Issue 9-15 April 9, 2015


Cover photo by Bob Kieser © 2015 Blues Blast Magazine


  In This Issue 

Terry Mullins has our feature interview with harmonica ace RJ Mischo.

We have 5 music reviews for you including music from Steve Earle & The Dukes, RJ Mischo, Junior Wells, Brad Hatfield and Aaron Burton.

Our video of the week is Bernard Allison performing “Too Many Women”.

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


 From The Editor’s Desk 

Hey Blues Fans,

Our friends at the Tampa Bay Blues Fest are having their festival this weekend at Vinoy Park in St Petersburg, Florida.

They have a great show planned with Brandon Santini, Denise LaSalle, John Nemeth, Rod Piazza & The Mighty Flyers and Tower Of Power on Friday April 10th, Bernard Allison Group, Carolyn Wonderland, Tab Benoit, Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters and Boz Scaggs on Saturday April 11th and Betty Fox, Albert Castiglia, Bryan Lee, The Lee Boys and Southern Hospitality on Sunday April 12th. A great lineup on the beach in sunny Florida. What are you waiting for? Don’t miss this one. For tickets and more info, click on their ad below or visit www.tampabaybluesfest.com.

Also you have one more week to submit your music for the 2015 Blues Blast Music Awards. Check out the details in the ad below or visit www.TheBBMAs.com for complete information.

Finally, there is only one more week to take advantage of our Festival Early Bird Ad Special. With this special-priced advertising package you can advertise your festival or new CD in 8 issues of Blues Blast Magazine for only $400. It is our lowest price of the year, but hurry, this sale ends on April 15th. So get it before it is gone.

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser



Festival Early Bird Ad Special

67% OFF – THE LOWEST PRICES FOR 2015 SEASON!!!

Blues Blast Magazine’s Early Bird Special is our lowest-priced advertising of the 2015 year. It offers an affordable & effective way to get the Blues word out!

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

Normal 2015 Advertising rates start at $150 per issue of Blues Blast magazine. BUT, for a limited time, this special gives you eight issues of Blues Blast Magazine for only $400. (A $1200 value!)

Blues Blast Magazine is a great way to promote anything. More than 33,000 Blues fans read our magazine each week. They are located in all 50 states and in more than 90 countries. Weekly issues of Blues Blast Magazine are also posted on our popular website. We get more than 2,000,000 (That’s TWO MILLION) hits and more than 45,000 visitors a month at our website.

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

With this special rate, your ad can be viewed more than 350,000 times by our readers who want to know about your Blues events and music! Reserve your space today! Space is limited and will be sold on a first come first served basis.

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

Ads must be reserved and paid for by April 15th, 2015!!!



 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 5 

Steve Earle & The Dukes – Terraplane

New West Records

www.SteveEarle.com

11 tracks/36:12

Over his thirty year career, singer and songwriter Steve Earle has been at the forefront of the Americana music movement. Since he escaped the grip of substance abuse, Earle has freely mixed elements of rock, country, folk, and bluegrass into a potent blend of music that never shied away from addressing controversial topics or examining facets of modern life. Blues has also been a part of his sonic landscape with originals like “Hometown Blues”, “Meet Me In The Alleyway”, and “South Nashville Blues” being fixtures in his repertoire.

In the liner notes for his latest excursion, he delves into a brief attempt to describe the nature of blues music before offering this summation, “For my part, I’ve only believed two things about the blues: one, that they are very democratic, the commonest of human experiences, perhaps the only thing that we all truly share and two, that one day, when it was time, I would make this record”.

“Baby Baby Baby (Baby),” is a rowdy shuffle that starts things off in fine fashion. Earle belts out the lyrics like he is preaching to the weekend crowd at a local juke joint. He blows some minimalist harp that seamlessly melds with Chris Masterson’s sinuous guitar licks. The familiar theme of the Devil at the crossroads gets a modern treatment on “The Tennessee Kid,” with the singer calling out the evil spirit by his many names while The Kid cries foul. “You never mentioned nothin’ about no kinda’ note. Just said sign here, It’s just a soul – you’ll never miss it!” Eleanor Whitmore’s fiddle adds an unearthly element to the tale of the supernatural realm.

