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Issue 6-48, November 29, 2012

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Cover photo by Bob Kieser © 2012 Blues Blast Magazine

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 In This Issue

It is our monthly Blues Overdose Issue! We've got FREE Blues music for you! (See Below)

Jim Crawford has our feature interview with Carl Weathersby. Mark Thompson has a review of the 2012 Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise.

We have five music reviews for you! Steve Jones reviews a new release from The Veldman Brothers. James "Skyy Dobro" Walker reviews a new release from the Robert Cray Band. Rainey Wetnight reviews a new release from John Lee Hooker Jr. Rex Bartholomew reviews a new album from John McLaughlin and The 4th Dimension. John Mitchell reviews a new CD from Mike Mettalia & Midnight Shift. We have the latest in Blues Society news from around the globe. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!

 From The Editor's Desk

Hey Blues Fans,

It is the last issue of November and time for our Blues Overdose Issue. On the last Thursday of each month Blues Blast Magazine is featuring free Blues music downloads from some of the best new artist releases.

This issue features new downloads from Teeny Tucker, Jackie Scott, Shaun Murphy, Liz Mandeville, Matthew Curry, Ernie Southern and The Billy Thompson Band.

Scroll to the bottom of this issue to get these Free Blues tracks now!

Please please help us spread the word on Facebook and Twitter about this FREE music. We want as many Blues lovers as possible to take advantage of this great offer from these artists.

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser

*Tracks offered FREE for 30 days so don't wait to get in on this great offer.

Scroll to the bottom of this issue to get these Free Blues tracks now!

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 Featured Blues Interview - Carl Weathersby

It’s a long way from the Mississippi Delta to Chicago and many of the Blues legends know the route by heart.

Bluesman Carl Weathersby left the Delta with his family when he was 13 years old, but he has never forgotten his roots. His father worked in Jackson, Miss. for the Coca-Cola company, and in 1953, the year Carl was born, decided to move his family to Meadeville in the extreme southwestern part of the state. From there his family migrated to Chicago. Weathersby recalls that he had a rural upbringing until he was in his early teens.

“I moved with my parents to East Chicago, Indiana when I was 13,” he recalls. “I still live there. You can look out my front door and see the tall buildings of Chicago. I’m about 22 miles from Wrigley Field.

"East Chicago was close enough to Chicago to be city, or urban, but most of the people there were from down South, so it was like bein' down South in a big city surroundin',” Carl related to Steven Sharp in a recent interview for Blues Music Now!. “Every time we was out of school, we'd go back and stay down there. Even to this day, man, I would rather live down there than here. It was just, the things that you did to have fun. I remember havin' more fun down there. Movin' up here was somethin' that I didn't really want to do, but I had no choice in the matter. I had to come. My parents wanted me up here, so I came to the city and just dealt with it. But I would rather be down in the South, even to this day."

Carl started his musical career as a drummer when he was a boy in Mississippi but switched to guitar when he was about 13. His dad had a mechanic/body shop in East Chicago where Carl spent many hours learning how to work with his hands and also to learn to play the guitar. Different guys would come by and show him licks on the guitar and school him in the Blues.

One of those guys was a family friend who happened by one day by while Carl was showing his dad his version of Albert King’s “Crosscut Saw.” The guy said Carl had it wrong and took the guitar and showed him how it was supposed to be played. Turns out that family friend was THE Albert King , who made the song famous. Albert didn’t forget Carl.

The U.S. Army, and a tour in Vietnam in the early ‘70s, helped shape Carl’s attitude about life, he said. He believes a lot of musicians would benefit from a stint in the service. Being in the military “grows you up”

After his discharge in 1977 Carl took a job first as a Louisiana State Police officer but didn’t last very long due to his sometimes volatile personality, he recalls. From there it was a short stint with the Louisiana State Prison system as a guard. He says he disliked that job even more that being a state patrolman. “I didn’t like going to work and being the world’s biggest prick.”

So he left the prison and headed back to Meadville where he was offered a job with the local sheriff’s office which he turned down. He’d had enough of law enforcement. Needing a job he traveled back to Indiana where he took a job in a steel mill.

“That was a good job in the steel mill,” he says. “until Reagan’s policies put a stop to it. From there it was either play music or steal.”

That’s when his mentor, Albert King, came back into his life. Albert had a reputation as a hard taskmaster whose zero tolerance for slackers was legendary.

“I went to work playing rhythm guitar for Albert King,” Carl recalls. “He was one of those guys who came up in the Depression and since he was paying you, he expected you to do what he told you to do. If you did that, he would leave you alone.

“I don’t care if your job is eating pies, some guys are going to try and get out of it,” he says with a chuckle. “Albert didn’t put up with any of that stuff. That’s why he didn’t ever give us a set list. I asked him why he didn’t give us three or four songs in a row and he said ‘because I want you to pay attention. I want you to watch me to see what I’m doing. A set list makes you lazy.’ He was trying to teach the guys. Tell ‘em what song and let them do it. Every audience is different so why deliver the song the same way? I learned that from Albert.

“When you paid your money at the door everybody knew in advance you were there to see Albert King. There wasn’t no skullduggery going on beforehand that anybody was going to show him up (on stage.) Short of setting yourself on fire on the stage, you weren’t going to show him up. Albert could sing out of the phone book, wrap a guitar around it and still make it Blues.”

Carl’s time with King lasted off and on for roughly three years and from there he hooked up with the Sons of Blues, fronted by the young Billy Branch in the early 1980s.

"At the time I auditioned for the Sons of Blues, it wasn't really a formal audition," Carl told Steven Sharp. "I just come down to sit in and played. At the time it was just like, O.K., I'll do this until my job (at the steel mill) calls me back. I came in and did it and Billy was goin' to California. So, basically, what they wanted was some guy to take his place. So I just sat in and played a couple songs. I sat in and took his place.

