Issue 5-31 August 5, 2011
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From The Editor's Desk
Hey Blues Fans,
I want to remind you that we have a block of 25 rooms set aside for those who want to come to the 2011 Blues Blast Music Awards at the special price of $139 (plus tax) at the Essex Inn in Chicago just one block from Buddy Guy's Legends. These are available on a first come first served basis. Information and a link to book these rooms is at the bottom of this issue.
The Blues Blast Music Awards show is Thursday October 27th, 2011 at Legends. Artists who have indicated they are coming to perform include Nick Moss, Bob Corritore, Gina Sicilia, Rich Del Grosso & John Richardson, The Vincent Hayes Project, The Reba Russell Band, Matt Hill, Chris O'Leary Band, Karen Lovely, Trampled Under Foot, Eddie Turner, Reverend Raven & The Chain Smokin' Altar Boys, The Sugar Prophets, Rob Blaine & Big Otis and The Teeny Tucker Band. And there may be a few surprise performers too!
Tickets are only $30 so get yours before they sell out. To get your tickets for this great event now, CLICK HERE.
This Weeks Winning Voters
We drew three more weekly prize winners today from those who have voted. Dave Katzman won 2 free tickets to the Blues Blast Music Awards. Jeff Harris won a copy of Robin Rogers' Back In The Fire CD. Hank Burdine won a free Blues Blast T-shirts.
If you haven't voted yet then you are missing out on a chance to win FREE Blues CDs, Blues Blast T-shirts or even tickets to the Blues Blast Music Awards. We are randomly drawing for prizes each week from those who vote in this years Blues Blast Music Awards.
And we will be drawing more winners next week so don't miss out! CLICK HERE to vote NOW!
Good Blues To You!
In This Issue
Terry Mullins has our feature interview with Magic Slim. Bob Kieser has a photo essay of the 2011 Ain't Nothing But The Blues Festival.
We have six CD reviews for you this week! James "Skyy Dobro" Walker reviews a new CD from Blinddog Smokin'. Steve Jones reviews a CD by Eric Ranzoni. Rainey Wetnight reviews a new CD from Mississippi Cadillac Blues Band. Sheralyn Graise reviews a new CD from Alexis P. Suter. John Mitchell reviews a new CD from Satan And Adam. Ian McKenzie reviews a new CD from Dana Fuchs. Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony reviews a new CD from Ron Tanski. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!
Featured Blues Interview - Magic Slim
It has been an integral part of helping to shape and define what we now call the modern blues sound.
And it’s probably been around even longer than the blues have.
It was the thing that elder statesmen, from Son House to Muddy Waters, along with the younger generation of stars like Terry “Harmonica” Bean and beyond, first learned to play on.
It’s not a Fender Stratocaster, a National Steel Resonator or a Gibson Les Paul.
It’s something that is far less sexy, far less sleek than a Strat, a Resonator or a Les Paul.
It’s an ordinary, average corn broom.
And like Son House and Muddy Waters – along with about every family that lived around him when he was growing up in the early 1940s in Mississippi - young Morris Holt’s family had one of those ordinary, average corn brooms.
And it was that particular corn broom helped transform Morris Holt into Magic Slim.
“Well, I made my first guitar upside the wall with a strand of wire off a broom,” Slim recently related.
While the rest of his family was in town one Saturday afternoon, Slim liberated the bailing wire from his momma’s broom and nailed it to the wall of their home near Granada, Mississippi. “You’d really be surprised at what sound two bottles and a piece of wire can make,” he said.
And while Slim was suitably impressed with his homemade instrument, the first lady of the house was not.
“When momma and them came back, I was playing it. And then she whipped me for tearin’ up her broom,” Slim said. “But she said one time that if she’d known what I’d be into later, she wouldn’t have whipped me.”
What Magic Slim is into, is keeping the sounds and traditions of textbook Chicago blues alive – the kind that was favored at spots like Florence’s Lounge and on Maxwell Street - back in the day.
And although young Morris Holt would grow up and find his fame in Chicago, playing in and around places like those, his formative years in rural Mississippi have not been pushed to the side by any means.
That’s why Pinky Holt Taylor would certainly be proud to know that her son was recently the recipient of one of the Mississippi Blues Commission’s newest markers along the Mississippi Blues Trail.
Magic Slim’s marker stands on Union Street in Granada, not too far from Queen’s Eat Shop, a restaurant that was operated by his mother.
“I’m 73 years old and I love what I do,” Slim said when asked about the marker. “I’m just thankful that I can do what I do.”
The names of Nick Holt and Douglas “Lee Baby” Holt also adorn Slim’s trail marker, especially fitting since they both played alongside their brother as members of The Teardrops. Nick was a longtime bassist for the group, while Douglas held down the drum throne.
It’s also very fitting that another one of the Mississippi Blues Commission’s Blues Trail markers can also be found in Granada, not too awful far from Magic Slim’s.
