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If so we are offering a great deal to get the Blues word out for you. Your ad can be seen each week by 12,000 Blues fans in all 50 states and in 60 countries for a very low price of $30 a week. (Four Week minimum!)
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We made it out to see Delta Groove recording artists The Insomniacs this week. They played songs from both their 2007 CD Left Coast Blues and from their just released 2009 CD At Least I'm Not With You.
Keep your eye on these guys. We think you will hear more about them as they get the recognition that will surely follow such a talented group. Make sure you get out to see them if you get the chance.
In this issue - Blues Reviews and MORE!
We have eight reviews for you this week! James Walker reviews a new CD from Eric Lindell. Gary Weeks reviews a new CD by Hill Country Revue. Bruce Williams reviews a CD called Rich Man’s War. Mark Thompson reviews a new CD by Doug Adamz & Dan Hayes as "The Blues Duo". Michael Packer reviews a new CD by Andre Bisson. John Harrelson reviews a new CD by Alvin Jett. Belinda Foster send us a review of a new CD by Michelle Malone. Pete Tomaszewski sends part two of the review of the Doheny Blues Fest in Dana Point, California.
Our Blues video of the week is a clip of Sugar Pie Desanto. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!
Watseka Theatre Blues, BBQ & Arts Fest
May 30th, 2009 Watseka, IL
Outdoors on The "Quality Blues Fest Stage"
11:00AM The Watseka Wonder Blues Band w/ Jeff McCord
Noon SGT. Kaper's Lonely Hearts
Club Blues Band
1:00PM Hounds Tooth
3:00PM Little Johnny Blue Moore
5:00PM Curtis and the Mayfields
6:00PM After Midnight Blues Band
Move indoors to the Theatre Stage at 7:30PM
8:00PM Queenie and the Blue Cats
10:30PM Doug McDonald & the Blue Mirror Band
For tickets and complete info: CLICK HERE
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Sax player w/vocals, seeks professional band, full or part time. Based in Pittsburgh, PA. , can travel. Have done short tours and performances with bands based in Charlotte, NC., Atlanta, GA. and Morgantown, WV. Recently returned from Carson City and Reno, NV. performing at The Casino Fandango and The Alantis Casino with Musicole, featuring Michael Coleman. Currently contracted with The Holidays, a Pittsburgh based R&B show/dance band. Recently performed from New York to New Orleans, from Atlantic City to Las Vegas with the Marcels, the Clovers, the Skyliners, Frankie Ford, The Dubs and The Vogues. Contact Jerry Mellix - firstname.lastname@example.org www.southsidejerry.com
The Rivoli Theatre - Monmouth, IL
CLICK HERE to Purchase Tickets
Featured Blues Review 1 of 7
Eric Lindell - Gulf Coast Highway
15 songs; Time 46:14; Splendid
Styles: Roots Rock; New Orleans flavored R&B; Soul ballads; Country Rock
“It’s not blues, but it’s music that will appeal to almost every blues fan,” Bruce Iglauer, President/Owner Alligator Records. On that knowledge, Iglauer took the chance to bring Eric Lindell into the Alligator fold anyway.
This is Lindell’s third album for Alligator since his debut “Change in the Weather” in 2006. In the short years since he joined Alligator, and with their public relations machine behind him, Eric Lindell has emerged from a regional cult artist known, first, only to a small but enthusiastic group of fans in his native Northern California and, next, his adopted home town of New Orleans. Today he is a popular singer/songwriter/guitarist with a national fan base. He has cut off his shoulder length hair, but his distinctive music is still intact.
Richly talented, his songwriting originates catchy love and lost-love songs. Eric’s voice is an instantly pleasing mid-register voice reminiscent of Van Morrison or a young Delbert McClinton. His laid back vocals have the slight lazy slur of an unintentional hipster. Critics and fans have acclaimed the arrival of a roots rocker who combines sweet, blue-eyed soul with groove-laden R&B, swamp pop, and funk, all incorporated into dozens of enjoyable original songs. “Gulf Coast Highway” is an album that will most likely boost his popularity even further.
With musical help from some of the Crescent City’s finest players, including the Galactic rhythm section of Robert Mercurio and Stanton Moore on some tracks, Lindell has created an entertaining set of soul-infused roots music including some heartfelt ballads and funky second-line rhythms. Other guests are Sean Carey on backing vocals and harmonica and Chris Mule on resonator guitar.
Recorded at Balance Studio in Mandeville, Louisiana, the CD features twelve original songs and three inspired covers featuring a hint of honky-tonk on new versions of Buck Owens, Delbert McClinton and Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson songs, respectively “Crying Time,” “Here Come the Blues Again,” and “I Can Get Off On You.” Lindell produced the album while Drew Vonderhaar recorded and mixed.
Do the math: fifteen songs in forty-six-plus minutes means they are coming at you pretty quickly. The first eight are originals all in Lindell’s distinct style. The real fun begins with track 9, the Waylon and Willie song, where Eric sings put the drugs away, “I Can Get Off on You.” Now, that’s as Country as a meadow muffin.
If you believe, as Chip Eagle wrote, that “Blues” is a big house with many rooms, you’ll make room for this latest roots rocker from Eric Lindell.
