Issue 13-35 August 29, 2019

Magazine cover photo

Cover photo © 2019 Mel Peters


 In This Issue 

Tee Watts has our feature interview with Lady Bianca. We have 6 Blues reviews for you this week including a new book by Vincent Abbate plus new music from Heather Newman Band, John Gindick, Fruteland Jackson, Josh Hyde and Howard “Guitar” Luedtke.

Our featured video of the week is Marquise Knox.

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


 From The Editor’s Desk 

Hey Blues Fans,

Our friends at the Peoria Blues & Heritage Music Festival in Peoria, IL are putting on a great show this weekend and Blues Blast Magazine will be there covering all the fun.

On Friday they feature Rockin’ Billy and the Rhythm Riot, Ronnie Baker Brooks, JGB featuring Melvin Seals and John Kadlrcik, Here Come The Mummies and more! On Saturday they feature Kilborn Alley Blues Band, Matthew Curry, Tommy Castro & The Pain Killers, Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band and much more!

For tickets and info visit https://peoriabluesandheritagefestival.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


 Blues Wanderings 

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Had a great time at the Crossroads Blues Fest last Saturday. It was billed as a Harp extravaganza and it was. We heard some amazing harp playing by some of the best in the business including Steve Bell, Chris O’leary, Dennis Gruenling and Westside Andy Linderman. We will have more photos from the Crossroads Blues Fest in an upcoming issue.


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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 – Marquise Knox 

 

This video is Marquise Knox performing “It’s Not Right” Live at KDHX 8/5/2018.

Marquise Knox is performing at the Farmington Fall Festival on Saturday, September 21, 2019.

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


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 Featured Interview – Lady Bianca 

lady bianca photo 1One of the first times I met Lady Bianca was at the Mystic Theatre in Petaluma, California. She was sharing the bill with the late great New Orleans Jazz and Blues piano stylist Henry Butler. Big Easy tradition juxtaposed against West Coast Blues.

Somehow I’d been hired by the agent who booked the gig to meet and establish a rapport with Mr. Butler as well as escort Lady Bianca to the stage. Fashionista that she is, Bianca was sporting some thigh-high platform soled boots. Navigating the climb to the stage was tricky. Once atop the summit, both players rocked the joint.

Career-wise though, Bianca is yet climbing. Despite having a peerless resume, the correct level of success has thus far eluded her. I had a long chat with her on her birthday 8/8/19. She ruminated and reminisced about the ups and downs of her stellar career

“I’m still working toward future heights. I’ve got some more to do.”

Lady Bianca was born in Kansas City and her family migrated to San Francisco when she was four, right about the time she started playing the piano. Early on, the family didn’t go to church per se.

“We didn’t go to church. We stayed home and had church in the house. My dad loved Ray Charles and would put Gospel lyrics to Ray Charles songs cause my mother would be listening. We would listen to all the Gospel inflected artists; Aretha Franklin, Mavis Staples, The Mighty Clouds of Joy, Dorothy Norwood, Dorothy Love Coates & The Original Gospel Harmonettes and others. We went to many of their concerts. I met Mavis Staples at a concert and she was just normal people. I told her when I grow up I’m gonna be singing just like that. I liked the whole show business aspect. The Mighty Clouds had on different color suits and their hair all pressed up. I started playing by ear at the age of four.”

“I was about four when we moved to San Francisco. My mother met my stepdad here. He was a guitar player. We had a baby grand piano in the house, which I still have. I went to Lincoln High and won a scholarship to the Conservatory of Music. They tried to make me read music at the Conservatory and I didn’t want to. I was very outspoken and told them that Bach and Beethoven were the Jazz musicians of their time. I would change the time signature on Bach and Beethoven compositions and the Conservatory didn’t like that because it did sound like Jazz when I did that. They only had one diva at the school and she was blonde and blue-eyed. I didn’t like the fact that despite my operatic training, there was no room for me so I left after three and a half years.”

“When I was seventeen, I met the Jazz and Blues musician Quinn Harris who gave me the name Lady Bianca. We made an album called All In The Soul by Quinn Harris & the Masterminds. ( https://www.discogs.com/Quinn-Harris-Masterminds-All-In-The-Soul/release/2535029.

