Issue 12- 7 February 15, 2018

casey hensley cover photo

Cover photo © 2018 Jon Naugle


 In This Issue 

Don Wilcock has our feature interview with Casey Hensley. We have 8 Blues reviews for you this week including new music from Billy Walton Band, Heather Newman, Tyler Morris Band, Mike “Mudfoot” McDonald, The Roustabouts, Out Of Favor Boys, Howell Devine and Screamin’ John and TD Lind.

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


 From The Editor’s Desk 

2018 blues blast awards logo imageHey Blues Fans,

We announced last week that submissions for the 2018 Blues Blast Music Awards are open until April 15th, 2018. We havs had lost of boxes arriving this week!

So why would you want to submit your album for this year’s awards series other than the fact that if it gets nominated you get a ton of promotion during the awards voting?

Well one thing is that the 30 nominators are folks you WANT to hear your album. They are journalists/music critics, festival promoters, radio DJs, Blues music venue owners and other industry leaders.

Any Blues album released between May 1st, 2017 and April 30, 2018 is eligible. There are 12 categories for 2017 including Contemporary Blues Album, Traditional Blues Album, Soul Blues Album, Rock Blues Album, Acoustic Blues Album, Live Blues Album, New Artist Debut Album, Historical or Vintage Album, Male Blues Artist, Female Blues Artist, Blues Band, Sean Costello Rising Star Award.

Complete information on how to have your recording considered is at www.bluesblastmagazine.com/2018-blues-blast-music-awards-submission-information or just click HERE

SAVE THE DATE! – The Blues Blast Music Awards Ceremonies are really going to be a big party with the best Blues artists around today. They will be held on September 29, 2018 in Rockford, Ill. You don’t want to miss this! More information coming soon.

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser


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Blues Blast Magazine’s Early Bird Special is our lowest priced advertising of the 2018 year. It offers an affordable & effective way to get the Blues word out!

This 8-issue discount ad campaign allows you to add significant impact to your Blues advertising and promotion campaign. It is a great way for artists to solicit festival gigs or can be used to kick up the visibility of your summer Blues festival, new album release, Blues event or music product all around the globe! This is perfect for a new album release, a festival advertising campaign or any new music product.

Normal 2018 Advertising rates start at $150 per issue of Blues Blast magazine. BUT, for a limited time, this special gives you eight issues of Blues Blast Magazine for only $400. (A $1200 value!)

Blues Blast Magazine is a great way to promote anything Blues. 36,000 opt-in subscribers read Blues Blast Magazine. Our subscribers are located in all 50 states and in more than 90 countries giving your products global coverage at an affordable price. Weekly issues of Blues Blast Magazine are also posted on our popular website. We get more than 2,000,000 (That’s TWO MILLION) hits and 65,000 visitors a month at our website.

To get this special rate simply buy your ad space by APRIL 15th, 2018!!!! Ads can run anytime between now and December 2018. So get your ad package now for that fall album release!

With this special rate, your ad can be viewed more than 370,000 times by our readers who want to know about your Blues events and music! Reserve your space today! Space is limited and will be sold on a first come first served basis.

Other ad packages and options, single ads, short run ads or long term bulk rates available too! Visit www.BluesBlastMagazine.com. To get more information email info@bluesblastmagazine.com or call 309 267-4425 today for an ad plan that fits your needs.

Ads must be reserved and paid for by April 15th, 2018!!!



 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 8 

billy walton band cdBilly Walton Band – Soul Of A Man

No Fret/VizzTone Label Group VTNF-07

13 songs – 56 minutes

www.billywaltonband.com

Hailing from Long Beach Island, N.J., on the music-rich Jersey Shore, Billy Walton delivers a stylish blend of blues, rock and soul that might remind you of Bruce Springsteen or Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes one minute and a modern electric blues band or a deep soul horn band based in Memphis or New Orleans the next.

Billing themselves as a rockin’, blues-flavored R&B band, Walton — who possesses a pleasant, powerful and smoky voice and solid, well-controlled guitar chops — and his musical cohorts demonstrate those skills from the jump on this pleasing, fresh release, the sixth in their catalog since emerging in 2007. In addition to being hometown favorites, they’ve also built a large following in the United Kingdom, where they’ve toured more than 20 times.

The core band includes William Paris on bass and harmonic vocals and Johnny D’Angelo on drums with Sam Sherman and Eric Safka on keyboards. They’re augmented by Jack Gist on harmonica and a revolving horn section that includes Matt Fischer, Ian Gray and Frank Rein on trombone, Rick Rein on trumpet and Sean Marks, Jon Shaw, Joey Stann, Greg Wilson and Tom Petraccaro on saxes.

Soul Of A Man was laid down at the Aala Recording in Maui, Hawaii, a studio that’s produced albums for The Cult, Kris Kristofferson and Jimi Bott, among others. Additional tracks were captured at Cambridge Sound in Philadelphia and Organic Sounds in Long Beach. The resulting material bears a strong resemblance to what keeps folks up and boogying on hot summer nights at the Shore.

The release contains 11 originals written by band members and two covers. The fast shuffle, “Save The Last Dance,” opens the action and quickly sets the tone as it delivers a message to a lady treating the singer like a fool that she’d better reserve the final song on the dance floor for him. Walton’s brief single-note runs during vocal breaks drive home the request, and the horns percolate throughout.

A horn chart opener delivers a Big Easy feel and power throughout as the band erupts into the blazing rocker, “I Don’t Know,” which wonders about the direction a meandering relationship is heading, before the band slows slightly for “Hell n Highwater,” which provides inspiration to a man born with a silver spoon, but now working for a living.