That marker bears the name of Slim’s one-time schoolmate - and later on - one-time bandmate - Samuel Gene Maghett - aka the late, great Magic Sam.
In fact, it was Magic Sam that dubbed Morris Holt as Magic Slim.
Slim left Mississippi for the big city of Chicago in 1955, five years after Magic Sam’s migration to the Windy City.
And it wasn’t long before Slim had made his way into his old friend from back home’s band, playing bass.
“Man, I was just slim and tall and he got to calling me Magic Slim,” said Slim. “And right before he died, he told me to keep that name … that it would make me famous some day. So I did and here I am.”
But it wasn’t quite that easy.
When he really began concentrating on the guitar, Slim realized that he had a ways to go until he caught up with the other six-string slingers on the scene in Chicago.
“Well, a lot of them guys said I couldn’t play, so I went back to Mississippi,” he said. “And then when I got back there (to Chicago in 1965), I was ready for ‘em.”
It wasn’t too long before brother Nick, who would eventually lead a band of his own, joined Slim in the big city, jump-starting a 40-year career of playing in The Teardrops.
While the lineup has changed a few times over the past decades, one thing has remained steadfast – the way that Magic Slim and The Teardrops, who are six-time winners of the Blues Music Award’s (BMAs) Blues Band of Year, deal out mega helpings of authentic Chicago blues.
With several hundred songs to pull out of their trick bag, no two shows by Magic Slim and The Teardrops are ever the same.
And that’s just fine with the countless fans that have seen the big man in action.
There’s certainly no shortage of bands traveling across the globe playing the blues in 2011.
But how many of them can say that they have recorded for the same record label for 20 straight years?
But Magic Slim has managed to show remarkable staying power in this category, and he recently celebrated his 20th year of recording for the Blind Pig record label.
And with Raising the Bar, his eighth release on Blind Pig, Magic Slim and The Teardrops continue to do just that, setting a lofty standard for all practitioners of the blues to follow.
However, Slim’s journey to the top of the mountain in the Chicago blues world might have taken a bit of a different path had it not been for an accident at a cotton gin when he was a mere lad of 13.
His right hand got caught on a wire in the gin and quick as lightning, Slim knew he was in trouble. “It liked to have chopped my whole hand off. It didn’t, but it sure messed it up,” he said. That accident in the cotton gin may have ended up halting Slim’s budding love affair with the piano, but it sent him full-bore into the arms of the guitar.
“I was trying to play the piano when I got hurt. I was starting to mess around on guitar then, too. But after I got hurt, I couldn’t play the piano cause I didn’t have a pinky finger,” he said. “So I really started messin’ with the guitar.”
And several decades later, Magic Slim continues to “mess with the guitar.”
His earth-shaking vibrato and chunky riffs harkens back to another time without ever once sounding old-fashioned.
“Well, I feel like I need to do it (play Chicago blues),” he said. “It seems like there’s nobody else doing it, so I feel like I should be doing it. I like to do it and I want to do it.”
Like a lot of other musicians who grew up in the Magnolia State just after World War II, listening to the radio was an important part of the Holt household.
That is, on Saturday and Sundays when the kids were allowed to take a brief break from work and entrain themselves by tuning in to WLAC out of Nashville.
“We listened to the radio. That was practically all we had down there (for entertainment) at that time,” said Slim. “And when I first started, I used to play county-and-western and bluegrass. But I heard John Lee Hooker when he put out his first record, “Boogie Chillen,” and that inspired me to start playing the blues. And I went from there.”
Slim’s days of playing a homemade Diddly-Bow nailed to the side of the house are long in his rear-view mirror.
These days, he prefers something with a little more “punch,” a little more “pizzazz,” to it.
“I like a Super Reverb (amp) and a Jazzmaster or a Les Paul,” he said. “The way I have my amp turned, I get that dull sound and my guitar has switches on it and I work them switches. But all I do is just play, man. I just try to do my best. I feel good doing it, because I do it with feeling.”
Just because Magic Slim is like a walking, talking encyclopedia of Chicago blues, that doesn’t mean that he’s tuned out anything that was created after 1950.
Quite the contrary.
Slim had enough of an open mind to leave his old stomping grounds and set up camp in New York, letting Popa Chubby produce and play on his 2002 release, Blue Magic, giving the CD a “Chubbified” feel to it.
Then there’s the whole new generation of young bucks fighting to make a name for themselves these days and Slim is paying particularly close attention to one of those “young ‘uns.”
