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Hey Blues Fans,
We are making some improvements to Blues Blast Magazine starting next week. Beginning with our March 17th issue we will start featuring "magazine cover" photos and stories. Each weeks issue will feature a cover shot of an artist, event or organization and there will be a companion feature story about the cover photo. We hope to cover the well established artists and the new kids on the block too.
Over the next few weeks, look for stories on Bobby Rush, Bob Corritore, Kenny "Beedy Eyes" Smith, Eddie Turner and many more. Stay tuned.
We made it out to hear Magic Slim & The Teardrops this week. The Illinois Central Blues Club was having a party to celebrate their 25th Anniversary and brought in the big guy for the occasion. Slim was in fine form and put on a great show demonstrating why he continues to win awards with this great band.
The Illinois Central Blues Club has been in existence for a quarter century presenting weekly Blue Monday shows so they had a great reason to be celebrating. We think it may be the longest continuously running weekly live Blues event put on by a Blues society anywhere. See our Blues Society News Section below to see who they have scheduled for this continuing Monday tradition or visit www.icbluesclub.org for information on supporting this great organization.
In This Issue
Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony reviews a new CD by Marshall Lawrence. George "Blues Fin Tuna" Fish reviews a new CD by Macy Blackman and the Mighty Fines. Gary “Wingman” Weeks reviews a new CD by Robin Trower. Steve Jones reviews a new CD by Graná Louise. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!
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Featured Blues Review 1 of 4
Marshall Lawrence - Blues Intervention
Canadian Marshall Lawrence commits himself well on all the various string instruments he employs here, as well as jug and thigh slaps. The only extras are harmonica and stand-up bass by Sherman “Tank” Doucette and Russell Jackson respectively. Marshall sure knows his way around a resonator guitar, slipping and sliding through many of the originals and three covers that make up his second all acoustic outing. Also used is banjo and mandolin, often doubling up on instruments on the tunes. His own tunes contain the feel and licks of authentic country blues. The harmonica broadens the sound on many of the songs.
As on his sprightly version of Robert Johnson’s “Walking Blues”, he provides rhythm as well as flashy slide runs. Jug accents the rhythm on Tommy Johnson’s “Traveling Blues”. The harmonica often doubles the melody under Marshall’s guitar. The current woes of drug and alcohol abuse are touched on in the original “Lay Down My Sorrow”. Love’s addictiveness is described in “Love Like Heroin”. The guitar’s bass strings move the beat along on “If I Had A Nickel”. “Going To The River” has a country feel with intertwining banjo, mandolin and harmonica dueling it out. The most enjoyable songs here are the ones were the slide guitar is the main vehicle, as in the country boogie of “Once Loved A Cowgirl”.
Marshall has the nuances of acoustic country blues down to a science as far as the musical accompaniment goes. Unfortunately his vocals could use a boost as they are kind of bland. There is no grit or rasp in his voice to give more authenticity to the overall atmosphere. For the most part it eventually begins to be less evident after repeated listening. It doesn’t match the excitement of the music on his upbeat “Going Down To Louisiana”. He comes off as downright deadpan on the otherwise easy rolling groove of “Detroit “Motor City” Blues”. If the vocals were more distinctive and attractive I would put this record among the cream of today's acoustic blues practitioners. As it is enjoy the instrumental virtuosity herein and hope his voice grows along with the fine musicianship.
Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony hails from the New Jersey Delta. He is the proprietor of Bluesdog’s Doghouse at http://bluesdog61.multiply.com.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE
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Get Your Blues Music Considered for Nomination!
We have a simple process for Blues artists and record labels to get their recordings considered for nomination in our annual Blues Blast Music Awards.
We have 30 nominators and you can send in copies of your CD to be considered. Eligibility dates for recordings are releases between April 1, 2010 and March 31, 2011.
The 2011 nomination process started March 1st when we began accepting submissions from labels and artists. Artist do not necessarily have to submit their releases to be considered but any that do will have their recordings screened by the nominators. Read all the details at the link below for complete information to have your CD release considered now.
