No images?  Click Here to view on website

Issue 7-34, August 22, 2013

Scroll or Page Down! For news, photos, reviews, links & MUCH MORE in this issue!

Cover photo by Arnie Goodman © 2013

Links to more great content on our website:  Reviews    Links   Photos    Videos     Blues Radio     Blues Shows    Advertise for FREE!     Past Issues

 In This Issue

Terry Mullins has our feature interview with legendary Double Trouble bassman, Tommy Shannon. Marilyn Stringer has part 2 of the photos from The Portland Waterfront Blues Fest. Steve Jones has a review of the Rock N Blues Festival. Our new video of the week series features Big James & The Chicago Playboys.

We have 10 music reviews for you! Rainey Wetnight reviews a new release by The Todd Wolfe Band. Rex Bartholomew reviews a new CD of music from the TV series Swamp People and also a new release from Granvil Poynter. Mark Thompson reviews a new release from Hans Theessink and also reviews a new CD from The Hushes. John Mitchell reviews a new release from Jake Chisholm and a new CD called Remembering Little Walter . Steve Jones reviews a new CD by Trampled Under Foot. Rhys Williams reviews a album from From Grand Marquis. Greg "Bluesdog" Szalony reviews a new release from Lee Delray. 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,

This Saturday our staff writers Steve Jones and Mark Thompson present the Byron Blues Festival put on by the Crossroads Blues Society of Rockford, IL. The festival includes performances by The Nighthawks, Dave Specter & Sharon Lewis, Tweed Funk, Bobby Messano and Doug Deming and the Jewel Tones featuring Dennis Gruenling. For complete information visit or click on their ad below.

Blues Blast Magazine is a sponsor and will be there covering all the fun. Be sure to say hello to us folks in the Blues Blast T-shirts! See you there. 

The voting in the 2013 Blues Blast Music Awards continues until August 31st. So you only have just over a week to get YOUR vote in. We have more than 6,100 votes, so far! Let your favorite artists know you support them by voting now, CLICK HERE!

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music! 

Bob Kieser

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. Artists appearing include Albert Castiglia, Eddie Shaw & The 757 Allstars, John Nemeth, Doug MacLeod, Andy Poxon, Mannish Boys, Andy T & Nick Nixon Band, Bob Corritore, Brandon Santini, Cee Cee James, Shaun Murphy Band, Doug Deming, James 'Buddy' Rogers, Teeny Tucker Band, Sena Ehrhardt, Little Joe McLerran, Mike Wheeler Band, Mud Morganfield, Paula Harris and Kevin Selfe. Tickets are $35. To get your tickets now, CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Interview - Tommy Shannon  

There are things that will make you mutter ‘Holy crap!’ under your breath.

Then there are things that will flat-out take your breath away.

Gazing down upon a thriving ocean of humanity – stretched as far as the eyes can see in any direction – would probably make you do the former. Knowing that in a few short hours you have to stand on stage and entertain one of the largest gatherings of music lovers ever assembled would probably make you do the latter.

But the way that legendary Grammy Award winning bassist Tommy Shannon remembers it, the prospects of playing in front of 400,000-plus people at the Woodstock Music &Art Fair on Aug. 17, 1969 was really not all that un-nerving.


“No, it really wasn’t that big of a deal. We just got up on stage and did what we did,” he said matter-of-factly.

Shannon, who was laying down the low-end in Johnny Winter’s band at the time, somehow managed to find the extraordinary ability and inner-calm to treat a show on Max Yasgur’s 600-acre farm in front of a half-a-million hippies like it was just another gig at a local Dallas VFW.

And judging by the way the guys hit the stage and then tore into a smoking rendition of “Mama, Talk to Your Daughter” with reckless abandon; one would have to agree that they were not the least bit intimidated.

But that doesn’t mean that the then 23-year-old bass player wasn’t impressed by the spectacle he saw flying into the gig.

“I do remember coming in on a helicopter and it was just like an ocean of people down below. I’d never seen anything like it,” he said. “But we had been playing several large festivals around that time and well, to be honest, at the time I really didn’t think anything about playing at Woodstock … at least until the next day.”

That was almost 45 years ago, but that was hardly the only iconic musical experience that Tommy Shannon would be tangled up in.

Less than 15 years after he played that little midnight get-together in Bethel, New York with the Winter brothers and Uncle John Turner, Shannon was huddled up in a little room in Los Angeles, California with guitarist/vocalist Stevie Ray Vaughan and drummer Chris ‘Whipper’ Layton. And when that trio of Texans exited Jackson Browne’s studio a scant three days after they initially entered it, the world of the blues – or for that matter popular music in general – would never be the same.

The album that SRV and Double Trouble crafted over that Thanksgiving weekend in 1982 - Texas Flood (Epic Records) - turned a regionally-successful band into an international sensation, sending Vaughan, Shannon and Layton on one hell of a rocket ride to the moon.

The lightning in a bottle that SRV and Double Trouble captured on Texas Flood was undoubtedly something that caught music lovers by surprise when it first hit the streets, turning even the staunchest of blues haters into overnight fans of the genre. It also instantaneously breathed fresh, new life into the careers of a host of long-suffering blues players, legends who despite their track records, were struggling to get steady, or really any, work in 1983.

But according to Shannon, the impetus behind the Texas Flood sessions were much less grandiose than that.

“Really, we were just happy to be able to do something that we really loved. As far as what became of it, we had no idea at the time,” he said. “It’s (the album) basically where we were as a band back then. I mean, we loved all the music that we played on that record. We had a good mix of originals, plus other songs that we really liked playing … and together, that turned out to make a great record.”

Even though their time was limited in Browne’s facility, and one day of that weekend involved unloading and setting up their gear, a couple of days was more than adequate time for the band to knock one out of the park.

And the proof is surely in the pudding.

“We did eight songs one day and two the next,” Shannon said. “And actually, that was really all the time we needed. We went and set up like we would have in a club where we were playing for people. We just set up in kind of a half-circle and played. But that’s all we knew; we really weren’t all that familiar with recording studios.”

While it would be a few years later before Texas Flood (it did make it all the way to number 38 on the Billboard 200, an impressive feat for a blues album in the early 80s) really began to be heralded as one of the great – and highly influential – blues albums of all time, its impact on the careers of SRV and Double Trouble was more immediate. It could be seen at the turnstiles of the places they were gigging pretty quickly after its June 13, 1983 release date. Small bars turned into big clubs, then to large arenas and on to massive amphitheaters in what seemed like the blink of an eye.

“Our crowds started getting bigger, for sure. I remember we were playing this club in California that we’d played at a couple of times (prior to Texas Flood). Well, this time when we pulled up there to play, the crowd was stretched from the front door, all the way around the block. We didn’t know what to think. We wondered who else was playing there that night besides us. Then we finally realized that crowd was there to see us. That’s when we began to know that something really good was happening.”

Keyboardist Reese Wynans joined the train during the Soul to Soul sessions, the group’s third studio album, but despite the mounting evidence that was growing right in front of their faces, the guys still weren’t ready to believe they were headed for the stratosphere, says Shannon.

“To be honest, I don’t really think that we thought we’d ever reach the kind of success that we ultimately did. We were just so caught up in the music that we were making and the shows that we were playing, that it was kind of hard to look up from what we were doing for very long.”

All that changed on Aug. 27, 1990 when Vaughan was tragically killed in a helicopter crash after a show in East Troy, Wisconsin.

Even though Stevie Ray was gone, Shannon and Whipper continued their partnership, and the duo ended up helping to form two Austin-based groups that tasted success in the 1990s; Arc Angels and Storyville. They also made up the rock-solid rhythm section for blues artists such as Jimmy D. Lane, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Doyle Bramhall after that.

The two eventually put their Double Trouble moniker back on an album – 2001’s Been a long Time (Tone-Cool Records), an outing that saw Shannon and Layton sharing the spotlight with Jonny Lang, Dr. John, Willie Nelson and Stevie’s big brother, Jimmie Vaughan.

“We basically did what we wanted to do on that record, which was to get a bunch of our friends together and co-write and record some songs with them,” Shannon said. “It was just something that we wanted to do. It wasn’t really a blues record, but we were really happy making it. It was a lot of fun.”

