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Issue 7-43, October 24, 2013

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Cover photo by Marilyn Stringer © 2013 Blues Blast Magazine

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 In This Issue

A.J. Wachtel has our feature interview with Sax Gordon.

We have five Blues music reviews for you. Rainey Wetnight reviews a new release from Little G Weevil. Steve Jones reviews a new album from Watermelon Slim and The Workers. Marty Gunther reviews a new album from The Planetary Blues Band. Rex Bartholomew reviews a new release from Ray Mazarek & Roy Rogers. John Mitchell reviews a new CD from King King.  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,

Our friend Paul Schuytema in Monmouth Illinois is having his Deep Blue Innovators Blues Festival this Saturday, October 26th at the historic Rivoli Theatre in Monmouth, Illinois.

The show features Hayes & Fleming and friends, Glenn's Blues Band featuring Joe Joe Metzka on guitar and vocals, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Nikki Hill and The Cassie Taylor Band.

The Rivoli Theatre is an old movie theatre and is a great venue. There is not a bad seat in the house!  A wide variety of beverages is available including a huge selection of imported and micro-brewed beers as well as all the best American beers and mixed drinks.

They also have a great BBQ with Eddie B. smoking his famous ribs outside all day, and the Bijou Grill will also offer their full menu.

So check out this cool festival. I know you will enjoy this one!

To get tickets now CLICK HERE or see their ad below.

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music! 

Bob Kieser

No Blues Blast Issue next week October 31st

We will all be attending the 2013 Blues Blast Music Awards next Thursday at Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago so there will be no issue of Blues Blast Magazine next week. Many of our writers including John Mitchell (all the way from England), Terry Mullins, Rex Bartholomew, Steve Jones and Mark Thompson will all be there so be sure to tell them hello. Another of our staff writers James "Skyy Dobro" Walker will be doing stage announcements along with our distinguished Master of Ceremonies and harmonica ace, David Berntson

It is going to be a great show featuring music by Albert Castiglia, Teeny Tucker Band, Eddie Shaw & The 757 Allstars, Shaun Murphy Band, Doug MacLeod, Andy T - Nick Nixon Band, James 'Buddy' Rogers, Bob Corritore, Andy Poxon, Big Joe Maher, Kevin McKendree, Little Ronnie Owens, Mud Morganfield, Mike Wheeler Band, Brandon Santini, Sena Ehrhardt, Doug Deming, Kevin Selfe, Little Joe McLerran w/David Berntson and The Cash Box Kings. There will also be a couple special guests as well as celebrity presenters from the Chicago Blues area.

There are a limited number of tickets left so get yours soon. To get your tickets now CLICK HERE or see our ad below.

Blues Blast Magazine is offering a fall advertising special. This special pricing will be our lowest pricing of the 2013-2014 season.

This 6-week combo rate of only $350 affordably adds significant impact to your Blues advertising and promotion campaign. It is a great way to kick up the visibility of your new album release, Blues event or music product around the globe!

Blues Blast Magazine is a great way to promote the Blues. More than 26,000 Blues fans read our magazine each week. They are located in all 50 states and in more than 90 countries. We get more than 2,000,000 (That's TWO MILLION) hits and more than 45,000 visitors a month on our website. 

Normal 2013 - 2014 ad rates are $90 per issue for Blues Blast magazine ads and $100 per month for website ads. BUT, for a limited time, you can advertise in six issues of Blues Blast Magazine and on our website for a month and a half for only $350. This is a $690 value! To get this special rate simply reserve and pay for your ad space by December 15, 2013. Ads can be booked to run anytime between now and September 30, 2014 for your 2014 Blues festival, album release or other music related product.

With this special rate, your ad can viewed more than 220,000 times by our readers who want to know about your Blues events and music! Reserve your space today! Space is limited and will be sold on a first come first served basis.

Ads must be reserved and paid for by December 15, 2013. To get more information email or call 309 267-4425 today! Other ad packages, single ads, short run ads or long term bulk rates available too. Call today for an ad plan that fits your needs.

Tickets for the 2013 Blues Blast Music Awards are on sale now! 

The 2013 Blues Blast Music Awards will be held at Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago on October 31st.  Tickets are $35. To get your tickets now, CLICK HERE

Artists appearing include 

 Featured Blues Interview - Sax Gordon  

Sax Gordon Beadle metaphorically lives the musical equivalent of the old '50's T.V. Show “The Life Of Riley”.

Constantly on the road touring all over the world, consistently in studios recording, and seemingly always on special Blues cruises heading to isles, islands and islets; Sax Gordon's pleasurable existence can certainly be mistaken for all play and no work.

