Issue 10-18 May 5, 2016

Cover photo by Kerry Langford © 2016

 In This Issue 

Don Wilcock has our feature interview with Chicago’s own Blues and roots rocker Nick Moss! We have 6 Blues reviews for you this week including new music from The Jordan Patterson Band, an EllerSoul Records harmonica compilation called Blues For Big Walter, Shaun Murphy, Tweed Funk, Ellis Hooks and Anthony Geraci and The Boston Blues All-Stars.

Our video of the week is The Nick Moss Band.

We have the latest in Blues society news. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!


 From The Editor’s Desk 

Hey Blues Fans,

Tonight is the big night at the Blues Music Awards. We will get to see who the winners of the 2016 BMA’a are! Can’t wait.

Speaking of awards, all the submissions for the 2016 Blues Blast Music Awards are in the hands of the nominators and we should have their nominations forms by the end of the month.

Look for the announcement of this year’s nominees in the second week of June.

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser


 Blues Wanderings 

We were fortunate to be able to attend the Nevis Blues Fest again this year. This is a wonderful little festival hidden away on a Caribbean island called Nevis Island.

Pictured above are Ian Siegal, Kirk Fletcher, Simon McBride, Denise Gordon, Dusty Ciggaar and Denny Ilett. We will have a complete review of the festival in an upcoming issue.



 Blues Want Ad 

Do you really know your Blues and enjoy telling others about it?

Blues Blast Magazine is looking for a few good writers to volunteer to help us out. We need reviewers who know Blues and can write a minimum of one review or story each week. We will provide access to downloads or physical CDs, DVDs and books for review. The writer keeps the album, book or DVD for doing the review. We get music submissions from all over the world. We publish music reviews each week so there is a steady flow of things that need to be reviewed.

We are also looking for folks to write stories for our website, blogging style, and other occasional story assignments. We will assign subjects and stories and also entertain your ideas too.

These are volunteer positions that need a person who really loves the Blues and wants to spread the Blues word! Must have good writing and composition skills, good grammar and spelling!

Experienced writers are encouraged to send samples of previous work. All Blues Blast staff started out as volunteers like this. We have kept those with dedication on as staff writers afterwards.

If you are interested, please send an email to info@bluesblastmagazine.com and tell us about your Blues background. A resume is always appreciated too.

Please be sure to include your phone number in your email reply.



 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 6 

The Jordan Patterson Band – The Back on Track Recording Project

Flaming Cheese Records

www.jordanpatterson.ca

10 tracks

The years was 1996, about 20 years ago. The Canadian blues vocalist and harp player Jordan Patterson released his debut album, Give Me a Chance. Three years later he was staring out a hotel window in Ireland and decided to hang it up and become a concert promoter back in Ontario. He worked with the likes of Jack White. Coldplay, Diana Krall, The Black Crows, Lauren Hill and others.

A friend who told him, “Y’know Jordan, one of these days you’re going to have to prove that your first album wasn’t just a fluke.” In 2014 he began to play again and released an EP version of this CD and then released this 10 song version on February 19th of this year.

Benjamin Rollo is on drums, Mark McIntyre is on bass, and Darryl Romphf is on guitar along with Bobby Thompson. Produced by Romphf, this album does show that Patterson has the chops. It is a darn good rock album with a lot of blues thrown in with the rock.

“Favourite Boy” opens the album. It’s a rocker with a bouncing approach to the tune. Patterson’s vocals are solid here and throughout. He adds some dirty harp that gives it a little blues influence. “Can We Fall In Love Again” is a slow rock ballad with lamentful guitar and some organ by Scott Galloway (who is on a half dozen tracks) helping with the mood. “She’s Cool” has Patterson blowing some mean blues harp. It’s a fun and romping blues rocker! “You’re My Girl” is a more pensive piece that builds into a more forceful cut. Skyler Jordan adds some impassioned vocals; she was also on the first cut be here she really lays it out. “Living Without Your Love” is another rocking song with big guitar and organ keeping pace.

“Play My Song– Revisited” is a cool blues cut showcasing Patterson’s harp again along with his vocals. Shawn Kellerman also appears on guitar here (along with the last two cuts). Slow, greasy blues emerge on “If you’d Help Me Please– Revisited” and Patterson shows a new side to us. All fuzzed up and dirty with mean harp. The bluesiest cut by far!

“Do You Believe” is more of a country rocker or southern rocker. The guitar and melody feel like Nashville. “Heartbreaker– Revisited” is rocking and a bit bluesy with Patterson’s clean vocals carrying things amidst the big guitar attack. “Don’t Take Me Down– Revisited” has Patterson with his harp blowing and bending some nice stuff. Lots more guitar, too, but the harp break things up and out nicely.

This is a rock influenced album with some blues in it. Patterson is a great singer with a slick and expressive voice and is a great harp player. The songs are really good and sound fresh. If you like hard rock influenced rock blues then try this one: you’ll like 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 reer 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.



 Blues Want Ad 

Social Networking help needed!

Blues Blast Magazine is seeking a volunteer to help us out with our social media efforts each week.

We need someone experienced with Facebook and Twitter to post about the reviews and interviews in the magazine to the artists and labels social media accounts so their fans can read about our writers coverage of these artists and their work each week.

