Issue 12-24 June 14, 2018

Cover photo © 2018 Joseph A. Rosen


 In This Issue 

Mark Thompson has our feature interview with Laura Chavez. We have 8 Blues reviews for you this week including new music from Buddy Guy, Blue & Lonesome Duo, The Sideshow Tragedy, Percy Fairweather & The Storm with The Winters Brothers Band, Bettye LaVette, Joyann Parker, Koch Marshall Trio and The Claudettes.

Our featured videos this week are Dana Fuchs and Shemekia Copeland.

And for those of you who may have been living under a blues rock, we include 2 more videos in the interview with Laura Chavez that you need to see!

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


 From The Editor’s Desk 

bbma logoHey Blues Fans,

We have news about the Blues Blast Awards and some of the artists coming to perform. So far we have confirmed Karen Lovely, Benny Turner, Shaun Murphy, Markey Blue and Ric Latina Project, Casey Hensley Band, Ben Levin, Ivy Ford Band, Heather Newman, Orphan Jon & The Abandoned, Partick Recob, Ilya Portnov and Joyann Parker. We expect quite a few more judging by past years so stay tuned!

In the meantime be sure to get your tickets while they are still available at the discounted Early Bird price of only $30. The discounted pricing ends Friday June 15 so you have one more day to get your tickets for only $30. Starting on Friday the regular price of $35 will be in effect. Tickets at the door will be $40. So grab you tickets now by clicking HERE.

Also available on the website is information on our great sponsor packages for some of the best seats for the show. Plus you can see information on hotels and how to get to Rockford, just a short hour from O’Hare airport.  Visit www.thebbmas.com for complete information.

One last important thing. We want to announce that Breezy Radio was not on our list of published nominees but he is in fact a nominee in the Sean Costello Rising Star category. We are sorry he was left off the original announcement. It was due to some issues with a recent Windows 10 update that repeatedly crashed our database files for several days just before the announcements. He has now been added to the list of nominees on our website at www.bluesblastmagazine.com/2018-blues-blast-music-awards-nominees.

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser



 

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) Confirmed appearances so far include Karen Lovely, Benny Turner, Shaun Murphy, Markey Blue and Ric Latina Project, Casey Hensley Band, Ben Levin, Ivy Ford Band, Heather Newman, Orphan Jon & The Abandoned, Partick Recob, Ilya Portnov and Joyann Parker.

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 a mile 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 Blues Review – 1 of 8 

buddy guy cd imageBuddy Guy – The Blues Is Alive And Well

Silvertone Records / RCA Records

www.buddyguy.net

15 tracks/64:12

Right from the start, Buddy Guy makes it clear that he is not resting on his legendary status, firing off taut licks on his BG Blonde Stratocaster as he delivers a doleful plea on mortality, looking back over eighty-one years of life on “A Few Good Years”. His gripping vocal serves as a reminder that Guy has always been an outstanding singer, a fact he reinforces repeatedly throughout the disc. The following track, “Guilty As Charged,” is an energetic shuffle with the singer battling to resist the charms of a former flame. Both tracks feature producer Tom Hambridge on drums, Rob McNelley on rhythm guitar, Kevin MdKendree on keyboards and Willie Weeks on bass.

“Cognac” is a fitting celebration of Guy’s beverage of choice, elevated by the presence of guests Keith Richards and Jeff Beck, the three guitarists trading solos while Guy sends a shout-out to an old friend, singing,”If the late Muddy Waters was here drinking with us, that bottle would be ten times gone!”. James Bay, a platinum-selling English singer & songwriter, joins Guy for a soothing duet on “Blue No More,” complete with B.B.King-style guitar over a slow-rolling groove on a track written by Hambridge and country star Jamey Johnson. Tommy MacDonald steps in on bass. Things take on a harder edge on “Bad Day,” with Guy issuing a clear warning that he best be left alone, as he is in no mood to deal with his woman or the local police. Emil Justian, who once fronted Matt “Guitar” Murphy’s band, contributes some rudimentary harp blowing. The final guest is Rolling Stones front man Mick Jagger, blowing some telling harmonica fills on a slow blues gem, “You Did The Crime,” as Guy doubles up on a Martin BG acoustic and Guild Starfire 4S guitars while McNelley uses slide for his contribution.

The Muscle Shoals Horns – Charles Rose on trombone & horn arrangements, Steve Herrman on trumpet, Doug Moffet on tenor sax, and Jim Hoke on baritone sax – make their presence felt on three tracks. On the title track, co-written by Hambridge and Gary Nicholson, Guy relates his heart-wrenching reactions to an unfaithful woman, still trying to break free of her icy grip. The horns seamlessly meld with Guy’s voice as he bares his soul while utilizing a guitar lick borrowed from Otis Rush. “Old Fashioned” finds the section hitting hard with plenty of swagger to support Guy’s blistering solo, pushed by McKendree on the Hammond B3 organ. Guy waxes nostalgic one more time on “End Of The Line,” singing about having one foot in the grave. But the brawny horn embellishments and another fiery guitar interlude certainly tell a different tale.

