Issue 12-31 August 2, 2018

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Cover photo © 2018 Kurt Foor


 In This Issue 

Don Wilcock has our feature interview with Altered Five Blues Band. We have 11 Blues reviews for you this week including new music from Randy Morrison Band, Tom Hambridge, Jamiah Rogers, Alastair Greene, Marcia Ball, Blues Warrior, The Blues Mystery, Big Bill Broonzy, Cliff Stevens, Lloyd Spiegel and Willie Dixon’s Original Chicago Blues All Stars Inc.

Our Featured video is Sue Foley performing at the North Atlantic Blues festival.

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


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2018 Blues Blast Music Award Tickets On Sale Now

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


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 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 11 

randy morrison band cd imageRandy Morrison Band – Hard Place

Self-produced CD

10 songs – 49 minutes

www.randymorrisonmusic.com

Based out of the Portland, Ore., one of the deepest pools for music in the U.S., the Randy Morrison Band is a veteran ensemble who make their recording debut on this CD as they combine West Coast blues, soul and R&B into a tight, dance-able package.

The band formed almost by accident about three years ago. Led by Morrison, a guitarist, vocalist and songwriter who’s a veteran road dog, having fronted groups across the nation for years, they got together after meeting at camp-outs that included weekend jams and realizing the chemistry they produced.

A 2017 finalist in the Cascade Music Association’s Journey To Memphis competition, the unit includes Stephen “Midnight” Anderson, who shares vocal and lead guitar duties, and a rhythm section of bassist/vocalist Laura Pesch, a founding member of Northwest Women In Blues, and percussionist Dusty Hill, who’s toured with The Coasters and The Drifters and was timekeeper for Rose City favorites The Sleazy Pieces. They’re aided here by Shawn Lyday and Dan Pettis on organ, Joe McCarthy on trumpet, Scott Franklin and Allyn Jackson on saxes and Steve Shroy on drums.

The disc contains eight well-paced originals, two penned by Morrison and six by Anderson, and a pair of covers. A brief guitar hook kicks off Randy’s pleasing “You Deserve Better,” a swinging stop-time blues that cautions a lady that the singer isn’t all that special while insisting he wants to stay at her side. It features a rock-solid mid-tune single-note guitar solo. Morrison delivers the vocals in a light, pleasant tenor that stays within a tight range.

The horns join the action for “Our Ship.” Written and delivered by Anderson, it’s a medium-paced shuffle set in a pawn shop with the singer dreaming of better days. The guitar solo on this one is beefy and greasy. The tempo slows somewhat but the message continues for “You’ll Get Tired Of Winning,” which percolates with jazzy overtones and Pesch at the mike. The victories will begin when lovers reunite after a separation.

Morrison’s back in charge for the propulsive “Trouble,” a full-band West Coast blues pleaser in which the saxes and guitars shine, before Anderson delivers an unhurried cover of David Lee Roth’s familiar rocker, “Sensible Shoes,” with Laura doubling the chorus.

The funky “Hard Place And The Rock” finds Randy singing about crazy women and crazy times with plenty of wah-wah pedal fretwork before Steve delivers the breezy “Brand New Cadillac,” which sings praise of his lady’s new wheels. A cover of The Cate Brothers’ “There Goes The Neighborhood” follows before two more originals — “Right Place, Wrong Time,” which only mirrors the Dr. John song, and “Into The Midnight Sun” – bring the set to a close.

The deeper you get into Hard Place, the more you appreciate the Randy Morrison Band. This one simmers, then smokes. The instrumentation is spectacular, but well-controlled throughout, and the original tunes shine. Available from CDBaby or as a download from multiple vendors, it’s a pleaser from a group that definitely deserves your attention.

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 11 

tom hambridge cd imageTom Hambridge – The Nola Sessions

Superstar Records

13 songs – 53 minutes

www.tomhambridge.com

When Nashville-based singer/songwriter/producer Tom Hambridge decided to pay tribute to the city of New Orleans with this CD, he had no trouble recruiting several of the biggest names in Big Easy music – including Ivan Neville, Sonny Landreth and the late Allen Toussaint — to help him. But that should come as no surprise to anyone who’s aware of the rich legacy he’s already created in the worlds of blues, country and rock.

A native of Buffalo, N.Y., who graduated from Berklee College Of Music and spent three years on the road as the percussionist for guitar legend Roy Buchanan, Hambridge has earned Grammys as a producer of Buddy Guy’s Living Proof and Born To Play Guitar albums as well as more nominations for his collaboration with a who’s who of entertainers, including Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Van Morrison, Johnny Winter, Gregg Allman, Kid Rock, George Thorogood, Susan Tedeschi and many others.

This is the eighth release under his own name for Hambridge, who’s captured seven Blues Music Awards and about 20 more nominations as both a producer and percussionist. Recorded at The Parlor studios in the Crescent City and mastered at Abbey Road Studios in London, this album features an entire lineup of tunes either penned by Tom himself or in concert with others, all of which are steeped in the rich tradition of New Orleans.

In addition to Neville and Toussaint on keyboards and Landreth on slide guitar, the work includes contributions from The Naughty Horns (John Culbreth, trumpet; Ian Bowman, tenor sax; and Nick Ellman; baritone sax), Kevin McKendree and David Torkanowsky on keys, John Fohl, Rob McNelley and Shane Theriot on electric guitar, Max Morin, Calvin Turner Jr. and Tommy MacDonald on bass, Wendy Molen, SaRachel and The McCrary Sisters (Regina, Ann, Alfreda and Deborah) on backing vocals and Nathaniel Smith on cello.

The Nola Sessions swings from the jump with the ballad “Blues Been Mighty Good To Me,” which features Hambridge’s strong tenor voice in a duet with Toussaint. His work on the 88s simply dazzles in one of the final recordings of his lengthy career. Tom’s drums kick off “Bluz Crazy” with a powerful medium-tempo shuffle before he describes his woman outside, kicking and screaming at the door, accusing him of things he doesn’t do any more, all the while admitting that he’s “bluz crazy — can’t recommend this life.”

The Southern rocker “This End Of The Road” features Landreth in his first appearance before the funky “I Love Everything” sings praise of a lady in horn-fueled stylings that would be home on Rampart Street. Next up, the bittersweet ballad “What You Leave Behind” describes a boozer whose habit robs him of everything even though he made the world a better place in many ways.

The subject turns to a lady’s recent departure in “Little Things” before Hambridge delivers his own version of “Whiskey Ghost,” a song he co-wrote with Grammy winner Gary Nicholson for Guy’s 2013 Rhythm & Blues. This time, it comes across with a haunting reggae feel.

The action heats up with “Save Me,” which features the McCrarys and finds the singer desperate for a help and a second chance at life, but cools for the funky “A Couple Drops,” which describes an encounter with a contentious Vietnam vet.

