Issue 10-43 November 3, 2016

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Cover photo by Bob Kieser© 2016


 In This Issue 

Mark Thompson has our feature interview with Joanne Shaw Taylor. We have 8 Blues reviews for you this week including new music from Carlo Ditta, White Boy White, Paul Kaye And The Blues Cartel, Putumayo World Music’ Blues Party featuring – Lurrie Bell, Carrie Bell, Albert King James Cotton, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Magic Sam, Big Jack Johnson, Big Walter Horton, Junior Wells and Billy Branch, Eddie Turner & Trouble Twins, Eric Gales, John Primer & The Real Deal Blues Band and Ina Forsman.

Bob Kieser and Nate Kieser have Part 1 of the 2016 King Biscuit Blues Festival coverage.

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


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Blues Blast Magazine is a great way to promote the Blues. More than 36,000 opt-in Blues fans read our magazine each week. They are located in all 50 states and in more than 90 countries. We get more than 2,000,000 (That’s TWO MILLION) hits and more than 65,000 visitors a month on our website.

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 Blues Wanderings 

I made it out to the Sangamon Auditorium in Springfield, IL recently to catch a great show by Charlie Musselwhite and Elvin Bishop. These guys were having a ball and it was a joy to see them laughing and sharing some of their great Blues stories!

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This performance was a unique experience as it was just Charlie and Elvin singing songs and telling stories with some excellent backing by Bob Welsh on rhythm guitar and piano. No drums, no bass, just real Blues!


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 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 8 

carol ditts cd imageCarlo Ditta – What I’m Talkin’ About

Orleans Records

10 tracks/35:05

A co-founder of the Orleans Record label, guitarist Carlo Ditta has put together the first recording under his own name. Ditta produced the recording, one of his many talents, and handles the lead vocals. He started the project in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, writing half of the songs. The rest of the tunes are classic New Orleans tracks that speak to the legacy of Cosimo Matassa, as Ditta dedicates the album to the legendary producer. The black & white photographs on the gate-fold packaging were taken by Ditta long before the city was devastated by the storm.

Given the project developed over a number of years, the roster of contributing musicians is extensive. Chris Lacinak, Chewy “Thunderfoot” Black, and Anthony Donando are the drummers while Vernon Rome, Earl Stanley, Robert Snow, and David Hyde handling the bass guitar, with Hyde on seven cuts. Steve Allen plays a variety of saxophones, focusing on the tenor for six songs. Noted guitarist Billy Gregory, who once backed Professor Longhair, adds his melodic picking to “I’m Leaving You,” a ballad recorded by Louis Prima that was a favorite of Ditta’s father. A cover of Dave Bartholomew’s “Go On Fool” is elevated by Charlie Miller’s stellar trumpet and piano contributions.

Ditta utilizes a half sung-spoken vocal style that fits the laid-back feel on most of the tracks. He is joined by singer Ruby Moon on “As The World Turns,” offering a down-hearted world view that is tempered by David Rebeck’s bright accordion and Allen’s hard-blowing tenor efforts. “Pretty Acres” is another original that remembers Prima as the band coalesces behind Ditta’s request for a second line, which prompts invigorating interplay between the leader’s guitar and Allen’s overdubbed horn section.

The title track is a funky missive to a woman who leaves something to be desired in looks department, but that doesn’t slow the singer down, trading vocal exhortations with Allen’s vibrant flute and his own jagged guitar tones. Vic Larocca uses his slide guitar to add a swampy flavor to Ditta’s mid-tempo ode, “Try A little Love”. The band takes listeners deeper into the bayou on “Walk That Walk,” anchored by Andrew Bernard on baritone sax and the leader’s guitar licks borrowed from the Dale Hawkins classic, “Susie Q”.

Three covers are a mixed bag. Ernie K-Doe’s “Beating Like A Tom Tom,” which was recorded by eclectic singer Willy DeVille for his Ditta-produced tribute to New Orleans R&B, Victory Mixture, finds the leader’s dark voice accented by the light tones of Bernard’s Farfisa organ. Ditta strips the arrangement of Aaron Neville’s hit, “Tell It Like It Is,” down to the bare essentials, letting the horns play a soothing riff behind his subdued vocal. A similar approach falls short of the mark on “Many Rivers To Cross,” although we get another taste of Gregory’s sublime style.

Carlo Ditta definitely has a unique musical vision that encompasses different tones and textures without venturing way beyond the norm. There is much to appreciate here, especially for listeners looking for an escape from loud guitars and strident singers. By the end, you will probably be wishing that Ditta had included a few more tracks…..