“There’s some good young players out there these days,” he said. “I got a son named Lil’ Slim and he’s really comin’ on. He’s got his own band and he ain’t playing nothing but the blues.”…
Interviewer Terry Mullins is a journalist and former record store owner whose personal taste in music is the sonic equivalent of Attention Deficit Disorder. Works by the Bee Gees, Captain Beefheart, Black Sabbath, Earth, Wind & Fire and Willie Nelson share equal space with Muddy Waters, The Staple Singers and R.L. Burnside in his compact disc collection. He's also been known to spend time hanging out on the street corners of Clarksdale, Mississippi, eating copious amounts of barbecued delicacies while listening to the wonderful sounds of the blues.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE
Featured Blues Review 1 of 6
Blinddog Smokin’ - Up From The Tracks (CD, DVD, Booklet)
9 songs; 45:07 minutes on CD
2 segments; approx. 60:00 minutes on DVD
Rating: Reference Quality
Styles: Modern Electric Blues, Gospel, Jazz, Funk
I never begin a review in this manner, but, in this case, there are things you need to know immediately: Carl Gustafson is a literary and artistic genius. He has created a masterpiece. It comes in an elegant package with a CD of the songs, a DVD with two explanatory vignettes, and a twelve page color booklet with song lyrics and each song’s personnel. I have given it my highest rating of “Reference Quality” because it will be a benchmark when other aging artists want to compile their life’s work and road stories into one fantastic release.
Typically, a project like this comes at the end of a career or when the artist is dying. Gustafson is neither at a career end nor dying, but he thought he was. His own words from the DVD, “This project started with a heart attack.”
Carl Gustafson is the leader and singer for Blinddog Smokin’ which has released eight CDs and forty-one original songs since 1993. The eight-piece band has performed coast to coast and internationally since 1992. They appeared three times on the main stage at the King Biscuit Blues Festival and were on the cover of the now defunct King Biscuit Time Magazine with Bobby Rush. Carl is now the festival promoter for the Snowy Range Music Festival in Wyoming, his home State.
Watch the DVD first before listening to the CD. One DVD segment features Gustafson explaining the story behind each song. By watching this first, it will enhance your appreciation of the songs.
The nine songs: Carl draws from his extensive travels during his decades-long musical career. “I bring moments to life for everybody to examine and learn from, and hopefully, be entertained by,” he says. For example, “If you give yourself to the lyrics of Miss Peggy’s After-hours Pic-a-Rib Café, which I wrote about a special lady, a unique place, and a poignant time in my life, you can actually go there with me and share my fondness of that memory. To me, that’s what it’s all about, this music business—not money, not fame, not prestige, just eloquent enlightenments."
Across the songs, we meet more real people: a prostitute who told the band to make their music sound “like money,” a preacher disillusioned by religion, Bobby Rush joining the singing about his legendary bus, a man who loves two women in an painful situation, and the ghost of Sonny Boy Williamson II telling about coming home to Helena to die. The songs are performed by a who’s who of instrumentalists and background vocalists, all Blues stars from Chicago, Mississippi, California, and Texas, including special guests Billy Branch, Sherman Robertson, Carl Weathersby, and Bobby Rush.
Carl Gustafson holds a unique status in the Blues world. “As a writer for many Blues publications and a columnist for Elmore Magazine, his ‘Kickin’ In Your Stall’ has appeared in every issue over the years. A compulsive writer, he records and ponders everything and everyone from his years of adventuring. In his colorful Blues stories, he draws upon a diverse background that includes growing up working on cattle ranches, a stint in the U.S. Marine Corps, a theological education, seven years in the ministry, ownership of a popular roadhouse, vice president of an oil company, president of a mining company, co-founder of Wayfarer’s Catalog Company, years of seminar speaking, and two decades on the road living the reckless, bohemian, lifestyle of a back roads blues man,” reads on-line publicity.
It’s simple: delay all other purchases and get this package -- they don’t come around like this often!!
Reviewer James "Skyy Dobro" Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ, Master of Ceremonies, and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show "Friends of the Blues" can be heard Saturdays 8 pm - Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at www.wkccradio.org in Kankakee, IL.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE
Featured Blues Review 2 of 6
Eric Ranzoni - The Blues of Eric Ranzoni
Eric Ranzoni was born in England to Italian parents who moved him back to Italy at a very young age. Schooled in classical music, he became bored with all of this while in his late teens. He then became entranced with Eric Clapton and Clapton's ties to the blues. Ranzoni then became a huge blues fan and switched from classical piano to becoming a barrelhouse and honky tonk styled bluesman. He moved to England where he remains as a regular at several clubs and playing in the European blues scene. He has released this CD with sponsorship of Diavolina Fuoco (which apparently is a grill and fireplace company, literally named for the "fire of a little devil"). The CD pays homage to many of the blues greats and their standards, covering eleven familiar tunes and offering one nice original.
What I can tell you is Mr. Ranzoni is a helluva piano player. He is able to pound out the ivories with musicality and a sense for the blues. Where I can offer constructive criticism is with his vocals. He sings well- that's not a problem. What is, at least for me, is hearing American blues songs sung with a noticeable Italian accent with an English accent overlaid on it. Willie Dixon and Howlin' Wolf's "Leetle Red Roosta" and BB King's famous "The Threel is Gone" are two examples of this. The i's become long e's and the overall flow of his alliteration is discomforting to me. Maybe it's just me, but in all of my musical loves I am also an opera fan and when the star Luciano Pavarotti used to sing in English it also made me "creenge a leetle".