Another highlight is a rousing cover of the Sonny Boy Williamson classic, “Nine Below Zero,” with Guy peeling back the years with a vibrant, emotionally-charged performance on vocal and guitar. “Ooh Daddy” is a boogie that percolates along with fine guitar interplay between Guy and McNelley. The ghost of John Lee Hooker creeps into “Somebody Up There,” a stark, passionate testament to the spirits watching over us. “Whiskey For Sale” takes a funky approach, benefiting from Regina & Ann McCrary on backing vocals, but generic lyrics prevent the track from taking off. Guy takes one more look at mortality on “When My Day Comes,” envisioning the moment when he will lay down one last time under the weeping willow tree. At the close of the disc, Guy delivers a salacious snippet, entitled “Milking Muther For You,” leaving no doubt that he is still a simple, down-home blues man at heart.

Throughout his career, Buddy Guy has been known for his guitar prowess. Often times his skill as a singer would slide by with little notice. On this release, he consistently reaches into the emotional depths, often with bone-chilling intensity, conveying hard-earned lessons on life and the people you meet along the way. Even the guests, for all of their combined star power, get regulated to the background by the sheer raw energy that Guy taps into on every track. This may not rise to the level of his classic recordings for Chess Records. But this is Buddy Guy doing his best to remind us what the blues is all about. Mission accomplished!

Reviewer Mark Thompson lives in Florida, where he is enjoying the sun and retirement. He is the President of the Board of Directors for the Suncoast Blues Society and a member of the Board of Directors for the Blues Foundation. Music has been a huge part of his life for the past fifty years – just ask his wife!


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 Featured Blues Video #1 – Dana Fuchs 

dana fuchs vidio image

This featured video is Dana Fuchs performing “Don’t Let Me Downa” by The Beatles. (Click image to watch!)

Dana Fuchs is performing at the Prairie Dog Blues Festival on Saturday, July 28th, 2018.

For tickets and info on this Blues event visit www.prairiedogblues.com or click on their ad in this issue!



 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 8 

blue & lonesome duo cd imageBlue & Lonesome Duo – Pacing the Floor

EllerSoul Records

14 tracks/47 minutes

Blue & Lonesome Duo is Li’l Ronnie Owens and Gordon Harrower who join forces for a duo effort showcasing 9 great covers and 5 equally good original cuts. Li’L Ronnie sings and plays harp along with providing foot drums (kick drum and Hi-Hat). Harrower is on guitar and vocals; the two of them team up like Cephas and Wiggins or Sonny and Brownie to delight the listener with vibrant, down home music.

The original music is interspersed with the covers and does not interrupt the flow of great music. “Wine Headed Woman” (track 2) is the first new tune. It’s got a vibrant guitar groove and some mean harp work. Owens growls out the distorted vocal lead and does a lot of up front cool harp work. Track 6 is “Too Fats for Conditions” and features the vocal lead sparring with slide and harp. The guitar gets some pretty solo time and is featured here- well done!

The title track is in 8th position, a bouncy number about waiting up for a late night carousing partner. The harp is the featured instrument here as the vocal line bemoans a woman chasing another man. The 12th track is “Can’t Buy My Love;” here we get some distorted electric guitar for a groove with Ronnie testifying on the harp oh-so-sweetly. “More Than Eye Candy” is the final track with more electric guitar. It’s an amusing cut with the guy complaining to his woman that he’s just eye candy and a great finish to a fine CD.

The first cover is David “Honeyboy” Edwards’ “Drop Down Mama” and opens the CD. It’s got a cool a down home style and the kick drum and cymbals maintain the flow. Harp and vocals trade licks and the harp gets featured int he first big solo. “Mean Red Spider” is a Muddy Waters tune with a well done harp solo with guitar layered on top of it. The presentation is slow and sublime. Jimmy Rogers “Act Like You Love Me” follows, giving us a big up tick in tempo and a more blazing harp solo. The traditional “Careless Love ” is next up, slowing things back down to a well done front porch sort of ballad of sorts. Owens whines and moans out the vocal lead and the harp is equal to maintaining the mood. The guitar fills and steps in here and there as a good punctuation. “Needed Time” is a Lightning Hopkins gospel tune paced out beautifully delivered with emotion. The harp pretty much gets featured in the instrumental portion but the guitar is right in the thick of it, too.

James Brown’s “Try Me” is up after the title track. It’s kind of like what soul music would have been had it been played on front porches as blues in the 19th century. It’s a little odd and a little cool at the same time and by the time it’s over you just say, “Wow.” Things get a groove going in Eddie Taylor’s “Country Boy.” Harrower picks out some of the low strings on his electric guitar to set the pace and Owen’s harp and vocals shine. “Out On the Road” is deep blues from Jimmy Rogers that the duo delivers up just fine. The harp moans and the guitar follows; very nice stuff. Slim Harp’s “Raining In My Heart” is the last cover as the 13th track. The electric guitar and harp give a sweet intro and then Li’L Ronnie testifies to us. A beautiful slow blues with lots of homespun harp.

This is a really fun and fine album. The duo of Owens and Harrower are authentic and fresh in their approach. It’s traditional but with a great delivery that makes things sound new and interesting. If you like your blues on the front porch and up close and personal then this is the CD for you!

As Mark Wenner from the Nighthawks states in the liner notes, Even if there’s a little amplification, this is music to crack a couple of cold ones on a a Saturday evening.” “Nuf said.

