Issue 9-13 March 26 2015

Cover photo by Bob Kieser © 2015 Blues Blast Magazine

  In This Issue 

Blues Blast Magazine Senior Writer Terry Mullins has our feature interview with Chicago’s own, Johnny Drummer.

We have 5 music reviews for you including music from Igor Prado Band and Delta Groove All-Stars, Mike Sponza & Central European Orchestra, The DogTown Blues Band, Cesar Crespo & The Pinball’s Blues Party and RC and the Moonpie Band.

Our Video of the Week is Blues rocker Albert Castiglia performing the song “Big Toe”.

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

 From The Editor’s Desk 

Hey Blues Fans,

This is our March Blues Overdose issue. We have 5 FREE music tracks for you to download including music by Hurricane Ruth, Mike Osborne And The Drivers, Lisa Biales, RC & The Moonpie Band and the Jay Willie Band. Scroll down to the bottom of this issue to get yourself more free Blues music!

Artists interested in having their music included in Blues Overdose issues coming up in April and May should send check out the details of this free program to help artists promote their music at:

Submissions continue to roll in for the 2015 Blues Blast Music Awards. If your band is interested in submitting an album, check out the details at:

But hurry, we must receive your music by April 15th to be included.

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser

 Blues Wanderings 

We made it out to the 29th anniversary party of the Illinois Central Blue Club in Springfield last weekend and man was it ever a party. They kicked it off with a band from Decatur, Illinois called Blues Expressions. It was my first time seeing them.


These guys played some great old school R & B and Blues. I hope to hear them again soon.  Then the party went off the chain with Chicago legend Ronnie Baker Brooks.

Ronnie brought a great band including a 3 piece horn section. And of course, Ronnie is the man and just gave a killer show. After 29 years the Illinois Central Blues Club has not forgot how to throw a great party. I hope they continue for another 29!

Festival Early Bird Ad Special


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To get this special rate simply buy your ad space by APRIL 15th, 2015!!!! Ads can run anytime between now and December 2015.

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 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 5 

Igor Prado Band and Delta Groove All-Stars – Way Down South

Delta Groove Music DGPCD167

13 songs – 54 minutes

The sudden passing last year of harmonica wizard Richard “Lynwood Slim” Duran left friends and fans reeling, but he’s personally responsible for this sensational farewell gift: The release of this CD from Brazilian guitarist Igor Prado and his tight quartet on which some of his last recording sessions occurred.

Lynwood Slim met Prado during a trip to Sao Paolo, where most of this album was recorded, and they bonded instantly in music and life. With the release of Brazilian Kicks five years ago, they proved without a doubt that their individual skills fit like hand and glove despite the 6,000 miles that separated them. Recorded in Brazil and California, this album reunites the pair, who are joined by many of the best musicians the West Coast has to offer.

Like Elizabeth Cotten, Albert King, Otis Rush and Lefty Dizz before him and like Eddy Clearwater and Coco Montoya today, Prado plays the six-string upside down and left-handed. His group previously released three CDs in his homeland that are available through CDBaby in the U.S. His stinging single-note technique is warm and rich, perfect for jump and swing, as well as Texas-meets-California blues, in which his band excels.

He’s accompanied here by his regular lineup of Rodrigo Montovani (bass), Yuri Prado (drums) and Denilson Martins (tenor and baritone sax). There are great harp players all over this disc, including Slim, Mitch Kashmar, Rod Piazza, Randy Chortkoff, Ivan Marcio, Kim Wilson and Omar and Wallace Coleman. Mud Morganfield, J.J. Jackson and Sugaray Rayford make guest vocal appearances, along with Monster Mike Welch and Junior Watson on guitar and Ari Borger, Donny Nichilo, Honey Piazza and Raphael Wressnig on keyboards.

The Ike Turner classic “Matchbox” kicks off the show with Rayford holding down the vocals. The rhythm section and horns combine to propel the disc into a rhythm that continues throughout. Prado’s first appearance comes after the first verses with a powerful guitar run that plays in and out for the remainder of the song. Throughout the album, he’s on hand to make a statement, but he’s never overstated. Wilson assumes the microphone for a version of Long John Hunter’s “Ride With Me Baby.” A decidedly Latin rhythm pattern replaces the rapid-fire railroad-style drum beat beat featured on the original.

Morganfield vocally channels his dad for the Muddy Waters original, “She’s Got It,” with Marcio blowing the back off the harmonica before Lynwood Slim takes command for “Baby Won’t You Jump With Me,” a Lloyd Glenn/Lowell Fulson song that swings from the get-go, driven forward with sensational solos from Watson and Borger. Next up is “What Have I Done,” featuring Kashmar on harp and vocals and adding a bit of West Coast swing to Jimmy Rogers’ Chicago classic. Prado takes command of the mike for the Jr. Walker & The All-Stars’ blockbuster, “Shake & Fingerpop,” substituting his guitar mastery for the original keyboard lead.

