Cover photo by Bob Kieser © 2012 www.thebluesblast.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 singer Sharon Lewis.
We have six music reviews for you! Sheila Skilling reviews a new CD from Mojo Stu. Rainey Wetnight reviews a new release from Eddie C. Campbell. Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony reviews the new Willie May album. John Mitchell reviews a new release from Heritage Blues Orchestra and also a compilation CD from Rounder Records titled Meet Me At Mardi Gras. Gary Weeks reviews the new Dan Livingstone And The Griffintown Jug Addicts CD. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!
Blues Blast made it out to catch Blues rockers, Too Slim and the Tail Draggers at a Blue Monday Show in Springfield, IL.
With Tim "Too Slim" Langford on guitar and lead vocals, Polly O'Keary on bass and backing vocals and Tommy Cook on drums, they played a hard driving set of rockin Blues for a full house of fans.
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Blues Blast Magazine Seeks Summer Festival Reviewers
Blues Blast Magazine is looking for a few good men (Or Women)! Over the 2012 summer season we are looking for folks who attend Blues Festivals and take good photos for festival reviews. If you attend multiple Blues Festivals or Blues shows and could volunteer to send us 500 to 1000 word reviews and some good photos, please reply to .
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Featured Blues Interview - Sharon Lewis
Sharon Lewis has it all: unparalleled talent, a great voice, a red-hot band and an ability to generate and increase the electricity wherever she performs. She is the real deal. Fasten your seat belt and learn what sets this terrific talent on fire.
BLUES BLAST: Your soulful and gritty vocals have been described as sounding "more at home in a church then in a smoky nightclub." Is this an accurate statement?
SHARON LEWIS: Yes! It shows I have not strayed far from my roots-Gospel! My grandmother taught me and two other sisters Gospel songs and we performed them in church. As the youngest, I played a little red tambourine just as I do now except it's bigger. I do not have a problem being associated with my first language of music. In fact, I'd like to record a Gospel CD in the future.
BB: What is the relationship between Gospel, Blues, and R&B music in your life and career?
SL: Gospel, Blues and R&B are the Holy Grail of what makes Sharon Lewis be Sharon Lewis. R&B is my second language of music. I grew up on the awesome sounds of Motown and other R&B labels. After my grandmother died I was able to listen to secular music and was immediately hooked on it because it touched aspects of my life that Gospel didn't. I was exposed to Blues, my third musical language, rather late in life and had an incredible epiphany of the music once I really listened to it and began to understand it. The epiphany was Blues was a music of triumph-as well as heartbreak-therefore I tend to focus on the triumph aspect. Later, I realized it is also a teaching mechanism and a wonderful release. With the three combined, triumph, teaching and release, they totally envelope my sense of music style. The Gospel shows my faith, R&B opens up my soul for rhythm and Blues ignites my triumph over all. The song "Angel" on my latest cd reveals triumph and is a Gospel song.
BB: You released your debut CD "Everything (Is Gonna Be Alright)" with Under The Gun backing you up. Care to share how this music came about?
SL: The music with Under The Gun came about because I was ready for the world to hear me! I felt I had something to say and wanted to open a few more eyes and hearts so I chose to record the music. Gun was the first band I ever performed with in the Blues (Buddy Guy's Legends, 5/5/93). I had auditioned with and received offers from other bands but chose Gun because they wanted to perform original music and I liked that. Some of the songs on that cd had actually been written 10 plus years prior to that recording. I sang over one of the original tracks (recorded it the guitar player's kitchen) on that cd. That music was indelible because I had originally created it! Gun also taught me a lot about the business side of music, but our core was volatile in that we had a lot of strong, creative souls that could only touch each other for very small lengths of time. We wrote a lot more than we recorded but they didn't make it to the CD-trust me! I have remained friends with all of them.
BB: Your write most of the song on your CDs. What inspires you today to create a a new tune?
SL: Everything inspires me-a word, a phrase, an emotion and even a look can spark something that won't go away and the next thing you know a song is born. I try to focus on life and that covers everything! My new CD (The Real Deal, Delmark Records) has originals I wrote about current conditions in the world, my life and everybody else's life! Most times I don't set out to write in a particular way-it evolves. Other times I say, "I'm gonna write a slow Blues" and I set my mind to do that one particular thing.
BB: Your music spans Blues genres from upbeat R&B to Blues ballads and you've been called "an earthy Chicago Blues Belter". What does this mean to you in English?
SL: Means what I'm doing is working for me and the audience! If my audience is feeling me I can feed off them to get a song over. That's the whole point of me doing what I do. I am a servant of entertainment and they are all my guests to serve. And I really don't mind. My current CD shows all of those styles and I'm proud of each one of them
BB: What is special about the Chicago Blues scene?