The mood changes dramatically for the soulful shuffle “Something Better,” which questions the well-being of a former lover and requesting a second chance after not hearing from her for ages, and the quiet, tender blues ballad “My Little Bird,” which encourages a loved one to spread her wings and fly high until they meet again.

The band fires out of the gate again for “Let Go” and “It Ain’t True,” a pair of soulful stop-time numbers, before the aurally interesting ballad “Shine The Light.” John Fogarty’s Creedence Clearwater Revival classic “Green River” and “Minglewood,” penned by country bluesman Noah Lewis of Cannon’s Jug Stompers and first recorded in 1928, bracket the original, “Poison Pill,” before the simple rocker “Can’t Keep A Good Man Down” and acoustic “Days Like These” bring the 56-minute set to a close.

Available as a digital download from iTunes or through the band’s website (address above) and as a CD through Amazon.com as well as most of the record stores that still exist. Also available from the stage wherever they perform. If you’re a fan of horn-driven blues-rock with a slick, urban feel, this one is right up your alley. It’ll definitely have you working up a sweat on the dance floor.

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.



 

 Music Reviewers Wanted 

Do you really know your Blues and enjoy telling others about it?

Blues Blast Magazine is looking for a few good writers to volunteer to help us out. We need reviewers who know Blues and can write a minimum of one review each week. We will provide access to downloads or physical CDs, DVDs and books for review. The writer keeps the album, book or DVD for doing the review. We get music submissions from all over the world. We publish music reviews each week so there is a steady flow of things that need to be reviewed.

These are volunteer positions that need a person who really loves the Blues and wants to spread the Blues word! Must have good writing and composition skills, good grammar and spelling!

Must be familiar with WordPress software to enter the reviews or be willing to learn. (If you are familiar with Microsoft Word, it is similar. Very easy to use!)

Experienced writers are encouraged to send samples of previous work. All Blues Blast staff started out as volunteers like this. We have kept those with dedication on as staff writers afterwards.

If you are interested, please send an email to info@bluesblastmagazine.com and tell us about your Blues background. A resume is always appreciated too.

Please be sure to include your phone number in your email reply.


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 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 8 

heather newman cd imageHeather Newman – Burn Me Alive

VizzTone Label Group

www.heathernewmanband.com

12 Tracks/51:59

Between her older brother and BluesEd, a musical education program in Omaha, NE, Heather Newman got started at a young age. After a stint as a member of guitarist Nick Schnebelen’s band, which lead to a move to Kansas City, the bass player decided the time had come to form her own band. The first recording under her name puts her striking voice out front, backed by Keith Ladd on guitar, Ryan Flemmer on keyboards, and Cole Dillingham on drums and guitar, on a program that highlights Newman’s abilities as a songwriter.

Right from the start, Newman’s vocals dominate the proceeding, roaring with a fierce intensity on the swampy “Willie James,” then using a lighter touch over a rolling beat on “Bring The Swing”. Flemmer gives his piano for a ride on “Howling For Love” while Ladd impresses on his solo passage on “Love Strong”. The title track is a standout with a resonating bass line underneath a majestic vocal performance that erases any doubt listeners might have about Newman’s singing skills. “How Many Times?” may have a quirky rhythm but Newman again proves that she understands the art of singing, her voice generating plenty of emotional weight as it easily transitions from note to note without any hint of strain.

“High Mountain Blues” is a rugged shuffle with the leader’s sassy vocal playing off Ladd’s biting licks. Newman can barely contain herself on “Dirty Blues,” railing against life’s miseries with Michael Lefever’s sax creating a late-night vibe that brings to mind Tom Petty’s “Breakdown”. The band breaks out another familiar shuffle groove on “Share Your Love,” dominated by Flemmer’s reverberating organ fills. “’I Don’t Know Why” is another highlight, as Newman tears your heart out with a perfectly executed, emotionally intense performance. She swears off another another no-good, cheating lover on “I’m Through With You,” leaving no doubt who is better off. She trades phrases with Ladd, moaning the blues to a fadeout ending, then the band returns for a brief dialogue between Ladd and Flemmer on piano.

Newman certainly straddles that middle ground where blues and rock intersect, but for once, the blues influences have the upper hand. Heather Newman has written a solid batch of tunes – and when they are fleshed out by her compelling voice, every song becomes noteworthy. On the evidence here, her solo career is off to rousing start. Make sure you jump on the bandwagon now. I suspect that we are going to be hearing from Heather Newman for a long time.

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 – 3 of 8 

tyler morris band cd imageTyler Morris Band – Next In Line

VizzTone Label Group VTTM-01

10 songs – 41 minutes

www.tylermorrisband.com

Based in Boston and only age 19, Tyler Morris has been delivering his own version of rock flavored blues as a professional since he was just 11. Joe Louis Walker lends a hand on this collection of nine originals and one cover, the third CD in the young man’s catalog.

An electrifying guitarist who shies away from the microphone, Morris penned nine of the 10 songs here, leaving vocal duties to bandmate Morton Fredheim, who powers through the originals, and Walker, who shines on the sole cover.

Like many musicians his age, Morris fell in love with the music while barely out of the womb through his father’s record collection, which consisted of both blues and rock. He started playing guitar at age 9, influenced by Led Zeppelin, AC/DC and Lynyrd Skynyd before moving on to Van Halen and Gary Moore. Still approaching his teens he devoured and absorbed the works of Freddie and Albert King, T-Bone Walker and Muddy Waters before moving on to Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix.

He released his first album, And So It Begins, at age 15, The Chaos Continues a year later, and he’s shared the stage with a wide variety of talents, including Sammy Hagar, Yngwie Malmsteen, Leslie West, Robbin Ford and Massachusetts-based harmonica legend James Montgomery, among others.

