Issue 11-20 May 18, 2017

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Cover photo by Bob Kieser © 2017


 In This Issue 

Terry Mullins has our feature interviews with British bluesman, Matt Schofield. We have 10 Blues reviews for you this week including new music from Quinn Sullivan, Mark Searcy, Studebaker John, The Knickerbocker All-Stars, Beth Garner, Big Joe Fitz, Blue Cat Groove, Benny and the FlyByNiters, Starlite Campbell Band and Paul Barry Blues Band.

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


 From The Editor’s Desk 

Hey Blues Fans,

Blues Blast Magazine is pleased to have a new sponsor, Delaney Guitars. Mike Delaney makes quality custom built guitars and many Blues artists love them. They have built custom signature model guitars for Samantha Fish, Tommy Castro, Paul Nelson, Mike Zito, Albert Castiglia, Bobby Messano, Tom Holland and Danielle Nichole. Delaney guitars is celebrating 14 years in business with an anniversary sale through the end of May. Check out their website and order one of their custom guitars by May 30th and receive 14% off. Visit their website at www.delaneyguitars.com or click on their ad below in this issue.

Also, we are excited to announce a new advertising option. We now offer custom individual “Blues Blasts” for artists, venues, festivals, labels or publicists to promote your artists, music and performances.

These individual custom email marketing blasts can be created by your designer with your text, logos, videos, music, links and photos and we will blast them to all 36,000 of our opt-in subscribers all over the globe. Or we can design them for you.

The cost is just $225 if customer supplies HTML code or $300 if we design the blast for you. This is a perfect way to promote your Blues event. For more information please email  me at: bob@bluesblastmagazine.com or call 309 267-4425. For information on all of our affordable and effective advertising options and rates visit http://www.bluesblastmagazine.com/options-and-rates/

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser


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 2017 Blues Music Awards Winners 

Acoustic Album: The Happiest Man in the World – Eric Bibb

Acoustic Artist: Doug MacLeod

Album: Porcupine Meat – Bobby Rush

B.B. King Entertainer: Joe Bonamassa

Band: Tedeschi Trucks Band

Best Emerging Artist Album: Tengo Blues – Jonn Del Toro Richardson

Contemporary Blues Album: Bloodline – Kenny Neal

Contemporary Blues Female Artist: Susan Tedeschi

Contemporary Blues Male Artist: Kenny Neal

Historical: Chicken Heads: A 50-Year History of Bobby Rush – Bobby Rush (Omnivore Recordings)

Instrumentalist-Bass: Biscuit Miller

Instrumentalist-Drums: Cedric Burnside

Instrumentalist-Guitar: Joe Bonamassa

Instrumentalist-Harmonica: Kim Wilson

Instrumentalist-Horn: Terry Hanck

Koko Taylor Award: Diunna Greenleaf

Pinetop Perkins Piano Player: Victor Wainwright

Rock Blues Album: Let Me Get By – Tedeschi Trucks Band

Song: “Walk a Mile in My Blues” written by David Duncan, Curtis Salgado & Mike Finigan and performed by Curtis Salgado

Soul Blues Album: The Beautiful Lowdown – Curtis Salgado

Soul Blues Female Artist: Mavis Staples

Soul Blues Male Artist: Curtis Salgado

Traditional Blues Album: Can’t Shake This Feeling – Lurrie Bell

Traditional Blues Male Artist: Bob Margolin

Congratulations to the winners!


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 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 10 

quinn sullivan cd imageQuinn Sullivan – Midnight Highway

Mascot Label Group/Provogue Records PRD 7518-2

13 songs — 59 minutes

www.quinnsullivanmusic.com

Guitar slinger Quinn Sullivan is barely 18 years old, but he’s already proven himself to be a giant in the world of blues, and this album should go a long way toward convincing any doubters that Buddy Guy was right when he said: “Players like Quinn come along once in a lifetime.”

Born in New Bedford, Mass., in 1999, Sullivan took his first guitar lesson at age three and was proficient enough three years later to debut his talents to the world as a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. By the time he was eight, Guy invited him on stage to trade eights during a concert held in what was once the world capital for the whaling industry.

By the time he was 11, he was a veteran of The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show and Jimmy Kimmel Live!, had shared the stage with B.B. King and had served a guest artist on Guy’s Grammy-nominated Skin Deep album and as the opening act during one of Buddy’s East Coast summer tours. Quinn’s first solo album, Cyclone, hit the streets in 2011, followed by Getting There in 2013.

Those works already displayed six-string talents and sensibilities far beyond Sullivan’s tender age, separating himself by light years from the many teenage shredders who’ve debuted to acclaim in recent decades. While many of the others hit a plateau and remain there, Quinn’s progressed strongly as a singer and songwriter in the four years since his most recent release.

Sullivan co-wrote three of the tunes on Midnight Highway, which was recorded in Nashville with Tom Hambridge. A Grammy-winning producer, drummer and songsmith, Hambridge supervised the work in addition to handling percussion duties and writing the nine other originals that compose the bulk of the disc. They’re joined by an all-star lineup of Reese Wynans and Tony Harrell on keyboards and Michael Rhodes and Tommy MacDonald on bass with Rob McNelley and Bob Britt on guitars. Sarah Hambridge provides harmony vocals and Zach Allen digital programming on one cut each.

A sustained solitary guitar note introduces the romantic rocker “Something For Me,” which opens the set. Quinn’s singing is electronically altered at first, but quickly gives way to his natural voice — strong, clear and mid-range. His guitar solos feature single-note runs, holding back on psychedelia until the closing chords.

Sullivan’s back in control for a pleasant medium-tempo love song, “Tell Me I’m Not Dreaming,” delivered atop a syncopated drum pattern with a lush pop feel, before the bluesy cover tune, “Midnight Highway,” a gentle ballad puts his pipes on display as it conveys the message that Quinn’s got to keep moving forward, willing to share the world with his lady if she wants to come along for the ride.

The funky “Crazy Into You” follows before a pair of tunes on which Sullivan shares credit. The acoustic “Eyes For You” keeps the message going forward as Quinn shows takes a break from the blues rock that preceded it and shows off his fingerpicking talent. The driving “Lifting Off” returns to the previous format before things quiet down for “She Gets Me” and heat up dramatically again for “Rocks.”

The Sullivan-penned “Going” is another acoustic ballad. It gives way to the medium-fast shuffle “Graveyard Stone” before the tempo changes again for the lush ballad, “Big Sky.” The only cover in the set — a straightforward take on George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” — shows that Quinn can hold his own on a classic before showing off his immense guitar skills on the eight-minute instrumental “Buffalo Nickel” to bring the action to a close.

