Issue 10-1 January 7, 2016

Cover photo by Bob Kieser © 2016 Blues Blast Magazine

 In This Issue 

Terry Mullins has our feature interview with Gino Matteo. We have 11 Blues reviews for you including reviews of 2 Blues music DVDs and 2 Blues guitar instruction DVDs plus reviews of music from Eddie Dattel, The Kentucky Headhunters with Johnnie Johnson, Adventures In Bluesland, Barry Levenson, Joe Stanley, Modou Touré and Ramon Goose and Blues Overdrive.

Our video of the week is Gino Matteo’s performance in the finals of the 2006 King Of The Blues competition.

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

 From The Editor’s Desk 

Hey Blues Fans,

Happy Blues New Year! We had so much Blues fun in 2015 that the year seemed to just fly by in an instant.

In 2015 Blues Blast Magazine reviewed 382 albums and DVDs, featured in depth interviews with 50 Blues artists, gave you 25 free Blues music tracks in our Blues Overdose feature issues, brought you a dozen great Blues videos and reviewed and photographed more than 20 major festivals for your Blues enjoyment.

Not bad for a free magazine! And we hope to do even more this year! We recently added a few more staff writers and photographers so look for even more great original Blues content in 2016.

Our friends at the Nevis Blues Festival have announced their 2016 lineup. The festival is held on Nevis Island, a small Caribbean island right next to St Kitts. The fest is held right on the beach at Oualie Bay on April 14, 15 & 16, 2016. I was fortunate to be able to see this festival in 2015. You can check out our photos of this exotic Blues event to see how great this exclusive event is, CLICK HERE.

If you like to get away from it all into a tropical beach to hear some great Blues and soak up the sun, this is one to check out! This year the festival features Ian Siegal, Kirk Fletcher, Simon McBride, Denise Gordon, The Rhythm Chiefs, Denny Ilett, Northsyde and several others.

You don’t want to miss this one! Visit and make your travel reservations now!

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser

 Featured Blues Music Review – 1 of 11 

Various Artists – Legendary Country Blues Guitarists

Vestapol Productions

33 songs – 115 minutes

Stefan Grossman is himself something of a legendary country blues guitarist, having released numerous records under his own name since the 1960s, as well as co-founding Kicking Mule Records and releasing a series of educational books and DVDs for aspiring blues musicians. Vestapol Productions, the production company behind this DVD, is a division of Stefan Grossman’s Guitar Workshop, Inc., and has made its name by collecting and releasing old concert footage of legendary blues and country artists. Legendary Country Blues Guitarists is a collection of rare tracks from 14 different artists and is, quite frankly, wonderful.

There are some 33 songs on the DVD, and many of them are from the genuine giants of acoustic blues, such as Big Bill Broonzy, Son House, Bukka White and the Rev. Gary Davis (listed here as “Blind Gary Davis”). There are also a number of lesser-known artists such as Ralph Willis & Washboard Pete Sanders, Henry Johnson (playing an electric guitar) and an artist listed as unknown (but actually the under-rated but outstanding Philadelphia street performer, Blind Connie Williams). The set even closes with an extract of Son House and Buddy Guy playing “I Wish I Had My Whole Heart In My Hand”, with Guy (rather like he did on Muddy’s Folk Singer album) displaying a superb knack for contributing supportive acoustic country blues guitar.

As one might expect, given the rarity of these recordings, the quality of the footage varies. There is both high quality professional film and amateur analogue videos. Given however that this music was recorded 40, 50 or even 60 years ago, the audio and visual quality is vastly better than should be expected.

And the footage is sometimes little short of magical. It is impossible to watch and listen to this DVD without being drawn into an almost mythical world from long, long ago. Sam Chatmon looks as old as heartbreak as he sings some of the earliest blues and folk songs at an unnamed festival. Son House, Skip James and Bukka White share a stage at the Newport Folk Festival in the 1960s and listen intently to the music produced by each of the others (House slips off for a quick smoke during White’s “Tombstone Blues”, but his charisma is such that the camera still follows him). Skip James may not play with the preternatural intensity of his 1931 recordings, but it is still a pleasure to hear his unique take on the blues. Time had done little to dilute the power of Son House and Bukka White, however.

To watch Son House talk about the blues in a studio recording is an astounding slice of history. And to see Ralph Willis and Washboard Pete Sanders playing on the streets of Philadelphia and the reaction of passers-by is eye-opening. Texas legend, Mance Lipscomb looks wholly uninterested but actually plays and sings superbly on “I Want To Do Something For You” and “Alabama Jubilee”.

The artist with the most tracks on the DVD is the great (if under-recorded) North Carolinian, Willie Trice. His seven songs must have been recorded after 1970, because it is clear from the footage that Trice had by this time lost his legs to diabetes. The quality of the performances however is once again first rate, with Blind Boy Fuller’s influence to the fore.

If there is a criticism to this DVD, it is the lack of biographical information about the artists and how and when the songs were recorded. The only information provided is the name of the artist and the title of each track. For blues fanatics, this isn’t so much of a problem, because educated guesses can be drawn from what we already know about the musicians and their lives. But this DVD is also a superb opportunity to introduce new fans to some great music and if they could read biographical detail about the artists presented here, they might be inspired to check out other artists from the same era.

But that is a minor criticism. There is something about watching these near-mythical players instead of just listening to their music that adds depth and power to their recordings. Seeing Bukka White pounding on his National with his fist provides a visceral accompaniment to his music. In addition, for guitar players, there is the added bonus of being able to watch how these legendary musicians created their wonderful music in the first place by studying their finger movement and attack.

This review could have been a simple 11 words long. Legendary Country Blues Guitarists is an essential purchase for blues fans.

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 Interview – Gino Matteo 

Had it been around back in the 1930s when Charles Francis Richter came up with a way for measuring seismic waves, it surely would have had its own rating and been at the top of the charts.

It sure would have placed higher than a 9.0, which according to the Richter Scale is ‘At or near total destruction – severe damage or collapse to all buildings. Heavy damage and shaking extends to distant locations. Permanent changes in ground topography.’

The conversation here is not centered around some kind of newly-minted atomic weapon or state-of-the-art earth moving machine.

No, we’re talking about guitarist Gino Matteo’s rafter-shaking, earth-quaking, un-holy vibrato.