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 Video #2 – Shemekia Copeland 

shemekia copeland vidio image

This featured video is Shemekia Copeland performing “Married To The Blues” Blues Cazorla 2016.(Click image to watch!)

Shemekia is headlining Ann Arbor Blues Festival on Friday, August 17, 2018.

For tickets and info on this Blues event click HERE. or click on their ad in this issue!


briggs farm blues ad image


 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 8 

blue & lonesome duo cd imageBlue & Lonesome Duo – Pacing the Floor

EllerSoul Records

14 tracks/47 minutes

Blue & Lonesome Duo is Li’l Ronnie Owens and Gordon Harrower who join forces for a duo effort showcasing 9 great covers and 5 equally good original cuts. Li’L Ronnie sings and plays harp along with providing foot drums (kick drum and Hi-Hat). Harrower is on guitar and vocals; the two of them team up like Cephas and Wiggins or Sonny and Brownie to delight the listener with vibrant, down home music.

The original music is interspersed with the covers and does not interrupt the flow of great music. “Wine Headed Woman” (track 2) is the first new tune. It’s got a vibrant guitar groove and some mean harp work. Owens growls out the distorted vocal lead and does a lot of up front cool harp work. Track 6 is “Too Fats for Conditions” and features the vocal lead sparring with slide and harp. The guitar gets some pretty solo time and is featured here- well done!

The title track is in 8th position, a bouncy number about waiting up for a late night carousing partner. The harp is the featured instrument here as the vocal line bemoans a woman chasing another man. The 12th track is “Can’t Buy My Love;” here we get some distorted electric guitar for a groove with Ronnie testifying on the harp oh-so-sweetly. “More Than Eye Candy” is the final track with more electric guitar. It’s an amusing cut with the guy complaining to his woman that he’s just eye candy and a great finish to a fine CD.

The first cover is David “Honeyboy” Edwards’ “Drop Down Mama” and opens the CD. It’s got a cool a down home style and the kick drum and cymbals maintain the flow. Harp and vocals trade licks and the harp gets featured int he first big solo. “Mean Red Spider” is a Muddy Waters tune with a well done harp solo with guitar layered on top of it. The presentation is slow and sublime. Jimmy Rogers “Act Like You Love Me” follows, giving us a big up tick in tempo and a more blazing harp solo. The traditional “Careless Love ” is next up, slowing things back down to a well done front porch sort of ballad of sorts. Owens whines and moans out the vocal lead and the harp is equal to maintaining the mood. The guitar fills and steps in here and there as a good punctuation. “Needed Time” is a Lightning Hopkins gospel tune paced out beautifully delivered with emotion. The harp pretty much gets featured in the instrumental portion but the guitar is right in the thick of it, too.

James Brown’s “Try Me” is up after the title track. It’s kind of like what soul music would have been had it been played on front porches as blues in the 19th century. It’s a little odd and a little cool at the same time and by the time it’s over you just say, “Wow.” Things get a groove going in Eddie Taylor’s “Country Boy.” Harrower picks out some of the low strings on his electric guitar to set the pace and Owen’s harp and vocals shine. “Out On the Road” is deep blues from Jimmy Rogers that the duo delivers up just fine. The harp moans and the guitar follows; very nice stuff. Slim Harp’s “Raining In My Heart” is the last cover as the 13th track. The electric guitar and harp give a sweet intro and then Li’L Ronnie testifies to us. A beautiful slow blues with lots of homespun harp.

This is a really fun and fine album. The duo of Owens and Harrower are authentic and fresh in their approach. It’s traditional but with a great delivery that makes things sound new and interesting. If you like your blues on the front porch and up close and personal then this is the CD for you!

As Mark Wenner from the Nighthawks states in the liner notes, Even if there’s a little amplification, this is music to crack a couple of cold ones on a a Saturday evening.” “Nuf said.

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.


Rev Raven ad image


 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 8 

sideshow tradgedy cd imageThe Sideshow Tragedy – The View From Nowhere

Hand Drawn Records

http://thesideshowtragedy.com

9 songs/ 34 minutes

Modern musicians make music that is an amalgamation of their influences. Over the last century the rapid growth in availability of music, the transformation from localized entertainment to international transmission, has made it impossible for modern music makers to actually break new ground. We take bits and pieces of our influences and interpret them through our own lens; we connect dots in different source material that hadn’t been connected before. It is in these moments of collage, interpretation and appropriation that we modern musicians express our truths, our perspectives and identities. The influence sphere grows and changes over time and the musician evolves. This is what’s happening with The Sideshow Tragedy’s newest record A View From Nowhere.

The Sideshow Tragedy, singer/lyricist/guitarist Nathan Singleton and drummer Jeremy Harrell, are an Austin, TX based blues rock duo. The band started out a decade ago with an alt-rock sound then quickly moved into the hard driving rock duo that they are today. 2012’s Persona and 2015’s Capital are both electric doses of raw immediate Stooges informed blues-rock. This new record takes that live-wire energy into a pastoral upstate New York setting, and the results are a major artistic step forward for the band. Recorded at Old Soul Studios in the Catskills by producer and multi-instrumentalist Kenny Siegal, A View From Nowhere is polished and controlled while retaining raw emotion.