From the outside looking in, it may seem like fitting in with so many different singers and guitarists – as Shannon as done over the years – would be a next-to-impossible feat to pull off. But comfortably fitting into a myriad of different situations is something that he doesn’t seem to spend much time fretting over.

“I can usually just fall in and play with just about anybody. The way most music seems to work is that the guitar player and the bass player influence each other,” he said. “It’s like, I’ll follow them for awhile and then they’ll follow me and that’s what makes a good band; that unwritten communication that goes on between the musicians.”

Great rhythm sections – like Muddy Waters’ famed bass and drum combo of Calvin ‘Fuzz’ Jones and Willie ‘Big Eyes’ Smith are not easily replicated. It seems like the magic between the two is either there from the start, or it’s not there at all. And for Shannon and Layton, it’s been there since day one.

“We’ve been together so long and that’s sure part of it. You know, a lot of it is intuitive … you just kind of feel what the other person is going to do. It’s really just one of those things that you don’t think about, you just start playing and it works out,” he said. “And for the two of us, it’s really seemed to work out.”

Born in Tucson, Arizona, Shannon discovered the joys of playing live music in front of an audience when he was a teenager. Starting out playing the six-string, Shannon switched over to the bass when he was around 21.

“I started playing music when I was about 15 years old. We had a band but we weren’t worth a shit … but we were trying. We put together enough money to buy our instruments and that’s how it all started,” he laughed. “By the time we were in high school, me and one of the guys in the band had our own apartment. It was just a gradual thing, though, learning to be a musician. We learned from other guys as we went along. Then I moved to Dumas, Texas and they’d never had a band there, so we didn’t have anybody to look up to.”

However, all that changed with a move to the Big D.

“Later I moved to Dallas and heard all these great, black musicians and that’s when my musical growth really started. I grew 10 years musically in just one year after I got to Dallas,” he said. “So really, my musical journey was just putting one foot in front of the other and taking things one step at a time.”

While he was certainly learning and developing his chops, Shannon’s first steps toward the world of the blues didn’t begin until he bumped into an up-and-coming guitar player at The Fog club in Dallas. That guitarist, Johnny Winter, and Shannon, formed what was then known as The Progressive Blues Experiment.

And as they say … the rest is history.

“I remember he (Winter) had this huge wall of records and he turned me onto to all these blues players through that wall of records. He told me the history behind each one and everything and when I came out of that, I knew how to play the blues.”

And play the blues is just what Shannon has done since that day, taking to some of the most hallowed stages scattered all across the globe. Certainly, playing at venues like Carnegie Hall and in exotic locales like Montreux, Switzerland has got to rank at the top of the highlight list for him. However, it’s hard to imagine anything sweeter than the hometown shindig that took place in April of last year at Austin’s revered spot for the blues – Antone’s. It was a night that’s still being talked about in excited tones over a year later – Shannon’s birthday blowout extravaganza.

Not only was the evening stuffed with more blues stars than a dumptruck could hold, but for the first time in almost a decade, Shannon, Layton and Wynans shared an Austin stage together.

“It was really just a magical, magical night. I sure didn’t expect that many people to turn out for it. It was sold out and there were lines all the way down the block trying to get in. It was great,” he said. “A lot of great musicians were there and played … I was very, very happy … it just turned out really good.”

The world has spun around many times since Texas Flood was unleashed 30 years ago and with that, much has changed, including the health of blues music.

“Well, one of the bad things that happened to the blues is that all of the old, original guys that we looked up to and got our inspiration from are gone now. We’ve got Buddy Guy and B.B. and a few other ones left, but the ones that we really learned from are gone now,” Shannon said. “And that’s something that is really hurting the blues right now.”

Although you can feel the hurt and the lament in his voice when Shannon speaks of the passing of the beloved musicians that he once turned to when his own creative juices needed a spark, you can also sense that he’s not given up the hope that future generations of up-and-coming blues players will have a direction to look when they need inspiration; just like in 1983 when a young Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble proved to the world that the blues need not be some dusty, stoic and long forgotten about form of music.

“I sure hope there’s some young players coming up that will be regarded like that one day. We’ve got guys like (Austin’s own) Gary Clark Jr. and he’s sure one that could carry the torch,” Shannon said. “Stevie sure carried it when he was alive and I’m hoping he won’t be the last one. I get a lot of mail through my Web site from kids that ask questions about the blues and how to go about playing them. So there’s still a lot of demand for the blues and I hope that never changes. But as for me, well, right now I’m just playing around for fun. I’m not trying to make it big or anything like that. I’m just having fun playing, just like I did when I first started playing music.”

Visit Tommy's website at

Photos by Arnie Goodman © 2013

Interviewer Terry Mullins is a journalist and former record store owner whose personal taste in music is the sonic equivalent of Attention Deficit Disorder. Works by the Bee Gees, Captain Beefheart, Black Sabbath, Earth, Wind & Fire and Willie Nelson share equal space with Muddy Waters, The Staples Singers and R.L. Burnside in his compact disc collection. He's also been known to spend time hanging out on the street corners of Clarksdale, Miss., eating copious amounts of barbecued delicacies while listening to the wonderful sounds of the blues.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE.

 Featured Blues Review 1 of 10

Todd Wolfe Band - Miles to Go

American Showplace Music

CD: 10 songs; 45:40 Minutes

Styles: Modern Electric Blues Rock

Blues artists are sometimes known for the company they keep. Take Todd Wolfe, a band mate and collaborator with Sheryl Crow 1993 - 98. Hers is a household name in the world of pop, and his has long been connected with blues rock. According to his website, “Todd began playing on the New York scene back in 1979 with his band Nitetrain, a trio that clearly reflected Todd’s influences - 60’s bands like Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Fleetwood Mac and other bluesy-rocky-jamming bands.” “Miles to Go,” his eighth album since departing Sheryl’s ensemble, pays refreshing homage to these legends of more than fifty years ago. With that said, only two songs out of ten on this CD are covers (Howlin Wolf’s “Forty Four” and George Harrison’s “The Inner Light”). These three originals are especially catchy:

Track 02: “Sunnyvale”--This low-down acoustic stomp should have given “Miles to Go” a running start as its first track. Its chorus contains a shadow of the grisly image of Golgotha: “I’ve got chills for you, honey; I’m burning from the frost. Way to treat a man when he’s hanging from the cross!” One might wonder where the song’s title comes from, because it’s not mentioned. However, there’s no doubt of the source of the band’s inspiration: its red-hot mojo. Fans of Too Slim and the Taildraggers will love “Sunnyvale.”

Track 05: “Day to Day”--Being on the “rock” side of blues rock isn’t always a bad thing. Witness “Day to Day,” an electric-guitar thrill ride that pulls no punches about hard times: “To all the pundits and preachers and the silence they’re giving, I say I’m living, yes, I’m living day to day.” That particular refrain is a definite earworm, and the tempo of this fifth track is the most danceable on the album.

Track 06: “I Stand Alone”--Almost as mellow and poignant as Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven,” Wolfe’s second acoustic ballad combines confession and redemption: “No sweet caress to comfort me, no touch from a gentle soul. My heart, it aches from loneliness, but I know I’ve miles to go. Miles to go, miles from home….” At some point in our lives, nearly all of us can relate to Todd’s sentiments here, and that’s why they strike such a universal chord.

Alongside Wolfe are Roger Voss on drums, percussion, and backing vocals, and bassist and background vocalist Justine Gardner. He also gives special thanks to John Ginty on organ and piano, Steve Guyger on harmonica and Sweet Suzi on backing vocals. He may not be in Sheryl Crow’s band anymore, but Todd Wolfe is certainly in good company now, with many more “Miles to Go” in their blues career!.

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 Video Of The Week

This week we continue a new series of weekly videos of advertisers. This week we feature a video of Big James & The Chicago Playboys performing on the 2011 Blues Cruise. Big James is headlining on Saturday August 31st at the Marquette Area Blues Fest in Marquette Michigan. See their ad above in this issue. To see the video, click on the image below.

