Issue 11-11 March 16, 2017

Cover photo by Joseph A. Rosen © 2017


 In This Issue 

Blues Blast Magazine Senior Writer Terry Mullins has our feature interview with Big Jay McNeely. We have 8 Blues reviews for you this week including reviews of new music by Mitch Kashmar, New Orleans Suspects, Big Jay McNeely, Big Dave McLean, Jenny Wren And Her Borrowed Wings, Billy Seward, Dave Fields and Northbound Acoustic Blues Band.

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


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Blues Blast Magazine’s Early Bird Special is our lowest priced advertising of the 2017 year. It offers an affordable & effective way to get the Blues word out!

This 8-issue discount ad campaign allows you to add significant impact to your Blues advertising and promotion campaign. It is a great way for artists to solicit festival gigs or can be used to kick up the visibility of your summer Blues festival, new album release, Blues event or music product all around the globe! This is perfect for a new album release, a festival advertising campaign or any new music product.

Normal 2017 Advertising rates start at $150 per issue of Blues Blast magazine. BUT, for a limited time, this special gives you eight issues of Blues Blast Magazine for only $400. (A $1200 value!)

Blues Blast Magazine is a great way to promote anything Blues. 36,000 opt-in subscribers read Blues Blast Magazine. Our subscribers are located in all 50 states and in more than 90 countries giving your products global coverage at an affordable price. Weekly issues of Blues Blast Magazine are also posted on our popular website. We get more than 2,000,000 (That’s TWO MILLION) hits and 65,000 visitors a month at our website.

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 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 8 

mitch kashmar cd imageMitch Kashmar – West Coast Toast

Delta Groove Music

11 tracks/48:32 running time

Santa Barbara born and bred Mitch Kashmar has put in purt near 40 years in the music business. He joined his first group, The Pontiax in 1980. In the mid-’80s, they recorded a now out of print album originally independently produced, then released on Belgium’s Blue Sting Records, entitled 100 Miles To Go, which furthered their reach and fan base to include Canada, Europe and points beyond.

Moving on to a solo career in the ’90s, Kashmar’s career steadily picked up steam and, in 2006 broke through with a landmark recording called Nickels and Dimes. In 2007 he was nominated as the harmonica Instrumentalist of the year at the Blues Music Awards.

Adding to his resume was his stint in the Lonnie Jordan/Jerry Goldstein version of War from 2006-2011, where he recreated the soulful licks of War’s original harp player, the great Lee Oskar.

West Coast Toast is Kashmar’s contribution to the West Coast harmonica legacy created by George “Harmonica” Smith who settled in L.A. in the mid ’50s and spawned a legion of players in his wake. It is a spate of originals and covers that showcase Kasmar’s songwriting, vocals and interpretation of classic Blues songwriters like Willie Dixon, Henry Glover, Lowell Fulson, Billy Boy Arnold and Sonny Boy Williamson I.

Straight out of the gate on track 1, “East of 82nd Street,” penned by Kashmar, has his harp wailing like a California Mountain Jack. Oxymoron aside, this cat can really blow. Kudos to the sound engineer Doug Messenger for dialing in that ’50s radio feel. Speaking of feeling, Tr. 1 feels like that streamline train that Jessie Mae Hemphill wrote and sang about.

Other hittin’ tracks that Kashmar wrote include tracks 4 and 7; “The Petroleum Blues,” and the slow draggy “Mood Indica.”

On the cover side of town, Kashmar gives “Young Girl,” his treatment. The song was originally written by the great Henry Glover and released on King Records by Little Willie John as a Doo-Woopish R&B belter. Here it is transformed into a swingin’ Blues groove that accents his harmonica virtuosity.

In conjunction with the afore mentioned harmonica virtuosity is the swingin’ cast of players in the band. The heralded Junior Watson on guitar, Fred Kaplan on keys, Bill Stuve on bass and Marty Dodson on drums all provide deft accompaniment.

If you are keeping track of the state of harmonica driven Blues, this one should be added to your collection. Novice harpists take note!

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 – 2 of 8 

new orleans suspects cd imageNew Orleans Suspects – Kaleidoscoped

www.neworleanssuspects.com

Louisiana Red Hot Records

8 songs – 41 minutes

Kaleidoscoped is the fourth album from what might be called a New Orleans super group. Comprising Jake Eckert (ex-Dirty Dozen Brass Band) on guitar and vocals; “Mean” Willie Green (Neville Brothers) on drums; C.R. Gruver (Polytoxic, Outformation) on keyboards and vocals; Reggie Scanlan (The Radiators, Professor Longhair Band) on bass; and Jeff Watkins (James Brown Band, Joss Stone Band) on saxophone and vocals, the New Orleans Suspects features some of the most respected names on the Big Easy music scene. In addition, the album has stellar contributions from a number of guest musicians, including Paul Barrère and Fred Tackett (on the cover of Little Feat’s “Dixie Highway”); Golden Comanche “Big Chief” Juan Pardo; “Big Ike” Kinchen; Lee Thornburg; Ian Smith; and Paulie Cerra.

Together, the musicians have produced an effervescent musical gumbo of upbeat funk, traditional R’n’B, Louisiana swamp pop, and soul-infused rumbas, all played with mature confidence and what one senses is a winning smile.

Opening with the 70s-style funk of “Get It Started”, a simple keyboard riff is developed and filled-out by subtly contrasting instrumentation, all of which fits together like a jigsaw. By itself, each piece may not appear to be essential, but its absence would leave an obvious hole. The mighty Paulie Cerra’s wild tenor sax solo is a highlight of a song that features a number of key changes and solos for the different musicians.

There is something of a 70s vibe to many of the tracks, but this is not meant as a criticism – the best songs of that decade exhibited impressive technical virtuosity nestled within the structure and limitations of a well-crafted song. “Cocaine Jane” for example, has echoes of the Grateful Dead, in particular on Eckert’s guitar solo. The influence of Little Feat can also be clearly heard, most obviously on “Dixie Highway” (on which Gruver’s solo is a delight) but also on the vocal harmonies and even the vocal lines of “Creole Hannah”, which has more top drawer piano from Gruver and lovely slide guitar from Eckert.

The Louisiana swamp pop groove of “You Got The Fire” sees Green and Scanlan laying down an irresistible dancing rhythm. “Round Up Dem Suspects” sees Smith and Watkins nailing a horn line around which Pardo leads a vocal call and response.