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.
Featured Blues Review 2 of 7
Hill Country Revue - Make A Move
While Luther Dickinson from the North Mississippi All-Stars continues his other full time gig with the Black Crowes, brother Cody and bassist Chris Chew work with drummer Edward Cleveland, guitarist Kirk Smithhart and vocalist Daniel Robert Coburn in an outfit called Hill Country Revue.
And this is not a bad outfit. There's enough guitar dynamite on the CD "Make A Move" to burn a dozen rain forests.
Just a quick listen to the tune "Hill Country Revue" makes you realize these guys mean business as this song packs a tribal stomp with a barn-burner vengeance. There's a pop friendly approach in "You Can Make It" with it's soaring Allman Brother guitar lines.
The All-Stars have always looked up to blues patriarch R.L. Burnside. Most of the songs on this cd are written by Burnside's son Garry who contributes guitar, bass and vocals to some of the tunes. Luther Dickinson is another special guest along with guitarist Duwayne Burnside. It's a family affair. But it's one that rocks.
With this line-up, Cody Dickinson is able to play musical chairs. He is comfortable in any position. Whether it's strapping on a guitar, sitting behind the drumset or even playing the piano, Hill Country Revue sees him in many diverse roles.
Kirk Smithhart, a long time alumni of the Beale Street scene in Memphis, didn't have too bad a solo career. But even he has to admit his star is on the rise faster. His guitar work smolders and cooks all over the Burnside tracks.
With his tattooed physique, vocalist Coburn looks like he should be leading a heavy metal outfit. The kid has got the pipes to belt out the songs. He's not technically perfect. You don't care because the music itself combines juke joint dance, hard rock, blues and hill country boogie into a package that's hard to beat.
"Make A Move" is a fan pleaser for those who want their front porch blues awashed in Jack Daniels and serious guitar MOJO.
Review by Gary “Wingman” Weeks
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
Friday, June 19
Saturday, June 20
Parkville Community Band
The Skip Hawkins Band
Featured Blues Review 3 of 7
Various Artists - Rich Man’s War - New Blues & Roots Songs of Peace And Protest
On this album compilation producer Kenneth Bays has pulled together a collection of socially relevant songs written between 2004 and 2007. All the songs on this disk are well written and interesting, and there’s quite a bit of variety in the music. Bays found certain songs with different messages and managed to include many varying musical styles in the process.
The opening track, Bob Brozman’s swing blues, “Follow The Money” talks about money being the motivation for society’s ills. And while the lyrics never do pinpoint the exact problem or solution, the song still gets the point across with some great musical accompaniment. On the second track, Guitar Shorty weighs in with a swampy rock-blues number called, “We The People”, the most electric of all the songs on the album. The Texas blues showman has come a long way since appearing on The Gong Show way back when. On track three, Norman and Nancy Blake offer up a folk song about the “Neo-Coms in Washington” which echos the protest songs from the late 60’s. The song, “Don’t Be Afraid of the Neo-Coms”, opens with a cynical reference to the brothers Bush, Jeb and George, and continues to cut a swath through the entire administration.
On the next track, The Mathew Skoller Band delivers a passionate lament behind the soulful groove of “Handful Of People”, maybe my favorite song of the album. Dr. David Evans weighs in next with, “Bring The Boys Back Home”, an acoustic slide number that divulges his blues roots. Evans, a professor at University of Memphis, teaches a Ph. D. program in ethnomusicology and has an honest and straightforward style that takes the listener back in time.
Track six, “Mohammed and Jesus”, showcases the outstanding voice of diva Candye Kane, and gives a biblical perspective on war in this gospel-folk-blues song. Her voice is supported by some impressive acoustic guitar playing by none other than Bob Brozman!
Premier keyboardist Charlie Wood brings a mellow nightclub vibe to this record with “You Don’t Really Want To Know”, and the political lyrics fit nicely in this format. The dancing organ riffs add a bluesy flavor and Wood’s voice is clear and expressive as he tells his story.
On “Mr. Wesola’s Lucky Number Dream Book”, The Pat Boyack Band adds a ‘poetry-jazz’ feeling to this collection. In the song, all the evils of the world are listed in Mr. Wesola’s dream book and described with conviction by Boyack. The band is cooking throughout the whole song with a kind of Miles Davis/Bitches Brew feel, and I really dug the musicianship of this band.
The album’s C&W entry, “Chickenhawk” is the unmistakable work of comedian, activist & satirist Roy Zimmerman. Producer Bays inserts this little gem at just the right time, so we can have a little chuckle and at the same time marvel at Zimmerman’s amusing and poignant lyrics.
“Fear Itself” reminds me of Gil Scott-Heron, both lyrically and musically, so I’m assuming artist Michael Hill is a fan, like me. There’s a bit of an ‘island’ flavor to this song too, and with these political lyrics maybe Hill has evoked a little Marley from somewhere in his past.
Next, Chicago bluesman Eddy Clearwater brings a gospel blues, “A Time For Peace” from his Alligator album West Side Strut. Here Eddy shows us his sophisticated side in a beautiful song he wrote with Ronnie Baker Brooks. The gospel choir in the background is very impressive, and this production is top notch!
