Issue 12-16 April 19, 2018

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Cover photo © 2018 Bob Kieser


 In This Issue 

Bill Dahl has our featured interview with Maurice John Vaughn. We have 8 Blues reviews for you this week including new music from Katie Kern, Patrick Coman, Andy Frasco & The U.N., Iain Hearfield, Sunnysiders, Cal Williams Jr., Homesick James and Lil’ Red & The Rooster.

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


 From The Editor’s Desk 

2018 awards logo imageHey Blues Fans,

Tickets for the Blue Blast Music Awards on September 29th at Tebala Event Center In Rockford, IL will go on sale next week. Seating other than awards sponsor tables will be filled in the order purchased from closest to the stage on back.

We have chosen a host hotel, La Quinta in Rockford. The hotel is about 4 blocks from the venue. La Quinta is offering a special rate of only $89 for those attending the Blues Blast Awards. Simply call them at (815) 227-1300 and ask for the “Blues Blast Fan Rate”. First come first served. Please note that there are a limited number of rooms available, so get your rooms booked now!

In the meantime, all the artists submissions are in the nominator’s hands and they submit their nominations in May. Nominees will be announced in June and fan voting will start in July.

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser


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 Featured Interview – Maurice John Vaughn 

maurice john vaughn photo 1At a time when a great many contemporary blues artists crank out a new CD every year or two to sell from the bandstand between sets, it’s been a lot longer than that since Chicago multi-instrumentalist Maurice John Vaughn has had a full-length piece of fresh product out under his own name.

Way back in 2001, Toledo, Ohio-based Blue Suit Records released Vaughn’s most recent album, Dangerous Road. That just doesn’t make sense, considering how solid that album and the ones he’d previously put together for Alligator and his own Reecy imprint were. They showcased a versatile artist equally conversant in traditionally rooted Chicago blues and modern, soul-inflected material, a true triple threat on guitar, saxophone, and vocals.

Now Vaughn plans to take matters into his own hands—and not just in the recording studio. He’s about to make the leap into the booking business, not just to supplement the engagements his agent gets him, but to work with singer Joseph Morganfield, youngest son of the legendary Muddy Waters, and Freddie Dixon, Willie Dixon’s bass-playing offspring and a founder of the Original Chicago Blues All Stars. They’re planning a trip to California for a June festival appearance with Big Bill Morganfield, and if things go right, a lot more than that.

“I’m going to be sort of jumping between being a booking agent, a road manager, a transportation guy, a piano player–whatever they need,” says Maurice, who foresees a longer West Coast jaunt before winter sets in. “In September, we have a big festival planned, like a revue type tour, with a few big dates for the whole Joseph Morganfield band and the whole Original Chicago Blues All Stars band. I’m taking them out there. I’ve got a bus now, so I’m going to take everybody out there in the bus.”

Good things have been happening for Vaughn. On February 26, the Original Chicago Blues All Stars (Dixon, drummer Jimmy Tillman, and guitarist John Watkins are their nucleus) honored Maurice at their Blue Monday International Blues Gala award ceremony at Chicago’s Harold Washington Cultural Center. He just returned from playing the Maintenance Shop in Ames, Iowa, where Maurice’s troupe included three sons of mighty Windy City blues legends: Morganfield, Dixon, and drummer Tim Taylor, whose late father was guitarist Eddie Taylor.

The revue concept admittedly swims against the tide in this era of slimmed-down touring. “That’s what we’re doing, exactly the opposite,” says Maurice. “Everybody’s trying to downsize. They’re trying to pick one guy out of the band and have their band play with you. How does your band ever get going? Your band is sitting home going, ‘They never take us anywhere!’ So this is what we’re trying to do, book it like that with the whole band.”

Vaughn has his own trip to Brazil slated for next month. “I played in Brazil twice, once with the Original Chicago Blues All Stars and once they brought me over by myself out to play,” he reports. Maurice also plans to tour Florida and South Carolina for four weeks in July with singer Donald Ray Johnson, the former drummer for the popular disco band A Taste of Honey, who now performs blues.

maurice john vaughn photo 22018 marks Vaughn’s golden anniversary as a professional musician. “This is 50 years for me in the business performing,” he marvels. “I was just thinking about that the other day—in December of ‘68, I had my first gig!” Back then, a teen-aged Vaughn was strictly playing R&B with a youthful outfit called the Gents of Soul. Born and raised on Chicago’s South Side, Maurice was attending Juliette G. Low Upper Grade Center when he caught the musical bug.

“I was in seventh and eighth grade. They were talking to the students about being in the band. I was interested in that, so that’s when I joined the band, back in ’64,” he says. “I started on the drums, really. This was an orchestra-style thing. We played everything, from George Gershwin to ‘Bolero,’ things like that. We played all the orchestra music and some of the more popular theme songs from some of the movies, like Dr. No.”

While attending Lindblom High School, located in Englewood on the South Side, Maurice was recruited by the Gents of Soul. “They were already playing,” he says. “They said they were looking for a sax player. I had bought a clarinet, and they heard me playing the clarinet. They said, ‘Wow! We need a sax player!’ So I rented a sax so I could play with them.”

The Gents lived up to their moniker, playing Top 40 soul. “Everything that came on the radio stations that we listened to, mainly soul stations and R&B, Motown stuff,” says Vaughn. The band played at “different functions—mainly things back then were social club events.”

In 1975, Maurice joined yet another soul band, the Chosen Few. They were fronted by singer Elvin Spencer, who had previously released early ‘70s solo singles on the Winner and Twinight logos (Syl Johnson produced Elvin’s “Lift This Hurt” on Twinight). “We just called him Spencer,” says Maurice. “I played with them for just maybe four or five months or something like that. They weren’t really doing that many gigs.”

Maurice was with the Chosen Few long enough to play on their 45 for Chuck Sibit’s Mod-Art label (headquartered at 10358 S. Forest Avenue on Chicago’s South Side) pairing “Cut Me In” and “We Are The Chosen Few.” All eight members were credited with writing both sides. “They just put everybody’s name down there,” he says. “Everybody contributed something. I was working with the horn players. That’s why I did the horn arrangements.” After Maurice left, the Chosen Few played with Windy City soul great Walter Jackson.