The Piazzas come to the fore for a version of Elmore James’ stop-time masterpiece “Talk To Me Baby” before the band takes an unexpected left turn to the bayou and a faithful interpretation of Slim Harpo’s “If You Ever Need Me” with Wilson on vocals. Jackson’s voice is powerful for a send-up of Joe Tex’s “You Got What It Takes” before Rayford returns for his self-penned “Big Mama Blues,” a Muddy-style dazzler. Covers of Paul Gayten’s “You Better Believe It,” Lightning Slim’s “Rooster Blues” and Omar Coleman’s “Trying To Do Right” — featuring Coleman on harp and vocals — conclude the set.

Available through Amazon and iTunes or direct through City Hall Records and dedicated to the memory of Lynwood Slim, this CD is definitely worth keeping close to the stereo and in easy reach. You’ll want to play it again and again. Despite the lack of new material, all of the songs have been reinterpreted for the 21st Century. It’s definitely going on my short list as a potential album of the year.

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.

2015 Blues Blast Music Awards Submissions Open

It is that time of year for publicists, labels and Blues industry contacts to let artists know that submissions in the 2015 Blues Blast Music Awards are open until April 15th, 2015.

We again offer you the opportunity to put your eligible Blues music releases directly into the hands of our nominators for consideration in this years awards. Your submissions are accepted from March 1st until April 15, 2015.

To submit YOUR music visit:

The Blues Blast Music Awards honor the BEST in today’s Blues music and are voted on by music fans all over the world. This years release eligibility period is May 1st 2014 to April 30th, 2015. All music released during this period is eligible for consideration.

Mark Your Calendars! – 2015 Blues Blast Music Awards Ceremonies Announced

The 2015 Blues Blast Music Awards ceremonies will be held on Friday September 25th, 2015 at the Fluid Event Center in Champaign, Illinois. This amazing 10,000 sq ft facility still has folks raving about last years event! Look for more information on hotels and artists later this year at:

 Featured Blues Interview – Johnny Drummer 

Even in today’s ever-changing times, there are still a few undeniable givens that are seemingly chiseled in stone; things you can count on year-after-year.

If you want to find the sun, look to the east in the morning and to the west in the evening. If you want to find the Duke University Blue Devils in March, look in the NCAA basketball tournament. If you want to find more alligators than you can shake a stick at, look in the swamps of Louisiana. And if you want to find Chicago bluesman Johnny Drummer, look inside Lee’s Unleaded Blues on the city’s South Side.

A pillar of consistency and a role model for those that still take pride in the jobs that they do, Drummer has held court at Lee’s Unleaded Blues on a weekly basis for 20 years now. That, my friends, is the very definition of stability.

According to Drummer, the key to keeping a long-standing nightclub gig – in what can sometimes be a very fickle and unforgiving business – is a simple one.

“Your crowd. If you can draw a crowd, you can keep a job. If you’re not drawing, you’re not going to be there. When you have them standing in line outside, waiting to get in before you even hit the stage, you’re doing something right. I have people of every color from all over the world come to see me there,” Drummer said. “There’s not many people that can say they’ve held one job, at one club, for 20 years straight. I’ve played many places – I’ve played every club on the North Side that you can name – and I can do what I want, but I’ve played there straight from 1994 to 2014. And really, I even played there back before it was Lee’s Unleaded … I played there back when it was Queen Bea’s Lounge back in 1974. But I’ve been able to go overseas four or five times and when I get back home, my gig (at Lee’s) has always been there, waiting for me to get back.”

Drummer is certainly hard to miss on the bandstand, prowling around and juking back-and-forth with his Roland AX-7 keytar strapped around his neck. Where most blues pianists and keyboard players prefer to play seated behind their instrument, Drummer finds the apron of the stage, where he can go toe-to-toe with the guitar player, a much more inviting and enticing environment.

“Well, the guitar player would be out front slingin’ his guitar around and I’d be stuck back behind the keyboard. So when they came out with the strap-around (keyboard), I said, ‘OK. I’m gonna’ get mine, now.’ So I jumped out front and started slingin’ mine around, too,” he laughed. “That’s how that happened. I get out there and get to battlin’ with the guitar player and be all over the place having fun and the people love it.”

Though he’s long been known worldwide as Johnny Drummer, his birth name is really Thessex Johns.

“Well, my last mane is Johns and my friends started calling me Johnny back in the day. When I started playing drums, they started calling me Johnny The Drummer,” he said. “I happened to be watching a movie one time called Johnny Guitar (a Sterling Hayden western from 1954) and I liked that movie, so I just scratched out ‘The’ and started going by Johnny Drummer. That’s how I came to be called that for all these years. That movie (Johnny Guitar) has become one of my favorites.”