The last cut on the album is Doug MacLeod’s swinging blues, “Doug’s Talkin’ Politician Blues”. MacLeod’s semi-talking singing style here is reminiscent of Albert Collins in “Don’t Go Reaching Across My Plate” only brought with an older swing feel. The lyrics on this song make the listener think, and the music provides a catchy backdrop, especially the guitar playing.
This is an album all roots music lovers should have in their collection, especially those of us who are suspicious of big government. The album provides plenty of variety musically, so even if the lyrics aren’t critically important to you, the music stands out. In a way, this record is a historical commentary on the Bush administration, Big Brother and social injustice, and a forum for these great artists to express their views. Buy it!
Reviewer Bruce Williams is seasoned Blues musician (Junior Wells, Lefty Dizz and The Chicago Fire, Jimmy “Fast Fingers” Dawkins, Mark Hannon Blues Band). He learned the blues from some of Chicago’s masters and has shared the stage with legends such as Willie Dixon, Jimmy Rogers, Sammy Lawhorn, Hound Dog Taylor and Jimmy Johnson. His band appears at clubs and festivals throughout the Midwest. He hosts a weekly radio program on WRLR FM Public Radio and produces music out of his home based Highland Lake Records
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
Featured Blues Review 4 of 7
Alvin Jett & The Phat noiZ Blues Band - Honey Bowl
Blues Boulevard Records / Bel Aire Continental Music
Albert King with a Fender Telecaster meets Robert Cray over at Otis Rush’s house. Sound good to you? It does to me. Jett’s vision sounds like a Bluesman in the 21st century. He has absorbed Hendrix, Stax, a bit of Albert Collins, and someone like Tom Principato or Mike Bloomfield. If Joe Louis Walker is to your liking, you’re going to appreciate Alvin Jett.
“Make Me Blue“ is a good way to start the disc. Energetic song, well crafted. The lyrics are believable and convincingly delivered. Several key changes for the solos (sax and guitar) demonstrate a musical literacy that is so often missing from Blues recordings. This musical device isn’t necessary in a three-minute song, but, as featured in Z.Z.Top’s “La Grange,” or B.B.King medleys, is as potent as Bacardi 151 in longer pieces.
The next track, “Lay My Burden Down,” is in no way connected with the fantastic Gospel song, but it’s good. It’s funky and slightly aggressive. An honest lyric with a nice rocking groove.
“Bluesman’s Hat” is an admonition—As one doesn’t piss into the wind, one doesn’t presume to touch a Bluesman’s sky. This one is fine for a live performance. Maybe it will be the source for a suburban legend. The harp adds a welcome texture.
Track #4, the title cut “Honey Bowl” is not successful at being lascivious. Too bad.
The 5th track is written and sung by bassist Matt Davis. “The Wreck” is a nice idea with a good delivery. The song is well-crafted, right out of the Robert Cray playbook. I like the Montgomery-to-Cray guitar solo. The ensemble horns take the song directly to where it was intended.
Davis also composed “Three Minute Man.” This is a slow blues that summons up Jimmy Roger’s “My Last Meal,” or Rice Miller’s version of “Four Nights Drunk.” It’s wry and has the sting of the truth to it. “Three Minute Man” is the first song I’ve ever heard devoted (with an amusing pride) to substandard performance during “romantic opportunity.”
The instrumentals, “Lucky Charms” [#7], and “Dem Haters” [#10], and “Me, You, and Cyndee” [#12] are all competent, journeyman pieces. The first is somewhere between Fleetwood Mac’s “Albatross” and an early CTI Records tune. The second is very reminiscent of Tom Scott’s L.A.Express. The last, a sort of generic “Breezin’.” If you’re unfamiliar with these associations then you will probably enjoy these pieces.
The arrangement of “Graveyard Shift” uses the bass and horns in a thoughtful way. It’s a slight reference to SRV, but not one of those ‘I can do that, too’ clone things. Once again, true lyrics, well crafted.
The closing cuts, “A Year or Two or Ten or Twenty” and “Runnin’ Like a Dog” are both really good songs. The first is a nearly comprehensive account of life flying by a man who is losing the battle to survive. The final cut is very much Albert King doing “Phone Booth,” aggressive and driving. It, too, is a strong piece.
Reviewer John Harrelson has been playing Blues since 1965 and worked in virtually every genre of music; Folk, Country, Jazz, R&B and Rock. He holds a Ph.D in Historical Musicology from Claremont Graduate University and a B.A. in Anthropology and Ethnomusicology. www.johnharrelson.com
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
Rising From The Bushes
Hit #4 on the Roots Blues Charts prior to its release!
For info and tickets visit www.briggsfarm.com
Featured Blues Review 5 of 7
Andre Bisson - Rhythm & Blues Experience
Andre Bisson has a love for old school rhythm and blues. This CD was recorded in Toronto Canada complete with a very soulful horn section and I do mean soulful.
The session takes off with the Wilson Pickett like 'Free Ride Blues'. 'Hooked on Love' has some great horn arrangements, fine vocal, nice guitar and a fabulous sax solo. 'I'm Leaving' features some excellent piano in the Joe Cocker 'Feeling Alright' sounding tune by Dave Murphy.
