Issue 9-5 January 29 2015

Cover photo by Bob Kieser © 2015 Blues Blast Magazine


 In This Issue 

Tee Watts has our feature interview with Shemekia Copeland.

We have 8 music reviews for you including new music from Tas Cru, Huggy J.B, John Weeks Band, Bobby Mack, Jimmy McIntosh, Colorado Blues Society’s Jam for Blues in the Schools, HowellDevine and a compilation of 50 Masterpieces By 26 Blues Harmonica Heroes.

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,

Our good friends at the Central Iowa Blues Society are throwing a great party this weekend at the Downtown Marriott hotel in Des Moines, Iowa.

Their Winter Blues Fest is going on Friday January 30th and Saturday January 31st.

The event features the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame inductions on Friday night. The induction ceremony will begin at 7:30 in the Des Moines Room with the inductee’s performances backed up by Sumpin Doo, featuring IBHOF members George & Gil Davis. Then Lil Ed & the Blues Imperials will take the stage at 10:00 to close out the night with two sets. A portion of admissions for Friday night will be distributed to the 2014 IBHOF inductees as an honorarium.

Then on Saturday they feature 12 acts on 7 stages including Brian “Taz” Grant, Kevin “B.F.” Burt, Joe & Vicki Price, Moreland & Arbuckle, Jimmi & the Band of Souls, The Mercury Brothers, Coyote Bill Boogie Band, The Bel Airs, Hector Anchondo Band, Danielle Nicole Band and Bob Pace & the Dangerous Band.

This sounds like a show you don’t want to miss!

Head on over to http://cibs.org/2014/11/2015-winter-blues-fest/ for tickets and complete information.

See you there!

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser


 Blues Wanderings 

I made it to the International Blues Challenge in Memphis last weekend. There was a huge amount of talent on display there. Below are Eddie Cotton and Randy McQuay, winners of the band and solo/duet competitions respectively.

We will have a complete photo report of all the finalists and winners in next week’s issue.



 Blues Want Ads 

Do you really know your Blues and enjoy telling others about it?

Blues Blast Magazine looking for a few good writers to volunteer to help us out. We need reviewers who know Blues and can write a minimum of one review or story each week. We will provide access to downloads or physical CDs, DVDs and books for review. The writer keeps the album, book or DVD for doing the review. We get music submissions from all over the world and we publish music reviews each week so there is a steady flow of things that need reviewed.

We are also looking for folks to write stories for our website, blogging style, and other occasional story assignments. We will assign subjects and stories and also entertain your ideas too.

These are volunteer positions that need a persons who really loves the Blues and wants to spread the Blues word! All of our Blues Blast Writing staff started out as volunteers like this and we kept them on as staff writers afterwards.

If you are interested, please send an email to info@bluesblastmagazine.com and tell us about your Blues background. 

Please be sure to include your phone number in the email.



 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 8 

Tas Cru – You Keep The Money

Crustee Tees Records

tascru.com

12 tracks/56 minutes

Keeping The Blues Alive Award winning music educator Tas Cru’s sixth album is all original music andis a study in styles and forms. Whether he is soulfully singing and playing a ballad or rocking out in a grand manner, the music is always something to savor and enjoy. On this CD we have Tas on guitars and vocals, Mary Ann Casale on backing vocals and dulcimer, Alice “Honeybea: Ericksen on backing vocals, Dave Olson and Bob Holz sharing duty on drums, Dick Earl Ericksen on harp, Ron Keck on percussion, Chip Lamson on piano, Guy Mirelli on organ, and Bob Purdy on bass.

The album opens to the title track. Inspired by Delta legend T-Model Ford, Cru gives us sage advice in musical money matters. It is a funky little shuffle that bounces and moves along in a cool progression. The harp work is greasy and mean and Ericksen earns his money blowing his part. Trading licks with Cru, the two are very tight. The organ fills in well and the vocals by Tas and his backers are quite good.

A ballad follows, “A Month of Sundays.” Cru begins with a soulful guitar solo. He growls out the vocals, complaining about the woman who has ignored and blown him off for a long, long time. The organ hangs around behind the scenes as an ever-present spirit and Tas’ guitar work is impeccable. “Half The Time” is a love song of sorts as Tas sings that his love’s kisses move him to insobriety half the time. Sweet guitar and harp solos; the song builds to a nice, big conclusion. What Tas calls a “gorgeous instrumental” follows. It’s called “La Belle Poutine” and he’s correct.

“Heart Trouble” is somewhat comical and is about maintaining one’s health for their new love. Funky and fun! Tas goes gospel with “A Little More Time.” It is a thoughtful homage to the elder bluesmen and women who have done their time making great music for us. He doesn’t take us full out to church but thoughtfully “prays” and laments. “One Bad Habit” is a shuffle and it’s very cool. Singing about his “lone” fault is humorous and fun; more great harp work by Ericksen and great vocals by Cru and his backing duet. “Take Me Back to Tulsa” starts out slow but works into a rocker. Cru tells of his travels back to Tulsa and gives us a taste of his encounters along the way. Piano and guitar lead the trek and the harp gives us some spice.