This volunteer positions that need a persons who really loves the Blues and wants to spread the Blues word! Must have good writing and composition skills, good grammar and spelling!

If you are interested, please send an email to info@bluesblastmagazine.com and tell us about your Blues background. A resume is always appreciated too.

Please be sure to include your phone number in your email reply.



 Video Of The Week – Nick Moss Band 

Here is a video of the Nick Moss Band playing “She Wants It” live from the Bing Lounge in Portland, OR. Click on the image above to see the video.



 Featured Blues Interview – Nick Moss 

“I’ve been called everything from a blues savior to a blues torch bearer in my career, and then when I started changing my records and making more modern stuff, people were a little confused by that,” says 46-year-old Chicago native and blues guitarist, songwriter and vocalist Nick Moss.

His brand new release, Roots and Fruits, continues Nick’s evolution from strictly electric post-war Chicago blues to a combination of traditional and contemporary high energy blues/rock that started with Privileged in 2010 continued on Here I Am in 2011, and Time Ain’t Free in 2014.

“We’re just playing music. I’m not just playing a specific genre. I don’t want to be categorized. I don’t want ’em to say, ‘Oh, that’s a blues show.’ I want them to walk out of that show and say, ‘Oh, that was great music.’ That’s all I want them to know. That was great music and then to not even realize that we were mixing things up that much, and I think we do that in a fairly seamless way where unless you’re a really educated musicologist that you can just sit there and enjoy the show.”

In the last decade Moss’s style has become much more eclectic. In 2005 he told me, “I’m trying to find the line where I can still maintain my integrity of not changing the music. I’m not one of those guys who has to change the music and re-invent the wheel. I want to do what I was taught to do and just do it right, but I also want to be able to make it so that a wider cross section of people can appreciate it ’cause I realize that this traditional stuff can be a little redundant for some people and tey lose interest.”

In 2016 his view of music has become much more cosmopolitan. “I just wanted people to realize that blues music is all around us, man, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a 12-bar shuffle or not. I can appreciate the 12-bar shuffle as much as I can appreciate Jimi Hendrix going nuts or as much as I appreciate Bukka White playing. To me it’s all the same. I’m not trying to get all hippy dippy, but (express) the life force that comes out of us, the energy that comes out of us, that organic feeling that is absolutely real.”

The desire to push the envelope on the very definition of blues may have been inspired by the three years he spent playing for Jimmy Rogers who was seminal in helping Muddy Waters evolve from a Delta blues guitarist to the architect for post-war electric Chicago blues both on the bandstands of the Windy City and in the Chess studios.

“It was Muddy that made sure Jimmy was there,” says Moss, “’cause if Leonard Chess had had his way, Muddy would still be doing records where it was just him and Big Crawford or him and Little Walter and Big Crawford ’cause Leonard thought, ‘Well, why mess with a good thing,’ and then Muddy said, ‘Well, no, but I’m playing live. I have a full band. I got Jimmy Rogers on guitar here. I want my full band to record or I’m not gonan do this anymore,’ and he was the one that made sure Jimmy was there with him ’cause that was the sound that he wanted.”

Moss is a two-time Blues Blast Award winner: In 2010 he took the Best Contemporary Blues Recording award for Privileged, and in 2009 Nick Moss and his then band The Flip Tops took best band honors. He is also a 16-time Blues Music Award nominee with 11 solo CDs to his credit. Moss was a strong enough guitar player that legendary drummer Willie “Big Eyes” Smith upgraded him from bass to lead guitar in Moss’s final two years with the Legendary Blues Band, a group that included Muddy Waters alumni Pinetop Perkins, Calvin “Fuzz” Jones, and Jerry Portnoy. Moss has an authoritative, aggressive guitar style, but his attitude is unassuming.

“I’ve never been a guy that had to be standing in the center of the stage. I don’t care if I’m on the side of the stage, and I can turn my amp up loud enough that people can hear me. I’m a guitar player first and foremost, and I’m a songwriter. I like writing songs. I like playing guitar. I like leading the band. Miles Davis used to play with his back to the audience. They asked him why he played with his back to the audience, and he said, ‘Have you ever seen a conductor turn and face the audience?’ That was his mindset.”

With an ability to play many better known contemporary blue guitar heroes under the table, Moss went solo in 2003, but it was one incident in 1987 that changed his life’s direction from being a champion high school football player and wrestler into a jaw-dropping guitarist with an incredible resume. It happened in 1988 when he was about to graduate high school and go to college.

“I had had pretty much a life changing operation on my kidneys. I had lost 80% of my kidneys due to a genetic problem, and I was 18 which is a turning point in anyone’s life. I was supposed to be going to college and to me college was football and wrestling. They said, ‘Well, you’re never gonna play football and wrestle again. There’s no way you can risk taking any more damage to your kidney if you get hit.’

“My brother decided one night while I was in recuperation that he was going to sneak me out of the hospital and take me down to a blues club and see Little Charlie and the Nightcats. It was their first time through Chicago playing for their very first Alligator record. I knew that Rick (Estrin) had played there before, and I’m pretty sure Charlie had played Chicago once or twice before, but I think it was their first time as Little Charlie and the Nightcats, and there was nobody in the club. It was the Wise Fools Pub, and if there was more than 15 people in there, I don’t remember there being that many, but I just remember going in there.

