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Monday, March 12, 2012

Illinios Blues Blast

Cover photo by Marilyn Stringer © 2012 MJStringerPhoto.com

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 In This Issue
We have the latest in Blues Society news. Terry Mullins has our feature interview with Ruthie Foster.
We have six CD reviews for you! Rainey Wetnight reviews a new CD by Jo Harman and Company. Gary Weeks reviews a new CD from Peter Novelli. Ian McKenzie reviews a new CD from Sharon Lewis & Texas Fire. John Mitchell reviews a new CD from Hunter Wolfe & ARE.  Mark Thompson reviews a new CD from Detroit Frank DuMont & the Drivin' Wheels. Steve Jones reviews a new CD from Chris Yakopcic. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!! 

 From The Editor's Desk
Hey Blues Fans,
In case you missed it, you can still view the PBS Special "In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues"  which ran last week on PBS.
It was a great show celebrating Blues music. It featured Shemekia Copeland, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Keb Mo, Gary Clark Junior, Trombone Shorty, Booker T. Jones, Warren Hayes, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Mick Jagger and Jeff Beck.
You even get to see President Obama joining in and singing "Sweet Home Chicago".
Click play button or go to the link below to check it out now.
Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!
Bob Kieser

Kickstarter.Com - Why It Is Important For Independent Musicians
Recently we had an advertiser, Long Tall Deb Landolt, who advertised her efforts to raise funds for a new album to follow up on her critically acclaimed 2009 release Diamonds on the Desert Floor using Kickstarter.com. We knew of this website but Deb's ads made us more aware of how useful this website can be.  Here's how it works, when someone creates a project, you can pledge your $$ to help fund the project. If the project gets the goal amount pledged, the project becomes successful and then and only then will your pledge be charged to your credit card.
What do you get for helping out? It depends on the individual project and how much you donate but in most cases a $10 to $15 donation to a project will get you an advance copy of the new CD when it is finished. In many cases if you get to higher donation levels above $100, you can get get your name in the credits on the CD and possibly more for your donation!
It is a great way for independent artists to have their fans and friends help bankroll their music projects. Here are links to some of the recent Blues related projects we found. Check them out and donate to a few of them. We did! We are pleased to say that Long Tall Deb's project was funded and is moving forward with completing the new release. Here are some examples of recent Kickstarter projects.
Long Tall Deb New Album Project - Project ended 2/11/12 Goal $18,000 Project was successful
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/longtalldeb/lets-make-a-tasty-new-record
Eddie Shaw and Jackie Scott - New Album Project - End date 3/31/12 - Goal $2750
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/eddieshaw/blues-in-the-757
We Be Kings Movie featuring Magic Slim as I Be King, Grana Louise as Lilly, Bianca Ryan as Layla, Quinn Sullivan as Dustin, Pryce Watkins as Sam, Cee Cee James as Ellen and featuring the TEARDROPS, Magic Slim's band...
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/647017682/we-be-kings-movie-project
Project end date 3/16/12 Goal $7,500
Cee Cee James - New Album Project - End date 3/15/12 Goal $7,000
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/687146751/blood-red-blues-in-your-veinscan-you-feel-it
Vincent Hayes Project - New Album Project - Ended 2/27/12 Goal $20,000 Project successful
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/vhp/the-vincent-hayes-project-wants-you-to-be-part-of
Gina Sicilia - New Album Project - End date 3/17/12 Goal $25,000
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ginasicilia/gina-sicilia-needs-your-support
Scott Albert Johnson - New Album Project - End date 4/21/12 - Goal $27, 990
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1690977570/scott-albert-johnsons-new-album-going-somewhere
Dave Herrero - New Album - Project ended 8/11/11 Goal $4000 Project was successful
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1226770777/dave-herrero-wants-you-to-be-part-of-his-new-album

The 2012 Blues Blast Music Award Nominations
We are accepting submissions from labels and artists until April 15th, 2012. Artist do not necessarily have to submit their releases to be considered but any that do will have their recordings actually screened by the nominators.  (Our Nominators can't nominate something they haven't heard!)
