Issue 9-51 December 17, 2015

Cover photo by Marilyn Stringer © 2015 Blues Blast Magazine


 In This Issue 

Terry Mullins has our feature interview with 2007 International Blues Challenge winner Sean Carney. We have a review of Joseph Rosen’s photo book Blues Hands and a review of a book about a personal encounter with Son House plus 11 music reviews of albums from The Reverend Shawn Amos, Andy Poxon, Albert Cummings, Corte’, Robert Cray Band, Joel Zoss, Little Elliott Lloyd And The Real Deal Blues Band, Angelo Santelli, Mare Edstrom And The Snake River Ramblers, A.C. Myles and Soulstack.

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



 Featured Blues Music Review – 1 of 11 

The Reverend Shawn Amos – The Reverend Shawn Amos Loves You

Put Together Records

www.shawnamos.com

12 tracks / 38:59

The Reverend Shawn Amos is a talented vocalist, songwriter and harpist, so maybe it is not necessary to mention that he is the son of Wally ”Famous” Amos – the cookie guy. But it is a part of what makes him the man that he is, just as much as the fact that his mom was the nightclub singer Shirl-ee May Ellis. Or that he was born in New York City and grew up on Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip, which certainly helps to fill a in a lot of the blanks.

Besides these biographical facts, Shawn Amos also understands the music industry, as he has worked as an A&R executive at Rhino Entertainment and was vice president of A&R at the Shout! Factory. This experience has helped him put together five of his own albums, the latest of which is The Reverend Shawn Amos Loves You. This release was produced by two-time Grammy winner (and amazing sax player) Mindi Abair, and it features Amos on vocals and harp. They were joined in the studio by Chris “Doctor” Roberts on guitar, Brady Blade on drums, Chris Thomas on the bass, and Anthony Marinelli and Hassell Teekell on the keys.

There are also a few guests artists on this record, including the Blind Boys of Alabama, who sit in on the first track, “Days of Depression.” This bare bones blues track with its catchy electric guitar hook and minimal instrumentation is the perfect setting to add the amazing harmonies that these bona fide giants of the gospel world can contribute. This song is backed up by the hard-hitting rhythm and blues of “Brand New Man,” showing that Shawn is not afraid to mix things up a little bit. These first few songs are only a touch over two minutes each, and they certainly leave the listener wanting more!

Missy Anderson also makes a guest appearance, and “Boogie” is one of the standout tracks on the album. This song already drips with sex thanks to Amos’ soulful voice and harmonica over the heavy bass and tinkling electric piano. But when you throw Missy into the mix along with a tight horn section, the temperature skyrockets!

“Hollywood Blues” is a slick ode to Shawn Amos’ west coast home, and it works well because of the fabulous job that Nick Lane did of arranging the very prominent horns, which include Mindi Abair on sax and Lewis Smith on the trumpet. Like the other originals on this release, it is well written, and in this case the lyrics will strike a chord with anybody that has tried to work in the Southland’s music scene.

There is also a pair of cool cover tunes that made their way onto The Reverend Shawn Amos Loves You. Minnie Lawler’s “Joliet Bound” gives Roberts the chance to step out on the guitar for a minute until the drums and bass set up their driving beat. This is a beautiful piece of roots and blues, and the feeling in Shawn’s voice is spot on for the expected law and order theme of this tune. The other re-do is a laid-back take on Jimmy Reed’s “Bright Lights, Big City” that has plenty of appropriately played barroom piano, lovely backing vocals from Forever Jones, and some well-placed sax work from Ms. Abair.

The Reverend Shawn Amos Loves You is a very good modern blues album that does not lose touch with where the genre came from, and there is not a bad song on it. Pick up a copy if you get a chance and if you are ever near the City of Angels, Mr. Amos has plenty of shows on his schedule, including a regular gig at the luxurious Mr. C. hotel in Beverly Hills.

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



 Featured Blues Interview – Sean Carney 

He had been there twice before as part of Teeny Tucker’s band, a big band that featured piano and saxophone, along with Tucker’s amazingly-powerful vocals.

But when he decided it was his time to step up front and showcase his own talents, he pared things down to just guitar, bass and drums, with himself on the mic.

That’s when he heard the whispers.

‘You’re not going to make it without that big sound.’

‘You need a singer.’

‘You’re not going to do it.’

Fortunately, Sean Carney simply ignored all the catcalls and tuned out all the outside noise that surrounded him and did it anyway.

And when he walked off the stage that chilly night in early 2007, Carney and his band had won the International Blues Challenge (IBC), with Carney also capturing the Albert King Award that same year, an honor bestowed to the best guitarist at the annual competition in Memphis.

“It’s (doubters and their talk) just fuel to the fire for me,” he recently said. “I had a two-year stint working as a journalist at a weekly newspaper in Fort Myers Beach, Florida and part of my beat was politics and covering the town council and all that stuff. So I got a crash course in publicity and I learned that when people are talking about you, that’s good. Whether they like you, or whether they don’t, if they’re talking about you – saying your name – that’s a good thing.”

They’ve been talking about the Columbus, Ohio-based bluesman – in a good way – way before him and his crew won the IBC. Despite his ever-increasing profile these days, Carney is no Johnny-come-lately to the party. He’s been a highly-regarded musician for going on three decades now and his first album – Provisions – came out in 1998. He also has a huge and loyal following over in Europe, where he’s played several gigs in the past few months alone.

“It’s been a really busy year – I feel really blessed. I’ve been particularly busy in Europe and I’m in Spain at the moment,” he said. “I started coming over here (Europe) just before I won the IBC. I had just made a deal with an (European) agency and had just started booking our first tour and then a couple of months into booking that tour, we won the IBC, which kind of kick-started that tour. The dates that we had that were open filled up pretty quick after that. I feel like I have a lot of great fans over here, especially like in France and Belgium.”

That’s due to plenty of hard work and non-stop touring overseas, where you still have to build up a fan base one person, one city and one gig at a time. Thanks to that elbow grease, Carney’s trajectory has been on the rise in Europe, evidenced by the way that the Sean Carney Revue has been packing them in.

“We just played at this really big festival in France (Bay-Car Blues Festival), which was great, because for the last few years, I’ve been kind of a ‘mid-card’ (in order of appearance at shows) kind of guy. I started out being the first guy on and then worked my way to the middle,” he said. “And now, just on this tour, really, we’ve had a couple of pretty-big festivals, like the Bay-Car, which I got to headline. So personally and professionally, it was a big deal to move into that realm and start to get some of those headlining gigs. It was really awesome to get to do a show with Shaun and Jonn and Omar. It’s great to have such a powerful, all-American lineup … a pretty diverse, small, all-American lineup, at that. I’m pretty proud of the collection of folks we have in our little crew.”

That ‘collection of folks’ includes – as Carney mentioned – Shaun (Booker), Omar (Coleman) and Jonn (Del Toro Richardson), who have also been integral parts of his last three recorded projects, works that might best be described as ‘collaborative efforts.’

The latest of that trio of albums (Blue Plate Special – Nite Owlz Records) hit the streets early this year and features the incredible vocal talents of Shaun Booker.