The band swings on the jump blues 'Four Shots'. This cut is a real fun listen. The horns are great! Andre brings it down on 'Second Chance' which sounds more like Tom Waits then Otis Redding but that ain't bad. Real cool song.
'I gotta a Feeling' is a straight ahead up tempo blues progression. I love the drums on this track by Mark Kelso. Andre also does a fine soul version of Neil Young's 'Heart Of Gold' which is a smart business move when looking for airplay. Give the DJ's something familiar to listen to.
He takes you out grooving with 'Slave to Love' and 'I Gotta Move'. Andre sings "he needs one more gig to make his troubles go way", on the final cut 'One More Gig'. Well this session of Canada's finest musicians must have made Andre's troubles go way.
This is an impassioned effort by Andre Bisson. He put together a great ensemble of musicians. I wish however, he had added some female backup singers. It would have made the CD more potent. The mix on his vocal was a little too up front for my liking but all and all a very enjoyable listen.
Reviewer Michael Packer is a singer-guitarist from NYC who fronts his own band "The Michael Packer Blues Band". He has been performing for over 40 years and has recorded on major labels Atlantic and RCA.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
Featured Blues Review 6 of 7
Doug Adamz & Dan Hayes - Blues Duo
Adamz and Hayes have known each other for over thirty years and, according to the press release, they have played thousands of gigs all over northern California. They have developed a n acoustic blues format that is quite appealing. Unfortunately, the minimal liner notes with the review copy and the press release make no distinction about who is doing what on the recording. Apparently both men play guitar and harmonica in addition to contributing vocal parts.
One of the main attractions of this disc is the fantastic sound captured by engineer Peter Viehoever. Recorded live at the Marshall Music House, the guitar strings ring out bright and clear while the harmonica parts are equally nuanced. The vocal parts gain some depth from a slight bit of natural echo from the room where the recording took place. Another plus is the ten original songs that the duo authored, with seven from the pen of Dan Hayes. It is a treat to listen to a recording that shuns over-done standards in favor of new tunes.
Of course, that approach works only if the new material is strong enough to grab a listener’s attention. Adamz & Hayes are up to the task as their work bristles with energy and humor. “Traveling Man” is an up-tempo track that features some fine country-style harp. Slower cuts like “Don’t Ruin What We’re Doing” show that the years of playing together have allowed the duo to craft a totally integrated sound. The guitar parts create enough rhythm to compensate for the lack of bass and drums while the harmonica fills in the arrangements. The darkest track, “Pawn Your Guitar”, examines the emotional price musicians pay when money is tight and your instrument is all you have left. “I Was Crazy” adopts a rockabilly flavor and features some adept guitar picking followed by another dynamic harp solo.
The last two tracks don’t connect quite as well. “Oh Lightnin’ ” is a tribute to Texas legend Lightnin’ Hopkins. There is some nice guitar work but nothing that approaches the idiosyncrasy of that legendary bluesman. Additionally, the lyrics are not very compelling, a problem that is even more pronounced on the closing cut, “Mini Skirt Alert”. Adamz and Hayes rescue that upbeat number with expert guitar picking and some strong vocal harmonizing.
Both men have strong voices with good range that fit the easy-going nature of their material. They are also excellent acoustic musicians. While none of the tracks on Blues Duo will blow you away, the disc definitely shows that the Adamz & Hayes have found a niche that fits them perfectly. Despite the short playing time, this recording is recommended for fans of the acoustic blues format.
Reviewer Mark Thompson is president of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
For more info visit: http://www.urbanablues.com
Blues Society News
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Central Mississippi Blues Society – Jackson, MS
The CMBS presents Blue Monday at Hal & Mal’s (200 Commerce St., Jackson, MS) every Monday night. Doors open @ 8:00 and music begins @ 8:30. Cover is $5.
The Blue Monday Band is comprised of the “best of the best “ musicians in the Central MS area. Featured artists are King Edward, lead guitar/vocalist and Pat Brown, Abdul Rasheed and Dennis Fountain as vocalists. Other regular band members are Dwight Ross and Rick Lewis (drums), Keith Collins (bass), Johnny Sharpe (keys) and Malcolm Shepherd (CMBS President) on Congas. Most of these musicians appeared in The Last of the Mississippi Jukes.
The Blue Monday Band plays the first set and then the event turns into a jam. For more info see: www.centralmississippibluessociety.com or call Peggy Brown @ 601-613-7377
Blues Blowtorch Society – Bloomington, IL
3rd Friday Blues - The Treehouse Lounge, 2060 Ireland Grove Rd, Bloomington, IL (309) 662-5231 A blues show the 3rd Friday of every month at 7:00 PM. June 19th – Watermelon Slim & The Workers
The Long Island Blues Society - Long Island, NY
The LIBS Presents Carolyn Wonderland, June 14th 2009 @ BOBBiQUE, 70 West Main Street, Patchogue NY (631) 447-7744. Joe Rock & The Allstars open the show! Tickets are only $18 ($15 for Blues Society members). Tickets are available at www.ticketweb.com and at BOBBiQUE. Doors open 2:30 PM. For more info visit www.liblues.org This is going to be one exciting performance – not to be missed. See y’all at BOBBiQUE!!