As you might expect from his influences, this CD leans far more to the rock side than it does blues. In addition to Fredheim, Tyler’s backed by bassist Scott Spray and drummer Tyger MacNeal. Mike Dimeo contributes keyboards on four cuts, and the New York-based Uptown Horns propel one number. The album was produced by guitarist Paul Nelson, who won a Grammy for longtime bandmate Johnny Winter’s Step Back album and nominations for others.

“Ready To Shove” kicks off the action with a quiet, almost symphonic opener before exploding into a searing uptempo rocker. Fredheim’s vocals are strong and pleasant atop a heavy drumbeat and strong single-note runs and chords from Morris, highlighted by a rapid-fire solo mid-tune. “Livin’ The Life” picks up where that one left off as it encourages the listener to being one’s self.

The mood changes dramatically for “Willie The Wimp,” the first true blues number in the set. Written by Bill Carter and Ruth Ellsworth and recorded by Vaughan, it’s a funky number that features Walker on vocals and Morris delivering a steady six-note hook throughout with intermittent breaks before a longer solo as it describes the title character’s funeral.

It’s back to heavy blues rock for “Down On My Luck” before the stop-time instrumental treasure, “Choppin’,” which features the Uptown Horns, an ensemble that’s been swinging from the rafters for the better part of 4 decades behind everyone from B.B. King to Aretha Franklin. Tyler’s in total control here for what stands out as the best song in the set.

“Talkin’ To Me,” a medium-tempo shuffle blues built on a single hook, follows before more power guitar runs deliver “Thunder,” “This Ain’t No Fun” and “Truth Is The Question.” The disc concludes with “Keep On Driving,” which features an interesting, percussive rhythm and well-modulated guitar riffs.

If you’re a fan of blues-rock, you’ll like this one. It’s available through most online retailers. But like many guitarists his age, Tyler needs to go back to the basics to please old-school blues fans who understand the value of a whole note and the importance of the space between notes rather than over-the-top fret work.

That said, Tyler Morris possesses immense talent, and is someone worth watching.

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.



 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 8 

mike mudfoot mcdonald cd imageMike “Mudfoot” McDonald – Play This

www.mikemudfootmcdonald.com

self release

10 songs time-44:26

Toronto, Canada based singer-guitarist Mike “Mudfoot” McDonald’s music embodies blues-rock, rock, roots music and a bit of funkiness among other genres as he and his cohorts deliver a fulfilling and rich musical experience. His guitar playing skills highlighted by killer tone are a thing to behold. At its’ best it seems to just cut the air with an other-worldly brilliance. He’s able to deliver it in a more restrained manner when necessary. Mike’s slide guitar skills are nothing to sneeze at as well. Hey his warm and familiar vocal quality is the icing on his musical cake. Nine out of the ten songs are written by Mike with occasional help. The lyrics are of the “salt of the earth” variety. Nothing comes off sounding forced or disingenuous.

Two versions of “Tired Of The Same Old Rut” sound pretty similar to my ears except for a shorter time on the radio mix version. Funky, catchy and upbeat sum up the vibe. Standard and slide electric guitars are strong and clean. Mike Branton supplies second guitar on an energy charged take on “I Put A Spell On You” that would make Screamin’ Jay proud. Mike’s slide shines on “Whistle Blowin'”, a song embracing the age old sentiment of a train bringing one’s baby back. John Lee contributes jazz-tinged bluesy piano and the song appropriately chugs to a conclusion.

Dual guitars battling it out ala Duane Allman and Dicky Betts is showcased on the soaring and beautiful “Valerie” with an assist from Pat Rush on guitar chores. Chris Latta and Pat Rush both join in with Mike on “Don’t Want To Catch You”, a chugging rocker. “Lean On Me Mama” is a brisk shuffle featuring the ever present McDonald guitar mastery along with the cool organ of John Lee. The vocal on “Hock’s Groovin’ Bar Café” owes a bit to Elvin Bishop’s sometimes goofy delivery just as it also does on the title track. “Slide” is a largely slide based instrumental featuring John Lee’s honky-tonk piano.

Pat Rush contributes guitar and Jordan Patterson provides harmonica on “Come On Baby” before the closing edited version of “Tired Of The Same Old Rut?”.

Mike and crew have delivered a strong musical statement. It’s all here-top notch musicianship and clear and sharp production values. Boy Howdy that guy can play some geetar!

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


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 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 8 

the roustabouts cd imageThe Roustabouts – Plenty Of Blues

Self-Release – 2017

12 tracks; 51 minutes

www.theroustabouts.com

Based in the Washington DC Metro area, The Roustabouts started out at a jam in a local club in the early 00’s and this is their debut album. The core of the band is fiddler Pete Daniels and singer Andrew Wiley who met at college in Syracuse NY; once the band started to form they were joined by guitarist Dan Shine. The rhythm section of Jeff Muller on bass and Phillip Bucci on drums is of more recent vintage and the band is supplemented by Tommy Lepson’s keys on most tracks, Mark Wenner of The Nighthawks who plays harp on two tunes, Vince McCool (great name!) on trumpet and Wayne Sulc on sax appear on four tracks and backing vocals are added to four tracks by Anita King and Caz Gardiner. Pete and Andrew wrote most of the material with contributions from Dan on two cuts and there is one cover.

The fiddle is somewhat unusual as a lead instrument but we should remember that Gatemouth Brown always played it and in 2011 Lionel Young won the IBC with a violin-led band. Pete is classically trained but in this determinedly blues set his sound is almost a replacement for a slide guitar role so those who might be put off by the band’s tag of ‘DC’s Finest Blues-Fiddle Band’ should read on.