“Yeah, I’ve done three of those in the last few years – one with Omar (Very Lucky Man), one with Jonn (Drivin’ Me Wild) and this new one with a really great singer from Columbus, Ohio named Shaun Booker,” he said. “Shaun has been at the IBC and certainly got a lot of attention there. I feel like I’ve been in a position to open a few doors for some folks – particularly in Europe – and I’ve been a friend and a big fan of Shaun’s for a long time. We decided to do a CD together this year and line up some tour dates and it’s been good. I also got to do some dates over in France with Omar, which was really good, as well. I’ve been busy working with my fellow collaborative artists the past few months.”

When he’s not been out burning up the road, Carney has been in the studio this year and his newest album is set to see the light of day next month.

“It’s called Throwback and is all original tunes,” he said. “It’s a little bit of a departure for me … it’s the guitar album I’ve been threatening to make for a long time. I’m pretty excited about it. It’s my first Sean Carney release since 2008. I’ve been working with a lot of people and doing a lot of things, but I’m excited to see a new Sean Carney CD out in the market.”

Their styles may be completely different, but when Carney and Richardson (long-time guitarist in Diunna Greenleaf’s Blue Mercy Blues Band, and like Carney, winner of the Albert King Award at the IBC) do share the same bandstand, they mesh better than ice cream and cake.

“I just finished a tour with him about a month ago and have been fortunate to get to work with him. With Jonn and I, it’s (the chemistry between the two) pretty much been there from the get-go. We both turn into 12-year-olds when we get together. You know, crazy antics on stage,” Carney laughed. “But our styles are so different … drastically different, especially in our approaches. I can’t even attempt to play like Jonn and it’s probably vice-versa with him. We kind of just do our thing. We’ve both spent so much time backing up other people that we’ve learned how to be sidemen and get out of the way and showcase the other guy and make him sound good. That’s another of the strengths that Jonn and I have working together. It’s a fun show for us to do together and I think it’s fun for the audience, too. I’m a big, big fan of Jonn’s. I think he’s one of the best blues guitarists on the scene today. I’m in awe of him every time I play with him.”

Even though a great deal of his time the past eight or nine years has been spent on the road – over in Europe, even – Carney has still managed to muster up more than enough energy to create something that is really very special – Blues for a Cure (www.bluesforacure.com). That organization was immediately successful, with the first two Blues for a Cure shows alone raising over $50,000 for cancer research in 2007 and ’08. Since then, well over $163,000 has been funded.

“This is our eighth year with Blues for a Cure, which is a non-profit organization that I founded back in 2007, when my mom was in hospice. Fortunately, she’s really good and healthy today,” he said. “I felt like I needed to do something to give back to that, so this year we’ve implemented the Heather Pick Music Program (Pick was a news anchor at WBNS TV in central Ohio, who lost a battle with breast cancer) at the Ohio State University-James Cancer Hospital to bring music into the patients. There’s a lot of evidence that supports music being a really good thing towards healing people. It’s been really exciting to be a part of that … to try and do something good for people and leave some kind of a good footprint in the world.”

More than just charitable concerts, Blues for a Cure has also spawned a series of compact discs – featuring a who’s-who of the best blues players around. Instead of sounding or feeling like a hodge-podge of superstars being cut and spliced into something trying to resemble an album, to their credit, the Blues for a Cure discs sound and feel like a cohesive work, or one complete thought. To sum it up, they’re highly enjoyable works of art, which is something that can be hard to accomplish, when so many killer players are involved.

“For me, it’s cool as producer to get to handpick certain people to have come up with a song together. It’s awesome to have people like Duke Robillard and Omar Coleman … some really interesting stylistic variations, to do a song together. I think Jimmy Thackery described it really well. He said, ‘It’s like you guys take all the musicians and lock them in the studio for a day and don’t let them leave until the CD is done.’ That’s it basically, in a nutshell,” laughed Carney. “Taking people out of their comfort zone is really cool for getting some different results and to get them to step out and try something new. Of course, I’m honored and humbled to get to work with all these people. All these people who come to work with us at Blues for a Cure – as most of us do – have some story of being touched by cancer, through a loved one or a friend. People come in with a really positive attitude and a really good energy and feeling to come up with something good. It seems like the bar gets set higher every year for those (Blues for a Cure) CDs.”

The most recent Blues for a Cure disc – recorded in June of this year – has a unique twist to it.

“We had what we call a Southern Hospitality trifecta. We had Southern Hospitality (the blues super group made up of J.P. Soars, Victor Wainwright and Damon Fowler), plus we had J.P. and his band, we had Victor and his band and Damon and his band. It was a really killer session with those guys,” Carney said. “We really came up with some good stuff and it was really fun to turn those guys loose and sit back and just watch it. I’m really pleased with these CDs. It’s hard to believe we’re on the eighth one. We’re looking at 10 years coming up here real quick.”

Carney has also spent the past several years acting as a ‘camp counselor’ at another project that’s certainly close to his heart.

“This has also been the eighth year of Camp Blues, which is a camp that I run in my hometown of Columbus at the jazz academy. That seems to be getting bigger and bigger every year,” he said. “We’ve tied that in with a festival in Columbus, where the kids actually – for their final of the one-week program – get to play at the Creekside Blues Festival. It’s really cool to get to be a part of that first stage experience for a lot of those kids. It’s been really cool during the last eight years to see some of those kids come into their own as professionals … they’re competing with me for gigs and I love it! I think it’s important for us to develop a new audience, or otherwise, this music doesn’t have much of a chance. That’s why I love getting involved with the schools and with this camp.”

Music has been a fabric that runs through Carney’s family and it was his uncle David who started to hip a teen-aged Sean to some of the blues greats.

“My uncle David is a blues drummer back in Columbus. He’s the guy that kind of turned me on to T-Bone Walker and Robert Lockwood and all the great players,” Carney said. “I saw Duke Robillard – who is probably still my hero – back when I was about 15 or 16. Fortunately, I was also able to see Robert Lockwood (who lived in Cleveland, which named a street after the legend) about that same time. He was a big, big influence. I loved Robert, but never really got to play with him. We did jam a couple of times and I was really honored that he came out to hear me play one time at the place in Cleveland where he held court once a week. I was blown away and humbled when he showed up at my gig. He hung out and we jammed. He was really a sweetheart. Ronnie Earl was another one that I got to frequently see in Columbus. There was a couple of really cool blues clubs back in Columbus in the ’80s and ’90s. They’d have guys like Gatemouth Brown and Lonnie Mack and Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters, Anson Funderburgh and Sam Myers … Little Charlie and the Nightcats. I got to see those guys a lot and got to open for them when I was young, which was cool. I was really lucky to get to see those guys.”

As supplanted by the list of bluesmen that he had the chance to see – and rub shoulders with – as a young guitar player, it’s easy to understand why Carney loves playing the jump blues.

“I love the music of the ’40s and ’50s and really got pretty deep into that for a long time, and I’m still really into the jump blues and jazz and swing,” he said. “The early rhythm-and-blues, I just love that stuff. Johnnie Bassett was another one that I was lucky to get to play with. I really love his style and those big, hollow-body guitars. That was a thing that really impressed upon me as a young man, those big guitars with the big sound that those guys got. I’d look at pictures of T-Bone Walker and then listen to his records. I thought that was about the best sound in the world.”

He had played with his uncles (in a band called The Joint Rockers, which is still going today), but Carney really started his own band when he was 18.