“Count On Me” is pure blues shuffle and is soulfully rendered ever so sweetly for us. Guitar and piano lead the offering, and the organ play punctuates things quite well. Another neat ballad follows, “Holding On To You.” Country and blues blend thoughtfully and seamlessly here. “Bringing Out The Beast” is a deep groove where Cru tells us he’s a hound dog and then likens his desires to a Tom Cat. Sexy and sultry innuendoes flow throughout; it’s a great cut.

Cru wraps up with hill country blues in “Thinking How To Tell Me Goodbye.” The harp, guitar and vocals intertwine and meld together in this unrequited love song. Lots of layers of guitar fold over each other as the harp and vocals deliver the message. Another really good cut!

This is a really good CD from top to bottom. Each song gives us something to savor and latch on to. Cru delivers a fine dozen new songs and his renditions are all spot on. I enjoyed this CD and think that blues fans everywhere will, too!

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.




 Featured Blues Interview – Shemekia Copeland 

About one third of the way through our hour long conversation with Blues Queen Shemekia Copeland she suddenly, momentarily breaks it off, promising to call us right back on a different line.

“You know what Honey? I’m gonna call you right back on my house phone right now okay?”

Seconds later we reconnect and she explains the situation.

“I’m sorry. My cell phone only works when I sit in a certain spot and I’m making my husband breakfast.” We offer apologies for intruding on Mr. Orlando Wright’s breakfast and continue where we left off which was talking about Shemekia’s working with Dr. John on her 2002 album, Talking To Strangers. When asked whose decision it was to use Dr. John as the producer she unabashedly states the decision was hers.

“It was my decision. I’ve had a relationship with him since I was a kid. He was a great friend of my father’s and was a big supporter of me from the very beginning of my career. So it was a natural thing to do, for me to want to be with him.”

We wrote some songs together. We had a ball. We had so many people, so many great musicians. Herman Ernest, who played drums with him for many years and is now passed away was on the project. Dave Barard played bass. We just had an amazing time. It was just awesome. It was really, really great.

We recorded at the Hit Factory in New York . That was when Mac (Dr. John)was still living’ in New York . He’s not living there now.”

Three years after Talking To Strangers, Memphis Soul Man Steve Cropper was at the production helm for Shemekia’s The Soul Truth release.

“I didn’t know he was producing, but when I found out he was, I was like oh, that’s a wonderful idea. Until we did that project, he hadn’t produced in many, many years, so I was excited when I found out. Working with Dr. John was about the closest experience I had to working with my father. Working with Cropper, you know, he had a whole different type of energy. Dr. John is about the most laid back cat you’re ever gonna meet in your life. Cropper is the complete opposite; energy, energy, energy, energy, energy. They were both completely different but great experiences.”

On the liner notes to The Soul Truth, Steve Cropper thanks the late Dobie Gray. Reflecting on Dobie Gray and more recently, Popsy Holmes, Shemekia waxes nostalgic.

“I’m glad I got a chance to work with him before we lost him. We did a duet together, and he sang background vocals too. We’re losing so many great artists. I just found out last night that Popsy Dixon of The Holmes Brothers has stage four bladder cancer and is in hospice. (Popsy Dixon passed away on January 9, 2015, before this story was published. RIP.)

I’m destroyed by that. I adore him. I love all those guys. I’ve been seeing The Holmes Brothers since I was a kid. My father used to take me to see those guys when they lived in New York. I’m sorry for him and his brothers. They’re so tight. It breaks my heart.”

In a prior Blues Blast interview, Sherman Holmes of The Holmes Brothers related how the group would like to again play more dates than the 150 or so per year they’ve been averaging in recent years. Shemekia comments on their work ethic.

“That’s amazing, those guys still wanna work. That’s the true test that you love what you are doing so much. I probably to about 100 dates a year and that’s down from when I originally started as well. Based on what we have done, I feel we could do more. But you know, I’m just grateful for any work I get.”

Having started her singing career at age 16 Shemekia is still a young woman belying the fact that she’s been in the business 20 years. She insist however, that she was born an old soul.

“You know, I was born old. I was born a little old lady so I didn’t have much in common with young people. I didn’t really have a whole lot of friends in high school. I was kinda doin’ my own thing, marching to the beat of my own drum. I was already an individual at that time. Never trying to keep up with a group or being involved in anything. You know, some kids were into sports. I wasn’t into that. Other kids were into silliness, which kids are supposed to be into. I never went to prom or homecoming or graduation or any of that. I was just not interested.

I was in choir for a little bit. Most of the music I did in school was actually in Jr. High school. By the time I got in High School I was kinda already doin’ my own thing with Blues. That wasn’t the type of music they were doing in choir in high school. So then I started pretty much spending most of my time going, then sittin’ in with dad and his band.”

She remembers the first time she travelled to Texas with her dad and meeting Trudy Lynn.

“The first time I went to Texas with my father, Trudy Lynn was there and that’s how I knew who she was. You know when you go to a lot of these towns, you’ll find a lot of well kept secrets within the town and I think that in Houston , she might be one of the well kept secrets.

