Issue 8-48 November 27, 2014

Cover photo by Gary Eckhart © 2014 Blues Blast Magazine


 In This Issue 

Terry Mullins has our feature interview with Blues Blast Music Award nominee, Sean Chambers.

We have 8 music reviews for you including new music from Coco Montoya Live, Iko Iko, Laura Rain and the Caesars, Bobby Patterson, Nigel Egg, Etta Britt, Otis Clay and Johnny Rawls and a tribute to Gregg Allman.

We have the latest in Blues Society news from around the globe. All this and MORE! SCROLL DOWN!!!


 From The Editor’s Desk 

Hey Blues Fans,

Have you seen our great Black Friday Sale yet? You can check it out HERE.

We have some great deals for your holiday gift giving. All of our T-Shirts and books are on sale with FREE US shipping. The sale started Monday and goes till midnight next Monday and the response has been so big we already started running out of some of our cool new Blues Blast T-shirts.

But don’t worry, if you tried to order already and we were out, we’ve ordered more! Check it out as we now have more sizes, colors, long sleeve and also Ladies T-shirts in 3 colors. Perfect gifts for the Blues lovers on your list. CLICK HERE to see them now!

Also we are are offering the great new book Blues In Modern Days by Terry Mullins and you can get a personally signed copy with FREE US shipping now during the Black Friday sale. CLICK HERE.

One final great deal we have for you is just CRAZY! You can get an ad on the side of our website for $30 days for only $50. Normal price is $175 so get this one before it is gone Monday. CLICK HERE.

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser



 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 8 

Coco Montoya – Songs From The Road

www.cocomontoyaband.com

Ruf Records – 2014

CD 1: 7 tracks; 55 minutes. CD2: 7 tracks; 63 minutes

The latest in Ruf’s Songs From The Road sees experienced singer and guitarist Coco Montoya featured with his regular road band of Brant Leeper (keys and vocals), Rena Beavers (drums and vocals) and Nathan Brown (bass) on excellent live set recorded in Seattle across two nights in August 2013 and produced by Jim Gaines. Ruf often issues a CD/DVD package but on this occasion we get two CDs, so no viewing the players but you do get a lot more music in the package than usual.

The set provides compelling evidence of what a great back catalogue Coco has and the material has clearly been selected to give listeners a broad taste of Coco’s abilities with songs chosen from across his career, most of Coco’s albums being represented here. In fact the only obvious gap in his discography was a live album, so this neatly fills that hole! Coco had a hand in writing seven of the tracks here, including two written with Doug McLeod (a former Blues Blast Award winner) and three with David Steen. Covers inevitably include an Albert Collins tune as Coco always pays respect to the man who taught him to play guitar and encouraged his early career.

In fact CD1 opens with Gwen Collins’ “I Got A Mind To Travel” and Coco’s debt to Albert’s style is immediately evident here: Brant’s swirling organ solo is the central feature but Coco takes a solo late on that is very much in Albert’s style. Two other tracks come from Coco’s debut CD as he plays sets of cascading notes in wonderfully relaxed style on his and Doug McLeod’s “Too Much Water” and hits a great groove on an extended version of his own composition “Love Jail” that gives both Coco and Brant plenty of solo space.

Three cuts from his most recent studio album “I Want It All Back” appear, including the summer beach sounds of The Penguins’ “Hey Señorita”, a spare and appealing version of Smokey Robinson’s “The One Who Really Loves You” and “Don’t Go Making Plans”, a co-write with Little Feat’s Paul Barrère and Roger Cole which is suitably funky and rhythmic with some super bass playing from Nathan. “I Wish I Could Be That Strong” closes the first disc in fine, anthemic style with Coco’s strong vocal and solo.

On CD2 there are lots of highlights, none better than the barnstorming version of “I Need Your Love In My Life” (a Coco original once covered by Solomon Burke). There is plenty of variety here: “My Side Of The Fence” is a classic shuffle whilst the catchy “I Won’t Beg” has almost reggae overtones, especially in the organ solo.

The pleading ballad “Good Days, Bad Days” is given a lengthy treatment which gives solo space to bassist Nathan and Brant on piano as well as plenty of opportunity for Coco to play in very relaxed mood. Another gentle track is “I Want It All Back”, the title track of Coco’s last studio album which is beautifully played with superb harmonies from his band members and a striking solo from Coco before he thanks the stage crew and introduces his band members.

A further reprise from that same album is Buster Brown’s “Fannie Mae” which is played a little more slowly than on the studio version, providing a chugging shuffle intro to disc 2. Coco closes the CD by looking back to his 1996 album in “You’d Think I’d Know Better By Now”, the second collaboration with Doug McLeod here. This one is a classic mid-paced blues with some solid ensemble playing, Brant switching from organ accompaniment to rolling piano in his solo and Coco coming back in on slide to show us another side to his playing.

Coco Montoya has been around for a long time, playing with John Mayall before starting his solo career. This double set demonstrates the full range of Coco’s abilities and with his excellent band behind him it is a thoroughly entertaining listen, recommended to anyone who has enjoyed any of Coco’s studio albums or would make an ideal place to start for anyone new to Coco – highly recommended!

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.



 Blues Wanderings 

We made it out to the Redstone Room in Davenport, Iowa last weekend to catch a set by Nick Moss Band. It was a full house and Nick and the band put on a great show.

Check out their website at http://www.nickmoss.com/


Blues Blast Magazine is offering a fall advertising special. This special pricing will be our lowest pricing of the 2014-2015 season.

This 6-week combo rate of only $375 affordably adds significant impact to your Blues advertising and promotion campaign. It is a great way to kick up the visibility of your new album release, Blues event or music product around the globe!

Blues Blast Magazine is a great way to promote the Blues. More than 26,000 opt-in Blues fans read our magazine each week. They are located in all 50 states and in more than 90 countries. We get more than 2,000,000 (That’s TWO MILLION) hits and more than 45,000 visitors a month on our website.