SL: The people who flock here from around the world to get a taste of the Blues. They are why I come out to do what I do - the fans. Additionally, the music scene here is like no other in the world because we have a bevy of musicians with varying degrees of expertise. From the beginning novice to the seasoned pro-we have it all and they can be found everywhere they are playing-in a lump.
BB: Tell me about your current backing band Texas Fire. They play with integrity and authenticity but is it the incredible passion in your vocals the glue that keeps it all together?
SL: My current band is Texas Fire and it took various permutations of players to arrive at the core band I have now. I am proud and happy with them as they fulfill me musically and feel my essence. I'd like to think that the entire package has a synergistic relationship that keeps it together; not just my vocals.
BB: In your career as a solo artist and fronting a band you have opened for icons Koko Taylor, Son Seals, Robben Ford, Coco Montoya, B.B. King and Sugar Blue among many others. What's it like touring with these stars? Are they all nice or were any of them a little difficult to interact with?
SL: It's like traveling with a huge family. No matter what the band or who is playing. We stick together and try to take care of one another. Of the people I've toured with I have not had a bad experience-it's been really good. We play, travel and learn together. I've learned more about stages sitting backstage than I have on stage. The problems I've had have been with people I was not touring with that didn't want to share time or knowledge. I feel sorry for the person who thinks their star is so bright it won't tarnish.
BB: You've toured in Europe, Texas and all over the mid-West. Are audiences the same everywhere you go?
SL: I've toured all over the mid-West, California and the Pacific States and I can truly say that folks that venture out to see me are not disappointed and they come to party. They realize that Sharon Lewis & Texas Fire means a party! So in that vein they would be the same all over. I think the European audiences are a lot more appreciative then American audiences. They may get to see an artist perform live only once in their lifetime, but will follow that artist over his or her career feeding only on that one live performance. When they like you they really LIKE you! Chicago audiences can be really tough because they've seen it all and they know what they want.
BB: In 2001 you received a Vocalist of The Month Award in Liberca, Czech Republic and have toured there and in Germany, Luxembourg, and France. Why are you so popular over there and do you have any plans for another European Tour in the near future?
SL: (Laughs) I cannot tell you for certain why I am so popular there. It was an honor and a shock to learn I had been awarded that honor. But I've been in Europe enough to know that they know what they want and they obviously like what they hear, so we're a good match. I love performing in Europe-especially the Czech Republic. I can get around Prague as well as I can Chicago. (Laughs) I will be returning to Europe in a few weeks to perform in France and also in the Czech Republic and Austria. I will be holding a seminar for the second time at the only Performing Arts High School in Europe located in Austria. It is so awesome to see the kids and how they react to our discussions.
BB: What do you think is the real reason the Blues is the main motivator in your life? Why not Jazz or Soul or Rap or Pop or Gospel or Opera? Why do you have the Blues?
SL: Because I've lived the Blues and I live the Blues every day. I understand a certain kind of lifestyle that Blues affords. It's not all bad, but sometimes it's a little more than a normal life should be. Just being involved in this genre gives you the Blues! (Laughs) Jazz is not who I am although I did write a very jazzy number on my new CD, called "Silver Fox". Jazz is not a constant in my life although it is a part of it- a very small part of it. I actually do some Soul in my live show and "Blues Train" on the new CD has a R&B/Soul feel to it, but it is not my essence either. I don't Rap but some do consider it the Blues of today. It chronicles life and what's going on in it just as the Bluesmen of yesteryear sang about their lives and what they went through.
I have the Blues because it is my life-it is what I do every day to conquer the tribulations in my path of life. It's not all bad because it gives me an edge to stay The Real Deal.
Visit Sharon Lewis online at www.reverbnation.com/sharonlewis
Photos by Bob Kieser © 2012 www.thebluesblast.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.
Featured Blues Review 1 of 6
Mojo Stu – Wild About My Baby
Mudbone Records/MilesTone Media Inc.
11 tracks; Total runtime: 45:55 minutes
In his 4th CD, Wild About My Baby, Philly-based slide guitarist Mojo Stu (Stu Bryant) shows himself to be a man of contrasts. This CD contains a good mix of acoustic and electric guitar work, as well as a variety of musical styles – from foot-stompin’ hillbilly to rockin’ blues. Bryant executes all with great skill and precision, which can be rare in a slide guitarist.