The album finishes with “Neighbourhood Strut”, which includes another drumming master class from Green and more superb horns from Watkins and Smith.

This is a short album, clocking in at only 41 minutes, although the individual songs themselves tend to come in around the four or five minute mark, reflecting both the structural development within each song as well as the number of different solos on each track.

Is Kaleidoscoped a blues album? No. Is it an album of well-written funk-rock-pop songs dripping in the essence of New Orleans, all of which hark back to the best of the 1970s while still maintaining a modern edge? Yes, it is. It is also a very enjoyable album of toe-tapping party music.

Reviewer Rhys Williams lives in Cambridge, England, where he plays blues guitar when not holding down a day job as a technology lawyer or running around after his children. He is married to an American, and speaks the language fluently, if with an accent.


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 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 8 

big jay mcneely cd imageBig Jay McNeely – Blowin’ Down the House

www.bigjaymcneely.com

Cleopatra Records

12 tracks

Cecil James (AKA Big Jay) McNeely began his formal music career in high school playing with jazz legends Sonny Criss (alto sax) and Hampton Hawes (piano). Then, at 21 years of age in 1948 he played tenor sax for Johnny Otis’ “Barrelhouse Stomp.” He then recorded the number one hit “The Deacon’s Hop,” also for Savoy Records. SO jazz was out and R&B was in. His antics with his saxophone and playing on his back are legendary and he is credited as having pretty much “invented” rock and roll saxophone. His squeaky high notes and pushing himself around on his back while playing the sax are trademarks of his shows.

McNeely garnered huge success continuing through the 1950’s with many great musicians. He predated the psychedelic rock era using strobe and black lights to highlight his on stage persona. But by 1963 he gave up music and went to work for the Post Office. Twenty years later, he was back at it, touring the world and playing with many blues and rock greats. He has released a dozen albums since 1983 and he still plays and tours the world as he approaches his 90th birthday.

This album is a mix of old and new stuff. His wild vocals, sax and antics are represented well here. He begins with a new funk-filled soul/R&B cut “Love Will Never Fail.” His vocals are solid and the sax is fresh and the same as it always has been. He shouts and groans out the vocals and honks on the sax as the backing vocalists and band move in lock step to his beat. “Love Is Stronger Than Hurt” turns the heat down a small notch. Another newer song, we get to see that McNeely remains as solid today as he was decades ago. Very much a late 50’s or early 60’s styled rock styled cut, it’s a joy to listen to. “My Love Never Ended” is a slow blues cut with McNeely testifying and growling out the lyrics. He blows some soulful sax here. “I’ve Been Mistreated” is a slow blues with tons of vocal and guitar reverb to give it an interesting sound. Then the down and dirty tenor sax comes in- marvelous! “You Don’t Have to Go Home” continues the string of 6 new cuts. The male backing vocals respond to his call “You Can’t Stay Hear” and McNeely and the guitar sing and play with bell like qualities, ringing brightly. You know the sax solo is coming and when it does it delivers the goods so well. “Party” is the last of the opening new cuts; it’s a driving and high flying jump blues and rock and funk cut with Jay shouting the title out repeatedly with a funky and fast guitar following along. The stratospheric horn then comes in as a funky whirling dervish of fun. Good stuff!

“Big Jay’s Hop” is a 1955 remake of his 1949 classic “Deacon’s Hop.” Recorded in Chicago on VeeJay records, he and the band swung through the Windy City and recorded this great tune. Almost 62 years later this song still presents itself well. McNeely’s sax is the star here. “Blow, Blow, Blow” is from 1951 in Los Angeles on Imperial Records. It begins with a blaring sax and the driving sound of the band behind McNeely seems to go 100 miles per hour as this great instrumental tune wails on and on! “Willie the Cool Cat” is the oldest cut of the set, recorded in 1949 in Hollywood for Exclusive Records. It’s a mid-tempo jump and jive instrumental with Jay on tenor and brother Bob on baritone (as in the prior cut), trading licks back and forth. “Rock Candy” follows, a 1953 song from Radio Recorders. It opens with a big organ sound and then the sax and band jump in for some fun. A slow to mid tempo instrumental, this is just cool and a lot of fun. The same session also produced “Nervous, Man, Nervous” with the then unknown vocal group The Platters clapping, yelling and shouting on it. It’s a beautiful and fun cut. It’s wild! The album concludes with the new “Get On Up & Let’s Boogie.” This was recorded live with a piano in full stride with McNeely’s vocals and the blistering sound of the band. A guitar solo sets the tone for a sax solo, both at breakneck speed. Then they repeat that all again at the finish not once but twice, last time at an even faster speed! It’s an apt and fun conclusion to an album by a man who has made magically fun music for over 70 years!

If you are a sax person this one’s a no brainer. McNeely is showcased now and back in the day showing off his amazing talents. I loved this album! Is it saxophone excessiveness? You bet! And it’s great! Highly recommended!

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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2017 Blues Blast Music Award Submission Are Now Open

The 2017 Blues Blast Music Awards series has begun. Submissions are open until April 15th, 2017 The Blues Blast Music Awards are the largest fan voted Blues awards on the planet. But hurry! Submissions end April 15,2017!

To visit our website for complete information on how to have your music and musicianship considered for nomination,
CLICK HERE


 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 8 

big dave mclean cd imageBig Dave McLean – Better The Devil You Know

Black Hen Music BHCD0081

13 songs – 54 minutes

Guitarist/harmonica player/songsmith Big Dave McLean proves once again why he’s a national treasure with the release of Better The Devil You Know, a follow-up to his release, Faded But Not Gone, which garnered his third Juno Award, the highest honor a musician can earn in his native Canada, and which also was a finalist for acoustic album of the year in the 2015 Blues Blast Awards.

The son of a Presbyterian minister and born in Yorkton, a wooded farm community in southeastern Saskatchewan, he got his start as a musician after receiving an impromptu guitar lesson from John Hammond at the Mariposa Folk Festival in Ontario in 1969 when he was just 17 years old.

McLean has been based out of Winnipeg for decades. His smoky, road-weathered voice that hints of Long John Baldry, his solid musicianship and his gregarious personality have been winning over fans and critics on Canada’s folk and blues circuits alike ever since. Gifted with a lifetime achievement Maple Blues Award in addition to many other tributes from organizations far and wide, he’s considered to be one of the most influential artists ever based in Western Canada.

