Issue 10-51 December 29, 2016

john hammond cover pic

Cover photo by Joseph A. Rosen © 2016


 In This Issue 

Don Wilcock has our feature interview with blues legend John Hammond. We have 8 Blues reviews for you this week including a book about Michael Bloomfield by Ed Ward plus reviews of new music from Erwin Helfer, Sugar Ray and the Bluetones, Ana Popovic, Doyle Bramhall II, Seth Walker, Duke Robillard and Johnny Nicholas.

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


 From The Editor’s Desk 

Hey Blues Fans,

We are now at the end of our 10th year publishing Blues Blast Magazine. Is it just me or did this one fly by faster than usual?

YES it has been a good blues year! We published 400 blues reviews, 51 in-depth interviews plus coverage of many major blues festivals again this year.

Our Blues Blast Music Awards were the best show we ever had.

I am in awe of our Blues Blast team. They continue to deliver blues news and content year after year. Thank you for letting a big blues fan like me have so much fun!!

Also thanks to all you kind blues people out there who support us.

Wishing you health, happiness and lots more Blues music in 2017!

Bob Kieser


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 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 8 

erwin hefler cd imageErwin Helfer – Last Call

The Sirens Records

www.erwinhelfer.com

CD: 14 Tracks, 59:32 Minutes

Styles: Spectacular Piano Blues, Blues Covers

In this particular review, yours truly has done two things she has never done before: 1) put the word “spectacular” in the “Styles” heading, and 2) use this descriptor regarding “blues covers”. On principle, Ms. Wetnight saves any superlatives for the main body of an article. Also on principle, she doesn’t cheer about covers. Who has caused her to make such exceptions to her long-standing review rules? His name is Erwin Helfer, absolute master of Chicago piano blues. Mentor and collaborator to the late, great Barrelhouse Chuck – RIP, lifelong friend of the art – Helfer himself is still going strong at four-score-and-none (that’s 80 years old). From the very first notes on his latest CD, Last Call, he’ll hold listeners rapt with every ring of the ivory keys to which he has dedicated his life. Even on songs they might literally have heard hundreds of times before, such as “St. James Infirmary” and “Bright Lights, Big City”, those who hear Erwin’s versions will feel rejuvenated from head to toe. This Sirens Records release will lure fans galore.

According to the biographical section of his website, “The sounds and personalities of past boogie-woogie and blues pianists have nurtured Erwin’s musical growth. For many years, Erwin accompanied Mama Yancey, the wife of Chicago blues piano patriarch Jimmy ‘Papa’ Yancey, and later recorded one album with her. He was also mentored and influenced by Cripple Clarence Lofton, Speckled Red, and Sunnyland Slim.” Three historical recordings starring Mama Yancey are indeed featured here (tracks eleven, twelve and thirteen). Also collaborating with Helfer are lead vocalist Ardella Williams, daughter of Jazz Gillum, who wrote “Key to the Highway”, lead vocalist Katherine Davis, tenor sax virtuoso John Brumbach, bassist Truck Parham, and drummer Odie Payne Jr.

Every musical track on the album is an artistic masterpiece, but which ones are the most vibrant? This reviewer submits these three piano tapestries:

Track 01: “Make Me a Pallet on the Floor” – More than anything, a weary traveler needs a place to lay his head. This CD’s opening number, originally composed by Jimmy “Papa” Yancey and recorded on March 14, 2016, is a gut-wrenching plea for the humblest of beds. One can almost hear the sound of rain on one’s roof, smell encroaching ceiling mold, hear the drip-drip-drip of a persistent leak, and understand why the subject of this song wants only a warm, dry pallet.

Track 02: “DC Boogie” – Causing a happy case of ‘mood whiplash’ after the last track, this one is the only original one on Last Call. It brings to mind the excitement of our nation’s capital and its nightlife, with more than a trace of the sound of rapid-fire political slogans. Sometimes you don’t know which way is up in the District of Columbia, or when to take your turn on one of the city’s infamous roundabouts. “DC Boogie” brilliantly captures all of this colorful chaos.

Track 13: “Operator Blues” – This thirteenth number is luckier than most, because it’s a fantastic historical recording starring Helfer and Mama Yancey. “He was a cruel old farmer, low-down dirty engineer,” she explains in a strident, mid-pitch trill that would make any actual telephone operator sit up and pay attention. “He’s taken my baby away, left me standing there.” Recorded live circa 1979, it’s a terrific example of what much older, pre-war blues sounded like.

As an added bonus, the fourteenth track, “A Conversation with Erwin,” is an autobiographical revelation about Helfer’s early life, friends, and blues mentors.

Every single piano blues fan needs Last Call – as in NOW!

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 – 2 of 8 

sugar ray and the bluetones cd imageSugar Ray and the Bluetones – Seeing Is Believing

Severn Records

www.sugarrayandthebluetones.com

12 tracks

After 35 years together, Sugar Ray and the Bluetones are a band with a consciousness of it’s own. The players are together and in synch. Even the most junior member has spent 16 years with the band; Monster Mike Welch at 37 is the youngest band member but has recorded with Sugar Ray for over a decade and a half now. This is a formidable band and may be one of the finest in the world top to bottom!

Sugar Ray handles vocals and harp and Welch handles the guitar work. Anthony Geraci is on keyboards (piano and Hammond organ), Michael Mudcat Ward is on bass and Neil Gouvin is on drums. Recorded in the Keep the Edge Studio in Quincy, MA, the Bluetones have released one of the years finest blues albums of 2016. One cover and 11 original tracks are featured here.

“Sweet Baby” opens the set and Sugar Ray is the big blues shouter here with a big distorted vocal sound as he sings through his harp microphone. A slower to medium tempo blues, Welch offers a huge guitar solo with Geraci filling in beautifully on the piano. When I first listened I thought that if the rest of the album was half this good it would be amazing. Norcia comes in for a greasy harp solo and makes the cut even better. Then the title track slows things down with a sultry and sexy sort of sound. Norcia’s vocals and Welch’s guitar trade licks beautifully and then Welch offers up a hugely soulful guitar solo; so well done! “Noontime Bell” is next up in the queue and Norcia croons some slow blues about his woman leaving him despite his best protests.

