the sea of fans to the palm trees and ocean Phil’s face was always beaming!!
THE MAIN STAGE: The best access requires a higher price and the headliners close out each evening with a fantastic show. And because it is at the opposite end of the festival, the performances coincide with the Backporch Stage.
SATURDAY: Dennis Jones Band opened the festival and it is never “too early” for Dennis. He just loves to play his original house rockin’ blues and he does it with style and charisma. His band includes Sam Correra-bass and Michael Turner-drums.
Terrance Simien, an 8th generation Louisiana Creole, brings his “Zydeco Experience” and Grammy Award winning music straight to the heart and soul and pulls the happiness straight up out of you. And Saturday’s performance still brings a smile to my face. He has to be happiest man in the universe. His band includes Danny Williams-keyboards, Jose Alvarez-guitar, Keith Sonnier-drums, and Ralph Fontenot-rubboard. For the next set Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks combined their bands, pulled in a large brass section, lined up on stage and put on one of the most fantastic blues performances of the festival. Susan and Derek also stuck around to join the Experience Hendrix event.
For the last three hours of the night, the Experience Hendrix show dished up the classic music of Jimi Hendrix performed in the style of the “musician of the moment” on stage, talented guitar slingers from so many different bands combining for an absolutely magical music tour of Hendrix.( More information on the tour is available on-line) Pictured below are:
Bass Players: Billy Cox (Band of Gypsys), Henri Brown, and Doug Wimbash (Living Colour)
Guitar: Ernie Isley (Isley Brothers), Mato Nanji (Indigenous)
Coming together: Billy Cox, Robert Randolf, Derek Trucks, Chris Layton(drums), David Hidalgo
More Guitar: Vernon Reid (Living Colour), Eric Johnson, Cesar Rosas & David Hidalgo (Los Lobos)
Together: Jonny Lang, Susan Tedeschi, Brad Whitford (Aerosmith)
The Lone Female (who taught the boys some lessons) Susan Tedeschi, Jonny Lang, Steve Vai
Together: Robert Randolf, Corey Glover (Vocals and Entertainer from Living Colour), and Chuck Campbell (Slide Brothers)
The combinations of talent were amazing: Steve Vai, Vernon Reid, and Robert Randolf. It really was an experience.
SUNDAY MORNING: The World Premiere of Wyland Blues Planet opened the main stage Sunday with Wyland (the Artist) painting the planet on a 20’ canvas while the all-star band played the original blues music of Wyland. “Blues Planet follows up Rhythms of the Sea, a jazz-inflected tribute to ocean conservation, and is in keeping with the artist’s efforts to spread a message of environmental stewardship through the arts”. (For more info go to The band included Rod Piazza and The Mighty Flyers, Mitch Woods, Common Sense vocalist Nick-I, Willie K., Steve Turre, and other guests.
After the paint and canvas were cleared away, Mavis Staples brought some pure Sunday Gospel, soul and blues to the festival.
In celebration of Robert Johnson’s 100th birthday, Big Head Todd, now called Big Head Blues Club, played/payed tribute to RJ, including Charlie Musselwhite and Cedric Burnside, in the tribute.
And closing out the festival, in Omega style, was the pure classic sound of John Fogarty. While I was waiting for the final set to begin, and as the crowd got deeper, I saw a 19 year old girl next me and asked her why she was there. She told me she grew up listening to her dad’s music, loves John Fogarty and Creedence Clearwater, and her dad was really jealous that she was there. She was also was very aware that the basis of original rock came from the blues. I was so happy to know that our music lives on with the kids and is so timeless!! I am sure she loved every minute of Fogarty’s set and it certainly took us originals back to “the days”.
So another Doheny Blues Festival weekend came to a close. Perfect weather, perfect lineups, and perfectly happy fans. Heartfelt thanks to Omega Events – you did it right again!! For more info and other festivals: For more photos (coming soon): .

