Issue 10-31 August 4, 2016

 

Cover photo by Bob Kieser © 2016


 In This Issue 

Terry Mullins has our feature interview with James Harman. We have 15 Blues reviews for you this week including a book by Richard Polenberg plus reviews of new music by Curtis Salgado, Heather Crosse, Mike Wheeler Band, Jeff Jensen, Mark Nomad, Dana Fuchs, Ken Valdez, Brad Wilson, Joanne Broh Band, Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, The Gate City Divas, Lou Wilson, Geoff Carne and The Hatz and Sonny Moorman.

Bob Kieser has photos and commentary from the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival.

Our video of the week is James Harman.

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


 From The Editor’s Desk 

BBMAs logo imageHey Blues Fans,

Have you voted yet? Voting in the 2016 Blues Blast Music Awards continues until midnight CST on August 15th. You can stream music of the nominees before you vote
HERE. Join more than 5,000 blues fans and add YOUR voice. Vote now HERE.

The September 23rd awards show features Too Slim & The Taildraggers, Peter Karp, Dave Weld & The Imperial Flames, Bob Margolin, Shaun Murphy, Fiona Boyes, Jonn Del Toro Richardson, Shoji Naito, Big Harp George, Markey Blue, Dave Muskett Acoustic Blues Band, Danielle Nicole, Andy T-Nick Nixon Band, Anthony Geraci & Monster Mike Welch, Andy Poxon & Little Ronnie, Henry Gray, Bob Corritore, Guy King, Eugene “Hideway” Bridges, Jon Spear Band and the Corey Dennison Band.

We have 2 stages in one large auditorium space with general admission seating. Reserved sponsor VIP seating is also available right in front of both stages.

There will be continuous performances from the time the show starts at 6pm (Doors at 5pm) until past midnight. Food and beverages available at the show. It is a show you don’t want to miss! Complete information is at www.TheBBMAs.com!

And while you are there be sure to check out our General Admission VIP Tickets. No waiting. no line, you can use the VIP entrance and it includes an official 2016 Blues Blast Music Awards t-shirt, poster, and official 2016 Blues Blast Music Awards pin for only $50. (Every year, we run out of official t-shirts, so this is your best bet to get one!)

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser


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 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 15 

curtis salgado cd imageCurtis Salgado – The Beautiful Lowdown

Alligator Records AL4970

12 songs – 48 minutes

www.curtissalgado.com

Curtis Salgado delivers another masterpiece in soul-blues with the release of The Beautiful Lowdown, his second effort for Chicago powerhouse Alligator Records after overcoming another health crisis that would have sidelined a lesser man.

Already a liver transplant recipient after a bout with cancer in 2006, he was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2012, a few months after the release of Soul Shot, his Alligator debut, which earned Blues Music Awards for Entertainer Of The Year and Soul Blues Artist and Album Of The Year. During recovery from the new surgery, he battled back by songwriting, and this album, which contains 11 originals and one cover, is the result.

Produced by drummer Tony Braunagel and recorded primarily at guitarist/bandmate Johnny Lee Schell’s Ultratone Studios in California, it features a dazzling performance by Curtis’ regular touring band, members (like Braunagel and Schell) of the Phantom Blues Band/Taj Mahal Band and several other top musicians.

A gifted harmonica player in addition to possessing one of the most soulful voices in the history of American music, Salgado is at his best here. He’s far more than a survivor in a life with many ups and downs. It’s well-documented that John Belushi used him and his wild lifestyle as his model for the character he created in the Blues Brothers, even dedicating their first LP to the Washington state native. They met in Eugene, Ore., during the filming of Animal House when Curtis was working with Robert Cray, and Delgado literally introduced the native Chicagoan to the blues.

Despite personal torment, Curtis shows no weakness here as he delivers some of his best, beautifully bittersweet and introspective material yet on this album, which is nominated for Soul Blues Album Of The Year in the BluesBlast Awards. He’s also nominated once again for Male Blues Artist Of The Year.

He’s backed on guitar by Vyasa Dotson as well as co-producers Marlon McClain and Schell, Alan Hager, Terry Robb, Chris Hayes and Igor Prado. Keyboards are handled by Mike Finnigan, Jim Pugh and Brian Harris with a rhythm section composed of bassists Tracy Arrington, Larry Fulcher and James “Hutch” Hutchinson and percussionists Brian Foxworth, Braunagel and Lenny Castro. Lewis Livermore and Dave Mills (trumpet), Gary Harris and Tim Bryson (saxophone) and Lars Campbell (trombone) compose the horn section with Tippa Lee and Danielle Schnebelen providing guest vocals. Margaret Linn, LaRhonda Steele, Erica Warren and Tony Ozier add backing vocals.

Curtis recalls a chance meeting with his first love in “Hard To Feel The Same About Love” to kick off the action. Not only did she teach him about romance, but she was also responsible for breaking his heart and schooling him in the blues. His rich, melismatic tenor soars as he delivers an ocean of emotion with every word. “Low Down Dirty Shame” is a medium-tempo blues about the tragedy that will result if the object of his affection refuses to stay at his side.

The syncopated “I Know A Good Thing” has a country-blues feel as it relates an incident when “I wasn’t looking for love/Love was looking for me.” Next up, my favorite song in the set, “Walk A Mile In My Blues,” instructs folks to understand everything the singer’s been through – including losing a brother to the needle and a woman to her best friend — before criticizing the way he is today. The ballad “Healing Love” sings praise to a lady who lifted him up when he thought he’d always be alone while the sweet “Nothing In Particular (Little Bit Of Everything)” imparts the realization that happiness comes from within not through potential out-of-reach possessions.

“Simple Enough” relies on reggae beat and a vocal assist from Jamaican dancehall superstar Lee as it suggests choosing your battles wisely while “I’m Not Made That Way” is a straight-ahead message about being greedy. The mood slows for the romantic ballad “Is There Something I Should Know,” a pleasing duet with fellow BluesBlast Award nominee Schnebelen, the Trampled Under Foot beauty who now tours on her own as Danielle Nicole. The rap “My Girlfriend” — a complaint about a woman who acts more like a wife, “Ring Telephone Ring” – a plea for a new lady to call — and Johnny “Guitar” Watson’s “Hook Me Up” – the only cover on the album – conclude the set.

Curtis Salgado is a national treasure as The Beautiful Lowdown clearly demonstrates once again. Available through all major retailers, it’s a winner on all fronts. Pick it up today. You won’t be disappointed.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This album is nominated for Soul Blues Album in the 2016 Blues Blast Music Awards. To stream some of the nominees songs click HERE.

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.


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 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 15 

heather crosse cd imageHeather Crosse – Grooving At The Crosse Roads

Ruf Records

www.heathercrosse.com

11 tracks

Hot off her Blues Caravan 2015 “Girls With Guitars” tour, Heather Crosse launches her solo debut with soulful and R&B stuff that is more to her liking. Heavy Suga’ & The SweeTones has been Heather Crosse’s band since 2007 when they began in Hot Springs, Arkansas in 2007. She moved to Clarksdale, Mississippi, in 2008 and added drummer Lee Williamson drums and Mark Yacovone on keys to the band. Her guitar player Jerry Jines passed away and harp and trumpet player Greg Batterton became too ill to play and tour, so she added a new guitar player; here she has Dan Smith as her newest one and he does a great job. Crosse has been a soul and R&B fan since she was a kid and this album is heavy into that. Recorded and engineered by Jim Gaines, the album has a solid sound to it.

Heather begins the CD with “My Man Called Me,” a swinging and updated version of this classic. Her band supports her well as she belts out a great tune as the guitar picks out a gritty accompaniment. A biographical “Why Does a Woman Need a Bass Guitar” follows; Crosse tells us of her “love affair” with her instrument in this R&B cut. The 1975 R&B standard “Rockin’ Chair” is next and Heather does a good job with it. She sings with feeling as she scales the production back and eliminates the moaning backing vocals from the original. The original “Clarksdale Shuffle” has some lyrics that seem a little forced at times as Crosse sings a travelogue about Clarksdale. Nice guitar and piano work prop it up and the call and response are fun. “Hurrying Up to Relax” follows, showing Heather’s soul and R&B side again. A nice, original ballad that could easily have been a 1970’s R&B hit. Another well done and restrained guitar solo here, too. Another original follows, “Walking in Their Shoes.” Slide guitar greases things up well as does the piano while Heather sings the blues for us.

More blues are next with “Damn Your Eyes,” an Etta James song, and Heather does a good job with it. “Steppin’ Up Strong” has a little country lilt to it as Heather sings this original R&B tune. Dan Smith’s guitar is once again solid and Mark Yacovone’s organ work is also strong. “Bad Boy Kiss” is a Lisa Lambert cut, the blonde bluegrass and country performer. Crosse jazzes things up with a little bluesy soul added to this Mississippi country tune. “Call on Me” was written by for Heather by Scott Arivett and she does another good job. The tune has more of a country feel to it as the guitar and organ take us to church. The closer is “You Don’t Move Me No More” where Heather growls and shows a fiercer side. She closes as she opened; Big Mama Thornton is in Heather’s wheelhouse as she sings with grit and emotion. One final big guitar and piano solo each sweeten the pot, too.