The ballad “Masterpiece” describes a father-son relationship filled with artistic imagery, while the driving rocker “Me And Charlie” pays tribute to Guy’s longtime bus driver, Jeffrey Steele, before the set closes with the country-flavored ballad, “Trying To Find It,” and the acoustic “Faith,” which looks at belief from various angles.

Available from Amazon, iTunes and Spotify, The Nola Sessions is a winner on all counts. Don’t be surprised if this one garners Hambridge more nominations in the next awards season. It’s that good.

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 Video – Sue Foley 

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This featured video is Sue Foley at North Atlantic Blues festival. (Click image to watch!)

Sue Foley is performing at the Ann Arbor Blues Festival on Saturday, August 18, 2018.

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


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 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 11 

JAMIAH ROGERS CD IMAGEJamiah Rogers – Blues Superman

Self-Produced

www.jamiahrogersblues.com

CD: 10 Songs, 35:55 Minutes

Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues Rock, Jazz-and-Soul Influenced Blues, All Original Songs

“I want something short and fun,” this reviewer told herself as she searched for a CD to consider. “Something that encapsulates summer.” Enter Jamiah Rogers, a Blues Superman from Chicago. He’s one part soul crooner (as on the title track), one part guitar hero (as on “Blues Mama” and “Gone Too Long”) and one part dance-track master (as on “Bourbon Street Bounce”). Vocally, he wavers between one of two extremes: beautiful and blasé. When he’s not going all out to emulate the examples of soul and blues masters, his tone resembles a tired teenager’s. That doesn’t mean he’s not good. In fact, he’s great on both drums and the “ax” he holds on the cover of his latest album. If you’re going to make it in the Windy City music scene, absolute proficiency in one or more instrumental areas is required. Rogers knows this very well. On ten original songs, he brings out the best of his blues abilities and those of his co-musicians.

According to a website known as “Brotherhood of the Guitar,” “Jamiah grew up in a household of musicians. The first hands-on experience with music came at the age of three. Jamiah’s father and guitarist, Tony Rogers, had a band that rehearsed every now and then in the basement of [their] home. You could tell [he] was listening, because he would come and sit on the stairs and sneak peeks of the bands’ rehearsal…At age 7, Jamiah recorded his first CD, In the Pocket, which opened doors for him…As the years passed, Jamiah became one of the top drummers in his age group but Tony thought it was time for Jamiah to pick up a new instrument, the guitar.” As they say, the rest is history, and our subject even got to be a closer for the Jimi Hendrix “Experience” tour.

Accompanying Jamiah (guitar, vocals, drums and bass) is his father Tony Rogers on bass.

On which three songs is our protagonist at his most heroic?

Track 01: “Blues Superman” – Up, up and away! Genre purists will be proud, and so will soul lovers. Jamiah’s guitar is smooth and melodic, needing no fret tricks or fancy overdubbing. As for his voice, one might wish that he’d put the same amount of inflection into the remaining songs. “Call me when you need some blues – I’ll be there at the drop of a dime. I’m your Blues Superman; gonna spread these blues all over this land.”

Track 04: “Blues Mama” – Time for a funky ‘70’s/‘80’s SRV groove, both on the beat and on your feet. It’s dancing time. “Hey there, bad, bad boy; I love how you play the guitar just like a toy,” says the love interest of our narrator. Truer words were never spoken, although this ‘toy’ is at its best in Rogers’ skillful hands. If one listens closely, one can also hear Tony Rogers’ cool and understated bassline providing stability to this wild number.

Track 08: “Let the Tears Fall” – Just when we listeners have been lulled into a sense of sunny security, Rogers “hits us right in the feels,” as Millennials say. Sometimes we all need a good cry, especially when loved ones aren’t near. Channeling Bob Marley, Jamiah jams: “[My friend’s] son left for college today. His daughter’s married, since moved away. Needed someone to talk to – ‘Hope you don’t mind, didn’t mean to bother you.’ Let the tears fall down like rain…” Indeed.

Take a dose of summer invincibility with this Blues Superman!

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 11 

alastair greene cd imageAlastair Greene – Dream Train

Rip Cat Records

https://agsongs.com

13 tracks

A baker’s dozen of rocking cuts grace Alastair Greene’s latest studio album that will make your blood flow faster and get you on your feet and dancing! I first came upon Greene with his 2014 release Trouble at Your Door and went back to sample his earlier stuff. The guy plays some wicked guitar and sings with confidence and a solid presence. All originals except for one track here.

This CD leans heavily towards his rock influences. Starting with the title cut we get an explosion of vibrant, rocking sounds. Next is “Big Bad Wolf” has a ZZ Top sort of groove going and it continues the rocking onslaught. “Nome Zayne” offers a driving, mid-tempo beat and a a gutsy set of vocals as he grits out “Know I’m Saying” and grinds out more vibrant guitar on this Billy Gibbons track. Walter Trout joins Green for “Another Lie” and we get some greasy, bluesy licks to get the ball rolling. It’s a slow cut where Greene sings a sort of ballad and the dual guitar licks reach the stratosphere- pretty cool stuff.

Up next is “Song For Rufus,” a pretty acoustic instrumental with lots of charm and finger picking elegance. “I’m The Talker” follows, and things pick up the pace quickly here. Another driving, rocking cut with angst and anger. Greene shreds a bit here as things proceed along in rapid fashion. It reminded me of a 70’s later English invasion rocker in many ways. Harp master Dennis Gruenling appears on “Daredevil” and lets his presence be know early. Greene lays out some big licks to match as he and Gruenling offer up their talents. Big time harp here along with some nice work on the Hammond organ.

“Grateful Swagger” features Debbie Davies joining in on guitar. It’s an instrumental guitar duet and it’s not for the faint of heart. Mixing some classic Chicago blues guitars grooves and a rocking sound, the mayhem that ensues is quite enjoyable. “Rain Stomp” is Greene in an R.L Burnside mode sliding along and making for a fun ride. The hill country update is exciting and titillating. “Demons Down” follows, a slow to mid tempo rocker that’s a little dark. Things brighten up with “Iowa,” a dreamy guitar and drum cut where the band eventually joins in. It might be “Iowa” but I get a nice, big Southern rock vibe here. Tastefully done! The last of the cuts with a guest is “Down to Memphis” where Mike Zito joins the fray. A rousing guitar piece, the boys rock it out together, another rocking good cut. Things conclude with “Lucky 13,” a jump blues rocker with Greene jiving it up and offers a couple of final guitar solos, the last of which closes things out.

Joining Greene along with the guests are Mike Finnigan on organ for 4 tracks) and his band of Jim Rankin on bass and other accompaniments and Austin Beede on drums. They are a tight trio and the guests meld in as if they are regulars with the band.

