Cover photo by Arnie Goodman © 2012
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In This Issue
Terry Mullins has our feature interview with Savoy Brown guitarist Kim Simmonds this week.
We have six CD reviews for you this week! James "Skyy Dobro" Walker reviews a new release by Jimmy Burns. Mark Thompson reviews a new CD from the Kilborn Alley Blues Band. John Mitchell reviews a new CD from Savoy Brown. Ian McKenzie reviews a new CD by Trent Romens. Gary Weeks reviews a new CD by Nick Moss. Steve Jones reviews a new CD from Samantha Fish. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!
From The Editor's Desk
Hey Blues Fans,
We have had an interesting advertiser for the last few issues. Deb Landolt, aka Long Tall Deb is doing a follow up to her critically acclaimed 2010 CD, Diamonds on the Desert Floor.
And in this case you can help make this new CD a reality by actually contributing money toward recording the CD using the website http://www.kickstarter.com. Many other artists have used this cool way to raise the funds for a CD project.
The way Kickstart works is you pledge any amount of money from $1 up. If you contribute to help make this new CD a reality you can get rewards ranging from a digital download of a song from the record before it's released for your $1 contribution, all the way to signed copies of the new CD, your name in CD thank you credits and the opportunity to sit in on recording session and more for a donation of $500 or more.
If all goes well and the funding for a project is reached (a total of $18,500 needed for this one!), your credit card donation is charged when a successful project closes. If the funding goal for the Kickstart project is not reached, then you are not charged and the project will not be funded.
So far this project has raised nearly $7,000 and the project remains open for donations until February 11th! We think this is a cool way for you all to get involved and help keep this Blues project alive, so much so that I personally kicked in my donation.
I challenge all our readers to kick in $5 or $10 each to help make this project happen. It is a great way to get involved and help out. You can get all the information on the new CD project and make a donation now just CLICK HERE.
Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!
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Featured Blues Interview - Kim Simmonds
If it was a path traveled by his idols, why shouldn’t he choose to go down that path, too?
After all, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and John Lee Hooker all shook off the constraints of Father Time and continued to play the blues into their sixth decades on this earth (well beyond that in Hooker’s case).
And the way that one of the original architects of the British blues sees it, that plan of action beats the heck out of hanging up the guitar, kicking back in the easy chair and drawing social security.
“Well, I always thought that I’d play into my 80s because all my mentors, that’s what they did,” Kim Simmonds said. “So I thought, why would I want to be any different? And that’s the truth. That’s exactly what I’m going to do. But what I didn’t bargain on was getting older and it getting physically harder. But I decided a long time ago, since I’m in this for the long haul, I’ve got to take care of myself. And that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve got a health and fitness regimen that I try to keep going. I would like to think – barring ill health or problems – that I can keep playing music until my 80s and then one day just keel over.”
And with the intensity and passion that Simmonds goes about his business on Savoy Brown’s latest album – Voodoo Moon (Ruf Records) - retirement most certainly is the last thing on the mind of the 64-year-old living legend.
Crackling with the same kind of highly-motivated, blues boogie that Simmonds has been responsible for ever since unleashing Savoy Brown on an unsuspecting public back in 1965, Voodoo Moon’s 11 cuts are welcome additions to the Welsh guitarist’s considerable legacy of nearly 50 albums.
“It’s been nothing but positive; I’m still waiting for the first bad review,” he said. “We’ve been working some of the new material into our show for the past 18 months and we saw that people really responded well to it - so it was test-marketed. We knew that it would fit in well with the older material and that was the first inkling we had of how the album would be received. It’s all been a good thing.”
Voodoo Moon is definitely not a paint-by-numbers formulation of 1971’s Street Corner Talking, but the new release does maintain a brotherhood with Savoy Brown’s immense back catalog.
“I’m such a feeling-type of musician, very spontaneous. And it’s hard for me to be analytical – you just do what’s inside of you - but I do think we captured a bit of the old sound,” said Simmonds. “Once I got the song “Natural Man” I really felt that was a strong song, a real Savoy Brown type of song. I went back and listened to all the old Savoy albums to just remind myself of how I played guitar and approached things in the old days. And I don’t normally do that, because it’s difficult to listen to your old material. But I did do a quick retrospect and that kind of helped me in a little way.”