Quinn Harris said, ‘What is your stage name?’ I said, ‘I don’t know, I’m just Bianca. He said, ‘You’re so damn prissy and proper and such a lady. That’s what I’m gonna call you, ‘Lady Bianca.’

“So on that first album, my voice was so operatic. I can’t believe I sang like that. My range was pretty wide then. Now I’m on the other end. I’ve also done a track that was produced by Lamont Dozier which was a duet with the late James Ingram: https://tidal.com/browse/artist/4323284 They took my name off of it upon release. His wife didn’t appreciate me.”

Bianca’s stock rose several notches with her next career moves. She briefly worked the legendary Hungry i on Broadway in San Francisco with Eugene Blacknell before joining the cast of Jon Hendrick’s (Lambert, Hendricks & Ross) Evolution Of The Blues. This is how she remembers it

lady bianca photo 2“Well, there was Jon Hendricks Evolution Of The Blues in which I played Billie Holiday on Broadway in San Francisco for a couple of years. Jon Hendricks was a genius and my teacher. He told me how to play Billie Holiday and I got her down pat. Before that, I was at the Hungry i with Eugene Blacknell. I also sang with Chester Thompson who became Santana’s keyboardist. I was way underage and had just left my studies at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. I worked with Sylvester too, before Two Tons of Fun. He taught me a lot about hair and stage clothes. We started recording and he left me behind after we had a falling out about something. I don’t remember what. Then he got Two Tons Of Fun. He did a song of mine that I never got paid for. When I told him about it he said to me, ‘I’ll see to it that you never work in this town again.’

“It was at that point that I joined Sly. Dawn Silva suggested that I go up to Novato and talk to him. Sly was going through transitions when I worked with him. I think I was on two albums. I was kinda on the other end of things that were happening in his career. But I enjoyed it because I always wanted to work with him ever since we both lived in the Ingleside district in San Francisco. I think I was star struck when I first saw him cuz he was the first Black Rocker I had ever seen and I wanted to do Rock too. I wanted to get in on the Rock scene.”

“I was able to go on the road with him a little bit. We didn’t travel that much. I did a lot of studio work. I learned a lot about the music hanging with him. He said, ‘You have a gift with what you can do. If things sound good on Sunday, they sound good every day.’ Sly was on the other side of his career by then and I ended up leaving because of petty squabbles. Shortly thereafter I got a call to audition with Zappa. I don’t know where the phone call came from but the voice on the other end said, ‘This is Intercontinental Absurdities and Frank Zappa would like to have Bianca come down to audition for us. Now, I didn’t know who Frank Zappa was at the time but it sounded legit, so I went and got the gig. Ended up staying a year and a half between 1975 and 1976.”

“Right as I started with Zappa another producer called me with an offer to lay a track for Lee Oskar. So, I did a live track for Lee Oskar and made the mistake of showing the producer an unprotected song of mine, because I didn’t know about publishing then, and it ended up in the producer’s publishing company. It was his song then. That’s why today, I always stress to young artists, if you write something, don’t be so glad that your song gets exposure without having your writing and publishing in place, so you at least get a piece of it. I didn’t know anything about that at that time. I hadn’t met Stanley Lippit yet. He got me together with that later in my career.”

“While I was with Zappa he gave m a lot of business sense and I admired him for that. He also paid top money. My vocals also got a lot of attention. But he eventually started making demands of me that weren’t required of the male musicians. Tacky, abusive stuff. He wanted to wrap me in toilet paper and put his guitar between my legs. There was no #Me Too movement then. I definitely felt harassed as a female. I felt like my voice and piano was enough.”