Available through most major retailers, Midnight Highway is well-modulated throughout, and Sullivan is in complete control. If you’re into blues rock, you’ll like this one. Quinn’s star is already high in the sky, but it’s definitely on the ascendant. One criticism, however: This is the first CD I’ve even encountered that’s of normal size east-to-west but of equal size north-to-south, making it oversized by more than a half-inch and thereby difficult to place within a collection.

Reviewer Marty Gunther has lived a blessed life. His first experience with live music came at the feet of the first generation of blues legends at the Newport Folk Festivals in the 1960s. A former member of the Chicago blues community, he’s a professional journalist and blues harmonica player who co-founded the Nucklebusters, one of the hardest working bands in South Florida.


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 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 10 

mark searcy cd imageMark Searcy – Strawberry Jam 1975

www.marksearcy.com

Moose Milk Music

10 songs time-46:28

Arkansas native and San Antonio, Texas based singer-guitarist Mark Searcy Middleton offers up music on this, his ninth release, that is an amalgamation of various influences. Those influences include rock, funk, fusion, blues, R&B, jazz and who knows what else. While the singing is sufficient along with the writing, the crux of this biscuit is Mark’s way with his guitar skills as he takes us along for the ride incorporating rock, blues, fusion, slide, jazz and more into his playing. Along with his solos, the punchy one-man multi-tracked horn section of Al Gomez and the keyboard skills of Steve Chase and Buck Thomas, the instrumental portions of this CD are a thing to behold. Not to forget the interchangeable rhythm section featuring various players. My favorites are the three diverse instrumental tracks. Add to that Candice Sanders and her soulful gem of a voice, whether doing multi-tracked backing vocals or her lone duet with Mark.

Mark handles slide and rhythm guitar on my favorite vocal track “I Don’t Feel So Good”, a chugging piece of musical goodness featuring some “tinkly” piano courtesy of Steve Chase and the haunting voice of Candice Sanders following the lead vocal at every twist and turn. Candice pours on the soulfulness as she duets on the slow-burning “When Time Stands Still”. The lovely guitar soloing and late night jazzy piano makes this another standout track.

Mark’s interpretation of Debbie Davies instrumental “Holdin’ Court” sounds like a track from later day spiritual Carlos Santana. The soaring guitar lines reach for the heavens over the requisite percussion fest. This song is almost a religious experience. The second instrumental “Black Diamond” begins as a slow, moody ground swell of guitar and electric piano that builds into an intense guitar display. This one brings to light the hint of Jeff Beck early smoldering fusion music. The last instrumental “Cassiopeia” starts off with a brief guitar crescendo before leading into heavy crunch-time Jeff Beck territory before tagging the tune with a snippet of Martin Barre (of Jethro Tull) style clever guitar gymnastics. Dang this guy Mark knows he can play him some geetar, Boy Howdy!

After a short acoustic intro, “Strawberry Jam 1975” turns morphs into a Doobie Brothers-meets-The Allman Brothers twin lead guitar dual between Mark and himself. Neat trick. He builds and trades off solos like The Allman’s patented. The narrator recounts his first kiss and ensuing relationship with his girl. Funky horns, Candice’s multi-tracked backing vocals, punchy horn section along with the ever present guitar and slide guitar goodness cap off things with “Fast Road To Your Grave”.

The singing and songwriting are good, but it’s the musicianship that raises the playing field. This isn’t music that is easily categorized, but whatever you want to call it, it’s a guaranteed enjoyable good time.

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


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 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 10 

studebaker john cd imageStudebaker John – Songs For None

Avanti Music

www.studebakerjohn.com

13 tracks

Studebaker John and the Hawks. Studebaker John and the Maxwell Street Kings. Studebaker John with Mud Morganfield and others. And now, Studebaker John by himself with a baker’s dozen of original songs with Mr. Grimaldi playing solo acoustic guitar and his harp. It’s a change but it’s very interesting and well done.

“Sometimes I Wonder” starts off the CD. It’s a mournful cut with some slick harp and guitar picking. “Nothing but…” is a cool mostly instrumental number with a few shout outs where John blows harp and picks out some nice stuff. The dark “Dangerous World” is a swampy sort of Delta sounding tune with echoed vocals adding to the mystery and warnings of danger. “Pain” is a thoughtful cut with beautiful guitar picking. “Nothing Remains the Same” is a slow and remorseful number as is the following “Lonely Day” and “Between Nothing and Eternity.”

“Will You Be My Angel” stays with the slow tempo and asks for his angel to give him strength and fly him away. “Sometimes” is another pensive, mostly instrumental cut with good harp and guitar work. “Stolen Time” keeps up the theme and he slides sweetly on the fret board here. “I Still Won” is a little more upbeat and has a more strident approach. “Junkyard Preacher” has a bigger sound with greasy harp and a spiritual sort of sound to it. “All My Life” completes the set and remains remorseful and mournful with harp wailing and the guitar pensively being picked.

I saw John do his acoustic set at Chicago’s House of Blues with him and a drummer. It was cool. He did some of his old stuff and many of the tunes from the new CD. I enjoyed it and the CD. If you want to visit with a different side of this great artist then pick this up. It’s a cool album and John has written and performed some great new songs. It’s a little down and dark in theme but it’s worth a spin or two!

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 – 4 of 10 

knickerbocker all-stars cd imageThe Knickerbocker All-Stars – Texas Rhody Blues

JP Cadillac Records

http://knickerbockerallstars.com/

13 tracks/49:13

This third project celebrating the former Knickerbocker Cafe, now the non-profit Knickerbocker Music Center in Westerly, RI, continues the legacy that gave birth to many of the outstanding musicians from that area, including the impressive list of alumni from Roomful of Blues. Focusing on the Texas blues tradition, it offers an intoxicating blend of horn-driven arrangements on shuffles and jump blues, seasoned with expressive vocals and top-notch guitar playing.

And how can you go wrong with Duke Robillard, Jimmie Vaughan, Monster Mike Welch, and Sugar Ray Rayford leading the way! Long-time fans will recognize many of the returning members, with Doug James on baritone & tenor saxophone, Rich Lataille on tenor & alto sax, Carl Querforth on trombone, Doc Channonhouse on trumpet, Al Copley on piano, Brad Hallen on standup & electric bass, and Mark Teixeira on drums plus Brian Templeton and Willie J. Laws on lead vocals. Two veteran piano players, Bruce Bears and Matt McCabe, make their first appearances in the series.

The party starts with a driving rhythm behind some of Welch’s exemplary guitar work on “Texas Cadillac”. Then Rayford’s powerhouse voice and the horns enter the fray, creating an incendiary mix. “I Still Love You Baby” takes a slighter slow pace without sacrificing of the energy as Rayford delivers an ardent appeal for love. He delivers forthright testimony on “Respirator Blues,” a standout slow blues track. When his time comes, Welch builds a mesmerizing solo over the riffing horn section.

