Issue 12-22 May 31, 2018

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Cover photo © 2018 Joseph A. Rosen


 In This Issue 

Don Wilcock has our feature interview with Doug MacLeod. We have 8 Blues reviews for you this week including new music from Tas Cru, Deb Ryder, Breezy Rodio, Myles Goodwyn, The Nut Jumpers, Peter Karp, Sara Lee and The Jimmy Zee Band.

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


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2018 Blues Blast Music Award Tickets On Sale Now

This years awards are being held at the Tebala Event Center in Rockford, IL on September 29th, 2018 beginning at 6:00pm. (Doors open at 5:00pm)

Early-bird tickets are $30 until we announce the nominees in early June. Beginning June 15th advance tickets are $35. Tickets will be $40 at the door.

Tables for ten are only $250. To get your tickets now click HERE!

Information on travel, lodging, tickets and sponsorships is available on the Blues Blast Music Awards website at www.TheBBMAs.com.

 

WHERE TO STAY – We have chosen La Quinta in Rockford as the host hotel for fans and artists. La Quitna 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 tickets and rooms booked now!


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 Featured Interview – Doug MacLeod 

doug macleod photo 1The first time Doug MacLeod performed “Break The Chain,” the title song from his latest album, was in Denmark. “I was doing a festival. I was in this room. There must have been about 300 people there, and they all stand up there in Denmark. And I mentioned the story of “Break The Chain.” How do you break the chain of abusive families to overcome adversity and not be subject to it?

“I saw some movement as I was singing the song, and there as a young man, maybe 20 years old. He kept moving up through the crowd. He sat down in front of me as I was singing the song, and he sat down like a person who does meditation. He crossed his legs, the hands out on top of the knees, and he was listening to the song.

“It was the last song of the set. When I got done, I was signing CDs, talking to people, and he waited until the very, very end and came up to me. I thought he wanted a CD, but he didn’t want a CD. He just said to me, ‘Mr. MacLeod?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘I heard your song “Break The Chain.’” I said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘This means I still gotta chance, don’t I?’ I said, ‘Yes, young man. You still got a chance.’”

For MacLeod, playing electric guitar started out as a way to sell alcohol to hippies and make a living. He was lucky enough to study at the feet of masters like George “Harmonica Smith, Ernest Banks and Lowell Fulson who taught him the power of truth and honesty that is real blues. Projecting that truth became therapy in dealing with his own abuse as a child and has become a window that opens out to his fans in music with a personal spiritual revelation. “I still get chills now remembering that young man,” says MacLeod who plays acoustic and writes all his own songs.

“To me that is the most fulfilling thing that can happen because you’re making a difference in somebody’s life. There’s more to this music than just three chords, and it’s more than just let’s have a party tonight. There’s a way to get through life with this music. There’s a way to handle the adversities that come into everybody’s life. I remember learning it, being around those guys just like (Ernest) Banks in Virginia. How the honesty was.

“I sang about hell hounds on my trail.’ Ernest looked at me and said, ‘What’s that song about, boy?’ I said, ‘It’s about hell hounds.’ And he said, ‘What do you know about hell hounds? I said, ‘I don’t know about the song, but I play it for the hippies, and they like it.’ And he said, ‘You don’t know about it!’ I said, ‘No, but it’s a good song, you know.’ And he said, ‘Well, you’re bullshitting me, ain’t you, boy? Why you wanna bullshit me? Write about what you know about.’”

MacLeod’s hellhounds came in the form of a babysitter and a cousin who sexually abused him as a child. He first sang about it in his song “The Demon Moan” in 2008.

“That song is about when someone abuses you sexually, and you hear them moan with enjoyment,” he told me then. “See, when you’re young, there’s no way you can defend yourself against it, and in the end if you don’t come up in a real nurturing loving family, you think this is how it’s supposed to be. I blocked it out.

“All I remember of my eight years in Raleigh, North Carolina is a bamboo fishing pole with my brother like the beginning of the Andy Griffith Show, just walking down to the lake to go fishing. That’s all I remember of it. And the anger! That anger that I had, that rage, and I mean, I took that rage out. I took that rage out.

doug macleod photo 2“I was an angry, angry violent young man, and when I ran into the black people that were playing the blues. I saw how much they enjoyed life with the simple things. They were poor, but they loved music. They would dance and when they made love, I said, ‘Wow.’ The first time I made love with a woman like that was unbelievable to me. I’d never had an experience like that. And how much joy and how much sensual stuff was going on, and I realized if these people can be happy, well then I can be happy.

“They came up through prejudice and slavery and all this. For me, it’s bad, but it’s not like a whole race. So, I said, ‘I wonder if these people will take me in?’ And they did. I was really fortunate. That’s how I got a real handle on things which is also the sense of humor. That’s the thing that balances it. If you can learn to laugh at yourself and laugh at this life, you can survive it a whole lot easier.”

Years later, Doug has mellowed about his induction into the blues. “I should say, I felt kind of lost and adrift, and the only anchor I had was blues, and it sounds so granola-ish, but it’s true. My buddy from St. Louis, Steve Waldman, was the first guy to introduce me to blues, and he took me down to where the blues was playing in St. Louis, and I related. I looked at this and I said, ‘Wow! These people have suffered.’ This is like 1960, something like that, 1961. You know, there was prejudice, and somehow we never had any trouble going to hear the music or hanging out, and I like being around these people because they overcame adversity. I didn’t have the intelligence at that time to know exactly what was going on, but I knew there was something being spoken to me if I would open my ears and my heart and allow it to come in. Later I met Mr. Banks and I (related) to the honesty and how important it is. I think then the catharsis started to happen where I could release all the stuff that was inside of me, writing music and entertaining people and making them feel better.”