“Sons of Blues had this other guy, Carlos Johnson playin' the guitar. And in those days, Carlos was a pretty shaky guy, you know. He could show up just as easy as he couldn't show up and I was just a safety valve. So when Billy came back, they said, 'This guy showed up on time. He played. He don't play overpoweringly loud and all that stuff. He don't get in the way and he accompanies real good.' And they said "We think you should hire him.'"

Carl stayed with Branch and the SOBs for 15 years.

"I was the musical director -- so a lot of the changes and some of the little things that we added to the songs, I brought 'em, and I'm the one that was always correctin' the mistakes on the stage, “ Carl told Steven Sharp. “I'm the one that knew why things went wrong. I'm the one that kinda implemented the little breaks, changes or whatever we had in the music. I'm the one that put it there. Billy just played harmonica. If I had never been here, I think they would be a pretty much a straight ahead blues band with not as much variation in what they do.

“You know, when I joined the band, they gave me a tape to learn and it was kinda weird because I was just leavin' a Top 40 band, so we was learnin' songs and actually makin' knew songs of 'em and I come in here and they give me this tape and I said 'What the hell they give me a tape for? We're just playin' blues.' I mean once they started off, it didn't change, you know, nothin' happened. And I said, 'Well, we gotta change that. We gotta do somethin' here.' The only song on that tape that had a break in the pattern was 'Son of Juke.' I mean this is some of the same stuff that Billy's singin' now -- 'Don't Start Me Talkin' and 'Hoochie Coochie Man,' some of the same stuff he's doin' now. Billy's got the (solo) album "The Blues Keep Following Me Around" on Verve, but I just about had to hit him over the head with a board to make him start singin' the stuff off of it," he says.

Sometimes it’s hard to keep a good man down and after 15 years in the SOBs playing second fiddle to Billy Branch, Carl decided it was time to go it alone.

“I didn’t have to confidence to go out on my own,” Carl says. “My friend (Chicago Blues guitarist) J.W. Williams insisted I start singing. I can’t sing the way guys like Lonnie Brooks or Albert Collins do. I always figured I’d starve to death. I still don’t like the way I sound on a record, though.

“I was in a club in North Carolina one night when Lonnie Brooks called me up on stage,” Carl recalls. “I had a broken finger but I still played and sang a couple of songs. He said he liked the way I sounded. That helps the confidence. The Blues is about the emotion in the music. There’s no sense going out there and singing about picking cotton. People don’t do that anymore so they don’t know what it was like. How can they sing about it? The music has evolved. You’ve gotta sing about things that are happening now.

“We were playing in the Kingston Mines, a club I play in in Chicago when I saw some women crying in the audience,” Carl remembers. “They were sisters and told me after the show that their (late) mother used to sing the song to them. That’s why they were crying. It’s the emotion.

Carl is not above stopping the show to embarrass people who are talking during his set.

“I’ll give ‘em grief about it,” he says. “I’ll just stop playing and watch them talk. I’ll say something like ‘You know, the damndest thing happened here tonight. While y’all were all talking a concert broke out in the middle of it.’ I’ve seen the same person come in twice a month to conduct business at the table while we’re playing. And I also know a big ol’ Chicago cop who comes in, too. He’ll say ‘What the hell? What did you come in here for? I came in here to listen to the music and you will too.

“I was playing one night and the room got real quiet,” he says. “I thought ‘I’m bombing my ass off.’ Then I realized you’ve got to have the ability to make the room listen. You’ve got to create an environment to make them shut up. You have to be able to gauge the audience. That’s something else I learned from Albert.”

Carl credits his background coming up with Motown and Top 40 music with helping diversify his shows. He said he likes to mix it up and add elements of R&B, rock ‘n’roll or soul to his music.

“What I do I can’t do like B.B. (King) so I don’t even try,” he says. “There’s no telling what the audience is going to like. Some die hards say you got to play that old eye-watering Blues. Nothing else. I really love Muddy Waters but his stuff just doesn’t fit me. I had someone come up with a note and in it was a $100 bill and a request for “Crosstown Traffic.” I folded the note back up and gave it back to him. There’s some stuff that’s just too hard core for me. I like “Little Wing,” and “Who Knows.” But that’s all of my Hendrix.

“There was a guy who worked in my dad’s shop named John Scott who told me Hendrix was playing Blues,” Carl recalls. “I said no, that’s rock. He actually sat me down and showed me how he (Hendrix) was playing Blues. He broke it down so anybody could understand it. He said the only difference is Hendrix was playing it faster than he showed me. He (John) could also sound just like B.B. like nobody I’ve ever heard. He was a big part of my musical education.”

Carl relies on a Gibson Model 345 guitar to deliver his music.

“I also started using a stereo set up that changed things a lot,” he says. “It sounds like two guys playing. The difference between a (Gibson) 345 and 355 is the 355 has gold hardware and all the bells and whistles. Mine’s just got bells, no whistles. And the 355 is about a thousand dollars more. They also have a selector switch that gives you 18 different tones. You can have just about any tone you want from Johnny “Guitar” Watson to The Beach Boys. I got a 1968 Fender Twin amp that I play it all through.”

After a near-fatal accident in 2010, Carl is sticking pretty close to his home in Indiana.

“I don’t go out for long periods of time,” he said. “I got hit by a car in 2010 after I stopped to help somebody broke down on the highway. Some girl plowed through about five other cars while she was texting before she hit me. That’s what saved me. I broke both feet, two fingers and separated my ribs some way. They didn’t break.

“I didn’t have the luxury of sitting around recovering,” he says. “I still had to pay the bills. I had to sit on a chair (to play) and with the ribs I really learned how to control my breathing. If I would take a deep breath I would almost black out.”