The South Skunk Blues Society - Newton, Iowa
The South Skunk Blues Society is proud to announce the17th Bowlful of Blues, June 13, 2009 at the Maytag Bowl in Newton, Iowa. Featuring Too Slim and the Taildraggers, Michelle Malone, 2009 Iowa Blues Challenge winners The Avey Brothers, and Iowa bands Brad “bebad” McCloud & His Case of the Blues and Mojo Machine. Dewey Cantrell will play solo between sets. Tickets are $15 in advance $20 day of show. For more info: www.southskunkblues.org
Friends Of The Blues Shows - Kankakee IL
The Friends of the Blues has started their 2009 Blues concert Series. Here are their currently scheduled shows. May 26 – The Insomniacs, Kankakee Elks Country Club Kankakee Elks Country Club, 2283 Bittersweet Drive, St. Anne IL. 815-937-1228, May 30 – 2nd Annual Blues & BBQ Festival, Watseka Theatre, downtown Watseka, IL June 16 – Joanne Shaw Taylor, River Bend Bar & Grill, 6070 E. Route 17, Kankakee IL. 815-933-0610 Aug 11 – Laurie Morvan, Kankakee Elks Country Club 2283 Bittersweet Drive, St. Anne IL. 815-937-1228
Mississippi Valley Blues Society - Davenport, IA
The Mississippi Valley Blues Society and the Dam View Inn present Joe and Vicki Price at the Dam View Inn, 410 E. 2nd Street in downtown Davenport, on Friday May 22. The show, a fundraiser for the Blues Society, starts at 9 p.m., and admission is $5. For more info contact call the MVBS office at 563-32-BLUES.
Illinois Central Blues Club - Springfield, IL
BLUE MONDAY SHOWS
Held at the Alamo 115 N 5th St, Springfield, IL (217) 523-1455 every Monday 8:30pm $2 cover - May 24 - Bruce Katz
River City Blues Society- Peoria, IL
The River City Blues Society's Wednesday Blues Series features the best traveling regional and National Blues musicians each Wednesday at 7:00pm. The shows are held at the Dragon's Dome, 3401 Griffin Ave in Pekin, IL. Admission is $4. Shows scheduled are: June 3 – Rob Williams' Soggy Bottom Blues Band, June 10 – The Plateros, June 17 – Joanne Shaw Taylor, June 24 - Gina Sicilia
For complete info visit: www.bearcreekblues.com
Live Blues Review
Doheny Blues Festival May 16-17, 2009 Doheny State Beach, California Part 2
Sunday, May 17 (Day 2)
Being stuck in LA freeway traffic, we returned to the festival on Sunday morning, missing a supposedly fun and rowdy set by Porterhouse Bob & Down To The Bone that got all the over-night campers awake and dancing at 11 am to the band’s blues, funk and Zydeco sounds of Atlanta and New Orleans. www.porterhousebob.com
Still a couple of hundred feet away from the front entrance, a mesmerizing electric guitar grabbed our attention and made us wonder “who is THAT?” as we hurried down to find the source. The world is abundant with great guitar players, as it is an accessible instrument with lots of mythical allure. With that being said, you have all these great, competent, professional players – and then you have the masters who hover above them… like Coco Montoya.
Having only been familiar with his name, but not hip to his music nor his past with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, we were caught by surprise and floored by his band, and by his touch on the guitar and incredible tone. For those who don’t know, Montoya started out as a drummer for Albert Collins, who became his mentor, teaching him the secrets behind his icy guitar licks. Montoya is one of the top-drawing guitarists and singers on today’s blues rock scene, but he earned his status through years of hard work and relentless touring.
It’s not surprising that he started out on drums: his leads have far more groove, interesting phrasing and rhythmic sensibility than most good guitar soloists. In addition, he also has a highly expressive way of using bends and slides, and an ability to rip into solos and take each chorus higher and higher with his band completely locked in, until you think they can’t go any further… yet they do. I guess I don’t need to say anymore then that he probably played the most soulful improvised guitar solo I’ve ever heard in his version of Mayall’s “Have You Heard About My Baby,” and I found myself listening with tears streaming down my face. His band deserves to be mentioned, though: Randy Hayes on drums, Nathan Brown from The Boneshakers on bass, and Brant Leeper on keyboards. We can’t wait to hear the upcoming album that they’re currently working on. www.cocomontoya.com
Guitar God and his Godettes was a tough
act to follow. Philip Walker played a quiet, intimate show at the
Back Porch, backed by The Hollywood Blue Flames with Al Blake, Kirk
Fletcher, Fred Kaplan, Richard Innes and Larry Taylor. We caught
Sven Zetterberg in the front row with a big smile on his face,
listening intently to the elderly blues master from Louisiana, who
now resides on the west coast. After being wowed by big electric
guitars and an amplified band, though, it was hard to make such an
immediate emotional shift to low-key music. Not Philip Walker’s
fault, for sure! The connoisseurs who came to see him loved every
minute of his show.