The title track was one that had been packed in mothballs for a while, just waiting for the right burst of inspiration to strike Simmonds so he could assemble the pieces into a finished product.
“Yeah, I had the song “Voodoo Moon” for years and I just couldn’t get it all put together like I wanted it,” he said. “I had a decent lyric, but not a great one and had to work and work at it. You say to yourself, ‘is it a good lyric, or is it too cliché?’ I fought with it and worked with it – played it for friends and got their feedback. Songwriting can be a very difficult process. But in the end, it all kind of came together. It’s enjoyable (songwriting), but it’s also frustrating as all heck.”
Not only a gifted songwriter and guitarist, for the last decade or so Simmonds has emerged as an accomplished painter (one of his original works adorns the cover of his 2008 solo album, Out of the Blue), as well.
And according to Simmonds, there is a direct link between bringing a canvas to life with watercolors and turning a group of random words into a song.
“They both (painting and song-writing) work together. Solving problems is what it is. Painting and song-writing are both very, very hard. And some days, things just don’t work out,” he said. “So you set them aside and maybe come back to them later and then you have a breakthrough. Those breakthroughs can be very exciting. For instance, if I have a breakthrough in painting, I find that can inspire me and also lead to a breakthrough in song-writing, as well. There’s nothing better than success, and having a little success in either of those fields can lead to success in the other. They’re both artistic, problem-solving things. And if you don’t solve the problem, you don’t get a good painting or get a good song.”
Filled as it is with plenty of moments of self-doubt and maddening bits of dead-end ideas, Simmonds offers up that the “work” associated with songwriting is not the same kind of “work” associated with hand-digging a trench on a hot August day.
“The fun part for me is writing new songs and creating things and solving problems in an artistic way – like trying to make a lyric work or find a cool piece of music. That’s a blast,” he said. “That’s the fun part of this. That’s not work. I’ve got a stand-alone studio about 50 yards from my house where I go and work and I love it. I practice every day and try different approaches to things – I mean, you call that work? Are you kidding me? That’s not work. The real drudgery is going on the road and doing something you’ve done for 45 years. Don’t get me wrong, I love the audiences and love being on stage every night playing, but getting to that stage and then getting to the next gig, that’s drudgery.”
To Simmonds’ credit, he’s clearly intent on adding to the body of Savoy Brown’s work by creating new music, instead of simply resting off the laurels of four decades of previous work. And for that, he once again turns to his idols for inspiration.
“All the people I’ve admired throughout my life did that (continued to make new music). B.B. King did that, John Lee Hooker did that and Buddy Guy still does that … they put out fresh, new albums every couple of years,” Simmonds said. “And with John Lee, he was a major influence on me and still made records right until he passed a few years ago. So I was a 13-year-old buying his records and then I was a 60-year-old buying his records, so it seems normal for me to keep making records, just like those guys. There has to be a love to do it and a need to do it (release new music) and I have both. Some of the older, traditional blues artists that I like, I want to hear new material from them. I don’t want to hear retreads of “Sweet Home Chicago,” no matter how good the artist is.”
Thanks to a household filled with all kinds of long-players as a youngster, it didn’t take Simmonds long before he was bitten by the music bug.
It did, however, take him a little while before he came to the understanding that not all music was the same.
“I was brought up listening to all the music – gospel, R&B, blues, jazz and rock-n-roll. All the 50’s music,” he said. “And as a kid of 9- or 10-years-old, it was all the same to me. It was music I liked. I didn’t know the difference between James Brown and Little Richard and Howlin’ Wolf and Jimmy Smith – it was all the same to me. But when I got to age 13, I heard Muddy Waters and that’s when I realized there were stylistic differences that I hadn’t heard before. I realized that there was a style called Chicago blues and it centered around Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Willie Dixon, and they all lived in Chicago. At that point, I realized out of all the music that I listened to – which was everything – that what I wanted to play was the Chicago blues. That’s what I wanted to specialize in. That sound really spoke to me.”
And with that, Kim Simmonds was off and running, forming Savoy Brown in 1965, a time that was fertile with all kinds of bands that were mixing the blues with good, ole rock-n-roll.
Groups like Ten Years After, Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, The Animals, The Yardbirds … all groups that were taking Chicago blues and cranking up the volume to 10.