Robillard and Vaughan are paired on three tracks starting with “Going To The Country,” a Dave Bartholomew song done in a solid shuffle groove that meshes perfectly with Robillard’s gritty vocal. Roy Milton’s “I Have News For You” is a swinging affair while “Blood Stains On The Wall” is a sinister tale with tough interplay from the two guitarists.

The lone instrumental, “Ain’t That A Dandy,” gives Welch and Copley room to stretch out. Channonhouse blows some majestic trumpet fills on “I Got News For You,” with Laws baring his soul. He is back on “You Got Me Licked,” adopting a disheartened attitude over a cheating woman. But he vows that she will end paying the price on the gripping “Reap What You Sow”. Welch once again impresses with a solo mining the depths of emotion. Laws’ seamless vocal captures the sound of Eddie ‘Cleanhead” Vinson on “I Trusted You Baby,” another cautionary tale with Lataille on alto sax.

The disc includes a one minute segment of the legendary T-Bone Walker talking about his life and career. To honor his acclaimed legacy, the band closes things with a spirited version of one of Walker’s classics, “Tell Me What ‘s The Reason”. The rhythm section is locked in, the horns drive the message home underneath a dramatic reading from Laws – and Welch makes it clear that he is well-versed in Walker’s immaculate phrasing. A spellbinding romp that seamlessly flows from one highlight to the next, make sure that you get a copy of this – it comes highly recommended!

Reviewer Mark Thompson lives in Florida, where he is enjoying life without snow. He is the President of the Board of Directors for the Suncoast Blues Society and the past president of the Crossroads Blues Society of Northern Illinois. Music has been a huge part of his life for the past fifty years – just ask his wife!.


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 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 10 

beth garner cd imageBeth Garner – Snake Farm

Self Release

www.bethgarner.com

7 tracks / 26:19

There are no hard and fast rules abut how the blues should sound, and aside from a few basic structures and patterns, the limits of the genre are only set by an artist’s imagination and attitude. Beth Garner is not short on either of these attributes, and her third album, Snake Farm, is both unique and adventurous. These results are possible because of Garner’s personality and energy, as well as her prowess on lead and slide guitars.

Beth started her musical career in Austin, Texas, and ten years ago she moved to a small town to the east of Nashville. From there Garner made her way into Music City to sing and play her ferocious lead guitar at the bars on Lower Broadway, and this record is evidence of the progress she has made over the years. Snake Farm was recorded “mostly live” at Slack Key Studios in Woodbine, Tennessee (south of the Gulch), and the results are vibrant and fresh.

Beth Garner and Randy Kohns were producers for this project, and joining Garner in the studio were Steve Forrest on bass, Wes Little behind the drum kit, Rory Hoffman on saxophone, keyboards, and rhythm guitar, as well as backing vocalists Angela Primm and Gale Mayes. This is a short album, coming in at a bit over 26 minutes, but Beth wrote six of the seven tracks and they all tell interesting stories. For example the opener, “Alright by Me (Mr. Fisher),” is the tale of a woman who pines for Mr. Fisher, and the lively vocals are set to a laid back (yet funky) rhythm and blues score. Edgy guitar leads, honking baritone sax, and pretty harmonies complement Beth’s unique style.

The listener never has the opportunity to get bored with Snake Farm, as each song is completely different than the others. “Backroads Freddie” is a swamp rocker with Austin-style guitar leads, slightly distorted vocals, and muffled harmonica. Garner swaps solos with Hoffman’s keys and one thing is for sure when this is all done – Freddie is a player! There is a bit of gospel doom too, as Garner uses “Drop Down” to warn about heavy stuff that is coming down (book of Revelation style). There is less instrumentation here, as the guitar carries the simple melody with accompaniment from Hoffman’s sax and the abundant vocal harmonies from Primm and Mayes.

The mood picks up with “Used to Be,” a hot shuffle with bouncing bass, heavy slide guitar and tight harp accents. The message here is that maybe it is better to not settle for an old flame that didn’t work out the first time. In a similar dysfunctional relationship theme, “Ramblin Man” is about falling for a musician that just won’t be sticking around. This is a gnarly piece of funk that feels like a bass and drum jam that has a song breaking out on top of it.

Then there is the title track, “Snake Farm,” which altogether different. This song is very entertaining, and Garner does a stand-up job of delivering the lyrics in a deadpan (almost spoken-word) manner. This is swamp rock, with cool reverb-soaked guitar providing the jangly leads, and Ray Wylie Hubbard’s lyrics are priceless. I found myself wondering if this is based on the Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo in New Braunfels, TX. If so, this was a nasty place 40 years ago, and this song perfectly captures the vibe.

The seventh song is the closer, “Wish I Was,” where Beth yearns for how things were in the good old days. With its hammering beat and electric piano, it brings to mind the Read Hot Chili Peppers’ version of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground.” As with the rest of the album, the sound is clear with a good mix, and the live recording vibe is genuine. I imagine they have been performing these songs live for a while, which is great preparation for the studio.

Snake Farm is a short but very satisfying album, and Beth Garner has shown that she is quite a songwriter. The lyrics are funny and clever, and her musical arrangements are not built around the chords that everybody else relies on. Her website only shows one upcoming gig (Plano, Texas in June), but hopefully more dates will be added soon, as Beth’s music is a real treat and it would be cool to see her show!

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


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 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 10 

big joe fits cd imageBig Joe Fitz – Shoulda Known Better

www.bigjoefitz.com

Self-release

10 songs – 43 minutes

For many years, Big Joe Fitz has been one of the leading figures of the Hudson Valley music scene in New York as both a radio presenter and a musician. His first CD, This Is Big, was released back in 2010. His latest release, Shoulda Known Better, follows a similar formula to This Is Big, being a collection of blues and soul covers (some well-known classics, some obscure), played with deep emotional honesty combined with an easy-going vitality.

Fitz sings and adds harmonica and acoustic guitar to a few tracks. Primarily, however, his voice is backed by The Lo-Fi’s, an absolutely belting band featuring Robert Bard on bass, Mark Dziuba on guitar and Chris Bowman on drums. Jumpin’ Jack Strobel adds piano to “Today I Started Loving You Again” and Jeremy Baum contributes organ and keys to four other songs. Together, the musicians lay down a variety of grooves over which Fitz’s fine vocals reveal differing degrees of love, pain, anger and vulnerability.

The album opens with a jazzy, swinging cover of the Blenders’ wonderful 1953 hit, “Don’t Mess Around With Love”, sounding like something Lynwood Slim would have loved to have done, before moving on to Willie Nelson’s “Funny How Time Slips Away”, which is re-invented as a funky soul number with a fine harp solo from Fitz. Shoulda Known Better contains two tracks by the legendary Bobby “Blue” Bland, “Members Only” and “I Wouldn’t Treat A Dog (The Way You Treated Me)”, which is quite apt. Both Bland and Fitz successfully straddle the line between blues and soul; and both focus on the song rather than on the solos that can be fitted between the verses. That said, Fitz’s version of Sugar Ray Norcia’s “Feeling Blue” features an introduction of just harmonica and guitar that is quite delightful.

