Issue 10-13 March 31, 2016

Cover photo by Bob Kieser © 2016

 In This Issue 

Terry Mullins has our feature interview with Andrew Jr. Boy Jones. We have 6 Blues music reviews for you including reviews of new music from Mighty Mike Schermer, Sonny Terry, Bryce Janey, Jay Jesse Johnson, Alex Haynes & the Fever and Tom Killner.

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

 From The Editor’s Desk 

Hey Blues Fans,

A couple of quick reminders.

First, if you are an artists, agent, publicist, manager or label that sent us an album for review in the last 12 months, your album is probably eligible for the 2016 Blues Blast Music Awards.

Any Blues album released between May 1st, 2015 and April 30, 2016 is eligible. But hurry, your submission must be received by April 15, 2016 to make it into the hands of the nominators.

Complete information and instructions on how to have your recording considered are at

You will also need to hurry if you want to take advantage of the lowest priced advertising for 2016 with our Early Bird Special. This affordable and effective discount package features 2/3 off our standard 2016 prices! This sale offers the lowest advertising prices of the year. But Hurry! This special ends on April 15,2016.

We ARE the best way to get the Blues word out! See the details of this special promotion in our ad below.

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser

Blues Blast Magazine’s Early Bird Special is our lowest priced advertising of the 2016 year. It offers an affordable & effective way to get the Blues word out!

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

Normal 2016 Advertising rates start at $150 per issue of Blues Blast magazine. BUT, for a limited time, this special gives you eight issues of Blues Blast Magazine for only $400. (A $1200 value!)

Blues Blast Magazine is a great way to promote anything. More than 36,000 Blues fans read our magazine each week. They are located in all 50 states and in more than 90 countries. Weekly issues of Blues Blast Magazine are also posted on our popular website. We get more than 2,000,000 (That’s TWO MILLION) hits and 65,000 visitors a month at our website.

To get this special rate simply buy your ad space by APRIL 15th, 2016!!!! Ads can run anytime between now and December 2016. So get your ad package now for that fall album rleease!

With this special rate, your ad can be viewed more than 370,000 times by our readers who want to know about your Blues events and music! Reserve your space today! Space is limited and will be sold on a first come first served basis.

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

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

 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 6 

Mighty Mike Schermer – Blues In Good Hands

VizzTone Label Group

13 tracks/52:42

There aren’t many guitar players with a resume that includes stints as the lead guitarist in bands backing Elvin Bishop and Marcia Ball. Even fewer have five previous releases full of imaginative original material, including the award-winning “My Big Sister’s Radio,” which was covered by Tommy Castro. On his latest release, Mighty Mike Schermer continues to offer listeners a varied program that ventures beyond the usual blues progressions.

“World Gone Crazy” finds the guitarist expounding on the woes of the modern age with Nancy Wright using her saxophone to accentuate the weariness in Schermer’s vocal. The song ends with a cacophony of news reports while the band switches to a Latin rhythm. Another fine sax player, Terry Hanck, blows a rugged solo on the opener, “Baby Don’t Stop,” a vigorous rocker that includes Schermer’s taut guitar solo. Another former employer, Angela Strehli, adds backing vocals with Vicki Randle on “Barkin’ Up The Wrong Tree”. Marcia Ball is featured on piano, trading solos with Schermer’s slide guitar as he issues a humorous warning to a woman looking to make trouble.

The rhythm section of Paul Revelli on drums and Steve Ehrmann on bass appear on many of the tracks. While Schermer offers a sense of optimism in the face of life’s unfortunate conditions, the duo establishes a thickly-layered foundation with assistance from Tony Stead on organ and clavinet throughout “Heaven’s On The Other Side”. Greg Izor blows some meaty harp on two driving shuffles, “Take My Hand” and “Wait-On-Me-Woman,” while Castro joins Schermer for a guitar workout on the slow blues, “Stop Crying”. The Texas-styled shuffle “Baby Be Kind” has John Nemeth wrapping full-bodied harp licks around Schermer’s voice as he pleads for love and understanding.