For information on this great performer visit


 Featured Blues Review 2 of 10

Hans Theessink - Wishing Well

Blue Groove

14 tracks/59:27

It is not easy to get recognition in the blues world. It is even harder if you live in The Netherlands. Despite twenty-five albums to his credit, Hans Theessink is probably not a name you would hear in a discussion about the best contemporary acoustic blues musicians.

And that is huge oversight that becomes apparent as you listen to his latest recording. After two critically acclaimed discs with soul/gospel singer Terry Evans, Theessink opts to keep things simple by creating a virtual one-man band through the use of overdubbing. He handles all of the vocals while playing 6 & 12 string guitars, a ters guitar (smaller classical guitar tuned a minor third higher), 5 and 6 string banjos, mandolin, mandola, mandocello, mando-guitar and a bit of harmonica for some extra spice. That’s a lot of strings but Theessink quickly demonstrates his mastery of whichever instrument he is playing as he crafts a lush acoustic landscape on every song.

The program mixes original songs with several arrangements of traditional material plus covers of tunes by some of Theessink’s favorite songwriters. His warm baritone voice curls around the bright rhythms created by the strings, drawing you in to a soft, inviting world fill of introspection and hope. The title song, written in India, is about the freeing your soul through forgiveness, with Theessink using the mando-guitar for the light, ringing tones dancing around his deep-toned vocal. Blessings Nkomo plays the shaker on “Take Your Picture”, complete with some vocal merriment from Theessink.

“Kathmandu” came to him when he was in Nepal to play the Himalayan Blues Festival several years ago. The mixture of Gyan Singh on tablas and Theesink’s slide guitar make for an intoxicating listen. The pace picks up a bit on “Didn’t We Try” as the singer examines fond memories of a failed marriage. David Pearlman on pedal steel guitar adds a country flavor to “New Home Upon the Hill”, a song that issues a warning about rising flood waters. “Early This Morning Blues” finds Theessink picking guitar, banjo and mandolin to create a sprightly “leaving” blues tune. Inspired by Townes van Zandt, “Hellbound” is stark, moody tale about a card game for your soul. Pearlman’s pedal steel creates an other-worldly surrounding for the rugged vocal.

Theessink offers one of his favorite van Zandt songs, “Snowin’ on Raton”, as a tribute to the legendary troubadour. He delivers memorable versions of familiar traditional material as he once again does a magnificent job of intertwining the assembly of strings on “Make Me Down a Pallet on Your Floor” while “Wayfaring Stranger” gets a more somber treatment. Brownie McGhee’s “Living with the Blues” gets a light-hearted approach as Theessink’s weathered voice flows over the vibrant rhythm. He carves out a seductive tale on “Delia”, before slipping into a chilling interpretation of Bob Dylan’s “Ballad of Hollis Brown” with the petal steel heightening the arrangement with a tinge of supernatural feel.

The gatefold packaging includes comments from Theessink on each of the tracks, giving you further insight into how they touched his soul. If you have never made the effort to listen to Hans Theessink, the moment has come to make up for lost time. This is an outstanding collection of acoustic blues and folk tales that comes highly recommended!

Reviewer Mark Thompson lives in Florida, where he is enjoying life without snow. He is a member of the Board of Directors for the Suncoast Blues Society and the past president of the Crossroads Blues Society of Northern Illinois. Music has been a huge part of his life for the past fifty years - just ask his wife!

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE


 Featured Blues Review 3 of 10

Various Artists – Remembering Little Walter

Blind Pig Records

11 tracks; 56 minutes

Little Walter Jacobs was without doubt the most influential post-war harmonica player, not only playing with Muddy Waters and having several major hits of his own but also developing the range and technique of his chosen instrument. This album brings together five star harp players with a hand-picked backing group to present eleven songs associated with Walter. The harp players are Charlie Musselwhite, Billy Boy Arnold (both of whom knew Walter personally), Sugar Ray Norcia, James Harman and Mark Hummel. The band has Little Charlie Baty and Nathan James on guitars, June Core on drums and RW Grigsby on double bass. The idea developed from Mark Hummel’s ‘Harmonica Blowouts’ in which all the harp players here have featured over the years. The set was recorded live in San Diego and produced by Mark Hummel.

Each harpist has two features and there is a seven minute version of “My Babe” on which everyone sings and plays harp, even Charlie Baty who puts down his guitar for this one! The set opens with Mark Hummel doing a fun version of “I Got To Go” which whips along at pace, driven by the two guitars. In complete contrast, Mark’s other feature is “Blue Light”, a very slow blues instrumental which gives Mark an opportunity to play a series of drawn out notes on his harp. Charlie Musselwhite covers “Just A Feeling” beautifully, his almost lazy sounding vocals suiting the song well. “One Of These Mornings” is a faster piece on which the bass playing is a particular feature. Billy Boy Arnold opens “You’re So Fine” with a blast of harp and his vocals are probably closest to the original Chicago sound of Little Walter’s days. “Can’t Hold Out Much Longer” is a slower Walter tune which is not to be confused with Elmore James’ song of a similar title. James Harman covers two songs associated with Walter but not written by him. “Crazy Mixed Up World” is an often covered Willie Dixon song and Harman’s relaxed vocal style works very well here. His other piece is Al Duncan’s “It’s Too Late Brother”, another uptempo piece. Probably my personal favourite here is Sugar Ray Norcia who tackles “Mean Old World” (a song he often plays with The Bluetones) and his great voice fits the song perfectly. “Up The Line” moves along at a fast pace with a touch of Latin feel in the rhythm, drummer Core excelling and Ray producing some fluent harp playing.

It goes without saying that all the harp players do a great job and the finale of an extended “My Babe” offers the chance to compare and contrast even more directly as each player gets a verse and a solo. Definitely a must for harp fans, this one will also have a broader appeal through the pedigree of the players involved.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He is currently planning a trip to Chicago to attend this year’s Blues Blast Awards.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 4 of 10

Various Artists – Swamp People, Music Inspired by the TV Series

Rounder Record Company

13 tracks / 48:40

I do not watch much television, let alone reality shows, so I was a bit nonplussed when the Swamp People, Music Inspired by the TV Series CD showed up in my mailbox. I am not familiar with the show and figured that it would be a compilation of mood music and kitschy dialogue from the show. I was wrong – this disc is chock full of first-rate blues, country, Zydeco, bayou, soul and roots music.

In case you are in the same boat as me, Swamp People is a reality show that has been broadcast on History since 2010. The show follows groups of Cajun alligator hunters as they ply their trade in Louisiana. It is quite a hit for the network, with millions of viewers for each episode. Who knew?

The songs on the album are not really derived from the show, but instead fit in with its theme. There is only one original track (the theme song, “Swamp People”), and most of the rest of the collection pre-dates the show, sometimes by decades. There are famous classic recordings mixed in with more obscure new music, and it all fits in well with the premise of the program.

The title track, Steel Bill’s “Swamp People,” is the newest song of the bunch and it was written specifically for the show. Its country rap stylings and lyrics remind me of what Kid Rock has been doing for the past decade. It will probably not become a classic, but Billy Joe Tharpe did a good job of making it match up with the subject matter of the show.

Things really pick up after this, and the rest of the album is fantastic. The Rounder folks did a nice job of combing their catalog for gems, and they stuck with the alligator theme whenever possible. First up is Jerry Reed’s “Amos Moses,” a hilarious country song from 1970 that details a one-armed gator hunter’s troubling upbringing and brushes with the law. Tony Joe White’s “Polk Salad Annie” is another winner. This swamp rock hit from 1968 was written by drawing from his hardscrabble upbringing on a Louisiana cotton farm. The lyrics are funny and a bit corny, but he pulls it off and it is a great song. Elvis covered it, you know…

The other king, Hank Williams, makes an appearance on CD too This CD would not have been complete without “Jambalaya (on the Bayou),” his 1952 country hit. There have been so many covers of this song that it was refreshing to hear his original again, which adds a bit of Cajun flavor as he recounts the life of partying and eating in the Louisiana style. If this song is not in your library, you are missing out.

One song that I never saw coming was The Neville Brothers’ “Fire on the Bayou.” I had not heard this 1981 soul/funk piece in the longest time, and it features the tight back line and beautiful vocal harmonies that these gentlemen are known for. The Neville Brothers are native sons of New Orleans, making the inclusion of this hit all the more appropriate.