This is a good album and I enjoyed it more than the “Girls with Guitars” effort where Crosse seemed somewhat uncomfortable trying to be a rocker (I’m not a fan of the “Girls With Guitars” stuff in general, but IMHO the latest version was forced and not up to par with the earlier one). The album is listed as a solo effort but the band is a rekindling of her old band, Heavy Suga’ & The SweeTones. Greg Batterton and Jerry Jines are no longer with her but she pays tribute to them in the liner notes. This band that she has backing her is outstanding. If I have one criticism it would be that the original songs seem a little metered and repetitious in their presentation; they all have the same sort of forced beat to the lyrics. That aside, this is a well done album that showcases this 31 year old singer and bass player well. She’s got a voice and can deliver the goods. It is well worth a listen.

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.


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 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 15 

mike wheeler cd imageMike Wheeler Band – Turn Up!!

Delmark Records DE 845

13 songs – 66 minutes

www.mikewheelerband.com

The rich catalog of Chicago institution Delmark Records features some of the best “new” blues artists in the world today — including Corey Dennison, Guy King and Omar Coleman — and such legends as Jimmy Johnson, Jimmy Burns and Lurrie Bell, but the hardest working member of the label’s lineup has to be Mike Wheeler.

It doesn’t matter what you drop into in the Windy City, you’re probably going to run into the affable Wheeler performing somewhere, often twice a day, either with a full band as demonstrated on this sensational debut CD or in a solo acoustic setting, as he takes his rightful place in the forefront of the blues world. Fortunately for music lovers everywhere, he’s finally retired from a career at a local hospital and now able to take his music around the globe.

A hard-working family man with prodigious guitar skills and a voice that some critics compare to the late Sam Cooke, Wheeler’s history includes work with Peaches Staten, Nelly Tiger Travis and Demetria Taylor. He launched this band a couple of years ago after spending years as a prominent fixture in slide trombone player Big James Montgomery’s Chicago Playboys, with whom he recorded five albums.

A 2014 Chicago Blues Hall Of Fame inductee, Wheeler seamlessly blends blues, jazz and R&B into something that’s fading fast in the Windy City, a traditional South Side soul-blues sound with rock-blues overtones. He’s backed here by the dynamic Larry Williams, a longtime partner and veteran of Big James, Tyrone Davis, Koko Taylor and George Benson bands, on bass as well as veteran timekeeper Cleo Cole on drums and Brian James, who’s been musical director for both the Chi-Lites and the Drifters, on keys. They’re augmented by a horn section of Kenny Anderson on trumpet and Hank Ford on tenor sax.

Wheeler wrote all but one tune on Turn Up!! He kicks off the opening number, “Sweet Girl,” with a stinging guitar run as he sets the mood for what’s to follow. It’s a medium-fast shuffle that implores a lady to remain at his side for eternity. His single-note solos are accented by crisp horn lines and a fine, brief solo on keys. “You Won’t Do Right” percolates as it describes a woman who simply defies understanding by running around at night while her man sits home loyally waiting.

The funky “Yeah!” – about yearning for a woman who walks in to a bar like she owns the place – follows before Wheeler offers up a ride in the blues-rocker “Brand New Cadillac.” The mood turns jazzy for a complaint about a woman who won’t listen in “Talking To Myself” before the title tune “Turn Up!!” relates the passion the singer experiences whenever a certain woman is around.

The mood slows for the straight-ahead blues, “Nothing Lasts Forever,” about the frailty of a relationship despite the desire for it to survive. In this case, it’s coming to an end because the woman’s cheating. The next number, “I Can’t Do That,” carries the theme forward with the singer saying he can’t sit pat while the lady’s running around.

Wheeler delivers his autobiography in “Living My Dream,” relating how he picked up a guitar for the first time at age 16 and spent decades working by day and playing music at night, before he finally got to do what he loves fulltime. Next up, a burning guitar solo introduces “A Blind Man Can See,” about the end of a love affair. It precedes the only cover in the set, a fast-paced version of Little Milton’s “That’s What Love Will Make You Do.” Two more tunes — “I’m Hooked,” about love at first sight, and “Sad State Of The World,” a ballad about the tragedies unfolding locally on the TV news each day – bring the album to a close.

Available through all major retailers and nominated for a 2016 BluesBlast Award for Rock Blues Album, Turn Up!! is a stellar debut from a former secret treasure in Chicago. If you love the South Side blues sounds of the ‘70s and ’80s, you’ll love this one. It’s old school for the new century. At more than an hour in length, it has plenty to offer. And turn it up. It deserves it!

EDITOR’S NOTE: This album is nominated for Rock Blues Album in the 2016 Blues Blast Music Awards. To stream some of the nominees songs click HERE.

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.


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 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 15 

jeff jensen cd imageJeff Jensen (Live) – The River City Sessions

Swingsuit Records

www.jeffjensenband.com

11 tracks – 66:54

After several years of relentlessly touring across the country and the European continent, guitarist Jeff Jensen decided it was time to capture his band in peak form with a live recording at the famous Ardent Studios in Memphis in front of an audience of some of his most devoted fans. Backed by his long-time musical partner Bill Ruffino on bass and Robinson Bridgeforth on drums, Jensen kicks things off with a high-octane rendition of T-Bone Walker’s “T-Bone Shuffle,” his guitar spitting out cascades of notes until he breaks things down to a more mellow approach. The sprightly tempo of “Make It Through,” one of eight Jensen originals, drives an upbeat message about surviving heartbreak with a smile.

The band uses the instrumental “JJ Boogie” to get the studio audience all wound up, then shifts gears as Jensen offers a slow lamentation on”Find Myself All Alone,” complete with another fleet-fingered solo that builds to a feverish conclusion. “Brunette Woman” features Ruffino’s rumbling bass line and Bridgeforth’s driving beat behind the tale of a torturous matrimonial situation. Another instrumental, “Elephant Blue,” puts Ruffino in the spotlight. Jensen fires off a fiery solo at a blistering pace.

Next up is a staple of the band’s live shows, Tom Wait’s “Heart Attack And Vine”. With plenty of encouragement from the audience, Jensen pulls some razor-sharp tones from his guitar before launching into a solo that seems to be rapidly spinning out of control. Pulling back from the precipice, Jensen breaks out his megaphone for the final verses as the fans shout out the title line. Clocking in at almost nine minutes, the ballad “Can’t Believe We’re Through” takes a hard look at the betrayal of love with Ruffino supplying the backing vocal. “Ash And Bone” reveals the tender side of Jensen’s artistry.

To finish the show, the musicians deliver a powerful run-through of “All Along The Watchtower”. Ruffino takes over the lead vocal for one verse to the delight of the listeners. Jensen weaves impassioned licks and quieter, lyrical guitar passages into a captivating performance that ends the show on a high note. Long-time Jensen fans will certainly want to have this fine document that conveys much of the energy that emanates from the stage during the band’s live performances. Other listeners should certainly check this one out – then catch Jensen live to experience his dynamic live show.

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!.


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 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 15 

mark nomad cd imageMark Nomad – #9

Blue Star Records

https://marknomad.com

CD: 9 Songs, 30:00 Minutes

Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues and Blues Rock, Slide Guitar Blues

Ever take a good, close look at the current logo of Baskin Robbins ice cream shops? “BR,” it clearly reads, with the main portion of each letter being blue. However, the bumps of the “B” and the straight line of the “R” are bright pink, forming a “31”. Chicago-born slide-guitar master Mark Nomad’s latest album, #9, resembles both the aforementioned logo and its advertised parlors. Clever, original blues songs are almost-subliminally concealed in the middle of several postmodern rockers and ballads – like the “31”in the middle of the “BR.” On the CD, there’s something to appeal to almost every demographic of a mass audience, like the 31 flavors offered inside each Baskin Robbins store. There’s hard rock, soft rock, an instrumental, an esoteric opener, and (of course) the blues. This will disappoint purists hankering for more of Nomad’s sizzling slide. Making it big in the music business, however, is kind of like making it big in the ice-cream business: you’ve got to have something for everyone if you’re going to make a profit.

Mark’s webpage reveals that his music has been scrumptious for over forty years: “The Nomad moniker was born in Chicago when he sat in with the Jimmy Johnson Band at B.L.U.E.S. on Halsted Street. Nomad began playing the blues in the 1960’s and by the 70’s, was sharing the concert stage with many of the biggest names in show business. He was co- founder of the original Little Village. Their debut album is considered a collector’s item and the band was legendary in the Northeast. Nomad penned a jingle for the Subway fast food chain in their early days. Another composition was used as the theme for WBAB, a major New York radio station, for 10 years. Nomad has performed at venues such as the Bottom Line, House of Blues, Bushnell Memorial, Toad’s Place, China Club, Iron Horse, Palace Theater, New Haven Coliseum and scores of colleges and blues festivals.”