Normal 2014 – 2015 Blues Blast magazine ads rates are $150 for an individual and $175 per month for website ads. BUT, for a limited time, you can advertise in six issues of Blues Blast Magazine and on our website for a month and a half for only $375. This is a $1160 value!

To get this special rate simply reserve and pay for your ad space by December 15, 2014. Ads can be booked to run anytime between now and September 30, 2015 for your 2015 Blues festival, album release or other music related product.

With this special rate, your ad can be viewed more than 220,000 times by our readers who want to know about your Blues events and music! Reserve your space today! Space is limited and will be sold on a first come first served basis.

Ads must be reserved and paid for by December 15, 2014. To get more information email info@bluesblastmagazine.com or call 309 267-4425 today! Other ad packages, single ads, short run ads or long term bulk rates for publicists and record labels are available too. Call today for an ad plan that fits your needs.



 Featured Blues Interview – Sean Chambers 

For anyone that has ever had the privilege of riding in a funky ‘ole Ford Pinto, that experience was probably unforgettable.

Especially if that funky ‘ole Ford Pinto was slathered in green on the outside, but had plenty of red percolating from the inside.

Florida axeman supreme Sean Chambers explains:

“A friend of mine had just gotten his driver’s license – he was 16 and I was 15 – and he came and picked me up in his green Pinto and he put in a Jimi Hendrix cassette tape and played “Red House.” I had never heard blues, I had never heard Hendrix and I had never heard anybody play guitar like that,” Chambers recently said. “I asked my friend, ‘Who is that? What is that?’ He said, ‘That’s Jimi Hendrix and that’s blues music.’ And I instantly got chill bumps … that hit me like a ton of bricks. I said, ‘That’s what I want to do, right there.”

That’s precisely what Chambers has been doing pretty much ever since – playing an intriguing mix of Texas- and Chicago-styled blues, with a dash of Hendrix-inspired blues/rock for good measure – anywhere and everywhere he can. His latest album, The Rock House Sessions (Blue Heat Records) was recorded at Kevin McKendree’s Rock House Studio in Franklin, Tennessee and picked up a nomination for Best Blues/Rock Album at this year’s Blues Blast Awards.

In addition to the immensely-talented guitar and vocals of Chambers, The Rock House Sessions boasts a who’s-who of A-List musicians, cats like Reese Wynans (who produced and played keyboards), Tommy MacDonald (bass) and Tom Hambridge (drums). The resulting experience was one to remember, says Chambers.

“Not only was it great just to be working with those guys, but it was really cool to also just see how they work and chart stuff out. I mean, it might have been a song they had never heard and they would go in and listen to it and chart it out and then go in and record it and it would sound like they’ve been playing it for a year,” he said. “It was amazing. I really found myself having to keep up with those guys because they move and work at such a fast pace. The rhythm section tracks for the whole album were recorded in two days and then I went in and did vocals and guitar and any overdubs that I had to do the next two days. The whole thing was recorded in four days. That’s definitely the quickest I’ve ever recorded an album. It was a great experience.”

Another beneficial part of the process of having that group of heavy hitters plunked down in the Rock House was; that in addition to having access to their musical chops, Chambers also had access to some plumb material, as well.

“At the time, I only had about half the songs that I needed for an album written and finished. So one of the advantages to having Reese produce it, was he was able to bring a bunch of great songs to the table, too,” Chambers said.

Hambridge contributed some tunes to the project, Chambers brought some of his own songs – and he also paired up with Wynans for a couple – and the whole album was rounded out just right with a dash of songs from two of Chambers’ musical heroes, the late, great Alvin Lee (“Choo Choo Mama”) and the phenomenal Gary Moore (“Holding On”).

“I’ve always enjoyed redoing songs that inspired me growing up, or that have something to do with my whole musical journey. Gary Moore is one of my all-time favorite guitarists and he had just passed, as had Alvin Lee. So I thought it would be really cool to do a ‘hat’s off’ thing to two of my favorite players that really did inspire me when I was younger,” he said. “Before I really even talked to Reese (about the songs for the album), I was going through a bunch of Gary Moore and Ten Years After songs and stuff like that. When I heard “Choo Choo Mama,” I knew I wanted to do that one from Alvin Lee. Sometimes I’ll think I want to do a song, but when I play it, it just doesn’t feel right. Well, “Choo Choo Mama” was right in my barnyard. So that was a no-brainer. And Reese flew down to Florida for two days before we did the album and did a quick pre-production and told him I really wanted to do a Gary Moore song and he thought that would be a good idea, too. We both really liked “Holding On,” plus it’s a little bit different than the stuff that people may be used to hearing me do. So for picking cover songs to do, it has to be something that I like and that I really enjoy playing.”

Plans are currently underway for a follow-up to The Rock House Sessions, although Chambers’ next offering may see him going back to work with his regular band (Todd Cook, bass; Paul Broderick, drums; Gary Keith, harp) in the studio.

“It’s hard to tell right now, but it will probably be the Sean Chambers Band. The whole way that (The Rock House Sessions being a Sean Chambers CD instead of a Sean Chambers Band disc) came about was; I was talking to Reese about just playing on the album. And Jeff (Fischer), who is my manager and the owner of Blue Heat Records, was throwing around the idea of bringing in an outside producer this time, rather than me and the band producing it. So as I was talking to Reese about the album, it just kind of hit me that Reese might actually be a really good producer for the record. And because we had a limited budget and time frame, he asked if I’d ever considered using a studio band. He said, ‘One, they can get it done quicker and two, they can bring some really cool songs to the table.’ So once we decided that Reese was going to produce it, it was his suggestion that we use a studio band to record it and try something different. That’s how that whole thing came about, but I doubt we’re going to do it that way on the next one. I think the next one will have my band on it and the majority of the songs will probably be mine. I’m already starting to kind of get into the mindset of writing for the next album.”

The last couple of years have seen Chambers devoting considerable time and effort on another front. In 2012, Rickey Medlocke decided to reform southern rock stalwarts Blackfoot. Medlocke – a founder of Blackfoot and current guitarist for Lynyrd Skynyrd – handpicked the members of the latest version of Blackfoot (his involvement was as producer, not as a musician with the Jacksonville-based group) and Chambers was tabbed to play guitar and sing, which he did for a couple of years.