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 – 2 of 8 

white boy white cd imageWhite Boy White – Till I Find My Dyin’ Bed

Self-Produced

https://whiteboywhite.com

CD: 11 Songs, 39:35 Minutes

Styles: Traditional Electric Blues, Swing, Ragtime “For the 21st Century”

Philadelphia native Richard “White Boy” White may be Caucasian, but that’s not how he sounds when he sings. If one were to listen to his first debut solo album, Till I Find My Dyin’ Bed, without glancing at the CD cover first, one would swear he was African-American. His vocals are far more reminiscent of Ray Charles’ than Charlie Musselwhite’s, for instance. White brings a distinctive pre-war blues sound to his music, with pointed but sometimes muffled lyrics, and familiar, earthy subjects updated for the digital age. He presents eleven total tracks: eight originals and three covers (“Hellhounds on my Trail,” “Catfish Blues,” and “Statesboro Blues”). Overall, this album is fantastic for a trip down a dusty country road, especially where lonesome spirits might travel at night. One drawback is that a couple of songs sound alike, but no matter. When one is “in the zone,” either as a performing musician or a listener, similarity is soothing.

One thing fans won’t find many of on this CD are what White Boy White calls “guitar hero solos.” In the liner notes, he explains, “True blues was never about that. I am not anti-solo, but I’m determined to treat them as an integrated part of the entire sound. This album, rather, adopts an old-timey ritual of interweaving licks and mini-solos from every musician throughout the entire song.” When White does play solos, one senses they’re highlights of their respective songs, not stand-alone, rip-roaring riff fests that people might practice at home on their own shredders.

Performing alongside White Boy White, on lead vocals and guitar, are producer Jr. Charley on second guitar, Tom Mendy on upright bass, Marcel Redondo on drums, Bert Deivert on mandolin, and J.J. White, Debbie Bond on additional backing vocals.

The following three songs combine “old-timey” charm with new-millennium flair.

Track 01: “Smart Phone Song” – With a jangling, jarring intro one should never play near people at a restaurant, the opener is a tongue-in-cheek ode to the device we can’t do without nowadays. If fans listen to this on headphones, they’ll be thunderstruck by the stereo effects of its ringing and laughter. “If I ever left the house without my old smartphone –now that would be something I couldn’t explain. I would be all alone, without a brain. I would be distraught, if I got caught going down the drain.” Dig Tom Mendy’s sinister upright bass and the slight tango beat.

Track 03: “Shoe My Woman” – Someone’s “little mare” is getting a little restless. It’s a good thing the narrator of this number plans to “shoe” her instead of doing something else that sounds like “shoe.” This is one of the most traditional and danceable ditties on this CD, starring Bert Deivert on keen mandolin.

Track 04: “Till I Find My Dyin’ Bed” – Yours truly nominates the title track for the Best Guitar award on the CD. The juke-house intro is especially noteworthy, in the most literal sense. “Wake up this morning, catch that Greyhound bus and ride. Got that old evil spirit burning me all down inside.” Every blues fan knows that particular sensation, and track four explains it quite well.

Richard “White Boy” White brings traditional blues to a head on Till I Find My Dyin’ Bed!

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 37 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 – 3 of 8 

paul kaye cd imagePaul Kaye And The Blues Cartel – Playin’ It Cool

www.paulkayeblues.com

self release

10 songs time-45:42

This is what I’m talking about! This band delivers blues that has one foot in the past and one foot in their own zone and does it so darn well. The music is at times sloppy-funky good and at other times put together in a more regimented and traditional way. Whatever they are doing, it’s SO good! Transplanted New Yorker Paul Kaye relocated to Chicago in 1989 and primarily focused on the East Coast/Piedmont tradition of acoustic blues. In 2005 he formed The Blues Cartel to focus on the electric blues style that he had been honing over the years he spent as a veteran sideman. On this, The Blues Cartel’s first release, we find that the wait was surely well worth it. Paul’s amazing vocabulary on the guitar is a blues joy to behold. His rough hewn voice with its’ off hand delivery meld well with the music. You slip into his music like your favorite pair of worn-in slippers. Having Grammy winning drummer Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith (drummer Willie “Big Eyes” Smith’s son) along with Grammy Nominated Harlan Terson on bass seals the deal. These dudes need no outside help.

At first hearing Paul’s voice it immediately brings to my mind the voice and cool cat attitude of the late singer-harmonica player Rock Bottom (David C. York). The narrator declares his innocence of a crime on “11th and State”. It features some cool and jazzy guitar and an off hand delivery, but the lyrics get a tad too repetitive for taste…But a good song none-the-less. The title track is a jazzy and cool instrumental, just as the title implies. “Ramblin’ Ramblin” contains some clever lyrics, catchy blues guitar and a casual vocal delivery.

