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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Illinois 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 from around the globe. A.J. Wachtel  has our feature interview with Blues master Elvin Bishop.
We have six music reviews for you! Rainey Wetnight reviews a new CD from Sista Jean and C.B. James "Skyy Dobro" Walker reviews a new release from Paul Miles. Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony reviews the new Big James And The Chicago Playboys album. John Mitchell reviews a new release from Jumpin’ Jack Benny.  Mark Thompson reviews the new Ruthie Foster CD. Steve Jones reviews a new CD from Little G Weevil. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!! 

 Blues Wanderings
We caught JP Soars and the Red Hots (Don Gottlieb on bass and Chris Peet on drums) at the Blue Monday show this week.
JP won the International Blues Challenge in 2009. He calls Florida home and is currently touring across the country. He recently recorded a new CD with Jimmy Thackery & The Drivers on the 2011 Blues Cruise. It is one Blues rocking disk. Check out JP at www.jpsoars.com.


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 Featured Blues Interview - Elvin Bishop
There are many ways Elvin Bishop may have touched your life: from The Paul Butterfield Blues Band to his current status as an ambassador of roots rock and roll, r&b and bar-room boogie; his guitar playing has greatly influenced countless artists and listeners. And his iconic music has long set the standards to much of what we hear on the radio and in clubs today. How many of you first picked up a guitar after hearing the album "East-West" or when you originally listened to "Travelin' Shoes" or Grammy Award winner "Fooled Around And Fell In Love"? I thought so: read on and learn from the master.
BLUES BLAST: Your latest CD "Elvin Bishop's Raisin' Hell Revue (Live) was recorded on a Blues Cruise. How cool is that? Care to share how this came about?
ELVIN BISHOP: Have you ever been on a Blues Cruise? It's a really cool thing. We've done it three or four years in a row and we thought it was something different. I originally thought of guys I love to play with and we reserved a whole week and we got together and had a little rehearsal- not too much, we like to keep it fresh.. We had fun at the rehearsal and it was so good I called a studio and a record company and we set it up to record it on a boat and it worked out great.
BB: You re-did your Grammy winning "Fooled Around And Fell In Love" with John Nemeth singing. What do you like best about John's version of your song?
EB: It's really hard doing a cover. You have a fine line to walk if you want to do a cover: you can't lose any of the good parts of the song and you want to add something of value without messing it up. It takes a good vocalist with a lot of taste and I think John did a really good job on it.
BB: In the '60's, you were taken under the wing by legendary Chicago Blues guitarist Little Smokey Smothers. You still gigged together 50 years later. What changed in the way you played together?
EB: You know he died a year ago......
BB: Yes, but you played for such a long time together did the way you interacted change much over the years?
EB: Well, I got to be a decent guitar player, I wasn't back then. He was such a sweet guy. It was before Civil Rights when Black and White people got together. In Tulsa, when I was growing up, it was White people this and Black people that. We just felt right together. He helped me so much. I was a nobody and I'd go over to his house and he'd make sure I'd get my parts right. When he was sure, he'd call the neighbors in to hear us. He'd do the lead part and I'd do the rhythm. He had a great motivational system. If I was hard-headed or losing my attention he'd call me into the kitchen where he'd be cooking something great like ham hocks and beans and he'd lift the lid and say: "smell that. When you get the part right you can have some". (laughs)
BB: One of my favorite songs of yours is "Travelin' Shoes". Do you still play this song in your set and what about the lines about "take Hank Aaron's baseball bat and tenderize her head...." ? I always took that line as the 70's version of Ralph Kramden's "to the moon, Alice"...........
EB: Something like that.....(laughs). It was just a joke at the time but i don't think it would go over now too well with audiences. I've changed the words to: "...I feel like whoopin' somebody's butt but I think I'll just split instead".
BB: Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters were both early influences in your life. What do you think each of their legacies are in the Blues world?
EB: They are both just the two main giants of Chicago Blues. It doesn't get any bigger then that. Go to a Buddy Guy show and you'll hear three or four Muddy songs....
BB: Peter Wolf from The J.Geils Band has told me that Howlin' Wolf was an very eccentric person.......
EB: In my opinion, you just appreciate people for their good points. I believe Pete Rose and Barry Bonds both belong in The Hall of Fame, by the way.