While McLean is just as comfortable delivering his music solo, this one features him backed by an all-star electric band. It was produced by fellow Black Hen Music label mate Steve Dawson, at his Henhouse Studio in Nashville. A multiple honoree for his work in the control room in addition to being a former Blues Blast Award nominee himself, Dawson adds acoustic, electric, pedal steel, dobro and National steel guitar, mandotar and weissenborn in addition to backing vocals.

The rest of the all-star lineup includes bassist John Dymond and drummer Gary Craig, the rhythm section from Blackie And The Rodeo Kings, as well as Music City-based mandolin and fiddle player Fats Kaplin, who’s worked with everyone from Waylon Jennings to Mark Knopfler, the gospel powerhouse vocalists the McCrary Sisters, Ann and Regina, and Kevin McKendree, one of Music City’s foremost sessions players, who’s served time with Brian Setzer, George Thorogood, Tinsley Ellis and many others.

The album includes six new McLean tunes, several of which are either autobiographical or possess a spiritual message, as well as seven well-chosen covers. The delivery is warm and intimate throughout. Dave’s original, “Life On The Road,” provides a tongue-in-cheek view of being a touring musician: “I’m livin’ out the dream/I’m bein’ out on the scene/I’m livin’ the dream/So it would seem.”

A cover of Muddy Waters’ “You Can’t Lose What You Never Had” precedes the traditional Southern gospel number “You’ll Need Somebody On Your Bond,” which features an a capella introduction from the McCrarys and Kaplin’s fiddle work and a McLean harp solo. The Dawson-penned “Angeline” follows before two originals – the country-tinged love song “I Need You” and the rock-flavored “Where The Music Comes From,” a tip of the hat to Mississippi, the birthplace of the blues.

“Old Time Religion” – not the old gospel number, but a fairly recent tune by Parker Millsap about a killer who keeps the bodies in his shed – follows before McLean delivers “Swingin’ On Heaven’s Gate,” a pleasant country-seasoned spiritual in which Dawson doubles Dave on the chorus. “Deliver Me,” a song of desire written by Jeffrey Hatcher, is up next before new takes on Muddy’s “Deep Down In Florida” and Dawson’s “The Side Of The Road.” A plea for peace and love follows in “Talk About Revelation” before a version of the traditional “Pet Rabbit” – delivered solo on a Resonator guitar — brings the set to a close.

Available through all major online retailers, Better The Devil You Know will be a fine addition for anyone who’s a fan of modern acoustic blues. Despite the presence of a full band, the rich arrangements never overpower as they provide superb support.

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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 Blues Want Ad – Volunteer Writers Needed 

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

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

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

These are volunteer positions that need a persons who really loves the Blues and wants to spread the Blues word! Must have good writing and composition skills, good grammar and spelling! Experience using WordPress is a big plus!

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

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

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


 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 8 

jenny wren cd imageJenny Wren And Her Borrowed Wings – A Soup

www.jennywrenandherborrowedwings.com

Creature Records

13 songs time-45:05

This acoustic trio from the U.K. dabbles in music that takes from roots music, blues, jazz, old timey music and folk music. Jenny Trilsbach handles lead vocal and double bass while Ben Gallon plays acoustic guitar and Ben Fisher on Resophonic guitar. Both Bens supply backup vocals. There are no guest musicians and all compositions are generated by the members. Although the instrumentation is the same throughout, they keep things fresh with a variety of rhythms and guitar interplay. Jenny’s voice has a bit of a rough edge to it and that lends a touch of authenticity to the songs. The guitarists work out very enjoyable intertwining guitar parts. The band accomplishes a lot with a little.

The opening “A Sailor’s Blues” flies sprightly by, clocking in 1:32, featuring some nice slide playing by Ben Fisher. Next up is the slow and deliberate ballad “The Leaving”. Jenny’s voice attains a melancholy and yearning quality. The guitar here is liltingly lovely. “Until It’s My Time To Go” maintains a similar vibe. Jenny’s voice cries out at the appropriate times. Ben Gallon’s guitar takes on the jazzy spirit of Django Reinhardt on the upbeat “Don’t Bring Me Down”. The whimsical and breezy “Brick By Brick” gets a similar treatment.

Ben Fisher provides some mellow slide playing on “Some Big Deal”. Jenny’s bass is prominent on the beat heavy “Sucker On The Vine”. The slow “This Song Is A Lie” is the recipient of some very nicely melodic guitar from both players. All three players are in tandem at the onset of “The Promised Land”, a song that harkens back to the hey day of folk music.

A nice change of pace from three gifted and imaginative musicians. Rest your weary ears upon the intricate and often jazzy acoustic guitar play. The band has crafted interesting lyrics to compliment the creative music within. This CD is a welcome relief to the usual electric guitar barrages we have been so used to. Give a listen to this collection of well crafted original tunes. It’s no easy task pulling well done songs out of thin air.

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


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 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 8 

billy seward cd imageBilly Seward – South Shore

WFS Music

11 songs – 46 minutes

www.billyseward.com

It’s been a long time sine Florida-based Billy Seward has called the Chicago area home, but the music of his childhood definitely made a lasting impression. He’s called upon some true heavyweights for a helping hand to produce this outstanding collection of modern soul-blues with a distinctly true Windy City feel.

A native of nearby Muncie, Ind., who spent time in Memphis and on both coasts before settling in the sunny climes of Sarasota, Fla., Billy’s always been captivated by the sounds he heard emanating from WVON and other high-powered radio stations a short drive to the northwest. As a young man, he fell in love with West Side bluesmen Fenton Robinson, Magic Sam and Otis Rush as well as South Side soul artists like Curtis Mayfield, Tyrone Davis, Johnny Taylor and Harold Burrage and their Memphis cousins.

Their influence has always formed the backbone of his personal vision. All but Otis are long gone now, but if they’d gotten a chance to listen to South Shore, Seward’s first release since Better Place in 2011, they’d be beaming approval. Its title is a tip of the fedora to the commuter railroad that runs between his hometown and the Loop.

Billy called out the big guns to make it happen. The album was recorded at the Delmark Records studio under the direction of engineer Steve Wagner and produced by Dave Specter, the top-flight guitarist and bar owner. And it features a guest appearance of one of Seward’s other childhood heroes, Jimmy Johnson, still the powerhouse standard bearer of the Chicago sound at 88 years old.