This record is not a duo record, overdubbing abounds. Most of the songs feature Singleton performing multiple guitar parts and bass accompaniment, Harrell plays a variety of percussion and Siegal adds organ, piano and stand up bass. Singleton’s singing throughout this record is chameleon like. He goes from a dead-on Lou Reed impression, something we haven’t heard from him, to Robert Plant worthy wailing, something he has not done with such control and musicality on record before. Singleton’s unique guitar sound is a steel resonator guitar through amplification and distortion, usually with a slide, and with the tuning real low like a baritone guitar. The multi-part choruses of guitar blend together and create lush soundscapes accentuated by straightforward on-the-beat bass playing (the type of bass playing a guitar player does). Harrell’s often manic polyrhythmic drumming is not restrained on this album but given more polish. Each multi layered rhythm is given its own space to breath and the meter and tempo of this album is clear and consistent.

A View From Nowhere has strains of Velvet Underground and 80’s Lou Reed, Sonic Youth and Pavement (the art rock slackers of the grunge movement). There is less Muddy Waters shuffle and swagger like in past outings. There is instead the Morphine funk of “Time to Taste” with Greg Senterfit’s saxophones and Singleton phasing his guitar. Or, the marching chug of “Long Time Coming” with the natural acoustic sound of the resonator breaking through. “Long Time Coming” in particular, with additional looping from Matt Cullen and stand up bass from Siegal, exemplifies the artistic steps forward of this record. The spoken word drone of the vocals matched with a Sonic Youth multi-guitar melody line are a new amalgamation of influences.

A View From Nowhere is not a traditional blues album but a quick jolt of rock. It’s balance of pedal to the metal abandon, brooding lyricism and intricate layering of sound make it worth the listen.

Reviewer Bucky O’Hare is a Bluesman based in Boston who spreads his brand of blues and funk all over New England. Bucky has dedicated himself to experiencing the Blues and learning its history. As a writer, Bucky has been influenced by music critics and social commentators such as Angela Davis, Peter Guralnick, Eric Nisenson, Francis Davis and Henry Louis Gates Jr.


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 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 8 

percy fairweather cd imagePercy Fairweather & The Storm with The Winters Brothers Band – Reign Of Blues

www.percyfairweatherandthestormwiththewintersbrothersband.com

SouthStar Records

13 songs – 68 minutes

As band names go, Percy Fairweather & The Storm with The Winters Brothers Band doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue. To add to the intrigue, the musicians’ names are pseudonyms, the band comprising various old musical friends from different bands together with some family members. Lead singer and rhythm guitarist Percy Fairweather is actually Dennis Winters, who founded and led the Winters Brothers Band with his brother Donnie in the 1970s. The Storm is also known as crack guitarist/producer/engineer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Jamie LaRitz. Both players forged their reputations in the world of Southern Rock and they have played with everyone from the Allman Brothers to ZZ Top.

The new moniker has a distinctly British sound to it. So, with hints of Doug Sahm’s Sir Douglas Quintet in the band’s name, how well do these Southern Rockers play the blues? Rather well, it transpires.

Reign Of Blues was recorded in Ritz’s studio in Nashville and opens with the roaring slow blues of “Baby Hates To Love Me” with muscular-but-melodic lead guitar from LaRitz perfectly complementing Winters’ heartfelt vocals. A second slow blues, “When You Love Somebody”, quickly follows before we start to move into rockier territory with “One More Time”. The stop-time chorus and singalong chorus of “Go With The Flow” recalls late-era Blackfoot when Ken Hensley joined on keyboards. LaRitz’s playing is again quite outstanding.

Winters’ daughter, Casey Winters, takes over lead vocals on the funky “Lesson Learned”. The core band however comprises Winters on vocals and guitars; LaRitz on vocals, guitars, bass, drums and keys; Chad Booher on drums and percussion, Cody Winters, Carly Winters, Jason Pitts and “Trez” on background vocals; Dave Murphy on keys and backing vocals; Matthew Randall on sax; Charles J Reagan on trumpet; and Joel “Taz” DiGregorio and Phil Wolfe on B3. Rick Brothers and TJ Wilder take the drum stool for one song each.

Winters and LaRitz co-wrote all the songs except for the Dennis Winters/Austin Winters composition, “One Fine Day”. One of the emotional highlights of the album, “One Fine Day” features Winters singing a heartbreaking gospel melody solo and a capella. Clocking in at just over three minutes, there isn’t a wasted second on the song. (There is a live recording of “One Fine Day”, equally as good, added as an uncredited bonus track at the end of the album).

The musicians are quite comfortable stretching out on songs. “Baby Hates To Love Me” is over seven minutes long. “Don’t Get Me Started is only a few seconds shorter. And the minor blues title track is a few seconds shy of nine minutes in length. It reflects the quality of both the songs and the musicians that no track outstays its welcome.

Reign Of Blues isn’t really a blues album. “Don’t Get Me Started”, for example, recalls Robbie Williams’ “Let Me Entertain You”. “Heroes In Heaven” has a 1970s classic rock vibe. It’s a blues-rock album, and it’s one that will greatly appeal to fans of Gary Moore and Walter Trout. The songs are well-written and well-played, with some stellar guitar playing from LaRitz. And while it may not be a blues album, Reign of Blues is a very impressive, very enjoyable album.