Alongside Nomad on eight original songs and one cover, as he performs on lead vocals, guitar, harmonica and bass, are Peter King on electric and upright bass; Sturgis Cunningham on drums and harmony vocals; Dale Monette and Kevin Lennon on drums; Dave Trenholm on saxes; Dan Fontanella on piano; and Jim Weeks on guitars, bass, drums, keyboards, and backing vocals

.

The following track is the best genre-pure song on the album, “berry blue” all the way through:

Track 05: “What’s a Man to Do?” – Love is probably the number-one subject of blues songs, with money coming in a Gillette-razor-close second. Our narrator here is trying to catch the eye of a standoffish lady at a concert: “The band starts playing a soundtrack for the room. People are paying for the booze and the food. Amongst the criers, you stand there like a rose. They’re stoking my fire; I’m naked under these clothes!” Even more salacious is Dave Trenholm’s sax work, coupled with Mark Nomad’s cheeky vocals.

Flavorful #9 has offerings for everyone in a crowd, but die-hard aficionados will definitely crave more blues!

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 36 year old female Blues fan. She brings the perspective of a younger blues fan to reviews. A child of 1980s music, she was strongly influenced by her father’s blues music collection.


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 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 15 

dana fuchs cd imageDana Fuchs – Broken Down – Acoustic Sessions

Antler King Records – 2015

14 tracks; 58 minutes

www.danafuchs.com

After her Bliss Avenue and Songs From The Road releases on Ruf this CD is a very different affair with Dana’s distinctive voice backed only by acoustic guitar and occasional mandolin, dobro, piano and harp in a very spare setting. As usual, Jon Diamond plays guitar and harp and had a hand in writing many of the songs with Dana; Jon’s brother Pete plays acoustic guitar on the three songs he wrote; Ann Klein adds mandolin and dobro to three tracks and Jon Regen piano to two.

The material includes demos of songs recorded on earlier albums, material demoed for other artists’ consideration and collaborations between Dana and Ricky Ross (Deacon Blue) and Jack O’Hara. There is also a cover of “Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City”.

Dana has built a reputation as a dynamic vocalist with a touch of grit in her voice in front of a rocking electric band so it is interesting to hear her with such minimal backing. That does put her voice up front and centre and that will not be to everyone’s tastes though there is no doubting the power in her singing. Sensibly Dana resists the temptation to resort to screaming though a track like “Say So Long” gets close, Dana egged on by Jon’s keening harp work. Two tracks are reprised from Bliss Avenue, “So Hard To Move” and “Baby Loves The Life”: the former is a ‘down’ song played in a gentle style, Dana’s vocals a study in restraint; the latter is more uptempo and Jon’s harp gives the opening a hint of Dylan in his prime before Dana’s engaging vocal. Both tracks show how these songs began before being re-cast for a full band version. “Keepsake” appeared on 2011’s Love To Beg and in this original demo is a wistful song that makes this reviewer wonder how the final version came out. Closing track “Sad Salvation” is one of the best songs here, another world-weary view on love: “She curses life for giving her what it just can’t let her keep. Sometimes love is a sad salvation, you can’t stay warm in its feeble glow.”

The two collaborations with Scotland’s Ricky Ross are both interesting songs. The stately piano on “Wait Up” reminds you of some of Deacon Blue’s hits in the 1980’s and Dana’s vocal is excellent; “Kind Of Love” is similar in style and Dana’s overtly romantic vocal fits the song well. Dana’s collaboration with Jack O’Hara “Almost Home” opens the disc, Dana’s voice ranging from deep tones to almost raucous. The three songs written by Pete Diamond appear in a run of tracks 2-4 and all are attractive tunes, “The Lie” being the pick with nice dobro work, another wistful performance from Dana who has seen through the pretence. As several of the songs here are concerned with loss and were apparently inspired by deaths in the family the choice of Bobby Bland’s old hit as the sole cover seems a little out of kilter.

Whether this release is intended to fill a gap between Ruf albums or to offer fans a different setting for Dana’s voice is difficult to say but her fans will certainly treasure this addition to her catalogue.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK who enjoys a wide variety of blues and roots music, especially anything in the ‘soul/blues’ category. Favorites include contemporary artists such as Curtis Salgado, Tad Robinson, Albert Castiglia and Doug Deming and classic artists including Bobby Bland, Howling Wolf and the three ‘Kings’. He gets over to the States as often as he can to see live blues.


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 Video Of The Week – James Harman 

James Harman Bamboo Porch Revue “What’cha Gonna Do ‘Bout Me” live at Gator By The Bay 2015. Click on the image above to see this video.


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 Featured Blues Interview – James Harman 

james harman pic 1You can call it an epiphany, a moment of clarity or even an instant of divine enlightenment.

Whatever you call it, the end result was the same.

It was a life-changing moment for young James Harman.

Though he was way too young to be in a segregated night club in Panama City, Florida, a teen-aged Harman nevertheless donned a fake moustache and proceeded to sneak into the black nightclub to witness first-hand the magic of the one-and-only Little Junior Parker.

And by the end of that fateful evening, Harman had plotted out his future vocation – singing the blues.

So what was it about Parker’s performance that night that struck such a raw nerve with the young man from Anniston, Alabama?

“Mostly how cool it all seemed to me … as well as seeing all those women in the front row throwing panties and hotel keys up to him … I said, this is for me!”

The very next week, Harman had a similar experience at a Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland show and as they say, the die was surely cast.

“I walked out of the church choir at age 16 and started singing about women for money and that’s the only job I’ve ever had,” Harman recently said.

Harman has been singing the blues, blowing harp, leading bands, burning up the road and penning thought-provoking songs ever since, and some five-plus decades after being turned on by what can happen when Little Junior Parker or Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland takes the bandstand, he is rightfully recognized as one of the Godfathers of the southern California scene.

His latest album – Bonetime (his first for the Electro-Fi label) – came out in the spring of 2015 and immediately found a loving home with those craving a hearty dose of the real-deal blues. Bonetime ended up garnering a whopping five Blues Music Awards (BMA) nominations this past spring and that might have caught Harman – who is a member of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and who has also seen his name listed on the roll-call of Grammy Award nominees – a bit off guard.

“It’s great to feel that you are being recognized by your peers and the entire record buying world, but I personally don’t ever think of music as sports, or competitive. But those folks who organize and promote those award shows sure are invested in it, so what the hell? I certainly didn’t see five BMA nominations coming, but it was nice,” he said. “I had 20 Handy nominations (the pre-cursor to today’s BMAs) during the ’80s and ’90s and even up to 2003 when I released Lonesome Moon Trance and the digital remaster release of my Strictly Live in ’85… Plus album. Those were my last new albums before Bonetime. None of this awards business is as exciting as mixing up a new batch of my songs to release. It’s still all about songs. I make songs, not albums.”

Although it was not intentional, Harman sure did make his fans sweat it out, waiting 12 years between Bonetime and the release of his previous album.

“I just stayed so busy, touring 29 countries, that I didn’t really have time to address a new release. Also, I had gotten a ‘bad taste in my mouth’ from my last label experiences in the ’90s, being sued and lied to, etc.,” he said. “I needed a break from the making-records side of the business.”

james harman pic2Bonetime features a wide array of Harman’s friends helping out, associates such as Junior Watson, Kid Ramos, the late, great Candye Kane, Kirk Fletcher, Gene Taylor, Nathan James and Jeff Turmes. Bonetime very much has the sound and texture of a continuous, well-thought-out body of work. It’s a bit of a surprise then, to learn that some of the material has been hanging out inside Harman’s vault for some time, just waiting to have the clear-coat slapped on them.

“I never ‘finish’ songs; I record the tracks and do the important overdubs then leave them to finish when needed. That way I approach the chosen dozen songs with a fresh mind, as I get them ready to mix and master,” he said. “This method gives me a nice ‘of the same cloth’ feel when I assemble them into a release. As I said, I make songs, not albums.”

The songs that ultimately end up on one of his albums are Harman’s own original compositions. Doing cover songs is really not in his repertoire and it’s a sure bet that is not bound to change anytime soon, either.

“I don’t really do covers. Why would I do covers? As a teenager learning my craft, I did covers to have material back in the 1960s, but that ran its course many decades ago. Recording covers is work for those who cannot write their own material. I write every day, and record a few songs at a time, using the players I choose for each song. When I have a pile of freshly-recorded songs, I put them into the ‘holding can’ until I decide I want to create a new release,” he said. “I have been doing this game a long time and will never rush an album with a label watching over my shoulder pointing at the clock. I produce my records and then make deals with labels to release and promote them. My job is writing songs, and producing recordings … promotion is the work of labels and promotion people. I would never start a business of reproducing other artist’s work; I paint my own pictures and sell them, retaining the rights to them.”

Harpist Mark Hummel – a good friend of Harman’s – has referred to his old pal as a ‘comic genius.’ Hummel’s assessment is spot-on, as evidenced by some of the material that Harman pens. One listen to “(I Am) The World’s Badluckest Man” or “Bad Feets/Bad Hair” from Bonetime confirms as much. Even though it might seem like he’s singing about himself, Harman says that’s not always the case with his tunes.