Another nice harp solo is offered up and after the second chorus Geraci gives us a super piano solo. “Keep On Sailing” features Norcia doing half the song solo on vocals and harp as he testifies to us. Then Welch and the band enter and the song builds into something completely different. Nicely done. Jump blues is next with “Blind Date.” Sugar Ray blows some mean harp for us with the band in full throttle support. Norcia belts out the vocals after the intro and they continue the high energy charge. Welch also delivers a high powered solo and they finish up with a final chorus and surge to a finish. Welch emulates BB King’s tone in King’s great “You Know I Love You.” He turns it into a fantastic and giant instrumental that is a savory and touching tribute.

“Misses Blues” has Norcia singing about all the things he’s missed in his life but he asks his girl to say she missed him “because it’s you I can’t resist!” Nice harp work in the slower blues and some cool lyrics make this fun. Norcia then goes into the full harp attack mode with “It Ain’t Funny” and he and the band do a big and full sounding slow blues. Norcia emotes as he delivers his vocals; Geraci is first with a big solo, then we have a chorus and a huge harp solo followed immediately by a huge guitar solo. Norcia closes things out with a final chorus and then takes us home with some more huge harp. “Not Me” is a blues ballad that Norcia sweetly belts out as he longs for the woman who left him. He offers an equally soulful harp solo for us as Geraci and Welch fill in with restraint to add to the mood.

“Got a Gal” picks things up the pace a little and they give another big guitar and then harp solo. More cool slow blues is next with “Two Hundred Dollars Too Long” where Norcia mourns first about a bar tab and then a parimutuel outing that both lasted two hundred bucks too long. A dirty harp solo with some nasty guitar licks goes on for many a measure and Norcia closes with the hope that his life is not remembered by old Ray hanging around for 200 dollars too long. Lots of fun here for sure! They conclude with “It’s Been A Long Time,” some straight dirty blues with a mid temp groove. They do a great instrumental mid song as harp, guitar, and piano showcase the three players.

These guys have been nominated for a host of BMAs in the last couple of years for their 2014 CD and their overall work, and Geraci and Welch also received accolades for their own 2015 CD, too. This is a powerful group of musicians with a great backline that can hold their own with any band. Big, greasy and tasty blues from Boston that serves the blues world notice and will surely garner them more award nominations!

Reviewer Steve Jones is president of the Crossroads Blues Society and is a long standing blues lover. He is a retired Navy commander who served his entire career in nuclear submarines. In addition to working in his civilian career since 1996, he writes for and publishes the bi-monthly newsletter for Crossroads, chairs their music festival and works with their Blues In The Schools program. He resides in Byron, IL.


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 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 8 

ana popovic cd imageAna Popovic – Trilogy

ArtisteXclusive Records – 2016

CD1: 9 tracks; 41 minutes

CD2: 7 tracks; 26 minutes

CD3: 7 tracks; 29 minutes

www.anapopovic.com

Eclecticism is not a word always linked to Ana Popovic who is generally seen as a blues-rock figure but this set shows a far wider range with each of the albums aimed at a different mood and feel. To fully express herself Ana travelled to New Orleans, Memphis and Nashville to record with different producers for the three discs, each of which aims at a different mood.

Volume 1 Morning is mainly original material in Rn’B mood with plenty of horns. Recorded in New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville and Orlando, FL with Wayne Riker producing, “Love You Tonight” and “She Was A Doorman” make a strong opening pair with great horn arrangements and some tough soloing from Ana. The funky “Show How Strong You Are” is clearly from NO with George Porter on bass and Ivan Neville on keys, a strong hook chorus and Ana working up a head of steam in her solo. Mandrill’s funk classic “Fencewalk” features a Santana-esque solo while the horns build up the intensity before Ivan’s electric piano and Derwin Perkins’ wah-wah rhythm guitar provide solid accompaniment to Ana’s fine vocal on the gentle “Train”, to which Joe Bonamassa adds a dramatic closing solo. “If Tomorrow Was Today” is a catchy number with plenty of wah-wah and slide from Ana and “Long Road Down” returns to the funky side of things. Ana’s version of Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson’s “Hook Me Up” is less smooth than Curtis Salgado’s recent cover with some wild lap-steel from Robert Randolph that did nothing for this reviewer. The disc closes with “Too Late” where the latin rhythms fit well with Ana’s lead work.

Volume 2 Mid-Day is probably the disc that is most typical of Ana’s usual blues-rock style. It is also the most diverse disc in terms of recording location and producers, with one cut from the New Orleans Wayne Riker sessions, two recorded with Cody Dickinson near Memphis and the rest with Tom Hambridge in Nashville. The NO track “Crying For Me” has plenty of slide from Ana, as does the fast-paced boogie instrumental “Who’s Yo Mama?” which acts as a showcase for Ana’s guitar playing. That is one of five Nashville tracks, one of which is “You Got The Love”, originally recorded by Rufus and Chaka Khan. It’s only a trio playing but with heavy bass and drums from Tommy Sims and Edward Cleveland behind her Ana unleashes a torrent of licks on a heavy rock version. Duelling guitars are a feature of “Woman To Love” but the credits indicate that Ana is the only guitarist here so it must be double-tracking! Ana returns to quieter mode on the moody blues of “Johnnie Ray”, a tale of missed opportunity as JR now has “a wife and child; now I’m back but just too late”, her vocal suiting the song well and her restrained guitar playing bringing the right touch of emotion to suit the song, a highlight of Disc 2. The two Cody Dickinson tracks include Curtis Mayfield’s “Let’s Do It Again” which has rap vocals from Al Kapone which contrast well with Ana’s sexy vocal and “Wasted” a short original from Ana and husband Mark Van Meurs which has a latin beat and some exciting guitar.