“There were so many of us doing the same kind of thing. But I think that I probably had a better grasp of the blues idiom than most of my contemporaries because of my upbringing. I didn’t just play one album and say I knew the blues. I played a million albums. I knew all the blues artists. I was an aficionado of the blues because of the people who brought me up listening to it,” said Simmonds. “I was very lucky to have an older brother that was a ‘tastemaker’ back in England in those days. So I had a solid ground in the blues. And you could hear that in the music. But there was so many of us blending styles together back then. In my case, I was trying to be as completely true to traditional blues as I could, but how could I be, when I’m a Welshman? So what came out was this hybrid. Yes, it sounded like traditional blues, but there was something else going on there that the listener could hear, as well. That was accidental, because all I wanted to be was B.B. King or Freddie King. But I couldn’t stop my own personality, and my own limitations, from making it slightly different.”
Savoy Brown has had a few members come and go over the course of nearly five decades. Some of those went on to find success on their own terms, most notably guitarist “Lonesome” Dave Peverett, bass player Tony Stevens and drummer Roger Earl, who went on to form Foghat.
But regardless of who lines up next to Simmonds - the only member to appear on Savoy Brown’s entire catalog of albums – the mission statement remains the same now as did then.
Create new music and spread the word of the blues.
And Savoy Brown has done just that, despite such storms as disco, punk, new wave, glitter and any other musical fad one can think of, popping up on the horizon.
But the question is, just how has Savoy Brown done that?
“You have to a real sense of commitment, obviously. You have to have a serious, hard-work ethic. You have to take risks and chances. And above all, you have to do what other people won’t do,” said Simmonds. “You have to be fearless and jump into the deep end. And when I was young, I was fearless. When I changed the band at the end of a tour, I wouldn’t play any of the old material. And I did that for years. When I look back, I think how the heck did I have the nerve to do that? The older you get, the more you lose your nerve. However, you’ve still got a bit of it. You can’t just wish to have this kind of life. You have to work at it. You’ve got to be able to adapt and survive.”
His band may never have scaled the golden heights, or raked in the countless riches that some groups have managed to, but Simmonds is anything but bitter about his fortunes.
“I think in my case, it probably helps that I’ve not had huge success. Because I think if you have huge success, it can probably dampen the fire,” he said. “And I’ve deliberately not sought that kind of profile. And that’s what helps keep me artistically free and able to create by having things my way. If you get too successful, you’re not so free.”
To be involved in any business for 45 years is a remarkable thing, but when you’re faced with the challenges and fickle tastes that dominate the music industry, well, that’s a whole separate ball of wax.
“I used to love everything about a life of playing music - the good parts and the bad parts - I loved it all,” Simmonds said. “But now, I don’t love the bad parts. But you do change and all of a sudden the way you think about things changes. It’s all part of the survival process.”
And hopefully, that process will last another 20-plus years for Simmonds.
Photographs by Arnie Goodman © 2012
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.
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Featured Blues Review 1 of 6
Jimmy Burns Band - Stuck in the Middle
13 songs; 54:23 minutes; Suggested
Styles: Blues, Rock and Roll, Country, Pop, Soul, R&B
Why do so many Blues artists perform a disco song – namely The Rolling Stones’s “Miss You”? Perhaps it’s their way of saying, “I am a multi-faceted, multi-talented, all-music loving artist. Sure, I’m in the Blues box, but please don’t lock me up in there!” An example of breaking out of that box, one popular artist has left the Blues on his last two CDs to play other music he likes.
Chicago’s Jimmy Burns (born 1943 in Mississippi) has an impeccable Blues pedigree although his late teens and early 20s years found him growing up on the Near North Side singing Doo-wop, R&B, Folk, and Soul inspired more by Curtis Mayfield than Muddy Waters. In 2001, a true testament to Burns’ Blues came when he appeared on the cover of “Living Blues” magazine (Issue 156) with his brother Eddie Burns above the caption, “The Real Blues Brothers Eddie and Jimmy Burns.” While Eddie landed in Detroit and became a pioneer of electric urban Blues, recording and touring with John Lee Hooker, Jimmy left his native Mississippi for Chicago in 1955. After recording his last Soul record in 1972 (“I Can’t Get Over”), he became a full time family man sitting in only occasionally with bands. By 1996, he was back and into the Blues full time recording his debut on Delmark Records, “Leaving Here Walking.” Today, Burns is one of the most recognized performers in Chicago and regularly hosts the Monday night jam at Buddy Guy’s Legends.