The rhythm section includes a pair of all-stars: drummer Marty Binder, who’s backed Albert Collins, Deborah Coleman and a host of others, and bassist Harlan Lee Terson, who’s recorded with a who’s who of Windy City talent including Rush, Johnny Littlejohn, Lonnie Brooks, Eddie Shaw and many others. They’re augmented by keyboard player John Kattke and harmonica player Tom Moore. Willie Henderson, the baritone sax player who’s been a Memphis and Chicago soul institution since the ‘60s, fronts a horn section that includes Doug Corcoran on trumpet and Steve Eisen on tenor sax.

But Seward is the real star here. He possesses a rich, warm, melismatic tenor that might remind some listeners of Tad Robinson, the Indianapolis-based soul-blues giant. And his guitar playing remains rooted and true to the West Side sound. A guitar run and horn flourish introduce the opener, “The Hawk.” It’s a sweet, soulful plea for a woman to help him overcome the wickedly chilling wind that blows between the canyon of skyscrapers during a brutal Midwest winter.

Another original, “Chicago Woman,” begins with a harp line atop a medium-fast shuffle and describes a lady “with men wrapped around her fingers/And the whole world at your feet.” Next up, Billy gets an assist from Johnson as they team to sing a cover of “Strange How I Miss You,” a song Jimmy wrote and first recorded decades ago, with Specter handling the guitar solo.

The autobiographical cover tune “South Shore” recounts leaving home and wondering if things could ever be the same. “I Hear The Love Chimes,” once a hit for Syl Johnson, Jimmy’s brother, and Junior Parker’s “Love Ain’t Nothin’ But A Business Goin’ On” both get new treatments before the original “Take It All” insists that the woman “do it slowly” if she’s going to go. Another well-chosen cover, Memphian Don Bryant’s “I Can’t Take It,” follows before three more rock-solid Seward-penned tunes — “Westside Ride,” “Thinking About You” and “Blues Don’t Bother Me” – polish off the action.

The Suncoast Blues Society recently recognized South Shore as the winner of its self-produced CD competition, and for good reason. If you love old-school Chicago soul-blues like I do, you’ll simply adore this one. It’s that good. Available through Amazon, CDBaby another other online retailers.

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 – 7 of 8 

dave fields cd imageDave Fields – Unleashed

FMI Records (Self Released)

www.davefields.com

14 tracks

Wow! Just when you think the guy has done it all he comes out with a mix of live and studio cuts of originals and original sounding covers that showcase this remarkable musician and his band; apparently he has even more to show us. He’s chose 14 fantastic songs to take the listener on a wild ride and demonstrate who he is– one the finest young musicians on the blues scene! Dave leans heavily towards rock but also weave jazz and funk into his blues in a remarkably cool manner. Joining Dave at various times on bass are Erik Boyd, Andy Huenerberg, Buddy Allen, and Chris Tristam. On drums he has Kenny Soule, Van Romaine and Dave Moore. Keys and organ are done by Vladimir Barsky and percussion/congas has Doug Hinrichs and Juan Pertuz on two cuts.

Fields starts things off with the jazz infused jumping sounds of “Anticipating You,” a lively instrumental where Fields’ guitar and Barsky’s organ work fuse nicely to the groove set by Boyd on bass and Soule on drums. Boyd’s bass solo lends credence to the jazz influences, and Dave’s stinging guitar sound jumps out at the listener to grab them and make them want to move to the groove. There is a bit of a respite towards the end with congas added by Hindrichs for good effect and then the cut whirls into a frenzied conclusion. Recorded live at Al Weber’s, the next cut is also live but from The Stanhope House. The classic “Going Down” opens to Fields’ big guitar riffs and provides the listener a rocking and wild rides with other worldly guitar effects and a strong vocal. It’s just the trio of Fields, Bryant (drums) and Huenenberg (bass) delivering a powerhouse sound.

“Child of the World” comes from the studio where Fields is joined by Soule on drums. Allen on bass and Barsky on organ. It’s the single from the album and pays homage to the terrorist attacks in Paris. It’s got a nice mid to up tempo groove to it and Fields’ vocals are gritty and authentic. Funky guitar and organ licks make this one a lot of fun! “My Mama’s Got The Blues” is next, featuring the gutsy harp work of Norway’s J.T. Lauritzen along with Field’s guitar and Boyd’s bass. The lyrics are humorous and depicts what’s waiting at home. Between baseball bats, guns, mace and a host of other abuses, this song just tells you to stay out all night and never get home. Fields does a beefy guitar solo and Laurtizen blows some mean harp here. This is a trademark Dave Fields song– loads of fun bundled with a superb sound!

“The Boy Wants to Play” gets funky and adds some cool backing vocals from Lis Sherman. Lauritzen returns on harp, Soule on drums, Allen on bass and Pertuz on the congas make this one extra funky. Fields and Sherman trade licks lyrically as the blues, funk and rock blend into a melange of cool sounds. “Jagged Line Pt. 1&2” follow. These two cuts have Van Romaine on drums, Tristram on bass and Barsky on organ back Dave as he sings the blues on a rocking music canvas. It has the feel of a White Album era Beatles cut blended with Metallica on Pt 1; Pt 2 takes the tune down a more subdued path with a slow tempo and minor key feel and then builds back into the frenzy of Pt 1. It’s very cool stuff.

“Better Be Good” returns to The Stanhope House show with a trio format. Dave seems at ease in this format and show, playing his heart out and nailing this one. The guitar licks are heavy and the sound is, too. Not for the faint of heart. “is another big, driving and fun cut. Dave show a lot of attitude in the vocals. Full scale, rocking blues done in Dave’s inimitable style. Recorded in the studio with Soule and Boyd is the next cut “How Am I Doing?”

“Pocket Full Of Dust” Recorded live at The Robin’s Nest with Dave Moore on drums and Huenerberg on bass is a pretty little slow blues with emotional vocals from Fields along with a more restrained guitar, well, at least for Dave that is. The next two songs hearken back to the great Jimi Hendrix. “Hey Joe” and “The Star Spangled Banner/Hey Joe Reprise” and also come from The Robin’s Nest Show. “Hey Joe” is a fantastic cover with some of Hendrix bells and whistles and some of Dave’s own magic. The guitar work is impeccable and the vocals are full of grit and guts. This is one of my all time favourite covers of this song. Next up we have some more emulation of Hendrix with some more of Fields originality thrown in. It’s not an exact copy of Hendrix in Woodstock. And then he closes with a reprise of “Hey Joe.” What’s not to like? I was exhausted after these two songs!