Volume 3 Midnight is terrific if you like jazzy blues. Whilst Ana is no Ella Fitzgerald her sultry vocals suit this material really well and her version of classics like Duke Ellington’s “In A Sentimental Mood” and Nat Adderley’s “Old Country” stand up well to inspection with Ana playing some attractively jazzy chords on both. David Pulphus’ warm double bass underpins much of the music here and his intro to Tom Waits’ “New Coat Of Paint” is lovely: it’s a song frequently covered but this version is as good as most with superb horns. Alongside the covers Ana’s “Waiting On You” is wonderful with Kyle Roussel’s piano, producer Delfeayo Marsalis’ trombone and some deft guitar from Ana herself; the song is so good that a second version (subtitled “Double-Time Swing”) appears later on the disc. The last two cuts are both stripped down quartet tunes with Ana’s guitar and vocals, Barry Stephenson’s double bass and Kyle’s piano and the great Bernard Purdie on drums; Ana’s version of “You Don’t Know What Love Is” (recorded by Billie Holiday on Lady In Satin) works brilliantly with Kyle again outstanding on piano.

Yes, this material could have been fitted on to two discs but that would have spoiled the attempt to create three different moods. In any case, Trilogy is being marketed at a price that is equivalent to a double disc, so buyers are not being penalized. For this reviewer the big surprise was the Midnight disc which showed a commendable attempt to play some jazz-inflected blues that worked really well. However, all three discs have some good moments so across the set there is something for most blues fans to enjoy.

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 – 4 of 8 

doyle bramhall cd imageDoyle Bramhall II – Rich Man

Concord Records – 2016

13 tracks; 73 minutes

www.db2music.com

Doyle Bramhall II has been a very busy man in recent years, collaborating with Clapton, Tedeschi Trucks and Sheryl Crow amongst many artists, even touring as a member of Clapton’s band. All that activity has meant that his own recording career has been on hold and this is his first solo effort in a long time. The wait is now over though with a disc that spans many styles in its generous 73 minutes: blues, rock, jam band and soul influences all appear at times. Doyle plays a wide range of instruments, not just guitar, and is well supported by a large cast of musicians: TTB associates Ted Pecchio and Tim Lefebvre on bass and Kofi Burbridge on organ all put in an appearance and there are strings and African instruments spread across several tracks, even a horn section on one cut. The wide-ranging material is all original apart from a Hendrix cover, Doyle collaborating with KZ Jones on most tracks and with some of the supporting musicians on a few songs. The album follows the theme of personal growth as Doyle travelled widely learning about other musical cultures that influence this recording.

Opener “Mama Can’t Help You” is reasonably straight blues with a chugging rhythm and a rising chorus not untypical of TTB material, Doyle topping it off with an angular solo. “November” adds horns and strings to a soulful number, the joyous chorus offering a great hook as the lyrics reveal how music reopened love for the central character, an early standout track. “The Veil” is a slower, moody track with shimmering guitars and strings again added to the choruses as Doyle describes the evils hidden behind the veil of civility, even quoting Ecclesiastes and “My People” goes a step further with references to other religions and the North Indian sarangi added, an extended track which takes its time to build up pace as Doyle pleads for recognition that all people are the same, releasing a fine solo towards the end. “New Faith” extends the message of needing to make a fresh start and find the good in each other in a largely acoustic setting with Norah Jones’ harmony vocals set alongside Doyle’s gruffer tone. The funky undercurrent of “Keep You Dreamin’” brings us back to a simpler style of music with plenty of wah-wah and bass bubbling under the rhythm but “Hands Up” (apparently written in reaction to the Ferguson racial unrest) plods along with heavy bass and distorted guitar and at close to seven minutes rather outstays its welcome.

Things get back on track with the melodic title track on which the strings underpin Doyle’s vocal as he describes redemption through love. The strings also introduce “Harmony”, a gentle acoustic love song before “Cries Of Ages” returns to a more campaigning style: “rise up as one for redemption” sings Doyle on another song anchored by a strong chorus. “Saharan Crossing” takes us to North Africa with Doyle’s wordless vocal and acoustic guitar, hand percussion and the oud, an Arabic lute, the tune acting as an interlude before the extended “The Samanas” which is the lyrical culmination of Doyle’s personal journey, a samana being a seeker. Doyle’s vocal is framed by percussion and acoustic guitar before his electric guitar cuts through in dramatic fashion, driven by heavy drums including timpani, the final section featuring even heavier guitar. Bringing everything full circle is the Hendrix cover “Hear My Train A’ Comin’” which returns the album to more of a blues conclusion though Doyle’s tough version sounds very different to the song that many of us recall from Rainbow Bridge.

This is an ambitious album which touches many bases. For this reviewer the best tracks were the more melodic ones but there is a lot to appreciate through the 70+ minutes.

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 – 5 of 8 

seth walker cd imageSeth Walker – Gotta Get Back

The Royal Potato Family

http://sethwalker.com/

CD: 12 Songs, 42:36 Minutes

Styles: New Orleans Blues, Contemporary Electric Blues, Ensemble Blues

If folk-rock singer Jackson Browne played contemporary blues instead, with a New Orleans flair, he might sound like electric maverick Seth Walker. “Sometimes you have to remind yourself why you started something in the first place,” he muses via his promotional info sheet. “On this stellar new album, Gotta Get Back,” it continues, “he does precisely that, excavating the roots of his love affair with music and reuniting with the family that helped spark the fire all those years ago. The record…stretches from Walker’s childhood living on a commune in North Carolina to stints in Austin, Nashville, New York, and New Orleans.”

If a beautiful woman is ‘easy on the eyes,’ Walker’s smooth, good-natured vocals are incredibly easy on the ears. He almost never mumbles when he sings, and his energy streams into one’s soul like warm sunshine on a winter day. All twelve tracks on this CD are memorable originals, with even more memorable sing-along hooks (as on “High Time” and “Turn This Thing Around”). The only downside is that those looking for traditional rhythms and lyrics won’t find any here. Seth Walker isn’t Muddy Waters, nor should he be. His blues isn’t barroom blues – nor should it be. Sometimes, especially on a long road trip, mellow is the way to go.

Along with Walker stars a brilliant musical ensemble that’s nearly the size of the chorus in Les Miserables. This CD boasts no fewer than eighteen additional musicians!

The following three “cherries” on this album will be the sweetest for traditional blues fans.