Ok, there’s not really a lot of traditional blues here but it’s a rocking good time. Greene’s vocals are clear and strident, perhaps too clean at times which makes the sound stray away from blues and more into the rock world. Don’t get me wrong- they are well done, but it’s just not delivered with a greasy and down home style. If you are a fan of Greene’s this will be in your wheelhouse as it will for all who like their blues heavily leaning towards rock. Purists will find some bluesy cuts here, too, but it’s more heavily rock than blues.

Greene is a great performer and musician whose exuberance embraces his music and makes it genuine sounding. If you want a good rocker CD with blues influences, go get this CD!

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


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 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 11 

marcia ball cd imageMarcia Ball – Shine Bright

Alligator Records

www.marciaball.com

12 tracks / 42:21

Marcia Ball has a career that would be the envy of most any blues artist, and the past five decades of hard work have earned her numerous accolades. These include multiple BMA awards and Grammy nominations, as well as induction into the Austin Music Hall of Fame and being named the 2018 Texas State Musician by the Texas State legislature. It would be easy to call Marcia a legend, but that might imply that her career is winding down, which is the furthest thing from the truth: her new Alligator Records release, Shine Bright, is probably her best work yet!

Ball was born in Texas and grew up in Louisiana, and her sound reflects the blues traditions of both of these fine states. She started taking piano lessons when she was five, and when she was a teenager she was awakened to soul music after hearing Irma Thomas perform in New Orleans. After college, Marcia headed to San Francisco where she worked the clubs and delved deeper into the music of Professor Longhair. Her solo career started in the mid-1970s when she moved back to the gulf states, and since then she has been cutting numerous well-regarded albums, as well as appearing on both the small and large screens. The end result of all of this is a seasoned performer with exceptional piano, vocal, and songwriting skills.

For her new album, Marcia brought in Steve Berlin (Los Lobos, The Blasters) as producer, and the studio sessions took place in Texas and Louisiana. This means that a lot of musicians contributed to the project – 19, if I counted correctly! The core of these folks is her touring band, which includes guitarist Mike Schermer, Don Bennett on bass, Corey Keller behind the drums, and the sax of Eric Bernhardt. Ball wrote nine of the twelve songs on Shine Bright, and none of them are over 4 ½ minutes, meaning that there is not a lot of soloing or filler material to be found here. The engineering is spot-on, with a great mix from Jim Volletine, and Berlin did a stand-up job with putting together this project.

The title track kicks things off, and “Shine Bright” is an upbeat rhythm and blues tune. The backing vocals of Shelley King and Carolyn Wonderland provide a gospel feel, and the whole thing has a NOLA beat thanks to the drums of Conrad Choucron. Marcia has a rich tenor voice that can get edgy when needed, and her lyrics implore the listener to be the best they can. In the course of doing this she provides quite the list of folks who can inspire us, from Jackie Robinson to Stephen Hawking. This is a strong start, and it lays a foundation of positivity that plays out for rest of the album.

From there, the original songs cover a lot of ground, but always pay homage to Ball’s roots and life story. Her Pelican State connection is out there for all to hear on “When the Mardi Gras is Over” and “Take a Little Louisiana.” The latter is an upbeat zydeco tune with a healthy dose of accordion from Roddie Romero and pretty backing vocals from Yvette Landry; this song ends up being a wise choice to close out the album. Marcia’s Texas connections are a little more subtle, but are always in the background, especially on the more rocking blues songs, such as “Too Much for Me,” “I’m Glad I Did What I Did,” and “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like That.”

There are a few cover songs on the setlist too. Ernie K-Doe’s “I Got to Find Somebody” was originally recorded in 1962, and Marcia goes all out to deliver a vocal performance with the appropriate amount of personality. Ball takes a short piano solo on this one, as does Eric Bernhardt on the sax. It is very well done, and this song is a fine representation of the fun New Orleans spirit that Ernie was famous for. There is also a sweet rendition of Ray Charles’ 1964 gem, “What Would I Do Without You.” This ballad features Red Young on the Hammond B-3, and the Hot Horns help to set the glorious gospel mood as Ball lays down some seriously soulful vocals.

Shine Bright is full of well-written songs with positive messages, and this talented crew performs each tune with skill. Marcia Ball is on top of her game, and it kind of makes me wonder what is next for her. But whatever it is, it will surely be worth her efforts and a wise use of the listeners’ time. In the meantime, head over to her website to hear some samples and to see where she will be performing next, because her live show has to be seen to believed!

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


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 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 11 

bridget kelly band cd imgeBridget Kelly Band – Blues Warrior

Alpha Sun Records

www.bridgetkellyband.com

13 tracks

Bridget Kelly gives us 13 original tracks and expresses her concerns for a number of causes in this newest CD. Tim Fik is again her guitar player and plays a big role in most of the songs. Mike Armbrecht and Mike Hamm share the bass work and Alex Klausner, Michael Barady, and Christine Alexander share the drum work. Chris Alexander also plays keys on three tracks (11 to 13). They all work well together and the changes between players is seamless.

“Lil’ Honey Bee” gets things kicked off for this two time IBC semi-finalist. Kelly offers up some impassioned vocals as guitarist Fik lays down some good licks. “Cabrini-green” is next up, a cool midtempo urban blues with a driving beat. Fik again demonstrates his prowess on guitar. “Stolen” takes things down a notch or two and begins with a wailing and moaning guitar intro that is a great hook to introduce a song with a gutsy vocal by Bridget about human trafficking. Fik again gives us a tasteful solo.

“No Good Man Blues” continues in a similar vein with a couple of extended solos by Fik and more big emotion by Kelly as she expresses herself on domestic violence. “Alone” comes up a bit in tempo and offers more stinging guitar with Kelly bemoaning a lonely life. Next we have “Trouble in Texas,” side-winding and slick Texas blues. The song is about a love who travels about and creates trouble as he returns to the Lone Star State. Kelly explains she is ready for him; the song reminds me of a Stevie Ray Vaughn sort of cut with the flaming guitar interspersed with a driving beat and strident vocals. Nicely done!

“Let Go” is another song about love gone wrong where Kelly and band offer another good performance. She gives us “Blues Inside of Me” next; we get another big cut with a lot of instrumental time and some sweet harp by “Little Mike” Markowitz added to boot. It’s a slower tempo cool blues that Kelly emote nicely on. Following that is “It’s A Shame,” a beautiful slow blues ballad where Kelly shows restraint along with the band and all do a fine job.

Drug abuse is the focus of the cut “Snow Fall;” a slow and dark cut about the plight of heroin users. “Nameless Nobody” gets Fik a lot more guitar time as Kelly gives us another darker cut. “Sugar Sweet Baby” gets the heart pumping a bit as the tempo moves into the dancing world and Kelly give an upbeat performance on this Southern/Texas rocking blues. The album concludes with “Chemo,” another cut taking us down; “Death comes knocking,” is the opening line and Kelly describes the fight against cancer. Fik gets more extended guitar time and there is a huge finish before a much more subdued outro.