Paul takes a little liberty with the lyrics to Big Bill Broonzy’s “Feel So Good”. Harlan Terson adds a nifty bass riff as Paul veers off into the blues-meets-Chuck Berry on the guitar. The traditional “Catfish” receives a slower treatment than usual. This version holds one’s attention as Paul chances on guitar and vocals. At one point you think his vocal is going to lose it, then he brings it back in line. This is a very nicely unique adaptation of this old blues chestnut.

The band’s take on “Hawaiian Boogie” owes more to Hound Dog Taylor’s version than the one from its’ originator Elmore James. It gets the requisite gonzo slide delivery. Kenny and Harlan follow the leader in a nicely loose fashion. Paul pretty much emulates Magic Sam’s guitar tone on Sam’s “Out of Bad Luck”. A really nice take on traditional Chicago blues brought into the here and now. The original instrumental “Strollin’ With Uncle Floyd” swings along quite nicely, thank you. The band does a lot with just the three players, with the bass being up front for support and you just can’t go wrong with Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith on the drum kit.

Tommy Johnson’s “Big Fat Mama” was a signature tune for the late Pinetop Perkins receives a slower treatment here to good effect as the guitar underpins the vocal. The appropriately titled instrumental “Thank You…Goodnight” brings things to a close in swinging fashion. This will get you up and shakin’ what you got.

These guys got the blues feeling down without sounding like a museum piece. Paul’s rough vocals may be an acquired taste for some, but for me it gels right in with the music to take you to your own imaginary juke joint. Boy Howdy, This Is Good Stuff!

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


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 King Biscuit Blues Festival- Part 1 

The King Biscuit Blues Festival is held on the first full weekend in October each year in Helena, Arkansas. This year was the 31st year of this great event.

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It is one of the largest Blues festivals in the US and featured more than 60 artists this year. It also has many other artists busking all along Cherry Street for the entire 3 days of the festival plus some of the best vendors and food to be found at any festival!

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There is only one stage of performances on Thursday and we arrived in the afternoon after a 8 hour drive, just in time to catch Reba Russell band. Reba and Wayne Russell (bass) are incredibly popular at this festival and have played here nearly every year.

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Then Johnny Sansone was next. Johnny has been based out of New Orleans since 1990 and you can hea the cajun influence in his music.

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Then a special treat, Eric Gales.

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One interesting fact about Eric is that although he is not actually left handed, Eric plays a regular right handed guitar left handed. He plays it flipped over with the low E string on the bottom like Albert King did. (Albert was left handed though!) This results in a different sound because he “pulls” the strings down when bending notes instead of the normal “pushing” the strings up by most guitarists. Eric is one of the best guitar players out there in the Hendrix style of playing!

The final set of the night was Sonny Landreth with special guest Roy Rogers. This was a slide guitar extravaganza with two of the best slide players on the planet on the same stage! WOW!!

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Since it was still early we decided to head out for more fun so we hit the road to visit Clarksdale, MS.

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We visited a the the world famous Ground Zero Blues Club and walked around to see a few other spots including our buddy Deak Harp’s establishment.

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Clarksdale is kinda dead on a late Thursday night. I suggest a daytime trip for the most memorable experience in Clarksdale as I have done many times but there is still plenty to see there anytime.

A late drive back to Helena to rest up for a full day of Blues fun on Friday completed our first day at the Biscuit

Coming soon, Part II of the King Biscuit Blues Festival fun!

Photos and commentary by Bob Kieser and Nate Kieser as marked


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 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 8 

blues party cd imagePutumayo Presents – Blues Party

Featuring – Lurrie Bell, Carrie Bell, Albert King James Cotton, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Magic Sam, Big Jack Johnson, Big Walter Horton, Junior Wells, Billy Branch

Putumayo World Music

www.putumayo.com/shop/blues-party/

11 songs time-42:26

Putumayo World Music, an offshoot of Putumayo the clothing and handicrafts chain of stores has been releasing samplers of World Music for many years. They continue to showcase music from various world cultures and do it quite well. Blues Party, their latest release, contains contributions from several blues icons, along with some lesser known players is a good representation of quality blues music. Most of the musicians included in this collection have gone on to that great juke joint in the sky with the exception of Lurrie Bell and Billy Branch who both recently released new albums. Serious blues aficionados may have some of this material in their collections, but it serves as a perfect starting point for the curious music fan looking to get a more in-depth handle on the genre.

The late Albert King, one of the bigger names, contributes a rousing version of Robert Johnson’s “Dust My Broom”, although Robert called it “I Believe I’ll Dust My Broom”. Elmore later recorded an electric version that Albert patterns his version after. Albert does the song justice with his Chicago big city sound propelled by his biting guitar licks, rollicking piano work and some fine saxophone playing. Being the only artist here represented by two tracks, he also delivers the instrumental “Albert’s Groove #2”. It’s a guitar showcase punctuated by a funky horn section.