Track 01: “High Time” – Come along to the Big Easy on this opener, light and breezy. Sorry, those in Colorado: this song isn’t (necessarily) about smoking locoweed. “It’s high time we had a high time together,” Seth sings with his comrades in a harmony reminiscent of Steve Miller. “I’m out here running down the street, but I keep dreaming about you and me, and it’s fifty-nine miles to New Orleans, and I’m calling you up to say…” Every instrument on this song is flat-out perfect, from the organ to the piano to the killer electric guitar. Laissez les bon temps roulez!

Track 02: “Fire in the Belly” – This boiling blues rocker blazes at a musical temperature that would melt steel, courtesy of the smoking guitar solo in the middle and the four-alarm horn section. “Fire in the belly for your love, fire in the belly for your touch, fire in the belly for your joy, joy, joy,” Seth exults without a trace of apology. A romantic flutter in the heart may be well and good, but when it comes to passion, all of its flames burn lower down in the body…

Track 05: “Movin’ On” – Of course, when the “Fire in the Belly” dies down, sometimes it’s “so good to be gone.” With a jaunty guitar intro and refrain that will make listeners want to put on their traveling shoes, this ballad shows there’s more to goodbyes than tears and melancholy. Relish the outstanding organ in the middle as it complements the solo, harmonic and sweet.

Blues fans, make no mistake: Gotta Get Back is fan-freaking-tastic!

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 – 6 of 8 

ed ward book imageEd Ward – Michael Bloomfield: The Rise And Fall Of An American Guitar Hero

Chicago Review Press

272 pages

Anyone who has ever heard the Paul Butterfield Blues Band album East-West undoubtedly has the group’s version of “I Got A Mind To Give Up Living” emblazoned in their memory banks. Butterfield’s vocal gains intensity as he lays out his tale of misery. The lasting power of this performance actually stems from Michael Bloomfield’s searing guitar playing that raises the emotional anguish to near unbearable levels. He demonstrates total mastery of his instrument, spinning out fluid lines, each note a cry for relief from the universal pain that is a part of the human condition.

Born in Chicago, Bloomfield was raised on the north side until his family moved to Glencoe, a northern suburb, where he spent his teenage years. His father ran a successful manufacturing business that his son had little interest in – and Bloomfield did not inherit his father’s athletic skills, deepening the parental divide. An outcast at school, Bloomfield found salvation after he and his brother were given guitars. He learned to play right-handed even though he was naturally left-handed. As author Ed Ward notes, his dominant left hand was used for fingering, giving him extra speed and power to navigate the fret-board. The aspiring musician joined a few bands, got expelled from high school, and banished to a prep school in Massachusetts, where he was introduced to illegal substances.

In the late 1950s, Bloomfield was hanging in blues clubs throughout the city, taking in the sounds of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Magic Sam. Tired of playing in fraternity bands doing Top 40 songs, he gave up electric guitar at age eighteen to concentrate on playing acoustic folk music. During the three year hiatus, he started listening to the legends of acoustic blues along with other superb pickers like Doc Watson. Another Chicago native, Nick Gravenites, remembered encountering Bloomfield at the Fret Shop, a music store near the University of Chicago. He recalls, “…his fingers flying all over the f**king fret-board, and I was jealous…..a smart-ass Jewish punk from the North Side…It was just that he was so talented, it pissed you off.”

Ward’s biography was first published in 1983 with a very limited release. The new edition adds a wealth of material, including a candid 1968 interview with Rolling Stone magazine. The author traces Bloomfield’s development in the rough & tumble Chicago clubs, his tenure booking blues shows at the Fickle Pickle including Big Joe Williams, and then the switch to Big John’s club on North Wells St., opening with Big Joe, Bloomfield, and Charlie Musselwhite. Once Bloomfield hooks up with Butterfield, the band captivates audiences with the harp player’s tough swagger and Bloomfield’s undeniable talent. Their records on the Electra label spark interest from a new generation of blues fans who welcomed the group’s high energy and hard edge.

As the band started touring, Bloomfield’s influence spread as other musicians were able to experience him live. Soon one of the biggest names at that time came calling. Bob Dylan wanted Bloomfield to back him on guitar for sessions for the Highway 61 Revisited project. With the Butterfield Band, Bloomfield participated in one of the acknowledged watershed moments in music history, as they plugged-in to back Dylan at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, a point that marked the decline of the folk music boom as well as elevating Bloomfield’s stature.

Along with the fame came the realization that Bloomfield hated to be living life on the road. The long stretches away from home lead to increased drug and alcohol consumption. Blessed with a photographic memory and a deep love of music, he had little regard for fame or money. His Super Session record with Al Kooper brought more attention but an inability to sleep combined with his other issues left Bloomfield in a downward spiral that eventually claimed his life in 1981 at the age of thirty-seven.

Using interviews with family, friends, and musicians, Ward lays out a compelling chronicle of Bloomfield’s life and influence. He covers the later years when the guitar player recorded a number of albums for small labels featuring his acoustic playing on guitar and piano. Also included in an extensive fifty-eight page discography plus twenty-two pages of B/W and color photos.

In an interview with the author, the guitarist delivers a fitting self-assessment, “As long as I mature as an artist, my life is not in vain…..I’ve influenced millions of musicians….I am not going to work to become an idol again. That is not what I am shooting for, because I am sure that the price you pay for that, with my personality, would be too great of a price. I used to be a very crazy guy, and I had pain for almost every day for years…..It never stopped….really lost your mind to the degree that you hurt every day….so that you would do anything to stop it. I think I know the sonorities and the melodies and the chords that are really beautiful….Oh, if I could only do just one that would make me as proud as…I was with the first Butterfield album.

Ward certainly makes a heartfelt case for Bloomfield’s status as a guitar hero in this excellent biography of a troubled soul who used his guitar in an attempt to ease his pain – and, in doing so, gave the world some truly remarkable music.