Dave gives us a special original next. “New York City Nights” could be a Sinatra or Tony Bennett number. Suave and cool jazz vocals, tasteful jazz guitar, expressive and fun lyrics and a slick but cool production. Dave really shows us some great chops and variety here. And it’s just a duo in the studio with Dave making all the band sounds and guitar and Gary Oleyar on strings. Really cool and a load of fun! He closes with one recorded live at Al Weber’s studio with the same foursome as before called “L.E.S. Hoedown.” It’s blue grass meets Dave Fields with more energy than ComEd and ConEd distribute together in a year. Cowboy junkie music because any cowboy in a hoedown would need lots of pharmaceuticals to dance to this one. Dave shows he can play with reckless abandon and have fun in so doing.

I loved this new CD. Dave shows us blues, rock and jazz with a lot of funk and all sort of other great stuff whipped into the mix. Dave’s fans will like this, perhaps his most ambitious album to date. Those new to Dave will hear what he’s all about and learn to appreciate what a great songwriter, guitar player, singer and performer he is. Surrounded by an assortment of great musicians in small ensemble formats, this is a superb album that will garner attention and recognition during the awards seasons.

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 – 8 of 8 


northbound cd imageNorthbound Acoustic Blues Band – Wish I Was Home

www.northbound.org.uk

Self Release

11 songs – 44 minutes

Despite the occasional dip in popularity, the British and Irish love affair with the blues shows no signs of abating. By far the most popular style on this side of the pond today is the guitar-led, overdriven blues-rock of bands like The Nimmo Brothers and the Laurence Jones Band, following the lineage originally established by the likes of Eric Clapton, Rory Gallagher and Jeff Beck in the late-1960s. But acoustic blues has long held a special place in the hearts of Celtic and Saxon blues lovers, originally inspired by the first visits of Big Broonzy and Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee in the 1950s. Indeed, when Muddy Waters first came to the UK in 1958, audiences were taken aback by his use of an electric guitar. Of course, when he returned a year or two later, this time with an acoustic guitar in hand, he discovered that his earlier tour had kick-started the electric blues boom in the UK and the same audiences now wanted to hear his power-driven classics. Today, modern masters like Ian Siegal and Mark Harrison keep the acoustic flag waving proudly and the mighty Chris Corcoran plays his wonderful swing blues and R’n’B on an old 1950’s acoustic Broadway guitar to which he has attached a pick-up.

Northbound are a four-piece acoustic blues band based in the North West of England featuring Pete Barlow on vocals, Marc Ellison on guitar, Matt Timms on harmonica and Chris Bingham on up-right bass. Wish I Was Home is their debut album and contains more than enough to suggest a bright future for the band. All 11 songs were written or co-written by Ellison, with Barlow, Timms and Lynn Ellison also picking up co-writing credits. Neatly avoiding standard 12-bar progressions as a rule, Bingham’s bass and Ellison’s primarily strummed guitar lay down a series of deep grooves over which Timms’ harmonica is able to weave in and out of Barlow’s vocals lines.

Barlow’s vocals carry some of the threat and rage of a Lee Brilleaux, which probably works better on the riff-based tracks such as “Weep And Worry”, the upbeat shuffle of “Drink Away My Blues” or the stomping “Never Been To Mississippi”. Although, having said that, the gospel-influenced slide-driven ballad “When I Cry”, is one of the highlights of the album.

Timms takes the majority of the solos as well as providing licks and fills throughout the verses. Ellison’s guitar is primarily used for rhythm but his slide playing in particular is highly enjoyable (especially on “Credit Card Blues”).

Lyrically, Northbound address traditional blues themes of love lost and won, as well as simple lust. Sometimes, the lyrics can jar, for example in the minor key “She Moves” where the deliberate choice not the rhyme the verse couplets lends a slightly discordant air to the song. But this is a pretty minor observation.

Overall, Wish I Was Home is a very impressive debut from Northbound. If you like a modern take on acoustic blues, “Wish I Was Home” is well worth investigating.

Reviewer Rhys Williams lives in Cambridge, England, where he plays blues guitar when not holding down a day job as a technology lawyer or running around after his children. He is married to an American, and speaks the language fluently, if with an accent.


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 Featured Blues Interview – Big Jay McNeely 

JAY MCNEELY PHOTO 1Let’s face it – rock-n-roll music has undergone a number of antiseptic changes since its wild-and-wooly birth back in the early 1950s.

Where once rock-n-roll was edgy, free-wheeling, unpredictable and downright raucous, the music is much safer and much more pasteurized these days and can heard as background Muzick in corporate boardrooms, while also used to hawk your favorite beverage in television commercials.

…boring.

To enter a time machine and experience a brief glimpse of what the true power of rock-n-roll was all about during its formative days, all you have to do is gaze at the album cover of legendary saxophone player Big Jay McNeely’s latest album, Blowin’ Down The House – Big Jay’s Latest & Greatest (Cleopatra Blues).

There, McNeely is pictured in the early heyday of Rock-n-roll, laying on his back on the bandstand, beads of sweat rolling off his forehead as he blows his ass off on his saxophone, in front of an eager bunch of wide-eyed greasers who are losing their minds at the sheer power of it all.

That, my friends, is what rock-n-roll is supposed to be all about.

“That was what it was all about. What that was all about at the time is kind of summed up in that picture. That picture where I’m lying on stage, playing on my back in front of all those white kids. That’s the greatest rock-and-roll picture there is … everybody included. That’s what rock-and-roll was all about back then,” McNeely recently said.

McNeely has certainly made a name for himself over the course of the past six-plus decades playing the tenor saxophone and even though he’s approaching 90 years of age, he is still the ‘King of the Honkers.’

And as mentioned above, McNeely – who was one of the biggest R&B/early rock-n-roll stars of the 1950s – also has a new album currently out.