For those who have not had the good fortune to witness Matteo’s spectacular technique in the flesh, this is no run-of-the-mill, shake-your-left-hand-slightly vibrato.

Matteo’s comes from all the way down on the bottom of his soles and moves ever so intimidatingly up through his body – coiling and constricting in his left arm like a deadly viper – and out his left hand with all the force of something that should have its very own fault line named after it.

“Well … my vibrato was kind of developed by listening to a lot of B.B. King growing up. B.B. was the best at it, so I studied the way that every guitar player I saw, used their vibrato,” the Southern California born-and-bred Matteo recently said. “I couldn’t really learn B.B.’s because I didn’t grow up hanging around him. I always think that the most organic traits of your playing come from things you see in person, right in front of you. What I would do when I was at a blues jam or something, I would pick four or five guys and I would watch and learn from them, because they were right in front of me.”

Matteo – along with his supernatural vibrato – have been extremely busy lately, with plenty of days and nights spent playing the blues filling up his calendar.

“This year has probably been the best on record, actually. I’ve done a lot of traveling this year and I didn’t even have an album out,” he laughed. “I’m getting ready to do my next album right now. I keep getting halted on that because I’ve been producing other acts when I’m not on tour. But this winter, I should have a chance to do my own new record.”

One of the first things that merits noting – other than the stellar musicianship – of Matteo’s latest release, 2013’s Sweet Revival (Rip Cat Records) is the care and attention that the album was assembled with. In this case, ‘album’ harkens back to the glorious days of the ’60s and ’70s when song placement and flow on a record was as important as the songs themselves. Sweet Revival, along with 2008’s I’ve Been Thinkin’ both seem to give a tip of the hat to the days when we had a ‘Side A’ and a ‘Side B.’

“I’m really kind of obsessive about that. I like albums … I like concept albums and I like albums to be cohesive and I think the order (of the songs) matters to the story,” he said. “I mean, Pet Sounds and Sgt. Peppers were the two template albums for the world. I always think about an album as opposed to a single, or whatever. But it is harder these days, since everything is so quick. People can put out a single and have a career off of that. And I’m like, ‘What’s the rest of the story, man?’ The only way that I listen to music is on my phone and on the massive stacks of vinyl at my house and it’s always been that way.”

Though he’s only 33-years-old, Matteo seems to be endeared with the soul and wisdom of a guitarist that’s been playing the blues for three or four decades now. He’s old-school to the core, but that doesn’t mean that he’s completely turned his back on modern technology. When asked if he considers himself to be a bit of a gear-head, there’s a slight pause, a small chuckle and then an enthusiastic response of, ‘Hell, yeah!’

“I am a gear-head, but I’m also incredibly selective. When I get excited about a piece of gear, I get excited because I realize how sturdy it is,” he said. “A lot of guys think in terms of vintage tones and are chasing an old sound, but sometimes the things that make those old sounds so brilliantly are so fragile that you can’t fool with them. That’s why all my gear is designed to be thrown around in airports. Not to mention, I’m heavy on my feet and I break things easily.”

One of Matteo’s favorite effects pedals – the one piece of equipment other than his guitar and amp that he says he could not do without – is the Oddfellow Caveman.

“Oddfellow effects is a company that was started in my hometown of Riverside, California. The guy who started it had this ad up on Craigslist for fixing pedals and I had some that needed work. He came over and did such a great job, so I asked him if he ever built any pedals. He said he had one that he had built and he said he would bring it over so I could try it out,” Matteo said. “He did and it was the most amazing thing … my head just exploded. I couldn’t believe how good it was. Literally, six months later, it was one of the best-selling overdrives on the market. He actually started building them in my garage, because he didn’t have a shop yet. I’m a big cheerleader for Oddfellow effects, because that pedal really did help me out, as well as a lot of other guitarists. I’m really, really proud of him and he’s a great friend of mine.”

As much as he loves toying with new gear, Matteo is not shackled to a bunch of racks and processers that have the final determination on how he sounds. Instead, Matteo views outboard gear as something akin to the tasty ice cream that can add a bit of an extra punch on a sweet piece of cake. If he ever needed convincing of that, hanging out with the great Chris Cain re-enforced that point.

“Chris is the best guitar of all-time, in any genre, as far as I’m concerned and I’m not exaggerating. He’s mind-numbingly talented … I’ve never heard anyone do what he does on guitar … he’s a mutant. I think he was grown in a lab,” Matteo laughed. “I was playing with him one night and he broke a string. When he went to change his strings – his amp was right next to mine – so I unplugged my guitar real quick and plugged into his amp to see what his secret was. The settings on his amp are so screwed up and when I played through it, it sounded like crap. That’s when I realized that as much of a gear-head as I am, the gear has nothing to do with it. His magic comes straight from his hands. In the end, gear ain’t got crap to do with the way you sound.”

With the resume that he’s already created, Matteo could simply just lay back and play the 12-bar blues all evening long and would probably find nary a complaint from any member of his audience. But thankfully, although he is certainly immersed deep in the blues, Matteo uses that as a starting point, instead of final destination. At one of his shows, in addition to the blues, you’re likely to hear some gospel, a lot of soul and some Grateful Dead-inspired musical passages, along with some down-and-dirty grunge-styled, nasty rock.

“My favorite thing about blues is not the chord progressions, or the lyrics, or the artists, even. My favorite thing about the blues is the honesty of it. If you’re faking it with the blues, it’s pretty obvious,” he said. “So I’m not an 80-year-old black man who grew up picking cotton in Mississippi. I’m 33 and grew up in the East L.A. area in the ’90s. I never wanted to be something that I wasn’t. The influences in my music reflect where I grew up and the music that I listened to.”

He’s by no means a contrarian or someone who doesn’t understand the viewpoints of others, it’s just that Matteo has never been content to toe the company line.

“I have a lot of friends who are hardcore blues traditionalists and they’re purists about it. They’re great people, but that’s never really what I strived to do,” he said. “It was never my thing. For me, that’s not who I am. Also, as soon as I see five people doing something, I’m doing the other thing. If there’s a hundred people in the theater turned one way, I’ll be the guy turned in the opposite direction. I always wanted to play the blues, but not straight. I wanted to do them a hybrid way.”