There are journeymen who play three chords. There are road warriors who can do it in their sleep. There are icons whose songs fight for space in our busy brains. And then there’s Doug MacLeod whose truth and honesty permeate his music and defy categories. George “Harmonica” Smith called him Dubb, and when George told Dubb he sounded like B.B. King, MacLeod thanked him. “That’s not a compliment,” said Smith who sent MacLeod searching inward instead of out.

“And that’s when I got my balls on, you might say in the sense that what George was telling me is you gotta be you. You can’t be copying somebody. You gotta be you. Finally, I left that other stuff behind. I was gonna be me. George said, ‘Dubb, it’s time to put Dubb out there. Let’s see what happens with Dubb.’”

McLeod went from Blues 101 to graduate school in street. “When I was coming up, if you didn’t play right, they would take you to the side and say, ‘Look, motherf*cker, if you don’t play this right, I ain’t gonna pay ya, or something worse could happen to you.’ You learn! You learn to play it like you’re s’posed to play it.

“Guys you knew were carrying guns and knives and whatever they had, and if they said to you, ‘Motherf*cker, you play this right,’ you had to play it right. The first guy that said that to me was Ernest Banks. It was about playing it right. God almighty. You gotta remember now at that time I was in a small town of Tuano, Virginia, and back in the woods. If a white guy didn’t come out of the woods that night, nobody would care. I mean, so what?

“So, he (Ernest) only had one eye. If you messed up with him, he’d look at you with that one eye and say, ‘What you doin’, boy?’ I don’t think he said “motherf*cker” too much. There was a guy in St. Louis that said that a lot. He was getting’ set to die, so he was playing like Sister Rosetta Tharpe songs and stuff like that. So, the swearing had gone from him by that time, but, yeah, it would be like, ‘Why are you jiving? Why are you bullshitting me, boy?’ But it was serious stuff. Again, talk about the honesty. It’s not like you’re a cartoon character on the stage playing blues. I got my blues music uniform on and playing blues was very serious.”

doug macleod photo 3McLeod played electric guitar early on for Big Joe Turner, Pee Wee Crayton, Eddie ‘Cleanhead’ Vinson, Lowell Fulson and Big Mama Thornton. “I could do no wrong with her. She really liked me. So, we’re in the Paris Room (in L.A.). Now, you gotta remember, I’m the only white guy in the band, and maybe there’s two other white guys in the audience. But I’m the only white guy, right? Here we are playing and it’s a slow blues, and Mama says, ‘I want to hear some guitar.’

So, of course, I defer to Pee Wee Crayton. I was the second guitar player. So, Pee Wee starts playing, and then Mama says, ‘I don’t want to hear you. I want to hear little Doug play.’ Wow! Wow! I had to play, and I felt so bad, but I played the solo, and then on the break, I’m sitting in the back, and up walks Pee Wee. I thought he was gonna read me the riot act, but Pee Wee comes up, and he says to me – he’s one of the few people that ever called me Douglas. He said, ‘Douglas!’ I said, ‘Yup!’ He said, ‘I just want to know one thing.’ ‘What’s that, Pee Wee?’ He said, ‘What the f*ck did you do to that woman?’”

Doug has an ability to cut through the prejudices and biases that sometimes can get in the way of musicians trying to get close to their mentors. He talks about an incident with Robert Lockwood Jr. who struggled his whole life overcoming the fact that he was Robert Johnson’s stepson. That seemed to be the only thing anyone wanted to talk about. Never mind that Lockwood was a talented artist whose jazz influences meant that he sounded nothing like Robert Johnson.

“We came to this concert, and I see his 12-string, right? And I’m eying it and, wow, I’d like to know what this is about, and he says to me, ‘I think you been looking at my guitar,’ and I said, ‘Yeah.’ He says, ‘You want to play it?’ I said to myself, ‘I’d love to play it’ because then I could get an idea of where to tune it to, and what kind of gauge strings he has.

“I said, ‘Yeah, I would like to play it.’ He said, ‘Let me ask you something, Ok? What do you think about this Robert Johnson at the crossroads and all that?’ And I said, ‘Well, to tell you the truth. I don’t think much of it.’ And he looked at me and said, ‘You don’t?’ And I said, ‘No, in my opinion, Robert Johnson was one hell of a musician and he worked real hard to get to where he was.’ And Robert Jr. Lockwood had a little smile, and he said, ‘Go ahead and play it. That’s so funny to me. And I don’t think much of that stuff either.’ Honeyboy (Edwards) didn’t either when he and I talked. He just knew Robert Johnson learned how to play practically from working hard.”

Doug was determined not to let the generational “chain” of abuse continue with his son Jesse. “Jesse and I have had a thing ever since he was a little boy. It’s called our honor, and that’s when you can’t lie to each other. It’s when we have something to talk about seriously, you say, ‘I need this in our honor,’ and that means you gotta tell the truth. We’ve had that relationship ever since he was tiny. You know, the power of love that happens when you have a family that cares about each other. We’re there for each other. It’s healing. We don’t talk about it now because we know that’s what happened, and my wife says, ‘Everything along your road has brought you here,’ meaning to her and to love. I found love finally in my life, and then we had a son who is a product of that love. That’s pretty damn good, I think.”

An example of Doug and Jesse’s “honor” occurred one Christmas morning when Jesse was young. “We were visiting my in-laws, my wife’s folks, and Jesse was in the car with me. We were doing an errand trying to find some milk or something on Christmas morning, and I was smoking a pipe. I lit up the pipe, and Jesse, said, ‘Daddy, I don’t want you to do that.’ And I said, ‘Why?’ He said, ‘Well, that’s a drug and you told me, ‘Don’t ever do drugs.’” I said, ‘Well, Jesse, that’s not like the kind of drug I’m talking about.’ He said, ‘But, Daddy, that’s a drug,’ and he was only like six years old, and I said, ‘Oh, God, I gotta stop because if I don’t stop and he gets to be 14, 13, years old, he’s going to say, ‘Look, I asked you to stop and you didn’t. So, I’m not going to stop. I’ll do whatever the hell I want.’ I said, ‘I gotta stop,’ so I stopped smoking. I started using toothpicks.”

