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 Johnny Winter. Marilyn Stringer has a photo essay from the Harvest Moon Blues Festival.
We have five music reviews for you! Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony reviews a new release from Billy Boy Arnold. Ian McKenzie reviews a new release from Bex Marshall. Rex Bartholomew reviews a new CD from The Bare Bones Boogie Band. Rainey Wetnight reviews a new release from Cee Cee James. Mark Thompson reviews a new album from Seth Walker. John Mitchell reviews a new CD from Guitar Mikey And The Real Thing. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!
From The Editor's Desk
Hey Blues Fans,
The Paramount Blues Festival is this weekend in Grafton, Wisconsin. Why is the town of Grafton holding a Blues Fest called the Paramount Blues Fest?
Because Paramount Records was founded in Grafton, Wisconsin in 1910. Paramount Records was best known for its recordings of African-American jazz and blues in the 1920s and early 1930s, including such artists as Ma Rainey and Blind Lemon Jefferson.
Kris Raymond and our friends at the Grafton Blues Association have a great lineup too including The Bel Airs, Kilborn Alley, Nick Moss and Albert Cummings. Admission is only $10 for both days!
Visit their website at http://www.graftonblues.org/ or see their ad below in this issue.
Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!
Featured Blues Interview - Johnny Winter
It doesn't get any better than that! Casually sitting with blues icon Johnny Winter on his tour bus, before and after a gig, talking shop with the man who put the FIRE in guitar brand name Gibson Firebird. Hearing one of the most influential slide guitarist speak professionally and privately about fellow artists and his industry is as entertaining as his red hot solos. The legend continues; the Screamin' Demon blazes on.
Blues Blast: You've had a very busy year. You just won a Croatian Blues Award.
What's it like playing gigs behind the former Iron Curtain? Is it much different than performing anywhere else nowadays? Is globalization taking place in the music world too?
Johnny Winter: (laughs) Yeah. They're still not quite caught up to capitalism yet, but they're trying. It's still a little more primitive playing over there......
BB: But they were familiar with your music?
JW: Oh yeah. It's a fun place and it' s no problem playing over there.
Paul Nelson: (Second Guitarist) And on the tour we were selling out everywhere.
JW: They all like the music and they all came out.
BB: And you just got back from touring China. What was that like?
JW: Yeah, it was real different and a lot more modern than I though it would be.
BB: I love the photo of you and Paul in those Chinese straw hats. Did the government just allow you to go sightseeing and go anywhere? Did you go see the Great Wall of China as tourists when you were there?
JW: They didn't care what we did. (laughs) They never said anything. I didn't know what to expect.
BB: Are you going back?
JW: (laughs) It's so far away, I don't know if I can get there again.
BB: But they knew your music in China?
JW: They seemed to. They seemed to know what we were doing and we got a good crowd when we played.
BB: It must have blown your mind being in China, ha.
JW: (laughs) Oh yeah, it was weird, (laughs), just really different.
BB: You've had a bunch of new releases this year too. Roots, the Live from Tokyo DVD and the Live Bootleg Series Vol. 8. That's a busy year.
JW: Well the Live Bootleg Series is all Live music and we pull it from our archives so it's a mix of good stuff with a bunch of different people involved.
BB: Do you ever pull out old songs like "Im Yours And I'm Hers" from your first Columbia album anymore? It's a great song.
JW: Yeah, it's a good song but I haven't done it in years.
Paul Nelson: But that stuff on the Live Bootleg Series is everything from board tapes to past disgruntled employees tapes.....everything we find...the whole bit.
BB: You were also on Dave Letterman's show this year. Did you get a chance to talk to him and is he a blues fan? Is he familiar with your music?
JW: Yeah he seems to be. I didn't get much of a chance to talk to him after the show but he came up to talk to me after the performance. And he's always been nice to me.
BB: When I saw you on his show I thought how nice it was to see you on national TV.
JW: Yeah, I know. Dave's the only one who's had us on TV. It's the only TV. we've done.
BB: It's the 100th Anniversary of Robert Johnson's birth. What's his legacy to you?
JW: Yeah. Well he was the best Delta Blues man ever. He was the best guitar player ever. He wasn't the best singer, Son House was the best singer, but he was the best guitarist. Without a doubt, he was way better than anybody else.
BB: You still do an occasional Robert Johnson tune?
JW: Oh sure. We do "Dust My Broom" We do it in the Elmore James version but he wrote the original.
BB: You know, I once saw you in Passaic, N.J play "Johnny B.Good" and "Roll Over Beethoven" in the same set on the same night.
JW: (laughs) I love Chuck Berry. I really like Chuck Berry a lot.
BB: You have a huge record collection. What are some of your rarer discs?