Our nominators include, music journalists, radio DJs, festival promoters, club owners and others who are very active in the Blues scene. This year as every year, the nominees are artists and music that the nominators got the opportunity to hear. (They can't nominate something they haven't heard!)
Our diverse group of nominators hear many CDs and see many performing artists but if an artist or label really wants a release to be considered by all the nominators, they can send in copies of their CDs beginning March 1. CDs will be sent to the nominators. You must send 30 copies so that all nominators get to listen to them. There is no charge for this in 2011. You send us the CDs and we will cover the cost of getting the CDs into the nominators hands. Act NOW to get your music considered! For complete information on sending in your release CLICK HERE
Nominators will start submitting their nominations May 1st and final nominations will be announced after May 31st, 2010. Voting Begins in July. The winners in the 2011 Blues Blast Music Awards will be announced on Thursday October 27th, 2011.
Blues Society News
You can submit a maximum of 125 words or less in a Text or MS Word document format.
Mississippi Valley Blues Society - Davenport, IL
The Mississippi Valley Blues Society presents guitar virtuoso Joanne Shaw Taylor and her band on Friday March 25 at Rascals, 1414 15th Street, Moline. The show begins at 8:00 p.m. Admission is $15, $10 for MVBS members. For more information visit www.mvbs.org or call (563) 322-5837
Dayton Blues Society – Dayton, OH
Saturday, March 12th the Dayton Blues Society & Team Vanderpool present the 2nd annual “Blues for a Cure” benefit for the American Cancer Society at Gilly’s in downtown Dayton, Ohio. Four of the hottest bands in the area: The Reece Lincoln Band, Slowhand (Eric Clapton Tribute), The Noah Wotherspoon Band, and The Scotty Bratcher Band.
Show starts at 6pm and admission is a donation at the door. Grand finale planned with all 4 of these great guitarist on stage! More info at www.daytonbluessociety.com .
Rosedale Crossroads Blues Society - Rosedale, MS
Rosedale Crossroads Blues Society presents The Crossroads Blues and Heritage Festival Saturday, May 7, 2011 at the River Resort. Highway 1 S. in historic Rosedale, MS. Gates open at 12:00 noon - music starts at 1:00. Admission $5 - adults, $1 - children under 12. Bring your own ice chest - $10 No beer sold - No glass - No pets, please! Parking $5 Lineup ( in order of appearance - subject to change): Vinnie C., Eddie Cusic, Mickey Rogers, T-Model Ford, Daddy Mack, Big T, Guitar Mikey and the Real Thing, and Eden Brent.
Fest Feast on Friday evening, May 6 at the River Resort with a 5-course Creole dinner, $50 per person - Cash bar. Limited seating. Call 662-759-6443 or 662-897-0555 for reservations and information. If you have questions about the above information, call 662-402-6251. Thank you. Mary Anna Davis Crossroads Blues Society www.rosedaleblues.com
Crossroads Blues Society - Rockford, IL
On Friday, March 18th the Crossroads Blues Society presents Blues in the
Schools (BITS) Wine Tasting Fund Raiser at Artale Wine Co. 6876 Spring Creek
Rd # 128, Rockford, IL 61114-7405. The event will be held from 5:30 PM to
8:30 PM. Tickets are $15. Food will be provided by Joesph Barbados/Pearl and
a large assortment of wines will be available to sample. Tickets are
available at the store whose hours are 10 AM to 9 PM daily except Sunday
when the hours are 11 AM to 6 PM.