Marilyn Stringer is a noted photo journalist and frequent Blues Blast Magazine contributor. For more of her photos visit

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 Blues Society News

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Crossroads Blues Society is featuring two great shows in June. The first is Bryan Lee and the Blues Power Band at Mary's Place, 602 N Madison St, Rockford on Monday June 13th at 7 PM. Admission is only $10 and advanced ticket purchase gets reserved seating. This will be a hot time for all!
Later in the month on Friday, June 24th Doug MacLeod will be at the Just Goods Listening Room on 201 Seventh Street in Rockford at 7:30 PM. This great solo acoustic musician sold out his show there last year- tickets are only $10 in advance at $15 at the door. Call 779-537-4006 for tickets and information.
The Topeka Blues Society presents the Spirit of Kansas Blues Festival 2011 July 4th at Reynolds Lodge, 3315 SE Tinman Circle on the east side of Lake Shawnee in Topeka, KS. Music is from noon to 9 p.m. followed by fireworks. Admission is FREE!
The lineup includes 2011 Grammy and BMA award winner (with Kenny Wayne Shepherd) Buddy Flett, 2011 IBC Runner-Up and "Love, Janis" star Mary Bridget Davies Group, 2011 IBC finalists Grand Marquis, The Bart Walker Band with Reese Wynans (Double Trouble) on Hammond B3 and Paul Ossola (G.E. Smith and the Saturday Night Live Band) on bass, Mike Farris (Screamin' Cheetah Wheelies) with the McCrary Sisters and 2010 BMA Song of the Year winner Mike Zito.
There will also be food, arts and crafts and a car show. For more information go to  or find us on Facebook. Discounted hotel rooms are available at the Topeka Ramada Convention Center. Call (785) 234-5400 and ask for the Blues Society Group 6617.
The Mississippi Valley Blues Society presents the 2011 Mississippi Valley Blues Festival July 1 -3, 2011 in Davenport, IA.
Artists scheduled to perform include Linsey Alexander, Jimmy Burns, Eric Gales, Paul Rishell and Annie Raines, Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers, RJ Mischo with Earl Cate with Them, Smokin’ Joe Kubek & Bnois King,“Way of Blues” Revue from Mississippi on Friday July 1st, Chocolate Thunder, Kevin Burt, Lionel Young Band, Johnny Nicholas, Ryan McGarvey, Peaches Staten, Mississippi Heat, Joe Louis Walker and a Koko Taylor Tribute featuring Nellie “Tiger” Travis, Chick Rogers, Jackie Scott and Delores Scott on Saturday July 2nd, and The Candymakers, Winter Blues Kids, Studebaker John and the Hawks, Harper, Chris Beard, The Paul Smoker Notet, Rich DelGrosso and John Richardson, Sherman Robertson, Mitch Woods and his Rocket 88s and Otis Clay on Sunday July 3rd.
For more information or to purchase tickets visit or call (563) 322-5837
Rural Members Association and the Alabama Blues Project presents the 14th Annual Freedom Creek Festival in honor of the late, great Willie King. The festival will be held Saturday, June 2nd 2011 from 11am until 10 pm at “Cookieman’s” Place at 1438 Hwy 17 South/Wilder Circle, Aliceville, AL.
The Rural Members Association is proud to announce the 14th Annual Freedom Creek Blues Festival founded by the late great Willie King and held this year in his honor, following his untimely passing in 2009. Lineup: international blues stars Super Chikan and Homemade Jamz will headline the show.
The festival will open gospel music from the Mississippi Nightingales. Blues bands will play all day, including the Alabama Blues Project Advanced Student Band, local bluesmen Clarence Davis and “Birmingham” George Conner, the Alabama Blues Women Review including Shar Baby, Rachel Edwards, B.J. Miller and Debbie Bond. Birmingham blues great Elnora Spencer band, Little G Weevil, the Missississippi Blues Boys . . . and more! Admissions is by suggested donation of $10. For more information: or call (205) 752 6263.
The Santa Clarita Valley Blues Society presents the 4th Annual Santa Clarita Valley Blues Festival & BBQ In The Park - June 4th, from 11am - 5pm, at Mountain View Park, 28502 Seco Canyon Rd., Santa Clarita, CA. 91390. Artist lineup includes Austin Scott & Triple Threat, Susan Rey Band, Wumbloozo, Kelly's Lot, Bob Malone Band, Toni Dodd & Southbound Blues, Michael John & The Bottom Line and Mistress of Ceremonies - Teresa James.
Admission is Free, all ages welcome. Bring a blanket or a chair. Free parking and shuttle at Mountainview Elementary School, 22201 Cypress Place, Santa Clarita, CA. 91390 and on streets surrounding the Park. This is a Charity event for the Tom Bolewski Special Needs Trust. For more information, contact or find us at
The Santa Barbara Blues Society is the oldest existing blues society in the U.S. The next SBBS show will be on June 11 with dynamic band Café R&B!
The SBBS has purchased a $4200 ocean view cabin for 2 on the October Pacific Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise. Raffle tickets to win the cabin are available for only $20 per ticket, or 5 for $100, by mailing us a check. A maximum of 500 tickets will be sold. Send to P.O. Box 30853, Santa Barbara, CA 93130-0853. Check for more info.
The Henderson Music Preservation Society presents the 21st Annual W.C. Handy Blues and Barbecue Festival in Henderson on June 11-18. The festival will host performances in a wide variety of blues styles, from gritty Chicago blues to smooth soul to Delta blues. The lineup includes Preston Shannon, The Amazing Soul Crackers, The Cold Stares on Wendesday June 15, Matt Schofield and Terrance Simien & the Zydeco Experience on Thursday June 16, Dana Fuchs, Guitar Shorty, Deanna Bogart, Mightychondria, Beasley Band, Damon Fowler on Friday June 17 and John Primer with special guests, Lurrie Bell and Eddie Shaw, The Dynamites featuring Charles Walker, Carolyn Wonderland, Lionel Young Band, Eden Brent and Damon Fowler on Saturday June 18.
For more information about the festival, go to or contact: Christi G. Dixon at, Marcia Eblen at or call 1-800-648-3128.
The Blues Blowtorch Society - Bloomington, IL
The Blues Blowtorch Society proudly presents Big James & The Chicago Playboys Friday June 3, 2011 at The Castle Theater, 209 East Washington Street, Bloomington, IL. The show starts at 7:00PM
Also The Blues Blowtorch Society presents the 2011 Central Illinois Blues Challenge on July 15 & 16, 2011 at Tri-Lakes in Bloomington, IL during the Ain't Nothin But The Blues Festival. The winner will be sent to Memphis in early 2012 to compete as our representative in the International Blues Challenge. To be considered bands must apply by June 18, 2011. The solo/duo acts competition is to be determined based on interest.
For further information  please contact Deborah Mehlberg, Entertainment Director at: or visit
2011 Friends of the Blues shows - June 23 - Sean Chambers, 7 pm, River Bend Bar & Grill, July 13 - Reverend Raven & C.S.A.B., 7 pm, River Bend Bar & Grill. For more info see:
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. June 5 - Matt Hill (2011 Blues Music Award Winner for Best New Artist Debut!), June 13 - Frank Herrin & Blues Power, June 20 - Roger "Hurricane" Wilson, June 27 - Jim Shuler & Monkey, July 4 - Deb Callahan, July 11 - Rockin' Jake, July 18 - Chris Bell & 100% Blues, July 25 - Bill Evans Birthday Party, August 1 - Lionel Young Band, August 8 - Ben Prestage, August 15 - Bryan Lee, August 22 - Grady Champion, August 29 - RJ Mischo. 