“As I said, I write every day. I consider myself a short story writer; they are just really short stories so they fit into music. They are rarely stories about me; they are mostly stories about the human condition, as I see it. Blues should not always be autobiographic; a good story is a good story,” he said. “I have lived a wild and crazy life, and I have been on the road literally all my life. I am 70 years old, from the rural south, but have lived in all the major urban centers and toured in 29 countries, so you know I’ve seen some absolutely insane things go down. I take a little about me, add a little I saw in somebody else … I’m making up characters as I look around every place I go.”

His music is filled with plenty of blues from the Delta, some pre-war swing and a nice shot of R&B. But there are other dynamics at play in Harman’s songs, as well. There’s an almost international flair going on inside his tunes, bolstered by swirling Latin, African and Cuban-inspired rhythms. Put it this way – boring and predictable are two words you won’t ever find associated with a James Harman tune.

“My life has been a carnival of swirling colors and shapes, so I grab them all to paint my pictures. Yeah, I’m from rural Alabama, and I use that a lot, but I’ve also lived in Chicago, New York City, Miami, New Orleans and Panama City. Don’t forget that I have also worked, as I said before, in 29 other countries… and brother, I always had my eyes open the whole time. If where you are doesn’t rub off on you… then I would suppose you’re not rubbing up against each place enough to be using the colors in your work,” he said. “In the late ’60s, I had a band with two whites – me and Larry Williams, my guitar player – and two blacks and two Cubans. We were the first mixed-race (not black) outfit to ever play in Miami’s famous Jet-Away Lounge. I was the only white singer ever there! Upstairs was an all-black, 16-piece jazz band, and we were down in the lounge doing Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf…. it was wild. Elderly black gents in tuxedos would tell me I had ‘the wrong paint-job,’ but they wanted to book me in their gambling casino in the Bahamas… what a scene! What I really do is cook and I approach that the same way as painting or song-writing. I create new dishes by using ingredients, herbs and spices from one place in the cuisine of another place… I enjoy most of my concoctions.”

While ‘deep southern soul’ and west coast cool’ may seem at opposite ends of the spectrum – especially musically-speaking – Harman has always managed to blend both together into something that is uniquely his own. That helps to explain the manner in which his music flows out of him, whether on the bandstand or in a recording booth.

james harman pic 3“I guess it’s like everything else. When you move to a new location, you bring with you all the spices from every place you have already been. When I moved to Chicago I brought a lot of Alabama/Florida with me, as I learned Chicago. When I moved to southern California, I met and worked with all the old blues guys who were still living there, so a lot of that Texas/Oklahoma thing people like to call ‘West coast’ certainly came into more use,” he said. “When you’re backing Big Joe Turner or Cleanhead Vinson you can’t help sounding a bit Kansas City, and when you’re working with T-Bone Walker, Lloyd Glenn and Lowell Fulsom, you can’t help gettin’ some of that Texas/Oklahoma stuff into the sound. I was a very lucky guy to get to work with all those cats, and even more lucky to become friends with them. About half my stories of those cats are not about music or being on a bandstand, they are about life. Those men shared hotel rooms, women, bottles and cars non-stop and the stories are now sifting down into my stories. The essence of the blues lives through guys like me, Rod Piazza, Kim Wilson and a few others. We didn’t come from just being fans who bought records, we were down in the trenches working with those cats… so that’s why we have stories.”

Harman, Piazza and Wilson have all been pillars of the southern California scene, which has always been a thriving and vibrant place to play the blues. But oftentimes, southern California (and the whole west coast, really) has to take a backseat to locales such as Chicago, Texas and the Mississippi Delta when discussing the rich history of the blues. Harman helps to explain why that is.

“I suppose it’s because the music that was made in California actually came from Texas and Oklahoma. There was little California in it. Sure, there was a scene everywhere black people gathered, because people are gonna’ dance and carry on, but all your west coast artists were from the south … few were actually from the west coast,” he said. “It’s all about recording studios and labels. Piedmont artists went to New York, Mississippi artists went to Memphis, St. Louis and Chicago and Texas artists went to Los Angeles because that’s where the labels and studios were. Most folks don’t really know anything of the history, or the people who made all this great music. I used to laugh out loud when a hippie radio DJ would play the new Fabulous Thunderbirds’ album on the air and he’d pick a Little Walter tune that they were killin’ dead on, and the radio guy would come back on and say, ‘That was the big Texas sound of the Texas blues from the Fabulous Thunderbirds,’ because he had no idea they were perfectly covering a Louisiana guy who recorded in Chicago! Since the radio guy didn’t really know anything about blues records, all he had to go by was the fact that the album cover told him the band was from Austin, Texas. It’s funny, but not really too funny. Most folks only want to have fun and enjoy themselves… they don’t really want to know where this music comes from.”

An old hobby of Harman’s is due credit for him being known as ‘Icepick’ in some circles of the blues world.

“I collected old icepicks from the turn-of-the-century that had wooden handles with catch-phrases from ice houses, you know, ‘Take home enough ice,’ or ‘Ice saves food.’ They were at war with that new refrigerator and those old icepicks were interesting to me as an art student in school,” he said. “When the fellas would come for record parties, they would see all those old icepicks and started calling me ‘Icepick James’ as a blues guy nickname. I never used it myself until it seemed it would never go away, so in ’91, I made two songs with it in the title – “Icepick’s Confession” and “Icepicks Advice” … pretty funny. But I still have never promoted myself as Icepick James.”

Harman has played with – and had in his band at one time or another – a virtual who’s-who of some of the best guitarists that have ever called California home. Cats like Kirk Fletcher, Nathan James (the guitarist in Harman’s Bamboo Porch Revue), Hollywood Fats, Kid Ramos and Junior Watson, to name just a few, are some of the six-string masters that have helped Harman create his art through the years. And according to the man himself, creating art is what it’s all about.

“I have always looked on a guitar as another tube of paint and I only record with guitar players who move me and can understand what I’m trying to say/do/paint. All those cats are that kind of guitar player; they bring two important things to every session: #1 – an understanding of how to hear what the artist is looking for, and #2 – of course, a very special style. Junior Watson signs his name with one note. Kirk Fletcher plays on a few songs on Bonetime, including the song that was nominated for Song of the Year – “Bad Feets/Bad Hair.” And dig him on “Coldfront Woman.” My old bass player, Jeff Turmes is also playing some great guitar on there, that’s him playing slide on “Ain’t It Crazy.” Since he’s best known as a bass player, many people don’t think of him as a guitar player, but trust me, that cat wails. Be sure an catch him in Mavis Staples’ band. Nathan is still my favorite guitar player, he knows exactly what kind of stuff I want to hear as soon as he hears me sing one word … he’s a natural. He was already like that when I met him he was only 19, but he totally had it all down.”

james harman pic 4Harman’s initial move from the deep south to California in 1970 was jump-started by a friendship that he had struck up with the legendary Canned Heat.

“I went to see them in Florida and introduced myself. Bob (The Bear) Hite, being a keen record collector, had a couple of my old singles from that period. We made friends and he and Alan Wilson told me that if I’d move my operation to California, they would help me by letting me open some of their shows,” said Harman. “They also went to Texas and told Albert Collins the same thing. Albert and I both took them up on it. We went to California and played tons of shows with them, as well as doing other gigs together. They were very helpful. We jokingly called me “Little Bear” because I also had long hair and a full beard. But he (Hite) was 400 pounds and I was only half his weight.”

Another friendship that Harman struck up with an iconic group was with that little ‘ole band from Texas – ZZ Top. Harman has lent his harmonica playing to several albums by the band, including on the song “Que Lastima” from Mescalero and “Heartache in Blue” from 2012’s La Futura.

“Billy F. Gibbons and I met on our hands and knees picking through boxes of old records and have been best friends for all these years. Billy plays some fine harp himself, but likes to use me when a song calls for it,” Harman said. “Watch for their new live album (Live – Greatest Hits from Around the World) coming out soon – I’m on two songs.”

Taking piano lessons at age four, Harman soon discovered his father’s Hohner Marine Band harmonicas in the piano bench and very quickly, it was a match made in heaven. So much so, that Harman – who’s been playing so long that he doesn’t ever remember not playing – only blows Hohner Marine Band harps to this very day.

“I still only play Hohner Marine Band harmonicas. All my old amps were stolen in two huge burglaries back in 2004 and 2012. Nowadays, I use a Quilter Aviator amp; Pat Quilter is a certified genius. I was playing through a Fender Pro amp until they put out a new amp in 1963 called a Vibroverb. I bought a new one and loved the amp, but not the two 10-inch speakers, so I ran it through my 15-inch Jensen speaker in my Pro and that became my signature sound,” he said. “Through the years I managed to find three more Vibroverbs and modified them all to be one 15-inch Jensens. I used that rig until I was robbed.”

He may once have entertained such lofty goals as becoming a painter, or a motorcycle or car drag racer – but ever since he cut his first sides back in 1964, it’s been music, music, music and the blues, blues, blues for James Harman. And it appears that is still his plan for the future, with no eye on retirement from music in sight.