Even though he focused solely on sax with the Gents of Soul and then the Chosen Few, Maurice began learning his way around a guitar as early as 1971. “I couldn’t find enough work playing saxophone. I was wanting to start seriously playing guitar, because I was playing for a couple of singing groups,” he says. “I wasn’t trying to write back then, but I was trying to figure out how these songs went, and all the chords and everything. I was a little frustrated waiting on other guitar players to write everything, and I started playing one.

“I wasn’t singing—a little background stuff. Then I had to start singing after awhile.”

maurice john vaughn photo 3As the decade progressed, Vaughn drifted a bit closer to the genre that he’s now known worldwide for. “I actually was playing some blues, because we played blues when I was playing with this group, Greg Donald and the Rhythmers. They had one guy that did all blues all the time. His name was Si Perry. He was part of the revue,” says Maurice. “We had a female vocalist, Emma Francis. She sang all Aretha Franklin kind of stuff. We had a guy, he would come up and do sort of Johnnie Taylor-type stuff.

“Then we had another guy, he wasn’t actually part of the group, but he would come anytime we were playing somewhere and do his one or two songs. He would bring a crowd of people with him. His name was just Southside Red. He would perform. And we had two shake dancers that performed with the group from time to time too—Rosie A-Go-Go and Brenda Silver Hips or whatever her name was. Greg Donald was the drummer and the leader of the band. His father was the manager. We later changed the name to Modified Productions. In the disco days, in the ‘70s, they changed the name to Modified Productions.”

Uptown was a rough place in those days, as Vaughn learned the hard way when the Rhythmers held down a residence at the Baritz Lounge, a once-classy joint situated at the intersection of Sheridan and Irving Park Roads. “We only had two off days. We played there five days a week,” he remembers. “On one of my off days, somebody got shot. So we came back, we had no crowd. We came back to play our five-day gig, and we had almost nobody in the place.”

Maurice made his full-fledged blues conversion in November of 1979, although he’d been playing behind veteran soul-blues vocalist Lee Shot Williams. “We’d go out every now and then, do some gigs with him in Mansfield, Ohio. That’s where his manager lived,” he says. “We also carried Melvina Allen out that way.” But it was while Vaughn was playing at a joint at 23rd and South Cottage Grove that harpist Little Mack Simmons was involved with that opportunity came knocking.

“I was playing with Professor and the Love Finders–Professor Eddie Lusk, the keyboard player,” he says. “We were playing a gig down there, and then Phil Guy came in and sat in with us. He told Professor that he needed a group to play. He had five weeks of gigs in Canada. ‘Heck, yeah, we want to go for five weeks!’ So we went with Phil.” Vaughn played on the guitarist’s 1982 JSP album The Red Hot Blues of Phil Guy.

“I was supposed to play guitar and sax, and I ended up just playing saxophone on ‘Garbage Man Blues’ and things like that because they did the session while I was out of town,” says Vaughn. “There was nothing left to add but the horns, so I ended up putting the saxophone on there.” Maurice also appeared on Phil’s encore set with big brother Buddy for JSP the next year, Bad Luck Boy.

Word spread fast about Vaughn’s extraordinary versatility. “Professor got me an audition with Luther Allison when he was in town,” he says. “We weren’t doing that much with Phil after awhile. He’d come home and be satisfied working the Checkerboard or something like that once every week. We wanted to do some more of that touring kind of stuff. And Professor said, ‘Hey, man, there’s this guy—we’ll go in and play with him!’ And we cut the audition with Luther, and I ended up playing with him about seven months in 1980 to early ‘81. Then he fired everybody.”

maurice john vaoghn photo 4Next came a tour with newcomer Valerie Wellington. “We came back, and then I went out with Son Seals in ‘82. I played with him for about four months, ‘til he fired me,” says Vaughn, who made his first European jaunt as a member of Seals’ band. “In ‘83,” he says. “I’d never been on an airplane before, and I was 31 years old.” Maurice also spent some time playing behind bass-playing singer Queen Sylvia Embry. “Queen Sylvia fired us too–and for working her gig while she was gone,” says Vaughn. “The club owner said, ‘Hey, you can work here while she’s going to Europe for three weeks!’ I said, ‘Yeah, we’ll do that!’ We worked there one time. She found out we worked in her place that she worked at, and that was it!”

A.C. Reed hired Maurice in ‘84 for a lengthier stint. “I really liked playing with A.C.,” Vaughn says. “He was a lot of fun to work with. I didn’t get a chance to play my saxophone as much, because I played guitar all the time with him because he played saxophone.” In addition to hitting the road with the droll saxman (his first gig with him was four nights in Albuquerque), Maurice played guitar on Reed’s 1987 Alligator album I’m in the Wrong Business!. “I also did some horn parts on that album that I didn’t really get credit for,” he notes. Before that, A.C. and Maurice cut a 1985 LP together for the French Blue Phoenix logo, I Got Money.

There was plenty of studio activity for Vaughn during the ‘80s. He backed dynamic drummer Casey Jones on his Solid Blue set for Rooster Blues, played on and produced Zora Young’s debut album Stumbling Blocks and Stepping Stones, and helmed a single on his own Reecy label by boisterous piano man Detroit Junior. Reecy was the original home to Vaughn’s own 1984 debut album, Generic Blues Album. Its profoundly stark artwork—black print on a white background, no liner notes or photos—was a matter of necessity.

“It was mainly the cost, because I asked the (printer) how much for the black-and-white album, and how much for the color album. The color album was like three or four times as much as the black-and-white album. I said, ‘Well, I’ll have the black-and-white album!’ Now I have to have something catchy, so that’s why I came up with the Generic Blues Album,” says Vaughn.

The earliest copies of Generic Blues Album were released in jackets with a hole in the middle so the labels showed, like a 12-inch disco single. “A second run after that first 300 were printed at a T-shirt shop because I didn’t have money for a professional printer. But this guy at the T-shirt shop said, ‘I’ll do ‘em for you!’ He had albums all over his T-shirt place, drying out!” laughs Maurice. “The third run, that’s when I was able to get a printer to come in and make it look a lot better.”

maurice john vaughn photo 5If the packaging was admittedly rudimentary, its contents were anything but. Doubling on guitar and sax and abetted by keyboardist Leo Davis, bassist Kenny Pickens, and drummer Bill Leathers, Vaughn put together eight contemporary blues originals with some inventive lyrical twists; “Computer Took My Job” was right up-to-the-minute. “I was writing about the things that were happening around me,” says Vaughn. “I had some friends of mine that were losing their jobs because of the computer era.”