Another past purveyor of Chicago style guitar, the legendary Magic Sam, lends his smooth vocals and guitar to “I Have The Same Old Blues”. Lurrie Bell, Carey Bell’s son, currently carries on the Chicago blues guitar sound along with his rough shod voice lending authenticity to his rendition of Big Bill Broonzy’s “I Feel So Good”. Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown brings his swinging guitar sound and bluesy voice to Muddy Waters’ “I Got My Mojo Working” backed by a horn section. Big Jack Johnson, once of The Jelly Roll Kings, rounds out the guitar portion of the proceedings in fine form along with beefy vocals on “I Wanna Know”.

Johnny “Big Moose” Walker, primarily a backup pianist and organist, delivers strong vocals and piano playing on “Would You, Baby”. The other piano player-singer featured on this collection is the sassy Katie Webster from Texas on the boisterous delivering on “Two-Fisted Mama”.

The formidable and dynamic harmonica quartet of James Cotton, Junior Wells, Carey Bell and Billy Branch offer a track from their Alligator Records release “Harp Attack”, where they share the harp and vocal duties on Z.Z. Hill’s “Down Home Blues”. This is a true meeting of the harmonica aces. Speaking of which, the legendary Big Walter Horton contributes his harp skills and vocals to “Have A Good Time”, an exuberant romp.

A curious inclusion is that of Fernest Arceneaux & His Louisiana French Band, an accordion driven Zydeco band. Their “I Don’t Want Nobody” is bluesy with some good blues guitar.

No original big blues hits here, but the songs and musicianship throughout are first rate and a good representation of what the blues is all about. This great collection is the perfect introduction to the blues or a great listen of the styles of the masters!

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


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 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 8 

eddie turner cd imageEddie Turner & Trouble Twins – Naked…In Your Face

7-14 Productions

9 songs – 76 minutes

www.eddiedevilboy.com

Veteran guitar player Eddie Turner has done just about everything in a musical career that began in the early ’70s. But this CD, recorded at the Blues Can on the Canadian plains in Calgary, is his first attempt at a live recording ever.

Born in Cuba, raised in Chicago, based in Denver and known as “The Devil Boy,” Eddie picked up the guitar at age 12, developing a hauntingly rhythmic playing style that fuses the Windy City sound with his Afro-Cuban roots, enhanced with psychedelia. After moving to Colorado, he joined Mother Earth, the backup band for the legendary Tracy Nelson, the Grammy nominee who was a fixture in the San Francisco music scene of the late ‘60s.

Stints with two other prominent bands – Zephyr and the Legendary 4-nikators – followed before he joined Otis Taylor’s band in 1995, recording five CDs with the trance music master and helping to establish his easily identifiable sound. His first venture as a solo artist on Northern Blues, 2005’s Rise, earned Eddie a Blues Music Award nomination for Best New Artist. Subsequent releases were equally well-received.

Turner produced this lengthy album himself, backed in a power blues trio setting, aided by Denver-based bassist Anna Lisa Hughes, who also provides vocals on several cuts, and Kelly Kruse, a member of Adele & The Krusers and a powerful female percussionist who’s one of the most in-demand drummers north of the border. With only nine tunes – two covers, four written by Eddie and one by Kruse, the disc puts Turner’s guitar stylings on display throughout.

“Jody” opens the set. It’s an Eddie original that threatens to send a mistreating lover back to the title character, a figure that appeared often in the ’70s. It’s a solid soul-blues standard with a repetitive lyrical hook that’s slightly hampered by the initial sound quality, which, like the name of the venue, is a little tinny to start. Fortunately, the issue disappears rapidly as the disc progresses. Hughes takes over for her own song, “Mistreated,” next. It’s a slow-burning blues that gives Eddie plenty of space to stretch out over its eight-plus minute run.

Two more Turner originals — “So Many Roads,” about the end of relationship, and “Rise,” a trippy plea for racial equality – stretch out for a combined 20 minutes. The latter features an extended bass solo. Written by Nick Gravenites and made popular by bandmate Paul Butterfield as well as Janis Joplin, “Buried Alive In The Blues” is up next, delivered by Kelly, before Eddie’s “Blues Fall Down Like Rain,” not to be confused with a Kenny Neal tune with a different, but similar, title.

The familiar “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” — written for Nina Simone, a ’60s hit for The Animals and the shortest song in the set at just under five minutes – follows with Anna Lisa on vocals before another 20 minutes of trance-inducing guitar pyrotechnics follow in the two songs — “Dangerous” and “Secret” – that conclude the set.