To this day, Doug can often be seen with a wooden toothpick hanging from his mouth. “I really don’t use ’em to pick my teeth. I just get ’em in there, so I can remember to stop smoking cigarettes from years ago.”

doug macleod photo 4Break The Chain is Doug’s 25th recording in 34 years. It recently won the Blues Music Award for Acoustic Album of the Year and was recorded for Reference Recordings, a high-end audiophile label.

“It’s a natural sound. That’s what’s so great about it. There’s no overdubs. There’s no pitch control. There’s no friction in the mixin. It’s like I say, it’s music made by humans for humans. There’s a little grease in it. Of course, there’s a little grease in it. There’s a little grease in you. There’s a little grease in me. You gotta have it. The tempo might change, or the pulse might change a little bit, but that’s human. If you love somebody, you don’t keep it the same heartbeat all the time. You know, things move. It’s the same way. So, for us, this is real. When you get an album of ours, that’s what we play. That’s it.

“It’s not like we had to go back in the studio five or six times and redo it and do this and do that and get it right and make the perfect notes and move it to the sides, and it’s gotta be right on the money. Now, you think about it. There’s three, four, five guys playing with me. Think about this in the ’30s and the ’40s with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. How many guys in that orchestra? There were no overdubs then. Those guys went in and played. That’s what’s incredible.”

The title song was co-written with Jesse who performs on the cut. In the liner notes Doug writes, ‘My son Jesse and I co-wrote this song with this message. I was abused. I learned in therapy that the abused can abuse. When Jesse was a little fella, I looked into his eyes and I said, ‘No way!’ I broke the chain of abuse that had been in my family for who knows how long. Jesse and I want you to know that you too can break the chain. You have the power. Use it.”

Doug considers the song lifesaving, but sometimes Jesse goes a little close to the edge just like his dad did to get close to the music they both love. The apple does not fall far from the tree.

“Jesse was in an underground hip hop group whose name was Sophistic. He had to go down to South Central L.A. to be around that hip hop scene, right? That’s all black people down there, and he’s the white kid down there. Ok, so he goes down there. I get nervous about it, and my wife Patti says, ‘How can you tell him not to go down there?’ I said, ‘Well, it’s dangerous down there.’ She said, ‘Where did you go when you were a teenager?’ So, I couldn’t say nothing. You know what I mean?”

Doug says he gets a lot of tears when he performs “Break The Chain.”

“People come up to me and have tears in their eyes. People say, ‘Thank you for that. Thank you for putting it in song. Thank you for putting it out there.’ People thank you for having the courage to do it. It’s kind of ironic. I don’t see it as courage. If you go back to the old blues songs way back in the ’20s and ’30s, the singer/songwriter guys like Lemon Jefferson and that ilk, they were talking about hope, and there was a lot of hope at the end of those songs.

“I have love in my life and when someone says to me, ‘Ok, Doug. He’s living the blues.’ I say, ‘Me, I’m not now. I just remember them.’ I’m a very, very lucky guy.

“I look at my life and I look at where I am now, and where I came from, and I say this to people. I say even from a pile of manure, a rose can grow. I look at my life. That’s what happened.”

Visit Doug’s website at: www.doug-macleod.com

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


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 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 8 

tas cru cd imageTas Cru – Memphis Song

Subcat Records

www.tascru.com

12 tracks/54 minutes

Tas Cru’s bio begins like this, “Raucous, rowdy, gentle, sweet, eccentric, quirky, and outright irreverent are all words that fittingly describe Tas Cru’s songs and testify to his reputation as a one of the most unique of bluesmen plying his trade today. ” I have to agree with that assessment, having enjoyed this and his prior albums and also having having worked with Cru as a blues educator in our Blues in the Schools Program. I first met Tas in 2014 at the luncheon when he got his Keeping the Blues Alive Award for his great music education work. He truly does a great job with the kids.

He does an equally great job writing songs and performing them. His vocals are unique and interesting and his guitar work is really excellent. His band is also outstanding and work with him and each other quite well. Bob Purdy on bass, Dick Earle Ericksen on harp, Andy Rudy on piano/clavichord, Guy Nirelli on organ and Sonny Rock, Ron Keck and Andy Hearn sharing the drums and percussion work make for a tight and supportive unit. Tas wrote all the songs here and Mary Ann Casale, a musician who Tas often works with back home in Syracuse in upstate New York, helped on penning the first two. She also appears as a backing vocalist throughout and on guitar for a track and sings a duo with Cru on another. Victor Wainwright appears on the title track and Bill Barry is on organ for track nine. Donna Marie Floyd-Tritico and Patti Parks also do backing vocals.

“Heal My Soul” gets things off to a rousing start. Co-written by May Ann Casale, the song has a driving beat that moves things along as Cru and the backing vocalists give us their all and Andy Rudy supplies some cool piano. It’s Tas’ vocal work and Erickson’s harp that push this song over the top. Casale also co-wrote the title track which is next; she also plays acoustic guitar on the track and Victor Wainwright is on piano. Pat Harrington on slide adds to the piece as do Casale and Wainwright. “Memphis Song” is a haunting song that pays homage to the blues tradition of Memphis and Beale Street and the “Blues family” Tas treasures and loves dearly. Cru blazes on “Fool for the Blues,” with some slick guitar work and vocals. Nirelli’s organ here and throughout also adds a lot. “Give a Little Up” features Casale and Cru sharing the lead vocals with Ericksen blowing harp for some interesting punctuation to their vocals. Rudy also fills in nicely with his keyboard work. The song’s got a little funk going as the two spar vocally- very well done! Next up is “Daddy Didn’t Give You Much,” another funky blues with a sweet groove going for it. The guitar solo is well done and the blending of guitar and organ is nicely done, too. “Have a Drink” gets a cool boogie going with guitar, piano. organ and the backing vocalists along with Tas laying it all out.