Alligator Records boss Bruce Iglauer invited Vaughn to be on the label’s 1987 anthology The New Bluebloods, which introduced a new generation of Chicago blues artists to the world, including Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials, the Kinsey Report, Melvin Taylor, and Michael Coleman. The moody “Nothing Left To Believe In” was Maurice’s contribution to the disc. Alligator picked up Generic Blues Album the next year, and when the firm later reissued it on CD, it added “Nothing Left To Believe In” and its session mate “Wolf Bite” to the set. “Mainly people in Europe, they like that kind of stuff. They like the Howlin’ Wolf stuff,” says Maurice. “I make sure I always do something like that when I go over there.”

Alligator released Vaughn’s encore set, In The Shadow of the City, in 1993. “That CD was a compromise of kind of what I wanted and what Bruce wanted to put together there too,” says Maurice, who tackled pianist Jimmy Walker’s romping “Small Town Baby” on the disc. “That was one of the first tunes that we recorded,” he says. “It took a long time to do that, but I was so happy when we were able to do ‘Small Town Baby,’ do one of Jimmy Walker’s songs, because I was working with him at the time. I think he was about 90 when he recorded with me.” Another standout selection, “I Want To Be Your Spy,” was chosen to grace The Alligator Records 25th Anniversary Collection, winning Vaughn more new fans. “They might not know about my whole CD, but they know about that one song,” he notes.

Maurice had a pair of songs on Blue Chicago’s 1997 compilation Clark Street Ramblers. “One was a Detroit Junior song, ‘Turn Up The Heat,’ which we also recorded with him on his CD,” he says. Dangerous Road followed in 2001. “It was a little different,” he says. “I had a potpourri of musicians on there. In fact, my first song that I have on there, ‘Talking To Each Other With The Music,’ I have Italian musicians on there. I have French musicians on there that are friends of mine. We were all working together.”

Vaughn has done some fine work with singer Shirley Johnson over the years. He produced her 1992 Appaloosa album Looking For Love, playing guitar and writing four of its selections, notably “I’ve Got To Find Me A Lover.” “I asked her some things about her, and then I wrote the song,” he says. “And she loved it.” He was also involved with Johnson’s Delmark CDs Killer Diller (2002) and Blues Attack (2009) and played with her at Blue Chicago until about a year ago. If you look closely, you’ll see him along with Casey Jones and Professor Eddie Lusk playing behind Johnson during a scene in the 1991 private eye thriller V.I. Warshawski that was filmed at Chicago’s famous Green Mill Cocktail Lounge. “I’ve got a movie credit,” he notes proudly. “I’m one of the musicians in the movie, so that was good enough for me.”

Technically, Vaughn hasn’t been a Chicago bluesman for the last three decades, living over the border in Michigan City, Indiana. “My wife and I agreed it was a little safer place for the kids to grow up,” he says. “Chicago’s an hour away for me. I can’t just come to Chicago and hang out, like, ‘Hey, man, you want a gig?’”

We’re pleased to report that Maurice is finally preparing to release a fresh album. “I have about three CDs worth of material that I’ve recorded already, but haven’t put out yet,” he says. “Some of it’s mixed, some of it’s not mixed. So I’m trying to get that all ready. I will have a CD out within the next couple of months, hopefully.”

Visit Maurice’s facebook page at : www.facebook.com/maurice.j.vaughn.7

Interviewer Bill Dahl is a lifelong Chicago resident who began writing about music professionally in 1977. He’s written for Vintage Rock, Goldmine, Living Blues, Blues Revue, Blues Music Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, and the Reader, and is the author of The Art of the Blues, a 2016 book published by University of Chicago Press, and 2001’s Motown: The Golden Years (Krause Publications). Bill was awarded the Blues Foundation’s Keeping the Blues Alive Award in journalism in 2000.


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 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 8 

Katie Kern cd imageKatie Kern – Blues for the Highway

Wolf Records

www.katie-kern.net

13 tracks / 57:59

We do not get many blues CDs from Austria to review, so it was neat to get a retrospective release from Katie Kerns to listen to. Katie is a fine guitarist and singer from Vienna, and has been a fixture on the Austrian blues scene for 20 years. She gigs regularly and has a handful of solo albums, as well as a few discs that she cut with the Rocking Birds. Kern’s latest release, Blues for the Highway, is not actually very new, as you will soon see, but it gives a good perspective of how she got to where she is today.

Katie grew up in a household that appreciated the finer things that humans can do; both of her parents were art teachers, and her father was a fine pianist who taught her when she was young. The blues bug bit Kern in her early twenties, and she grew to have an affinity for classic material from the genre. She counts Bonnie Raitt and Mississippi John Hurt among her influences, and she continued her blues education with the fine folks in her hometown music scene, and started playing out in 1998 at the club Papas Tapas.

The album we are looking at today, Blues for the Highway, is actually a live album that was recorded at the Bluesman Café in Vienna on December 22nd, 1999. Kern played the guitar and took the lead vocals, and was joined on stage by Hannes Kasehs on guitar, Reinhard Dlapa on drums, and Christa Kasehs on the bass. Katie’s former husband, Peter Kern, joined in on a few tracks with his guitar. This is not the world’s best produced live album as there is no crowd sound to be heard and the mix is not terribly even, but high-quality live sound recording technology was not as readily available to the common man twenty years ago.

The reason that this disc was released nearly two decades after the show was recorded was so that Kern could give listeners an idea of what influenced her choice of genre, and from the material it is apparent that she has an appreciation and knowledge of the finer points of straight-up blues. There are 13 tracks on this album, and it is an interesting mix of standards and originals.

Katie begins this club set with the title track, and “Blues for the Highway” is a good indicator of what is to come. On this conventional blues tune Kern’s voice is strong (with a bit of an edge) and her leads are tasteful. Adding to this, Hannes Kaseh’s rhythm guitar work is clean and the backline of Reinhard Dlapa and the Christa Kaseh is spot on. This is backed up with an instrumental jam, “Tribute to Magic Slim,” a series of 12-bar guitar solos that are presented in a dizzying array of keys – I do not know how they kept this one together, but the band remembered every key change!