His life is exactly like a Broadway musical with him starring as himself. Note after note; and never a rest.

Born and raised in Northern California, he got an early start playing in garage bands, church groups, jazz combos and big bands. He started to record with Bay area Blues giant Johnny Heartsman but soon relocated to the East Coast where he spent five years and many recordings with Luther “Guitar Jr” Johnson and established himself on the international Blues scene.

“I had to get out of town. I was having a ball working with older musicians in a local band (they could buy beer!), playing frat parties at UC Davis and around Northern California. We even opened up for The Blasters on their first tour at the UC Davis Coffeehouse (laughs).”

During these days he also met the first of one of the many legendary horn players who would eventually cross his path.

“The great saxist Lee Allen, who played the rippin' solos in Little Richards' “Lucille” and “Good Golly Miss Molly” was with them, and I didn't realize till much later who it was.” And then came the usual parental pressure.

“I was getting into trouble and my folks wanted me to at least try and get a more formal education so I came to go to school at Berklee in Boston. It seemed like it would be the least formal choice in “formal education”. In Boston, he started hitting the Blues jams and ended up with Little Joe Cook (he had the late 50's Doo-Wop hit “Peanuts”) playing regularly at The Cantab Lounge across The Charles River, in Cambridge.

During the summers, Beadle was still going back and forth between the coasts when he started playing with Johnny Heartsman. “I went to his jam at Sam's Hofbrau in Sacramento, and he eventually asked me to do gigs with him. He was famous for helping out musicians and he gave me a chance. I remember being really impressed with Steve Samuels, the one-armed guitarist who'd come up and gig with us. He was just great. I played a few tracks on Johnny's cassette-only release “Shine On” that came out before he did that album for Alligator.”

Little Charlie &The Nightcats were a local band in Sacramento at that time before they started recording for Alligator Records too and Sax Gordon started going (underage) to their jam at Club 400 where the famous rhythm section of Jay and Dobie were in the house band. They started replacing the bands at the club with strippers, then eventually it became strippers six nights a week and and a jam on Sundays. “Everyone was really cool with me there (laughs).”

Finally situated on the East Coast, he found his way into Muddy Waters' band vet Luther “Guitar Jr” Johnson's camp and spent the next few years gaining much experience.

“Luther really helped me get going. He would encourage me to go for it and he had nothing to worry about it because when he started really singing and playing guitar you couldn't touch him! He'd tell me to 'go into the audience and try to get the people'; and I did. Not all band leaders like other people getting the attention but like I said; once he started singing “Graveyard Dogs” or started playing that rhythm with his guitar, nodding his head up and down leading the band and then drive into a serious solo; you couldn't top that.”

Sax Gordon also learned the tricks of his trade in the studio during these formative years also. “Luther helped establish me by letting me get heard on tour and on the three CD's we did for Rounder Records' BullsEye Blues label that Ron Levy(Albert, B.B. King, Roomful of Blues) was producing for”.

Artist/producer Ron Levy helped him a lot, at this point, by using him on a lot of BullsEye's productions including albums with Champion Jack Dupree, Charles Brown, Pinetop Perkins, Billy Boy Arnold, Jimmy McCracklin, Jimmy McGriff, Roscoe Gordon and some of his own CD's.

His style is hard-blowing, exciting, gutsy sax steeped in the traditions of Blues and Soul. And his ability to conjure up the style and feeling of past R&B sax masters led him to gaining more fame and notoriety.

“Well I like rockin' sax. If you get into that and try to discover where it came from; if you want to learn all the best stuff and all the tricks; all the sounds and how to handle any situations you find out real quick that rockin' sax comes from old jump-swing Blues, R&B, New Orleans music, Texas Blues, Chicago Blues and Soul.”

People often associate the sax with just Jazz but the music of Little Richard, Otis Redding, Fats Domino, B.B. King, Elmore James, Aretha Franklin, Albert King, Ike and Tina Turner, Howlin' Wolf, Johnny Otis, Otis Rush, and Bobby Bland is full of horns and saxophone.

And currently, as the generations pass, Beadle on one hand, has seen and heard these legends live including: Big Jay McNeely, Joe Houston, Junior Walker, A.C. Reed and Eddie Shaw. And on the other hand, although he is still a “youngster” He has also worked with icons like Little Milton, Solomon Burke, James Cotton, Hubert Sumlin, Johnny Copeland, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, and Sam Moore from Sam and Dave.

