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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Illinois Blues News

Cover photo by Bob Kieser © 2011 Blues Blast Magazine

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 In This Issue
Terry Mullins has our feature interview with Eric "Guitar" Davis.
We have five CD reviews for you this week! Steve Jones reviews a new CD from Memphis Gold. Rainey Wetnight reviews a new CD from Jim Allchin. John Mitchell reviews a CD called 35 Years Of Stony Plain.  Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony reviews a new CD from Bill Bourne & The Free Radio Band. Ian McKenzie reviews a new CD from Ana Popovic. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!

 From The Editor's Desk
Hey Blues Fans,
Busy time here at Blues Blast! We are getting final details completed for next Thursday. What is next Thursday you ask? It is the culmination of nine months of work, the Blues Blast Music Awards at Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago. (See our Ad below)
We begin the process in February as we select the 30 nominators. We look for independent Blues music professionals with a wide exposure to what is happening in today's Blues world. (Festival Promoters, Music Journalists, Blues music venue owners, radio DJs and others).
Then in March we open up the nomination process by announcing the eligibility criteria and invite labels and independent producers and artists to submit their recordings for consideration. In April we send these submissions to the nominators. These submissions, along with the nominators background and exposure to current Blues music provide the basis for their nominations at the end of May.
We tally the nominations and the result becomes part one of how we try to recognize the best in today's Blues music. Their nominations are in effect a "Critic's Choice Award". There are only eight categories so if an artist makes it in as one of the nominees (critic's choice) they are part of a small select group. Many other awards have scores of nominees and categories, but if an artists or recording is selected as a nominee in the Blues Blast Music Awards, they are in that small group the critic's thought were the "Best" in today's Blues. We announce the nominee choices in early June.
Then part two of the Blues Blast Music Awards begins on July 1 when voting begins. The voting part serves as a "People's Choice Award". Similar to the Living Blues Awards, anyone can vote! No monetary involvement is required as it is FREE for everyone.
Voting continues until August 31st and then we tally the votes and begin planning the Blues Blast Music Awards for the last Thursday in October. More than 6,500 of you made your voices heard by voting this year!
Why do we do it? We have heard that some think it is about money but in reality it costs more to produce the awards show than the revenue the show generates. (Hotel rooms for the artists alone in downtown Chicago exceed the money generated by the show!)
So why do it? It is our mission to recognize Blues music and Blues artists. It is what we do!
Please join us next Thursday, October 27th at Buddy Guy's Legends for the 4th Annual Blues Blast Music Awards. At this point there are still tickets available so check out our ad below to get yours now.
And if you can't join us in Chicago, be sure to listen to the live broadcast stream on GLT Blues Radio 24/7 beginning at 6:00pm CST as we celebrate this music called the Blues!
Good Blues To You!
Bob Kieser

Thursday October 27th, 2011 Buddy Guy's Legends, Chicago, IL
 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. Show starts at 6:00pm.
Seating is "first come first served". Show sold to SRO (Standing room Only) Get there EARLY for a seat!   NO REFUNDS!

Want guaranteed seating right in front of the stage?
Buddy Guy's Legends has limited seating. With our Mini Sponsorship packages you can be sitting right in front of the stage to hear performances by the 2011 Nominees!
Our Mini Sponsor packages begin as low as $250 for two people and include guaranteed seating, Blues memorabilia "Goodie Bag", limited edition event poster, limited edition Blues Blast Awards T-shirts and sponsor's name listed in the souvenir awards program. Limited number of sponsorships available, first come first served!  For more information CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Interview - Eric "Guitar" Davis
Though he’s probably never been referred to as the “E.F. Hutton of the Blues,” when Buddy Guy talks, people certainly do listen.
Doesn’t matter if you’re a grizzled old veteran of the scene, or whether you’re an impressionable 10-year-old kid, when the Legend from Lettsworth offers advice, you’d better be all ears.
And long before “Guitar” was placed between Eric and Davis, listen is just what he did.
A budding drummer at the time, the son of Bobby Davis had already backed up the likes of B.B. King and Junior Wells, even though he was not yet a teenager.
But one day after school, young Eric Davis spotted a bass player across the floor at that venerable old hotspot on Chicago’s 43rd Street, the Checkerboard Lounge, and mentioned that he’d like to take a few bass lessons.