Toussaint McCall’s 1967 hit, “Nothing Takes The Place Of You” is given a relatively faithful reading, with lovely backing from Baum’s organ and keys. Arthur Alexander’s “You Better Move On”, however, is given a rumba treatment and contains one of Fitz’s better vocal performances on an album full of fine vocal performances.

Rick Nelson’s “Lonesome Town” is re-invented as a soul ballad with heavily tremolo’ed guitar, while BB King’s “Never Make Your Move Too Soon” (slightly re-titled here) is played as a gentle, swinging, jazz-tinged blues with top drawer guitar from Dziuba. The album’s final song, Merle Haggard’s “Today I Started Loving You Again” (also covered, of course, by Bobby “Blue” Bland) is also given a thorough going-over, re-appearing as a harp and piano-led blues shuffle.

If one were looking to nitpick, it could be said that some of the tracks are incredibly well-known and have already been covered by many different artists and that a few originals might have helped to spice up the album. That however would rather miss the point, which is that Shoulda Known Better is a collection of songs that Big Joe Fitz and the Lo-Fi’s regularly play live and in any event nearly of the better-known songs on the album are given a new lease of life by the inventive readings.

Overall, Shoulda Known Better is a little gem of an album, with great performances of a variety of great songs, all approached with wit, imagination and respect. Highly recommended.

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 – 7 of 10 

blue cat groove cd imageBlue Cat Groove – Unconditional

Self-Produced/Blue Cat Groove Music

www.bluecatgroove.com

CD: 10 Songs, 29:45 Minutes

Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues Rock

Ever heard the saying, “It takes money to make money?” One can’t make a Martin Scorsese film on a Kerry Conran budget (he directed Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.) Nor can one produce a Buddy Guy CD on a budget such as Central New England’s Blue Cat Groove might have had for their new album, Unconditional. What it lacks in studio polish and slick editing, it makes up in heart. It’s no wonder that this quartet loves blues and soul the way a cat loves a toy full of “nip.” Not only that, but they play halfway-decent guitar and can lay down an intro with more notes than Walter Trout can fathom. The lead vocals might be dry, but a lot of people like their wine that way – otherwise Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon wouldn’t be so popular. It’s never too late to achieve your dreams of playing the blues, as these Cats know well.

The “About Us” section of their website states: “Blue Cat Groove is an award-nominated ‘rhythm and blues band touring planet Earth and elsewhere!’ with the right combination of ‘A little rhythm, a little blues and a whole lotta soul!’ [It’s] led by Samuel Bowen who has toured, recorded and performed for over twenty-five years taking his music from the United States to the shores of Ireland. Sam, an accomplished guitarist singer/songwriter, has had his music nominated for awards from Massachusetts to Nashville, Tennessee.” Does that sound a bit sparse? Look on their homepage for a link to my fellow writer Marty Gunther’s review of their debut offering, Too Much Talk. Hopefully, as they gain more publicity, they’ll add to their bio and list of accolades. One of the best features of their site is a selection of tunes to peruse.

The Cats are Samuel Bowen on lead guitar, Kimberly Hodgens-Smith on lead and background vocals, Vinnie DePolo on percussion and drums, and Jeff “The Dr.” Oosterman on bass.

This CD’s opening number is undoubtedly its best, with a guitar intro that’ll intrigue listeners.

Track 01: “Where Does the Heart Go” – Suave and catchy, track number one has a swinging beat and a touch of brass in Kimberly Hodgens-Smith’s vocals. “I’m only flesh and blood. That’s all I am,” she states matter-of-factly. “That’s all there is, but it’s more than enough, for I’m wired – wired for love. Put your ear to my chest and you can hear it…” Yow! One of the best parts of this tune is how much oomph Jeff “The Dr.” Oosterman puts into his bass. Sometimes, on other songs and with other artists, it fades into the background. Not here, and that’s a wonderful thing.

Ready for some low-key blues rock? Give the Blue Cat Groove an Unconditional spin or two.

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 – 8 of 10 

benny and the fly by nighters cd imageBenny and the FlyByNiters – Watch Yourself

Rhythm Bomb Records

https://www.facebook.com/BennyandtheFlybyniters/

CD: 11 Songs, 33:52 Minutes

Styles: Horn Blues, Ensemble Blues, Soul and Jazz-Influenced Blues

A hotel commercial from the 1990’s advertised, “Some people don’t want turn-down service or a posh restaurant with arrogant waiters. They just want a good meal, and to get away from the job for a while.” This sentiment, if broadened, applies to many fans’ taste in music. They don’t want over-produced sound or vocalists who overreach their natural range. They just want some good blues – and to get away from the job (or life) for a while. That’s just what Melbourne, Australia’s Benny and the FlyByNiters have to offer. They have a lot of pep, but make sure not to fly too high when it comes to blowing people away with their instruments. Neither do they try any ostentatious tricks on vocals or lyrics. Their blues is like beef barley vegetable soup: warm and hearty. Add a few hot-saucy horns, and you’d better Watch Yourself.

According to their bio via Rhythm Bomb Records, “Benny and the FlyByNiters have been a stalwart of the Melbourne roots music scene since 1999. From humble beginnings playing local bars and pubs, to tours and festivals in the USA and Europe, the FlyByNiters have made their mark. Backing the likes of Lazy Lester, Big Jay McNeely, and Ska/Bluebeat great Owen Gray, to name a few, Benny & the FlyByNiters have always been the go-to band in Australia for your Rhythm & Blues fix.”

This swinging sextet has Benny Peters on vocals and guitar; Attilio Vecchio on double bass; Andrew Lindsay on drums; James Black on piano, and Alex Howroyd and Dean Hilson on sax. On eleven original tracks, they’ll bring a bounce to one’s step and a good mood to one’s ears.

The following three tracks are even catchier than seasonal allergy attacks, and that’s saying a lot.

Track 03: “Take Off Mama” – The first two words of the title are a descriptor and an order at the same time. Our narrator keeps wondering about his errant lover: “I followed you to a place I don’t know. I saw him standing there – another man. Oh, you’re a take-off mama. Now I know.” The best thing besides Benny’s gritty guitar is the half-blunt, half-blasé way he says, “I’m mad” toward the end of the song. Warning to cheaters: Take off, and “you’d better stay gone.”

Track 06: “The Blues is a Feeling” – Every blues album needs at least one smooth, medium-tempo ballad, and Benny and his band deliver. The blues “can break a big man, and make a small man lose his mind.” Can one fight them with reason and logic? Nope: “Doesn’t matter what your mind is saying. Your heart will always know.” Check out that dual horn refrain that will make you want to play “air sax” along with Alex Howroyd and Dean Hilson.