JW: Ohhhhh I don't know. I probably don't have any that are that rare. I just collect the stuff that anybody can collect. None of it's that rare. I do have thousands of records but there's really nothing out there I want to buy anymore. (laughs) I don't like most of the new music anyway.
BB: In the mid-70's you appeared on jazz flutist Jeremy Steig's album doing a few songs including "King Tut Strut", What was the story behind that? He played on "Too Much Seconal" from your Still Alive and Well album too. Are you into Jazz too?
JW: Nah. He played on my album so i figured I should play on his. We haven't played "Too Much Seconal" in a looooong time. And what I was playing wasn't jazz it was pretty much blues done by a jazz guy.
BB: Whatever happened to him?
JW: I think he got into a bad car accident that completely messed him up, I think he's still alive but can't play anymore.
BB: I was turned on to him through you.
JW: Yeah, he was in a good band called Jeremy and The Satyrs.
BB: Since the 70's, I've seen you many times but have never heard you do "Still Alive and Well". Was this song ever in your set list?
JW: Ugh. I don't like "Still Alive and Well". I used to play it all the time. I just got tired of it.
BB: Do you have any advice for young blues artists struggling to have their music heard?
JW: Oh, I don't know anything about the business part of it. No, I don't know anything about the business part of it at all. I try not to.
BB: Should they just keep playing and try and stay focused?
JW: That's all they CAN do...(laughs)...and hope things get better.
BB: I recently saw a video of you taken at Woodstock doing "Mean Town Blues" and you have a 12 string guitar....
BB: With only 6 strings on it. Why?
JW: When I first got it, I couldn't afford another one. (laughs). At Woodstock, I couldn't afford it and I just liked the way it sounded It started out as a 12 string, and I did play 12 strings on it, and then I decided well it sounded really good- I'll just take 6 strings off it and use it for my slide.
BB: Speaking of slide, what do you usually tune to?
JW: Usually, Open D but sometimes I play in Open G too.
BB: You have 19 tattoos. Is your Screamin' Demon tattoo on your chest your favorite?
JW: Yeah, that's my favorite. I just got this last year in Japan and it's one of my favorites too. (Johnny shows his new tattoo-a vertical line of Japanese letters on his inner arm).
BB: What does it say?
JW: Blues Sound Power. There wasn't a word for blues so they had to change the blues to Sound Power. There was no Japanese word for blues.
BB: That's pretty wild.
JW: If you're in a band I guess they call it something else over there.
BB: You just came back from China, do they have a word for the blues over there?
JW: Oh I don't know. I didn't try to get a tattoo over there.
BB: Currently, there's a lot of interest in the ukulele and I know it was your first instrument.
JW: Yes it was.
BB: Any plans of having a Johnny Winter ukulele album?
JW: No. (laughs). No, that's stupid.
BB: So we'll never hear you do "Self-Destruction Blues" on four strings?
JW: The ukulele is not a blues instrument. I DID hear a guy though, in Hawaii, that did a great version of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" on ukulele that was just unbelievable. I couldn't believe he was playing it. He was playing lead ukulele. It was better than George Harrison's version (we laugh). It was really excellent. I couldn't believe he was doing it on the ukulele.
BB: You played with Jimi Hendrix many times, mostly rhythm guitar. What did you do as the second guitarist?
JW: Oh, it was lovely. And he played so it was a lot of fun. One night he played bass for me. I played lead and he played bass.
BB: I've seen photos of that night.
JW: Yeah. That was even cooler. (laughs). I'd rather have him play bass for me than me playing rhythm for him.
BB: It's a shame all those times you played together weren't recorded for posterity.
JW: Don't worry about it. We only made one record together, one song "The Things I Used To Do"; a Guitar Slim song.
BB: How cool is it that? At least that's preserved for people to listen to forever?
JW: Only one song. But at least there is one.
BB: What about the times you used to jam with The Allman Brothers Band?
JW: Well, only once. I made one record with Gregg. There is "Wasted Words" we recorded.
BB: Yes, I've heard that. But what about playing with Duane? You two sounded pretty good on "Mountain Jam" together.
JW: Yes, that was a lot of fun.
BB: What was it like playing with Duane Allman?
JW: I always liked Duane. I was never as good a friend with Duane as I was with Gregg for some reason. I was REAL close to Gregg but never got to be good friends with Duane. But I loved his guitar playing.
BB: Paul, you are Johnny's second guitarist in this band. In his whole career, he's only had Rick Derringer, Floyd Radford and maybe Jon Paris playing as second guitarists onstage with him. How is your role in the current band different from your predecessors'?
