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October 16, 2008
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Hey Blues Fans,
The Blues Blast headed to Helena, Arkansas last weekend for the Arkansas Blues and Heritage Fest. And what a great show it was. More than 40 performers including Carl Weathersby, Pinetop Perkins, Mem Shannon, Michael Burks, Moreland & Arbuckle, Samuel James, Willie King, Sam Carr, Dave Riley, Rick Estrin, Janiva Magness, Anson Funderburgh, Hubert Sumlin, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, Bobby Rush and many, many more!
This week we have the first of a two part review of the festival. We review Friday nights show and there are a FEW of the many pics we took below in the show review. But we took quite a few photos like this one of Blues legend Pinetop Perkins.
You want to see ALL the pics of the Friday performers and all the fun so CLICK HERE.
Stay tuned next week too for more of the Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival with the review of Saturday night's show! SCROLL DOWN for this weeks Friday review.
This is one fantastic festival so make plans to get there next year. It's the Blues experience of a lifetime!
Blues Reviews and MORE!
James Walker reviews a DVD from Byther Smith. Bob Kieser reviews the Friday show at the 2008 Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival. Ben Cox reviews the new CD from Blues Blast Music Award nominee Gina Sicilia. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!
Blues Blast Music Awards Tickets
Tickets for the 2008 Blues Blast Music Awards are selling FAST!
CLICK HERE to purchase tickets NOW! Tickets are only $25.
The awards show is Sunday, November 2nd, 2008 at Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago, IL.
It is going to be a GREAT event with confirmed appearances by Magic Slim & the Teardrops, Lurrie Bell, Nick Moss & Gerry Hundt, John Nemeth, The Kilborn Alley Blues Band, Dave Riley & Bob Corritore, Eden Brent, Sugar Ray Norcia, Teeny Tucker, Tim "Too Slim" Langford (from Too Slim and the Taildraggers), and Gina Sicilia.
There are just 400 tickets available for this great show. This event WILL sell out so get yours NOW!
Visit the Blues Blast Music Awards Myspace page for more info at www.myspace.com/bluesblastmusicawards
The 25th International Blues Challenge
February 4-7, 2009 in Memphis, TN
Advance tickets, host hotel information, merchandise and preliminary event schedule are available at www.blues.org
Three Blues Blast Music Award Nominations!
Purchase Katrina Was Her Name NOW! CLICK HERE
Featured Blues Review (1 of 2)
Byther Smith - DVD: Blues on the Moon – Live at the Natural Rhythm Social Club
(Also available on CD)
12 songs; 71:34 minutes; Suggested
Style: Chicago Blues
“I’m telling you people / Don’t you ever make me mad / That would give the right / To break your jaw with a left and a right!” These lyrics come from damn-real-deal bluesman Byther Smith who as a young man took up boxing. “I had 69 amateur fights and I only lost one,” says the bluesman born in Mississippi on April 17, 1932.
There are well over 80 Blues musicians who live and work in the Chicago area, and one that is not as well known but about to be much better appreciated, based on this new DVD/CD, is Byther Smith. “Smitty” came to Chicago in the mid-'50s and by the early '60s was playing at Theresa's Lounge, where he backed Junior Wells. He also worked with the likes of Big Mama Thornton, George "Harmonica" Smith, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Sunnyland Slim, and Otis Rush.
This Delmark Records CD/DVD project is all about authentic, old school Chicago Blues. This DVD is the latest in Delmark’s effort to honor the remaining few Chicago greats while they still have their powerful art.
The setting is August 17, 2007, at the Natural Rhythm Social Club. It is the type of urban, working-class Chicago blues joint of which legends are made. It is small and crowded and anything but swank. Some tables are around the corner from the band out of any sight line. There is no elevated stage, so the folks in the back can not see either because the people up front are standing and dancing. What they can all do is hear and feel the power.