Overhearing the conversation, the man behind the well-weathered bar pulled out a beaten-up Fender Strat and told young Davis, “In order to get all the girls, you have to play this.”
That man was Buddy Guy and Eric Davis soaked up that advice like a sponge soaks up water.
Guy later showed Davis his first chord on the instrument and from there on out, it was full-speed ahead for Davis and the six-string.
“I started really watching people like Buddy and Lefty Dizz and Sammy Lawhorn and all those guys play guitar and then my father bought me an old guitar from a pawn shop,” Davis said. “And I used to set up and listen to Albert Collins’ “Frosty” everyday. And somehow it all just caught on with me and I’ve been playing ever since.”
For a peek into why Big James (Montgomery) dubbed him as “Guitar” (“I never would have thought of that myself, but he started calling me “Guitar” and it stuck,” said Davis.), simply pop in Trouble Makin’ Man (Young Blues Records) – Davis’ latest CD -and the reasons are readily apparent.
There are plenty of thick, rich bluesy riffs that give the tunes a muscular feel, but there are also heavy chunks of slippery, slidey funk stuffed into the body of the songs, giving them a breezy, lighter-than-air nature.
So, the “Guitar” tag is well warranted.
But there’s also more. Davis wrote nine of the 10 tracks on the album.
“I like to write my own material because everything’s really already been covered,” he said. “And in these days and time, with all the competition out there, you have to set yourself, your show, your CD, apart from everyone else. They won’t hear me do “Everyday I Have the Blues.” They won’t hear “Stormy Monday.” When you hear new people, you want to hear new stuff. That’s part of my inspiration for writing my own songs. I want to be known for my stuff first. If I’m known for my stuff first, when I get to a certain level, I can go back and do other people’s stuff If I want to and still be accepted for being me. You sure don’t want people to think you’re a copycat, or are trying to be like this person or that person.”
The exception to that rule on Trouble Makin’ Man is a take on Chicagoan Jimmy Burns’ “No Consideration,” and it almost has a gospel-like charge to it, complete with requisite background vocals, giving the disc some choice variety and keeping it from being a straight-out shred fest.
“That’s by choice. That’s by choice to be different,” Davis said. “I listen to a lot of rap and a lot of R&B and things like that. And I try to mix the blues up to where you can get up and move. I try not to play the same old I-IV-V blues. I want to make the blues interesting and not the same old stuff that everybody’s heard over and over.”
That refusal to fall back into the been-there, done-that also applies to when Eric “Guitar” Davis and The Troublemakers hit the stage (video of their performance at this year’s Chicago Blues Festival can be seen at
“One thing I refuse to do at my shows – you may hear one or two ‘traditional blues songs’ – there again, the I-VI-V numbers – but I rarely do the slow blues and the shuffles, all those kinds of things,” he said. “I try to keep things fresh. We’re in 2011 and you have to go in different ways to keep things fresh to bring in some of the youngsters and middle-aged people that didn’t like the blues. But when they hear it coming from me, they go - ‘you know, that ain’t bad. I like that.’”
Trouble Makin’ Man also features guest stints from Ronnie Baker Brooks (who co-produced some of the disc), along with Mike Wheeler and Big James.
“I really put my all into this CD to see if it can help take me to that next level,” Davis said.
And Davis knows that the rungs of the ladder that lead to that “next level” are full of others who are clinging on with exactly the same plans as his.
Because making a name for yourself as a guitarist is one thing.
But making a name for yourself as a guitarist in a city like Chicago, a city that is stuffed to the gills with world-class players, is another matter entirely.
“It’s very hard (to separate from the pack). And the reason that I say that is with the newer generation, you have to prove yourself even more, because the blues has been watered down so much,” said Davis. “And when you’re playing in the Chicago clubs, everything is magnified. Everything you do is under the microscope, so you have to be serious about your business. If you’re not serious or don’t have good music – new, fresh music – along with consistency, it would be really hard.
While striving for consistency is certainly the goal of any musician, achieving that consistency can be easier said than done.
“This (playing the blues for a living) is something that you have to want to do. A lot of guys come out here and want to make a big name and get to all the big places without putting in the work. Everyone thinks they’re going to come out here and get rich,” Davis said. “But to maintain a level of consistency, the first thing is, it has to be in your heart. You’ve got to love and want to do this at all costs.”
A lot of times, those “costs” end up being little or no pay at the end of a gig, even for some of the very best bands on the scene.