“Couldn’t talk about it then. If I had been smarter, I probably should’ve talked openly about it then. But he wasn’t going to sleep with me even though that’s what Rockers did. I didn’t want my children growing up and having to hear that was what I did to get over. I had just left church and then left Sly. I wasn’t used to being degraded and shit like that. Not sure I should be talking about it now. So that’s part of why I ended up not continuing to work for Zappa. There was also pressure from another member of the band as well as pressure from outside the band. That’s all I’ll say about that. It really broke my heart because the day after I left they did Saturday night Live.”

lady bianca photo 3“I went home to the Bay Area and gigged locally for a while, even getting some session work in with Merle Haggard. I did a recording with him back in the late ’70s. I really, really loved it. I was pregnant at the time with my son, Beethoven. I’d established a great professional relationship with Merle Haggard, so I asked my girlfriend to come to help out on the recording. We were doing this and I wasn’t aware that she was a member of AFTRA. She reported me for working with Merle and he consequently had to pay all these extra fees. Apparently part of it was professional jealousy as she thought she should get more money than me. Before all that funkiness went down, Merle had said to contact him after I had my baby and he would bring me out on the road with him. Of course, the damage was done then and when I did call him, he wouldn’t take or return my calls. I loved Merle Haggard.”

While Bianca paused, I asked, “How did the Haggard gig come about?”

She responded, “I’m not really sure. I think somebody recommended me. Back in those days, if you were a good background singer, all the Rockers would say, ‘Use her, she’ll be okay.’ And then they would call you. My girlfriend was an up and coming Gospel singer at the time. She was my children’s Godmother. I don’t want to mention her name. But she knows who she is when we say that!”

“I recorded with Taj Mahal too. The name of the album was Taj Mahal and the International Rhythm Band, Live & Direct. We did Jorge Ben and other tracks. My son Oshman was very young. The session was such that, of course, if you make noise, you have to start over. Oshman’s dad was there and I asked him if he would watch Oshman while I go do this thing. He said, ‘I don’t want to watch Oshman.’ So I had to take Oshman in there with me. Oshman was screamin’ and hollerin’ on the song, runnin’ through the place and wouldn’t sit still. I think you can hear him on the track. He was just bad, okay? Somehow, I got his dad to take him outside and hold his hand while I finished it. But he didn’t wanna do it. It was recorded direct to disc in Mill Valley I think, in a barn someplace. I think they took a picture of Oshman for the album. That was in 1979.”

Another famous recording artist Bianca worked with extensively is Van Morrison. She described how that association came about.

“I was a gig in San Rafael, hangin’ out. Pee Wee Ellis, of the James Brown band was there. By that time he was playing with Van Morrison. He said to me, ‘Hey girl, you’re pretty good. You need to come over and audition.’ So I went over. Now Van Morrison is the kind of guy who doesn’t rehearse you with background parts. You pick your background parts, which I did, and you apply them spontaneously. He never does the same thing twice and expects you to come up with something good all the time. So I was like, the background arranger. Another girl who was there before me didn’t like that but we ended up very good friends. We did a lot of recording and we toured. That was in 1979 and I stayed with him on and off for five years. I went back to Morrison briefly in 2009 but it didn’t work out. I had grown too much. I did a gig with him at Madison Square Garden where I sang a really powerful version of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb”. So powerful in fact that I was asked not to sing it again.”

The man Lady Bianca credits with firmly entrenching her position as a great artist is her partner Stanley Lippett. Lippett is a singer/songwriter with a long and varied career. He toured with the great Sam Cooke for four years with a package that included Little Esther, Johnny Thunder and Jerry Butler. He also appeared on bills with the Temptations, Shorty Long, Aaron Neville and The Marvelettes.

lady bianca photo 4Lippett and Bianca formed a record label, Magic-O Records and a publishing/production company in 1984 called StayFree Music Publishing. Stanley writes the lyrics and Bianca writes the music. Though independent, their businesses allow them the flexibility of creative partnerships with other entities. Consequently, their songs have appeared on the Suspex label, Telarc Records and Rooster Blues label. Through their collaborations, Lady Bianca and Stanley Lippett have been nominated for a Grammy three times. In 2007, they were inducted into the West Coast Blues Society Hall of Fame. Bianca shed some light on their association.

“Stanley has been a very big catalyst for me. The funny thing is had it been up to Marvin Holmes, we wouldn’t have met. I was working with Marvin and his band, the Uptights. We were doing a nightly radio broadcast from Ivey’s in Jack London Square. Stanley heard me sing and thought I was the girl that could do his music. So he went down to the club at 2 am to meet me but I was already gone. He asked Marvin for my name and number but Marvin wouldn’t give it to him.”