There is “real-deal” blues, and then there is “damn-real-deal” blues. Smitty is the latter. Byther Smith comes across as a man who is not singing the blues or performing the blues, but rather a man who is living the blues, who exudes blues, who is blues. There is nothing flashy about him – not his hair, clothes, or styling. No tie, no suit - he looks nice in a plain black shirt and tan pants, but not showy. His vocals large and just short of gruff. What you see is what you get because, it is what it is – REAL! His guitar playing is not flashy – just rock solid fret board attack and string bending. Smitty effortlessly shares leads and rhythm with second guitarist Anthony Palmer with hardly a glance or cue, perhaps they use telepathy. His band does not do synchronized dance steps; they just play from the gut. Darryl Coutts on keyboards is the closest thing to showy with scrunched facial expressions, which neither enhances nor detracts from his deft fills, melodies, and leads. James Carter on drums is obviously a cum laude graduate of Chicago Blues stick work, and he propels the beat hand-in-glove with bass man Greg McDaniel.
DVD highlights are a bonus song not included on the CD (“My Daddy’s Mean”). Song highlights include nine originals like the title track, “Judge of Honor,” “Give Up My Life For You,” and “Monticello.” There are also made-his-own covers like JB Lenoir’s “If You Love Me” and Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Don’t Start Me Talkin.’”
I particularly enjoyed the Special Featured Byther Smith Commentary in which he tells his life story, anecdotes, and insights into writing his unique and sometimes bizarre lyrics. There are also his stories about playing with Roy Buchanan for five years, Jimmy Reed, and time with Howlin’ Wolf.
Want to find out what would happen to a young guy if he pulled a .32-20 pistol on Wolf? Get the DVD or CD to find out and get a blast of raw and uncompromising, old school Chicago Blues.
Reviewer James “Skyy Dobro” Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show “Friends of the Blues” can be heard each Thursday from 4:30 – 6:00pm on WKCC 91.1 FM in Kankakee, IL
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
Live Blues Review
Friday, October 10, 2008
By Bob Kieser
This was our second year at the Arkansas Blues and Heritage Fest. This is a huge free festival formerly known as the King Biscuit Festival. And just like last year they had a great lineup of Blues artists.
To see ALL the pics of the Friday performers CLICK HERE
We arrived just in time to see Earnest Roy Jr. open the festival as people began to stream into the fest area in downtown Helena, Arkansas. The festival is held on the west end of Cherry Street just across the street form the world famous Delta Cultural Center. The crowd sits in a field and on the sloping levee that stands between Helena and the mighty Mississippi river.
Earnest played a great set as the crowd settled in for a great show, The weather was perfect and so was the music. But as the photographer it meant I had to cover both the Main stage and a second stage called the Houston Stackhouse Acoustic Stage located 2 blocks away. The 2 block streatch down to the stage is a cool walk along the main street of Helena which is lined with various vendors selling food, souvenirs, beer, art and quite a few other items.
Tucked between the vendors and on the street corners were many Blues musicians busking to the crowd (Playing for tips). They played as crowds walked by and stopped to listen, guitar cases open for donations and CD's proudly displayed for sale. So you never really leave the Blues music at this fest as there are buskers all the way down the street between the stages.
When we finally made it to the Acoustic stage we got our first look at Elam McKnight & Bob Bogdal. This young duo won the Sonny Boy Blues Society solo/duo Blues challenge and will be competing in Memphis in February at the International Blues Challenge.
It was easy to see why they won and I think you should check them out in Memphis. They played a great set of real Delta Blues to an enthusiastic crowd. Afterwards they greeted the crowd and sold a few CD's and signed autographs.
We were just getting warmed up and it was time to head back to the Main Stage to catch rising star Hamilton Loomis. If you haven't heard Hamilton Loomis put it on your list He did a great job playing relentless Blues guitar and exciting the crowd as he jumped off the stage and wandered up the levee through the crowd.
After Hamilton, Sam Carr and the Delta Jukes with Blues Blast Music Award nominee, Dave Riley took the stage. Sam was also at the fest last year and he is a very sentimental crowd favorite.
After Sam and Dave we headed back to the Acoustic stage for a great set by Bert Deivert. Bert is a Blues mandolin player and we were treated to some cool Delta Blues and songs by Blues mandolin legend Yank Rachell.
After Bert we headed back to the Main Stage to catch some great playing from Blues legend Carl Weathersby. Carl is s Blues guitar player with lots of attitude. His high energy shows are infectious and he always gets the crowd going.
