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November 21, 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,

We made it out to a local Blues club in Peoria, IL called Po Boys again last week. They have begun booking touring Blues artist on the weekend. There are bringing in some great talent too, especially considering they do not charge a cover.  Last week in P-Town all the way from Hollywood, California we heard a smoking guitarist named Chris Bell & 100% Blues.

We got to hear a real treat too. Chris is on a tour swing through the Midwest and his music influences could be heard in licks that sounded like they came straight from B.B. King, Albert Collins,  Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Chris had a Central Illinois Blue musician, Larry Estes with him on Bass. Larry is usually seen playing with the Bill Porter Project.

After a set of Chris Bell we headed out to hear a local favorite band called Blueskillet. Monica Swanson (Vocals) and Tadd Swanson on guitar are the core of this band. With drummer Manuel Lopez and Dan on bass they played a great set of Blues and Rock to a small but appreciative crowd. Check out the Blueskillet website for more info on this band and where to catch them soon.

Blues Reviews and MORE!

James Walker reviews a new CD from Chris Spadey. Ben Cox reviews a CD by Dave Gross. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!

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Blues Music Reviews wanted

Blues Blast Magazine is looking for reviewers to review new Blues CD's. If you have a background and experience with Blues music and like to write we can provide new CD's for you to review. Person must be willing to write a minimum of one review every other week. Reviewer keeps the CD's for writing the review.  If interested please send a sample of your writing and a short bio of your Blues background to

Drummer seeks band

Former Walter Trout Drummer-----Joey Pafumi formerly with Walter Trout for 6 years 2002-2007--looking for full time touring band. Contact Joey at  or 818-749-8856

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 Blues Link of the Week

Major Blues Record Labels

Just in time for Holiday shopping this weeks links are to Blues record companies. So if you want to give the gift of Blues, follow one of these links and check out some of the best in contemporary Blues. If you want to read one of our reviews by one of their artists before you buy a CD, CLICK HERE to go to our CD Review page.

Alligator Records - The largest Chicago Blues music company

Black and Tan Records - The Netherlands Label featuring Boo Boo Davis, Doug MacLeod, Big George Jackson, Billy Jones and others

Blind Pig - Many "one-off" recordings by a wide variety of acknowledged masters (Luther Allison, George "Harmonica" Smith), plus a roster of excellent newer artists (Chris Cain, Tommy Castro)

Blue Bella Records - newest Chicago Blues label featuring Nick Moss, Kilborn Alley and Bill Lupkin

Blue Storm Music -  A small, independent blues label. John Lee Hooker tribute.

Blues Detour - Features CD's by independent Blues artists

Delmark Records - Chicago-based label recording blues & jazz since 1953.

Delta Groove - a California based label which is winning lots of awards for their Artists

Earwig Music Company Chicago. Honeyboy Edwards, Big Jack Johnson, more.

MC Records - R.L. Burnside, Big Jack Johnson, and Odetta.

Northern Blues Canada's newest blues label.

Rounder Records - Rory Block, Marcia Ball, Johnny Copeland, Johnny Shines, Robert Nighthawk, Duke Robillard, George Thorogood, many more major artists.

Ruf Records - German label featuring Luther and Bernard Allison, many more.

Telarc Records Junior Wells, Pinetop Perkins, Maria Muldaur, many more.

TopCat Records - Texas blues from Robert Ealey, Freddie King,  Johnny Nicholas, Jim Suhler, Robin Sylar, Muddy Waters, Big Mama Thornton and more.

For more Blues links  CLICK HERE to visit the Links Page

 Featured Blues Review (1 of 2)

Clarence Spady - Just Between Us

Severn Records, Inc.

11 songs; 49:03 minutes; Meritable

Style: Soul-blues, Jazz, R&B

“What are we listening to?” asked my wife cheerfully from the other room. By now, I have come to recognize that question as a good recommendation for an album. She never asks unless it is something that has favorably caught her attention. To prepare for this review, I was playing Clarence Spady’s second CD for about the third time on our main stereo system. By this third listen, my wife was just familiar enough to recognize, appreciate, and more deeply enjoy the songs. She never did like Jimi Hendrix’s screechy guitar shredding nor anything closely similar. Something smoother listening is more to her immediate liking.

