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April 23, 2010 

© 2010 Blues Blast Magazine

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Hey Blues Fans,

BLUES TO THE RESCUE!!!  Here is a great example of how Blues music can help people!

The West Virginia Blues Society is sponsoring an all-day Miner’s Memorial Fundraiser to benefit for the families of the Upper Big Branch Mining Disaster. This was the huge mining explosion that was all over the news recently. The show will be at Tomahawk’s Smokehouse & Saloon, Route 60w of South Charleston, WV, Saturday, May 1, 2010 beginning at noon.

Jason Ricci and New Blood will be the headliner along with a host of other great performers - Crossroads Blues Band, Robert Altmann, Holy Cow, Leon Waters, Hunter Wolf and ARE, Six Kinds of Crazy, C & S Railroad, John Taylor, Washboard Jo and others.

Over twelve hours of live Blues music, a hog roast and fixin’s – all for the price of $15 per person or $25 per couple, no charge for children. Proceeds will be donated to the WV Council of Churches to be distributed to the Upper Big Branch miners’ families.

West Virginia Blues Society is in need of Sponsors to help off-set the production costs of this event to benefit the coal miners in West Virginia. Everyone is welcome to join in and experience the healing powers of the Blues. For information on how you can help, call Jack Rice at 304-389-1439 or visit .

In other Blues Society news, our good friends at the Crossroads Blues Society of Illinois are throwing their very first Blue festival this year. The Byron Crossroads Blues Festival will run from noon to midnight on Saturday, August 28, 2010, in downtown Byron, Illinois.

The festival lineup includes The Resistors, noted artists Filisko and Noden, The Cashbox Kings, Westside Andy/Mel Ford Band and Dave Weld and the Imperial Flames. Look for more news on this new festival soon!

Blues Wanderings

Last Friday we made it out to catch a set by Texas Blues man Lightning Red. He had Steve The Harp and friends as his backup band. Many musicians sat in including bass man Jerry Ginger from the Ju Ju Kings, 14 year old guitar ace Matt Curry, Coleen Kerestes, vocalist from the Blues Edge and several other Central Illinois Blues players. Enjoyable music!


Too Slim & The Tail Draggers were at a Blue Monday show this week and played many of the tunes from their recent release Free Your Mind .  With Tim "Too Slim" Langford on guitar, Polly O'Keary on bass and Tommy Cook on drums they rocked the Alamo.

Halfway though the first set we noticed a commanding looking red head sitting at one of the tables with another couple faces that looked familiar. Turns out Blues Rocker Shannon Curfman was in town to promote her show this week with Tommy Castro.

We coaxed her up for one song. Her new CD, What You're Getting Into is reportedly selling well. Look for a review of her CD in Blues Blast Magazine soon

In This Issue

James "Skyy Dobro" Walker reviews a new CD from Jason Elmore. Steve Jones reviews a new CD by Long Tall Deb & The Drifter Kings and also  reviews a new CD by Barrelhouse Chuck . Greg 'Bluesdog' Szalony reviews a new CD by Rice Moreland. Belinda Foster reviews a new CD by Steve Howell.  All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!

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Buy or sell equipment , musicians wanted, gigs wanted, help wanted, information wanted etc. Limit 100 words. All ads submitted will be used if space allows. If space is limited, ads will be randomly selected to appear in the Blues Blast. Ads may be edited. Send your ad submission to

Guitarist/Frontman or Diva Lead Guitarist for TRIO

WANTED: Guitarist/Frontman or Diva Lead Guitarist for TRIO. On Drums/Bass We are both female with backup vocals. A male voice would round out this trio but we are open to all seasoned talent. We are in the Peoria/Pekin, Illinois area. Blues mainly but we'll start with what you know. Serious experienced players please respond to: Maryl @ 309 363 6458 or 

Magazine Seeks Summer Festival Reviewers

Blues Blast Magazine is looking for a few good men (Or Women)! Over the 2010 summer season we are looking for folks who attend Blues Festivals and take GOOD photos for festival reviews.  If you attend multiple Blues Festivals or Blues shows and could volunteer to send us 500 to 1000 word reviews and a few good photos, please reply to .