We have 30 nominators so you need to send 30 individual copies to be considered before April 15th, 2012. Any received after that date may not get sent to the nominators.
There is no charge for this. We will cover the cost and effort to get your eligible CD or DVD release into the hands of the nominators if you send them in.  We reserve the right to change this policy in future years. CD's received after April 15th, 2012 may not reach the nominators so hurry and get your submissions in today! For complete details, CLICK HERE
Nominators begin submitting their nominations May 1st and final nominations will be announced after May 31st, 2012. Voting Begins in July.

 Featured Blues Interview - Ruthie Foster
Discipline.
Any discussion of this country’s armed forces will usually bring the word ‘discipline’ into the conversation at some point in time.
Without it, our armed forces would essentially be nothing more than a collection of bodies gathered together. Discipline helps keep a unit functioning as a successful one.
The discipline garnered in a tour of duty in our armed forces has also proven it can have a positive effect on a person’s success in the civilian world, as well.
For Texas dynamo Ruthie Foster, the discipline that was engrained upon her during a stint in the U.S. Navy has paid huge dividends in her rise through the ranks of the blues world - even if at first glance there doesn’t seem to be much common ground between ships and the Navy and guitars and the blues.
“I think there’s a whole lot of correlation in how I went about it. I actually went into the Navy because I was a little burnt out on what I was doing musically,” she said. “I was just out of college, and I took a year off being around so much music. And I got back into music in the Navy band and I toured with them for the rest of my term (in the service). And that really did set me up for what I do right now. It taught me how to be a leader in a band and deal with different personalities. It taught me a lot about how to tour and how to rehearse a band. It really set up to be a working musician, successfully.”
Foster burst upon the scene in a big way with 2007’s The Phenomenal Ruthie Foster, a release that served notice that a major new talent was set to light up the sky.
Buzzing with Foster’s off-the-chart soulful vocals, while also showcasing her impressive skills at working up and down the neck of a six-string with gut-wrenching intensity, The Phenomenal Ruthie Foster helped pave the way for a pair of nominations (2008-9) in the Traditional Blues Female Artist of the Year category at the Blues Music Awards. A year later, at the 2010 BMAs, Foster was named as the Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year.
And if that, or 2009’s The Truth According to Ruthie Foster, didn’t make blues lovers sit up and take notice (it was nominated for a Grammy Award), Foster’s newest album, Let it Burn (Blue Corn Music), is certainly poised to do the trick.
More than just a thrown-together batch of songs that have been played to death in the blues realm, Let it Burn is an interesting collection of songs from all over the map – including works associated with Johnny Cash, Los Lobos, The Black Keys, Adele, Crosby Stills, Nash & Young and Pete Seeger. A challenging collection of songs if there ever was.
“A lot of it was (producer) John Chelew’s ideas. He sent me a list of songs he wanted me to listen to, then I also had a few songs of my own that I’d been sitting on,” said Foster. “We knew we wanted to make this record very different – as in more of an interpretation of songs. It kind of all started out with the arrangement that I had for “Ring of Fire” and then we took it from there. Some of the songs (on the album) had been recorded before, but we did them in a different way – took them in a different direction.”
That different direction the tunes off Let it Burn took also included a bit of a left turn for Foster’s role in the proceedings, as well. For the first time on one of her CDs, she left her guitar sitting in the corner and just solely contributed vocals to the recording sessions.
“This album came together as more of a vocal album for me, because I didn’t really play anything on it, I just sang,” she said. “We wanted to put the emphasis on the vocals on this one. The plan was to concentrate on vocals first and then just let the instrumentation wrap around that.”
Lending a hand to Warren Haynes’ latest solo offering, the excellent Man in Motion (Stax Records), played a bit of a role in determining how Foster approached Let it Burn.
“It kind of worked that way. I’ve always been a believer when it comes to my career, to just stay out of the way when opportunities like that come around,” Foster said. “And the opportunity to do background vocals and tour with Warren - I didn’t want to pass that up. And that just kind of flowed into this project. So (just singing background vocals for Haynes) it really did help prepare me for this project. It really did set me up and helped to keep my head in the game and focus on what I had to do vocally. And Chelew made it a point to let me know months before we went into the studio that he didn’t expect me to play (guitar). He really wanted me to concentrate on singing.”