 Featured Blues Review 3 of 8

Al Basile - The Goods
Sweetspot Records
Former Roomful Of Blues cornet player Al Basile puts a 40s-50s hipster vibe into his music, while still sounding fresh and up-to-date. The cover photos of Al looking like a Capone-era gangster add to the mystique. Presented here is a mélange of blues and R&B featuring Al’s clear and strong voice, as well as tuneful cornet solos. He also joins Doug James creating a horn section that punctuates many of the tunes. The entire record is penned by the leader himself. There is a story-telling quality to the his self-written songs. As if Al’s talent wasn’t enough, former Roomful band-mate Duke Robillard lends his band and impressive production and guitar skills to the blend as extra insurance. The record is a mix of blues, R&B and gospel influences. Fast-paced and slower fare are both executed with equal finesse. He works his cornet into the mix with ease, be it a ringing melody or some muted riffing.
The lyrical content speaks to everyday life conditions, be it struggling to keep afloat financially, love troubles, reality TV or Santa. “The Price (I Got To Pay)” decries the narrator’s money woes to an upbeat R&B horn section. “Along Comes The Kid” weaves a tale of a hipster. Duke embellishes this song with a guitar solo that cuts through the night. A bank robber’s last and fatal bank robbery is retold in “1.843 Million” a song that benefits from Robillard’s guitar that bespeaks the urgency of the situation. Bell-like cornet appears in the gospel-flavored ballad “Lie Down In Darkness(Raise Up In Light)” that gets the rock-solid backing of The Blind Boys Of Alabama. Al even makes a Christmas tune work. “Don’t Sleep On Santa” refers to not falling asleep on Santa’s arrival, and not my first shutter take on the title. Piccolo, muted cornet and snappy percussion lend the atmosphere of a bebop tune of years gone by. A New Orleans funeral-dirge vibe is skillfully created with cornet and the required percussion on “Pealing Bells”, a plea for love.
A few weaker tracks aside, this is a well thought-out undertaking showing expert craftsmanship. Instrumental and lyrical nuances make for one satisfying listening experience. Mr. Basile has found a somewhat unique niche for himself that should please a large segment of the blues-minded audience. Duke Robillard and band mates provide a strong base for Al to construct his vision..

Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony hails from the New Jersey Delta. He is the proprietor of Bluesdog’s Doghouse at

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Donna Herula
The Moon Is Rising:
Songs of Robert Nighthawk
New CD available at or CD/download at CDBaby (
From the uproariously funny to the beautifully dramatic, Chicago blues singer and slide guitarist, Donna Herula, performs the neglected songs of slide guitar master Robert Nighthawk in a country/Delta Blues acoustic style. Solo slide guitar; duets with harmonica, guitar and violin.

 Featured Blues Review 4 of 8

Marcia Ball – Roadside Attractions
12 tracks; 43.32 minutes
Singer, songwriter and ace piano player Marcia Ball returns with her fifth CD for Alligator but this time she has written or co-written all the material. It would be a major surprise if a Marcia CD was not top rate and this one is no exception, with the mix of New Orleans rhythms, Texas blues and gorgeous ballads that her fans expect. “Roadside Attractions” was produced by Gary Nicholson who co-wrote four of the tracks, two in conjunction with other authors too. The tracks were recorded in two locations with two different bands: six feature Marcia’s road band and were recorded in her home town of Austin; six were recorded in Nashville. The Austin tracks feature a core band of Mike Schermer on guitar, long-serving bass player Don Bennett, Damien Llanes on drums and Thad Scott on sax; the Nashville band is Colin Linden on guitar, Steve Mackey on bass and Lynn Williams on drums. Reese Wynans adds B3 to two Nashville tracks, Jim Hoke plays sax on one Nashville track and Joel Guzman plays accordion on one Austin track. Wendy Moten provides backing vocals on most tracks and the Mingo Fishtrap Horns beef up three tracks with their sax and trumpet support.
The album kicks off with “That’s How It Goes”, a piano led stomper with plenty of handclaps. In the title track “Roadside Attractions” Marcia tells us that all the sights of the world pale into insignificance compared with her lover at home: “Lookout Mountain is a big old molehill, the Grand Canyon is just a crack; Old Faithful is a pickle, Niagara Falls a trickle, the Taj Mahal is nothing but a shack”. Colin Linden’s slide guitar sits beautifully alongside Marcia’s piano on this superb cut. However, even stronger is “Between Here And Kingdom Come”, a mid-paced romantic ballad about where Marcia comes from: “It’s not close to anywhere, every call’s long distance there; two lane highway and one red light. It’s not much, but it’s my home, out between here and Kingdom Come.”. On all her records there is an example of a song like this and personally I cannot get enough of these great, emotional songs.
“We Fell Hard” is an uptempo rocker with horns in support before “Look Before You Leap”, a co-write with Gary Nicholson and Dan Penn. It has a definite Delbert McClinton feel, possibly influenced by both Marcia and Gary being regulars on Delbert’s Sandy Beaches Cruises! “I Heard It All” is a variation of the age-old theme of lovers hearing the truth through thin walls (think Robert Cray’s “Right Next Door”), here the twist is that Marcia’s character hears the lover telling his wife that he is planning to break off the affair, while she is listening in the next room! You can bet she is not happy!
“Believing In Love” is another co-write with Gary Nicholson, a catchy tune which swings along with Reese Wynans’ swirling organ well to the fore and a great sax solo from Jim Hoke. Marcia takes a more serious tone on “This Used To Be Paradise”, a song about the oil pollution in the Gulf and the negative effects that has had on the communities that depend on the Gulf for their livelihood. Joel Guzman’s accordion adds a suitably sad tone to the music. In contrast “Everybody’s Looking For The Same Thing” is a happy song about looking for love.
The last three tracks epitomise the range that Marcia Ball offers in her music. First “Sugar Boogie” is a classic foot tapping boogie. Thad Scott doubles the sprightly piano lines on his sax and Mike Schermer offers a jazz toned guitar solo. “Mule Headed Man” is a real blues, a song that someone like Bessie Smith might have sung. Her man is so stubborn that he continues to drink whisky although it is killing him. This time round Mike Schermer provides a tough bluesy solo which leads into a rolling piano break from Marcia, evoking the spirit of the late Pinetop Perkins with whom Marcia often played in his Austin days. Finally “The Party’s Still Going On” (co-written with Gary Nicholson and Tom Hambridge) closes the CD with a healthy dose of New Orleans party fun.