“I literally had tubes coming out of me. They had done the surgery, but they needed the surgery to hold before they could reactivate my kidneys. I literally had tubes coming out of me going to bags that were filtering my urine. And my brother put those bags in a shopping bag and put my dad’s full length camel’s hair coat on me and said, ‘Here, just wear this and carry that bag with you.’ Seriously!

“And we went to see these guys. As a matter of fact, when they were setting up before the show, we were sitting at this table, and Rick Estrin, being like the clothes hound, always dressing sharp, the first thing he did was walk up to this kid sitting at this table and made me stand up because I’m wearing this camel’s hair jacket. And he said, ‘Man, is that real camel’s hair?’

“He touched the jacket and wanted to see the Italian silk lining. So he opened the jacket, and there were tubes coming out of my jacket, and he goes, ‘Jesus, what happened to you?’

“So I had to explain to him what happened. ‘Come on, Charlie, you gotta see this! This kid just got let out of the hospital, man.’ I think he even made some joke like, ‘Don’t die at my show tonight or something.’ So anyways, those guys got back up, and they played their first set. I could only stay for one set anyways. I had to be back. My brother had to get me out of there.”

“I wasn’t even of age to be in the bars. I was 18. There was nothing legal happening there. My brother said, ‘Hey, man, there’s this great band playing. You’ve been laid up for almost three months.’ We went so far as to make sure that it would be ok, asked the doctors. My brother basically said, ‘Hey, look! I just want to get him out and get some air.’ The doctors and nurses, my mom and my dad were like, ‘You know what? He’s feeling better. He’s been walking around on his own for a while. Why not let him out, get him some air, blah, blah, blah.’

“During the first set I watched these guys, never having seen them play, never having even heard them. My brother heard them. He heard them on the radio WXRT in Chicago and decided, ‘I gotta go see these guys, and I’m gonna take my brother with me.’

“So we’re there, and I’m watching these guys play, and I was just blown away. I’d never seen anything like that, first of all. I’d seen Magic Slim play. I’d seen Otis Rush play, and I’d seen these guys in Chicago, and I fell in love with blues, and I knew about B. B. King. Actually, I know it sounds weird, but it is what it is. It was my education, just four white guys on stage playing a style of music that I didn’t even know there was even any other white people that liked it as much as I did. I was an 18-year-old kid.

“So, I was kinda at a turning point and music has always been a savior in my life, had always been there for me. No matter how big or small a problem, I can always remember falling back on music that comforted me and made me feel good about myself or made me feel good about anything.”

If Little Charlie and the Nightcats were his introduction to the blues, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith gave Nick his education. One day he said to Willie, “Man, aren’t you sick of playing these f***ing clubs driving around in a Goddamn van? Aren’t you sick of this s***, Willie?”

“Naw, man, you know. I ain’t never sick of playin.’”

“Well, I get that. I understand that. You’re f***in’ Willie Smith, man, and played with Muddy Waters. Doesn’t it get to ya, man?”

“Of course, it’ll get to anyone, but what am I gonna do, stay home and play on a couch? Man, I’ll be fine ’cause I got a big machete. I’ll hack my way there. I can see the light. One of these days I’ll break right through them vines.”

Moss always took that to heart.

“And sure as s***, before he died, Willie got his f***ing Grammy. Him and Pinetop got that damn Grammy, and I was so happy for him.

“I learned so much stuff. Willie was one of the smartest guys I ever met. If you didn’t know him, and you sat and talked to him for five minutes, you might think this is a highly uneducated man, but if you spent more than five minutes with him you’d probably come away with a bunch of information that you never would have thought about, and he would have explained it to you in such a simple way to make you go wow. Why didn’t I ever think about that in that way? And what an easier way to think about things and do things.

“‘Willie said, ‘Man, you walk through enough pig s***, pluck enough feathers on a farm, and you come up with some good stuff.”’

“Yeah, since I’ve become a father, one thing that always goes back to this conversation I had with Willie the very first week I was with the man, and my daughter means the world to me, and (vocalist) Michael (Ledbetter), him and his lady, they had a baby last year. So he has a one-year-old little girl now, and I watched him kinda go through a similar thing as his girlfriend was pregnant as I went through, and I’ve watched him become an awesome father.

“He was there through the whole thing from beginning to end, and he’s great with his daughter. And I’m proud of him as a young man. I’m proud of him as my friend, and I just remember, God, it was 20-some years ago having this conversation with Willie in the hotel room, and he says, ‘How many kids you got?’”

“How many kids I got? I ain’t got no kids.”

“What you mean, you ain’t got no kids. How old are you?’

“Twenty-one!”

“You ain’t got no kids?”

“No, man. I’m 21. I don’t want no damn kids.”

“Oh, s***, man. I had me a couple by then.”

“How many kids you got, Willie?”

“I got 13!”

“Thirteen?!”

“Yeah, man. I couldn’t keep that weapon holstered.”