It’s dark and mostly down stuff. Kelly wants to highlight a number of causes here, but the happiness expressed is far exceeded by cuts about desperation and problems. The last cut finishes with an expression of hope, but the album can be a downer. There is a lot of stuff to highlight causes like domestic violence, human trafficking, drug abuse and cancer, all part of the world we live in and Kelly offers support and help. There’s a lot of guitar work but Fik leaves some air between the notes and refrains from shredding (which I was happy with) and Kelly shows a lot of restraint as the topics are mostly ones where a reserved approach is called for. Kelly and band work well together and give us a good CD despite all the woes and despair expressed in the lyrics!

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


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 Featured Blues Review – 7 of 11 

the blues mystery cd imageThe Blues Mystery – Soul Memories

PBR Records – 2018

12 tracks; 47 minutes

www.thebluesmystery.com

The Blues Mystery have been around since 2013 and this is their third album. Based in Switzerland the band consists of two Swiss, Irénée Pralong on guitar and Gege Brown on drums, one Canadian, Walter K Thut on bass and harp and Frenchman Willy Matt who sings and plays guitar and slide. All the band members provide B/V’s, along with Louisa Thut and Kenny Matt adds a guitar solo to one track. The disc was produced and recorded over a year by Walter and Willy who wrote all the material between them.

As a vocalist Willy has a reasonable range but does have an accent when delivering the songs. Despite the album title there is not a lot of soul influences here unless some wah-wah rhythm work on “High Level Woman” counts; the general approach is blues-rock with plenty of guitar featured. Most of the songs are about relationships though Walter takes a more serious approach with the heavy (lyrically and musically) “Has Humankind Lost Its Soul?” in which he talks of being “a machine, some production factor in a dark scene”, the gloomy lyrics well counterpointed by some good fretwork.

The following four tracks are the highlights in this reviewer’s opinion:

Track 04: “I’m Afraid Of The Next Blues”. A song about fearing the future, the chorus vocals bringing to mind The Stones’ “Sympathy For The Devil”, a feeling amplified by some very 60’s rock guitar.

Track 06: “Time To Forgive”. A quieter tune which lyrically again deals with fears while the guitars lay down some moody chords on the longest track of the album at just short of five minutes.

Track 11: “Keep On Working”. In the mood for some foot-tapping music with rocking guitar set against a blues background? This is the one!

Track 12: “Look Out Mama” – a dark tale of a child seriously injured in a traffic accident, the stark lyrics played over just acoustic guitar and arguably Willy’s best vocal of the set.

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 11 

big bill broonzy LP album cover imageBig Bill Broonzy – Big Bill Broonzy Sings Folk Songs

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

LP Format 180g Remastered

Side A – 5 Tracks/17:25 – Side B – 6 Tracks/17:37

With the resurgence in recent years for recordings in the LP format, Blues Blast Magazine is now reviewing releases submitted for review in that format, starting with this reissued classic.

Album reviews will comment on the music as well as the sonic aspects of the recording.

This album, originally released by Moses Asch in 1962 on his Folkways label, this Big Bill Broonzy collection has been reissued on 180 gram vinyl with remastering done by Grammy recipient Pete Reininger, who digitized the original recording tapes for remastering rather than taking a chance on damaging the fragile tapes. Part of the Vinyl Me, Please series, the album comes with a card for a free digital download, a wild poster print by artist McKenzie Nelson, and an eight page booklet with the original liner notes, track listing, song lyrics, and a new essay by Bob Riesman, the author of the award-winning biography I Feel So Good: The Life And Times Of Big Bill Broonzy.

Broonzy was in failing health by 1956, but you would never know it listening to his powerful performances. The first side starts off with Bessie Smith’s “Backwater Blues”. Broonzy’s plaintive vocal commands your attention,accompanied by his fine guitar picking. The remastered mono recording places the singer and guitar right in front of you, with depth to the soundstage, giving it a “live” feel.

Some of the tracks were recorded in concert by WFMT radio at Northwestern University. The gospel classic “This Train” is from that performance, with Broonzy’s driving guitar taking over as the audience joins in on singing You can hear Broonzy’s voice echoing in the hall when he leans away from the microphone. He adds several verses that look forward to a day when skin color no longer matters. “I Don’t Want No Woman (To Try To Be My Boss)” is pure country blues, as is “Martha,” a highlight of the disc as the singer’s mournful cries express his longing for his woman. The final track on Side 1, “Tell Me Who,” highlights his dexterity on the guitar on a cheating song.

The tempo picks up considerably on a short, rousing take of “Bill Bailey” that starts Side 2, followed by a jaunty run-through of his original “Alberta”. After the deep blues on the reverse side, these folk tunes reveal another facet of Broonzy’s musical personality. He finishes off “Goin’ Down This Road” with a vocal flourish that stops you dead in your tracks. Switching back to gospel, the singer is eager to understand more on “Tell Me What Kind Of Man Jesus Is”. On another folk classic, “John Henry,” Broonzy picks at a rapid tempo, singing as if he himself was trying to beat the steam drill. Pete Seeger joins in on banjo and vocal. The closing number, “The Glory Of Love,” keeps the focus on Broonzy’s impressive guitar picking until he adds several verses with a subdued vocal.

This one is certainly one of the high points of Broonzy’s career, with the deep blues tracks on the first side being the main highlights. The sound on the LP format is top-notch, placing the singer in the middle of your listening space. A must for acoustic blues listeners and anyone else looking for a fine sounding album to add to their vinyl collection.

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 Review – 9 of 11 

cliff stevens cd imageCliff Stevens – Live in Germany

Self-Produced

https://cliffstevens.com/

CD: 11 Songs, 52:28 Minutes

Styles: Guitar Hero Blues Rock, Live Album, All Original Songs

What does it take to please a crowd? Does it depend upon said throng, or the one entertaining them? In hindsight, that question is of the chicken-or-egg variety. Musicians love their fans, and fans hire their favorite musicians to come and play live. Montreal’s Cliff Stevens went all the way to Deutschland to record Live in Germany on January 27th and 28th of 2017. He presented eleven live versions of original songs from his first two albums, Feelin’ the Blues and Grass Won’t Grow (the latter having been reviewed in this magazine). As for crowd-revving, Stevens knows the key: guitar, guitar, guitar. Heavily influenced by the styles of Clapton, SRV and Jimi Hendrix, he slings shredder like a short-order cook slings corned beef hash. Piping hot and loaded with screaming spice, Cliff’s instrument of choice takes listeners to their psychedelic “Outer Limits.” For blues fans at home, keep an eye on the stereo if you don’t want the police to show up. These are low-down, throw-down, guitar hero tunes. Does he sing? Yes, but barely.