Sugaray Rayford is another artist who’s profile has been on a rapid rise the past couple of years. The soulful and deeply talented Texas-born front man (who is also a member of the super-group, Mannish Boys) is up for the prestigious B.B. King Entertainer of the Year Award, as well as Contemporary Blues Male Artist, at the upcoming 37th annual Blues Music Awards in Memphis. Matteo and Rayford go way back and the guitarist is a member of Rayford’s band and played on his last pair of albums – Southside (NimoySue Records, and nominated for Contemporary Blues Album at the BMAs) and Dangerous (Delta Groove).

“As much as I’m not trying to chase the ‘blues purist’ thing, the depth of honesty and magnetism that Muddy Waters or Junior Wells had – that plain, dead-balls charisma – is what Sugaray has,” said Matteo. “I saw in Sug something that I couldn’t do and I was really, really interested by it, which is why I originally took the gig.”

It didn’t take long for the magic that Rayford and Matteo are capable of to manifest itself. Matter of fact, it seems like it was almost pre-destined.

“The chemistry between Sugaray and I is pretty natural, because we’re both complete hams and are both complete show-offs … hopefully on the cusp of being annoying, but not quite there,” laughed Matteo. “We’re both brutally honest and you can tell how we’re feeling by how we look on stage; it’s very clear. We wear everything on our sleeves, Sug and I, which is good. I’ve known him for about 20 years. I met him when I was playing with my old band at Café Boogaloo in Hermosa Beach. Him and his wife (Pam) showed up and we met and stayed in contact. When Sug called me to play guitar with him, at the time, he had Kirk Fletcher playing with him. I don’t know what happened, but Kirk couldn’t make a gig and Sug called me and I went down there and immediately realized that I wanted to play with that dude. Everyone in his band are such intense pros, but we all get along really well. We’ve really stood the test of time – as to whether we really hate each other – because we’ve spent so much time … I can’t even count how many miles we’ve traveled together. It’s all-for-one and this is the best touring situation I’ve ever been in.”

When he’s not been playing or recording with Rayford or his own, Matteo has managed to keep the candle burning by producing albums for other artists. Look for that to continue in the future, as he’s well on his way to leaving his mark on the other side of the studio glass.

“As a producer working with other artists, the biggest thing that I want to do is, obviously, make them sound the best that they can. But hopefully, I can also draw something else out of them that they didn’t know was there,” he said. “I’m a big fan of the way that T-Bone Burnett produces. To me, it’s all about getting something out of them that they didn’t know was there and to make everything sound as ‘live’ as possible. I hate records where everything is matched up to a grid and is locked in place and sounds robotic; that’s not my favorite thing to do.”

Growing up in Southern California, Matteo was certainly exposed to the pop sounds of the day, but he found himself more interested in a different set of sounds than what could be heard on standard FM radio. He was turned on by gospel, Mexican and Afro-Cuban music. Those styles still permeate his music several years later. They also helped him to create one versatile arsenal, an arsenal that has served him well over the years.

“Some of that rubbed off, for sure. When I was learning how to play, I wanted to play everything. I never felt like I needed to choose a genre,” he said. “This is true and I did this for years, seven nights a week: Monday I would play with a blues band somewhere. Tuesday I’d play in a rock band. Wednesday I’d do a jazz gig. Thursday I’d do a Latin-jazz gig. Friday and Saturday it was blues or funk. Then every Sunday morning I’d play Pentecostal gospel and in the afternoon, I’d play in a Mariachi band and in the evening I’d play in a blues band. I did that for years … salsa gigs, congas … just whatever. When I realized I could make a dollar playing music, I didn’t want to do anything else and the best way to do that was to play everything and be as useful as possible. I didn’t want the Crayola box with six colors in it; I wanted the big box with the row up at the top with all the beiges in it.”

Most of the guitarists that had a major impact on a young Matteo have an East L.A. connection.

“Yeah, guys like Joey Delgado, from the Delgado Brothers – he’s one of my biggest influences and is like an uncle to me. He even married my wife and I. Victor Consuella, another local East L.A. guy, was another one that I really latched onto,” he said. “Danny Diaz was another, and then of course, there’s Chris Cain. But I was never really a guy that chased down a lot of guitar players, because I don’t like re-treading ground. There’s nothing worse than a copy of a copy. If you make a copy of a copy in a copy machine, they start to get watered down three or four copies in. That’s how I pretty much feel about everything and that’s why I want to tread new ground; that other ground is too soft.”

A good many music enthusiasts first learned of Matteo through Guitar Center’s King of the Blues competition. Matteo played his way to the event’s Grand Final Performance back in 2006. Although he did gain some nice exposure on the national level through the annual showcase for up-and-coming blues guitarists, Matteo wasn’t completely enthralled with the way things went down as it reached its climax.

“That was kind of a trip. It did have a positive impact in some ways, but I’m really not a competitive person at all … competition sometimes grosses me out. I entered that contest because the grand prize that year was a car and I didn’t have a car. That’s why I did it,” he said. “There are different levels before you get to the Grand Finals and at the lower levels it was really fun and really cool and everyone was really cordial. Then at the Grand Finals – when it reached the corporate level at Guitar Center – it became really ugly and was not personable and not fun anymore. I really don’t like contests and that’s why I don’t enter the IBC (International Blues Challenge).”

While it might be hard to get him to wax poetic about his own vocals, the bottom line is that Matteo is a lot more than just a competent singer. His vocals are downright soulful and have all the passion and depth that his guitar playing does. Though he won’t brag on his own vocals, he is quick to cite a couple of his favorite vocalists and as luck would have it, they’re not hard to locate.

“My wife Jade is the best singer that I know … and that’s not bias, either. She’s like, ‘You have to say that because you’re my husband.’ And I say, ‘No. When it comes to music, I’m a producer first, which means I’m not biased and if you suck, you suck.’ You can imagine how intimidating it is to be in a band with Sugaray and with Jade, my wife,” he said.

Matteo has no doubt worked hard to get to the point that he’s at today and as far as he’s concerned, if things continue to go the way that they are now, that would not be such a bad thing at all.

“I’m not a greedy person and I’m definitely not a capitalist. I think money is ugly and I hate that it’s even a human concept. When God made us, I don’t think that money was a universal plan for our species,” he said. “My rule in music is to just do a little better every year. If you do too much better, it can go bad, pretty quick. I enjoy having the niche audience that I have … you know, I have a small group of people that like my music and that’s what I like. There’s this old joke that kind of sums up me. You know when you make microwave popcorn and you see those little kernels at the bottom of the bag that aren’t popped yet? Those are the ones with integrity. All the flavor sinks to the bottom and I hope that’s me.”