“Hey Baby” is a lively opener, Pete soloing elegantly over Dan’s guitar before Dan breaks out for a short but sweet solo of his own – a good start. Four tracks feature the horns, starting with “When It All Comes Down On You”, a shuffle with lyrics about needing to remain resilient when everything is going wrong; “Code Red” is an extended slow blues about extremely hot weather with good vocals from Andrew, some sterling guitar work from Dan and a moody fiddle section from Pete, the tune bearing some similarity to BB King’s “All Over Again”; the horns play a smaller role on the tale of love lost, “Hurtingest Blues”, as Tommy’s B3 is at the heart of the tune; Liz Springer duets with Andrew on a latin-tinged tune with a comic storyline as Liz assures Andrew that “Nothin’s Gonna Happen”.

Roosevelt Dean was a friend of Pete and Andrew in Syracuse until his death in 2009 and they pay tribute to their departed friend with the rocking “Magic Power”, a song from his 2002 album Somewhere ‘Round Georgia. “Take Care Of Me Mama” is another rockier track and a good example of how the fiddle and guitar mesh together, as they also do on “Dirty Dishes”, the refrain of which somehow brings to mind The Allmans. The title track “Plenty Of Blues” shows another side to the band with a pure rock and roll piece. The rhythm section fairly bounces along on “Open Road”, one of those fast-paced driving songs that is always hard to resist whereas Pete’s “Just Call Me Baby” takes us back to earlier acoustic blues, even using a scratchy 78 sound at the start. The duetting between Pete’s fiddle and Mark Wenner’s harp is the main feature here and Mark also guests on a song about the “Dinosaur” BBQ, this reviewer’s favourite track on the album, not least because I once spent a great night at that establishment listening to Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials!

With a different sound to much of the current scene, an original program and good playing this album is definitely worth investigating.

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


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 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 8 

out of favor boys cd imageOut Of Favor Boys

Self-Release – 2017

http://outoffavorboys.com

14 tracks; 68 minutes

The Out Of Favor Boys come from Michigan where have backed many musicians passing through their area and host a regular jam in Kalamazoo. The band consists of Danny Ouelette and Joel Krauss on guitars, Tony Sproul on sax, Tim Brouhard on bass and Tommy Ufkes on drums. Lead vocals are by either Joel or Tony and everyone contributes backing vocals. The band has previously released two live and two studio albums but this one was recorded at JoyRide Studio in Chicago with Pete Galanis producing. The CD is entirely original with Danny, Joel and Tony contributing plus a helping hand on two cuts from René Meave who also plays washboard on one track; other guests include Larry McCray and Pete Galanis (guitar, one track each) and Andrea Miologos who adds background vocals on one track.

The band demonstrates its versatility from the start with the rocking “Best Choice” and its fine guitar and sax solos, followed immediately by “Hemingway”, an early highlight which lyrically explores the life and death of Ernest Hemingway over a naggingly catchy mid-paced tune with some great guitar fills and a superb outro sax solo – as good a song as this reviewer has heard in a while and very well delivered by Tony. We get a touch of sophisticated funk on “Already Gone” as Joel rues the departure of his girl and René’s washboard adds some Louisiana feel to the extended and super-rhythmic “Nobody’s Listening”. Joel’s soulful ballad “You’re The One” slows the pace before Danny’s “Dark Clouds” name checks Jacques Cousteau in a mid-paced tune in which the two guitars mesh well together and Tony plays a ‘cool’ sax solo.

Larry McCray’s biting tone sits on top of wah-wah rhythm work on “Waiting Game” before the band hits a late night jazzy mood on “Same Old Story”, Tommy using brushes and Tony playing some breathy sax. Two mid-paced, melodic tunes follow: “Remember What I Said” has a relaxed Rn’B feel and “Act Like Strangers” adds some fine sax work to a post-break-up song. “The Sooner The Better” is a full-on rocker with ringing guitars and “Minute” is another winner with intriguing lyrics about seeing the world through the eyes of a child: “How much time is a minute? Is it long or is it short? Do I have some in my toybox, can I borrow some of yours? What do they look like, can we buy them at the store? You say there’s never enough – how do we get more?” All good questions and played out over some fine guitar work, again in relaxed style, Tom adding sax to the later part of the tune. The last two songs both feature bars and booze in the lyrics: “One More Drink” is a chugging rocker as Tony wants “one more drink, one more song before I go” and the album closes with a shuffle with everyone joining in on the chorus, Tony’s sax filling in between verses and a cool guitar solo with jazzy overtones as Joel declares that he will drink as many as he wishes “When You’re Gone”.

This was the first I had heard from The Out Of Favor Boys but from this disc we can safely assume that the name is tongue-in-cheek as there is plenty of excellent music to enjoy on this one, making it well worth seeking out if you enjoy melodic original material with some interesting lyrics.

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 – 7 of 8 

howell devine cd imageHowell Devine – Howl

Little Village Foundation

www.howelldevine.com

CD: 10 Songs, 44:53 Minutes

Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues Rock, Blues Covers

Ever heard the jelly maker’s slogan, “With a name like Smuckers, it has to be good”? When I saw the title of the fourth album from San Francisco’s Howell Devine, I thought, “With a name like Howl, it has to be loud.” Some of its ten tracks certainly are, but on the whole, the CD’s energy is mid-key, like a pleasant but not-so-crowded day at the beach in southern Cali. Only two of its selections are originals – “Sirenic Woman” and “PM Blues.” The others are covers so dog-eared (whoops, wrong kind of cover) that they’re as familiar as a favorite book. R.L. Burnside’s “Going Down South,” Robert Johnson’s “Come On in my Kitchen” and Sonny Boy Williamson’s “The Key” are decent homages to their source material. The best one, however, is their take on The Meters’ “Funky Miracle.” Regarding the band’s musicianship, they excel on guitar, especially slide. On vocals, they’re a bit dry, but you know what else is good when it’s dry? Wine and liquor. As on their previous albums, such as Modern Sounds of Ancient Juju (2014), Howell Devine is also great at putting a twenty-first-century twist on blues of the past.