According to his corner of the ‘Net, Cliff Stevens has been playing guitar professionally for longer than he sometimes cares to admit: circa 35 years. Like so many before him, he spent much of his career displaying his talents in relative obscurity as a sideman with various traveling groups. Crowds ranged anywhere from 14,000 at the Montreal International Jazz Festival, to 1,400 at the Medley Club in Montreal, to 14 drunks in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

He recalls learning to play at thirteen years old, jamming for hours to slow blues in a coffee house in his hometown of Montreal – a hotbed for Canadian guitarists like Frank Marino of Mahogany Rush. Other British and American blues guitarists helped to set his life’s course. “Clapton just jammed all night long and I was blown away,” Stevens says of a Cream concert that he attended in Montreal in 1968. “I then saw Johnny Winter in 1970 and memorized every lick I could.” Teachers and preachers say their professions are callings; many ‘musos’ say so, too.

Accompanying Stevens are Serge Dionne on bass and Dan Dyson on drums.

The best song in this live concert’s repertoire is an instrumental inferno that sets all ablaze.

Track 10: “Finger Express” – No, I don’t mean the middle digit, and neither does Stevens. Rather, he uses all ten in such rapid-fire dialogue that yours truly could scarcely keep up with the conversation. Try and play air guitar along with Cliff, and you’re bound to miss a note or two. For four minutes and thirty-six seconds, he holds nothing back, paying homage to the modern masters of barroom boogie. When the song pauses, one can hear the crowd gasp and cheer.

Love SRV and J-I-Mi? Prepared for some high-volume glee? Then check out Live in Germany!

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 – 10 of 11 

lloyd spiegel cd imageLloyd Spiegel – Backroads

Only Blues Music

http://lloydspiegel.com

10 songs/37min

Blues musicians of all disciplines have a distinct sound, a certain individual virtuosity that sets their technique apart. Many solo Bluesmen and Blueswomen nest in their individuality even more strongly. John Hammond’s raw emotive hysterics; Chris Thomas King’s channeling of Robert Johnson; Rory Block’s confident utilitarian crafting. Lloyd Spiegel is this type of solo Bluesman, an arpeggiating, percussive, lightning fast runner of the solo acoustic fretboard. He is the type of player who uses the guitar like a keyboard, seamlessly playing thumping bass runs with accompanying intricate chording. All while singing heartfelt well crafted original songs and blues staples. This style can be heard in its most pure uncut form on 2015’s Double Live Set.

It’s because of Lloyd’s singular talent that his newest record Backroads is so impressive. But it’s not what you think. Spiegel places his solo guitar playing in the background as a foundation for overdubbed incendiary electric lead work. With drummer Tim Burnham throughout and a cast of supporting musicians all offering one-off contributions (see credits below), Spiegel has evolved his music. One has to listen to this record a couple times to fully grasp the depth of what is going on here. Spiegel uses his mind boggling solo technique as well as custom made guitars to lay down fantastic performances with Burnham that have all the depth of a full band but only have 1 or 2 guitars and drums – no bass guitars.

Opener and lead single “The Kick Around” is a stomping manifesto of this new aesthetic. This all electric fuzzed out scorcher finds Spiegel carousing through bars and being beat up by the road. The super catchy riffage never veers off into cliche land in spite of its straightforward recognizability. The amalgamation of guitars, drums and effected vocals gel and give the listener a warm butt-shaking experience.

Lloyd has a new found songwriting muse. Moving from previous albums’ aspirational and forward focused writing, Backroads is more reflective and cathartic trying to illustrate the sacrifices and struggles of a road warrior. “Bridges to Burn” illustrates this most apparently. This is not a Blues song in any traditional sense. It has a moving chord structure and big choruses that are more akin to Crazy Horse Neil Young or even a faint echo of 80’s rock ballads. This song is a little jarring after the old time-y romp of preceding track “Betcha Bottom Dollar” (with it’s super cool trombone work from Lisa Baird). But, this juxtaposition feels creative and intentional. Spiegel seems to be trying to keep the listener on their toes, creating a roller-coaster of a song cycle, just like the life of a touring musician.

Blues purists fear not there are some real deal Blues here too. “The Price You Pay” is a smooth soul blues slow burn. The churning John Lee Hooker styled boogie “Sweet South West Blues” rolls down the highway. Similarly, fans of Spiegel’s past work will connect most strongly with “Beautiful and Dangerous” in which that arpeggiating solo guitar technique takes center stage.

Lloyd Spiegel is Australian and he tours extensively over the continent. Like many Australian Blues musicians, Spiegel brings his unique experience and perspective to his sound. Not exactly canonical, not easily fit into a Blues sub-genre, but distinct and powerful. With Backroads Lloyd Spiegel takes a major step forward in his art and his self expression.

Credits

Lloyd Spiegel – guitars/vocals

Tim Burnham – drums

Lyn Bowtell – background vocals

Marty Spiegel, Charlie A’Court, Riley Spiegel – guitar

Lisa Baird – trombone/backing vocals

Levi Harkness – bass

Tony Green, Catherine Wallace – percussion

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 – 11 of 11 

chicagio blues allstars cd imageWillie Dixon’s Original Chicago Blues All Stars Inc. – Gold

www.originalchicagobluesallstarsinc.com

self release

23 songs time-CD 1-61:38 CD 2-54:27

The members of Willie Dixon’s band got together for a live reunion at two different venues to bring a dose of authentic blues. Time has been kind to these gents as their playing is fresh and vibrant. Guitarist John Watkins shows his playing is intact. He along with Willie Dixon’s son Freddie Dixon handle most of the vocals. Arthur Dixon provides fine organ playing, although it veers a bit towards overkill as it appears on every track. Classic blues didn’t feature organ as prominently. Dr. Jimmy Tillman I occupies the drummer position as well as providing vocals on one song. The repertoire encompasses many blues classics along with a handful of original compositions.

Many blues icons’ music is covered here with the strange exception of Howlin’ Wolf. John Watkins and Freddie Dixon sing the lion’s share of the songs with conviction and fitting blues voices. Dr. Jimmy Tillman does the honors on his original soul tune “I Love You More Than Words Could Ever Say”. John Watkins’ guitar playing is inventive and fresh throughout while remaining true to traditional blues guitar. “Original Chicago Blues All Stars Theme” features Watkins on Elmore James style slide guitar. My favorite tracks include Sonny Boy Williams II’s “Eyesight To The Blind”, “Just A Little Bit”, and Freddie King’s “I’m Tore Down”. There are no bum tracks here.

The musicianship throughout is first rate. These seasoned blues vets surely have a strong grasp of the blues. The bass and drums are rock solid and Arthur Dixon is a talented organist. Willie Dixon only has two songs included. The band does justice to the blues tradition. They commit themselves naturally to many blues styles.

