Issue 13-34 August 22, 2019

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Cover photo © 2019 Bob Kieser


 In This Issue 

Mike Stephenson has our feature interview with Wayne Baker Brooks. We have 6 Blues reviews for you this week including new music from Shaun Murphy, J.P. Soars, Bobby Rush, Eastside Kings, Vince Agwada and Leroy Jodie Pierson.

Our featured video of the week is Nick Moss Band featuring Dennis Gruenling.

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


 From The Editor’s Desk 

Hey Blues Fans,

Voting in the Blues Blast Music Awards ended last Friday. We are counting votes and getting ready for an exciting party at the 12th Annual Blues Blast Music Awards ceremonies on September 13th in Rockford, IL. Announced performances include Teeny Tucker, Dave Keller, Dawn Tyler Watson, Bob Corritore Review with Oscar Wilson and Taildragger, Doug Deming and the Jewel Tones, Mary Lane, Catfish Keith, Mighty Mike Schermer, Alastair Greene, Whitney Shay, Ben Rice, Robert Frank and Katie Henry.

If you are interested in being a VIP sponsor CLICK HERE to get the best seats in the house for this great show! General Admission tickets to the awards are available HERE. Complete info on the Awards show is at the BBMA website at www.TheBBMAs.com

Our friends at the Crossroads Blues Fest in Rockford, IL are putting on a great show this weekend and Blues Blast Magazine will be there covering all the fun.

The fest this Saturday features a Harp extravaganza with performances by Chris O’Leary Band, Joe Filisko Harmonica Workshop, Reverend Raven and the Chain Smoking Altar Boys featuring Westside Andy Linderman, Nick Moss Band featuring Dennis Gruenling , Wheatbread Johnson & Justin “Boots” Gate and John Primer and the Real Deal Blues Band featuring Steve Bell.

For tickets and info visit www.crossroadsbluesfestival.com or click on their ad in this issue.

Look for the Blues Blast shirts and be sure to say hello! See you there!

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser


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 Blues Blast Music Awards Tickets 

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Tickets for the Blues Blast Music Awards show on September 13, 2019 in Rockford, Illinois are on sale. Tickets are $35 in advance and $45 at the door. Save money by getting your tickets NOW HERE!


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 Featured Video Of The Week – Nick Moss Band featuring Dennis Gruenling 

This video is Nick Moss Band featuring Dennis Gruenling performing Crazy Mixed Up Baby on July 19, 2019 at the Rams Head in Annapolis, MD.

Nick Moss Band featuring Dennis Gruenling are performing at the Crossroads Blues Festival on Saturday, August 24th, 2019. For tickets and info on this Blues event visit www.crossroadsbluesfestival.com or click on their ad in this issue!


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 Featured Interview – Wayne Baker Brooks 

Interview, by Mike Stephenson, of this Chicago based blues artist took place on the 2018 European Blues Cruise. Many thanks go to Pertti Nurmi for his support.

wayne baker brooks photo 1I’m Wayne Baker Brooks from Chicago, Illinois; born and raised there to a blues master, Lonnie Brooks. I was born April 1970 and I am one of nine children. My dad had two children before marrying my mother and my mother had two children before marrying my dad. I started in music helping my dad write songs when I was like six years old, and I would keep a beat for him on pots and pans, with forks and knives and spoons and my brother Ronnie would be playing a bass line on a guitar and my dad would say, “Hold it right there”, when we hit a groove and he would come up with lyrics, and sometimes Ronnie and I would chime in with some of the lyrics and he would say he liked that or no, that’s not right. Now some of the stuff we did back then and that my dad wrote, actually he demo’d on a cassette that he gave to Bruce Iglauer of Alligator Records, so a lot of the songs he wrote with us ended up on Alligator. That was my first song writing class, as I love to write a song, and whenever I write a song I think back to how dad would do it.

So it developed into like this thing that my dad had with us as a kid and he really encouraged us and he made it fun for us. He would tell us to clean up our room first, so we would clean up our room real fast to hurry up and come and help him with whatever he was doing. He would ask to see our school grades and, if they were ok, he said we could come. He made it so much fun and as far as I remember that is all we always wanted to do was play music, because he made it fun and he never forced us and always wanted to make sure we were interested in it. and if we lost interest he would back off. At some point Ronnie and I started playing basketball and it broke his heart a little bit, but at the same time he didn’t want to force the music on us. So eventually we came back to the music because it was in us.

We were living at 51st and King Drive in Chicago, south side of Chicago, right down the street from my dad’s favorite pool hall. Back then we would have musicians hanging around the house like Koko Taylor, Luther Allison, Eddy Clearwater, Tail Dragger. We lived in the neighborhood where Buddy Guy would come around all the time, as well as Junior Wells. My dad would also do gigs with these folks, like Albert Collins and B.B. King and he would bring us to the shows to see these artists, as well as Willie Dixon and Mighty Joe Young and Muddy Waters, whom I first met at the Chicago Fest at Navy Pier when I was seven years old, and I saw John Primer who was playing with Muddy at that time. He looked exactly like my sister’s husband at the time and I went up to him thinking that is who it was and he put his hand on my head and shook my head.