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 

betttye lavette cd imageBettye LaVette – Things Have Changed

Verve Records

www.bettyelavette.com

CD: 12 Songs, 59:15 Minutes

Styles: Contemporary Electric R&B, Jazz-and-Soul-Influenced Blues, Blues Covers

Three-time Grammy nominee Bettye LaVette, from Detroit, plays no mere blues on her new album Things Have Changed. She proclaims “R&B with a Message,” loud and clear. It’s no wonder Verve Records released it, because she’s got it with a capital V. One of the trickiest things to do if you’re creating socially-conscious art is to get your point across without seeming preachy or heavy-handed. LaVette traverses this tightrope with grace and finesse. Her vocals, reminiscent of Macy Gray, are heavy on sass and light on saccharine, even on tear-jerker tracks such as “Mama, You Been on my Mind” and “Emotionally Yours.” The only bad news? There’s no original material here. All the songs are by Bob Dylan, although freshly arranged. One wonders what LaVette’s va-va-voom can do vis-a-vis songwriting. Nevertheless, this CD is a more-than-notable accomplishment. It’s got a charm all its own, though it’s a cover album.

It proves that Bettye possesses a flair for the exotic, which she inherited from her upbringing and desire to stand out from the crowd. According to her online bio, “She was born Betty Jo Haskins on January 29,1946, in Muskegon, Michigan. Her family moved to Detroit when she was six years old. Her parents sold corn liquor and her living room was oft-times visited by The Soul Stirrers, The Blind Boys of Mississippi, and many other traveling gospel groups of the day…By 16, Betty Jo had become enamored with showbiz. She decided to change her name to something more dramatic. She knew a local groupie by the name of Sherma Lavett, liked the sound of the name, and thus, Bettye LaVette was born. Singer Timmy Shaw brought her to Johnnie Mae Matthews, a notorious Detroit record producer. Bettye’s first single was ‘My Man – He’s a Loving Man,’ in the fall of 1962.”

Performing along with LaVette on lead vocals are Steve Jordan on drums, percussion, guitar, background vocals and hand claps; Larry Campbell on guitars and mandolin; Leon Pendarvis on regular and electric piano, organ, and keyboard bass; Pino Palladino on bass; Keith Richards on featured guitars and guitar solo; Trombone Shorty on ‘bone; Gil Goldstein on organ, electric harpsichord, accordion and harmonium; Ivan Neville on clavinet; and the Firey String Company on strings, consisting of Nioka Workman on cello, Charisa Dowe-Rouse and Rose Bartu on violin, and Ina Paris on viola.

The title track and opener is as relevant today as it was when it was first written and performed.

Track 01: “Things Have Changed” – Bringing a rollicking R&B twist to a classic Dylan tune, Bettye and her posse go all out. Dig Steve Jordan’s melodic guitar intro and those hard-driving drums. “Feel like I’m standing on the gallows with my head in a noose. Any minute now, I’m expecting all hell to break loose. People are crazy.” Truer words were never spoken, especially amidst this postmodern chaos. Here one gets a glimpse of everyone’s stellar musical talent.

Things Have Changed may have no new songs, but by golly, it’s got a ton of newfangled verve!

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 38 year old female Blues fan. She brings the perspective of a younger blues fan to reviews. A child of 1980s music, she was strongly influenced by her father’s blues music collection.


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 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 8 

joyann parker cd imageJoyann Parker – Hard To Love

https://joyannparker.com

Hopeless Romantic Records

13 songs time-49:26

When does Joyann Parker’s voice sound sassy, commanding, strong and/or beautiful?…Whenever she moves her lips. Her voice, music and lyric writing aren’t average, there is something major league brewing here. The combination of her powerfully controlled voice in tandem with well written and performed songs is really something special. Guitarist Mark Lamoine is spot on and he is the co-writer here. Tim Wick’s keyboards along with a sturdy rhythm section prop up the proceedings.

A thumping bass intro leads into “Memphis”, a greasy honky-tonk burner that benefits from Joyann’s sassy in command vocal that locks in with the lyrics. Mark Lamoine adds some nicely slithering slide for good measure. A funky guitar riff enlivens the Memphis style soul of “Envy”. Her voice takes on a deeper tone on “Home”, A gospel tinged slow burner enhanced by a beautifully toned guitar solo, not to mention Joyann’s usual powerful vocal.

Way funky rhythm & blues is the stuff of “Dizzy”. The earnest and strong vocal over funky wah-wah guitar enhance the dynamics of “Jigsaw Heart”. Gunhild Carling contributes horns to “Who What When Where Why”, a song with a tough vocal and Memphis style guitar. A nice piano intro kicks off “Bluer Than You” that includes trumpet courtesy of Joyann. The New Orleans shuffle of “Ray” portrays a love-hate relationship. Of course it has the necessary New Orleans piano to create the proper atmosphere. “Evil Hearted” is a smoldering heart felt confession.

Down home blues slide guitar meets R&B in “Take My Heart And Run”. Jazzy guitar underscores the meddling mother-in-law has to go saga of “Your Mama. It has a great vocal with lots of swagger. The barrel housing R&B “What Happened To Me” has Mark Lamoine cranking out Chuck Berry guitar riffs. Great boogie-woogie piano as well. Joyann puts on her lovely voice for the piano fueled ballad “Hard To Love”. The narrator describes her lover as “like a beautiful mess”. Yes, this is the same lady that delivers those powerhouse vocals. Talk about versatility.