Visit Gino’s website at

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

 Video Of The Week – Gino Matteo 

Click on the image above to see this video – This is Gino’s performance from the finals of Guitar Center’s 2006 King Of The Blues competition.

 Featured Blues Music Review – 2 & 3 of 11 

The Guitar of Robert Johnson and The Guitar of Skip James

Stefan Grossman’s Guitar Workshop

If you have always wanted to learn to play the blues guitar but do not know where to start, pick up a decent acoustic 6-string and head on over to Stefan Grossman’s Guitar Workshop website and start looking around. For the price of one lesson you can pick up a 3+ hour DVD set that will get you headed in the right direction.

Stefan Grossman is not just a publisher, he is first and foremost a real-deal guitar player with serious credentials. He hails from Brooklyn, and was taught by the esteemed Reverend Gary Davis as well as other legends that include Son House, Skip James, and Mississippi John Hurt. Though he was touring extensively, in the late 1960s he saw the opportunity to reach guitarists with albums that included tablature so they could be played along with, which is how we got his fabulous 1967 LP, How to Play Blues Guitar. As time went on, he added many titles and eventually got into CDs, videocassettes, and DVDs.

Today there are dozens of titles available from Stefan Grossman’s Guitar Workshop, with different artists providing instruction. One of these folks is Tom Feldman, a blues preservationist and talented guitarist who has the uncanny ability to play amazing reproductions of works as originally done by the masters of the blues guitar. He has produced videos on bottleneck slide, Delta blues, and Mississippi hill country blues, as well as a series of videos that can show guitarists how to play like their favorite guitarist, including Son House, Frank Stokes, Charlie Patton, Blind Willie Johnson, Bukka White, and many others. I recently had the opportunity to go through two of these DVD lessons: The Guitar of Robert Johnson and The Guitar of Skip James, and came away very impressed.

The Guitar of Robert Johnson is quite an undertaking, with three discs and almost six hours of material included. Johnson’s discography includes only 29 songs that were recorded in 1936 and 1937, and Feldman’s lessons include nearly all of them. Unlike some other releases from Stefan Grossman the original artist recordings are not included in the lessons (due to licensing issues), so you will need to buy your own. Of course, if you are a Robert Johnson fan that wants to learn how to play like him, you certainly already own his complete catalogue. Tom groups the songs by type (standard and open tunings, then by position) then plays each of the tunes as he sings along. Feldman has a pleasant demeanor, and he is an excellent teacher who goes through the nuances of each the songs in the proper amount of detail, slowing down and explaining the structure as necessary. As an added bonus, there is a .pdf booklet on each of the disks that includes tablature and lyrics for each song. This document does not come up on the DVD menu, but you can find it with Internet Explorer (PC) or Finder (Mac).

The Guitar of Skip James has the same features as the Robert Johnson lessons, including the .pdf documentation and Tom Feldman’s excellent instruction. But it takes a slightly different tack, as its two disks (234 minutes) include bonus material of original audio performances by James, as well as some of his performance at the 1966 Newport Folk Festival. The fifteen songs that are covered are divided into standard, crossnote, and Spanish tuning.

Both of these DVD-based lessons are well produced, with clear cinematography that is lit properly and numerous camera angles (including a very helpful split-screen mode). The sound is clear and the guitar cuts through nicely, even on laptop speakers, though it would be optimal to put the sound through a decent set of speakers. From an instructional perspective, this is a sound learning method that allows the student to work at his or her own pace and to be immediately rewarded by hearing the results, which is a wonderful motivational factor. But it should be kept in mind that these are not beginner lessons, and they are recommended for intermediate or advanced players.

So, these video lessons from Stefan Grossman’s Guitar Workshop are not going to make a novice player sound like either one of these esteemed artists, but an intermediate or advanced player will definitely get their money’s worth in a hurry. If you go to a guitar teacher and tell them you want to learn Robert Johnson or Skip James songs, what they will be able to do for you will not even begin to approach what Mr. Feldman has put together here. These DVDs are worth every penny ($49.95 for Robert Johnson or $39.95 for Skip James), and even if you are not aspiring to be just like one of these artists be sure to see what else the website has to offer. Surely something will strike your fancy as there is a little something for anyone who wants to get started playing, or who is interested in taking his or her guitar skills to the next level.

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

 Featured Blues Music Review – 4 of 11 

Various Artists – Music From The South

Vestapol Productions

36 songs – 103 minutes

Hot on the heels of Bluesblast’s recent review of Vestapol’s Legendary Country Blues Guitarists comes another DVD from Stefan Grossman’s stable. Like its stablemate, Music From The South also features a collection of rare archive footage of great American musicians, but there is less focus on pure blues on this release, the spotlight instead turning on the likes of old-time fiddle player, Clark Kessinger, autoharpist Kilby Snow, and Jimmy Driftwood playing a mouth-box. There are however some great blues moments.

36 songs are collected on the DVD, from 14 different artists. As with Legendary Country Blues Guitarists, this also DVD does not contain any liner notes with biographical details of the artists or details of how and when these recordings were made. Much of the footage appears to come from the 1950s and 1960s with occasional forays into the 1970s, but something like the gorgeous Creole/Cajun performances of accordion-player Alphonse “Bois Sec” Ardoin and fiddler Canray Fontenot could come from the late 1940s. Be that as it may, the quality of the music on offer is once again is first class.

A number of genres feature on the DVD, from the Appalachian folk of The Coon Creek Girls to the hypnotic fife and drum work of Ed and Lonnie Young and from the gospel of Jessie Mae Hemphill & Group to the blues of the last few tracks. A number of the artists are also filmed talking to the camera about their lives and how they came to play this music. If there is an over-arching theme to the release, it is probably the understanding of how musicians used such a wide variety of acoustic instruments to create what we now call American music, from the mouth bow, autoharp, fiddle, banjo, accordion, and the diddly-bow, where a single wire is played with a bottle or drinking glass, to the more common piano and guitar.

The first half of the DVD has some wonderful highlights, in particular Clark Kessinger’s supple and powerful fiddle playing and Kilby Snow’s virtuoso autoharp, but it is the latter half that will be of most immediate interest to blues fans.