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 – 7 of 8 


Duke Robillard Cd imageDuke Robillard – Blues Full Circle

Stony Plain Records – 2016

13 tracks; 52 minutes

www.dukerobillard.com

Duke Robillard spent over a year unable to play guitar following a serious shoulder injury and this album had to be delayed until further recording sessions had taken place once Duke had recovered. In terms of releases the gap was filled by the excellent The Acoustic Blues & Roots of Duke Robillard but this is the album that Duke planned to release. Tracks were recorded before and after Duke’s enforced lay-off but the personnel throughout is unchanged with Duke on guitar and vocals and his long-standing band in support: Bruce Bears on keys, Mark Teixeira on drums and Brad Hallen on bass. There are some guests who feature on one track each: Sugar Ray Norcia (vocals), Kelley Hunt (vocals/piano), Jimmie Vaughan (guitar), Sax Gordon Beadle (tenor/baritone sax) and Doug James (baritone sax). Duke wrote all the material apart from two covers and one shared writing credit with Jimmie.

The format here is small band blues with a selection of shuffles, slow and rocking blues, Duke’s guitar reflecting each song’s mood perfectly. He really is one of the masters of this sort of ensemble playing, possibly the best example being the extended “Shufflin’ And Scufflin’” which comes from an as yet unreleased session with Jimmie Vaughan, both guitarists getting plenty of space alongside Doug James’ bubbling baritone. Kelley Hunt wrote a tune dedicated to Duke’s recording studio “The Mood Room” and Duke invited her to revisit the song with his band, Kelley’s piano taking the lead on an upbeat tribute to the “hippest joint in town”. Sugar Ray Norcia is on vocals for a cover of Jimmy ‘Baby Face’ Lewis’ Last Night which is a stand-out cut with Ray’s suave vocal and Sax Gordon’s great sax work behind Duke’s swinging guitar.

Duke’s familiar deeper vocals are featured on the remaining tracks which include the amusingly cynical “Fool About My Money” on which the band adopts a New Orleans rhythm and the slow blues tribute to Guitar Slim, “Blues For Eddie Jones”. “Lay A Little Lovin’ On Me” opens the album on a funky note courtesy of Bruce’s piano and Duke’s searing guitar fills before the rolling blues of “Rain Keeps Falling”, Bruce’s piano again spot on for the tune and Duke bending the strings impressively. The pace drops for the slow blues of “Mourning Dove” but not the intensity of Duke’s playing and the swinging “No More Tears” harks back to Duke’s original incarnation of Roomful Of Blues, without the horns. Duke’s tough guitar and Bruce’s almost ragtime piano on “You Used To Be Sugar” is a winning (and swinging!) combination and “Come With Me Baby’ closes the album with another trademark rolling blues.

Whatever style he adopts Duke is a wonderful player, able to adapt across the spectrum of blues and jazz styles and this is another strong album from him. Recommended.

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 8 

johnny nicholas cd imageJohnny Nicholas – Fresh Air

Self-Release – 2016

13 tracks; 64 minutes

www.johnnynicholasmusic.com

Johnny Nicholas is a seriously under-recorded artist, partly by his own wishes as he took the 1980’s off from music to raise his family. Since then he has issued occasional albums, all of which are authentic and compelling releases. On Fresh Air Johnny is backed by most of The Resentments, an Austin-based band that used to feature the late Stephen Bruton and the result is a fine blend of roots music with authentic blues, rock and roll and country influences. Johnny plays all manner of stringed instruments, piano and harp with Scrappy Jud Newcomb on guitars and mandolin, Bruce Hughes on bass, John Chipman on drums and Cindy Cashdollar on lap-steel and other guitars. Guests include Carla Prather on vocals, Red Young, Trevor Nealon and David Boyle on organ, Steve Riley on accordion and David Greeley on fiddle. Johnny wrote all bar two songs here, some in collaboration with Jud, Bruce and Gary Nicholson.

Opener “Moonlight Train” is a sparse acoustic blues with Johnny’s buzzing harp and plaintive vocals and is immediately followed by a brilliant cover of Sleepy John Estes’ “Kid Man Blues” (AKA “Leaving Trunk”), Jud’s mandolin providing the rhythm and some great lap-steel playing from Cindy. “Blues Time” has a similar laid-back groove with Johnny’s vocal suiting that mood before the album style is disrupted by some lively rock and roll in “Red Light” with rocking piano setting the pace and the lap-steel adding a country feel. The down beat “Sweet Katrina” recounts the tale of a small-town girl who collects men like shoes, Johnny forced to take his leave to ramble the country, the song reminding this reviewer of some of Dylan’s bluesier efforts. “Bayou Blues” is a rolling blues with amusing lyrics as Johnny meets a dangerous girl at the dance, the song revealing secrets such as her hidden tattoo and cooking skills (“the meat is fresh, I shot it this morning”) the accordion adding a Louisiana feel. Also down south but in acoustic mode “Roll On Mississippi” provides a gentle acoustic interlude before Johnny’s cover of Willie Dixon’s “Backdoor Man”. Johnny met Howling Wolf in 1966 and that cemented his love of the blues so this is something of a tribute but Johnny’s take on the classic song is stripped back with sparse drums, mandolin and slide behind Johnny’s superb vocals. In another switch of style Johnny plays the balladeer on “How Do You Follow A Broken Heart”, a late-night lounge piece with lap-steel accents.

The two songs co-written with Nashville songsmith Gary Nicholson are both excellent: in the melodic “Play Me Like You Play Your Guitar” Johnny seems to have found the ideal lover: “Take me in your arms and hold me like you hold your guitar; play me fast, play me slow, play me like you ain’t never played before”. There is an appropriate feast of guitars with wah-wah and electric guitars gently competing throughout. Lyrically “Wake Up Bobby” is in the same area but is more of a country tune, the sort of song that Gary has written in the past for artists like Delbert McClinton.

The album closes with two contrasting tunes which have similar lyrical interests. “Workin’ In The Garden” is upbeat with plenty of electric guitar as Johnny extols the simple life of planting in the garden, perhaps a metaphor for getting back to basics, and the title track “Fresh Air” certainly makes clear that we all need spiritual refreshment from time to time, that plea framed in a gentle acoustic setting.

Fresh Air is an excellent album with fine musicianship framing Johnny’s interesting and literate songs. The album takes in blues, country and Americana and is well worth your attention.