“Being a bandleader, you’ve got to have a good group of guys that want to play with you,” he said. “Guys that are on the same page with you. They have to understand that some gigs may be for $50 and some gigs may be for $500. You have to have guys that believe in you and what you’re doing and will stick behind you, through it all. You’ve got to play a lot of those $50 gigs, too. Like I tell my band, if you’re playing with me, don’t expect to get rich. If you’re trying to put your kids through college playing with me, it’s not going to happen right now. But it’s going to get better and eventually the money will be plentiful and everybody will be happy. But you have to start at the bottom before you get to the top.”
Even though he’s hesitant to admit to as much, Davis has developed into a fairly formidable singer, mixing up power and grit with plenty of sweet soul.
Pretty impressive, considering that until he formed The Troublemakers, singing was probably the last thing on his mind.
“I’ve never really thought that I could sing,” Davis said. “Still, to this day, I never really thought I could sing. But as a bandleader, I wasn’t afraid to step up to the mike and sing. I knew I had to. When I would go out to jams and stuff, I would take the microphone and even though I wasn’t a singer, I would sing. That was the only way I was ever going to be able to learn to sing. And right now today, I’m very comfortable about what I’ve been able to achieve vocal-wise. My top favorite vocalist would have to be Jimmy Burns, though.”
Davis also cites Burns as one of his favorite guitarists, along with Albert Collins, Lefty Dizz, Chico Banks and Ronnie Baker Brooks, to name just a few.
However, it was a relative unknown that ended up having as much or more influence than those cats on Davis when he was still learning the nuances of the guitar.
“There’s a guy named Lavertis Stewart – a guy that nobody’s ever heard of – that was a big influence on me learning to play the guitar,” he said. “I met him 20-something years ago in my neighborhood and he used to sit up and play with me and go through things on the guitar with me.”
And even though he’s played the guitar in countless clubs in countless cities over the course of the past three decades, Davis has not been able to completely separate himself from the first instrument he was taught at age 5 – the drums.
“I actually still play the drums every now and then, so I’m still a drummer at heart,” he said. “And since I play the drums, I HAVE to have a good drummer behind me when I’m playing guitar. That’s like one of the main points of my band.”
Davis, who in addition to playing guitar, singing, writing songs and leading a band, also serves as a one-man booking, promoting, advertising and marketing department, understands that remaining visible and accessible are necessary components needed to break through to the masses.
“I stay in clubs at least eight nights a week, even if I’m not playing,” he said. “I like to check out what other people are doing and hear the music they’re playing, plus it lets people know that I’m out and about – its keeps me in front of people.”
Like any other performer, in the world of the blues or otherwise, Davis aspires to one day take to the world’s biggest stages and play to adoring fans all across the globe.
And he would rather do that sooner than later.
“I can see myself playing big festivals and doing big things. I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing,” he said. “I’m not that old in the blues business, but one thing I have a fear of – I don’t want to be an old man that just now reaches the point that he wants to. And I think with the direction I’m going in now, and by staying true to the music, I can reach that point sooner than that.”
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.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 1 of 5
Memphis Gold - Pickin’ High Cotton
Stack House Records
11 tracks
This is a dark and deep in the blues album. Memphis Gold takes us track by track through a life of picking cotton by hand in Mississippi, homelessness, poverty, drunkenness, and other tragedies that have filled his live and given him the blues just like the forefathers of the blues. He expresses his feelings deeply and with a true sense of the blues. This is a down home and dirty blues CD of all original tracks.
While the lyrics and beat sometimes seem to be overly simplistic and they deliver some riffs we’ve heard before, Memphis Gold is writing and playing in the style of years past. He is one of the last true links to Delta blues played by a man who lived in the style of the originally recorded bluesmen; he gives us a 21st-century take on the tradition.
Dark and dreary times get the treatment in tracks like “How You Gonna Play The Blues?”, “Don’t Take My Blues Away”, ”Homeless Blues”, and “Pickin’ High Cotton”. One can feel and understand the suffering men and women went through in the Delta when listening to this man. He emotes the blues in a straightforward and blunt manner- no questions asked.
There is some variety here, too. “Back Po’ch Tennessee” is a cool and jumping instrumental song, while “Ice Cream Man” (not a cover) gives us a different take on the blues where he and MMM want to be their baby’s ice cream man. “John Brown” is some more deep blues, but it hearkens to times a century and a half ago in a fresh manner. The closing track “Standin’ By The Highway” gives us more of Gold’s blues, but the rhythm and beat are funked up and grooving.