One original, “Most People,” bears a passing resemblance to “Why Are People Like That”. Austin de Lone shows off his skills on the piano, one of six tracks he appears on. The title track is a tribute to the musicians that inspired Schermer, including Albert Collins, Junior Walker and Hubert Sumlin. His soaring guitar parts hit home while his thin vocal struggles a bit on the chorus. Snead plays a variety of keyboards with additional contributions from Hanck plus Carolyn Wonderland and Shelley King on backing vocals. “One Tear At A Time” is a bouncy, reggae-infused tune while Schermer works his guitar magic one more time with de Lone’s piano setting up a barrel-house feel on “Hear You Call Him Baby”.

It all adds up to another engaging release from Mr. Schermer. He resists the temptation to fill the disc with lengthy guitar solos, keeping the focus on the songs and the ensemble playing that maintains a cohesive sound even with the revolving core of musicians. But there are enough of his six string excursions to satisfy admirers of his playing – and put this project a cut above much of what is marketed as “blues” these days.

Reviewer Mark Thompson lives in Florida, where he is enjoying life without snow. He is the President 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!.

2016 Blues Blast Music Award Submission Are Now Open

The 2016 Blues Blast Music Awards series has begun. Submissions are open until April 15th, 2016. The Blues Blast Music Awards are the largest fan voted Blues awards on the planet. But hurry! Submissions end April 15,2016!

To visit our website for complete on how to have your music and musicianship considered for nomination, CLICK HERE

SAVE THE DATE – The 9th Annual Blues Blast Music Awards ceremonies will be held on September 23, 2016 in Champaign, Illinois. Complete information on tickets and lodging coming soon.

 Featured Blues Interview – Andrew Jr. Boy Jones 

Up all night, with Freddie King;

I got to tell you, poker’s his thing.

That line from the first verse in Grand Funk Railroad’s “We’re An American Band” explains the potential perils of sitting down to play a late-night card game with the legendary Texas Cannonball.

Many were the tales of King – a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – paying his band members, only to make them play poker with him so he could win back all the wages he had given them.

Texas blues guitarist, songwriter and singer Andrew Jr. Boy Jones – a member of King’s band at the time – remembers those card games, as well as the origin of that line in the song that became Grand Funk Railroad’s first-ever number one single back in the fall of 1973.

“We had played the blues festival in Ann Arbor (Michigan, in front of a crowd of 20,000) and they (Grand Funk Railroad) were there and a poker game broke out. I think that’s where the ‘Up all night with Freddie King’ came from,” Jones recently said.

As unlikely a pairing as it might seem in these days and times – with music being restricted to ‘genres’ and ‘formats’ with ‘target audiences’ in mind, King and his band then hit the road to open a number of dates for Grand Funk Railroad on their Phoenix tour.

However, it wasn’t just with Mel (Schacher), Don (Brewer) and Mark (Farner) that King and his crew found steady rock-and-roll road work.

“We were touring with all kinds of rock groups … bands like Rare Earth and Deep Purple. We played the Cotton Bowl with Blood, Sweat & Tears … those shows and tours were massive,” Jones said. “All those bands treated us with respect. They all seemed to be fans of Freddie and the blues. And we hung out with Tower of Power a lot, too. I got a chance to really know Lenny Williams and Chester Thompson and Bruce Conte. We toured a month together with both them and Rare Earth.”

All that took place in Jones’ second tour of duty with Freddie King, starting in 1973 and ending just shortly before the icon’s passing in 1976. Jones had originally hooked up with King as a member of his band, The Thunderbirds, when he was a tender 17 years old.

His first go-round with King ended when Jones left his employment in the late 1960s, but less than five years later, he was coaxed back into the fold.

“He saw me in a club – Freddie used to love to go out and sit in (with the band that was playing) sometimes. He saw me at this club and talked to me and told me that he had just recorded “Goin’ Down” (from the album Getting Ready …) and he told me he would like for me to go back on the road with him,” said Jones. “He told me things were much bigger (then, as opposed to Jones’ first stint in the band), and wow, he was right, things were significantly bigger.”

Jones played on King’s last album – Larger Than Life (RSO Records), issued in 1975.

Barely missing paths in King’s band was Jones and another larger-than-life Texas guitarist – the late, great Smokin’ Joe Kubek.

“I had just left Freddie’s band when Joe joined,” Jones said. “I think he played with Freddie for between six months and a year, right up until Freddie passed.”

Naturally, all that time spent playing with Freddie King ended up have a huge impact on the way that Jones plays the guitar these days.