But aside from pronouncing and alliterating to American English, Ranzoni shows us that he, his trio and his band are great bluesmen. His instrumental that he wrote and plays, "Boogie For Spann and Slim", is a fantastic little number done in these piano master's styles. I was quite impressed. He opens with "Mother Earth" and his tinkling of the keys is quite impressive as is Phil Capone on guitar. Capone joins him again on Spann's "Keep Your Hands Out of My Pocket", a very fast paced trip through this cover, and "The Thrill is Gone". Dave Swift on bass and George Hart on drums join him on those, too. His trio pieces include the Otis Rush/Willie Dixon "All Your Love", "Muddy's "Trouble No More" and others. Laurie Garman joins him on harp and Davide Sanna is on guitar for the trio, and they do an admirable job, too. Four tracks feature Ranzoni solo, and htere is some great piano work- listen to his solos on "Lonesome Traveler" and you'll see that this guy can play.
So if you can get by the heavily affected vocals, this is a fun CD. Ranzoni is a great piano player and loves what he's doing. Our illustrious Blues Blast editor reports having seen him live in England and had some fun watching and listening. The vocals threw me for a loop, but musically Ranzoni and his friends do a fine job here.
Reviewer Steve Jones is secretary of the Crossroads Blues Society and is a long standing blues lover. He is a retired Navy commander who served his entire career in nuclear submarines. In addition to working in his civilian career, he writes for and publishes the bi-monthly newsletter for Crossroads, chairs their music festival and work with their Blues In The Schools program.
For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE
Live Blues Review - Ain't Nothin But The Blues Fest
Ain't Nothin But The Blues Festival
July 15-17, 2011
Photos by Bob Kieser
I made it to Bloomington, Illinois, a couple weeks ago for the Ain't Nothin But The Blues Fest. The festival was at a new location in a hidden park right in the middle of town, a really cool location.
The fest started out on Friday night with The Lionel Young Band. It was my second time hearing this award winning band in the month of July.(2011 International Blues Challenge winner)
I certainly am not at all tired of hearing this GREAT band and I would look forward to hearing them again anytime. It is always a nice change of pace to hear a fiddle as the lead instrument in a Blues band
Next up was Chicago Blues legend Big Time Sarah. She had another great singer, Big Ray with her playing drums and singing to warm up the crowd before she made her entrance.
A reliable source told me that this was Sarah's first festival gig in awhile. If it was, I surely could not tell as she easily hit her stride and gave a great performance that got her an encore.
The headliner on Friday night was Bernard Allison. The son of the Blues Legend, Luther Allison, Bernard obviously leardned a trick or two from his Dad.
Bernard put on a great show as usual. He had a fantastic band behind him and was having a blast performing for a crowd which obviously loved it!
I made it back for the Saturday show which kicked off with a group called New And Slightly Used. The band was comprised of Janae Ryan on lead vocals, Scott McDamiel on lead guitar, Alex Evenston on rhythm guitar, Chip Riley on bass and Jacob Anglen on drums
They did a nice set of rocking Blues.
Next up was Matthew Curry and The CurrFew. Matthew is a VERY accomplished guitar player, singer and song writer at the tender age of 16.
His band included Randy Hoffman on guitar, Greg Neville on drums and Jeff Paxton on bass. Keep you eye on this young man. I think you will definitely be hearing more about him in the coming years.
West Coast singing sensation Cee Cee James was up next. I had her her critically acclaimed 2010 CD, Low Down Where The Snakes Crawl, but this was my first chance to see her perform live.
She is a great performer with a powerful voice. She is working on a new CD release. Can't wait!
Next up was New Orleans' own Braille Blues Daddy, Bryan Lee. It is always a treat to see his show because not only is Bryan a great singer, guitar player and performer, he always has one helluva second guitar player named Brent Johnson with him.
Check Bryan out if you get the chance as you will get a double barreled guitar treat when he and Brent perform.
The headliner of the night was Janiva Magness. Janiva is an multi-award winning performer.
She has a great band and always puts on a great show. This set was a fine example of her immense talent.
The Ain't Nothin But The Blues Fest was a great event that gets better every year. A big THANK YOU goes out to Steve "The Harp" and Deb Mehlberg. They put together a first class event and provided this hard working photographer with first class hospitality!
Check out this festival next year. I expect it will be bigger and better! Visit www.aintnothinbuttheblues.com for information.For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE
Blues Society News
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Blues Blowtorch Society - Bloomington, IL
The Blues Blowtorch Society presents The Kilborn Alley Blues Band Friday August 5, 2011 at The Castle Theatre at 209 East Washington Street in Bloomington, Illinois. The show starts at 8:00pm. Admission is $6 for the general public and only $3 for BBS members. BBS members MUST present their membership card to receive the discount. For more information call 309-820-0352 or visit www.bluesblowtorch.org.