I saw my dad doing some really cool things. He taught me that you don’t have to be put in a box just because you choose a particular genre of music. That we’re all connected, all the music is connected. It doesn’t matter if it’s Africa, Brazil or Asia . We’re all connected in some kind of way and musically, we can all put those sounds together and work together to make something beautiful, which people are doing and it’s wonderful.

People don’t realize what I’ve “stolen” from my father. I’m kinda grateful that I was born a girl. Because if I was a guitar player and a male, I think it would’ve been a whole lot harder for me, because people would do a whole lot more comparing. Fortunately, as a girl, they can’t see what I’ve taken from him as much. I mean, I’ve stolen all of his phrasing and voicing. If I was a guitar player, it would be a little bit harder for me cuz everybody would compare me more, saying, ‘she don’t sound like her daddy,’ or, she’s no Johnny Clyde Copeland. So being a female, they’re not gonna expect me to be that so it’s wonderful. Being female helps me a lot. Also you can come out and people will say, ‘oh, that’s Johnny Copeland’s daughter’ or ‘that’s so and son or daughter,’ but they don’t know if your gonna be any good. And you have to prove yourself so nobody can compare you if you are doing something completely different.”

Shemekia insists that she is still completely connected and surrounded by Johnny Clyde Copeland. She listens to her dad’s music all the time. She sheds a little light on how deep the connection is.

“Oh man, my father is spiritually all around me. I always feel like I don’t step on that stage without him. It’s real deep and I know for a fact he’s there. I’m not sayin’ I think he’s there. He’s there with others who take care of me and look after me. I also have a lot of great friends in spirit too that I think look after me or watch over me.”

She has also been blessed with a host of Blues icons in the physical that have taken and continue to take special interest in her well being.

“Ruth Brown and Koko Taylor were both incredibly kind to me. They showed nothing but love to me. Ruth Brown gave me the clothes off her back. When she found out that when my father died and I had no money, no nothin’ and I’d gotten nominated for a Blues Music Award, she went in her closet and gave me boxes of clothes. It was just a kind, kind gesture. So for the Blues Music Awards the first time out, I wore something she gave me.

Ruth Brown did important work for all artists in this business. She got totally screwed as far as royalties were concerned. So she worked tirelessly for the rights of and the education of artists after her so that it wouldn’t happen to them. That was very important.

And Koko Taylor, oh my God, she would call me and check on me, just to see how I was doing. Then she would call my mother and make sure that what I was telling her was correct. It’s a special kind of love and I’ll appreciate them always for that.

When I first started in this business, my mom went out on the road with me. She doesn’t go out with me now but I was grateful to have her cuz I was young and didn’t know what the hell I was doing.

Shoot, when I started in this business, everybody told me always like be careful. Watch out for drugs, watch out for this and that. When I came out on the road, people were bringin’ me tea and Ricola.

I’ve been pretty blessed. Most of the time I’ve run into very very positive, wonderful people out here on this road. Dr. John, Steve Cropper, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Little Milton and his Road Manager Scrap Iron, all these people took me under their wing and all were very supportive. I really can’t complain.

Though no longer in production, Shemekia Copeland had her own 6 hour weekly radio show on the Sirius network which premiered in 2006.

“That was awesome. I mean, I really loved that. I had a ball doin’. It was great. The best part of it for me was that my show was 6 hours long and every hour I got to feature one of my favorite lady Blues singers and play a couple of their songs which, for me, was like, why I wanted to do the show. I feel like a lot of male artists are always played on the radio and female artists aren’t played enough. So I got to feature 6 ladies every show, which was awesome because I got to play more than one of their songs.

Some of the artists we featured were, of course Koko Taylor and Ruth Brown, Etta James, Bessie Smith, Memphis Minnie, Ma Rainey, I mean, the list goes on, Bonnie Raitt and Aretha Franklin. We definitely featured Sugar Pie DeSanto which was a great show because people were callin’ in cuz they hadn’t heard of her before. It was cool that we introduced a lot of people to Sugar Pie.

You know, I’ve never really gotten any chance to spend any time with her or talk to her, which makes me real sad, but I definitely love her and know of her and have a whole lotta respect for her.”

We eventually touch on a pet peeve of Shemekia Copeland’s-Artists who use the Blues to revive their careers.

“I feel like you have so many of us who do this music because we love it. We do it for the love of the music. I’m a lifer. I love Blues music, I’ve loved it from the beginning. I’ve always called myself a Blues artist and will continue to call myself a Blues artist no matter where the music might take me. And so many people use it to either help build their career and then they leave it, and they couldn’t give two craps about it, or their career is on a lull and they say ‘Oh okay, I’m just gonna put out a Blues record you know, and do something Bluesy. It’s okay if you’ve always loved it and you kinda wanna go back to it, but that wasn’t what you were originally doin’.”

Then there are the music critics who say Shemekia’s voice is so big that she could do well in other genres. She emphatically dismisses that theory.