Track 10: “Drink it Up” – Bluesin’ and boozin’ go hand in hand, but don’t bring your adult beverages on the dance floor! This number is a surefire way to get a crowd off their collective duff and on their feet. Not only that, but they might clap their collective hands, too. Yow!

Benny and the FlyByNiters may not break new ground here, but that’s a flaw so minuscule it’s nearly invisible. You better Watch Yourself, horn blues fans, or you’ll wear this CD out.

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 – 9 of 10 

starlite campbell band cd imageStarlite Campbell Band – Blueberry Pie

Supertone Records, LLP

http://music.starlite-campbell.com/

CD: 11 Songs, 48:36 Minutes

Styles: Americana, Folk, ‘70s-Influenced Blues, Contemporary Electric Blues Rock

On ABC, there’s a sitcom entitled Black-ish, about a upper-middle-class black family living in a classy neighborhood. Its patriarch, Dre Johnson, fears that his success has brought too much cultural assimilation into his household. Blueberry Pie, by the Starlite Campbell Band, might very well be called “Blues-ish.” It doesn’t have the traditional sound or songwriting wit of what most fans deem the blues, but neither are its eleven original songs free from any blues influence. They constitute an easy-listening, experimental hodgepodge of 1970’s funk, folk, Americana, and contemporary electric rock. The first and final tracks, “Walkin’ out the Door” and “Thrill You” (latter reviewed below), are its purest examples of blues. Even then, they aren’t the kind of tunes one would hear at a rowdy roadhouse. One might hear them on Sirius XM, but perhaps not on B.B. King’s Bluesville. Ever had an ice-cream sundae with tons of toppings piled on? It sure is delicious, but you might not be able to discern the hot fudge from the caramel and butterscotch.

Blueberry Pie is the Starlite Campbell Band’s third release, following Luxury in 2015 and Happiness in Halos in 2013. The cover art of that last album is a perfect motif for this quartet’s lighthearted, not-quite-whimsical style. It features a smiling rubber duckie wearing a black beret and sitting next to a bottle of Berberana Spanish wine (glass included). Translation? People are going to hear a little bit of everything listening to their music, but purists might decide there’s too much “cultural assimilation” going on in terms of genres and subgenres. Vocally, these two lie on the median strip: not too loud or soft, showy or bland, melodic or conversational.

Lead vocalists Suzy Starlite and Simon Campbell are from the Isle of Man, also called Manx (as in the cat breed) or Mann, located in the British Isles. Joining them are Steve Gibson on drums and percussion, and Jonny Henderson on Hammond organ and Wurlitzer electric piano. Special guest Danny Boy Sánchez is featured on harmonica.

This CD’s closer has a distinct possibility of making it into worldwide blues charts.

Track 11: “Thrill You” – With a slow-burning guitar intro perfect for a romantic evening, coupled with Jonny Henderson’s wry Hammond organ, this song will “Thrill You” if you’re into traditional offerings. It may not break a lot of new ground in terms of lyrics, but no matter. The sentiment here is more ancient than Cro-Magnon hominids: “Nobody told me, nobody told me. Addicted to mystery, the scent of you close to me. Gonna hold you, fulfill you, romance and thrill you on and on.” If no one dances to this number at live shows, they may as well be dead. Check out that wicked solo from Campbell in the middle.

Blueberry Pie has a lot of other “berries” mixed in with its blues, but it’s tasty nonetheless!

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 – 10 of 10 

paul berry blues band cd imagePaul Barry Blues Band – Talk is Cheap

Self-Produced

http://paulbarryblues.com

CD: 13 Songs, 55:40 Minutes

Styles: Blues Covers, Harmonica Blues, Ensemble Blues, Horn Blues

True story: Yours truly is trying to write a novel. When I mentioned its premise to a friend, he said, “That’s not a new idea.” I wanted to blurt, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is to come up with a new one?!” Only now, several weeks later, has it hit me – the final insight on why so many bands primarily play covers. I have no idea how difficult it is to come up with original music, especially in a genre where fans prefer classics. The very first CD of Minnesota’s Paul Barry Blues Band, Talk is Cheap, contains six original songs out of thirteen: not quite half, and that’s a pity. Their other offerings include Magic Sam’s “That’s Why I’m Crying,” “Telephone Blues” by George Smith and Sam Ling, and “Big Walter’s Boogie” from Walter Horton.

When it comes to debut albums, of which this is one, my good friend also told me, “No one has the right to criticize or judge you, because this is your first [project]!” Maybe not, but readers do have the right to give their honest opinion. Ms. Wetnight’s has three parts. 1) Paul Barry is an absolute bear on harmonica. What he does best, he does with the caliber of the best in the field. 2) Vocally, he sings no notes, but no one will care once they hear the terrific instrumentation. 3) No wonder Barry’s excellent ensemble has shared the stage with far more well-known artists.

On his webpage, Paul reveals how he got started in this particular genre, and why he continues: “In the 1980’s and 1990’s, I played in two Twin Cities blues bands: Dave McRae and Minnesota Blues Hall of Fame member Bobby Johnson and The Crowns. [While] playing with these bands, I had the opportunity to open up and play with a lot of great blues musicians like: Willie Dixon, Jimmy Rogers, George ‘Harmonica’ Smith, William Clarke…Sunnyland Slim, and others.

“Another major influence on me was my friendship with Otis ‘Big Smokey’ Smothers [who composed two original numbers on Talk is Cheap]. I met Big Smokey in Chicago in 1978 and we developed a bond that lasted until his untimely death in 1993. I had the pleasure of backing up Big Smokey many times and was fortunate to record with him [on] his last known studio recording.” Paul Barry lists that Big Smokey Smothers album in his discography.

Paul Barry’s band consists of himself on harmonica and lead vocals; Lila Ammons on female vocals; Bill Black on bass; Jeremy Johnson on drums and guitar; Bruce McCabe on piano and organ; Max Ray on tenor sax; Phil Schmid on guitar; Victor Span on drums, and Tampa Spatz (who composed track nine, reviewed below) on piano.

Track 09: “J.J.’s Boogie” – The word “boogie,” like the word “shuffle,” can be applied to the music of several different instruments. There’s electric guitar boogie, piano boogie, harp boogie, acoustic boogie, even washboard boogie if it’s played at that tempo. As for “J.J.’s Boogie,” it’s a sly piano instrumental that might have been played at saloons in the nineteenth century – or even in the 1960’s, come to think of it. Dance until you drop, but don’t worry; this one’s meant to give you a spring in your step instead of a heart attack.

The Paul Barry Blues Band knows Talk is Cheap, but hot harmonica speaks louder than words!