“That was my first band, which I called Sean Carney and The Nite Owlz. I had befriended a singer named Christine Kittrell, who was living in Columbus at the time. She was one of the real pioneers of the Nashville R&B sound in the late ’40s and early ’50s. She had recorded up until the early ’70s on labels like Vee-Jay and King, but had a real series of misfortunes and health maladies in the early ’70s and gave it up. I, and a few other people in Columbus, found out about her and kind of got her out and about and she started singing with my band. I really started that band to be her backing band,” he said. “As her health started to decline, she started to push me into singing. So that was about when I was 24 or 25. I wasn’t good, at all. We also backed up Big Joe Duskin and Jimmy ‘T-99’ Nelson, who was a big, big influence on me. Another real legend in Columbus – Willie Pooch – also played with me back then. There were a lot of great artists that I would back up and sing a few tunes to warm the band up.”

Not too long after that, Carney hooked up with another fantastically-gifted vocalist – the dynamic Teeny Tucker. That’s when he really started to come into his own as an artist.

“That was really the beginning of me ever trying to write any songs. I think it was her first effort at that, too. I knew her from around town, but didn’t know her that well. I knew she was more into singing pop kind of stuff then. We really connected through Christine, she was the one who introduced us. Teeny started coming out and fronting my band and eventually, we decided to start from the ground up and create a new band,” said Carney. “We wrote some original songs and put a whole show together. I really did take a backseat to my own front-work there for a few years when I was working with Teeny. But working with all these great singers gave me a pretty high bar to set for myself. I can say that I try and emulate a lot of the singers that’s I’ve worked with – in my own style.”

Around 2005, things started to fall into place for Carney to focus more on his own career.

“Teeny’s mother got real sick and eventually passed away, so she decided to take some time off from music and deal with her mother’s affairs,” he said. “That really gave me an opportunity and a platform to start focusing on writing my own songs and developing my own repertoire and work on my own talents as a front-man and singer.”

His decision to enter his band into the IBC was not a spur-of-the-moment kind of thing. Rather, it was the end result of a choice he made to put another vocation on hold in an effort to devote more attention to playing the music that was pumping through his veins.

“I think for about two years in a row, prior to my winning the IBC, I was getting my duckies in a row to do this full-time. I had left my job at a newspaper down in Fort Myers Beach, Florida, where I lived for about two years. I had gotten more into politics and stuff like that when I was living down there,” he said. “I decided that I really didn’t want to quit playing music. In fact I wanted to really focus on it full-time. We had recorded a really great CD about a year-and-a-half prior to the IBC, called Life of Ease, and that was getting some really great attention from a lot of different folks. We had also started touring in Canada – mostly in western Canada – and found that to be a really great audience. My bassist and drummer had been with me for about 12 years, so we were really, really tight and were ready to do it that year. So that’s what we decided to do and that’s what we did.”

It may not have been exactly like pushing the ‘fast forward’ button, but there’s no doubt that entering – and winning – the International Blues Challenge back in 2007 paid immediate dividends for not only Carney’s musical career, but also for his charitable work, to boot.

“It definitely kicked me into high-gear, as far as being able to perform full-time,” he said. “I mean. there were some pretty tough years before the IBC. It hasn’t all been roses (since winning), but things have been pretty good for me since then. I feel like I’m in pretty good company with a lot of the winners … we’ve kind of created some different fraternities with some of the IBC winners. A lot of the IBC folks have been involved with Blues for a Cure, like Jonn Richardson, Bart Walker, J.P. Soars, Noah Witherspoon, Trampled Under Foot, Karen Lovely and Billy the Kid. We’ve created a really cool fraternity of finalists and winners. I can’t say enough good things about the IBC. I’m typically there every year.”

Visit Sean’s website at www.seancarneyblues.com

Photos by Marilyn Stringer © 2015

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



 Featured Blues Music Review – 2 of 11 

Andy Poxon – Must Be Crazy

Eller Soul Records

www.andypoxon.com

13 tracks

The red headed guitar wiz kid is back for his third album and it’s a superb one! Sporting a much shorter hair style on the album cover and photos, his trimmed back mane does not detract from his prowess on the six string! Featuring 13 new original tunes written by Poxon with some help on a few by Kevin McKendree (his keyboard player) and on one by McKendree’s 14 year old son, Yates, this is another impressive effort by this fine young East Coast musician! In addition to those mentioned we have Kenneth Blivens on drums, Steve Mackey on bass and Jim Hoke on saxophones. Excellent backing musicians all, they add a lot of depth and soul to this CD.

The albums opens to the strains of the title track. A stinging guitar lead is vibrant with solid vocals by Poxon. The piano and horns are integral to the mix and add a great dimension. The song is a winner! “Living Alone” follows; Andy tells us that living alone is not as bad as you would think, especially after a bad break up. Saving money, spending money on yourself, playing guitar, not having any restrictions are positives. He offers a cool little solo on his guitar, too, in addition to the fun lyrics. Poxon and Company swing to “Next to You,” a song that easily could be a Room Full of Blues hit. Poxon and the band are tight and shout out the chorus together. Poxon’s guitar solo is clean and precise, the horns are well orchestrated, the keys are pounding and it’s just another great tune!

“Give Me the Chance” slows things down and Poxon sings with passion and the McCrary Sisters behind him help to testify along with his impassioned plea. Poxon offers another solo with bite and vigor. “Cold Weather” is sloooow and dirty blues, the kind lovers get up to and grind together on the dance floor as the guitar is picked with greasy and dirty aplomb. The intro lasts about a minute before Poxon wails about being a remedy for cold weather. Another great solo by Poxon adds to the intensity before he closes things out. On “Don’t Tell Your Mama” we get another great original tune where Poxon has a story to tell. Nice piano solo followed by a nice guitar solo here, too. The organ returns on “Harder Everyday”as Andy sings a mournful ballad and the band supports the mood. You can feel the pain in his voice and their playing.

“I Want To Know” has a bit of a bounce as the horns reply to each of the lines of the verse. Andy tries to understand the mind of his woman as he asks over and over how to make this girl fall in love with him. He picks out a distinctive and precise, slow beat on his solo which fits the song nicely. He stays with a slow beat in “Already Gone,” a breathy cut where he sings of a relation gone sour. Chloe Kohanski is also mournful behind his vocals as a drum beats out a slow beat and the organ slides in around their vocals.

The pace picks up nicely with “Making a Fool,” a mid to faster tempos tome about his clumsiness and ability to do what the title says. He ignores his friends’ pleas about impending heartbreak and sings to tell about it. A cool little swing tune with the guitar and piano supporting each other. The guitar solo is stinging again as Poxon plays with feeling. “Don’t Tell Me What to Do” is another slow bluesy ballad where Poxon is adamant about not taking direction from his woman. Really cool and well done stuff here. With “Too Late” Poxon and the band take a musical stroll in what appears to be a little bit of a take off on Freddie King.

Poxon concludes with “Rebound” where he and the organ introduce and provide the main basis of this instrumental tune. Yates McKendree helped write the song and appears on organ. Well paced and cool, the song works as Poxon picks at the strings and McKendree deftly fingers the keys. Nicely done once again!

Now 20 years old, Poxon is an experienced musician who has released three great CDs in four years. I think he’s got a bright future as each of his CDs show growth from the prior and build on their level of excellence. He’s a fantastic guitar player, singer and songwriter- I highly recommend this CD!

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 Book Review – 1 of 2 

Blues Hands

By Joseph A. Rosen

http://josepharosen.com

Schiffer Publishing

The cliché that a photo is worth a thousand words may be out of date. At a time when our world is preoccupied with selfies, social media, and instant communication, there are fewer people who take the time to read 1000 words, or have the attention span. Joseph A. Rosen’s new book Blues Hands targets the new paradigm that – especially for today’s world – photographs may now be worth more than 1000 words.