The CD insert materials is lacking some of the guitar credits on some tracks, but the players here support Memphis Gold 1000% with their efforts- they are tight and quite in synch. The packaging and insert show the pride Gold has in his recognition and success. There are the Living Blues and Blues & Rhythm magazine covers he was featured on, sponsorships, and gratitude for a flag he received that was flown over GITMO.
The CD is fun to listen to. It may seem at time to be stuff we’ve heard before, but that is what the early blues were all about. Memphis Gold takes us back and helps us recognize we are not far removed from the days of the plantation and share cropping. All that has saved men and women the labor of picking cotton are huge machines that have taken their jobs away, menial as they were, but perhaps making for a new future generation’s take on the blues where even King Cotton cannot provide a meager sustenance for small farmers.
Reviewer Steve Jones is a Board Member 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 works with their Blues In The Schools program.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 2 of 5
Jim Allchin - Overclocked
Sandy Key Music
13 songs; 51 minutes
Styles: Blues Rock, Jazzy Blues, Pop Ballad
A smorgasbord is a popular destination of many hungry people who want “a night out.” Its appeal is threefold: relatively low prices, the temptation to devour “all you can eat,” and vast array of foods available. Like a buffet, Jim Allchin's second album, “Overclocked,” offers a little bit of everything: blistering yet melodious guitar, hot horns, punctuating keyboards, beautiful ballads, and a pinch of pizzazz! Allchin’s honeyed and warm tenor vocals are serviceable and sound younger than his age (the opposite of the more common young-guy-sounding-old). His thirteen original songs may skirt the edge of pure blues; however, each one is unique and tasty, and all are worth at least one listen. Let's savor three of this CD's most luscious main dishes:
Track 1. "Overclocked"--Typically, this adjective refers to computer processors when they've been set to run faster than normal. However, in this case, Jim Allchin belts out a weary student's desire to do just this: "No more school or teachers' looks. It's Friday night--got to come unhooked! "Overclocked" is everything a lead-in number on an album should be: explosive, vigorous, and a surefire earworm! His masterful guitar work reminds of Jimi Hendrix’s creativity coupled with Robin Trower’s harmonic melody.
Track 3. "Back in the Swamp"--Is this an ode to Florida, or perhaps the Louisiana bayou? Hardly! It's a confession from a philandering paramour: "I'm back in the swamp. Those gators gonna get me! I cheated on that girl--I'm up the creek." Allchin's metaphor is a fresh change from the usual "doghouse" imagery, and when he compares "lying through my teeth" to rising waters, the mental image is absolutely priceless!
Track 10. "Perfect Game"—This song's about the painful masquerading that lovers often do once they lose one another. Jim Allchin and co-vocalist Keely Whitney are magnificent here as the pair in question, with a mutual lament: "Hide my heart, hide my eyes--the old familiar disguise. It's the perfect game: I'm doing great, showing no pain. It's the perfect game..." What makes this song perfect is its raw power, as opposed to flawless blues technique.
According to his website, Jim Allchin hails from a one-room house on a dirt farm in the Deep South. He rose to earn Masters/Doctorate degrees from Stanford University and Georgia Institute of Technology. He went on to become a world-recognized leader in Computer Science and software. Today he codes for fun and plays guitar for love. “Money doesn't really matter for happiness,” he states emphatically. What does matter is providing blues listeners with variety and plenty of “food for thought”. “Overclocked” definitely offers it, and much more!
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.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Blues Blast Music Awards - Listen Online Live
Great News! Our friends at GLT Blues Radio 24/7 are going to stream the audio from the 2011 Blues Blast Music Awards at Buddy Guy's Legends LIVE on October 27th!
If you have never listened to GLT Blues Radio 24/7 be sure to check it out now by CLICKING HERE. Then be sure to bookmark their station and tune in.
We think they have THE best commercial free, all Blues, all the time internet radio station on the planet! So check them out and see what we mean.
Fans in the Bloomington/Normal and Central Illinois area will also be able to hear the show live on their regular FM radio dial at 89.1 FM or 103.5 FM in the Central, IL area.

 Featured Blues Review 3 of 5
Various artists – 35 Years Of Stony Plain
Stony Plain Records
CD1 - 21 tracks; 75.05 minutes; CD2 20 tracks; 73.20 minutes; DVD 11 tracks; approx. 54 minutes.