My first love with music started with the drums, as my dad noticed that I would beat on stuff all the time, so eventually he got me a set of drums from when I was about five years old. Whenever they had a rehearsal at the house, that is the first thing I would jump on is the drums, and his drummer Billy Jackson at the time would show me things. I started traveling with my dad, as his stage manager, guitar tech, the road manager, the accountant, the merchandiser, the laundry washer, so I did everything for him. With songwriting I’m trained not formally, but through my dad as a songwriter and how he structured a song.

My dad, he started playing rock and roll in the fifties and the songs that he came out with were hits for him, things like ‘The Crawl and ‘Family Rules’ and he went out on tour with Sam Cooke and my dad expressed to Sam how much he loved Chicago blues and blues period and Sam told him he should come to Chicago, as that was where all the big names are at. So my dad moved to Chicago in 1959, after he had those hits, and he lived with Sam Cooke for something like nine months in Chicago and then he met my mum and they got together and started having kids.

wayne baker brooks photo 2As a kid you are into other things like having to go to school and my dad being out of town a lot. But when he was home, that was when we would gravitate towards the music stuff, and then there was peer pressure and I started playing basketball. So when I came back into the music was when I graduated out of high school and that’s when I started getting really serious with it, when I was eighteen years old. I did some carpentry, helping fix houses and roofing and cutting down trees and stuff until one day, I was up on that hot roof like five stories up, and that hot tar hitting my foot because I had a hole in my shoe and after that I quit. I thought I had a talent and that I could play music and I thought I’m outta here, and that’s when I started traveling with my dad full time as the stage manager and guitar tech and a bunch of other stuff, as I said.

Jim Schutte, at the time they used to call him Shuffling Schutte, would show me some stuff and this was like 1988, and he would show me how to properly hold the sticks and showed me rudiments and different patterns and I loved all of that. At the time I was going through a lot of stuff, I was having kids at an early age. I had all this stuff built up inside of me and drums wasn’t fulfilling, although I loved it. So at the age of nineteen I switched from drums to guitar. At that time my brother Ronnie was playing full time with my dad. My brother was playing guitar since he was nine years old and I am the one that switched from drums to guitar and that was my dad’s dream, was to have us as a three piece with me on drums and Ronnie on bass and he would go out and play guitar and sing. Ronnie learned how to play bass, but he was always a guitar player, that was the first thing my dad showed him how to play and usually a guitar player can play bass.

So when I started playing guitar, it was easy for me to express myself through the guitar, so I was messing around with it. I didn’t tell my dad I was switching from drums to guitar until one day after a gig, when we were driving home and there was just him and me. I told him I wanted to play guitar and he was ok with that, although he wanted to check out what I could play on guitar and I showed him and he was shocked as he had never seen me play guitar before. I taught myself from that point on, but it messed up his dream and I told him that I would be able to take his legacy a lot further by playing guitar than drums.

I went out on the road with Lonnie for twenty nine years. I was on the road with him constantly. I was doing all sorts of jobs for him as I mentioned, up until when Ronnie left the band in 1999 and then, when Ronnie left I became the band leader. I was actually going to leave because I had started my band in 1997 and I started writing the book ‘Blues For Dummies’ in 1996 which has come out in thirty eight languages. 1998 was when the book was published, so my dad and I went on this big ‘Blues For Dummies’ book tour that took us everywhere and interviews on TV. I remember sitting in one studio and doing about eight different TV stations for two minutes each. So Ronnie left in 1999 but before then, in 1997, Ronnie broke his wrist before coming to play in Switzerland and that became my first gig and my dad needed a guitar player. At the time they didn’t know that I knew the set, because when they practiced I was the guitar tech to make sure everything was good, but when they started I went and grabbed my guitar and I would watch how everyone was playing, but they didn’t know that.

wayne baker brooks photo 3So when Ronnie broke his wrist he couldn’t find anyone to go out on tour with him. I told him I could do it and showed him that I could, so that was my first gig with Lonnie. I was really proud of that. Soon after that Ronnie left the band and I then became the band leader for Lonnie from 1999 up until his death. I also had my band, so in 2017 I celebrated my twentieth anniversary of having my own band.

So in 2018 it was my thirtieth anniversary being a part of Lonnie Brooks Enterprise, which was his business umbrella. I am a board member. With my band I wanted to do a lot of Chicago blues and at that time I was doing a lot of writing and during my set I would play maybe four or five of my own originals and the rest were familiar covers and then I started getting really serious about writing music, because my dad always taught us that if you want to make it in this business you have to be original. So I started writing more songs and would ask my dad what he thought about them and he would guide me.

The first of my songs that I started doing live was ‘Sooner Or Later’ and my father really liked it. Willie Dixon’s family, they helped with publishing, and they made sure that when I wrote a song that I had to put it in my own publishing. That groove I was using on ‘Sooner Or Later’, I was using a Willie Dixon song ‘Evil’ so I combined my groove with ‘Evil’ lyrics and I went to them and asked them if I could do that because they taught me all this stuff about publishing and copyrights and stuff. They told me that I should write my own lyrics to the song so that I own everything and then I came out with the lyrics and then started doing it live. I then did ‘Make It Easy’ and ‘Poor Pitiful Me’ which I did a lot of on the Lone Star Shootout tour with Long John Hunter and Philip Walker and my dad. I would be the bandleader for that tour and would open up the set with that song. The song writing starts with dad having us help him write songs.