“His influence on me (on Jones’ musical sound) was big. You are a product of what you hear, I guess. If you hear certain things every night – especially on that big of a stage – it’s bound to influence you,” he said. “I don’t play like Freddie – we have different textures – but I still have the essence of what I heard from him, you know? You can hear his licks in some of my playing because I listened to his playing so much. Sometimes I’ll go, ‘Oh, that’s where I got that from.’ It’s like different parts of the country have different dialects; you adapt to the dialect where you’re at. It’s the same with music.”

The Dallas-born Jones has been playing guitar seemingly since he was old enough to walk and the origins of his ‘Jr. Boy’ handle goes back even further than that.

“From what I understand, my grandmother gave me that nickname. She named me Jr. Boy, because, well, I’m a Junior (fittingly, his dad is Andrew Jones, Senior),” he laughed. “That name has been with me so long … I actually thought that was my name for a long time, until I got old enough to know. Bruce Iglauer (Alligator Records’ founder and president) loves that name. He thinks it’s real cool. Some people have a hard time calling me that, but it’s cool. That’s all I ever heard. “

Although it’s still in the early stages, work is underway on a follow-up to Jones’ I Know What It’s Like (43rd Big Idea Records), his last full-length album from 2012.

“Yeah, I’m writing my new CD right now – I’m in the midst of putting songs together for it,” he said. “It’s too early to determine when I’ll take these songs into the studio, but the writing process is underway.”

Jones has currently been busy helping to back up blues singer Kerrie Lepai on the bandstand and has also been in the studio lending a hand with her newest album.

“We’re trying to finish Kerrie’s CD right now. We took it to Europe with us, but it wasn’t really finished like we wanted it to be,” Jones said. “So she and I are in the process of trying to re-do some guitar parts and vocals.”

Lepai made an appearance on I Know What It’s Like.

As big a temptation as there is to explain away the various forms of blues by putting geographical tags on them – markers like Texas blues, Chicago blues or Delta blues, Jones doesn’t seem to be very concerned with how his style of blues is labeled. As long as his music is just heard, he’s fine with it.

“Well, I would really rather not think there’s a difference. I guess you’re influenced by your upbringing and by the area that you come up in,” he said. “To me, I’m just playing music – stuff that I like – and writing about real-life experiences and trying to make good stories out of them.”

Make no mistake about it, you can call it whatever style you prefer, but at the end of the day, Jones does play the blues. Some of his songs are of the 12-bar variety and some are not, but they’re all very bluesy. But there’s also plenty of soul in there as well, with some of his tunes even bordering on straight-up R&B. There are also hints of jazz that highlight his time playing with the one-and-only Cornell Dupree. Once again, Jones says a large part of his sound today is because of the company he kept in years previous.

“It really is. Part of that is because of what I came up listening to. Of course, there was the blues – and I played with Freddie King for all those years – plus there was the scene that I came up in the ’60s, where I played with R&B artists and was an original member of Bobby Patterson & The Mustangs. I guess it goes back to what my uncle, Adolphus Snead – who was a big band leader – told me. He always told me to never get cornered into a box, because if you learn your instrument and learn to play more than one style, you’ll never go hungry. And that advice has paid off, so-to-speak. I guess when you just try to be yourself, all your influences come together.”

In the early 1980s, Jones was part of a real-deal southern soul experience as a member of the great Johnnie “Cheaper To Keep Her” Taylor’s band. He stayed with Taylor until 1985, when he hooked up with a rhythm section that became known as ‘The Silent Partners.’

“I had just left Johnnie (in 1985) and joined Tony Coleman (Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland’s drummer) and (B.B. King bassist) Russell Jackson in California to work on (Bay Area pianist/singer) Katie Webster’s The Swamp Boogie Queen (Alligator Records) album. Katie decided she wanted to do “Who’s Making Love” (a tune famously associated with Taylor) on that album, so it was really a smooth transition,” he said. “I really enjoyed working on that album.”

A meeting at a Sonny Rhodes’ recording session between Jones and harpist supreme Charlie Musselwhite, led to The Silent Partners touring the globe and playing on the trilogy of albums that Musselwhite cut for Alligator Records – Ace Of Harps (1990), Signature (1991) and In My Time (1993).

Musselwhite’s outfit won a W.C. Handy Award in 1995 as Band of the Year, but as the decade reached its midway point, Jones felt the desire to do something different, namely to go out on his own.

