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November 13, 2008           

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News, photos, reviews, live Blues links & MUCH MORE in this issue! - Scroll or Page Down! quick website links: Reviews    Links   Photos    Videos     Blues Radio     Blues Shows near YOU!    Advertise for FREE!     The Blues Blast Archives

Hey Blues Fans,

Blues Blast Magazine is proud to be a media sponsor of the 25th International Blues Challenge. The silver anniversary of this great Blues competition promises to be one the best ever put on by the Blues Foundation.

In case you are not familiar with this event, it is an international search for the best undiscovered Blues band on the planet.  Each year the Blues Foundation's 160 affiliate Blues societies from all over the globe hold "local" or "regional" Blues challenges.

They send the winners to compete in the semifinals in Memphis in February. There are categories for both bands and solo/duet acts.

In 2008, 100 bands and 60 solo/duo acts filled the clubs up and down Beale Street for the semi-finals on Thursday and Friday. This is a Blues show you do not want to miss. It is literally the worlds largest gathering of Blues Bands!

Beale Street is the legendary Blues Mecca in Memphis. Each club on Beale has 6 or 8 acts competing in the semi-finals. By the rules of the competition, each act plays exactly 30 minutes all using the same stage setup for a panel of judges and a packed crowd of Blues fans. They are judged on Blues content, vocal and/or instrumental talent, originality and stage presence by a different panels of judges each night (See scoring criteria HERE).

The scores are averaged and the top scoring act from each club advances to the finals that are held at the Orpheum Theater on Saturday.  (To see some photos of last years fun CLICK HERE)

Tickets to this historical event are just $75 and include entrance to all the clubs on Beale Street both Thursday and Friday and the finals on Saturday. CLICK HERE to get yours now.

Be sure to get your hotel reservations NOW too as some of the host hotels are already sold out! CLICK HERE for hotel info


Blues Wanderings

We made it out to a packed Blue Monday this week to hear the Memphis based Delta Highway.

The Alamo was jammed maybe because most Illinois state employees were off the next day for a holiday (Veterans Day).

Or maybe it was this great band belting out one killer Blues song after another.

Brandon Santini on vocal and harp along with Justin Sulek on guitar fit perfectly in a Piedmont groove with a driving rhythm laid down by Paul Chase on bass and Keven Eddy on drums.

This is a very tight band with some great original music.

Give them a listen if they make it anywhere near you!





Blues Reviews and MORE!

James Walker reviews a new CD from Scott Ellison. Brian Holland reviews a DVD by Ronnie Earl & the Broadcasters. Ben Cox reviews a CD by Magic Slim and Omar Dykes. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!

The New Lafayette Club

Bloomington, IL

Thursday, November 13, 2008


With Special Guests: The Delta Kings

Tickets $20 advance - $22 day of the event


WWHP Radio Station, 407 N. Main Street, Farmer City

Growing Grounds, 1600 S. Main, Bloomington

The Pawn Shop, 501 1/2 S. Century Blvd, Rantoul 

The New Lafayette Club

1602 South Main Street, Bloomington, IL

(309) 828-1212

 Featured Blues Review (1 of 3)

Scott Ellison - Ice Storm

Earwig Music Company, Inc.

12 songs; 46:18 minutes; Splendid

Style: Electric guitar driven, full band, Blues-Rock productions

Scott Ellison is living on “Tulsa Time.” He’s gonna keep his watch set to it, because you know that he’s been through it, he’s livin’ on Tulsa Time. That song was written by Danny Flowers, but both Ellison’s album and life story conjure up memories of Eric Clapton’s version dedicated to Eric’s friends from Tusla OK.

Born around 1955, Scott is from Tulsa which was a hot bed of musical talent in the 1970s. Eric Clapton and Freddie King's bands were both based in Tulsa as was Leon Russell's Shelter Records. Influenced and electrified by the British Invasion bands, moved by Motown, and touched by the Soul coming out of Memphis, it wasn't long before Scott started his own band.

In 1977 he began touring with Jessica James (Conway Twitty's daughter), and by 1981 Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown had Scott in his band playing rhythm. A move to LA in the mid 80s found Scott with The Box Tops, The Shirelles, J.J. Jackson, The Drifters, The Coasters, and Gary "U.S." Bonds. By the 90s Scott had formed his own Blues Band and opened up shows for such legends as Joe Cocker, Roy Orbison, The Fabulous T-Birds, Leon Russell, Bobby Bland, and Buddy Guy.

Throughout his career Scott has been prolific songwriter and has composed and released numerous CDs. Scott continues to tour the US and Canada, and most recently he opened for B.B. King at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center.

Displaying his string picking, slide guitar work, and rough-edged vocals, “Ice Storm” is a major label release of his best works since 1997. Only tracks 6, 9, and 10 were recorded as recently as 2006-07. Plenty of effort has gone into the production as no less than 29 different artists contributed, whew!