“That Look” begins with a gritty and greasy organ and guitar intro and Purdy’s bass lays out a nice groove that Rock beats long to to make things move. Cru gets some more funk going here and delivers another winner. The guitar solo is short and sweet, right to the point and the organ makes things fun, too. “One Eyed Jack” gets some more funk on and the dirty harp and organ back Cru’s impassioned vocals. Cru offers another tasty guitar solo and Purdy gets some nice bass licks in there, too. Ericksen’s harp gets to share as the songs closes out and Cru and company give it a big finish. Cru stays with the playing card theme with “Queen of Hearts,” a slow blues ballad that Cru handles with grace. Thoughtful vocals,. guitar work and a good solo and more nice organ work (Bill Barry here) make this one special. “Don’t Lie to That Woman” is a jazzy and mid-tempo swing cut with some well done acoustic guitar finger picking. Cru gets a nice jive going and the finger snapping is a neat effect, too. The big electric guitar sound returns with “Feel So Good,” a straight up blues with more good harp work and backing vocals to support Cru’s lead. Cru concludes with “Can’t Get Over Blues.” Things start with a slick guitar instrumental and then Tas comes in with bluesy and breathy vocals that are slick. There’s another nice guitar solo and Ericksen’s harp and Nirelli’s organ also shine.

The band is tight. The songs are well crafted. The playing is super. The vocals are spot on. What is not to like? Cru continues to shine at his craft and demonstrates that the tank is full and he’s ready to deliver more great music on the heels of his 2018 BMA nominated Simmered and Stewed. I enjoyed this CD and think that it would make a good addition to any blues lover’s collection!

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 – 2 of 8 

Deb Ryder cd imageDeb Ryder – Enjoy The Ride

Vizztone Label Group

www.debryder.com

13 tracks/55 minutes

Enjoy The Ride is Deb Ryder’s fourth album and it appears to me to be her best yet. Her powerful and strident vocals deliver a huge performance that makes the listener take notice. All the tracks here are originals that she wrote and they all are top notch.

Ryder has several musical guests in addition to her fine band. Coco Montoya, Kirk Fletcher and Chris Cain appear on guitar and Cain also offers up a fine vocal duet. “Big Pete” Peter Van/der Pluim is on harp for most of the tracks, too. Tony Braunagel is on drums and he produced the CD. Johnny Lee Schell is her guitar player and plays bass on two tracks. Mike Finnegan is on keys and also does a vocal duet with Deb. James Hutch Hutchinson, Kenny Gradney and Bob Glaub are also on bass. Mark Pender lends his trumpet to track 3 and Joe Sublett plays tenor sax on that cut and 3 others. A host of backing vocalists fill out the record nicely.

From the opening note of this CD, one senses that this is going to be a fun ride. Ryder begins with “A Storm’s Coming,” a bouncing and driving tune with a stinging guitar lead by Coco Montoya. Ryder’s strident vocals and the guitar work makes this opening song impressive. Next up is “Temporary Insanity” featuring Kirk Fletcher who makes his presence known early, offering up some very tasty guitar licks for us. Ryder gives a forthright performance and the piano work adds a nice dimension. Fletcher’s tone is hazy and a little dirty, making for a cool contrast of sounds. “Bring The Walls Down” has Chris Cain on guitar and Big Llou Johnson on a voice over. Cain’s guitar style stands out, too, with that big hollow sound that always reminds me a lot of B.B. King. Van G. Garrett offers up some poetic spoken word, too. Ryder’s vocals are again big and grab the listener’s attention as do the horn section. “Nothin’ To Lose” has some good harp work featured out front and we get to hear Deb’s guitar player featured for the first time and he does a great job. Ryder growls out the vocals while harp and guitar are right there with her, making for another cool cut.

Slow blues are next in “For The Last Time.” Ryder offers up very passionate vocals and the organ and guitar backing her helps set the mood. Mike Finnigan’s vocal duet with Deb is also quite well done- he gives us some deep and soulful emotion to his work with Deb.”What You want from Me” has a little of that Bo Diddley beat going for it and a church-like approach to the lead and backing vocals. This Gospel tune is cool and features some well done organ and guitar. The title track follows, a cut with a big and driving beat and the harp answering Debs vocal calls in the verses. Chris Cain returns in “Got To Let It Go” with his signature guitar sound and then he comes in for a duet with Deb. The two get it on vocally for a really fun cut.

“Life In Fast Forward” is a rocking, mid tempo song with the guitar and harp out in front. Ryder’s vocals continue to shine and backing vocalists play a big role. Debbie Davies is on board on the guitar for the next two tracks. “Sweet Sweet Love”” has a great lead and a great solo. on guitar The sax plays the biggest role here of the four cuts with tenor; well done. The organ also adds nicely to the mix. “Goodbye Baby” is a gutsy and bouncy tune with Ryder once again showing her chops. The guitar by Davies gets a little funk going and the support on organ and by others is up to the task. “Forever Yours” is a breezy and more ethereal rock cut with laid back vocals and a pretty and mellow guitar solo. The finale is “Red Line,” with some dirty harp and forceful vocals by Deb. Distorted and fuzzed up guitar add to the sound and feel. Big Pete’s harp play a major role, too- a nice finish to a nice album!

Deb has found her place in the blues world. She consistently delivers high quality vocals with power when she needs it and restraint when it is called for. She has become one of the top female vocalists out there. When you add a fine band and guests who blend their talents with Ryders, you wind up with a fine album that will likely garner accolades in next year’s blues awards.

Most highly recommended!