The rhythm section for Earle’s band, the Dukes, lays down a Jimmy Reed-style groove on “The Usual Time”. Kelly Looney on bass and Will Rigby on drums set a forceful pace on “You’re the Best Lover That I Ever Had” before switching to a lighter, swinging foundation for “Baby’s Just As Mean As Me”. The former finds Earle in the throes of an illicit love affair while the latter track has him sharing the spotlight with Whitmore for a spirited vocal duet proclaiming their passion can survive the occasional rough spots.

Earle picks up the mandolin for “Acquainted With The Wind,” combining with Whitmore’s fiddle for a backwoods’ flavor as the singer boisterously heralds his rambling nature. The band also uses acoustic instruments on “Ain’t Nobody’s Daddy Now,” with the singer praising big city women while denying them a hold on his body & soul. “Better Off Alone” is a dark, brooding look at the final moments of a disintegrating relationship.

Other standout tracks include “Go Go Boots Are Back,” sounding like it came straight from Keith Richards’ workshop. Earle repeatedly shares his delight at the change in fashion and the cyclical nature of life while the Dukes produce a churning cauldron of rhythmic force. The hard-rocking’ “King Of The Blues” packages familiar imagery into a gritty manifesto, leaving Earle to boast about his mastery of all things in this world and the next, finishing off with the pronouncement, “I’m the last word in lonesome – and the King of the Blues”.

Leave it to Steve Earle to craft a loving tribute to blues music that celebrates the past by refusing to merely copy it. With masterful backing from the Dukes, he offers the world a vibrant take on the genre that maintains focus on the songs and their emotional core, eschewing long-winded displays of instrumental technical mastery. We can only hope that more artists and bands take his approach to heart. The world would indeed be a better place.

Reviewer Mark Thompson lives in Florida, where he is enjoying life without snow. He is a member of the Board of Directors for the Suncoast Blues Society and the past president of the Crossroads Blues Society of Northern Illinois. Music has been a huge part of his life for the past fifty years – just ask his wife!.


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: bluesblastmagazine.com/2015-blues-blast-submission-information/

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: http://www.thebbmas.com.



 Featured Blues Interview – RJ Mischo 

He may be a man without a band, but that sure doesn’t mean that he’s a man without a plan.

Quite the contrary, actually.

RJ Mischo’s plan is a well-crafted and quite ingenious one.

The Fayetteville, Arkansas-based harmonica master explains:

“For years now, man, I’ve been the guy without a band. I literally tour all over many countries and all over the United States and I play with different bands. I pick up bands locally and regionally with local players everywhere I go,” he said. “I jump in a car and drive by myself, or hop on a plane and go to Europe by myself, and I play with pickup guys all over the world.”

Mischo’s plan of attack may at first seem a bit odd – or at the very least, off the beaten-path – but when you stop and think about it for a minute, it’s really brilliant and creates a win-win situation for both the musicians and the audiences that hear them.

It’s really improvisation at its best form,” he said. “Typically, everybody is on their game. They really come to play and are really on their toes. They’re not just sitting there, playing with a guy that they’ve been on the road with for three years and know the songs so well that they’re bored, because they could play those songs in their sleep. They’re on their toes and there’s such an energy that you get a real, live musical conversation going on, instead of just going in and doing the standard routine you’ve done for years.”

Mischo’s revolutionary new way of traveling the blues highway all by his lonesome, picking up new band members as he hits different towns, didn’t come to him in a dream or was not hatched in some sort of laboratory setting. No, its birth was much less complex and less of a grand design than that.

“Well, fans that had a band over in Europe contacted me and asked if I would be interested in going over there and playing some dates with them. They organized the dates and I just went over there and played with their band,” Mischo said. “So I’ve just kind of carried that concept for going on 15 or 20 years now. It’s been that long since I’ve had a regular lineup. What has developed out of that is I have played with the best guys in the world, man. To me, that’s just much more blues, in a way. I will advance them (the guys he plays with) a few songs that will have something to them that you just can’t pull off on the fly and then other stuff that we play will be spontaneous stuff. Usually, the spontaneous stuff ends up being more musical.”

Mischo’s resume includes over a dozen albums issued in his own name – the latest one being Everything I Need. It features Jeremy Johnson and Frank Krakowski on guitar, along with Bruce McCabe on piano and the rhythm section of Billy Black and Victor Span. His 2012 release, Make It Good, was issued on Delta Groove, but for Everything I Need, Mischo chose a different route.