A couple of neat instrumentals were thrown into the mix, too. Buckwheat Zydeco’s “Zydeco La Lauisianne” has a frenetic party pace and some lovely accordion work, and Amanda Shaw’s “French Jig” is full of fantastic Cajun fiddle. This young lady is one to watch, as her singing is just as good as her violin playing. Though she is only 22, she has already released four very good albums, and we will be seeing a lot more of her.

The album finishes off with an obvious choice, “See You Later, Alligator.” But instead of the popular (and predictable) Bill Haley and the Comets version, they went with the original performed by Bobby Charles, who is the man who wrote the song in the first place. Charles’ original is in the New Orleans blues style with some nifty drum work, and I prefer it over Haley’s rock and roll cover. To me, this is the standout track on this project.

So, do not judge this release by its title or by the show that inspired it. If you write it off because you dislike the show you will miss out on a fabulous amalgamation of Southern music. This stuff was recorded by the best the business has to offer over the past 50 years, so check it out if you get the chance!

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

For other reviews and interviews on our website CCLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 5 of 10

Trampled Under Foot - Badlands


13 tracks/56 minutes

The Schnebelen family band of singer-bassist Danielle, singer-guitarist Nick and drummer Kris have come a long way in a short amount of time. The maturity and musicality they expressed in this CD, their newest, is amazing. Trampled Under Foot won the 2008 IBC and Nick won the Albert King Award for best guitar player.

The were vote "Band Of The Year" by Blues Blast Magazine readers in 2011 and in 2012.

Their careers have skyrocketed ever since. They have performed all over the world, from Kansas City to Nottodden and back again and are creating a huge fan base wherever they perform. Badlands shows us how much the band has grown in these five years, with 13 fantastic songs that they have penned (along with producer Tony Braunagel). The CD opened at number one on the charts, so I guess I am not alone in giving it high praise!

The CD opens to a soulful vocal and deep bass line my Danielle in “Bad, Bad Feeling.” The power of and expression in her voice is just amazing. Nick comes in for a nifty guitar solo and they let us know that this is going to be a great CD. Mike Finnigan is on keys and his organ work on “Dark of the Night” is pretty cool for this bouncy song as Danielle returns for the vocals and Nick for another nice guitar solo. Nick and Mike open “Don’t Want No Woman” in a big way as Nick sings this one. His vocals are emotional and gritty as they rock this one through. “Mary” allows Danielle to take a different tact as she goes smooth and sultry on us in this cut. Nick delivers a suave solo and Daniele builds a bit as she ends this tale about her best friend who is a man eater. This leads us to the title cut, and once again Danielle’s bass line is huge and Nick delivers a breathy performance in this R&B number. He’s not singing about the iconic and scenic American Badlands but the Badlands that we live in as our society crumbles. Heady lyrics, nice guitar work, and a swanky beat make this a winner.

“You Never Really Loved Me” is a slow and bluesy ballad that gives Danielle yet another shot at flooring us. Mike’s organ is up there with her as she builds and tears her heart out for us. Nick then comes in for a stinging solo before Danielle lays it all out to finish. “Pain in My Mind” gives us Nick again with a gutsy song with a couple of nice guitar solos to boot. “I Didn’t Try” has Danielle singing about airing her dirty laundry and exposing her as a fraud of love as she emotes again on another soulful cut with great support by Nick and Mike. Nick delivers a powerful performance in “Desperate Heart” as he tells of his desperation in losing the one he loves. Slow blues done up hot and juicy with another poignant guitar solo as Danielle and Kris lay down a great and sensual groove as Nick builds to an almost desperate crescendo.

Johnny Lee Schell gives us some pretty acoustic slide as he and Nick open “Down to the River.” The rest of the band comes in after a minute or so to build on what was started. It’s a really cool little number. “Home to You” swings and jives with Danielle, and then she goes into “Two Go Down,” a powerful cut where she probably gives her biggest performance on the album- whew! She then closes with “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” and leaves us hanging on our seats awaiting every breath.

This is their best work to date, hands down. They continue to amaze me and show us more and more with each passing album and performance. This is a band to be reckoned with; do not pass this CD by. These young men and lady are the real deal! Most highly recommended!!!

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 works 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 6 of 10

Granvil Poynter – Another Day Singing the Blues

Self Release

14 tracks / 45:16

Granvil Poynter is an old-school blues rocker, having learned his craft in the roadhouses of his native Arkansas, and continuously honing his skills in the bars and juke joints of the Lone Star State. His gateway to the blues was the incredible work of popular artists Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughn, and once he got a taste oft of this he dug deeper and discovered the marvel of the old school masters, including (among others) Muddy Waters, Albert King, and John Lee Hooker. Granvil has worked hard over the past three decades and relentlessly keeps at the trade, gigging around the San Antonio / Austin area of Texas with his four-piece group and never losing contact with fans of the genre.

After this long in the business Poynter’s debut CD, Another Day Singing the Blues, is long overdue. It has 14 tracks, 6 of which were penned by him, as well as a nice cross-section of covers from the greats, including John Prine (one of my favorites), B.B. King and Bo Diddley. Granvil takes care of most of the vocal and guitar chores, and he is joined by a bevy of fine artists, including his usual band of Gilbert "Big Daddy" Gonzales on drums, Bobby "The Monster" Cook on bass and Benny Harp on harmonica. There are also quite a few guest artists, all of whom are quite capable musicians in their own right.

This disc starts off with the original track, “Black,” and right away we get to see what Mr. Poynter is all about. His voice is a hybrid of Lou Reed and Johnny Cash, and he writes vocals that are not terribly deep, but certainly get straight to the point. This swamp rock tune features some nice harmonica work from Harp, as well as Keith Harter on guitars, and his sons Josh and Jon Harter on bass and drums.

By the way, I must note that Keith Harter produced this album and it was recorded at his studio, Harter Music, in San Antonio. The Harter crew did a first-rate job of recording and mixing all of the tracks and you will have a hard time finding anything to criticize in the production of this disc.

“Rock Me, Rock Me” is next track in the queue, and this original track is a short dose of Chuck Berry-style 1960s rock with an uptempo melody that is quite catchy. From there they jump into a cover of Eddie Boyd’s 1968 classic blues tune, “3rd Degree,” which had renewed popularity in the mid 1990s after Eric Clapton recorded his own version of it. At this point we finally get to hear what Poynter can do with the guitar, and he proves to be a consummate bluesman. He is able to produce a nice thick tone, and obviously has a good feel for the instrument. Scott Burns’ organ is featured on this track, and his presence adds a cool vibe to the tune, not to mention a killer break midway through.

Keeping with the Slowhand theme, Poynter’s song “All the Way” is a re-do of “We’re All the Way,” which was originally laid down as a country song by Don Williams, and later covered by Clapton in the late 1970s. This is not all of the Clapton material on this CD, either: E.C. also covered Willie Dixon/Elmore James’ “Can’t Hold Out” in 1974, and, “Rock Me” is a song that was originally penned by BB King, and later re-recorded by King and Clapton as a duet. I guess Granvil is a big fan!

His cover of John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery” is a complete remodel of the 1971 original. For starters, he rewrote the lyrics to come from a masculine point of view, which gave me a lot to think about. He also gave the song a gospel feel with the inclusion of Burn’s B3 organ and hearty background vocals from Valerie Fernandez and Andrea Sanderson. It worked out really well, and this is my favorite track from this release.

Granvil also covered one of his own songs: “It’s All Black,” which is a slicker version of “Black,” the first track on this album. I liked the addition of the organ part on this tune, but when this song is viewed in the context of all of the other cover tunes on this release, there is just not enough original material to be found. As I said before, all of the tracks are very well done, but after all those years of performing I would have hoped to have heard more of Poynter’s own writing on his debut CD. Fortunately, the album finishes off with one last original, the title track.

Another Day Singing the Blues is a good first effort; Granvil Poynter and the great musicians that were gathered together for this project should be proud of the work they have done. This is a very nice blues-inspired disc, and I hope you get the chance to give it a listen.