What were you doing in 1976? Holger Petersen was setting up a small, independent record company based in the most northern city in Canada, Edmonton. 35 years on that small debut has led to more than 400 album releases and the company is now established as a leading player in the blues and roots market. Stony Plain does not limit itself to Canadian artists and Americans such as Ronnie Earl, Duke Robillard, Rory Block, Steve Earle and Joe Louis Walker have found homes there, in some cases producing arguably their best work for the label.
This is essentially a double CD with a bonus DVD. The first CD is subtitled “Singers, songwriters and much, much more” and features an eclectic mix of material. For example, opening track “The Diplomat” finds Maria Muldaur in jug band mode, followed by the late Jeff Healey playing 1920s jazz guitar alongside excellent violinist Drew Jurecka. Harry Marx and Kevin Breit appear next on an attractive and quite bluesy piece “Looking For A Brand New World”.
There are several excellent performances on Disc 1 that are more folk/country or ‘Americana’, as such music is dubbed in the UK: Ian Tyson (the doyen of Canadian folk music and author of the timeless “Four Strong Winds” which is later reprised by Blue Rodeo on the compilation), Steve Earle, Corb Lund, Rodney Crowell and Emmylou Harris.
Two tracks on Disc 1 feature Duke Robillard (of whom we will hear more on Disc 2). One of Duke’s recent discoveries has been Sunny Crownover who was the featured vocalist on Duke’s 2009 CD “Stomp The Blues Tonight”. Here Duke accompanies Sunny on acoustic guitar in an ensemble called “Sunny And Her Joy Boys”. In collaboration with Jay Geils and Gerry Beaudoin, Duke produced the 2007 CD “New Guitar Summit” from which their interpretation of Charlie Christian and Lionel Hampton’s “Shivers” is taken. Both these tracks are more jazz than blues but are superbly executed.
Disc 2 is subtitled “Blues, R&B, Swing, Jazz and even more”, so that is where we blues fans should find more to our taste and we certainly do. Again, Duke Robillard features strongly; the first four tracks on the CD are all his productions: his own “Stomp The Blues Tonight”, Joe Louis Walker’s “Black Widow Spider” from “Between A Rock And The Blues”, the late Jay McShann captured with Duke’s band in 1998 and the very recent CD by Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne bringing us right up to date. Just to demonstrate how prolific Duke is he also appears on further tracks by Doug James and Sugar Ray Norcia, Roscoe Gordon and Billy Boy Arnold. As ever with Duke’s recordings, all these are excellent tracks.
Jeff Healey appears again, this time in more familiar electric blues mode in a track from his 2008 BMA award winning CD “Mess Of Blues”. On Sonny Thompson’s “I’m Torn Down” Jeff reminds us of what an exciting player he was and what a loss to the blues world his untimely death was. In contrast Ronnie Earl’s approach to blues guitar is far more restrained yet always seems to reach our emotions. The track chosen here is “Miracles” from Ronnie’s 2010 release “Spread The Love”.
There are some previously unreleased tunes on these CDs that are worth noting. CD 1 features three demos recorded in 1979 by Bob Carpenter; CD 2 has a 1988 cut by King Biscuit Boy and no fewer than four unreleased 1965 recordings by Robert Nighthawk. Recorded late at night after a gig in Toronto, these are the last recordings he ever made and they are great fun. Perhaps there was insufficient material to warrant an album release at the time, but they are certainly a joy to hear, so thanks to Stony Plain for these tracks ‘from the vault’.
The bonus DVD material is mainly promo videos, some of which show their age. I liked the video for Jr Gone Wild in which they are playing live to an audience of one, albeit clearly a major fan of the band. When he decides to launch himself off the stage into the (now empty) audience, you just have to laugh! The tribute to Jeff Healey (playing Neil Young’s “Like A Hurricane”) is moving and the interview with Holger Petersen interesting. Ronnie Earl appears to be really playing live whereas Duke Robillard’s band is not, as Duke’s guitar changes from a Gibson to a Fender half way through!
The purpose of label-specific compilations is to promote the label’s roster. From a fan’s viewpoint the value is to discover new artists and this compilation offers a very wide range of material for us to consider. I have certainly one or two more albums to track down now!