BB: In the late sixties, when "East-West" was released by the band you were in The Paul Butterfield Blues Band you and Mike Bloomfield's dueling guitars inspired The Allman Brothers Band, The Grateful Dead and a whole generation of new bands. What was it like playing with Mike Bloomfield and what do you like to think about this part of your legacy?
EB: Boy, I don't know how many guys have told me "that album got them into music" and I am proud of that. Back then, there was this large body of music, the Blues, that was not heard by a big white audience. The only time they heard the Blues was at a Folk Festival which always had a token Blues act. Blues at the time was considered just a small branch of Folk. Messages sung by old white faces were more easily accepted then from old black faces. I'm very proud we were at the crossroads. We weren't as good as Muddy and Howlin' Wolf but we got a lot of people interested in them and music. We got people to the crossroads and to me, that is the number one accomplishment of the Butterfield Blues Band.
BB: Weren't you once known as PigBoy Crabshaw? The release of your recent CD Red Dog Speaks implies a new name. Fact or fiction and why the name change if it's true?
EB: Red Dog is the name of the guitar and PigBoy Crabshaw is just some foolishness we had in those days.
BB: You are a life-long fisherman. Did you acquire this love in Tulsa, Oklahoma where you were born? Maybe on the Oklahoma River or someplace?
EB: There IS no Oklahoma River. (laughs) But yeah, Oklahoma is where I got into it. Grand Lake O' The Cherokees and Keystone Lake closest to Tulsa. Bass fishing and Catfish.
BB: What do you think of the TV show Jeremy Wade-Extreme Fisherman? Is he the real deal or a wimp? What's YOUR wildest fishing experience?
EB: I don't know the program but I've been skunked may times and that's! (laughs) Here's one: before I got married, and I've been married now 25 years, my wife was my girlfriend and we made a date for her to come meet me there. So I'm fishing and I got a catfish and the line gets caught in some brush across the way. I'm standing on the bank, fifty feet away, and I don't want to break the line, it was a good one, so I took off all my clothes and dove into the water and I'm trying to untangle the line. I'm underwater working and coming up for air every few minutes and I could feel him, it was a good catfish. My girlfriend sees my boots and clothes on the bank and I finally get the catfish and swam back to shore with it. Pretty funny.
BB: Are there any similarities between being a good fisherman and being a good guitarist?
EB: I don't know. I never thought about that. I just try to do the best I can whatever I'm involved with.
BB: You opened up for The Allman Brothers Band and headliner Johnny Winter And at The Fillmore East on the tour where both of the bands recorded their legendary live albums. Three great slide-guitar bands on one bill. What do you remember best about this tour? Did you jam much onstage together? You always hear what kind of guitarist Duane Allman was but you never hear what kind of person he was. Did he talk a lot or was he quiet? Did he laugh a lot or was he serious?
EB: Well first, we were just on the bill, it wasn't a tour. Johnny Winter and I had never jammed until last year. can you believe that? (laughs) But The Allman Brothers Band was different. Duane, Dickie and me became instant friends Did you know that Duane and I were talking about doing an acoustic album together right before he died? He was a quiet guy but he had a sense of humor. He wasn't flamboyant and he was a pretty humble type of gentleman. Today, I think Derek Trucks is like him. Not playing-wise because I don't think they play alike but personality-wise. With Derek there is no b.s. the way everybody ought to be.....
BB: I've never met Derek but I know his wife Sue Tedeschi. When I first met her before a show she was a very nice and polite teenager and after I heard her play my jaw dropped.
EB: Yeah, she's real nice too.
BB: I saw you open for Charlie Daniels and Marshall Tucker in the eighties and you said mid-set: "after you hear the greatest guitarist in the world (Toy Caldwell) I wouldn't be surprised if we ALL came out to play". And you did. How come shows like this don't happen much anymore?
EB: You know, I've often wondered about that, but I'm not an anthropologist or a sociologist so I'm not really sure. Everyone was into jamming back then and everyone is in their own separate world now. You still see some jamming at festivals these days, and when I'm at a festival with Derek he'll get me up to jam.
BB: You recorded your first session in 1963 with Billy Boy Arnold and James Cotton and you will be gigging again with Cotton May 27th at The Santa Cruz Blues Festival. I saw him a few weeks back and we were talking about the legacies of Sonny Boy Williamson and Howlin' Wolf. He mentioned his own legacy was "a work in process" and laughed. What would you think Cotton will be best remembered for and do you have a good Cotton story you'd care to share with my readers?