The Grafton Blues Association - Grafton, WI
The Grafton Blues Association & the Cedarburg Cultural Center will present Tinsley Ellis on Thursday March 24 at the Cedarburg Cultural Center. Doors open at 6pm show starts at 7pm. Food and drink will be available for purchase. Tickets are $14 in advance for GBA and CCC members, $15 in advance for non-members and $17 at the door for everyone. For more info visit - www.graftonblues.org
The Great Northern Blues Society - Wausau, WI
The Great Northern Blues Society in Wausau, WI will be hosting their annual fundraising event “Blues Café’”, on Saturday 3/26/11 at the Rothschild Pavilion. (Near Wausau, WI)
Performing will be Jumpship Blues Band, 12 Year Old Tallan Noble Latz, Red White & Blues Band, Young British Blues Diva Joanne Shaw Taylor, and Atlanta Based Blues Guitar Flamethrower Tinsley Ellis. The Fun Starts at 1:00PM. $13 in advance, $18 at the door. Bulk ticket rates also available. For more info see www.gnbs.org
The Friends Of The Blues - Watseka, IL
2011 Friends of the Blues shows - March 17 (St. Patty’s Day), Little Joe
McLerran, 7 pm, Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmen’s Club, April 05 - Albert
Castiglia, 7 pm, Kankakee Valley Boat Club, April 26 - The Rockin’ Johnny
Band, Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmen’s Club, May 03 - Too Slim and the
Taildraggers, 7 pm, Kankakee Valley Boat Club, May 19 - The Sugar Prophets
(2011 IBC Finalists), 7 pm, Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmen’s Club, June 23 -
Sean Chambers, 7 pm, River Bend Bar & Grill,
West Virginia Blues Society - Charleston, WV
The West Virginia Blues Society presents the Charlie West Blues Fest May 20 & 21, 2011 in Haddad Riverfront Park, Charleston, WV Here is the lineup: Friday May 20 - Sit Down Baby, Izzy & Chris, Mojo Theory, Lil Bryan & The Travelers, Davina & the Vagabonds and Joe Louis Walker. Sat. May 21- IBC Band Winner, Slim Fatz, Trampled Under Foot, Sean Carney, Kristine Jackson, Smokin’ Joe Kubek & Bnois King and Ana Popovich. The Charlie West Blues Fest is produced by the West Virginia Blues Society, Inc. www.wvbluessociety.org and www.charliewestbluesfest.com
Illinois Central Blues Club - Springfield, IL
Every Monday night for the last 25 years - BLUE MONDAY SHOWS - Held at the Alamo 115 N 5th St, Springfield, IL (217) 523-1455 every Monday 8:30pm $3 cover. March 14 - Levee Town, March 21 - Little Joe Mclerran, March 28 - Rockin’ Johnny, Apr 4 - Andrew “Jr Boy” Jones, April 11 - Grady Champion, April 18 - Chris Cain, April 25 - Big Jeff Chapman. icbluesclub.org
Featured Blues Review 2 of 4
Macy Blackman and the Mighty Fines - Don’t You Just Know It
16 tracks Total time: 52:56
Veteran pianist/working musician, music coach, piano tuner, musicologist and music teacher Macy Blackman has been intimately involved with New Orleans R&B ever since his teenage years playing in bands in Delaware and Philly, due, of course, to the ubiquitous influence of New Orleans R&B on the rock he played. This relationship only deepened after moving to New York City in 1966, where he befriended Charles “Hungry” Williams, a New Orleans drummer who’d played not only on every hit of Huey Lewis and the Clowns, but had also backed Fats Domino, Professor Longhair, Earl King, “Clarence “Frogman” Henry, and many other Crescent City greats. Through Williams, Macy Blackman had even gotten a chance to play with Dr. John. So it’s only natural that Blackman and his band, the Mighty Fines, would want to do a CD that would be a tribute to this music, and would also honor his now-dead friend and teacher. Blackman and the Mighty Fines do just that, and do it with aplomb and pizzazz.
Macy Blackman and the Mighty Fines are a five-person piano-and-horn-driven ensemble, with nary a guitar among them. Pianist/vocalist Blackman also plays cornet, both solo and simultaneously with piano on four cuts. Ken “Snakebite” Jacobs plays baritone sax, and Mary Wright plays tenor sax, and also does lead vocals on three cuts. Horn interplay is excellent throughout, with the of two-sax combination, and the combo of saxes with cornet, creating a wall of sound that complements the piano well. Piano, baritone sax, and tenor sax solos abound, played consistently with true R&B grit. Especially interesting for me was the extensive use by “Snakebite” Jacobs of the baritone sax as a solo instrument able to move far beyond mere accompaniment. Rounding out the Mighty Fines are Jack Dorsey, drums, and Bing Nathan, bass.