As the footage turns from black and white to color, Jessie Mae Hemphill sings the gospel song, “Get Right Church”, backed by voices, drums and a diddly-bow attached to the wall of a building. Having provided backing vocals to Hemphill, Compton Jones then contributes “Working On The Railroad”, backing himself on the bottle and wire and establishing a repetitive, droning rhythm strongly reminiscent of Mississippi Hill Country blues. Napolean Strickland then uses the same instrument to turn in chilling versions of “Roll and Tumble Blues” and “Bottle Up And Go” that could have been recorded 50 years earlier. Later, Glen Roy Faulkner plays “Bo-Diddley Blues” and “When I Lay My Burden Down” on a standalone diddly-bow. Listening to slide guitar players today, it is easy to forget that the diddly-bow, which dates back well into the 1800s, may have been the first “slide” or “bottleneck” instrument that produced the eerie and evocative cries and howls that are so fundamental to blues music today and it is wondrous to see it used on this DVD.

The final tracks on the DVD are wonderful old blues piano pieces. The Memphis great, Mose Vinson, plays old time versions of “Blues Jumped The Rabbit” and “Roll and Tumble Blues.” Piano Red (John Williams) and Booker T. Low then also essay versions of the same latter classic. It’s a fascinating contrast. Vinson may play with a little more swing, but Red has that distinctive bounce to his playing and there is a muscularity and thrust to Low’s version. And the three versions work both end-to-end and as standalone pieces.

If you’re a blues fan, you’ll want to hear and see the last half of this release. If your tastes include country and folk music, you’ll want to hear and see it all. Either way, Vestapol are to be congratulated again on collecting, preserving and releasing footage that captures a time that is long since gone and a music that sometimes appears to be heading the same way. Glorious stuff.

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 Music Review – 5 of 11 

Eddie Dattel – Behind Blue Eyes

Inside Sounds

11 tracks/42 minutes

Inside Sounds is the Memphis-based home of The Daddy Mack Blues Band, Billy Gibson and other local artists. The label was founded by Eddie Dattel who has periodically released some of his own music, this latest being his third CD. All the material was written by Eddie with one track being co-authored by Wally Ford. Eddie sings lead throughout and contributes mostly acoustic guitar, with some piano and percussion, and a wealth of Memphis-based musicians contribute to the recordings including Matt Isbell (Ghost Town Blues Band), Brad Webb, Daddy Mack Orr, Dave Smith, Steve Potts and Jackie Johnson.

The music is pretty varied as Eddie sets out his intentions on the opening “Real Slow Down Home Blues” as guitarists Adam Levin and Eric Lewis play the blues and Carl Wolfe adds smoky sax to support Eddie’s rather world-weary vocal. “I Ain’t Goin’ Fishin” is acoustic with some nice slide work on resonator from Eric Lewis as Eddie sings of a relaxing approach to life: “I watch the sky turn orange and count the stars coming out; everybody’s busy fishin’, well I still got my doubts”. A gospel rave-up seems to be the inspiration for “Deep Fried Hallelujahs” which starts well with plenty of slide from Brad Webb but rather loses momentum as the final section simply repeats the title over and over. More successful is “In New Orleans I Had A Prayer” as Eddie’s light voice carries the tune well over a fine horn arrangement and choral vocals, Eddie’s lyrics regretting his move away from the Crescent City. The horns also play a vital role in the short but sweet “Can’t Make It Without Your Love”. “Always Want You” sounds a little like an Everley Brothers tune but also rather exposes Eddie’s vocal limitations though the backing vocals (Charles Ponder, Nora Tucker) do help him out considerably.

The song co-written with Wally Ford is “Memphis State Of Mind” which, with the saxophones and a funky arrangement certainly does evoke the city of the title, Charles and Nora again adding chorus vocals. “I Can’t Take You With Me When I Go” is another acoustic piece with Matt Isbell’s dobro and harmonica the featured instruments with just percussion, double bass and Eddie’s acoustic guitar, a pleasantly catchy piece which suits Eddie’s voice well. Eddie looks south down the Mississippi for a second time on “Prince Of New Orleans”, a tribute to the late James Booker which takes the form of a sad ballad with more than a hint of French chanson; Joe Restivo’s guitar is very Gary Moore in style and Tony Thomas certainly evokes Booker’s spirit with some fine piano work. It is then back to a very stripped down acoustic style with “Orphan Blues” as Brad Webb plays acoustic slide with Eddie providing some percussion on tambourine. Eddie closes the album with another ballad “If Ever I’m Wrong” which has some anthemic moments from Eddie’s piano and Tony Thomas’ organ. Once again the backing vocals are spot on (Jackie Johnson, Vicki Loveland) and Matt Isbell plays some great guitar.

Overall there are some solid songs here and some fine playing. Eddie has not got the strongest voice but he sings clearly so we can hear all the lyrics and it is always good to find someone capable of writing original material.

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 

The Kentucky Headhunters with Johnnie Johnson – Meet Me In Bluesland

Alligator Records

11 tracks

Johnnie Johnson, dubbed “the greatest sideman in rock ‘n’ roll” by Rolling Stone Magazine, began playing the piano at age 5 as a child in West Virginia. He played in a band called the Barracudas in a stint with the Marine Corps and then landed in Detroit and Chicago, playing with Muddy Waters and Little Walter before moving to St. Louis and forming the Sir John Trio. A young guitar player named Chuck Berry later joined the group and eventually became it’s leader. When Berry got his contract with Chess Records, Johnson’s piano groove went with him, garnering Johnson attention as a great piano man. He also played with Albert King when Chuck was not busy. Tiring of the road, he left Chuck’s band in 1973 and returned to St. Louis as a bus driver. Keith Richards and the Stones dragged him back in the limelight with the Berry documentary Hail! Hail! Rock and Roll in 1987 and in 1993 met up by chance with the Kentucky Headhunters after releasing 3 solo albums. Several albums were recorded but these 11 tracks from a session in 2003 remained unreleased. He was inducted into the rock and roll Hall of Fame in 2001 and passed away in 2005.

The Kentucky Headhunters began as the band Itchy Brother in 1968. Country and blues infused Southern rock is their staple, learned from their parents and neighbours where they grew up on a 1300 acre farm in Kentucky. They fortunately met Johnnie in 1992 at a Grammy Awards Party after a road trip where they had spent the entire trip listening to and falling in love with his Johnnie B. Bad album. They recorded and toured together for many years after this meeting.