“I did my last shows with Blackfoot in June of this year. After about a year-and-a-half with Blackfoot, I started noticing that my band was kind of losing momentum and not working as much … just losing steam. So it was time to do my next album and at that same time, Blackfoot was working on material for a possible album,” he said. “The agreement that I had with my label (Blue Heat Records) was that when I did my album, I had to go out and tour and give it 120-percent, playing shows and pushing the record. So I had to make a decision. I thought it would be a great opportunity to do the album and then tour behind it, so the manager of Blackfoot and I came to a mutual agreement that I couldn’t be in two places at once. It was an easy decision. But it’s all cool with those guys; I really enjoyed playing with them and learned a lot about the way they do things. It was definitely a good experience. I played with them for two years.”

No doubt Chambers knew this before his time with Blackfoot, but it was reinforced during his 24 months with the band that there are a few differences between a big rock-n-roll extravaganza and an evening spent playing the blues.

“Blackfoot’s set-list in their shows is a lot more structured than with my band. Their shows are very arranged and everything is played the same way, night after night. It’s more of a put-together show, which is one thing I learned from those guys,” he said. “Whereas my band, a lot of times I’ll get out there and not even have a set-list. We just get up there and feel the vibe of the room or the crowd and play off of that. I don’t think I play any songs the same way each night with my band, as far as guitar solos. The arrangements are basically the same, but one night I may take one or two times around on a solo and then go back into the vocal line. The next night on the same song, I may go three or four times around on the solo and then back. It’s not as arranged.”

Before his tour of duty with Blackfoot, Chambers had the unique opportunity to play with one of the true legends of electric blues guitar – heck, any kind of guitar for that matter – Hubert Sumlin.

“Hubert was playing on the bill at Bluestock in Memphis in 1998, so Steve Einzig (Sumlin’s manager at the time and also owner of Vestige Records, the label that Chambers recorded for then) called and asked if me and my band wanted to back up him up, because Hubert didn’t have a band at that time. That was a no-brainer. That was about three months or so before the gig, so my band and I started wood-shedding the Hubert stuff … the Wolf hits and some of Hubert’s material, enough for about a 60-minute set.”

That wood-shedding paid off when Sumlin was so pleased with the job that Chambers and his group did at the Bluestock gig that he asked them to stay with him and hit the road hard.

“He said, ‘Man, I want you guys to be my group.’ So it was Hubert Sumlin with the Sean Chambers Band; that was good for both of us. Usually my band would open and then take a 30-minute break and come out and back him up for his set. We went all over the country and to Japan, England and Ireland … a lot of cool places all over the world. Steve really played a big part in getting Hubert back on the map and playing again, because he wasn’t really playing a whole lot then.”

Considering the fact that Sumlin had to put up with all the trials and tribulations of touring around the country in a station wagon with Howlin’ Wolf, it would make perfect sense if Sumlin was a bit standoffish or hard to get next to. However, Chambers says nothing could be further from the truth.

“I don’t think I’ve ever met a nicer or more humble guy than Hubert. He was just a really great guy and a great person. When I first met him, I remember I was a nervous wreck. He was staying at the Peabody (in Memphis for the Bluestock show) and I had a set-list made out and all the stuff written down – the keys of the songs – I wanted to make sure I had my act together. So I knocked on his door and he told me to come in. Hubert just had this way of instantly making you at ease,” Chambers said. “I said, ‘I’m a little nervous, but I do have a set-list. Would you like to look at it?’ He goes, “Pardner, man, I’m not worried about it at all. All I want you to do is to let your hair down and have some fun. I don’t care if you make a mistake; let’s just have a good time.’ So by the time we went on stage, I was totally relaxed and calm. He just had a way and demeanor about him that was just so cool. He wasn’t worried about what songs we were doing, or who was going to start them out, he just wanted to get on stage and have fun. He was the ultimate storyteller. Every night he’d tell us stories about him and Wolf, or him and Hendrix or Muddy Waters … he was just a special guy.”

A special guy who never once forget the reason that he was up on the bandstand.

“Hubert always said, ‘You know, we’re lucky to be doing what we’re doing. Let’s do this as long as we can. Let’s keep this thing alive. You know why? Because one day we’re not going to be able to,’’’ Chambers said. “He was really convinced that this was a gift and that he had to share it with people. He’d say, “People work all week long and they’re tired and they spend $10 or $20 to come see a show and we have to make sure we always give them a good show and have fun and try to show them a good time. You always have to give the crowd their money’s worth, even if there’s only 12 of them out there.’ He also taught me how to be humble and how to ‘keep it real’ – that’s how people say it nowadays.”

He may not have known it as a pre-teen, but a good number of the bands – some even on the heavier side of things – that he was listening to at the time all had Hubert Sumlin to thank in some way, shape or form.

“When I was 11- and 12-years-old, I used to listen to the rock music of the day, stuff like Dio and Ozzy and Led Zeppelin and Boston and all the Florida bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers,” he said. “I loved all that classic rock stuff. That’s what kind of made me want to play guitar in the first place. But when I started learning that stuff on guitar, it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be.”

Then came the fateful encounter with Hendrix and “Red House.”

“That’s how I really got introduced to the blues – through Hendrix. I listened to nothing but Hendrix for several years … I just loved Jimi. I still hadn’t heard of Muddy Waters or any of those guys at that point,” Chambers said. “After I was learning about the blues and Hendrix’ style, I really became taken by the Texas guitar players, like Albert Collins, Freddie King, Billy Gibbons, Johnny Winter, Stevie Ray and all those guys. There was something about the Texas players that I just loved. Then, I started learning about the influences of all those guys. I heard Johnny talking about Muddy or Stevie talking about Albert King, so I started checking those guys out. That’s kind of how I backed into the blues. That’s how I learned it.”