As for the survival of the Blues, Carl believes it will survive as it always has.

“You ain’t gonna invent anything new with the music,” he says. “It’s already morphed into all different kinds of stuff but the essence of the Blues is still there. The true Blues is still about the essence and emotion. It’s music from the heart to the heart.”

Photos by Bob Kieser © 2012 Blues Blast Magazine

Interviewer Jim Crawford is a transplanted Texan and the current president of the Phoenix Blues Society. He’s a fan of lots of different types of music but keeps his head mostly planted in the Blues today. He received his first 45 rpm record, Jimmy Reed’s “Big Boss Man,” at about age 8 and it stuck. He hosted the “Blues Cruise” on KACV-FM 90 in Amarillo for many years and can be found on many nights catching a good show at the Rhythm Room, Phoenix’s Blues Mecca.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

 Blues Want Ad

Blues Blast Magazine Seeks Volunteer Music Reviewers

Blues Blast Magazine is looking for persons with a solid Blues background interested in helping us review the large number of CDs we receive from Blues artists all over the globe. We need reviewers to write clear concise 400 to 800 word reviews. Must be willing to review a minimum of 3 CDs a month. The reviewer keeps the CDs for doing the review.

If interested please send a sample of your writing and a short bio of your Blues background to . Please include your phone number in the reply.

 Featured Blues Review 1 of 5

The Veldman Brothers - Bringin' It To You Live

Self Released

12 tracks

Ben and Gerry are not only Vermont ice cream makers. Bennie and Gerrit Veldmen are a pair of blues men from the Netherlands with a smoking hot sound. Bennie is a masterful Hammond organ and harp player, Gerrit plays guitar and slide with passion and both sing soulfully. Donald Van Der Goes and Marco Overkamp are the backline on bass and drums respectively, and are a good anchor to the sound. The brothers Veldman are top notch blues men whose sound is outstanding.

Bennie plays the organ on five of the cuts; his keyboard work is fiery and impressive and he is no slouch on harp, too. Gerry's guitar work is also outstanding and vocally the two of them do a bang up job on this live album. It is great to hear the new waves of European blues bands do so well.

The CD opens with a stinging instrumental called "2 Times 360" and I was hooked from the beginning. The Brothers go back and forth on lead and duets and it is so cool! The organ is amazingly alive and the guitar flies high- what a great introduction to their music that this song was! The boys wrote this song along with five others performed here. The other half of the album are well-selected and even better performed covers. The first cover is a nice rendition of Dave Bartholomew's "Country Boy" and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Thoughtful, not over done, with some juicy finger picking along with some good vocals.

The other covers are Kim Wilson's "I Believe I'm In Love With You," Hendrix' "Up From the Skies," John Lee Hookers "Boom Boom," Ry Cooder's "Feelin' Bad Blues," and the classic "Killing Floor." Wilson's tune gets a little country fried rockabilly guitar and a vocal duet that make it fun and spicy, and then Bennie comes on in with some mean harp. The organ on the Hendrix cut makes this their own special version, and the vocals have almost a British invasion sound quality to them. I had concerns before I listened to Mr. Hooker's tune, but these guys are not a "cover" band. They do a nice little lead in and then the organ and guitar take over. The vocals are emotive and expressive, and the overall sound is soulful and nice. The organ adds punch and a lot of freshness to the cut, and Bennie playfully and tastefully adds a few Steppenwolf "Born to be Wild" measures to the organ solo to spice things up. The guitar solos stands up next to the organ solo- these guys are for real. Gerritt gives us some sweet slide for the Ry Cooder cut, opening with a soulful sound of his solo guitar and Bennie adds some harp to blend in- a very cool and well thought out approach to this nstrumental track. Loved it! The Howlin' Wolf Song gets treatment as both blues and rock, done in Veldman Brothers style. The tempo is turned up a tad, the vocals, B3 and guitar solos are solid and you just want to dance your ass of to it.

"Need to Know" is word by Bennie and music composed by the pair of Veldmans. Sung in a Slim Harpo sort of style, the boys impressed me with a driving tune with a big sound, including over-blown harp and a heavy beat. "Target" is blues rocking in a well done style. Huge guitar, wailing harp sounds, and big vocals. In "Heading for the Door" they gives us straight up Chicago blues that hearken to Willie Dixon. Nicely done, and it serves as a good lead in to "Killing Floor." "Tell Me Baby" opens to the guitar and harp trading measures back and forth and then a nasty beat takes over and the duo blazes in a dirty sounding groove boogying all over the place. More great solos abound. They close the set with a predominantly instrumental song simply called "Boogie;" then go on for just shy of ten minutes but they did not lose me- it was a fun ride as they trade solos and play together. Wildly fun!

If it sounds like I was impressed and enjoyed myself, you got it right. This is an outstanding live CD that gives you the essence of the music these two guys and their band can produce. I loved the CD and highly recommend it- well done!

Reviewer Steve Jones is president 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 since 1996, he writes for and publishes the bi-monthly newsletter for Crossroads, chairs their music festival and work with their Blues In The Schools program. He resides in Byron, IL.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 2 of 5

Robert Cray Band - Nothin But Love

Mascot Records / Provogue

10 songs; 49:23 minutes; Splendid

Styles: Modern, Smooth Electric Blues; Soul Blues; one Rock and Roller

As a writer, radio DJ, and promoter of live music shows, my working presumption is this: there will be first-timers in the audience, especially baby-boomers who are looking for the musical sounds of their 1960s-70s teenage years and who can't find anything in contemporary commercial radio with the same power, soul, or feel. If you are “new” to the Blues and/or Robert Cray, consider this in relation to his 16th album release. World History is filled with the rise and fall of empires. The young and hungry, full of inspiration and with a fire in the belly, take over. After gaining success, they eventually become fat, lazy and comfortable and lack the original verve of their youth.