The playlist starts out with an instrumental slide version of “Amazing Grace,” which is a nice alternative take on the classic hymn. The 3rd cut, “If I Could Cry,” featuring vocals by Dezi Orio, is pleasantly reminiscent of ballads you might have heard in the early 1960’s. The 5th cut, “So Long,” is a fairly slow hillbilly-style tune with a good vocal blend; while the 8th cut, “Jitterbug Swing,” seems like just the kind of song Jed and Granny Clampett would have chosen for their “fancy foot stompin’” in the mansion foyer. My favorite cut on the CD is the last one, “Footsnewgy Bituminous Tusk.” I can’t say what that means, but I can tell you that this song has the most contemporary sound of any on this CD, with the perfect amount of slide and wah-wah, and a hard-driving guitar solo. Bryant describes it as “off-the-rails rock/blues” and I would concur.
Listen to this CD three times and you’ll likely be singing, humming or whistling these bright and catchy tunes throughout your day. The first bit of contrast you’ll notice will be Bryant’s gravel-voiced vocals on these happy little songs, but what is even more striking is that the lyrics are of a decidedly different mood than the musical elements.
For example, the 9th cut on this CD, “Goin’ Down,” sounds like a fairly cheerful dance tune, but is clearly about picking a fight; while the catchy 2nd cut, “Bye Bye Baby,“ contains this line: “Goin’ downtown with a pistol in my hand. Gonna prove to you, Baby, that I’m a killin’ man.” The music from the 4th cut, “She’s Alright,” could easily become a sitcom theme song, but listen to the lyrics and you’ll find that “she’s” no June Cleaver, and that the sitcom is liable to carry a parental warning. Now, there’s nothing wrong with all this, as rock and blues have long covered themes like heartache, sex and violence. I just find this music-to-lyrics contrast surprising and interesting … and have, ever since that fateful day when I heard a nun happily humming “Afternoon Delight.”
To further the contrast, Mojo Stu’s website reveals that the proceeds from his 3rd CD, Real House Blues, went to the “Peace, Love and Sunshine” charitable foundation Bryant set up in 2001 to benefit children and other worthy causes. (Note: I did not see any indication that the proceeds of this current CD are also going to charity.)
Contrasts aside, Bryant’s slide guitar style and low, gravely vocals are generally a good match for blues and the other genres he covers. However, it occasionally seems like the vocals are slightly under pitch – a common hazard for this voice type, but something to be vigilant about. I also found it a bit frustrating that some links on the MojoStu.com website went nowhere – likely not a high priority for a busy musician who has just launched a new CD, but worth keeping up-to-date for those fans who still use websites to find information and merchandise from their favorite artists.
Overall, Wild About My Baby is a lesson in contrasts, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. If you love well-executed slide and happy, catchy tunes, pop it in your car stereo and give it a listen. Just take note that you might not want your 3-year-old singing along.
Reviewer Sheila Skilling is a self-professed “blues fan by marriage,” who was hooked by her husband’s musical preferences, but reeled in by the live performances of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy and others. She lives in the Minneapolis area.
Featured Blues Review 2 of 6
Eddie C. Campbell - Spider Eating Preacher
15 songs; 61:51 minutes
Styles: Chicago West Side Blues, Deep Funk Blues Grooves
I can ‘Name That Guitarist’ in five notes ... it’s Eddie C. Campbell! Imagine a game show like “Name That Tune” except with guitar players. Guitarists are all unique, but some have a sound that is so distinct that it is their own signature. The trademark reverb-drenched tones coming from the fingers and metallic purple Fender Jazzmaster of Eddie C. Campbell are simply unmistakable.
Eddie C. Campbell, born in Duncan, MS in 1939, is an original bluesman who is one of the last of the originators of the “West Side” sound of Chicago Blues still performing. Blues connoisseur Bill Dahl, in the liner notes to this highly-anticipated new release states: “There aren’t many of the Blues guitar giants left who once freely roamed Chicago’s West Side, spraying off reverb-soaked shards of notes on their axes while piercing the night air with their tortured vocal cries. We’re fortunate indeed to have Eddie C. Campbell still with us, performing absolutely at the top of his game….” Legendary album producer Dick Shurman adds: “Eddie and I have been friends for over 35 years now and he calls me his brother, so working with him is special. It’s also extra interesting because they only made one like him; he’s a master of the tradition.”
Campbell’s sophomore Delmark Records release will cement the veracity of this statement in blues fans’ minds. So will the following selections out of fifteen! Only three songs are covers: Mel London’s song popularized by Ricky Allen “Cut You A-Loose,” The Ohio Players’ “Skin Tight,” and Jimmy Lee Robinson’s “All My Life.”