Paul Nelson: I don't step on him, that's it. Before, it was a great clash with the dueling guitars that led to bands like Lynryd Skynyrd but Johnny felt he wanted a change for two main reasons: a) he felt he was selling himself short because he wanted to play the blues and b) he didn't like the constant battle of guitar players. I back him up and I support him. He's healthier now and his re-emerging vocals and guitar playing requires a different role from me. I back him rhythmically and with double leads and he throws me solos; I don't step on him.
BB: What's it like being in a band with Johnny Winter?
PN: It's an honor to play with him. I remember in the beginning, I'm facing him and playing and I'm thinking 'Oh Man, I'm playing with Johnny Winter'. And then I thought: I've worked hard for this; let's do it ! I really respect him.
BB: What's it like at rehearsals?
PN: Great. He already knows everything so we just go over any changes. I listen to what he's doing and I figure out how I'm going to back him up. He once said to me: "You can play like "those other people" (Derringer and Radford), and I KNOW you can, but you don't". A big compliment coming from a legend: and it doesn't get any better than that.
Visit Johnny's website at www.johnnywinter.com
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.
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Featured Blues Review 1 of 5
Billy Boy Arnold - Sings Big Bill Broonzy
During his youth Billy Boy admired Big Bill, at one point met, and a few years later asked Big Bill to make a record with him, to which he declined. Big Bill referred him to The Aces who he felt had a more contemporary sound that suited Billy Boy’s style better. Having followed and admired Big Bill as one of his heroes, there is no one better to pay tribute in a record. Billy Boy has a warmer voice than the originator, who had a big booming voice, but he delivers an entertaining representation of Big Bill’s music. Big Bill’s finger-picking guitar style can’t be duplicated, but the band here provides a good backdrop. Fifteen songs of his catalogue of hundreds are represented here. Billy Boy is probably best known through songs of his covered by The Yardbirds and others: “I Ain’t Got You” and “I Wish You Would”. Billy recorded these during the “hey-day” of Chicago’s VeeJay Records in the fifties. He was also Bo Diddley’s harmonica player for a short while until he decided he’d rather be a front man.
Most of the songs are accompanied by Billy Boy’s harmonica, guitar, mandolin and minimal percussion to capture the period. Curiously percussionist Rick Sherry adds clarinet to “Going Back To Arkansas” to give it an old-time jazz feel. The song most familiar to a more recent audience, “Key To The Highway”, is known more in its electric interpretation via Little Walter, Freddie King, Eric Clapton and many others. It’s given a more faithful treatment here that features some fittingly mournful harmonica by Billy Boy.
A bit of backwoods poetry is served up in “Looking Up At Down”: “I’m just like Joe’s turkey, I can’t do nothing but wobble, I have to lean up against a fence just so I can gobble”. “Rider Rider Blues” is a variation of ”C.C. Rider”, a song in the repertoire of many of the “songsters” of the twenties and thirties. Most of the songs are done-up in an “easy rollin’” style: “It Was Just A Dream”, “I Love My Whiskey”, “Living On Easy Street”, etc.. “When I Get To Thinkin’” includes a line that Sonny Boy Williamson II used as a song title:” fattening frogs for snakes”.
Probably the second most recognizable song of Big Bill’s is also included here, “It Was Just A Dream”, a song done by Louisiana Red in a few versions. Billy Flynn contributes some jazz guitar to “Just Got to Hold You Tight”, parts of which sound curiously like the melody to “Baby Let Me Follow You Down”, a traditional folk song popularized by Bob Dylan on his first album.
Taken as either an introduction to Big Bill Broonzy or a Billy Boy Arnold album, it works fine on both levels. The acoustic guitar playing of producer Eric Noden; electric guitar and mandolin by Billy Flynn; washboard, percussion and clarinet by Rick Sherry and acoustic bass by Beau Sample provide the perfect cushion for Billy Boy’s smooth voice and harmonica. This record enhances the music without obscuring the original songs.
Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony hails from the New Jersey Delta.
Live Blues Review - 2012 Harvest Moon Blues Festival
Set at Cheadle Lake Park, Lebanon, OR, this first year blues festival was more than any of us had hoped for! The weather was perfect, the family friendly atmosphere had great vendors, food, camping on site, and a lineup that was satisfying for all. With one large stage, and a smaller one set up on-site jams for the campers and late-night music fans, it was deemed a success and we are all looking forward to # 2! And a of the proceeds from the festival will be used to develop the park with a permanent venue.
The festival started late Friday afternoon with Reggie Houston’s Crescent City Connection. Reggie is well known and loved around the Portland area and can be found playing his soulful saxophone and clarinet with a variety of Portland locals. He also gave the early audience a nice taste of some music history, accompanied by Janice Scoggins on keyboards. Later on in his set, he was joined by Portland’s own Peter Dammann (guitar), John Mazzacco (bass), and Tyrone Hendrix (drums).