“I've been lucky to have worked with some of the old guys, and I always try to respect them and their music by listening to their stuff when I was going to play with them. When I was with Duke Robillard (Roomful of Blues) we'd back up or record with Roscoe Gordon and Billy Boy Arnold. I remember we were backing up Jimmy Witherspoon and you KNOW he's gonna do 'Ain't Nobody's Business'.

Of course, he recorded it a million times but he did one recording with a perfect sax solo by Don Hill where Spoon sings along with the solo. So I tried to learn that and I got a smile from him and he even sang along for a bit even though I probably didn't get it quite right.”

Sax Gordon also has something of an obsession with Chicago Blues sax player J.T. Brown who played along with Elmore James and Roosevelt Sykes.

“I can get into that sound pretty well. It's a rare thing. Nobody seems to be getting into it that much these days but if a guitar player is gonna do some Elmore James stuff, and many do, shouldn't the sax player know the stuff that goes along with it? I never really copy, REALLY. I just listen and try to absorb the style and feeling and just play.” But what about the constant evolution of the current Blues scene?

“Of course the music is going to change. We shouldn't be forever just recreating the past, but we also lose so much of what is unique about the music if we don't really dig into it. I've been very fortunate to work with many musicians who share this attitude with me: guitarists like Duke Robillard, Junior Watson and Billy Flynn and piano players like Barrelhouse Chuck, Fred Kaplan and David Maxwell are all able to play old styles and yet also make them their own and have a unique, personal sound. There's no sense keeping an old style alive if you can't knock out the audience with it. It's gotta work; otherwise it's like giving a clinic or music history lesson!”

Some of the non-musical eccentricities he has experienced still come quickly to mind and always makes him smile. They also illustrate how the blues keeps evolving and how one artist adapts and goes with the flow.

“Some of these guys I only worked with for a little bit but they've left a big impression on me and my playing. Gatemouth really did things his own way in his music and his life, I think. He was very UNCOMPROMISING about a lot of things. I remember at one club, Harper's Ferry, in Allston, Massachusetts he had them turn all the T.V's off in the bar, when the show was about to start (laughs).

James Cotton used to like to have fun but he always played his ass off. Even when he was distracted by a lot of people he always took the time to talk about the music and thank me for doing a good job. Junior Wells kept you on your toes! Unpredictable. You had to keep paying attention all the time to see what he was going to do and that kept it exciting! Of course, Johnny Copeland was an inspiration to many with his determination and perseverance towards the end. He just kept on giving, playing shows, giving one hundred and fifty percent when he could have been taking it easy......”

Modern masters have also benefited from Sax Gordon's unique sound as heard on recordings by Kim Wilson, Paul Oscher, Jerry Portnoy, Ron Levy and David Maxwell.

“Well, like me, many of these artists have learned their skills from the old guys and from records. With the original artists their music was like the way they talked; the way they breathed. I read something that Johnny Cash wrote. He was saying that now 'Country is a choice'. You can choose to buy a pickup truck, wear a cowboy hat, listen to a Country music station. But when he was coming up, they just WERE country; there wasn't a choice. So original Blues artists are the same, they're just being themselves. That's their voice; their culture. So that will always make them special.”

At this moment, Beadle is still constantly on tour around the world, still consistently in the studios recording, and seemingly always on special Blues cruises but he still has time to focus on two of his own bands.

The Sax Gordon Band has it's own horn section and Sax Gordon And The Little Town Rockers are two distinctly separate music entities that allow him to continue growing locally, nationally and on the international blues scene.

“I love the power and excitement of a horn section and on my most recent solo CD, “Showtime!” its a basic part of many of the songs. I couldn't do the song “Get Into It” without those horns. But I still do plenty of shows with small groups, guitar trios and organ combos.” Rest assured, he still likes to perform fun, rockin' Blues and funky R&B with both of these groups.

“The Little Town Rockers” came about from all the Swing dances I play. The idea is to focus on the old Jump/Swing/R&B sax traditions. That's a huge specialty and passion of mine, but I don't want to do it unless we're really gonna do it all the way (laughs). This group is an outlet for that!”

What new Blues artists keep him interested and catch Sax Gordon's ears these days?

“Well, all the guys I work with around the world are worth a listen. Jimmy Reiter released a CD last year, that's great. The new Igor Prado Band CD/DVD is really special. Luca Giordano is getting ready to record again. I have a new collaboration with Lluis Coloma, that's really different, that I think will be worth a listen. Raphael Wressnig has a lot of recordings featuring people like Alex Schultz, Tad Robinson, Deitra Farr and myself. Listen to these recordings.”

Many, many notes and not a lot of rests.”

