Issue 12-26 June 28, 2018

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Cover photo © 2018 Bob Kieser


 In This Issue 

Bill Dahl has our feature interview with Guitar Shorty. We have 8 Blues reviews for you this week including new music from Latimore, Jeff Jensen, Artur Menezes, Luke Winslow-King, Jade Bennett, Joe Goldmark, Darren Watson and Roger “Hurricane” Wilson & The Hurricane Homeboys.

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


 From The Editor’s Desk 

bbma logoHey Blues Fans,

OK, get ready! Fan voting in the 2018 Blues Blast Music Awards starts Sunday, July 1st on our website at www.BluesBlastMagazine.com.

Anyone who is a a subscriber can vote. You can only vote one time! If you are not a current subscriber you can still vote and you will be automatically signed up for a FREE subscription to Blues Blast Magazine. (You can unsubscribe at any time at the bottom of each weekly issue!)

Voting continues until the end of August. Let the fun begin!

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser


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 Blues Wanderings 

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We had a great time at the Chicago Blues Fest recently. It is always a star studded event! Above are Guy King and Mary Lane, Billy Flynn, Lil’ Ed Williams, Jimmy Johnson, Pierre Lacocque, Linsey Alexander and Lurrie Bell. They all preformed as part of a showcase honoring Delmark Record’s 65th anniversary.

We will have complete coverage of the Chicago Blues Fest in upcoming issues.


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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) Confirmed appearances so far include Karen Lovely, Benny Turner, Shaun Murphy, Ghost Town Blues Band, 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.

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!



 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 8 

latimore cd imageLatimore – A Taste Of Me: Great American Songs

Essential Media Group

11 songs – 52 minutes

No website

An enduring legend in the entertainment industry, Latimore has always bridged R&B and the blues despite making his name as a soul superstar. And he continues that magic as he puts his personal touch on this laid-back collection of tunes culled from his own archives as well as the Great American songbook.

Born Benjamin Latimore in Charleton, Tenn., he drew his earliest influences from country, blues and the gospel he sang in his Baptist church choir. His first paying gigs came in Nashville, where he was a member of Louis Brooks’ Hilltoppers. And he toured nationally with Joe Henderson before moving to Miami.

Now based out of the Tampa area, the silky smooth baritone worked as a keyboard player with several South Florida bands before stepping into the studio as a front man himself in the early ‘70s for the Dade label. One of those units was fronted by future producer Steve Alaimo, the blue-eyed soul singer who recorded for Chess’ Checker subsidiary and whose ensemble served as the house band at the famed Eden Roc Hotel at the height of the beach movie era.

Latimore rose to prominence after recording a version of T-Bone Walker’s “Stormy Monday” in 1973 for the Glades imprint, but became household name a year later with the release of “Let’s Straighten It Out.” That tune climbed to No. 1 on the R&B charts and other hits followed, but he continued to be a presence in the studio for Glades’ fast rising parent label, TK, backing on the 88s a lineup that eventually included Betty Wright, Gwen McCrae, Blowfly and Anita Ward, among others.

Much like his contemporary, Barry White, Latimore’s songs from that era became the background sound for an entire generation of lovers around the globe. Today, at 78 and with about 30 albums to his credit on labels that include Malaco, Brittney and LatStone, Latimore remains as physically imposing and popular in concert as ever.

A 2017 inductee into the Blues Hall Of Fame, he puts his own spin on some timeless classics here, including nine covers and two originals, in a package that’s targeted for an audience that values romance no matter what your age. He’s backed by an all-star lineup of sessions musicians, including Ish Ledesma on guitar, Dorian Reyes on drums, Eric England on bass, Douglas Carter on keyboards and Vincent Broomfield on sax, contributing keys on only one number himself.

The project was produced by Ledesma, whose credits include work with ABBA and Miami Sound Machine, with assists from Alaimo, who’s worked with Sam & Dave and Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes in addition to serving as host and co-producer of Dick Clark’s Where The Action Is 1960s TV show, and Ron and Howard Albert, the brother team behind Miami’s legendary Criteria Studios, which has produced more than 250 gold and platinum recordings.

First released in 1959 as a bolero by Los Panchos and a hit for Eydie Gorme in 1964, “A Taste Of Me (Sabor A Mi)” opens the action. A brief intro from the band sets the slow-and-smoky mood before Latimore’s familiar voice enters the action, mellow and, as always, slightly behind the beat. That song flows effortlessly into a mellow take on the Etta James standard “At Last” before an equally smooth and inviting version of the Blood Sweat & Tears/Al Kooper classic, “I’ll Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know.”

Penned by Buddy Johnson and a hit for his sister Ella in 1945, “Since I Fell For You” is up next and gets a thoroughly modern makeover before Latimore picks up the tempo slightly for Billy Preston’s “You Are So Beautiful” and then a little more for Dinah Washington’s “What A Difference A Day Makes.”

No Latimore album would be complete without at least a couple of his own compositions, and this one doesn’t disappoint with a cover of one of his early Glades numbers, “Dig A Little Deeper,” before another delightful version of “Let’s Straighten It Out.” Ray Noble’s 1934 hit, “The Very Thought Of You,” and Julie London’s “Cry Me A River” follow before “Smile,” a song Charlie Chaplin composed for his 1936 movie, Modern Times, brings this disc to a close

Available through iTunes, Amazon and other retailers, A Taste Of Me is a CD full of ballads delivered in a pleasant style that’s hard to categorize. But it’s a welcome addition to the collection of any blues lover who’d like to sit back, relax after a long day and mellow out with a warm companion and a good glass of wine. Like the wine, Latimore keeps getting better with age.