The Baltimore Blues Society - Baltimore, MD
The Baltimore Blues Society will present the 15th Annual Alonzo's Memorial Picnic, Sunday Sept 4 on the Grounds of the Rosedale American Legion. Headlining will be Debbie Davies. Also appearing are IBC winners J.P.Soars and Grady Champion, The local super group DMV Young Guns (Matt Kelly - winner of 2010 IBC Albert King Award, Robert Frahm, Rich Sampson & more) and Ramblin Dan Stevens. Guests can pack their own picnic coolers and BYOB. F&B is available on site. Music runs 1-830pm. Advance tix are $25/Gate$35. Send SASE by August 23rd to: BBS Tickets - Alonzo's, PO Box 4522 Baltimore, MD 21212 More info at www.mojoworkin.com BBS info line 410-744-2291
The Golden Gate Blues Society - San Francisco, CA
The Golden Gate Blues Society presents The San Francisco Blues Challenge – Second Round, Sunday, August 7, 2011 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm at Bluz By-you, 1240 Coleman Avenue, Santa Clara, CA 408 588 1111. Performing will be The Smokin’ Kingsnakes, Goodlife Rhythm and Blues Revue and David Landon Band. For more information visit www.tggbs.org
Santa Barbara Blues Society - Santa Barbara, CA
Win an Ocean View Cabin on this October’s Bluescruise! One week vacation for two people on the ultimate floating blues festival. It's the last Pacific blues cruise, and it's sold out! Set sail from San Diego to the Sea of Cortez, October 23-30, 2011 aboard Holland America’s 5 Star ms Zaandam. Raffle tickets are only $20 each, or 6 tickets for $100. No more than 500 tickets will be sold. Have you ever bought a Lotto ticket? Why not enter a contest where you actually have a decent chance of winning?
If you buy 1 ticket in our Bluescruise Cabin Raffle your odds of winning are 1 in 500. Buy 6 tickets and your odds of winning increase to 1 in 83! This assumes that we sell all 500 tickets. Last year, we only sold a little over 250 tickets. If we don’t sell all 500 tickets, your odds of winning are even better. The winning ticket will be drawn at our September show.
Win the vacation of a lifetime. Get your tickets today. Send your check to: Santa Barbara Blues Society. P.O. Box 30853. Santa Barbara, CA 93130 Be sure to include your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address. More info at www.sbblues.org
West Virginia Blues Society - Charleston, WV
The West Virginia Blues Society will be holding it's 5 th. Annual Appalachian Blues Competition Oct. 22, 2011. The Blues Society will be sending two acts to Memphis, Tn. for the International Blues Challenge, Band Div. and Solo/Duo Div. If, you think your Act is ready to take the next step, then, this IS the competition to enter ! For Application and Rules contact Competition Director Jack Rice at, firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-389-1439.
Competition will be held at: The Sound Factory 812 Kanawha Blvd E, Charleston, WV 25301-2807 · 1 (304) 342-8001 Stay tuned for more info at, www.wvbluessociety.org
Sacramento Blues Society – Sacramento, CA
The Sacramento Blues Society is pleased to again be a sponsor for the Northern California Blues Festival August 5 &6, 2911 at the Auburn Regional Park 3770 Richardson Drive, Auburn, CA.
The lineup includes Kenny Neal Band, Carolyn Wonderland, Dennis Jones Band, Caravan of All Stars, Jeff Watson Band with Daniel Castro & Terry Hiatt, The Soulshakers, Population 5, Big Brother & The Holding Company, Mick Martin & The Blues Rockers, Todd Morgan & The Emblems. Family friendly with lots of food, music & fun. Be sure to drop by the Sacramento Blues Society's tent and pick-up this year's festival t-shirt. The proceeds will support our "Blues In The Schools" program! For festival & ticket information: http://www.sacblues.com/
Cascade Blues Association - Portland, Oregon
The Cascade Blues Association, in celebration of their 25th anniversary, have released a compilation CD titled Puddletown Blues, Vol.1 that features selections from a dozen blues artists from the state of Oregon, or with ties to the state.
Most of the tracks are from live performances and only one has previously been released before. Artists included in this collection are Billy D & The Hoodoos, Boogie Bone, Duffy Bishop, Fiona Boyes, Hawkeye Herman, Kevin Selfe & The Tornadoes, Lisa Mann & Her Really Good Band, Paul deLay, Robbie Laws, The Strange Tones, Terry Robb, Ty Curtis Band and Woodbrain. This CD can be purchased on-line at www.cascadeblues.org.
Also, watch for our 25th anniversary concert happening on Saturday, September 17th at The Melody Ballroom in Portland, featuring performances by The Robbie Laws Band with special guest from Memphis Brandon Santini, Karen Lovely, The Lloyd Jones Struggle and Chad Rupp & The Ruppshakers.
Mid-Mississippi Muddy Water Blues Society -Quincy IL.