Reviewers are needed for the Midwest, Southwest and Texas area, the Florida and Gulf area, The West Coast, The Pacific Northwest, Canada, the Eastern coast area and also on the European, Asian and Australian continents. A short sample of your writing, a sample photo and info on your Blues background would be helpful. Please include your phone number with the reply.

 Featured Blues Review 1 of 5

Jason Elmore & Hoodoo Witch - Upside Your Head

Underworld Records

14 songs; 56:23 minutes; Suggested

Styles: Blues, Blues-Rock, Rock

Survey: Which describes your band?
A) Our Band has fun.
B) Our band plays great music, and we have serious fun.
C) Our band has fun, but we play serious music.

My take is that Jason Elmore and Hoodoo Witch are best described by the last phrase; they’re damn serious about their music and their “fun” comes from creating it well. The just-turned-32-years-old Elmore is a native of Texas, and he seems well schooled in rowdy, yet refined guitar work having been influenced by Freddie King, Anson Funderburgh, and Jim Suhler, among many others.

“Upside Your Head” is the high energy trio’s debut CD and will be released on April 20, 2010 on the Underworld label. The album was produced by Jim Suhler (front man for Monkey Beat and lead guitarist for George Thorogood) and consists of 14 original tracks. Beau Chadwell is the drummer in lock-step with bassist Chris Waw.

The very first track showcases a fine example of the Lone Star State’s rich musical heritage.

With lyrics about rowdy as hell protagonists out on the wild from “Dusk Till dawn,” the greasy Texas flavor drips off of words like, “...bloodshot eyes; head full of red – port - wine...,” and “...sawed off gun and a pocket full of shells....” This sets up an incredible, ripping slide guitar solo that sounds like Jason may have some Tim “Too Slim” Langford (the label owner) influence, too.

Song writers and all writers are often advised, “Write about what you know.” If Elmore took that advice, then what he knows for sure is woman trouble (“Drag Me Down,” “Black Widow,” Road to Ruin,” “Evil Woman”). Just one example is found in the first song my partner Shuffle Shoes and I played on our WKCC radio show, “6 Foot Down.” This fast paced Texas shuffle features rip-snorting guitar work and a vamp reminiscent of ZZ Top. “I won’t be back around,” the narrator tells his ex-lover. “I’d be better off 6 feet in the ground!”

“World of Trouble” was our next spin; it features Monkey Beat’s Shawn Phares guesting on accordion and B-3 organ. Elmore lays down slashing guitar and, mid song, some simply nasty slide guitar. “My woman’s gone, she took my cash, drank all my liquor, smoked my stash / the future’s looking dim, just empty bottles, seeds and stems / it’s a world of trouble....” Trouble? Now that is a convincing testimony!

Following last week’s airing of track 1, this week will find a tasty, low down slow Blues, “All It Does Is Rain,” with Tommy Young guesting on B-3 organ. Gut wrenching string bending and Walter Trout like violin-sounding guitar runs emote a mood to match the “dark cloud/high water” lyrics.

Future spins will include “Evil Woman” showcasing a catchy melody that changes the pace. Some of Elmore’s tastiest guitar progressions are found here just over the rhythm and Phares again on B-3 organ. “Black Widow’s” quintessential contemporary Texas guitar over a shuffle is always a solid crowd pleaser.

For acoustic fans, producer Jim Suhler joins Elmore on slide resonator guitar in the final track, “That’s the Way It’s Got To Be.”
For gritty hard rock fans, try “Big Money Grip,” “Drag Me Down,” “Wash My Hands of You,” and “Nobody Knows.”

Anything but a cat with a hat and a Strat, Jason Elmore’s Southern flavor and Texas guitar combine to pleasantly cross genres across this set. Both Rock and Blues fans will find much here to enjoy. For new Blues fans, this CD is a great introduction to the rich Texas sound.

Reviewer James "Skyy Dobro" Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ, Master of Ceremonies, and longtime Blues Blast Magazine contributor. His weekly radio show "Friends of the Blues" can be heard Saturdays 8 pm - Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at in Kankakee, IL

To See James “Skyy Dobro” Walker's CD rating system, CLICK HERE 

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

 Blues Society News

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West Virginia Blues Society - Charleston, WV

West Virginia Blues Society has teamed up with Tomahawk’s Smokehouse and Saloon to present an all-day Miner’s Memorial Fundraiser, Saturday, May 1, 2010 beginning at noon. Over twelve hours of live blues music, a hog roast and fixin’s – all for the price of $15 per person or $25 per couple, no charge for children. Proceeds will be donated to the WV Council of Churches to be distributed to the Upper Big Branch miners’ families.