I have some of my own material out there. One is ‘Mystery’, released in Chicago in 2003 and internationally in 2004 and to date I have sold over 30,000 copies of it, all independently on my own label Blues Island Records, and it got a lot of rotation on radio stations. ‘Mystery’, ‘Exiled’, ‘You Make It Easy, Baby’ and ‘Sooner Or Later’ were the tracks that hit the radio a lot but ‘Mystery’ was the big track for radio airplay in the US, so it was a hit for me. Then because the way the music industry was turning, leaning towards downloads at the time, not so much streaming, but taking the CD out of the equation, so people started buying downloads. So with the ‘Tricks Up My Sleeve’ album what I started doing was releasing singles first and then release the whole EP, and that is pretty much what I am doing today and I have recently released a new single called ‘Because Of You’, all of them are available on just about everything streaming. Because the music industry has changed, it made sense to me to put out singles first to see where we are at. I have since put out a compilation that has ‘Mystery’ and ‘Tricks Up My Sleeve’ together on one CD. So that is really good for anyone who does not have my music, so they can get it all in one shot and it’s on Blues Island Records.

Music is a full time thing for me and, being blessed enough to be the son of Lonnie, I learned every single night not only the music but the business part as well. Being on tour with the likes of Buddy Guy and Junior Wells, B.B. King, Taj Mahal and Albert King, with my father who I have been crazy about all my life, and Freddy and Albert told me to play my guitar, but guitarists are a dime a dozen and if you are going to play the guitar, play the hell out of it. When he told me that that helped me bear down on the guitar. I was learning from all these guys I was watching them conduct business. They would guide me and I have since built up a knowledge about the music industry which is important stuff and then learning from Willie Dixon’s family on publishing and stuff has been very helpful for me. Marie Dixon showed me how to make money out of publishing, she gave me a crash course in the music publishing business. I stayed out in California with her in her house for like three days and both Marie and Shirley Dixon showed me how to make money off of publishing. The business part of it came out of necessity, but I started liking it, so I now mange myself and promote myself and I put on shows. I have my All Star Blues Bash that I have had Elvin Bishop and Chris Thomas King on and Eddy Clearwater, Lil Ed, Mike Wheeler, all in Chicago, and in Kalamazoo I did Bobby Rush, me, Joe Louis Walker and Shawn Holt. It used to be a regular thing and we are trying to bring it back. I did it 2016 and it started in 2007 and then up to 2009 and then the economy was getting bad in the US. When the economy picked up, that’s when I brought the Blues Bash back. In Chicago it was mostly at The House Of Blues. We are looking at bringing it back and maybe we can tour it around the US and maybe Europe as a package. The concept is my band would back everyone and I would have the all stars, who would get thirty minutes a piece, and then we all jam at the end.

wayne baker brooks photo 4I play everywhere, been to Europe often and been to forty countries performing; probably half of that has been with my dad and the other half with my band. I vary the size of my band and at one point I had an eight piece with all horns and stuff, but now it varies from a four to a five piece. Sometimes I do a three piece and I kinda like that as it keeps me from being lazy on rhythm. I use on bass, Kenny Kinsey from the Kinsey Report and he has been with me for thirteen years and Jerry Porter is on drums and he used to play with Buddy Guy for twenty years. I may even consider doing solo acoustic gigs and whatever the promoter or venue want, that’s what I am tryingI was born in Cook County Hospital in Chicago and we lived in Washington Park and that was a mile or so away from the Checkerboard Lounge and I still live in Chicago today. So I would frequent such clubs with my dad. At one point my dad was writing for Chess Records like every week, a lot of people don’t know that. I think Leonard or Phil Chess got into it with Willie Dixon and Willie left and they hired my dad and then I guess Willie wanted his job back so instead of just booting my dad out they gave him an opportunity to record on the Checker label so I think he did a couple of singles on Checker. I know my dad tried to be different and he was one of the first guys to bring the swamp, Louisiana funk type blues to Chicago and they didn’t know where the hell that stuff was coming from, so I get trying to be different and original from him. I know when my dad was recording in Chicago he had to play the song for many minutes before the musicians gelled and got it and then Bruce Iglauer would say to them all, ‘Let’s get this right here’ and they got his magic on tape.

I’m trying to take my music beyond a straight blues structure but everything I do will always be blues based. I’ll never forget that when Ronnie first started playing with my dad, my dad got angry with him as he thought he was playing the same thing that he was playing and told him he needed to play something different, so I learnt from that mistake Ronnie made. So I have made sure I don’t play like my dad or Ronnie and the same with me writing songs.

I did record with my father on a Christmas song ‘All I Want For Christmas Is To Be With You’ that came out on Alligator. We did a lot of live recordings but I don’t know if they have ever been released. When he did ‘Roadhouse Rules’ Jim Gaines the producer was trying to fit me in but I wasn’t ready at that time. Bruce Igaluer wanted me to be on there along with Ronnie who recorded a lot with my dad. I’ve got my dad and Ronnie on my album ‘Mystery’. I don’t think I have been on any other artist recordings. The goal was to do a Brooks family blues album, something like what we would do when we went out on the road as the Brooks Family Blues Dynasty, but then my dad got sick so that didn’t happen sadly.