“Actually, certain things happened that made me realize that it was time for me to try and do my own thing. I co-wrote “River Hip Mama” ( from Ace Of Harps) and I was doing a lot of the arranging to the songs,” he said. “A lot of the things that I thought would work, did work and that kind of let me know that all of the things I had learned in the past from Johnnie (Taylor) and Freddie (King) would work. And playing with Tony Coleman and Russell Jackson, I was getting an education in what to do and what not to do. I felt like I was ready and it was time … it was just time. I may not have had the intentions (of leaving and starting his own band), but I think the situation was ready for me to go in another direction.”

Whether the timing was simply just right, or whether the stars and planets were properly aligned, it didn’t take Jones too awful long before he was ready to cut his first album as a solo artist.

“When I got home (after leaving Musselwhite’s band) Don O. (blues format director at Dallas radio station KNON) who is a friend, was responsible for getting me my first record deal. He had been talking to John Stedman at JSP Records (Stedman founded the label in 1978 and named it for John Stedman Productions – or, JSP) about me. Well, I ended up losing John’s phone number and didn’t hear from him in about six months or so,” Jones said. “So when I finally did find his number and did get in touch with him, he told me that I could have had a record deal, like yesterday. So I guess it was a case of better late than never.”

Jones’ JSP debut, I Need Time, came out in 1997, followed quickly by Watch What You Say on Rounder Records the next year.

After years of being a member of someone else’s unit, Jones quickly realized that being a bandleader is not child’s play and if you’re not equipped to handle all that the job entails, you’d ultimately be better served to just remain as a sideman.

“Well, it’s a job to do and you have to work harder than anybody else. When I was with Musselwhite, I noticed that when we were at the hotel resting or taking a nap, he’d be out doing interviews or a lot of other things to keep things rolling smoothly. As a bandleader, you’re responsible for advancing the gigs and making sure things are going smooth and making sure everyone’s rooms are there and you have to budget the fuel (for the van),” he said. “There’s a lot of responsibilities to go along with being a bandleader.”

A lot of responsibilities that a young Andrew Jr. Boy Jones probably didn’t even know existed when he first picked up the guitar many years ago.

“I grew up in a neighborhood up the street from Bobby Patterson (whom he would later go on to play with), but at the time I never knew him. He played guitar. And then James Braggs – brother of (singer) Al ‘TNT’ Braggs – lived nearby. I saw all those guys playing guitar in the backyard and stuff,” he said. “So I got fascinated with the instrument at about age 6 or 7. So I asked my mom (Gladys) for one (a guitar) and she bought me one (for his seventh birthday). It was a toy, you know, and I played that for a while, before graduating to something bigger.”

The household that James grew up in was one filled with music, including music made by his mom and ‘uncles.’

“Well, they weren’t my real uncles, but I thought of them as my uncles, because they were in the same band that my mother used to sing with. Adolphus Snead was the saxophone player in the band, but he was also the band leader. He got interested in me, because he thought I had some kind of talent,” said Jones. “So, he gave me a couple of guitars and some lessons. I got kind of bored with the lessons, because I wasn’t really disciplined enough then to sit and do the lessons. But I did learn.”

That learning continued on as Jones reached adulthood.

“Hopefully, you never stop learning, especially things about your instrument. That’s helped me to expound on things and not to get cornered into any kind of a box, musically,” he said. “If you really know your guitar’s neck, to me, you can express yourself better.”

So far, so good, as far as Jones being able to eloquently express himself via his guitar.

“I really want to be the best that I can be and then hopefully, people will like what I’m doing,” he said. “I’ve never really fallen into any kind of mold. I always like to do what feels good to me and hopefully that comes out in the music that I play. Sometimes people work hard to put you into a certain category. I’ve had some DJs tell me that I’m trying to get too slick … but I like what I write and what I put out.”

Just as it’s hard to pigeon-hole his music, it’s equally difficult to pin down Jones’ technique and approach when it comes to musical theories.

And that’s just how he likes it.

“My style may be a bit unorthodox, but I’ve got musicians around me now that have degrees and that teach. I guess it’s kind of like what I heard once about T-Bone Walker. He was the least-knowledgeable musician that he had around him and that’s the way he wanted it,” Jones said. “Of course, the more that you do know, the better off you are.”

He’s played with some of the true legends of music and he’s also managed to leave behind his own footprints with the music he’s created on his own. If it all seems like one big blur for Jones, that’s probably because he’s never really taken the time to stop and ponder all the places he’s been and all the people that he’s rubbed shoulders with over the past five-plus decades.