Now, with four Blues CDs behind him, Burns has decided record an album of cover songs like the music he was hearing on the radio in the early 60s – a cornucopia of popular styles. “... I went back to some of what I used to do.... I felt for the most part that this was me,” Burns reveals in the liner notes.
For me, the standout track is “Reach for the Sky” written by friend Felix Reyes in memory of his early 90s Atlanta protégé, Sean Costello. Here, Jimmy sings the lyrics for his recently departed wife of 44 years, Dorothy Burns. Done in a mid-tempo Calypso style, the song features Jimmy on uplifting vocals, co-producer Dave Herrero on guitar, and band member Bryant “T” Parker on congas. Illustrating his deep love of all music, the calypso style is a throw-back to Burns’s teenage days of playing solo on songs like “The Banana Boat Song” at the Fickle Pickle, booked by Mike Bloomfield.
Like early 60s radio, variety abounds on the album: three tracks written by Richard Hamersma, “Early Morning Blues,” “How Close,” and “Incidental Lover,” find Burns providing his patented Soulful vocals over mellow and melodic Bluesy songs with Ariyo Sumito Ariyoshi on killer keyboards. The band Rocks it up on Matt Powell’s “Cadillac” with Dave Herrero on scorching guitar. Surprises “Pop” up when Burns does his own arrangement for the Beatles’s “Get Back” using a borrowed Magic Sam guitar riff. The title track (and cover photo) is a re-work of the 1972 Stealer’s Wheel classic “Stuck in the Middle (With You).”
Jimmy Burns has so much good music inside him that had to come out. Music fans can’t help but be entertained and moved by a singer on a CD this good.
Reviewer James "Skyy Dobro" Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ, Master of Ceremonies, and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show "Friends of the Blues" can be heard Saturdays 8 pm - Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at www.wkccradio.org in Kankakee, IL.
Featured Blues Review 2 of 6
Kilborn Alley - Four
Blue Bella Records
Now operating as a quartet, Kilborn Alley serves up another batch of tunes that hit home with a cutting edge that honors the blues tradition while mixing in some of the soulful seasoning that has always been a distinguishing element of the band's music. Andy Duncanson handles the lead vocals and guitar with Josh Stimmel also on guitar, Chris Breem on bass and Ed O'Hara on drums and backing vocal. The group gets help from several special guests including Gerry Hundt on harmonica, Vince Salerno on sax and Travis Reed, a member of the Nick Moss Band, on organ and piano.
Duncanson has a marvelous voice that is rough around the edges, yet also capable of expressing breathtakingly deep emotions that hit hard at your soul. His yearning, pleading vocal on “You Were My Woman” drives home the pain of a love lost. The band channels the sound from the glory days of labels like Stax and Hi Re-cords on “Good Advice”, with Reed on organ providing the perfect backdrop for Duncanson as the singer pours out his feelings in soul-wrenching fashion. Duncanson's finest moment comes on the opening two lines on “Going Hard”. The lyrics “Whiskey bottle, on my bed-side table..” don't seem like much until you hear his spine-chilling delivery that immediately transport you to a time when each of us has stood alone, late at night, battling our demons. Later in the track, Stimmel matches the singer's intensity with a lengthy guitar solo that show-cases his distinctive style.
Breem and O'Hara lay down a driving shuffle on the opening number, “'Rents House Boogie”, with Stimmel's taut rhythm guitar part serving as a counterpoint to Hundt's harp. “Wandering” is a joyous romp with Hundt blowing in the upper register of his harp ala Jimmy Reed. The tough groove on “Fast Heart Beat” returns the band to the traditional Chicago sound while the instrumental “Argyles and a Do-Rag” celebrates Stimmel's sense of style with both guitar play-ers trading the lead position. “Sitting on the Bank” employs the classic riff from “'Rolling & Tumbling” with Hundt once again making a key contribution. Another highlight is Duncanson's moving rendition of “Couple of Days (Change My Ways)”, a song that illustrates again how well the group can handle gentler, soulful material.