All those sparks of inspiration come through loud and clear in Chambers’ playing, as does a touch of the bombastic leanings of Zeppelin, Skynyrd and Boston, influences from his younger days.

“Well, I’m a middle-aged white guy, and I think a lot of it (guitar playing) has to do with your upbringing. I love traditional blues and guys like Robert Johnson and B.B. King and Otis Rush, but as much as I try and play and sound like that, it still comes out the way that I am. That’s one of the things that I struggled with when we would open one of Hubert’s sets. He was so traditional and was the master of what he did,” said Chambers. “I always felt like I was too much blues/rock and would try and make myself more traditional. I would talk to Hubert about that a lot and tell him I felt like I needed to play more (traditional) blues since I was playing with him. He would say, ‘Pardner, just do what you do. There’s always going to be people that like what you’re doing and they’re always going to be people that don’t like what you’re doing. You’re never going to please everybody.’ So I quit worrying about that. I just do what I do.”

Editor’s Note: Sean was nominated for Rock Blues Album in the 2014 Blues Blast Awards. To see a video of his performance at the awards show this year, CLICK HERE

Visit Sean’s website at http://www.seanchambers.com/

Photos by Gary Eckhart & Arnie Goodman as marked © 2014

Blues Blast Magazine Senior Writer Terry Mullins is a journalist, author and former record store owner whose personal taste in music is the sonic equivalent of Attention Deficit Disorder. Works by the Bee Gees, Captain Beefheart, Black Sabbath, Earth, Wind & Fire and Willie Nelson share equal space with Muddy Waters, The Staples Singers and R.L. Burnside in his compact disc collection. He’s also been known to spend time hanging out on the street corners of Clarksdale, Miss., eating copious amounts of barbecued delicacies while listening to the wonderful sounds of the blues.



 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 8 

Various Artists – All My Friends: Celebrating The Songs and Voice of Gregg Allman

Rounder Records

www.greggallman.com

2 CDs / 26 tracks / 2:31:54

1 DVD / 2:40:55

The Allman Brothers Band has survived its share of adversity since their first paying gig in 1969, and after 45 years they have finally called it quits and had their finals shows at New York City’s Beacon Theatre. One of the founding members, Gregg Allman, will continue on with his solo career, which is to be expected as he has quite a following of fans, including countless professional musicians.

On Friday, January 10, 2014, some of these legendary artists joined at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia to honor Gregg and join him in song. All two-and-a-half hours of this show were captured on two CDs and a DVD, so you can experience this magical evening for yourself! All My Friends: Celebrating The Songs and Voice of Gregg Allman includes 26 songs with performances from a lengthy list of industry hard-hitters and hall-of-famers, including Warren Haynes, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, Dr. John, Eric Church, Pat Monahan, Jackson Browne, John Hiatt, Vince Gill, Martina McBride, and more! Gregg Allman joined in the celebration too, along with the rest of the Allman Brothers Band for a.

The set list is chock full of Allman goodness, with early Allman Brothers Band albums represented as well as tunes combed from Gregg’s solo catalogue. It is noteworthy that the Allman Brothers Band actually performed a few of the tunes, but they also assembled a house band to die for that played for the rest of the evening. This included Don Was on bass, Kenny Aronoff on the skins, Jack Pearson and Audley Freed on guitar, Chuck Leavell on piano, Rami Jaffee behind the Hammond, and Jimmy Hall tearing it up the harmonica. This would have been good enough, but they also brought in the McCrary Sisters on backing vocals and a killer horn section of Jim Hoke, Vinnie Ciesielski, and John Hinchey. These are all pros with centuries of combined stage experience and they made the evening enjoyable and complete.

This is a high-quality release with excellent production values, and the producer for this Rounder Records project is the one-and-only 3-time Grammy award winner Don Was. He was definitely qualified for this task, with credits that include The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison and Neil Diamond. The sound and mix is as good as you will get with a live album, and the cinematography and editing of the DVD is crystal clear and it was put together so that fans get to see everything worth seeing.

Listening to the CDs is more challenging than the DVD as the first few times through it is difficult to envision what is happening on stage and who is actually singing – and most of the time it is not Gregg Allman. In fact, he does not even appear on stage until almost an hour in, when he joins Grammy-winning blues musician Taj Mahal on “Statesboro Blues.” But, without the visuals there is also a better of idea of who is getting the mail delivered, and there are definitely standout vocal performances. The highlight of the evening was “Midnight Rider” with Zac Brown and Gregg on lead vocals and Vince Gill backing them up on the harmonies: it induced goose bumps! Not far behind was McBride and Monahan’s duet of “Can You Fool” and the Sam Moore (of Sam & Dave) take of “Please Call Home.”

But the best part of the set is the DVD, and if you are not terribly busy you can take most of an evening to sit back and watch it. There are no special features or commentaries, but it is probably one of the better-produced concert videos that you will ever see. On the screen you get to see the mountains of amplifiers and the huge cast of musicians that made this tribute possible. This video gives a better idea of what a bang-out job that the house band does, including the powerful drumming of the indefatigable Aronoff, and the kicking yet subtle contributions of Pearson and Freed on guitar. The pedal steel work of Robert Randolph on “You Can’t Lose What You Ain’t Never Had” was a complete jaw-dropper and he did a righteous job alongside Gregg’s son, Devon Allman, on guitar. Also, the finale of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” is very touching as all of the musicians returned to the stage one last time with Gregg kicking things off.

If you are a fan of Gregg Allman or the Allman Brothers Band, then purchasing All My Friends: Celebrating The Songs and Voice of Gregg Allman will be an easy decision. If you like Southern rock, you will certainly want to pick up a copy too. But the universal appeal of this well-produced set is that it includes work from some of the most influential artists of today, which makes adding this well-rounded music collection to your library almost irresistible, even if you are only the least bit interested in the man or the band. Check it out for yourself, and do not be surprised if you end up buying a copy too!