Reviewer 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 Live Blues Review 1 of 2 - Portland Waterfront Blues Festival Part 2

Portland’s four day festival, over the 4th of July, is the best in the west. For only $10/day and two cans of food you can see great music all day long on four stages and take in a riverboat cruise throughout the festival with three bands per cruise. The Oregon Food Bank’s biggest fund raiser topped their goal and brought in over $1.3 million this year to feed the hungry. For the first time in their history, they put on Sensational Sunday which had the biggest headliners and required a more expensive pass but it didn’t seem to slow down the over ten thousand people that showed up.

Due to the number of performances throughout the day – around 30/day – I was only able to cover a portion of those so I had to pick wisely. Portland is packed with great talent that always occupies many of the time slots, the IBC winner each year plays the festival, and the national talent scheduled by Peter Dammann is always stellar. The festival setting is right downtown on the river’s edge, family friendly, has lots of great vendors and food, and the weather this year was perfect! What a great success for all!

(Due to the number of bands – I will keep the descriptions short so I can squeeze everyone in!)

Saturday’s shows started with Kelly’s Lot, with Kelly Zirbes singing the blues with style and heart.


On the Main Stage, Oregon Music Hall of Fame Inductees, Terry Robb (Guitar) and Calvin Walker (vocals) got back together after 25 years to perform and record and put on a show to “touch the heart”. With them were John Pounds (bass), Ron Regan (KB-Sax), and Dennis Carter (drums).


Next up were the Roseland Hunters who put some northwest spin on some New Orleans funk. On the congas was Brian Foxworth (who can also be seen drumming for Curtis Salgado).


Vocalist and superb harp player Mitch Kashmar added Alan Hagar (guitar), David Kahl (bass), and Jimi Bott (drums) to his band and came up with Portland’s pure blues best.

Although just by looking at him and watching his unique style of guitar playing, you would never suspect that Scott Pemberton’s style of Roots/Funk/Americana/Rock and yes, Blues, is truly captivating. He is outside the box, untraditional, and declares “I figured out the only thing I am good at is playing guitar!”


Winner of awards from both Portland in his earlier years, and now Canada where is lives, David Vest is known as a one of the long time classics of rock & roll and blues piano players since 1957. For his return to Portland he brought long-time BB King bassist Russell Jackson and added Peter Dammann on guitar.

My, My!! Danny Click & the Hell Yeahs!! What a great first time appearance for a guitar player whose searing guitar is a fusion of blues and rock & roll. Highly entertaining and well known in the SF Bay Area, Danny and the band blew the audience away. With him were Adrienne Biggs (violin), Bonnie Hayes (kb), Don Bassey (bass), and Ernest Boom Carter (drums). All I can say about them is Hell Yeah!!


Duffy Bishop is loved by all in the Pacific Northwest, whether she is joining another band or fronting her own. Her humor and style just add to her great performances. Joining her this year were Chris Carlson (guitar), Dave Fleischner (kb), and Dean Mueller (bass).

Everyone who hears Nikki Hill can’t seem to get enough of her retro-modern blues. And then add Matt Hill (guitar), Joe Meyer (drums), and Ed Strohsahl (bass) to the mix and the formula manages to take you back to the roots of blues while keeping it fresh and new. Their fan base is growing rapidly, with me at the front!

Back over on the main stage was the North Mississippi Allstars band with brothers Luther (guitar) and Cody (drums) Dickinson, joined by Lightnin’ Malcolm. They play Mississippi Hill Country Blues infused with the young rock style to the festival.

One more trip back to the middle stage to catch Chubby Carrier & The Bayou Swamp Band and to add to the already fun party, Lady “A” White joined in the set.

Closing out Saturday was the great legend John Hiatt.

Sunday started out with the Selwyn Birchwood Band, winner of the 2013 IBC. With Selwyn were Curtis Nitall (drums), Huff Wright (bass) and Regi Oliver (sax). A well-deserved win for this band from Florida.

Bringing the Chicago ”Real Deal” blues to Oregon was John Primer, as only he can!! With him were Melvin Smith (bass), Russ Green (harmonica), and John Pose (drums). John Primer is truly true Chicago blues at it’s best.

Back on the main stage was blues group, Cooper, who were young, lively, and brought a full band of horns, backup singers, and a strong influence of retro blues. They were great!!

Portland’s Ty Curtis is part of the young, guitar shredding, rock blues generation. Ty puts his own twist in while staying true to the blues. With his addition of slide & acoustic guitar player Terry Robb, the combo was over the top with a lot of head shaking “wow!”. Also with him was Alex Shakeri (kb), Jerry Jacques (drums), and David Kahl (bass).


Linda Hornbuckle has been a staple to the blues community in Portland for many decades and is considered one of the most powerful blues/soul/gospel singers in the Northwest. Traditionally, on Sunday morning, she fills the stage for Linda Hornbuckle’s Old Time Gospel Show. It always a magical set of deep heart and soul reaching music.

For all the people who missed them on Saturday, and for all the new fans, Nikki & Matt Hill wowed the crowd again on Sunday at the Oregon Stage, where the crowds were huge, even though their competition was one of the main headliners of the day.

The beautiful and passionate and equally fun loving Mavis Staples performed on the Main Stage. She is just a treasure and her shows are always a moving experience. Her band is equally stellar. Shown are Jeff Turmes (bass) and the magnificent Rick Holmstrom (guitar).

Closing out Sensational Sunday were the Robert Randolph Family Band and Robert Plant on the main stage (professional cameras were banned for RP).Both were great ways to end the festival.


So with that we waved goodbye to another great Portland Waterfront Blues Festival. Thanks to all the hundreds of volunteers and staff who work all year long to put on the biggest blues and music festival west of the Mississippi. Another success story and so much fun for all of us who wait all year for it to happen! See you next year!

Photos and Commentary by Marilyn Stringer  

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Live Blues Review 2 of 2 - A Rock N Blues Fest

A Rock ‘N’ Blues Fest featuring two Woodstock bands and seminal Blues rockers from the 70’s and 80’s almost seemed too good to be true when I first heard about this show. Canned Heat, Pat Travers, Rick Derringer, Edgar Winter and Ten Years After all together on one stage for a night? I had previously read about the show and looked into it and when I got the call from Blues Blast to cover this it made the decision to go even easier. I was especially glad I had an opportunity to see and hear all these bands!

The plan was for the first three bands to each do a 20 minute set and then Edgar would do a half hour set, as would Ten Years After. Ten Years After’s set was designed as a tribute to the recently passed Alvin Lee. The bands stayed pretty much true to the schedule and delivered a great sampling of their hits. If I had one complaint it would be the same as everyone else who was in attendance: we all wanted to hear more from each band!

The event is part of a month long tour that is being done by all these bands as a Rock ‘N’ Blues Fest. This particular night was at the Arcada Theater in St. Charles, Illinois. St. Charles is well known for their great entertainment venues, and Ron Onesti has a very cool one in the Arcada Theater. He uses the theater to bring great acts to the far-Western Chicago suburbs. I spoke briefly with Ron and complemented him on his efforts. He said that he had a show with Edgar Winter and some other artists back in December and when the opportunity arose to get him back he said he jumped at the chance. Built in 1926, the theater has been home to musical and entertainment acts since it opened. Onesti has been hosting most of his “” events at the Arcada for about four years now.


Kicking off the evening was Canned Heat. This band has been together in one format or another since the 1960’s and was featured at Woodstock. Drummer Fito De La Parra, bass player Larry “The Mole” Taylor and Harvey “The Snake” Mandel date back to Woodstock and the band’s classic era; interestingly enough, Woodstock was only Harvey’s third gig with the band and he left them a year later. The band has in part gone and come back together over the years; in 2007 Dave Spalding was added and he plays harp, guitar and does vocals.

They launched into a short set of their best, opening with “On The Road Again” and then a cool Mandel solo “Midnight Sun.” Mandel sat down and played out the rest of the set, with “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” next up on the set list. The crowd’s favorite appeared to be the next song, the classic “Going Down to the Country.” Dave Spalding joked with the crowd as they cheered wildly, saying that they all appeared to be properly medicated. He then added the caveat that they also appeared to be his age so while that may have meant something different years ago, it now meant they were taking their arthritis meds! They finished up with a couple of more tunes, nicely concluding with “Let’s Work Together” which left the crowd screaming for more. 