“I’ve never really thought about that, no. I was just always in good situations and I don’t know whether I was a good player or gifted … I don’t know. I’ve never thought about it. I just thought this was how it was supposed to be, all the time,” he said. “When I was 16, I was rushed out of my mother’s living room to go rehearse with a band that played behind Freddie King. Then it was from there to Bobby Patterson and I got signed to a recording contract when I was 18. Then after that dissipated, Freddie came and asked me to go on the road with him again and that was huge. So there’s been many great situations that I’ve been involved in. I was with a band called the Creators (a soul group from the late ’70s) that got signed by RCA Records – for one record. I was a long way into things before there came a time that I realized that you have to work for it and you have to work at it. It was like a slap in the face, but I realized, ‘Hey, I have to work hard to get better at this.'”

Visit Andrew on Facebook at

Photos by Bob Kieser © 2016

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

 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 6 

Sonny Terry – His Best 21 Songs

Wolf Records – 2015

21 tracks: 66 minutes

This album is the eleventh issued by Austrian label Wolf in the ‘Blues Classics’ series and follows discs by the likes of Charley Patton, Blind Willie McTell, Leroy Carr and Big Bill Broonzy. These recordings were made between 1938 and 1946 and find Sonny playing mainly in a duo format with a variety of musicians. Sonny’s distinctive ‘whoopin’ and hollerin’ vocal style is well in evidence, particularly on the first half of the disc and his high pitched vocals on those cuts may be an acquired taste if you are not familiar with it. The first two tracks are live at Carnegie Hall, one being “The New John Henry” which is a take on the familiar tale of the railroad man, complete with washboard. The only recording made under Sonny’s real name Saunders Terry is “New Love Blues” which is also a solo harp and vocal performance. Sonny first came to prominence with Blind Boy Fuller and that combination appears on the appropriately titled “Harmonica Stomp”; Blind Boy on guitar, Oh Red (aka George Washington) on washboard and Sonny on harp and vocal. Just two of the 21 tracks here were recorded away from NYC: “Forty-Four Whistle Blues”, clearly a version of the well-known “Forty-Four Blues”, finds Sonny and Oh Red in Chicago in 1940 while an unissued side from 11 May 1942 in Washington DC is one of three tracks from Sonny with Brownie McGhee on guitar, an interesting song entitled “The Red Cross Store”. The other two sides with Brownie are “Shake Down” and “Sweet Woman”, both from 1945.

The rest of this compilation comes from three LPs issued on Stinson. Recording dates seem to be vague as the first two sets are both credited as ‘probably 1944’; it may well be that the recordings were all made in the same session but released across two LPs. Four tracks feature Sonny with Woody Guthrie on banjo and violin and Alec Seward on guitar as well as vocal on one cut “Rock Me Mamma”, an early run-out for what we would recognize as “Rock Me Baby”. There are quite a number of songs that reference chain gangs and two of those four tracks are “Chain Gang Blues” and “Chain Gang Special” as well as a take on the traditional and often recorded “Stackolee”. The other 1944 set is the same personnel and includes another chain gang song. The final set of three tracks is just Sonny and Woody, recorded in 1946, Sonny mainly singing in his natural voice with just the occasional whoop. The last cut is a train song “South Bound Express” with outstanding harp work from Sonny.

Recording quality here obviously reflects the age of the material and in some cases one can hear some of the clicks and crackles from the original pressings but for fans of early country blues and Sonny Terry’s harp and vocal style this is a treasure trove of his work in a variety of settings.

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

 Featured Blues Review – 3 & 4 of 6 

Bryce Janey – Delta Road

Grooveyard Records – 2015

11 tracks: 57 minutes

Jay Jesse Johnson – Set The Blues On Fire

Grooveyard Records – 2015

12 tracks: 57 minutes

Grooveyard Records states on its website that it is “dedicated to producing and promoting supreme bad-ass, killer heavy guitar ‘six string mojo’ from around the world” and its strapline reads “outstanding total guitar rock music” so it is not at all surprising that these two releases are both at the rock end of the blues-rock spectrum.