This is a really well paced and varied CD that grows on every listen, a fine addition to Marcia’s extensive discography and a real contender for album of the year..
Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music.
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 Featured Blues Review 5 of 8

JP Soars – More Bees With Honey
Soars High Productions
13 tracks; 58.25 minutes
Florida based JP Soars and his band The Red Hots won the IBC in 2009 and this is their second CD on JP’s own label. Most of the material on the album is original, with just two covers. The Red Hots are a trio, with JP Soars on guitars and vocals, long-serving drummer Chris Peet and Donald “The Cougar” Gottlieb on bass. Guests include the late Robin Rogers on vocals, Jason Ricci on harp and Travis Colby (Roomful Of Blues) on piano and organ; Terry Hanck and “Sax” Gordon Beadle add horns to some tracks.
The CD opens in dramatic fashion with the title track which features Robin Rogers on harmony vocals on what must have been one of her final recordings. It’s a slice of horn-driven old school soul which recalls bands like Delaney And Bonnie in their prime and makes an excellent opener to the album. “K.Y.N.O.M.B.” is a tough blues based round a strong guitar riff and harp response. The acronym stands for “Keep your nose out of my business”, by the way, and the sentiments of the lyric match the music perfectly. “So Many Times” is a slow blues with Travis Colby’s organ a feature. JP’s voice is strong enough to carry off a ballad like this one where there is no place to hide for the singer. A nicely developed guitar solo which moves from twanging notes to some real string bending is the centrepiece of a classic blues.
Before moving to the blues JP Soars played rock, jazz and flamenco guitar and the next two tracks demonstrate that range of experience. “Hot Little Woman” is a blues, but with so many changes of pace and style that at times it could be Django Reinhardt we are listening to! In contrast “Doggin’” is a heavy blues with a main riff based on a wah-wah guitar figure. JP’s solo here is as much Deep Purple as deep blues, again demonstrating his versatility.
JP’s first CD was entitled “Back Of My Mind”, so one might be forgiven for thinking that the next track is a reprise of that title track. However, the first CD did not contain a song by that title, so this is a new one, a fast rhumba with a lyric that takes us back to JP’s childhood when his Dad played guitar to him “Now you know that the music’s in my soul and it makes me feel so good. It’s a feeling, people, that you don’t learn in school.” The fast-paced song is a good precursor to the first cover, HE Owen’s “The Hustle (Is On)”, best known for T Bone Walker’s version. This one rips along with the saxophones and piano pushing the rhythm and JP doing his best T Bone impression – a gem of a track and worth the price of the CD on its own.
Pacing the CD nicely, the next track “Lost It All” is a slow blues instrumental with beautifully played harp by Jason Ricci which gives the piece a sad and melancholy feel. However, the pace is soon picked up on “Twitchin’”, a short and sweet rocker propelled by Travis Colby’s rock and roll piano and JP’s insistent guitar riff. The second cover on the CD follows, Louisiana Red’s “Sweet Blood Call”, a song which pulls no punches about the state of the relationship between author and girl: “I’d have a hard time missing you, baby, with my pistol in your mouth”.
“They’ll Do It Every Time” is an uptempo blues with a few changes of pace. Jason Ricci’s harp doubles up on JP’s searing slide playing to offer an aggressive tone that matches the rather cynical lyric. “Chasing Whiskey With Whiskey” is the longest cut on the CD at over seven minutes, a slow blues which lyrically recalls songs like Muddy’s “Champagne And Reefer”. Jason Ricci’s harp is again to the fore, JP playing mournful slide behind him. The CD then closes with another slide feature, this time the fast paced “Where’d You Stay Last Night?”, a collaborative effort between JP and Baby Face Leroy, although the lyrics certainly seemed familiar with the references to clothes being dishevelled and smelling strange!