In the CD liner notes, noted newspaper columnist Andrew Gilbert writes, “Much like the iconic blues musicians who provided the bones and marrow for vast stretches of American music, you can’t keep Howell Devine down on the Delta when they feel they need to roam. The elemental Bay Area trio has distinguished itself over the past decade as a startlingly potent roots-based combo steeped in an array of sinewy shuffles and muscular grooves.”

Howell Devine consists of Joshua Howell on vocals, guitar and harmonica; Pete Devine on drums, washboard and jug; and Joe Kyle Jr. on bass. Guest musicians include perennial blues-rock favorite Chris “Kid” Andersen on organ, Danny Brown on tenor sax, and Fil Lorenz on baritone sax.

The album’s closer, an aforementioned original, is its best song for a bit of drink and downtime.

Track 10: “PM Blues” – With a tongue-in-cheek tone and witty lyrics, this is a ballad of two lovers, one looking for a fight, the other looking to avoid one. “I know you’re mad. These PM Blues are such a drag. I know you’re mad. These PM blues are such a drag. Don’t take it out on me, ‘cause I ain’t your punching bag.” Danny Brown and Fil Lorenz are terrific on twin saxes, as is Josh Howell on harmonica. Fatigue can do a number on one’s body and mind, but as for this song? It won’t make one tired. It might make one want to slow-dance, though!

For Howell Devine’s fans, their fourth offering is a must-have, full of their unique style. For others, though, who were expecting more intensity, there may not be enough Howling going 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.


 


 Featured Blues Review – 8 of 8 

screaming john lind cd imageScreamin’ John and TD Lind – Gimme More Time

Down in the Alley Records

screaminjohnandtdlind.com

CD: 10 Songs, 38:14 Minutes

Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues Rock, Blues Covers

If there’s one thing British/Kentucky-based Screamin’ John and TD Lind know how to do, it’s make a helluva first impression. Their new album Gimme More Time begins with “Big Bad Coraline,” a blistering blues stomp that should find its way onto BB King’s Bluesville pronto. From there it continues to build in intensity and dance-ability, climaxing with “Hot Walker Blues” and cooling it down a bit with the title track. There are only four original songs on the CD, which is a shame because Screamin’ John and TD have a boatload of professional talent. Why perform overdone covers like Little Walter’s “Last Night” when one’s own “Four Roses Blues” packs just as much of a punch? From start to finish, this duo puts a postmodern twist on traditional styles such as Chicago, Louisiana and Piedmont blues.

Vocally, TD Lind is reminiscent of John Fogerty and Sean Costello, with just a touch of Tim Langford of Too Slim and the Taildraggers. As for Screamin’ John? “It took him a couple months to warm up to the idea of a record by a lead guitarist who didn’t sing,” the CD liner notes explain. Yours truly is glad he did, because otherwise, this hot-sauce explosion wouldn’t have reached her ears.

The website East of 8th features a candid interview with the band regarding its origins. “‘My dad owned a pawn shop and a music store when I was kid. If you ever want to meet blues musicians, a pawn shop is a great place to start,” John jokes. ‘There’s just not much money in it. I was always around blues musicians, it’s where I started, and I never really left.’ ‘The first music I listened to was the blues,’ recalls TD. ‘My father taught me boogie-woogie on the piano when I was four. I always wanted to be Little Richard,’ he laughs. ‘All the music downloaded on my phone to this day was made between 1919 and 1956. I’m stuck in that era.’”

Performing along with our two blues protagonists are bassist Jeff Crane, Joel Pinkerton on harmonica and Paul Culligan on drums and percussion.

The following original tunes take the cake on this album, making blues-rock fans crave more.

Track 01: “Big Bad Coraline” – “She ain’t no lady,” TD Lind warns when speaking of this “pistol-packing mama.” Screamin’ John’s guitar proves how and why he got his stage name. Listen closely and you’ll hear Joel Pinkerton’s harmonica sneak in a few words during this boisterous ballad. It’s as raw and satisfying as an unfiltered cigarette. What it lacks in polish, it makes up for a hundredfold in power.

Track 06: “Gravy Train Rider” – Get ready for a rip-roaring trip down a perilous guitar track. The lyrics may be a bit hard to decipher, but no matter. Listen to the instrumentation as it blasts like a locomotive’s whistle. “Don’t need no gravy train rider to run my engine down,” Lind says, referring to freeloaders who waste his time, productivity, and money. This song won’t waste yours.

Track 09: “Four Roses Blues” – Sultry and serpentine, with a slightly Latin beat, number nine is an ode to a beauty as well as a brand of bourbon. If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, is the way to a woman’s heart through her liver? Savor Screamin’ John’s guitar solo.

This CD’s only flaw is that it’s too short, so Screamin’ John and TD Lind? Gimme More Time!

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 Interview – Casey Hensley 

casey hensley photo 1“It was on purpose,” says Casey Hensley.

I had asked her if she stopped to think that it took significant macho fortitude to begin and end her debut album with two Big Mama Thornton songs, particularly “Ball and Chain” which was Big Mama’s signature song and was co-opted by Janis Joplin.