“I say thank you, but I like doing what I’m doing. I don’t feel like being a Blues Musician limits me. Just because I call myself a Blues singer and I am a Blues singer doesn’t mean that I’m limited to just singing Blues. So if you have a Rock & Roll record and you want me to sing on it, call me.”

One of the many highlights of Shemekia’s career was her televised performance at the White House entitled “In Performance At The White House: Red, White and Blues.”

“It was amazing. It was just surreal. First of all, you’re in the White House, that’s number one and you’re preparing to play for two of the most important people in the world right now. And not only that, as far as being a musician is concerned, you are among some of the greatest. It was a big deal, amazing. And it’s such a wonderful thing to have someone in the White House who’s familiar with the music.

We ask her about the popularity of the Blues outside the United States.

“Well, I’m always amazed at how much people love this music outside of our country. France , Norway , Switzerland . I couldn’t believe how many people came out to the Blues Festival in India when I was there. I’m grateful for it. I hope the fervor continues cuz I’ve got another forty years to work.

Speaking of work, Shemekia has nothing but praise for her working band that keeps, in her words, “The Shemekia Copeland train on the tracks. In April of 2015, Arthur Neilson will have been my guitarist 17 years. He directs us all. I have Kevin Jenkins on bass. He’s been with me for 10 years. Willie Scandlyn, my rhythm guitarist has been aboard over 5 years. My drummer has been with me a little over a year now. His name is Robin Gould.”

When urged to discuss her songwriting process, Shemekia reveals that, “I’m more of an idea person. I don’t sit down with a piece of paper and say, ‘okay, I’m gonna write a song now.’ I don’t think it can happen organically when you do things that way. That’s why I think there’s so much crap out there. I feel like everybody thinks they’re a songwriter, when, in reality, they’re somebody who just writes a song, which is completely different from being a songwriter.

There’s a real art to it that many people don’t possess, but feel they do. They singlehandedly help with the demise of the music business. I remember when people used to make whole records and the record had a theme. To get the whole big picture you actually had to listen to the whole thing. Now, everybody just wants to hear the one song cuz they know the rest of it is gonna be crap.

My favorite songwriters are Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, John Hiatt, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding. Steve Cropper is a great songwriter. All the guys from Motown who wrote. They were pushing out some amazing songs and lyrics. It would really help if people knew the difference between great songwriters and people who just write songs.” (Laughs)

As we come to the end of our exchange, Shemekia reiterates her commitment to her craft . “I’m a lifer in he Blues and I’ve loved it from the beginning. I’ve got another 40 years to work. At least.

Visit Shemekia’s website at www.shemekiacopeland.com

Photos by Bob Kieser © 2015 Blues Blast Magazine

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



 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 8 

Huggy J.B. – Live At Subrosa

Bellaphon 2014

10 tracks; 60 minutes

www.huggyjb.de

‘Huggy’ Jörg Borghardt has been playing blues and boogie piano since the 1980’s. He hails from Dortmund in Germany and this CD was recorded at his 1000th professional show at a small club in his home town. Huggy regularly plays both solo and with a larger band but for this recording he is in trio mode with drummer Manni Schultz and sax player Rüdiger Wilke. The three musicians have played together many times and pride themselves in never rehearsing, making every show unique. This is therefore something of a jam session with the band covering four of Huggy’s own tunes and six ‘classics’ from Elmore James, Isaac Hayes/David Porter, Jimmy Cox and Luther Dixon/Al Smith amongst others.

There is no doubting that Huggy is a fine piano player but he is not a strong vocalist and sings with a pronounced accent. As all the covers are well known the average blues fan can get past that issue but on the originals it can be a struggle to decipher the words. Sax player Rüdiger has a tendency to overplay and sometimes produces some squealing sounds that border on unpleasant: a pounding cover of “Big Boss Man” is proceeding well until Rüdiger overdoes it in his solo. Having said that there are some good moments when everything comes together well, as the following examples may demonstrate:

Track 6: the slowed-down version of Brownie McGhee and Muddy Waters’ “The Blues Had A Baby And They Named It Rock And Roll” is an unusual take on the classic tune which works really well, the tune at times resembling “Stormy Monday”. Huggy’s stately piano is the focal point over which Rüdiger embellishes with his sax.

Track 7: a solid instrumental take on Bobby Hebb’s jazzy “Sunny” finds sax and piano at their best, Huggy’s piano runs sparkling throughout.

Track 10: “It’s A Real Good Feeling” is an original instrumental that closes the album on a rolling blues with plenty of tuneful asides from Huggy who is well supported by Manni’s drums and Rüdiger’s generally well controlled sax. The tune recalls several blues and jump tunes of yesteryear and works very well.

There is some excellent piano playing that fans of boogie and barrelhouse styles will certainly enjoy.

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 – 3 of 8 

John Weeks Band – John Weeks Band

www.johnweeksband.com

Self-release

7 songs – 32 minutes

The debut album from the Denver, Colorado, combo, John Weeks Band, is either a short album or a long EP. Either way, it’s a very enjoyable slice of guitar-driven modern electric blues.