Jason Ricci and New Blood will be the headliner along with a host of other great performers - Crossroads Blues Band, Robert Altmann, Holy Cow, Leon Waters, Hunter Wolf and ARE, Six Kinds of Crazy, C & S Railroad, John Taylor, Washboard Jo and others.

West Virginia Blues Society is in need of Sponsors to help off-set the production costs of this event to benefit the coal miners in West Virginia. Everyone is welcome to join in and experience the healing powers of the Blues. For information on how you can help, call Jack Rice at 304-389-1439 or visit

Washington Blues Society - Seattle, WA

The Washington Blues Society’s local competitions for the 2011 International Blues Challenge will be held on Sunday, June 20th and Sunday, June 27th at the award-winning Highway 99 Blues Club in Seattle. Depending on the number of entries received, there may be an additional competition on July 11th or July 25th. The preliminary solo/duo competitions will be held on either Sunday, June 27th or one of the July dates above. Competition finals will be held on Sunday, August 22nd at the the Snohomish Taste Of Music Festival.

Any Washington State blues act may enter, and the act must include at least one who is a member of the WBS. Band entry fee is $30.00 and solo/duo entry fee is $15.00. Entry deadline is Thursday, June 10th. For complete info see the website at: or email

Alabama Blues Project - Northport, AL

On Saturday, May 1st, the Alabama Blues Project presents Blues Extravaganza 2010.  It is a free, family-friendly blues festival and will be held in historic downtown Northport from noon to 7 p.m. The live show features three After-School Blues Camp student bands as well as Alabama blues greats Microwave Dave, Bettie Fikes, Lil' Jimmy Reed and more! This event is hosted by the Northport Downtown Merchants Association. The Blues Extravaganza is in its third year as a unique musical celebration, bringing seasoned blues talent together with the young ABP After-School Blues Camp students and showcasing their combined Alabama blues power to the community at large. The 60+ students have been studying the blues all spring and are looking forward to sharing the fruits of their hard work and performing along side professional Alabama Blues Performers.

The After-School Blues Camp brings Alabama's rich blues heritage to the next generation of budding musicians and combines hands-on music instruction with a life-skills curriculum and blues music history. Students and audience alike will also be treated to performances by the Blues Instructors, whose members have been teaching our young students throughout the semester. These great musicians include B.J. Reed, Bruce Andrews, Debbie Bond, Jesse Suttle, Brad Guin and more. It's going to be a party!

For more information, or if you would be willing to volunteer, please call at (205) 752-6263 or email  

Crossroads Blues Society - Rockford, IL

Crossroads Blues Society will be hosting four Blues in the Schools Programs on April 27 and 28, 2010. Billy Flynn and Barrelhouse Chuck wil bring their musical knowledge and prowess to the Rockford area with a pair of programs each. The two will spend the day individually in two Rockford Public Schools on Tuesday afternoon and then one will be at Byron's Mary Morgan Elementary School while the other is just east of Byron, IL in Monroe Center Elementary School on Wednesday morning.

The two artists will also be doing a public evening show at the Just Goods Listening Room at 201 7th St in Rockford at 7 PM Tuesday night. Each will perform a set then the two will jam together for a while. The show is free to students, $5 for Crossroads members and $8 for others.

Crossroads Blues Society is producing their very first Blue festival this year. The Byron Crossroads Blues Festival will run from noon to midnight on Saturday, August 28, 2010, in downtown Byron, Illinois.

The festival lineup includes The Resistors, noted artists Filisko and Noden, The Cashbox Kings, Westside Andy/Mel Ford Band and Dave Weld and the Imperial Flames. For more information visit the Crossroads website at:

Mississippi Valley Blues Society - Davenport, IA

The Mississippi Valley Blues Society presents the Texas blues of Smokin’ Joe Kubek and Bnois King on Saturday April 24 at the Eagle Reception Hall—2030 4th Ave., Rock Island. This is a BYOB show; attendees must be 21 or over. The show starts at 8 p.m., and admission is $25 at the door, $20 for MVBS members or for advance tickets from the MVBS Office (MWF 11:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.).