“Yeah, yeah. I’ve been told that a couple of times. It was on purpose. It was on purpose that I put it at the beginning and end.”

Really?

“Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely, and as far as “Ball & Chain,” I’m just gonna go for it because if you don’t go for that big song, you’re never gonna do it. So, I just kinda go all in and just see what happens.”

What happened was Casey Hensley Live Featuring Laura Chavez went number 1 on the Global Radio Indicator Charts and number 4 on the Roots Music Report Soul/Blues Chart. It debuted at number 17 on ITunes Blues charts and 19 on the Living Blues Radio Charts. And on her website she proudly quotes Rita Coolidge saying, “Janis Joplin would be proud.”

Being that closely tied to two legendary performers in style can be the kiss of death long term for a young blues artist working to establish her lifetime career. But what if that artist’s performance bests that of the act she’s emulating? At 25, Casey Hensley is a better singer than Janis Joplin. Her guitarist Laura Chavez is way better than Sam Andrews, Janis’ ax man in Big Brother and The Holding Company. And Casey comes damn close to equaling Big Mama on vocals. Through no fault of her own, Big Mama never attained record sales big enough for her to afford a good band, and Chavez evokes the memory of Buddy Guy’s playing with Big Mama on the recordings of her British Lippmann and Rau tour in the 1960s.

Big Mama Thornton had erotic heat, whereas Janis turned that erotic heat into a screaming tantrum. Many young white women use songs like “Ball and Chain” as an excuse to spaz. Casey doesn’t spaz. She’s out there throwing flames, but she never loses control. There’s always a feel that it’s coming from way inside and not from some kind of exterior, outward reaction to something terrible that’s happened to her.

“Every time I sing, my biggest focus is to be real, and put as much feeling as I can into every note. Hitting the right note is totally important, but even more important than that to me is just the feeling behind it. That’s why I’ve always been drawn to roots music, soul to blues, to all of it. That’s the art, you know.”

Call it naïve, even cocky, or just plain confident, but Casey is totally unafraid of the Joplin comparison. “I think it’s a great compliment. She had a great career, and she’s definitely an influence of mine. As far as me compared to anybody, I have a lot of amazing influences, and I’m just me. If anybody wants to compare me to somebody that they like or love, I take those compliments and comparisons. I welcome them absolutely, and I take every compliment with a grain of salt of course, but I’m just me. I don’t try to be anybody else. As a woman, I’m just trying to figure out who I am, and what I want to do, and I don’t even know yet exactly who I am, but I’m figuring it out.”

casey hensley photo 2Her VizzTone debut Casey Hensley Live Featuring Laura Chavez is a smart selection from a variety of sources whose common thread is aggression. The recording was done live in one continuous take in the studio in front of a rabid audience. She covers an eclectic group of artists from Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ signature screamer “I Put A Spell on You” to New Orleans’ veteran Irma Thomas’ “You Can Have My Husband.” From Blues Queen Koko Taylor’s “Voodoo Woman” to Elvis Presley’s “Hard Headed Woman, plus three originals that aren’t as memorable as her aggressive covers.

“It’s not that I don’t know who I am. I haven’t fully come into my own yet ’cause I’m just in my 20s, but as far as the music goes, I just love any music with a feeling whether it’s Delta blues or Chicago blues. It’s all relevant, and I love it all, and that’s what I’ve been thinking about, too. I’ve been thinking about these last couple of years who am I? What box am I in? It’s a hard. I don’t know who I am totally, but I do. I know what I like and so on the record I thought, ‘I’m just going to do what I like and do me and hopefully everybody understands it.’”

The album was recorded live at Thunderbird Analog Recording Studio all in one take and translated from analog to digital. “It’s a pretty large space. It’s Thomas Yearsley’s studio. There’s a huge room. All the instruments are in one room, and then there’s like this while area around the room that’s also open so people can sit. There definitely was enough room for people to sit in front of us and everything, and then you could see everything that was happening through the glass, and so it was all recorded in one take at Thunderbird and we had a live audience, and we basically kind of partied and recorded it. It was a controlled party but still a party.

“We didn’t take anything out, but everything that’s on the record, that’s what it was. There are 11 songs on that record, and that’s how many we recorded, so we got really lucky. We didn’t have to rerecord anything – it was just all in one take. So, that was really awesome. There’s a couple squeals and stuff ’cause it’s live, but it’s all really authentic. To get Laura in that mode, her thing, it was just awesome. So, it’s fun with me and her.

“I had the (songs) all recorded and then I decided what order I wanted them in. That’s how I decided to put the Big Mama Hronton song at the beginning and at the end, and I wanted all the songs to flow really well, but when we recorded it, I would save the hardest songs for last. I did. “Ball & Chain” last because I didn’t want to tire my voice and then do 10 other songs.

“We charged at the door. Not charge but we asked for a contribution for the record because the hard thing for me I’m in my 20s, and I do music full time. So, paying for the record took me a while to record it because I needed the funds. So, it was a perfect way to do it. So, people contributed and there was food, and it was a really good time. They didn’t have to give us anything, but everybody did. Everybody was really supportive, and the whole thing was the blues community. James Harmen came and Nathan James, that whole group of guys. It was really cool, and we had a lot of writers and lot of other musicians and a lot of just fans and family and friends, and it was a really, really great day. There’s a couple of people I can hear on the record going, ‘Yeah!’ There’s one guy and I’m like, ‘I know that’s my dad.’