The band is named after singer, guitarist and songwriter, John Weeks, who has an interesting back-story having been born and raised in France before moving to and settling in the USA. The band has something of an international feel with keyboardist and harmonica player Andras Csapo (known simply as “AC”) hailing from Hungary, although the seriously fine rhythm section features Illinois-born Curtis Hawkins on bass and Detroit native Tim “Chooch” Molinario on drums.

All seven songs are written by Weeks alone, or in combination with Csapo or Hawkins and they cover a broad range of modern blues styles, from the Texas-style shuffle of opener “All Night” to the Memphis-funk-by-way-of-the-Delta of “Devil In My House”, which features some fine finger-picked guitar by Weeks and first class supporting harp from Csapo. The minor key “How Can You Love Me?” nicely articulates the feelings of many people in dysfunctional, dying relationships who still hang on desperately hoping things will improve. “How can you love me,” sings Weeks in an emotionally charged tone, “if you don’t like anything that I do or I say? The only time that we get along now is when you always get your way (and you get it all the time).” Weeks then turns in a magnificent solo, one of the highlights of the album. Whether it is because of his background playing gigs in Paris or some other reason, but Weeks manages to be wholly convincing as a blues guitarist whilst venturing outside the usual blues scales and giving a very distinctive, throaty voice to his guitar.

The one instrumental on the album, “Why Don’t We Sleep On It” is an upbeat, swinging number with excellent interplay between harp and guitar. “You Never Say What You Mean” is a jazzy number with funky guitar playing the opening lick in tandem with AC’s organ, a trick that is repeated in “I Want To Get Back Home” where the guitar and the harp both play the opening melody before giving way to a funky blues song with staccato chording in the verse. The final song on the album, “Moving On”, has an almost 60’s feel to it, featuring a simple but powerful B-3 riff under a tale of another love affair gone bad. Weeks turns in another memorable solo, which nicely ties in with the ambient feel of the song, initially spiky but then floating and yearning.

The John Weeks Band was only formed in 2013. On the evidence of their self-titled debut album/EP there is a lot more great music to come from these talented musicians. In the meantime, there is a lot to enjoy in this short little beauty.

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 – 4 of 8 

Bobby Mack – Texas Guitar Highway Man

www.bobbymack.com

BMS Music

11 songs time-48:02

Having grown up in the Dallas-Forth Worth, Texas music seen since 1970, Bobby brought his music to Austin, Texas in 1972 and became a house regular at the legendary Antone’s rubbing shoulders with the likes of Albert Collins, Otis Rush, Buddy Guy, Luther Allison and many other giants of the blues. He definitely possesses a hard Texas attack in his guitar playing that is chock full of bent notes. At times you can detect traces of Stevie Ray Vaughn in his husky vocal delivery. It is never mimicry, but the natural quality of his voice. He is backing is the usual bass-drums-keyboards with occasional female vocals by Lisa Marshall. Nothing over produced here. All but two songs are originals.

The title song eventually grew on me although the lyrics were a bit ordinary. But things pick up quickly. The comparison to SRV’s voice is first on “Borrowed Time” as he stretches out his phrasing. His guitar playing relies more on blistering single-note runs, squeezing out every bit of Texas soul. The SRV vibe continues on “Pourin’ Rain” with the plaintive quality of Bobby’s vocal. This tune is put on slow simmer with a melancholy feel. Things get cookin’ on the jumpin’ good-time “Doin” Alright” that features Mark Goodwin’s honky-tonk piano. The vocals are looser by now.

Bobby coaxes all the feeling he can muster out of his guitar on “Heart Of A Lonely Man”, another slow burner. He whips out some smoldering slide guitar against a loping beat on “A Matter Of Time”. Bobby bravely takes on a song that is considered one of his fellow Texas guitar slinger’s Freddie King’s signature songs. Although I’m used to King’s more powerful delivery, Bobby and band come out the other end of “Palace Of The King” with a fine version. He doesn’t make any attempt to mimic Freddie’s guitar style, relying on his own adequate skills.

The “Bo Diddley Beat” is put to good use on the rollicking “Pumpkin Pie”…fun from beginning to end. “Fender Bender” is just what the name implies, a guitar note bending orgy. What are Texas blues without a hard-drinking party song? “Steppin’ Out” delivers the goods and then some.

The Texas guitar blues traditiis in good hands here. Bobby more then holds his own as a rockin’ Texas blues man. The band of Kelly Donnelly on bass, Mark Goodwin on keyboards, Matt Ryan and Roddy Colonna on drums, Brandon Aly on percussion and Lisa Marshall on backing vocals are as fine a band you are likely to hear. Kelly Donnelly and Jim Gaines are responsible for the first-rate production values. A mixture of harder and softer songs make this a fine listening experience.