Afterwards it was back to the acoustic stage to hear a new rising star Samuel James. James played some mean Delta slide and we think you'll hear more of this young Bluesman.
The day got more exciting as we headed back to the main stage to hear one of the last remaining original Delta Blues men, Pinetop Perkins. For this show the 95 year old Blues legend had an all star line up of Muddy Waters band mates including "Steady Rollin" Bob Margolin on guitar, Calvin "Fuzz" Jones on Bass and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith on drums. This was the real thing and we felt privelaged to get to hear this great bunch play together once more.
Next it was back to the acoustic stage to hear Blues Blast Music Award nominees Moreland and Arbuckle. This young duo is making a name for themselves in the Blues world. They are real troopers too as they played a great hour long rousing set of Delta Blues before heading down to the main street where they added a drummer and played on the street busking for another 2 hours. In the next couple weeks they are off to Iraq for another incarnation of the Bluzapalooza music tour bringing Blues to our soldiers.
Back at the Main Stage we enjoyed a inspiring set by another Blues Blast Music Award nominee, Mem Shannon. Mem was in fine form and after the show it was cool to get a moment to say hello. Midway through the day the Acoustic stage changes names and styles to the Robert Lockwood Jr. Heritage Stage. First up was on the Heritage stage were Freddie and the Screamers. Freddie was followed by Arthur Williams and a few friends.
The night was heating up and we headed back to the Main stage to hear "Iron Man" Michael Burks. If you haven't gotten to hear this fantastic guitar player check his website and see him soon. We promise you won't regret it. The crowd swelled as the evening went on making the 2 block trip between stages a bit slower. The place was literally jammed all along the whole street. But we hurried back to the Heritage stage to hear one of our favorite Bluesman, Willie King and the Liberators. This is a fine band with a great lady guitar player Debbie Bond who compliments Willie's style and charm very well.
We stayed at the Heritage stage to catch the last act there, Guitar Mac. This guy is the real deal and the crowd was packed all around the stage. He had a few "ringers" in his band too including Bob Stroeger on bass, Bob Margolin on Guitar and Willie Big Eyes Smith on drums. These guys were in the groove and holdin on. They brought the crowd to their feet dancing and shouting.
We hated to leave but we wanted to catch the last act of the night on the Main stage.The headliner for the Friday night show was the Severn Records Soul & Blues Revue featuring Lou Pride, Darrell Nulisch, and Tad Robinson. The had a large band with a horn section, organ and a couple cute backup singers. First out was Darryl Nunnish in the lead singer spot. We expected to hear him play harmonica but we say none of that and he sang some great soul songs and a few Blues tunes too. Next out to front the Revue was Tad Robinson. Again we waited for Tad to blow us away on the harp but he stuck mostly to soul songs and only played harp on one song. It was still a great show. To close out the show Lou Pride showed the boys how a real soul man does it. The crowd loved it and so did we.
We had just witnessed a full day of some of the best Blues on the planet. With sore feet and a smile on our faces we headed off to the hotel to rest up for another great show on Saturday. Stay tuned next week for the rest of the story!
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
EG Kight It’s Hot In Here
Her first CD in four years from six time BMA award nominee and Koko Taylor songwriter.
It's Hot in Here," features her blazing guitar work and fiery, resonant voice. Patriot-News
EG Kight has hit a home-run with this excellent album. The Planet Weekly
Featured Blues Review (2 of 2)
Gina Sicilia - Hey Sugar
Run Time: 44:00
Gina Sicilia’s young, talented voice has the ability to melt your heart with the turn of a phrase. She demonstrated that on her debut album Allow Me To Confess, which garnered her a BMA nomination this passed February. Sicilia demonstrated, too, that she had the ability to cross genres easily without alienating listeners and fans of any of the genres. Now, with one more year under her belt and nine new songs to record, Sicilia returns with virtually the same band on her sophomore effort Hey Sugar. Produced by bandleader, songwriting partner, and BMA-nominated guitarist Dave Gross; Sicilia tackles a different direction on this CD.