Overall this is an excellent CD that should solidify JP Soar’s reputation as a guitarist to reckon with. What I particularly liked was the variety of pace and styles. The band is consistently good throughout and some of the guest appearances really sparkle. I can thoroughly recommend the CD and I can assure readers that if JP Soars And The Red Hots pass through your town you should be sure to catch the show as they are just as good live as they are on record.
Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music.
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 Featured Blues Review 6 of 8

Hugh Laurie - Let Then Talk
Warner Bros Records
15 songs; 58 mins 1 Sec
According to some sources, Hugh Laurie, for his role in House MD, is the highest paid actor on US television. In the show, every now and then – and always quite briefly - we see House playing either a keyboard of some kind or, occasionally, a guitar including a Gibson Flying V, a Martin 0-17, and various Les Pauls and Fenders. All of those instruments belong to Laurie, not to the studio. Laurie concedes (like many of us in the UK) that his life was changed for ever on first hearing blues music (he says it was Willie Dixon) and that he started to absorb all he could. Like many of us also in the UK, New Orleans became a Mecca – I cannot tell you how much of thrill it was for me to walk for the first time on Bourbon Street, Canal Street and points north, south, east and west!
Laurie has managed to enter the Promised Land. This CD, produced by Joe Henry puts Laurie in a band consisting of some of the cream of NOLA musicians including a horn section arranged and conducted by living legend Allen Toussaint. The band is magnificent and the arrangements, without exception, tight and beautifully recorded. The music ranges from an almost classical (in the Carnegie Hall sense) piano based overture, St James Infirmary, with some BIG orchestral sounds (plus some nice little slide dobro fills) to a cover of Blind Blake’s Police Dog Blues (Laurie on guitar here). Called in the twenty page book of notes, St James: An Infirmary In Two Parts, the second part of the opener is a stand-up bass driven (wonderful playing throughout the CD by David Pilch) vocal rendition of the old song with a magnificent horn accompaniment.
Laurie is joined by Irma Thomas taking the vocal lead on a rousing version of the old ballad, John Henry with some impassioned Memphis Slim style piano backing (by Laurie) and by Dr John (vocal) on After You’ve Gone a 1918 popular song, now a jazz classic. Tom Jones takes the vocal lead (and Irma Thomas the backing vocals) on Baby Please Make Change, a Mississippi Sheiks song from 1934. All three of these guest artist tracks add an interesting layer to Mr Laurie’s collage of music and musical styles. For styles there are; not just old blues re-visited but also a spiritual, Battle Of Jericho, some jazz tunes and a popular song, Swanee River, the latter given the boogie-woogie treatment sometimes delivered by Dr John or Henry Butler.
Other covers include the Williams, Gray and Liston song, You Don’t Know My Mind famously recorded by Lead Belly; Leroy Carr’s, Six Cold Feet; JB Lenoir’s The Whale Has Swallowed Me. The title track, Let Them Talk, is the Little Willie John crossover hit from 1959. There’s a trio of jazz faves, Buddy Bolden’s Blues, After You’ve Gone and Winin’ Boy Blues (with the Jellyroll Morton’s ‘clean’ lyrics from his Bluebird commercial recording. If you want the Jellyroll Morton cathouse original go to– Warning! Yer Mama won’t like it) and a tribute to Professor Longhair (Roy Bird) in the form of a swinging horn-section driven workout of Tipitina, with added dobro! There’s even a Robert Johnson track in the form of a shouty and blessedly short (1min 7 secs) version of They’re Red Hot, which seems to have been an afterthought (“Hugh did you realise this is the 100 year anniversary of RJ’s birth year?” Right, let’s do this one then.”)
Well, so far so good, great musicians, great arrangements, excellent choice of songs, thoughtful notes by Mr Laurie in the booklet (do you sense a ‘but’ coming? Well here it is) BUT, even after twenty listens, I remain uncomfortable with Laurie’s singing. I am happy to concede that this may just be me, but there is a strange timbre about the quality of the Laurie vocals. (Some have suggested it’s his underlying English accent, but I don’t accept that.) This qualitative anomaly is explained, in part, when you are aware of the veneration which Laurie accords Dr John; so much so that when the latter is singing After You’ve Gone, it sounds just like the former (or vice versa elsewhere). It may also be a deliberate mixing thing, as there is something in the timbre of the 1920s band singer using a megaphone. It may also be that some of the songs are pitched a tone or so high for Laurie’s vocal chords. Perhaps we’ll never know.
So, just in case people get the wrong idea, let me try and pull this together.
This CD will be massive. It will IMHO, win accolades and nominations by the bucket full. The music is filled with magic and importantly, that magic will touch people who as a general rule would bolt like a wild mustang from anything labelled BLUES. Some of them will come back for more, some of them will stay. Some of them will seek out the originals of Laurie’s chosen songs and will come to realise the breadth, depth and poetic beauty of the blues: For that alone, Laurie will deserve the glittering prizes. He can be justly proud of his child. .