The covers are diverse selections, and the standout of these is “Wait on Time,” which can also be found on the Fabulous Thunderbirds’ 1979 album, Girls Go Wild. This version is a bouncy 12-bar romp that is a little more stripped down than the other songs in the setlist. This highlights Katie’s guitar soloing, which is especially clean with sharp attacks and tight phrasing. Bobby Troup’s classic, “Route 66,” also makes an appearance. This song has been re-done so many times, but Katie gave it a jazzy twist so it is not a tedious chore to listen to. The set closes out with “Bricks on My Pillow,” which is Katie’s electric take on Big Bill Broonzy’s song from 1935; it does not lose any of the jaunty feel of the original, and this is a fun way to end her show.

Blues on the Highway is an interesting release from Katie Kern, and it is fun to hear where she came from and to listen to interpretations of her influences. If you want to see what she is doing now, you can head on over to her website, but make sure you brush up on your German first as there is no English translation!

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 – 2 of 8 

patrick coleman cd imagePatrick Coman – Tree Of Life

For The Sake Of The Song Records

12 tracks; 45 minutes

www.patrickcoman.com

Patrick Coman spent several years working in the music industry, both as a musician and working in radio and promotion but when his daughter was born he decided to become a full-time parent by day and a musician by night. Although he had recently relocated to Virginia he used musicians he knew from his time in New England to record this album in Massachusetts; his debut album is entirely original apart from one cover of a Leon Russell song.

Like Leon, Patrick is an Oklahoma native and shares the style of laid-back vocals that fans of Leon and JJ Cale will find familiar as the music ranges across rock, country, Americana and roots music, with a few elements of blues, as on a track like “Keep My Soul”. Peter Parcek (guitar) and Marco Giovino (drums) produced the album, with Neal Pawley playing tuba, trombone, mandolin, baritone guitar and lap-steel, Joe Klompus on acoustic and electric bass and Patrick on rhythm guitar and lead vocals. Keyboards are added to five tracks by Tom West, ‘Beehive Queen’ Christine Ohlman guests on vocals on one track and Abbie Barrett and Kylie Harris provide backing vocals on several tracks.

The title track provides a strong mid-point to the album with Peter’s searing guitar breaks spread between Patrick’s vocals which appear to be about the birth of his daughter, Patrick trying to offer the new arrival some advice on how to live your life well – a good song with intriguing lyrics and solid backing. At the other extreme “Dirty Old Bed Bug Blues” recounts a brief encounter in NYC with Neal’s trombone adding a ribald touch to the music that suits the lyrics. The band rocks out on tracks like “Chelsea Street” and “Don’t Reach” (where Christine Ohlman adds gritty vocals) but is equally at home on country tunes like “The Judge” which is very Johnny Cash in style and content while “9-5ers” combines a country tune with harmony vocals.

On songs like opener “Heartbeat” and “Keep My Soul” the band adds a moody feel that suits Patrick’s vocal style as he explores some deep issues: “How do I know which way to go? I’m trying to pay the cost without losing my soul”. The closing track “Let It Ring” is a folk piece with acoustic guitar and drummer Marco’s eerie organ and the cover of Leon Russell’s “Magic Mirror” sounds as if Lou Reed has returned to provide the vocal! Despite the title, “Rock When I Roll” is another laid-back tune with lovely piano and harmony vocals and delicate guitar fills from Peter.

Overall there is quite a lot to intrigue the listener but there is not actually a lot of blues content here. However, for those who are open-minded Patrick has produced an album worth hearing (whatever category you put it into).

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

For other reviews on our website CLICK HERE


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 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 8 

andy frasco & the un cd imageAndy Frasco & The U.N. – Songs From The Road

www.andyfrasco.com

Ruf Records

15 songs – 79 minutes

Californian native Andy Frasco formed the U.N. back in 2007 to start a world tour that he claims has never really ended. Comprising Frasco on keyboards and vocals, Ernie Chang on sax, Shawn Eckels on guitar and vocals and an ever-evolving line-up of other musicians, the band has released five studio albums since 2010’s Love, You’re Too Expensive.

Given the band’s reputation for raucously wild, celebratory live performances, a live CD/DVD was perhaps an obvious step on the career path, and Songs From The Road does not disappoint. Recorded at the Tucher Blues & Jazz Festival in Bamberg, Germany, in August 2016, the album captures a band that is seriously match-fit, exploding onto stage with the breakneck “C Boogie” and not letting up until the closing, madcap cover of Rage Against The Machine’s “Killing In The Name” (the only cover on the album). With songs selected from across the band’s back catalogue, Frasco and his co-conspirators quickly have the audience hooked on their vigorous blues-rock, willingly singing along to the boisterously vulgar (yet infuriatingly catchy) chorus of “Stop Fucking Around”.

The band’s line-up on Songs From The Road comprises Frasco, Eckels and Chang together with Chris Lorentz on bass, Andee Avila on drums and vocals, Matt Owen on tuba, Jelmer Olsman on percussion, Niels Kant on trumpet, Arno Bakker on sousaphone and trombone and Rens Ouburg on guitar, harp and vocals. They are an immensely impressive combination, mixing technical virtuosity and edge-of-the-seat improvisation with memorable choruses and witty lyrics. Chang in particular pulls out a number of superb solos, especially on “Main Squeeze”.

The ska-pop of “It’s Been A Struggle”, one of the highlights of 2014’s Half A Man, is a perfect demonstration of the inventiveness and off-the-wall humor of the band. It is played significantly faster in a live setting but still stretches out over 14 minutes in length as Frasco introduces the members of the band, who then throw everything but the kitchen sink into the mix, including a short drum solo, off-beat quotes from various rock classics (including, Heaven forbid, “The Final Countdown”), African jungle beats, bird song and even some James Brown.

“Smokin’ Dope And Rock N’ Roll” adds a new country-ish intro to what is an unheralded country rock classic. “Sunny Day Soldier” breaks down into acapella singing before Eckels steps out for an extended guitar solo and Avila contributes some fine bluesy vocals as he segues into “Feels So Good”.

The DVD is superbly filmed to capture the anarchic brilliance of Andy Frasco and U.N. live. The entire band is dancing and laughing from the first song, demanding audience engagement and interaction. The tracks are interspersed with clips of the band watching other acts at the festival, loading and unloading of instruments into a van and squeezing past each other in cramped hotel accommodation, all of which brings home the hard realities of being a working musician.