The MMMWBS is now co-hosting the "SMOKE ON THE RIVER BBQ & BLUES FEST" Sept 9th & 10th in Quincy's Kesler Park. A sanctioned KCBS BBQ Contest and Blues Festival, with 2 Bands on Friday (Blue-Eyed Soul and Dave Chastain) , acoustic Blues Saturday afternoon (Rich Berry), and 3 Bands on Sat.nite (BJ Allen & Blue Voodoo, Rockin' Jake, and The Reba Russell Band). Info for the event can be found at quincyblues.com
Topeka Blues Society - Topeka, KS
The Topeka Blues Society and Uncle Bo's Blues bar will be hosting their 3rd Annual Youth Showcase on Sunday, August 7th at Uncle Bo's, 420 E. 6th, Topeka, KS beginning at 1:00pm. Any young person that loves blues, plays an instrument or sings and wants to participate or see others their age play is welcome. The guest artist this year is 2010 International Blues Challenge finalist Sonny Moorman who will host the event, perform some of his songs and answer questions about being in a band.
On Sunday, August 14th the Topeka Blues Society will host their 3rd International Blues Challenge, also at Uncle Bo's Blues Bar. The event begins at 1:00pm and the following acts will perform: Band Competition - Coyote Bill, Ellie Smith and the Commotion, Nick Hern band with Margo Martinez and Where's Joe? Solo/Duo Competition - The Blue Devils and Two Blue.
There will be a silent auction of various blues memorabilia, autographed photos/posters and other items at both events to benefit the Topeka Blues Society. More information is available at www.topekabluessociety.org.
Cincy Blues Society - Cincinnati, OH
Cincy Blues Society presents the Cincy Blues Fest August 5 & 6, 2011. Cincinnati's Sawyer Point Park will be rocking with local and national blues performers. This year, the Budweiser Main Stage features Eden Brent, Big James Montgomery and the Chicago Playboys, Rick Holmstrom, Moreland & Arbuckle, Ben Prestage, and Tad Robinson, as well as Cincy Blues Challenge winners Miss Lissa & Company and Brian Keith Wallen.
Festival admission is $15 per person Friday and $15 per person Saturday (2-day passes will be sold for $25 at the gate on Friday), children 13-18 are only $5 each day, and children 12 and under (with parent/guardian) are free. A full list of performers and scheduled times is available on Cincy Blues Fest's website: http://cincybluesfest.org
Blues Society of the Ozarks - Springfield, MO
The Blues Society of the Ozarks based out of Springfield, Mo is happy to announce the line up for the 15th Annual Greater Ozark Blues Festival to be held at Chesterfield Village in Springfield, Mo September 9 & 10, 2011
We are proud to present on Friday September 9, 2011 Mary Bridget Davies Band, Larry Garner & Lil Ed & the Imperials on Saturday September 10, 2011 the line up includes: Terry Quiett Band, Grand Marques, JP Soars and the Red Hots, Shaun Murphy, and Joe Lewis Walker. For more information and tickets visit our web site at www.greaterozarksbluesfest.com or 417-860-5078
Illinois Central Blues Club - Springfield, IL
The Illinois Central Blues Club presents "Blue Monday" 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. August 8 - Ben Prestage, August 15 - Bryan Lee, August 22 - Grady Champion, August 29 - RJ Mischo. icbluesclub.org
Featured Blues Review 3 of 6
Mississippi Cadillac Blues Band - Stone Cold
10 songs; 41:00 minutes
Styles: Contemporary Mississippi Blues; Blues-Rock and Roll
Periodically, when bands send in albums to be reviewed by Blues Blast, they include a personal note with the CD. Perhaps it's a Post-It missive, or a salutation scrawled on the back of their business card. The Mississippi Cadillac Blues Band sent the latter: “‘Thanks for listening! We are a hard-drivin' blues band from Mississippi,’ Bud Bays.” Such succinct modesty does not begin to reveal the full richness of their latest CD, “Stone Cold”! Mississippi is still today a “Blues Mecca” – the original, as a matter of fact. Crowds are extremely particular when they support artists to a level of regional hit. Rest assured that Bud Bays, Alex Ross, John Miller and Will Hunt are, and should be on their way to national recognition. Produced by Bays, the band consists of native Mississippians who are all music veterans.
“Stone Cold” starts off with “Every Night and Every Day,” one of seven original tracks written by Ross and his posse. Ross' lead guitar is delightfully fidgety, treading a fine line between mid-and-up-tempo majesty. Mississippi Cadillac knows what pure blues is all about: consistent chords, simple yet catchy refrains, and wicked instrumental solos (guitar as well as piano, organ and Wurlitzer played by studio guest Billy Earheart of Amazing Rhythm Aces fame)! There is nary a wrong note or missed lick anywhere. That's part of the reason why this CD is top quality. Every person in the band feels the blues, and is “hard-drivin'” on the stage and studio as well as the road.