“Well, Jesus Christ, man. How do you do that? How do you have 13 kids and be a musician? How the hell do you do that?”

Willie looked at Moss and gave him this look like, ‘”What kind of question is that? You figure out a way and you do it.”

To Moss it was the most impossible undertaking that anybody could ever do with just one child, but with 13 kids? “I knew that he was a father. I’d been to his house and saw the kids and saw his wife and knew that he was there. It was this statement that literally seized up my mind like someone sticking sand in the gears or something, and there was like smoke coming out of my ears, and it was like ‘What? What? How does that work?’ And then this one line he laid on me. ‘You figure out a way and you do it.’

“It goes back to stuff that my dad would say, ‘Nothing is as hard as you make it to be.’ People make things out to be a lot harder than they are. Well, yeah, man, it’s gonna be hard. It’s gonna be difficult. You’re gonna lose some sleep and stuff, but if you wanna make it happen, you can make it happen. You just figure out a f***in’ way and you do it.

“And that was the one thing I took away, man. It was like when my daughter was born, I had all these people going, ‘Well, now you’re gonna be a dad. How you gonna go on the road? How you gonna be a musician? How you gonna feed your family?’ Like, don’t worry about it. I’ll worry about it. I’ll do it. I’ll take care of it.

“And I don’t know, man. My daughter’s gonna be 12 years old next month, and she doesn’t seem to be lacking in anything, and she’s certainly not lacking in love, and we have a great relationship. My wife and I have a great relationship, and I’m sitting in my kitchen right now looking out the back door of my yard. My dog’s running in the back yard. I figured out a way, and I did it.”

Moss counts the rock band Fleetwood Mac as one of his influences, but not the Fleetwood Mac that made their multi-million-dollar Rumours album, but rather the earlier version with Peter Green as lead guitarist. “They did that Live at The Boston Tea Party in 1969, and to me that was like the album where you can hear where their very traditional blues was meeting their more experimental psychedelic kind of phase, and hammier side, and they got songs that are like 20 minutes long on that record, jams that are going on forever. I don’t know, man. It’s a great record for me.

“There’s a certain aggressiveness to blues playing that I’m drawn to. I’ve always been drawn to the guys that are more aggressive stylists. I never got a chance to see Freddie King live, but you watch the videos that are available and you listen to the records, and Buddy Guy, you’re surprised there wasn’t like a pile of sawdust at his feet by the end of the night because the guitar had been shredded.

“People don’t give blues the credit that it’s due. It pisses me off that you have to be 89 years old to get a Grammy for music, but it pisses me off even more that the radio stations don’t give it its due and don’t give it its proper spotlight. If there’ a blues show, it’s generally a one-hour show on once a week.”

Visit Nick’s website at: www.nickmossband.com

Interviewer Don Wilcock has been writing about blues for nearly half a century. He wrote Damn Right I’ve Got The Blues, the biography that helped Buddy Guy jumpstart his career in 1991. He’s interviewed more than 5000 Blues artists and edited several music magazines including King Biscuit Time.



 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 6 

Various Artists – Blues for Big Walter

EllerSoul Records

16 tracks

When I got this CD and read the back of the package I had mixed feelings. I said to myself, “Eller Soul does some great stuff but why did they pick tracks from 15 to 24 years ago to fill out the CD?” Well, they did because those were great tracks to add that Bob Corritore pulled out his vault of great stuff! Top to bottom, this is a great CD!

The CD starts with Kim Wilson doing “Someday” and I was set up to want more and more dirty and beautiful harmonica licks. Corritore with Jimmy Rogers from 1992 followed on “She Loves Another Man” and I was well on my way to fulfillment. Nighthawk Mark Wenner greases things up sweetly on “Worried Life” and then a nice Finnish Sessions track of Steve Guyger doing “If It Aint Me” changes gears a bit for us.

The West Coast harp great Mark Hummel graces us with “Hard Hearted Woman,” a version where his harp just punches you in the face and makes you want more! “Great Shakes” by Richmond, VA based Kurt Crandall is a great instrumental cover and Ronnie Owens “We’re Gonna Move to Kansas City” gives us some more slick stuff to listen to. Sugar Ray Norcia closes out the first half of the set with a well done medley with Anthony Geraci on piano and Mike Welch on guitar.

“Evening Shuffle by Andrew Ali introduced me to this fantastic young harp player and I know all harp aficionados will love him, too. That makes 10 great, different harp players on this album. Mark Hummel returns for “Easy,” Wenner does “Walking By Myself,” Guyger does “Little Boy Blue,” Owens and does “Need My Baby” all quite fantastic in their own ways. Ali reprises “Easy” with “Easy II,” taking a slightly slower and more bare approach as a duo with Ivan Applerouth. Sweet!

Corritore with Robert Lockwood give us “Rambling On My Mind” from a nice 2001 session with Henry Gray, Johnny Rapp, Mario Moreno and Chico Chism. Lil’ Ronnie closes out the CD with “Think Big,” and all I can say is that the producers at Eller Soul did that and it worked. All I can say ifs that if you like great harp and don’t add this to your collection you will miss out on a very superb tribute collection of one of the world’s harp master’s work!

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 reer 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.