Here are some clips of Sax Gordon performing live

Kid Ramos and Sax Gordon CLICK HERE

Junior Watson, Fred Kaplan and Sax Gordon CLICK HERE

Junior Watson & Sax Gordon again CLICK HERE

Sax Gordon & Lluis Coloma Trío CLICK HERE

Sharrie Williams & Sax Gordon in Dubai CLICK HERE

For more info on Sax Gordon visit his website at

Photos by Bob Kieser © 2013 Blues Blast Magazine and Marilyn Stringer © 2013 as marked.

Interviewer A. J. Wachtel is a long-time entertainment journalist in New England and the East Coast who currently writes for The Boston Blues Society and The Noise Magazine. He is well known in the Boston and N.Y.C areas for his work in the Blues for the last two decades.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

 Featured Blues Review 1 of 5

Little G Weevil - Moving

Apic/VizzTone Label Group

CD: 12 songs; 40:51 Minutes

Styles: Pre-1950’s-Style Acoustic and Harmonica Blues

Who could have predicted that a musician who grew up on the outskirts of Budapest, Hungary would claim victory in the Solo/duo category of the 2013 International Blues Challenge? Nevertheless, that’s exactly what Little G Weevil has accomplished. At a time when the changing political landscape in Eastern Europe brought the blues flooding into it, he fell in love with the records of John Lee Hooker, Albert Collins, and more. After becoming a successful artist in his native land, he emigrated to the southern U.S. Following living for a time in London, he now makes his home in Atlanta, Georgia. Every bluesman is a practitioner of their favorite genre, but “G” fills a specific niche: pre-1950’s-style acoustic and harmonica blues. On his website, a quote from Bob Margolin reads: “Little G Weevil somehow delivers intact the spirit and sound of Blues legends from 80 years ago…” With “G” are Maurice Nazzaro on harmonica, Dustin Sergant on upright bass, Adam Goodhue on drums, and Danny V. Vinson on rhythm and solo guitar. Three original selections (of twelve) on this, his third CD, prove “Steady Rollin’s” sentiment to be correct:

Track 01: “Shook It and Broke It”--“This woman told me she done meet a man. This woman told me she done meet a man. Maybe she needs a few dollars - there she goes again!” Little G Weevil minces no words in this rustic-sounding rant against romance. If one were to participate in a ‘blind sound test,’ not knowing that this track is from a current CD, one might swear that this song was performed by an African-American artist doing prewar blues on a Dobro resonator guitar.

Track 05: “Let Someone Else Do all the Work”-- Why is this super song so short? Its foot-stomping, hip-shaking beat is infectious, yet it clocks in at a fleeting one minute and forty-seven seconds. Those on the dance floor will be sorely disappointed, because this tale of ambition played on a cigar box guitar will cause spontaneous move-busting: “We’re going to cruise all over the world, let someone else do all the work

Track 09: “No Man in my Bed”-- Our lovelorn hero wants a lady all to himself in this hilarious ditty, but this conquest won’t come easy: “The way she moves, the way she smiles - God knows I can’t control my mind. I look in her eyes and see my friend, but I don’t want no other man in my bed!” Little G’s Dobro slide guitar seems to be laughing at the poor narrator, especially on the refrain.

In the album’s liner notes, our featured artist comments: “This session took place in a midtown Atlanta neighborhood where Blind Willie McTell used to play for tips.” Get “Moving” and listen to this CD from an IBC champion!

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.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 2 of 5

Watermelon Slim & the Workers - Bull Goose Rooster

Northern Blues Music

16 tracks/62 minutes

Watermelon Slim is an amalgamation of blues, country, folk, rock, and gospel. He delivers up a wide ranging mix of tunes here, 9 originals and 7 covers, all of which feature his unique vocals and his deeply sincere emotions. Slim is the vocalist and plays harp and electric and acoustic dobro slide guitar. Michael Newberry is on drums and percussion, Cliff Belcher is on bass, Ronnie “Mack” McMullen is on electric guitar (except for “Trucking Class” which has Ike Lamb on guitar). Gary Nicholson is also on acoustic guitar on the final cut “Words Coming to an End”.

I would group and classify the songs into honkytonk, rock with a folksy, bluesy twist, a sea shanty and a spiritual. The honkytonk stuff further breaks down into blues and then country music, albeit with loose lines separating them at times. Let’s take on the easy stuff first.