This CD isn’t a museum piece, rather a nod and homage to this great American music. A brief history lesson in blues music is presented here in a very enjoyable way. These guys still have it and you need to get it.

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



 Featured Interview – Altered Five Blues Band 

altered five photo 1Can you imagine Muddy Waters singing the lyric “If your heart went public I’d buy a hundred shares of stock?”

Both guitarist Jeff Schroedl and vocalist Jeff Taylor laugh at that image. Their band, The Altered Five, create hard driving electric blues that pays homage to the music’s colorful past while referencing contemporary life. It’s a balancing act.

Jeff Schroedl: “We try to bring some modern elements into it. There’s a song on the Cry Mercy album called “Urgent Care.” It’s a made-up blues scene about a woman. Hey, man, I need some urgent care to fix the situation, yet urgent care isn’t a term that existed more than a decade or two ago. So, we can only write blues from what we’ve come across and things like that.”

Jeff Taylor says he likes the strong groove on “Your Heart Went Public” from The Altered Five’s latest CD, Charmed and Dangerous. “We thought it was pretty interesting when we started messing around with it. It’s such a strong groove, an amazing tune. I remember when we first pulled the guitar out and started messing around with it. I remember when he (Jeff Shcroedl) came and he handed me the lyrics. I remember that day. So, it’s cool to see the song evolve like that, and to go to shows and there’s hundreds of people (who laugh). I love that song. It’s really, really nice to have that kind of feedback.”

However, “Three Forks,” also on Charmed and Dangerous, has an 80-year-old reference point. It’s named after the club where Robert Johnson was poisoned in 1938: “Watch out, Mr. Johnson/Lord have mercy on your soul/Let me try to grab that bottle in time/Pour that white lightnin’ down that Highway 49.”

“It’s really weird,” explains Schroedl, “I just had this line one day called ‘Take me to Three Forks.’ That one actually is one of the easier songs. It just kind of wrote itself, but then we put it to this beat roughly of (Robert Johnson’s song) “Crossroads” and I said, ‘This is not cool. We can’t do this.’

“That’s when I thought, ‘Maybe it will reach out,’ and it did. We reached out to Concord Music, who own the Johnson publishing, and they were really cool about it. They said, ‘Hey, you know what? Thanks for keeping the legend alive, and it’s pretty different anyway, but we appreciate you acknowledging it,’ and they registered the song. They said, ‘50-50. We’ll give Johnson the music and you the lyric.’ I never really talked to Steven (Johnson, Robert Johnson’s grandson) about it. I know he has it and has heard it, and they’ve sent it to him. So, I don’t know what he thought about it. I don’t know if he likes it. I just don’t know.

altered five photo 2“Once we decided to do the song, I was careful as I could be about the facts, and I did some research. For every word I sing I don’t think there are any lines in there that are out of character for what happened.”

“On My List to Quit” is a rant about all the things Jeff Taylor, the singer, is doing wrong from picking fights in a barroom to seeing two women too many. Included is the line “One job’s no good/Some day I’m gonna tell ’em where to go.” I asked Taylor if the Superintendent of Schools had heard that song.

Taylor’s day job is Principal of a school in Wisconsin.

“Aha, ha. Here’s the thing. You know, the school district has been very supportive. They have the music. They have come to see the band once in a while. (The superintendent) made no comment whatsoever. He loves the music. Of course, I always make sure that they have CDs available for them and the school board, and things like that. So, this has been a very transparent thing. They have come to the State Fair to see the band in the past, and so they have been very supportive of the stuff I’m doing on the side, so (he didn’t) have any comment for it.”

If you think Taylor’s day job is a jaw dropper, Jeff Schroedl’s day job is being executive vice president of Hal Leonard Corporation, the world’s largest creator of music publications and music education materials. According to the publisher, “Many of Hal Leonard’s bestsellers and flagship series were created under Schroedl’s guidance, including the revised Hal Leonard Guitar Method, FastTrack and Play Today; the company’s many popular play-along series; its educational piano and Broadway publications; all drum and jazz books; instructional DVDs and more. He spearheaded the idea to publish legal versions of the notorious Real Book fake books, and also struck deals creating imprints for two of the nation’s most famous music school, Berklee Press and Musicians Institute Press.

“Schroedl has played an active role in negotiating the company’s rights acquisitions for the past decade. He will expand in that capacity as well, helping to secure song rights from an array of media companies, music publishers, rights holders, and artist managers, with the company’s overall publishing plan in mind.”

“Schroedl has served on the board of the Music Publishers Association of the United States since 2011, and in 2010 was recognized as one of the Milwaukee Business Journal’s prestigious ‘40 under 40.’”

Schroedl insists that his vice president’s hat at Hal Leonard has no impact on the success of The Altered Five. That said, the band is the only group to have signed with Blind Pig Records since that indie label was sold to Orchard in 2015, and the group’s last two albums were produced by Tom Hambridge who has taken Buddy Guy to new heights as his producer and songwriter on recent CDs including Guy’s career defining Blues Is Alive and Well released a month ago.

“(My day job) helped me be aware of things, but I really try and keep it separate. A lot of people don’t even know what I do,” says Schoedl. “I’ve dealt with (Robert Johnson scholar and guitarist) Scott Ainslie and his books. He has no idea that I even play guitar. He probably doesn’t even remember me anymore, but he worked on the early Robert Johnson books. So, we’ve been doing Robert Johnson books here for years.

“Yeah, I’ve worked on books with everyone from Bob Margolin to Albert Cummings. I flew Albert out here and did a video. I don’t even know if Albert knew I played guitar to be honest with you. Maybe he does. Yeah, I just (learned) the artists in that relationship so I just kind of don’t do that, but Jumpin’ Joe Kubek, I did a video with him. He knew about the band, and he was cool about it. We’ve done a lotta blues, but obviously we do a lot of other music, too.”

altered five photo 3The Altered Five IS good enough to stand on its own. Schroedl writes most of the lyrics and Taylor is credited with co-writing the songs sometimes along with the rest of the band. He has a rich baritone voice brimming with bragadocio in the tradition of Muddy Waters and Bo Diddley and can pull off lines about being a wanted man with a double-barreled chest and a ring tattoo who is “Charmed and Dangerous” and wants to be “your bad boy.” Schroedl’s guitar has a B.B. King tone, is a bit busier than Luther Allison, but nicely propels the songs.

“First of all, I’m writing, and Jeff contributes, too,” explains Shcroedl. “Occasionally, they start with him, but I’m writing a lot of these lyrics, and I’m writing for JT to sing ’em. I can’t sing “Blood Hound Dog,” I can’t do that. I can’t sing that. I’m not believable. So, I’m writing for his voice and him and the band and things like that, and I do agonize over it. Sometimes, the idea’s there. People want songs they can understand, songs that can make them smile. You can have great instrumentation, but without the song, it’s going nowhere. So, we put songs way at the top of the list of the most important things we’re doing.”