Photographs are what we remember from significant news events long after the details of those events are forgotten. Like music, photographs eliminate the objectification of the thought process and mainline emotion in often overpowering ways. Rosen has been documenting blues artists in performances for more than 40 years, and as a blues Renaissance man and fellow photographer, Dick Waterman says up front in this book that there are shooters and photographers. And Joe is definitely a photographer.

More than 100 blues artists are represented in this beautifully produced book published by Schiffer Publishing. Looking at all the hands with multiple rings, tattoos, wrinkles, and gnarls, one wonders how all that beautiful music gets from the artist’s soul into so many souls.

“It’s not solely about close-ups of hands,” says Rosen about his work. “Hands are a thread that connects all the pictures. It can be a gesture. It can be moments like James Brown and Al Green who have their hands waving above them, but hands are a theme. There are a lot of close-ups of hands. That’s absolutely there, but I used hands as a connecting theme so a lot of what I felt was strong work and spoke to the blues.”

Perhaps these photos say something about the beauty within, especially with those artists who use their hands to create the music we love. We idealize their hands and see them in our mind’s eye as smooth, languid, sleek like a sports car, because their music takes us to places like that. Seeing their hands up close strips away the idealized image.

When Joe describes what 40-plus years of professional photography do for him in capturing that magic, he might as well be talking about what the performing artist does: “It’s important to appreciate the medium,” says Rosen, “to understand the medium and the mechanics that are involved and to know enough technique so that you can forget the technique and shoot reflexively and keep things on a higher level.” The critical word is reflexive. Both the photographer and the subject of his photos perform reflexively when they take us into “the zone.”

So when we see Magic Slim’s stubby fingers we marvel that they fly across six strings and connect with us on a primal level. Or when we see 96-year-old Honeyboy Edwards’ crinkled fly paper back hand, we can imagine what it must have been like for him to have heard the levee break on the Mississippi River in the flood of 1928. Rosen gives us an intimate look based on his years of experience. He helps us see the artist in ways we never thought of.

Two of the more atypical photos in Blues Hands are of Bobby Rush and Shemekia Copeland. Both tell stories reminiscent of the way Norman Rockwell painted scenes. In the Bobby Rush photo he’s running his hands down the backside of Mizz Lowe as he winks knowingly to his audience. Miss Lowe smiles broadly indicating with her hands on Bobby’s back that she’s complicit with his moves. But then you see peaking up from under the stage the face of a little boy watching this go on. Rosen calls that picture an example of what Branch Rickey terms the residue of design. “Keep doing. Keep honing your skills and then occasionally some extra magic comes along.”

The photo of Shemekia shows her doing the bump with four guys in fatigues, one with an automatic rifle hanging down. It was taken during the Bluesapalooza tour of the Middle East. “That was an amazing night,” says Rosen, “because that was what they call an FOB, a forward operating base, a little bit further out and smaller and a little more rugged, and the soldiers, mostly Marines I believe, were ready to rock. They didn’t get a lot of entertainment out there, and they were ready to have some fun. And they did. It was great. Those guys just spontaneously jumped up on stage and started dancing around there. They had automatic weapons unloaded. They’re very careful. You don’t just lean your weapons against a tree or anything.

As an editor of blues magazines, I’ve always breathed a sigh of relief when I knew a Joe Rosen photo was going to grace a cover or accompany an article because I knew it would give the article context. But it’s more than that. As a writer, I often feel that a Joe Rosen photo is the sugar making my herbal tea into sweet tea. It’s not just that he sweetens a story, but he often is the “secret ingredient” – the special sauce – that wholly transforms the editorial package, working with the words to create an experience for the reader that’s worth more than the sum of its parts.

Reviewer Don Wilcock has been writing about blues for nearly half a century. He wrote Damn Right I’ve Got The Blues, the biography that helped Buddy Guy jumpstart his career in 1991. He’s interviewed more than 5000 Blues artists and edited several music magazines including King Biscuit Time.



 Featured Book Review – 2 of 2 

Finding Son House – One Searcher’s Story

by Richard Shade Gardner

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

90 pages

In 1981, dealing with the emotions of life’s twists, turns, and setbacks, author Richard Shade Gardner discovered blues music. The music was a lifeline of sorts, reminding him that others had dealt with hardship and troubles, living to tell about it. Living was tough on money earned as a free-lance writer and part-time retail store clerk. But Gardner also hosted a blues radio on a weekly basis in Rochester, New York.

The author spent many nights pouring through the liner notes on album covers purchased from record stores and dusty thrift shops. The knowledge that he gained merely whetted his appetite for more understanding. So he dove deep into the archives of the local library system. He already knew that Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters were two legendary musicians whose work had influenced several generations of musicians and listeners. The author wondered who came before them, had provided the spark that ignited the passion in these two giants.

An interview in a 1950’s edition of Downbeat magazine provided a clue as Muddy Waters named Eddie “Son” House as his major musical influence. That bit of information led to a deeper investigation of House, who had also served as a mentor for Johnson. House had been rediscovered in 1964 by a trio of blues fans – Dick Waterman, Nick Perls, and Phil Spiro – who searched through the Mississippi Delta region only to discover that House had been living in Rochester for years. The author learns that House was still performing locally in 1976 but from that point, the guitarist seemingly vanished.

But the intrepid author refuses to give up on the search. Working through various contacts, Gardner eventually gets an address and phone number from guitarist John Mooney that puts House not in Rochester, but in Detroit, MI. After a less-than-promising contact with his wife, the author and a friend set off to visit the reclusive House. The tale of their trip and encounter with the legendary bluesman is the centerpiece of the story. It had a profound effect on the author, who posits that given the scope of influence that Johnson and Waters continue to exert on modern music, House deserves credit as a founding father of rock music.

The book also includes some of Gardner’s musings on the impact that House songs like “Grinnin’ In Your Face” had on his life as well as details on several incidents that played out around his search, including one with an irate musician who was none to happy that Gardner failed to contact her for an article he wrote about House that ran in the local Rochester paper. There is also a chapter that examines the history of the city as it plays out in chronicle of House’s life there.

While certainly not a definitive biography, this book connects because Gardner makes you care about his quest and does an admirable job of weaving the search for Son House around his own personal storyline. It includes some rare photos and a selected discography of House recordings, making this book a personal examination of one man’s brush with musical history.

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!.



 Featured Blues Music Review – 3 of 11 

Albert Cummings – Someone Like You

Blind Pig Records – 2015

www.albertcummings.com

12 tracks; 52 minutes

Albert Cummings’ latest release was recorded in LA with a new producer in David Z and a new studio band of Tony Braunagel on drums, Mike Finnegan on keys (both Phantom Blues Band members) and Reggie McBride on bass. Albert handles lead guitar and vocals and there are guest appearances by Jimmy Vivino who plays guitar on three tracks and Teresa James who adds backing vocals throughout.