If you are new but curious about Robert Cray, go back to his earliest recordings to begin your introduction, seeking especially his fourth album, the 1986 Grammy Award winning “Strong Persuader.” Check out his earliest works first and then continue on to his later stages that have turned into Blues-lite. Gone are the late 1970s hard charging days of touring the Northwest with the Robert Cray Band and collaboration in the Cray-Hawks with Curtis Salgado on lead vocals and, often, with a young Tim “Too Slim” Langford sitting agog in the audience.

To be fair, newbies should become aware of Cray’s incredible stature at the relatively young age of 59. When it comes to household names of living Blues artists, Cray would rank third behind BB King and Buddy Guy. He is a five time Grammy award winner with 15 nominations who has sold millions of records worldwide and performed thousands of sold-out shows. In 2011, Cray was inducted to the Blues Hall of Fame and today performs at the largest and finest venues, most recently at the Grand Theatre at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno NV, which is an 1,800 seat venue with the “world’s largest indoor stage.”

Befitting his stature, this ten-original-songs-CD is a full production album complete with Cray’s guitar work front and center, strings, horns, Kevin Shirley producing and the finest studio attributes. The nucleus band is the Robert Cray Band members: Jim Pugh – keyboards, Richard Cousins – bass, and Tony Braunagel – drums. Thematically, the lyrics are Cray’s familiar territory of examining the triumphs, tribulations, and foibles of love and life. Song titles such as "Sadder Days," "Fix This," "I'll Always Remember You," "Won't Be Coming Home," and the title track feature Cray’s potent broken-relationship stories. Robert’s vocals are in his latter day style of safe and controlled but definitely tasteful. Newbies looking for raw blues, heavy rock, or butt-kicking Blues should not expect to find it here.

Our first spin on the Friends of the Blues Radio Show was an upbeat 50s style Rock and Roller “Side Dish” with humorous food allusions. It is atypical of the rest of the album, but a guaranteed winner with listeners.

Headed for late night airplay is “I'm Done Crying.” It’s a slow, soul-soaked eight minute plus ballad with strings, which finds Cray in contemporary political and economic territory. The unemployed male protagonist, who has had his home foreclosed and his job outsourced, experiences an added blow of today’s illogical anti-unionism. Jeff Bova’s added strings quietly emphasize the narrator’s lowest point and then fade away leaving just Cray's poignant voice. At mid-song comes one of the guitarist's patented solos that feels like pain personified. But, the denouement is this: he retains his dignity "because I'm still a man."

If you are new to the Blues, know this: we do not have to all like the same things. Actually, a lot of the fun is good-naturedly arguing about what is good Blues and what is not. Perhaps you are looking for some nice, safe music to play for Thanksgiving dinner guests. Even your mother-in-law should like this CD. Later, when she and the turkey are gone, you can break out the Wild Turkey and delve into the older stuff.

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 in Kankakee, IL.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Blues Society News

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The River City Blues Society - Pekin, IL

The River City Blues Society presents The Dave Chastain Band: Friday December 21st from 7:30 pm – 11:00 pm at Goodfellas 1414 N. 8th St. Pekin, Illinois. Admission: $5.00 general public or $3.00 Society Members.

Also on Wednesday January 9th The River City Blues Society presents James Armstrong from 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm at Goodfellas 1414 N. 8th St. Pekin, Illinois. Admission: $5.00 general public or $3.00 Society Members. For more info visit: or call 309-648-8510

West Virginia Blues Society - Charleston, WV

The West Virginia Blues Society presents Johnny Rawls, winner of the 2010 best Blues/Soul Album, will be performing an “up close and personal” concert to benefit The Logan County Child Advocacy Center at Chapmanville Country Club on Friday, November 30th at 7:30. This cabaret concert will feature hot hor d’oeuvres and a chance to hear one of the nation’s leading blues artist.

The Purdue Exponent said of Rawls, “His astonishing talent lies in the idea that he can take all of those life experiences and sing about them in a style that almost everyone can enjoy." His band’s “steamy brand of blues is anchored by Rawl’s masterful guitar playing,” notes the Charlotte Observer. This show is made possible with major support from the West Virginia Blues Society, who helped the CAC with a top notch national performer to inaugurate this annual blues event. The Hatfield McCoy CVB is also a supporting sponsor. The Minnesota Star & Tribune declared, Johnny Rawls, “an ace band leader,singer, songwriter and chitlin-circuit fave who knows ALL about crowd pleasing.” Tickets are $40 a single or $75 a couple and include heavy hor d’oeuvres and
complimentary beer/wine. Ticket and information for the show this Friday (Nov 30th) can be found at, or by calling the Logan County CAC at (304) 792-6261.

For additional information: contact Dr. Eddie White, 304-752-2020 or Beth Cook, 304-792-6261

Santa Barbara Blues Society - Santa Barbara, CA

(Santa Barbara) - The Santa Barbara Blues Society (SBBS) presents a Fundraiser for the Alastair Greene Band, winners of the recent SBBS' IBC (International Blues Challenge), on Sunday, December 2 at SOhO Music Club, 1221 State St., Sunday, December 2. 12 noon-4 p.m. $5. ($3. for Blues Society members). Info: (805) 962-7776 Additional event information at

The Prairie Crossroads Blues Society - Champaign-Urbana IL

Prairie Crossroads Blues Society presents James Armstrong Friday, Nov. 30, 9:30 pm, at Memphis on Main, 55 E. Main St, Champaign, IL. Opening for James Armstrong at 8:00 pm is The James Jones Trio. James Armstrong has been nominated for two W.C. Handy Awards, and recently relocated to Central Illinois. His newest CD "Blues At The Border" is on Catfood Records. James and his band will play a short set on Blues Live on WEFT 90.1FM about 8:00. The James Jones Trio were fan favorites at Prairie Crossroads' 2nd Annual IBC Challenge.