Is this blues? Not by a long stretch. It is blues-rock at best, and very much at the rock end of that spectrum. It is also however highly enjoyable, technically impressive and viscerally exciting. This is music to get lost in and to dance to, with a knowingly absurdist sense of humor and an almost reckless indifference to genres and categorization. It is what rock and roll should be.

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.



 ‘Guitar Porn’ sponsored by Delaney Guitars 

Bob Kieser’s Custom Delaney Sonoita

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Body

Body Wood – Swamp Ash

Finish – Natural Nitro-cellulose Lacquer

Neck

Number of Frets – 22

Scale Length – 25 1/2″

Radius – Compound 10″ – 16″

Neck Wood – Maple

Fretboard Wood – Ebony

Neck Shape – Delaney Standard “C” shape Neck

Fretboard Inlays – Pearl Trapezoids

Headstock – Delaney 6 in-line

Hardware/Electronics

Bridge – Custom copper Tele style

Tuners – Hipshot

Hardware Type – Copper, Steel, Brass

Pickguard – Distressed  Copper

Bridge Pickup – Lollar ’52 Tele

Middle Pickup – Lollar Strat Blackface

Neck Pickup – Lollar ’52 Tele

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When we first spoke to Blues Blast publisher Bob Kieser about building this guitar for him I was pretty excited. The Delaney Sonoita is personally one of my favorite models. The silhouette has similarities to a Tele AND some likeness to a Les Paul, maybe the best of both worlds. Bob expressed his desire to add our “swoosh” to the bottom which we’ve done on several other Sonoitas. I love it.

Bob’s Sonoita has a pickup layout that works for almost anything a single coil guitar will need with the combination of the Lollar Tele pickups in the neck and bridge positions and the Strat pickup in the middle. The 5-way switch is laid out to work similar to a Strat with a master volume and tone. The Swamp Ash body makes for a lighter weight guitar with an articulate, open tone.

The Maple/Ebony neck compliments the Swamp Ash nicely. The articulate notes that come out of the tonewood combination give the guitar bell like clarity while still giving it a well-rounded bottom end. The copper pickguard is not just for show! It adds a little to the attack when the strings are picked and shields the electronics nicely from 60 cycle hum. Leo Fender had it right when he introduced metal pickguards to some of his basses in the early days.

Made by hand in our shop in Bastrop, Texas, this rustic copper, steel, brass and wood guitar should last for many years and be a reliable workhorse. Bob, thank you for allowing me to build this for you! You can check Delaney Guitars out at www.delaneyguitars.com – Mike Delaney


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 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 8 

iain heartfield cd imageIain Hearfield – Blues Station Zebra

Self-Release (Oct 2017)

http://www.hearfield.co.uk

14 songs; Total Length: 50:50

Iain Hearfield is a blues rock musician who has been recording and performing for more than forty years. His latest release, Blues Station Zebra is a dark and stormy night somewhere in an alley, in a seedy part of London.

Released in Oct 2017, Blues Station Zebra is the 6th CD released by the UK-based Hearfield. It contains 14 original tunes, recorded between 2013 and 2017, on which Hearfield played all of the instruments. This is a very interesting CD. It’s not what you would consider a typical blues CD by any stretch, but its blues influence is unmistakable. It harks back to the British blues rock scene of the late 60s, with bands like Savoy Brown, early Fleetwood Mac, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, and even early Led Zeppelin. Working with themes that might be ripped out of a pulp fiction novel or from your favorite film noir, Hearfield builds-up stories of the things that go on in the shadows of darkened, deserted alleyways, and builds a fairly descriptive story-line for each song.

The songs themselves are moody and atmospheric, and the guitars feel as if they might have been tracked in the late 60s or early 70s, with multi-track layering, and generous amounts of reverb, delay, and varying degrees of distortion. The result is a very listenable collection of songs that are evocative of the past yet feel at home in the present time. The entire album feels to be of a piece, and the songs all hang together nicely.

The entire CD is book ended by two brief instrumental tracks, with aggressive drumming – assisted by drummer George De Canha – along with some ambient sound effects that help to set the tone for this unique collection of songs. According to Hearfield, the CD was inspired by a short story he had written, entitled “The Chandelier Beat.” Here’s the opening paragraph from the story:

“It was pitch dark outside. The storm that engulfed the English countryside flew by as the train, caught within its often irregular rhythmic beat, hastened towards Sheffield.”

Evocative, right? The musical version of “The Chandelier Beat” is a hypnotic instrumental that formally opens the CD. It has a very theatrical feel to it, and could very easily be a soundtrack under the opening or closing credits of a TV series or film about mobsters and the underworld. Using what I presume to be a drum loop, synthesizers, and some ambient noises, accompanied by a reverb-drenched guitar track, Hearfield sets the tone for the entire CD and lets you know that this is not going to be your typical blues collection.

The next track, “Mean Machine,” is the first with a vocal, with a narrative about a man of questionable ethics in a difficult situation. It’s punctuated by a pulsing, slapback drum groove, droning tremolo rhythm guitar, and yet more reverb-drenched lead guitar weaving in and out of the vocal.

Other notable songs include “Bar Room Incident;” “Honed to a Fine Edge;” the Prog-influenced “Zed;” and “Vivid.”

If there’s a weak spot in Hearfield’s songwriting, it’s his lyricism… or, rather, his lack of it. His songs all tell a story, but do so in perhaps the most literal way possible. While the music itself is very atmospheric and evocative, the lyrics are often simplistic and far too literal, and don’t really mate as well as they could to the sophistication of the music itself. Maybe it would have been better if these same stories told in the rich, provocative language of, say, a Tom Waits, or even a Mick Jagger, using the kind of richly descriptive – yet still decidedly ambiguous – language that he used during the Sticky Fingers period, as well as for solo songs like “Memo from Turner.”

That aside, Blues Station Zebra is very enjoyable, and it has withstood repeated listening, with each subsequent pass providing a closer look at these story songs, along with Hearfield’s tasteful guitar playing.

Maybe won’t fill the bill for blues purists but if you’re a fan of old-school British blues rock, keep your mind – and your ears – open, because there are some great grooves and interesting songs on this CD.