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


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 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 8 

jeff jensen cd imageJeff Jensen – Wisdom & Decay

Swingsuit Records

10 songs – 48 minutes

www.jeffjensenband.com

Anyone who’s seen him in person knows that singer-guitarist-producer Jeff Jensen is one of the most entertaining performers in the blues, and his balls-to-the-wall energy comes through full force on this collection of seven emotion-drenched originals and three interesting covers.

Jensen holds nothing back as he deals with subjects that cover the full gamut of human emotion – from loss of a loved one to addiction to the general roadblocks that stand in everyone’s way as we try to make progress in life.

Like most musicians in the industry, he knows the pitfalls well. A native Californian, his own life fell apart while living in Portland, Ore. He found his center after moving to Memphis, where he joined harmonica player Brandon Santini’s band, about seven years ago. After paying his dues as a sideman, he served as Santini’s band leader, producing his CD, This Time Another Year, which was edged out by a release from Trampled Under Foot’s Badland for 2014 Blues Music Association contemporary album of the year.

Jensen went on his own after about two and a half years, and he’s been touring relentlessly out of the Bluff City ever since, fronting a three-piece unit that delivers intense blues laced with heavy soul, jazz and roots overtones. He’s backed here by his regular touring ensemble – longtime bassist Bill Ruffino and drummer David Green.

They’re augmented by Chris Stephenson (Joe “King” Carrasco and Ghost Town Blues Band) and Gerald Stephens on keyboards, James Cunningham on percussion and a horn section composed of Kirk Smothers (saxes) and Marc Franklin (trumpet and flugelhorn). Reba Russell and Victor Wainwright both make guest appearances on vocals, as do Brian Hawkins, Jared Dover and Aron Shier. And Jessie Munson, Wen Yin Yu, Beth Luscombe and Iren Zombor also appear on three cuts as a string quartet.

The action opens with a power blues introduction for Little Milton’s “I’m Living Off The Love You Give” before quickly settling into a horn- and guitar-driven stop-time soul send up that would make its master smile. It’s a plea for the lady to remain forever at the singer’s side because, if she were to split, it would be like murder in the first degree.

A syncopated rhythm pattern propels the haunting “2000 Days,” which describes a drug-addicted man who’s “living, but his soul is dead.” Fortunately, the title cautiously refers to the time he’s been clean. Next up is the poignant “Pretend Forevers.” It’s a bittersweet ballad that deals with the loss of a lady, but it’s delivered in such a way that it doesn’t matter who the person might be. The sound brightens dramatically as the theme takes an immediate 180 for soulful “Good Woman Back Home.”

Jensen’s jazzy side comes to the fore for a cover of “Downtown.” Not the Petula Clark hit from the ‘60s, this one is the song written by Tom Waits that sings praise of the inner city, and Jeff and his crew reinterpret it while maintaining Waits’ smoky edge. It leads into “Luck Is Gonna Change,” an uptempo number that takes you to church aided by a choir as the singer seemingly has done everything wrong in life, but still remains witty and optimistic with hope for a positive outcome.

“What We Used To Be” is an interesting walking blues. It’s somewhat of a political statement, but with the decaying of society rather than politicians themselves. It’s delivered with a hint of Scott Joplin feel. A cover of Bob Dylan’s “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You” before the two cut combination of “Something In The Water” and “The Water Jam/Something In The Water Revised” bring the album to a close.

Available though all major retailers, Wisdom & Decay is a pleaser from the jump – full of modern blues for modern times, fresh takes on familiar themes throughout.

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


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 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 8 

arthur menezes cd imageArtur Menezes – Keep Pushing

Self-Produced

www.arturmenezes.com

CD: 10 Songs, 38:21 Minutes

Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues Rock, All Original Songs

Brazil’s Artur Menezes is a delightful digital-age cross between Carlos Santana and Rod Stewart. He’s got the former’s spicy musical style and the latter’s hardworking, down-to-earth vibe. His current self-produced album, Keep Pushing, displays this balance perfectly. He may not be an icon yet, but he’s well on his way. He won the Albert King Award for Best Guitarist and placed third in the Band category at this year’s International Blues Challenge. Artur also shared the stage with Joe Satriani recently, performing at a festival in Brazil for a crowd of twenty thousand. His commanding stage presence is telegraphed on the cover photo of his latest release. It’s pitch-black except for minimal lighting of his face and frame, depicting him in shades of gray. Edgy it is, and so are his ten original songs – fantastic examples of contemporary blues rock. Artur can switch moods as quickly and seamlessly as he switches guitar strings, which I’ll prove later. This CD is perfect for a forty-minute car trip, but it’ll leave listeners craving more.

Not only is Menezes fluent in the ways of music, but technology as well. According to his little corner of the Web, Artur was a speaker at TEDx, an annual convention licensed by TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) in 2013. At this event, personalities share their experiences and knowledge in presentations which are broadcast live on the Internet and later released on video. With the TEDTalks accessible to billions of people worldwide, Artur will never lack for an audience, whether at his concerts, at home, on the road, or in cyberspace.

Performing along with our leading man on vocals and guitars are Daniel Aged on bass; Gary Novak on drums; Carey Frank on Hammond organ and keyboards; Jamelle Adisa on trumpet and flugelhorn; Dan Boisey on tenor and baritone sax, and producer Josh Smith on rhythm guitars.