Albert’s hallmarks are solid guitar very much in SRV mode and heartfelt vocals and both are very much present and correct here on an entirely original program. Opener “No Doubt” is at the heavier end of Albert’s range with plenty of chugging guitar and stabbing organ fills as Albert tells of problems with his girl staying out late at night – no doubt something is wrong! “I Found You” is more melodic with a soulful vocal from Albert and some nice support work from Jimmy’s second guitar, Mike’s organ filling out the sound well and Teresa’s b/v’s well in evidence. The next track “Up Your Sleeve” has a Texas blues strut feel and a typical barnstormer of a solo from Albert. A change of style on “Movin’ On” finds Albert playing some insistent fingerpicking guitar with Mike on electric piano, the combination bringing a bouncy country blues feel to the tune. Albert states in the sleeve notes that his wife Christina is the motivation for most of his songs and “So Strong” is one of the best here, a ballad that wears its heart on its sleeve as Albert sings of the solid relationship that he has with his wife: “I don’t know why I do what I do, I think it’s just because I’m crazy about you”. The love expressed in the lyrics translates into some of Albert’s most expressive playing on the album in a graceful solo. Lyrically “Finally In Love” follows on seamlessly, a mid-paced rocker with some tougher guitar from Albert and the uptempo “Make Up Your Mind” has plenty of Albert’s trademark guitar riffs with a strident solo that is less enjoyable.

The longest cut on the album is the slow blues “Little Bird” and at seven minutes it provides plenty of opportunities for Albert and Jimmy to demonstrate their chops, Mike on very bluesy piano in support. Perhaps emboldened by the previous joint effort Albert and Jimmy combine on the uptempo instrumental “Meatlockers” which fairly zips along with Mike on cool Jimmy Smith style organ and an overall jazzy feel to the performance. We return firmly to the blues with a traditional mid-pace piece entitled “I’m In Love With You”, Albert’s solo developing from low notes to a scream. “Old Dog” goes back to the Texas shuffle style, Albert adopting a gruffer tone as he warns other dogs off from HIS bone and he closes the album with a fine piece of blazing rock and roll in “Stay Away From My Sister” on which everyone seems to be having fun.

Albert’s rough and ready style of playing has made him many fans and this CD will not disappoint them. Plenty of solid guitar playing here for the AC die hards and something for most blues fans to enjoy if guitar-led, uptempo material is your enthusiasm.

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 Music Review – 4 of 11 

Corte’ – Seasoned Soul

Self-Produced

www.corte.global

CD: 10 Songs; 37:28 Minutes

Styles: Blues Covers, R&B, Soul-and-Funk-Influenced Blues

Make no mistake: A CD entitled Seasoned Soul, by veteran vocalist Al Corte’, can’t explain its genre more clearly. It contains ten blues and R&B covers, performed with panache by the lead singer and his backup band. Those looking for funky guitar songs in the style of traditional icons like Howlin’ Wolf will be disappointed. However, if blues fans crave disco dynamics and well-above-average singing, this album is the gem for which they’re searching. With pipes as polished as those of Pan, and a backup band that can’t be beat, Corte’ will woo lovers of soul everywhere.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Corte’ is the diversity and span of his musical journey. He “comes from talent” like some wealthy scions “come from money”. His website reveals that his father’s hobby was honky-tonk singing, and his Uncle Raymond was a professional opera singer. Thus, Raymond recognized his nephew’s gift, and trained him in classical vocals. However, Corte’ preferred blues and rock to opera, and wished to pursue a career in the former. His first band, Buffalo, New York’s The Cavemen, became a highly popular act in the western NY area in the 1960’s. In the 1970’s, Al himself formed a band called Brass Tacks – a six-piece, all-male show group. He performed in more ensembles, such as Hot Ticket, Good Vibrations, The Tropics and Streetplayer, before incarnating in his present band persona, Corte’.

Performing alongside him, adding extra flavor to this Seasoned Soul, are producer Jerry Bone on guitar, bass, horn patches, harp and organ; his son Lennon Bone on drums; Ron Miller on piano and strings; Charlie Chalmers on saxophone; and Sarah Jo Roark on background vocals.

Even though the following three songs are covers, they’re still great, thanks to Corte’s singing:

Track 05: “Unchain My Heart” – WOWZA! That’s the only way to describe Sarah Jo Roark’s background vocals as she and her lead man tackle this Clyde Otis and Bill Sanford hit. Ron Miller is also spectacular on piano intro. “Unchain my heart. Baby, let me be, ‘cause you don’t care about me. Set me free…” Such is our narrator’s plea, a prisoner to his longing for someone who cherishes him no more. Love isn’t always a positive emotion, especially if unrequited.

Track 06: “Any Ole Way” – Otis Redding and Steve Cropper created this catchy 50’s-style tune about forgiveness. Backed by Charlie Chalmers on smooth sax, it’s perfect for mid-tempo dancing with a partner. “I don’t do the things that you do. I don’t go the places that you go. I don’t say the bad things that you say, but I love you any ole way.” When Corte’ sings that last line, he means it, with the vocal equivalent of a hug.

Track 10: “Cold Sweat” – Long live James Brown! Corte’ pours a Niagara Falls’ worth of hot sauce on this spicy number. “When you kiss me, hold my hand, make me understand – I break out in a cold sweat.” The guitar refrain by Jerry Bone is near-perfect.

Al Corte’ is definitely a Seasoned Soul!

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 36 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 Music Review – 5 of 11 

Robert Cray Band – 4 Nights Of 40 Years Live

Provogue/Mascot 2015

www.robertcray.com

CD 1: 13 tracks; 74 minutes

To celebrate his fortieth year in the business Robert Cray held a four night series of shows in LA. What is available is a CD of those shows, a second disc with songs selected from the band’s 1982 San Francisco Blues Festival set, together with some songs recorded for Dutch TV in 1987. To complete the package is a DVD or Blu-Ray which picks the best moments from all the above shows, together with Cray’s and other musicians’ (Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Bonnie Raitt, Jimmie Vaughan, Keith Richards) reminiscences about his career. This review, however, is based solely on the CD of the contemporary shows.

Robert’s current band consists of Robert on guitar and vocals, long-time bassist Richard Cousins, drummer Les Falconer and keyboardist Dover Weinberg (who was also in Robert’s very first band). A two-man horn section of Steve Madaio on trumpet and Trevor Lawrence on sax (dubbed ‘The Cats’) adds considerably to several tracks and there are guest spots for producer Steve Jordan (drums), Kim Wilson (vocals) and Lee Oskar (harp). The biggest problem must have been the track selection because with 20 albums behind him, Robert has an awful lot of great material from which to choose. The tracks here range right across his career and only one song appears on both the current and historical sets, the classic “Right Next Door”.

Robert’s strength has always been to combine a great voice with stinging guitar playing and some memorable songs. The album opens with “I Shiver”, the horns making a real impression on the song, as they also do on the slow blues “I’ll Always Remember You” which is superbly done with great piano and the horns. The horns are absent for the cautionary tale of “Poor Johnny” which finds Robert singing and playing brilliantly. “Won’t Be Coming Home” is archetypically Robert Cray, his funky rhythm guitar work supported by the organ and solid rhythm section, all building into a catchy chorus.

The slow soul-blues of “Your Good Thing Is About To End” brings back the horns to add brooding support to Robert’s vocals and Cropperesque guitar. The guests start with Lee Oskar’s harp on Howling Wolf’s “Sitting On Top Of The World” which is played pretty straight and allows us to hear the solid piano work of Dover and the rock solid bass and drums. Kim Wilson is on hand to share vocals with Robert on Sam And Dave’s “Wrap It Up” (a song also covered by the Fabulous Thunderbirds, of course) but this is a storming version, possibly the best cut on the whole album, as everyone plays brilliantly: the rumbling bass at the start, a fabulous horn arrangement and the excellent duet vocals between Robert and Kim.