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



 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 8 

Iko-Iko – Bullets In The Bonfire Vol.1 – The Songs Of Graham Wood Drout

Little Silver Records – 2014

www.iko-iko.com

15 tracks; 74 minutes

Graham Wood Drout is probably best known for the songs he has contributed to Albert Castiglia’s albums – “Big Toe”, “Ghosts Of Mississippi” and “Celebration” for example. However, in Florida Graham and his band Iko-Iko have been filling the clubs for thirty years with what they describe as ‘Urban Swamp Music’. This generously filled retrospective includes material from across the band’s four albums (dating back as far as 1988) as well as one cut each from Albert’s first album and Graham and Albert’s acoustic “Bittersweet Sessions”.

The style is varied and includes elements of New Orleans second line rhythms, Americana, rock and R n’ B. A large cast of musicians appear across this selection with Graham ever-present either as vocalist, bass or guitar player. Larry Williams is on guitar on most tracks with Mike Bauer and Nick Kane playing on a couple of songs each; Stewart Jean plays drums on most tracks with Glenn Caruba on percussion on three tracks and Danny Swetland, Cam Robb and Joseph Anthony Smith helping out on drums on a few tracks; Mike Mennel is on bass with Mark Harris on one track and Graham himself on three cuts; Bob Hemphill adds harp to two tracks and Doug Leibinger plays keys on four selections. Ron Dziubla makes a significant contribution to the Iko-Iko sound playing both sax on six tracks, organ on three and guitar on one. Albert Castiglia appears on the two tracks culled from his and Graham’s output. Apart from one traditional tune Graham wrote everything here with some assistance from band members.

The collection opens with three strong songs, each enhanced with Ron’s sax playing. The band give us some New Orleans sounds in “Party Car”, debate what the American Dream is all about in “(I Never Had An) American Dream” before the original version of “Celebration” which allows us to compare it with the two versions that Albert has recorded. Ron’s fine sax coda certainly distinguishes this version though both Albert’s recordings are also excellent – it is simply an outstanding song.

“Miller’s Woods” is a swampy number with some creepy lyrics about a strange place where “my spirits dwell like a silver dollar down a wishing well – they know I’ve been there before”. “Late Hours” and “Snowstorm In The Jungle” include Bob Hemphill’s harp, the former a slow paced instrumental feature for Bob that fits its title well, the latter a funky rocker in which the harp is more about adding colour. “Pet De Kat” has some more NO style party music with Ron’s sax a central feature.

Three songs with interesting titles then follow: the wonderful title “Jalapeño Be Thy Name” takes us to the border territories with its Mexican rhythms and Ron again featuring on sax and very Mexican trumpet, Graham’s lyrics giving praise to the preferred hot spice of that area; “Too High To Drive” rocks along nicely while “Walk With The Zombie” is very strange with a distant spoken radio voice eventually giving way to a slow tune dominated by Ron’s sax, Graham adding to the weird feel of the song by almost speaking the lyrics. The attractive Americana rhythm of “Riding The Rims” has a catchy feel with piano heavily featured and would be a song that would be a good fit for someone like Tom Petty.

The two collaborations with Albert Castiglia find Albert on his first recording “Burn”, tackling Graham’s “The Day The Old Man Died” a song about the death of Albert’s former employer, Junior Wells. One immediately recognises Albert’s distinctive voice as he sings of how he reacted to Junior’s passing and Albert also sings “Ghosts Of Mississippi” in an acoustic version taken from Graham and Albert’s “Bittersweet Sessions”. This song is another superb example of Graham’s craft as a songsmith, evoking the way that this music crossed from Africa with the slaves to take root in the Delta: “Meet me at the bottom, where the Southern cross the Dog, where the ghosts of Mississippi meet the gods of Africa”. The song has been recorded in full electric band mode by Albert and was also an integral part of fellow Floridian Joey Gilmore’s success at the IBC’s a few years ago.

The only real criticism of this collection is the inclusion of two live tracks, both of which suffer in comparison with the studio tracks: “Don’t Mess With The Voodoo” has a ‘muddy’ sound and “Motherless Children” clocks in at over ten minutes of guitar noodling that sounds like a slow night with The Grateful Dead. The collection might have benefited from dropping these two cuts.

Graham Wood Drout is not really a bluesman but with such a variety of styles there is plenty of good music to enjoy here and affords the opportunity to enjoy the work of a real craftsman songwriter.

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.



 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 8 

Laura Rain and the Caesars – Closer

Self-produced CD

11 songs – 48 minutes

www.laurarain.net

One glance at the lovely, intense goddess peering majestically from the cover of this CD will tell you that Laura Rain and the Caesars, her tight three-piece ensemble from Detroit, mean business. From the first note, they don’t disappoint as they deliver some of the finest soul blues rolling out of Motor City in years.

A powerful vocalist who’s split her time between Michigan and Los Angeles during the past decade, Laura possesses an electrifying vocal range that might remind some listeners of an early Aretha Franklin. She and guitarist George Friend, who’s spent time with Janiva Magness, the Soul Messengers and rockabilly legend Robert Gordon, composed all of the material you’ll hear here with one foot squarely in the ‘60s or ‘70s, the golden age of American R&B.

Billing themselves as a retro soul band with one previous disc to their credit, they’re joined by keyboardist/bass player Phil Hale, a veteran of Martha Reeves’ and George Clinton’s bands, and percussionist Ron Pangborn for this ultra-tight red-hot set. They’re aided by several guest artists, including: Rick Beamon, Todd Glass and Terry Thunder (drums), Sheila Hale (tambourine), Jim Simonson and Leon Powell (bass), Duncan McMillan (organ), Johnny Evans (saxophone) and John Douglas (trumpet).

Available through Amazon, CDBaby and the band’s website, the album kicks off with, “Seasons,” a little bit of funk sure to get you out of your chair and on to the dance floor. Laura’s range is evident as she alternates lines from sultry alto to searing soprano. Friend’s bluesy guitar solo gives the tune added depth. The silky title tune, “Closer,” is delivered with a Memphis feel. It’s a song of burning sexual desire. “Squawkin’” is a straight-ahead blues about so-called friends who want to see you fail in your life’s pursuits.