“Well, it’s a self-release and frankly, I have done very little as far as promotion on that record,” he said. “But so far it’s done great; I just found out it’s a big seller in Finland. It’s just such a good-sounding record.”

Mischo is endorsed by Hohner harmonicas and he’s quick to point out his essential go-to harp that pretty much works for any and all occasions.

“A Hohner Marina Band harmonica, key of A. That’s a good harp to play in the key of E, or in the key of A, with. There’s pretty much always an A harp in my pocket no matter where I’m at,” he said.

When he’s not busy traveling the globe and favoring his audiences with a big-sized dose of swampy shuffles and dancehall boogie, Mischo can be found several times a year in the friendly confines of Clarksdale, Mississippi at Jon Gindick’s Harmonica Jam Camp, where he is a featured instructor.

“Jon had me in originally as a guest coach a couple of times and then a couple of years ago, he invited me to be a core coach. So that’s what happened and now we’re doing four a year and it’s a nice diversion to doing bar gigs and what-not,” he said. “It’s almost a week-long thing that starts on Tuesday and goes through Saturday. This brings in anywhere from 18 to 30 campers – people that either want to advance their techniques or even just learn how to play – from all over the world. They come from New Zealand, Australia, Europe, Canada, South America … just all over.”

For more years than be counted, a ton of aspiring musicians have turned to the Mel Bay series of instructional books as a way to either get started on their instrument, or to help hone their craft. Count Mischo among those that have lent their talents to those iconic teaching aids.

“That was through David Barrett (a harmonica educator who has a harmonica masterclass out of San Jose, California), who has published stuff for Mel Bay. He’s sampled my playing on a CD that comes with one of the beginner’s instructional Mel Bay books. He uses an exercise for people to play along with and then he samples several of us going at it … (Gary) Primich is on there … it’s like a 12-bar groove and it gives students different views of how pros would approach a groove,” Mischo said. “Then there’s the Mel Bay Encyclopedia of the Harmonica that I’m entered in.”

Not unlike many other music fans that eventually fell in love with the blues, Mischo’s first tastes of the genre that would soon consume most of his adult life came via blues-based rock-n-roll back when he was a youngster growing up in Minnesota.

“Yeah, I had started to get into blues music through the recordings of the Allman Brothers and different stuff like that and I would look at the writer’s credits and see names like Willie Dixon and T-Bone Walker and those kinds of guys. Stuff on those bigger labels was so much more accessible to us than finding the more obscure artists (own records) back then,” he said. “And when I was either 16 or 17, I saw a Muddy Waters’ performance live and that was the thing that really sent me into becoming a real blues freak … you know, seeing a real blues show like that live.”

His nudge towards picking up a harmonica for the very first time came thanks to some of his older siblings.

“I’m the youngest of four boys and my older brothers all dabbled in music – none of them became professionals – but they all dabbled in music and there was always a lot of instruments around. One of my older brothers had some Hohner Marine Band harmonicas lying around and I just kind of got interested in those,” he said. “My same older brother that bought me a harp knew that Muddy usually had harmonica in his band and said, ‘Man, if you get a chance, you should try to go see Muddy Waters play.’ He thought that would be something I liked and he was right.”

Knowing that it was Muddy Waters that really flipped Mischo’s blues-loving switch in the first place, it’s really no surprise who he cites as some of his essential influences.

“All the major guys from the post-war harmonica scene; Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson, Big Walter Horton, James Cotton, George ‘Harmonica’ Smith, Junior Wells,” he said. “But also, contemporary guys like Lynwood Slim – may he rest in peace. I was living in the Twin Cities when I started getting into playing and we used to run together a lot. He was about five or six years older than me. I met him when I was about 17 and he was already performing pretty prolifically there in the Twin Cities area. We did crazy stuff together, stuff on the other side of the law that had nothing to do with music. But he also helped steer me musically in the direction of what to listen to and different things to do to work out tone … he gave me instruction without it ever being like sit-down instruction. He gave me tips and guidance. And in my early-20s, I used to run around a lot with Mojo Buford. We were friends through his entire life.”

The Minnesota Twin Cities of Minneapolis-Saint Paul may not get a ton of love – from those outside the area – as a hotbed of the blues, but according to Mischo, people may be missing out on the region’s rich and lasting contributions to the music.