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 Interview – Matt Schofield 

matt schofield photo 1Although he’s just now on the threshold of turning 40 years old, Matt Schofield has already been playing the blues for more than half his life.

The Manchester, England born guitarist, singer, songwriter, producer and bandleader first climbed on stage in front of the general public at the tender age of 13 and has been solely focused on doing one thing ever since.

Playing the guitar.

And even though the road he’s traveled has not been paved with gold bricks, it’s a road he still chooses to navigate up and down.

“At that time (when he was a teenager) I decided that’s what I was going to be. I was expected to go to university in England after I finished school, but I was saying, ‘No, I’m going to play guitar,'” Schofield said. “So in some ways, this is exactly what I expected. It has been harder than I expected. I’ll be 40 this year and I think anyone (in the blues music world) will tell you, it’s not easy and it’s not getting any easier, either. There’s only about two or three artists that are wealthy and playing the blues these days. Other than those couple, everybody else is out driving around in a van. We do it because we made that choice, for better or for worse. Essentially, I’m married to this (playing the blues). When I picked up the guitar and started playing as a kid, I knew who I was. I knew this is it … this is me. In some ways, 27 years later, I’ve just been refining what that kid did straightaway. I feel like I’m the same person and it feels just like it did back then, because I love to play.”

While he’s still been playing some select shows – and attending events like the annual Blues Foundation’s Blues Music Awards (BMAs) in Memphis – the past several months, the lion’s share of Schofield’s energy and efforts have been recently focused on the business end of the spectrum.

“I’ve actually been enjoying a bit more time not on the road the last few months, more than I probably have in about 10 years. I’ve been doing some restructuring of the business, really. I’ve got new management. It’s quite tricky with a foreign office to work here in the U.S. in terms of things like taxes and visas and things like that, you know? So we’ve been making things a bit more streamlined,” he said. “I’ve been playing a bit more locally (he currently resides in Florida) and writing a new record. When I head out on the road in the middle of June, I’ll be pretty much gone until November. When things get busy in a minute, they really get busy.”

The new record that Schofield is currently penning material for is a follow-up to his well-received 2014 release, Far As I Can See (Mascot Label Group).

“The music industry marches to a different beat than my creativity does, so I’ve been keen to get it out. I would have hoped to have had a new record out by now, but sometimes you just have to wait your turn. As everyone knows, this is a difficult time for the music industry. There’s a lot of different ways of doing things these days. The old model of having a record label and getting signed and then releasing a record is not necessarily the only way of doing things these days. All of that has been a part of these last few months of restructuring and seeing which is the best way to move forward.”

Some artists can’t seem to keep themselves from writing new songs and working on material on a daily basis, whether they have a new album looming on the horizon, or not. And some artists are content to wait until a new project is set to begin before authoring the songs that will make up that new collection. Consider Schofield to be a member of the later camp.

matt schofield photo 2“I’m not a habitual writer; I’m a habitual guitar player. There’s never a guitar very far away from me, but in terms of writing things, I’m not a person that sits down and writes a song every day or even every week,” he said. “What I have to do is, I have to get a clear idea of what the next record is going to be in my mind. I define the canvas area in my mind and then I start filling that in with the songs. So I need to know what the project is going to be in order to write what I feel is appropriate for it.”

Some of Schofield’s songs are based on things or experiences that he encounters while going about his daily routine and some of Schofield’s songs are more fictional, more story-like with a narrative that he makes up himself.

“I’d say bout half-and-half. On the last record there was stuff that was very much stories in the classic good relationship or bad relationship mold and then some stuff on there, like the opening track (“From Far Away”) that is very directly inspired by Carl Sagan, the scientist. Being a fan of his work and being a fan of science and philosophy and that side of things, that comes into play in my writing. That may be a bit unusual for a blues artist, but I’m an avid reader and that comes into my song-writing. And perhaps this time around there’ll be some slightly more political leanings with the various things that’s going on in the world .. here and abroad and back home in England. It’s an interesting time in all of that and that’s all stuff that I’m keen on.”

Regardless of whether his songs are about love gone wrong or about what lies on the other end of the cosmos, the one constant thread running through a Matt Schofield album is a whole bunch of mind-blowing guitar work. He’s capable of shredding – which he does on occasion – but the real beauty of Schofield’s guitar playing is it’s tastefulness. From breath-taking to mournful and on to soulful, Scofield’s voice on the guitar is utterly unique. There’s no doubt that he’s a blues player extraordinaire, but his playing favors the Robben Ford end of the rainbow more than it does the Bob Margolin side, although he’s certainly comfortable in either camp . It’s bluesy, it’s funky and it’s jazzy … and at the end of the day, it’s all Matt Schofield.

“I do consider what I do as playing blues guitar. That’s what it is to me. Some people might be surprised to find out that I do consider myself a blues guitarist … and obviously my vocabulary is broader than just the blues. What I’m doing is expressing myself continually through the instrument, which to me is what the tradition of it is about. That’s what all the greats were doing … they were talking to you,” he said. “They were saying something with the instrument as opposed to saying something in somebody else’s language. It’s about having your own voice on the instrument. That’s why I consider myself a blues guitar player. Unfortunately, I think people’s minds have been somewhat narrowed in what blues guitar playing is. If you actually listen to B.B. King, people will always talk about him playing the one note better than anyone else. But he also played all the other notes better than anyone else. It wasn’t that he could just play one note. He was an incredibly sophisticated guitar player … far more sophisticated than your average blues/rock guitar player these days. When you study it from a guitarist’s perspective, B.B.’s influences were guys like Django Reinhardt and Lonnie Johnson; very sophisticated players. The idea of him being this downhome bluesman is a bit unfair, I think. In my mind, I’m basically just doing what B.B. did 60 years ago. It just doesn’t sound the same (as B.B.), but in terms of the approach, I’m trying to make it sound good instead of fit into what someone’s idea of blues guitar is.”

The way Schofield sees it, if your own personality doesn’t shine through in your own guitar playing, than perhaps your time would be best suited doing something else.

“I was just having a conversation in the lobby of the hotel (at the B.M.A.s) with the great Anson Funderburgh. I’m a big fan of his and he’s a sweetheart of a guy, as well. We were having a conversation about electric blues guitar and with T-Bone (Walker) and B.B. being right there from the start and about how everybody had an individual voice. You could put them all next to each other … Albert Collins, Buddy Guy … and you’d know which one was which, instantly. That carried on down all through the generations to guys like Anson and Jimmie and Stevie Ray (Vaughan) coming out of Texas. And in the ’80s you had guys like Robert Cray. They all had their individual voices, just like their heroes did. They all found their own route. But then sometime shortly after that, everybody started sounding the same and their voices got weaker and more homogenized. And then it becomes a thing where you have to learn these certain licks in order to become a blues guitarist. That’s not the way I saw it. I’m just trying to be sincere and honest and play what sounds good and what comes out from me.”

matt schofield photo 3One signpost of how you are viewed as a guitar player is when you have your very own name stamped onto a piece of gear. That can be a lofty perch to reach and in Scofield’s case, he’s reached it more than once. Not only does he have a signature line of guitar strings (Curt Mangan Strings; www.curtmangan.com), he’s also got a signature amplifier (the Two-Rock Matt Schofield 50; www.two-rock.com) and signature overdrive pedal (Free The Tone MS SOV MS-2V; www.freethetone.com). These are not simply just product endorsements for Schofield. He really believes in and uses this gear on a nightly basis.