I spoke to Bruce Iglauer about this album and he was very excited to bring Jimmie Johnson’s unreleased cuts into the light of day for all to hear. While the Headhunters may not be Alligator’s average blues band, the beautiful piano work and synergy between Johnson and the Headhunters is something that should not be missed. It is a raucous and wonderful album.

The album kicks off with the rollicking “Stumblin’,” a tune that would have them on their feet at the Country Music Awards. A driving boogie woogie beat that makes the blues, rock, and country music work so well is made even better by Johnson’s work on the ivories. “Walking with the Wolf” follows, a straight blues tune with some outstanding big time solo work by Johnson and some nice slide to boot. Berry’s “Little Queenie,” the lone cover here, gets a good treatment and Johnnie gives us another spectacular solo. “She’s Got to Have It” features Johnson on the vocals and piano, growling out his gravelly baritone in stark contrast to the Headhunters vocal approach. Solos by Johnson and then Greg Martin on guitar are again impressive. “Party In Heaven” is a nice, country-fried boogie tune where Martin takes the first solo before Johnson’s. A fun cut.

The title track is slow blues introduced to us with Jimmie’s tinkling on the ivories. Soulfully sweet, the band shows restraint in their approach and it sells well. “King Rooster” steps up the tempo a notch; Johnson gets the first solo and then Martin offers another; both are effective. “Shufflin’ Back to Memphis” opens to a big bass line. Johnson and Martin again trade solos, but the second solo that takes us out is where Jimmie really shines. With “Fast Train” the tempo really rises, a rocking instrumental where Johnson really takes off and struts his stuff. This cut is all his. Martin parries with him, but Johnson blazes over the ivories and shows his mettle. “Sometime” gets the boogie going again in a slow to mid tempo tune where Johnson again shines as he supports the band with his two-fisted piano work. The slide introduces us to the finale, “Super-man Blues.” Martin gets the first solo here, a really pretty slide solo. After another chorus Johnson gets his turn in front and he does not disappoint.

The Headhunters are a lot of fun but they are a seriously good band. Richard Young on vocals and rhythm guitar and Doug Phelps on vocals and rhythm guitar are both great front man. Martin’s guitar is pretty much as good as it gets. Anthony Kenney is solid on bass and Fred Young on drums also holds his own. Johnnie Johnson gives one fantastic performance after another here and show us the chops that helped launch Chuck Berry’s career and put him in demand. Thanks to Alligator and Bruce Iglauer for bring these tunes to us to enjoy. This is some of Johnnie Johnson’s best stuff and it deserves to be heard!

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 Music Review – 7 of 11 

Adventures In Bluesland – The American Dream

World Wide Vibe Records

This is the first recording of Adventures In Bluesland, an outfit led by singer, guitarist, harmonica player and songwriter Phil Gammage. The native Texan leads his New York City based band through its’ paces as they offer up an amalgamation of blues, roots music, R&B and a dash of country. Among the members they have played with a wide range of artists including David Bowie, Julee Cruise, John Cale and others. They present nine Gammage originals along with two covers. Along with guitar, bas and drums they include lap steel guitar, keyboards and sax. The overall sound is fine, but for some inexplicable reason they use way too much echo on most of the vocals.

Blind Lemon Jefferson’s “One Kind Favor” has sort of a country music-rockabilly feel enhanced by the most heavily echoed vocal here and the snappy rim shots of drummer-producer Kevin Tooley resulting in a very satisfying version. “Creepy In The Woods” moves along seamlessly with some great swinging guitar and a nicely twangy vocal. What amounts to a ska musical underpinning makes “Float And Sting” glide along at a jaunty pace. The sax and organ of Robert Aaron seem to be yanked right out a Specials record. Bass player Johnny Cement lives up to his name by supplying a strong foundation.

The crew gets slow and bluesy on “I’m Drifting” and the listener gets swept into a melancholy state of mind via some mellow guitar and sax. It’s boogie time as the band shifts gears as they dig into “Booze, Blues & New Tattoos”, a classic road tune featuring the gritty lap steel of Don Florino. A chugging guitar and amped-up harmonica along with some noisy lap steel create an energetic and joyful noise on “Our Lucky Day”.

The upbeat “Feel The Music” rocks and sways along with soothing sax and organ. Geeshie Wiley’s “Last Kind Word Blues” employs only acoustic guitar and the ever-present echo that in this case gives the song an eerie quality. Distorted rhythm guitar, lap steel, organ and sax come in and out of the mix in “On the Beach”. Late night electric piano and sexy sax create a mellow mood on “Come To Me”.

The band blends a variety of styles to arrive at their own sound. Roots music is in good hands here. We are sure to hear much more good and creative sounds from this band in the future.

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

 Featured Blues Music Review – 8 of 11 

Barry Levenson – The Visit

Rip Cat Records

12 tracks/60:22

Guitarist Barry Levenson has been living in Southern California, where he has been making a living doing studio work. Originally from Pittsburgh, he studied arranging at the Berklee School of Music in Boston before crossing the country where he found work backing legendary artists like Big Mama Thornton, Pee Wee Crayton, and Lowell Fulson. Eventually the intrepid musician was for A&R duties in addition to producing sessions for the European label, Storyville Records. Other highlights from his career include a W.C. Handy Blues Award nomination for Blues Song Of The Year for the title track from his Storyville release, Hard Times Won. Levenson also contributed to William Clarke’s Groove Time release on Alligator Records.

For his second Rip Cat project, the guitarist wanted to pay homage to some of the artists that influenced his musical development. The 1960s Buddy Guy recordings on the Vanguard label were the spark that started the raging desire to master the guitar, a passion so strong that at one point Levenson had to take a two year hiatus from playing as his hands would not function properly do to “overuse”. Guy’s influence comes through loud and clear on the original, “Talkin’ To Myself,” with Levenson expertly capturing the style and tone of the influential guitarist,the harp blowing courtesy Jay Edward.

A cover of Albert King’s “Your Gonna Need Me” has Billy Price on vocals and Phil Krawzak on horns, using some studio magic to form a full section. “This Time I’m Gone For Good” was written by Oscar Perry with Bobby “Blue” Bland recording the most memorable version. Price is at his pleading best while Levenson wrings plenty of raw emotion out of his guitar. Another familiar tune, “I Wonder Why,” is done as an instrumental. Levenson mixes fluid picking and bent notes to build a sizzling sequence that never loses steam. The other cover, “It’s Mighty Crazy,” has a smooth vocal from Levenson, one of four songs that he sings.