Little Bobby and the Storm will perform for a Mississippi Valley Blues Society-sponsored event at Rascals (1414 15th Street in Moline) on Thursday May 6 starting at 6:00 p.m. Admission is $7.00, $5.00 for MVBS members. Little Bobby’s show will be followed by the regular Thursday night blues jam hosted by the Steady Rollin’ Blues Band. The band, from North Dakota, will be stopping in the Quad-Cities on their way down to Clarksdale, Mississippi. The last time they played here, Little Bobby and the Storm appeared on the street stage at the 2008 IH Mississippi Valley Blues Festival.

The Mississippi Valley Blues Society presents the Holmes Brothers on Friday May 7 at the Capitol Theatre, 330 W. 3rd Street, Davenport. The show starts at 8:00 p.m., with doors opening at 7:00. Admission is $20, $15 for MVBS members or in advance through the Capitol box office ( or 563-326-8820). The Brothers are touring the Midwest for the first time in three years to advance their recent release on Alligator Records, Feed My Soul.

For more info call the MVBS office at 563-32-BLUES or visit our website at: .

Columbia College - Chicago, IL

Free Blues Camp Audition -  Saturday, May 22, 10:00 AM - Noon, Columbia College Chicago Music Center, 1014 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago. This is an opportunity to audition for this great youth Blues Camp held at Columbia College July 4 – 9, 2010 by Artistic Director, Fernando Jones.

Other audition date is Thursday, June 3, 6:00 – 8:00 PM, at Guitar Center, 4271 West 167th Street, Country Club Hills, IL. Go to for more details. RSVP Online at

The Friends Of The Blues - Watseka, IL

Spring 2010 Friends of the Blues shows- May 6 - Ivas John Band, 7 pm , Legacy Bar & Grill, May 11 - Chicago Blues Angels, 7 pm , Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmen’s Club, May 27 - Moreland & Arbuckle 7 pm , Kankakee Elks Country Club, June 15 - Albert Castiglia 7 pm , River Bend Bar & Grill, June 22 - Al Stone, 7 pm , River Bend Bar & Grill and August 10 - ean Chambers, 7 pm , River Bend Bar & Grill For more info see: 

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 $3 cover. April 26 - Rockin' Jake, May 3 - The Mojocats, May 10 - Steve the Harp

River City Blues Society - Peoria, IL

The River City Blues Society has started booking more of their weekly Blues shows. The shows start at 7:00pm at Good Fellas Pizza and Pub, 1414 N 8TH St Pekin, IL. Admission for all shows is $4 or $3 for RCBS members. Shows currently scheduled are:  Wednesday May 19th, 2010 - Hounds Tooth

 Featured Blues Review 2 of 5

Long Tall Deb & The Drifter Kings - Diamonds on the Dessert Floor


11 tracks

In my continuous quest to listen first, research second when I get a new band’s CD, I was a bit taken aback when I found out Long Tall Deb and the Drifter Kings were not a southern blues band; they hail from Ohio and were the winners of the 2009 River City Ohio Blues competition. I can see why they won- the band oozes with musical goodness!

Long Tall Deb is Deb Landolt, who is the lead vocalist. She has a gritty, controlled vocal approach that I really love. She makes the music sound like you are sitting in your favorite East Texas roadhouse, sucking down some frosty long neck beers and listening to very cool music. Backing her up is Richey B on lead and rhythm guitar, Melvin Powe on bass, Doug Oscard on percussion, and Michael Hill on backing vocals. Michael Gilliland appears on two cuts on hard and Max Lewis is on accordion on another track. Background vocals come from band members and, on one track, 4 girlfriends of the band. These guys are tight and make you feel good all lover as you listen to them.

This is a CD filled with all original music. Landolt has her hand in all but one track, which was written by Hill who does also does the guitar work on that one track. The CD begins with the lyrics, “Sitting outside with a shot of drambuie, contemplating love in the moonlight…” and I was hooked. Okay, so I am a sucker for sultry voiced women who like to drink scotch based liquor while prancing around half naked at night; guys latch on to that sort of visual imagery! Seriously though, the gravelly authentic vocals and driving guitar and background beat grab you by the collar and just don’t let go. “Overlooked” is the title of the opening track and it is one of the best of a group of all good tracks! “Lay My Body Down” opens up with some intentional scratchy sounds of vocals and a national steel guitar (with a little slide to boot) as if we’re listening to an old 78 RPM record; the entire first minute of the song plays out this way. The track switches over to a full blow modern sound after that opening minute, with Ritchy B’s guitar throbbing out the repetitive beat and Deb’s vocals sounding so gravelly you’d think she would need a shovel to lay them out. Gillilands’ harp is featured on this track, and he and the guitar run through a very cool instrumental duet about 2/3 of the way through the song.