Next up, “All Of Me” is a lover’s complaint about being used, while “Meet Me In The Middle” follows with a request to find some common ground. The mood slows for “Your Love Is Not Broken” as Laura stretches out to reassure a lover that the flame they share still burns brightly despite things not going his way. “Dirty Man” is a burner in which the singer wonders about rumors her guy’s cheating. Laura answers the question next in “He Is.” The funky “Super Duper Love” tells the tale of a man who possesses plenty of women, but “will never have me.” Two more songs of romance follow: In “Awful Sin,” Laura gives in to a lover against her best judgment; and she proclaims “My Heart Is Open” in a sugar sweet ballad that concludes the set.

If you favor old-style R&B flavored blues, you’ll definitely like this one. While the theme of the material may seem familiar, the songs are all tasty and the band top notch.

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



 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 8 

Bobby Patterson – I Got More Soul!

Omnivore Recordings

10 songs – 36 minutes

Well, this is a treat. Bobby Patterson recorded his first session in 1957 for Liberty Records in L.A. No songs were released, but the session kick-started a life in professional music. Patterson worked in the 1960s for Dallas label, Jetstar R&B, for whom he recorded hits such as “How Do You Spell Love?” (later covered by The Fabulous Thunderbirds) and “T.C.B or T.Y.A.”. He also acted as staff producer and promotion man, before moving into production for the likes of Albert King, Little Johnny Taylor and Fontella Bass, as well working as a DJ on the KKDA-AM radio station in the Dallas/Fort Worth region. All the while, he continued writing songs, such as Albert King’s “That’s What The Blues Is All About”.

The 70-year-old Dallas native has now released his first studio album in years (by this writer’s calculation, 1998’s I’d Rather Eat Soup was the last one), the appropriately titled I Got More Soul! on Omnivore Recordings. Mixing equal parts blues, soul and R&B, I Got More Soul! features 10 songs, eight of which were written either by the writing team of Patterson and Jerry Strickland or by the core band featured on the record of Patterson, Zach Ernst, Scott Nelson and Matthew Strmiska.

The two covers are a great soul re-working of The Dirtbombs’ “Your Love Belongs Under A Rock” and Sly and The Family Stone’s “Poet”. And these two songs are a pretty fair reflection of the music here – there is the funk and soul of Sly but also the grit and youthful energy one would expect from a Detroit garage band.

Producer and guitarist Zach Ernst has done a stellar job in capturing a distinctly old-school vibe for the recordings, whilst imbuing each song with a tangible, crackling modern energy, aided by the support of Danny Freeman (guitar), Scott Nelson (bass), Matthew Strmiska (drums), Ian Varley (keys), Tommy Spampinato and Adrian Quesada (percussion), the horn section of Jason Frey, Derek Phelps and Joseph Woullard. The Relatives add gospel backing vocals on “Everybody’s Got A Little Devil In Their Soul.”

Given his age, one might expect Patterson’s voice to be losing some of its flexibility and scope but his performances here would be impressive from a much younger man. He has a individual vocal style, albeit with echoes of the great soul singers of the 1960s in the way his inflection rises at the end of a line. He also has a intelligent, very personal line in lyrics in songs such as “I Feel The Same Way” and “Let Me Heal It”.

Although it’s a short album, clocking in at just over half an hour, I Got More Soul! is also a welcome return to form from one of the true originals. Featuring well-written songs and strong performances, it is worth checking out, especially if you enjoy your blues mixed with a lot of soul. Patterson himself says: “This new CD is like Lone Ranger and Tonto, like Cisco and Pancho. I come to you in mono and stereo. If I’m lyin’, James ain’t Brown, Al ain’t Green, and B.B. ain’t King.”

Welcome back, Mr Patterson. We have missed you.

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.



 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 8 

Nigel Egg – The Blues Is Personal

Spiff Key

www.nigelegg.com

12 Tracks/Running Time 52:25

Transplanted Minnesotan Nigel Egg has released an unlikely Blues disk entitled, The Blues Is Personal. Born in the UK, Mr. Egg was active in the pre- 1970 London music scene as a member of Nexus. He jammed with Mott The Hoople and Supertramp before moving to the land of Purple Rain to study at the University of Minnesota. He taught harmonica and guitar, raised a family and worked a corporate gig for twenty-five years before returning to music full-time in the twenty-first century. His 2010 release was entitled Big Bang Baby Boom.

I didn’t say unlikeable. Though laid back throughout, the horn section, including Egg on harp, swings. Egg draws from his own songwriting well and splashes you with unique hooks that unlock Blues to Pop mysteries heretofore unknown.

Track 6, ” Occupy The Blues Museum,” is a teacher to student narrative: ‘I want to take you children, down to the Blues Museum, you’ll hear that Blues is the roots, of all the music that’s comin’ to be in.’ Just the inclusion of the verb occupy, politicizes the lyric handily. To encapsulate Egg’s bottom line is to suggest it’s time for the grey pony-tailed baby boomers to turn the music over to the kids, ‘so they can juvenate the Blues like Willie Dixon did.’

Another hook-laden composition by Mr. Egg is track 5, “Tax On The Blues.” The storyline suggests the origins and schedule of the this unfair Blues Tax. It chronicles the amounts paid by Blues royalty: ‘Willie Dixon had to pay about a million. Muddy Waters a million-four. BB King refused to pay a damn thing, got the jailhouse blues for sure. Robert Johnson managed to save his skin. He let the devil pay the tax for him.’ Irreverent and clever, the band steams toward simmer with a bluesy violin solo by David Stenshoel juxtaposed against the Teapotty Chorus’s (that’s what they’re called in the liner notes) vocal crescendo.

Track 10 “Music Man” is a stirring, heartfelt, son to father tribute that employs country blues guitar picking reminiscent of Mississippi John Hurt. The narrator reveals the qualities of his Blues guitar playing daddy. How he sang with soul in the clubs and bars, taught his son how to fish, fix cars, stay outta the bars and play the Blues better than him. This one might make you misty.