As he alluded to, and as his name implies, Drummer was indeed at one time, a drummer. But somewhere along the way, he went from sitting at the back of the stage behind the group to holding fort at the forefront, with the band behind him.

“I always did sing, but the way I ended up out front was, my band was playing one night at this club on the West Side, backing Syl Johnson and Jimmy Witherspoon. One night, I can’t remember if it was Syl or Jimmy, but one of them was late getting there. They asked me to open up the show and so I did. After that, the club owner said, ‘We hired a drummer and we want you to stay out front. You’re doing as good a job as they (Johnson and Witherspoon) do.’ So I just kept on doing it and people kept on hiring me,” said Drummer. “I’d be playing two or three clubs in one night. I would play a two-o’clock club and then a four-o’clock club. I’d do a set at the two-o’clock first and then I’d run do the four-o’clock and come back to the two-o’clock club and close it out and then turn around and go close the four-o’clock club down. I did that for a long time.”

Drummer’s latest album – Bad Attitude (Earwig Music Company) – features 13 soulful and bluesy originals penned by the man himself. While he’s not opposed to playing other artist’s songs on the bandstand, when it comes to business inside the recording studio, Drummer likes to take matters into his own capable hands.

“I like to tell my own stories. I really don’t feel like doing other people’s stuff. I mean, out in the clubs I do some (cover songs) to please the crowd sometimes, but I’m not really interested in recording them,” he said. “I figure they’ve heard them songs already, so why bother recording them again? I really think it’s to my advantage to do my own stuff.”

His material has all the elements that make up a good blues tune, but at the same time, Drummer has always managed to insert large helpings of his own personality into the music he crafts. This means there’s plenty of humor – along with loads of double entendres – in a Johnny Drummer song. Cuts like “Another Rooster is Pecking My Hen” and “Bit Her in the Butt” off Bad Attitude bear witness to as much.

“Sometimes you can just say something and I’ll pick up on it, even just one word, and I’ll say, ‘Wow, that sounds like a song.’ And then sometimes I’ll take a certain subject and write a song about it,” Drummer said of his song-writing style. “I just pay attention to the stuff going on around me and that’s how I usually come up with my songs.” Earwig also issued Drummer’s three previous CDs – Rockin’ in the Juke Joint (2007), Unleaded Blues (2001) and It’s So Nice (1999).

His songs have always managed to combine elements of the more traditional Chicago-style blues with a rougher and rawer Delta feel. That’s largely by nature, since Drummer was born and raised in the small town of Alligator, Mississippi (a stone’s throw from Clarksdale) before he first moved to the Windy City as a young man.

“That’s just me … every note you hear, whether it’s good or bad, is just how I am. I guess the way that I sound does have something to do with me being born in the Delta and then living in Chicago for so long,” he said. “I was born right where Muddy Waters and all of them were born. I always say that we’re from the same cotton field. That’s where the roots of my blues come from, Mississippi.”

Drummer’s first stint in Chicago in 1954 lasted barely eight months before he packed up and headed back south at age 17. But upon release from the army (where he first started playing the drums in earnest) in 1959, Drummer found himself back up north in Chicago. It wasn’t long before he started playing music at various clubs with various musicians.

“When I got back to Chicago, I started playing with them old blues guys like Lovie Lee …I think the only way I got a chance to play with them was because I was the only one who had a car …but that’s who I got started with, and in the band at the time was Carey Bell and the Applewhite brothers,” he said. “And after I left Lovie Lee, I started playing with Birmingham George and played with him awhile before I hooked up with Eddie King and stayed with him awhile.”

In the early-60s, Drummer first entered the studio with King, Willie Black, Roy Johnson, Willie ‘Big Eyes’ Smith and Otis Spann.

“Yeah, it was around 1962 that I cut a record for Wonderful Records. The songs I did were “Lookin’ for My Baby” and “I Can’t Stop Twisting,’” he said. “They wanted me to come back with another song, but I didn’t have another song, so the record never came out.” Drummer also cut some tunes in 1965 – featuring help from Lonnie Brooks – but those records, too, were never issued.

It was while he was still with King that Drummer suddenly found himself a bandleader … and with a new name for the band he was now in charge of.

“We were playing this club one night and Eddie (King) and the club owner had some difficulties and so Eddie decided to leave (the gig). Well, the club owner came up to me and said, ‘Why don’t you just take over the band?’ So I took over the band,” laughed Drummer. “And one night (not long after that) we were playing at a place and they asked what the name of the group was. Well, the first thing that popped into my head was Johnny Drummer and the Starliters. I don’t know how I came up with Starliters, but it’s been Johnny Drummer and the Starliters ever since.”