Review Ian McKenzie lives in England. He is the editor of Blues In The South ( a monthly flier providing news, reviews, a gig guide and all kinds of other good stuff, for people living and going to gigs along the south coast of England. Ian is also a blues performer (see and has a web cast regular blues radio show on www.phonic.FM in Exeter (Wednesdays: 1pm Eastern/ 12 noon Central, 10am Pacific).
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Chicago's legendary "Ow-Wow" man,
Jesse Anderson, releases all of his
Funk & Blues from the 60's thru the 70's including his No 1 hit, "I've Got A Problem" and "What Will I Say".
Purchase at or
 Visit Jesse at his website:
See more about Jesse Anderson on CD insert.
Good Blues to ya'!

 Featured Blues Review 7 of 8

Johnny Rawls - Memphis Still Got Soul
11 tracks - Total time: 40:53
Distinguished soul-bluesman Johnny Rawls—2010 Blues Music Award (BMA) winner for best soul-blues album, five-time BMA nominee, Critics’ Choice Southern Soul Album of the Year award winner, and long-time bandleader for O.V. Wright—shows on his release for 2011, Memphis Still Got Soul, that he still has it, soul still has in all over the place, and that good soul is just one step away from the blues. Especially validating this last claim is track 2, Rawls’ interpretation of O.V. Wright’s soul-blues classic from 1968, “Blind, Crippled and Crazy,” which is both bluesy and soulful. But that validation doesn’t stop there on Memphis Still Got Soul, which brings the soul-blues up-to-date while still hewing to the venerable essentials that established the genre and made it so noteworthy; this is done in ten original songs from Rawls and collaborator Dan Nichols, and also from Catfood Records’ head Bob Trenchard, bassist on six of the tracks here.
All but the opening track on the CD, the title song “Memphis Still Got Soul” are songs of women and love relationships, good and bad. But, as B.B. King observed on this, “Blues seems to talk about men and women. But it you listen, really listen, you know it’s about a lot more.” Good way to sum up just what Rawls is talking about here, because these songs are a lot more than love ditties. They’re about life, the whole of life and nothing but, same as what good blues and good soul always has been about.
Driving the sound here is a Stax-style horn section of sax and trumpet, a paradigm feature of modern soul, comprised here on two different bands recording the CD in two different studios. At Texas’ Sonic Ranch Studio, where “Memphis Still Got Soul” and “Blind, Crippled and Crazy’ were recorded, along with track 4, “Take You for a Ride;” track 6, “Burning Bridges;” track 8, “Flying Blind;” and Track 10, “Don’t Act So Innocent,” band personnel included Rawls on vocals along with several former members of the Rays, a band Rawls discovered and recorded—bassist Trenchard, drummer Richie Puga; Dan Ferguson, keyboards; and Andy Roman, sax; along with Mike Middleton, trumpet, and Jessica and Jillian Ivey, background vocals. Special guest on this session was Johnny McGhee, former Motown studio guitarist in Los Angeles.
The second recording session was at Helena, Montana’s Soul Tree Recording, with Johnny Rawls on both vocals and guitar, with Dan Nichols, drums; John Moore, piano and bass; Doug Skoogs, organ; Michael Kakuk, sax; Chris Heisel and Mark Hutchinson, trumpets; and Destini Rawls, background vocals. They recorded track 3, “Give You What You Need;” track 5, the plaintive ballad “Stop the Rain;” track 7, Rawls’ autobiographical “My Guitar;” and the ending track, “Love Stuff.” Both “My Guitar” and “Love Stuff” emphasize Johnny Rawls’ guitar playing, lead and solo on “My Guitar,” and solid, tune-carrying rhythm on “Love Stuff” “Burning Bridges” is built around McGhee’s rocking blues guitar with the soulful horn section coming in for the chorus. Several different takes on male-female relationships are given here, from the eagerly lecherous to the poignantly rueful. “Blues Woman” is a Little Milton-style celebration of down-home African American ethnicity expressed through his appreciative desire for a down-home woman. While Johnny Rawls is thoroughly his own bluesman throughout, the listener familiar with modern soul will hear appreciative echoes of Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Tyrone Davis and Little Milton. Memphis Still Got Soul shows that good soul has still got it, and not just in Memphis.