“It’s called Blowin’ Down The House – Big Jay’s Latest & Greatest (Cleopatra Blues). It’s a real great album. You know, Tina Turner did ‘What’s Love Got To Do With it?” Well, we have a song called, “Love Will Never Fail,” which is like an answer for that song, like ‘love has everything to do with it.’ It’s a real great tune,” McNeely said. “And then, another tune is called, “Love Is Stronger Than Hurt.” It’s like protest, like marching in the streets in 1965. It’s got like a Motown sound to it. Then we’ve got songs like “I’ve Been Mistreated,” and “My Love Never Ended,” “You Don’t Have To Go Home,” and a tune called “Party.” That’s on the A side of the album. On the B side is two songs that were in Gangster Squad (a 2013 movie featuring Sean Penn and Emma Stone). There’s also “Willie The Cool Cat” which they used in the movie Trumbo. Then there’s some of my other old classics on there, like “Rock Candy” and “Get On Up & Let’s Boogie.” So there’s six new sides (songs) and six classics on there. It’s on Cleopatra Records. They also did a little documentary on me, too. (Editor’s note: The promo that Cleopatra did on McNeely can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whAxAIR2MD4).

JAY MCNEELY PHOTO 2He was born Cecil James McNeely in Watts, California in 1927. The ‘Big Jay’ handle came several years after that, after McNeely had cut his teeth recording with the late, great Johnny Otis on a song called “Barrel House Stomp.” Ralph Bass – who was working A&R for Savoy Records at the time, became so enamored with McNeely’s work that he signed him to a recording contract. But before he could record for Savoy, something had to be done about his name.

“Well, what happened was, Herman Lubinsky (head of Savoy Records) took a cab out to my house in Watts with a big cigar in his mouth and he asked me my name. I said, ‘Cecil.’ Well, he didn’t like that as far as publicity was concerned,” McNeely related. “He said, ‘What’s your nickname?’ And I said, ‘Jay.’ And so he said, ‘Big Jay.’ And that was that. That’s how I ended up being called Big Jay.”

Newly christened Big Jay, McNeely’s first splash at stardom came in 1949 with a high-energy cut called “Deacon’s Hop.” That song single-handedly gave rise to the frenetic, powerful and larger-than-life style of saxophone playing known as ‘honking.’ It also led to countless others trying to follow suit.

“Well, I was from a poor family in Watts, you know. A friend of mine asked me if I wanted to record and I said, ‘Yeah.’ But I didn’t know what I was going to record. The guy (Pete Kennard) had a little store in Watts and he gave me a record of Glen Miller with the drum … chee-chee, chee-chee (making a hi-hat sound). So I went home and wrote ‘Deacon’s Hop.” I went from studying classical music for a year (with Joseph T. Cadaly at RKO studios) to doing nothing but soul,” he said. “And the record sold. It was a big hit in 1949 and was all over the charts.”

Success came quickly for McNeely, who had really started his career in earnest just a year or so before “Deacon’s Hop” blew up.

“I was kind of surprised. But I also put all my heart, mind and soul into that song, so I was prepared for it to do well, because of how it was created,” he said. “But what was sad about it, while it was a huge hit (number one on the national charts), I really didn’t make any money off it.”

While “Deacon’s Hop” was responsible for filling up dance floors all across the country, McNeely quickly found out that being on the pioneering edge of this wild new art form called rock-n-roll was not without its share of controversy.

“The people here in Los Angeles wasn’t ready for the white kids to accept the black artists. I played on Central Avenue (in Los Angeles) back when Duke Ellington and Billy Eckstine and all the guys would come through,” McNeely said. “They couldn’t stay in the white hotels then, so they had to stay in the Dunbar Hotel. So I came up in that era … I graduated (high school) in 1946. People would see these huge crowds and think all the kids were on drugs. They said, ‘Oh those white kids were all dancing like Watusis!’ So they (the LAPD and LA County sheriff) ended up barring me from (playing in ) Los Angeles, because they couldn’t stop the white kids from coming to the concerts. So my manager ended up putting me with GAC (influential booking agency) and I was able to work at Birdland and Bandbox, all the big places. Working with certain agencies would let you play in certain places like that.”

Regardless of where he played, or who he played for, McNeely and his horn was always the toast of the town.

JAY MCNEELY PHOTO 3“The saxophone was really big back then. It was THE big thing. But it wasn’t long before they took the saxophone out and put the guitar in. That’s when they changed what they were calling it from rhythm-and-blues to rock-n-roll,” he said. “Then it started to be OK for the white kids, because you had Elvis and ‘Blue Suede Shoes” and Pat Boone and all of them. They got the guitar in there. You know for a long time, Dick Clark didn’t have no blacks on his show (American Bandstand). So now, when you turn on all the stations, all you hear is the guitar. You know, to get B.B. King to work Las Vegas back in the day, they changed calling it the blues to calling it folk music. It was like, ‘Oh, it’s folk music, it’s OK for him to go and play there now.'”

Looking back at things, McNeely – while most definitely not bitter about it – knows that the color barrier limited him from doing all that he could of with his music.

“Well, if I’d have been white, I’d have been as big as Elvis,” he said. “Elvis or any of them … but I was black. I don’t feel bad or I’m not angry about it, but it was a period of change and I was early on the scene and I was young.”

Even though he was young, McNeely was by no means shy or introverted. His stage show back then was truly something to behold. It was almost like combining gymnastics lessons with music class. McNeely would do somersaults, play on his back, play on top of the bar … all of that driving his crowd into a certified frenzy with each passing note he blew.

“As far as laying on the floor and playing, that was never really my idea. I was working in a little town called Clarksville, Tennessee and we was working at a small club upstairs and the people were not responding. I said, ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do.’ I didn’t change my clothes or nothing – at that time we all dressed sharp in tuxedos, because all the entertainers were proud to look sharp in those days. Anyway, I got on my knees and played and then laid on the floor and played and they went crazy,” he said. “So I said, ‘Let me try this again.’ The next night in Fort Worth, I got the same reaction. They went crazy. By the time I got back to Los Angeles, Joe Houston (tenor sax great) and them were already copying me, so I was trying to figure out something different to do. I was in a club called the Nightcat and this girl (exotic dancer) came out in florescent clothes. I said, ‘That’s it.’ So I painted my horn with florescent paint and when they turned the black light on, my horn would light up. After that, I started wearing white gloves, too. That was quite a scene … all you’d see were my gloves and my horn lit up on stage.”