Cats like Sammy Lawhorn, Lefty Dizz and Eddie Shaw were one-time band-mates of Drummer’s back in the 1960s and one fateful evening in 1966, Drummer very nearly became a member of Muddy Waters’ band.

“Mac Arnold – who had been playing with me – started playing bass for Muddy and they was playing in downtown Chicago and I went where they was playing one night. Mac handed me his bass to play a number with Muddy. Muddy knew I played drums, but he didn’t know I played bass. So I played one number and went to get up and Muddy said, ‘No. Sit back down.’ So I played another one and he said the same thing. Every time I went to get up, Muddy would have me play another song and I ended up playing almost the whole night with him,” Drummer said. “Well, a week or so later, Mac left Muddy to start his own band and Muddy called me and asked me to go on the road with him. But the only thing was, I was working for the city (Chicago Board of Education) and had a good job, so I had to turn him down because I was making more money (at his day job) than he was offering. It was an honor, though. He had Mojo Buford on harmonica, Otis Spann on piano, Willie ‘Big Eyes’ on drums and Luther ‘Georgia Boy’ Johnson on guitar at that time. I missed out on a lot of stuff back then because of that job. I missed one of the first times that Junior (Wells) went to Africa, because of that job. I missed going overseas with the Myers (Louis and Dave) brothers, too.”

He may have missed out traveling across the globe with Junior and the Myers, but that doesn’t mean that Drummer didn’t play plenty with them. He sang with the Myers and even recorded an album with them in 1976 for the French label MCM. And the harmonica skills that Drummer possesses today are largely due to the insistence of the legendary Wells.

“Junior had gave me a harmonica back in ‘65 and I took it home and gave it to my son. Well, Junior gave me another one in 1974 and hit me upside the head with it and said, ‘Man, you’re going to blow this!’ He started showing me little licks and things on it. Every time I would see him after that, he would go, ‘Where’s your harp at? You’re supposed to keep that thing in your pocket.’ So I started keeping it in my pocket and thanks to Junior, I started playing harp,” Drummer said. “Junior was nice … we hung out and played and traveled some … he always told me that I sang just like Junior Parker and that I had a harmonica voice. He really stayed on me with that. We had a lot of fun together.”

Although his two-decade long stint at Lee’s Unleaded Blues is more than enough to cement Drummer’s standing as a man who is not afraid to roll up his sleeves and get the job done – night-after-night-after-night, he was also a member of the Chicago Police Department from 1974 until his retirement in 1994. “A lot of people didn’t even know I worked there, but I did for 20 years,” he said. “But I never stopped playing music during my time at the police department. I mean, I played 39 straight New Year’s Eves up until a couple of years ago. Until that time, I had never been off on New Year’s Eve from the early 1960s onward.”

Even though his streak of playing nearly 40 consecutive New Year’s Eves has been snapped, the 77-year-old Drummer still plays music anywhere he can, anytime he can. And he plans on that being the case many years into the future and even scoffs when the idea of retirement is broached.

“Musicians don’t retire, they just die,” he laughed. “We play as long as we can and that’s what I plan on doing. That is, as long as people still enjoy what I do. If I thought the people weren’t enjoying it, I would retire.”

Drummer feels like in order for the blues to continue to grow and to prosper, it needs to take a hint from what’s going on in the country-and-western world these days.

“There’s still room for the blues to grow, it just needs more publicity. We just need the right people to record it (the blues) for it to get publicity and the right air-play. You’ve only got seven notes in music, you know? It’s what you do with them that counts. County-and-western has got all these young kids making music and all these other young kids (in the audience) see that and they want to play it, too,” he said. “The blues needs that to happen, too. But the blues will never die. Young players are still picking up on it – they may be from Japan or from Chicago or somewhere else – and as long as they keep picking up on it, there’s the chance that they will get the right publicity and air-play like some of these young country artists are getting. And that’s nothing but good for the blues.”

Visit Johnny’s website at

 Photos by Bob Kieser © 2015 Blues Blast Magazine

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 5 

Mike Sponza & Central European Orchestra (CD & DVD Combo)

Epopos Music Switzerland

13 Original Tracks/73:43

Mike Sponza is a European musician that plays guitar, sings, and composes unique music. This CD & DVD combo was released to highlight and celebrate 30 years of passion for the music. Sponza bought his first guitar in 1983 and has never looked back. With a wide resume of playing international festivals and club gigs, Mike has managed to make his own sound and stays committed to being new, fresh and original.

A style that is best described as blues and soul, Sponza has been a pioneer for blues in Central Europe since his first release in 1997. Releasing a CD & DVD together give the listener a unique experience of seeing what they are hearing. The 30-piece orchestra provides a real blues experience that is vibrant including percussions, cellos, brass, violins, and backing vocals. It is a project that took Mike three years to bring it on stage including writing all the arrangements for orchestra, trying to find the chance to perform. The final showcases ends up being in Trieste, Italy on a rainy night at a blues festival.