Sicilia’s signature is weaving back and forth between genres with both her songwriting skills and powerful alto voice that can croon you to a swoon or be as sassy as it wants to be. This second album is not any different. Taking on more of a countrypolitan sound that characterized 50’s and 60’s Nashville in the veins of Patsy Cline, Jim Reeves, Conway Twitty, and the early songwriting of Willie Nelson; Sicilia seems right at home in this great American landscape of songwriters and singers. On tunes like “What the Moon Could Never Do,” “Nobody’s Darling But Mine,” the Dolly Parton cover “Coat of Many Colors,” and the late night lovers croon of “Plain Apple Pie” are all beautiful homage to this past sound by staying fresh and new with Sicilia’s interpretation and strongly mature songwriting. Don’t leave blues fans! There’s plenty here for all of us, trust me!
For the blues and classic R&B sounds, Sicilia is not short on talent and ear-catching ability either. With the infectious beat of a Muscle Shoals-sounding stomper on the story “Jack & Jill,” Sicilia weaves the biographical tale of two lovers while Dave Gross’ guitar has a sudden ring of Steve Cropper’s licks and David Maxwell conjures Booker T’s organ. Sicilia shows she’s not too far removed from last year’s effort with the swing of “Goin’ Home Baby” another Big Maybelle tune. Sicilia keeps classic 50s & early 60’s R&B alive with the title track which is completed by the male chorus harmonizing with “ooos” and the story of “Cherry Tree” on the following track. My three favorites oddly enough are the nasty and sassy blues of “Kissing In the Dark,” “Lowest of the Low,” and the jazzy “I Pray Most Everyday.” “Kissing” is a revival of an old Memphis Minnie song written by her long time partner Little Son Joe (a.k.a. Ernest Lawlers) which Sicilia interprets so warmly that it’s like the smoke from a day’s last cigarette wrapping around you in a dark room. The beautiful Italian guitar opening by Gross, no doubt homage to Sicilia’s heritage, on “I Pray Most Everyday” shows a uniquely gifted knack for jazz reminding me of Astrud Gilberto or Billie Holiday. I know those are quite huge comparisons and may seem to some like hyperbole but after hearing Sicilia live and on CD these past two years, expectations continue to rise for this young star.
Sicilia’s band is always stellar. Scot Hornick (upright bass), David Maxwell (keys), and Chris Rivelli (drums) along with guest appearances by Dennis Gruenling (harmonica) and Jon-Erik Kellso (trumpet) and Gerry Niewood (saxes & clarinet) easily switch gears between genres as flawlessly as Gross and Sicilia do. This album is no sophomore slouch and stands up easily against last year’s Confess because of its maturity in songwriting and continued skill and craft in vocal phrasing and overall quality. I would dare you to go one step further and go out to see Gina Sicilia and her band as she goes out on tour to support the album all across the country through the rest of 2008.
Reviewed by Ben Cox
EDITORS NOTE: Be sure to catch Gina at the 2008 Blues Blast Music Awards at Buddy Guy's legends in Chicago on November 2nd, 2008. See advertisement above
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
"What Goes Around” – a new CD from Michael Osborn!
"Michael Osborn is one of the best blues guitarists around, he can really lay it down". - John Lee Hooker
"Michael Osborn is one of the authentic blues guitarists today. His style goes straight to the heart of the blues and he’ll steal your show if you don’t watch out!” – Robben Ford
CLICK HERE to purchase
2008 Blues Blast Music Award Nominee
"Sean Costello Rising Star Award"
To read a review of this CD, CLICK HERE
CLICK HERE to Purchase this CD now!