Track 2: “Spider Eating Preacher”--If the title of this song doesn’t immediately grab listeners’ attention, Eddie Campbell’s flaming guitar and rich. Wide-ranging vocals will. Why does the titular character consume these critters? The lyrics give a clue: “Spider eating preacher says, ‘They’re the Devil in disguise’.” With his paranoia running rampant, one might think that this holy man’s crusade against arachnids might never end! But, the esoteric lyrics were actually written by Eddie’s wife and partner Barbara Mayson about her blindness: “It’s in darkness that you’ll see the light.” Heating up the horn section are Chris Neal on tenor sax, Marques Carroll on trumpet, and Aaron Getsug on baritone sax – all from Guy King’s Little Big Band.
Track 3 is noteworthy beside the great music for the personnel: Barbara Mayson plays bass, Lurrie Bell adds guitar, and Eddie plays harmonica for the first time on record which appears one more time on track 11, “My Friend (For Jim On’Neal).” Further, Eddie’s son David adds violin on tracks 1 and 12.
Track 5: “Soup Bone (Reheated)”--The blues is one of the few genres in which ditties about food are perennially popular! Campbell sings an ode to his favorites: the meaty morsel mentioned in the title with collard greens. This mouth-watering track is a remake of one of his first 45’s, a collector’s item on Hawaii Records from the 1960’s. It’s a surefire hit!
Track 15: “Playing Around These Blues”--Guest star Lurrie Bell performs a down-and-dirty duet as the “godson” alongside Eddie Campbell’s “godfather.” The best things about this track are its quintessential rhythm and pure traditional blues sound. Lurrie’s vocals are raw and startling at the beginning (“Yeah, man, God bless us to see another day, man, and to wake up with a good feeling about the blues!”), and his harp rip-roars throughout. They may be “Playing Around…,” but rest assured these two legends take blues seriously!
Sometimes when veteran musicians return to the stage, some of their earlier (and more youthful) magic is inadvertently lost. This isn’t so with Eddie Campbell and his multi-talented fellow artists like keyboardist Darryl Coutts. They’ll make listeners want to meet the “Spider Eating Preacher” and rid themselves of the blues that threaten to “spin a web right round you”!.
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 3 of 6
Willie May - Nights Of Luna
Anyone who can write a lyric like “My baby’s got frog legs and it tastes like chicken to me” is definitely A-OK in my book. This is the kind of record that does this reviewer’s heart good. I live for this stuff. It’s not about hot guitar solos or other virtuoso shenanigans; it’s about the song and the feel. Willie has that kind of road-weary quality in his voice that is warm like your crazy uncle that visits you and Aunt Bee in Mayberry. I mean that in a good way. The music here has a sort of sloppy perfection to it. It recalls the music of Professor Longhair, although there isn’t a piano in sight. The kicker is that this guy is from Buffalo, New York. Who knew?
Willie’s pleasant sandpaper pipes grace the old Nawlins’ R&B groove found on “Tell Me Baby”. It sounds like a tune that could be found on a compilation of Crescent City classics. The horns sound like were lifted from an old Clarence “Frogman” Henry or Professor Longhair chestnut. “My Big Rita” carries along with a similar atmosphere. The aforementioned “Frog Legs” could come from that time as well. It’s a rushed, fast boogie that just zooms past in all its glory. It’s done in the vein of one of those crazy old New Orleans ditties. That voice fits snuggly into the country-blues shuffle that is ”Love That’s True”. It also benefits from the harmonica skills of Mike Silver. Some nice country-rockabilly guitar is provided courtesy of Paul Iannello on the self-explanatory “Plenty Of Problems”.
“By Degrees” is a classic slow, simmering blues along the lines of “Somebody Loan Me A Dime”. Reggae-meets-roots on the lazy island groove of “Today’s The Day” that is full of kalimba (African thumb piano) and percussion. Robin Mayer’s otherworldly vocals play cat-and-mouse with Mike Silver’s harmonica. On first listen I thought her background vocal was a horn or synth, it’s that pretty. A yearning for better days is the focus on “Go Back Home”, with only Willie on vocal and ukulele accompaniment. It doesn’t sound hokey or Don Ho-ish, it really works just fine. The narrator’s girl gets around on “I Gotta Girl”, a tune that has good organ-guitar-harp interplay. “Plastic People” creeps in ala a crunchy Steppenwolf song that soon becomes a psychedelic-boogie worthy of Bob “The Bear” Hite and Canned Heat.