If you’re seeking a shredder, look elsewhere. Eddie’s a true crowd pleaser with a style that harkens back to Jimi Hendrix at his bluesy best — burning, searing licks that are both unforced and unrushed with Windy City overtones. There are several passages on Naked…In Your Face that are guaranteed to transcend geezers like me back to the psychedelic era in a lightning stroke. Turn this album up loud for best effect. The only thing that’s missing is a strong dose of LSD. Pick it up through iTunes if you’d like to share the experience.

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 – 6 of 8 

eric gales cd imageEric Gales – A Night On The Sunset Strip

Cleopatra Records

www.ericgalesband.com

11 tracks/77:48 running time

On the strip in Hollywood, the whole sidewalk is a stage. One is apt to see Hendrix dead ringers still alive. Ukelele’d Tiny Tim Zombies with tulips protuding from two lips, dripping unknown substances. Michael Jackson wannabes in various modes of pseudo surgical modification. Such are some of the altered states of Hollywood. It’s a freaky sideshow for free even on the side streets.

This then is the backdrop for the live audio and video recording, Eric Gales – A Night On The Sunset Strip. As many of you know, Eric Gales is extremely busy both on and off stage and has been, since probably before he released his first album at age 16. Since that time he has released 13 albums under his brand and played on a multitude of other album projects. One could go on and on about his prowess and resume, but we’re here to review this production.

This project was recorded (and filmed) at the storied Viper Room in West Hollywood. A simmering intro of clamoring cymbals and doodling bass give way to an emphatic affirmation, ” Come on man, this is L.A!”. Then a funky Eric Gales guitar lick sets the groove and they are into the first track “Make It There.” Seven minutes and fifty one seconds later the reaction is, “Wow, what just happened?” There is no lack of stage presence here. Eric Gales has a physicality that suggests both the late Bobby Womack (left handed guitar stance to boot) and the Poet Laureate of the Blues, Percy Mayfield.

Midway through the set, introducing track 5, “The Open Road”, Gales announces, “Y’all know what man? I know it may look like I got Tourette’s every now and then. Don’t be alarmed. I just can’t help it. That’s how I express myself. Is that cool with y’all?”

Bassist Cesar Oviedo and drummer Nicholas Hayes do an excellent job of laying down the rhythmic pocket from which Gales showcases his superior chops. On track 7, “Bass & Drum Solos/Guitar Solo,” they get to stretch out of the pocket and show what they can do. Adding glamour and swag on background vocals are Eric Gales’ wife LaDonna and cousin Tyrone Thomas, Jr.

On Track 9, “1019”, an ode to the South Memphis address where the Gales Brothers grew up ,Dylan Wiggins, the nephew of Raphael Saadiq from Tony! Toni! Tone! guests on keyboards. He’s an amazing youngster with a deft touch. Raphael Saadiq himself guests on bass on track 11, a cover of the Rolling Stones “Miss You.”

There is no doubt here that Eric Gales is at the top of his game. Conceptualize if you will, a composite of Mahavishnu, Hendrix and Lonnie Mack plus the kitchen sink. That would be the breadth and width of this man’s chops. He is an animated player, hence the Tourette’s reference.

The live video puts you right there. Hopefully he will play in Northern Cali soon.

CyberSoulMan Tee Watts is music director at KPFZ 88.1 fm in Lakeport, California. His radio show, The CyberSoulMan Review airs Tuesday afternoons from 3-5 PST. He is road manager for Sugar Pie DeSanto, the last Queen standing from the glory years of Chess Records.


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 Featured Blues Review – 7 of 8 

john primer cd imageJohn Primer & The Real Deal Blues Band – That Will Never Do

Wolf Records 120 836

13 songs – 68 minutes

www.johnprimerblues.com

Reigning Blues Music Association traditional artist of the year John Primer hits the recording studio with his own band for the first time in 13 years to produce this collection of straight-ahead tunes that deliver the feel of the golden era of Chicago blues.

But that should come as no surprise for friends and fans of the 70-year-old two-time Grammy nominee when you consider his pedigree. In the ‘70s, he played rhythm in the house band at the legendary Theresa’s Lounge on the South Side, regularly backing harmonica legend Junior Wells and working alongside the sensational Sammy Lawhorn, one of the most influential guitarists in the Windy City.

There are few people in the world with John’s blues pedigree. He joined Willie Dixon’s band for a year about the same time Theresa’s was about to close, then spent three years with Muddy Waters and a decade with Magic Slim’s Teardrops before finally going out on his own. His first release, Poor Man Blues, debuted in 1991 as part of the Austrian imprint Wolf Records’ popular Chicago Blues Session series. This is his ninth CD for the label. Despite recording elsewhere through the years, the relationship remains strong.