Indeed, Spady’s first studio recording in over ten years is not the straight blues of his debut "Nature of the Beast" released in 1996 which garnered him a W.C. Handy Award nomination for Best New Artist '97. Just Between Us is a mellower and intriguing mix of blues, jazz, funk, R&B, and rock carried by Hammond organ, horns, lush backup vocals (e.g. “Just Between Us”) and Spady’s sensitive guitar work. As a songwriter and immediately-likeable singer, Clarence created 11 brand new originals which make his personal looks at life accessible to a wide audience.

Born July 1, 1961 in Paterson NJ, Spady and his family were moved by his dad Clarence “Pops” Sr. to Scranton, PA in 1966 to a safer suburb and better job. The family still traveled to NJ every weekend to play with Clarence’s Uncle Fletchy’s R & B band. After his Aunt Bea found him playing “High Heeled Sneakers” on his father’s guitar backstage one night, Clarence was called upon to play his first professional gig at the age of 5. He’s been entertaining people with his talented guitar playing ever since. His career has had some setbacks, but, today, Spady tours in places like Hong Kong, Austria, Germany, France, Italy, Canada, and all parts of the U.S. He plays at NYC’s Terra Blues plus his home base in Pennsylvania at the River Street Jazz Café.

As mentioned earlier, this is not a lead-guitar-driven album, but one can find some great solos on “I’ll Go,” the slow bluesy “Be Your Enough,” and “Cut Them Loose.” “I’ll Never Sell You Out” and “Cut Them Loose” were co-written with Donya Washington. The funky latter contains a serious message to a young man (son ?), “I don’t care, boy, what your friends say or do / See them doing wrong, you better cut them loose!” For some booty shaking on the dance floor, try “24/7 Luv” and the funkified “Won’t Be This Way Always.”

Perhaps the most fascinating number, right to the last stop, is the only instrumental, “E-Mail.” Running just over six minutes, there are enough hooks, grooves, riffs, false stops, and repeated themes that a jam-band could play it for twenty five minutes. Spady’s harmonic guitar is deftly arranged with, not over, rhythmic organ, bass, drums, and percussion.

Spady’s return is not straight blues, but it’s no toss-away either. While “mood music” would not be the correct idea to infer about this album, I definitely know one person it put in the right mood.

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.

The River City Blues Society presents

Wednesday Blues Featuring Chicago Blues Legend

Nick Moss & the Flip Tops

December 10, 2008 - 7:00pm

Captain's Wheel

2801 Court Street

Pekin, IL 61554

(309) 346-1154

Map to Club CLICK HERE

 8-time Blues Music Award Nominee

Best Blues Song - 2008 Blast Music Awards

 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.

River City Blues Society- Peoria, IL

In conjunction with the Concorde Inn and the Captains Wheel Lounge in Pekin, IL the River City Blues Society is pleased to announce their new series of weekly Blues Shows in Central, Illinois starting Wednesday, December 10th, 2008. These Early shows will run each Wednesday from 7:00pm to 11:00pm and feature the best traveling regional and National Blues musicians. The shows will feature a budget priced cover charge of $3. The kick off performance on December 10th features Nick Moss and the Flip Tops. Other shows scheduled tentatively are:   December 17 - Russell Miller and 6V6, December 24 -No Show on Christmas Eve, December 31 - No show on New Years Eve, January 7th - Studebaker John, January14th - Scott Holt, January 21 - TBA, January 28 - James Armstrong

Mississippi Valley Blues Society - Davenport, IA

Patrick Hazell at Nan’s Piano Bar Nov. 28 In Fundraiser for MVBS - "Merry Christmas, Baby" will ring in the Season with Patrick Hazell, at Nan's Piano Bar atop the Freight House, across the tracks from scenic LeClaire Park on the Davenport levee, from 4 until 7 p.m. on the day after Thanksgiving (Friday 28 November 2008). Admission is $10 for this fundraiser for the Mississippi Valley Blues Society.

Inducted into both the Iowa Blues and Rock Halls of Fame, Patrick Hazell plays music that spans decades and dozens of styles. Boogie woogie, ragtime, second line, barrelhouse, stride, soulful, rock, jazz, hard edged, five piece, four piece, solo, piano, organ, harp, bells, tambourine - he plays every genre with a name, and more. "Spellbinding!", according to Blues Fest founder Ross Haecker.