The faster stuff is all great, but the slow blues like “What Kind of Man” also gives off powerful, burning feelings; Deb sings like a caged animal whose emotions are being barely held in check. Superb stuff here! She closes with Hill’s track with him on acoustic and electric guitar. It’s a soft, ballady track, offering up a nice change of pace to close out the CD with. I’d also be remiss not to mention the song “Chef Jen’s Kitchen.” An homage to her good buddy Chef Jennifer Earl, it’s a bouncy and bubbly cut with a bit of a Cajun flair with the accordion adding sauce and spice to the band. Deb shows off a little Marcia Ball-like flavor with this food and kitchen inspired track.

Only good stuff is packed into these eleven tracks. I enjoyed this CD whole-heartedly and recommend it to any one liking their blues served up hot and spicy with some superb rough and tumble female vocals. If this CD is any indication, Deb and the band are destined for bigger and better things!

Reviewer Steve Jones is secretary of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

 Featured Blues Review 3 of 5

Rice Moorehead - You Make Me Feel

Self Release


"No Blues For You"....If you need a label you can call this release from Austin, Texas native Rice Moorehead roots-Texas-soul-alternative-rock-punk covering the topics of love, lust, sex and cowgirls. Oh, did I mention sex? This guy is a horndog. A horndog in possession of a pleasing and throaty set of Texas tinged pipes. His guitar skills equal his vocal abilities, supplying crunchy chords, slide accents or acoustic strumming as needed. The assorted players throughout provide snappy drumming, pronounced bass and that patented Texas cheesy organ ala Augie Meyers.

"Unlearn", "Drivin' By" ,"Molly The Cowgirl" and "Somewhere On I-35" can almost pass for Chris Issac with a slight cold. On "Molly" he professes his love and lust to the cowgirl he met at the bicycle rodeo. Don't ask me, we don't have bicycle rodeo's in Joisy. Ol' Molly must be in good shape, she carries him up to her room. "Unlearn" and "Drivin' By" are the kind of Issac-y, slow, moody songs that pop-up in tv dramas. The later has a bit of that Stones spacey late night feel with weeping slide over acoustic and vibes adding background seasoning. "I-35" is a Texan version of Johnny Mathis' "99 Miles To LA". Hold on....It gets stranger....but in a fresh way that works.

The music portion of this Tex-Fest is well thought out and made more appealing by the crystal clear sound not often heard on a self made production. The one instrumental "Honky Soul" kicks in with a throbbing bass line into a chiming guitar riff. First call saxman Kaz Kazanoff adds the honky part. Oh lest I forget.....why haven't I heard the drums of Jill Csekitz before?.....She's all over the place adding drive to many songs.

Ok.......where was I? Oh, yeah......One Texacala Jones is listed as doing vocals on what else?....."Tex Pants". She uses her voice, mostly unintelligible....her multi-tracked screaming, moaning......and a few 'babies!' thrown in for good measure. Rice's slide and regular guitar come in-and-out over his crunchy guitar riff. Ok here's an over used cliche' for you......This song is a breath of fresh air. Crank this puppy up and blow out yer' speakers.

"No Air Play For You".......Rice F's up his real chance for a potential hit with the Texas-soul of the title track. You guessed it kiddies......"You Make Me Feel Like ( F'ing)" starts off as a sentimental love song......then Wammo!(pun intended). It's up to you. I'll make no judgements. It's a great song on a very good CD.

Not a bum track on this exploration of Moorehead's bag of tricks. And many of them make an appearance given the short playing time. Take Chris Issac, Delbert McClinton, Texas punk-rock, Texas-white boy-soul, alternative-rock, slide guitar and blend to a frothy fare-thee-well and see if this concoction dosen't grow on you like a soothing fungus. Ok another silly pun......But this record is really growing on me. I'll admit at first it sounded like a mess. I think there's a quiet semi-genius lurking here. Wouldn't be surprised at all if we hear more of this Texas horndog in a big way. As for me I'm no fool........I'm riding off on Molly's handlebars into the Texas-punk sunset before I make another silly analogy.....Adios mi cowpunks......