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



 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 8 

Jimmy McIntosh – Jimmy McIntosh And…

Arizona Club Music 2014

12 tracks; 59 minutes

www.jimmymcintosh.com

Jimmy McIntosh is based in Las Vegas and has just released his second CD on his own label, named after the saloon that his grandfather built in Las Vegas in 1905, one of the first structures in the city. The CD is entirely instrumental and very guitar-dominated as Jimmy is joined on the album by fellow axemen Ron Wood (Rolling Stones), John Scofield and Mike Stern, the latter two both regulars on the Las Vegas scene. Drums are played throughout by Toss Panos who also produced the album at his North Hollywood studio, keys are by Ivan Neville, bass duties are split between John Humphrey, Keith Hubacher and Dan Lutz and Albert Wing adds sax to two cuts. Jimmy wrote most of the material with Ron Wood chipping in with one song from his own repertoire plus two short jams; there are three covers. The style ranges across blues, jazz and funk.

The CD is bookended by two jam duets between Jimmy and Ron, both credited to Ron. The opener is “Slow Blues”, the closer “Fast Blues”, both living up to the titles quite well. “I Gotta See” is a gospel-tinged tune from Ron’s last album with saxophonist Albert Wing featured alongside Jimmy and Ron on guitar. The sax makes a pleasant change from the all guitar line-up and Albert plays strongly here, Ron providing a solid solo towards the end of the track. “Demon” is taken from Keith Richard’s 1992 “Main Offender” album and again features Albert’s sax in quieter mode on a slower tune with Jimmy finding some nicely plucked notes. Jimmy’s family were friends with Duke Ellington (who gave Jimmy his first musical instrument – a French horn) and Jimmy gives us a delicate solo acoustic version of “Sophisticated Lady”; a funky trio version of Robert Johnson’s “32-20 Blues” is the other cover and the track here that is most clearly a straight blues.

The original material is where the other two guitarists are featured and tend towards a jazzier style: “Back To Cali” is a good example with Mike Stern’s angular runs set against a muscular rhythm section approach. “PM Blues” also features Mike on a lengthy piece that rather meanders in jazz style with more fast fingering from Mike.

John Scofield appears on “Letsco” which has a bit of a New Orleans groove courtesy of Ivan’s organ, John producing some distorted guitar bends. “Lavona’s Boogie”, named for Jimmy’s mother, also features John with Ivan switching to piano for a lively little tune on which the two guitarists play well off each other. The two other tunes find Jimmy only on guitar: “The Logue” is a funk-based number with Ivan’s organ set against Jimmy’s guitar; “JuJu” is a trio performance, a slow number with a lot of echo and distortion on the guitar.

There is no doubting the quality of the players involved here but the blues content is not particularly high. Those who enjoy the jazzier style of players like Mike Stern and John Scofield will enjoy their contributions and will find that Jimmy McIntosh is something of a kindred spirit.

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 – 6 of 8 

Various Artists – Jam for Blues in the Schools

Distributed by the Colorado Blues Society (CBS)

www.coblues.com

CD: 8 Songs; 63:02 Minutes

Styles: Blues Covers, “Jam” Blues

In theory, education of future generations is supposed to be one of our nation’s top priorities. However, the reality is often more bleak and complicated. Many educational programs are being woefully under-funded due to federal and state budget cuts. The result is that in many schools, classes such as art and music are being eliminated to make more room for standardized-testing preparation. If schools want to reintroduce enrichment activities back into their curriculum, they face an almost-unsolvable double bind. On the one hand, they feel that they would be doing a great injustice to students by not exposing them to literature, musical genres, etc. On the other hand, if they don’t have the money to do so, schools are finding out that they can’t count on the government. They have to raise their own funds, or hope that others will assist them.

This is the notable rationale behind Jam for Blues in the Schools, an eight-song CD released by the Colorado Blues Society (CBS). The intent is to have 100% of its proceeds support CBS’ Blues in the Schools program. According to the promotional information sheet, this endeavor, known as BITS, “invites local and national musicians into local schools (kindergarten through college), where they present & educate on the world of the blues. Programs [that is, school curriculum topics] include American history, women in blues, language arts, conflict avoidance, storytelling and even math. CBS donates Blues-related books, videos and CD’s to public libraries and offers educational programs in conjunction with these donations.”

This Jam is performed by a vast ensemble of Colorado blues artists, including Dan Treanor, Erica Brown, Randall Dubis, David Booker, John Weeks, Tim Mahoney, Scott Hackler, Scott Headley, Mike Wysocki, Anton Stuart Medas, Bruce Collins, Doug Egan, Alan Simmons, Tony Arceneaux, Michael Hossler, Genoa Dodd, Ellie Treanor, and Gary Flori. They collectively present eight songs, including covers such as “It Hurts Me Too”, “Stand By Me”, “Rock Me Baby”, and “Let the Good Times Roll”. “Tell Me Daddy” is the best of the original tracks.

On the ‘plus’ side, the sheer array of talent here is almost staggering. Anyone who knows the blues scene in Colorado is bound to recognize one or more of the performers. More than that, though, they have pooled their talents for a worthwhile charitable cause. On the ‘minus’ side, there are three factors that might prevent some from liking this album: 1) its over-reliance on covers; 2) the “jam” nature of the songs, meaning that most of them run over five minutes; and 3) the raw and unpolished state of the music. This CD was done in one take, with no overdubs. Is this remarkable? Yes. Is it optimal? Not to blues fans who prefer a smoother style.