What a find here in this Minneapolis, Minnesota based dynamic vocalist. The singing and music gel perfectly with the creative lyrics. There is absolutely no reason why this gem of a singer doesn’t rise to the top among the current crop of R&B influenced singers. Do yourself a favor and get this CD as soon as possible.

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


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 Featured Blues Review – 7 of 8 

koch marshall trio cd imageKoch Marshall Trio – Toby Arrives

Players Club – 2018

8 tracks; 51 minutes

www.gregkoch.com

The Koch Marshall Trio is a new organ trio featuring experienced guitarist Greg Koch (AKA The Gristleman), his son Dylan on drums and Toby Lee Marshall on Hammond organ. The album is all instrumental, recorded over three sessions in Milwaukee, all the material being written by Greg. The album appears on Players Club, a new imprint from the Mascot group that also produces Provogue, home to Joe Bonamassa and Walter Trout among others.

Greg decided to check out an organ player with whom Dylan was playing and opening track “Toby Arrives” was the first thing the trio played together, a try-out on a call from Greg to play ‘a shuffle in G’, according to the very informative sleeve notes. The bottom end of the music is clearly supported by Toby’s left hand playing so the sound is full and, for the most part, heavy and rocking, as on “Heed The Boogaloo” with lots of insistent playing from Greg who maintains a thick tone that to these ears draws from Roy Buchanan.

“Funk Meat” has some chicken-picking guitar over a funk beat and “Let’s Get Sinister” is more of a shuffle with some Albert Collins flourishes. The extended “Mysterioso” slows the pace a little with touches of Weather Report and Frank Zappa in the tune and lots of Greg’s distinctively ‘slurred’ guitar delivery and a spacey Hammond interlude mid-tune. The band adds some jazzy inflections on the shuffle “Enter The Rats”, a title inspired by Dylan’s girlfriend’s arrival at the studio with two pet rats in a cage! The catchy tune is perhaps the pick of the album for this reviewer. The title “Boogie Yourself Drade” comes from the memory of Greg’s young nephew who could not pronounce his G’s so called his uncle ‘Drade’ and is a classic boogie tune with Dylan excelling behind the kit. Greg uses slide on “Sin Repent Repeat” which, as the title suggests, has a gospel feel though the Allmans reference in the sleeve notes seems rather exaggerated.

If you enjoy Greg’s distinctive guitar tone this album will be a ‘must have’.

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


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 Featured Blues Review – 8 of 8 

the claudettes cd imageThe Claudettes – Dance Scandal At The Gymnasium

Yellow Dog Records – 2018

12 tracks; 36 minutes

www.theclaudettes.com

The Claudettes started out as a piano/drum duo, taking their name from the owner of the club where they played initially. Two years ago they added a guitarist and a dedicated vocalist and the quartet has now issued the band’s third album. The central figure is Johnny Iguana who has played with many of the Chicago blues greats but in The Claudettes the music takes on a wider palette. Johnny is on piano, keyboards and vocals, Matthew Torre on drums, Berit Ulseth on vocals and Zach Verdoorn on Bass VI guitar (a six stringed bass that looks like a guitar). Johnny wrote all the material (under his given name Brian Berkowitz).

Traditional blues fans should be warned that there is little straight blues content here. Berit sings in a jazz chanteuse style and the music is dominated by Johnny’s piano. Opening cut “Don’t Stay With Me” portrays an ill-matched couple, the music’s alternation between pounding rhythms and quieter interludes perhaps reflecting the storyline. “November” has pounding piano and keening guitar behind Berit’s cool-toned vocal which seems slightly lost in the mix. “Give It All Up For Good” has more of a blues base and “Naked On The Internet” injects some political themes about being unable to control what gets out there: “America saw him naked and a hundred years from now he’ll still be naked on the internet”, the later reference to Russia perhaps reflecting the current difficulties of the presidential incumbent!

The band drops the pace for “Pull Closer To Me” as Johnny plays some romantic piano appropriate for the lyrics. Title track “Dance Scandal At The Gymnasium” in an instrumental, described in the sleeve notes as ‘gonzo-blues with thundering fuzzed-out bass, a 70’s four-on-the-floor disco beat and a bridge that sounds like a deleted solo section of Yes’s “Roundabout”’ – possibly, just sounded confused to these ears! Things get clearer on “Bill Played Saxophone”, a political piece contrasting the ‘good old days’ of Bill Clinton playing sax in the White House and George W. Bush’s rush to war. “Influential Farmers” returns to the piano-dominated music, a song inspired by hearing the term on radio but the vocals are far from clear to appreciate the meaning. “Death And Traffic” reflects on the news media’s obsession with immediate (and often bad) news and “Total Misfit” returns to the theme of alienation in our society, neither song having any blues element. Inspired by the very brief marriage of a friend, “Taco Night Material” follows a girl who finds it hard to adapt to the confines of marriage. The busy piano lends a punk feel to the tune as the wife ends up plotting the murder of the husband! More lyrical angst about modern life fills “Utterly Absurd” with more pounding piano and dissonant vocals by Johnny to close out this unusual album.