“But I did start seeing Stanley around from time to time and I asked another musician who that was.”

‘Aww, that’s Stanley Lippett. He’s a singer/songwriter. But you don’t wanna be bothered with him. All the girls think he’s ugly.’

“But in my mind, I got this feeling about him, which was unusual and then I didn’t see him for a while. The next time I saw him, I was auditioning for Dreamgirls at the Orpheum Theatre and I saw him getting into a limo with his hair all wild. I introduced myself to him but he was a little impatient with me as he was on his way to a session. He had papers everywhere and was all out of whack like a mad professor. So I invited him to my birthday party and the rest is history. We finally got married in 2000. Through our record label, we have released eight albums and are working on our ninth.”

I can’t let Lady Bianca get away without describing her favorite gear.

“I liked Roland for a while but now I like the Yamaha DX 660. It’s heavy as a coffin though. My band members say, ‘Why don’t you get a lighter piano?’ But she sounds so good though. I just got her a year ago.”

We end our phone session by asking her to describe the high points in her career.

“I would say meeting and working with John Lee Hooker, Willie Dixon and Koko Taylor. I remember back when Etta James was alive, I got called up onstage at the Oakland auditorium. Etta was in the wings. Later that night, Etta’s guitarist Bobby Murray told me that Etta said that girl can sho’ sang!

Just hanging in the circles I’ve hung in, forming and developing my pie-anna skills and becoming who I am now. Everything that happened to me is for a reason. Nothing has been a failure. There have been lessons to be learned in everything I’ve done. It’s all a gift from God, a seed to make you grow.”

For more information on Lady Bianca, visit www.ladybianca.com.

CyberSoulMan Tee Watts is the former music director at KPFZ 88.1 fm in Lakeport, California. He is currently co-writing the memoirs of Lester Chambers of the Chambers Brothers.


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 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 6 

heather newman cd imageHeather Newman Band – Rise From the Flames

VizzTone Records

www.heathernewmanband.com

CD: 13 songs, 54:47 minutes

There has been a resurgence of bands with female lead singers. For a good period of time, with the exception of some “Girl Bands”, we had the Wilson sisters in Heart and Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac (please forgive for omission of any other girl singers).

Heather Newman is leading the comeback of females leading a band. With her solid instrumentalists behind her they make a good choice in their incarnation of the Blues. From the stand point of musicians this group is capable of holding their ground with the best of them. Newman plays a mean bass and along with drummer Adam Watson they provide feel to their sound. Keith Ladd does some outstanding guitar word while Ryan Matthew handles keyboards, backing vocals and percussion.

Rise From the Flames is the second album from the Heather Newman Band. Their first effort Burn Me Alive garnered a pair of Blues Blast Music Awards: Best New Artist Debut Album and Sean Costello Rising Star Award. Ms. Newman is nominated by the Blues Foundation for the Blues Music Award for Best Emerging Artist.

As I listened to Rise From the Flames it was difficult to call the tracts as straight Blues. There is a feeling of soul music in some tunes while others get a little funky and mix in a couple of jazzy songs (all with blues roots). Many of the songs are as warm and spicy as the Bar-B-Que in Kansas City that the band now calls home.

As accomplished as the band is musicians, Heather Newman’s vocal shine brightest. There are a couple of songs that bring me thoughts of Janis Joplin. She shows a wide range and the ability to sing several song styles.

This new album was written by the band. The connection between the songs is that they are Heather’s feelings and emotions of the end to a relationship. Songs help her with all she went through coming out of a strong relationship and the realizations of her great self-worth.

Going through the songs on the album here my thoughts on what I heard. The opening tract “Coming for You” has a driving bass line from Heather leads to the first listen to her voice. That was a very enjoyable experience listening to her soulful sound. As the album progresses, you will hear other voice styles. Keith Ladd has a guitar solo in the opener that jazzy then adds some funk.

On “Zakary” the horns from Michael LeFever on sax and Teddy Krulewich on trumpet add a good soul sound. “She Sure Looks A lot Like Me” is a slow blues number with outstanding vocals from Ms. Newman. “You Mean to Tell Me” is a jazzy song with feeling using blues lyrics.