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 Interview – John Hammond 

john hammond pic 1“I used to get up on the stage, and I’d play my songs and I not say anything,” explains John Hammond. “Sometimes, I’d say where I got the song from or something, but nothing else. Now, I do a lot of reflecting, and I give context to how I got inspired by certain artists, and the fact that I had played with just about all of the rediscovered masters of the past including Bukka White, Son House, Lightnin Hopkins, and John Hurt. I was on shows with all of them, and then going to England and hanging out with Brian Jones and Eric Clapton and John Mayall and all the English Invasion guys and meeting Hendrix and hanging out with him. You know, I’ve done a lot of bizarre things: The Band was Levon & The Hawks when I met them, introducing them to Dylan and that kind of thing.”

John Hammond’s legacy is one of the most unique and star-studded in all of blues. The son of one of the Vanderbilts, he grew up in New York prep schools, but in a career that spans 53 years approaching 4500 shows, he’s headlined over Bob Dylan, featured Jimi Hendrix in one of his bands, and borrowed Michael Bloomfield’s band for gigs in Boston, Philadelphia and New York.

At 74, he’s recorded nearly 40 albums produced by some of the industry’s biggest heavyweights including Tom Waits, J. J. Cale and David Hidalgo of Los Lobos. He’s shared bills with Howlin’ Wolf, Jimmy Reed and John Lee Hooker.

He’s been lauded as a blues legend by The New York Times, and Atlantic Records exec Jerry Wexler wrote in the liner notes to his Trouble No More CD, “I came to scoff and I stayed to pray.” But he was vilified by jazz critic Ralph Gleason who, according to Hammond, described him as a thin, thick-lipped thug.”

Hammond has earned seven Grammy nominations and one win, and is a member of the Blues Foundation’s Hall of Fame. His most recent CD, Timeless (2014) was recorded live, at Chan’s in Woonsocket, RI.

I have steadily followed his career longer than any other artist except the Rolling Stones and found his guitar picking to be consistently spectacular, both electric and acoustic. His vocals, while sometimes criticized for mimicking the vernacular, are not only in keeping with his guitar playing but also as prickly and intense as any of his many mentors.

“I took a lot of s*** from critics and writers (who say), ‘How can you be doing a black man’s music and all this?’ I say, ‘It’s music. It’s for anybody who wants to do it or can pull it off. It’s my passion, blah, blah, blah.’ So, I was used to being shunted to the side or ignored or whatever, but it never deterred me because anytime I was on gigs with these phenomenal players I never got any s*** from them. They were always encouraging to me.”

He’s been called the white Robert Johnson. In fact, it was Hammond’s father who is credited with posthumously rediscovering Robert Johnson when he reissued Johnson’s only recordings in 1961on a Columbia Records LP called King of the Delta Blues Singers. One of the most influential if not most influential talent scout of the 20th century, the elder Hammond had already been credited with discovering Billie Holiday and would go on to sign Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Aretha Franklyn and Stevie Ray Vaughan to the label.

John’s father was also John Hammond, although he had a different middle name. The elder Hammond promoted Robert Johnson as the bluesman who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for upgrading his guitar prowess from rudimentary to inspirational, and thereby turning a generation of young white musicians into blues fans.

He had wanted to book Robert Johnson into a 1938 Carnegie Hall extravaganza From Spirituals to Spring that introduced “race records” artists like Ida Cox, Big Joe Turner, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and Big Bill Broonzy to an erudite New York audience. But he discovered that Johnson had just died. And yet when a teenaged John Hammond asked his famous dad about Robert Johnson in 1959, the young would-be blues artist was surprised that his father even knew of the then obscure Robert Johnson.

john hammond pic 2“I went to (Dad’s) place in 1959. He was having a dinner party and invited my brother and I up there. I had heard these Robert Johnson recordings, just two of them actually from the Sam Charters Country Blues album, and I was just blown away. So, I asked my father, ‘Have you ever heard of Robert Johnson?’ And he looked at me. ‘Funny you should ask.’ (giggle) And he opened his cabinet, and he had four ’78s. He told me that he’d been trying to find Robert Johnson for his Spirituals to Swing production in New York, and he tracked him down, found out that he’d died.”

John’s parents were separated, and he was not close to his father, having spent most of his time in various prep schools. “I knew that my father knew Big Bill Broonzy because I’d gone to see him and when I was seven, but I had no idea that he knew Robert Johnson, yikes! So, anyway, there was a guy at Columbia who made up a tape for me of all these Robert Johnson records. I think there were nine songs and like I was in heaven. (chuckle) In any case, it just cemented my passion.

“So, I learned all those songs and played them on stage, and I was completely into it. And I was a blues fanatic. I was just in the right place at the right time so many times. I played New York. Gerdes’ Folk City was my first show there, and that went over really well there. I shared the bill with Phil Ochs for a week and we were both signed up to Vanguard Records.”

The year was 1962. John was 20, and of the artists playing the Greenwich Village/Harvard Square coffeehouse scene at the time, he was light years ahead of most in his musical abilities. Where did his extraordinary talent come from? It wasn’t from hanging out with his father.

“I don’t know. I can’t explain myself. I was just ready to play. I went to two prep schools and a progressive school in New York, the Little Red School House, and then I was just not a good student because I didn’t live with my father. I stuttered so badly that every new exposure to new kids was always a really humiliating experience for me. I finally found something I really wanted to do, and I just went for it big time.

“I got a guitar in 1960, and I started playing professionally in ’62. I just played and played and played. I knew all the songs I wanted to do. You know, some records. I don’t know how to explain it really. This was what I wanted to do. I found something that I really wanted to do. I didn’t have a great educational experience, and I went from school to school.

“I was playing at Gerdes (Folk City in Greenwich Village), and there was (Vanguard Records cofounder) Maynard Solomon in the audience, and he thought I was really good or something. So, I was offered a contract. I was too young to actually sign it, but they made arrangements. I’d just turned 20 and made my first record in December of ’62 at the Broadway Masonic Temple. That was number one, and it was released the next year. And I played at the Newport Folk Festival which was a big deal in ’63, and I was on the Blues Workshop with John Lee Hooker, and Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Dave Van Ronk, and Mississippi John Hurt. It was like yikes, holy cow. I was outside of my body. It was an outrageous scene.