 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 6 

Shaun Murphy – It Won’t Stop Raining

Vision Wall Records

www.shaunmurphyband.com

11 tracks / 45:39

Shaun Murphy has an impressive career and body of work that few other modern blues artists can match. Growing up in Detroit, she was recruited by Bob Seger for his band in the 1970s, and has been touring with him for nearly 40 years. Along the way she was with Little Feat for 15 years, as well having the opportunity to work with Eric Clapton in the studio and on tour back in the 1990s. Shaun has a huge list of A-list artists that she has worked with and she is an awesome rock singer, but her solo blues work is equally impressive. This is no surprise, as her influences include Big Mama Thornton, Koko Taylor, and Etta James.

Murphy has recorded seven discs so far, including the very well received Ask for the Moon, which earned her two Blues Blast Music Awards, one for Contemporary Blues Album and one for Female Artist of the Year . Shaun’s latest album, It Won’t Stop Raining, is a real corker with 11 blues tracks that are pretty well evenly divided between originals and covers. She recorded this project with her touring band, including Kenne Cramer and Shawn Starski on guitar, Larry Van Loon and John Wallum on keys, John Marcus on bass, and Tom DelRossi behind the drum kit. These pros hold a tight groove, and aced every track at Colemine Studios in Nashville, Tennessee.

The voyage gets underway with “Spreadin’ the News,” and this shuffle is a perfect preview of what to expect from this disc. This is almost like a vocal audition for Murphy: she gets to show off her impressive range and her ability to sing powerfully, both smoothly and with an edge. The band also passes their audition, as the backline of Marcus and DelRossi nail down the beat and the keys and guitars wail with furious abandon. This leads straight into a cool twist (or maybe a cruel twist) on the jilted lover theme, a cover of Denise LaSalle’s 1995 tune, “Your Husband is Cheatin’ on Us.” As you will hear, most of the songs on this album are about relationships, both good and bad. That is what the blues are all about…

The title track is all about the mood, and “It Won’t Stop Raining,” is a haunting R&B ballad with pretty guitar arpeggios and a few layers of keyboards. The band uses key and dynamic changes to create a sense of tension that keeps things interesting until the end. Likewise, “Need Your Love So Bad” allows Shaun to dig deep with its gospel-infuse vocals, but this time with the guitars getting a few of the leads. This is the oldest track on It Won’t Stop Raining, originally released by Little Willie John in 1956.

Murphy included a pair of covers from E.G. Kight’s excellent 2011 album, Lip Service. “Happy with the One I Got Now” is a slow-grinding tune with the guitars and bass far forward in the mix, and Shaun does a wonderful job of phrasing the verses so that the drama builds naturally. And “That’s How a Woman Loves” is a lovely piece of rhythm and blues that lets Murphy take the center stage. She really shines on these heartfelt ballads, and her vocals are stunning, to say the least.

There are also a couple of covers that were written by Caligator’s Corky Newman. One is a hard-hitting rocker, and “Running Out Of Time” features howling vocals from Shaun, a pair of awesome guitar solos, and plenty of punchy drums from DelRossi. The other is the closer, and “Fool for You” is built on a funk base with tasteful guitars and organ accompanying Murphy as she gets the last word, “cause everybody knows I’m a fool for you.”

There are no surprises with Shaun Murphy’s It Won’t Stop Raining, as her fans expect her to provide a first-rate performance, and she does not disappoint (as always). If you are looking for blues that is sung with powerful passion, you need look no further – this is the real deal, and you should pick up a copy of your own!

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



 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 6 

Tweed Funk – Come Together

Tweed Funk Records

10 songs – 40 minutes

www.tweedfunk.com

Founded in Milwaukee six years ago and winners of five Wisconsin Area Music Industry (WAMI) awards in the past four years, Tweed Funk delivers their usual mix of Memphis-style soul blues – most with a positive, upbeat message — on this release, the fourth in their arsenal.

A 2014 BluesBlast Award nominee for soul blues album of the year for their previous release, First Time Lucky, the six-piece horn band is fronted by native Chicagoan Joseph “Smokey” Holman, a pleasing tenor who recorded with the Domestics for Motown in the ‘60s and for the Windy City’s famed Curtom label with the band Love’s Children in the ‘70s, when he was a protégé of Curtis Mayfield.

Holman acquired his nickname while fighting in informal boxing tournaments while a U.S. Marine, and he’s been a fixture on the Milwaukee music scene since the mid-‘80s, when he relocated after working in the steel plants in Gary, Ind.

All of the material on Come Together is original and was composed by the core band, which consists of Eric Madunic, a multi-instrumentalist who holds down bass and contributes keyboards and guitar, percussionist Dave Schoepke, guitarist JD Optekar and Andrew Spadafora, who doubles on tenor and baritone sax. Chrissy Dzioba and Sara Moilanen contribute backing vocals on five of the ten tracks, and making a guest appearance throughout is longtime Roomful Of Blues trumpet powerhouse Doug Woolverton.

A burst from the horn section kicks off “Light Up The Night,” a funky number that features a heavy bass line and instructs “tell the haters you don’t care” as it uses “Alice In Wonderland” references to describe the difficulties folks face in life. Spadafora and Woolverton are featured throughout. “Don’t Give Up” provides words of inspiration about following your dreams and “walk with purpose to your destiny” atop a steady Memphis beat before the Latin flavored “Muse” describes the affects a woman’s touch and “sweet soul lovin’” have on the singer after a difficult day.

