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Chicago Kingsnakes - Snapshots

MusicKing Records

The Chicago Kingsnakes are celebrating their 26th year in the blues, and their latest sampler, Snapshots. Snapshots catches this exciting four-piece unit at the top of their game. Founded in 1983 by James “Ang” Anderson, the band features Ron Berry on bass and vocals and Gus Gotsis on drums. Nelson Keaton joined in 2001 to round out the sound on harmonica, and he opens the disc off with a spirited “Leave It Where I Put It.” Nelson smokes on the set’s closer, “Whammer Jammer,” and fans of post-war, urban harp blues will revel in the way he plays the Mississippi saxophone. For me, the most memorable cut is “Get Out of Memphis,” thanks to Ang’s vocals and guitar leads, and the way the band updates a traditional blues sound.

Over the years, the Chicago Kingsnakes have released nine CDs, and some are hard to find. Thankfully, the web site, , offers samples from 2004’s Grass Roots and 1998’s Blues Island, plus a video from their 1994 Chicago Blues Festival performance with Byher Smith. Prior to that festival, the band toured Finland and the Netherlands with Smitty, and they also shared the stage with Buddy Guy, Albert Collins, and Sugar Blue. There are six live cuts totaling a half-hour on Snapshots, and I hope that this CD gets the band more work. The band has received local and international recognition for decades, ranging from Midwest BEAT (sadly no longer in print), to the world’s blues magazine, Blues Revue.

In July, the band will play the Friends of the Blues Concert in Burbonnais on the 28th, followed by a gig at Harlem Avenue Lounge in Berwyn on the 31st, and in August, they’ll play the Chicago Botanical Garden in Glencoe on the 4th, and return to Indianapolis’ Slippery Noodle at the end of the month. If you’re in the region, check out the Chicago Kingsnakes for an exceptional evening of live blues.

Reviewer Eric Steiner is President of the Washington Blues Society in Seattle, Washington. The Society was the recipient of the 2009 Keeping the Blues Alive Award in the blues organization category.

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