Kilborn Alley continues to impress with their outstanding musical interplay and knock-out vocals. If you are looking for some blues music worth spending your hard-earned dollars on, I strongly suggest that you start your search with this release. It comes highly recommended !!
Reviewer Mark Thompson is president of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL. He has been listening to music of all kinds for fifty years. The first concert he attended was in Chicago with The Mothers of Invention and Cream. Life has never been the same.
Featured Blues Review 3 of 6
Savoy Brown – Voodoo Moon
9 tracks; 45.32 minutes
Savoy Brown has been around since 1966, the one constant being founder Kim Simmonds who has been there since the beginning on guitar and occasional vocals. Although the original incarnation of Savoy Brown was British, Kim has been resident in the USA for many years and all the players here are local to NY State where Kim now lives. Kim produced the CD, wrote all the material, plays all guitars and sings on two tracks. Joining Kim are Joe Whiting who handles most of the vocals, plays sax on six and co-wrote two, Pat DeSalvo who plays bass and Garnet Grimm who plays the drums. Keyboards and percussion are added by Andy Rudy and Ron Keck respectively.
Vocalist Joe Whiting has a clear, strong voice, ideally suited to this sort of blues-based rock. His sax playing is always in the background, beefing up the music rather than taking a lead role which remains largely Kim Simmonds’ role. What I like about Kim’s playing is that he never distorts the sound, keeps it clean and often gets great tone in his solos. The album opens strongly with “Shockwaves”, an insistent guitar riff and lots of piano underpin the fast rhythm. The next track slows the pace a little, another catchy riff carrying along a song that claims that the singer does not have (or need) some of those ‘little extras’ of blues lyrics such as TNT or dynamite, John The Conqueroo or a Black Cat Bone – no, he’s just a “Natural Man”. What he does have though is a great lyrical guitar solo in the middle of the song.
“Too Much Money” is also a slower tune with a touch of funk in the mix. Keyboards feature strongly here, the lyric suggesting that nobody has too much money – “Only a fool says something like that”! “She’s Got The Heat” is a real rocker, with exciting slide guitar and sparkling piano. Kim steps up to the mike for “Look At The Sun”, another mid-paced piece. He has a good voice, not quite as strong as Joe’s, but certainly serviceable. Joe’s sax can be heard quite clearly supporting the main theme. “24/7” is the only instrumental on the album, a fast-paced number with lots of guitar which ably demonstrates how good and varied a player Kim is.
In an album of strong guitar performances my particular pick is “Round And Round”. A repetitive guitar motif and swirling organ underpin the vocals but between verses Kim weaves an intricate pattern of crystal clear solos. Title track “Voodoo Moon” is also a strong contender for best track on the album. It has a rousing chorus which lifts the music after the slower paced verses and another strong guitar solo. “Meet The Blues Head On” closes the album with an anthemic, riff-driven tune and the memorable chorus “You’ve got to stand up tall and strong, don’t run and hide, you’ve got to meet the blues head on”.
This is a very enjoyable album of strong songs and performances. Savoy Brown will be touring to promote this album and I suspect that this line-up will be well worth catching live.
Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music.
Featured Blues Review 4 of 6
Trent Romens - Aware
New Folk Records: NF 1426
10 Tracks 46:47
Here we have 19 years old Trent Romens, from Edina, Minnesota. He is an accomplished guitar player but IMHO, his voice is just a tad thin for most of the songs on this album, and which, I regret to say, is well suited to the genre of music suggested by the name of the record label. With one or two exceptions – principally the covers – Big Bill Broonzy/ Charlie Segar’s Key To The Highway and St Louis Jimmy’s Going Down Slow – there is little here to interest the blues fan.
Joined by John Wright (bass and co-producer), Tony Marshall (Hammond B-3), Jordan Carlson (drums), Tony Paul (percussion) and with Cate Fierro and Shalo Lee (backing vocals) the CD opens with a Romens original “Stimulate Me”, with a fine riff driven backing and occasional bursts of excellent guitar work but with a rather whiney, thin vocal. Material Blues follows with some nice slide work to open. It is a mid paced foot tapper but comes again with thin whiney vocals. Fairy Tales is a Beatle like pop song with a melody seemingly derived from Lennon and McCartney’s Norwegian Wood.