What a fine stew this is- blues, roots, New Orleans R&B and a dash of world music influence. This works on the level of spending time with an old “rough-around-the-edges” friend. One gets the sense that these guys have lived and know life and it seeped into their music through osmosis. It sounds like it was always there. Old souls making new music. We can all use more of what this band can supply.
Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony hails from the New Jersey Delta.
Featured Blues Review 4 of 6
Heritage Blues Orchestra – And Still I Rise
12 tracks – 48.51 minutes
The Heritage Blues Orchestra is an interesting new development which takes aspects of gospel, traditional blues (including worksong styles of hollers and handclaps) and jazz and blends them all into a heady amalgam which will excite many blues fans. Those whose blues interests revolve round electric guitar solos can probably stop reading now, as guitars are present do not take a lead role.
The Orchestra is led by Bill Sims Jr. on guitar and vocals. Bill is also known for his acoustic guitar/harp duo with Mark Lavoie but here he is accompanied by his daughter Chaney Sims, vocals, Junior Mack, guitar and vocals, Vincent Boucher, harmonica and Kenny ‘Beedy Eyes’ Smith on drums. The Orchestra also features a horn section led by Bruno Wilhelm on tenor sax, with Kenny Rampton and Steve Wiseman on trumpet and Clark Gayton on trombone, sousaphone and tuba. Matthew Skoller plays harmonica on one track and his brother Larry produced the CD. Most of the material is either traditional or comes from the classic blues repertoire, Muddy Waters, Leadbelly, Son House, with just Eric Bibb and a single Junior Mack composition providing a link to contemporary writers.
The CD opens with Son House’s “Clarksdale Moan”. Junior Mack sings this one over a hard shuffling drum beat and harmonica before the horns enter to beef up the production. “C-Line Woman” is a traditional tune with some additional lyrics by Chaney Sims whose lead vocals are accompanied by male harmony vocals and an all percussion/handclap backing. “Big Legged Woman” is also a traditional tune although the theme is very familiar from artists such as Freddie King. This is a sprightly acoustic version with the brass section appearing towards the end of the first verse. This is also the tune on which Matthew Skoller’s harp appears. Bill Sims sings this one in a voice that immediately reminded me of a young Taj Mahal and he also leads on a great version of “Catfish Blues” which really stomps along at a frenetic pace. Kudos to all the players on this one, the harp underpinning the rhythm and Kenny Smith setting a cracking pace on drums, the horns adding to the excitement throughout.
In complete contrast to the fast pace and full orchestration of “Catfish” the next track is the quietest on the album. “Go Down Hannah” is a Leadbelly song, a feature for Chaney whose beautifully expressive vocal is offset by male voices in work song mode. Apart from a brief trumpet intro this is an acappela version. Some strong slide playing by Junior Mack opens up “Get Right Church” where Junior’s vocal is supplemented by great harmonies on this traditional gospel piece. Appropriately Eric Bibb’s contemporary gospel piece “Don’t Ever Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down” follows. Those who remember Eric’s original will recall Wilson Pickett’s thrilling contribution, yet this version is its equal. Bill’s lead vocal is excellent, the electric guitar and the horn arrangement propel the song along on top of Kenny’s drums.
A pair of traditional songs then follow. “Going Uptown” returns to an acoustic approach, the horns providing a lovely, warm accompaniment; “In The Morning” is a fast-paced rocking approach to a gospel tune, the vocals outstanding again. Special mention must be made of Kenny Smith’s drumming here; best known as a master of the blues shuffle, here he is operating at a ferocious rock pace. A suitably frantic trombone solo graces the middle section. In another change of style and pace “Levee Camp Holler” (credited to Alan Lomax and Winston Stewart) is a solo acapella version and is followed by Junior Mack’s “Chilly Jordan” which could easily be mistaken for a traditional gospel tune.
The CD closes with the most adventurous piece, a lengthy adaptation of the traditional “Hard Times”. This comes in three parts, starting with a call and response between solo voice and guitar, Chaney’s lead vocal well supported by harmonies from the male singers. The second section is just the horns playing an elegant and mournful tune that has shades of several great jazz orchestras from Duke Ellington to Miles Davis before the band returns with a far more up-tempo version of the song, the horns adding colour to the band’s funked-up approach.
The Heritage Blues Orchestra has produced a stunning album. They have the great advantage of three excellent singers, but it is the variety of style and pace that I liked in particular and makes this, in my view, a CD well worth investigating. Recommended.
Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music.