The pace slows for “Sweet Music,” which carries a similar message. It’s an autobiographical number in which Holman describes how the power of music helped him overcome the pitfalls he faced in life and career despite the scars. The theme continues for “Come Together,” which picks up where the previous tune left off while encouraging unity to overcome strife.

The band deliver a blues waltz for “Embrace,” which eliminates “the worry lines” from the singer’s face, before getting funky again for the instrumental “Who Is This.” Madunic’s bass fuels “Love Ain’t Easy,” which describes the pitfalls of a relationship even when both sides want it to work out. The album takes a dark turn with “Bullet,” a haunting, minor-key memory about the apparent suicide of a life-saving friend, before “Soul Rockin,” another paean to the power of love, concludes the set.

If you like horn bands and good, old-fashioned soul, you’ll really like this one. The musicianship here is of the first order and the material shines. Available through CDBaby or directly through the band’s website (address above).

REVIEWER’S NOTE: Shortly after the release of this CD, the band announced that lead singer Smokey had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a form of cancer that affects plasma cells in the blood. He’s currently undergoing chemotherapy with plans for a stem-cell transplant. As a result, the band has suspended all performances scheduled between mid-July and mid-October. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Smokey, his family and the entire Tweed Funk operation.

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.



 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 6 

Ellis Hooks – Needle In A Haystack

Blues Boulevard Records

13 tracks/49:24

With liner notes offering comparisons to legendary singers Sam Cooke, James Carr, and Otis Redding, the bar is set quite high for Ellis Hooks, who works hard to live up to the lofty expectations. He tears into the title track, his baritone voice belting out the lyrics with the music raging behind him. “To You Have Wronged Me” finds Hooks coming to terms with the actions of people around him, ultimately letting the hurt and dishonesty dissipate in a moment of forgiveness. Steve Cropper co-wrote the song and adds his distinctive guitar work to the mix. The state of human mortality is covered at length on “Time Is A Mofo,” then Hooks encourages listeners to take full advantage of life’s opportunities on “Live The Day”.

Producer Jon Tiven wears many hats on the project, playing guitar, tenor saxophone, keyboards and backing vocals in addition to engineering and mixing the tracks. His wife, Sally Tiven, plays bass as part of a rhythm section that includes Todd Snare on drums. The liner notes also credit eight additional drummers for their contributions. Hooks, Tiven, and lyricist Stephen Kalinich wrote all of the material. The package includes a booklet with lyrics for each song.“Los Angeles” finds the singer trying to make the most of lines like “I walk in the daytime, go to the Central market. Sometimes I don’t take my car because it’s hard to park it”. The driving “Train To Train” starts off with Hooks informing listeners that “ A plane is nothing but a train that flies….And you may gain speed.” His energized efforts carry the day over the colorless lyrics.

Things improve dramatically on the second half of the disc. Taking a hard look at himself, Hooks digs deep into the unraveling of a marriage on “Now You Know,” singing with an emotional conviction that rings true. The ominous “Put Down Your Needles” is the kind of passionate plea that stems from personal experience. “I Stand & I Scream” is a stirring diatribe of life in the modern age punctuated by Tiven’s horn section. Hooks is a stranger in a strange land on “Another Planet” but he finally takes continued comfort on “America, I’m Coming Home,” acknowledging the nation’s evils while still clinging to the promise of justice and liberty for all.

This is one of those discs that pushes the boundaries of what constitutes blues music. Full of soulful vocals and hard rocking arrangements, it offers little for those who favor traditional blues styles. For other listeners, Ellis Hooks is a skillful singer worth checking out.

Reviewer Mark Thompson lives in Florida, where he is enjoying life without snow. He is the President 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!.



 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 6 

Anthony Geraci and The Boston Blues All-Stars – Fifty Shades of Blue

Delta Groove Music

www.anthonygeraciblue.com

13 tracks/54:10 minutes

Surely Anthony Geraci was born to play the blues, and to improvise so wickedly that he masters any style of blues. When he was four-years-old, Geraci told his parents he needed a piano; they bought him an old upright, but he soon was pounding it out on a baby grand. At the same time he was taking lessons at the Neighborhood School of Music in his hometown of New Haven, Connecticut, he was skittering over the ivories, improvising and following his own sharp musical instincts. Although his formal musical education came in the studios of Boston’s Berklee College of Music, his real schooling came when he and his friend, guitarist Ed Cherry, listened after school to blues records of artists such as Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, and Jimmy Rogers. Over the years, Geraci has recorded with Muddy Waters, Big Joe Turner, Otis Rush, Big Mama Thorton, Hubert Sumlin, and Jimmy Rogers, among others. A founding member of Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters, he’s also a founding member of Sugar Ray and the Bluetones.

An all-star cast of musicians joins Geraci on Fifty Shades of Blue, including, among others, Norcia, who provides vocals and harmonica on six tracks, Monster Mike Welch on guitar, Michael “Mudcat” Ward on bass, Marty Richards on drums on all but two tracks, with Michelle “Evil Gal” Willson on vocals on two songs, and Toni Lynn Washington on vocals on one song.