Friday, Dec. 21, 2012, PCBS presents Johnny Rawls at The High Dive, 51 E. Main. St, Champaign, IL.

For more information,

Suncoast Blues Society - Tampa, FL

The members of the Suncoast Blues Society are proud to join the many sponsors, including the Realize Bradenton organization in sponsoring the first annual Bradenton Blues Festival. The inaugural fest will be held on Saturday, Dec.1, in downtown Bradenton in the newly redeveloped Riverwalk area along the Manatee River. Gates open at 10 a.m and music starts at 11 a.m. with the Steve Arvey Horn Band. Additional acts include Ben Prestage, Homemade Jamz, Southern Hospitality, Johnny Sansone, Dave "Biscuit" Miller, Kenny Neal and Ruthie Foster. Tickets are only $25 and can be purchased at the festival website. For more information, please go to :

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 8:00pm $3 cover. December 3 - Andrew "Jr Boy" Jones, December 10 - Hurricane Ruth, December 17 - R. J. Mischo, December 23 -  Blue Sunday With The Blue Suns, December 30 - Blue Sunday With Mojo Cats And Tombstone Bullet Open Jam. More info available at

  Live Blues Review - 2012 Blues Cruise

 It Ain't Nothin' but a Blues Cruise Party !

The 19th edition of the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise set sail on Saturday, October 27, from beautiful San Juan, Puerto Rico on the Celebrity Summit. The ship was full of excited blues fans, with over eleven hundred being “virgin” Blues cruisers. The unusually high percentage of first-time cruisers was generally attributed to the exceptional line-up of bands that honcho Roger Naber and his staff had put together. The schedule included two days at sea with stops at the islands of Dominica, Martinique, Barbados and St. Lucia sandwich in between.

The music got started before the ship ever left the port with Trampled Under Foot kicking things off in the packed Revelations Lounge. After the mandatory life boat drill, James Harman took over the stage on the Pool Deck to provide the perfect musical accompaniment for a BBQ buffet hosted by blues legend Bobby Rush. Harman's Bamboo Porch Revue consisted of Nathan James & the Rhythm Scratchers with Mike Tempo on percussion. For many cruisers, it was their first time getting a glimpse at James' homemade guitars.


After dinner, you were faced with some tough choices. Do you go see the Ruthie Foster Band or Shane Dwight with Bekka Bramlett? Buckwheat Zydeco or Taj Mahal? Then you remember that every band or musician is scheduled for at least three performances during the cruise, taking away the anxiety of making a choice.

Just after the stroke of midnight, Tommy Castro & the Painkillers got the first Pro Jam off to a rocking start on the Pool Deck. This special feature has long been one of the unique features of the Blues Cruise celebration. Each night one of the professional bands is designated to lead the jam. Typically that act will play a partial set of their music before other musicians start joining in. You never know who will show up or how far into the night the music will go!

The first day at sea began with two parties – one for Virgin cruisers on the Pool Deck and another for Repeat Offenders in the ship's Celebrity Theater, the largest venue. The latter event began with Ruthie Foster backed by her rhythm section, Tanya Richardson on bass and Samantha Banks on drums. They were joined by Deanna Bogart on keyboards. After several songs, Ana Popovic made her entrance and fired up the crowd with some fine electric guitar playing. The illustrious gathering continued to grow as Samantha Fish, Susan Tedeschi and Danielle Schnebelen (Trampled Under Foot) were called to the stage. It was left to special guest Sista Monica Parker to bring the jam to a fitting close by injecting some church into the proceedings.

One of the main reasons why there were so many virgin cruisers was the presence of the Tedeschi Trucks Band on the bill. This powerful eleven piece aggregation delivered three performances that highlighted the musical and vocal talents of this group led by the amazing slide guitar of Derek Trucks and the soul-wrenching vocals of Susan Tedeschi.


The Nighthawks are celebrating their 40th anniversary and showed how much they were enjoying their first Blues cruise by treating listeners to an exciting blend of blues, R&B and rock music that had people up and dancing at every show.

Two legendary artists reminded everyone about the various shades of the blues. The Bobby Rush Revue mixed ribald lyrics and soul influences as Rush deftly entertained without sacrificing the quality of his music. Guitarist Lonnie Brooks was featured in the Brooks Family Dynasty, joined by his sons Ronnie and Wayne Baker Brooks. Their sets were filled with plenty of crowd-pleasing guitar work.

Another highlight was the Pro Jam hosted by Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials. The band and their leader were on fire, turning the Pool Deck into a blues joint with their hard-driving music highlighted by the leader's slashing slide guitar and animated performance. Things really took off when Ronnie Baker Brooks appeared to trade licks with Lil' Ed. Other musicians joining in on this monster jam included Victor Wainwright on piano -Nick Schneleben (TUF), Eddie Angel and Hadden Sayers on guitar, Earl Thomas on vocals and Mark Stutso from the Nighthawks on drums.


The Carolina Chocolate Drops were missing one of their members, Rhiannon Giddens, but that didn't stop them from making plenty of new fans with their stirring blend of old-time string band music combined with other roots music.


Another key attraction on the cruise is the Piano bar, staffed nightly by a rotating cast of veteran players well-versed in the art of connecting with an audience. Music in the lounge starts early in the evening and continues til' all hours of the morning. On board for this cruise were Mitch Woods, Leon Blue, Victor Wainwright and Scottie “Bones” Miller from Ruthie Foster's band. Another treat was the presence of Ironing Board Sam, once a fixture on Bourbon St. In New Orleans and now enjoying a resurgence in his career.