“All of these songs on this album were songs I was already playing live. So, I already was really comfortable doing them live as far as the performance goes. Candy (Kane) actually showed me that song “You Can Have My Husband,” and I hadn’t heard it before. She said, ‘The lyrics are, ‘You can have my husband but don’t mess with my man,’ and I said, ‘I want to listen to that. That sounds like my kind of song.’ So, I heard it and it’s a great song. It’s just a fun song to do because you can hear it on my record. The crowd participates (she sings),’You can have my husband.’ You can see the women. The men next to them. We like this song a lot.

“I knew I wanted to make my own – have my own style of singing it. So, I don’t know. That whole record is what we all worked out from playing the song, so much, and it’s so authentic of my show. So, those two songs are really – it was really awesome to get to record ’em, to have ’em on my record, to have everybody enjoy ’em.”

casey hensley photo 3While many African American blues singers have a head start on their white counterparts from having grown up in a church background singing gospel, it is unusual for their white counterparts to have that extensive early background performing in front of a live audience. Casey, on the other hand, first hit the stage at age five.

“My parents knew that I was s gifted singer when I was really young. We’d be driving in the car, and my dad would be telling my mom, ‘Can you turn down the radio?’ And she’d be like, ‘I did turn it down. That’s your daughter in the back seat.’ I’d be singing Melissa Etheridge at the top of my lungs, or we’d be in the grocery store, and I’d be singing in the aisles, and somebody would come from the next aisle and say, ‘Oh, my goodness. Is that your daughter singing? She’s gifted,’ And I had a real passion for it also.

“They weren’t like stage parents or anything. They just supported me ’cause it was something I wanted to do. So, I would set out my stuffed animals and stand on my head and do little shows for them, and stuff. So, the first time I was on stage I think I was like five, and I loved it immediately. I loved it, and the first time I was in the studio I was like eight, and I was recording an original. So, it’s been a lifelong thing for me. I didn’t do sports really much or anything. It was just always music. I never wanted to do anything else, and nothing else was ever an option for me. Like teachers would ask me, ‘Do you have a backup plan?’ And I would say, ‘No, this is what I’m doing.’

“My grandfather is a bass player, but I didn’t grow up with him. He lives on the east coast. My parents were these real music lovers. Etta James was always playing around the house, and a lot of like Allman Brothers. My mom had a really great record collection growing up, and my parents were always listening to music, and it was always a lot of blues also. The first person I ever saw live was Tommy Castro. I was on my dad’s back I think and that’s the story. I vaguely remember that I was that young. I was in awe. He just cooked, and I actually opened for him last year, and that was really cool.”

Casey began writing songs at eight, the same year she first entered a recording studio. “I grew up in northern California and my family, we sold our house. My dad got a job opportunity. So, we moved to southern California to Huntington Beach which is in Orange County, and I did a little bit of acting, the Hollywood thing when I was between the age of eight and 13. I was in just independent films. Dustin Hoffman’s son is in a movie and I was in that. That was an independent movie I was in, and I did Disney shows. I did a lot of background work. That made me money I could put in my (student account), and I wanted to be around that world. I did love acting, but I decided I wanted to play music. I knew even back then I liked acting and it was fun, but music was like my real passion.”

Performing her own music trumped acting because she wanted to feel her own inner emotions, not someone else’s. Acting never seemed to have the cache of a blues performance because she realized she was putting someone else’s emotions forward rather than her own.

“I definitely appreciate the art of acting, but as far as doing music as opposed to doing musicals and things like that, I’d rather represent myself and do my own thing and (speak) my voice and portray the real me.

“Music is more you. You’re not acting out anything. It’s you coming out. It’s your songs. It’s your voice. It’s your passion which is real to me, and I could see myself, and the Hollywood scene – I enjoyed it, but maybe someday I’ll do I again. At the time I think I made the right choices.

“So, I went to Performing Arts High School in Huntington Beach, and I think Walter Trout’s kids go to that school if I’m not mistaken. It’s really, really great commercial recording arts department they have at that performing arts school. On their (her parents) singing the blues, that’s where I first really started to really learn about the history of the blues, and stretch my legs as far as performing with a band, and things like that. I was always like a studio musician, but I hadn’t worked with bands up until age 14. So, that was my first experience with that.”

casey hensley photo 4The late Candye Kane had a strong influence on Casey. A strong woman maneuvering in a man’s world, she was the one who introduced Casey to Irma Thomas’s “You Can Have My Husband” song. Laura Chavez, guitarist on this album was Candye’s guitarist. Candye’s son, Caleb, is Casey’s boyfriend and drummer. The album was recorded at Candye’ ex-husband’s studio.

“I first met Candye when she was making her last album Come Out Swingin’ in 2009 when I was in my teens. I knew her ex-husband Thomas Yearsley who’s the bass player in the Paladins. He owns the recording studio at Ocean Side, and he needed a background singer one day for one of his songs, and he said, ‘Oh, you gotta get – there’s this girl. You should give her a call and see if she can come down.’ So, I came down and I did the background singing with her, and she was so awesome. She offered to take me to lunch and talked to me about the industry and everything, and I met Laura as well, and they were so sweet and it was a really, really, great experience, and I knew her son also from the studio. He was the drummer and a few years later I was looking for a blues band.

“I wanted to do blues, and he was doing a jam and I went to the jam and I kept going to the jam and (ran into) Tom and everything. Me and her son (Caleb Yearsley) ended up falling in love and we’re together now. We’ve been together for three years and so it was really awesome because I was around Candye so much. She taught me so much about being a woman, being a tough woman in a male dominated industry in the male dominated world.”

What does Casey think Candye who died in 2016 would have thought about Me Too?

“Oh, everything that’s been happening in the industry she would have been all over it. I actually just played a woman’s march here in San Diego. I sang on it, me and Laura Chavez and my band, and Laura Chavez was with me there also, and we had these big pictures of Candye also. And people were coming up. ‘Oh, Candye Kane. We know if she were here, she’d be all over this.’ And she was. She would be all over this, totally!