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.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Blues Society News

 Send your Blues Society's BIG news or Press Release about your
not-for-profit event with the subject line "Blues Society News" to:
Submissions must be a maximum of 175 words or less in a Text or MS Word document format.

River City Blues Society presents: Bringing The Blues To You with the following shows - Eddie Turner - Wednesday October 26th, Big Dog Mercer - Wednesday November 9th, Cash Box Kings - Thursday November 17th, Kilborn Alley Blues Band - Wednesday November 30th, Victor Wainwright & The Wildroots - Saturday December 17th. Location Goodfellas 1414 S. 8th St, Pekin, Illinois 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm $5.00 non-members $3.00 members. For more info visit:
The Golden Gate Blues Society - Redwood City, CA
On Sunday, November 13, The Golden Gate Blues Society of the San Francisco Bay Area presents the International Blues Challenge Final Round. Pinkie Rideau and Blind Resistance, The David Landon Band, Paula Harris and Blu Gruv, and The Delta Wires hit the stage at San Francisco’s award- winning home of the blues, Biscuits & Blues, located at 401 Mason Street near Union Square, from 2 until 6 pm on Sunday, November 13. Admission for members of The Golden Gate Blues Society is $15, and for nonmembers $20. Membership is available at the door.
Judges for the Finals include Sista Monica Parker, "the lioness of the blues;" Lee Hildebrand, journalist for Living Blues; and Frank DeRose, leader and bass player with 2011 TGGBS International Blues Challenge winners Tip of the Top. For more info visit
Blues Society of Western PA - Pittsburgh, PA
On October 22 at the Clarion Hotel, 401 Holiday Drive, Pittsburgh, PA The Blues Society of Western PA presents Blues Goes Pink- Divas Return Show from 1 pm – 9 pm. $12 to public, $10 to all blues members from any society. All proceeds to benefit Adagio Health to provide breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings for underinsured women in Western PA. For more information visit Blues Society of Western PA at  or call 724-378-8926
The Windy City Blues Society is proud to announce the 2011 Chicago Blues Challenge (CBC). The CBC is a series of musical competitions that will determine which blues band will represent Chicago and The Windy City Blues Society at the Blues Foundation’s 2012 International Blues Challenge (IBC) in Memphis, Tennessee.
The Chicago Blues Challenge will be held on Sundays in October culminating in the Finals in November. Venues will be announced shortly on the Windy City Blues Society Website.
The Chicago Blues Challenge Finals will be held Sunday, November 13. For more information about the Windy City Blues Society and the Chicago Blues Challenge please visit or visit our Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter Sites.
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. For more information about this exciting event, please visit our website at
Colorado Blues Society - Boulder, CO
The Colorado Blues Society we will hold our Youth Showcase auditions at the Dickens Opera House in Longmont, CO on Oct 23 . 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!
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. Oct. 17 – Southside Jonny & Kicked to the Curb, Oct 24 – Bruce Katz, Oct. 31 – Studebaker John and the Hawks. 
2011 Friends of the Blues shows -  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:
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, 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,

 Featured Blues Review 4 of 5
Bill Bourne & The Free Radio Band - Bluesland
Self Release
On their way to Bluesland, Bill and the boys obviously took a detour to singer-songwriter-rock-country land. That is not to say that the band doesn’t commit itself well, it’s just that blues is a seasoning rather than the main course. For some unknown reason Canada is a fertile breeding ground for imaginative music that crosses genre lines.
The CD opens with what sounds like Mark Knopfler’s guitar leading into a John Hiatt vocal. The resemblance of Bill’s voice to John’s is just uncanny. “Deep Dark Woods” has lyrical content similar to Hiatt’s as well. Bill’s son Pat provides electric lead guitar which at times has the fuzz-acid tone of Henry Vestine of Canned Heat fame. Pa Joe is listed as playing electric smooth jazz guitar, which is the Knopfler sound I hear. The leader, besides his distinctive vocals, plays acoustic rhythm guitar as well as harmonica ala Bob Dylan. The Canned Heat style guitar makes its first appearance in “Forever Truly Bound”, which is taken at a brisk pace. “Who’s Knockin’?” could take its rightful place on a John Hiatt CD. It rolls merrily along smack dab into a nimble-fingered guitar dual. Bill’s vocals spill out naturally over seamless lyrics. The traditional country tale “Columbus Stockade Blues” benefits from fleet-fingered country-meets-jazz guitar.