Just around lunch time, Tommy Castro’s Legendary R&B Revue hit the Doheny stage, with a volume that almost rattled the sound system. After 16 years with the Tommy Castro Band, this singer, guitar player and songwriter from San Jose, CA, has gone from humble saloon gigs in San Francisco to opening for BB King’s national tours and receiving international acclaim. Again, right after hearing Coco Montoya and his band which had such a great touch, our souls weren’t nearly as stirred by Castro’s group and their loud, bold and brash sound. Fine performances were delivered by Castro’s special guests: singer Janiva Magness, who’s the winner of the 2009 Blues Music Awards for Best Contemporary Female Blues Artist and BB King Entertainer of the Year; guitarist Kenny Neal, who has shared the stage and/or worked with BB King, Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters and many more, and Magic Dick, who is best known for co-founding and being the harp player of The J. Geils Band.
Magness is a powerful and tough singer, drawing from an upbringing of so many personal tragedies that just a single one of them could break down any mere mortal. Watching her perform, you can see a range of diametrically opposite emotions shift through her face…there’s a lot of intensity about her, but her singing heals her and her audience. Unfortunately, the band didn’t mirror these dynamics - they just operated in one range, playing loud and with no feel. Seeing her and Castro interact, there was zero chemistry. Yet, she said she was really happy to find such a great rare band, “with so many toss-aways out there.” Maybe we were missing something. We walked away, convinced that Coco Montoya and his band had ruined music for us, being so insanely good. www.tcband.com www.janivamagness.com www.kennyneal.net www.magicdick.com
With his new album on Alligator called Lay Your Burden Down, the legendary Stanley “Buckwheat Zydeco” Dural is currently on his 30th anniversary tour. At Doheny, he unfortunately had to delegate his accordion playing to his son because of “doctor’s orders”, so he ended up sitting at the Hammond throughout his bluesy, funky and thoroughly “creolized” set at the Renaissance stage. But he had the partying festival crowd completely to himself and was all smiles, so that didn’t seem to be too bad of a situation. www.buckwheatzydeco.com
“Derek’s playing is stunning, unlike
anything I’d ever heard before.”
“…the best slide guitar player who’s
ever been… a once-in-a-generation player.”
One of the most raved-about guitarists today and the youngest musician to be named in Rolling Stone’s list of the Top Hundred Guitarists of All Time, the festival crowd’s interest in seeing the Derek Trucks Band was enormous, to say the least. What we noticed about the best performances at this festival was that the great front figures had equally great bands playing with them. This was definitely the case with Todd Smallie (bass), Yonrico Scott (drums), Kofi Burbridge (keyboards), Mike Mattison (lead vocals) and Count M’Butu (percussion,) who were equal partners with Trucks in a journey through meditative jazz explorations, Indian modalities, African rhythms, funk, soul, and pure blues. All of this you can hear for yourself on the band’s brand new and sixth album, Already Free.
Watching Trucks play is a lesson in tranquility: mostly with his eyes closed and rarely moving around on the stage, he really looks like he is channeling the music, no matter how worn out that expression may have become. You just wonder how he gets that rich, lush tone and finds those unique melodies, coming out like a cooling and calming river stream.
Soullive’s guitarist Eric Krasno joined in on a spirited rendition of the Curtis Mayfield classic “Move On Up,” playing funky jazz licks in the style of George Benson and Wes Montgomery. Elvin Bishop also sat in with the band on another part of the set. It was fascinating to hear two so distinctive voices that are such polar opposites: Bishop’s barbwire blues tone, with all its piss and vinegar, along Trucks crystal clear and RESONANT echos of India intertwined with blues. Bishop just couldn’t stop shaking his head in awe and disbelief over his guitar compadre – pointing in Truck’s direction, while the object of admiration had no idea what was going on, redefining slide guitar with his eyes shut. www.derektrucks.com
After having our minds and spirits blown twice this day, could there possibly be any more great music on the bill - on par with what we had seen and heard?
If you’ve ever seen a show with Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings, you know that you’d have to be either physically or emotionally dead not to get wowed and moved by their high-fevered funk and soul stirring ballads. Words can’t really describe it. We never got to see James Brown or Tina Turner in their hey-day, because we’re too young. We’re sorry about that misfortune, but Sharon Jones is making the loss a lot easier to bear.
Ms. Jones’s funk roots can be traced to Augusta, GA – the same town who gave birth to the Godfather of Soul, James Brown. But she had to wait a lot longer for her lucky break in the music business. Moving to New York in the 70’s, she found herself doing often un-credited work as a backup singer for disco, soul, blues and gospel artists. Trying to get noticed by the commercial music industry, she was rejected for being either too short, too fat, too black, and eventually, too old. With the changing music landscape of the 80’s, Jones ended up taking a job as a corrections officer at the Ryker’s Island jail, while still singing in church and with wedding bands.
Fast forward to the mid-90’s: Sharon crosses path’s with NYC’s indie funk and soul label Desco Records, and a group of young musicians who are fanatic about old-school soul and the entire culture surrounding it. Soon, the first album with Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings is out and years of endless touring and more recordings follow. Amy Winehouse decides to record with The Dap Kings on her Back In Black album, which becomes a smash hit, and now the word is getting out about Sharon Jones hi-energy performances, giving her the well-earned title as The Queen of Funk.