The album lives up to its title as the gathered faithful tear it up through country blues, pop-inflected blues, jazz, ragtime, and driving rock and pure gut-wrenching power blues. “Too Late for Coffee” kicks off with a spare piano roll that’s joined by Norcia’s vocal lament that it’s been too long since he’s seen his woman; since it’s “too late for coffee and too late for beer,” the singer declares, he wants to hold his lover tight since it’s been about a year. Jaunty and humorous, the song delivers a story of love-too-long-gone for which nothing will substitute; it’s a country waltz with a blues riff woven tightly into it.

A pop-inflected, jazz standard, “Don’t Keep Me Waiting,” carries us back to the crooning tunes of the late ’50s and early ’60s, with Geraci providing a Vince Guaraldi-like piano cascade on the bridge. Languorous and wistful, the tune floats dreamily on the rolling waters of Geraci’s piano, punctuated by Richards’ brushes, and Norcia’s smoky vocals.

The album kicks off with Welch’s stinging guitar leads and Darrell Nulisch’s growling vocals on “Everything I Do is Wrong.” Welch’s haunting guitar work recalls B.B. King’s own on “The Thrill is Gone” as well as Peter Green’s guitar in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and in the early days of Fleetwood Mac. The album’s title track features a down and dirty blues romp, with a call and response between Norcia and Willson. Funky and fresh, “Fifty Shades of Blue” playfully spins off the “Fifty Shades of Gray” phenomenon: “you bring the blindfold/I’ll bring the wine/let’s get together and have a good time/handcuffs on the bureau/the temperature’s rising/I got no place to go.”

On “Sad But True” Norcia moans straight up blues, with Welch’s slide guitar and Norcia’s own harmonica weaving under and around his vocals; it’s a mean old blues sandwiched between the playfulness of the title track and the New Orleans-inflected jazz blues of “Heard That Tutwiler Whistle Blow.” On the latter tune, Geraci’s rousing piano rolls and trills provide the foundation on which the straight ahead harp and vocals of Norcia play off.

These songs, and these players, are all stars indeed. There’s not a track on this album that won’t take you out of yourself to moan, clap, cry, or laugh, and you’ll want a partner near you most of the time since Geraci and the All Stars deliver a soundtrack for the art and act of seduction.

Reviewer Henry L. Carrigan, Jr. writes about music and music books for No Depression, American Songwriter, Country Standard Time, and Wide Open Country.



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Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation – Red Bank, NJ

Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation presents Point Pleasant Boro Jazz & Blues Festival Saturday, June 18, 2016 at the Riverfront Park, Corner of Maxon & River Rd. Point Pleasant Boro, NJ from Noon to 8:00 PM. Headliner is Billy Hector Experience Featuring The Midnight Horns plus Food, Crafters, Beer & Wine Garden, Kids activities. FREE Admission!

For more information, go to www.jsjbf.org.

The Santa Barbara Blues Society – Santa Barbara. CA

The Santa Barbara Blues Society, the oldest existing U.S. blues society, founded in March 1977, is proud to present Little Jonny and ¬Rockin’ Red at its annual acoustic show at 8 PM on Saturday, May 7, 2016, at the beautiful, newly renovated New Victoria Theatre, 33 W. Victoria St. in downtown Santa Barbara.

Doors will open at 7:00 PM. There will be free BBQ snacks and an outdoor patio. Admission is FREE for members of the SBBS (memberships will be available at the show), and only $10 for everyone else. Tickets will be available only at the door or by telephone arrangement in advance.

For more information, go to www.SBBlues.org or leave a message at (805) 722-8155.

Grand County Blues Society – Winter Park, CO

The 14th Annual Blues From The Top Festival, presented by the Grand County Blues Society, happens June 25/26 at Hideaway Park in Winter Park, Co. Features a special Trampled Under Foot Reunion, plus headliners including Eric Gales, Samantha Fish Band, Jon Nemeth, Kara Grainger and more. “Keeping The Blues Alive” Stage features young up-and-coming Blues artists. Portion of the festival’s proceeds benefit Blue Star Connection, which provides access and ownership of musical instruments for children and young adults with cancer and other serious challenges, as well as providing music therapy departments with instruments.

For more information, go to www.bluesfromthetop.org.

The Mississippi Valley Blues Society – Davenport, IA

The Mississippi Valley Blues Society presents “New York Boss Man” Dave Fields and his band at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 8, at Kavanaugh’s Hilltop Tap, 1228 30th Street, Rock Island, IL. The cost to see this performance will be $8 if you are a Mississippi Valley Blues Society member, or $10 if you have not joined the Blues Society (application will be available at the door).

For more information visit our website at: http://mvbs.org

DC Blues Societ – Washington, D.C.

Enjoy the Reggie Wayne Morris Blues Band at the DC Blues Society’s Festival Fundraiser, May 7, 2016 7:30 pm to 12 am. American Legion Post 41, 905 Sligo Avenue, Silver Spring MD 20910. Entrance on Fenton Street near large public parking lot. Tickets $20 door ($15 DCBS members); $25 door ($20 members). Purchase tickets at http://dcblues.org or call (301) 322-4808.