It’s hard to pick the three tastiest selections in this box of chocolates, but these’ll sate one’s appetite:

Track 02: “Keep Pushing” – Not only is this what we all have to do in life, but it’s one of a touring musician’s key job requirements. A Chicago-style thriller, the title track will make traditional blues fans strum air guitar and sing along if they can. “Now I go breaking the rules. Ain’t nobody’s fool. You’re throwing tips in my hat; I can even buy me a flat. I’ve got to keep pushing, yeah…” Put this on your playlist for getting up in the morning if it starts to be a drag.

Track 03: “Come With Me” – Jimi Hendrix fans will love this. Others might not, because it doesn’t fit the pure definition of our favorite genre. Never fear, because a killer guitar solo appears. The first line is hilarious, familiar to boyfriends and husbands everywhere: “I know I’m wrong, but let me talk.” This is a low-down, throw-down growler for barrooms, not nightclubs.

Track 04: “Any Day, Any Time” – Channeling Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton, and other melodic blues guitarists, Artur presents a slow burner that’s perfect for slow dancing. Carey Frank’s understated Hammond provides an atmospheric glow, as does Menezes’ voice. This may very well be the crown jewel of the album, and it should hit Sirius XM playlists pronto.

Blues fans, are the blazing sun and the boss getting you down? Keep Pushing along with Artur Menezes, who knows what it’s like when the heat is on!

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 – 4 of 8 

luke winslow king cd imageLuke Winslow-King – Blue Mesa

Bloodshot Records 2018

10 songs – 39:41 minutes

www.lukewinslowking.com

Michigan-born Luke Winslow-King is a guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter – currently based in New Orleans – who has built a career playing traditional blues and jazz music. Winslow-King’s sixth album, Blue Mesa, while not really what I’d call a traditional blues record, is however, a good example of today’s Roots-Americana genre, and was released on May 11 on Bloodshot Records. Recorded in Tuscany, Italy, with Italian guitarist and long-time collaborator Robert Luti, it’s a bit of a departure from his earlier albums (his most recent being 2016’s I’m Glad Trouble Don’t Last Always), which are tougher and harder-edged, and much more steeped in traditional blues. Other performers on this album include Chris Davis (King James and the Special Men) on drums and Mike Lynch (Bob Seger, Larry McCray) on organ, among others

A talented guitarist in both traditional and slide guitar, Winslow-King seems to have chosen to put more emphasis on his singing and songwriting for the 10 self-penned tracks on this album. My initial impression of many of the songs on this collection was that they felt a lot like they could’ve been recorded somewhere in Southern California in the early 70s… with a distinct, early Eagles vibe. The songs themselves are somewhat low-key, underscored by Winslow-King’s subdued, almost breathy vocal delivery, which often feels buried in the mix. Not having heard Winslow-King before, I went over to Spotify, to check-out some of his earlier work, in particular his 2014 release, Everlasting Arms, and the aforementioned I’m Glad Trouble Don’t Last Always,” both of which possess an immediacy that is not often found on this current release. A review of his live performances on YouTube also support that assessment.

Still, I felt that I needed to listen a bit more closely, to see if I could articulate what was, at least to me, missing. The opening track, “You Got Mine,” a gospel-y tune, starts off nicely enough, but never seems to elevate the groove to its fullest potential. The second track, “Leghorn Women,” – a bit of a rocker – has some tasty, stinging guitar playing weaving throughout the song, but the overall performance seems forced, with the rhythm section laying down a perfunctory groove that never feels alive. The title track, “Blue Mesa,” is almost a little too reminiscent of The Eagles’ “Tequila Sunrise,” and feels as if it was structured for an Adult Contemporary playlist. Overall, the first five songs on the album are all decent songs and are well-produced, but with performances that seem to be lacking in vitality. Even the vocals seem uninspired.

After a several spins through the entire CD, I concluded that – for me, at least – the album doesn’t really take-off until halfway through, starting with the infectious, Hooker-ish boogie groove of “Thought I Heard You.” “Chicken Dinner,” one of two singles released in advance of the CD, is a rhumba in the New Orleans tradition, that is engaging both lyrically and in its lively performance… a great track! Other notable songs include “After the Rain,” and the satisfying acoustic tune, “Farewell Blues,” evocative of Mississippi John Hurt.

If you’re a fan of adult contemporary and Americana roots and music, do check out Blue Mesa. But don’t stop there, because if you do, you’ll be missing out on some really great performances. Definitely check out his earlier albums – and his YouTube videos – to get a more complete – and satisfying – picture of what this talented young artist is capable of.

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


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 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 8 

jade bennett cd imageJade Bennett – Death Time Love

Rip Cat Records RIC 1701

8 songs – 35 minutes

www.jadebennettmusic.com

Based out of Riverside, Calif., Jade Bennett — whose powerfully syrupy alto has been featured nationally in support of Sugaray Rayford and other artists — makes her recording debut as a band leader on this tasty release.

An accomplished tunesmith in addition to being a unique and dynamic vocalist, Bennett was born into a musical family and reportedly sang before she could talk. She penned three of the eight tunes here in a work that fuses blues and soul with some jazz overtones. The subject matter deals with intimate personal experience, ranging from fighting inner demons to facing the challenges of everyday life.

Death Time Love features three of the hottest guitar players on the West Coast. Laura Chavez and International Blues Challenge winner Joey Delgado provide lead on five cuts. And Gino Matteo, who’s both Jade’s husband, producer and co-writer in addition to being a Rayford alumnus and bandleader himself, takes the lead on three tunes and adds rhythm throughout.