Of the two covers, Going Down Slow is a nicely arranged paean to the St Louis Jimmy original. It comes with some really nice guitar work in the opening choruses and the vocal here is miles better, with little tendency to the whiny stuff which precedes it. Seven and a half minutes of good quality music, which will without doubt, get some air play.
Key To The Highway starts with an opening drum beat reminding me of Muddy’s “She Moves Me”. The arrangement is sparse but it is nicely carried off, with some outstanding slide work in the instrumental choruses.
Trent’s own “Right Back Where I Started”, is an I-woke-up-this-morning blues with - unfortunately - the aforementioned rather thin voice…Shame, shame, shame as Jimmy Reed might have said.
Sorry Sherriff starts like a folk song and ends like a pop song and there are again shades of Lennon and McCartney both in the melody line and in the arrangement (including close harmony oohing from the backing singers) and similarly, With You; is a pop song with an oooh oooh backing and a guitar sound that reminds me of Brian May or the solo on the Commodores 1977 hit Easy (On A Sunday Morning) (so beautifully played by Thomas McClary).
The closer Hey Now, is the sound of Caribbean gospel music and comes with a rudimentary strummed guitar backing, with bongos and so on…but don’t think of Bob Marley, think Harry Belafonte.
Reviewer Ian McKenzie lives in England. He is the editor of Blues In The South (www.bluesinthesouth.com a monthly flier providing news, reviews, a gig guide and all kinds of other good stuff, for people living and going to gigs along the south coast of England. Ian is also a blues performer (see www.myspace.com/ianmckenzieuk) and has two web-cast regular blues radio shows. One on www.phonic.FM in Exeter (Wednesdays: 1pm Eastern/ 12 noon Central), the second on KCOR – Kansas City Online Radio (on Fridays at 1pm Eastern/ 12 noon Central) www.kconlineradio.com.
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The West Michigan Blues Society - Grand Rapids, MI
The West Michigan Blues Society and radio station WYCE 88.1 FM present the 2012 Cabin Fever Blues Series at Billy's Lounge 1437, Wealthy St. SE Grand Rapids, MI. Up coming shows include Feb. 11 Motor City Josh & the Big Three, Feb. 18 Hadden Sayers, Feb. 25 Nora Jean Wallace, March 3 The Chicago Rhythm & Blues Kings. Tickets are $10.00 per show at the door only. Doors at 7:00 PM Music at 9:30 PM. Info at: www.wmbs.org
Rosedale Crossroads Blues Society - Rosedale, MS
Rosedale Crossroads Blues Society presents The Crossroads Blues and Heritage Festival, Saturday, May 12, 2012 at the River Resort at Highway 1 South in historic Rosedale, MS featuring Bill Abel, Cadillac John, Big Joe Shelton, DSU Ol’ Skool Revue and other area artists.
Gates open at 12:00 noon, music starts at 1:00 Admission $5 – adults, $1 – children under 12 Bring your own ice chest – $10 No beer sold – No glass – No pets, please Parking $5
Minnesota Blues Society - Minneapolis, MN
In celebration of the Society's 10 year anniversary, Greater Twin Cities Blues Music Society (GTCBMS) has changed their name to: Minnesota Blues Society, to better reflect their constituency. Get Out of Town" (GOOT) Fundraiser, Sun., Jan 22, 3:00pm, Minnesota Music Cafe, 499 Payne Ave., St. Paul, MN, 651-776-4699. Suggested donation: $10, Come support Minnesota's 2012 IBC representatives, Annie Mack and Tom Kochie; and Javier and the Innocent Sons. Music by former IBC representatives: Steve Vonderharr, John Franken, Good Time Willy, Davina and the Vagabonds, Scottie Miller, Papa John Kolstad, Jeff Ray, and Harold Tremblay. Visit our new website at www.mnbs.org for more information.
Capital Region Blues Network - Albany, NY
The Capital Region Blues Network is proud to announce The Mid-Winter Blues Bash on Friday, January 27th at The Roadhouse Grille (27 Fuller Road, Albany) at 8PM. Tom Townsley and Seth Rochfort will be coming in from Syracuse to open the night, followed by The Matt Mirabile Band with special guests Tom Healey and Tas Cru. Tickets are $10.00 at the door and $5.00 for Capital Region Blues Network members. For more info see our website @ www.capitalregionbluesnetwork.org
Grafton Blues Association - Grafton, WI
The Grafton Blues Association (GBA) and State of Wisconsin will be represented at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee for the 4th consecutive year. The GBA will be sending a band (Tweed Funk) and solo/duo act (John Stano) this year. A Send-Off Party/Fundraiser will be held January 20th at the Black Swan Room in Grafton.