While Foster certainly hit another home run with her amazing voice on Let it Burn, the cast of musicians that took care of the backing tracks also knocked it clean out of the park, too.
That’s no surprise, considering George Porter Jr. played bass, Ike Stubblefield laid it down on the Hammond B3, Dave Easley took care of the guitar chores and Russell Batiste kept the groove going on drums. That’s a dream team if there ever was one.
“Going into the studio with this great group of musicians from New Orleans was a nice plus. With their background, we just kind of let them do what they do,” Foster said. “I was familiar with George and knew of Ike’s reputation as this master on the B3, but I had no idea just how much of a beautiful, musical mind-reader he is when it comes to playing with others. I’ve never worked with anyone of that caliber on the B3. He really does know that instrument. He wanted the B3 to speak with my voice and I really appreciate his approach to playing.”
While she may not have been immediately familiar with Easley’s guitar work before hand, consider Foster sufficiently impressed with the end results.
“Dave Easley was someone I had never heard of, because we had Derek Trucks and even Warren (Haynes) in mind – but we heard him and then he came in and added some phenomenal atmosphere to the album,” said Foster. “All the fellas were really excellent to work with. Russell was a great add to the mix, as well. He’s a little younger than some of these guys, but he added a little edge to what we were doing. I’m really happy with the way the album turned out.”
William Bell guests on his smash hit “You Don’t Miss Your Water” and the Blind Boys of Alabama show up to sprinkle a dose of their undeniable magic on four tracks.
“I love the Blind Boys. I’ve had a chance to tour with them a few times and they were gracious enough to come down to New Orleans and put their shine on everything,” Foster said. “You know, when they walk into a room, they really light things up. They came down just to sing on a track or two, but we played them some of the other stuff and they ended up being on quite a bit of the material, which is a really nice plus. I’m really grateful to them for sticking around and doing that.”
Foster’s association with the eclectic Papa Mali (Malcom Welbourne), who produced and played on guitar on her Phenomenal album, might have had a bearing on some of New Orlean’s finest lining up to play on her new disc.
“In a round-about way, I think it did. We’ve been friends for a long time and he had a lot to do with my eventually moving to Austin to live,” she said. “And his background is New Orleans – Louisiana - so I think that was a connection to me getting these guys to play on the new record.”
Truth be told, even though she was born in central Texas’ Brazos Valley, if you looked deep inside Foster, you’d probably find a good deal of blues from Chicago, jazz from New Orleans, soul from Memphis, country from Bakersfield and folk from Greenwich Village, all just waiting to come out through those incredible vocal chords of hers.
And one way or another, by force or by their own choice, those influences do find their way to the surface.
“Usually, I just let that happen (melding of vocal styles), but with this project, we went in with the conscience decision to bring all those elements to the table, because I was just going to focus solely on vocals for this album,” said Foster. “And that was a huge thing for me, to be able to really just focus on how I was going to deliver a song, vocally. And I had a few folks in mind – Cassandra Wilson, who I’m a huge fan of and Norah Jones, I listen to a lot of her music and Mavis (Staples), for sure. She’s at the top of my list. It’s really a precious moment to do a tune and have her in mind, vocally. In fact, on the song “This Time,” the Los Lobos tune, I really had The Staple Singers and Mavis in mind - just to keep it low and not really growly, but just straight-forward with the soul bubbling and simmering.”
Although Foster just had a hand in penning two songs on Let it Burn, she’s constantly got her ears and eyes open for new inspiration that will lead to a song, no matter which direction it might come from.
“I use a lot of my own experiences. And I hope to focus on that in the upcoming year or so, really focus on writing about my experiences,” she said. “But I do also use other people’s stories, like friends’ or families.’ If it’s an extraordinary story, that’s something I can use and try to put my own spin on. And sometimes, it’s taking a title or even a great guitar riff and building off of that.”