The name Baker Brooks came about as my dad’s real name is Lee Baker Jr. His stage name was Lonnie Brooks and he got his stage name from when he was a little kid they called him Little Lee and because of the Creole people down south, they turned it into Lonnie trying to say Little Lee but it came out as Lonnie. My dad is a kid from sharecroppers, so when they would be out in the fields they would leave the kids when they were little with a woman named Mrs. Brooks. He remembered that and when he came to Chicago he changed his name in 1960 because there was a Guitar Jr already in Chicago and who was playing with Muddy Waters and so people would get confused when he went under the name Guitar Jr., thinking they were going to see Luther ‘Guitar Jr’ and others would get confused thinking they were going to see Guitar Jr, ‘The Crawl’ Guitar Jr. so to end all of that he named himself Lonnie Brooks. So me personally I’m honoring both my real name and my dad’s stage name, Ronnie as well.

I’m thinking of getting another album out and it will be showing a way blues is related to all the US musical genres, so I may add a little flavor of hip hop and rap to it. If you listen to ‘Something’s Going Down’ off the Tricks Up My Sleeve EP, which did really well for me on TV and radio, and which is a song I wrote during Obama’s campaign, to me it’s like a northern Mississippi rhythm. The Chicago Bears picked that song up and it had Twista, a rapper from Chicago, and GLC and Sugar Blue on it so I wanted it to be all Chicago and I will try and do something like that collaboration on the new album. I was also hoping that the two rappers’ fans would be introduced to the blues and my father’s and my playing. Visit Wayne’s website for upcoming shows at www.waynebakerbrooks.com.

Interviewer Mike Stephenson is a UK based blues journalist and photographer who has been a blues fan all his life. He has written articles on and interviewed blues artists and reviewed blues events in Europe and the US primarily for Blues & Rhythm but also for other blues publications.


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 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 6 

shanun murphy cd imageShaun Murphy – Reason To Try

Vision Wall Records

www.shaunmurphyband.com

14 tracks

What do Meatloaf, Eric Clapton, Little Feat and Bob Seger have in common? They all have produced and released music with Shaun Murphy. Meatloaf and Shaun made an album together, were signed to Motown Records at the same time and also did two plays together. Clapton and Shaun did an album together. Shaun fronted Little Feat for 15 years and produced lots of music with them. Shaun has been an integral part of Bob Segar’s recorded and live music. Heck, she also worked with , the Moody Blues, John Hiatt, and Bruce Hornsby on top of those folks. Shaun has been a huge part of the music scene for a long time and her solo career has also been an amazing one.

We blues fans get to most appreciate Shaun is in her fantastic solo work. Shaun and her band have played many a festival and gig that blues fans have been able to enjoy and she has graced the stage at our Blues Blast awards several times, including her double win in 2013 where she won Best Female Artist and Best Contemporary Album. She continues her superb solo career with this new album that I am sure will be a huge success.

Murphy’s band are Tom DelRossi on drums, John Marcus on bass, Eric Robert on keys and two fine guitar players in Kenne Cramer and Tommy Stillwell. Cramer and Stillwell swap lead on guitar and share the lead on three tracks, too. Miqui Gutierrez appears here on sax. Robert does all the B3 organ work and Kevin McKendree provides the piano and synthesizer. McKendree also produced and mixed the CD.

All the songs here were written for her and they are all fantastic. Shaun opens with a slick R&B cut entitled “Hurt Me Good,” written by Nashville based Daryl Burgess. This one’s got a slick and funky groove and a great guitar solo. Murphy shows her chops and delivers a fine performance with tons of feeling.

“Thang For You” follows, a pretty ballad with some some excellent sax work that adds to the sultry and sexy feeling of the cut. Next up is “Turn Me On,” a gritty blues rocker that Murphy nails. The guitar solo also evokes the feel of he song well along with the cool, driving beat. The tempo turns way down for “Reason to Try,” a slow blues with some very nice “churchy” organ work along with piano to add to the mix. Few singers can take you to church, the darker side of town or rock out as Murphy can- she is equally at ease in all styles and this one’s another winner.

“Dancing In The Sun” is a light and breezy cut with Murphy calling out to all of us to stop abusing, fighting, warring and such and get together and do what the song title says. “Can’t Blame Nobody But Me” is a jazzy and bluesy tune with Murphy once again emoting and testifying. It starts out slow and then moves into a slow but steady number about not recognizing that what’s going on in the relationship is her fault. Sax, piano and organ are again effective in support. “Love The Man” gives us some fuzzy guitar work and Shaun offers advice as to how to keep your man around. Murphy again sings with emotion and the boogie woogie piano and guitar make this one loads of fun.

“Don’t Come Crying To Me” is another sweet blues rock ballad with another short but sweet guitar solo. The title of “Road House Rockin'” says it all; a big, driving beat, guitar and organ wailing and Murphy rocking to the groove. This one is also a lot of fun and a great dance number. The following “Power Of Love” is an even more raucous and rocking cut. Powerful vocals by Shaun and her backup singers and a stinging solo on guitar make this one great. “Welcome to Bluesville” returns to a more ‘sedate” format with Murphy giving a cool performance on this one about being in and feeling the land of the blues. More nice guitar work and a restrained but pretty solo are featured.