Not to this reviewer’s taste and certainly only tangentially related to the blues, the album demonstrates a quirky approach.

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 Interview – Laura Chavez 

laura chavez photo 1Everyone likes to receive praise, to have their talent recognized. And yet sometimes that recognition arrives with a caveat, a distinction that tempers the impact of the acknowledgment. For Laura Chavez, one of those moments occurred last year with the publication of a Guitar Player magazine cover feature on “50 Sensational Female Guitarists”.

“Years ago, Candye Kane set up a Facebook fan page for me. The editor of Guitar Player had written to me on the page, but I never look at it or deal with it. Candye used to run it. People would write to me and it could be months before I would see it and respond. People probably thought I was ignoring them, but that isn’t the case. So I contacted the Editor, who said they were doing this feature article. Whenever I hear that, I start hoping that I can finally make a list that doesn’t revolve around me being a female player.”.

“When I saw the actual magazine, with Sister Rosetta Tharpe on the cover and players from all genres of music on the list, I was really happy that they did a feature like that, because there are so many women who are overlooked. It was music from classical to blues, jazz, rock, and everything in-between. It was a huge honor to be selected. There were a number of artists who I thought would make the list that were not on it. I was really excited to be included as it was not something to be taken lightly. Still, as Candye used to say regularly on stage, do you notice that Laura doesn’t play guitar with her girly parts? She uses her hands like every other guitar player”.

“I don’t want to take anything for granted. But at least once a night, I am told by someone that I am the best female guitar player they have ever seen. When I hear that, part of me wonders just how many female guitarists they have seen. For that comment to have any real meaning, that information is key. But more importantly, you wonder why do they even need to say that. I would rather that they not say anything. If you liked what I played, if I moved you during the performance, and you want me to tell me, that’s awesome! I hope your reaction would be the same whether I was female or male. There have even been more than a few people who would tell me how good I am on the bass!”

A California native, Chavez started taking classical guitar lessons at the age of eight, but soon became disinterested due to an inattentive instructor. Receiving an electric guitar for Christmas five years later opened up an exciting world, as she was now able to learn how to play the rock tunes her older brother listened to. Eventually she acquired enough skills to be hired as the guitarist for the Lara Price Band. That successful relationship lasted eight years, including a memorable trip to Memphis for the International Blues Challenge. Opportunity came knocking when singer Candye Kane was looking for a guitar player. Fellow musician Sue Foley gave Chavez a rousing endorsement, leading Kane to hire her without ever hearing Chavez play a note. They became an inseparable duo until Kane passed away two years ago. It took about six months before Chavez started getting out and playing again.

Chavez had conversations with Monster Mike Welch and Mike Ledbetter about joining their their new endeavor after their celebrated appearance at the 2016 Chicago Blues Fest. She was prominently featured on their Delta Groove Records release – Right Place, Right Time – which received this year’s Blues Music Award for Traditional Blues Album. “It was very generous of them to feature me on that project. We talked about me joining up with them. But I had a lot of work lined up for the year that was conflicting with some of the dates they had lined up. They have a unique chemistry that you only come across a couple of times in your life. I am very excited and happy for their success. We are still looking at doing some things together”.

laura chavez photo 2One of the projects Chavez had committed to was a Ruf Records Caravan tour in Europe with Vanessa Collier, with dates spread out over a year’s span. Just two shows into the first month-long leg, Chavez was contacted by vocalist Nikki Hill about joining her band on a permanent basis. “I have known Nikki and her husband Matt for more than ten years. She was offering me everything I was looking for – a high energy band that was working all the time, a professional approach to the business, plus they are fun & exciting, and I really like the music. It was about six months after Candye had passed. I jumped at the opportunity”.

Her experiences working for three female band leaders certainly gives Chavez some unique perspectives. “I’m not sure why it always comes about that way. Maybe it is because women are better at supporting other woman. It is a very good question that I get asked all the time, and still don’t have an answer for. Each tenure represents a different phase of my career. With Lara, that was the first band I was in, the first time playing in front of people, recording, and songwriting. There was a lot of learning. Lara’s band was already established in the Bay area, but we both learned about what it takes to break out and move beyond the local scene”.

“Neither Candye or I ever anticipated that working together would have such a profound impact on both of us. She was so encouraging, always pushing me into the spotlight to make sure that people knew who I was. Early on, she would force me to be the center of attention. That really helped me with my self-confidence, which I needed at the time. Later on, it became a team effort. Candye knew exactly who she was, what she wanted, and she wasn’t afraid to ask it, or in some cases, demand it. She worked so hand, for so long, for everything she got. Her generosity helped me develop my songwriting skills and, as co-producer of her records, learn a different viewpoint of the recording process. She told people that she wasn’t sure how long she would be around, so she wanted to make sure that there were plenty of opportunities for the world to hear me. I owe so much to her and will always keep her legacy and memory alive”.

“As for Nikki, for someone who hasn’t been a band leader as long as someone like Candye, she has everything together, very on point and professional. In some ways, Nikki & Candye are a lot alike. Neither of them are afraid to speak their minds, to be themselves no matter what. It is amazing to watch her calmly deal with responsibilities, put out fires, deal with tour logistics, and get her own recordings out there, plus give 100% every time we hit the stage. I am so happy to be a part of this band. Nikki’s tenacity, self-confidence, and relentless drive to stay true to what she believes in, and what she feels her band deserves, reminds me so much of Candye. And that is about the highest compliment I can give to anyone”.