“There was a review in the New York Times by this guy Bob Shelton, and it was a huge, almost half a page review of my show there, and it was a review of my album as well, and it was a big deal. This was ’62. So, I had signed up with this guy Mannie Greenhill who had Folklore Productions in Boston, and he became my manager/agent, and he got me gigs like in Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa and all through the East Coast and the West Coast, and I was happening and I just stayed on the road. I went everywhere. I got to be on those shows with all these phenomenal players. The beginning of a long ride.”

john hammond pic 3From the beginning of his career, John was hanging with the mentors who had inspired him. By the mid-60s he’d established a rapport with Ed Pearl, owner of the famed Ash Grove in LA and had opened for Lightnin’ Hopkins, Doc Watson and other great folk and blues acts. “I got a call from Ed Pearl who said, ‘How would you like to open for Howlin’ Wolf for a week?’ I said, ‘Oh, yeah. I could do that.’ He said, ‘Well, it’s in three days,’ and I’m in New York, right?

“So, I borrowed my brother’s car and drove like a maniac and got there on the day of the show. I was there early to see Howlin’ Wolf’s sound check. He was on route from Chicago. So, I waited and waited and still on route from Chicago. So, anyway, I changed my clothes. The place was sold out. Wolf didn’t play a lot of gigs in Los Angeles, so it was a big deal, and everyone dressed to the nines, and I got up and Wolf was still on route from Chicago. It was time for me to go on. I was flipping out.

“I didn’t know what to think or do. So, anyway, I got up and I played my 25-minute set, and I then I turned to go off stage, and I went over pretty well I thought, too. Ed Pearl was stretching his hands out. ‘Play some more. Play some more.’ Oh, God, and I played three more songs, and I completely wore out my welcome. I’m walking back stage, and I open the door to the dressing room, and there is Wolf standing there, and he says, ‘How did you learn to play like that?’

“And I couldn’t remember my name.

While Wolf’s band set up, John got to talk to his idol. Here he was face to face with a man who was bigger than life both physically and musically, a man whose entire repertoire John knew. “Wolf sits me down and tells me all those stories and blew my mind. He said he was inspired to want to sing and play by hearing Jimmy Rogers, the yodeling brakeman. and they actually knew each other which blew my mind. And then he said he learned to play guitar from Charlie Patton, and Charlie Patton was full-blooded Cherokee. I said, ‘What?’ He said, ‘Yeah, he was Cherokee. If things got rough, he went back to the Reservation.’

“Oh, my God! This was stuff I didn’t know, and he went on and on, and we played for a week and I saw some of the greatest shows I ever saw. He was just unbelievable. Then, I got to work other shows with him in Chicago. We played New York, and we became friends. He seemed to understand where I was coming from and opened up.

“He was over the top, man. I didn’t even know he played the guitar. I know he played harmonica, and he sang his ass off and that kind of stuff, but I’m backstage with him one night, and he takes my guitar and he plays “Stone Poney Blues,” and he’s a huge man. His hands dwarf mine, you know what I’m saying? And he plays beautifully note for note, and then the end he flips the guitar three times over and plays the last three notes. And I’m sitting there just mind boggled. I didn’t even know that he could do that.

“It’s like I’m sitting blown away. This guy is so outrageous and rolls on his back and kicks his legs up singing, ‘I’m a tail dragger. I wipes my tracks.’ Holy s***. He told me that he learned to play guitar from Charlie Patton, right? He said Charlie Patton was the greatest entertainer he ever saw. I mean that he played behind his back and did somersaults and did all this s***. I’m just trying to imagine this. Then I see Wolf going through his antics on stage and it’s like unbelievable. What a guy! Holy s***.”

By the time Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler sent John Hammond to Memphis to record in 1969, the bluesman had already recorded with Jimi Hendrix, members of The Band and The Stones. But to him these musicians were contemporaries. The young white audience these artists were building were fundamentally clueless of the Delta and Chicago blues artists who were their idols’ inspiration. Jerry Wexler, on the other hand, was one of the architects of the Atlantic Records sound. He had built his reputation on producing people like Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, and Wilson Pickett and is credited with coining the term rhythm and blues. Wexler was hooking John Hammond up with producer Tommy Cogbill whose credits included Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, Elvis Presley and Joe Tex. John had certain preconceptions about what these recording sessions in Memphis would be about.

john hammond pic 4He was in for a big surprise.

“I went down there and met with Tommy Cogbill. He had his own studio, and his own players and stuff, and I just couldn’t connect with him somehow, and I called Jerry and I said, ‘Listen, this isn’t gonna work out.’ He said, ‘Well, you’re down there. Why don’t you go over to Muscle Shoals. I have a friend Marlin Green down here who’s got his studio, and there’s some really good players. That’s where Aretha’s recorded, and Pickett and all those guys you know,’ and I’m thinking. “‘Holy s***.

“So, I go down to Muscle Shoals, and I meet this guy Eddie Hinton whose one of the guitar player guys in this session, and all of these guys are white. And I’m saying to myself, “Holy s***!” And they thought I was gonna be black.” And so there was this real disconnect.

“So, anyway, Eddie said, ‘I have a friend coming tomorrow who I think you’ll really enjoy this guy. He knows your music and all that.’ And it was Duane Allman. So, Duane came the next day, and I’d been trying to tell these guys what I wanted to do, and nobody could seem to understand what I meant. As soon as Duane got there, he knew what I was taking about. ‘I want to do these Howlin’ Wolf tunes and stuff.’”

Duane had done a whole bunch of Memphis session before founding the Allman Brothers. “Yeah, he had, right. He played on The Weight and all blah, blah, blah. So, anyway, Duane translated for me and the band got it, and they’re really talented players, these guys are.”

John Hammnond’s best selling record to date has been Wicked Grin released in 2001. It was produced by Tom Waits and features Augie Myers on keyboards, Charlie Musselwhite on harmonica, and Larry Taylor on bass. AllMusic calls it “a stunning collection that infuses these unusual tracks with a blues man’s spirit and a crackling energy that practically reinvents the songs, instilling them with an ominous, rhythmic swampy feel.” The collaboration combines Hammond’s strong points as an interpreter with Waits’ quirky compositions, and the combination is pure magic.