Luther Dickinson was due to meet the ship early in the week but his travel plans were delayed by the effects of Hurricane Sandy. So for the first set of the week for the North Mississippi Allstars, brother Cody and guest Lightnin' Malcolm enlisted the help of Susan Tedeschi on guitar & vocals, Wayne Baker Brooks and members of the Carolina Chocolate Drops. The next evening Luther, Cody and Malcolm rocked the Pool Deck as well as showing off their musical skills as they often switched instruments.

Even if you aren't one of the artists getting paid to play, you still had the opportunity to join in and make music at the daily Pro-AM jams held in the Revelations Lounge. The primary host for this cruise was trombonist Randy Oxford. John Nemeth helped out on the last day and thrilled the audience with a spot-on tribute to Junior Wells highlighted by the singer's soulful voice and fine harp blowing. Another special guest was Canadian Matt Andersen, whose intense performances were buffered by his humorous tales of life on the road and thoughts like what would it be like if Cookie Monster had the blues! Also on board was Wired, the winner of the 2012 International Blues Challenge Band competition.

The cruise also featured a reunion of the original Legendary Rhythm & Blues Revue featuring Tommy Castro and his band with Deanna Bogart, Ronnie Baker Brooks and Mark Wenner of the Nighthawks filling in for an ailing harp man Magic Dick. An added bonus were several performances of the Joe Plummer play, “Nothing but the Blues”, based on the famous Theresa's Lounge in Chicago. Participants included Plummer with Big Llou Johnson from the Sirius XM's Bluesville program, Lil' Ed, Earl Thomas and Eddie Angel.

There were also a variety of educational workshops including several on photography, Women in Blues, songwriting and Sonny Boy Williamson II.

It was indeed a memorable week of fine food, outstanding music, perfect weather and plenty of new friends from around the globe. For blues music fans, these cruises are the ultimate party. You have so much fun that you are planning to be on another one before the week is over. Congratulations to everyone involved for a fantastic experience.

Photos by Mark Thompson and Joseph A. Rosen (as noted)

Reviewer Mark Thompson retired after twelve years as president of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL. and moved to Florida. He has been listening to music of all kinds for over fifty years. Favorite musicians include Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Magic Slim, Magic Sam, Charles Mingus and Count Basie.

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  Featured Blues Review 3 of 5

John Lee Hooker, Jr. - All Hooked Up

Steppin’ Stone Records

12 songs; 48:19 minutes

Styles: Traditional Blues, Jazz-Influenced Blues, R&B

What’s it like to be the son of one of the most famous bluesmen of all time? Most fans can only dream (or shudder), but John Lee Hooker, Jr. knows. He’s faced trials the rest of us can merely imagine, but now he’s “All Hooked Up”! The title of his fifth album, released in September of this year, refers to having a connection with the Lord instead of his previous illegal-substance suppliers. He’s made an astonishing return, winning 2004’s “Comeback Artist of the Year” award from the San Francisco Bay Area Blues Society, and “Outstanding Blues Album of the Year” from the California Music Awards for 2004’s “Blues with a Vengeance.” To top it off, John Lee Hooker, Jr. became an ‘04 Grammy nominee!

Eight years later, he’s currently touring in the U.S., Europe, and around the globe. Here, JLH Jr. offers twelve original and memorable blues selections. They range from bouncy (“I Surrender”) to belligerent (“You Know That’s Right”) to baffling (“It Must Be the Meds”). This particular trio of tunes is terrific:

Track 04: “I Surrender”--The “Cleanup Woman” herself, Betty Wright, guest-stars as a vocalist on this delightful duet with JLH, Jr. In it, they warmly admit to one another that “you’ve captured me--make me your prisoner….” Jeanie Tracy, Sakai, and co-lyricist Larry Batiste plead “Lock me up!” in beautiful background harmony on the chorus. The horn section is sensationally soulful, with Ric ‘Mighty Bone’ Feliciano on trombone, Tom Poole on trumpet, and Doug Rowan on sax. “Only a fool would want to be free” of true love, or this song!

Track 05: “Hard Times”--Not only is the fifth track a chilling reminder of today’s economy, but a revealing glimpse into a new thief’s mind: “There’s something about being hungry that erases all the fear. I stole two packs of bologna and a Three Musketeers (chocolate bar)….” Dave Barrette’s mournful harmonica and Will ‘Roc’ Griffin’s ominous-sounding organ are especially moving. “Hard Times” is definitely this album’s best traditional blues ballad.

Track 11: “Pay the Rent”--The antithesis of the desperate narrator in “Hard Times” appears in this jazz-influenced gem--a glib, silver-tongued landlord who, one might imagine, also wears an oily smile as he tells his tenants: “Remember how comfy this place is--you’re out of the dump where you used to live. So, pay your rent!” John Garcia and Jeffrey Horan play smooth guitar with teasing, tickling notes. “Caveat emptor,” indeed.

Included with this CD is a bonus DVD, featuring a fabulously-detailed animated film noir of John Lee Hooker Jr.’s hit “Dear John,” produced by JLH and Callicore. He’ll have blues fans “All Hooked Up” with fantastic music for the start of the holidays!

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 33 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 5

John McLaughlin and The 4th Dimension – Now Here This

Mediastarz Monaco Records

8 tracks / 50:00

I have been put in the trick bag again, having the opportunity to review a new album from one of my boyhood guitar heroes, John McLaughlin. Fortunately he has put together yet another fantastic collection of music, so I am not in the bad place of having to be a harsh critic of his work. Now Here This by John McLaughlin and The 4th Dimension is fifty minutes of well-crafted songs that shows that he is still at the top of his game.