“Rumor Mill” picks the pace back up as Murphy sings about something we all have experienced. The rumor mill spreading lies is something nasty and never meant to be helpful and Murphy grits out a other nice performance. Guitar and organ shine once again. “Someday” is another ballad, this one lamentful and full of feeling. The organ and guitar help set the mood with continued excellent work; the guitar solo was especially quite emotive. The CD concludes with “Same Old You” as Shaun sings about her man using the same ol’ moves, remarks, etc., as he remains what the title states. She clearly puts that man in his place and the band remains stalwart and strong finishing up the CD as they began. A final sweet solo of the guitar helps fill things out, too!

This is a superb album of 14 memorable cuts by Murphy and her band. Whether she is taking you to church, taking you to school or taking you out for some fun, she nails each and every performance here. Shaun’s got a lot of fine albums to her name; this one is really well done top to bottom, filled with emotion, great songs, outstanding music and her spot on vocals. This one is a winner and I am sure it will garner attention as it gets widely played – very highly recommended!

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


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 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 6 

jp soars cd imageJ.P. Soars – Let Go of the Reins

Whiskey Bayou Records

www.jpsoars.com

11 tracks

J.P. Soars brings us a brand new CD produced by Tab Benoit. It was recorded at Tab’s Whiskey Bayou studio in Houma, LA. The bands is Soar’s Red Hots with drummer Chris Peet on the bass and Tab on the drums. Tillis Verdin plays on 6 tracks with his hot B3 organ. The session came together quickly and resulted in a very cool album. Credits for songs are noted and the rest are originals by Soars.

Things start off with blues, New Orleans and some funk blended up in a stew of sweet stuff. The repetitive guitar riff gives it funk, Soars’ gutsy vocals and stinging guitar are firmly rooted in blues quite interesting and well done with a NOLA vibe . The guitar is predominant and really super here. Verdin’s B3 also adds nicely to the mix and offers a good solo to boot. “Been Down So Long” is the opener which is a spiced up and sped up Soars rework by of a J.B. LeNoir’s tune. Next it’s Soars take on the Ozark Mountain Daredevils with “If You Wanna Get to Heaven.” The take is not the pop rock of the OMDs but a more gritty and grinding style with Soars’ big guitar and gruff vocals behind a similar driving beat. The 1973 tunes gets a big facelift here with Soars in charge and the organ giving fine support. “Freddy King Thing” is J.P.’s take on Freddy with a sweet guitar lead and driving beat. Soars growls in his inimitable style and offers up more fantastic guitar. The backline is driving and the B3 is helping out, too. Next is the title track that opens with some interesting guitar work, blending hill country and a sort of psychedelic approach to good effect. Soars sings with emotion, the guitar is primal and modern at the same time, and the beat gets the pulse up a little. Quite interesting and effective stuff!

“Crow’s Nest” is a sweet instrumental with a jazzy feel. The B3 wails, the guitar picks out some nice stuff and the groove is cool. J.P. and Tillis let it all hang out here. Next is a song co-written with Tab entitled “Lonely Fire.” A slow ballad, the song’s simplicity is a big selling point with restrained guitar and organ with Soars giving us a toned down set of vocals. The acoustic guitar work is big and meaty, with a Spanish guitar feel. “Have Mercy On My Soul” is a free wheeling and dirty cut with Soars in full growl and a heavy beat. Soars solos twice in similar fashion, with some hot licks to thoroughly enjoy. “Let It Ride” is a nice country bluegrass cut written by Randy Whatley. Soars sings like he’s getting ready to be a Gospel singer (well, that’s a stretch) and plays some super pedal steel guitar.

“Minor Blues” is a Django Reinhardt cut that is a dark instrumental with an air of mystery and intrigue. Soars plays his guitar evocatively and it’s just another cool cut to add to the mix. “Time To Be Done” is a straightforward funky blues rocker with a nice groove and great organ work. The guitar gives us a funkiness as Soars wails. The album concludes with some banjo and slide in the downhome “Old Silver Bridge.” Soars sings a bit, but it’s mostly a pretty banjo piece with layers of the instrument to enjoy. Soars mixes it up well and gives us an eclectic but very cool ending this album.

There is lots to enjoy here with great original cuts and some fantastic takes on some older tunes. Soars and Company are imaginative and musically adroit, offering an interesting set of tunes with variety and outstanding musicianship.

What’s not to like here? This is all great stuff and J.P.’s fans will love it. New to Soars? Then this is a great example of what he can do. Benoit’s helped produce and pull out a super set of tunes that will make your summer travels a lot of fun as you savor this CD over and over again. I highly recommend it!

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


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 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 6 

BOBBY RUSH CD IMAGEBobby Rush – Sitting on Top Of The Blues

Deep Rush Records

11 tracks

This is Bobby Rush’s 75th career release. He’s won a dozen Blues Music Awards, was honored with a Blues Blast Magazine Lifetime Achievement Award and has now released 26 studio albums. This is prototypical Bobby Rush. A powerful and soulful recording, Rush songs like a young man turning in 11 new cuts.