The smoldering lament that is “Daily Bread” again recalls a John Hiatt workout. This comparison isn’t pointing out a flaw or musical theft; rather it’s a compliment as to how this influence is used to create something wholly new. Dylan’s “Maggie’s Farm” is taken at a somewhat brisker jaunt than the original, complete with cheesy harmonica. It’s a cover that works on its’ own merits.
Although a tad short for my liking this is a mostly likeable musical excursion. It’s somehow unusual in that all the music is from the band without any outside help, as well as being “recorded off the floor”. This is surely a voice that could work itself into a household name. I’m sure he isn’t consciously mimicking, although he has probably consciously used Hiatt as a reference. “Deep Dark Woods” could take off if given the proper exposure. Many musical forms are assimilated here to create a hearty musical stew..
Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony hails from the New Jersey Delta.
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 Featured Blues Review 5 of 5
Ana Popovic - Unconditional
12 Tracks 49:57
Ana Popovic is so close to making it really big. This CD, which is the latest in a string of albums, is the one that might well break her in to the big time arena occupied by the BIG names of contemporary blues music. Although Ana and her band have made a string of close to a dozen CDs and DVDs, and she and the band have received a slew of nominations, until now she has (with one exception the 2004 win of the award Jazz à Juan Revelation in Juan-les-Pins, France) had to settle for second place; nominations but no wins. This one, I predict, is the one that will see Ana and her colleagues achieve massive success.
The album is stunningly good, without a single poor track in it and with Ana’s exemplary axe work well to the fore. Her singing voice, which despite her Yugoslav (Serb) background, and with English as a foreign language, is all but accent less, and her feel for the blues genre in her delivery is flawless, reminding me of kind of amalgam of Janice Joplin and Grace Slick (anyone remember her?).
If the CD has a flaw, which is a dubious hypothesis any way, it is that Ana seems unable to leave the pedal board alone…on the other hand, she uses effects with skull and panache and IMHO to the extent that they adversely affect the music.
The music itself? Well it ranges from the opener Fearless a nice little shuffle in the Texas tradition featuring a cleaver lyric and some terrific support from the band. Count Me In is a fiery upbeat stomp with some super axe work. The delicious Slide Show features Ana with slide ace Sonny Landreth and Ana holds her own with her own slide work with a bunch of scorching licks albeit without (I think) the behind the slide fingering that is such an amazing feature of Landreth’s playing.
The weakest track is Summer Rain which is too ‘poppy’ for my taste, but the outstanding track is Mercy Dee Walton’s (this is the only cover on the CD) One Room Country Shack, which Ana does real justice to adding a modern feel to a traditional piano based blues which will make many want to hear the original. A very fitting tribute to Mr Walton.
I short this is a great CD that is strongly recommended to any and all. Thank you Ana.
Reviewer Ian McKenzie is a Brit Living in England. He is the editor of Blues In The South a monthly publication giving info on news, gigs and reviews of events and CDs for the south if England. Ian has two blues radio shows one broadcast on Phonic FM in the UK (12 noon Central, 6pm UK) on on Wednesdays and the second airing on KCOR (Kansas City On Line Radio) on Fridays (12 noon Central, 6pm UK)
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Important Links

Voices on the Radio 
No, ya ain't daft. Those noises
ain't in yer head, they're comin' from that new fangled radio box. October 30th on Hammered By The Blues  (every Sunday on KOWZ 1170AM at 10pm) we utilize a bit of radio theater to transport you back to a time when the family relied on the radio for entertainment. With Halloween upon us, think of this as a kind of musical 'War of The Worlds' broadcast....only without aliens...or Orson Wells.... nor, for that matter, wanton destruction of civilization. To grab your attention right off we have the irrepressible Candye Kane sharin' some of her best off 'Sister Vagabond' while showcasin' the awesome fret work of Laura Chavez. Takin' you on the back alley tour of the best grave yards in Madison, the raucous Aaron Williams & The Hoodoo gives your mojo a thorough workout with tracks off their latest simply titled '10:49'. To stand you hair on end and send chills down yer spine, Mickey Thomas wrestles with his favorite inner demons off 'Marauder'. To insure you never forget, tattooing this experience directly on yer brain, Ana Popovic commands you to do her bidding' with spells woven off 'Unconditional'. I'm pretty sure you had better invite the neighbors over for this one!      

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