Rounding out the sound are a rhythm section composed of bassist James Breker and drummer Lavell Jones with additional percussion from Trevor Monks and backing vocals from Rachele Quiogue, Zara Davis, Travis Dagget and Victor Alfaro.

The bittersweet “Death Came A-Knockin’” opens the action with an acapella vocal intro similar to Ruthie Foster’s original. Bennett powers through the steady, walking blues with a gospel feel aided by a choir in a version that remains faithful but still gives Jade space to add her own melismic flourishes. Gino’s low-register single-note guitar run sets up “Point Of No Return,” a deliberately paced ballad that it’s decision time in a troubled relationship.

Chavez heats up the action for “Why Buy The Cow!” It’s a cleverly constructed funk that finds Bennett delivering a bit of advice to another woman whose man wants sex but won’t give her a ring. As you’ve probably figured, Jade relays the axiom she’d heard from her mother: Why buy the cow when the milk is free. Delgado’s sweet chording appears for the first time to open another powerful ballad, “Table For Two,” which describes walking out on a man who’s never on time.

The stoptime classic “A Fool In Love” is up next with Laura in the mix. Jade’s voice powers through another brief, slow-paced acapella opener before the band rushes out of the gate to breathe new life into the rocker with which Ike and Tina Turner made their 1960 debut on Sun Records.

Delgado’s funky fretwork highlights “Sister Darktimes,” which describes an inveterate user, a woman who hits the singer “like a cold, wet blanket/And she undresses my dead hide” as she builds her up then tears her down. The final original, “The Bad Kind,” features Laura in another introspective ballad with Bennett realizing she’s “spent the night throwing verbal punches at you, my only friend,” before a cover of the walking blues “After Dark,” written by Steve Huffsteder Pussylovers and Tito Larriva, brings the disc to a close with a Matteo’s guitar providing a neo-psychedelic feel.

Available through Amazon, IsraBox and other online retailers, Death Time Love is a strong debut from a vocalist who deserves to be heard. It’s thoroughly modern blues that comes across with a traditional feel.

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


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 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 8 

joe goldmark cd imageJoe Goldmark – Blue Steel

www.joegoldmark.com

Lo Ball Records

13 songs time-41:41

From the looks of the CD cover with Joe sitting at a pedal steel guitar while wearing a cowboy hat, one would think that this would be a country record. Heck, one look at the cover and I’m thinking Junior Brown.

One would be incorrect except for one song and a few flourishes here and there. The songs here are a mixture of originals and covers taken from various genres where the steel guitar is one of the main instruments.

San Francisco based Joe Goldmark isn’t from the flashy school of steel players like the legendary Speedy West. Joe doesn’t go in for bomb dive runs or startling effects. He plays mainly melody and clever riffs, and at times very enticing ones at that. He enlisted two very good vocalists for this project plus a competent cadre of musicians.

The original instrumental “Night Flight” serves as the kickoff for the CD. It’s quite nice with guitarist Gary Potterton serving as Joe’s foil. Former Hoodoo Rhythm Devils vocalist Glen Walters takes on Rufus Thomas’s “All Night Worker”. His gruff enough voice is the right tool for the job. A risqué song in the Rhythm & Blues tradition. Dallis Craft lends her beautiful voice to Jeff Lynne and Roy Orbison’s “A Love So Beautiful”. Joe lays down a pretty pedal steel melody.

Joe has a knack for creating really enchanting melodies, as on his original instrumental “Ginger Ale”. Glen Walters returns for Jimmy McCracklin’s “The Wobble”. Joe’s playing gets a bit country here. “Warm Rain” is another Goldmark penned instrumental. Gee this guy sure has a way with melodies. “Howlin” Wind” by Graham Parker is the title track from his first album. It’s toned down some here via another splendid vocal by Dallis Craft.

An unusual instrumental cover song is Bob Marley’s “Natty Dread”. A pedal steel cover of a reggae song, that’s something you don’t hear everyday Bert. Gary Potterton provides perfect counterpoint to Joe’s playing. It reminds of the country instrumental duo of Speedy West and Jimmy Bryant. The only country song here is a cover of Lefty Frizell’s “Look What Thoughts Will Do” sung by none other than Dallis Craft.

The Goldmark instrumental “Tacky Tango” includes some nifty guitar work from Gary Potterton, much as he does over the course of this album. Jeff Ervin’s sax and Henry Salvia’s Hammond organ don’t hurt one bit either. “Beautician Blues” a B.B. King-Jules Taub song that I’m not familiar with is rewarded with another fine Glenn Walters vocal performance.

Jim Campilongo plays guitar on a lovely instrumental that he wrote, “I Want To Be With You”. The proceedings wrap up with a version of “True Love Travels On A Gravel Road”, a song popularized by Elvis Presley, although I’m familiar with Nick Lowe’s version. The inimitable Dallis Craft works her magic once again.

On paper the prospect of mainly non-country songs by a pedal steel guitarist sounds like a mismatch, but in reality it is a master stroke. These melodies and vocals woven together with such artistic talent make for one heck of a listen. Broaden your musical horizons and check this one out.