Pat Travers was next up and the show switched from blues and rock to pretty much straight up rock. Travers is the musicians’ musician, well known for his stellar guitar play and musicianship. Joining him were the fine guitar player Kirk McKim and Edgar Winter’s back line, Koko Powell on bass and Jason Carpenter on drums.

Travers opened with “Rock and Roll Tonight” and then a brand new cut called “Diamond Girl” from his new CD Can Do. I talked to Pat about his new CD and he said it was the result of 5 years of his struggles with the economy and life in America. He said his new songs are full of his life experiences and emotions and that he wants to focus on promoting it for at least the next six to nine months.


His last CD before Can Do was a blues album entitled Blues On Fire. Prepping for that gave him a great perspective on song both writing and performing. He said his research and listening to blues from the 1920’s gave him an understanding that he had not had before. The guitar was not present, the vocalist was the main focus, the piano was the primary instrument, and song verses often varied in length yet it didn’t matter. He figures less rigidity in song writing could be a good thing. I asked him if there should be less rules to follow in writing songs and his response was, “Exactly!”

We shared a glass of wine together and chatted about the tour and the road ahead for a good bit. He laid down 52 cuts and various takes over 52 weeks in recording his new CD while also going out and performing. He hopes his new CD gets noticed and helps refocus his career. His performance showed me the old Pat Travers is still alive and well, no pun on Rick Derringer intended. Anyway, after the new cut Pat’s set continued with a superb rendition of “Red House” and then his great song “Snortin’ Whiskey, Drinkin’ Cocaine.” He concluded to a huge ovation after he closed with “Boom Boom, Out Go The Lights” as the Hammer Heads got on their feet and screamed for more.

Rick Derringer took the stage next. Backing him as with Pat was Edgar’s backline again along with Edgar’s guitar player Doug Rappaport. Derringer is an impishly small and happy go lucky guy who still can wow a crowd.

He opened with “So Sad” and then moved into the famed “Still Alive and Well.” He then told the story of how his McCoy’s song “Hang On Sloopy” was number one until it was displaced by the Beatle’s “Yesterday.” On tour with Ringo Starr a few years back, Derringer said he was telling that story to crowds night after night for several weeks and finally thought to ask Ringo if it was ok to bring it up that “Yesterday” was number two to “Sloopy” for a period of time. Ringo’s respond to Rick was, “Why would it bother me? I didn’t play on either of those songs!” Rick then did a great rendition of “Hang on Sloopy” and added the verses removed by the folks who edited the original release. He concluded with “Rock and Roll Hootchie Coo” and once again the crowd was on their feet asking for more! The song sounded as fresh today as when he first recorded it.

Edgar Winter’s set was a “mere” three songs that filled his half hour, but they were crowd favorites. He opened with “Tobacco Road” Next was “Frankenstein,” which he noted was never intended for release; it was he and drummer jamming on drums together with Edgar also playing his newly devised strapped keyboard.

He brought Derringer back out for “Free Ride” as they rocked the house. His backing group who had also backed the prior two acts are a stellar set of musicians on their own. Winter is quite the showman; animated, lively and just having a great time with the music that a generation of Americans has imbedded into their psyches. Edgar played his keyboard, tenor sax and drums and sang his butt off, too. He was all over the stage and looked to be in fantastic shape! And hearing those three songs that “ARE” Edgar Winter was just too much fun. Derringer’s reprise with Edgar was also quite sweet. He and Rappaport have a good rapport (no pun intended here, either) as they demonstrated in both Derringer’s set and in “Free Ride.” Both Johnny and Edgar have been well served by Rick and he by them. It was great to see them together on stage.

Ten Years After is comprised of original members Leo Lyon on bass, Ric Lee on drums, and Chick Churchill on keys. Joe Gooch is the young guitar player and singer who has now fronted the band for over ten years.

They warmed the crowd up with a couple songs (I loved “King of the Blues”). The tribute to Alvin Lee included classic songs like “I’d Love to Change the World,””Let Me Love You Baby” and “I’m Going Home.” That last song concluded the set and included a medley of “Baby Please Don't Go,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Hound Dog,” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’” as they and Lee also did at Woodstock. An encore was allowed for the night’s final band and they played “Choo Choo Mama” to conclude the superb night of tunes by these super artists. Leo Lyon’s bass solo during “Let Me Love You Baby” may have been one of the coolest bass solos I have ever heard.

These guys played Woodstock and still can bring it. Alvin Lee was the heartbeat of Ten Years After, but his presence with the band for the last several decades has been spotty at best; he went solo early on and only returned here and there for short spots. These guys have kept this together and let me tell you Joe Gooch is no slouch on guitar and vocals- he can serve it up as well as the rest of the band. I asked him how he became a member of the band, thinking perhaps they had discovered him in some unique setting. What he told me was quite more mundane- he had submitted a demo CD that Ric, Leo and Chick fell in love with. I talked to the band in the dressing room prior to the set and after the show. Ric and Leo were very animated and you can tell very much into the music they had played and continue to play along with writing and performing new songs. They stressed it was not just about rehashing the old stuff, but they do pay the old classic songs great respect and you could tell they were humbled and upset still from Alvin’s passing. Ric poured me a glass of wine to drink with him as we chatted about the tour and life in general. Leo could not help marveling and talking about submarines; he had found out that I had served in them and asked me to compare them to the old ones on display in San Diego where they had recently performed. They are really great guys, down to earth and quite humble for all their travels and fame.

All in all this was a fantastic evening. The blues rockers from Woodstock started and ended the affair and the three rockers in between built and built up the energy. All five acts really set the crowd on fire. These guys and their bands can still bring it with the best of them! I was excited to see them all and was not disappointed in their performances at all. It sounded great, the venue was stellar and the experience was one I will not soon forget!

Photos by Steve Jones 

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 works 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 - 7 of 10

The Hushes - Sunlight & Fire


10 tracks/40:25

Based out of Adelaide, the capital city of Southern Australia, comes a quartet of acoustic musicians collectively known as The Hushes. The group is comprised of Emily Davis and Cal Williams Jr. on guitars, Kory Horwood on double bass and Ben Timbers on guitar, mandolin and banjo. All four members take an active role in the vocal department.

The program consists four songs composed by Williams Jr. plus a fifth tune he co-wrote with Davis and Horwood, three interpretations of material from the traditional realm and two covers. Davis takes the lead on “John the Revelator”, her rich voice conveying the warning of impending reckoning in the Son house classic. The gospel standard “(Down by the) Riverside” has a brief dose of Horwood’s deep bass tone before the group engages in a sing-along punctuated by some mandolin licks from Timbers. Davis pairs up with Horwood’s bass for a dark, ominous opening passage on “Black Betty” that quickly evolves into a hand-clapping rhythm with the male members forming the backing vocal chorus. By the end, Davis is belting out the lyrics, approaching gospel intensity in one of the disc’s in-frequent inspired moments.

“Ole 49er” features a warm vocal from Williams and some nice finger-style guitar picking alternating with the steady rhythm supplied by Timbers on banjo. “Howl the Moon” harks back to the times when blues and jazz were more tightly intertwined. Davis gives listeners a glimpse of her sassy side and the guitars engage in several spirited dialogues. The band veers toward folk music on “Old Jim Crow” and “Pale Blue Dress” with the banjo prominent in the arrangement on the former while the latter song has Horwood laying down a deep, resonant bass line. Williams’ utilizes some familiar blue imagery on another original, “Mean Old Sugar Mama Blues” as the group passes around the vocal and instrumental leads.

Benjamin Roberts “Water My Whiskey Down” gets an atmospheric treatment, creating another highlight as the intricate arrangement steadily builds around the tale of a man pondering his final moments before starting a lengthy prison term. Their subdued rendition of Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released” finds Williams and Davis trading the lead vocal, then harmonizing nicely on the chorus over ringing guitar chords.

In the end, The Hushes have crafted a solid recording in the acoustic tradition. While they may not provide much of the heat alluded to in the title, their efforts grow on you with repeated listens. It would be a disc to play for one of those quiet, contemplative afternoons when you just want to do is kick back.