Hank Van Sickle on bass and Mike Sandberg on drums set up a swinging rhythm on “Steel City,” another instrumental that kicks into high gear thanks to Mike Thompson on organ. Levenson has plenty of fun on ‘Flipside,” using the shuffle as a springboard for more intricate picking before Krawzak a chance to shine on tenor sax. “Last Train To Nowhere” is a somber slow blues with stark wails from Levenson’s guitar over the lush background created by Thompson on electric keyboards. The guitarist makes a powerful statement on “Magic Groove,” this time displaying some Magic Sam influence, punctuated by Krawzak’s honking solo. “Ice Cold Kiss” has horns, a airy vocal from Levenson, and Thompson using a light touch on his keyboard to set the stage for another Guy-inspired guitar work-out.

Levenson invokes the spirit of T-Bone Walker on the slow blues “Shadows At Midnight,”complete with a lengthy opening guitar sequence. Once Levenson starts crying the blues, the horns swell behind him trying ease his burden. The title track is a masterpiece – seven minutes of the guitarist trying to exorcise his demons through his instrument in a dynamic articulation of skills.

While Levenson has a number of recordings under his own name, it is a safe bet that many blues fans remain unaware of this outstanding player. Hopefully this release will go a long way towards rectifying that situation. The Visit is a striking statement from a musician that is well-worth multiple listens!

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 – 9 of 11 

Joe Stanley – Legend

EllerSoul Records

2 CD Set – CD 1: 10 Songs; 60:01 Minutes; CD 2: 14 Songs; 60:19 Minutes

Styles: Blues Covers, Instrumentals, Soul-Influenced Blues, Swing, Saxophone Blues

For every music star who shines brilliantly on the national stage, there are countless other stars twinkling in their orbit. Consider Melvin Joseph Stanley, famous in the Washington, D.C. area. For more than fifty years, he blazed a trail in the fresh territory of big-band blues, until his passing in 2007. He backed such Sirius-like entertainers as Link Wray, Charlie Daniels, Roy Clark, Big Joe Turner, Bill Black’s Combo and Marvin Gaye. The premier DC club band The Saxtons, also known as the Saxons, provided musical camaraderie and support for Bobby Darin, the Drifters, Dion and the Belmonts, and Jackie Wilson. They also played regular double bills with country superstar Jimmy Dean. Joe Stanley may not be as famous as any of the previous artists mentioned – household names, names to drop – but, he is still a Legend on the saxophone.

EllerSoul Records has released a 2-CD overview of Stanley’s music and life, featuring over two hours of music and interviews. Most of the songs are instrumental blues and soul covers, but on some, such as “The Nearness of You”, Joe Stanley provides a sample of his heartfelt, if raw, vocal chops. His greatest talent, however, is making the “bendy sex whistle” (so says an Internet meme) tell stories. It “talks” to listeners, crooning sweet somethings in their ears and seducing them with sultry notes. This set is a must-have for every blues fan’s record collection, except for some poor editing on certain tracks. While the two interviews, arriving at the end of each CD, are informative, those who are hard of hearing might have trouble understanding Joe’s comments above all the crowd chatter and background noise. Today’s technology should have fixed that.

With Joe Stanley on the first CD are John Cocuzzi on organ, John Previti on bass, Joe Maher on drums, and Rudy Turner on guitar in track five. The second one features Stanley, Cocuzzi, Maher and Previti as well, while adding bassist Jeff Sarli, guitarist Ivan Appelrouth, drummer Frank Cocuzzi on track eleven, and Chris Watling on baritone sax for track two.

If there’s one song that possesses the quintessence of Joe Stanley’s style and work, it’s this:

CD 1, Track 01: “Blue Moon” – Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart originally composed this song for the movie Manhattan, and The Marcels and Ella Fitzgerald made it popular. They all sang it with the lyrics, but here Stanley lets his smoldering saxophone narrate. He also gives it a dance-friendly, big-band tempo. It’s rather fast compared to the traditional versions, but that’s more than okay. John Cocuzzi provides perky organ backup, and John Previti’s bass is understated yet smooth. Is this song blues, soul, or jazz? The answer is that it’s all three, and it’s magnificent.

For those who collect greatest-hits and retrospective albums, here is another soul/blues/jazz jewel to add to your collection. For those of you who have never heard of Joe Stanley, it’s time you got to know this Legend!

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 – 10 of 11 

Modou Touré and Ramon Goose – West African Blues Project

ARC Music Productions Int. Ltd.

CD: 11 Songs; 47:16 Minutes

Styles: West African Blues and Folk

Every industry has its own subset of jargon, and the music industry is no exception. At first glance, laymen may not know what “CRM,” “mechanical royalties” or “creative commons” are. (Yours truly had to look them up on an Australian website that had a glossary of such words.) Another term that’s more common is “niche market”, which applies to a whole range of businesses. To put it simply, ESPN is for sports enthusiasts; the Lifetime channel is geared toward women, and the West African Blues Project is aimed at people who like this type of music.

Featuring Senegalese vocalist Modou Touré and Ramon Goose, it presents a broad range of West African melodies fused with blues, which may not appeal to all fans. If they’re looking for American-style stomps and boogies, they shouldn’t look here. However, if their search encompasses blues from around the world, with truly native influences, they’ve found gold.

This CD, made in Austria via a Canadian production company, consists of eleven original songs sung in Wolof, Mandinka (two languages spoken in the African country of Senegal) and French. Modou Touré inherited his incredible vocal prowess from his father, Ousmane Touré, who sang for a time with the band Touré Kunda. Collectively, they were noted for popularizing Senegalese world music, performing and singing in six languages during a career that spanned thirty years. They even collaborated with American bands Carlos Santana and Talking Heads. British guitar maestro Ramon Goose has toured with Louisiana blues legend Chris Thomas King, James Brown’s saxophonist Alfred “Pee Wee” Ellis, Eric Bibb and harpist Charlie Musselwhite.