Bryce Janey operates in a power trio format, Bryce on vocals and guitar, Dan ‘DJ’ Johnson on bass and Eric Douglas on drums; Perry Welsh adds harmonica to the title track. The album contains nine originals written by Bryce, one a co-write with producer (and label boss) Joe Romagnola, plus covers of Robert Johnson and Rory Gallagher. The album opens with some discordant guitar noise over a solid rhythm that soon gives way to some power chording. The slide-driven stomper “This Old Guitar” in which Bryce tells us about one of his first instruments is good fun and the title track “Delta Road” continues with slide as well as adding some solid harp support. “Delta Road” follows on in the tradition of songs in which the bluesman sells his soul and lyrically Bryce reinforces that image by quoting from several Robert Johnson songs. Rory Gallagher’s “Lonesome Highway” is driven along well by drummer Eric and Bryce gives us plenty of guitar flourishes in a double-tracked slide and lead production. Bryce is concerned with the way things are going in “World Of Trouble” but concludes that he no longer cares and will just “keep a guitar by my side”: whether Bryce’s Hendrixisms will be effective in solving the world’s issues remains to be seen! The sole change of pace here is “Time Doesn’t Wait” which comes towards the end of the album and offers some gentler guitar styling that are well suited to the tragic lyrics of the song. Bryce closes with RJ’s “Hellhound On My Trail”, shifting to acoustic steel slide for the only time on the album and it is again a change that works well.

Jay Jesse Johnson is a little further to the rock side of the blues, working in a quartet with keys from Lee Evans, bass from Reed Bogart and drums from Jeff ‘Smokey’ Donaldson. Jay plays guitar, handles all vocals and wrote all the material here, as well as producing the CD. The presence of the keyboards adds texture but is offset by Jay’s tendency to go over the top in his solos, a good example being “Voodoo Woman” which even opens with some delicate Spanish guitar before the rhythm section sets a driving shuffle – so far so good, but in a succession of searing solos Jay manages to set this reviewer’s teeth on edge. There are some slower tunes such as “Since My Baby’s Gone” which recalls Gary Moore’s style with a ballad and the torrid “Grinding Blues” which has a revealing lyric as Jay is pursued by the law but claims that “firing up my riffage is my only offence” – indeed! Jay has a solid voice that works on both slower material as well as on upbeat tunes like “Wheelhouse Boogie” which speeds along over a ZZ Top style riff over which Jay lays some keening slide work. The melodic instrumental “Rio De Los Sueños (River Of Dreams)” shows just what a fleet-fingered guitarist Jay is but this time he plays in a more contained manner to close out the album.

These two albums will appeal to those who enjoy the heavier style of blues-rock with plenty of guitar pyrotechnics.

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

 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 6 

Alex Haynes & the Fever – Bandit Blues Motel


CD: 10 Songs; 29:56 Minutes

Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues Rock

Remember the ‘90’s hit band Nirvana? Their musical oeuvre riveted people across the globe, due to Kurt Cobain’s singing and guitar. When he conquered the known world with his shredder, as surely as Julius Caesar did with his legions, his vocals were jaded and ennui-ridden. Kurt didn’t really sing as much as he talked to his listeners, no matter how high the volume of conversation. Blues fans, keep that in mind as you listen to the UK’s Alex Haynes and the Fever. Echoes of Nirvana’s grunge rock reverberate in Bandit Blues Motel – their fifth release. Most of the band’s other offerings are digital only, but Bandit Blues Motel is on hard-copy CD form. Featuring ten original songs, Alex Haynes channels Cobain, while the Fever backs him up with raw instrumentation. Purists may point out that this isn’t so much a blues album as a blues-rock album, and they’d be right. Nevertheless, it’s worth at least one listen, because Haynes’ vocals are an acquired taste.

According to the band’s website, “Alex performs solo, as a two-piece with Richard Coulson on drums/piano and as a trio – with bass and drums. Initially, vocal comparisons to the Kings of Leon are not entirely out of line although the sound is more akin to Seasick Steve or early-Black Keys. However, Alex cites other influences – the downhome blues of artists like John Lee Hooker and RL Burnside, the tough R&B and soul sound of Chess [Records], a touch of R’n’R via the Brit Blues of groups like ’60s era Fleetwood Mac, with a little of the unorthodox blues of Captain Beefheart thrown in.” Their promotional information sheet contains further commentary: “Haynes started out playing acoustic blues and folk in cafés and bars around the north of England. Following a move to the capital, he formed Alex Haynes and the Fever in late ’06 as a bass-less trio, with a debut release – the mini-album Last Train in early 2011.”