Reviewer Mark Thompson lives in Florida, where he is enjoying life without snow. He is a member of the Board of Directors for the Suncoast Blues Society and the past president of the Crossroads Blues Society of Northern Illinois. Music has been a huge part of his life for the past fifty years - just ask his wife!

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review 8 of 10

Grand Marquis – Blues And Trouble


13 songs – 60 minutes

The Grand Marquis formed in Kansas City in 1998, playing up-town, horn-laden, jazz-inflected jump blues and r’n’b. Their new album, their sixth, is packed with 12 original songs and one cover version that will have your toes tapping from the opening bars of “Bed Of Nails” to the closing number, “Half The Money”. On “Bed Of Nails”, the rhythm section pounds out a jungle rhythm underneath a roaring, swinging horn section even before the screaming slide guitar kicks in. “I built this bed one nail at a time,” sings Bryan Redmond with conviction, “a nail for every time I hurt you, every time I lied.” It’s a great opener and perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the album.

The band clearly cares about their carefully cultivated image. The CD artwork features evocative photographs of the smartly-suited musicians, which could have been taken at any time in the last 60 years, with handwritten copies of the lyrics on artfully scattered disparate headed notepapers, overlaid with some coupons and used tickets to hint at various possible contexts. This attention detail is reflected in the precision of the music.

The band has gone through various line-ups over the course of its existence, but the current line-up blends extremely well. “Empire Of Dirt” starts with Ben Ruth’s lazy bass line before the Lisa McKenzie’s drums and Ryan Wurtz’s funky guitar add to the groove. The multi-talented Redmond, who plays soprano, alto, tenor & baritone as well as singing, then joins in the party with Chad Boydston’s trumpet.

Redmond’s deep baritone voice suits the band perfectly, equally at home shouting the blues on the upbeat numbers or singing a mellow ballad. He has a traditional singer’s voice that works especially well on the types of songs that Grand Marquis play. He is particularly effective on “You’re Still My Baby”, which opens with him crooning over Wurtz’s gentle acoustic guitar that “Life isn’t always easy. Life is hardly ever fair. But when all our dreams, fall apart at the seams, I can count on you to be standing there.” At which point, the band kicks off an upbeat Dixieland groove before dropping in a little straight blues in the middle and then heading back to Dixieland. It is a vocal and musical tour de force and must slay audiences when played live.

All the musicians get plenty of opportunities to shine on Blues And Trouble, with Boydston, Remond and Wurtz all taking memorable solos. McKenzie also shines on the drums and washboard, rarely playing an expected rhythm, but always staying in the pocket and forging a tight but swinging rhythm section with Ruth.

There are many pleasant surprises that pop up throughout the record. Wurtz adds tremendous slide guitar to “Bed Of Nails” and “Easy To Be The Devil”, despite it not being the most obvious instrument to find in a jump blues band. And the band’s re-imagining of “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” takes Jerry Lee Lewis’s original flat-out rocker and gives it a swing that Lewis probably never imagined.

One of the highlights of the album is “Every Day’s The Same”, in which Redmond sings that “I hear your footsteps falling across the floor. Feels just like dreaming, till the slammin’ door. I wake up sweating, whisper your name. Ever since you left me, every day’s the same.” With this band, I very much doubt any day is like another. A very enjoyable release..

Reviewer Rhys Williams plays blues guitar in Cambridge, England, which, like Kansas City, straddles two states. Unfortunately, due to the large student population in Cambridge, at least one of those states is drunken.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE


 Featured Blues Review 9 of 10

Lee Delray - 570-Blues

JAC Records


 New York based Lee Delray is a solid addition to the blues-rock pantheon, although nothing unusual or innovative is on display here. Lee is in Possession of a rough-hewn voice and a vuluminous arsenal of guitar licks...the right tools for the job. His guitar playing can be forceful, mellow or funky, as each song dictates. His lyrics on this st of all original tunes cover the usual blues topics of mean women, lost love, etc. His reliable rhythm section is rough and ready, providing a sturdy foundation for his energetic and adventurous guitar explorations. John Scanlon's keyboards tend to serve as support low in the mix, only surfacing for the occasional solo.

Lee digs right in with "Walking In The Rain", abundant with his biting guitar and gruff vocals. The hard guitar attack continues on "Don't Know Why", which features the only organ solo of the set. The dilemma of being accused of not possessing the proper "blues credentials" is addressed in "Don't Tell Me I Can't Get The Blues". The narrator relates his hard times that gave him his "blues cred", although he didn't go through a hard southern upbringing. He backs up his assertion with a "hard as nails" vocal and guitar assault.

He slows down the pace on the soulful and funky "How Much I Love You". Rapid fire and tasty guitar are aplenty in "I Got It" and "It's A little Too Late". The guy in "Need To Talk" needs to talk to his girlfriend until his girlfriend's best friend arrives on the scene. This tune is all done up as a shuffle and one of the few tunes featuring piano. A lazy piano intro kicks-off the slow shuffling "last call" blues of "House Of Love". As befits the pace of the song, Lee reverts to slower, but no less intense guitar riffing.

A Stevie Ray Vaughn inspired riff is the undercurrent of "No Time Blues", the longest song here, really giving him the oppurtunity to stretch out his guitar prowess to its' outer limits, spewing out licks with ease. Southern rock territory is breached on "She's Got Everything", bringing to mind the fluid guitar goodness of The Allman's, The Marshall Tucker Band and the rest of the Southern rock crop.

Lee and company handle the blues-rock idiom with a rough and ready ease, without straying too far from the blues source. The band are able to handle anything from the hard-edged end to the more mellow fare. Bands like this will proudly carry the blues-rock torch well into the future.

Reviewer Greg "Bluesdog" Szalony hails from the New Jersey Delta.

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Blues Society News

 Send your Blues Society's BIG news or Press Release about your not-for-profit event with the subject line "Blues Society News" to:

Maximum of 175 words in a Text or MS Word document format.

Wabash Arts Corridor Crawl Presents the First Annual Blues Day Festival Wednesday, September, 18th 2013 fro 5 to 98pm and Buddy Guy's Legends, 700 Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL. The show features Fernando Jones and the Columbia College Ensemble All-Stars. Admission is free. For more info visit or email

DC Blues Society - Washington, D.C.

The DC Blues Societyy presents the 25th Annual DC Blues Festival ~ Saturday, August 31, 2013, Noon – 7:30 the Carter Barron Amphitheatre, 16th & Colorado Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20008. Lineup: Albert Castiglia, Big G, Austin Walkin' Cane, Fast Eddie & the Slowpokes, DC Blues Society Band & The Unxpected. There are vocal& guitar workshops, an instrument petting zoo & performances by the Archie Edwards Blues Heritage Ensemble. And there is more Blues on Sunday, September 1 from 4 – 8 PM at the Festival After-Party & Jam at American Legion Post 41, 905 Sligo Ave. Silver Spring, MD 20910 (entrance on Fenton by parking lot).

DCBS sponsors two Blues jams every month: 1st Sunday Jam, 4- 8 PM at the American Legion in Silver Spring, MD and 4th Sunday Acoustic Jam, 11 AM – 2 PM at The Mansion on O St., 2020 O St. NW, Washington, DC 20036. INFO:

The West Virginia Blues Society - Charleston, W.V

The West Virginia Blues Society will hold its 7th Annual Blues Competition on October 19, 2013 at Pullman Plaza Hotel, Grande Ballroom, Huntington, WV. Bands, solo/duo and a youth division blues acts will compete for cash prizes and WVBS sponsorship to the Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge held in Memphis, Tennessee January 2014.