Performing along with Modou Touré on vocals and Ramon Goose on acoustic, electric and slide guitar are Malcolm Miles on saxophone, Ákos Hasznos on electric and double bass, Eric Ford on drums, Abdoulaye Samb on guitar, Joe Goose on electric bass, Diabel Cissokho on kora, Ed Van Der Mark on electric bass, Tim Hillsdon on drums, and Papa Omar on percussion.

The following song sounds the most like traditional U.S. blues, while still vibrantly African:

Track 05: “Kayre” – Listening to this tune’s intro, one might think it’s a catchy New Orleans-style number, with smoking saxophone and a tempo that’s perfect for a spin on the dance floor. Every instrument is primed to perfection, especially Malcolm Miles on his favored brass horn and a bouncy electric bass back-beat by Joe Goose. As for Touré’s vocals, they’re filled with warmth and power, like a sunrise over the Serengeti plains. The CD liner notes explain that track five is a “warrior song which depicts a fight for freedom and liberty. A fight against human suffering and slavery”. In this postmodern age, all of us are continuing the battle to stay free.

This album takes a lot of getting used to, if one has been eating a steady diet of meat-and-potatoes American blues sung in English. Nevertheless, once the propinquity effect sets in, the West African Blues Project is worth savoring for its native continent’s flavor!

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 – 11 of 11 

Blues Overdrive – Clinch!

Gateway Music – 2015

10 tracks; 41 minutes

Blues Overdrive is a Danish four piece band that has been together since 2001 and Clinch! is their second full album. Singer and guitarist Martin Olsen wrote nine of the ten tracks and there is one cover of a John Nemeth song. With Martin are Andreas Andersen on guitar, Thomas Brick on bass and Lars Heiberg on drums. There are also two prestigious guest guitarists, Duke Robillard and Joel Paterson.

The album opens with “Pistol Blues” which has moody chords from the two guitarists and Martin’s vocals which match the tune, almost semi-spoken. The song threatens to move into a more dramatic section but never quite takes off. Better is “Rolling Thunder” which ups the pace, Martin responding with a stronger vocal and the guitars ringing out loud and clear. The first of Duke’s two guest spots comes on “Three Time Lover” which, for this reviewer, was the standout track here, a catchy shuffle, the twin guitars playing well off each other, Duke taking the central solo and one of those ‘bragging’ lyrics about the author’s prowess as a lover. “Woman Of Love” has a hint of latin in the rhythm and especially in the solo but is slightly marred by Martin’s very laidback vocal delivery. John Nemeth’s “Daughter Of The Devil” appeared on his 2009 CD “Love Me Tonight” and Blues Overdrive play it in what is now becoming their familiar ‘moody chord’ style, Duke Robillard making his second appearance here though it is not easy to tell which of the three guitar parts is his.

“Jealous” does lyrically what the title suggests, Martin expressing his feelings over a steady rhythm with some nice flourishes from the guitarists, a solid track. “Cherry” is a strangely hypnotic song, each verse extolling the virtues of a different girl, Cherry, Jane Macy and Mary Anne being the girls name-checked as Joel Paterson adds some keening pedal steel to the mix. Whether it is Martin’s vocal on “Lay Your Burdon Down” or the chugging rhythm but The Doors come to mind when listening to this one (or is the spelling intended to evoke thoughts of Eric Burdon?). The band returns to a more upbeat feel on “Living Here Without You” which has a hint of the riff from Bobby Bland’s “24 Hour Blues”, making a very pleasant listen. The album closes with “Aurora” which suffers from the least convincing vocal of the album which, combined with a repetitive tune, makes for a disappointing finale.

Overall this album had some good points, like the solid guitar work, but has variable quality vocals and a lot of tunes of similar pace.

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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Prairie Crossroads Blues Society – Champaign, IL

Prairie Crossroads Blues Society is holding a Fundraiser for our IBC representatives, Friday January 22, at Memphis On Main, 55 E. Main St. in Champaign. Our Solo/Duo representative, Jiggy & the Source opens the show at 8:00 with their unique sound and blues style. At 9:00 our Band representative The Blues Expressions will put on a show featuring their soulful R&B based blues. We’ll be raising money to help our acts head to Memphis, TN where they’ll compete in the Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge. Come out to Memphis on Main and show your support for some of the best blues musicians Central Illinois has to offer. Cover is only $5. We’ll have a 50/50 raffle and other fun ways to help raise money for their trip.

PCBS is also a sponsor of the Bentley’s Blues Jam held on the 4th Wednesday of each month. January’s host band is Billy Galt and The Blues Deacons. They’ll play the first set then open things up to all the jammers in the house. Bring your instrument and plan on sitting in. For more information visit our website at

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: 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 has lots of great blues events planned for 2016!

Hamilton Loomis is in town for a two day evening harmonica workshop on Monday and Tuesday January 25th and 26th at the Brewhouse, 200 Prairie St., Rockford IL. The cost is $60 per person and includes a 10-hole harmonica, practice CD, & handouts/materials. Register at or call 832-978-5451. Hamiliton will also be conducting two Blues in the Schools programs on the 26th.

The Hope and Anchor English Pub in Loves Park, IL features shows on the second Saturday of each month from 8 pm to midnight. January 9th – John Primer, February 13th – Tad Robinson, March 12th – Tweed Funk, April 9th – Reverend Raven and the Chain Smoking Altar Boys, May 14th – The Jimmys

Blues in the Schools is also scheduled for Friday, January 22nd with two programs for Dave Weld and the Imperial Flames and two more programs with Dan Phelps. In February, Dan Phelps will be doing a two week in school BITS residency with East HS teaching song writing and guitar.

Friday Night Blues at the Lyran Club in Rockford continues mostly on the third Friday of the month with a few other special dates to boot. Currently booked are: January 15th – Martin Lang and Billy Flynn, January 22nd – Dave Weld and the Imperial Flames, February 19th – Ron Holm’s Roy Orbison Tribute, March 18th – Smilin’ Bobby, April 15th – Breezy Rodeo, May 20th – Dave Fields. Shows are free from 7 to 10 PM.

Stay tuned for more upcoming events!

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. January 11 – Billy Gault And The Blues Deacons, January 18 – The Groove Daddies, January 25 – The Susan Williams Band, February 1 – Reverend Raven & The Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys, February 8 – Gina Sicilia, February 15 – Chris O’Leary Band, February 22 – Dave Lumsden Factor.

P.O. Box 721 Pekin, Illinois 61555 © 2016 Blues Blast Magazine (309) 267-4425

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