“Take My Mother Home” is an acapella spiritual that is moving and well done. The rawness of Slims’ approach gives this an earthy charm and realness. I was very intrigued. “Northwest Passage” is of the nature of sea shanty’s and is another acapella tune. Again, Mssr. Homas sells this well with his strident baritone. It ain’t blues, but it’s good. The cuts I would call rock with a folksy, bluesy twist are “Vigilante Man,” “A Wrench in the Machine,” “Prison Walls,” and “Words Coming to an End.” “Vigilante Man” is a Woody Guthrie song and Slim pays him good homage with his cover and offers up some sweet slide. “Wrench” is almost a country tune, but I rate it more of a folk tune that breaks into a rock song. Maybe that is country, but the guitar approach made me think rock and it’s kinda fun. “Prison Walls” again verges on country but again the guitar and slide along with the song itself make me think more rock than anything. Again, well done. “Words Coming to an End” is the acoustic finale to the album and it is bare bones Homas and Lamb. This song is very classic folk rock and a good conclusion to an eclectic set of tunes.

Honkytonk with more blues are 6 of the 16 cuts. “Tomorrow Night” opens the CD and Homas blows some sweet harp to get things going. It’s a rollicking cut and serves well to begin the festivities here.

“Over the Horizon” is duet with Trampled Under Foot’s Danielle Schnebelen with piano by Dennis Borycki (no other instruments). It shows Homas under restraint with the huge voice of Danielle to sing with and he pretty much pulls it off. A bluesy ballad where Danielle is not belting out in full voice gives Slim a chance to keep up and it is well done. Slim is in classic form on the covers “King Bee” and “Scratch My Back.” He is strident and confident delivering these classics and does great job with them. “The Wobble” is a hot, deep blues instrumental with a driving beat and Slim laying out some mean licks on harp. “Foreign Policy Blues” has Slim singing that he has, “the foreign policy blues worse than he ever had.” Being a Viet Nam vet with a deep concern over that era it surprises me that Homas has even greater concerns. Some sweet slide here makes this a good cut, too.

On the other side is honkytonk with more of a country feel. “Bull Goose Rooster” is the title cut and is a big ass trucker tune, as is “Blue Freightliner.” They are fun and obviously come from a period in Slim’s life near and dear to his heart. “I Ain’t Just Whistlin’ Dixie” mixes blues, rock and country. “Trucking Class” is another trucker tune and Slim offers up some classic country slide licks.

William P. Homans (AKA Watermelon Slim) uses his lispy and country fried vocals to good effect across these genres. His slide and harp work are excellent and the set of tunes is a wide ranging and interesting assortment. Watermelon Slim is a former trucker and farmer, was a soldier in ‘Nam, comes from a fairly well off family that he rebelled against to join the Army, and then earned several degrees and became a Mensa member. After a near fatal heart attack in 2002 he reassessed his priorities and so music became his focus. I think he’s a hoot and a lot of fun. If you like blues with a liberal dose of North Carolina hill country mixed into it and the perspective of a man who thankfully claims he’s lived enough for two regular lives already then get this CD. I think you will enjoy it!

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 3 of 5

The Planetary Blues Band – Once Upon A Time In The South Loop

Self-released CD

10 songs – 39 minutes

Composed of three brothers and a family friend from Valparaiso, Indiana, about 60 miles southeast of downtown Chicago, the Planetary Blues Band has been building a strong and well-deserved following in Middle America, as this disc demonstrates. Siblings Martin (guitar and lead vocals), Michael (guitar and vocals) and Bobby (bass) Schaefer-Murray hooked up with drummer Nick Evans and began practicing in their mother’s basement in 1999.

Originally conceived as a rock band with heavy blues influences, primarily Buddy Guy and Son Seals, they’ve developed into a solid, in-the-pocket, straight-ahead blues ensemble as they’ve grown into adulthood. They’ve been working regularly at some of the best clubs in the country, including the Slippery Noodle in Indianapolis, Huey’s in Memphis and Guy’s own club, Legends, in the Windy City’s South Loop, hence the name of their self-produced CD. While they lack the vocal power of Trampled Under Foot and the pyrotechnic display of the Homemade Jamz Band, two other family organizations, they’ve quickly building a positive.

The disc kicks off with a thoroughly modern take on one of the oldest blues standards, Blind Lemon Jefferson’s “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean.” A simple, staccato drum line quickly gives way to the vocals, which are supported by regularly repeating eight-note guitar riff. The band mixes two more cover songs with seven originals in the 10-tune set. “The Thorns Will Show You” is a modern blues driven forward by another repetitive guitar run with a screeching solo mid-tune. Martin’s vocals, although somewhat limited in range, are strong and clear, the rhythm section on top of the beat, but arranged in a manner that drives the songs forward.