EB: About ten days ago, I had a three-day weekend with him and his band at Yoshi's we were talking about Hubert (Sumlin) who just passed away. Cotton was in West Arkansas and he had a food truck, a pig's ear truck, in which he sold pig's ear sandwiches. He told me he was playing at a club in West Helena in the fifties with Pat Hare playing with him in the band and got drunk and never showed up for the gig. So everyone is freaking out as it gets nearer the time to go onstage and the club owner says he might have a solution to the problem and it might all work out. It was Hubert who was sixteen at the time. He had to go ask Hubert's Mom if he could go. She was a church going woman and she insisted that Cotton had to bring Hubert back home to see his Mother and his family every week. So every Wed. was Hubert's Family Day in the band.
BB: Where can your fans find out about all your current events, info and tour dates?
Photos by Marilyn Stringer © 2012 MJStringerPhoto.com
Interviewer A. J. Wachtel is a long-time entertainment journalist in New England and the East Coast who currently writes for The Boston Blues Society and The Noise Magazine. He is well known in the Boston and N.Y.C areas for his work in the Blues for the last two decades.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE


 Featured Blues Review 1 of 6
Sista Jean and C.B. - Back to the Root
Freckle Bandit Music (BMI)
10 songs; 46:24 minutes
Styles: Roots Music, Mellow Acoustic Blues
When aficionados mention “the roots of the blues,” of what are they speaking? Are they thinking of cities such as Chicago and New Orleans? Perhaps they have mental images of masters like Muddy Waters. Maybe they’re pondering what makes early blues unique, including measured bars and repeated lyrics in an A-A-B rhyme scheme. In this case, the answer is “all of the above!” On their debut album, Los Angeles music scene veterans Sista Jean McClain and Carlyle Barriteau (C.B.) are going “Back to the Root” in a solid outing. Here are three out of ten original selections that prove this point perfectly:
Track 1: “Back It Up Train”--This is the CD’s best example of acoustic blues for three reasons: 1) it’s an instant earworm; 2) its message is quintessential: “send my baby home to me”, and 3) one of two guests, Troy Dexter, plays accompanying Dobro in an understated yet awesome fashion! Sista Jean may not have Janis Joplin’s trademark wail mastered, but her other butter-rich vocals make up for it. Nice placement putting “Back It Up Train” as the first song on “Back to the Root;” it “chugs” into listeners’ heads with lightning speed!
Tack 3: “Don’t Want What U Got”--Those who search for a sneering rant to a lousy lover will be disappointed here, but not those who prefer poignancy. This song’s best feature is its deep lyrics: “‘No promises or demands’ was always the way I kept things close at hand. But now I’m ready to change, and with God willing, I know I can stand!” Here is a ballad for everyone in a relationship who’s “always there at the end” [the breakup], but “never there for the finish” [a peaceful resolution to problems instead of a breakup]. Beware: it’s a tearjerker!
Tracks 2 and 8 feature the other guest, David Vidal, on harmonica and slide Pedal Steel.
Track 10: “You Can Dance to the Bluez”-- Die-hard purists will likely object thusly, “It’s obvious why the last word of this song’s title has a ‘z’ in it. It misrepresents our favorite musical genre entirely!” Nevertheless, the goal of Track 10 on this album is to propel people onto the dance floor instead of soapbox-debating whether or not it’s “real” blues. It’s peppy and highly enjoyable no matter what. There’s no chance of a grouchy mood sticking around while “You Can Dance...” reverberates from one’s CD player! C.B.’s up-tempo guitar hook is irresistible.
On the band’s website, Sista Jean explains, “I feel like I’m finally coming full circle with the music and with the direction I want to take it…As long as you can sing, the people will want you time and time again. We’re laying everything on the line now!” One thing’s for sure: in returning “Back to the Root,” Sista Jean and C.B. have found theirs.
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
Paul Miles - Healing Vibrations
Alley Records
12 songs; 52:35 minutes; Suggested
Styles: Acoustic Blues
With this CD, remembrances of Richie Havens in the Woodstock 1969 movie immediately came to mind. Not since Havens’ spellbinding recorded performance have I heard steadily driving acoustic guitar and an emphasis on peace, love, and harmony. Detroit’s multi-talented, award winning Paul Joseph Miles has produced an all original acoustic set with music as infectious as Facebook. Throughout his 11th album, Miles showcases expert, nimble finger picking, poly rhythms, strummed chord progressions, and slide guitar while singing in a pleasant but slightly restrained voice.