John McLaughlin has been around the block a few times, and has guitar credits that few others can claim. He has jammed with Jimi Hendrix, worked with Carlos Santana and Miles Davis, been a sideman for the Rolling Stones, and in 2010 the guitar god Jeff Beck called him “the best guitarist alive.” I could go on for hours, but you probably get the picture. He is joined on this album by his band of the last five years, The 4th Dimension, which now includes Gary Husband on piano, Ranjit Barot on drums and the masterful Etienne M’Bappe on bass guitar. You will notice that nobody gets vocal credits because there are no vocals, which is not unusual for a John McLaughlin album.

Now Here This is McLaughlin’s 24th album, if I counted them right, and he gets production credit as well as writing credit for all eight tracks. I am not too eager to classify this music, but if pressed I would call it post-bop jazz fusion (which is really a vague cop out, isn’t it?). But it would be more useful to think of it as four extremely talented guys getting together to make some complex sonic textures. A great example of this is “Trancefusion,” the first song on Now Here This. This is a seven minute thesis on how to properly play the tightest fusion on the planet. McLaughlin and M’Bappe double each other’s lines at a frenzied pace while Ranjit Barot crawls all over the drums, and this song comes off like a drum solo with melodies written over the top of it.

Fortunately, McLaughlin knows that few listeners can handle a whole album of high energy jazz fusion, and things get funkier with the blues-based “Echoes from Then.” There is still plenty of complicated guitar work, but he never goes over the top and despite the speed at which he plays, he is still able to infuse feeling and musicality into the tune. But the real high point of this song is Etienne M’Bappe’s popping bass lines that go where few others have gone before.

Things finally slow down for the smooth and sexy “Wonderfall” which starts out with some pretty fretless work from M’Bappe. Gary Husband also gets a chance to show off his keyboard skills on this song, and the natural piano sound is a lovely contrast with the synthesizers and synth-guitar that are also used here. He obviously has great improvisational chops and a good feel for the keys, which must be a prerequisite for membership in The 4Th Dimension. If it had words, this would be a ballad, and it is a nice chance to take a breather before things take off at full speed again with the precise and intricate melodies of “Call and Answer.”

“Take It or Leave It” is the final song on the album, and at under four minutes it is also the shortest. This funky tune is like having a sweet dessert after a meal. It is also a reminder that this quartet has all of the talent in the world, but also shows that they are still able to work well together and play off each others’ strengths.

Now Here This is a very well made album, and the production values and mixing are first rate. I would expect nothing less from John McLaughlin, who is has more experience than anyone in the business. Keep in mind that the content is jazzy, and if you are in the mood for some bare bones blues or rock, this fusion CD will not be your cup of tea. But if you are looking for a tight rhythm section, great improvisational keyboards and one of the best guitarists on the planet you will find the real deal here.

Reviewer Rex Bartholomew is a Los Angeles-based writer and musician. His blog can be found at

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 Featured Blues Review 5 of 5

Mike Mettalia & Midnight Shift – Midnight Sun

Lost World Music

14 tracks; 52.52 minutes

This is the third release from this Pennsylvania band which consists of Mike Metallia on harp and vocals, Mike McMillan on guitar, Tim Smith on drums and Paul Pluta on bass. The band plays a variety of material, well demonstrated by the first two tracks: “Work Don’t Work” is a harp-driven slab of Chicago style blues while “Calabash” is a great slice of rock and roll propelled by guest piano player Chicago Carl Snyder. Both tunes are penned by Mike Metallia who wrote nine of the fourteen songs, three in collaboration with guitarist Mike McMillan. Six tracks were recorded at Memphis’ Sun Studios, the remainder in Pennsylvania with one bonus track being a live recording from the 2011 Lehigh River Blues Jam.

Track 3 is the first cover and another change of style with pedal steel (Jim Callan) and April Mae providing a duet vocal on a light and jazzy version of Hank Williams’ “The Blues Come Around”. I am a huge fan of John Nemeth and his “Magic Touch” is a great song but the band’s version almost eclipses the original as Mike McMillan and guests Jimmy Cavallo (sax) and Dan McKinney (piano) tear it up. Jimmy Cavallo also appears on his own jump style “Leave Married Women Alone”, singing and playing sax at a sprightly 84 years of age! “Mama’s Little Baby” was an obscure record by rockabilly artist Junior Thompson and is another great piece of rock and roll, clocking in at just over two minutes. In contrast Jimmy Rogers’ “What Have I Done” is the live bonus track and provides an opportunity for an extended harp dialogue between Mike and guest Steve Guyger.

Returning to the originals title track “Midnight Sun” is another gentle-paced jazzy piece with some nice rhythm guitar work. “The 796 (Memphis Route)” may have Memphis in the title but the sound here is far more Chicago in tone with some harp mike vocals. Another Memphis connection appears in “Sun Record Sleeve”, a pounding rocker with some terrific guitar while “Built For Speed” may be a belated response from Mike to Howling Wolf’s “Built For Comfort”: “He’s a real big man, about 6 foot 5, he’d rather see me dead than get out alive. He got the room covered, he’s heading for the bed. I duck down quick and he missed my head. I’m built for speed, I ain’t built for stability”. “Love Reaction” has an infectious rhythm and “Heartsick” starts out like The Ventures, complete with surf guitar - the drums deserve special mention on this one! “Cheat You Fair” is an upbeat instrumental with plenty of harp and is, as the subtitle states, a “Tribute To Maxwell Street” where the young Mike Metallia learned his blues trade.

Overall there is a lot to enjoy here with plenty of variety across the range of blues styles..

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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Blues Overdose 11/29/12 - These free tracks are available for 30 days. More info below.

Teeny Tucker

“Shoes” - Track 7 from the upcoming album Voodoo To Do You

Although Teeny was born into Blues royalty, (Daughter of Tommy Tucker) one need only to hear Teeny to know that she has cultivated and developed her “gifts” into her very own uniquely compelling “world-class” package.