Reviewer Greg 'Bluesdog' Szalony is from the New Jersey Delta. He is proprietor of Bluesdog's Doghouse at

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

 Featured Blues Review 4 of 5

Steve Howell - Since I Saw You Last

Out of the Past Music, LLC

12 Tracks, 47 minutes 46 seconds

Style: Rural-Acoustic-Folk-Country-Rockabilly-Blues

Ok, who’s Steve Howell? He’s a Texan whose younger-year stints in Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Florida, and South Wales influenced him to be the diverse musician and devoted musicologist that he’s become today. Thanks to his early influences of finger-picking country blues, Delta Blues and traditional New Orleans style jazz, Since I Saw You Last sounds more like his personal gift to the listener, and it’s definitely a vessel for floating the cultures and ranges of musical forms, styles, genres and traditions to the next generation.

The players are Steve Howell (vocals, acoustic, electric, and bottleneck guitar), Joe Osborn (bass and 12-string guitar), Arnie Cottrell (acoustic and bottleneck guitar, mandolin and vocals), Darren Osborn (drums and percussion), Chris Michaels (electric guitar and bass), Dave Hoffpauir (drums and vocals), and Brian Basco (keyboards). This is a band of seasoned veteran fellow musicians and friends to whom Steve gives much credit and thanks for the CD’s success.

With my usual ‘plug in and play with no debriefing’ style, I was immediately thrust into an old-timey front-porch house-band mood with Track 1’s “Ðowntown Blues”, a Frank Stokes original. I knew at this moment I’d like Steve Howell because he had chosen songs to keep us connected to very early roots and fathers of blues, the likes of Frank Stokes, a Memphis blues musician and blackface minstrel.

Track 2 “Acadian Lullaby”, though penned by Howell’s friend Jim Mize, has all the makings of an Americana Buffett feel, paying homage to our fellow Louisiana Cajun friends and their lifestyle. Track 3 is Warren Smith’s “Red Cadillac & Black Moustache”, of the Sun Records and Rockabilly Hall of Fame gang. Though slightly more laid back than the Elvis-Warren style of the 50’s, Steve delivers his own convincing rendition. He then takes us back to the 50s-60’s R&B California style with Track 4’s “Farmer John”. Listen to the great guitar and slide of Steve, Chris Michaels and Arnie Cottrell (slide).

“Charlie James”, a Texan Mance Lipscomb original (1895-1976), is Steve’s personal favorite and mine. You’ll enjoy the haunting emotive ballad with its showcasing of the band’s precisely seasoned finger-picking talent. From the doo-wop sounds of “I Won’t Cry”, the Folsom Prison Blues and slide of “Wild About My Lovin”, to the R&B inflected torch song “Since I Fell For You”, you’ll enjoy this romantic melodic segment of a carefully track-positioned CD.

Track 9 ushers back in early folk blues in the Blind Lemon Jefferson tune “Easy Rider Blues” and is both sung and played with a 1900’s rustic jug-band reminiscent sound. Track 10 “Crawlin King Snake” (John Lee Hooker and Bernard Besman) is another CD favorite because it takes me down to the Crossroads, the ‘Delta’. Steve and the band might as well be sittin’ in Red’s Lounge Clarksdale, MS for this one! On to Track 11 and Willie Dixon/Taj Mahal’s “Little Red Hen”. Steve slides his vocals as playfully as the instrumentalists do. Ending with the 20’s tune “Ready For the River”, Steve’s liner notes tell us that he’s been playing this one for 35 years and never tires of it. I can see why—it’s beautifully finger-picked, sweetly delivered and tenderly sung.

Steve Howell deserves kudos for enlightening and encouraging root music blues lovers to connect their music past with their music present by bridging the early beginnings of the late 1800’s with the later modern twists, evolutions and commercial successes through the 60’s. It’s clear this CD and song selection was a near-and-dear project to Steve, so please sit back, relax and enjoy your ride on that great Americana-Western music train Since I Saw You Last.