“No, then I would have to actually make paintings and might find I stunk… I cannot endure that shame and rejection, so I’ll stick to what I know I can do well and to Hell with the rest of it,” he said.

And what he does well is play the real-deal blues.

“In my humble opinion, most of what wins awards as blues music is actually pop music done wearing a stingy brim and posing as a blues guy in somebody’s mind. When I see a five- or six-string bass coming, I just leave, because if you can’t play it on four strings, why play it? This form of music has been watered and dumbed down for the public,” he said. “I think most blues artists are thinking, ‘How can I make this into a rock song and still call it blues?’ Real blues music is too complicated and simple at the same time for most audiences. However, I don’t know much and could be wrong. I’m just an old, analog, hillbilly blues singer… livin’ in a digital world.”

Visit James’s website at: www.jamesharman.com

Blues Blast Magazine Senior Writer Terry Mullins is a journalist, author 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.



 Featured Blues Review – 7 of 15 

ken valdez cd imageKen Valdez – Soul Renegade

Self-Release – 2015

11 tracks; 50 minutes

www.kenvaldez.com

Santa Fe, New Mexico native Ken Valdez now calls St Paul, Minnesota home. On this release Ken wrote seven of the songs and had a hand from some illustrious collaborators – Doyle Bramhall II and Curtis Salgado get co-write credits on a track each – and there are two covers. The material appears to have been recorded over several sessions so there are quite a large number of musicians involved: Paul Peterson and Tucker Sterling Jensen are on bass, Mario Dawson, Pancho Lopez, Michael Bland, Joe Diaz and Jay Corkran share the drum stool and Brant Leeper, Ricky Peterson and Adam Daniel add keyboards.

Additional players include Greg Jennings on slide guitar and Kevin BF Burt on harp on one cut each with Hazel Miller, Jason Peterson Delaire, Mary Cutrufello and Shalo Lee on backing vocals. Ken handles lead vocals and guitar and there are also guest spots for guitar slingers Chris Duarte and Eric Gales. The style is definitely at the rocky end of the blues with plenty of screaming guitar leads, as on “Sometimes” with Eric Gales’ buzzsaw guitar or “Make It” on which Ken needs no assistance in the guitar stakes. Chris’ contribution is on the shuffle “Sugar Shakin’ Boogaloo” that rocks along well.

Ken’s gruff vocals suit the blues rock style that is the main element on this album. The title track is a rock tune with a rousing chorus and almost prog rock organ work from Ricky; “Rio Grande Blues” may have the ‘B’ word in the title but it is also high energy rock with plenty of Ken’s trademark guitar.

Curtis Salgado’s Rn’B influence pervades “Far From Gone” which was, for this reviewer, the standout track here. Ken drops the pace, his acoustic guitar well supported by Greg Jennings’ slide work, on a tale of barroom woe in the late Mike Jordan’s “Whiskey And Water”. Willie Dixon’s “Wang Dang Doodle” has been covered far too often and Ken’s version did not appeal.

Those who are keen on blues-rock with plenty of revved-up guitar may well like this one.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK who enjoys a wide variety of blues and roots music, especially anything in the ‘soul/blues’ category. Favorites include contemporary artists such as Curtis Salgado, Tad Robinson, Albert Castiglia and Doug Deming and classic artists including Bobby Bland, Howling Wolf and the three ‘Kings’. He gets over to the States as often as he can to see live blues.


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 Featured Blues Review – 8 of 15 

brad wilson cd imageBrad Wilson – Power Blues Guitar Live

Cali Bee Music, Inc.

www.bradwilsonlive.com

12 songs plus Bonus Track/67.57 minutes

When you pop a CD in your player, sit back to listen, and are increasing the volume after the opening chords of a guitar-on-fire version the Muddy Waters classic, “Got my Mojo Working”; you know the artist definitely has his Mojo Working! Brad Wilson plays the guitar like he is rip-cording through the blues world on this CD – hold on! Brad’s been very active on the West Coast blues scene for several years, performing over 100 shows a year everywhere from clubs to festivals. This is his second CD release on the Cali Bee label, the first being the critically acclaimed 2015 release of Blues Thunder which was successful on the Roots Music Report Chart as well as several international charts. It is his third CD since 2013. His music has also been included in movies, television and movie soundtracks (including two John Carpenter films). Brad is backed on Power Blues Guitar Live by Oscar Huguet on bass, Thaxter Daggs and Kofi Baker on drums, Kirk Nelson on keyboards, Joe Robb on saxophone and Brad on guitar and vocals. The CD is a live collection of blues standards and four original songs from his former studio albums Blues Thunder (released in 2015) and Hands on the Wheel (released in 2013). It was recorded live during the supportive tour for his Hands of the Wheel album where Brad claims, in an interview published in the Blues.Gr blog, that he was “playing the guitar with lots of emotion, reaching for riffs and taking chances during solos” and that the drummers drove “the inspiration for his solos”. The live feel of Power Blues Guitar Live gives this recording a heart and soul that brings the old standards new life as well as showcasing Brad’s songwriting and guitar skills.

This CD is proof that the blues are timeless. Brad covers songs from the 1936 Robert Johnson Blue’s classic, “Sweet Home Chicago” to a few Muddy Waters classics including “Got my Mojo Working” (written by Preston Foster), “I Just want to Make Love to You” (written by Willie Dixon), “She Moves Me” and “Standing Around Crying”. He brings new life to all of these songs which have been covered by countless artists and are well known to most dedicated blue’s lovers. Brad makes each one his own with powerful riffs, hearth thumping solos and just enough of the classic chording and phrasing on his guitar to keep the blues train rolling. His vocals are as smooth as chrome and works perfectly with his searing, often high octane guitar growls and bends.

His cover of “I’m Tore Down”, made popular by Freddie King and later by Eric Clapton is an exceptional track. The solo in this song will keep you wanting more. He is a master of taking the melody, along with a few hints of the old twelve bar blues, then heading off on a blue’s ride. Then he brings you back home. It is a great ride. Followed by, “I Can’t Quit You Baby”, a Willie Dixon twelve bar standard (that was also a Led Zeppelin favorite), Brad slows it down a bit. He begins with fundamental blues, excellent chording and rhythm, then he flys into a solo with a note so perfect your heart is truly riding on one string. He holds the note just long enough with a very slight vibrato that leaves you wondering how he got the sound out of his guitar because if feels like it came from inside of you.

The cover he does of the Albert King classic, “Born Under a Bad Sign”, ( and also recorded by Cream,) feature an almost R&B bass line with the blues on top. The T-Bone Walker hit, “Stormy Monday”, has a Stevie Ray Vaughn feel, with a complete mastery of the guitar fret board. He is at complete ease mixing jazz chords with lightning-speed fingering then slowing it down with a beautiful bend or two as he glides up and down the neck of the guitar. The keyboard in this song adds a moody touch and the steady bass line keeps the song from leaving earth.

Brad’s original songs, “All Kinds of a Fool”, “Slide on Over”, “Black Coffee at Sunrise” and “I’m Still Breathing” are well written, well composed and are as good as any contemporary blues songs written and performed by the big names today. “All Kinds of a Fool”, tells the story of a man losing a woman. It has a great bass line and a classic blues feel. He accents the lyrics very well with percussion and guitar. “Slide on Over” has a fast bass line (with some great bass licks) and almost a Latin feel. It is a song about seduction and he adeptly adapts his guitar to accentuate the feel of the song. “Black Coffee at Sunrise”, a song that charted on the Hit Tracks Top 100, is a rocking, rockabilly blues song with a jump feel. Brad’s vocals are excellent as is his guitar which dances along to the staccato rockabilly beat. “I’m Still Breathing”, features Joe Robb on the saxophone and has a 1940’s blues combo feel. It is a slower love song with powerful vocals that along with the saxophone, carry the song. Listening, you can almost smell the back-street smokey bar while having the last drink of the night and a longing for love.

This CD is quite impressive. It is well produced and as a live recording it really captures the energy and talent Brad Wilson has on stage. It is an excellent cover of some classic blues songs that Brad plays with an impressive balance of classic chords and styles while adding his own guitar and arrangements. His solos and riffs would make the original writers and recording artists proud that these songs transcend time with musicians like Brad who are are open to new interpretations of what were, in most cases, very basic twelve bar blues. Brad also deserves recognition for his original songs that carry forward the traditional blues sound. While most of them enter the blues rock territory, he never loses the soul of the blues. This is not an easy feat to accomplish, and even harder to make work in a song while keeping a genuine feel yet still raising the listener’s blood pressure and sending them reaching for the volume control to crank it up. If you get an opportunity, go see Brad live, he is playing all over California this summer, the dates are listed on his website at www.bradwilsonlive.com. This album can be purchased as a CD or MP3 on Amazon.com, iTunes and CD Baby. It is a fine addition to any blues collection and I don’t think we have heard the last of Brad Wilson.