The title track “Rise From the Flames” has a southern Texas feel that builds to Keith Ladd’s outstanding guitar solo then slows back down to the end. Heather’s bass comes through strong on “Water and Wine”. It is a slow blues song with a good guitar solo. “Lonely on Beale” is another jazzy blues song. If you have been on Beale Street in Memphis without your significant other you will enjoy this tune.

“Take it Slow” has more “Pop” sound than any others on the disc. Ryan Matthew’s piano solo is a top notch ivory tickling. The horns again give us the sound of soul in “Coming Home” with a tinge of late 60’s funky groove. The album ends with “What Goes Around” which is a laid back jazz song.

Overall it was an enjoyable listen. The band is tight and work well together. Heather Newman’s voice is a joy to hear. It is obvious she is singing from heart and from her soul.

Reviewer Bob Swofford is a retired educator and now is a man of leisure. He has been part of Delta State University’s International Blues Scholars program and a presenter at their annual conference. A product of the sixties he found the blues from the bands of the British invasion. The rest is study and history.


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 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 6 

john gindick cd imageJon Gindick – Love at the All Night Café

Self-Produced

https://jongindickband.com

CD: 12 Songs, 50:15 Minutes

Styles: Harmonica Blues, All Original Songs

Educator and researcher Alfie Kohn recently had an article published in the New York Times entitled, “Can Everyone Be Excellent?” It’s an interesting question that raises another one: Excellent at what, exactly? In the case of students at school, this means getting A’s. In the case of “America’s Harmonica Laureate,” it means playing harp worthy of the highest honors. This author of the world’s best-selling harmonica instruction books and leader of Blues Harmonica Jam Camp has released his sophomore album, Love at the All Night Café. Two aspects of blues music in which Jon excels are harp (obviously) and songwriting (not-so-obviously). The area that doesn’t get an “A” is vocals. Gindick has a conversational style, and yours truly means that in a literal sense. Nevertheless, the twelve original tunes he presents make the grade.

On his website, Jon comments, “I’ve been playing harp, guitar, singing and songwriting for 50 years…I love the poetry of the perfect melody meeting the perfect words and the perfect chords and groove. A lot of this has to do with my job as an advertising copywriter, creating and writing instructional harp books, and also my lifetime exploring language as a wannabe novelist. It has to do with my boyhood fascination with early Dylan, the Beatles, Van Morrison, Tom Waits and the primacy of great lyrics and interesting chord progressions.”

Joining Gindick (harmonicas, guitar, vocals) is Ralph Carter on bass guitar, keyboards and percussion, classical guitar, cigar box guitar, background vocals, and all aspects of recording and production. Franck Goldwasser also stars on electric and acoustic guitars, as does Pete Gallagher on drums and background vocals.

The album’s opening track is killer, earning top marks in instrumentation and catchiness.

Track 01: “I Was Born to Wail” – Jon pays homage to his heroes in this finger-snapping ditty, adding autobiographical details here and there. Mostly, he lets his instrument of choice do the talking. He makes it tell a story of victory and celebration, putting listeners in a party mood right from the get-go. The hidden message is that talents are both innate and developed with hard work. The monologue in the middle describes “juke-joint heaven” with masters on the other side.

Excellence comes in many forms, and Jon Gindick’s harmonica skills earn a stratospheric A+!

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 – 3 of 6 

vincent abbate book cover imageVincent Abbate – Who Is Blues Vol. 1 – Doug MacLeod

Who Is Blues – The Beating Heart Behind The Music

www.whoisblues.com

143 pages

One of the finest acoustic blues artists working today, Doug MacLeod is a captivating singer and guitarist with numerous Blues Blast and Blues Music Awards to his credit. MacLeod is also a masterful storyteller, a fact that is borne out as you read this biography from noted blues journalist Vincent Abbate, who’s first encounter with MacLeod and his music triggered an emotional response of life-altering proportions. Abbate’s comments, along with a one page foreword from Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Jorma Kaukonen, give readers a hint of the musical magic and the intense reactions to life’s experiences that are revealed in MacLeod’s work.