With music playing such a significant part in life from such a young age – from singing hymns with her mom, to watching country music shows on TV with her grandfather, there was probably little doubt that Ruthie Foster would end up making her living just like she’s doing these days.
And Foster wouldn’t have it any other way.
“When I do what I do with my music, or come to town with my band, we’re there doing what we love to do. It’s what I truly believe I was put here to do,” she said. “To make music and use music as a healer, because that’s what it’s done for me. It’s gotten me through a lot of things in life, and it still does. And I hope that comes through in my music, no matter what I’m singing about. I believe there’s a way of reaching people in how your approach a song, or how you approach a note. It’s all about the message inside the song. I hope people get a little bit of something they’re missing when they listen to one of my songs.”
Photos by Marilyn Stringer © 2012 MJStringerPhoto.com
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


 Featured Blues Review 1 of 6
Jo Harman and Company - Live at Hideaway
Chief Recordings #003/Self-produced 2011 release
8 songs; 42:39 minutes
Styles: Blues Rock, Roots Rock, Blues Ballads
Blues and Rock music is not only popular in North America, but has a significant following “across the pond” for decades! Jo Harman, a songstress with long legs and a voice like thick and tangy honey, proves this with her posse “Live at Hideaway.” This prestigious London club had the honor of hosting her on a snowy December evening. Fortunately for both the band and its fans, no one’s enthusiasm ran cold as the rocking performance blazed on. Born in England’s capital but raised in Devon, Johanna Harman trills her way through both covers and original songs with ease. Eight renditions are featured in this live concert, but by the end of the album, listeners will be hungry for more! Here are three of its most notable numbers:
Track 3: “Heartstring”-- Leaning towards the rock side of blues as does most of the set, this accusatory offering is sharp and pointed. Featuring the magnificent Stevie Watts on keyboards, John McKenzie on bass, and Martin “Magic” Johnson on drums, this is the band’s best mid-tempo melody. “So you cry, baby, but you’re wasting my love,” Jo sneers, and one wonders how long it will be before she calls it quits with her partner. Guitarist Mike Mayfield is featured on some scorching fret runs.
Track 5: “Sideways”-- Even though Jo Harman’s version is a re-working of “Citizen Cope” Greenwood’s classic, it’s still the best blues song on “Live at Hideaway.” It’s one of slow and passionate mixed feelings, a la Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game.” In this song, one cannot honestly tell if Jo Harman and Mike Mayfield, in a harmonic duet, wish to stay together or part ways. The lyrics point out that sometimes, it’s hard to sort out how one truly feels when involved in a romantic relationship: “These feelings won’t go away--they’ve been knocking me sideways!”
Track 7: “Sweet Man Moses”-- Jo wrote this poignant ballad for her brothers in light of their father’s premature death. Consequently, raw emotion bleeds forth from every word that escapes her lips, even though they‘re soft and sweet. The deceased may not have been a perfect man, but Harman exhorts her siblings to “raise the bar where he went wrong” and remember their father was “warm as the daylight on the roses.” A quavering eulogy, its message is one of forgiveness and love.
On her website, Harman says this about Live at Hideaway: “I want to make a classic album, one that sounds just as good in ten years’ time. I’ve had [several people] all telling me to follow the main chance and they are all well-meaning, but I’m just going to go ahead and make it!” Her efforts have paid off, and this album already fulfills Jo’s goal of bringing a timeless sound to timeless songs.
Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 32 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


 Featured Blues Review 2 of 6
Peter Novelli – Peter Novelli
Time: 72:11
With special guests Paul Barrere, Dr. John, Raful Neal, Greg "Fingers" Taylor and Augie Meyers, you can’t go wrong in releasing a CD brimming with musical vitality. Musician Peter Novelli knows how to cook a mean gumbo and does it quite well in his release simply titled Peter Novelli.
Novelli’s guitar work recalls Louisiana’s native son Sonny Landreth. Without Landreth’s slide shenanigans it’s still sweet, direct to the point and doesn’t stray into territories of over-indulgence due to tasteful restraint. If you are unable to make it to this year’s Mardi Gras or Jazz-Fest, pay it no mind. This music will transport you there with the intoxicating effect of losing yourself in the French Quarter.