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


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 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 8 

breezy rodio cd imageBreezy Rodio – Sometimes The Blues Got Me

Delmark Records – 2018

17 tracks; 66 minutes

www.breezyrodio.com

Having served a ten year apprenticeship with Linsey Alexander and after two independent releases Breezy Rodio makes his Delmark debut and it makes a great fit with an excellent album of big band, horn-driven blues, using an ace band of Chicago musicians. Breezy handles lead vocals and guitar with a core band of Sumito ‘Ariyo’ Ariyoshi on piano, Chris Foreman on organ, Light Palone on bass and Lorenzo Francocci on drums; Joe Barr adds B/Vs and a horn section of Ian Letts on tenor sax, Ian ‘The Chief’ McGarrie on tenor, baritone and alto saxes, Art Davis and Constantine Alexander on trumpet. Guests include Billy Branch and Simon Noble on harp, Luca Chiellini replaces Ariyo on piano on one track, Greg Essig and Rick King handle drums on one cut each and Brian Burke and John Lauler play acoustic bass on one track each. Breezy wrote ten of the songs and selects seven covers from the likes of T-Bone Walker, Albert and BB King.

Breezy retains a little of his original accent in his vocals but carries the tunes well as the album opens with the first of three songs associated with BB King, Lee Hazlewood’s “Don’t Look Now, But I’ve Got The Blues”, Breezy playing some fine guitar in BB style with the horns pushing the tune along. Simon Noble’s harp appears on “Change Your Ways”, a driving shuffle with superb piano from Ariyo before Albert King’s “Wrapped Up In Love Again” in which Breezy captures Albert’s string-bending style brilliantly and the band gives superb support. The short but swinging “I Walked Away” is correctly credited to ‘J LeBlanc’, a pseudonym of T-Bone Walker who recorded this one back in the early 50’s and Breezy again nails the guitar style and the horns are terrific. A second visit to BB’s songbook is “Make Me Blue”, one of those typical BB ballads we all know and love but Breezy shows that he can create the same sort of mood on the swinging original “Let Me Tell You What’s Up”, an autobiographical account: “from town to town, from state to state, I sing the blues, I stay out late. I live my life with no regrets, with peace of mind.” The title track is similar, Breezy explaining that not everything about the bluesman’s life is as good as one might imagine: “It may seem kind of funny, as fun as it can be, I play every night and I almost work for free. Well, I’ve got the blues, the blues just won’t let me be, because sometimes I got the blues, sometimes the blues got me”. More BB follows with “I Love You So”, a 1962 release clearly influenced by the pop music of the era but with a beautifully poised solo at its centre.

A run of four originals then demonstrates the breadth of Breezy’s talent. “You Don’t Drink Enough” is a bright shuffle that takes the spirit (no pun intended!) of George Thorogood’s “If You Don’t Start Drinking” with a BB King style big band production, complete with Art Davis’ superb trumpet solo; “The Power Of The Blues” is a standout track with a fine horn arrangement and organ solo, subtle guitar and another lyric about how a bluesman will sacrifice everything to play the blues; the instrumental “A Cool Breeze In Hell” is a punning title that is explained when Breezy finds an Albert Collins tone to his guitar and Ariyo’s great boogie piano is the perfect foil to Billy Branch’s harp work on “Doctor From The Hood” in which Breezy offers advice on how best to cure what ails you – not all entirely legal!

“Blues Stay Away From Me” was written by the Delmore Brothers and has been recorded by Merle Haggard and Doc Watson and Breezy’s version brings the country to Chicago. “Fall In British Columbia” is a gentle ballad with some jazzy touches on guitar, probably the cut on the album furthest from the blues but “Not Going To Worry” takes us right back to the blues with Breezy on acoustic guitar and Chris Foreman’s organ bathing the tune in a gospel wash. Things get funky on another Albert Collins-flavored tune “One Of A Kind” before the album closes with “Chicago Is Loaded With The Blues”, written by singing drummer Clifton James and recorded by the Chicago Blues All Stars in 1972. The slow blues features Billy Branch’s harp and pays tribute to the Windy City’s incomparable blues scene, a fitting finale to this excellent album.

Breezy proves to be a competent singer and a versatile guitarist who can play in a range of styles. He pays tribute to some of the greats but also writes some good originals, making a satisfying Delmark debut, well worth investigating.

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


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 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 8 

mynes goodwyn cd imageMyles Goodwyn – And Friends Of The Blues

www.mylesgoodwyn.com

Linus Entertainment

12 songs – 50 minutes

Blues albums by rock stars tend to go one of two ways. Some can be very good. Pat Benatar’s 1991 effort,True Love, is a delight. Then again, she was smart enough to hire Roomful of Blues as her backing band. Some can be disappointing, Vivian Campbell’s searing lead guitar has lifted the likes of Dio, Whitesnake and Def Leppard to another level, but his 2005 collection of blues covers, Two Sides Of If, merely re-enforced the subtlety, dynamism and simple emotional power of the original recordings..

Myles Goodwyn is perhaps best known as the guitarist, lead singer and primary songwriter of Canadian rock band, April Wine. And Friends Of The Blues is Goodwyn’s sophomore solo release, following his eponymous effort in 1988. It is described as a collection of blues songs that Goodwyn has written over the years that never made it onto an April Wine album.

The core band on the album is Goodwyn on lead vocals, guitars and keyboards, together with Mike Carrol and Blair Mackay on drums; and Richard Fallus, Alex Fraser, Russal Jackson and Bruce Dixon on bass. Goodwyn also has different guests appearing on every song, with a veritable smorgasbord of guitarists, including Shaun Verreault, Amos Garrett, Steve Segal, Frank Marino, Garret Mason, David Wilcox, Jack de Keyser and Rick Derringer. Dewey Reeds adds harmonica to “You Never Got The Best Of Me”. Sonja Ball and Emily Lamarche add backing vocals and Bill Stevenson and Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne add keys to three songs. (Some of the musicians’ names appear to be pseudonyms or perhaps in-jokes.)