Blues Society News
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The Blues Kids Foundation - Chicago, IL
The Blues Kids Foundation presents Fernando Jones’ Annual Blues Camp. This fun-filled experience awards scholarships to over 120 Blues Kids (ages 12 to 18), affording them a “priceless” fun-filled experience. They will learn and perform America’s root music in a fully funded, weeklong program with like minded others under the tutelage of national and international instructors.Blues Camp is in residence at: Columbia College Chicago, Huston-Tillotson University (Austin, TX) and the Fender Center (Corona, CA). This series is designed for America’s youth and educators. To be a sponsor call us at 312-369-3229.
AUDITION DATES & CITIES
Saturday, April 21, 2012 10am - noon, Columbia College Music Center, 1014 S, Michigan Chicago, IL
Saturday, May 12, 2012 10am - noon, The Fender Center, Corona, CA
Saturday, May 26 Time TBA at Maria Maria's, Austin, TX
CAMP DATES & CITIES
July 15 - 21 / Columbia College, Chicago, IL
June 17 - 23 / Fender Center, Corona, CA
June 13 - 16 / Huston-Tillotson University, Austin, TX
The Ventura County Blues Society - Ventura County, CA
The Ventura County (Calif) Blues Society has tapped bluesman Tommy Marsh and Bad Dog to host their weekly "BluesJam" series at The Tavern in Ventura, launching Wednesday, May 2 and happening every Wednesday thereafter. The Ventura County Blues Society's Sunday Blues Matinee Concert Series kicks off Sunday, July 8 with Chris Cain, Tommy Marsh and Bad Dog, and Kelly's Lot, at the High Street Arts Center, in Moorpark, Calif. Info: http://www.venturacountybluessociety.org/.
Prairie Crossroads Blues Society – Champaign-Urbana, IL
Prairie Crossroads Blues Society shows: Sunday, April 28, Kilborn Alley 12th Anniversary & Blues Jam, 5-8 pm, Mike ‘n’ Molly’s Beer Garden, Champaign; Friday, May 4, 1st Friday Blues, Gerome Durham, 8 pm studio visit to WEFT 90.1FM during the Blues Live show, 10pm, performance at Memphis on Main, Champaign; Friday, June 1, 1st Friday Blues, Tee Dee Young, WEFT and Memphis on Main, Champaign. For more info: http://prairiecrossroadsblues.org.
The Chicago Emergency Fund - Chicago, IL
NAWBO Chicago and the Emergency Fund are hosting a “Women in Business Helping Women in Crisis” Family Concert Benefit on April 29, 2012, at the Viper Alley, 275 Parkway Drive in Lincolnshire, IL. from 3-7 p.m. The Emergency Fund helps families in crisis and helps to fight homelessness. You can learn more about the Emergency Fund by going to their website at http://www.emergencyfund.org.
Entertainment features Chicago Women in the Blues featuring keyboardist Joan Gand with the Blue Road Band, Peaches Staten, Vivian Vance Kelly, Shirley King, (daughter of BB King); Liz Mandeville and Donna Herula. For more info see: http://www.chicagoblueswomen.com. Tickets are $45, include dinner, are available online through the following links: Viper Alley http://www.viper-alley.com/calendar/details/368 and the Emergency Fund link http://donate.emergencyfund.org/SearchResults.asp?Cat=38, the Viper Alley box office, and at Gand Music and Sound. 100% of the ticket price goes to the Emergency Fund. Press may contact Joan Gand for further info at 847-370-4263
The West Virginia Blues Society - Charleston, W.V.
The Charlie West Blues Festival is a FREE event, held on May 18,19 & 20, 2012 on the beautiful banks of the Kanawha River in Charleston, WVa .A tribute to our military, an opportunity to show patriotism and loving support for our troops and their families. The Charlie West Blues Fest is produced by the West Virginia Blues Society.
This years lineup includes Kenny Wayne Shepherd, on Saturday, brought to you by Charleston CVB, Ruthie Foster, Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers, Johnny Rawls, Fiona Boyes, Slim Fatz,Jill West & The Blues Attack,Six Kinds of Crazy,Mel Melton & The Wicked Mojos, Mahajibee,Dennis McClung Blues Band,Ms. Freddye,The Carpenter Ants,Diddly Squatt, Lascivious Deacons and the Shaune Booker Band. Our second stage will feature the best in local and regional music for your enjoyment. After Jams to be held at the Sound Factory on Friday and Saturday. Music starts at 6 o'clock on Friday and runs to 11 pm. Saturday will be noon to 11 pm and Sunday is 1 pm to 9 pm. More details can be found at, www.charliewestbluesfest.com For more info contact Jack L. Rice, West Virginia Blues Society, 304-389-1439, Bkravenhawk@hotmail.com or visit www.wvbluessociety.org
The Diamond State Blues Society - Middletown , Delaware
The 1st St. Georges Blues Fest sponsored by The Diamond State Blues Society is Saturday, June 16th, 2012, Noon to 8pm rain or shine, on the grounds of The Commodore Center, 1701 N. DuPont Hwy., St. Georges, Delaware. Featured are Garry Cogdell & the Complainers; lower case blues with special guest Johnny Neel; Dave Fields, Brandon Santini & his Band; J.P. Soars & the Red Hots; and headlining is The Bernard Allison Group. Details and links to tickets at www.DiamondStateBlues.com.