“I think a lot of people don’t realize it, but a lot of the Mississippi transplants that went north during the Great Migration to look for work ended up there, because it’s a mill city, a big factory town,” he said. “In addition to Lynwood and Mojo, you had guys like Sonny ‘Cat Daddy’ Rodgers, a guitar player that spent time in Muddy’s band. There was the great jazz player Jack McDuff and also Leonard ‘Baby Do’ Caston, who was in the Big Three Trio (with Willie Dixon and guitarist Ollie Crawford). Jojo Williams was there, S.P. Leary lived there for awhile. I used to see Lazy Bill Lucas play and let’s not forget Percy Strothers, who was originally from Vicksburg, Mississippi. He was there and I played and recorded with him on what turned out to be a pretty well-known underground record (RJ & The Kid) that really put me on the world map. In the ‘80s and ‘90s for quite awhile, demographics said that the Twin Cities bought more blues CDs and LPs per capita than any place in the world. The Twin Cities has always been a very supportive market for the blues.”

After departing Minnesota in the mid-90s, Mischo’s next stop was also a happening place for the blues – California.

“That was a great move. I really liked it out there. Bill Clarke was a big influence on me and then there’s Rod Piazza and of course, Kim Wilson. I also really liked Mark Hummel and Andy Just and those guys,” he said. “I was into that whole West Coast harmonica scene and buying their records when I was in my 20s back in the early 1980s.”

Although he’s overly-modest when the subject is broached, Mischo has turned into one heck of a blues singer. While his vocals may not quite match his world-class abilities on the harp, they’re certainly not very far off, either.

“I’ve never considered myself a singer. It was just always out of necessity because nobody wants just a harmonica player. It’s usually the harmonica player that ends up putting the band together,” he said. “I’m such a blues and R&B freak … really just a ‘good music’ freak. There’s so much stuff that I listen to that inspires me.”

Given that he first started blowing harp at age 10 and has been a professional musician since his late teens, it’s no stretch to say that Mischo has seen a lot of water pass under the bridge over the years. But at the end of the day, no matter where he’s playing – or who he’s playing with – Mischo acknowledges his journey basically boils down to just one thing.

“It seems strange, just turning 55 now and realizing I’ve been doing this for so long and I still feel like a kid,” he laughed. “But it’s all about the music now. It used to be more about getting recognition and trying to climb the ladder and whatever. It used to be about a lot more than just the music, but now, it’s all about the spiritualization of playing good music and giving the soul a satisfying feeling of knowing its good. It’s all about the groove; all about the feel. It took a long time for me to realize that, but hey, man – it’s all about how the instrument sounds and how the groove feels. When you’ve got those two things in combination together, that’s all you need, man.”

While it’s by no means fun and enjoyable to grow old, the experience that comes with the ageing process can be a good thing, especially when it concerns the tough task of trying to make a living playing the blues.

“Ah, man, it’s always just been hard (playing music for a living). At this point, I do keep a pretty darn full calendar that is unsolicited, or that I don’t have to work really hard at filling,” he said. “So maybe it is getting easier for me, because whereas you’re a kid just starting out, you’re on the phone constantly calling every place you can think that might let you play, because nobody’s calling you. But these days, people are actually finding me.”

Even though the world of the blues seems to be on the verve of standing-room only, with new bands and new artists jumping onto the bandwagon at an alarming rate, Mischo doesn’t really dwell on all that and he’s not at all concerned with whether a lot of those newer artists should even be classified as blues musicians in the first place.

“I just try to do what I do and really not worry that much about what all is out there and what all is seeping in … I mean, you just hear so much negatively out of people about this guy not deserving that, or what-not,” he said. “I just try to avoid that whole thing, even if you do feel that way sometimes. Like David Berntson said, ‘Get better, not bitter.’ That was a great line that he said. Get better and don’t even worry about what other people are doing.”

Visit RJ’s website at rjblues.com.

Blues Blast Magazine Senior Writer Terry Mullins is a journalist 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 

RJ Mischo – Everything I Need

Self-Released

www.rjblues.com

12 tracks

This is RJ’s twelfth album and by my count he’s appeared on twelve more. The twelve tracks here must be a lucky number because Misho’s web site claims this is his best album. It would be a hard statement to argue; Mischo has been surrounding himself with great band mates on his albums and shows and he’s done another discerning job picking his band here, too. It’s a really kick ass album with one of the finest harp players out there.