Next up was Michael Osborn & the Drivers with Stu Kinzel, Robbie Laws and more in a Wall of Blues Guitars. Michael Osborn was John Lee Hooker’s guitar player for over 13 years and the band was a lot of fun! The players included: Dave Mathias(harmonica), John Moore (drums), Robbie Laws (guitar), Michael Osborne (guitar), Stu Kinzel (guitar), and K G Jackson (bass).
Lydia Pense and Cold Blood have been around since the 60’s & 70’s are one of the original R&B horn bands from the era that fused funk & rock & blues & jazz. Lydia is still belting out her unique sounds the band takes you back to “the days” of the sounds of Tower of Power & funky soul. She is a true legend and the crowd loved her and the band!! These guys have been together for over 20 years: Steve Dunne (guitar), Rich Armstrong (trumpet), Steve Salinas (keyboards), Evan Palmerston (bass), and Rob Zuckerman (sax), and Mike Kelly (from Portland on alto sax). (BTW, they will be at the Big Easy Festival in San Jose on September 8th).
Closing out the first night of the festival was Rod Piazza & The Mighty Flyers. If you are a blues fan, then I need say no more about the best dressed harmonica player in the blues (except for maybe Rick Estrin equals Rod), who goes full blast blues harmonica & vocals the whole set, with Honey boogie-ing down on the keyboards, Henry Carvajal pushing the guitar strings to their max, Norm Gonzalez keeping the bass on track, and David Kida going wild on the drums. If you are a new blues fan, then don’t miss them!! (BTW – they are all high class dressers and I have always wanted to ask Rod if he sleeps in his sunglasses!!) Mighty Fine!!
Saturday morning started out with a huge burst of energy from Cee Cee James’ band. Raw and passionate, Cee Cee was the perfect choice to get the festival started right. Her energy and gritty talent singing the blues, along with her stellar band, set the bar high for the rest of the day. It was great to hear songs from her new CD “Blood Red Blues”. Her band includes: Rob “Slideboy” James on rhythm & slide guitar, Tim Enders (lead guitar), Chris Leighton (Drummer), Ryan Engstrom (bass), and Scott Benfield (harmonica).
Next up was Ana Popovic. Her charm and beauty are only surpassed by her powerful vocals and hot guitar playing. Her band included Stéphane Avellaneda on drums, Doc Samba on bass, and Steve Malinowski on keyboards.
Next up was Mark Hummel & the Blues Survivors with special guest Steve Freund on guitar. Mark always brings a great group of musicians with him whether he is touring with the harmonica blowout or his blues band. Steve Freund is a no-nonsense solid gold blues guitar master and is a great coupling with Mark’s Harmonica and RW Grigsby on bass. And back on the drums, and new to the west coast, is my personal favorite, D’Mar, the most animated, athletic, talented drummer on the planet. He is a show unto himself and has more fun playing drums than anyone I have ever seen. (And he has been Little Richard’s drummer for over 16 years).
Zac Harmon was next with his solid blues band and gigantic spirit (more on Sunday!). His band included Cory Lacy (KB/B3), Will Harris (Bass), Cedric Goodman on drums, and a special guest appearance by festival MC Scrap Iron for a chorus on a Little Milton song.
With great anticipation, the crowd waited for Curtis Salgado’s first performance since his cancer surgery. Curtis is Portland’s (and the Pacific Northwest) homeboy and he is dearly loved by everyone at this festival as was evidenced by the tears of joy (including mine) when he performed the entire set with more vitality than ever before. And when he pulled out the long note on the harmonica, we knew all was well with Curtis!! A jump for joy was in order!!
His band was pretty happy too: Vyasa Dodson (guitar), Craig Stevens (keyboard), Dave Mills (trumpet), Gary Harris (sax), Tracy Arrington (bass), and Brian Foxworth (Drums).
The final act on Saturday was Tommy Castro’s Legendary Blues Revue with guests Deanna Bogart, Kenny Neal, and Terry Hanck. As always, Fabulous!! His band includes Byron Cage (drums), Randy McDonald (bass), and James Pace (Keyboards). And at the end he was ready to do a jam but was cut short by thunder and lightning but the rain never came…..darn…Tommy’s jams are the best!!
Sunday morning the campers and overnight travelers were fed by a pancake breakfast at the campground and entertained with a morning of Chicago Blues from Glenn Kaiser and Mississippi Gospel with Zac Harmon.
The Glenn Kaiser Band combines classic blues and rock with electric and slide guitar. His band included Roy Montroy on bass and Ed Bialach on drums. What a great way start the early morning set.