The Send-Off Party/Fundraiser starts at 7 pm and will feature music from both John Stano and Tweed Funk. Friday, January 20th, 2012; 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm; Black Swan Room; 1218 13th Ave, Grafton, WI 53024; Suggested Donation - $10; Drinks, Raffles, and Door Prizes. www.graftonblues.org
The Diamond State Blues Society - Wilmington, Delaware
On Saturday, March 3rd it's the Diamond State Blues Society presents the 15th Annual House Rockin' Party. Opening the show at 3pm will be Nuthin' But Trouble, followed by Florida's great Blues Guitarist, Albert Castiglia, and headlining the show is the ironman himself, the phenomenal Michael Burks! Full details can be found at www.DiamondStateBlues.com
Dayton Blues Society – Dayton, Ohio
The Dayton Blues Society presents the 4th Annual “Winter Blues Showcase” on January 21st 2012, The event spotlights this year’s IBC representatives Gregg “GC” Clark & Brian Lee (Solo/Duo) and The Noah Wotherspoon Band (Band) opening for this year’s headliner Big Bill Morganfield, son of blues legend Muddy Waters. Gilly’s 132 S. Jefferson St. 6pm—Meet & Greet w/ Big Bill Morganfield ($5), 8pm— Gregg Clark & Brian Lee, 9pm— Noah Wotherspoon Band, 10pm— Big Bill Morganfield (Muddy Water’s Son), DBS Members—$20 / Non DBS Members— $25, For more info go to www.daytonbluessociety.com .
River City Blues Society - Pekin, IL
River City Blues Society presents: Bringing The Blues To You with the following shows - Jan 25th at 7PM - The Sugar Prophets. Location Goodfellas 1414 N. 8th St, Pekin, Illinois 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm $5.00 non-members $3.00 members. For more info visit: www.rivercityblues.com
Illinois Central Blues Club - Springfield, IL
The Illinois Central Blues Club presents "Blue Monday" every Monday night for the last 25 years - BLUE MONDAY SHOWS - Held at the Alamo 115 N 5th St, Springfield, IL (217) 523-1455 every Monday 8:00pm $3 cover. Jan 23 - Mike Zito, Jan 30 - Tombstone Bullet, Feb 6 - Matt O'Ree, Feb 13 - Hurrican Ruth, Feb 20 - The Distillery, Feb 27 - The Blues Deacons. icbluesclub.org
Featured Blues Review 5 of 6
Nick Moss - Here I Am
It’s probably appropriate Nick Moss titles his latest release Here I Am. He seems comfortable in the shift in the musical direction that began with the previous venture Privileged.
Known primarily for digging deep into the wellspring of Chicago Blues, Moss seeks a stylistic departure to avoid labels that can pigeonhole him. And while some long-time fans are not too happy for this radical change, Nick is simply following his bliss of where the music will take him.
However if you were happy with what Nick started out on with Privileged, the music on Here I Am will suit you just fine. If anything, it rocks just as hard and Moss’ guitar work is sizzling as ever.
As he did on Privileged, Nick pays tribute to the bands of yesteryear that were influential in starting his journey towards the blues. Elements of Cream, Free, Bad Company and The Allman Brothers bubble in the tracks. It’s an approach that’s daring and Moss sees it fit to lift him out of any musical ruts.
He wastes no time in getting down to serious business. Opening track “Why You So Mean?” is a boogie-based rocker while John Lee Hooker influenced careens like a runaway train going off the rails. If Moss wants to immediately grab an audiences’ attention, he should consider opening up with this number at his gigs. Basically this tune fits the mold of arena-sized rock when true riffage ruled in its iconic time and place.
You would be happy if Nick stayed on this musical course. But he does see fit to slow down things. While following number “Blood Runs” isn’t as dangerous as the preceding tune, Travis Reeds’ keyboard work bolsters “Blood Runs” into a moderate rocker with gospel shading.