Recorded both live and in studio in Europe, That Will Never Do was co-produced by Primer and label owner Hannes Folterbauer and features John’s his regular unit: former Koko Taylor and Lurrie Bell bassist Melvin Smith, ex-Magic Slim and Linsey Alexander drummer Lennie Media and harmonica player Bill Lupkin, who worked with Jimmy Rogers. There’s no new material here, but, with the exception of two of Muddy’s warhorses, all of the covers are well-chosen and fresh to the ears of a new generation.

The action kicks off with a loping version of Little Milton’s “That Will Never Do” before a faithful take of Muddy’s standard, “Mannish Boy.” The tempo picks up for “Hold Me In Your Arms,” a rapid shuffle written by harmonica player Snooky Pryor before Waters’ “Forty Days And Forty Nights.” Three lesser known songs from the greats — Howlin’ Wolf’s “You Gonna Wreck My Life,” Sonny Boy Williamson II’s “Cross My Heart” and Jimmy Reed’s “Sittin’ Here Waitin’” – precede Kansas City master Jay McShann’s “Confessin’ The Blues.” Even though the song’s been recorded hundreds of times, it feels different with a true Windy City feel.

Dixon’s “It’s A Sin To Tell A Lie” kicks off the second half of the CD, followed by Otis Spann’s “Hungry Country Girl,” Wolf’s “Down In The Bottom” and St. Louis Jimmy Oden’s “Take The Bitter With The Sweet.” Albert King’s “The Time Has Come” brings the disc to a close.

Available just about everywhere, That Will Never Do is rock solid in every way if you like old-school Chicago blues. It’s totally unforced and pyrotechnic-free throughout just the way the masters devised it. A winner on all counts.

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 – 8 of 8 

ina forsman cd imageIna Forsman – Self-titled CD

Ruf Records RUF 1223

11 songs – 45 minutes

www.inaforsman.com

Don’t be deceived by the fresh-faced look of Ina Forsman peering at you from the cover of her debut album. Model perfect with crimson locks and bejeweled with a pearl high on her left cheek, she’s barely in her 20s but all business when it comes to the blues.

A native of Helsinki, Finland, Ina declared to the world that she’d be a singer when she was just age six. She was influenced first by Christina Aguilera after an aunt gifted her with one of the pop princess’ CDs, but gradually fell in love with old-school soul and blues artists, including Donny Hathaway, Sam Cooke and Aretha Franklin.

At 15, she competed during the debut season of The Voice Of Finland. Although she didn’t make it out of the first round, her powerful, sweet alto delivery quickly caught the attention of Helge Tallqvist, the legendary Finnish blues harp player, who invited her to sit in. Before going on her own recently, she toured with him for two years as a regular part of his band.

Now on Germany’s Ruf Records, she’s been touring the world along with two other fast-rising female vocalists – Layla Zoe and Tasha Taylor – as part of the label’s Blues Caravan 2016.

Despite her European background, however, this eponymous album was recorded in Austin, Texas, with a stellar lineup. Laura Chavez, who spent years on the road with Candye Kane, and Derek O’Brien, who’s worked with everyone from Omar And The Howlers to Jimmie Vaughan and Fiona Boyes, handle guitar duties with Nick Connolly on keys, Russell Jackson on electric and acoustic bass and Tommy Taylor on drums.

Tallqvist also makes a guest appearance on harmonica, a rare event for Ruf, which usually avoids the instrument in its lineup. Rounding out the sound are the famed Texas Horns – producer Mark “Kaz” Kazanoff on tenor sax, John Mills on baritone sax and flute, Al Gomez on trumpet and flugelhorn and Aaron Kazanoff on trumpet with backing vocals from Alice Spencer and several of the musicians.

Forsman wrote the lyrics for 10 of the 11 tunes on the CD and composed the charts along with Tomi Leino, demonstrating writing ability and maturity that far exceed her age. The only cover on the disc comes from the catalog of Nina Simone, a good choice because they share similar styles, although Ina has a broader vocal range.

The festivities kick off with “Hanging Loose,” a spritely number delivered with a strong and funky New Orleans feel that’s propelled by the horns and Connolly’s piano. It remains upbeat even though the subject deals with being on a street, surrounded by people and traffic, after being dumped by a lover. The tempo slows to a steady soulful shuffle for “Pretty Messed Up,” another breakup tune. In this one, she’s saying goodbye even though she still professes love for the man. It features a flute solo, something that’s been pretty much absent in American music since being a vital element in the ‘60s and early ‘70s.

The ballad “Bubbly Kisses” follows with Ina singing her desire for drunken sex atop a steady syncopated line on the keys. Unfortunately for Forsman, she’s frustrated because the guy claims to be a man “but hasn’t shown it by now.” You can feel the heat emanating from your speakers as she demands attention. The pace quickens slightly and the funk comes with a Latin feel for “Farewell” as she bids a lover goodbye while having mixed emotions about wanting to see him again soon.