What is even more interesting than the CD alone, the crowd during the live DVD performance is absolutely respectful. They are fairly quiet during the songs and clap and the end of each tune. It is very refreshing to see an audience actually pay attention to the music, show, and entertainment. With so many talented performers on stage and the elaborate set up, it is impossible not to appreciate the workmanship.

A few mentionable songs include “You”, “Out Of My Mind”, and “Anxiety”.

“You” is a song composed of pleading lyrics and great horn accompaniment. A tale of dare I say love or lust and needing someone. A nicely placed middle of the song guitar solo and piano will leave the listener wanting more.

“Out Of My Mind” is a jazzy tune with a powerful opening. Of course, it seems to be a song about a woman. The orchestra shines on this track with horns, strings, and strong vocals by Sponza. Not sure what it is but women, men, and blues seems to go together. Many tales have been told and I am quite sure many more to come!

“Anxiety” has an entrancing string into that is quite catchy. All of us, at one time or another have been able to relate to these lyrics. Lying in bed, tossing and turning with the mind running wild is surely the blues!

According to his website, Sponza plays different venues and plans to continue make appearances. Last year Mike played over 70 live performances, so keep an eye out!

Reviewer Shannon Courto has been a Blues enthusiast since 1999. Her favorite types include delta Blues, Chicago Blues & jump/swing. She is lucky to live in St. Louis, Missouri where the music is flourishing.

 Featured Blues Video Of The Week – Albert Castiglia 

Albert Castiglia performing “Big Toe” in this studio quality video from Don Odells Legends.

Albert is performing at the Tampa Bay Blues Festival at 2:30pm on Sunday April 12, 2015.

For tickets and info to to see this amazing artist at the fest CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 5 

The DogTown Blues Band – DogTown Blues

Self Release

12 tracks / 52:22

DogTown is the West Los Angeles neighborhood that separates the communities of Venice Beach and Santa Monica. In the 1970s it was the rougher part of town and it was the nexus of the skateboarding revolution that brought the sport into the mainstream. This neighborhood captures the essence of the LA surf and skate culture, and the guys from the southland-based DogTown Blues Band have adopted it as their moniker. The band recently self-released their debut album, DogTown Blues, which brings a cool mixture of blues and jazz for your listening pleasure.

Though they met up in Southern California, the band members bring diverse musical influences from all parts of the US to the studio. Producer, songwriter and guitarist Richard Lubovitch hails from Chicago, and in his career he has been a sideman for Rufus Thomas and Gatemouth Brown and run his own recording studio. He wrote eight of the twelve tracks for this disk, with help from singer Q. Williams and harpmaster Bill Barrett. They were joined in the studio by Wayne Peet on keys, Tad Weed on piano, Trevor Ware and Tom Lilly on bass, and Lance Lee on the skins. There is not enough room here to run down all of their CVs but they have a wealth of experience, having played with big-time acts that include Kenny G, Diana Ross, Edgar Winters, Kenny Burrell, and Lindsey Buckingham.

DogTown Blues kicks off with “She Was Not a Girl at All,” and right away the PG-13 rating is guaranteed for this album – do not put this in the mix for you kid’s next birthday party. Though these guys are top-flight musicians, they are still having a ton of fun. Q. Williams’ voice is throaty and full of wry humor as he leads the band through this hearty blues romp. Their sound is huge with piano, Hammond organ and a super-tight backline. You will find a similar humorous theme to the slightly misogynistic “Ugly Girl Blues” which brings things right into R-rated territory.

But these guys are no joke, as they can tear off some serious blues too. “Slow Jam Blues” is a guitar-driving instrumental with a killer harmonica lead. This is followed-up by the “Sexy Man Blues” which features Weed cutting loose on his boogie woogie piano for a couple of top-shelf breaks. “Drunkard Blues” slows things down a bit, and lets Q. Williams’ fabulous voice take the front of the stage with a rich foundation of organ setting the mood.

These tunes are interspersed with four covers, including a smooth instrumental version of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Wang Dang Doodle,” a 1960 tune that was written by Willie Dixon. Then there are three other songs that you would never expect to find from a group with “Blues Band” in its name. The first of these is an instrumental of the Young Rascals’ 1967 chart topper, “Groovin’.” The vocals are switched out for Barrett’s harmonica and Lubovitch’s guitar in this laid back jazz-influenced R&B tune, and it all comes together very nicely. It is interesting that the DogTown Blues band only did instrumental versions of these tunes, as it makes it seem like they have great respect for the originals, but want to make them their own by providing a different type of voice. It is a good strategy, as it makes the album much more interesting.