Reviewer Dave Orban is a technology marketer by day, musician/artist/educator by night. Since 1998, Orban has fronted The Mojo Gypsies, based in the greater Philadelphia area. http://www.mojogypsies.com


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 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 8 

sunnysiders cd imageSunnysiders – Click Play

Spona Music

http://sunnysiders.com

10 tracks/43 minutes

Sunnysiders is a name filled with inherent irony for a blues band.

A self-described “Croatian Blues Attraction”, Sunnysiders hail from Zagreb. They won the Croatian Blues Challenge in 2010. They were semi-finalists at the International Blues Challenge, Memphis 2011 and the European Blues Challenge, Toulouse 2012. This album Click Play is their 3rd. They have opened for Serbian neighbor and major blues star, Ana Popovic; Johnny Winter; and Floridian resonator virtuoso Eric Sardinas.

Hrepa (Boris Hrepić) is the leader on acoustic guitar, vocals and harmonica. Dedication and devotion are the messages here. Ro La (Antonia Vrgoč) has a versatile voice roaming from rock to blues to country as needed. She is the heart of the band and handles lead vocals which are often doubled by buried; echoed or call and response with Hrepa’s whispered growl. Hans (Goran Gubić), electric guitar, helms all the excursions from the darker side of the street with abundant fuzz, overdrive and tasteful leads. Šparka (Igor Paradiš) drops the beat into the tunes as many of these songs start off acoustically. Once unleashed, he can boogie, swing or stomp, without ever getting in the song’s way. They are pros and it shows.

You’d think that a blues band that has the lyric in the first and title track “Chuck Berry please sit down…” would be all boogie or gut bucket but this outfit has very deep rock roots. Hrepa’s lyrics are all twist and turn filled and very clever. His voice attempts a Tom Waits or latter day Leonard Cohen gravitas but comes out more Alabama 3 of The Soprano’s Theme music fame. His acoustic guitar based blues compositions are properly picked and thumped and have the authenticity necessary to get things going. On the 2nd track, “Deep Down”, his lyrics are articulate and his licks crisp. Sung mostly by Ro La who starts off in a soft husky rasp and then she lets her rock star swagger. The song’s arrangement is sparse. “Time is a healer but what can I do? The only cure is you.”

The next tune “Delirium” veers off the blues track into grunge meets mid 80’s arena rock. My favorite track is “Favorite Surprise” a great song. The drums kick it off along with a bright jaunty harp intro, various punctuations and a shanty style solo to go with it. The electric guitar sound is washed in dreamy tremolo which highlights the upbeat vocals. The repeated sing song verse is full of surprises and is really the chorus. When the bridge comes it breaks the happy spell with a descending line reflecting on why the deep blue eyes make all the worries go away. “In Case You Missed It” is so relatable and fun: “I’ll cook and you wash the dishes”. “Nobody Knows” starts with acoustic boogie guitar and then goes into Texas guitar blues, the groove that pays the bills.

The missteps are few but worth mentioning. “Little Wing”, one of just two covers on the album, is reasonably novel and well done but incongruous with the rest of their material. Ro La’s voice is also not very well suited for the extended note held climax but I guess they were trying to add a new wrinkle. Also with the distinctive chord progression for “Help the Poor” by Charles “Hoss” Singleton for B.B. King as it is so embedded in us USA Blues folks that it tends to detract from giving their version a fair shot. They shine brightly on their own compositions and not so much on cover tunes.

The best thing about this Croatian band is that the burden of blues history is not apparent from their songwriting or expression. They are firmly on well-traveled roads but most of this album is fresh sounding and original. They match the story arc of each song with a rock edge. Soft intros into the louder electric guitar then back into the soft ending, classic blues rock blend. This is a seasoned band that knows how to please its audience and grow its fan base. The production is high quality and lacks nothing. If the last song “Hand on My Shoulders” is any indication, they may be best served by sticking to the sprightly played acoustic-based spirituals while adding touches of electric guitar and drums just enough to bolster the deep sentiments.

“Thank you for the music in my soul…Thank you there is so many things to thank you for and when I’ll say no more. Thank you, Lord.”

Reviewer Reviewer Steve Gabe is a musician, writer, actor, comedian and lawyer.



 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 8 

cal williams jr cd imageCal Williams Jr – Winter Dove

Self release

www.calwilliamsjr.com

10 songs / 39:22 minutes

Based in Adelaide, South Australia, Cal Williams Jr is a guitarist/singer-songwriter with a focus on blues and folk music, whose reputation has been steadily growing in recent years, both at home in Australia and in the United Kingdom. In addition to performing and recording, Williams is the author of numerous instructional books for guitar and ukulele, including books on alternate tunings and a volume devoted to songwriting. He’s also a performing member of The Hushes, a trio that weaves bluegrass, folk, and blues elements into an intriguing acoustical brew.

Winter Dove is his sixth solo effort, and it follows a format similar to that of his previous releases, featuring an assortment of acoustic blues and folk songs, with Williams on acoustic guitar and vocals, along with his long-time musical partner Kory Horwood on upright bass and vocals, Kelly Menhennet on backing vocals, Heather Stratfold on Cello, Chris Finnen on guitar and percussion, and Anthony Stewart on guitar and mandolin.

Recorded at a beach house in Aldinga during a summer heatwave, Winter Dove provides an introspective reflection on acoustic blues and folk music. Williams has once again teamed up with long term musical partner and highly-acclaimed upright bassist Kory Horwood to create an album that focuses primarily on older folk blues tunes, weaving heartfelt stories highlighted by William’s understated fingerpicking and plaintive vocals.

For this collection, Williams combines a variant of traditional British folk fingerpicking with his unique approach to the acoustic slide guitar to create a sound that is both intricate and rhythmic, but never overwhelming. His soft tenor is evocative of Mississippi John Hurt, while his playing combines elements of Delta blues and traditional folk and bluegrass music. Williams’ playing throughout this CD is refined yet somewhat understated, especially compared to some of his live performances that can be easily found on YouTube.

The opening track, “Can’t Get Well No More”, has a familiar, loping quality to it. It feels very intimate, almost as if you’ve stumbled upon a private, back porch performance, and it clearly showcases Williams’ acoustic blues sensibility.