On Bandit Blues Motel, Alex Haynes performs on vocals, guitars, electric piano, drums and percussion. Joining him are Richard Coulson on electric and acoustic piano, percussion and drums, and Lorne Stockman on harmonica.

The following song is most representative of the blues side of this CD, as opposed to the hard-and/or-mellow-rock side:

Track 01: “Jungle Kid” – In this reviewer’s opinion, the best blues albums have a gritty stomp or two in their repertoire. Bandit Blues Motel’s opener delivers in nearly top form, aside from the fast-strumming guitar intro and rocked-up chorus. “Got an alligator heart with a crocodile smile, holding on to the reins, going to make it all worthwhile. Ain’t coming down. Why don’t you come on up? Come on over to the other side and try and test your luck. I’m the king of the jungle, baby – you my jungle kid!” Being closest to traditional blues, track number one is number one on the CD.

Alex Haynes and the Fever sound more like Nirvana than Howlin’ Wolf, but in the cutthroat world of album sales, most bands aim for appeal in more than one genre. This is the case with Bandit Blues Motel, which brings the “Teen Spirit” of the ‘90’s back!

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 Review – 6 of 6 

Tom Killner – Hard Road

Cleopatra Records – 2015

11 tracks: 53 minutes

Tom Killner is a 19-year old singer, guitarist and composer from the North of England and this is his debut release. Tom operates in a trio format with Jake Ashton on drums and Nigel Killner on bass; producer Keith Angle adds occasional percussion and Jesse Courts provides backing vocals. The album divides neatly into two halves with five covers at the start and six originals afterwards.

The covers are a diverse selection and may have been selected to show Tom’s range. Some work better than others. Opening cut is “Comin’ Home”, here credited to ‘D. Green’ but is clearly the Delaney & Bonnie tune which famously had Eric Clapton on guitar. Tom’s guitar work is close to Eric’s but Tom is clearly not Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett’s vocal parts are taken by Jesse; still, with Keith’s latin percussion it’s a decent version. “Feeling Good”, the Leslie Bricusse/Anthony Newley tune made famous by Nina Simone and now covered quite often by a range of artists, notably here in the UK where solid versions have appeared on albums by the likes of Connie Lush, Kyla Brox and Aynsley Lister, so it is a song that is heard quite often. Tom’s take on the song is rather histrionic and probably owes most to Joe Bonamassa’s version. Tom clearly listens to modern rock and Cage The Elephant’s “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked” works OK and allows Tom to play some chugging rhythm guitar over which he lays a solid solo. However, Seether’s “Fake It” might be a tricky one for radio play with a chorus that uses the ‘F’ word several times! A solid acoustic version of “Cocaine Blues” has some lovely slide work and is a song that suits Tom’s voice, possibly the pick of the covers for this reviewer.

The originals start with the title track which is a co-write with Jesse, a moody seven minute slow tune with lots of fine and understated guitar, the song discussing some of life’s difficult challenges. The remaining five songs are all Tom’s originals: “Lifting Me Higher” and “Whisky Haze” are both mid-paced tunes with good guitar work in different styles, the former having more than a hint of soul, the latter more of a shuffle. Blues rock fans will enjoy the uptempo “Do It Again” with its AC/DC-ish core riff and booming solo, the whole definitely getting the toes tapping. A second epic ballad “Taking Its Toll” (with a tune that recalls Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man”) again shows the sensitive side of Tom’s playing. The final track is “Midnight Call”, an aggressive piece of blues-rock with plenty of wah-wah work.

In summary this album showcases Tom’s abilities pretty well. He is clearly a strong guitarist who can adapt to a variety of settings. For this reviewer Tom’s own material was stronger than the covers chosen but the idea of showing Tom is those different settings is probably sound for a debut release. We can expect to hear more from Mr Killner!

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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Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues Foundation – Red Bank, NJ

Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues Foundation presents Harpin’ Help 2016: A benefit for Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues Foundation and Keyport Ministerium Food Pantry on Sunday April 24 from 12:00pm-9:00pm. at Anticipation, 703-5 16th Ave Lake Como (formerly S. Belmar), N.J.