There is also a sweet re-do of the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s “Take 5” with Lubovitch taking on Paul Desmond’s sax part. Richard does a great job of capturing the sax feel with his axe in what is probably the most recognizable jazz hit of all time. The final cover finishes up the album and it is way outside the box: Frank Zappa’s epic song from 1969, “Son of Mr. Green Genes.” This one was an instrumental to start with, and Richard cut this fusion/prog-rock classic down to five minutes to make it more accessible. They also took a more laid back approach to bring it more into the conventional jazz realm, and it works out just fine.

DogTown Blues is well recorded, and the songs are sequenced seamlessly so that nothing is out of place and the album can stand as a singular whole, not just a collection of diverse songs. This project is a terrific debut from the DogTown Blues Band, and they are going to have to aim high to top this one. If you like jazz and blues, it is worth your time to give it a listen!

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

 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 5 

Cesar Crespo & The Pinball’s Blues Party – Guitar Player

Dogshound Recordings

11 songs – 53 minutes

The Cesar Crespo who leads The Pinball’s Blues Party is not the same person as the former second baseman for the Baltimore Orioles. Instead, he is a rather tasty modern electric blues guitar player hailing from Madrid, Spain. He formed The Pinball’s Blues Party in November 2012 and Guitar Player is their first album, recorded in February 2014.

Featuring five songs written by Crespo himself, one by guest guitarist Iker Piris, and an intelligent selection of minor classics by the likes of Big Walter, Duke Robillard, T-Bone Walker and Ronnie Earl, Guitar Player covers all the bases expected of a contemporary blues album, from Robillard’s jazzy jump blues of “”Jumpin’ Beans” and T-Bone’s mournful “Here In The Dark” to the bouncing instrumental of “La Siesta De La Tortuga”.

As one might expect from an album entitled Guitar Player and featuring a cover photograph of Crespo spanking his plank with abandon, this is an album with a heavy focus on the band-leader’s electric guitar skills. However, to Crespo’s credit, he does not let the guitar playing overwhelm the songs. His first rate band are given space to play, in particular the harmonica of Fernando Jimenez on songs such as “Sometimes”. Guitarist Roman Mateo, drummer Carlos Arsuaga and bassist Diego de la Torre lay down a solid rhythmic foundation over which Javier Diaz adds subtle piano and organ. Iker Piris guests on guitar and vocals on “Sometimes” and “La Siesta De La Tortuga.” Ricardo Avila, Emilio Arsuaga and Benito Diaz also contribute. Interestingly, given that Crespo’s influences appear to be primarily the up-town East and West Coast players, at times the band’s playing sounds more influenced by the classic British blues bands like Fleetwood Mac.

Guitar Player is something of a “traditional/modern” blues album, in that it takes advantage of today’s recording techniques, but the music itself could have been recorded 40 years ago. The band plays with genuine authenticity but they never over-play. Indeed, given that Crespo came to the blues from a background in garage rock and hardcore thrash metal bands, his own restraint and control are particularly impressive. He has a very pure, clean tone to his playing, which sounds very much like a Stratocaster plugged straight into a Fender amp a la Ronnie Earl or Anson Funderburgh.

The major weakness in the album is Crespo’s voice, which is somewhat thin and reedy. A weak voice of course is not in itself a bad thing. However, whether it is the fact that he is singing in his second language or whether it is simply a lack of experience, there is a lack of confidence and assertiveness in his vocals that undermines the emotional impact of the lyrics.

Notwithstanding this, Guitar Player is a very enjoyable first album from a band that features some top class blues musicians. There is obviously a lot of talent on board, but the suspicion remains that there is a lot more to come from The Pinball’s Blues Party.

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 – 5 of 5 

RC and the Moonpie Band – Individually Wrapped


74 tracks (61 blank, 13 songs

Recorded in the deep woods of North Carolina at Houndsounds Studios, the debut recording of the Moonpie Band is an eclectic mix of blues, soul, rock, R&B, funk and who knows what else. Ranging from the traditional to a little interstellar weirdness, the album grows on the listener. Robert Marlowe on guitar, T Bone Betourney on drums. Robert “RC” Christian on vocals, Mike Longiovino on bass and Russell Pleasants on backing vocals are the Moonpies. There is some help on guitars, vocals, keys and harp and the most notable are listed below.

The album opens with the original “F In Funk.” SInce Muddy put the Unk in Funk, they figured they’d better put the F up there. RC sings as Marlowe beats out some nice guitar work. Gary Pope adds slide and Dale MacPherson blows a little harp. Straight Chicago blues, a nice hook. “Country Girl”is a swing tune as RC sings and Pleasants helps out, too. I liked the sound and the swing was danceable and fun. Marlowe picks out a nice solo and supporting lines, too. “Squeeze Play Blues” is the third straight original and by now interest peaks. A baseball song written after and Oriole/Nationals game no less. Pope slides well and the boys use baseball analogies and innuendos as RC and Russell sing about their attempts to woo. Interesting song and the slide is non-stop fun and the corny yet funny innuendos are also non-stop. Great lyrics!