The second cut, the melancholy “World of Stone,” features some gorgeous fingerpicking and a haunting cello that leaves its way throughout the performance.

The third track, “How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?”, showcases the softer side of Williams’ fingerpicked approach to slide guitar, and features some lovely background harmony vocals.

“Daniel in the Lion’s Den” features an interesting, bowed double bass intro, and has a bluegrass feel to it. Other songs include the title track, “Winter Dove”, a delicate combination of British folk music and American gospel, with some wonderful background harmony vocals and a subtle string arrangement. And, the beautifully fingerpicked spiritual, “Can’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore” is a real delight.

This collection requires the listener’s attention, and while the instrumentation is beautifully recorded – the interplay between musicians is seamless – the subtlety of Williams’ voice sometimes gets lost. Perhaps adding some compression to his vocals might have helped balance its volume in certain tracks.

All in all, this is a quiet album, and focuses on the softer side of Williams’ playing and vocals. Headphones will allow the listener to fully appreciate all of the subtle details that can be found in these songs, and whet your appetite for more. And a quick visit to YouTube will provide the listener with a glimpse of a much more lively performer than might be expected, and is well worth the trip!

Regardless, if you’re a fan of traditional acoustic blues and folk music, do check out Winter Dove. It’s an enjoyable collection of traditional tunes performed with introspection, subtlety and sincerity by an intriguing performer. This is a relatively short album, with all 10 songs clocking-in at just over 39 minutes, but there are no wasted moments on Winter Dove.

Reviewer Dave Orban is a technology marketer by day, musician/artist/educator by night. Since 1998, Orban has fronted The Mojo Gypsies, based in the greater Philadelphia area. http://www.mojogypsies.com


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 Featured Blues Review – 7 of 8 

homesick james cd imageHomesick James – Shake Your Money Maker

Wolf Records

17 songs; 54 minutes

I must confess to being not at all familiar with the work of Homesick James. So it was a more than pleasant surprise to encounter these live recordings, capturing James in the mid-to-late 1970s, when he would have been in his mid-60s. This collection was released in 2017 by Austria-based Wolf Records International GmbH. It features 17 covers, many of which will be quite familiar to blues listeners the world over, songs such as “Tin Pan Alley,” “Crossroad Blues,” “Dust My Broom,” and “Shake Your Money Maker,” which was, of course, one of Elmore James’ signature tunes.

Generally believed to have been born in Somerville, TN in 1910, Homesick James’ birth name has been variously reported to be John William Henderson, James Williams, or James Williamson. He died in 2006. James claimed to have played with Yank Rachell, Sleepy John Estes, Blind Boy Fuller and Big Joe Williams, among others, and also to have been acquainted with Robert Johnson. He also claimed to be the older cousin of Elmore James, to have bought James his first guitar, and to have taught him how to play slide. However, some of these claims lack confirmation.

In the mid-1930s, Homesick James had moved to Chicago, and by the early 1950s he was working with such performers as Baby Face Leroy Foster, Snooky Pryor, and Floyd Jones. He was also a member of Elmore James’ band from 1955 to 1963, contributing to such classic tracks as “Dust My Broom,” “The Sky Is Crying,” and “Roll and Tumble.”

His self-taught approach to slide guitar was honed in local dance halls during his teen years, and – between that and playing in Elmore James’ band – gave him a style reminiscent of his cousin’s. But Homesick’s playing is – at least to my ears – much more raw and expressive. This collection is roughly broken into three sections: the first recordings feature James solo, on electric slide guitar. The second section features James on slide, accompanied by Snooky Pryor on harmonica and Hans Dujmic on guitar (and on 1 track, Fritz Ozmec drums). The third section was recorded at James’ home, and is just James on acoustic guitar and vocals, along with his very steady – and satisfying – foot-stomping.

The opening track, “Louise, Louise Blues,” features James unaccompanied, with just his voice and electric slide guitar. And what a great opener it is! What James lacks in precision is more than made-up in expressiveness and raw energy, in both his playing and singing. It’s followed up by the relentless pulse of “My Baby’s Gone.”

In the songs that are accompanied by Snooky Pryor on harmonica, Pryor knows to give James adequate space to do his thing, and in these tunes, the harmonica is being used primarily as a rhythm and percussion instrument, helping to propel each song forward, yet allowing James’ guitar and vocal to dominate, clearly and authoritatively.

Songs like “Baby Please Set a Date,” “Got to Move,” and “Sweet Home Chicago” are very rhythmic in nature, and benefit greatly from Pryor’s chugging harmonica. The groove is infectious, and helps to galvanize the appreciative audience to clap in time. Make no mistake: This is dance music, and it’s very easy to imagine these songs being played in juke joints and barrel houses all throughout the old south. There is joy in this music, and James is performing with a passion that he clearly feels very deeply. And it shows!

As my first introduction to the work of Homesick James, Shake Your Money Maker has proven to be a real eye-opener, and has only whet my appetite to hear more of his work. Hopefully, it will have the same impact on you!

Reviewer Dave Orban is a technology marketer by day, musician/artist/educator by night. Since 1998, Orban has fronted The Mojo Gypsies, based in the greater Philadelphia area. http://www.mojogypsies.com



 Featured Blues Review – 8 of 8 

lil' red & the rooster cd imageLil’ Red & The Rooster – Soul Burnin’

Lil’ Red Records LLR03

12 songs – 47 minutes

www.lilredandtherooster.com

Splitting their time between Ohio and France, Lil’ Red & The Rooster are an interesting duo who deliver a classy take on traditional, jazz infused blues in this collection, which was produced and recorded by Chicagoan Dave Specter.

The duo features Westerfield, Ohio, native Jennifer “Lil’ Red” Milligan on washboard and vocals. She’s a multi-talented artist who’s been performing since childhood with careers in theater and choreography as well as music. At 22, she traveled the national as a lead artists in a national touring company presentation of Hair.

Influenced heavily by Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James and Dinah Washington, she’s also taught jazz vocalization under the direction of the late Michelle Horsefield, who worked with Fats Waller, Eddie Condon and Cliff Jackson, and her blues training has come under the tutelage of both Diunna Greenleaf and Teeny Tucker.

This is Lil’ Red & The Rooster’s second CD, a follow up to 2013’s Out Of The Coop. Two years after that release, they represented the Columbus Blues Alliance at the International Blues Challenge and also were finalists in a French competition.