“Tom Waits asked me to record with him on a project he was involved in on the West Coast. I went out there with my wife Marla. She and his wife Kathleen were hanging out, and Tom had really gotten his s*** together. They had three young kids who were doing really well, and Marla said, ‘What do you think of the idea of Tom producing an album on John? He could be home every night, take care of the kids.’ So, all of a sudden, we have this project out of nowhere, and when I told the label about the idea, they flipped out. Tom Waits would produce an album on you? Holy cow. So, we made this album, Wicked Grin. They put a rock and roll bus out there for us, and put the band together and rehearsals and all this s***. It was amazing.”

Talking to John Hammond is like picking up a blues encyclopedia and arbitrarily opening to pages throughout the tome and finding some new revelation about him, the genre, and how his blues blends in with rock, folk, and Americana. His life continues to unfold like the peels of an onion. The closer you get to his core, the more interesting it becomes. The revelations are myriad. He doesn’t write many of his own songs, and that may be why he’s not as well known as many of the people he’s worked with. But he’s no less talented.

“I’ve outlived a lot of the critics,” he told me in 2014. But he doesn’t have a bucket list. “Uhm, not really I’ve been all over the world and played with so many great players, but you keep meeting new players that are really good. So, I’m just gonna see what pops up.”

Visit John’s website at: http://johnhammond.com

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


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Benefit For Barrelhouse Chuck – Space – Evanston, IL

Blue Monday Benefit for Barrelhouse Chuck – Monday, Jan 09, 2017 7:30 PM CST – 10:30 PM (6:30 PM Doors) SPACE, 1245 Chicago Ave, Evanston, IL.

As you probably know, Barrelhouse Chuck passed a few weeks ago. SPACE & Lagunitas present a benefit concert for Barrelhouse Chuck, featuring John Primer, Billy Boy Arnold, Erwin Helfer, Mud Morganfield, Billy Flynn, Bob Stroger, Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith, Oscar Wilson and Joe Nosek of the Cash Box Kings, Nick and Kate Moss, Gerry Hundt, Little Frank, Dave Specter & many more special guests.

The event is a tribute and celebration of life for Chuck. The proceeds from the show will help Chuck’s widow defray the cost of his remaining medical bills. More info can be found here:

http://www.ticketweb.com/t3/sale/SaleEventDetail?dispatch=loadSelectionData&eventId=7077945

Charllotte Blues Society – Charllotte, NC

Friends, here we go and here it goes… The last Charlotte Blues Society party at the world famous Double Door Inn, 1218 Charlottetowne Avenue, Charlotte, NC (704) 376-1446 Starting at 7:30 pm this Sunday, January 1, 2017.

Join us for their send off party for the Red Dirt Revelators to represent the CBS in Memphis for the International Blues Challenge.

Added to the bill is some “Mighty Fine” music from the original founders of your Charlotte Blues Society featuring Beth “The Great Mouth” Pollhammer, Rita Miller and Bill Buck. One to remember the past 20+ years of the Charlotte Blues Society and the Double Door. .

Doors Open 6:30pm. Free to members/ $5 to non-members. Simply, don’t miss it , man. This is it! http://www.charlottebluessociety.org.

The Central Iowa Blues Society – Des Moines, IA

The Central Iowa Blues Society announces the 2017 Winter Blues Fest Friday, February 10 and Saturday, February 11, 2017 at the Downtown Marriott – 700 Grand Ave in Des Moines, IA featuring sixteen blues acts under one roof out of the cold!

This year’s line-up covers a wide variety of blues styles, featuring Paul “Mayo” Mayasich, Heath Alan and Justin Appel, Brandon Santini, JC Anderson Band, Davina & the Vagabonds, Bare Bones, Dewey Cantrell, Shane Johnson’s Blue Train, Scottie Miller Band, Hot Tamale & the Redhots, MN blues challenge winner- Mark Cameron Band, Omaha blues challenge winner- Tim Budig Band. Plus Rockin Blues’ on Saturday with Jeff Banks Band, Toronzo Cannon and Ronnie Baker Brooks.

Admission Friday $20, Saturday $30, both nights $45, both nights for CIBS members $40. Marriott blues fest room rates – going fast! Friday night 5:00 pm, Saturday 4:00 pm, Guitar Workshop Saturday 1:00 – 3:00 pm. Saturday afternoon free guitar workshop with Piedmont, folk blues guitarist, Andy Cohen. Also Scotty & the Wingtips will perform and also host the After Hours Jam starting at 12:30 am Sunday.

Tickets and additional info at www.cibs.org. Tickets also available at www.midwestix.com.

Southeast Iowa Blues Society – Fairfield, IA

The 6th Annual “Rockin’ in the Blue Year” January 7th, 2017 at the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center, Fairfield IA. Kicking things off will be Joe & Vicki Price two of Iowa’s Blues icons, then taking the roof off will be Brandon Santini, one of Blues hottest young gunslingers with the harmonica and more swing than you can stand!

Doors open at 6:30 and the Blues begin at 7pm with Joe & Vicki followed by Brandon at 8pm. Tickets in Advance $15 and SIBS members, $18 Day of Show call (641)-472-2787

For more information go to www.southeastiowabluessociety.org or call (641)-919-7477

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. January 2 – Billy Galt & The Blues Deacons, January 9 – Studebaker John, January 16 – The Groove Daddies, January 23 – The Good, The Bad & The Blues, January 30 – Slam Allen, February 6 – Maurice John Vaughan, February 13 – Dave Lumsden & Friends, February 20 – Southside Johnny, February 27 – Jeff Jensen.

Additional ICBC partnered shows: January 5 – James Armstrong Presents @ The Alamo, 6 pm, January 19 – James Armstrong Presents @ The Alamo, 6 pm, February 2 – James Armstrong Presents @ The Alamo, 6 pm, February 16 – James Armstrong Presents @ The Alamo, 6 pm.


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