Fans of Eric Clapton’s blues-rock during his Tulsa days will relate to the overall sounds, especially the wah-wah found in “Who Will Be The Fool” and “Keys to My Heart,” which opens acoustically with high pitched slide quickly underpinning. The solo vocal is soon joined by a chorus of background singers.

Radio-ready, and the first that I played on WKCC, is the opening track “Steamin.’” When Scott sings “steamin’” as two syllables, the organ perfectly matches his vocal key for a dynamic man/machine harmony. This up tempo shuffle is a winner.

“Big Blue Car,” the second track, is another full-production number with a comfortable, if familiar, feel - not a raw or rough edge anywhere. “King of the Blues” with its popping rhythm also features some nice burning guitar solos. “Cadillac Woman,” as the name implies, is made for playing loud and driving fast – you know, pass cars - take chances!

“Why’d You Lie To Me?” is made for slide guitar fans. Ellison propels the number from slash and burn into the stratosphere, then throws in a surprise ending. The cooking Albert Collins-esque instrumental title track adds horns to the mix. It is called “Ice Storm,” but it’s hot!

While the full production numbers often break no new ground, Scott’s guitar and vocals intrigue me enough to want to see him perform live. According to his Myspace site, he performs gigs as a trio backed only by bass and drums. A stripped down set like that would be welcome any-time, not just on Tulsa time

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.

 Blues Society News

 Send your Blues Society's BIG news or Press Release to:  

Please submit a maximum of 125 words in a Text or Word format ONLY.

The Blues Society of Omaha - Omaha, Nebraska

The Blues Society of Omaha, for the third consecutive year, will tie-in their Annual Holiday Party with Omaha Rockabilly guitarist Lash Larue's Toy Drive for the Children of the Pine Ridge Reservation.  The event will take place from 5pm-9pm on Sunday, December 7, 2008 at BarFly (707 N. 114th St.) in Omaha, NE.

Featuring The Dallas Blues stars with Mike Morgan and The Crawl, featuring Jim Suhler. The Side Effects will open the show followed by The Loose Brothers.  Admission is $10, or a new unwrapped toy. Proceeds from the beverage sales will also benefit the Toy Drive. Details at:

Capital Area Blues Society - Okemos, Michigan

Breakin' Bread With The Blues 5 - Sunday, November 16th, 2008 4 – 9:30PM -  The fifth annual fund- and food-raising concert for the Capital Area Blues Society and Greater Lansing Food Bank  will take place at the Green Door Blues Bar & Grill The Capital Area Blues Society is teaming up the Greater Lansing Food Bank’s 2008 Envelope Campaign to fight hunger in our hometown

The show features Jimmy G & The Capitols, Cool Daddy Ray & The Snake Handlers (from Those Delta Rhythm Kings), the Lansing Guitar All Stars with Frog from the Beeftones, Stan Budzynski from 3rd Degree, Bill Malone from the Old Town Blues Band, plus special guests, then followed by whiz kids Marble Garden. As headliners, we are proud to announce Detroit’s The Alligators – Admission is $5 for all ages 12 and up, which benefits the Blues Society, plus one canned foodstuff or as much as you feel like carrying for the Food Bank. For more event information, contact CABS President Toni Alexander  517 282-6796.

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  for more info.

Illinois Central Blues Club - Springfield, IL

Blue Mondays- Held at the Alamo 115 N 5th St, Springfield, IL (217) 523-1455 every Monday 8:30pm $2 cover  - November 17 - Chris Bell and 100% Blues Power, November 24 - Russell Miller and 6V6, December 1 - Nick Moss and the Flip Tops, December 8 - The Workers (Watermelon Slim's Band) with special Guest Bill Lupkin,  December 15 - Studebaker John, December 22 - Scottie Miller and the Uptake Inhibitors, December 29 - Sally Weisenburg and the Famous Sidemen


New CD

Mighty Mighty

CLICK HERE to Purchase this CD



 Featured Blues Review (2 of 3)

Nalle, Magic Slim, Omar Dykes - Chapel Hill

Marsk Music

Run Time: 43:07

Rarely do we get the chance to hear some of our electric guitar heroes unplug. To hear true mastery put on display. All the electrical sustains and tricks have to be made with the hands, fingers, and a flick of the wrist.

Acoustic, live music for blues is where it all began. The heroes and founders of this great American music didn’t have the luxury of microphones or amplifiers.  They shouted and beat on their six strings harder and played with a necessity for strength and resonance.

Take 2 of well-known electric blues players (one THE premier Chicago Blues player) and put them in this all acoustic setting with Denmark’s largest link to American roots music. Chapel Hill thus becomes a comfortable acoustic jam in the studio for these three men: Nalle, Omar Dykes (Omar & the Howlers), and Magic Slim.