Mississippi Valley Blues Society - Davenport, IA
The Mississippi Valley Blues Society presents its annual Fundraiser on Saturday May 12 at Martinis on the Rock (4619 - 34th Street, Rock Island, just south of Blackhawk Road). Admission is $20, which will get you in the door, a ticket for door prizes and a trip through the buffet line. A silent auction, begins at 6:00 p.m., with the music starting at 7:00 p.m. Proceeds benefit the 2012 Blues Festival.
Music will be provided by three bands who have won the Iowa Blues Challenge, the Steady Rollin’ Blues Band, The Candymakers, and The Mercury Brothers will each take the stage in Martinis’ brand new outdoor music pavilion, situated in back with a stunning view of the scenic Rock River. After the three sets, the MVBS will host a jam session. The non-profit Mississippi Valley Blues Society depends heavily on fundraisers such as this to keep our musical standards as high, and our Festival admission prices ridiculously low, as they’ve been in the past.
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 - Pekin, IL
River City Blues Society presents: Bringing The Blues To You with the following shows at Goodfellas 1414 N. 8th St, Pekin, Illinois - Johnny Rawls, Friday April 27th at 7PM, Matt Hill, Tuesday May 9th 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm, Matthew Curry & the Fury, Friday May 25th 7:30 pm – 11:00 pm. Admission for these shows is $5.00 non-members $3.00 members. A special show featuring the 2011 International Blues Challenge winner Lionel Young Band with opening act The Governor is Friday, June 22 From 7:00 pm – 11:00 pm Admission: $5.00 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. April 30 - Matt Walsh, May 7 – Studebaker John & the Hawks, May 14 – Diddley Squat, May 21 – Rev. Raven & the Chain Smokin’ Alterboys, May 28 – Lionel Young Band, Jun 4 – Big Jeff Chapman Blues Band , Jun 11 – Deb Callahan, Jun 18 – Sugar Ray & The Bluetones Jun 25 – TBA. Other ICBC sponsored events at the K of C Hall, Casey’s Pub, 2200 Meadowbrook Rd., Springfield, IL from 7:30pm - Midnight - May 12 – Eddie Turner Band, , - Jun 30 – Matt Hill . icbluesclub.org
The Friends Of The Blues - Watseka, IL
Friends of the Blues present 2012 shows:
Tues, May 8, Kilborn Alley, 7 pm, Bradley Bour. Sportsmen’s Club www.kilbornalley.com
Thur, May 17, Reverend Raven & C.S.A.B., 7 pm, Kankakee Valley Boat Club
Tues, June 19, Sugar Ray Norcia & Bluetones, 7 pm, Kankakee Valley Boat Club
Tues, June 26, Tom Holland & Shuffle Kings, 7 pm, Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmen’s Club
July – Sugarcane Collins - details TBA
July - Dave Riley – details TBA
Tues, July 24, Laurie Morvan Band, 7 pm, Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmen’s Club
Wed, August 22, Smokin’ Joe Kubek w/ Bnois King, 7 pm, Kankakee Valley Boat Club
Thur, Sept 6, Ivas John Band, 7 pm, venue TBA
Tues, Sept 18, Smilin’ Bobby, 7 pm, venue TBA
Thursday, Oct 18, Morry Sochat & The Special 20s, 7 pm, TBA
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
Dan Livingstone And The Griffintown Jug Addicts
As stated in the CD liner jacket, this work was recorded live with no overdubs and slick production that would otherwise ruin a pretty good affair. Nothing wrong with an honest approach because it’s the type of thing that works for Dan Livingstone And The Griffintown Jug Addicts.
No original material exists so it’s up to Livingstone’s finger-picking style to add a touch of jazz, ragtime, swing and barbershop quartet to ancient blues standards by the likes of Gary Davis, Arthur Blake and Fred McDowell. If anything, it’s plunging into a time portal that takes a psychic journey into Depression era America.