Finishing off the festival was the Sunday morning Gospel Revue with Zac Harmon’s band. He brought up Deanna Bogart, Glenn Kaiser, and Scrap Iron to help him out with his drummer, Cedric Goodman, bringing in the spirit in a full-on “goin’ to church in Mississippi” style gospel hour. It was inspiring and uplifting and sent us on our way with a feeling of satisfaction and appreciation for the blues and our friends. A special moment for me was when Zac talked about people who had passed recently, including his father and dear friend Michael Burks. Zac said “this one is for you, brother Michael”, closed his eyes, and played a Michael Burk’s lick that came straight from the Iron Man himself (because Zac swore later he didn’t know how to play like Michael). The spirit was with us – I can confirm that!!
Just a side note, I found out that The Harvest Moon Blues Festival is more about the harvest and less about the moon. Right next to us in a field of grass, a harvester was happily “digging up the dirt” until I was informed the Lebanon area is one of the biggest growers of grass seed and it was harvest time! Harvest time means summer is over but the blues plays on!! Thanks to the people who worked tirelessly to put on #1 of what we hope to be many more Harvest Moon Festivals!
Photos & Commentary by Marilyn Stringer. Visit Marilyn's website at: MJStringerPhoto.com
Featured Blues Review 2 of 5
Bex Marshall - House Of Mercy
House of Mercy Records
Eleven Tracks 43:03
The House of Mercy is actually an internet radio station (www.houseofmercy.tv) that transmits, to use their text, “the best in Americana, roots, rock, bluegrass, blues, country and singer songwriters.” The station runs live sessions that are transmitted and, oh, yes, they make CDs too. Actually the description above of the station is a pretty good match to the contents of this CD. It is, as they say in those multiple choice tests, All of the above.
There is an under-current of blues, but the presence of Scruggs style banjo picking and some country type and gospel type arrangements (albeit very tight) as well as some seriously rocky pieces, drag it well away from any purists’ ideal of a blues album.
Ms Marshall herself fronts the band(s) with an assortment of guitars, including an 2006 Ozark resonator often with a slide on her little finger and an Electric Lady guitar made by Eddie Cameron and Chris Eccleshall, in a workshop near to where I am writing this. She has a clean fiery style whether playing with her fingers or with a pick. All of the eleven tracks on this CD were written and produced by Bex and the whole comes with an array of British and American instrumentalists all of whom are top notch musicians: Dobro player BJ Cole, Hayseed Dixie alumni Don Wayne Reno (banjo), Dale Reno (mandolin) & Jake Byers (acoustic bass); harp man Steve Lockwood; and Eileen Healy violin ace. Background vocals come from Brigitte De Meyer (Nashville) Shola Adegoraye and Bex herself, and a rhythm section including Toby Baker (keys), Barry Payne (bass), with percussion and drums by Danny Bryan and Crispin Taylor provides a firm underpinning.
Now you might think that such a line-up might swamp a young singer and you’d be right if Ms Marshall did not have such a prodigious vocal talent. With a powerful voice channeling Janice and Bonnie, she moves from Memphis Minnie vocal stylings (Gone Fishin’) through blues shouter epics (Bite Me) to a thoughtful acoustic piece (Barry’s Song, about Barry Marshall Everitt, Bex’s husband and owner of House Of Mercy) all the while leavening the mix with juicy slide and nicely constructed licks.
This is excellent stuff, just don’t expect unalloyed blues.
Reviewer Ian McKenzie is English and is the editor of Blues In The South, [http://www.bluesinthesouth.com] a monthly blues information publication. He is the producer/ host of two blues radio shows Blues Before Midnight on KCOR (Kansas City Online Radio: www.kconlineradio.com) Fridays; and Wednesday's Even Worse on Phonic FM (www.phonic.fm) alternate Wednesdays.
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Prairie Crossroads Blues Society - Champaign-Urbana, Illinois
Prairie Crossroads Blues Society of Champaign-Urbana, Illinois will hold its 2nd Annual Local International Blues Challenge on Saturday, October 20th at Memphis on Main, 55 East Main St., Champaign.
The winning band will receive a minimum of $1000.00 in travel assistance and go on to represent our blues society at the 2013 International Blues Challenge scheduled for January 29- February 2, in Memphis, Tennessee. We will provide a drum kit donated by Skins-N-Tins Drum Shop. All bands taking part in the event will be able to sell their CDs.
Please visit www.prairiecrossroadsblues.org/ibc_challenge13.html to find out more about our event and other rules for competing bands. Deadline to enter is Tuesday, September 25, 2012. Event start time will be determined by the number of bands competing.
Mississippi Valley Blues Society - Davenport, IA
The Mississippi Valley Blues Society will be presenting blues guitarist/singer/songwriter Debbie Davies at The Muddy Waters, 1708 State Street, Bettendorf, IA, on Friday, September 7 at 9:00 p.m. Admission is $12 for members of the Mississippi Valley Blues Society or $15 for non-members. Coupons for $5 off the cost of admission will be available at the East West Riverfest Opening Ceremony held from 5:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. at the RiverCenter, 136 East 3rd Street, Davenport, IA.