Jeff Taylor elaborates. “The process is interesting. We have so many different influences, right? So Jeff takes his time, and we have a definite process to what we’re trying to do now as far as writing the songs, and it’s easier and, yeah, over time we’ve developed a way to convey that message a little more quickly, but I’m just thinking about the conversations that he and I have about I gotta find another line for the second verse, and how that can take a while and how meticulous that can be sometimes, and so we started laughing because it’s been painstaking at times, but it’s all well worth it when we can get that message across to the listener a little faster. So, it’s worth putting the time and effort into the lyrics and writing them.”

“People oftentimes say blues is such a simple song,” adds Schroedl. “It is when you boil it down and get it to that point. People often don’t recognize how difficult it is to take a concept and simplify it so that it just works as a blues. Some of the blues are simple not because it was simple to do, but because it’s a different style of writing. Like “Mint Condition” comes to mind, and “Get Out of My Business” from the last record. Those are songs that sound very simple, but they weren’t that simple to get there. It takes a lot of moving things around to try to get it to all work, but when it works, it sounds simple.

Tom Hambridge first produced the band’s 2015 Cryin’ Mercy CD – the debut release for OmniVibe Records – with dramatic results. All of a sudden after 13 years they went to number 3 in the iTunes blues store and number 1 on the Roots Music Report blues album chart. The release earned “Best Self-Released CD” at the 2015 International Blues Challenge.

The group’s work with Tom Hambridge, while admittedly a tad intimidating to Taylor, has been a rewarding experience where the fabled producer stayed in the background and let the band take the lead on their original material.

Jeff Taylor: “It was our first time with a real producer and we were really nervous, and I think the thing I always try and come back to is the way he used what we had, right? He didn’t make a lot of these whole sweeping changes. He respected the work that was done, right? He just came in with a ton of ideas to just make it better, and so on the last two albums that’s what he’s done, and that’s the most gratifying thing about it is he respects what we did and just made it cool, and so that was the biggest takeaway for me.”

“When we were gonna record Cry Mercy, our third album, we knew we had to do something different,” explains Schroedl. “We wanted to take a step up, just always keep growing, and so we decided, ‘Let’s get a real producer this time. “I had mentioned that to Bruce Iglauer, and it was Bruce actually. He said, ‘You guys, Tom might be a good fit for you guys,’ and I said, ‘Well, I don’t know if he’ll work with us. He’s Tom and Buddy’s guy, and all that stuff.’ But Bruce was nice enough to e-mail Tom and say, ‘Hey, meet Jeff and you guys should talk.’ and Tom got back, and we chatted a little bit, and he checked out the band a little bit. He took us on, and we really appreciate him doing that, and it’s been a great relationship now for the last two albums.

altered five photo 4“With us, we’re one of the only albums that I can recall seeing from Tom where we’ve written all the material. A lot of times he’s taxed with writing a lot of the songs which is great. With us, who knows if that will happen at some point, but to date he’s kinda let us do our thing. We’ve walked in with the songs all ready to roll and kinda brought out – let me back up a little bit. He’s very quick to hear a song and know just the right thing to say. He doesn’t say things you second guess. He does it and you know what? He’s right, and I’m amazed at how quickly he can grasp a song in its entirety, music and lyrics, and make a suggestion. It’s really something else.

“On “Eighth Wonder” we had a break going into the guitar solo, and Tom said, ‘You know what? Let’s not break there. How about playing through there to keep the momentum going,’ and, sure enough, it was a simple but very nice change.”

Jeff Taylor: ““Look at What You Made Me Do,” is a different kind of thing, and my idea was just kinda show some versatility with the band, sort of a different kind of song, and so he used little things. He used brushes if you wanted quiet. Our music is kind of hard driving, and so we really wanted to kind of fill in modern lyrics, really contemporary lyrics, and so he agreed with that, but he was so full of ideas.

Hambridge also plays drums on all 13 cuts, even though Schroedl’s brother Scott plays drums on their YouTube videos. “Tom was on Cry Mercy record, explains Schroedl. “If we do another record, (our current drummer) Lana Arber will play on it, but Tom just played on it ’cause we were sort of in between. The videos on Charmed and Dangerous are the same music. We’re lip synching it if you will.”

I sarcastically suggest Dick Clark would be very proud of the band.

“Yeah, trust me. We’re on the cheap on our video thing. We don’t get the time to do that when we’re actually recording.”

The Altered Five have been on three different labels for four albums. “We really appreciated Cold Wind Records out of Minneapolis,” says Schroedl. “A lot of good stuff in the late ’80s and early ’90s, from the beginning. So, we started there, and (the label head) passed away actually, and then we connected with another local entity and different distributor on the third album, and that eventually kind of led us to Blind Pig. Blind Pig was acquired by the Orchard, and we had a relationship with The Orchard. It’s just kind of a stepping stone really, but we’re thrilled, and they’re very happy I think and have done a lot.”

Charmed and Dangerous is Blind Pig’s only release since their Orchard acquisition in 2015. A Blind Pig press release at the time characterized the worldwide distribution deal as follows: “the first artist to join the roster of the esteemed blues/roots label since it was acquired by The Orchard, one of the largest independent distributors in the world.”

“We’re very happy to be working with Altered Five Blues Band,” added Chris Lauterbach, Director of Owned Repertoire and Special Products for The Orchard. “The new tracks sound great, and we think their music adds to Blind Pig’s rich 40-year history.”

The music industry magazine Billboard quoted former Blind Pig co-owner Jerry Del Giudice as saying, “The worldwide reach that The Orchard has achieved will benefit our artists and their music immensely, both today and in the years to come.”

Shroedl: “Yeah, yeah. I figured by now there’d be one or two more (Blind Pig releases). I haven’t asked them about it, but yeah, we did the 40th anniversary CD. They released that a few months back, and we had a track on that, but, no, I haven’t seen them release another album.

“When the new Blind Pig signed us, they went to the guys (old owners Ed Chmelewski and Jerry Del Giudice) to kind of get their blessing, and they gave the thumbs up, and I think the guys were a little bit involved in the 40th anniversary collection, but I’m not really sure. We’re talking to different (group) of folks. You know, Blind Pig now, and like I said, they’ve been really good to us, but I don’t know what their plan is really. I know that they want to keep the label alive. So, that’s a good thing, but I don’t know what that really means.”altered five photo 5

So, how do two guys who both have demanding days jobs keep a fine-turned band with good original material going for 16 years? They don’t get a lot of sleep. “You gotta keep at it,” says Schroedl. “Jeff and I talk every couple of days. We get together almost every week. You gotta keep working at it. You gotta make progress all the time. So, it’s little steps and before you know it, you look back a couple of months and later and it’s like we wrote another three songs.