While she has yet to be a band leader herself, Chavez has been thinking about putting together a side project just to have some fun. “ I have been thinking about putting together a organ trio just to play music. Don’t look for me to be overly ambitious about pushing it if it comes together. That is the kind of stuff I listen to at home. When it comes to organ, I am partial to Jimmy Smith. In the trio format, Grant Green is my favorite guitar player, not that I can play like him! I also like Jack McDuff and the guitar player that worked with him quite a bit, Bill Jennings, who is another favorite. He influenced a lot of the West coast swing and jazz/blues guitarists like Kid Ramos, Junior Watson, and Rusty Zinn. I have Dick Shurman to thank for putting together a disc for me of some of Bill Jennings best stuff, which was awesome because I had a great deal of trouble finding any of his recordings”.

When it comes to gear, Laura has a couple of favorites. With Nikki Hill, she uses her Fender Stratocaster, which she has taken all over the world. “ As of the last few months, I have been using a Gibson ’56 Les Paul Goldtop reissue that I run through a Fender Bassman reissue. Matt Hill (Nikki’s husband & guitar player) is also using a Bassman, which is cool. For effects, I have a Boss Fender ’63 Reverb pedal and an RC boost. At home, I use a Vero amplifier, made by the Fazio brothers out of Joliet, IL. I have been playing those for years, particularly with Candye. It is a small combo, real low wattage that sounds great when it is cranked up. It has a dark tone with really outstanding tremolo. Little Charlie Baty, Rick Holmstrom, and Doug Deming all play them. One of the Fazio brothers is into old locomotive train engines, so that was the inspiration for the look of the amplifiers. When they are on and all lite up, it looks like the front of a locomotive coming at you”.

laura chavez photo 3Another testament to Laura’s guitar skills is borne out in the increasing number of guest appearances she has made on various recordings including a featured role on Casey Hensley’s first recording, nominated for two 2018 Blues Blast Music Awards, in the Live Blues Album and New Artist Debut Album categories. Other appearances include Patrick Recob’s Perpetual Luau, also a New Artist Debut Album nominee, Vanessa Collier’s Meeting My Shadow release on Ruf Records, two releases by the Lucky Losers on Dirty Cat Records, and the previously mentioned Welch-Ledbetter award-winning release on Delta Groove Records.

“I am working on a project with Big Daddy Wilson, a singer originally from North Carolina but he has been living Germany for several decades. He has a cool, soulful style that in some ways reminds me of Robert Cray or Taj Mahal. We may get a hand from noted producer Jim Gaines on the project, and hope to have the album finished by the end of the year. I did some touring with Vanessa and just cut some parts for her new disc, that may be out this summer. There have also been some cool shows that I have done with a singer from Finland, Ina Forsman, who is also on Ruf Records. She is really great as a singer and songwriter. I hope she gets to tour the States more often because people really need to hear her”.

“Casey’s album was cut live at live at the end of 2016. I had been living down in San Diego that year dealing with the aftermath of Candye’s passing. I had been playing quite a bit with Casey. We recorded in a studio in Oceanside, CA owned by Thomas Yearsley of the Paladins. It was a one-shot deal. We had an audience in the studio and we recorded on analog tape, capturing us playing a set like we always did. It is exciting to see Casey gain success. She has a really amazing voice to work with”.

“I got to know Patrick Recob over the years. He would always come out to see Candye and also did a couple West coast tours with James Harman and Hank Mowery, a harp player from Michigan. He asked me if I would play on some tracks. It turned out that he was recording at guitarist Nathan James’ studio, which very close to where I was living. Most people know Patrick as a bass player, but he also has a fine singing voice. For me, it’s a voice you wouldn’t expect. He goes for the high tenor. I was surprised at what came out of him”.

When it is all said and down, Laura Chavez is a woman with a clear goal in mind. “My whole life, all I have ever wanted to be was a guitar player, and to be taken as seriously as any other guitarist. I want to be respected by other musicians and people in the industry as a guitar player. I continue to work on being the best player I can be, and to make whoever I am playing sound the best. It gets very frustrating at times because none of those goals have anything to do with the fact that I am a woman. Candye always used to tell me not to get upset, that there is no physical difference between men and woman that would make one a better player than the other. It’s almost like people have some strange compulsion to make a comment. But when the praise comes from other musicians, especially players that you personally admire, there is no greater compliment for me”.

Visit Laura on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/THELauraChavez

Laura Chavez videos – Click on the image to see video.

Casey Hensley Band with Laura Chavez

Laura Chavez sitting in at Murphy’s Law.

Interviewer Mark Thompson lives in Florida, where he is enjoying the sun and retirement. He is the President of the Board of Directors for the Suncoast Blues Society and a member of the Board of Directors for the Blues Foundation. Music has been a huge part of his life for the past fifty years – just ask his wife!



 Blues Society News 


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Crossroads Blues Society – Rockford, IL

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.

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 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: 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.


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P.O. Box 721 Pekin, Illinois 61555 © 2018 Blues Blast Magazine (309) 267-4425

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