Even when they perform covers of other bluesmen's hits (such as Otis Spann's “Home to Mississippi” and Al Smith's “Country Wagon Wheel”), their own interpretations are phenomenal! This band also knows how to craft a maddeningly-awesome earworm. “Cheatin' Ways” and the grungy stomp “Beauty Operator” are proof positive of this. One more hallmark of their blues creativity is the overall way that “Stone Cold” sounds, even on tinny speakers that are built into one's computer monitor! Over and over, listeners will find themselves hitting “play,” and not just on one particular song, either. Mississippi Cadillac realizes an often-ignored truth about great albums: they are tapestries, each song an integral part of the overall musical picture. Not one should be slighted.
If I were to send a note back to the band in return for sending “Stone Cold” my way, it would read: “Thank you for keeping the blues not only alive, but thriving, in the 21st century. Your latest album is a permanent addition to my own collection, and should be in others', too! – I’m a Brand-New Devotee!”
Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 31-year-old female Blues fan. She brings the perspective of a younger blues fan to reviews. A child of 1980s music, she was strongly influenced by her father’s blues music collection.
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Featured Blues Review 4 of 6
Alexis P. Suter Band - Two Sides
I’m not dyslexic but it’s true that I don’t always wear my glasses. So, for the longest, I thought it was the Alex P Suter Band. Then someone referred to her as “she.” That’s when I reread the CD jacket and saw that the first name is “Alexis” not “Alex!” Then I listened to the CD. She has a deep alto or baritone voice which did not help my confusion one bit since she is the lead singer. Thank goodness for the likes of YouTube, Vimeo, and other sites that provide a next best thing to being there experience. She is indeed an Alexis with a baritone voice.
The title of the new CD is Two Sides. The design consists of a cross on a church, a utility pole, and Alexis P Suter with outstretched arms and her iconic top hat, all symbolic of steeples. Two Sides is not a gospel CD per se. There are gospel songs as well as secular songs. The secular songs are of the variety that I call “truth” songs. That is, songs about life, strife, and doing right by your fellow man. The Staple singers sang “truth” songs. An example of an Alexis P Suter Band truth song is “Marathon.” There is no explanation of the title or symbolism in the liner notes so I suppose that one is to come to one’s own conclusions. Therefore, I conclude that the two sides are gospel and truth.
In describing truth songs as life strife and doing right by your fellow man, that description includes relationships between men and women, because if that’s not life and strife, nothing is. “All Over Again” is one of those songs. It’s a “this time is the last time and I mean it this time” song. “Part Time Feeling” is another of that genre. The melody of “Only I” reminds me of “Do Right Woman” by Aretha Franklin. The message here is: one has to love oneself first. “Savior” has a similar message in that you can’t look to someone else to save you. “Let It Flow” is about loyalty, friendship, and agape. It, “Free,” and the aforementioned “Marathon,” are on the truth side. One favorite is “Rise” with its message of letting no one keep you down. The music has an almost slinky feel. My absolute favorite is “Just The Same.” It is smoky, breathy, and mellow. She ends the CD with a raggish stalker song, “Drama.”
There are covers of traditional songs “Didn’t it Rain,” and “John The Revelator,” as well as a fine rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Knocking On Heaven’s Door.” The rest are written by Alexis P Suter and/or members of the band.
The band is really GOOD. These are top notch musicians who mesh well together forming a tight sound that complement Alexis P Suter’s deep baritone voice.
Reviewer Sheralyn Graise graduated from the University of Akron a while back. A former Social Services professional, she is now pursuing other interests such as music history, writing, and photography. She has been a member of the Blues Foundation since 2001.
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Featured Blues Review 5 of 6
Satan And Adam – Back In The Game
Modern Blues Harmonica
10 tracks; 40.14 minutes
Back in the late 1980s Sterling “Mr Satan” Magee and Adam Gussow made a name for themselves, initially as a Harlem street duo, then as recording artists, no doubt assisted by a cameo performance on U2’s “Rattle And Hum” album. They recorded three CDs and became an integral part of the revival of the NYC blues scene alongside artists such as Michael Hill and Popa Chubby. Sadly in 1998 Magee’s health deteriorated and the duo broke up. After disappearing from sight for some years, Magee fetched up in a Florida retirement home and plays a weekly gig in the Tampa Bay area. Meanwhile Gussow wrote “Mister Satan’s Apprentice”, an account of the duo’s career, had some health issues of his own and moved to Oxford MS to take up a position as Professor of English at the University of Mississippi. The idea of the duo making any more music together seemed unlikely, but this new CD is here to change all that.
Recorded at a session in Tampa, the session seemed destined to fall apart when the drummer (with whom Magee had been performing locally) was taken seriously ill before the sessions could start. Fortunately the drummer recovered and a substitute was located for the session. Eight tracks were laid down in the session, with Sterling Magee on guitar, vocals and percussion, Adam Gussow on harmonica and vocals on two tracks and Rodger Stephan on drums. Jerry Jemmott, with whom Magee played many years ago with King Curtis, played bass on one track and some keyboards, bass and guitar parts were added on a few tracks. The other two tracks are from the archives, one being a live radio recording from 1991 and the other an outtake from the first CD sessions in 1990.