Reviewer Kim Derr a life-long blues lover originally from Pennsylvania who recently relocated to SE North Carolina. She left her career as an attorney to pursue blues guitar, bass and mandolin playing and photography interests. She enjoys all styles of the blues. Blues music is her passion, whether writing about it, playing it, listening to it or photographing musicians. There is a story in or behind every blues song and in the musical styles. Blues had her at the first twelve bars on an old guitar!


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 Featured Blues Review – 9 of 15 

joanne broh cd imageJoanne Broh Band – Wicked Cool

Double V Records – 2015

9 tracks; 39 minutes

www.joannebroh.com

The Joanne Broh band comes from Oregon and features Joanne on vocals, Jerry Zybach on guitar, Gus Russell on keyboards, Jim Badalich on bass and Dan e. Miller on drums: Mitch Kashmar adds harp to two tracks, Hank Shreve to one; Dana Heitman adds trumpet to one track and a full horn section of Joe McCarthy, Dave Bender, Sean Flannery and Linda Kanter plays on one cut. Several of the songs come from within the band, the rest from fellow West Coast musicians: Jerry had a hand in six songs, Jim four and Joanne two, Gus arranging a song from outside the band.

With a West Coast band you will expect to find some swing and the title track opens the disc with exactly that, an upbeat shuffle, Mitch Kashmar’s harp accents, Gus’ full sounding organ and Jerry’s light touch on guitar offering a solid foundation for Joanne’s clear vocals. “Gettin’ Old Blues” offers the view that you “go to bed young and you wake up old” and things don’t get any more cheerful when Joanne sings of your friends passing on if you last long enough – great piano though to offset the rather depressing lyrics!

The top pick here has to be the fabulous “(Shake ‘Er) Like Josephine Baker” which opens with jungle drums and the horn section riffing away behind Joanne’s expressive vocal that recounts the tale of the great singer who had to seek her fortune in Europe due to racial prejudice in the USA at the time. Another strong song is the funky “Bad Boy” in which Gus’ clavinet gives the tune a 70’s feel to which Jerry adds with some distorted guitar work. Lyrically Joanne does not sound too concerned that the title character has roving eyes as he remains hers at the end of the night; in fact she sounds quite happy that her guy is admired by other women!

Elsewhere the band offers us some late night blues on “Smokin’ Again”, some mid-paced blues on “Two Way Street” (with Hank Shreve’s harp to the fore) and uptempo swing on “Let’s Work On It” (Mitch on harp again and fine piano and guitar solos). The band plays in acoustic vein on “Sad Ol’ Heart”, an older song from Jerry whose acoustic guitar is the only accompaniment to Joanne’s vocal on the first verse, the rhythm section joining in later on.

Overall this is a solid disc of mainly original material – worth a listen.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK who enjoys a wide variety of blues and roots music, especially anything in the ‘soul/blues’ category. Favorites include contemporary artists such as Curtis Salgado, Tad Robinson, Albert Castiglia and Doug Deming and classic artists including Bobby Bland, Howling Wolf and the three ‘Kings’. He gets over to the States as often as he can to see live blues.


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 Featured Blues Review – 10 of 15 

richard polenberg book imageRichard Polenberg – Hear My Sad Story

The True Tales That Inspired Stagolee, John Henry, And Other Traditional American Folk Songs

Cornell University Press

283 pages

There are many songs that have been recorded and re-recorded, tunes that most of us have heard throughout our lives. These familiar compositions have entered the realm of traditional material due to their commonality. After extensive research, author Richard Polenberg has compiled detailed examinations of the origins of many of the songs, often providing names, dates and facts on events that inspired these well-known songs.

The book is divided into seven thematic sections – St. Louis, Lying Cold on the Ground, Bold Highwaymen and Outlaws, Railroads, Workers, Disasters, and Martyrs. The opening section has chapters on W.C. Handy and his classic “St. Louis Blues,” then presents the convoluted tale surrounding the folk ballad, “Duncan & Brady,” about a gun battle that took the life of Patrolman James Brady. Blues fans will enjoy reading the chapters on “Stagolee” and “Frankie & Johnny,” as Polenberg reveals in the former that Lee Shelton – “Stack Lee” – did indeed shoot William Lyons over a hat while the later number is based on an incident involving Frankie Baker shooting Allen Britt in self-defense.

The Lying Cold on the Ground section takes a look at six tunes based on murders. “Tom Dooley” is the most famous of the bunch. The author traces its roots back to 1866, when Thomas Dula, a former member of the Confederate Army, was arrested and charged with murdering Laura Foster because he suspected that he had contracted syphilis from her. The chapter takes you through the court proceeding right up to the point of the hit record by the Kingston Trio. “Delia’s Gone” is another memorable tune based the shooting of fourteen-year-old Delia Green in 1900 by Moses Houston in Savannah, Georgia. Blind Willie McTell recorded a version of the song later popularized by Johnny Cash, albeit with revised lyrics.

Readers will find a wealth of details in every chapter, from famous western outlaws like Cole Younger & Jesse James to the African-American folk hero Railroad Bill (Morris Slater), who robbed trains in southern Alabama for a three year period, sharing his ill-gotten gains with those in need. Frank Dupre robs a jewelry store, killing two men in the process, to secure a ring worthy of Betty Anderson, the love of his life, later immortalized in the song, “Betty And Dupree”.

The Railroads section features chapters on the John Henry and Casey Jones legends while the Workers portion delves into tunes associated with cotton mills, chain gangs, coal mines and prostitution as portrayed in the classic ‘House Of The Rising Sun”. The short Disasters section looks at the sinking of the Titanic and the devastating impact of the century-long boll weevil plague on the cotton industry, illustrated in Charlie Patton’s “ Mississippi Boweavil Blues” for Paramount Records.

Polenberg provides plenty of factual content based on detailed research but also manages to tell the story that makes the facts compelling enough to inspire songwriters, who captured the stories in songs that have stood the test have time. Music fans will find plenty to enjoy in this engaging book that is tough to put down – and has you searching the internet for a version of songs that you have never heard!

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!.


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 Mississippi Valley Blues Festival 

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Blues Blast made it out to the 2016 Mississippi Valley Blues Fest over the 4th of July weekend and it was a great show.

The talent started with Frankie Fontagne & The Ramblers.

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Frankie is from Monmouth, IL and her and the Ramblers ( Shawn Harris on guitar, Andrew Dunham on harmonica and sax, Bob Rosenstiel on bass and Bryan West on drums) kicked of the festival with a kickin’ set.

Next up was Toronzo Cannon. Toronzo released a couple albums on Delmark Records and recently signed with Alligator Records.

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Toronzo has a new album out called The Chicago Way. (Nominated for the 2016 Blues Blast Music Awards)

Next up was a band from Wisconsin, Tweed Funk.

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These guys do some real soul blues featuring Smoky Holman on vocals, Dave Schoepke on drums, Andrew Spadafora on sax, Travis Drow on trumpet, Eric Madunic on bass and JD Opteker on guitar.

The headliner on Friday night was Shawn Holt & The Teardrops.

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Shawn is the son of Morris Holt aka Magic Slim. It is obvious he has inherited some of his fathers talent. A great set to finish off the first day of the fest.

On Saturday the music kicked off with Juliana & A Soul Purpose Band

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This is a young band (Think teenagers who are Blues fanatics!) from the Quad Cities, Iowa area that featured Juliana Logan on vocals, Matthew DiIulio on drums, Austin Wanfalt on guitar, Cloey Schultheis on bass and Haley on backing vocals.

Shane Johnson’s Blue Train performed next.

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The band features Shane Johnson on guitar, Tony Carton on drums, “Detroit” Larry Davison on harp and John Resch on bass and vocals. A few years back this group made the finals of the International Blues Challenge in Memphis and it is clear they are still a blues force to be reckoned with.

Next up was the Ellis Kell Band from The Quad Cities, Iowa.

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Ellis have been a performer and teacher in the area for more than 25 years.

Laura Rain & The Caesars were next up.

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Hailing from Detroit, Laura is a dynamic singer and performer. Her band included George Friend on guitar, Phil Hale on keys and Ron Pangborn on drums.

The festival also featured a tent stage of local talent and one of the acts that performed on Saturday was our good friends the Duo Sonics. (David Berntson on harmonica and vocals and Bob Parker on guitar.)

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Back on the main stage Jim Suhler & Monkey Beat were up next. Jim is a master blues rocker who also play backing guitar with George Thorogood and The Destroyers.

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The Dallas Texas based group included Jim on guitar and vocals, Shawn Phares on keys, Beau Chadwell on drums and Chris Alexander on bass.

The headliner band for Saturday was The Cash Box Kings from Chicago. The band featured Joe Nosek on harmonica and vocals, guitar legend Billy Flynn and Oscar Wilson on lead vocals.

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They played all kinds of Blues and even threw in a set of authentic surf music that the crown loved. A great way to finish off a great festival.

The Mississippi Valle Blues Festival is held over the 4th of July weekend every year in LeClaire Park in Davenport, Iowa. Be sure to put it on your Blues calendar for 2017.