Also as part of the East West Riverfest, the Mississippi Valley presents Studebaker John and the Hawks on Sunday, September 16, at 5:30 at Martinis on the Rock ((34th Street and Blackhawk Road, Rock Island).Admission is $5 for members of the Mississippi Valley Blues Society or $8 for non-members (membership applications will be available at the door), or FREE for all participants in the September 16 Bikes and Blues Fun Run.
September 16 is the last chance to participate in the 2012 Bikes and Blues Fun Run presented by the Mississippi Valley Blues Society. The Fun Run will start at Ducky's Lagoon (Andalusia, IL) and wrap up at Martini's on the Rock (Rock Island, IL) with stops at Buelahs (New Boston, IL), The Pub (Oquawka, IL), and Beer Belly's (Aledo, IL) in between. Cost is $5 per rider entry and will include admission to see Studebaker John and the Hawks at Martinis. Entry to Fun Run starts with check-in between 10:30 am - noon (last bike out at noon) at Ducky's Lagoon in Andalusia, IL. Last bike must be in at 5:00 p.m. at Martini's on the Rock in Rock Island, IL to be eligible for card drawings and door prizes. All vehicles welcome! For more information on events presented by the The Mississippi Valley Blues Society visit: www.mvbs.org ; or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
West Virginia Blues Society - Charleston, W.V.
The West Virginia Blues Society will hold its Sixth Annual Blues Competition on October 13, 2012 at The Sound Factory, 812 Kanawha Blvd. Charleston, WV 25301. Blues bands, solo/duo and a Youth Division blues acts will compete for cash prizes and WVBS sponsorship to the Blues Foundation's International Blues Challenge held in Memphis, Tennessee. Jan. 29 - Feb 2 - Jan 2013.
CONTACT PERSON FOR COMPETITION PARTICIPANTS: Complete information, application & rules are available online at www.wvbluessociety.org . Deadline for application submission is September 21, 2012. For more information contact Competition Director, Mike Price at 304-389-5535 or e-mail: email@example.com or Jack Rice at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Decatur Blues Society - Decatur, IL
Decatur Blues Society will hold their annual "Road to Memphis" blues challenge on Sept 22, 2012. Open to both band and solo/duo. Winning band and winning solo/duo will represent the Decatur Blues Society in the International Blues Challenge held in Memphis in Jan 2013. Entry forms and complete info can be found at www.decaturblues.org.
Minnesota Blues Society - St. Paul, MN
The Minnesota Blues Society presents 2012 Minnesota Hall of Fame inductees. MnBS would like to congratulate this years' honorees: Big Walter Smith, "Blues Performer"; James Samuel "Cornbread" Harris, Sr., "Blues Legend"; Dan Schwalbe, "Blues Sideman"; Electric Fetus, "Supportive of the Blues (non-performer)"; Cyn Collins, "West Bank Boogie", "Blues Art and Literature"; Lamont Cranston, "Tiger in your Tank", "Blues Recording"; Will Donicht, "Blues on the Bank", "Blues Song". 2012 Minnesota Hall of Fame event will be held, Sun, Oct 14, Wilebski's Blues Saloon, St. Paul. Mn details to follow @ www.mnbs.org
Long Island Blues Society - Centereach, NY
9/16/12 Long Island Blues Talent Competition (LIBTC) to select a representative for IBC. $10 donation to help defray winners expenses in Memphis. Location TBA. Now accepting applications for Band, Solo/Duo categories. Requirements on website www.liblues.org
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.• 9/10/2012 - Southside Jonny • 9/17/2012 - Sugar Prophets • 9/24/2012 - The 44s • 10/1/2012 - Levee Town • 10/8/2012 - Rich Fabec • 10/15/2012 - Jason Elmore. icbluesclub.org
The Friends Of The Blues - Watseka, IL
Friends of the Blues present 2012 shows:
Thur, Sept 6, Ivas John Band, 7 pm, Kankakee River North Restaurant
Tues, Sept 18, Smilin’ Bobby, 7 pm, Moose Lodge, Bradley IL
Thur, Sept 27, Jerry Lee & Juju Kings, 7 pm, Kankakee River North Restaurant
Tentative Tues, Oct 9, Too Slim & Taildraggers, 7 pm, Kankakee Valley Boat Club
Thurs, Oct 18, Morry Sochat & The Special 20s, 7 pm, Kankakee Valley Boat Club
Thur, Nov 1, Steve “The Harp” Blues Band, 7 pm, venue TBA
Thur, Nov 8, Eddie Turner, 7 pm, Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmen’s Club
Featured Blues Review 3 of 5
Cee Cee James - Blood Red Blues
12 songs; 55:54 minutes
Styles: Modern Electric Blues and Roots Rock