The album kicks off with the upbeat blues-rock of “Hate To See You Go (But I Love To Watch You Walk Away)”, with tasty sax from Eric Khayat and wicked slide guitar from Verreault. Goodwyn’s husky voice works well on the material, which contains as much rock as blues.

Indeed, although this is pitched as a blues album, it’s probably more accurately described as a rock album with a lot of blues in it. The playing throughout the album is top class from all concerned (special mention must go to Steve Segal’s slide guitar on “Brand New Cardboard Belt”) but the rhythm section leans more towards the “rock” end of the spectrum, rather than the “roll” end. This is blues played through the prism of ZZ Top and Gary Moore.

“Hate To See You Go…” is indicative of Goodwyn’s tongue-in-cheek approach to the lyrics of many of his songs, such as the “Blue Monday”-esque “Tell Me Where I’ve Been (So I Don’t Go There Anymore)” and the slow blues of “I’ll Hate You (Till Death Do Us Part)”. The aim is clearly humorous, and that works the majority of the time, although it does feel slightly uncomfortable listening to a very wealthy rock star singing “I ain’t gonna bath in the kitchen no more. When I get rich and I ain’t poor, I ain’t going back to the kitchen no more.”

Goodwyn wrote 11 of the songs on the album (the sole cover being Jesse Winchester’s “Isn’t That So”) and smartly avoids any clichéd standard 12 bar structures. The slower tracks, particularly “Weeping Willow Tree Blues” and “You Never Got The Best Of Me”, are especially effective.

As one might expect, And Friends Of The Blues features immaculate production and a smooth consistency throughout. If you’re looking for the blues of Lightnin’ Hopkins, you won’t find it here. You will however find an enjoyable collection of well-structured and well-played bluesy rock songs with some clever lyrics that will leave a smile on your face.

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 – 5 of 8 

nut jumpers cd imageThe Nut Jumpers – Boogie In The Shack

Rhythm Bomb Records

www.facebook.com/thenutjumpers

13 songs time-31:04

The Nut Jumpers based in the UK are a primitive Punk-New Wave inspired three piece ensemble. When Jake Calypso handles the “vocals” you’re on your own on trying to make heads or tales of what he is saying. What a mess! From what I gather he is French, so that accounts for his heavy accent. On the other hand Helen Shadow is understandable if manly sounding. The music can be interesting at times and energetic thanks to Helen’s exuberant guitar playing. It’s basically mostly about jumping rhythms. They would of fit easily into the Punk-New Wave scene of years gone by.

“Woah Oh Ho” is pretty indicative of what you are in store for when Jake is singing. Just for fun’s sake, I’ll give a brief sample of what some of the lyrics sound like…On second thought, you’re on your own. To be fair the song does feature nicely distorted rhythm guitar. Aside from the vocal “Set Me Free” sounds a bit like early Kinks, with its’ almost “You Really Got Me” rhythm guitar. The only clue that it’s Helen singing on “Love Truck” is that you can understand the words. She supplies energetic rhythm guitar here as usual.

They attain a Buddy Holly-ish groove on “My Pearly Doll” with Jake’s weird and spooky hard to decipher lyrics. Hey you can get every third word or so. You guessed it, Jake sings the title song. Not too hard to understand as it’s lyrics aren’t too complicated. He also supplies the Bob Dylan-like harmonica. The Middle Eastern sounding instrumental “Pandit” is quite nice with its’ exotic guitar sound. The rhythm of “C’mon, C’mon” is infectious, but the line “C’mon let’s move around” is repeated a bit too much.

Except for Jake yelling “Blow Your Top” and a few other words, the song is an instrumental infused with New Wave energy. Distorted slide guitar is featured on “Catholic Boy”. Both vocalists join in on “Gonna Stand My Ground”, accompanied only by hand claps. Check please! Jake mumbles his way through the rockabilly-ish “No Good, No Good”. Helen is a little bit country on “Keep A Place” and her vocal is actually quite nice thank you. Jake “sings” his way through “Nut Jump” the bands theme song. He throws some vocal noises for good measure.

The jumping rhythms prove to be fun. Don’t expect to find any deep meanings in the lyrics, the ones you can decipher. Fans of Punk, New Wave and alternative rock music should feel right at home here with The Nut Jumpers.

Fans looking for blues may want to look elsewhere.

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


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 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 8 

peter karp cd imagePeter Karp – Blue Flame

Rose Cottage Records

www.peterkarp.com

13 tracks

Peter Karp has been writing songs and playing his National steel guitar for a long time. He began his musical journey at seven on the accordion and switched to guitar as a teen. Born in Leona, NJ, Karps maintains the New York area as his base of operations. A 2016 Blues Blast Music Award nominee for two awards, Karp has made a series of albums filled with great original songs and this adds to that legacy.

Karp does all the vocals and plays guitar, organ, piano and even harp on a track. Mick Taylor appears guitar on “The Turning Point,” Kim Wilson and Dennis Gruenling are on harp, Todd Wolfe adds a guitar track, as does Paul Carbonara. John Zarra is on mandolin, Jim Ehinger is on keys, and Daniel Pagdon is on bass. Albert Weisman and Dave Keyes are each on organ and piano respectively for a track. Paul “Hernandez” Unsworth is on drums with Dae Bennett on drums for a track plus some other percussion and backing vocals. Joanie Coleman is also a backing vocalist.