Reviewer George "Blues Fin Tuna" Fish hails from Indianapolis, Indiana, home of blues legends Yank Rachell and Leroy Carr. He has written a regular music column for several years. He wrote the liner notes for Yank Rachell’s Delmark album, Chicago Style. He has been a blues and pop music contributor for the left-wing press as well, and has appeared in Against the Current and Socialism and Democracy.
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 Featured Blues Review 8 of 8

Michael Packer - My Time to Cry
8 tracks - Total time: 25:25
New York City bluesman Michael Packer’s My Time to Cry is the 11th in a series of CDs issued by Iris Music Group (IMG) to preserve Packer’s musical legacy (Worthy of mention in extending this notable discography is Random Chance Records’ 2007 recording of the Michael Packer Blues Band, Bleecker-Bowery.) Whole containing eight tracks of solid music from forty years ago, songs recorded, but never issued, by Atlantic Records during Packer’s Papa Nebo and Free Beer band days, My Time to Cry’s lack of any annotation, musician/instrument or songwriting credits is a regrettable deficiency.
Of the eight tracks, six are blues in that creative vein that characterized much of the music of the late 1960s-1970s, music that borrowed from other genres and tried to extend the musical horizons of each. That’s clearly heard on My Time to Cry, with its incorporation of elements from soul and rock into the contemporary blues of the opening track, the title song, “My Time to Cry,” with its addition of flute to the guitar-driven band sound. Solid interplay among electric and acoustic guitars is an integral part of the musical approach throughout, and Packer’s high-pitched tenor is emotive and versatile, notably singing one syllable as a series of syllables on track 2, “Wicked Feeling” and track 6, “My Woman Tonight.” “Bullfrog Blues,” track 3, is an electric blues band adaptation of a traditional blues that’s reminiscent of the Allman Brothers’ approach to “Statesboro Blues,” and on which the electric bass prominently plays the role of a low-register rhythm guitar, and also features a citified country-style harp on two solos. This same electric adaptation of traditional is also present on “My Woman Tonight, built around an old-timey rag melody. “Love Comes Easier,” track 4, is a slow, ruminative lament, and track 7, “Bad Time Jackson,” is a story song of a man come to free his woman, where the basic guitar essentialism of the band is augmented by blues piano and a fiddle solo.
The tightness of the bands and the excellent instrumentation truly makes the listener yearn for more recording information and musicianship credits, beyond what we can assume are the players forming Packer’s Papa Nebo and Free Beer bands. Even the information that these songs are unreleased Atlantic recordings from forty years ago comes solely from a handwritten note to the publicity letter issued to advertise the release.
This same tightness and listen ability characterizes the two non-blues tracks as well, both of them deserving of brief mention, if for no other reason than to note the versatility and craftsmanship of the music throughout. “She Left This Morning,” track 5, is modern country, replete with steel guitar, that incorporates approaches from the country-pop of Bob Dylan, the Eagles and Arlo Guthrie along with the more traditional country approaches of Nashville and Bakersfield. The ending track, “Can’t Find the Way Outside,” is a philosophical rock number where knowledge of the dangers of the streets joins hands with a plea for love, and a fear of not finding it. These last two songs, joining with the blues of the other six, remind us of just how much felicitous creativity abounded across genres in pop music back then, and in that regard, Michael Packer’s My Time to Cry is a most welcome reminder. And also, a reminder of how much gold can remain entombed for quite some while in the archives of unreleased recordings from days past..

Reviewer George "Blues Fin Tuna" Fish hails from Indianapolis, Indiana, home of blues legends Yank Rachell and Leroy Carr. He has written a regular music column for several years. He wrote the liner notes for Yank Rachell’s Delmark album, Chicago Style. He has been a blues and pop music contributor for the left-wing press as well, and has appeared in Against the Current and Socialism and Democracy.
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