Laura Chavez, too, got an early start in the music industry playing out as early as 14. Casey.

“Yeah, we both talked about it for sure. I think she started out doing a lot of jamming also, and stuff, and Laura is just so incredible. Even playing with her as much as I have it’s been such a blessing, and on my records and everything. Even now when she’s on stage with me, you can’t get used to that kind of talent. My eyes start to tear up when she plays, and we do this Little Willie John song sometimes called “You Hurt Me.” (She sings) My eyes start to blow up and I’m like, ‘Oh, I’ve gotta start to sing,’ ’cause she’s so great. It’s so amazing.

Laura Chavez is Casey’s secret weapon. “Oh, yeah, yeah. I mean, I think she’s one of the best guitar players in the world, male or female. That’s what I love about blues, too, and what I tell people. And people ask me, ‘You’re so young, and what is it about blues?’ And I’m just like, ‘It’s the feeling.’ Any music with that feeling behind it is what I’ve always been drawn to. That’s what people connect to. That’s why we listen to music, but she’s got that down, that feeling.”

Check out Casey’s Facebook page at: https://caseyhensleymusic.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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The Charlotte Blues Society – Charlotte, NC

The Charlotte Blues Society announces its March Blues Bash, featuring Blues deLuxe, on 4 March, at the Rabbit Hole, 1801 Commonwealth Ave., Charlotte, NC 28205. Doors at 7:00, show at 8:00, followed by an open blues jam. If you missed Heather Gillis, who played a hot 2-hour set on 11 February, don’t miss this one!

CBS also announces its April Blues Bash, 1 April (no April fool’s joke here) featuring Joseph Michael Mahfoud, also at the Rabbit Hole, 7:00 doors, 8:00 show, with jam to follow.

As always, both shows are free to card-carrying members, only $5 for others. We are asking for donations of canned food or household paper products to benefit Loaves and Fishes. Hope to see you there! www.charlottebluessociety.org

The Detroit Blues Society – Detroit, MI

The Detroit Blues Heritage Series will present “Detroit Winter Blues” featuring Jarrod Champion on solo piano and Madcat’s Midnight Blues Journey featuring Peter “Madcat” Ruth on Saturday February 17,2018 from 2:00PM until 4:00PM at the Historic Scarab Club. The Scarab Club is located at 217 Farnsworth in Detroit’s Cultural Center. A $5.00 donation is requested.

Jarrod Champion is a self taught pianist, organist, vocalist and multi Instrumentalist born and raised on the east side of Detroit. Madcat’s Midnight Blues Journey is led by Harmonica wizard Peter” Madcat”Ruth and fueled by the guitar fireworks of Drew Howard with Mark Schrock on Bass and Drummer Mike Shimmin holding down the beat with surgical precision.

Our partners for the Detroit Blues Heritage Series are the Scarab Club 501(c) 3 non-profit.The Detroit Blues Society ( 501(c) 3 non-profit and Mack Avenue Records, For more information please call the Scarab Club (313-831-1250). www.detroitbluessociety.org.

Sacramento Blues Society – Sacramento, CA

Sacramento Blues Society is proud to present the legendary Johnny Rawls, Nominee for 2018 Soul Blues Male Artist and Soul Blues Album of the Year for “Waiting for the Train”, on Sunday, March 25, 2018, Goldfield’s Trading Post, 1630 J Street, Sacramento.

Doors open 3:30 p.m. ~ Show: 4 to 7 pm. Purchase tickets Advance Online: $29 Members, $34 Public at www.sacblues.com or at the Door: $30 Members, $35 Public.

The Great Northern Blues Society – Wausau, WI

The Great Northern Blues Society of Wausau, WI (GNBS) is Proud to announce the lineup for our 19th Annual Blues Café fundraiser to be held at the Historically Registered Rothschild Pavilion (near Wausau, WI) on 3/10/18.

The stellar Lineup will include Big N’ Tasty Blues Band, The Norman Jackson Band, Southern Avenue, Victor Wainwright & the Train, and The Jeremiah Johnson Band. Cathy Grier will be playing acoustic sets near the fireplace between main stage acts. Doors open at noon, and Music will start at 1:00PM and continue non-stop until 11:00PM. Chairs, Food, and Cold Beverages will be available on-site. Special Hotel Rates available at the nearby Stoney Creek Inn utilizing the Code: “BLUES Cafe”. Limited supply of rooms available so make your reservation now.

Please come, sit by the huge stone fireplace, with a beverage of choice in hand, and join us for 10 hours of non-stop glorious Blues Music on 3/10/18. Artist Biographies, directions, and Tickets are available on our Website at –www.gnbs.org.

Crossroads Blues Society – Rockford, IL

Monthly shows at the Hope and Anchor in Loves Park, IL are on the second Saturday of the month. They are from 8:00 to 11:30 PM and there is a $5 Cover Charge. Scheduled shows: March 10 – John Primer, April 14 – Chicago Wind featuring Matthew Skoller and Dietra Farr, May 12 – Cash Box Kings.

The Lyran Society in downtown Rockford hosts first and third Friday blues along with a fish fry. No cover, shows 7 to 10 pm. Scheduled shows: February 16 – Donna Herula, March 2 – Olivia Dvorak Band, March 17 – Ivy Ford Band, April 6 – Bobby Messano.

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

The Illinois Central Blues Club – Springfield, IL

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

Blue Monday Schedule: February 19 – The Scottie Miller Band, February 26 – The Good, The Bad and The Blues. For more information visit www.icbluesclub.org.


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