This Jam may not be everyone’s favorite, but it valiantly strives to keep arts alive and Blues in the Schools!

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 35 year old female Blues fan. She brings the perspective of a younger blues fan to reviews. A child of 1980s music, she was strongly influenced by her father’s blues music collection.



 Featured Blues Review – 7 of 8 

HowellDevine – Modern Sounds of Ancient Juju

Arhoolie Productions, Inc.

www.howelldevine.com

CD: 11 Songs; 49:20 Minutes

Styles: Traditional and Contemporary Blues

According to Dictionary.com, “juju” is: “1) an object venerated superstitiously and used as a fetish or amulet by tribal peoples of West Africa; 2) the magical power attributed to such an object;” and/or 3) “a ban or interdiction effected by it.” Juju can be good or bad, but above all, it is powerful. So are San Francisco Bay-based Joshua Howell and Pete Devine on their sophomore album, which is almost “eerily” good. They know how to balance on the razor’s edge between traditional and present-day blues, as they present Modern Sounds of Ancient Juju. They don’t go all the way back to tribal Africa in their musical style, but swamp-tinged Cajun influences can clearly be heard (“She Brought Life Back to the Dead”). On eleven tracks – six covers and five originals – they bring revered as well as contemporary classics to life.

HowellDevine consists of Joshua Howell on guitar, harmonica and vocals, Pete Devine on drums and washboard, and Joe Kyle Jr. on upright bass. Their homepage and promotional info sheet reveal rave reviews from such blues rock greats as Charlie Musselwhite, Bonnie Raitt, Elvin Bishop, and Maria Muldaur. In the CD liner notes, writer Musselwhite states: “There’s tasty slide, harp and rhythm with relaxed vocals that all blend together for a wonderfully satisfying experience”. How right he is, especially on these three outstanding original offerings.

Track 04: “Let You Go” – Despite the jaunty tone of track four, its message is one of cold fury: “Well, your boots are scuffed and ratty. You’ve been knocking them all night long. You’ve been keeping late hours, and I know something’s going all wrong. One of these days, you’re going to beg me not to let you go.” Revel in Howell’s killer slide solos and Devine’s washboard grind.

Track 07: “House in the Field” – Our narrator is up to no good in this stomp. To what dubious domicile does he want to take his heart’s desire? “It never seems fair; I want to get you alone. Got a change of plans ‘cause our parents aren’t home. Now, listen up, baby – I’ve got an idea. Let’s meet at four o’clock in that house out in the field.” Turning an abandoned shack into a love shack has never sounded more sinfully appealing. Only one thing could have made track seven better: the subtle echo of a rattlesnake’s rattle at the end, to top it off.

Track 11: “Railroad Stomp – Live in Port Richmond, CA” – What is the timeless blues appeal of train songs? They’re musical journeys in and of themselves, and this one’s phenomenal. When melody and instrumental sound effects are combined perfectly, these kinds of tunes allow listeners to fall into a trance and dance – or jump up and down, as the case may be. All aboard!

HowellDevine are masters at evoking The Modern Sounds of Ancient Juju!

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 35 year old female Blues fan. She brings the perspective of a younger blues fan to reviews. A child of 1980s music, she was strongly influenced by her father’s blues music collection.



 Featured Blues Review – 8 of 8 

Various Artists – Just Wailing – 50 Masterpieces By 26 Blues Harmonica Heroes

Fantastic Voyage

http://fantasticvoyagemusic.com

2 CDs/25 tracks each

This compilation is a Who’s Who of classic blues harp. Featuring Billy Boy Arnold, Doctor Ross, Forrest City Joe, George Smith, Hot Shot Love, Howlin’ Wolf, James Cotton, Jerry McCain, Jimmy Reed, Joe Hill Louis, Junior Wells, Lazy Lester, Little Walter, Louis Myers, Papa Lightfoot, Pee Wee Hughes, Pete “Guitar” Lewis, Robert Richard, Sammy Lewis and Willie Johnson, Sammy Myers, Slim Harpo, Snooky Pryor, Sonny Boy Williamson, Sonny Terry, Walter Horton, and Walter Mitchell along with a host of bands and other greats they played with are featured here on 50 tracks.

Like this set, their piano and 2 guitar companion compilations Midnight Steppers, Screaming and Crying and Deep Feeling that were also put together by Neil Slaven are superb compilation sets of classic blues that the seasoned aficionado or newbie listener can appreciate. 26 harp heroes are featured; this is one helluva set! The other sets are 3 CDs while this one is a “mere” 2 CD set, but all are exceptional.

Where does one start? Well, let’s start with Fantastic Voyage. They are a compilation label in the UK who compile rock n roll, rockabilly, blues, country, R&B, jazz, soul, pop, beat & soundtracks in affordable and well thought out sets of music. But have no fear, their stuff appears on Amazon.com and other US locations so you can pick them up domestically.

Neil Slaven is a music historian and free lance writer who has written countless liner notes, a great book on Frank Zappa, collaborated on The Penguin Guide to the Blues and so much more. He’s produced a lot of music and is one of England’s most respected blues authorities.