“It’s mainly the search for the things that are going to reproduce your voice well. Everyone that I work with in terms of gear is a friend. We became friends through me using their stuff. I’ve drank a beer with everybody from my string maker to my amp maker and so on. It’s the element of being friends and then using something that you really believe in,” he said. “Nothing that I use is a commercial; all the stuff I use I bought first and then got to know them (the product makers). It’s great. Probably the number one thing that I’m asked after one of my shows is something about my equipment. So it’s important for me that I’m aligned with people that I like and respect as far as the equipment that I use. Some artists get paid to simply just endorse a piece of equipment, but that’s not my cup of tea. I like everything that I use.”

So well regraded is Schofield’s guitar playing that he is a member of the British Blues Awards’ Hall of Fame. While he is rightfully proud to be recognized as such, Schofield doesn’t believe that that is the be-all, end-all and that it’s now OK to just coast throughout the rest of his career and rest on such accolades. Especially with so much music for the 39-year-old still left to play.

“You know what? It’s great, especially something like that, which was fan-voted when I won the first three years at the British Blues Awards. It became more of a panel-vote after that and became a bit more political, but when I won the first three years and the Hall of Fame thing, it was because fans voted. That’s wonderful because it lets you know you’re reaching people and they appreciate what you’re doing,” he said. “But beyond that, I don’t pay that much attention to the whole idea of awards. It’s useful for spreading the word on you, which is great because we’re not playing mainstream music here. It’s grass-roots, spread the word music. But beyond that, I don’t believe in any of it (awards) at all. I mean, I can’t even listen to my old records … well, I can, but I don’t. I’m just looking forward. How I see it is, the next gig will be better; the next record will be better. No resting on the laurels.”

Schofield has been busily trying to carve out inroads and build his fan base in the United States after having already successfully making a name for himself throughout the United Kingdom and most of Europe. His plan on breaking through in the U.S. market centers around a simple – yet tough – concept; take things state-by-state.

“It’s such a big country (U.S.) that I almost view each state like a country in Europe. There’s areas of the country where I do considerably better than I do in the U.K. I have a great turnout in northern California and in the northwest and northeast – they’re all very good for me. It’s been a fairly consistent build since I’ve been touring here. Where it gets tricky for me, and my music may not resonate the same, is filling in the middle (of the U.S.). And you’re also at the mercy of the routing of a tour. I’ve done pretty good in Chicago even though I’ve only played there three or four times. But if nobody knows about me, getting there logistically can be an issue if I’m going there from New York and nobody knows about me in Cleveland, you know? But I must say that I feel very warmly-embraced by the American blues fans … that’s why I’m basing myself here now. I feel like the future is stronger for me here.”

In addition to being a dynamite guitarist, Schofield is also an accomplished producer and helped give birth to several of Ian Siegal’s records in the mid-2000s, including standout albums like Meat & Potatoes, Swagger and Broadside (Nugene Records). Much like Schofield, Siegal is an extremely-gifted British blues artist that really hasn’t captured all the acclaim that he’s due from the this side of the pond.

matt schofield photo 4“My goal as producer was to make him sound the most Ian Siegal that I could – as I heard him, you know what I mean? It was a thoroughly-enjoyable experience. I really enjoyed the production side of things and because he’s such a talented artist, when you’re in the production chair, there’s a lot to get stuck in there,” Schofield said. “There was a lot of creativity from him to draw on, which was exciting to me. That’s the main take away from that. I wanted to make him the most ‘him’ that I could. I’m a bit more studio-savvy than Ian. He’s very much just ‘sit him down with a guitar and let him go.’ And even though he doesn’t play the same kind of blues as me and vice-versa, we trust each other’s musical opinions, which is great. All our frame of references from where we come from and what we grew up listening to are very much the same, so we understand each other musically. But I’m a guitar player that sings and he’s a singer that plays guitar. I learned a lot about singing from Ian.”

While he may consider himself a ‘guitar player that sings,’ Schofield is nevertheless a highly-competent vocalist and is clearly becoming more confident in his own abilities with each album that he issues.

“Bobby Bland would be one of my favorites (vocalists). What a pure vocalist. As a matter of fact, they just dedicated a statue to him here today in Memphis. And another favorite of mine would be B.B., as well. He was my first guitar hero and also one of the most incredible singers. And then I love Donny Hathaway, he’s one of my favorite singers. And Stevie Wonder, Bonnie Raitt. But that’s not ever going to be my thing (singing like his vocal influences) … I wish it was. I’d trade the guitar if I could sing like Donny Hathaway. But I’m never going to sound like that.. When I open my mouth, I just try to make sure it’s in tune and in time.”

Another of Schofield’s heroes on the guitar – Eric Clapton – also kind of developed his own vocal style as he progressed through the early part of his career.

“I really like Eric Clapton’s singing on a lot of stuff, as well. He’s been an inspiration in as much as he grew up in the public eye singing. He started out being a little rougher around the edges when he was younger and then started to sing on a couple of tunes on the John Mayall record and then with Cream. And over the years, he’s matured into a very fine vocalist in my opinion. I view myself more in that mold in that my whole singing style fits in with my guitar playing. One of the best things I ever did for my guitar playing was singing all the time and writing my own songs. That contributed to me finding more of a voice on the guitar. It’s a whole package thing. Was B.B. King a vocalist or was he a guitar player? Well, he was just B.B. King, you know? That’s the whole thing for me.”

If an artist is looking to strike gold and get rich quick in the entertainment industry, playing the blues is the first thing to avoid. That’s pretty much how it was 50 years ago and that’s pretty much how it is today. However, Schofield says there are examples of those that have managed to do pretty well for themselves in this new millennium, chief among those being Joe Bonamassa.

“Yeah, all credit to Joe Bonamassa for figuring out a way to get it in front of people. Whatever you may think of how he chooses to interpret the music, he’s making it work and almost nobody else is. I saw Joe play at the Hammersmith Apollo in London in front of a sold-out crowd of 5,000. I am not even concerned about playing to 5,000 people. But 500 every night would be really good … for the rest of us, that would be life-changing. To be constantly playing to 500 people every night and not 150 some nights would be a huge thing. If I had 10-percent of his audience, it would change my life. That’s the way to focus this thing, what do we need to offer music lovers to get to that level? Joe’s doing very well for himself now, but I know for a fact that he drove around in a van to the point of saying, ‘Can I do this anymore?’ at one point in his career. I know he got to that point before they figured out what he needed to do. Whether you may think it’s too commercialized is not really the point. The point is, he did do it. That’s what the rest of us need to focus on.”