Slim brings along a few of his infamous Teardrops on this trip to Denmark (Jon McDonald on slide guitar on “Little Red Rooster” and Michael Blakemore on harmonica for “Love My Baby”). The rest of the musicians are highly touted American roots music players from Denmark. Mixing in banjo, stand up bass, harmonica, and National Steel slide at times; the album is mostly a two guitar approach with either Slim or Omar or both handling the duties. One or two of the three usually handled the vocals (Nalle sings 4, Omar sings 4, Omar & Nalle together on 1 duet, and Slim on 4).

Nalle, a name with which I wasn’t familiar until this album, has been a Blues, Rock, and Soul musician in Denmark since the late 60s. His passion for the music is obvious. Vocally he stands up well next to his two formidable American counterparts.

Some of the songs fall into similar vibes and grooves. Some of Omar Dykes vocal tracks sound like left overs from his On the Jimmy Reed Highway project from last year. Most of the tracks here are covers ranging from Willie Dixon, Luther Allison, Robert Nighthawk, and Junior Wells along with one Magic Slim original.

For traditional blues fans, this album should be a must have. It will likely fly under the radar here in the States because its only available overseas. However, this stripped down acoustic feel is a welcomed addition to Magic Slim’s daunting catalog. It’s also something that Magic Slim fans have never seen out of him, a completely acoustic, and no frills side.  Go out and hunt this one down on the internet. You wont be sorry.

The album is an instant classic. Like the old days, this one is not sugar coated and doesn’t have any studio tricks. This is just the straight down home acoustic blues from one of America’s greatest Chicago Bluesmen with a little help from some friends.

Reviewer Ben Cox is a DJ, journalist and musician. Visit his Blues Blog at

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

 Featured Blues Review (3 of 3)

Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters – Hope Radio Sessions DVD

Stony Plain Records

Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters and Stony Plain Records recently released the “Hope Radio Sessions” on DVD. Recorded at Wellspring Sound in Acton Massachusetts, on April 21 and 22, 2007, the studio setting is responsible for an excellent sound quality, an aspect that often suffers in live recordings. The close and intimate setting provides viewers the ability to feel part of the audience of friends and acquaintances present during the making of the “Hope Radio” CD, which is one of their best live releases to date.

In setting the ideal atmosphere immediately, ‘hope’ being the theme of the CD and the DVD, viewers are given a quick glance of a baseball jersey hanging upon the wall behind the band. It displays the number 42 and the name [Jackie] Robinson, the former Brooklyn Dodger who became the first African-American to play in the major leagues. An athlete who broke through countless boundaries, first to be accepted and then to become one of the greatest players of all-time, his moral fiber was one that undoubtedly contained a huge amount of ‘hope’. This is appropriate for another reason as well, as Ronnie is known to be a huge baseball fan.

Following a wonderful introduction by friend and admirer Reverend Deborah J Blanchard, who points out the soothing and spiritual aspect of Ronnie Earl’s talent, he and the Broadcasters perform “Bobby’s Bop”. The progressive blues romp and brisk jazzy melody finds Ronnie and keyboardist Dave Limina trading solo duties. Pay special attention to Limina, and the manner in which the Berklee alumnus exerts his simultaneous talents on the B-3. One can listen to “Bobby’s Bop” repeatedly, and hear something new from both Earl and Limina each and every time.

Ronnie then gets deep into slow blues expressionism in “Blues For the Homeless”, in which his communicative licks talk amiably to the audience. The guitarist displays his unique ability to play a slow blues with altruistic licks of hope and harmony, which apply a facet of optimism into the song’s title and subject matter. He then gets the intimate crowd standing for a vigorous performance of “Eddie’s Gospel Groove”. The song’s Latin feel is augmented by Limina’s organ technique, as both he and Ronnie bring a Santana element to it, especially early on. Prior to the band entering an eight minute blues excursion of multiple elements, the intro is climactic in “I Am With You”. “Kay My Dear’ summons a tender slow blues atmosphere again, a place where Ronnie is at his best. “New Gospel Tune” takes it in a gospel direction, a blues approach in which he’s quite at home with these days as well, as his spiritual attribute and warm personality shine more than ever in these performances.

That partially describes night one of the recorded performance. Night two is a continuation of the soothing instrumental blues of Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters, made up of Earl on guitar (Stratocaster of course), Dave Limina on organ and piano, Jimmy Mouradian on bass, and Lorne Entress on drums. The DVD is a desirable companion to the actual “Hope Radio” CD, primarily because of its additions and bonus features, which include a wonderful acoustic rendition of “I Shall Not Be Moved” and an intimate interview with the blues guitar master, conducted by friend Holger Peterson, founder of Stony Plain Records.

Reviewer Brian Holland is a freelance music journalist. Visit his website at

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

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