Once Abbate turns the narrative over to his subject, the stories flow with the ease and grace that are hallmarks for MacLeod’s live performances. Part of the book deals with his life as he struggled to overcome the stigma of stuttering. He bravely discusses long-repressed memories of abuse, the effects of which lead to a number of poor life-choices, and, ultimately, his attempts to deal with the abuse for his own well-being as well as that of his own family, as testified to in the title track of his award-winning album, Break The Chain. The chronicle also touches on his days of living dangerously while serving in the U.S. Navy, a tenure that he laughingly relates never included actually being on water.

The rest of the tale involves MacLeod relating the details of his career. During his Navy days, he was fortunate to meet a local guitar player, Ernest Banks, who started his musical education on becoming a more accomplished guitar player, but also teaching some hard-won lessons, like always being honest with your music, lessons that have served MacLeod well over the years. Eventually ending up in California, he formed his own band that backed up stars of that era like George “Harmonica” Smith and guitarist Pee Wee Crayton. While these men and others schooled MacLeod on playing blues music properly, more importantly they became life-long friends, blessing him with wisdom and humor that dramatically changed his approach to dealing with life and his own music. He also touches on his songwriting, providing several recollections about his songs that have been covered by other artists, with one involving Albert King being particularly memorable.

The book also includes eight pages of black & white photos from different periods of MacLeod’s life, and a thirteen page interview that the conclusion that Abbate conducted with MacLeod in 2002 in Berlin, published for the first time. Rather than taking the standard approach, Abbate structures the book to read like a conversation between friends, which allows MacLeod’s natural story telling abilities to shine brightly. Whether you are already a fan or hearing about him for the first time, reading this book will certainly deepen your appreciation for the artistry of Doug MacLeod.

Reviewer Mark Thompson lives in Florida, where he is enjoying the sun and retirement. He is the past 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 – 4 of 6 

fruteland Jackson cd imageFruteland Jackson – Good As Your Last Dollar

Electro-Fi Records– 2019

www.fruteland.com

12 tracks; 50 minutes

Fruteland Jackson has been on the scene for over thirty years and is a writer and educator (a significant contributor to Blues In The Schools programs), as well as a working musician. He has played with many of the great acoustic musicians, mostly sadly no longer with us: Honeyboy Edwards, Homesick James and Henry Townsend, to name just three and, in recent times, is a cancer survivor. Indeed, this is his first release for some time and it is a welcome return. Although based in Chicago, Fruteland went to Toronto to record this album, aided by a solid cast of Canadian players, many regular contributors to Electro-Fi recordings: Jack De Keyser is on guitar, Harrison Kennedy harp and backing vocals, Bucky Berger drums and percussion and Alec Fraser bass; Julian Fauth adds occasional piano. Alec also produced the disc which has crystal clear sound in which you can hear every instrumental nuance. Fruteland wrote half the material, two being reworkings of older songs, with three ‘Traditional’ songs and covers of Johnny Shines, Robert Johnson and Johnny Nicholas.

We open with Johnny Shines’ “Two Steps To Hell”, a real ‘down on your luck’ blues with tales of hard times and “hellhounds on my tail”. The traditional “When Death Comes Creepin’ In” does little to lighten the mood, despite the uptempo accompaniment of mandolin, piano and guitar and Harrison’s excellent backing vocals which act as a counterpoint to Fruteland’s lead. Fruteland’s “Good As Your Last Dollar” is a classic song for a period of economic depression, a time when a man’s word no longer has value, only hard cash: “Cash in hand beats a payment plan and you’ll never fall behind”. Fruteland gives “Careless Love” a Delta makeover with Harrison’s spiky low-end harp buzz beneath the jagged piano and mandolin before Fruteland revisits a song he first released back in 1995, “All The Dad I Had”, in which Fruteland’s father is revealed as a guy who never praised his son’s achievements, but you have to make the best of what you have in life.

Julian’s stately piano leads us into the excellent spoken-word piece “How’s It Going?”, as Fruteland details all his problems, presumably in answer to the question, another song about the economic downturn and its consequences for the ordinary guy. The pace picks up with the full band present on “All Pain, No Gain”, though the theme of “the great depression” is again the core element of the lyrics. The traditional “Just Another Day” is beautifully played with Harrison’s counterpoint vocals again a key ingredient, giving an appropriately gospel feel to the song. The jaunty guitar intro to “Damaged Goods” belies another dark song, this time about failing relationships and their effect on children involved.