The horns remain on board for another great track in the soulful “Love Gone To Waste” and then it’s time for some of the older hits as Robert goes all the way back to a song that Eric Clapton once covered, “Bad Influence”, which features Dover’s organ. “These Things” is probably as close to a straight blues as Robert gets on his own material here, the nagging guitar riff bringing us back all the time to the blues and Robert producing his edgiest playing of the disc. “Right Next Door” is probably Robert’s best known song, not least as it introduced us all to Robert’s alter ego ‘Young Bob’ the guy whose affair with his neighbor is the subject of the song. Robert’s sublimely quiet playing on the extended outro underlines the heartbreak of the song’s subject matter.

The horns make a final appearance to beef up “The Forecast Calls For Pain”, another of Robert’s rather pessimistic songs before Robert introduces the band and then says that they will “do one more as a quartet”, heralding the slow “Time Makes Two” which finds Dover producing almost a string part on his keyboard as Robert demonstrates his skills on both vocal and guitar to close the show.

As a live set this CD works very well with a careful selection of material across many of Robert’s albums, together with a couple of covers to allow some guests to add to the fun. One suspects that the full package will be well worth investigating.

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 Music Review – 6 of 11 

Joel Zoss – Florida Blues

Bluzpik Media – 2015

www.joelzoss.com

10 tracks; 38 minutes

Based on the East coast of Florida, Joel Zoss is an acoustic guitarist and singer who is accompanied here by Jeff Adkins on bass and Matt Calderin on drums. Producer Jeff Harding adds guitar to one track. Eight of the tracks are original with two covers from Big Bill Broonzy and Lead Belly.

Joel has a light voice that at times recalls the late Al Wilson of Canned Heat and on the first track plays some pleasant finger-picked guitar on a sprightly tune entitled “Have You Seen My Rider”. “Papers Of Light” has some nice electric bass parts but a repetitious chorus without words that mars the tune. Joel’s ode to the power of “Vodka And Red Bull” is a straight blues shuffle which sounds like a Jimmy Reed tune as Joel sings of having “a good buzz on”, rather repetitively. The tune seems to stretch Joel’s vocal abilities though there is more good picking here. “The Riddle Song” certainly lives up to its enigmatic name as it is hard to figure out what Joel is singing about here, at times having references to biblical images, knights and chessmen!

“Street Vet Chant” is a blues with some nice guitar work, another strange little song about a veteran who “can’t work with this shrapnel in my brain”. The familiar “Key To The Highway” is played pretty straight with the rhythm section chugging away behind Joel’s acoustic work and Jeff’s solo. “Two Fish” is another song with some odd lyrics that fails to maintain interest.

“Albert’s Song” at over five minutes rather plodded as Joel sings about his life in Florida. The cover of “Goodnight Irene” is very different to the song we all know so well, Joel choosing to play the song with an eastern feel to the guitar parts and a mid-paced rhythm but again fails to deliver a convincing vocal. The final song is “Follow Me I’ll Turn Your Money Green” which repeats the title several times.

Overall this CD has some solid acoustic playing but did not engage this listener.

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 Music Review – 7 of 11 

Little Elliott Lloyd And The Real Deal Blues Band – Live At The Derby

Seven Freedoms Music – 2015

10 tracks; 46 minutes

Little Elliott Lloyd was a harmonica player and singer who was active in the Hudson Valley area of New York state from the late sixties until his death in 1993. Despite being a local attraction and leading several bands he was never recorded, but that omission has been rectified with this release. This live performance at a club in Poughkeepsie, NY, on 17 June 1979 was recorded on reel-to-reel tape and then transferred to a digital format by Marc Giammarco, CEO of Seven Freedoms Records, and was clearly a labor of love, not only because of Marc’s desire to see his late friend on record but also because Marc was the drummer at the gig! The other members of the band were Dave Gibson and Merwin DeGroodt on guitars, Bruce Nikola on bass and Elliott on harp and vocals.

The ten tracks are all covers and undoubtedly offer a fair representation of what the band had to offer on stage. There are a couple of soul songs but mostly a good selection of the classic blues masters’ material, including two selections each from the repertoires of BB King and Sonny Boy Williamson. This disc is inevitably relatively ‘lo-fi’ compared with much of what is available these days and does not contain any original material.

Elliott sings in a deep and nasal voice that works well on the extended version of BB King’s “The Thrill Is Gone” on which both guitarists play well in suitably relaxed style. One imagines that Marc had some issues with the original recording as evidenced by the very abrupt shift from “Thrill” to the harp intro to Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Don’t Start Me To Talkin’” and the opening track, “You Left The Water Running” which starts well into the song. Elliott’s harp work on Junior Wells’ “Messin’ With The Kid” is solid but sounds ragged on the second BB song “Sweet Sixteen”.

“I Don’t Know” works well with strong harp and a good vocal from Elliott and the band takes a laid-back approach to Kansas City which provides the guitarists an opportunity to play some relaxed and jazzy chords before they take Don Covay’s “Chain Of Fools” (once a hit for Aretha Franklin) which is challenging for Elliott’s voice and does not really take off. A short riff-based piece entitled “Red Hot Chicken” allows Elliott to introduce the band members before they sign off with an encore of Jimmy Rogers’ “Walkin’ By Myself”.

It is good that there is now a record available of the work of someone who spent many years entertaining audiences and producer Marc clearly worked hard to get a viable set of songs from the original tapes. This disc will clearly interest anyone who remembers seeing Little Elliott Lloyd live back in the day.

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 Music Review – 8 of 11 

Angelo Santelli – Angelo Santelli

Self-Release – 2014

www.angelosantelli.com

9 tracks; 33 minutes

Angelo Santelli is a young guitarist from Michigan and this is his first release. His nickname is ‘Skypup’ and you can hear why as when he cuts loose on guitar you can feel the ghost of Duane Allman in the room. Angelo had a hand in writing everything here, collaborating on three songs with other writers. Angelo plays almost all the guitars you hear and also dabbles in some synthesizer and moog sounds. Tom Aldred co-produced and plays keyboards, Tim Brouhard plays bass except on one track where Neal Conway substitutes and drums are shared fairly equally between Kenny Befus and Rick Hale, Ben Godoshian adding percussion, Craig ‘Griff’ Griffith harp and Josh Holcomb violin to two tracks each. Angelo does not sing but there are vocals on three cuts.

The CD essentially consists of four main tunes separated by four short guitar instrumentals. “Mr Road Man” is a strong opener as Alex Mays takes the lead vocal impressively, initially over some quiet dobro and violin work but once the song hits its stride Angelo’s slide takes command with a fiery solo very much in Allman mode. The short interlude of “Dobro Awesome” finds Angelo playing three riffs simultaneously with minimal drum accompaniment. Craig ‘Griff’ Griffith sings and plays harp on his co-write “July Song” but unfortunately his voice is not as strong as Alex’s on track 1. The tune has Griff’s harp in front of some pounding drums/percussion, Angelo playing the dobro parts and produce Tom adding some harmony electric guitar over some rather irritating background vocals which sound as if they were recorded in another place altogether – confusing! The next ‘interlude’ piece reminded this reviewer of Jean-Luc Ponty albums in the seventies with Angelo’s slide soaring like a violin over some synthesizer backing. The centerpiece of the album is the extended “Nine Lives, Nine Tales” which is split into two parts which in total run nearly ten minutes. The tune opens with a jazz-rock rhythm and Angelo playing against first Josh’s violin, then Tom’s keys, with plenty of congas from Ben and a bass solo from Tim Brouhard. The effect is not unlike Santana in their jazz-rock period (think “Caravanserai” or “Borboletta”) but unfortunately degenerates into some strident over-playing by Angelo later in the tune. In complete contrast “Saffron” is a pleasant solo guitar instrumental, Angelo showing us his acoustic chops in a tune that recalls Duane’s “Little Martha”. “Griff’s Blues (Party On The Road)” co-authored by Angelo and Griff is a shuffle with Angelo in great slide form but Griff’s vocal sounds distant and indistinct. The album closes with “Hand Clappin’ Dobro” which does exactly what the title suggests.