Jeremy Johnson is a staple on guitar on many of Mischo’s albums and another favorite of mine in Little Frank Krakowski also plays guitar here; what a great combo!. On piano we haves Bruce McCabe from the Lamont Cranston Band and Billy Black and Victor Span provide the backline support. Recorded at Johnson’s Barking Jack Studios in St. Paul Minnesota, the sound is clean and tight. Chicago blues done by masters of the sound!

“Got My Passport” is a swinging shuffling train song where RJ chugs and blows the whistle; maybe an overdone concept but I love it when it’s done well and Mischo is a pro. The rest of the band boogies along and Mischo delivers a suave vocal performance as he always does. McCabe’s piano is spot on and the guitar work is clean and precise. “She’s My Baby” opens to Mischo blowing some dirty notes and then giving us some tender and juicy slow blues. Slow blues done right can be savored like BBQ ribs where the meat just falls off the bone as you eat it; Mischo’s vocals and harp make me feel the same way. Beautiful stuff! “Big Walter Boogie” pays tribute to the man who played his harp on Maxwell Street. This instrumental flows as it shucks and jives along at a very nice clip. The tone is breath taking as Mischo just seems to be able to make the notes flow like honey. With “Everything I Need” we guitar and vocals and the second guitar playing off the vocals and lead guitar. Seminal Chicago blues done in a slow and delightfully succulent manner. Mischo doesn’t even need to touch his harp here.

“Sugar Baby” is a jumping blues love song where Mischo alternates on vocals and harp with equal effect. A steady groove maintains the flow as Mischo makes some dirty harp sound clean and fresh. Things slow down for “Soul Swamp,” a song that is haunting and reminds me a little of Charlie Musselwhite when he gets reflective and tells stories with his harp. Mischo gives it his all and this pretty little instrumental flows sweetly from one side of the bayou to another. Thoughtful and fun stuff and then the guitar comes in to solo in similar fashion- well done! Then it time for Mischo to work and he takes us through the second half of the song and then goes out in a sensual fade. “Leave Your Man” has guitar ringing like a bell and harp to intro and then Mischo stridently take the vocal lead. A great and tight little boogie with nice keys to boot, and that leads us to “Little Walter Shuffle.” Mischo is equally adept in the realms of Big and Little Walter. The moody jump and swinging blues of Little Walter come out here as he pays homage to the great harp player in his style of play. He squeezes everything he can get out of those little Hohners!

“Next up is “Keep On Lyin’” where Mischo comes in with the guitar on a strong and intense beat as he tells his woman to do what the title says because the truth won’t do her no good. The guitar sets the tone here with a big, driving beat that the rest of the song is built around. The second guitar comes in for some pretty licks in and out as Mischo blows cool stuff and sings to us as he adds more and more reverb to finish up. “Got My Brand on You” has the harp respond to RJ’s vocal lines. Dirty and cool stuff. Some cool guitar picking and note bending here, too. Very Muddy-like stuff. RJ returns to slow blues for “Wait On Me” and turns down the pace without turning down the heat. This is the Southside of Chicago via Minnesota I guess and I like it. There is a lot of pretty guitar offered up here along with piano. RJ finishes up with some slick harp- savory stuff! The final cut is a hot, uptempo track called “In and Out Boogie,” a slick instrumental that hits all the bases as it drives in a run and completes a fine set of tunes!

I can’t pick a favorite here because I loved them all. Chicago blues fans will eat this up as I did- wonderfully fun stuff done well and with love. This is a great album that I highly recommend!

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.



 Featured Blues Video Of The Week – Bernard Allison 

Bernard Allison performing “Too Many Women”.

Bernard is performing at the Tampa Bay Blues Festival at 12:30pm on Saturday April 11, 2015.

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



 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 5 

Junior Wells – Southside Blues Jam

Delmark Records

15 songs time-73:23

This reissue of Junior Wells’ second release is exactly what the title says…A blues jam. Much of what is here has a sense of incompleteness or of lyrics made up on the spot. Some songs sound like the band testing out the material and were never intended to see the light of day. The iconic blues band gathered for this session gives a good representation of a classic blues band, although there aren’t a lot of “aha” moments. Don’t expect too many guitar fireworks. Buddy Guy’s playing is mostly low in the mix and crude. Although he does ignite briefly latter in the album. Louis Myers’ guitar playing fares a lot better. His technique is sturdy and supportive like a real blues craftsman. Legendary blues piano man Otis Spann makes his last appearance before his death in grand style. First call blues drummer Fred Below anchors the preceding’s along with Earnest Johnson on bass. What was intended and achieved is a representation that is as close to a live performance in a club as possible.