Working in a trio format in opening shuffle “Texas Tonk,” Novelli sets the pace for original material that is strong in character and avoids musical clichés that can otherwise mar a tasty piece of work.
It’s clear that the musical climate of Louisiana plays a role instrumental in Peter’s take on things. So why not take on the tune “I’m Going To Louisiana?” Written by Rusty Kershaw, it’s a slow simmering Cajun boil of a good time party that you never want to end. Think of a musical meeting between the Radiators and Little Feat.
In mentioning Little Feat, let’s not forget their guitarist Paul Barrere who drops in to add his own hot spice of slide guitar to Delbert McClinton’s “Lie No Better.” If you have a bottle of Southern Comfort nearby, now’s your chance to do a shot because it’s a happy, funky, slow strut of a tune that can make you forget all about your worldly problems.
Novelli does display a penchant for going into the weird side of things. You can either view “Grand Isle Dawn” as a throwaway cut or Novelli’s attempt into creating movie soundtracks. At best it seems suited for a film shot on location in the Louisiana swamp. An updated Cajun version of the movie Deliverance, it’s a nocturnal affair blending Novelli’s slide guitar, Nelson Blanchard’s synth and Curtis Coubelle into a synthesis of sounds that are just right for a full moon rising over the Bayou. It segues just perfectly into the ominous sounding “Wrong Number” with Novelli’s solos being short and concise and working in conjunction with the tune to bolster its framework into funk rock mode.
And what’s New Orleans music without Dr. John? The legend himself appears on “Since The Hurricane” showering the tune with his down-home piano mojo that sweetens the track like sugarcane against Novelli’s inspired guitar work. Peter’s vocals are sandpaper rough but are the thread that holds the songs together.
Certainly some tunes could have been left off for the next release. Obviously Novelli feels with a heavy arsenal of quality tunes, there’s no reason to hold anything back. Especially in the B.B. King inflected “Open The Gate” that sees Novelli reaching for sweet tones that hover between Michael Bloomfield bravado and Gulf Coast heat. This might be the only moment Peter is eager to show off chops. But it’s nothing flashy and stays aboveboard. While “Bulverde, Texas” shows keyboardist Augie Meyers playing his best carnivalesque runs, this tune could have ended up on the cutting room without any danger of being missed. Soon things are off and running with fine New Orleans party in a tribute to Slim Harpo. The Congo Square fiesta is in fine form with “Te-Ni-Ne-Ni-Nu” that has Dr. John leading the ensemble with piano playing hot as Louisiana Tobasco.
This music is as close to I-10 as you are going get. Novelli assembles a fine cast of musicians to help host a party you would be willing to travel miles too. The problem is once you get there, you just might settle into the backwoods swamp for good.
Reviewer Gary Weeks is a contributing writer. He resides in Marietta, GA.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE


 Featured Blues Review 3 of 6
Sharon Lewis & Texas Fire - The Real Deal
13 Tracks - 59:04
Ms Lewis calls herself “The Real Deal” and on this showing, that title is well justified. She is without a doubt a challenger for the title Queen Of The Blues because, like Koko Taylor she has the ability and the voice, to move from raw, rough edged blues to sublime Gospel stylings in the blink of an eye and to do it all with a sense of humor and panache.
She is well known in and around Chicago and brings to this CD a fabulous band featuring ace Chicago axe man Dave Specter and other outstanding musicians like harp man Billy Branch. Most of the songs on the album are Sharon’s own work and there are two covers, of which more in a moment. The opener, “What’s Really Goin’ On” is a super foot-tapper with a delightful guitar break and a fiery delivery by Ms Lewis. The title track “Real Deal” comes with a fabulous horn section and a clever lyric “There’s some people who think they know all about the blues”…but Lewis has lived the life and knows the truth!
Truth and honesty abound and tracks like “Do Something For Me” and “Blues Train” (with some wonderful harp work) are worth the price of the CD alone.
Miss Lewis is a fine singer and an excellent song writer. She can clearly attract the cream of the crop of musicians to join her and she deserves the highest accolades.