Pops Staples’ “Hope In A Hopeless World” is blues and soul. The wah pedal makes for what Marlowe calls a “gospel porn touch.” An apt description. It’s like going to church only without the sacred. Lorette Christian does a duo with RC and it’s delivered well. The original “Sweet Tooth” follows. Funky fun with a strong bass line. Both RC and Russell share the vocal job; RC is more effective than Russell here. Big guitar solo and a little fun as the boys do a take off on “I Like Candy.” “I Wouldn’t Treat a Dog” is a Bobby “Blue” Bland cut and RC takes things seriously and is quite intriguing. I liked it a lot! Nice guitar and Pleasants comes in for some vocal support, too.

They cover Jimmy Vaughn’s “Hey Yeah” which is rocked and amped up from the original. The Hey’s and Yeah’s are the same, but they mix things up and it works. Lots of guitars here. “Lonesome and Then Some” is a Tommy Castro cut. Jeff Cochran plays guitar here and it’s sweet. Good work! “Kiss” is next. A Prince song? Why not? Done in flamenco meets the swamp style, they give it a Moonpie spin and make it sound completely different than the original.

Billy Ray Charles’ “Viagra” was apparently done in two parts. One day drunk even. But it works. RC shines as he sings and testifies. I came away from this knowing Moscato ain’t free and that RC is a bad ass. “Like A Puma” is an original that’s next. Pumas, cougars, whatever; they are all the same. A song of aggressive a middle aged lustful woman. It’s fun and bouncy stuff. Dave Hood’s sax adds a nice touch. The closed the listed songs with Willie Dixon’s “Wang Dang Doodle.” A tribute to Coco, i’s fun but sounds a bit disjointed. My least favorite cut of the album, but you can tell they are trying hard.

61 blank 4 second tracks follow and then they add “Funky Carolina,” which converts Rufus Thomas’ “Funky Mississippi” to their state. A funky travelogues for North Carolina. It’s fun but I don’t understand 61 blank tracks being there. They complete the effort well with their Muscle Shoals lite ensemble and it was a fun listen. First time through I honestly said, “WTF?” but with a couple more listens I was saying more like, “Why not?” It’s fun stuff. RC is a credible front man, the original songs are cool and the cover are very much their own. Check them out- you won’t be disappointed. The Moonpies are individually wrapped for freshness and after you sample them a few times it become really a lot of fun to listen to. A nice debut for sure!

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 reer in nuclear submarines. In addition to working in his civilian career since 1996, he writes for and publishes the bi-monthly newsletter for Crossroads, chairs their music festival and works with their Blues In The Schools program. He resides in Byron, IL.

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Blues Kids Foundation – Chicago, IL

Fernando Jones’ Blues Camp – For Kids 12 – 18 years Old – “Summer 2015”  The Blues Kids Foundation proudly presents, in partnership with host sites below, Fernando Jones’ Blues Camps. We will award tuition waiver scholarships to over 250 music and audio/visual students (ages 12 to 18), collectively, who attend.

Through this priceless, fun-filled experience the Blues Kid will learn and perform America’s root music in a week long program with like minded others under the direction and supervision of highly qualified instructors. Entry is competitive. Audition dates can be found at under the host city’s name.

Openings for entry-level student musicians may also be available. Participants are expected to audition online at International students may audition. Out-of-town Blues Campers must be accompanied by a legal parent or guardian, and are responsible for their own lodging and accommodations.

2015 Blues Camps will be host cities include Chicago, Los Angeles, London, Nashville, Miami, Hampton, and Corona.

For more details or call 312-369-3229.

Friends of the Blues – Kankakee IL area

The Friends of the Blues announce their 2015 Concert Series. All shows start at 7 pm. April 16 – Back Pack Jones – Moose Lodge – Bradley IL, April 28 – Mississippi Heat – Moose Lodge – Bradley IL, May 12 – Jim Suhler & Monkey Beat – Kankakee Valley Boat Club – Kankakee IL, May 21, The Ori Naftaly Band – Moose Lodge – Bradley IL, June 9 – Frank Bang & Secret Stash – Moose Lodge – Bradley IL, June 23 – Victor Wainwright – Moose Lodge – Bradley IL, July 7 – Brent Johnson & Call Up with Sugarcane Collins – The Longbranch – L’Erable IL, July 21 – Nick Moss Band with Chicago Blues Angels – The Longbranch – L’Erable IL, July 30 – Studebaker John & Hawks – Kankakee Valley Boat Club – Kankakee IL, August 5 – Damon Fowler Band – Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmen’s Club – Bourbonnais IL, August 18 – Too Slim and Taildraggers with Polly O’Keary and Rhythm Method The Longbranch – L’Erable IL, August 27 – Albert Castiglia with Maybe Later – The Longbranch – L’Erable IL