Junior handles Rice Miller’s “Stop Breaking Down” with the authority it deserves. Junior’s harp skills are just proficient enough, much like Howlin’ Wolf. Otis’ piano playing is prominent here. His playing is the blueprint for all those that followed him. The first inkling of spontaneous lyrics appears on the original “I Could Have Had Religion”. Junior rambles from references of dead blues legends to religion to love. It sounds like a demo as Junior exclaims “I just wanted to get the idea man, we can do it now”.

“I Just Want To Make Love To You” is retitled “Just Make Love To Me” here. It’s a strong reading of the classic featuring both guitarists and it keeps pretty close to the original words. Buddy’s playing on “Lend Me Your Love” is crude while Otis Spann just shines. Again “off the cuff” lyrics. Muddy Waters’ classic “Long Distance Call” gets a powerful but incomplete reading and some alternate lyrics.

A sprightly delivery is given to another Rice Miller nugget on “In My Younger Days”, as Junior blows his harp as if his life depended on it. Buddy shares vocal chores on “Trouble Don’t Last”, a slow blues. Junior improvises a spoken word section. Louis Myers keeps a strong guitar groove going on “It’s Too Late Brother”, the first of seven bonus tracks. Buddy comes to life with a short blazing guitar solo on “Love My Baby”. Junior returns with an elongated version of “I Could Have Had Religion”. “Got To Play The Blues” drifts into Junior impersonating various blues luminaries. His attempt at Howlin’ Wolf’s gruff voice is comical. Junior switches from vocalizing to making odd sounds in one interlude.

Although not a primo Junior Wells performance, this is an enjoyable glimpse into blues improvisation and what these blues giants sounded like on the bandstand. The sound is pristine. The packaging is well done with a new note from by producer Bob Koester and a 16-page booklet with many never before seen photos.

The loose element of the music is refreshing. Warts and all this is an interesting listen.

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



 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 5 

Brad Hatfield – For A Change

Self-Release – 2014

www.bradhatfieldband.com

12 tracks; 49 minutes

Cincinnati-based bluesman Brad Hatfield was left paralyzed after an accident at work. Forced to abandon the guitar, Brad learnt harmonica from scratch at age 30 and his first album Uphill From Anywhere was so well received that he won a BMA nomination in 2013 for Best New Artist. For his sophomore album Brad has enlisted go-to producer Tom Hambridge who assembled a great team of players to back Brad on this album. Tom plays drums with Tommy McDonald on bass, Bob Britt on guitar and Kevin McKendree on keys. Brad sings and plays some harp though the main focus is on Brad’s voice. He contributed three of the songs, one in collaboration with Tom who supplied all the remaining material, mainly with his usual writing colleagues, Gary Nicholson and Richard Fleming. The result is a solid album of blues that should have wide appeal.

The album opens with the short rocker “That’s My Home” which lets us hear Brad’s gravelly voice on a track that has lashings of aggressive drumming from Tom and a wild solo from Bob. The song is lyrically a close cousin of Marvin Gaye’s “Wherever I Lay My Hat”, Brad preferring to leave his suitcase as a marker! Tom and Gary’s “Back Door Scratchin’” is a great rocker with Kevin’s organ providing a swirling background to Brad’s vocal and harp. “Behave Yourself” has a country blues feel with Kevin’s rolling piano and Bob on slide. The song demonstrates that Brad can adapt his vocal effectively to a gentler style. “Smarter Than I Was” has some excellent guitar from Bob whose echoey slide is double-tracked over an insistent rhythm part, Tom’s drums adding to the generally menacing tone of the tune. The rocking “Devil On Both Shoulders” has a great hook and an amusing chorus: “Looking for some loving, she’s ready to shop; like Coke in a bottle she’s ready to pop. Devil on both shoulders, what’s a woman to do; Devil on both shoulders, her good girl days are through”. Everyone plays superbly, Kevin pounding the 88’s and Bob’s keening slide both featured.