I suppose the idea of including the two covers (Bill Withers, Ain’t No Sunshine” and Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love”) was to show that Ms Lewis can do soulful stuff written by other people. There was no need. Her own songs are much better and are delivered with a personal conviction that is almost tangible. By way of example, check out “Mother Love”, a delightful song delivered with commitment, fire and passion; it is wonderful!
This is an excellent follow up to “Everything’s Going To Be Alright” and is already getting air play. This release augurs well for the future: “Onward and Upward”.
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).
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 4 of 6
Hunter Wolfe & ARE – The Go
Self Release
13 tracks; 43.09 minutes
Hunter Wolfe comes from Tulsa and is a champion on National Slide guitar. He has twice performed at the IBCs and is now resident in Virginia where this, his first album, was recorded. The album is primarily a duo affair with a female drummer who goes by the moniker ARE and co-wrote all the songs with Hunter. However, this is definitely a plugged in duo with intense drumming and slide, somewhat reminiscent of The White Stripes. Indeed, one track is entitled “Mr White”! All the songs are original and the only other musicians on the CD apart from Hunter and ARE are Cassie Taylor who plays bass on three tracks and sings on one and Jackie Scott, Lamar and LeeTee who each sing on one track.
Most of the songs are relentlessly up-tempo with busy drums and frenetic slide guitar. “Make You Mine” is probably the most typical of that approach whilst “Aberdeen” is one of the few quiet tracks and the only one on which ARE takes a break. Without the drums and at a slower pace we can hear Hunter’s breathy, almost spoken vocals well on a song that gives a dark impression of life in that Mississippi town. Another of the slower paced songs is “Guiding Light” the lyrics of which feature on the CD sleeve though I was puzzled by the chorus: “I don’t mind looking like Superman, when it comes to you, I’ll do all I can. Cause you know you are my kryptonite and I will always be your guiding light.” I listened several times to “McKinley Morganfield" to try to discover the Muddy link, but could only find a rather repetitive song about ‘going home’, so the reason for the title escaped me.
Track 5 is “Midnight Heat” on which Cassie Taylor’s bass and Jackie Scott’s vocals add to the basic format. Jackie’s voice is always a pleasure to hear and this was one of the tracks that I preferred. It’s a song about love and lust and Hunter takes the opportunity of a larger ensemble to throw down some tasty guitar licks, doubletracking himself over the basic riff. The other two tracks on which Cassie plays are “Letter”, on which she duets with Hunter in her light and pleasant voice, and “Your Death (Is Killing Me)”. Guest vocalist Lamar’s contribution is a rap on “On The Tracks” which did nothing for me, I’m afraid. LeeTee duets with Hunter on the final track “50’sKay” which starts as a cover of “Chevrolet” then transforms into a version in which the object of desire is a guitar (50’s Kay) rather than a car! No drums on this one as ARE and Hunter produce the rhythm with handclaps and footstomps.
Interestingly the information supplied with the CD suggests that this is “Blues/Rock/Garage” and will appeal to fans of The White Stripes, Black Keys, Cage The Elephant, Band Of Skulls and Crash Kings. Also mentioned in this section are the more familiar names of Robert Johnson, Son House and David Honeyboy Edwards. It will appeal to those who enjoy some of the acts mentioned above, particularly those at the start of the list.
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 a visit to the Tampa Bay Blues Festival.
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.

Santa Barbara Blues Society - Santa Barbara, CA
The SBBS, the oldest existing blues society in the U.S., celebrates its gala 35th. birthday by presenting lauded bluesman James Harman and his band on Friday, March 30, 2012 in Warren Hall at the Earl Warren Show grounds. Originally from Alabama, Harman has been a star exemplar of the West Coast blues sound for over 3 decades, and a multiple nominee of Blues Music Awards from the Blues Foundation. His appearances for the SBBS, including his most recent in 2006 with stellar guitarist Jimmy Thackery, have been consistent sell-out crowd-pleasers.
The show will feature a large dance floor, BBQ snacks, and birthday cake! as well as great music. Doors open at 7 PM, with opening act by S.B.’s own Stiff Pickle Orchestra. For information, log onto www.SBBlues.org  or call (805) 722-8155.