The Stones’ version of “Love In Vain” is probably the best known cover of the song but Fruteland returns it to its Robert Johnson roots in a quiet arrangement, Fruteland’s guitar and Harrison’s harp in deep blues conversation. Johnny Nicholas’ “Peace In Hell” is the confession of a condemned man who realizes he has made a mess of this life, so bring on his inevitable journey down below: “I’ll be glad to get to Hell where I can lay by the fire and rest”. To close out the album Fruteland gives us an unaccompanied work song “Blues 2.0”. Although it’s a re-release (‘by popular request’) it fits well with the theme of most of the album here.

This is a fine acoustic album, albeit not the most lyrically cheerful! In the sleeve notes Fruteland links all the songs into one brilliant narrative and anyone who enjoys well-crafted acoustic blues is strongly recommended to pick up the album and admire those notes.

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 – 5 of 6 

josh hyde cd imageJosh Hyde – Into The Soul

JHR Records

11 songs – 36 minutes

www.joshhyde.com

John Hyde grew up in Louisiana, deeply influenced by blues, jazz and zydeco, and all that comes through loud and clear on this tasty, laid-back CD, which is most easily described as blues-funk.

This is the second full-length album produced by the Baton Rouge native. A silky smooth vocalist, guitarist and songwriter, he penned his first tune at age 11 and spent his teen years playing at Tabby Thomas’ legendary Blues Box, where he rubbed shoulders with the Neal family, Silas Hogan and Tabby himself.

He’s heavily influenced as a slide guitarist by Sonny Landreth, who made a guest appearance on Josh’s 2017 debut album, The Call Of The Night, which was rooted firmly in the sounds of his Cajun homeland.

Despite being a relatively young man in blues terms, Hyde’s an old soul. He prefers laying down his music on analog equipment, believing that it produces a sound that’s more “human and imperfect” than what you get on modern, digital recordings. He and producer Joe V. McMahan purchased a 24-track analog formerly used to record Robert Plant and captured Into The Soul direct to reel-to-reel tape, and the difference is noticeable even to the untrained ear.

Hyde penned all of the material here and handles guitar and vocals throughout. He’s backed by McMahan on guitar and virbraphone, Jimmy Wallace (Joe Walsh) on keys and Chris Lippincott on pedal steel with drummer Derrek Phillips (Seth Walker and Robben Ford) and bassist Ron Eoff holding down the bottom.

“Rocking Chair” swings from the jump atop a funky hook laid down by Wallace as Hyde urges a lady to join him for a ride in the vehicle of the title, noting that he doesn’t have money to buy her diamonds, but assures her he can show her one good time. “Smile,” a medium-fast shuffle, puts an upbeat spin on telling his woman he’s getting ready to leave. Hyde’s guitar runs are brief, but tasty.

Despite the separation, however, Josh apparently still has feelings, as exhibited in the tender ballad “For You I Ache.” The emotions continue in “Lover’s Curse,” a jazzy, stop-time shuffle, but take a positive turn in “The Edge Of Love,” a Cajun accented rocker that uses what only can be described as nursery rhyme lyrics to proclaim the singer’s on the verge of another romance.

It’s back to regret, however, for “Can’t Let Go,” in which Hyde reexamines past mistakes after crossing paths with his ex in a store. The heartbreak continues with “The Key,” which first finds a tearful Josh having just seen his lady for what was the final time and still hopeful that love can bring them back together again, and then, years later, shedding more tears because of their reunio

n.

“Down On Bourbon Street” follows. It’s a sweet remembrance of his first encounter with a blue-eyed beauty and the tender affair that followed. The scene shifts to Baton Rouge in “All You Need Is Soul.” Hyde refers to it as “catfish town” as he describes Hogan and the sounds of blues, Dixieland and jazz emanating from every side street corners. Another look at love – in this case, part heaven and part hell – follows in “Call My Name” before the album comes to a close with the ballad “Reasons Why” and Hyde wondering why his lady said goodbye.

Fear not, however, the upbeat arrangements on this one more than compensate for the pain contained in the lyrics. Available from most major retailers, Into The Soul is rock-solid contemporary music from an artist worth watching.