McDowell seems to be Dan’s favorite. Back to back renditions of “Write Me A Few Of Your Lines” and “61 Highway” are perfect opening cuts and door openers to a treasure chest of songs best played at a backyard barbeque of a home located either in rural Mississippi or the Appalachian mountains. The CD lasts only for little more than half an hour. You can view it as just the right amount of listening time or not getting enough of a good thing.
Assisted by Julia Narveson on washtub bass, Brad Levin on washboard and Colin Perry on lead guitar and tenor banjo, this is a group of people not having any regards for being a commercial success overnight. Certainly this was not in their game plan when this music was recorded. Livingstone isn’t aiming for radio airplay so much as just having fun with a group of friends.
And the man does have fun. The group seems to be in their element as they mix jug, blues and bluegrass in the obscure Arthur Blake “Chump Man Blues” that is as strong as any moonshine found in an abandoned shotgun shack. And you don’t have to wait too long before getting an injection of rag-time as the band rips into Fulton Allen’s “Rag Mama Rag” with Perry’s banjo playing front and center.
Even when the momentum slips into a slower groove as it does in Blake’s “Black Dog Blues” the feeling is still downhome and not becoming mournful. Although when turning in Gary Davis’ “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” does the mood get dark and somber. Of course that’s expected when taking on the funeral dirge of this Davis classic that in turn becomes a celebration of life and sending the deceased off with a positive exit.
Livingstone can’t seem to escape from Fred McDowell’s shadow. Another hidden McDowell gem “Done Left Here” sees Dan fingerpicking to his heart’s delight with a glee old Fred himself could appreciate. On the surface the momentum is rushed but is just right for the song’s backwoods jubilee effect that would have a drunkard wake up from his blackout and start the day all over again with bourbon on ice. And to get the best picture of Livingstone in his natural habitat where his finger-picking reaches an apex, one listen to “Last Steam Engine Train” by John Fahey is the best track to end this project with. Livingstone has acknowledged Hot Tuna as an influence which doesn’t come as a surprise. This instrumental finds Dan embellishing the Piedmont style with an aggressive finger-picking attack those students at Jorma Kaukonen’s Fur Peach Ranch would seriously study if they ever wish to get a handle on playing Piedmont style.
This CD is as good as start as any for players wishing to abandon their hard rock background and go back in time to where old timey music was an enriching source and an inspirational tool for players where fun was the norm and the spirit of good times ruled the roost.
Reviewer Gary Weeks is a contributing writer. He resides in Marietta, GA.
Featured Blues Review 6 of 6
Various Artists – Meet Me At Mardi Gras
12 tracks – 45.16 minutes
Just in time for Mardi Gras Rounder have dipped into their archives to put together an interesting selection of New Orleans and related artists. If you want a blues and roots flavoured soundtrack to your Mardi Gras party this CD is perfect. The material ranges across the decades, with NO stalwarts such as Professor Longhair and Rebirth Brass Band sitting alongside more contemporary acts such as Marcia Ball and Steve Riley and the Mamou Players.
In truth every track evokes the Crescent City and carnival time, but perhaps for blues fans Professor Longhair’s timeless “Tipitina” is the tune that best expresses our fascination with New Orleans. The version on this compilation is by Bo Dollis And The Wild Magnolias and it’s a good one, the classic shuffling beat enhanced by a full band of trumpets, saxes and trombones. The Professor himself appears on a 60’s version of “Go To The Mardi Gras”, pounding drums setting a frantic pace for his piano and vocal. Rock and roller Larry Williams tackles another classic “Iko-Iko” in a sweet and short version that clocks in at just 1.32. In contrast The New Orleans Nightcrawlers’ funky version of brass band staple “Lil’ Liza Jane” (here retitled “Funky Liza”) is the longest track at over seven minutes. Talking of marching bands and NO carnival ‘crews’, Marcia Ball’s “Big Shot” is also based on a Zulu character with bowler hat and big cigar and is a favourite from her “Blue House” CD in the 90’s.
The CD opens with a contemporary tune in The Meters’ Leo Nocentelli’s “Say Na Hey”, here performed by The Soul Rebels in a funky style with great horns punching out the main musical theme and the strong vocal telling us all about the friendships to be made at carnival time. It seemed to me that this track was placed first to show that NO music is not stuck in a timewarp but is evolving all the time, as demonstrated by the wild guitar in the middle section here. The CD closes with Chuck Carbo’s version of “Meet Me With Your Black Drawers On”, a song that, for fairly obvious reasons, also evokes that party spirit!
Overall this compilation ticks a lot of boxes. As is always the case with projects like this keen collectors will already have several of the tracks featured but Rounder have cast their net wide enough to offer something new for most diehard fans. For the casual listener looking for a good party CD this is ideal.
Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music.
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