Nigel Egg released The Blues Is Personal to coincide with the 99th birthday of the late Willie Dixon. He passionately believes that Dixon revolutionized Blues songwriting and is determined to spearhead another Blues songwriting revival.

Don’t let the Alfred Hitchcock murder mystery cover art sway you. There are some good blues contained herein.

Reviewer Tee Watts is music director at KPFZ 88.1 fm in Lakeport, CA and road manager for Sugar Pie DeSanto.



 Featured Blues Review – 7 of 8 

Etta Britt – Etta Does Delbert

Self-Release – 2014

12 tracks; 48 minutes

www.ettabritt.com

Nashville based singer/songwriter Etta Britt put her singing career on hold while raising her family but her turn in the spotlight came about when her 2012 debut album attracted the attention of Delbert McClinton, leading to an invite to join the Sandy Beaches Cruise in 2014. Heavily influenced by Delbert’s songwriting early on in her career, the idea of producing a CD of Delbert songs for the SBC cruisers seemed a good one. The project got Delbert’s endorsement when he offered to participate and reaction to the album from the cruisers was so positive that Etta and husband Bob decided to issue it more widely.

The players assembled for the recording are a who’s who of Nashville talent, mainly associated with previous Delbert records: Kevin McKendree plays keys and engineered the sessions, Bob Britt plays guitar and produced the album, Steve Mackey is on bass, Lynn Williams on drums and Dana Robbins adds sax to one track. Backing vocalists include the McCrary Sisters, Scat Springs, George Prendergrass and Bob Britt. Delbert himself duets on one track and adds harmony vocals on another.

The Delbert catalogue is vast but Etta has selected some great songs here and anyone who likes Delbert’s music will find something to enjoy here. Many of Delbert’s songs have already been covered and the album opens with “Somebody To Love You” which Etta James, Tommy Castro and Southside Johnny amongst others have recorded but this version stacks up well against those heavyweights. Etta’s voice immediately impresses and the band rocks, Kevin pounding the piano as well as providing a warm organ cushion.

“Old Weakness (Comin’ On Strong)” is a great song and the band do it full justice, with more solid piano and Bob setting the pace with a killer riff as Etta testifies brilliantly. Delbert duets with Etta on “Boy You Better Move On”, a jaunty country rocker before Etta delivers a lovely, warm version of the ballad “Starting A Rumor”, the sparse arrangement showing off her great voice particularly well. Two rockers follow in the funky “Lie No Better” and “Every Time I Roll The Dice” which has another terrific vocal from Etta and plenty of slide from Bob.

Possibly the most frequently covered of Delbert’s songs is the modern classic “You Were Never Mine” with outstanding versions by Janiva Magness and the late Lou Pride (this reviewer’s favourite) but Etta delivers her interpretation superbly. After the sadness of “You Were Never Mine” Etta lightens the mood with the good time “Best Of Me”, piano and guitar both getting into the honkytonk feel in short solos.

Englishman Mickey Jupp’s “I’m With You” has been a part of Delbert’s shows for many years and Etta again does the song full justice, aided by lots of background vocal support and another great band performance. The jazzy shuffle of “New York City” is always fun and Bobby Charles’ “The Jealous Kind” is another outstanding performance from Etta with some exciting sax from Dana Robbins.

The final track is Etta and Kevin’s composition “When I Was With You” and it is fair to say that it sounds like it could have been a Delbert song, fitting in perfectly with the other eleven tunes here and giving us a taste of Etta’s songwriting ability.

Let’s face it, who doesn’t enjoy ‘a bit of Delbert’! Here we have a whole album of many of his greatest songs, all played and sung superbly by a great band fronted by a powerhouse singer – go out and buy it!

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.



 Featured Blues Review – 8 of 8 

Otis Clay and Johnny Rawls – Soul Brothers

Catfood Records

10 tracks

The deep soul and blues duo of Otis Clay and Johnny Rawls join forces with an amazing set of backing musicians to deliver to us 6 new songs and 4 superb covers. Rawls, who continues in the footsteps of Little Johnnie Taylor, and Clay, who earned his fame with Hi Records in Memphis under the wing of Willie Mitchell, travelled many of the same circuits for 40 years yet have only become personally familiar with each other in the last 10 years.

Sharing roots in Gospel and touring the US and globe as soul stars gives these two guys a common heritage and now they take what they learned as fans of each other into practice, delivering very emotional and powerful performances on these 10 enchanting tracks.

The backing band is a marvelous assemblage. The Rays are the band and they are Richy Puga on drums, Bob Trenchard on bass, Johnny McGhee on guitar, Dan Ferguson on keys, Andy Roman on sax, Mike Middleton on trumpet, Robert Claiborne on trombone, and Nick Flood on sax. Add to that the sweet Iveys on backing vocals (Arlen, Jessica and Jillian) and you have a wonderful assemblage that allowed the production of this excellent soul album.

The CD starts out with Dave Mason’s popular “Only You Know and I Know.” I loved the original, the Delaney and Bonnie 1971 cover of this song and now with these two soul greats I can chalk up a third great version that I will savor. Backed by a solid band, they do this song justice and keep it fresh and cool. “Momma Didn’t Raise No Fool” is a new cut and features a sound from the great horn section and the two gentlemen just lay it all out in this funky and tasty selection.

With “Voodoo Queen” we have another original song. Rawls introduces us to the New Orleans vixen who cast a spell on him and then Clay takes over the lead vocals for another verse and chorus. The last part of the song features guitar, keyboard and lets the boys in the band take us home. I was waiting for big duet to perhaps complete things, but this was good, too. Jimmy Ruffin’s “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted” starts with Otis and then Johnny comes in for his solo. Rawls does a bit more in a later chorus and backing vocals but this is mostly Otis’ song and he delivers the goods. Trenchard and Rawls cowrote “Living On Borrowed Time” as they did “Voodoo Queen.” The Soul Brothers split the leads and alternate back and forth on this jumpy and danceable cut.