Visit Matt’s website at: www.mattschofield.com

Blues Blast Magazine Senior Writer Terry Mullins is a journalist 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. His first book, Blues In Modern Days was published in 2014.


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 Blues Society News 


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Prairie Crossroads Blues Society – Champaign-Urbana, IL

On Saturday May 20, from noon to 9 pm Prairie Crossroads Blues Society is joining with Joe Asselin and numerous local blues artists to host Edapalloozza, a benefit for Ed O’Hara. Ed has drummed with a number of bands most notably local greats The Blues Deacons and Kilborn Alley. Ed was diagnosed with cancer last year and all of the proceeds will help Ed with his medical expenses. The benefit will be Saturday May 20 at Leadbellys Links Drinks Arcade, 601 N. Country Fair Dr. in Champaign.

Some of the artists scheduled to appear are Kilborn Alley, Nick Moss, Candy Foster, Billy Galt, Dawna Nelson, Steve “The Harp” Mehlberg and Kathy Harden. All musicians are donating their time. There will be silent auctions and raffles and all proceeds from food sales go to benefit Ed. There is a $10 suggested donation to help Ed with finances.

PCBS is also excited to announce an additional monthly blues jam. We’ll be hosting a jam Sunday May 21, from 4 to 7 pm at Pipa’s Pub, 604 S. Country Fair Dr. in Champaign. Future Sunday jams will be on the 2nd Sunday of each month at Pipa’s. These jams are in addition to our existing jams on the 4th Wednesday of each month, also at Pipa’s Pub. For details visit our website at www.prairiecrossroadsblues.org

The Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation – Falls Church, VA

The Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation presents tThe 24th Annual Tinner Hill Blues Festival takes place June 9-11, 2017 in Falls Church, VA. This 3-day music event features Blues, brew & barbecue, all weekend, all over town. It kicks off on Friday with “Blues on Broad” in restaurants and bars on (and off) Broad Street. Saturday’s highlight is a ticketed all-day concert in Cherry Hill Park featuring Mud Morganfield with The Nighthawks; Tas Cru & His Band of Tortured Souls; Beverly “Guitar” Watkins; Linwood Taylor, and Kareem “Lil’ Maceo” Walkes with special guest, Slam Allen.

Saturday night’s Blues Crawl will take place in many restaurants and bars in the town and feature Blues bands. Sunday’s free gospel/blues picnic features the Carter Gospel Singers and The Barbour Travelers. Visit our website for a complete list of events: www.tinnerhill.org.

Central Iowa Blues Society – Des Moines, IA

The Central Iowa Blues Society celebrates LIVE music at Springfest, Memorial weekend at Jasper Winery, 2400 George Flagg Parkway on Sunday, May 28, 2017. Music on the lawn from 2:00-9:00 pm, starting with Iowa Blues Hall of Famer, Rob Lumbard, followed by Kansas City’s own Amanda Fish, Rockin’ Rhythm & Blues with The Bel Airs and then Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal. Josh was recently a contestant on The Voice.

The gates open at 1:00 pm for this FREE event brought to you by Central Iowa Blues Society, Fat Tuesday Productions and Jasper Winery. For more information go to www.cibs.org.

Cascade Blues Association – Portland, Oregon

On Sunday, May 21, the Cascade Blues Association presents “CBA 30, Once in a Lifetime Concert,” featuring more than 50 blues and roots musicians joining together to celebrate the organization’s 30th anniversary of supporting, promoting and preserving blues & blues-related music in the Pacific Northwest. This event will be held at the historic McMenamin’s Crystal Ballroom in downtown Portland, Oregon. Tickets are $15.00 general admission, and a limited number of VIP tickets for $75.00.

Artists participating in CBA 30 will include Duffy Bishop, Lloyd Jones, Terry Robb, Mary Flower, Karen Lovely, Bill Rhoades, Norman Sylvester, Ty Curtis, Rae Gordon & The Backseat Drivers, The Strange Tones, Kinzel & Hyde, Too Loose Zydeco Band, Bobby Torres, Robbie Laws, Louis Pain and many more! www.cascadebluesassociation.org

The Illinois Central Blues Club – Springfield, IL

The Illinois Central Blues Club has announced the line-up of talent for the Blue Monday live performances and jam sessions held every Monday night at The Alamo, 115 North Fifth, Springfield, IL from 8:00pm to midnight. May 22 – Chris Antonik, May 29 – John “Catfish” Evans, June 5 – The 44’s, June 12 – Rockin’ Jake, June 19 – Adrianna Marie & Her Groovecutters, June 26 – The Bridget Kelly Band.

For more information visit www.icbluesclub.org.

Crossroads Blues Society – Rockford, IL, IL

Saturday, June 3rd Crossroads President Steve Jones is having a Blues Block Party with his neighbors in Byron, IL. The Birddog Blues Band will play from 2 to 4 PM and The Uptown Rhythm Aces playing from 6 to 9 PM. Free admission, bring snacks and beverages. Free-will donations accepted for the bands. Kingsway Lane in Byron, IL is where it’s at, 1 to 9 PM.

“The Blues: The Roots of Popular American Music” will be presented by Crossroad Blues Society with Dan Phelps and Steve Jones on Thursday, June 8th from 6:00-7:00 PM at Byron Public Library, 100 S. Washington Street, Byron, IL. featuring music inspired by Robert Johnson, Charley Patton, Skip James, and more. The program is free. Call 815-234-5107 to register.

Steve Ditzell and Blue Lightning will be at the Hope and Anchor, 5040 N 2nd Street, Loves Park IL on Saturday, June 10th at 8 to 1130 PM. No cover before 7 PM, $5 thereafter.

Blues trio Recently Paroled is at the Lyran Society Club, 1115 4th Ave, Rockford, IL 61104 on Friday, June 16th . the club is open to the public and there is no cover.

Rockford Illinois’ 27th Juneteenth celebration is Monday, June 19th from 3 to 9 PM at Sinnissippi Park at 1401 N Second Street in Rockford. Headlining the event is The Kinsey Report plus some local blues talent will also be featured. This is a free show.

Sunday, June 25th Doug MacLeod will be at All Saints Lutheran Church, 624 Luther Drive in Byron in Byron a 4 PM. Opening act Dan Phelps goes on at 3 PM. No cover, there is a free will donation to support Crossroads Blues in the Schools Program. Contact Steve Jones at sub_insignia@yahoo.com for more info on any of these events or go to http://crossroadsbluessociety.com/.


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