I chose the one instrumental track, “Desert Bloom,” as the show opener for the March 31st edition of the Friends of the Blues Radio Show. I would not usually open the show with a song that runs just over six minutes, but this one created the kinds of moods and mental pictures appropriate for beginning a four-hour show. A "Desert Bloom" is a flower in an arid area, yet this song is only delicate enough to evoke the image of one until its one-minute mark. Then Miles's guitar accelerates into whirling notes and rhythms pummeling the air as fast as boxers pummel a hanging bag! This song is a thrilling ride!
The affair begins with “Keep it Mellow," a title delightfully misleading even though the words in the title are mentioned in the refrain. Mellow songs are characteristically slow, soft, and soothing. This number thoroughly breaks all three criteria! Paul Miles's unstoppable train-track rhythms on guitar are anything but slow. Furthermore, his vocals include exultant whoops and high-pitched squeals at unpredictable moments. Those wearing headphones be ready! "Keep it Mellow" exudes a driving propulsion, not calm relaxation. It's meant to wake one up and compel one to dance! Witness Miles’s absolute mastery of blistering tempos and acoustic fire. Despite its name, this song is smoking hot!
Ironically, “Cool Water" has a plea for relief more mellow than "Keep it Mellow." The title becomes a harmonizing-with-himself catchphrase that rolls right off of Miles's tongue like the liquid it represents. When first listening, one might think this melody is a simple ode to a hot summer day and its antidote. Perhaps, however, Miles is deeper, intoning the Biblical tale of Lazarus the beggar and the rich man. When the beggar and the wealthy citizen who had spurned him both passed away, the latter begged the former for a drop of water to cool his tongue because he was being tormented with "infernal pain," as Miles sings. Closing, Miles's guitar gave an ominous drum roll-like chord as he begs a final "Make it cooool."
Songs speaking more directly to the album’s overall peace, love, and harmony theme include “Heal” with its opening slide guitar licks and wonderful mid-song solo. “The world is going through a lot of pain; just like me every day...Heal.” “What Is the Message” is full of introspection and verbal challenges to us all: “Can you tell me ‘What is the Message’ [of life]”? And, Miles claims that “one day we’ll see the light” in “It’ll Be Alright.” More sweet slide opens “Remember Blue” about a late guitarist with a depth of emotion.
Not everything is totally cerebral; there is room for romantic love, too, as found in the up-tempo “Just a Little Blues” and “Whatcha Wanna Do.”
Unless Paul Miles is secretly Superman, his arm had to be tired at the end of this set of propulsive rhythms. What are not tired are my ears; they’re calling for a hit on the replay button!
Amy Walker contributed to this review.
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.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE


 Featured Blues Review 3 of 6
Big James And The Chicago Playboys - The BIG PaybackLive
Time-47:59
Although touted as a blues band, Big James and company are a funk-R&B outfit that throw a few blues guitar licks into the mix. Some blues songs are covered, albeit in a funk-R&B mode. The band is tight and talented, but hardly a blues musician among them. Guitarist Mike “Money” Wheeler manages the occasional blues run, but it usually ends up in rock territory. Along with playing trombone, Big James supplies the necessary rough vocals to the mix. The production values are crisp and clear for a live recording. The show was taped at the legendary Lionel Hampton Jazz Club in Paris, France before an enthusiastic crowd. The horn section includes Charles “Richard” Pryor along with the leader.
The title song is a lively workout on a James Brown tune, with the two-man horn section there at every turn. The closest they get to blues is the R&B-blues of “Coldest Man I Ever Knew”. The sentimental tale of a family member unfolds over a horn-fed funk groove. Magic Sam’s “All Your Love” is given an R&B treatment with the vocals rough instead of drenched in emotion. Charles Pryor deserves recognition for his steady horn blowing while the leader is singing, almost sounding like two horns. Johnnie Taylor’s 1971 hit, “Jody’s Got Your Girl And Gone” is performed in much the same vein. The “Wicked, Wicked Wilson Pickett” springs to mind during the breathless R&B groove of “Trying To Live My Life Without You”. They include an uncharacteristic slow George Clinton tune, “I’ll Stay”, that features a biting horn solo and a bluesy guitar solo.