The Great Northern Blues Society is putting on our annual Fundraising Show “Blues Café’ 2012” on 3/31/12 at the Rothschild Pavilion near Wausau, WI. Chris Duarte’, Albert Castiglia, Howard & the Whiteboys, Jumpship Blues Band, and Donnie Pick & the Road band will be performing from 1:00PM – 11:00PM. www.gnbs.org  for further information. $15 in advance - $20 at the door.
The Phoenix Blues Society is proud to announce that its 21st annual Blues Blast Festival will be held on Saturday, March 10th, 2012 at the Margaret T. Hance Park located at 200 East Moreland in Phoenix. Appearing at Blues Blast will be, Sugar Ray and the Bluetones, The Sugar Thieves, Big Daddy D & the Dynamites, George Bowman the Baddboyz Blues Band featuring Lucius Parr, Common Ground Blues Band and Dave Riley and Bob Corritore. The gates will open at 10:00 A.M. for Blues Blast and the Festival will run from 11:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. The website for Blues Blast is www.bluesblast.info and all ticketing for the event is being facilitated by Eventbrite at www.bluesblast.eventbrite.com. For further information, please feel free to contact Phoenix Blues Society President, Kyle Deibler, at phxbluesprez@cox.net or on his cell at 602.770.5936.
River City Blues Society presents: Bringing The Blues To You with the following shows - March 23rd at 7:30PM • Hurricane Ruth, March 28th at 7PM • Albert Castiglia, April 11th at 7PM • Sean Chambers. Location Goodfellas 1414 N. 8th St, Pekin, Illinois $5.00 non-members $3.00 members. For more info visit: www.rivercityblues.com or call 309-648-8510
Illinois Central Blues Club - Springfield, IL
The Illinois Central Blues Club's 26th Anniversary Celebration will be Saturday, March 10, 2012, at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 2200 S. Meadowbrook, Springfield, IL from 7:30 pm to 12:00 am. Kicking off the celebration at 7:30pm will be local favorites Tombstone Bullet, the ICBC 2011 Blues Challenge winners with Lil’Ed and the Blues Imperials taking the stage at 9:30pm.
This event serves as a fund raiser for the ICBC’s “Blues in the Schools” programs which bring live blues music and oral history of the blues to children and adults in the community. The admission fee is $8.00 for members and $10 for non-members.
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. Mar 12 – Todd Wolfe Band, Mar 19 – The 44s, Mar 26 – RJ Mischo, Apr 2 – Brad Vickers & His Vestopolatans, Apr 9 – JP Soars & the Red Hots, Apr 16 – Too Slim & the Tail Draggers, Apr 23 – Andrew Jr Boy Jones. icbluesclub.org
The Friends Of The Blues - Watseka, IL
Friends of the Blues present 2012 shows:
Tues, March 13, Harper & Midwest Kind, 7 pm, Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmen’s Club
Thur, March 29, Albert Castiglia, 7 pm, Kankakee Valley Boat Club
Tues, April 10, Sean Chambers, 7 pm, Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmen’s Club
Tues, April 17, Too Slim & Taildraggers, 7 pm, Kankakee Valley Boat Club
Thur, April 26, Al Stone, 7 pm, Kankakee Valley Boat Club
West Virginia Blues Society - Charleston, W.V.
The West Virginia Blues Society, Inc. and Thornhill Auto Groups present the 5th Annual Charlie West Blues Fest May 18, 19 and 20, 2012 at Haddad Riverfront Park, Charleston, WV including headline performances by Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Rod Piazza & The Mighty Flyers and Ruthie Foster. For more information visit http://wvbluessociety.org/
Prairie Crossroads Blues Society – Champaign-Urbana, IL
Prairie Crossroads Blues Society shows: Friday April 6, 1st Friday Blues, Johnny Rawls. For more info: www.prairiecrossroadsblues.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


 Featured Blues Review 5 of 6
Detroit Frank DuMont & the Drivin' Wheels - Live Blues
Self-released
11 tracks/68:45
This disc captures a solid blues band holding court at Ziggie's Bar, the oldest blues bar in Denver, running through a list of familiar tunes and having a good time. Leader Frank DuMont has traveled the world playing guitar with some great blues musicians. Starting his career in his Detroit hometown, DuMont backed up Eddie Burns and Bo Bo Jenkins. Later, DuMont headed to California where he eventually hooked up with keyboard ace Deacon Jones, who was a long-time member of Freddie King and John Lee Hooker's bands. The migration continued with stops in Hawaii and Europe before DuMont decided to settle in Colorado Springs.