The CD starts with “Hey Hey Bobby Rush,” a semi-autobiographical fun number with lots of big production sound. A funky groove, guitar, organ, horns and a fantastic backing band give Rush a big canvass to do his stuff on and he does it. His vocals and harp are traditional Bobby Rush and it’s a great hook to get the album going. Next is “Good Stuff,” a bouncing and sweet number with harp and a fine groove going to make it fun. Rush sings about skin tight britches and talks about his woman with what the title says. Bobby doing what Bobby does best- singing about sexy women. This one is much more stripped down than the prior cut, and the next cut brings back the big production. A funky tune entitled “Get Out Of Here (Dog Named Bo), the topic is a father chasing his daughter’s suitor away because he’s a no good blues man. He tries to elope to Vegas but the entire family is waiting with the dog named Bo. Bobby gives us some harp in this funky tune that’s more good ole Bobby Rush. “You Got the Goods on You” is more Bobby singing about his woman who delivers and apparently carries the goods well to boot. The bouncing “Sweet Lizzy” comes up next with nice piano added tot he organ work. Rush sings about Lizzy who has got him dizzy. Rush blows some cool harp and the backing singers come out in support. “Bobby Rush Shuffle” is a sweet instrumental shuffle with Rush laying out some great harp licks. Well done!

“Recipe For Love” is next up. It’s a sweet country blues with acoustic guitar and Rush’s vocals. Stripped way down, it’s emotional and really good stuff. Rush let’s it hang out vocally and then layers on some sweet harp with the guitar playing along. “Pooky Poo” is a song about his woman that he claims he works two jobs for. A slower lounge tune, Rush gives us another one about his woman to savor. A jazzy number with a little guitar, a little organ and lots of Bobby. And that’s a good thing. Bobby goes full soul with “Slow Motion,” a tune abut how he wants to take his time. Bobby gives us some deep soul as he takes us on this ride where he tells his woman how he wants to deliver. Things pick up with “Shake Til’ You Get Enough,” a big funky cut with the band and backing singers in full force. There’s a deep grove going and Rush blows a little harp as he sings about shakin’ here and there until you get enough. Rush completes the set with “Bowlegged Woman.” He has a lot of fun with this and it’s a great conclusion to another great Bobby Rush CD.

Rush gives us an assortment of his tunes about the women he loves to love and injects his humor and musicality to produce another fun CD to enjoy. Rush adds to his vast repertoire of work and it’s hard to believe he’s got 75 releases and 26 CDs. He still knows how to deliver the goods and entertain. If you’re a fan you’ll love this. If you’re somehow new to Bobby Rush then this is a great little primer into his style and work. It’s hard to believe it’s been three years since Porcupine Meat. Bobby is 78 years young (he’ll be 79 in November) and he still enjoys performing as he did decades ago. Here’s another one to add to his fantastic catalogue of outstanding music!

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 – 4 of 6 

EASTSIDE KINGS CD IMAGEEastside Kings – Eastside Kings

Dialtone Records

13 songs – 44 minutes

Founded in 1999, Dialtone Records exists to record Austin’s black blues artists, many of whom have been under-recorded or even unrecorded. Dialtone founder, Eddie Stout, has a keen understanding and appreciation of the historical importance in capturing the sounds of such musicians. On Eastside Kings, Dialtone honours artists from the east side of Austin, an area that is being gentrified and modernised to such an extent that many of the bars and juke joints of yesteryear no longer exist – with the consequential impact on the musicians who used to play at such places nightly.

From the opening a capella introduction to “Let The Good Times Roll” to the fade out of the raucously distorted “Boogie Chillen”, Eastside Kings is an album that is simply bursting with life and energy as well as a wholly authentic sense of rhythm and groove. This is the music that one dreams of hearing when walking into a hot, dirty and sweaty bar in a city like Austin. It is powerful, dynamic and utterly uplifting, with a smart mix of well-known covers and some sparkling new songs.

The backing band features some seriously heavyweight players, with Stout himself on bass, Stevie Fulton on guitar, Nico Leophonte and Charles Shaw on drums, Nick Connolly on piano and Kaz Kazanoff on horns. The band supports a variety great singers, many of whom will not be known to a wider blues audience. Soul Man Sam lends his gravelly soul-soaked vocals to “Let The Good Times Roll” and “Cry To Me”, two of the better-known tracks on the CD. Bobby Gilmore sings on the Magic Sam-esque shuffle of “Tore Up From The Floor Up”, while blues shouter Mac McIntosh contributes the swinging “Kidney Stew” (the old Price Lloyd number) and Lou Donaldson’s “Whiskey Drinking Woman” with its still-hilarious couplet “She puts whiskey in her coffee. She puts whiskey in her tea. She puts whiskey in her whiskey, then she puts whiskey in me. “

Ray Reed sings his own upbeat shuffle “Whisper In Your Ear” and a low-down and dirty interpretation of “Boogie Chillen”. Jabo (“First Name Is Jabo”) and Birdlegg (“Evil In The Morning”) provide the vocals on one track each, while organist Peewee Calvin also contributes two of his songs, the funky “Goodlie Ooglie” and the 60s-soul of “Untold Story”. Fulton rounds out the album with two guitar-led instrumentals, the Meters-esque “Stevie C” and the swinging “Skirt Chaser”.

With superb production by Stout and engineering by Lars Goransson at Sounds Outrageous in Austin, this is about as close as you can get to hearing a top drawer blues band giving it a lash on a Saturday night without leaving your own home.