As the last performers before headliner BB King, the Dap Kings would have blown the roof off the venue if there was one. The band, complete with a rhythm and horn section, all dressed in suits true to the classic soul era, look remarkably composed as they’re playing fast-paced funk numbers with frantic horn lines. As a startling contrast, the 50-something Jones was dancing feverishly as if she was doing her very last performance, demonstrating how her West African and Native American ancestry has influenced her… yet her voice never got shaky from all the jumping and shimmying – her singing on stage is as powerful and commanding as James Brown’s. And she isn’t just a funk shouter, she can sing soul ballads beautifully as well.
As the band played songs from their
latest album, 100 Days, 100 Nights, and teasers from their upcoming
album, Jones invited a male audience member to the stage for a dance
as she jokingly tried to evoke the long legs of Tina Turner, and
security guards pulled up a random group of girls to form a line and
act as hip shaking backup singers for the leading lady. Apparently,
she has a reputation for
“stealing the show” at many festivals, and
it’s easy to see why. Sharon Jones is a phenomenal entertainer, but
of the finest kind: she also has a great voice, plenty of substance,
and the gift of moving people down to their very bones and souls.
The night could have ended perfectly here. But there was yet the headliner to be seen, and BB King was maybe an even more disappointing experience than Brian Setzer. His band was solid and energetic in an elegant manner. They handled most of the solo duties, but that wasn’t surprising. The downer was that the blues legend spent a frustrating amount of time talking...and talking....
Refusing to leave the festival with this as our last impression, we started heading for the gates and the car, stopping once to listen as BB’s magical guitar lines echoed into the starry night for a brief solo. www.bbking.com
Review by Review by Pete Tomaszewski
Photos by James Porter and Pete Tomaszewski
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For Tickets and more info visit: www.mvbs.org
Featured Blues Review 7 of 7
Michelle Malone - debris
11 tracks; all Michelle originals except Tracks 2 and 11 co-written with Angela Kaset and Track 8 co-written with Kristen Henderson and Cathy Henderson
Style: Blues-Rock-Jam, Alternative Rock with Roots Americana Flavor Rating: Splendid
I have to start by telling the story about two old school veteran blues-rocker friends of mine here in Greenville, SC (Todd and Woody) whom I would see every Thursday night at a local restaurant where I used to book a summer weekly blues series. They’d say ‘have you ever heard Michelle Malone? Man, she is amazing, go check her out sometime, you’ll love her’. So I was (first of all) surprised I hadn’t run across Michelle and even more pleasantly surprised to see her latest CD arrive almost a year later in my most recent shipment of CDs to review.
Even more ironic was discovering that Michelle was performing in Memphis the same week I was going to be there passing through on my way to Clarksdale for the Juke Joint Festival (yes, sorry, this was indeed mid-April; my how time passes when you’re having blues fun). So I held off on this review until I could see her perform in person at Ground Zero Blues Club-Memphis, and I’m glad I did! It only reinforced what a great blues-rock soul sister she is and while you don’t have to see her live first before you buy her CD, I do suggest you buy her CD then go see her live! Either way, she needs to be in your collection.
If you eat with your eyes first, I must say the eco-friendly Michelle-penmanship-scripted biodegradable package will have you wanting to dig in. How nice it is to actually want to keep an artsy CD package vs the expected non-green plastic plexi-glass jacket that gets tossed in your landfill. And Michelle’s cover shot never looked more beautiful! Along with her song writing scribblings, a large “X”, heart and candle doodlings, are the many thank yous to all the supportive friends, family and colleagues who have breathed life into her and her songs—including you, the fans. You might enjoy the one disclaimer: ‘many Chocolove Bars, coffee beans, and bottles of wine were harmed during the making of this CD’. My kind of music-sista!
This is Michelle’s 10th record, with a handpicked band including guitarist Peter Stroud (Sheryl Crow), keyboard player Tony Reyes (Gwen Stefani), longtime collaborator Phil Skipper on bass, and Dave Anthony (Butch Walker, Ike) on drums. Nick Di Dia (Bruce Springsteen, the Black Crowes, Train) was the producer—need I say more?
Track 1 Feather in a Hurricane is one of my favorites…what a great way to start a CD—driving blues rock tempo that makes you jump, dance and rock out to catchy rocker slide and rifts. I get the feeling Michelle wants to know ‘is it me or what?’ when it comes to the insanity of an overwhelming makes-no-sense life, religion, war and politics—hence “I feel like a feather in a hurricane”. Track 2 Yesterday’s Make Up—as well as Tracks 3 Debris, and Tracks 9-11 remind me of what you’d get if Sheryl Crow and a classic 70’s American Rock band like The Eagles came together. This is the cross roads of new age and old school with more of Michelle’s original contemporary flair for timeless, treasured songwriting. And what about Yesterday’s Makeup? Ah, we ladies know what that means--Michelle’s lyric bravado obviously isn’t a bluff about making it to church on Sunday morning in “Saturday’s dress”, “feeling beautiful in yesterday’s make up”…I thought I was the only one who did this (ok, 30 years ago). Michelle belts it out with tons of conviction on this one…I’m thinking, wow, good so far, two for two, Tracks 1 and 2…this one’s gonna dwell for quite a while in my player…and so it has remained.