Relationship problems continue in the slow blues, “Don’t Hurt Me Now,” which highlights Chavez, before Tallqvist lends a hand for “Talk To Me,” about loving the way a lover communicates. The romantic seesaw continues with “Now You Want Me Back,” “Devil May Dance Tonight,” “Before You Go Home” and “No Room For Love” before a faithful cover of Simone’s “I Want A Little Sugar In My Bowl” brings the album to a close.

Available through all of the major online retailers, Ina Forsman is an outstanding first release brimming with modern thoughts and soul blues that transcends oceans. Strongly recommended and at the top of my list for debut album of the year.

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 Interview – Joanne Shaw Taylor 

joanne shaw atylor pic 1After touring for much of the last seven years and releasing five recordings, guitarist Joanne Shaw Taylor is still “chomping at the bit,” waiting for her latest release, Wild, to hit the market. “ I love it. We’ve had it since January, so I can’t wait for people to hear it. I hope they love it for what it is.”

What listeners will hear is Taylor ruminating on the last two years of life. With titles like “Get You Back,” “No Reason To Stay,” “I’m In Chains,” and “I Wish I Could Wish You Back,” one could easily get the impression that things haven’t gone so well in some respects. “It is painting a picture. But it was quite the opposite, actually. It has been a good two years. There are some stories to tell, which you will hear on the album. Some ups and downs, but also some amazing experiences – others less amazing. I tend to write from a biographical point of view because it makes the lyrics more heartfelt. At the end of the day, I have to sing these songs about 200 times a year for the rest of my life, so I want to feel each song. There is definitely a lot of truth there, some of which is about experiences that friends have gone through”.

The new release was produced by Kevin Shirley, who has a lengthy resume that includes Joe Bonamassa, Iron Maiden, Journey, and the Black Crowes. All of Taylor’s previous releases had been overseen by legendary producer Jim Gaines. Taylor had been waiting for the opportunity to work with Shirley. “We have talked about it for the last 6-7 years but the timing just wasn’t right. I am very funny about picking producers. It’s a big trust factor for me. If you end up fighting your producer on things, you won’t be as happy with the album as you want to be. I trust Jim – it was just time for a change. The timing worked out with Kevin’s schedule.”

“There are a lot of sound differences between the two. Jim keeps things stripped down, tends to focus on the trio. Kevin isn’t over-produced but there is more going on than Jim’s style. Jim is also more laid-back. I steer the ship a little bit and he is happy with that unless there is something he doesn’t like. With Kevin, it was more like handing over the reins and going, make the Joanne Shaw Taylor album you want to make. Kevin has a very different sound. That is the sound I wanted, so why would I try to dictate to him what that is. Kevin had a bit more input into the songs, too. Some young artists hit the wall and fight their producer. That will never get you a good album. What is the point of working with someone like Kevin Shirley if you aren’t going to make the most of it.”

“Jim and Kevin both attract guitar players. Jim has worked with Carlos Santana and George Thorogood. They have very good ears. Kevin picked the musicians for the Wild sessions. The band included Rob McNelly on second guitar, Michael Rhodes on bass, Greg Morrow on drums, and Steve Nathan on keys. They are Nashville guys. I was definitely the weak link in the band. A great way to record, trust me!”joanne shaw atylor pic 2

McNelly brought plenty of guitars from his collection to the studio, giving Taylor lots of choices for different sounds. That has become more important to her as she has weened herself from using an array of effects pedals in favor of keeping things simple. For the recording sessions, Shirley ran her guitar straight into the amp. Taylor no longer feels the need for the “fluff” that pedals add. Nowadays live, she will use an overdrive and a boost plus a delay if the song calls for it. Experience has taught her to get a really good tone and avoid the smoke & mirrors.

She also feels that her playing has improved over the last couple of years once she made the switch to a Gibson Les Paul guitar. “I’ve always been an aggressive guitar player. That could allow for a lot of mistakes and sloppiness. So I made a conscious effort to tidy up my right hand picking technique. I still have the same tone and personality in my sound. The main challenge is to keep finding new ideas, to expand my vocabulary. There is nothing worse than to keep getting on stage and repeating yourself. I was bored with my playing at one point. We were recording “Tied And Bound” for the Almost Always Never album. It became obvious that a Strat or Esquire wouldn’t give us the Led Zeppelin tone that we wanted. Switching to a different guitar open everything up for me, brought the excitement back.”