Brad and Tom wrote “So Much, So Little”, a tale of a small lady with a big heart: “How she does so much, man, so much with so little”. Brad plays some high pitched harp on this one but Kevin’s honky-tonk piano is the star turn here. Brad’s own “Never Finished Nothin’” is a slow blues with Kevin double tracked this time as his piano solo is beautifully framed by his own organ, Brad singing of how he did manage to finish with the girl, despite his track record! A fine harp solo from Brad completes the song well. The guitar on “Good Love After Bad” recalls classic Allman Brothers with Brad’s voice sounding quite a lot like Gregg and the organ and guitar blending well. Andy T and Nick Nixon used “Drink, Drank, Drunk” as the title of their 2013 album release but here Tom and Gary’s song is played at a much faster rhythm to create a very different feel. Some moody electric piano introduces the title track “For A Change” which name-checks several familiar blues images (‘Crawling Kingsnake’, Back Door Man’, ‘Mean Mistreater’, etc.) as Brad offers to bring some comfort to his girl. Bob plays some appropriately swampy slide guitar to accompany the imagery and more slide from Bob features on Tom’s “Swamp Poker”, entirely appropriately as Brad sings of playing cards in the swamps, more crawling kingsnakes appearing alongside the inevitable crocodiles. Brad’s own “Burbank’s Boogie” features Kevin’s piano on a frantic boogie tune to close the album.

There is plenty to enjoy on this lively album. Give it a listen.

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 – 5 of 5 

Aaron Burton – All Night Long

Self Release

www.aaronburton.net

14 tracks / 51:48

As blues has evolved over time it has strayed pretty far from its original formula, but country and folk blues usually stays pretty true to the original sources of the genre. Aaron Burton’s self-released sixth album, Up All Night, falls into this latter category, and delivers a solid collection of roots and blues music with a Lone Star influence.

Aaron Burton hails from the Dallas / Fort Worth area, and he has shared his pleasant drawl and fine stringed-instrument prowess around the United States and all the way to the United Kingdom, where he is gaining a respectable collection of new fans. On Up All Night he takes care of the vocals, guitar, mandolin and dulcimer, and he his joined by “Stompin” Bill Johnston on the harp and Dick Cordes behind the drum kit. There are fourteen self-penned tracks on this release, with a couple of neat covers worked into the set.

The title track is up first, and it is readily apparent that Burton has put together a power country blues trio with a big sound. “All Night Long” starts with a dulcimer ostinato and quickly adds slide guitar and mandolin. Johnston’s harmonica takes an active role, filling in the parts that would normally be covered by a second guitar or keyboard. When you add Cordes’ hard-hitting drums into the mix, the effect is quite huge.

Burton’s guitar work is very good, but he does not show off as he plays only the notes and chords that are really necessary. This makes the CD more accessible to a larger audience and provides a more laid-back vibe. His vocals are rich and appropriately growly at times – perfect for the style of blues he is selling.

Aaron is a good storyteller and a capable songwriter as shown by “The Day Big Tex Caught Fire,” a tune that uses the classic blues lyrical style and his electric guitar to recount the loss of the famed Texas State Fair icon back in 2012. He also does a stunning job of capturing the listener’s attention and emotion with “Hard Luck Child,” a more modern blues tune that tells the sorry tale of innocent folks who never had a shot at happiness in their lives.

Despite the heaviness of this last tune, Burton maintains an upbeat mood for much of the album, with light-hearted songs about things that most folks can relate to. And those things are the highs and lows of relationships with the opposite sex. A great example of this is the good sense of humor he maintains as he tries to cut a deal with his ex in “Don’t Talk Bad About Me” (and I sure won’t talk bad about you).

There covers on Up All Night are pretty cool, and they include Charlie Patton‘s “Pony Blues” and Blind Willie McTell’s 1928 standard, “Statesboro Blues.” They both end up being a lot closer to the originals than the countless other versions out there, so if you really love the Canned Heat or Allman Brothers takes on these, you might be a bit let down. But, as they are, they are refreshingly different than what we have come to expect and they fit much better into the overall theme of this release.

The set closes out with a bonus track, “I’m Your Santa Claus,” which might be a fun inclusion for your next holiday party, and it is one last chance to hear some awesome harp work from Stompin’ Bill. Well, it should probably be an adult party, as there are plenty of double entendres that are set to the tune of John Brim’s “Ice Cream Man” (famously covered on Van Halen’s debut album).