At its core, the blues is all about passion: pouring out one’s heart, soul and troubles through music. That’s why, on Cee Cee James’ newest album, “Blood Red Blues,” she says that it’s “flowin’ heavy all through my veins!” Earning a place in the Billboard Top 15 Blues Chart on July 23rd, this CD is passionate beyond a doubt. As further evidence, Cee Cee, now based in St. Louis MO, has been dubbed “the Vocal Volcano” by Robert Horn of the Washington Blues Society. On this, her fourth CD, James presents twelve original songs that she composed along with husband Rob “Slideboy” Andrews. She and her band recorded this time under the irreplaceable production, engineering, and mixing of Jim Gaines in Tennessee. Now Cee Cee sounds completely like herself not Joplin-esque. Cee Cee and her band are out to prove to listeners that sometimes, the blues can come in an entirely different color! Three of them glow with fiery crimson intensity:
Track 01: “Blood Red Blues”--“The title track of the CD came to me while I was working out on my elliptical,” Cee Cee explains on her website, “but the song itself developed into something completely different once we hit the studio.” That “something completely different” is a sly and seductive number more suitable for the bedroom than the gym! “Slideboy” Andrews shows blues fans how he got his nickname, using magnificent slide riffs rather than words. Set drummer Chris Leighton’s teasing percussion keeps this song’s heart pumping steadily!
Track 04: “Comfort of a Good Heart”--Reminiscent of rocker Alannah Myles’ cover of “Black Velvet,” this song is just as smooth. Its imagery is delightfully cozy: “Like my hands wrapped around a warm cup of tea, like a warm sunny day on my skin, I like the comfort of a good heart….” Vicki Atkins and Danunielle “Pie” Hill provide silky background vocals, and if one listens carefully, one can hear the sustaining high notes of Susan Julian’s keyboards!
Track 09: “Walk On”--“See that beggar on the side of the road, begging for money, hungry and alone? See that girl walking the street, selling her body so her children can eat?” The world’s a mess, and Cee Cee knows it all too well. She has some gravelly-voiced ‘advice’ for people who would ignore the down-and-out: “Walk on, walk on, ‘cause what can you do? Walk on, walk on, walk on, ‘cause you’ve got your problems too….” Rocky Athas’ lead guitar roars accusations, demonstrating that a song that seems to condone complacency actually condemns it!
Joining the aforementioned musicians on these scintillating selections are Dan Mohler on bass and Stanley Crouse and Kimberlie Helton on background vocals. Cee Cee reveals on her website that, “Other than our live CD, ‘Seriously Raw’, this is the fastest I’ve ever worked to get a CD out once we hit the studio.” Enjoy the “Vocal Volcano’s” explosive, emotive eruptions of “Blood Red Blues”!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.
Featured Blues Review 4 of 5
Seth Walker - Time Can Change
Seth Walker garnered a lot of well-deserved praise for his last release, Leap of Faith, a disc filled with Walker's expressive vocals and great songs that he co-wrote with acclaimed tune-smith Gary Nicholson. Coming off that career highlight, expectations were set high for Walker's newest release.
The fact that he comes close to delivering an equally successful effort shows that Walker has staying power. This time he ventures beyond the blues for a program of soulful tunes that mix a variety of influences, anchored by Walker's breezy vocal style and his understated guitar work. The rhythm section of Steve Mackey on bass and Derek Phillips on drums add layers of flavor to the proceedings.
Most of the tracks range from mid-tempo pace to slower ballads. “Wait a Minute” sports a reggae feel and gets a boost from Kevin McKendree (Delbert McClinton) on organ. Walker's heartfelt performance on “In The Meantime” is a high point, with Jessi Alexander handling the backing vocal. “Love is Through With Me” combines a light, funky rhythm with accents from McKendree's Wurlitzer organ behind Walker's ruminations heartbreak of love. The band slides into a jazzier vein on “Found Myself Lost” as Walker delivers a noteworthy guitar solo. The gentle “Rosalie” finds Walker professing his love and fidelity to the woman he loves. His engaging vocal wins out over generic lyrics with assistance from Stefano Intelisano on accordion.
The brooding “Before it Breaks” features another fine, but brief, solo from the leader and generates more heat than anything else on the disc. “What Now”, co-written with Raul Malo, is the kind of tune that Jimmy Witherspoon built his career on. Malo plays bass on “More Days Like This”, a feel-good cut with a finger-poppin' rhythm. On “Something's Come Over Me”, Walker seems to be paying tribute to Frank Sinatra on a ballad sparked by Ephraim Owens' trumpet solo. The McCrary sisters – Regina, Ann & Alfreda – bring a touch of gospel to “Stronger Than You Need To Be”.