Reviewer Belinda Foster is a Web-TV Host for, a Columnist and Contributing Writer for Greenville SC Magazine “Industry Mag” and former manager of Mac Arnold & Plate Full O’Blues. She is a devoted promoter and support of live blues root music and history, making frequent trips to Clarksdale MS and the Delta Region. Her column “The Upstate Blues Report can be found on line at

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

 Featured Blues Review 5 of 5

Barrelhouse Chuck - Combo Classics

Viola Records

13 tracks/44:34

When I was growing up a lower middle class Irish-Italian kid in New York City, few families could afford big Wurlitzer or other in home organs. Much to their chagrin, many an Italian kid who had aspirations to play something with a keyboard were awarded an accordion. But then came the combo organ. Vox, Farfisa and others took the concepts of the organ, accordion, transistors and bright colored plastic to create a portable organ that musical combos could use. Those were heady days; with the advent of the transistor replacing the old vacuum tubes, equipment and electronics got lighter and easier to move and transport. No longer would keyboard players have to rely on the old out of tune house piano at their gigs. A new age was upon us musically.

Blues musicians embraced and adopted this new fangled device as did the rockers like the Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, the Doors and others. In the liner notes Chuck comments on the fab song of his youth, ”96 Tears”, by ? and the Mysterions that he played in every juke box he saw. Later on, Otis Spann became his Farfisa role model with his recording of “Ain’t Nobody’s Business” with drummer S.P. Leary. Chuck includes a passionate and lilting version of this (with S.P. again on drums!) on this album.

Barrelhouse Chuck pays homage to that 1960’s classic instrument by packing up all his great songs featuring the combo organ and giving us this great new CD “Combo Classic”! A very 1960’s looking photo of a combo organ adorns the CD cover, and inside and on back we have a beautiful, bright red compact combo organ of Chuck’s. Behind the CD in the jewel box we have a classic advertisement for “the new Rheem stereo compact combo electronic organ.” What a cool package, but cooler yet is what’s on the silver disc inside the package.

Chuck offers up thirteen prime and classic cuts of his combo organ virtuosity. He’s got hot newer stuff along with some of his older works on the combo and they are all hot stuff. The Spann classic includes Billy Flynn on guitar along with exquisite vocals by Chuck and Bethany Thomas. He lends his unique Farfisa sound to the Ventures “Walk Don’t Run 69” where he, Flynn and Kenny Smith give us that beach classic Lake Michigan styled!

“Depression Blues” gives us some relevant commentary on today’s economic woes, where Chuck laments about people being laid of by the thousands as he makes the Farfisa sing also to us. Backing him again are Flynn and Leary along with Hash Brown on guitar, Todd Levine on harp and Rick Holmes on bass. He offers up the Farfisa on two newer cuts with the Swedish Trickbag group to open the album. Earl Hooker’s “Hot and Heavy” and what I like to call an original Swedish-Chicago surf tune called “Pacific Blue”. Good stuff just oozes from all over this CD.

The Goering-Flynn original “Chuckabilly-Live” features two amazing instrumentals where the instruments actually seem to talk to us. Chuck’s organ and Flynn’s guitar seemingly sing out to and grab us in this cut. Chuck goes to the Lowry organ to do the “Bright Sound of Big Moose”, a super Johnny “Moose” Walker cut. Nick Moss joins Chuck on three tracks and sings on two of them, his own “Porchlight” and James Cotton’s “Slam Hammer.” Curtis Salgado’s wicked harp adds so much to these tracks, too. Lynwood Slim does the singing on the other song, the J. Haliday-Ray Charles classic “I Choose to Sing the Blues”. Chuck hits us with an R.M.I. and Rheem on the first two and a Vox on the third. Classic stuff done by a man who has exerted full mastery over the combination organ, perhaps even more so than he has the piano! Space does not permit comments on every track, but suffice it to say all thirteen are equally special. I do have to mention, though, the Barrelhouse Chuck tribute to the great Stevie Winwood that he closes with, where Chuck plays the Farfisa on his “Farfisa B3 Boogie for Winwood”; classic stuff!

Run, do not walk, to the CD store (or even faster, run to your computer) and get this CD today. You won’t regret it. This is blues and early rock organ at its’ finest and no one- NO ONE!- does it better than Barrelhouse Chuck!!

Reviewer Steve Jones is secretary of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

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