“Rollin’ On A Log” kicks off the record and none other than KIm Wilson in there to blow some mean harp here as a guest. Karp’s vocals and guitar are solid and the song has a nice little groove that grabs you. A good hook to begin with, and then the driving beat and impassioned vocals grab you on “Train O’Mine.” Dennis Grueling’s harp is also there to impress and help drive that train. A big old up-tempo cut that gets moving! Karp gives us a bit of a rumba with “Your Prettiness,” a slick little tracks with guitar, piano and Dennis again on harp. The slide comes out for “Valentine’s Day,” a cool slow blues. “Treat Me Right” is a rocking blues with some big guitar work and some un-credited harp. The acoustic guitar and organ give a down-home-iness to “Turning Point.” Mick Taylor adds his guitar solo to make things a little cooler. “Loose Ends” is next, a jumping cut with blazing harp (also un-credited but I assume it’s Dennis because he’s not on one of the tracks he’s supposedly listed) and a huge, driving beat.

Karp and Wilson play harp on “Arson’s Match,” the title cut from Karp’s last album (which was recorded live in NYC with Mick Taylor). Big time slide guitar, a powerful beat and emotional vocals make for a fun cut. We go back down home and to the country on “From Where I Stand,” with guitar and mandolin selling this one. He follows with a slow blues “You Know.” More un-credited harp (must be Dennis because he’s listed for the next track where there is no harp) adds to the mix, a minimalistic and well done piece with guitar, harp and Karp’s vocals. Things go into a romping barrelhouse boogie woogie “The Nietzshe Lounge.” The piano work is great and song is loads of fun. The tempo drops for “Round and Around,” the next cut. It’s a bit of rock a ballad, like Ian Hunter with country overtones. The accordion adds some feeling and the song builds into a big guitar solo midway through and then again builds into a big finish. Karp wraps things up with “Young Girl” where his resonator and a gritty and growling vocal run on a simple beat to good effect.

Karp show us some flexibility and lots of stylistic variation in this set of all original music. The impetus for the album tile comes from Willie Dixon, who gently berated the young Karp for writing songs about whiskey and women, something Karp had little to no knowledge of. Dixon told him to be real and authentic and said to him, “When it’s honest and real then it burns hot, like a blue flame.” He later went to Nashville to try to record for an American label, but wound up on Blind Pig, a blues label. He took all that to heart and his career has been filled with success as a singer, songwriter and performer. He show passion in his work, offers up meaningful and thoughtful lyrics and themes to his songs and he’s a really good performer to boot. I enjoyed this studio album, a great followup to the 2016 live album that I also enjoyed. His albums are always well crafted and offer up good songs and performances and his guests make things more enjoyable- this album is well worth some spins!

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 – 7 of 8 

sara lee cd imageSara Lee – Heart Of Stone

Rhythm Bomb Records

www.saralee.rocks

12 songs time – 39:54

Saara “Saralee” Lehtomaki is a chanteuse from Finland dealing in Rhythm & Blues territory. Aside from a fetching voice, she plays a mean saxophone. Her vocal approach goes from fifties mellow to a gutsy attack. Her band is guitar-bass-drums plus harmonica and a guest lap steel player on two tracks. Unfortunately as is the case with many foreign bands her accent occasionally is challenging.

Sara’s sexy sax leads off the CD on “1-2-3 He’s Mine”, or as she puts it “one, two, tree he’s mine”. Her voice is as clear as a bell. Her words are easier to understand on “I’m A Lover”, with its’ Bo Diddley beat. Double bass player Jari Lehtomaki doubles on harmonica here. The band swings out on “Trouble Knows I’m Coming In” where Sara multi tracks her background vocals. Guitarist Markus Tiiro contributes a very good solo on this one. Sara’s lovely voice is haunting on the slow and moody “Wasting Time”. Jussi Huhtakangas plays some subtle lap steel guitar here.

The sax is dusted off for the clip-clop rhythm of the mid tempo “Runaway Bride”. Jani Ahtiainen’s deft tom-tom work propels the slow, deliberate and mesmerizing title song. By now Sara’s enchanting voice as heard on “Black Widow” more or less transcends her tricky accent. The sax riff on “Hey Bartender!” sticks in your brain. Sara stretches out on a nifty solo as well. Jussi’s lap steel plays a more prominent role on “Third Man Down”. The record ends with “Black Roses”, a tender ballad highlighted by nicely jazzy guitar.

This recording is captivating from start to Finnish(pun intended). It’s a breath of fresh air in the musical world of blazing guitars and macho posturing. This set of band originals was well arranged, performed and produced. The somewhat spare instrumentation gives the listener a soothing experience. The bands love of American music comes through in the loving execution of each song. All the solos are short and to the point, devoid of excesses. Consider this album an oasis from the usual musical fare.

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


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 Featured Blues Review – 8 of 8 

jimmy Zee cd imageThe Jimmy Zee Band – What you see is what you get.

Self Released

www.zeeblues.com

10 tracks/40 minutes

Canadian Jimmy Zee has released 6 albums over his 25 plus year music career. Sporting a unique gravelly voice that some might find hard to digest, his bio would probably agree with the listener. “Zee’s vocals approximate a cross between Joe Cocker after a carton of Lucky Strikes and Robbie Robertson’s latter spoken style.” I must say they are interesting. All the songs here were penned by Jimmy Zee.

The album features many fine Canadian musicians. Zee and Nadine States sing lead here and Rob MacDonald and Tim Porter are on guitar. Miles Hill does duty on bass, Joel Fountain is on drums, and Darryl Havers is on keyboards. Harpdog Brwon does the harp work and Steve Hillman is on sax. A few guests also add their touches here and there.

The title tracks get things started. The title of the song has the requisite capitalization of the words and lacks a period; the album title is a sentence. A nice, bouncy tune with acoustic guitar and some slide which gets the listener their first hint of Zee’s growling and gruff vocals and Annabelle Cvostek backing him. It begins to grow on you after a few listens- it’s unique for sure. The baritone sax adds a cool backing to the track and the harp is a nice addition. Swampy harp and dobro on “Backroads” are fun. Zee and Rick Threat are featured on vocals. Threat is 180 out from Zee, offering a bit of a contrast. Nadine States joins us with some chants on the driving and big sounding “I Ride Alone.” Huge electric guitar, harp and an overall big-time groove make this one interesting. States joins on backing vocals for “Time Will Heal Everything.” A slower paced cut, the songs is probably as close to a ballad as Zee can get. A down home country blues with a stinging electric guitar solo is what we have and it’s good. “Money” is next, with sweet guitar by Porter and more bari sax by Hillman to give us a good ride.