One of three original songs, “Low Down Dirty Blues” owes much to the “supper club” sound of Bobby “Blue” Bland. It’s in the classic “woman done me wrong” blues mode. Joe “Goldie” Blocker offers one in many of his tasty organ runs. They close the show out with an instrumental version of Deep Purple’s “Smoke On The Water”, with the horns punctuating the riff.
James’ shouts of “Chicago blues” and “play the blues” might be intended to disguise the fact that are a R&B-party band ala Kool And The Gang. You can see the horn players winging their horns back and forth and doing fancy dance steps in your mind’s eye. The guitar playing falls anywhere between blues and shredding. The guys are good for what they do and after all this is for a live audience. Good funky music for your next party.
Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony hails from the New Jersey Delta.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE


 Featured Blues Review 4 of 6
Jumpin’ Jack Benny – I’ll Be Alright
Boppin Records 2011
11 tracks; 52.37 minutes
Jumpin’ Jack Benny is a band from Los Angeles and this is their first CD although all members are veteran blues players having between them played with Little Milton, WAR, James Cotton and Bo Diddley. Interesting name for a band – I assume that the ‘Jumpin’ epithet is intended to distinguish them from the late comedian... Anyway, what we have here is a quintet: Benny Cortez on vocals and harp, Tony Fingers on guitar, Eric Tice on drums, Mike Stover on bass and Kirk Nelson on keys. A number of other musicians play on some tracks, presumably as deps for the usual players. Benny and Tony are the main songwriters with five songs and another original which includes a credit for the rhythm section. Nine of the tracks are studio recordings and there are two ‘bonus’ live tracks at the end of the CD.
The CD opens with a strong cover of “I Don’t Believe” which is erroneously credited to Ronnie Earl and Darrell Nulisch. Whilst Ronnie and the Broadcasters may well have covered the song it is definitely the Don Robey/M Charles song made famous by Bobby Bland in the 1950s. The band’s version is a fine start to the CD with guitar and harp to the fore before Benny sings the familiar lyric in a strong, clear voice. Three originals follow: “Tell Me Please” starts with an insistent drum beat before guitar, harp and organ enter the fray, the harp/organ combo giving the impression of a horn section. Guest backing vocalist Betsy Villasenor adds a touch of soul and the whole track is impressive. “Let Your Love Go” keeps up the pace as Benny’s harp is featured over a Stones-type riff. Guitarist Tony Fingers takes a solo which is double-tracked over his rhythm riff. CD title track “I’ll Be Alright” is the one on which four of the band are credited and it’s another up-tempo rocker with a catchy chorus and another short but tasty guitar solo.
The pace is reduced a little for the beginning of “Mean Woman Blues” from the pen of Brother Red (James Achor). Starting as a slow blues with the guitar prominent, the tune hots up and swings along with lots of organ and an impassioned vocal about the traditional ‘guy loses love of his life’ theme. A funky riff on guitar is at the heart of “Find A Fool”, a Denise LaSalle tune which the band have found from Koko Taylor. “Big Woman Blues” has plenty of harp and slide guitar and is the longest cut on the album. Benny is on the lookout for a lady of ample proportions: “I need a big woman to make love to. I don’t want no skinny woman, a little thing, I’d break her right in two”. Oprah is name-checked as one of those that might work for Benny! “Take Time Out To Hear Some Blues” sounds like a slogan we should all adopt in these difficult times for live music but is in fact a George Jackson song once recorded by Little Milton. The band takes a funky approach to the tune and does a good job on it. The final studio track is another original entitled “Party’s On”, another funky tune with strong organ accompaniment.
The two live tracks were both recorded in California. The first, “One More Song”, is a track from the Smokin’ Joe Kubek/Bnois King 1995 album “Cryin’ For The Moon”. Introduced as a funky blues, it lives up to that statement well. The live sound is good and, apart from a little audience noise/applause at the end of the track, it is difficult to separate the live from the studio tracks in terms of quality. Album closer “You Got Yours I Got Mine” is another original and a real swinging end to the album. Indeed, from the name and West coast base of the band I had expected the album to be more like this track than the rockier approach that is generally adopted, good though that approach is.
I would imagine that Jumpin’ Jack Benny is a great live band. This CD should introduce them to a wider audience and deserves to do well.
Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK.  He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE


 Blues Society News

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Minnesota Blues Society - Minneapolis, MN
The Minnesota Blues Society presents the 2012 Road to Memphis Challenge Sun, April 22, 2012 at 1:00pm (doors @ noon) at the Minnesota Music Cafe, 499 Payne Ave., St. Paul, Mn.
$10.00 suggested donation. Contestants vying for opportunity to represent Mn at the 2013 IBC. Band competing includeKen Valdez, Wisconsin Bryan Johnson, Jimmi and the Band of Souls, Crankshaft and the Gear Grinders, Mark Cameron Bandand the Trent Romens Band. Solo/Duo competitors include Mike Fugazzi, Kildahl and Vonderharr, Samantha and Gregg and Crankshaft. (order of performance will be randomly determined prior to event) for more information visit http://www.mnbs.org/
The Mississippi Valley Blues Society is proud to sponsor the first Quad-City appearance of Too Slim and The Taildraggers at The Muddy Waters, 1708 State Street Bettendorf, Iowa for a show on Wednesday, April 18th, beginning at 7:00 pm. Admission to the general public is $10. For MVBS members the admission will be $8.
The 2012 Iowa Blues Challenge Semi-final Rounds will be held April 19, at Zimm's, Des Moines, IA, and April 22, at The Muddy Waters, 1708 State Street, Bettendorf, IA. Five bands will play thirty-minute sets at The Muddy Waters starting at 5:00 p.m. Admission is $7 for ANY blues society member or $10 for non-members. Competitors are The Mississippi Misfits, Slack Man & the Smokin' Red Hots, Judge #3, Serious Business, and Phineas J's. One of the bands from the IBC semi-final round in Des Moines and two of the bands competing in the semi-finals at The Muddy Waters will earn the right to move into the 2012 Iowa Blues Challenge Final Round, to be held in Des Moines on May 26, at the Downtown Marriott.
The Mississippi Valley Blues Festival in Davenport, Iowa is June 29th & 30th, and July1st. Scheduled performers include Mathew Curry and The Fury, Earnest ‘’Guitar’’ Roy, Sugar Ray and the Bluetones, Liz Mandeville and Donna Herula, Kenny Neal and Super Chikan Johnson on June 29th, Terry Quiett, Bryce Janey, Ray Fuller and the Blues Rockers, Doug MacLeod, Preston Shannon, Ernest Dawkins Quartet, Guitar Shorty, Moreland and Arbuckle, Coco Montoya and Kelley Hunt on June 30th. Lady Bianca, Paul Geremia, Johnny Rawls, Trampled Under Foot and the Brooks Family Blues Dynasty featuring Lonnie Brooks, Ronnie Baker Brooks and Wayne Baker Brooks, plus Bobby Rush with “The Double Rush Revue” on Sunday July 1st. http://www.mvbs.org
River City Blues Society presents: Bringing The Blues To You with the following shows - Friday April 27th at 7PM Johnny Rawls :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 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. 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, 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/
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
Ruthie Foster - Let It Burn
Blue Corn Music
13 tracks/53:06
At some point in their career, most musicians reach the point where they want to branch out and try new things, head in different directions. Taking a new path always runs the risk of alienating part of your established fan base. But if a musician is going to continue to grow artistically, they have to challenge themselves and their listeners instead of turning out the same type of record again and again.
Ruthie Foster uses her latest release to try out a new format. She opts to lay down her guitar and focus on her vocals. Instead of using her regular road band, she headed for New Orleans and the famous Piety Street Studios, enlisting the help of some of the city's best musicians. The backing band includes George Porter Jr. on bass, drummer Russell Batiste, Dave Easley on guitars and James Rivers on saxophone. Ike Stubblefield handles the keyboards and makes a number of stunning contributions on the Hammond B3 organ. Foster also elects to concentrate on a collection of material that spans a number of musical genres that, surprisingly, lacks much of any blues content.
Several tracks highlight the strong gospel element that has always been a part of Foster's music. With the Blind Boys of Alabama behind her, her original “Welcome Home” opens the disc with some marvelous harmony singing. Even better is another original, “Lord Remember Me”, with Easley's slide guitar creating an other-worldly atmosphere. Foster's voice rings out on David Crosby's “Long Time Gone”, featuring a strong bass line from Porter Jr.. The final collaboration with the Blind Boys is a highlight as Foster convincingly tells the familiar tale of the sinking of “The Titanic”.