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



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 Featured Blues Review – 7 of 8 

darren watson cd imageDarren Watson – Too Many Millionaires

Beluga Records

www.darrenwatson.com

8 songs; 32:41 minutes

New Zealand-based Darren Watson gained notoriety in the late ’80s as the principal songwriter and front-man for R&B outfit “Chicago Smoke Shop.” This group of young musicians made two albums, had a couple of songs that got some significant radio play, and with a few years of touring were able to secure place in the hearts of New Zealand’s music fans. They earned multiple NZ Music Award nominations, and shared stages on NZ tours with such international artists Koko Taylor, The Robert Cray Band, George Thorogood, and The Fabulous Thunderbirds.

Watson’s latest, “Too Many Millionaires,” is his sixth release as a solo artist, and was recorded ‘live-to-tape’ at Wellington’s Surgery Studios. This new record is a collection of all acoustic performances and features Watson’s accomplished fingerstyle and slide guitar along with his powerful vocals. His supporting band includes Steve Moodie on upright bass, Dayle Raymond Jellyman on keys, Delia Shanley on bass drum and percussion, and Terry Case on harmonica. Seven of the eight songs on this collection are Watson’s original compositions, while the title track, “Too Many Millionaires,” was written by Australia native and fellow New Zealander Bill Lake.

This is a decidedly political work, and it’s a good one, at that. Taking aim at endless war and economic inequality, Watson does an effective job of combining old-school, back porch country blues with topical protest lyrics, without becoming overly pedantic.

Watson obviously knows his way around the guitar, and takes on traditional folk blues motifs and makes them distinctly his own. He is a purposeful picker – each note rings with quiet authority – and his powerful voice gives a raw authenticity to each of the songs’ stories. The sound recording is right on the money, giving the listener a great sense of both the well-recorded instruments and the room dynamics. And the mix is just about perfect. All of the instruments are balanced, and lend just the right amount of support to Watson’s impassioned vocals.

Some favorite tracks include the opener, “Hallelujah (Rich Man’s War),” which laments the absurdity of going to war for wealthy interests in a vicious, self-perpetuating cycle.

“National Guy” is a quiet, but powerful lamentation on conspicuous consumption and the preconceptions that so many harbor about the working poor, with just a hint of nationalism thrown in for good measure.

“Mean Me Right” is an airy, slow burning ode to a relationship struggling to reach an equilibrium. “Pilgrim” has Watson channeling Robert Johnson, but with his own particular seasoning, and again railing against politicians who have a difficult time being truthful.

The title track, “Too Many Millionaires,” is a musical dissertation on rampant greed in our global society greed run amok. “Un-Love Me” is reminiscent of early Muddy Waters, and Terry Casey does a wonderful job evoking the spirit of Walter Jacobs into his playing on this one.

Throughout the CD, Watson tackles many country blues forms, but each with his own distinctive spin on them. The performances are top-notch, and there’s an immediacy to the recording that makes you feel as if you’re in the room with this talented bunch of musicians.

All in all, this is an enjoyable collection of timely tunes, with great performances all around, highlighting Watson’s soulful guitar playing and his powerful vocals. If you’re a fan of country blues done right, I think you might enjoy Too Many Millionaires. I know I did.

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


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 Featured Blues Review – 8 of 8 

roger wilson cd imageRoger “Hurricane” Wilson & The Hurricane Homeboys – Live At Madlife

www.hurricanewilson.com

Bluestorm Records

12 songs time-74:46

After twenty releases Georgia native Roger “Hurricane” Wilson celebrates the twentieth anniversary of uniting with The Hurricane Homeboys with this live recording at Georgia’s Madlife. They aren’t just an ordinary rhythm section. Marvelous Marvin Mahanay is a solid up front and steady bass man. Billy Jeansonne’s drumming is full and totally fleshes out the sound. Roger’s vocals aren’t distinctive, but fare better on the faster songs. What he lacks in vocals is more than made up in his excellent and dexterous guitar slinging. His playing leans more towards the blues-rock side, but often straddles the line between blues-rock and straight ahead blues. Whatever the case, he and his cohorts have energy galore. The set consists of three band originals and the rest being well conceived covers.

Freddie King’s instrumental “San Ho Zay” begins life as more or less faithful to the original, then wah-wah charges it up about midway through. Country meets blues-rock on “Why I Do What I Do”. Throughout the CD Roger’s voice is serviceable. He cranks up the reverb on a version of the Willie Dixon-Eddie Boyd penned “Third Degree”. His voice is stronger here. Rice Miller’s “Help Me” gets a similar treatment with the blues-rock and blues coexisting quite nicely. The guitar locks in with powerful and clear notes spewing out.

More country leanings show up on Roger’s otherwise blues-rock original “This Crazy World”. They cover an Allman Brothers Band Staple, Willie Cobbs’ “You Don’t Love Me”. His fluid guitar never lets up. Ringing, atmospheric and melodic guitar permeate the country tinged “The Way I Am”. He achieves a beautiful guitar tone. “Hurricane Blues” is a super charged charged theme song, a nice guitar workout. The Marvelous Marvin Mahanay penned “If This Is Love” features a sturdy bass line, full drumming and one of the better vocal efforts by Roger.

“You Never Know” is a straight ahead blues song. A faithful version of Floyd Cramer’s classic piano instrumental “Last Date” once again points out the country influence creeping in at times. A masterful take on this one. How’s this for versatility, he follows it up with a cover of Jimi Hendrix’s version of “All Along The Watchtower”. His guitar zooms through wah-wah land and includes a snippet of a riff from Eric Clapton’s “Layla” and tacks on a bit of “Foxy Lady” at song’s end.

A guitar master putting his skills on display backed by a top notch rhythm section…Guitar nirvana or what? Guitar junkies and music lovers alike will gather tons of enjoyment out of this release!