Wild is the second release on Taylor’s Axe House Music label. “I always wanted to be my own boss. I had known Thomas Ruf for a very long time. I made the decision to record with him because I knew what Ruf Records was as a label and what it was capable of – knew that if I worked hard it would give me a platform to build on. The plan was to do three albums but then Thomas wanted to do a live record, so we added one on. That all summed up that portion of my life. But it was always part of my plan to eventually do it myself.”

joanne shaw atylor pic 3When you hear Taylor sing one of her songs, there is no doubt that she feels it. Whether delivering a tender ballad and or driving rocker, her voice conveys the emotional depths touched on in the lyrics. There is plenty of soulful intensity. “I am not the world’s greatest singer. But I have to stand up there every night to sing these songs. If I am bored, the audience will certainly be bored! The whole reason I do this is because I love it and it’s an expression. Typically the music comes first and then I try to pick a song title, so that lyrically I can work from there. That was a lesson I learned at a younger age, that having a song title gives you discipline. When you are new to songwriting, you write a verse about one thing and when you get to the chorus, you are on something completely different. That is my way of exercising some restraint.”

One look at her touring schedule provides another string indication of how much the guitarist enjoys her musical career. After a lengthy tour across America, Taylor and her band are hitting the road hard for the next two months in the United Kingdom and Europe with a short break in November providing some respite from the rigors of travel and the demands of satisfying audiences at sold-out shows. They get another break for the holidays before a string of UK dates leading up to Joe Bonamassa’s Keeping The Blues Alive At Sea cruise.

“I still love it, although that may not be the case by the end of February. It is a double-edged sword sometimes. We are kind of approaching that point on this US tour. The band has been out for awhile and given the size of the country, touring can be difficult. Our drive today is about five hundred miles. But as soon as I get off the road I want to get back out there. I don’t really know what to do with myself. While it is nice to have a break for rehearsing, songwriting, or recording, I like to keep being productive.”

Part of the US tour feature dates with Glenn Hughes, former bass player with Deep Purple. Taylor grew up listening to her father’s Deep Purple records and she was a fan of another Hughes project, Black Country Communion. “Glenn has been a really good friend for years. He is such a sweetheart. Getting to see him and hear him every day is right up there. And I finally got to go to Fargo, ND! I always wanted to do that, not just because of the movie and TV show, but also because two of my early influences, Jonny Lang and Shannon Curfman, are from there. Everything has been great, pretty easy-peasy.”

Like all artists, Taylor wants to be accepted for her talents and skills. There is one question that she abhors. “I hate being asked what is like being a female guitar player. Well, it is the same as being a boy guitar player, just with different body parts. I don’t play guitar with my ovaries. It makes it sound like a handicap, she plays well for a female guitar player! I have the right amount of fingers – and that’s all you need. We can vote now, too! I keep putting it out there, hoping to create a dreaded fear of asking “the question”.

Visit Joannes’s website at: www.joanneshawtaylor.com.

Interviewer 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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 Blues Society News 


 Send your Blues Society’s BIG news or Press Release about your not-for-profit event with the subject line “Blues Society News” to: email address

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Crossroads Blues Sociey – Rockford, IL

Our November lineup begins at All Saints Church in Byron on Sunday the 6th with the teenage ragtime and barrelhouse piano impresario Daniel Souvigny, again from 4 to 6 PM. The Hope and Anchor in Loves Park show is on Saturday the 12th with the great Reverend Raven and the Chain Smoking Altar Boys! TheLyran Club Fish Fry on Friday the 18th features Ron Holm and his Roy Orbison Tribute Show! November is going to be a lot of fun, too!

December features Dan Phelps at All Saints Church on December 4th. The Jimmys return to the Hope and Anchor for the December 10th show which will also be Crossroads Annual Christmas Party with a gag record exchange! December 16th we feature Dave Fields from NYC to do some Blues in the Schools and an evening show at the Lyran Club Fish Fry! Our big and special treat for December is the amazing Duke Robillard, who will be at the Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center in Rockford on Thursday, December 8th starting at 7 PM. Advanced tickets are $15 and entry at the door is $20. The Mendelssohn PAC is located at 406 North Main Street in Rockford, IL. Tickets and information are available at www.crossroadsbluessociety.com!

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. November 7 – On Call Blues Band, November 14 – Tom Holland & The Shuffle Kings, November 21 – Brother Jefferson, November 28 – Tas Cru, December 5 – The Mojo Cats, December 12 – Hurricane Ruth, December 19 – Mary Jo Curry, December 26 – James Armstrong.

Additional ICBC and ICBC partnered shows @ The Alamo, 6 pm: November 3- James Armstrong Presents – Bad Boyz, November 17 – James Armstrong Presents – Johnny Rawls, December 1 – James Armstrong Presents – Kilborn Alley, December 15 – James Armstrong Presents – Susan Williams. 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. Wed, Nov 9, Jim Suhler & Monkey Beat, Manteno Sportsmen’s Club, Manteno IL. For more info visit http://www.facebook.com/friendsoftheblues


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