The West Virginia Blues Society will have 18 competition slots filled by regional blues acts from all over West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland and other states. If your band has the Mojo this could be your ticket to Memphis for the Big Show.
The first-place winner of Blues Competition will receive $750 dollars in cash and WVBS sponsorship to the International Blues Challenge in Memphis in January 2014. The second place winner will receive $250 in cash. The Youth act will receive $100.
Complete information, application & rules are available online at Deadline for application submission is October 1, 2013. For more information contact Competition Director, Jack Rice at 304-389-1438 or e-mail:

River City Blues Society - Peoria, IL

River City Blues Society is once again sponsoring Bikes Blues BBQ September 14th 2013 from 1:00 pm to 10:00 pm At VFW Post 1232, 15665 VFW Road Pekin, Illinois.Bikes Blues & BBQ sponsored by Freebird Abate, River City Blues Society, and Pekin VFW Post 1232. Live Blues Music featuring: Chris Duarte Group from Texas, Jimmy Warren Band from Chicago, and Matthew Curry & The Fury from Bloomington. Admission is $10.00

Prairie Crossroads Blues Society - Champaign, IL

Monday, September 23, PCBS presents Jiggy & the Source at Louie's Dixie Kitchen & BBQ, 1104 N. Cunningham Drive, Urbana, IL. For more info visit

South Skunk Blues Society - Newton, IA

The 21st annual South Skunk Bowlful of Blues festival will be held Saturday August 31st at the beautiful, and recently refurbished, Maytag Park “Bowl” in Newton, Iowa –Newton is about 40 miles east of Des Moines on I-80. The South Skunk Blues Society is planning to throw a party like they are turning 21 (which in fact they are). The Bowlful of Blues will kick off at noon. An after fest jam with the Terry Quiett Band is planned at the local VFW hall. Here is the schedule: 12:00 - Poppa Neptune featuring Detroit Larry Davison, 2:00pm - Terry Quiett Band, 4:00pm - Walter Trout, 6:00pm - Shaun Murphy Blues Band and 8:00pm - John Primer. We are also pleased to have Denny Garcia from Dubuque providing the acoustic sets between the bands.

Bring a lawn chair…coolers are welcome too but please no glass. Food vendors will have food for sale on site. This is a family friendly event, but please leave pets to home. For more information or to purchase advance tickets go to  Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the gate the day of the show.

Crossroads Blues Society - Rockford, IL

Crossroads Blues Society presents the 4th Annual Byron Crossroads Blues Festival Sat., Aug 24th from Noon to 11 PM in downtown Byron, Illinois. $7 advanced tickets. Check it out at: The Nighthawks, Dave Specter with Sharon Lewis, Doug Deming and Dennnis Gruenling and te Jewel Tones, Bobby Messano and Tweed Funk make up the lineup. There is also a harp work shop with Dennis and a guitar workshop with Dave.

Also in September from Crossroads Blues Society: Storm Cellar, top blues and roots band from Australia is at the Byron IL American Legion for our post-fest party, 3 PM on Sunday September 22nd. Free for Fest Volunteers, $10 cover otherwise. Fall Blues In The Schools (BITS ) are in the works with Gerry Hundt and Ronnie Shellist for September 25th with a 7 PM evening show at Just Goods, $5 cover, free for Crossroads Members, Students and School Staffs.

October: We are working to have Eric Noden and Joe Filisko back for two days of BITS sometime TBD in October. More to come!

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. Aug 26th - Backpack Jones More info available at 

Friends Of The Blues - Watseka, IL

Now in their seventh season, The Friends of the Blues present 7 pm early shows: Thur, Aug 29, Little Joe McLerran, Proof Lounge (former America's Bistro), 110 Meadowview Center, Kankakee, Thur, Sept 19, Reverend Raven and Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys, Kankakee Valley Boat Club, Thur, Oct 3, Too Slim and The Taildraggers – “It’s Everybody’s Birthday Party” - Kankakee Valley Boat Club, Tues, Oct 22, Kilborn Alley Blues Band - Venue To Be Announced, Thur, Nov 7, Terry Quiett Band - Venue To Be Announced More information: or

 Featured Blues review 10 of 10

Jake Chisholm – Diamond In A Coalmine


9 tracks; 33 minutes

The Canadian blues scene seems particularly vibrant at present and Jake Chisholm is the latest Canadian to come to my attention through this disc. Whilst this release is not as strong as recent efforts by Chris Antonik and MonkeyJunk it definitely shows promise. Jake sings and plays guitar in a trio format with Chris Banks on bass and Sly Juhas on drums; some additional hand percussion is provided by Jay Danley. The material is mainly original with two covers and runs from rockers to ballads.

Opener “I’m Gonna Let You Be” is at the rockier end of the scale with a repetitive riff at its centre. Jake’s vocal seems to be treated with echo and his slide solo is overdubbed, two technical characteristics that reappear on several tracks and made me question how he would tackle these songs live without the support of a second guitarist. Having said that, the track makes an impact as an opener and is rapidly followed by “Let’s Do It Again” which has similar qualities in a slightly less heavy mode. I liked the line in the song where Jake sings “I’m the gasoline, she’s the spark”!

Next up is a cover of Robert Johnson’s “Travelling Riverside Blues” which works very well, an acoustic version with understated drums and bass supporting Jake’s guitar and vocal. The pace picks up on “Don’t Take It So Hard” which has a very catchy little guitar riff at its heart. “Blood Red Sun” is a strong song with good dynamics, dramatic vocal and guitar that kept reminding me of Mountain (probably the similarity of title). The second cover on the album is a short run through the Young Rascals’ “You Better Run”, another catchy song.

The last three songs are all at the quieter end of the spectrum. Title song “Diamond In A Coalmine” and closer “When Love Goes Wrong” are both ballads which take different angles on love: in the former Jake has found a gem of a relationship but has now lost it; in the latter the central character has tired of casual affairs and yearns for a more solid relationship. Musically the song harks back to The Beatles’ “Don’t Let Me Down” (which some read as a tribute to Hendrix’s “Wind Cries Mary” anyway!). I particularly liked “That’s All They Could See”, a mid-paced track with another insistent riff and a superb solo.

In summary this is a solid set of modern blues and rock. I shall be interested to see how Jake develops over coming albums.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. Current favourites from recent releases include Michael Burks, Chris Antonik, Sugar Ray and The Bluetones, Albert Castiglia, Doug Deming and now Jimmy Vivino!

For other reviews and interviews on our website CLICK HERE

Live Blues Calendar

YOU can submit your Blues performances for FREE at:

Performance dates were submitted by Musicians, Club Owners, Blues Societies and Blues festivals. is not responsible for errors or omissions.

CLICK HERE - for the Latest Complete Blues Calendar on our website at:

or click a state to see Blues shows by State

Alabama  Alaska  Arizona  Arkansas  California  Colorado  Connecticut  Delaware  D.C.  Florida  Georgia 
Hawaii  Idaho  Illinois  Indiana  Iowa  Kansas  Kentucky  Louisiana  Maine  Maryland  Massachusetts  Michigan  Minnesota  Mississippi  Missouri  Montana  Nebraska  Nevada  New Hampshire  New Jersey
New Mexico  New York  North Carolina  North Dakota  Ohio  Oklahoma  Oregon  Pennsylvania  Rhode Island  South Carolina  South Dakota   Tennessee  Texas  Utah  Vermont  Virginia  Washington  West Virginia  Wisconsin  Wyoming   Other Countries
Performance dates submitted by Musicians, Clubs, Blues Societies and Blues festivals. is not responsible for errors or omissions.

 Advertise With Blues Blast Magazine

Get the Blues word OUT!

Festivals - Blues Blast Magazine &'s website are great ways to promote ANY Blues event or product. In fact we believe we just might have THE best Blues advertising vehicle anywhere to promote YOUR Blues event! Blues

CD's - For less than the cost of one small ad in a newspaper, you can advertise your shows, new CD or any Blues product. A great way to get the Blues word out! Blues fans WANT to know about your Blues event of product. Call Bob at (309) 267-4425 or send an email to for a confidential quote today!

Blues Blast Magazine covers Blues all over!

We also offer effective advertising for Festivals and Club Owners, Recording Companies and Performers. Put your Blues advertisement on our homepage at: either as a sponsored event or as a featured event, product, recording or merchandise.  We get 45,000 visitors and 2,000,000 hits A MONTH on our website! More than 22,000 Blues Fans, Musicians, Recording Companies, Club Owners, Blues Societies and Festival Promoters in all 50 states and in more than 80 countries read the Blues Blast magazine each week. You can feature your event or product in the largest FREE internet Blues magazine delivered right to your inbox each week.

Contact us Today at

Visit our website at:

P.O. Box 721 Pekin, Illinois 61555     © 2013 Blues Blast Magazine 309 267-4425'