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


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 Featured Interview – Guitar Shorty 

guitra shorty photo 1It’s hard to decide which quality Guitar Shorty possesses in greater abundance: stratospheric onstage energy or extreme resiliency in the face of unexpected hardship.

Regarding the latter: in May of 2016, the veteran Los Angeles-based blues guitarist got home exhausted in the wee hours of the morning after a long gig and a longer drive. He gratefully hit the sack and was awoken not long thereafter by some extremely unpleasant news. “The neighbors were knocking on the door,” remembers Shorty. “They said, ‘Shorty!’ So I got up, opened the door, and she said, ‘I thought you were gone!’ I said, ‘Oh, I decided to come on back home.’ Because I’d played San Diego, which is about 100 miles from here.

“When she first said she thought my van was gone, I thought she was kidding. I ran out the door, I got to the garage and looked, and there was a big empty spot where my van was sitting. I don’t know why nobody didn’t hear it.” The haul was massive. “They took the van and the trailer and all of my connections. I had my guitar behind the driver’s seat. That’s the only one they didn’t get,” he says. “I always put the guitar behind my seat. The guitar, I took it out, put the strap on my shoulder, closed the door, locked it up, and went inside the house. I was so tired I didn’t pull my clothes off. I just took my shoes off.”

Although the stolen gear and vehicles have yet to surface (“I still think it’s going to turn up though, some of it,” Shorty says hopefully), the L.A. blues community did an admirable job of pulling together to help a friend in need with a pair of gala benefit shows. “I put the word out,” he says. “Next thing I know, the internet started loading up. And I got enough money to get the van. And about three weeks after that, I found a trailer. So I got a van and a trailer now. But I don’t have all those tools in there.” Nonetheless, an undaunted Shorty hit the road with his replacement equipment in tow, overcoming what could have been a devastating blow to a career that spans more than six decades and a whole lot of touring miles successfully logged.

Everything else had been going well in recent years. Shorty’s touring itinerary has remained lively, and his last three albums—the rampaging, no-holds-barred Watch Your Back (2004), We the People (2006), and Bare Knuckle (2010)—came out on high-profile Alligator Records and continue to attract interest. “People are still buying ‘em. When I take a shipment with me, people buy ‘em. They love my stuff. I’m glad of that,” reports Shorty. “I enjoy playing them too, every time I play.

“Bruce Iglauer came to see me in New Orleans. He liked what he heard and what he saw, and we talked for a while. Then he told me, ‘If you ever decide you want to go with another label, here’s my card. I like you, Shorty. I like what you’re doing. I like the way you perform. You handle the crowd good, and the crowd loves you. I think I can do something for you.’” Alligator’s big boss man was true to his word.

Prior to that, Shorty cut three CDs for Hammond and Nauman Scott’s Black Top imprint. “Hammond said he’d been trying to catch up with me for a long time. He could never get a number on me, because every time he ran across somebody, they wouldn’t know where I was,” says Shorty. “He said he’d been looking for me for over three years.” 1993’s savage Topsy Turvy (featuring a cover photo of the acrobatic axeman playing while standing on his head, a staple of his live shows) was followed on Black Top by Get Wise to Yourself a couple of years later, and Roll Over, Baby in 1998 (in between Black Top and Alligator, Evidence released his I Go Wild! in 2001). Taken as a whole, Shorty’s three Black Top discs attractively introduced the blues world to an artist whose athletic showmanship was a perfect complement to his fiery guitar work and rowdy vocals.

guitra shorty photo 2Born David Kearney on September 8, 1939 in Houston, Shorty was raised from age nine by his grandmother in Kissimmee, Florida. His earliest lessons on his chosen instrument came from his uncle, Willie Quarterman. “He taught me how to play,” says Shorty. “He was playing the Delta blues on guitar. I always wanted to be like my uncle Willie. He used to sit me on his knee and play for me. When I got big enough to put my hand around the neck of the guitar, he started teaching me.”

At 17, the guitarist moved to Tampa, where booking agent Hubert “Pawnshop” Lewis bought him an electric guitar and Dewey Richardson, the owner of the Club Royal, offered him a gig in his 18-piece house band, led by keyboardist Walter Johnson. They wisely allowed the newcomer to get his feet wet gradually. “I didn’t know no tunes,” he says. “I only knew three tunes I could play by myself.” Two of them were “The Huckle-Buck” and “Three O’Clock Blues.”

Richardson mounted the stage one night with a special announcement. “He said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, we have a brand new star coming in next week. I think you’ll like him. His name is Guitar Shorty!’ And people stood up and started applauding. Then, ‘How would y’all like to hear Guitar Shorty?’ And they started applauding again. ‘Okay, just for that, next weekend Guitar Shorty will be right here!’” says Shorty. “After we stepped down, I said, ‘Boss?’ He said, ‘Yeah, David?’ I said, ‘This guy Guitar Shorty, is he real good? I’m worried about him!’

“‘Oh yeah, you’ll love Shorty!’”

The teenager woodshedded all week at his grandmother’s. “I went to sleep with the guitar laying across my stomach,” he says. “Didn’t take my clothes or nothing off. I was practicing before the big day came.” Richardson had a master plan. “He made me turn my guitar volume down—all the way down,” says Shorty. “Because I was hitting on sour notes, and sour notes sound bad when you’re playing it and you’re not playing the right tune. So anyway, we did a band tune, and then Mr. Johnson’s wife, she sang a song. I’m up there going through the motions like I’m playing it. I didn’t know none of the stuff she was doing, but I went through the motions.