“This Precious Existence” is a slow, pleasant blues with a positive message about acceptance and cooperation to make it through the travails of life. Next up is a modern take on “That’s No Way To Get Along,” a track laid down by the Rev. Robert Wilkins about 70 years before the band members were born. Martin’s vocals carry the song over a light, traditional guitar line until the middle measures, when the drums kick into high gear and the guitars are set free. The band gets funky with the powerful “Sacred And Profane Blues,” an image-filled complaint about folks who revere their religion rather using it by helping out the poor. “Blues Resurrection” is another strong, slow-paced grinding original, with the band wondering if the blues is still alive, but convinced that it won’t let them be.

The mood changes dramatically with “Crazy Cryin’ Blues,” a fast-paced rock version of the Memphis Minnie classic. “In A Blue Study” leads into “When I Say I Love You,” which simply states that the singer knows the object of his affection doesn’t recognize the depth of his love simply by the way she acts. “The Shillelagh” finishes the set. It’s a guitar-driven instrumental shuffle that kicks off in the style of Freddie King but evolves quickly into something more before returning to the root.

This is a solid set from a band on the rise. It’ll be interesting what they have to say for themselves as they progress. It’s available through the Planetary website or CDBaby.

Reviewer Marty Gunther has lived a blessed life. His first experience with live music came at the feet of the first generation of blues legends at the Newport Folk Festivals in the 1960s. A former member of the Chicago blues community, he’s a professional journalist and blues harmonica player who co-founded the Nucklebusters, one of the hardest working bands in South Florida.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 4 of 5

Ray Mazarek & Roy Rogers – Twisted Tales

Self Release

10 tracks / 44:42

Every now and then I run into an album that is way out there, and I have to listen to it repeatedly to figure out how I feel about it. Twisted Tales by Ray Manzarek and Roy Rogers is certainly one of these, and in the end it turned out that I really liked what they put together.

You are certainly familiar with Ray Manzarek, the UCLA film student who became the founding father and keyboardist for The Doors. After that band disintegrated in the early 1970s, Ray performed periodically with bandmate Robby Krieger as well as actively participating in other music endeavors, including producing albums for other artists. He was a well-rounded character, also working in film and writing fiction and non-fiction books. Sadly, he passed on in May at the age of 74, just a month before Twisted Tales was to be released.

Roy Rogers is probably not the one you are thinking of, but this slide guitarist was indeed named after the famed western singer. Roy’s career is impressive, and he has been successful as a performer, writer and producer. He played with John Lee Hooker back in the 1980s, and produced four of Hooker’s albums. He has also collaborated with other top-name artists, including Bonnie Raitt, Steve Miller, Carlos Santana and Linda Ronstadt.

Twisted Tales is not the first Manzarek / Rogers collaboration, as they started working together in 2008, releasing two very good albums before this one. On this project Ray took some of the vocals, played the keyboards (obviously), and took a turn on the flute. Roy handled the rest of the vocals and the guitar work. Also in the studio were Steve Evans on bass, Kevin Hayes on drums, and George Brooks on sax. This is a tight album, and if you check out this CD you will hear Manzarek and Rogers at the top of their games -- their chops are amazing!

Rogers has a rock-solid blues background, and while there is plenty of rock and blues to be found here, this is not a conventional blues album, and you can get a clue of the content from the title. Their previous albums were composed of ballads (Ballads Before the Rain) and blues (Translucent Blues). So, not surprisingly, Twisted Tales is all about the stories that are told within. With their limited vocal ranges, at times this music leans towards a spoken word project, and it commands the listeners’ attention throughout. This is not easy listening by any stretch of the imagination.

This disc includes ten original tracks, with all of the music written by Manzarek and/or Rogers, and the lyrics coming from a few different sources. The words for four of the songs were penned by the late Jim Carroll, the poet/musician who wrote The Basketball Diaries. His lyrics are not complicated or even particularly slick, but they evoke strong images that help the listener visualize the stories that he laid out. I found “Cops Talk” to be tedious and cliché-ridden, but “Street of Crocodiles” and “American Woman” are truly poetic, and turn out to be great reads even without the musical score.

Beat poet Michael McClure contributed the lyrics for three of the tracks, and his writing style is less direct than Carroll’s, so instead of painting harsh pictures he uses similes to tell his stories. One of these, “Black Wine/Spank Me with a Rose,” is a Doors-style roadhouse blues tune, and it is fun to hear Manzarek hitting the 2nd beat on the piano and organ just like he did nearly 50 years ago.