This one requires a number of listens to fully grasp what Walker is trying to do. The instrumental solos are brief, concise statements that often are gone before you even know they were there. While some songs bear the burden of weak lyrics, the musical arrangements are cohesive statements that enliven almost every cut. Walker's honeyed voice grows on you as he deftly navigates the wide range of styles.
If you are a die-hard blues fan or need to hear hard-driving music, look elsewhere. This one is for those who appreciate a fine singer who favors a low-key approach to music. If you prefer a mellower approach, make sure that you check this one out.
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.
Featured Blues Review 5 of 5
Guitar Mikey And The Real Thing – Out Of The Box
15 tracks; 70.24 minutes
Mike McMillan (aka Guitar Mikey) is Canadian but has lived in the States for some years. Currently resident in Clarksdale MS, this CD was recorded there with a mixture of musicians. Mikey produced the album, plays guitar throughout and also handles bass duties on some tracks. Elsewhere bass is by Daddy Rich, John Allouise or Terry Big T Williams; drums are by Marty Richards, Wes Vance or Lee Williams; Mark Yacovone, Peter Nunn and David Maxwell provide piano and organ; The Hammerhead horns provide support on five tracks and Memphis harp player Billy Gibson is a frequent guest, appearing on no fewer than eight tracks. Bob Margolin brings his distinctive slide tones to one track. Nellie “Tiger” Travis sings backing vocals on four tracks and fellow Clarksdale resident Super Chikan appears on one track. The songs are all original and Mikey had a hand in all of them, sometimes collaborating with Doug Carter. Mikey has issued CDs before (including an unhappy experience with a major label in the early 90s) but this is his first release on a national blues label.
Opening track “Back To You” sets a high standard for the album. The first verse is quiet, just mandolin and slide before the pulsing bass and electric guitar arrive to press the song along, horns and strings joining in also to give a really full sound. Mikey was obviously a busy guy as all the mandolin, banjo and guitar parts are played by him. Second track “That’s No Way” is a good rocker with some tough guitar and a catchy chorus. Billy Gibson appears for the first time on “Blues Attack” and definitely adds value with his distinctive harp sound. The song features some great drumming in Bo Diddley vein that gets the toes tapping. “It’s A Sin” ploughs a similar furrow as Billy lets rip on the harp on a fast-paced tune with sparkling piano by Mark Yacovone and some exciting slide playing by Mikey. The pace slows for “It’s Goin’ Down” in which Mikey channels his inner Robert Johnson on a country blues with more superb harp, piano and slide; lyrically Mikey plays with phrases we know from RJ (“I’ve got a good friend”) and Dylan (“The times they are a’ changing”).
“Livin’ In The Big Time” has almost a touch of country about it with twanging guitar. Nellie “Tiger” Travis’s support vocal is a key factor in this tune, as well as more of Billy Gibson’s expressive harp, on a song that reminisces about a former lover who headed for the bright lights: “She didn’t want my straight life, she’s out there somewhere tonight, living in the big time”. “Blues Head” tells the story of the guy who spends all night at the juke joint and (perhaps not surprisingly!) receives a cool welcome when he returns home in the wee small hours. Super Chikan adds some of his distinctive guitar and Alphonso Sanders provides a super, cool sax solo.
“The Bigger Fool” is a classic slow blues in Muddy Waters style, so there is no better guest than Bob Margolin to play his Muddy-infused slide alongside David Maxwell’s piano and Billy Gibson’s harp. “Need $100” has a late night feel to it, due largely to Mikey’s bass underpinnings and acoustic slide as well as David Yacovone’s rippling organ. Billy Gibson sits out the next two songs, both of which are straight quartet performances: “Freedom Road” is a rocker on the habitual theme of ‘heading down the road out of town’ while “Who Is She” starts off like Deep Purple, all swirling organ and major chords, before Mikey’s vocal tells us about a chance encounter with a femme fatale.
“Heart Shakin’ Mama” has a touch of funk in the rhythm and in Mikey’s guitar. “She Needs Time” returns to a more country blues feel in terms of Mikey’s playing while Nellie “Tiger” Travis and Billy Gibson bring their skills to bear in support. The horns return for “When Leo Starts To Growlin’” in which we learn that once the title happens all resistance is useless. Mikey’s guitar plays a solo at the same time as Alphonso Sanders’ sax to provide an exciting centerpiece to the song. Album closer is the title track “Out Of The Box”, both horns and strings along for the ride alongside more strong guitar playing from Mikey.
Guitar Mikey sings well throughout and this is a well-produced album with a good range of material covering the blues spectrum - a CD well worth investigating.
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 enjoyed the Tampa Bay Blues Festival in April.
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