As a child, this Dayton Ohio native began singing in the church choir. This experience, like so many other “soulful” success stories, undoubtedly began to chart the course of Teeny’s music career. The paths which would lead to her abilities to musically interpret with soulful, bluesy, and uniquely stylistic renderings were set.

“Shoes” is a preview track from the soon to released CD, Voodo To Do You. Visit Teeny's new website at

Click HERE to download these Free tracks


Shaun Murphy Band

“Heartless Man Blues” - Track 3 from the upcoming album Ask For The Moon

From Broadway to Motown, Eric Clapton, Bob Seger, to the first lady of Little Feat. This lady has an impressive resume.

On her new Vision Wall Records release, Ask For The Moon, Shaun has brought in some of her friends to lend some integral musical prowess, adding just the right touches to this 15 song Blues and crossover CD. Johnny Neel, (Allman Bros.) Bekka Bramlett, (Fleetwood Mac, Shane Dwight) legendary sax man Jim Horn, (Elvis, Paul McCartney, Aretha Franklin) Kenny Greenberg, (Bob Seger, Kenny Chesney) Shawn Starski, (Otis Taylor, Jason Ricci) and Tim Gonzalez. (Toby Keith).

On this cut, “Heartless Man Blues”, Shaun performs with the son of Louisiana legendary Blues man, Burton Gaar. Burton Gaar Jr. imparts a subtlety and intimacy to this track, making it one that has become a favorite on this CD! The CD will be for sale on December 3rd at and on Amazon and iTunes.

Click HERE to download these Free tracks

Liz Mandeville

“Walkin & Talking With You ” - Track 4 on the album Clarksdale

Blue Kitty Music was the brain child of Liz Mandeville and her friend, Grammy Award Winner, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith. He said “Don’t give your music to no label Liz, start your own. I’ll help you!” Good as his word, Willie put his signature style on five tracks for the newly minted Blue Kitty’s debut CD, Clarksdale. The plan to return to the studio for a follow-up session was derailed by Smith’s untimely passing, making these historic tracks the last he was ever to record. Listen for his Harp attack on the Jimmy Reed style lump, “Walking & Talking With You” & the swinging “Roadside Produce Stand.” His presence was felt thru-out the recording process.

Looking for inspiration, Chicago based Mandeville visited Clarksdale MS in 2010. She stayed in the Muddy Waters room at the Riverside Hotel, soaking up the deep south vibes. The result is a new group of fresh songs, that reflect Liz’s life now, played with the verve, bluster and soul of the Delta’s traditional blues masters. Here she is surrounded by some of Chicago’s finest players.

Chicago legend, Eddie Shaw, who put his stamp on Liz’s CD, Red Top, returns with his honking tenor sax to flavor "Sweet Potato Pie". Slide player, Donna Herula’s guitar cries on "A Soldiers Wife", and flexes muscle on the historic "Sand Baggin", written in Memphis by Liz during the historic floods of 2011. Guitarist Nick Moss, who once played bass in Liz’s & Willie Smith’s bands, adds crisp leads to "My Mama Wears Combat Boots", a tribute to our women warriors. Clarksdale is not your first teenaged romance, this is love for grown folk from a seasoned blues veteran. The CD is available at CD Baby and Visit Liz at her website

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Matthew Curry & The Fury

“Walk Out That Door” - Track 4 on the album If I Don't Got You

Matthew Curry is an amazing guitar player, singer and songwriter who was nominated for three 2012 Blues Blast Music Awards for his debut release, If I Don't Got You. Quite an impressive accomplishment for a CD released by a 16 year old artist.

This track, “Walk Out That Door” demonstrates why this young artist is one to keep your eye on. His singing, playing and writing talents rival artists several times his age. If I Don't Got You is available at CD Baby, iTunes and

Visit Matthew Curry's website at

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Jackie Scott & The Housewreckers

“Mississippi Hook” - Track 9 on the CD Going To The Westside

Jackie Scott first made a splash on the Blues scene when she made the finals of the 2010 International Blues Challenge. She continued her triumphant run with three 2010 Blues Blast Music Awards for her debut CD, How Much Woman Can You Stand?

On her sophomore release, Going To The Westside, Jackie proves her debut effort was no fluke. This track, “Mississippi Hook” features Blues legend Eddie Shaw on backing vocals.  The CD is available at CD Baby and

Visit Jackie's website at

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The Billy Thompson Band

“Christmas Will Never Be Blue”

Billy Thompson was nominated for Best Contemporary Blues CD in the 2012 Blues Blast Music Awards for his 2011 release, A Better Man.

This new track showcases Billy's great guitar playing and awesome band performing, “Christmas Will Never Be Blue”, a number written just for the this Christmas holiday season. This rockin' tune will have the whole family groovin' to the music while eating Christmas turkey.

The song features Billy on vocals & guitars with Ricky Wilkins on keyboards, Gene Monroe on bass and Eric Selby on drums and percussion.

A Better Man is available at and CD Baby. Check out The Billy Thompson Band at:

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Ernie Southern & The Deltaholics

“Red Hot Delta Blues” Track 4 on the album Every Day Is a Fight

Every now and then, an artist emerges and bursts fully mature on the scene. Ernie Southern is one of those few. A pleasant surprise, his style is authentic, evoking both the "soul" and "spirit" of the masters.

“Red Hot Delta Blues” is a track from Ernie's latest CD, Every Day Is A Fight

Visit Ernie's website at

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The last issue of each month will be Blues Blast Magazine's Blues Overdose issue. The next Blues Overdose issue will be on December 27th, 2012. Artists interested in promoting their music by offering a free track in the Blues Overdose Issue should send an email to *This is a free service!