This short CD offers an insight into the potential of this young guitarist. When playing Allman Brothers style slide or acoustic dobro he impresses hugely; when drawn into more diverse styles the music tends to lose focus. It will be interesting to see how Angelo develops over the coming years.

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 Music Review – 9 of 11 

Mare Edstrom And The Snake River Ramblers – Doin’ That Double Twist

Spiritone Records – 2015

www.mareedstrom.com

12 tracks; 43 minutes

This is Wisconsin-based vocalist Mare Edstrom’s tenth CD though she is a new name to this reviewer. Mare apparently made her reputation with rocking barrelhouse blues but here she adopts an acoustic approach with plenty of fiddle, dobro and banjo. Mare sings lead on all tracks, supported by Jared Furnish on vocals, Kenn Fox on guitar, Ruthie Krause on fiddle, Garrett Waite on bass, Jon Peik on banjo and Lil’ Rev on harp and mandolin. Several of the band add backing vocals and the album was produced by Kenn Fox in Watertown, Wisconsin. The material comes from a wide range of traditional sources as well as blues icons such as Blind Boy Fuller and Robert Johnson.

The album opens with a sparse arrangement of “Trouble In Mind” with the fiddle to the fore which unfortunately exposes some of Mare’s limitations as a vocalist. Elmore James’ “Done Somebody Wrong” fares better with the familiar stop/start rhythm played on slide dobro and Mare well supported by harmony vocals. The traditional “Hesitation Blues” is a frequently covered song and one harks back to versions such as Hot Tuna’s for comparison; this version does OK with some very nice finger-picking at the start, Mare’s vocals are good and it’s one of the stronger tracks. The ballad “Something ‘bout You” suits Mare’s high-pitched voice well with the keening fiddle a very suitable accompaniment; not blues, but a pleasant listen. Laughter opens the band’s version of RJ’s “Ramblin’” but there is not much to laugh about with this version which did not appeal to these ears at all. “Roll On Buddy” is a traditional country blues with restrained fiddle and references to the more familiar tale of John Henry; Blind Boy Fuller’s “Pistol Slapper Blues” sounds under-recorded with Mare’s vocals distant in the mix behind the guitar and harp. Towards the end of the CD the band tackles two songs that are personal favorites of this reviewer: “Mercury Blues” (erroneously credited to Delbert McClinton) is played at a funereal pace which drags the song; Dylan’s “Buckets Of Rain” fares better, played at a pace that matches the original and Mare’s vocals are OK as she duets with a male voice (one assumes Jared) over harp, mandolin and guitar work.

Not knowing anything about Mare’s other discs it is difficult to rate this one against her usual fare. Fans of the band may like this change of pace and those who enjoy acoustic and country blues may find something to enjoy here.

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 Music Review – 10 of 11 

A.C. Myles – Rush To Red

Self-Release – 2015

www.acmyles.com

13 tracks; 48 minutes

Californian A.C. Myles has paid his dues on the Californian scene, including a stint with Elvin Bishop amongst others. On his second studio release he has certainly hit his stride with a stunning collection of mostly original material which ranges across blues, soul, rock and country. As with his debut release, this is yet another from the Kid Andersen production line at Greaseland Studios in San José. Kid plays bass, organ and guitar, alongside the exciting showman that is Derrick ‘DMar’ Martin on drums and Sid Morris on piano; A.C. plays guitar and sings in a very clear, pleasant and versatile voice.

The album opens in terrific style with “Open Road”, a hymn to the life of the travelling musician with A.C.’s raging yet lyrical slide, a song which probably takes something from Albert Collins’ “Travelling South” but still has its own life. Switching effortlessly to soul blues A.C. gives us the lilting ballad “One Of These Days” which tells the sad tale of Bobbie and Johnny, for whom “one of these days (and it’s gonna be soon) your ways will catch up on you”. A.C.’s vocal here is superb and the warm organ and guitar work very effectively – another highlight. The band rocks it up on “Over Before It Started”, the twin guitars of A.C. and Kid locked into some mesmerising duetting leading to a stunning solo from A.C.. The slight touch of country in the guitar refrain gives way to some more overt country influences in “Closin’ ‘em Down Every Night” which recounts the problems of a heavy drinker who spends more time in late night bars than is good for his relationships. A.C. pays tribute to the great Bobby Bland with a cover of “I Wouldn’t Treat A Dog (The Way You Treated Me)” which works brilliantly, from Kid’s bubbling bass lines and DMar’s great drum work to the rhythm guitar that propels the tune so well. A.C.’s vocal is outstanding with even a hint of the famous Bobby Bland growl. The pace drops back for the country-flavoured “Think Of Him And Cry” on which A.C. finds some suitable guitar stylings before the first instrumental, the title track “Rush To Red”. No idea what the title implies but what is clear is that this is a lovely tune with lush guitar work and an arrangement with a touch of jazz rock about it, another highlight tune.

“Move On” is a mix of rockabilly and blues shuffle and “Tomorrow’s Really Yesterday (TRY)” takes another diversion into Led Zeppelin styled acoustic instrumental mixed with some bird noises from the guitars, an interesting and very different track. Equally diverse in style is “Peace”, which is exactly that, a plea for better understanding: “We the people must overcome”, says the chorus. Played to a gentle rhythm with a reggae feel, nice bass and percussion work, A.C. shows that he can make a falsetto vocal if required and follows that with some almost psychedelic guitar stylings. A short instrumental entitled “Madison” takes us to “Every Day And Night”, a catchy shuffle with plenty of Sid’s piano on display. A.C.’s vocal is again spot on for the style and demonstrates a mastery of economical blues playing with touches of BB King and Albert Collins in his short solo. The final track is a very different approach to Bo Diddley’s classic “Can’t Judge A Book (By Looking At The Cover)”, the band taking it down to a slow funk approach with Kid’s heavy fuzz bass and some tough guitar playing from A.C.

This is an excellent album. I did not get the chance to hear the previous one (Reconsider Me) but this is an accomplished demonstration of a versatile talent that deserves to be very successful. Recommended!

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK who enjoys a wide variety of blues and roots music, especially anything in the ‘soul/blues’ category. Favorites include contemporary artists such as Curtis Salgado, Tad Robinson, Albert Castiglia and Doug Deming and classic artists including Bobby Bland, Howling Wolf and the three ‘Kings’. He gets over to the States as often as he can to see live blues.