“She got through singing her song, and Mr. Richardson came up and asked the crowd, ‘You like the show so far?’” says Shorty. “He said, ‘Right now, the star of our show! You’re gonna like him! He’s going places! But he can’t go nowhere without you people supporting him.’” Anticipation was building to a fever pitch. “Then he said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, without a doubt, I’m giving you Guitar Shorty!’ By that time, Mr. Johnson’s band took off and they kept on playing.

“I turned around and looked, and he’s standing up there holding the mic and pointing at me. And I froze. So he had to kind of pick me up and bring me out in front. That’s where it was. The first thing I did was ‘The Huckle-Buck,’ and people were out dancing too. And then after that, I did ‘Three O’Clock In The Morning.’ And when I finished that, they started applauding. They said, ‘We want more! We want more!’ I did one more tune for them, and when I finished, I backed away from the mic and they still kept on applauding. So that’s where Guitar Shorty came from–right there at the Club Royal on Central Avenue.”

The newly christened Guitar Shorty was a fast learner. In 1957, he arrived in Chicago to make his debut platter for Eli Toscano’s Cobra Records under the expert production of Willie Dixon. “The guy who was supposed to be my manager, his name was Hosea Hill, he said, ‘We’ve got to break Shorty out of Tampa, Florida.’ He said, ‘We’ve got a recording we want you to do. I don’t know how I’m going to do it yet, but we’re going to find some kind of way to get you up in Chicago,’” says Shorty, who deeply impressed one of the Windy City’s finest. “Willie Dixon came over to my house one night. Came there and said, ‘How would you like to do a recording?’

guitra shorty photo 3“I flew up there. And he took me in this place, the studio there, and he said, ‘Now, I’m going to take you in the studio with me. You do everything you can to go on and make a good record.’ I said, ‘I am.’ So they got me in there and got everything all hooked up, I started singing. I sang one song over and over and over. It didn’t look like I could get it,” says Shorty. “Hosea said, ‘Willie, take him on up to his place and work with him.’ And he took me on up to his place and we worked with the song ‘til we got it right. Then he took me back to the studio a couple of days later, and it came out.”

Shorty wrote “Irma Lee,” the aggressive Guitar Slim-influenced rocker that proved so vexing in the studio, while Dixon split author credit with Tampa saxist Charles Brantley on the other swinger, “You Don’t Treat Me Right.” Both sides featured sizzling solos from the rookie. “The rhythm guitar player on there was Otis Rush,” notes Shorty, who also played on singer Clarence Jolly’s single cut that day at Cobra’s backroom studio on West Roosevelt Road (Jolly sang with Brantley’s band in Tampa). “He came in after me,” says the guitarist of Jolly.

Dixon, who doubled as Shorty’s bassist on his Cobra single, was a nurturing presence. “We called him ‘Whistlin’ Dixie.’ He was nice. In fact, I learned a lot from him.” Through Dixon, Shorty was something of an inspiration for one of his labelmates, Buddy Guy. “He even talked to Buddy Guy about me. He said, ‘Look, if you want to get these people riled up, I know this guy that came from Florida.’ He told them about me throwing the guitar up in the air, upside the wall and everything.”

Shorty soon hit the road opening for none other than Ray Charles. “He done got me out of Tampa,” says Shorty. “Ray Charles took me under his arm like I was his son. He liked to hear me sing ‘Sweet Little Angel.’ He was crazy about that song. That was his song when he came onstage, when they said, ‘Ray Charles, ladies and gentlemen.’ That’s what I played for him to come out. He’d take the piano over, and he would play it.”

The flamboyant Eddie “Guitar Slim” Jones, one of Shorty’s primary influences and a showman extraordinaire, was still riding high off his ‘54 smash “The Things That I Used To Do” when Shorty snagged a supporting role with Slim’s revue (his other warmups at the time were singers Carol Fran and James Davis). “Guitar Slim was my idol when I was coming up,” says Shorty. “He heard me, and I heard him play and everything. I sang, and my show was close to his. He took his guitar and run off the stage out in the audience the length of his cord, which was pretty long. The kind of suit he had on, he’d lay down on the floor and kick his heels up in the air, hammer on the guitar. When I saw him do that, I said, ‘If he can do that, I can do flips!’

“So I tried it one night,” he continues. “I took the guitar and ran out in the crowd, and a few were following me. Then I turned around, went back to the stage. They gave me some room, and I started running with the guitar, jumped up in the air, and landed right on my head! They didn’t know I was kind of out of it. I was kind of dizzy too. And I messed around, got the hurt off me, and I turned around and went back to the wings and turned around, and started running with the guitar again. Jumped up in the air, tried to turn a flip, and landed right on my head again! They didn’t know I was hurt though. They kept applauding for me. So I turned around and went back and I started talking to the Lord. I said, ‘Lord, don’t let me get hurt again. Please help me!’ I kept on playing the guitar, got the hurt off me, started running with the guitar and jumped up in the air, and landed on my feet!”

Those gravity-defying flips and somersaults remain part of Shorty’s act even now. “Sometimes I do it. Not all the time. I also lay down after I turn a flip. I land on the floor, then I turn around on the side, like I’m running with the guitar, around and around on my elbow. I don’t miss a note either!”

guitra shorty photo 4There was also a stint with the road company of the great Sam Cooke that commenced when Shorty was performing in New Orleans at Frank Painia’s Dew Drop Inn. Cooke sent his baritone saxist, Bob Tate, to sound Shorty out about joining his troupe. “(Bob) said, ‘He wants to hear you play. We’ve got an audition going tomorrow, and a rehearsal. You want to audition?’ I said sure, and how much was it paying if I went? When he told me how much it was paying, I said, ‘What time you see me being there in the morning?’ He said, ‘I want you to be down at Longshoremen’s Hall.’ That’s where he was rehearsing at. ‘I’ll see you there at nine o’clock.’