Photos and commentary by Bob Kieser


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 Featured Blues Review – 11 of 15 

jimmy duck holmes cd imageJimmy “Duck” Holmes – Live From Briggs Farm Blues Festival

Briggs Farm/Blue Front Records

10 songs and two spoken passages – 62 minutes

www.briggsfarm.com/records

Jimmy “Duck” Holmes is both blues royalty and a keeper of the flame. One of ten children born to Carey and Mary Holmes, his parents opened the legendary Blue Front Café, now the oldest surviving juke joint in Bentonia, Miss., in 1948, the year after he was born.

Duck still operates the café and often entertains visitors with stories when they travel along the Mississippi Blues Trail. Even more important, however, is his legacy as a practitioner of what’s recognized as the haunting Bentonia style of country blues. Delivered in open E-minor tuning, it’s a style created by Henry Stuckey, carried forward by first-generation superstars Skip James and Bukka White and taught to him by the legendary Jack Owens. And the first six-string he picked up to play had been owned by Stuckey himself.

Like his juke, which is located along Highway 49 south of Yazoo City and hosts a festival every summer, Duck is one-of-a-kind, the last surviving musician performing in the Bentonia style, and this album, recorded in Pennsylvania last year and nominated for 2016 BluesBlast Awards in the Acoustic and Live Blues categories, catches him at his best.

Live From Briggs Farm Blues Festival contains 10 original songs all written from life experience. He hits the stage solo and greets the crowd before breaking into “Slow Down,” a tune that implores a fast-living woman to change her ways. He’s a master fingerpicker who plays slightly behind the beat as he delivers his music in the droning, trance-inducing style that made his town famous. His baritone vocal delivery is rich and warm.

“Worry You Off My Mind” finds Holmes in church, praying for relief from the memory of an evil woman who “drove my prayers away.” The rhythm changes slightly for “Shaggy House,” which singles about six puppies, one of which is a shaggy hound. Duck’s going to take the dogs out to hunt down his missus, who, he’s learned, is making a fortune by selling herself from cell to cell at the county jail.

Holmes’ picking evolves a little further and gains more syncopation for “Wake Up Woman” before he devotes the next two minutes discussing his upbringing in a cut entitled “Bentonia Blues Narrative.” Next up, “Evil” describes how his woman left him and left his life in ruin. It’s Duck’s turn to go in the next song, “I Hate To Leave You,” before his picking style changes once again. He asks his lady to get his “Bath Water” and new shoes ready because he’s in a hurry to go out tonight.

The pace slows slightly for “Cool Water,” a request to soothe his thirst because the moonshine Holmes has been drinking is too harsh on his throat, before devoting another interval to discussing his juke joint in “Blue Front Café Narrative.” Two more tunes — “Early In The Morning” and “Bye Bye” – bring the set to a successful close.

Available as both a CD or LP directly through the label website (address above), Live From Briggs Farm Blues Festival is a welcome flashback to the past as Holmes breathes new life into a tradition that’s a foundation stone of all music we hold dear today.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This album is nominated for Live Blues Album in the 2016 Blues Blast Music Awards. To stream some of the nominees songs click HERE.

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.


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 Featured Blues Review – 12 of 15 

gate city divas cd imageThe Gate City Divas – Goin’ To Town

Self-Release – 2015

15 tracks; 55 minutes

www.gatecitydivas.com

Shiela Klinefelter was the bass player in Smokin’ Joe Kubek and Bnois King’s band until Joe’s untimely death. As producer of this album (dedicated to Smokin’ Joe) Shiela has brought together eight female artists from the Greensboro, NC, who sing and between them play a wide range of instruments. Pulling in some friends from across the blues world, Shiela assembled a great cast list for this all original album. The main writer is Kristy Jackson who contributed to 10 of the songs but fellow Divas Robin Stamps Doby Easter, Allison King-Jordan and Shiela herself all contribute material, the only tune from outside the eight Divas being written by keyboardist Dave Fox. The remaining Divas are Julie Bean, Lauren Myers, Melva Houston and Virginia Masius. Somewhere on the album the Divas play drums, bass, trombone, keys and all eight sing. A huge number of other musicians contribute, including guitarist Bob Margolin and his regular drummer Chuck Cotton; several tunes feature horns by Dustin Jennings (trumpet), Brent Davis, Scott Adair and Mike Caruso (sax). All eight of the Divas sing lead on at least one song.

Opener “Nova Scotia Moment” belies its title with some New Orleans rhythms accentuated by Andy Squint’s rub board, Eric Smith’s second-line drumming and Dustin’s trumpet work, Robin’s vocals being excellent. The slinky “Slide” has writer Kristy’s deeper voice and some great guitar work from Bubba Klinefelter while Kristy’s churchy piano provides the main support for Melva’s soulful voice on the bluesy “I Got It Bad”. Julie leads on the funky “Baby’s Been Burned”, the band and Scott Adair’s sax setting a gently funky rhythm; Shiela sings the sad ballad “It’s Not Always Gonna Be This Way”, Bubba’s guitar work subtle and understated.

“Dirty Little” features Allison on her own song about “the Devil taking your soul”, her strong voice well supported by Bill Jordan’s solid guitar work. Melva’s gospel-infused voice leads on the heart-tugging soul ballad “How Am I Supposed To Live Without You” with excellent piano and guitar work. Kristy’s “Spare Me From The Bottom” is an acapella gospel piece with Allison and Shiela on choral backing vocals. Virginia sings the jazzy “Don’t Have The Blues No More” with a nice horn arrangement and some fine guitar work from Bubba and David Bolton; it seems that having acquired a new relationship the blues is no longer appropriate and she may have to shift into pop! Allison’s “Long Way Home” again features Bill’s guitar on a melodic song about being on the road while the funky, horn-driven “Skinny White Girls” finds Lauren complaining that these girls are everywhere but “they sure don’t speak for me”.

Robin’s vocal gives “You Didn’t Feel A Thing” a real touch of soul while Melva takes us back to the blues on the uptempo “Take It Back” with Bob Margolin on guitar and Bubba showing that he can blow some harp as well as play guitar. The last two tracks both feature a full choir of all eight Divas: Julie handles the fine ballad “Where Would I Be” which features writer Dave Fox’s lyrical piano; the album closes with Shiela singing her own “Last Minute Boogie” which does what the title suggests in a stomping finale with swirling organ from Kristy and a solid horn arrangement.

There is plenty to enjoy here with not a dud track and several fine vocal performances, all backed by an ever-changing support cast of musicians. Blues and soul fans will certainly find something to enjoy here.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK who enjoys a wide variety of blues and roots music, especially anything in the ‘soul/blues’ category. Favorites include contemporary artists such as Curtis Salgado, Tad Robinson, Albert Castiglia and Doug Deming and classic artists including Bobby Bland, Howling Wolf and the three ‘Kings’. He gets over to the States as often as he can to see live blues.


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 Featured Blues Review – 13 of 15 

lou wilson cd imageLou Wilson – Runnin’ With The Blues

Allo Records

10 songs time-43:19

This record should be titled “Runnin’ With Soul”, as the music here has very little to do with blues aside from some bluesy guitar solos. The song structures themselves are entirely soul music. Lou possesses a good voice that is well suited to this kind of music. All of the songs are from his own hand. The proceedings are funky and well performed, but there is nothing here that sticks with you. It’s all about groove, not melody.

“Not Enough Time” features a nice sax solo by Nick Stone, along with Lou’s soulful pipes. “Fallen Down And Can’t Get Up” grooves along nicely over Sam Doan’s tasty organ playing and Ray Gale’s harmonica. Next up is a soulful slow-burner in “Rock And A Hard Place”.

A lively groove imbues “Can I Depend On You”, a song that is bolstered by the background singers. Saxes are over-dubbed on “Ain’t Gonna Stop” to create a horn section along with some nice solo sax blowing. The end of the song features some brief rapping by RuDeBoi.

Keyboard strings are employed on “Shake My Head And Walk Away”. The funk keeps coming on “I Need Love”, a tune that is under-pinned by the prominent bass playing of Ray Burton. Lou reflects on the less fortunate in “Got To Let Them Know”.

This CD is well intentioned and well performed, but there isn’t much to distinguish it from many similar efforts in this genre. The production values and musicianship are there, but there isn’t anything in the songs that set them apart or show much imagination. The sax playing of Nick Stone is a bright spot here with his sexy solos and one-man horn section. Lou’s voice is warm and sincere. Folks that are partial to this type of music will find enjoyment in this record. I think more melody or the occasional cover song would produce a more desired sound. The commitment and musicianship are here but there is something missing.

Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony hails from the New Jersey Delta.


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 Featured Blues Review – 14 of 15 

geoff carne cd imageGeoff Carne and The Hatz – Get Close

Self -Produced/AAVision UK

www.geoffcarne.com

10 tracks/38:10

This recording reunites two musicians who once played in a band several decades ago. Guitarist Geoff Carne and drummer/percussionist Mick Hatz are joined by producer Paul Mex on bass and electric piano for an all-original program filled with music that is straight-ahead rock with a few brief glimpses of blues influences.