 Featured Blues Music Review – 11 of 11 

Soulstack – Soulstack

Stack-O-Soul 2015

www.soulstack.com

10 tracks; 45 minutes

Soulstack’s third album carries on the standards set by their previous albums: original material, well played and sung but difficult to pin down in terms of style. This is certainly not a straight blues album but there are some blues references, as there are soul, country, rock and pop. Bands such as The Gin Blossoms come to mind when listening to Soulstack’s music but you can equally discern traces of The Band, Little Feat and some of the soul greats of yesteryear – an intriguing mix! The band is Jon Knight on lead vocals and guitar, Chris Latta on guitar, Mark Wessenger on keys, Darryl ‘Harpo’ Peterson on bass and Tom Bona on drums. They are joined throughout by young keyboard player Matt Weidinger and on one track by Dawn Blythe on percussion. All the musicians contribute backing vocals, Jon and Mark wrote all the material and Jon produced and mastered the album, so this is very high quality music produced ‘in-house’.

Frontman Jon has a voice that suits this music very well, as can be heard immediately on the opening track “Just Don’t Call It The Blues”. The tune opens with a driving beat and some fine keyboard work as clavinet and organ play against the guitars to provide a funky approach. The jaunty “Can’t Take It With You” is a blend of soul vibe and Americana feel with harmonies and a repetitious but catchy chorus of the title, the organ providing the core solo but praise is also due to the piano playing that follows the organist’s every twist and turn. “Little Fire Alive” has a lovely, gentle feel with superb harmonies and appropriate accompaniment to Jon’s great vocal: “Hold on, hold on, you’ve got to keep a little fire alive.” The track closes with the harmony vocals simply accompanied by piano and gentle guitar chords before a striking guitar solo graces the outro. “A Lot Of Good Men” definitely has a soul vibe with churchy organ and a pounding chorus, the sort of track that would work well on mainstream radio (if music of this sort was still programmed there). Brooding bass and hard-working drums open “Poison Headache” before the guitars and keys get to work, Jon singing of “taking every poison I can think of to get you off my mind”. As the song develops the interplay between the two keyboard players is worth listening to closely.

The band drops the pace for the attractive love ballad “Tip Of My Tongue”, Jon’s vocal soaring over some very solid playing and great harmonies from everyone, the bridge having just a hint of reggae under the chiming guitar work, making this one of the standout cuts on the album. “No Man’s Land” is the shortest track, opening with plenty of swirling organ and a grinding rhythm that takes the band towards blues territory, the two guitarists trying to out-muscle the organ without much success until the coda which has definite echoes of the Allman Brothers in the twin guitar work. “Love Thing” has some more good keys and piano work in a song with a definite Americana feel and distinct echoes of The Band to this reviewer’s ears. The solo organ opening to “Real Bad Feeling” soon gives way to a catchy tune with the sort of harmony vocal work that distinguished many of the Eagles’ best efforts. Closing track “Time Don’t Wait” returns to an Americana approach, a slower track with plenty going on musically as the passionate guitars sing out over warm organ and piano accompaniment, all supporting Jon’s world-weary vocal as he tries not to miss a great opportunity in his life.

There is little actual blues in this album but equally there is a great deal to enjoy if your tastes run to music beyond the usual blues frontiers. A thoroughly enjoyable album, recommended to the broad-minded.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK who enjoys a wide variety of blues and roots music, especially anything in the ‘soul/blues’ category. Favorites include contemporary artists such as Curtis Salgado, Tad Robinson, Albert Castiglia and Doug Deming and classic artists including Bobby Bland, Howling Wolf and the three ‘Kings’. He gets over to the States as often as he can to see live blues.


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Ventura County Blues Society – Ventura, CA

The Ventura County Blues Society presents “The Session” every Wednesday night at Bombay Bar & Grill in Ventura. Hosted by the group Crooked Eye Tommy, “The Session” features some of the best names in both the local and national blues scene, with no cover charge. Recent guest artists have included Coco Montoya, Teresa Russell, Ray Jarique, and John Marx. www.venturacountybluessociety.org.

Southeast Iowa Blues Society – Fairfield, IA

The Southeast Iowa Blues Society presents the 5th Annual “Rockin’ in the Blue Year” January, 2. 2016..at the Fairfield Arts & Convention Center, Fairfield, IA featuring an Evening with SAMANTHA FISH, with Opening Act – Quay Thomas.

You don’t want to miss a chance to see her live, she will rock your Blues and Quay is a local favorite who is young and going places. What a way to kick off the new Blue year !!

Doors Open at 6:30 and Music Begins at 7pm. Tickets-$16 Advance & SIBS members; $20 Day of Show.

For more Information go to www.southeastiowabluessociety.org or call 641-919-7477

DC Blues Society – Washington, D.C.

The DC Blues Society rings in the New Year with Full Power Blues and special guest Clarence “The Bluesman” Turner. The evening includes a traditional southern-style dinner, party favors, midnight champagne toast, raffles and a very reasonable cash bar. Seating is limited. Buy tickets at www.dcblues.org or call 301-322-4808: only $35 in advance ($30 for DCBS members) and $40 at the door ($35 for DCBS members). Metro accessible and ample parking. Full Power Blues provides the groove to dance into 2016, playing smooth Chicago-style blues with a side of modern soul. Appearing with them: Clarence “The Bluesman” Turner, who was inspired by the songs of Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf at the age of 8. Clarence never fails to entertain with his skillful and joyful guitar playing.

Join DC blues lovers on December 31 for electrifying entertainment, great food and a friendly atmosphere. The DC Blues Society provides the best New Year’s Eve value in metro DC. http://dcblues.org

Piedmont Blues Preservation Society – Greensboro, NC

This year’s Piedmont Blues Preservation Society Blues Challenge winners in the Band category: The Dangerous Gentlemen’s (Anderson, SC; Brevard; Lexington; and Mooresville, NC), in the Solo/Duo category: Michael “Blind Dog” Gatewood (Greensboro), and our first Youth Challenge winner, Seth Williams (Reidsville, NC)

To help the winners with expenses, The Piedmont Blues Preservation Society is having a Telecaster Guitar Raffle in which one lucky winner will win a beautiful black limited edition Telecaster Guitar! Raffle tickets are available through their website: http://piedmontblues.org. One may also make a tax-deductible donation directly to the Memphis or Bust Fund at the Society’s website. (PLEASE NOTE: Raffle ticket holders do not have to be present to win)

A Memphis or Bust Fundraising Party will be held January 10 at The Blind Tiger, 1819 Spring Garden St. Greensboro, 27402. The winners will be on hand to perform at the event. The benefit will have silent auction items, raffles, and the winner of the Telecaster Guitar will be announced.

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Crossroads Blues Society – Byron, IL

Crossroads Blues Society continues to work hard to keep the blues alive.

Our second Saturday monthly blues at the Hope and Anchor English Pub in Loves Park, IL go on. There will be a special New Years Eve Show featuring Dave Fields and then 2016 starts off with John Primer on January 9th and Tad Robinson on February 13th.

First and third Fridays at the Lyran Society Club on 4th Ave in Rockford: 12/18 The Blues Hawks. All shows are 7 to 10 PM and there is a fish fry or steak dinner available. No cover, open to the public.

Stay tuned for more upcoming events! www.crossroadsbluessociety.com

The Illinois Central Blues Club – Springfield, IL

The Illinois Central Blues Club has announced the line-up of talent for the Blue Monday live performances and jam sessions held every Monday night at The Alamo, 115 North Fifth, Springfield, IL from 8:00pm to midnight. Dec. 21 – Hurricane Ruth, Dec. 28 – James Armstrong

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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