But do not forget Rogers’ contributions here. Besides throwing down serious guitar work throughout (tasteful layering and smoking slide playing), he also wrote the lyrics for two of the tracks, “The Will to Survive” and “State of the World.” These have the most conventional lyrics of any of the songs found on the album, which is a neat contrast with the material that others wrote.

Twisted Tales is a complex piece of work, and both Ray Mazarek and Roy Rogers proved that they were masters of their craft on this disc. It is fitting that Manzarek could end his career on this high note and I certainly look forward to what Rogers has up his sleeve for the next chapter of his career.

Rex Bartholomew is a Los Angeles-based writer and musician; his blog can be found at

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 5 of 5

King King – Standing In The Shadows

Manhaton Records

10 tracks; 61 minutes

During the Noughties the UK blues rock scene was dominated by the twin guitar attack of the Nimmo Brothers from Glasgow. When older brother Stevie relocated to France the hard-working band was obliged to reduce its schedule to occasional tours and younger brother Alan looked for another outlet for his playing and song writing. In 2011 King King emerged and immediately won over fans old and new, culminating in winning the ‘Band Of The Year’ in the 2012 British Blues Awards. The band went on to repeat that success in 2012 when they won four awards and has now released its second album and it’s a sure-fire winner if blues rock is your thing. The band consists of proud Scot Alan Nimmo (known to wear the kilt at gigs, as he does on the album cover!) on lead vocals and guitar, Lindsay Coulson on bass, Bennett Holland on keys and b/v, Wayne Proctor on drums; the album was produced by Alan and Wayne and features eight originals written mainly by Alan and Lindsay plus two covers.

You can tell a lot about a band by the company they keep and the two covers are instructive. In the UK probably the number one influence on blues rock bands is Free, both in terms of songs and for vocalists seeking to match the peerless voice of Paul Rodgers. “Heavy Load” is the Free song chosen here, a song less frequently covered than, say, “Fire And Water” or “Wishing Well”, but it’s a good choice, fitting in neatly with other brooding slow rockers on the album. Talking of which, the other cover is fellow Scot Frankie Miller’s “Jealousy” which receives a dramatic reading and a superb vocal from Alan. Elsewhere the band excel on mid-paced tunes like “What Am I Supposed To Do” (a co-write with older brother Stevie) on which Alan’s rhythm work is great, leaving space for Bennett to deliver a subtly understated electric piano solo which then ushers in Alan in solo mode, his guitar singing out.

If rockers are more to your taste, try opener “More Than I Can Take” with its strong organ and catchy riff or “One More Time Around” where to my ears Alan certainly achieves more than a touch of Paul Rodgers in his vocal before hitting the wah-wah pedal hard in his solo. The band can handle soul rhythms too, witness “Can’t Keep From Trying”, a joyous foot-tapper and “Let Love In”, an anthemic rocker with an irresistible lilt, a suitably positive message on which to close the album. However, my personal favourite has to be the extended ballad “A Long History Of Love” which, in just over seven minutes, runs the full range of emotions in both lyrics and guitar mastery. Alan’s solo here is wonderful, starting from a gentle approach, building his solo to a magnificent climax before taking it back down in order to deliver the last verse of the song.

For readers outside the UK for whom King King is an unknown quantity let me recommend this album of well written songs, superb singing and playing. UK Blues rock at its best.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He is looking forward to this year’s Blues Blast Awards.

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South Skunk Blues Society - Newton, IA

South Skunk Blues Society and Lizard King Blues Society bring Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials bring their signature houserockin' boogie and scorching blues back to the Elks Lodge in Grinnell, IA for a pre-Thanksgiving bash on November 15th.

Joining them are Jefferson County Green Band, a very fine rock n' roll/jamband outfit who made an appearance in October 2012 at the Elks. This is the 4th year that Lil Ed has come to play in Grinnell and the crowds each year just keep getting bigger. Due to the popularity of the show it has become a standing room only (you might want to consider purchasing tickets in advance and showing up early).

Advance tickets are now available at The advance tickets are $20 and tickets at the door will be $25. If you bring a minimum of two canned goods per person to the door, you can get in for the advance ticket price. Canned goods will be donated to help restock the MICA Food Bank.