Possessing a strong voice, Carne brings plenty of life to the material as he pours his heart out over repetitive, crunching guitar chords. In an unusual change of pace, there is very little in the way of guitar solos. Hatz consistently supplies a solid beat that, combined with Mex’s solid bass patterns, inject a sense of rhythmic thrust in most tracks. The title track lurches along with Carne’s voice ringing out in a plea for a woman’s affection. The opener, “Out In The Country,” features his entreaty on escaping the bustle of city life. “Lost In You” finds Carne repeating the word “you” over a strong guitar riff.

Carne isn’t doing too well with a woman he adores on “Shot Down In Ten,” a track with plenty of drive. The lone ballad, “Another Piece Of Me,” is a sorrowful take on unrequited love. The band is at its best on mid-tempo rave-up, “Giving Me The Blues”. The next song, “Whatever Will Be,” mines the same territory, followed by “Who’s Fooling Who,” another mid-tempo selection that varies little other than lyrically from the previous two tracks.

The ninth cut, “Nine Miles To The Border,” offers a change-of-pace by keeping the vocals to a minimum in favor of plenty of guitar riffing. The final track is a reworking of the title song, this time with an arrangement featuring Mex on electric piano, presenting a change from the guitar-centered sound that is a stark – and welcome – contrast that highlights Carne’s fine voice.

The little variance in their approach and too many similar-sounding tunes, the band wages an up-hill battle to hold your interest. Generic lyrics fail to resonate and the lack of an instrumental voice to pair with Carne doesn’t leave much. But he makes much of the material interesting on some level with his vocal skills. Listeners who favor the rock end of the blues spectrum should enjoy this release.

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!.


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 Featured Blues Review – 15 of 15 

sonny moorman cd imageSonny Moorman – You Made All My Blues Come True

Atlas Records

http://sonnymoorman.com/

CD: 10 Songs, 42:32 Minutes

Styles: Solo Blues, Traditional and Contemporary Acoustic Blues, Blues Covers

More than anything, perhaps what all artists long for is longevity: in their own bodies, and in their chosen sphere. It’s one matter to get fifteen minutes of fame. What about fifteen years, twenty, thirty – even forty? Cincinnati, Ohio’s Cyril “Sonny” Moorman has accomplished just such a feat, having been active in the blues and blues-rock business since 1975 (according to his Wikipedia page). Previously, he has been a member of rocker Warren Zevon’s touring band, and the Tomcats with members of Sly and the Family Stone. Far more recently, this year, in fact, Sonny was a finalist at the International Blues Challenge for Solo/Duo. At 71, Moorman is still going strong, playing stellar acoustic guitar on his latest release, You Made All My Blues Come True. He’s like an “unplugged” version of Mark Knopfler from Dire Straits: he understands that a guitar is a storytelling instrument, using notes instead of words. His raspy, gravel-strewn vocals definitely show his age, but his musical talent remains undiminished. On two original songs, one traditional tune (“Ramblin’ On My Mind”) with his own arrangement, and eight covers, he showcases blues past and present.

His personal website mentions more accolades he’s earned: “Moorman and his band headlined 2012 GABBAfest (where he played Duane Allman’s guitar!) and the Blues stage at the 2010 Montreal Jazz Fest. He appeared as a Band Finalist at the 2010 International Blues Challenge and won 2nd place in the IBC Solo/Duo competition in 2007. Moorman has released a number of CDs throughout his career, garnering critical acclaim and commercial success – including an excellent review of…More Live As Hell, by Blues Revue Magazine. Other accolades include being selected 2008 Blues Artist on the Rise by Blues Festival Guide Magazine.”

As Sonny is a solo act, no other musicians performed alongside him on this CD, but he’s sure channeled the style and work of several blues/rock legends. What blues die-hard has never heard “Come and Go Blues” by Duane Allman, for instance, and what rock devotee draws a blank at hearing “Maybellene” by Chuck Berry? Sonny’s album is a leisurely stroll down memory lane.

The title track has a catchy name and even catchier acoustic fretwork.

Track 06: “You Made All My Blues Come True” – “You said you loved me. That was a lie. You said you need me, but that was that other guy. If there’s one thing you sure did do, you made all my blues come true. Every line of every song, every man that was done wrong, that one thing you sure did do: you made all my blues come true.” This, ladies and gentlemen, is the essence of blues music, when one boils right down to it. Clear and haunting reverberations of Sonny’s guitar hammer home the message.

Moorman’s latest work mostly consists of covers, but when they’re played by the hands of a master, even blues’ oldest tracks seem new. Sonny, You’ve Made All My Blues Come True!

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 36 year old female Blues fan. She brings the perspective of a younger blues fan to reviews. A child of 1980s music, she was strongly influenced by her father’s blues music collection.


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Southeast Iowa Blues Society – Fairfield, IA

The Southeast Iowa Blues Society proudly presents the 3rd annual “Blue Ribbon Blues Fest” 2016. August 6th at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds in Fairfield IA. Gates Open at 4:30pm with Music beginning at 5pm 5:30pm Matt Woods, 7:00pm Anni Piper Band, and at 9:00pm the Chris O’Leary Band with Tony Blew playing between acts. Beverage Garden and BBQ & more..(No Outside Food or Drinks) Bring your chairs and Camping is available. Tickets $20 Day of Show – $15 Advance and SIBS members.

Call (641)-919-7477 for more information and tickets or visit www.southeastiowabluessociety.org

The Great Northern Blues Society – Wausau WI

FREE – GNBS Thank You Concert – The Great Northern Blues Society is sponsoring a Free “Thank-You” Concert for our Members, Volunteers, and Corporate Sponsors on Monday Evening 8/8/16 at the Bull Falls Brewery in Wausau, WI starting at 6PM. The Brewery is located at 901 East Thomas Street in Wausau. We are bringing in one of the Best Blues Bands in the Country, The Chris O’Leary Band to perform for you free of charge. ALL are welcome to attend.

With the help of our Membership, Volunteers, and very generous Corporate Sponsors, we have been able to expand our Community outreach to now include Five separate $500.00 Scholarships to worthy musically inclined students at Wausau East, Wausau West, D.C. Everest, Wausau Newman high Schools, and University of Wisconsin Marathon County Campuses. Without your help this would not be possible.

This free concert is our way of saying THANK YOU for your help. Without your help, we could not be successful! More info at www.gnbs.org

Crossroads Blues Society – Byron, IL

The seventh annual Crossroads Blues Festival is ready to go! Held annually since 2010, the festival’s home at Lyran Park has won blues fans over. The park is a natural amphitheater situated on the confluence of the Kishwaukee River and Kilbuck Creek, just south of Rockford Airport. Lyran Park is privately owned by the Lyran Society. They and co-sponsors the Crossroads Blues Society are both non-profit organizations. Located at 4781 South Bend Road, Lyran Park offers a beautiful, shady setting with great acoustics, plentiful free parking and primitive camping opportunities for the festival ($20 per night Friday and/or Saturday). The festival remains on the Saturday before Labor Day weekend, which is August 27, 2016. Gates open at 11 AM, the music starts at noon and runs through 9:30 PM.

Headlining the event is Southern Indiana’s hill country group Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band at 8 PM. Soul blues great from Indianapolis Tad Robinson is on at 6 PM. At 4 PM the Ghost Town Blues Band from Memphis grace the stage. Chicago’s slide guitar wizard Joanna Connor is on at the 2 PM time slot. The day opens at noon with the fantastic band from Auckland, New Zealand who were in Rockford in 2013- The Flaming Mudcats. Birddog and Beck, winners of last year’s Crossroads Solo/Duo Blues Challenge, will be featured between acts. Ken Olufs will conduct a harmonica workshop at 3:30 PM with free harmonicas for the first 25 kids who are 10 and under.

Beverage Garden and BBQ & more..(No Outside Food or Drinks) Bring your chairs and Camping is available. Tickets $20 Day of Show – $15 Advance and SIBS members.

Advanced tickets are once again only $5 and are available through both Crossroads Blues Society and the Lyran Society. They can be purchased mail by check; please include a self-addressed stamped envelope. Mail orders go to Crossroads, Post Office Box 840, Byron, IL 61010. Tickets can be purchased on line with a credit card via PayPal at crossroadsbluesfestival.com. Ticket outlets are in Rockford and the Stateline area. Rockford: Woodmans Supermarket on Perryville Road, Culture Shock and Guzzardos Music, both on Charles Street; Just Goods Store on 7th Street; CD Source on State Street; Toad Hall on Broadway;. Other locations: Snyders Drugs (Byron, Oregon, Winnebago); Value Fresh Market (Byron); Paradise Guitars and Grand Avenue Pub (Beloit); Cristy’s Bar (Freeport).Proceeds from the festival support Blues in the Schools, an effort Crossroads began 14 years ago. Since then 180 programs have been conducted for 50,330 area students. Please come out and support live music and help keep the blues alive. Call 779-537-4006 with questions.

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. August 8 – Polly O’keary And The Rhythm Method, August 15 – Too Slim And The Taildraggers, August 22 – Jeff Jensen, August 29 – The Hector Anchondo Band. www.icbluesclub.org

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. 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



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