Looking at the new recordings we get three written by Magee, two by Gussow and three covers. The CD opens with a driving version of “Big Boss Man”, a full band sound with plenty of percussive piano and exciting harp (for real harmonica fans the key of each track is noted in the sleeve notes!). Magee’s “Broke And Hungry” follows, keeping the pace up, a song about hard times. “Thunky Fing Rides Again” is an instrumental with Jerry Jemmott on bass and certainly fits the title, with writer Gussow’s high end harp featured strongly. Track 4 is a cover of “Fever” and is a stripped down version of the song we all know so well from Peggy Lee’s version.
Gussow’s second composition is a bit of an oddity. Magee sits this one out as Adam sings about his love for his lady. Adam’s voice is definitely not as strong as Sterling’s and I found this something of a ‘filler’. “Ain’t Nobody” returns to straight blues though Magee’s voice sounds rather strained on this cut. “Hey, Hey, Hey” is a very basic song in terms of lyrics but is the shortest track at just under three minutes. Muddy’s “Take You Downtown” is the final new recording and is another strong piece, really swinging harp and guitar here. Interestingly Gussow sings this one in a much stronger voice than on the earlier track, with Magee answering him on the choruses.
All the new tracks are compact in length, ranging from 2.55 to 3.41. The two archive tracks are far longer, both clocking in at over 6 minutes and it is interesting to compare the performances across the years. Clearly the intervening years have taken some toll on Magee’s voice as his voice is definitely stronger on these earlier cuts. “Lotto 54” is a long saga about, among other things, being shipwrecked on an island with cannibals! This does offer the most amusing lyric of the set: “Tonight I’m going to be their delicacy. Only one wish I got left in me here, I hope I give them all severe diarrhoea”! The outtake from 1990 was apparently left off “Harlem Blues” because it was “so ferocious, so over the top, that we didn’t know what to do with it”. In my view they probably made the right decision at the time as the track left me cold.
The driver behind this CD has clearly been Adam Gussow who explains in the sleeve notes how fortunate he felt to be able to put the duo back together again. Fans of harmonica blues will enjoy this one a lot, as well as those who were fans of Satan And Adam the first time around. The duo has already done some live dates and it looks as if they will be back on the road from time to time in the future too – a very welcome return.
Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music.
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Contemporary Blues CD
Traditional Blues CD
Robin Rogers - Back In The Fire
Eddie Turner - Miracles & Demons
John Németh - Name The Day
Damon Fowler - Devil Got His Way
JP Soars - More Bees With Honey
Buddy Guy - Living Proof
Bob Corritore & Friends - Harmonica Blues
Studebaker John's Maxwell Street Kings - That's the Way You Do
Charlie Musselwhite - The Well
Magic Slim - Raising The Bar
Song Of The Year
New Artist Debut Release
Shake Your Boogie (Big Joe Williams)
from Reverend Raven & The Chain Smokin' Altar Boys - Shake Your Boogie
Still the Rain (Dennis Walker/Alan Mirikitani)
from Buddy Guy - Living Proof
Don't Walk Away Run (Chuck Glass)
from Charlie Musselwhite - The Well
Almost A Memory by Wayne Russell
Sugar Prophets - The Sugar Prophets
Chris O'Leary Band - Mr. Used to BeRob Blaine - Big Otis Blues
Vincent Hayes Project - ReclamationMatt Hill - On The Floor
Peter Parcek - Mathematics of Love
Female Blues Artist
Male Blues Artist
|Teeny Tucker||John Németh|
Best Blues Band
Sean Costello Rising Star Award
Featured Blues Review 6 of 6
Ron Tanski - Dragged You Down
Can you say Tom Waits? From the first word sung in a whiskey-soaked growl you can’t shake the very obvious attempt by Ron Tanski to sound like Mr. Waits. Even if his natural voice sounds like that, he uses a late night piano sound and makes a feeble attempt to write hipster lyrics. He achieves the atmospherics of the real deals sound without the poignancy and quirky lyrics and music. The lead-off track “Marvelous Night For The Blues” shows the promise of more originality to follow with its swinging boogie-woogie piano and upbeat approach. Ron has piano chops to spare.
The first-rate piano skills help to prop up the songs and add some depth. After a while this cd works on a level of a more direct and less wordy Tom Waits. It turns out to be a pretty good late night cry-in-your-beer record. I guess his voice just happens to sound like Mr. Waits, but it’s the pink elephant in the room that won’t leave. I’ll say this for Ron, he made a gutsy move by knowingly releasing a record that draws so much attention away from itself by so closely aping the original artist..
Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony hails from the New Jersey Delta. He is the proprietor of Bluesdog’s Doghouse at http://bluesdog61.multiply.com.
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