Patrick Seals’ short energetic drum intro opens the title track into a Zeppelin-styled stomper coming from the Physical Graffiti era. The lyrics smack of defiance towards anyone not understanding Moss’ take on things. Reeds’ and Moss’ solos propel this song further into the stratosphere with the rest of the band crashing behind them.
Using Michael Ledbetter as a backing vocalist adds flavor to some tracks like “Candy Nation.” But the shiny hours belong to back-up singers Jennifer Evans and Shuree Rivera who guide “It’ll Turn Around” into friendly radio airplay territory. Reeds’ churchy organ stands out to take things to church with the song’s bruised gospel soul coated by Moss’ greasy slide work.
While the production credits belong to Nick, you can tell how he pays attention to how each player stands out in the mix. It’s not all about him dazzling with guitar virtuosity. The emphasis is on song presentation and making a band ensemble gel tightly without excessive showboating.
A trace of Hendrix’ Band of Gypsies turns up in “Long Haul Jockey” with its rocked up grooves. There’s no denying Moss likes to push material beyond time-honored marks. The tunes “Caught By Surprise” and “Katie Ann (Sleight Return)” stretch to nearly ten minutes in length and stand a good chance for being embraced by the jam-band community although musically you can over-do a good thing by excessive vamping through lyrical content and exercising musical chops that go beyond a normal attention span. In these tunes, Moss displays a penchant for psychedelic exploration that Hendrix himself would admire. Especially in “Katie Ann” with its hypnotic spidery guitar lines.
Only in instrumental “Sunday Get Together” does Nick seem to touch base with blues roots as it echoes with a live feel as if it was recorded at Buddy Guy’s Legends.
It’s no wonder this musical package received a strong endorsement from Jimmy Thackery. Moss has a journeyman attitude of exploring the zone and visiting areas where his colleagues don’t dare to venture.
Reviewer Gary Weeks is a contributing writer. He resides in Marietta, GA.
Featured Blues Review 6 of 6
Samantha Fish - Runaway
Samantha Fish has gotten a lot of airplay and recognition as part of the “Girls With Guitars” along with bandmates Cassie Taylor and Dani Wilde. They are a fun group with a hot record, and now we have this 22 year old gal from Kansas City with her solo release showing what she’s made of. Fish wrote 8 of the tracks, co-wrote another with producer Mike Zito, and covers Tom Petty’s “Lousiana Rain”. If you like hot guitar licks and a fresh female voice, you can’t go wrong here. While her voice lacks a lot of power, she makes up for that with tons of emotion. Her guitar work is outstanding and is not overdone. She pulls off a great solo effort here, supported by Cassie Taylor on bass and Jamie Litte on drums; bare bones but a big, big sound.
Fish opens with “Down In The Swamp”, which drips of hot sauce and greasy fritters. A wickedly hot guitar line is excellent and Fish shows off her stuff from the start. The title track is a hot little boogie number, and it swings and rocks. Zito accompanies Fish on the cut he co-wrote, and he appears on it too; “Push Comes to Shove” is a tidy and well done song with a good duet between these young artists. The vocal sparring is hot and the guitars are impeccable.
She shows her stuff on the slow cuts like “Today’s My Day” and “Money to Burn” and is able to deliver a tasteful performance. She unleashes her “wa wa” on “Leavin’ Kind” and it is a fun and rocking romp. She gets her country dander up on “Soft and Slow” and “Otherside of the Bottle” along with the Petty cover. Nicely done stuff- she shows a lot of variety in these 10 tracks. She closes all soft and sultry with “Feelin’ Alright”, and her vocals and guitar make even the staunchest man melt away. Very hot, very cool stuff!
It’s a great little CD that Fish has delivered here. I enjoyed her guitar work, song writing and delivery; she is one talent young lady. I can’t wait to catch up with her live act and hear her up close- she’s a great young blues artist who I think will have lots of success in the future! I recommend this one strongly!
Reviewer Steve Jones is secretary of the Crossroads Blues Society and is a long standing blues lover. He is a retired Navy commander who served his entire career in nuclear submarines. In addition to working in his civilian career, he writes for and publishes the bi-monthly newsletter for Crossroads, chairs their music festival and work with their Blues In The Schools program.
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