Reggie Wayne Morris was influenced by Jimi Hendrix and B.B. King, but he’s created his own unique “Boogie Woogie Rhythm & Rockin’ Blues” style. The guitarist, vocalist and songwriter co-wrote all of the songs on his latest CD Don’t Bring Me Daylight. He has appeared at the Baltimore Blues Society Festival for nine consecutive years.

This event will raise funds for the free 28th Annual DC Blues Festival which attracts a diverse, family-friendly crowd of old and new blues fans every year to the Carter Barron Amphitheatre on Saturday, September 3, 2016. Unfortunately, the DC grant that helped to fund the Blues Festival for many years is no longer available.

The Illinois Central Blues Club – Springfield, IL

The Illinois Central Blues Club has announced the line-up of talent for the Blue Monday live performances and jam sessions held every Monday night at The Alamo, 115 North Fifth, Springfield, IL from 8:00pm to midnight. May 9 – Skyla Burrell, May 16 – Holland K Smith, May 23 – Lazer Lloyd, May 30 – Gracie Curran and the High Falutin, June 6 – Joel DeSilva and the Midnight Howl, June 13 – Brandon Santini, June 20 – TBA, June 27 – Laurie Morvan. www.icbluesclub.org

Additional ICBC and ICBC partnered shows: May 5 – James Armstrong Presents @ The Alamo, 6 pm, w/Noah Williams, May 19 – James Armstrong Presents @ The Alamo, 6 pm w/William Marsala Band, June 2 – James Armstrong Presents @ The Alamo, 6 pm, June 16 – James Armstrong Presents @ The Alamo, 6 pm.

Friends of the Blues – Kankakee IL area

The Friends of the Blues announce their 2016 Concert Series. All shows start at 7 pm and are open to the public – and – Food and Beverages available at all Friends of the Blues shows. May 10, Skyla Burrell Band, Moose Lodge, Bradley IL,Tues, May 24, Lazer Lloyd, Moose Lodge, Bradley IL,Tues, June 7, Frank Bang & Cook County Kings, Manteno Sportsmen’s Club, Manteno IL, Thur, June 16, Nick Harless Band, Moose Lodge, Bradley IL, Thur, June 23, Golden State Lone Star Blues Revue (Mark Hummel, Anson Funderburgh, Little Charlie Baty), Moose Lodge, Bradley IL, Tues, June 28, Cash Box Kings, Kankakee Valley Boat Club, Kankakee IL, Thur, July 14, Joe Moss Band, The Longbranch, L’Erable IL, Tues, July 26, Nikki Hill, The Longbranch, L’Erable IL, Thur, Aug 4, Albert Castiglia w/ Opening Act: Maybe Later, The Longbranch, L’Erable IL, Fri, Aug 12, Polly O’Keary & The Rhythm Method, Watseka Elks Club, Watseka IL, Tues, Aug 16, Too Slim & the Taildraggers, The Longbranch, L’Erable IL, Thur, Sept 15, Danielle Nicole Band, Moose Lodge, Bradley IL.. For more info visit http://www.facebook.com/friendsoftheblues

Ventura County Blues Society – Ventura, CA

The 11th Annual Ventura County Blues Festival on Saturday, April 30, in a new, bigger location at Studio Channel Islands in Camarillo, benefits Food Share and other local charities in Ventura County. Also features a Festival-ending All-Star Jam Tribute to the late BB Chung King. Info: www.venturacountybluessociety.org.

Central Iowa Blues Society – Des Moines, IA

The Central Iowa Blues Society is now accepting applications for the 2016 Iowa Blues Challenge. This includes entries for both the Blues Band and Solo / Duo categories. Preliminary rounds begin April 24, 2016 and this year the finals will be held on Saturday, June 18, 2016 at the Downtown Marriott in Des Moines.

Prize packages to the first place winners in each category include cash, 8 hours recording time courtesy of Junior’s Motel, opportunity for paid performances at area events and festivals throughout the year, and entry into and travel expenses for the 2017 International Blues Challenge in Memphis TN.

For more information, go to www.cibs.org.

The 2016 Iowa Blues Challenge is sponsored by Budweiser, Summit Brewing Co., Junior’s Motel, Rieman Music, Zimm’s Food and Spirits, Lefty’s Live Music, River Music Experience, Cityview, Central Iowa Blues Society, Mississippi Valley Blues Society, South Skunk Blues Society and Southeast Iowa Blues Society.

Crossroads Blues Society – Byron, IL

Crossroads has lots of great blues events planned for 2016!

The Hope and Anchor English Pub in Loves Park, IL features shows on the second Saturday of each month from 8 pm to midnight. May 14th – The Jimmys

Friday Night Blues at the Lyran Club in Rockford continues mostly on the third Friday of the month with a few other special dates to boot. Currently booked are: May 20th – Dave Fields. Shows are free from 7 to 10 PM.

 

Stay tuned for more upcoming events! www.crossroadsbluessociety.com


P.O. Box 721 Pekin, Illinois 61555 © 2016 Blues Blast Magazine (309) 267-4425

 

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