William Bell joins Foster for a smoldering duet on his classic song, “You Don't Miss Your Water”. Rivers adds to the heat with his sax solo while Stubblefield lends a jazz touch on organ by quoting the theme from Miles Davis' “So What”. Another highlight is the Black Keys “Everlasting Light” as Stubblefield's organ steadily pushes Foster until she finally unleashes the full weight and power of her voice. Stubblefield takes center stage again as his organ playing dominates the arrangement on “This Time”, from the Los Lobos songbook.
Foster transforms “Ring of Fire” into a light pop ballad that is a far cry from the raw emotion of Johnny Cash's original. And even though Foster once again sings with passion, one could argue that world doesn't need another version of “If I Had a Hammer”. But Foster shows she can handle contemporary rock on her cover of Adele's “Set Fire to the Rain”, her magnificent voice easily giving voice to the range of emotions captured in the lyrics. Robbie Robertson's “It Makes No Difference” is another highlight, the arrangement steadily building around Stubblefield's superb work on the Hammond organ and Foster's vibrant vocal.
Anyone who has experienced Ruthie Foster live on stage knows that she has a voice that can raise the rafters one minute, then be sassy and sensual the next. There are a few of those moments on Let It Burn. On the rest on the disc, listeners will get to hear Foster stretching out in new directions. It will be interesting to see where she goes from here. In the meantime, enjoy one of the finest singers around today.
Reviewer Mark Thompson retired after twelve years as president of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL. and moved to Florida. He has been listening to music of all kinds for over fifty years. Favorite musicians include Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Magic Slim, Magic Sam, Charles Mingus and Count Basie.
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 Featured Blues Review 6 of 6
Little G Weevil -  Teaser
Apic Records
12 tracks
Born in Budapest, Hungary, Little G Weevil fell in love with the blues and heavy metal.  The blues won out and he moved to Birmingham and then Memphis to experience the blues.  He was successful in Europe, but wanted to feel the blues where they bubbled up from.  The results are on this, his second CD; 12 original cuts done is a very traditional and upbeat style.
Listening to Weevil, there is no evidence of an accent on his English- his delivery and vocals sound authentic.  If I had to compare his vocals to some other current US blues artists, it would be a mix of Studebaker John, Reverend Raven and Rick Estrin.  His guitar work is also hot and spicy.  He lays down some great stuff here and his band is also quite good in support.  Maurice Nazzaro adds some great harp work to the mix, and Bob Page’s piano and organ work is equally super.  Bill Burke (bass) and John V. McKnight (drums and percussion) add a solid backline to the music.
The tracks are all pretty good here; I liked his lyrics and stories and the music accompanying them was also quite good.  The title track is all about keeping it real in relationships.  Being fake won’t get you to the promise land, according to Weevil.  On “Back Porch” Weevil strips it down to just he and his acoustic guitar and delivers a strong performance, singing about hangovers from a fun night the evening before at a blues bar.  “Highway 78” is a song Weevil wrote about the road from Birmingham to Memphis that he knows like the back of his hand as he kept up with friends on both ends.  The groove is cool and the harp work is greasy and sweet.  “Apple Picker” features a lot of mean guitar licks. 
His former job cleaning a hotel is the motivation for “8.47”; it was his hourly wage as he slaved away 6 days a week for 10-11 hours a day.  He wails about how he “ain’t gonna do this no more.”  The need for an occasional good bottle of wine brings Little G to the “Liquor Store”. “She Used to Call Me Sugar” is some slow electric blues; the tinkle of the keys and wail of the guitar make this a pleasure to listen to.  He closes with “Which Way Shall I Go” where Weevil tells us about getting kicked out by his ex with no notice.  A little bare slide and vocals; nicely done.
I have no complaints.  This is a solid CD of new songs done by a 34 year old who feels and lives his blues.  It just goes to show that the blues have no bounds and exist everywhere man toils and works.  From Hungary to the deep South, Weevil has taken to and lived on the road, worked at tasks to support his love of music and now performs full time.  He’s a solid young artist and worth a listen; you won’t regret locking and loading this CD up for a spin!
Reviewer Steve Jones is president 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 since 1996, he writes for and publishes the bi-monthly newsletter for Crossroads, chairs their music festival and work with their Blues In The Schools program. He resides in Byron, IL.
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