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. March 30 – Liz Mandeville from Chicago, April 6 – The Blues Deacons from Champaign, April 13 – Jason Elmore from Dallas, April 20 – Brad Vickers and the Vestapolitans from NY, April 27 – Tom Holland and the Shufflekings from Chicago

Additional ICBC shows (all held in Springfield, Illinois): April 2 – James Armstrong Presents @ The Alamo, 6 pm. Guest hosts, Stone Cold Blues Band, April 16 – James Armstrong Presents @ The Alamo, 6 pm. Guest hosts, Mary Jo Curry & Tombstone Bullet.

Questions regarding this press release can be directed to Michael Rapier, President of ICBC, at at 217-899-9422, or contact Greg Langdon, Live Events Chair, at or by visiting

Blues Overdose 3/26/2015 – These free tracks are available for 30 days. More info below.

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1.) Click the link below where it says “Click HERE to download” just after any of the artist descriptions below. (You only need to do this once as all the tracks are there!)

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Hurricane Ruth

“Dance, Dance Norma Jean” from the album Born On The River

Hurricane Ruth’s sophomore album, “Born on the River,” is an eclectic group of 11 original songs, the title track of which together with several other songs were inspired by lead vocalist Ruth LaMaster’s hometown of Beardstown, Illinois, a small town on the Illinois River. Born on the River is receiving national and international acclaim, and was nominated for the IBC Best Self-Produced CD 2015. It has consistently ranked on The Roots Music Report, as well as many other national and international charts. For more information visit

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Mike Osborne & The Drivers

“When I Listen To The Blues” from the album Driven By A Sound

“Driven By A Sound” is the latest CD release by Michael Osborn and the Drivers! This recording was produced by four of the Northwest’s finest Blues musicians and is a brilliant collection of excellent songwriting, vocals, some fine blues guitar and harp playing that is not to be missed. The band is led by Michael Osborn, long-time lead guitarist and bandleader for the late, great John Lee Hooker; Dave Mathis (nominated in 2014 for best Blues Harmonica by the Cascade Blues Association) on Blues harp and vocals; K. G. Jackson on bass and vocals and John Moore on drums. Featured guests include the Portland Horns: Chris Mercer, Joe McCarthy and Brad Ulrich! All band members are recipients of the Cascade Blues Association’s Muddy Awards and nominations in various categories and collectively have backed such Blues greats as Albert Collins, William Clarke, Robert Cray, Willie Dixon, Sista Monica, Robben Ford, Bill Rhoades and so many others.

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RC And The Moonpie Band

“Country Girl” from the album RC And The Moonpie Band

While many consider RC and The Moonpie Band to be a blues band they are perhaps more accurately described as an American roots band, playing R ‘n B, soul, blues and rock ‘n roll. Their debut recording Individually Wrapped reflects the many influences of this 5 piece band from Green Swamp North Carolina in their interpretations of obscure songs from Bobby “Blue” Bland, Jimmy Vaughan and Rufus Thomas as well as their original compositions about farmers’ daughters, sexual innuendo and baseball. The Moonpie Band is made up of veterans of Brunswick County’s vibrant music scene Robert Marlowe, Mike Logiovino and T Bone Betourney as well as newcomers Robert “RC” Christian and Russell Pleasants.

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Lisa Biales

“Sad Sad Sunday” from the album Belle Of The Blues

With Tommy Talton on dobro, EG Kight on guitar, Randall Bramblett on Hamond B3, Bill Stewart on drums and Johnny Fountain on Bass. Lisa’s clear as a bell voice has garnered her a fitting moniker on this, her ninth album. She stepped into the world of the blues when she met EG Kight who produced this recording with Paul Hornsby at Muscadine Studio in Macon, GA. Highly recommended to anyone in needing a fix of traditional acoustic blues.

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The Jay Willie Blues Band

“Dirty Two Thirty” from the album Rumblin’ and Slidin’

On their second ZOHO release, the Jay Willie Blues Band lays down 14 vintage Texas blues and ballads, including six scorching originals plus classics by Muddy Waters, Link Wray, and more.

Influenced by the incendiary guitar work of Texas blues legend Johnny Winter, guitarist/singer/songwriter Jay Willie fortifies his band with Winter s high-energy ex-drummer Bobby T Torello.

Other special guests include R&B singer Suzanne Vick ( Fly Away ), and harmonica ace Jason Ricci.

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