Aaron Burton is a fine musician and a mature songwriter, and Up All Night is his best work since he first entered the studio ten years ago. If you are a fan of roots music or country blues, this CD will be just what you are looking for. Also, if you are near Dallas anytime soon, be sure to check out his website as he has a heavy gigging schedule in the DFW metro area, including a regular Tuesday night Delta Blues Jam at The Goat in East Dallas.

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



 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:

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Prairie Crossroads Blues Society – Champaign, Illinois

Friday, April 24, Prairie Crossroads Blues Society is proud to bring legendary recording artist, Johnny Rawls, to the Chanpaign-Urbana community. Join PCBS at 9:00 pm at The Iron Post, 120 S. Race St., in Urbana for this great show. Johnny’s CD “Ace of Spades” won the 2010 Blues Music Award for Best Soul Blues Album and this year he has been nominated for Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year and Soul Blues Album of the Year for “Soul Brothers”, with Otis Clay. Cover is $10 ($8 with current PCBS membership card). For more information visit; www.prairiecrossroadsblues.org

Central Iowa Blues Society – Des Moines, IA

2015 Iowa Blues Challenge. The Des Moines solo/duo preliminary round will be at Zimm’s Food & Spirits, 3124 Ingersoll Ave, Des Moines, IA on Thursday, April 9 with Eastside Brothers, Bodley & Cantrell and “Freight Train” Frank Strong competing. On Sunday, April 12 at Zimm’s the Des Moines BAND category has The Mother Ship Blues Band, Scotty and the Wingtips and Vinyl Vagabonds contending. Doors open at 7:00 PM and the competition starts at 8:00 PM. Admission for both events is $8 or $6 for Iowa Blues Society card carrying members. Winning acts from Des Moines, Quad Cities and Fairfield will advance to the finals.

Iowa Blues Challenge FINALS will be held at the Downtown Marriott in Des Moines on Saturday, May 16 at 6:30 PM. Admission is $10 with a $2 discount for current Iowa Blues Society members with card. For more information and band bios go to www.cibs.org

The Mississippi Valley Blues Society – Davenport, IA

The Mississippi Valley Blues Society presents Reverend Raven and the Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys at The Muddy Waters, 1708 State Street, Bettendorf, on Sunday, April 12. The show starts at 6:00 p.m. An $8 per person charge for MVBS members, or $10 per person for non-members will be taken at the door (application for membership will be available).

The Reverend and Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys were chosen as Wisconsin Music Industry (WAMI) awardees for best blues band in 1999, 2000, 2004, 2005, 2008 and again in 2010. More Info at: www.mvbs.org

Minnesota Blues Society – St. Paul, MN

Road to Memphis Competition, 2015. Two days. Sunday, April 12, 1:00 The Lodge, Robbinsdale, MN for Solo/Duo competition, Sunday, April 26, 1:00 Wilebski’s Blues Saloon, St. Paul, MN for Bands competition.

7 acts competing each day. $10.00 suggested donation. Be the first to support the 2016 IBC winners. More info: www.mnbs.org

DC Blues Society – Washington, D.C.

The DC Blues Society proudly announces the DC-area appearance of the Nick Moss Band on Saturday, April 18, 2015. The dance floor will be jumping when Nick and his band play guitar-fueled blues from 8 pm-midnight at the American Legion Post 41, 905 Sligo Avenue, Silver Spring MD, 20910. Doors open at 6 pm and parking is plentiful. Tickets are $15 in advance ($12 for DCBS members) and $18 at the door (no member discount). Buy your tickets early! Go to www.dcblues.org to purchase online or call (301) 322-4808.

Nick’s style uses a broad sonic palette, weaving textures of R&B and blues-influenced rock into his playing and songwriting. Time Ain’t Free, his most recent release, “reaches deeper into soul, funk, and rock ‘n’ roll,” according to Billboard.com, with shades of P-Funk, Little Feat, Faces, and world music, all filtered through Moss’s deep blue lens.

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 BluesKids.com under the host city’s name.

Openings for entry-level student musicians may also be available. Participants are expected to audition online at www.blueskids.com/EarlyBird. 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 visitwww.blueskids.com/EarlyBird 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 http://www.facebook.com/friendsoftheblues

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. 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 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 mikerapier@sbcglobal.net at 217-899-9422, or contact Greg Langdon, Live Events Chair, at langdon38@att.net or by visiting www.icbluesclub.org


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