Blues Blast Magazine Senior Writer Marty Gunther has lived a blessed life. Now based out of Charlotte, N.C., his first experience with live music came at the feet of the first generation of blues legends at the Newport Folk Festivals in the 1960s. A former member of the Chicago blues community, he’s a professional journalist and blues harmonica player who co-founded the Nucklebusters, one of the hardest working bands in South Florida.


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 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 6 

howard luedtke cd imageHoward “Guitar” Luedtke – Meet Me In Muscle Shoals

False Dog Records HGL52442

12 songs – 58 minutes

www.howardluedtke.com

Based out of northwestern Wisconsin, where he’s been a regional favorite for decades, Howard “Guitar” Luedtke is a self-described “old hippie” who plays electric blues the way most old-school fans want it to be: clean, crisp, full of tone and without the over-the-top distortion and fretwork that dominate the airwaves today.

This disc is a long awaited follow-up to his 2016 release, Goin’ Down To Alabama, which fulfilled a childhood dream in which he traded likes with Travis Wammack, whose instrumental, “Scratchy,” was charting around the time Howard received his first guitar.

Not only did Luedtke lay down slide tracks with Wammack, who’s known as “The Fastest Guitar Player In The South,” but he also did it in Muscle Shoals, Ala., the tiny town on the banks of the Tennessee River that’s been producing gold records for everyone from Bob Dylan and Lynyrd Skynyrd to Duane Allman, Paul Simon and the Rolling Stones since the ‘60s.

Wammack rejoined Luedtke for this one and serves as co-producer. Despite being an album of covers, like the first disc, the music remains fresh both because of Howard’s skills on his Gibson and because of the original arrangements he’s created.

Splitting his time between electric, resonator, lap steel and slide, Luedke’s backed by a skin-tight band that includes Eric Hughes (Barbara Blue, Mick Kolassa) on harp, sharing duties with Wammack, who also provides six-string along with Jan Gullett. Jim Whitehead delivers keys, and “Bad” Brad Guin (Sammy Kershaw, Little Boys Blue) provides sax atop a rhythm section consisting of percussionists Mike Dillon (Dicky Betts) and Wayne Chaney and bassist Donnie Gullett. Luedtke, Wammack and Hughes share lead vocals.

Ann Peebles’ classic, “Breakin’ Up Somebody’s Home,” gets a full-blues redo to kick off the action. It retains the soulful message as an extended, medium-paced shuffle as Howard reinterpreting the lyrics from a male’s point of view in an arrangement that allows plenty of space for searing guitar and horn solos. “Cheap Hotel,” a ballad penned by Austrian tunesmith Ripoff Raskolnikov, offers up a change-of-pace before things heat up with a funky take on Otis Blackwell’s “Daddy Rolling Stone.”

A stripped-down take on “Long As I Can See The Light,” a Creedence Clearwater Revival hit composed by John Fogarty, is up next before Luedtke dips into Lynyrd Skynyrd’s catalog to deliver Ronnie Van Zandt’s “Searching.” “The Jealous Kind,” a Cajun classic written by Bobby Charles comes across with the feel of the bayou before the harp-driven “Blues Magician,” which was penned by Hughes.

Dennis Walker’s “Never Felt No Blues” and Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” follow before a version of Wammack’s “Cookin’ On The Front Burner,” which first appeared on an album released on Capricorn Records in 1975. Sam Cooke’s “Good Time” and Jimmy Vivino’s “Beat Up Guitar” bring the action to a close.

Don’t be misled by the fact that this CD has no new material. Luedtke is a slide master of the first order with a powerful, warm set of pipes, and this one rocks throughout. Pick it up via CDBaby. It’s as comfortable as an old pair of shoes, but totally fresh, too.

Blues Blast Magazine Senior Writer Marty Gunther has lived a blessed life. Now based out of Charlotte, N.C., his first experience with live music came at the feet of the first generation of blues legends at the Newport Folk Festivals in the 1960s. A former member of the Chicago blues community, he’s a professional journalist and blues harmonica player who co-founded the Nucklebusters, one of the hardest working bands in South Florida.


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 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

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. 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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