Eastside Kings is a belting album of authentic, traditional urban blues, featuring a number of players who for whatever reason have not achieved the level of fame their talent deserves. Although originally released in 2017, this album deserves a far wider audience than it has found so far.

And, if that isn’t enough to make you hunt down a copy, all proceeds from the sales of the CD will be donated to the Eastside Kings Foundation, an organisation dedicated to preserving and promoting the cultural heritage of African American blues, jazz and gospel.

Reviewer Rhys Williams lives in Cambridge, England, where he plays blues guitar when not holding down a day job as a technology lawyer or running around after his children. He is married to an American, and speaks the language fluently, if with an accent.


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 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 6 

VINCE AGWADA CD IMAGEVince Agwada – Light of Day

Rocketnoodle Music

www.vinceagwada.com

CD: 16 Songs, 78:00 Minutes

Styles: Guitar Monster Blues, Contemporary Electric Blues Rock, All Original Songs

Fun fact: Did you know that the words “monster” and “demonstrate” come from the same root? Monsters show us what we’re afraid of – hence the connection. Vince Agwada, who cut his teeth in the blues clubs of Chicago’s South Side, is the Godzilla of guitar monsters. No one can play faster, louder, and with more incendiary energy than he. His new album, Light of Day, might as well have been called Sunburn. The only thing listeners have to fear is that their delirious party mood might wane before the 78 minutes of this CD are over. Sixteen original songs run the gamut from celebratory (“Two Tons of Fun”) to heartwarming (“Friend”) to tongue-in-cheek (“Credit Card”). Vocally, Vince is clear and concise. Above all, his shredder sings, screams, rages, roars, and reveals what lyrics alone cannot. It’s his instrumental alter-ego.

On his website, Agwada reminisces about his formative years in the blues: “That was a magical period in my life; on any given night you might find the likes of Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Magic Slim, Son Seals, Otis Rush, Little Milton, Hubert Sumlin, Sammy Lawhorn, Lefty Dizz and just a slew of other greats all in the same room, drinking, playing cards, taking turns on stage; it was an incredible time for me, and I learned more about music from these giants than any college ever could have taught me. As I got better, I eventually wound up having the privilege of being in the house bands of both Theresa’s and the Checkerboard simultaneously—not many people living today can say that!”

Joining Vince (guitar, bass, vocals) are drummers/percussionists Brian Jones, Brady Williams, Steven Gillis, Billy Blaylock, Kwame Steve Cobb, Clyde Davis, and Terence Higgins. On bass are Andre Howard, Orlando Wright, John C. Hall Jr., Bill Dickens, and Jim Spears. On keyboards, piano and organ are Roosevelt Purifoy, Tim Gant, Joe Munroe, and Lionel Haas. Terri Lane and Neda Homayoon provide background vocals. The Game Changer Horns and sax soloist Edwin Daugherty round out the list of stellar co-musicians.

The following song is one to which anyone who’s ever used a certain piece of plastic can relate.

Track 14: “Credit Card” – With a terrific bassline by Vince and crisp drums by Steven Gillis, this tale is a familiar one. When “two fine women with uptown taste” get a hold of our narrator, so does the instrument of his demise. At the end, he issues a warning to anyone and everyone who will listen: “Minimum payments, just take your time. You’ll still be paying when you’re ninety-nine. Slave to the money, you sure can bet – you’ll never get ahead once the hook gets set.”

Other blues artists play the guitar. Vince Agwada IS the guitar on Light of Day!

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 39 year old female Blues fan. She brings the perspective of a younger blues fan to reviews. A child of 1980s music, she was strongly influenced by her father’s blues music collection.


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 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 6 

leroy Jodie Pierson cd imageLeroy Jodie Pierson – Rusty Nail

Omnivore Recordings

www.omnivorerecordings.com

20 songs – 78 minutes

Outside of his home base in St Louis, Leroy Jodie Pierson has managed to successfully fly under the radar of many blues fans for several decades now, which is an absolute travesty given his talents. A co-founder of the blues and reggae label, Nighthawk Records in the 1970s, he has acted as a producer, photographer, liner note writer, scholar and educator. He is also one of the finest country blues artists you will ever hear.

Rusty Nail was originally released in 1988 on Nighthawk and has now been reissued by Omnivore Recordings(which has been steadily reissuing the entire Nighthawk catalogue since 2017). Produced by Pierson and Cheryl Pawelski, the reissue has 10 previously unreleased bonus tracks, making this one of the more essential purchases of 2019.

The original album featured a three piece band comprising Pierson on vocals and guitar, Russ Horneyer on bass and backing vocals and Geoff Seitz on drums, violin and backing vocals. Heavily influenced by the likes of Henry Townsend, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Johnny Shines and Son House, the album was notable for a series raw yet deeply emotional performances (McDowell’s “Write Me A Few Of Your Lines” is worth the price of admission by itself). Mixing three Pierson originals with covers of some well-known standards such as “Roll And Tumble”, “Little Boy Blue”, “Highway 61” and “Catfish Blues”, the band’s performances respect the original masters without ever becoming pastiches or slavish copies. Pierson is a fine singer, but an absolutely outstanding guitar player, finger-picking in a variety of country blues styles and displaying astonishing virtuosity with his slide playing. Alternating between his vintage Style-O National steel guitar or his modern National Resolectric, Pierson successfully manages to be both technically outstanding and emotionally compelling. Horneyer and Seitz provide dynamic support throughout, particularly on songs like “Catfish Blues” where their clever rhythmic variations add an extra layer of interest.