Naturally, then, this release is a showcase for songs by the great New Orleans vocalists, from contemporaries who recorded from the mid-1960s to now, as well as the classic vocalists of the 1950s and early Sixties. Representing the former are the late Chuck Carbo on track 1, the rowdy “Black Drawers;” Dr. John, track 10, “Cold, Cold, Cold,” which, like “Black Drawers,” are later compositions that benefitted from the freeing up of musical conventions by late-1960s rock. Rounding out the contemporaries, of course, is Johnny Adams, here represented by two tracks—track 9, “Roadblock,” and track 13, “Imitation of Love.”
The classic vocalists, in roughly chronological order, are represented by neighboring Texas pianist Amos Milburn and his 1949 hit, “Chicken Shack Boogie,” track 3, which he later re-recorded in New Orleans. Fats Domino, naturally, with two obscure, but good, songs, track 4’s “Detroit City” and track 12’s “Ain’t It Good;” Smiley Lewis on track 7, “Someday You’ll Want Me;” and Huey Smith and the Clowns, track 5’s “Don’t You Just Know It” and track 8’s “Little Chickie Wah-Wah.” Rounding out the roster of classic vocalists is, of course, the inimitable Ernie K-Doe, represented here with two of his early 1960s hits: “Hello My Lover,” track 2, and “Certain Girl,” track 15.
But such a showcase for great singers is also a showcase for great songwriters, with several of New Orleans’s best represented here. Some were songwriters who wrote material for themselves, some wrote for others to perform. Among the former are Amos Milburn with “Chicken Shack Boogie,” Fats Domino with “Detroit City,” a paean to the Motor City that was the B side of “The Fat Man,” contender for first rock ‘n’ roll recording; and the rhumba-beat “Ain’t It Good,” recorded in 1953 but not released until 1959. And Dr. John with “Cold, Cold, Cold.” Songwriters writing for others include Percy Mayfield with “Roadblock,” a vocal for Wright; Dave Bartholomew with “Someday You’ll Want Me;” Ike Turner writing for the Ikettes, track 14’s “I’m Blue,” another Wright vocal; Allen Toussaint with “Certain Girl;” and the two doctors in the house, Dr. John and Doc Pomus with “Imitation of Love.”
This release also digs into the archives of jazz ballads, and comes up with two gems: “I’ll Never Be Free,” track 11, a vocal duet with Blackman and Wright that was a 1950 hit for Tennessee Ernie Ford and Kay Starr; Blackman took the version here from the cover version by Paul Gayten and Annie Laurie. Even earlier is “I’ll Never Be The Same,” track 16, a 1932 hit for Guy Lombardo’s and Paul Whiteman’s big bands that Blackman takes from a 1937 recording by Billie Holliday with jazz notables Teddy Wilson and Lester Young, and which features Mary Wright departing from her usual R&B playing to give a sax solo that is mellow and lyrical. Blackman and Wright infuse R&B emotive projection into their jazz vocals here, giving to these ballads an insistent, bluesy edge.
Bassist Bing Nathan switches to piano, and Ken Jacobs to clarinet, on track 6, “Papa’s Cool Blues,” the CD’s only original, and the only instrumental. Although Nathan wrote it as a tribute to Oakland, California bluesman Haskell “Cool Papa” Sadler, “Papa’s Cool Blues” is actually ragtime-infused old-timey New Orleans jazz that harkens back to the days of Jelly Roll Morton and King Oliver. It features horn work that combines cornet, clarinet and tenor sax, as well as giving each instrument solo space. On this number, Kit Robertson fills in on bass.
Both Macy Blackman and Mary Wright have naturally bluesy voices—Blackman’s a hoarse, gravelly tenor, Wright’s a semi-shouting mezzo soprano that’s reminiscent in its approach to Ruth Brown and Dinah Washington. Their vocals don’t just sing the blues, they feel them as well. So does the instrumentation throughout, and it’s hard to beat the playlist. Rounding out the many high points of the CD is the four pages of thorough notes and annotation by music writer Lee Hildebrand.