Another trick that McNeely used to perform was to walk outside the club that he was playing in, while still blowing his horn. The crowd went nuts every time McNeely pulled this off, but there was one particular night in San Diego when McNeely had the attention of more than just the patrons inside the club.

“I have a wireless mic now and can go 400 yards and you can still hear me. At that time, I didn’t have a wireless and you could just hear me in your presence. So I’d get off the bandstand and walk through the audience. It was in a club in downtown San Diego and I walked out the door, into the street and was still playing. Well, I guess this cop was driving by and he called the police station and said there was some cat out in the street downtown blowing his horn,” said McNeely. “So the police came and arrested me (for disturbing the peace). It was so packed in the club that the band was still playing and didn’t know what happened to me. Somebody finally told them the police had arrested me and taken me away to the station. So my brother finally went down and bailed me out. When I appeared before the court, they fined me $50 and told me not to go out in the street anymore.”

Since 2000, McNeely’s original Conn saxophone has been displayed in the Experience Music Project in Seattle.

“That’s the one that I recorded “Deacon’s Hop” with. They gave me $10,000 for that horn. I wish I’d known that the guy spent $100 million on that museum. If I’d known that, I would have held out for some more money for that horn. They wanted me to ship the horn by FedEx, and I said, ‘No man.’ So they flew me up there with it,” laughed McNeely.

JAY MCNEELY PHOTO 4The popularity of “Deacon’s Hop” could have potentially set McNeely up with a huge nest egg at a young age, but that was not what ended up happening. What did end up happening was the financial windfall of “Deacon’s Hop” went in another direction.

“Yeah, I didn’t make anything off that. I didn’t go on the road and tour that song because this kid that discovered Ella Fitzgerald told me how these agencies overcharge the artists money and they have all these people on their payroll that are getting paid for doing nothing. The artists end up with nothing. Back then, artists in the south would be playing these clubs for $15 a night if they were lucky and the agencies and the managers would be getting all the money they should have been making,” he said. “So when Ralph Cooper (the original master of ceremonies at the Apollo) called me and wanted me to come to the Apollo Theater, I said, let my brother come, too (Robert McNeely, who played baritone sax). He said, ‘No, we just want you.’ So I didn’t go. But Savoy Records made all the money off that song … I think I ended up with $900 or something, total. They got all the publishing, too. All those record companies would always tell the artists back then that there was no money in publishing and then they’d keep the rights and they’d make all the money. That’s where the big money was, in publishing. And they charge the artist all the money for recording the tune in the first place. They give you a little advance and then the artist has to pay all the recording costs out of that advance and then the record company ends up owning the master, which the artist paid for in the first place. But being young back then … we didn’t know. Everybody just wanted to make a record and make a name for themselves.”

“Deacon’s Hop” was not the only mega-smash hit that McNeely was responsible for.

In 1959, he cut “Something On Your Mind” with Little Sonny Warner on vocals. That too, ended up hitting gold for McNeely.

“Well, I paid $25 for that tune to the guy that wrote it. He wrote it in my wife’s (the amazing Jackie Day, a dynamite vocalist) house. I knew it was going to be a hit. They put it on the radio first in San Francisco back in 1959 and it tore the country down,” McNeely said. “All these other artists ended up cutting that song … Bobby Marchan, Etta James, Albert King, Freddy Fender, Professor Longhair, B.B. King. If I’d have had an honest manager, who would have gotten what he was due, too, I could have went on and made some nice money back then, but I never did.”

It may seem like McNeely was born to play the sax and has been doing so ever since he was a wee lad. While that may be close to the truth, fact is, working a 9-to-5 job as a young man didn’t seem to suit McNeely, so he turned his energy and passion in a different direction.

“I was working on a job at Firestone Rubber Company and I just got tired. After about four hours, I said, ‘Man, there has to be a better way to make a living than working eight hours a day.’ So I rode uptown on a bike and got an alto that my cousin gave us and said, ‘I’m going to learn to play this thing.’ So I started taking lessons for 25 cents a lesson,” he said. “That’s what motivated me to get interested in music and the saxophone at 16-years-old.” Not very long after that, McNeely teamed up with high school buddies Sonny Criss (alto sax) and Hampton Hawes (piano) to form their first band.

McNeely ended up retiring from the music business for a couple of decades, starting in the mid-60s.

JAY MCNEELY PHOTO 5“I was baptized as a Jehovah’s Witness back when I was 12. What happened was, I started missing too many meetings and my spirituality started going down. So I quit music, went back home in the ’60s and started working a job for $3.50 an hour. I didn’t know anything but music at that point,” McNeely said. “Then I finally got into the post office and stayed there for 12 years. I also got back to the (Jehovah’s Witness) meetings and things.”

His hiatus from the music industry ended in the early 1980s with an offer to tour overseas. It was at the tail end of that decade when McNeely found himself smack-dab in the middle of a truly historical event.

“We was working at a club called Quasimodo in West Berlin (with Detroit Gary Wiggins) in 1989 on the night that the Berlin Wall came down,” he said. “I recorded a number over there in Germany called, “Big Jay Blows The Wall Down.” We drove to the gig, but we had to walk back to where we were staying, because the streets were so crowded. You couldn’t move. The wall went down and the people just fell out like crazy. It was amazing to be around such a part of history like that. It was really something else.”

McNeely has done so much and displayed such a high-level of excellence for so long that it might seem impossible for him to pick out a highlight of his career. However, he’s quick to offer up an evening back in 1987 as a time he will not soon forget.

“I was on the Grammys back then with B.B. King, Albert King, Dr. John, Robert Cray, Willie Dixon, Koko Taylor, Etta James and Junior Wells. That was the first year they ever had the blues as a part of the ceremony. Before you appear on the T.V. show, they have rehearsals where everybody does their act, so the producers will know what all will be happening for the broadcast. I said, Since we’re playing “Let The Good Times Roll,” why don’t I lay on the floor? You know, it’s a funny thing when you’re working with a bunch of artists and everyone wants to be the star. When I laid on the floor during rehearsal, the promoter said, ‘Yeah, keep that in.’ So during the performance, I had my wireless mic, and I came up to the stage from the audience. Gladys Knight and Whitney Houston and her mother and father were sitting up front on the end, so when I started up to the stage, I sat on Whitney Houston’s mother’s lap. Then I went up on stage and took my tux jacket off, kicked it into the audience and laid on the floor and played. When I did that, 6,000 people stood up and went crazy.”