The second half of the CD starts with “Turn Back the Hands of Time” which is a Tyrone Davis tune. The boys go back and forth as the horns and vibes chime in soulfully. A thoughtful and tasteful cover tune for sure! Trenchard, Rawls and Clay worked to give us “Road Dog,” a song about life on the road. Al Basile contributed in writing “Poor Little Rich Girl,” a nice, slow, soulful story about how the poor little rich girl who can’t buy love. Ferguson offers some nice keys and McGhee’s guitar also speaks to us a bit. This one is a winner! Rwls gives us “Hallelujah Lord” and starts things off praisefully and prayerfully. Otis takes his turn and then the two of them go at it as they and the band testify sweetly to us. Kay Kay Greenwade’s “Waiting For Dreams” sends us offwith another powerful performance.

Soul music lovers are going to rejoice when they hear these two great masters do a complete album together. There is no “one-upmanship;” these guys work as a team and give us a very thoughtful and inspired set of performances. If you are a blues and soul fan it’s time to buy a new CD- you won’t regret adding this one to your collection!

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.



 Blues Society News 


 Send your Blues Society’s BIG news or Press Release about your not-for-profit event with the subject line “Blues Society News” to:

Maximum of 175 words in a Text or MS Word document format.


The Washington Blues Society – Seattle, WA

The Washington Blues Society Presents: The 2014 Snohomish Blues Invasion Sunday November 30th. 2-10pm 34 blues acts in Six venues up and down Historic First Street in downtown Snohomish WA. $10 donation.

This mini festival event showcases the rich depth of talent in the blues music community of the Northwest and supports the Washington Blues Society as we send two entrants to represent our state to the world’s largest gathering of blues bands in January of 2015, the International Blues Challenge in Memphis TN.

Our entrants will also perform at the Blues Invasion: The Rafael Tranquilino Band and Nick Vigarino.

The Washington Blues Society will once again sponsor the “Best of the Blues Invasion” contest in which fans vote for their favorite act. The winner will be decided by popular vote and receive a performance slot at the 2015 Taste of Music Festival in Snohomish. Event info at : https://www.facebook.com/events/604550719671581/

DC Blues Society – Washington, D.C.

The DC Blues Society rings in the New Year with Severn Records’ newest recording artist, Ursula Ricks. On December 31, 2014 from 7:00 pm – 12:30 am, the “Queen of Baltimore Blues” will provide the dance groove at the American Legion Post 268, 11225 Fern Street, Wheaton MD 20902. The Party includes a southern-style dinner, party favors, midnight champagne toast & a reasonable cash bar. Seating is limited. Buy tickets at www.dcblues.org or call 301-322-4808: $35 in advance ($30 for DCBS members); $40 at the door ($35 for DCBS members). Metro accessible. Ample parking.

Ursula Ricks is a blues singer & songwriter with a rich, sultry velvety voice evocative of Etta James. She brings her soulful, deep-throated, blues-driven approach to a wide range of songs.

“Ursula’s unique vision and vocal ability made recording her debut album a real pleasure….Ursula has flown under the radar for so long. We are excited that the world will finally get an opportunity to experience her incredible music.” –David Earl of Severn Records, on Ursula’s new release “My Street”

Colorado Blues Society – Windsor, CO

Join the Colorado Blues Society for the 3rd Annual Colorado Blues Society Members Choice Awards are 2PM Dec. 22 at Herman’s Hideaway on South Broadway, Denver. Come out and see who are the favorites of CBS members, over 500 nominees in over 35 categories. The day is also a CD release party for our BSPCD entry, “JAM For Blues in the School”. Performing that day will be many of the local performers who made that CD possible including Dan Treanor and Afrosippi featuring Erica Brown, the 2013 IBC third place finishers in Memphis! Check our website for more info www.coblues.org

River Basin Blues Society – Evansville, IN

The River Basin Blues Society will host the 3rd annual River Basin Blues Blast starting at 4 pm on November 29, 2014, at the Deerhead Sidewalk Cafe, 222 E. Columbia, Evansville, IN. Bands performing at the event include the Beat Daddys, Honey Roy, Soul Creation and 103 Degrees (featuring Grammy Award winner Jeff ‘Stick’ Davis and Joe Doughtery, the road drummer for the Grass Roots).

At this year’s Blues Blast the River Basin Blues Society will award the 1st Annual Blues Heritage Award. This inaugural award will be given to Steady Wailin’ Sid Scott. Sid has been a force of music, culture, and news in the African American community in Evansville.

The event is free, but a portion of food and drink sales from the event will benefit the RBBS and 91.5-FM WUEV. There will also be prize giveaways. For more information, contact the RBBS at https://www.facebook.com/groups/riverbasinblues/

The Illinois Central Blues Club – Springfield, IL

The Illinois Central Blues Club has announced the line-up of talent for the Blue Monday live performances and jam sessions held every Monday night at The Alamo, 115 North Fifth, Springfield, IL from 8:00pm to midnight. Dec. 1 – Harper and the Midwest Kind, Dec. 8 – Bobby Messano, Dec. 15 – Studebaker John & the Maxwell Street Kings, Dec. 22 -Mary Jo Curry & Tombstone Bullet, Dec. 29 – James Armstrong

Additional ICBC shows: Nov. 20—James Armstrong Presents @ The Alamo, 6 pm, Nov. 22 – Hurricane Ruth CD release party at The Alamo, with special guest, Mary Jo Curry & Tombstone Bullet, 7 pm, Dec. 4—James Armstrong Presents @ The Alamo, 6 pm, Dec. 18 – James Armstrong Presents @ The Alamo, 6 pm.

Questions regarding this press release can be directed to Michael Rapier, President of ICBC, at mikerapier@sbcglobal.net at 217-899-9422, or contact Greg Langdon, Live Events Chair, at langdon38@att.net or by visiting www.icbluesclub.org




P.O. Box 721 Pekin, Illinois 61555     © 2014 Blues Blast Magazine 309 267-4425

 

Please follow and like us:
22