“My Old Lady is a Freakshow” compares his woman wit an old Detroit automobile. That being said, the song is pretty cool. A jumping and uptempo beat and howling vocals on top of the guitar and harp make this cool. Things cool off with “Blind.” Dobro and harp make this sound kind of front porch, but Zee states he wrote this while driving to China with a non-English speaking guy who kept a great beat on the dashboard. No matter, it’s a nicely done piece. The craziness of the feminine mystique is the topic of “She’s a Mystery to Me.” The harp and vocals drive together as the mid tempo beat throbs and we get a nice little guitar solo to boot. “Your the Best It Can Get” features Terry Townson on trumpet. Written in part during an airplane delay at Toronto airport, Zee’s beat and pacing express a little frustration. Zee concludes with “I’m No Good Without You.” MacDonald’s dobro sold Zee on making the acoustic version of the cut be the one and it is pretty. The electric guitar slide solo also makes a nice little contrast, too.

The vocals are rough. They might not please purists. If you like rough hewn vocals with an edge then this will probably please you. The songs are really good and the band is great, too. Jimmy Zee is an interesting character and if you want something a little off the beaten path then take a chance with this one! I enjoyed it.

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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Crossroads Blues Society – Rockford, IL

Crossroads Blues Society has a busy summer coming up. The monthly Second Saturday Blues at the Hope and Anchor English Pubin Loves Park, IL starts on Satruday, June 9th featuring Don Collinsand The Night Shift, $5 cover and show is 8 to 10:30 PM. Phone: (815) 633-2552

Lyran Society’s monthly Friday fish fry – June 22 – Wheatbread Johnson, July 27 – Paul filipowicz, August 17 – New Savages, Shows free, run 7 to 10 PM.

The Inaugural New Glarus Blues, Brews and Food Truck Festival is Saturday, July 14th from Noon to 8 PM in New Glarus Wisconsin. https://www.facebook.com/NGBBFTF

The Ninth Annual Crossroads Blues Festival at Lyran Park is Saturday,August 25th. Noon to 10 PM, gates open at 11 AM. $5 advanced tickets,$10 at the gate. Free parking. Primitive camping $20 per night,available Friday and/or Saturday http://crossroadsbluessociety.com  or http://www.crossroadsbluesfestival.com has all the info!

Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers are also at Burpee Museum in Rockford Wednesday, Jine 27th at 6:30 PM. VIP seats $15, free general admission! Co-sponsored by Crossroads.

Blues Society of Western New York – Kenmore, NY

Blues Society of Western New York presents the 5th Annual Buffalo Niagara Blues Festival July July 14, 2018, noon to 11:30pm at Silo City, 92 Silo City Row, Buffalo, NY 14203. Tickets are $30.00 advance/$40.00 day of the show; members receive significant discount.

This event is a fundraiser for educational, community outreach efforts to support the Blues Society of Western New York’s Blues in the Schools (BITS) educational programming for K-12 students and other community outreach programs including Nursn’ Blues, a Blues music therapeutic program for those suffering from addiction in conjunction with Horizon Village and Music Is Art (MIA). More info at http://buffaloniagarabluesfestival.com.

The Sacramento Blues Society – Sacramento, CA

The Sacramento Blues Society presents Too Slim And The Taildraggers at the Powerhouse Pub, 614 Sutter St, Folsom, CA on June 9, 2018 from 4:00-7:00 PM. Cover $15 public $12 SBS Members.

This Pacific Northwest band, consisting of Tim Langford, Jeff “Shakey” Fowlkes and Zach “The Kid” Kasik, has been performing and recording their rock-blues sound for over 30 years and still going strong! Their album “Shiver” was the Blues Foundation’s 2012 nominee for Best Rock-Blues Album of the Year and was followed by “Blue Heart”, which reached #3 on Billboard’s Top Blues Album Chart in 2013. Each of the last four studio album releases have charted in the Top 10 and Heat Seeker Chart. Tim Langford has received Lifetime Achievement and Hall of Fame Awards from three Northwest Blues Societies, as well as more than 40 Regional and National Music Awards. More info at www.sacblues.com.

Friends of the Blues – Kankakee, IL

Shows start at 7 pm, and are open to the public. Food and Beverages available at all Friends of the Blues shows. July 10, Brandon Santini, Manteno Sportsmen’s Club, 851 N Main St, Manteno, IL More Info at: http://www.facebook.com/friendsoftheblues.

The Charlotte Blues Society – Charlotte, NC

The Charlotte Blues Society announces our June Blues Sunday with with Pam Taylor Band and special guest Shelia Carlisle, on June 3rd, at 8:00 pm (doors at 7:00) at the Rabbit Hole, 1801 Commonwealth Ave., Charlotte, NC 28205. (Original talent Geoff Achison had to cancel to extend tour in Australia.) Admission is only $5, free to members with valid membership card. We are requesting canned food or donations of other non-perishable household items (or cash) for Loaves and Fishes. 1 can? I can!  More Info at www.charlottebluessociety.org.

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: 5/28 – The Dennis Jones Band, 6/4 – Rooster Alley Band, 6/11 – Rockin’ Johnny Burgin, 6/18 – The 44’s with Tex Nakamura, 6/25 – Laurie Morvan Band. 7/2 – Amanda Fish. 7/9 – Brandon Santini, 7/16 – John Clifton. For more information visit www.icbluesclub.org.

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).


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