“Went down there and I did one number and was going into the second number, and I saw Sam Cooke standing down at the end at the dressing room. When I went into the second number, he gave Bob the signal—they had a signal that they worked together when he wasn’t on the stage. And he turned around and he looked at me. He said, ‘You don’t have to play no more, Shorty.’ I thought he was going to tell me he didn’t invite me. He said, ‘You’re hired!’” Shorty even signed a management contract with Cooke associate J.W. Alexander during his stint with Sam. “Never did nothing for me at all,” says Shorty. “Nothing!”

The guitarist settled in Los Angeles and inked a deal with Charlie Reynolds’ Pull Records in late ‘59, debuting there with the doom-laden minor-key slow blues “Hard Life,” penned by Tate and Shorty. “That was (inspired by) a girl I was going out with,” chuckles Shorty (the torrid jump “Ways .Of A Man” stood in stark contrast on the flip). He encored the next year on Pull with a luxurious “How Long Can It Last” backed with the wild swinger “Love Loves” and completed his brief Pull tenure with a bouncy “Pumpkin Pie” and its horn-leavened B-side “I Never Thought.” The hitmaking “5” Royales added vocal harmonies to “Pumpkin Pie.” “They used to be down there in Florida quite a bit, the ‘5’ Royales did,” he says. “I can’t think of the club they used to be at now because it’s been so long, but the club was right there off of Central Avenue in Tampa.” Spectacular though they were thanks to Shorty’s impassioned vocals and blistering lead guitar, his Pull singles, all waxed in L.A., failed to hit.

The guitarist spent considerable time in Seattle during the ‘60s, becoming romantically entwined with and eventually marrying a lady named Marsha who just happened to be the stepsister of Jimi Hendrix. “He picked up a lot from me. He tried the flip too, with the guitar. He told me, ‘You can have them flips! I’m not gonna try that no more!’” laughs Shorty. “I loaned him my wah pedal,” says Shorty. “He liked the way it sounded. He said, ‘Shorty, I sure like this, man. I’d like to try this out.’

“He was getting ready to go on this little tour. So he asked me if it was okay if he borrowed it. I said, ‘You can have it if you want to!’ (He said), ‘I just want to take it out, just to experiment.’ I let him have it, and he came back. He said, ‘I like this stuff, man.’ I said, ‘If you like it, why don’t you get one?’ He said, ‘I think I’ll take one of those!’ So he went back to England, and when I saw him again, he had one that had his name on it!” Shorty would later pay tribute to his late brother-in-law on Roll Over, Baby with a tough rendition of “Hey Joe.”

Eventually Shorty returned to Los Angeles, where Chuck Barris emceed a zany TV talent contest program called The Gong Show. Since Barris and his representatives scoured the country for fresh acts perhaps best described as unusual for his adoring viewership, Shorty fit right in when he tried out for the show in 1978. “They took me out to introduce me to him,” he says. “When I did my little audition there, right away when I was leaving, he said, ‘Wait a minute, Shorty! Hold it! Hold it!’ I didn’t think he liked what I did. And he said, ‘Yeah—I want to use you!’ I said, ‘You want to use me?’ He said, ‘Yeah!’ So he gave me the date and everything, when to come down, to do the rehearsal.” He won the show he appeared on by playing while standing on his head.

Mobile once again, Guitar Shorty is as dedicated to the blues as ever. “I’m back on the road,” says Shorty. “They’re trying to get me set up now to head out towards Chicago. I guess I’ll be able to get some connections, some of my connections going out there, because I’m going to work hard. That’s the only thing I know to do.”

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



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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: 7/2 – Amanda Fish. 7/9 – Brandon Santini, 7/16 – John Clifton. For more information visit www.icbluesclub.org.

Crossroads Blues Society – Rockford, IL

Lyran Society’s monthly Friday fish fry – 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, June 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. Tues, July 10 – Brandon Santini, Manteno Sportsmen’s Club, Thur, July 27 – The Nouveaux Honkies, Inside Out, Gilman IL, Thur, Aug 23 – Albert Castiglia, L’Erable IL, Tues, Sept 11 – Frank Bang & Cook County Kings, Venue TBA, Tues, Sept 25, Ivy Ford Band, Kankakee Valley Boat Club. More Info at: http://www.facebook.com/friendsoftheblues.

The Long Beach Blues Society – Long Beach, CA

The Long Beach Blues Society presents the “6 String Showdown,” a head-to-head series of regional blues guitar competitions to crown Southern California’s best blues guitar player, the winner getting to perform on the Main Stage of this year’s New Blues Festival V. Bracket rounds to determine regional winners to be held at Campus Jax, Newport Beach, Saturday, July 21, 3-11 PM; Harvelle’s/Long Beach, Sunday, July 29, 3-11 PM; and Arcadia Blues Club, Saturday, August 4, 6 PM to Midnite.

Three semi-finalists face off on the Golden Groove Stage at New Blues Festival V Saturday, September 1. Two finalists go head-to-head on the NBF Main Stage, Sunday, September 2. More info at www.6stringshowdown.com.


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