“We’re gigging year-round, and Jeff’s great about making himself available. We just did eight shows in nine days in Germany and the Netherlands last month. We flew in. We did a show the same night we arrived. So, that’s the kind of schedule we’re on. So, on no sleep we ended up going to the soundcheck, doing the gig and whatever. We did two more gigs after that before we had a day off. We literally did eight shows in nine days and then flew back.”

Jeff Taylor: “The first time I told Jeff, ‘Listen. School comes first. I gotta plan the summer and I started becoming principal and doing this whole thing.’ So, it’s just scheduling. Jeff’s been amazing at really trying to fit that time in, but it’s scheduling and trying to stay organized. I also love the band, so I gotta do what I gotta do to stay in it. We were working on the album and staying some late hours, and I’ve been tired, but it’s all been worth it. It’s a labor of love, so to speak. You gotta do what you gotta do to stay around. So, it fits the scheduling. You gotta pay attention to that.”

Sleep or no sleep, these guys have no plans to stop what they’re doing. “We’re actually playing and actively writing. We’re always working on new material, and we’re testing a couple of the songs out live already, so we got half a record written,” says Schroedl. “We’re trying to always get a little bit better and stretch out a little bit, but we kinda are who we are and would be remiss if we didn’t bring up the other guys in the band. I think the soul of this band is built from the five of us. Everybody brings something different: Mark Solveson on bass, Ray Tevich on keyboards, and Lana Arber on drums. So, we kinda all do what we do, and it sorta comes out who we are. I think around the third album we kinda figured out what we do and how we do it best. So, we’re just kinda learning on that and seeing what comes up.

“We make sure that everything we do in the studio we can do live and sometimes even cooler live when it’s stripped down. I guess from an equipment standpoint we’re all trying to get the best sound. I don’t know if I’m saying that very well.”

Visit Altered Five’s website at: www.alteredfive.com

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


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Mississippi Valley Blues Society – Davenport, IA

The Mississippi Valley Blues Society is pleased to present these upcoming shows.

Sat., Aug. 4, 8:00pm Ghost Town Blues Band Harley Corin’s Bett. IA $15, $12 for MVBS members, Fri., Aug 17 7:30pm Too Slim & The Taildraggers Harley Corin’s Bett. $12, $10 for MVBS members, Sunday, Aug. 26 6:00pm David Gerald Viking Club Moline IL $12, $10 for MVBS members, Fri., Sept. 7, 6:00pm Tas Cru on the Celebration Belle Riverboat Moline, IL (“Blues Cruise”) Cost $25, Sunday, Oct. 7, 6:00pm Orphan Jon and The Abandoned Viking Club Moline IL $12, $10 for MVBS members. www.mvbs.org

The Sacramento Blues Society – Sacramento, CA

On the 10th Anniversary of the Sacramento Blues Society Hall of Fame Awards, we are proud to announce our 2018 Hall of Fame Inductees: AJ Joyce, Andy Santana, Jimmy Morello, RW Grigsby and a special posthumous Induction of Frankie Lee.

Join us for a very special two part Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Sunday, September 30, 2018 at Harlow’s Restaurant & Nightclub, 2708 J Street, Sacramento, from 1-5 p.m. ,with special appearance by musical guest, The Daniel Castro Band.

Following the Induction Ceremony, there will be a Hall of Fame Showcase with the new Inductees and many previous Inductees at the nationally known Torch Club, 904 15t St., Sacramento, from 6-8 pm. Additional information at http://www.sacblues.com

Prairie Crossroads Blues Society – Champaign, IL

The 1st Prairie Crossroads Blues Fest happens Saturday, August 11, 2pm – 10pm @Champaign County Fairgrounds, 1302 N Coler Ave, Urbana, IL. Gates open at 1pm. Performances by Melvin Knight & Amber Sky, The Painkillers, Keith Harden Band, The Blues Deacons w/Jeff Kerr & Grizz Stevens, Mary Jo Curry Blues, Candy Foster & Shades of Blue and Robert Kimbrough Sr. $10 admissions, bring lawn chairs. Food trucks and beverages also available.

An after-fest party is scheduled starting at 10pm with the Kilborn Alley Blues Band and special guests @ The Iron Post, 120 S. Race St, Urbana. Then there is also a Blues Jam on Sunday, August 12, 4pm, hosted by Robert Kimbrough Sr. at Pipa’s Pub, 604 S. Country Fair Dr., Champaign, IL. Bring your instruments and join the jam. More information is available at: http://bluesfest.prairiecrossroadsblues.org

Southeast Iowa Blues Society – Fairfield, IA

The 5th Annual “Blue Ribbon Blues Fest” presented by Fairfield’s Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Southeast Iowa Blues Society will be held August 4th, 2018 at the Jefferson Fairgrounds in Fairfield, Iowa. Gates Open at 4:30pm and music begins at 5:30pm with the Riverdogs Blues Band, followed by Chris Antonik at 7pm and featuring John Nemeth at 9pm with Tony Blew between acts.

There will be an Iowa Beer Bus, BBQ and Kettlecorn…No Outside food or Drinks. Camping will be available. Tickets are $25 and $20 for SIBS members, call 641-919-7477 for more information or go to http://www.southeastiowabluessociety.org

Charlotte Blues Society – Charlotte, NC

The Charlotte Blues Society announces its upcoming IBC competitions. The Solo/Duo Challenge is September 2nd from 11:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at the Rabbit Hole, 1801 Commonwealth Ave., Charlotte, NC 28205. The Winner receives $500 and represents CBS at the IBC Competition in Memphis in January, 2019. Free to members with valid cards; $5 to others.

The Band Challenge is October 7th from 6:00 – 10:00 p.m. at the Rabbit Hole, 1801 Commonwealth Ave., Charlotte, NC 28205. The Winner receives $1,000 and represents CBS at the IBC Competition in Memphis in January, 2019. Free to members with valid cards; $5 to others. Remember to bring donations for Loaves and Fishes. http://www.charlottebluessociety.org

The Illinois Central Blues Club – Springfield, IL

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

Blue Monday Schedule: 8/6 – Mark May Band. For more information visit www.icbluesclub.org.

Crossroads Blues Society – Rockford, IL

Lyran Society’s monthly Friday fish fry – August 17 – New Savages, Shows free, run 7 to 10 PM.

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!

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. 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. Ewen Williams and Jesse Godoy emerged victorious from the OC Regionals at Campus Jax. Twenty-two guitarists go head-to-head at the Arcadia Blues Club, Saturday, August 4, 6 PM to midnight. Tickets at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/six-string-showdown-blues-guitar-competition-8-4-2018-arcadia-blues-club-tickets-45564876773.Four 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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