The 10 bonus tracks feature Pierson on vocals and guitar with Craig Spellmeyer or Benet Schaeffer on drums, Ken MacSwan on guitar, Dominic Schaeffer on saxophone, and Tracy Wynkoop and Horneyer on bass and follow a similar approach to the original album with a couple of Pierson originals sitting comfortably next to covers of the likes of John Estes and Robert Nighthawk. Some of the covers are more traditionally associated with electric covers but here are given the modernized-country-blues treatment. Eddie Cochran’s “Twenty Flight Rock” is played with joyous abandon, while Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Don’t Start Me To Talking” is also played at quite a clip. Bob Shad’s “Junco Partner” oozes with the rhythms of New Orleans with an eyebrow-raising Tex-Mex middle eight. Pierson’s own “Far And Wide” is a raucous electric rock’n’roll workout while Hank Williams’ “You’re Gonna Change (Or I’m Gonna Leave)” is barely recognizable, being re-envisaged as a modern grinder. “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” really benefits from Pierson’s repetitive slide lick.

Rusty Nail has not dated over the last 30 years and the welcome addition of the bonus tracks makes this an even more attractive purchase. If you like slide guitar and country blues, you owe it to yourself to check out Rusty Nail. There is some magical stuff on here.

Reviewer Rhys Williams lives in Cambridge, England, where he plays blues guitar when not holding down a day job as a technology lawyer or running around after his children. He is married to an American, and speaks the language fluently, if with an accent.


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 Blues Society News 


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River City Blues Society – Peoria, IL

Saturday September 7, 2019 the RCBS will host a membership drive ‘appreciation’ concert featuring acclaimed Guitarist / Vocalist / Songwriter Sean Chambers LIVE at BG Saloon in Bartonville, IL. Opening act: Chris Stevens & Greg Weinberg. Music starts at 5:00 p.m.

Sacramento Blues Society – Sacramento, CA

The Sacramento Blues Society is proud to announce the 2019 Inductees to the Sacramento Blues Society Hall of Fame are: Kenny Marchese, Leo Bootes, Marty Deradoorian, Robert Nakashima and from our Gone but Not Forgotten Gary “Walin” Black. Join us at Harlow’s, 2708 J Street, Sacramento, on September 29th from 1:00 – 5:00 for the Induction Ceremony and awesome entertainment by 2016 SBS Hall of Fame Inductee Marcel Smith w/Bob Jones & The Chosen Few. Tickets $15 for SBS Members, $20 for Non-members. HOF All-Star Showcase after the Ceremony at the nationally known Torch Club, 904 15th St., Sacramento, from 6-8 pm. For additional information, please contact www.sacblues.com

Multiple System Atrophy Coalition – Peoria, IL

My wife was a blues fan. Not an artist, but pretty good with an iTunes mix. It was blues music that helped her battle multiple system atrophy (MSA.

MSA, nicknamed “Parkinson’s on steroids” by a patient and “the Beast” by another, is rare, sporadic and terminal within 7-10 years from onset. During her MSA journey she and her husband Larry (Doc) Kellerman brainstormed how to best raise awareness. They decided to to “recruit” blues artists, fans, supporters and college basketball teams and fans to the cause.

This year the Beat MSA! Event is October 3rd, 5:30 – 9:30 pm at the Monarch Music Hall in Peoria, IL. Visit www.msabgon.org to learn more, make a donation or bid on a silent auction item donated by blues artists, college basketball teams and businesses. All proceeds benefit the Multiple System Atrophy Coalition. This is the third year of the event. Over 70 blues artists and untold blues fans have contributed to beating this disease. We will Beat MSA! with your help. Please join us.

Crossroads Blues Society – Rockford, IL

The monthly shows at the Hope and Anchor in Loves Park continue $5 cover, 8 to 11:30 PM: 9/14/19 Blues Blast Awards Post Event, 10/12/18 The Jimmys

Crossroads Blues Festival is Saturday, August 24th at Lyran Park, Rockford – Blues Disciples, Chris O’Leary Band, Westside Andy with Reverend Raven and the Chain Smoking Altar Boys, 6 PM: Nick Moss Band with Dennis Gruenling, John Primer, Joe Filisko harp workshop, Wheatbread Johnson, Justin “Boots” Gates and our own Rick Hein and Bill Graw!

The Illinois Central Blues Club – Springfield, IL

The Illinois Central Blues Club has announced the line-up of talent for Blue Monday live performances and other shows held at the Alamo, 115 North Fifth, Springfield, IL from 7:00pm to 11:00pm. Additional information on any performer listed below is available upon request. Aug 26 – Chris O’Leary Band, Sept 2 – Paul Bonn and the Bluesmen, Sept 9 – Joe Tenuto Band, Sept 16 – Reverend Raven & the Chain Smokin’ Alter Boys w/ Westside Andy, Sept 23 – Doug Deming & The Jewel Tones.

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. November 6 – Mike Morgan & The Crawl – Kankakee Valley Boat Club. More Info at: http://www.facebook.com/friendsoftheblues.


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

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