He may roll around on the bandstand floor with less frequency these days than he did back in the early 1950s, and he may play with slightly less free-wheeling abandon than he used to, but Big Jay McNeely still retains the ability to wow and amaze today’s younger generation the same way he did back then.

“I did a concert in San Jose and was doing a sound check and one of the doo-wop groups on the show was there watching. When I walked up to sound check, I could feel they were thinking, ‘Oh, man, who’s this old black guy coming up here?’ I could see it in their faces. I said, “Give me something up-tempo. A-flat as fast as you can play.’ I kicked it off and started screamin’ on that horn. When we got ready to go downstairs and eat before the show, these young guys that were playing horn for one of the doo-wop groups that watched me soundcheck came up and said, ‘Man, what kind of a mouthpiece do you play?’ I said, ‘It ain’t the mouthpiece, man,'” laughed McNeely. “When you got that good, quality sound, I don’t care if it’s on the bass, drums, guitar or what, people will recognize it. Just because I lay on the floor, they may think that I don’t know what’s happening. I didn’t lay on the floor in the first place because it was my idea. I did it to try and entertain the people. That’s what it’s all about. But they may not know the musical background that I’ve had. That’s why I’m going to release an album of ballads, some really beautiful songs I’ve written. There’s this kid over in Cologne that I recorded with and we’re going to put out an album of those ballads called The Mellow Side Of Big Jay. That’s what I’m excited about these days. I want people to see my other side, the one that’s different from the screamin’ and honkin’ that they already know me for.”

Visit Jays’s website at: www.bigjaymcneely.com

Blues Blast Magazine Senior Writer Terry Mullins is a journalist, author and former record store owner whose personal taste in music is the sonic equivalent of Attention Deficit Disorder. Works by the Bee Gees, Captain Beefheart, Black Sabbath, Earth, Wind & Fire and Willie Nelson share equal space with Muddy Waters, The Staples Singers and R.L. Burnside in his compact disc collection. He’s also been known to spend time hanging out on the street corners of Clarksdale, Miss., eating copious amounts of barbecued delicacies while listening to the wonderful sounds of the blues.

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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. March 20 – Joe Tenuto, March 27 – The Brother Jefferson Band, Aptil 3 – The Joe Moss Band, aptil 10 – Roger “Hurricane” Wilson & The Hurricane Homeboys, April 17 – The Green McDonough Band, Aptil 24 – Chris Ruest Featuring Gene Taylor.

Additional ICBC partnered shows: March 16 – Marry Jo Curry hosts James Armstrong Presents At The Alamo, April 20 – The MOJOCATS host James Armstrong Presents At The Alamo.  For more information visit www.icbluesclub.org.

Ventura County Blues Society – Ventura, CA

(Camarillo, CA) – The 12th Annual Ventura County Blues Festival, a Spring SoCal Tradition, Keeping the Blues Alive for a dozen consecutive years, Saturday, April 29, at Studio Channel Islands, 2222 E. Ventura Blvd. Gates open 10:00 am, music starts 11:00 am. Tickets $30. (Pre-Sale), $40. (Gate). Kids 12 and under free with paid Adult. V.I.P. Tickets $125. (online only). Festival proceeds benefits Food Share and other Ventura County area charities (please bring food item to donate). Info: (805) 501-7122 or visit venturacountyblues.com

Performing this year: Two-time Grammy winners, Phantom Blues Band; award-winning singer/songwriter/guitar player, Debbie Davies; renowned guitarist, Chris Cain; RJ Mischo, considered by critics to be in the upper echelon of today’s great harp players and singers; Michael John And The Bottom Line, fronted by VCBS President/Festival founder, Michael John; purveyors of deep-seeded Blues and smoky Southern rock, Crooked Eye Tommy; Jim Gustin and Truth Jones, fronted by blues singer/guitarist Jim Gustin, and Jeri Goldenhar, a/k/a Truth Jones, who has a big voice to match her six-foot stature.

The Sacramento Blues Society – Sacramento, CA

The Sacramento Blues Society is hosting Kenny Neal and the Neal Family Band on March 31, 2017 at the new Burgers and Brew Station 1, West Sacramento, located at the foot of the I St Bridge from 7 PM to 10 PM.

$25 Public $20 SBS Members All Ages Food and Drink Available Wheelchair Accessible. www.sacblues.com

Central Iowa Blues Society – Des Moines, IA

Central Iowa Blues Society Announces Iowa Blues Hall Of Fame Class Of 2016. This year’s inductees include Ellis Kell, Tony Blew, Dan “DJ” Johnson, J C Anderson and Fletcher Henderson “Sonny” Lott.

Save the date for the Induction Ceremony to be held on April 8, 2017 at Noce’, 1326 Walnut St in Des Moines. The doors open and dinner provided by Flying Mango will start at 5:00 PM. IBHOF house band Sumpin Doo will perform at 6:00 PM with the ceremony at 6:30 PM and a Jam after the ceremony until 10:00 PM. Tickets will be available soon at Noce’ and Midwestix.

The nominated artist’s bios with additional info will follow and be posted at www.cibs.org and the CIBS Facebook page.

The Washington Blues Society – Seattle, WA

The Washington Blues Society’s annual Best of the Blues Awards returns to the Kirkland Performance Center on Sunday, April 9th to honor musicians and artists nominated by society members in 32 award categories. The 2017 BB Awards show features performances by select nominees and recognizes new inductees into the Washington Blues Society Hall of Fame.

The nominees represent the best blues performers throughout the Pacific Northwest. Long-time favorites Brian Lee and the Orbiters return with five nominations, including Best Blues Band, Best Performer and Best Songwriter. Fresh from their 2017 International Blues Challenge performances in Memphis, Polly O’Keary and the Rhythm Method garnered five nominations, including Best Band, Electric Guitarist and Female Vocalist of the Year. Stanislove, the blues society’s representative at the 2017 International Blues Challenge is also up for a Solo/Duo BB Award. First-time nominees include vocalist Sheri Roberts Greimes, guitarist Brett “Bad Blood,” Benton, Hammond B3 master Joe Doria and Kenmore’s Capps Club, home of the Washington Blues Society’s free Blues Bash held on the second Tuesday each month. More information: www.wablues.org


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