The Drivin' Wheels consist of Scott McClure on bass, Johnny Z on drums, Woogie Boogie on keyboards and Detroit Gary on the rhythm guitar. DuMont handles the lead vocals and all guitar solos. He also plays a little harmonica on one track.
The vocals are buried in the mix, sometimes so deep that DuMont's gruff voice sounds like it is coming from another room, as is the case on “Everyday I Have The Blues”. DuMont is a competent singer with a limited range. This set list of blues standards is given straight-forward readings that brings few surprises to the table.
Dumont covers four songs from the Freddie King catalog, with the instrumentals “The Stumble” and “Hideaway” providing plenty of space for the leader's taut guitar work. He uses a biting, harder-edge tone on “Love Her With a Feelin'” while the opening segment on “Have You Ever Loved a Woman” shows that DuMont understands the use of dynamics in building a solo, capable of firing off lightning-fast licks but also not afraid to create space for the music to breathe.
Woogie Boogie uses the organ to fill the arrangements on “Drivin' Wheel” and “Stormy Monday”, getting his a chance to strut his stuff on the latter cut. The same tune finds DuMont demonstrating his ability to tastefully stretch out on a slow blues number. The band sounds a bit stiff on “Shake for Me” but DuMont recreates Hubert Sumlin's signature guitar lick. They rock harder on Jimmy Reed's “Shame, Shame, Shame”, with Woogie Boogie firing off a brief, spirited solo on his electronic keyboard to get things started. “Papa's Got a Brand New Brand” is done as a short, funky instrumental with the focus on DuMont's staccato guitar playing.
This one captures a good band on a good night. No revelations but lots of good guitar from DuMont, who plays the blues, not some blue/rock fusion that seems to be the norm these days. It would be great to hear what these guys could do in a recording studio with some original material. 
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.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 6 of 6
Chris Yakopcic - Done Found My Freedom 'Fore My Technique
Self Released
10 tracks
Chris Yakopcic is an ambitious and accomplished solo acoustic guitar player. He represented Western Pennsylvania in the IBC's last month. His guitar style is very traditional and the songs are all well done originals. His finger picking is quite good and he claims to be a student of the Piedmont and Delta styles; he's apparently learned well. His style of guitar work is very much fresh and raw and in a down home style and I was impressed with his abilities.
The CD opens with one of my favorite tracks on the album. "99 Juke Joints" is a catchy song where he blends guitar and vocals into a timeless and well constructed cut. He follows that with "Hard Soled Shoe", another great track, where he masterfully picks the strings and bangs on his guitar's body while soulfully singing about his baby.
Vocally, I had a few reservations with most of the rest of the tracks, but I checked out live versions on line and listened in a few formats to see what I could find out. While I listened on my stereo and in my car several of the tunes on the CD seemed to get just a little off key here and there occasionally. On my headphones it was less off but it was still there. I think he was straining to get more bluesy and the stress put his voice on the edge of getting flat. The live performances on his site and Youtube of the same songs were much more on, less nasal and more focused.
The closing track features some dirty harp work by Chris. He really stays true to the roots of this kind of music with a raw and energized approach. He's quite the musician!
The songs he's written are all excellent. His work on the acoustic guitar is really tight. The vocals stain just a bit here and there, but overall he's trying hard and with some more effort I am sure he will get it all together. There is a lot of potential here and I think with the right vocal work he can become a top-notch acoustic bluesman. Hell, even given the minor vocal fluctuations here and there, one can see that this is a very talented young man who can put on a great show!
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.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

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