Her partner in this venture is classically trained guitarist Pascal Fouquet. Raised on a farm in France’s Normandy region, he plays traditional, baritone and banjo axes. His background includes three CDs with in the early 2000s with the famed The Hoodoomen, with whom Lil’ Red also recorded, and several more with band leader Drew Davies, one of the top saxophonists in Britain. A 40-year veteran of the music business, Fouquet won back-to-back honors as French blues guitarist of the year.

Recorded in Chicago at Blaise Barton’s JoyRide Studio, all of the tunes on Soul Burnin’ were written by the duo in full-band arrangement aided by boogie keyboard player Ricky Nye, who splits his time between his native Cincinnati and Paris, and the French rhythm section of drummer Denis Agenet and upright bassist Abdell “B. Bop” Bouyousfi. They’re augmented by Specter, who contributes guitar on three tracks, as well as vocalists Shaun Booker, Caroline Rau and Jeff Morrow.

Lil’ Red channels blues singers of the ‘30s and ‘40s as she opens “Soul Burnin’ Wrong,” a highly topical original in today’s world that speaks out against rape, senseless murder of innocent blacks and more acapella as she preaches for cross-cultural love and understanding. She’s a powerful, expressive alto. Fouquet joins in guitar after the first few bars before the rhythm section starts swinging to join the action. Nye takes you to church with a brief organ solo, and Pascal’s touch on the strings is light and breezy throughout.

The subject lightens for the Delta and slide flavored “Catch That Train,” a tribute to chance meetings on the rails that lead to lasting friendships, while “Listen” offers up some sound advice: Fighting your obstacles doesn’t always work; often it’s best to separate yourself from the action and pay attention to what’s truly going on. Next up, “Narcissistic Blues” features Specter and Nye as it slams self-involved people with a true Chicago mid-tempo shuffle feel. Fouquet stretches out on the six-string for the pleasing instrumental “Coq A Doodlin’” next, giving the rhythm section space to shine, while “Black Cat Fever” – a tune that would have fit comfortably in a high-society saloon in the ‘50s — puts an interesting spin on being doomed after biting the apple and letting the serpent win.

“Respect Your Sisters” delivers a funky warning to lady friends who talk behind Lil’ Red’s back before the jazzy “TicToc” sings about a man who’s late in arriving for a date with Lil’ Red discovering much too late that he’d simply fallen asleep at home. The theme continues with “Hey Mister Mister,” who’s bringing the lady down, before the instrumental guitar bonanza “Big Boy Boogie,” “Chicken Scratch,” which describes Lil’ Red’s first meeting in France with Pascal with a Howlin’ Wolf tune playing in the background, and the ballad “Occupy My Mind” bring the action to a close.

Relaxed and sweet throughout, Soul Burnin’ is totally enjoyable blues with a cabaret jazz feel. Available through Amazon, this one’s for you if you’re adventurous. It’s original and different.

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 Society News 


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Central Iowa Blues Society – Des Moines, IA

Central Iowa Blues Society presents the Second Annual SpringFest will be May 27, 2018 at the Jasper Winery, 2400 George Flagg Parkway in Des Moines beginning at 2:00pm . This free event a great way to kick-off the Memorial day weekend with great music featuring four acts from Iowa, Minnesota, and Florida – including International Blues Challenge Winner Kevin “BF” Burt, Ducharme-Jones Band, Paul Mayasich with Benderheads and Lauren Mitchell Band.

Bring your blankets and lawn chairs, enjoy the music, relax, and unwind with wines from Jasper Winery, beer from Madhouse Brewing, BBQ as well as other food vendors. (In accordance with state law, any alcohol must be purchased from the winery – attendees are not allowed to bring in their own.)

SpringFest is brought to you by the Central Iowa Blues Society, Jasper Winery, and Fat Tuesday Productions. For more information visit www.cibs.org, or contact Scott Allen (prez@cibs.org).

Crossroads Blues Society – Rockford, IL

Monthly shows at the Hope and Anchor in Loves Park, IL are on the second Saturday of the month. They are from 8:00 to 11:30 PM and there is a $5 Cover Charge. Scheduled shows: May 12 – Cash Box Kings.

Contact Steve Jones at sub_insignia@yahoo.com for more info on any of these events or go to http://crossroadsbluessociety.com/.

The Illinois Central Blues Club – Springfield, IL

The Illinois Central Blues Club has announced the line-up of talent for Blue Monday live performances held every Monday night at e Alamo, 115 North Fifth, Springfield, IL from 8:00pm to midnight. Additional information on any performer listed below is available upon request.

Blue Monday Schedule: April 23 – Paul Bonn and the Bluesmen, April 30 – The Joe Tenuto Band. For more information visit www.icbluesclub.org.

The Blues Society of Central PA – Steelton, PA

The Blues Society of Central PA will host performances of the Skyla Burrell Band and Chicago’s John Primer on Sunday, April 22 at Champions Sports Bar 300 2nd. St. Highspire, PA . 2PM -6 PM.

$20 admission at the door. Doors open at 1 PM. www.bscpblues.org.

Ventura County Blues Society – Ventura, CA

The 13th Annual Ventura County Blues Festival, Southern California’s Longest-Running Yearly Big Blues Event, returns on Saturday, April 28, to Studio Channel Islands, 2222 E. Ventura Blvd., in Camarillo. Gates open 10:00 am, music begins at 11:00 am. Tickets $30. (Pre-Sale), $40. (Day of Show). Kids 12 and under, free with paid Adult General Admission. V.I.P. Tickets $125. (online only). Festival proceeds benefits Food Share, Safety Harbor Kids and other local charities (please bring a nonperishable food item to donate to Food Share). Info: (805) 501-7122 or visit http://venturacountyblues.com. Benefiting Safety Harbor Kids and other local charities. Donations welcome.

This year’s lineup features multiple former Grammy nominee, vocalist Earl Thomas; harpist-vocalist extraordinaire, John Nemeth; SoCal native daughter and longtime festival favorite, Deb Ryder; past International Blues Challenge semi finalists, Alan Wright Band; Sandy Scott & Blues to The Bone, featuring powerhouse vocalist, Sandy Scott. As per yearly tradition, the Ventura County Blues Society All-Star Jam closes out the festival, with special, unannounced guest performers


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