Blues Society News
Please submit a maximum of 125 words in a Text or Word format ONLY. Press releases not formatted
River City Blues Society - Peoria, IL
The RCBS is proud to support a
benefit for a good cause. In late July, local blues drummer,
most recently playing with the Dave Chastain Band, was severely
shocked while working near an electrical substation. John has
been through a lot and is working through the challenge of a
lifetime. John's friends and bandmates are organizing a
benefit on his behalf on Sunday October 19th, 2008, at 12pm at
the Itoo Hall on Farmington Road in Peoria, IL. There will be
Food from La Gondola, Raffles, Door Prizes, a Dunk Tank, and
BLUES music by The Dave Chastain Band, The Robin Crowe Band,
Rooster Alley, Elektrik Trybe, Brainchild, The Jim Davis Band
This show is a fall fundraiser for the 2009 Winter Blues Festival. RCBS is also holding a membership meeting the same night starting at 5:00PM. Anyone who shows up to the membership meeting at 4:30PM will get into the Kilborn show for FREE. For more information check out www.rivercityblues.com or call 309 267-4425.
Mississippi Valley Blues Society - Davenport, IA
Bruce Katz, a 2008 Blues Music Award Nominee for Best Keyboardist, will bring his fiery, passionate and very original take on blues, roots and soul music to the Redstone Room, Davenport, on Friday Octber 17 at 8:30 p.m. Admission is $15, $12 for Mississippi Valley Blues Society members (at the door). The show is sponsored by the Mississippi Valley Blues Society. For info contact the MVBS office 563-322-5837
Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater will play a fundraiser for the Mississippi Valley Blues Society on Friday, Nov. 7, at the Redstone Room in Davenport. The night will also include a silent auction of blues memorabilia including framed photos. Doors open at 6 p.m., with Ellis Kell and “Detroit” Larry Davison playing from 6:30-7:30. The first of Eddy Clearwater’s two sets begins at 8:00 p.m. Admission is $20.00, which includes hor d’oevres as long as they last. For Info contact Bob Covemaker 309-373-1181 or Karen McFarland 563-508-6596
Chicago Blues & Bluegrass Festival - Chicago, IL
The Chicago Vlues & Bluegrass Festival on November 22nd, 2008 is a one-day festival hosted by the Congress Theatre. It features 12 hours, 16 bands, for only $31 to help eradicate congenital heart defects in children. A portion of the event’s proceeds will contribute to the research efforts of the Chicago-based Saving Tiny Hearts Foundation. The lineup includes: Lil Ed & the Blues Imperials, David Grisman, The Avett Brothers and many more. Check out www.cbgbfesival.com for more info.
Illinois Central Blues Club - Springfield, IL
The Illinois Central Blues Club Solo/Duo Challenge will be held at The Alamo on Saturday, October 25, 2008, from 6pm - 10pm.
Blue Mondays- Held at the Alamo 115 N 5th St, Springfield, IL (217) 523-1455 every Monday 8:30pm $2 cover - Oct 13 - The Rich Fabec Blues Band, Oct 20 - Too Slim & the Tail Draggers, Oct 27- Gina Sicilia with David Gross
2008 Blues Blast Music Award Nominee for
"Best Contemporary Blues Recording"
CLICK HERE to Vote for Us NOW
To purchase this CD now CLICK HERE
The BEST Way To Promote YOUR Next Blues Project!
BANDS, BARS, AND LABELS: Is your promo material getting you the gigs and business you desire? If not, call music journalist and copy writer Mike O'Cull for all your promotional needs. Mike is a veteran music journalist and musician and writes for the Illinois Entertainer, IllinoisBlues.com, and www.Chicagomusicguide.com and can deliver the highest quality promotional writing around quickly and at a reasonable price.
Mike's specialties include bios, press releases, liner notes, and web content. Full press kit design, including graphics, is also available. Clients include The Joe Moss Band, Carl Davis, TruSoul Entertainment, B.A. S. Entertainment, and many others. Samples available on request. Email firstname.lastname@example.org , call Mike O'Cull Music at 847-608-0357, or visit us online at www.myspace.com/mikeocullmusic for more information.
Mention the Blues Blast for a $10 new customer discount.
Chicago Blues Update
2008 Blues Blast Music Awards
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago, IL.
Confirmed Blues artists performing are Eden Brent, Tim "Too Slim" Langford from Too Slim and the Taildraggers, Dave Riley & Bob Corritore, The Kilborn Alley Blues Band, Magic Slim & the Teardrops, Lurrie Bell, Teeny Tucker, Gina Sicilia and John Nemeth! Ticket info will be available soon.
Live Blues Calendar
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