Also on Friday November 22nd at Speakeasy in Newton the Speakeasy brings JJ Express with Travlin' Tom Robinson, 9 start time with no cover charge! For more info visit

Mississippi Valley Blues Society - Davenport, IA

Zydeco musician and Grammy winner Terrance Simien will be in the Quad Cities the week of November 4 as part of the MVBS Blues in the Schools artists-in-residence series for the 2013-2014 school year. This is the first time he has visited our area as an educator, and the Education Committee is excited by his Creole for Kidz & The History of Zydeco program. Terrance will be visiting 10 schools and presenting 4 open-to-the-public performances: Tues. Nov. 5, 11:45-12:45 p.m. at Black Hawk College, the Hawk’s Nest, 6600 34th Ave., Moline IL, Wed. Nov. 6, 11:30-12:30 p.m. at CASI, 1034 W. Kimberly, Davenport IA, Thurs. Nov. 7, 7:00-9:00 p.m. at River Music Experience, Community Stage, 2nd and Main Streets, Davenport IA and Fri. Nov. 8, 9:00 p.m. at The Muddy Waters, 1708 State St., Bettendorf IA.

Also MVBS presents UK guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter Joanne Shaw Taylor at The Muddy Waters, 1708 State Street, Bettendorf, IA on Friday, November 15. Joanne’s performance will start at 9:00 p.m. with a $15 cover charge, or $12 for members of the Mississippi Valley Blues Society.  For more info visit or call (563) 322-5837 

West Michigan Blues Society - Grand Rapids, Mi

West Michigan Blues Society presents Joanne Shaw Taylor Thursday October 24, 2013. Special early show - Doors at 7:00 PM Music at 8:00 PM at Tip Top Deluxe, 760 Butterworth Ave. SW Grand Rapids, Mi.616-272-3910

Tickets available though or at the door for $10.00 More Info at

River City Blues Society - Peoria, IL

River City Blues Society presents Dave Weld and The Imperial Flames, 7:30pm Friday October 25th at Goodfellas 1414 N. 8th St. Pekin, Illinois Admission: $6.00 for the general public or $4.00 for RCBS Members. For more info visit: or call 309-648-8510

Illinois Central Blues Club - Springfield, IL

The Illinois Central Blues Club presents the following 2 special shows - Peter Karp and Sue Foley - Nov. 8 7:30pm-11:30pm at Casey's Pub, 2200 Meadowbrook Rd, Springfield, IL (217) 241-7101 and James Armstrong w/opening act Mary Jo Curry and Tombstone Bullet, Nov. 9th 8:00pm-12:00pm at Third Base, 410 W Maple Ave S Springfield, IL (217) 522-7915

Also 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. October 28th - The Blues Deacons, Nov. 4 – Studebaker John & the Hawks, Nov. 11 – Harper, Nov. 18 – Mary Jo Curry & Tombstone Bullet, Nov. 25 – Tom Holland & the Shuffle Kings, Dec. 2 – Motor City Josh, Dec. 9 – Scott Ellison, Dec. 16 – Hurricane Ruth, Dec. 23 –Brooke Thomas & the Blues Suns, Dec. 30 – James Armstrong More info available at

Crossroads Blues Society - Rockford, IL

The Crossroads Blues Society brings Michael “Hawkeye” Herman and his Blues in the Schools program to Rockford Area Schools and for an evening show at the Hope and Anchor English Pub in Loves Park.

Michael "Hawkeye" Herman educates students by incorporating blues music into the school curriculum. He traces the influence of blues music on American popular music; jazz, bluegrass, classical, country, rock, and rap/hip-hop, and its impact on American and world culture. For 35 years, “Hawkeye” Herman has brought "The Blues Had a Baby" program to over 500 schools (elementary to college level), in 30 states and 10 foreign nations. He engages students by using his vocal and guitar skills to teach and encourage student participation via sing-along/response and by keeping time/tempo.

Among his many achievements, Herman is the co-founder of the Rogue Valley Blues Festival, Ashland, OR. The free show open to the public is at Hope and Anchor English Pub 5040 North 2nd St, Loves Park, IL Phone:(815) 633-2552. The show starts at 6:30pm

For more information about these presentations please contact: Steve Jones - Crossroads Blues Society 779-537-4006 To find out about the event, go to

Blues Society of Central PA – Harrisburg, PA

The Blues Society of Central PA proudly presents a night of ”Women of the Blues” on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at Champions Sports Bar 300 N. Second St, Highspire, PA. from 7 PM – midnight featuring The Ann Kerstetter Band, Miss T & The Mosquitoes and our headliner act , The Deanna Bogart Band. Admission is $15.00 Watch for info at

Friends Of The Blues - Watseka, IL

Now in their seventh season, The Friends of the Blues present 7 pm early shows: Thur, Nov 7, Terry Quiett Band -Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmen's Club, Tues, Dec 10, the return of the Ori Naftaly Band from Israel! - Moose Lodge in Bradley IL sponsored by Mr. Vacuum, Bradley IL More information visit us at or email  

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