This is a fundraiser, but the tone of the gig will be a warm and comfortable welcome to the Holiday Season. for more information contact the Blues Society at or call (563) 322-5837

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:

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 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

 Streaming Blues Link of the Week

Bettye LaVette on Austin City Limits

We are pleased to see more TV shows available via the internet and especially when we get to hear some great Blues music. We came across this video of Blues Blast Music Award nominee Bettye LaVette doing the song "You Don't Know Me At All" on the PBS Austin City Limits website.

Click the graphic to view the video.




New CD

Mighty Mighty

CLICK HERE to Purchase this CD



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

 Featured Blues Review (2 of 2)

Dave Gross - Crawling the Walls


I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Dave Gross twice now as a bandleader for his confidante and musical partner Gina Sicilia. Both times I’ve been impressed at how much knowledge this 20-something guitarist has, and at times knows more than guys twice his age. Gross first burst on the scene like a comet with his 2006 release and 2007-BMA nominated Take the Gamble. The album earned him pretty high praise and the accolades and friendship of the great Bob Margolin. That’s pretty good company to be in for just one album! Since then, Gross has criss-crossed the nation touring with various musicians and playing in various situations to critical acclaim that is not undue. This year, Gross finally got back in the studio to record his follow up, which is just absolutely phenomenal.

Mixing Twenties Jazz, Swing, New Orleans Jazz, Early Rock & Roll, and Blues; this album is a myriad of America’s great lexicon of roots music. If you are a fan of big band arrangements and sounds, this album is clearly the front runner for Album of the Year in that category, hands down. Mixing the great horn work of Gerry Niewood (saxophones, clarinet), Jon-Erik Kellso (trumpet), Doug Sasfai (tenor sax), and a few others; the album is a big band swinger, jazzer, and jumper’s oozing aural dream! Gross enlists some Little Richard/New Orleans Rock & Roll complete with horns on the fun “Rock In My Shoe.” Gross handles the early catalog Ike Turner romp “Cubano Jump” with a passion for originality and has a nice rhumba bounce on top of it. He gets up and jumps with the little-know T-Bone Walker side “Inspiration Blues.” The Jimmy Witherspoon-eque but Dave Gross penned original of “You’re Not the One” is my personal favorite. This one comes straight out of a forties jazz and blues club complete with a martini and a cigar. Niewood’s sax smolders and the muted trumpet of Kellso is Gillespie-like blues. You’ll be transported back in time to long days gone by in the popular American music, where musicianship and craftsmanship mattered.

Gross gets in with some down and gritty blues, too. With a fierce growl he tears into the 1955 Bobby Bland single “It’s My Life, Baby” and shows a flair for 50’s Chicago with the original “Find Yourself Another Man” featuring some Little Walter-like chops by cohort Dennis Gruenling on harmonica. Plus, the stinging leads of “Don’t Take Too Long” show a nod to fellow East Coasters Duke Robillard and Ronnie Earl. These are pretty big shoes I’m comparing Gross to, but after seeing him in person, you’ll understand that its not far from the truth.

Gross also single-handedly cuts some pretty nasty swaths of originality in the jazz realm on this disc, too. Copping some riffs but making them all his own, the Django Reinhardt 1937 classic “A Little Love, A Little Kiss” is intimate. Purely Gross and his guitar, this one is gypsy jazz goodness. The original composition “It Was Born In the 20’s” lives up to its name. My clear favorite is the early 20’s jazz pop standard “Baby Won’t You Please Come Home.” This one has a clear tip of the hat to New Orleans.
If you are looking for something old but new, Gross will always be your go-to guy. He has a knack for bringing to life old songs with his own sound but remaining true to the roots. His unrelenting chops will show you he has plenty of tricks up his sleeve that aren’t your typical Stevie Ray Vaughan/blues rock playbook which so many young artists fall into the trap of. His originals are a nod to the past but wholly a giftbag of his influences that all meld into what is Dave Gross and his sound. As I said, this guy is in his mid-twenties and is already leaps and bounds ahead of many in the crowd. Expect more great releases of this caliber to come. Also, you can always expect extreme craftsmanship and taste when you see Gross’ name in the line-up card in anyone’s liner notes for their CD. You’ll be seeing that a lot, as he has a handful of new releases coming up in the next 6 months in which he spreads the wealth of his talents to a bevy of other artists.

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

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

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