Title Track 3 Debris is a great uplifting positively themed song--you don’t have to stand alone in your debris…get free, know that you’re loved and love is all you need…speaking of love--love the electric solo rifts and the harmony. Start your day with this one!
Track 4 Undertow is a nice pop country rock surprise about a woman who ‘can’t stand waiting to hear your boots at my door, wondering if you’re out with that whore, wishing that I’d never been born, I drank an ocean of liquor in your undertow’….. Dang Michelle, tell ‘em! And we’re all down with ya! Taylor Swift may want to pay attention!
Track 5 Marked calms us back down after getting all ‘riled’ up from Undertow…nice, sweet, naïve and admitting about the mark of hurt of a deceitful partner. But stay tuned; this is what’s nice about the Debris album…Michelle is taking you through a journey, of the good, the bad, the ugly, the highs and the lows, only to come back full circle to peace and love.
Which leads to Track 6, Restraining Order Blues—time for ‘da blues after Marked! Right when you thought you got away with your cheatin! (ok, some handcuffs later and not caring what happens to me or you)…that’s what dem blues are for—work it out Michelle, rip it on the guitar, no more sweet innocent voice…look out world.
Track 7 Chattahoochee Boogaloo is another country alternative rock song about the night life mischief of a young Macon County 16 yr old awkward teenager looking to party who sneaks out at night for a little midnight swim, a toke and some skin…yiyiyi (ok, YES, didn’t we all do this!?). Reminds of that time in the 70’s when my friend Diane and I slipped out of her bedroom window one night and took off in her Dad’s Thunderbird..oops..I’ll stop now and let Track 8 tell you what happened!
And on to Weed and Wine Track 8 “You Bring the Weed and I’ll Bring the Wine”… this is timeless…talking about the days of sneaking out again, listening to some good Southern Rock such as that of the Allman Brothers and being wild and free, knowing the responsibility and world we’re all expected to enter, with none of it making sense. This is real, about being young, innocent and on the verge of adulthood…which leads us perfectly to what’s an adult raw emotive Track 9 14th Street and Mars, a wonderful soulful spiritually moving and haunting ballad about loss of love and waiting, craving to see that person once again.
Track 9 Sunburn reminds us to continue to walk in the sun, not fearing loss of love, or taking a chance again. Ending with Candle For the Lonely, Track 10 is a welcomed conclusion to this journey with Michelle who sweetly reminds us there is someone for everyone, coming back full circle to her theme of love.
Heartfelt, upbeat, yet soul shaking are Michelle’s own words, and I have to agree. She also says she’s more blues influenced than rock influenced so she labels it a blues-rock record, but I think it’s also an emotional roots music journey that we all can and will relate to. She gets down and dirty, she’s real, and as she says, ‘it’s not all shiny and perfect’ but I found it not only shiny and perfect but also refreshingly open and honest songwriting with amazing spot-on pitch, vocal range and guitar talent, coupled with band mates who couldn’t have matched up better to express Michelle’s intent.
She indeed returns to and draws upon her rock roots background with this amazing production with Nick di Dia. While I was skeptical at first, to put this CD in a ‘blues magazine’ review, I’ve just taken a journey through time honoring blues in a contemporary alternative rock root world that many of us have all along embraced once we quit trying to stick today’s music into a categorized genre—Michelle ‘gets’ roots and the word ‘crossover’, but not for commercial appeal and marketing purposes but because that’s just who she is. Good luck Michelle as you continue on with your Debris tour, and I’ll see you at the Bohemian Café in Greenville, SC on June 27th in Greenville, SC, my town!
Belinda Foster is a Columnist and Contributing Writer for Greenville SC Magazine “Industry Mag” and was former manager of Mac Arnold & Plate Full O’Blues. She currently books blues-rock-jam musicians and is a devoted promoter and supporter of live blues root music and history, making frequent trips to “The Crossroads” and Clarksdale Mississippi, birthplace of the blues. Her column “The Upstate Blues Report” can be found on line at www.industrymag.net.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.
Blues Video of the Week
This week we feature a 1964 video by the fantastic vocalist Sugar Pie Desanto. She was born Umpeylia Balinton in Brooklyn, New York on October 16, 1935 to an African American mother and Filipino father. In 1955, she toured with The Johnny Otis Revue. From 1959-1960, she toured with The James Brown Revue. She had one song ("I Want to Know") that rose to number four on Billboard's chart in 1960 making her a popular performer. She continued to perform throughout the 1960s. She even did some shows with Etta James.
Many folks do not realize that she is still alive and is still a very energetic performer. We had the pleasure of seeing her for the first time ever last year at the Chicago Blues festival. Her bawdy energetic set on the main stage in Chicago brought down the house. This lady still knows how to entertain.
This fantastic video shows her in her prime. But if if you get the chance to see this little dynamo, DO IT!!! She will still "Rock You Baby!"
To see this cool video on our website, click the play button below.
For other videos on our website CLICK HERE.
The Smokie Blues International Festival - August 14 - 16, 2009
The Golf Hotel, Carnoustie, Scotland
Live Blues Calendar
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