One can trace the legacy of early amplified blues harp through the hey day of the electrified harp sound. From the Delta to Chicago, all the greats are featured here. Starting with Sonny Boy Williamson I (John Lee Williamson), one can hear the masters who built on him and his idea. Little Walter, Snooky Prior and all the other greats are unique and offer a plethora of sounds and styles to appreciate here. Highly recommended!

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



 Blues Society News 


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The Colorado Blues Society – Windsor, CO

The Colorado Blues Society Remember John-Alex Mason. The legacy of John-Alex Mason’s music is an essential part of Colorado Blues History. Please join us for this amazing event, headlined by the Cedric Burnside Project, as we celebrate the memory of John-Alex on Sunday, February 22nd. Held at the beautiful Soiled Dove Underground in Denver, all seats are reserved, so get yours early for what promises to be a celebration of one of Colorado’s own.

The Colorado Blues Society is putting together a special show to benefit the John-Alex Mason Scholarship Fund. In addition to Cedric Burnside this will be an acoustic blues show with some interesting pairings, the tentative lineup has Dan Treanor & Randall Dubis; Erica Brown, MJ and Michael Hossler; Nic Clark, Andy Sydow and Curtis Hawkins; Dr. Izzy, Robert Morrison and Richard Yale; Rex Peoples & Jack Hadley; Eef & Stacey Turpenoff, and possibly more. John-Alex was a huge believer in getting our youth involved in blues and music and his scholarship continues that belief today. Doors open at 1PM and the show starts at 2PM. Info at www.coblues.com

Madison Blues Society – Madison, WI

Madison Blues Society will host the 8th Annual Wild Women of the Blues featuring Lisa Wenger and her Mean Mean Men on March 5, 2015, 7:00PM at the High Noon Saloon, 01 E. Washington Avenue in Madison.

This is a Benefit for Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS), the only Dane County area shelter for survivors and children of domestic violence. DAIS continues to promote awareness and education to our communities through several vital programs, and has made phenomenal strides in providing necessary resources for those in crisis and need. More info: www.abuseintervention.org

Also supporting MBS Blues in the Community programs. This event celebrates the talent and empowerment of women in an environment of inspirational musical performance. An exciting national blues act and her band result in a not-to-miss event.

Tickets: $15 advance / $18 day of show or MBS for members: $12 advance / $15 day of show. More Info: www.madisonbluessociety.com/wild_women15.htm

Central Iowa Blues Society – Des Moines, IA

Central Iowa Blues Society announces The 21st Annual Winter Blues Fest, a two night event with The Iowa Blues Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony January 30th & 31st, 2015 at the Downtown Marriott – 700 Grand Ave – Des Moines, IA

On Friday, January 30 the 2014 Iowa Blues Hall of Fame Inductions with host band Sumpin Doo begin at 7:30 PM, followed by Lil Ed & the Blues Imperials at 10:00 PM.

Then on Saturday we have 12 bands on 7 stages starting at 5:00 PM featuring Moreland & Arbuckle, The Bel Airs, Danielle Nicole Band, Kevin “B.F.” Burt, Joe and Vicki Price, Brian “Taz” Grant, Bob Pace and the Dangerous Band, Blues Challenge winning bands from IA, NE, MN, MO, Blues in the Schools performers, After Hours Jam and more.

Admission is $15 for Friday night, $20 for Saturday night or $32 for both. Special hotel room rates at the Downtown Marriott for this event are just $109 per night. For more information, complete line-up, tickets and discount lodging go to www.cibs.org.

The Great Northern Blues Society – Wausau, WI

The Great Northern Blues Society of Wausau, WI (GNBS) is Proud to announce the lineup for our 16th Annual Blues Café fundraiser to be held at the Historically Registered Rothschild Pavilion (near Wausau, WI) on 3/14/15.

The Lineup will include Left Wing Bourbon, Crankshaft and the Gear Grinders, Bobby Messano, The Chris O’Leary Band, and Samantha Fish. Doors open at noon, and Music will start at 1:00PM and continue non-stop until 11:00PM. Chairs, Food, and Cold Beverages will be available on-site. Special Hotel Rates available at the nearby Stoney Creek Inn utilizing the Code: “BLUES20”. Limited supply of rooms available so make your reservation now.

Please come, sit by the huge stone fireplace, with a beverage of choice in hand, and join us for 10 hours of non-stop glorious Blues Music on 3/14/15. Artist Biographies, directions, and Tickets are available on our Website at – www.gnbs.org

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.  February 2 – Robert Sampson & Blues Junction, February 9 – Nigel Mack & the Blues Attack, February 16 – David Lumsden and Friends, February 23 – RJ Mischo

Additional ICBC shows (all held in Springfield, Illinois): Feb. 5 – James Armstrong Presents @ The Alamo, 6 pm, Feb. 19 – James Armstrong Presents @ The Alamo, 6 pm, March 21 – Ronnie Baker Brooks ICBC 29th Birthday Party w/special guests the Blues Expressions. K of C Hall on Meadowbrook Rd. Springfield, Illinois.

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     © 2015 Blues Blast Magazine 309 267-4425

 

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