Reviewer George "Blues Fin Tuna" Fish hails from Indianapolis, Indiana, home of blues legends Yank Rachell and Leroy Carr. He has written a regular music column for several years. He wrote the liner notes for Yank Rachell’s Delmark album, Chicago Style. He has been a blues and pop music contributor for the left-wing press as well, and has appeared in Against the Current and Socialism and Democracy.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE
Featured Blues Review 3 of 4
Robin Trower -The Playful Heart
Fans of Robin Trower have been waiting for a long time for the British guitarist to craft a piece of work that holds a candle to his landmark album Bridge of Sighs which has been hailed as a masterpiece work of moody blues and rock.
Trower's career of studio albums have always been hit and miss affairs. And on his latest one "The Playful Heart," the target gets missed big time.
Musically the CD has its moments. Overall none of the tracks are fast tempo-ed rockers and because Robin sings on half of the them in an emotionless way, the project even suffers more.
The greatest strength is in song lyrics with Trower avoiding old cliches that have permeated the blues-rock canon too long. It might have been better to let long time vocalist Davey Pattison dominate the tracks as his singing is a better marriage for Trower's silvery Hendrix lines.
Trower's ghostly Strat sounds give weight to "Find Me" and pushing "Dressed In Gold" further into Hendrix territory. For Trower, not even this alone is enough to launch a work weighted down by bland songwriting and sticking too close to a comfort zone. The Playful Heart finds the guitarist not entering a new phase of his career but sounding like a musician who is depleted of ideas. The live performances have been his best wild cards and power to him if he comes up in spades.
Reviewed by Gary “Wingman” Weeks.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE
Featured Blues Review 4 of 4
Graná Louise - Getting’ Kinda Rough!
Graná Louise has a big voice and an even bigger on stage presence. She won the Windy City Blues Society's Chicago Blues Challenge in 2009 and has now released her first CD for Delmark Records. She has two prior releases (from 1999 and 2003) but this is her first release for a noted Blues label. She is not afraid to get down and dirty, both figuratively and lyrically. She belts out tunes with some vey blues lyrics with the best of them.
Her big voice and charisma really carry her through her efforts. She blasts out her vocals in a gripping manner- she grabs you by the ears and makes you listen to her. Delmark offers up a mix of her studio and live performances on this CD. The first seven tracks were recorded in the studio; one through six at Riverside Studio in 2009 and seven by Bill Syniar last year. These were the highlights of the CD. Tracks eight through twelve were done live at Blue Chicago on Clarke Street last year.
Louise offers us some new stuff; four of the seven studio cuts were written by her. She also growls and shouts out some classic blues, from the standards to pre-WWII stuff. She is an emerging presence that the blues world will have to stand up and take notice of!
She begins with the traditional “Stagger Lee”, giving us a great rendition of this old tune. Perhaps an overdone song, but Louise kept me listening! “Where You Been?” is a kitschy and fun old tune that Louise delivers quite convincingly. Eddie Vinson’s “Back Door Blues” gets royal treatment as does “Queen Bee”. “Back Door Blues” features some mean and greasy guitar from Carlos Showers in addition to Graná’s big time vocals on this quintessential slow blues. Originals like “Lead Foot Mama”, “Gonna Get ‘Cha”, “Bang Bang Ba-Bang, Bang Bang Bang!” give some fresh tunes and give us some fun lyrics. The innuendo of going to get some of the “tall trees bending in the wind but not breaking” in the cut “Big Dick, Mississippi” is probably well beyond innuendo and just bluntly dirty. Louise gives us some old style, traditional ”blue” blues in this original cut. Guitar by Tom Holland on this and in all the 2009 studio cuts is impeccable.
The sound production or recording on the 5 live tracks at Blue Chicago are technically challenged compared to the studio tracks but Graná and the bands performances are solid throughout. What we have here are a dozen tracks by a rising star vocalist with a big beautiful voice accompanied by a tight band of musicians. If you like traditional female blues vocals done right, this is a CD you need to buy. Louise is a powerful singer who we will be hearing a lot from in the coming years!
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE
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