Admission is $15.00 + 2 non-perishable food or food related items (paper towels, etc) OR $20.00 w/o food. All ages show! 8 plus hours of GREAT live music & raffles. Info at

Minnesota Blues Society – St. Paul, MN

The Minnesota Blues Society presents the Road to Memphis Competition on 2 dates. Sunday, April 10 the Solo/Duo competition starts at 1:00pm at Schuller’s, 7345 Country Club Drive, Golden Valley. Competing will be Mike Munson & Mikkel Beckman, Jimmi Langemo & Nate Heinz, Trevor Marty, and Nigel Egg.

Then on Sunday, April 24 the Bands competition starts at 3:00pm at Minnesota Music Café’, 499 Payne Ave., St. Paul. Competing will be Mark Cameron Band, Lisa Wenger Band, GopherTones and Harrison St. Suggested $10.00 donation for each event. More info at:

The Illinois Central Blues Club – Springfield, IL

The Illinois Central Blues Club has announced the line-up of talent for the Blue Monday live performances and jam sessions held every Monday night at The Alamo, 115 North Fifth, Springfield, IL from 8:00pm to midnight. April 4 – Joe Moss Band, April 11 – Kilborn Alley Blues Band, April 18 – Jason Elmore & Hoodoo Witch, April 25 – The Bruce Katz Band.

Additional ICBC and ICBC partnered shows: April 7 – James Armstrong Presents @ The Alamo, 6 pm, April 21 – James Armstrong Presents @ The Alamo, 6 pm

The Suncoast Blues Society – Tampa. FL

The 10th Annual Pork Butt Blues Festival happens Saturday, April 2 in Ellenton, FL. Proceeds benefit the Manatee Veterans Village in Bradenton; performers include Doug Deming and the Jewel Tones, Anni Piper, and Koko Ray and the Keepers. Tickets $10. (online in advance), $15. at the Gate. Info:

The Detroit Blues Society – Detroit, MI

On Saturday April 23,2016 the Detroit Blues Heritage Series will present “Detroit Blues Piano Unplugged” featuring Kerry Price and Matthew Ball, aka , “The Boogie Woogie Kid” featuring vocalist Emma Aboukasm.

This event will take place from 2:00PM until 4:30PM at the historic Scarab Club. The Scarab Club is located at 217 Farnsworth in Detroit’s Cultural Center. A $5.00 donation is requested.

For more information please call the Scarab Club (313-831-1250) or contact the Detroit Blues Society at

The Colorado Blues Society – Boulder, CO

The Colorado Blues Society is entering our 21st year with our Annual Members Party at the Buffalo Rose in Golden, Colorado on April 2. Our Headliner that evening is the Ghost Town Blues Band, a 2-time Finalist at the IBC in Memphis and took 2nd Place in 2014. The Zakk Debono Band is opening for GTBB. The show starts at 8PM and is Free to CBS members, but the public can purchase tickets for $10 and are welcome to attend. CBS received the 2013 KBA for Blues Organization of the Year.

CBS is kicking off our local IBC competition the next day, April 3rd with the opening round at the Buffalo Rose in Golden. Round 2 will be April 17th at the Dickens Opera House in Longmont. The Finals will be back at the Buffalo Rose on May 1. All IBC events start at 2pm with a cover charge of $10 at the door. All funds will go to eventual Colorado Blues Society winners in the Band and Solo/Duo competitions to help with expense at the 2017 IBC in Memphis . Go to for more information.

Grand County Blues Society – Winter Park, CO

Grand County Blues Society and Blue Star Connection present “An Evening With Ana Popovic”, on Saturday, April 9 (8pm) at Buffalo Rose in Golden, CO. The concert benefits Blue Star Connection, which provides musical instruments to children and young adults facing cancer and other serious challenges.

Friends of the Blues – Kankakee IL area

The Friends of the Blues announce their 2016 Concert Series. All shows start at 7 pm and are open to the public – and – Food and Beverages available at all Friends of the Blues shows. Tues, April 5, Kilborn Alley Blues Band w/ Ronnie Shellist, Moose Lodge, Bradley IL, Tues, April 19, Smiley Tillmon Band w/ Kate Moss, Moose Lodge, Bradley IL, May 10, Skyla Burrell Band, Moose Lodge, Bradley IL, Tues, May 24, Lazer Lloyd, Moose Lodge, Bradley IL, Tues, June 7, Frank Bang & Cook County Kings, Manteno Sportsmen’s Club, Manteno IL, Thur, June 16, Nick Harless Band, Moose Lodge, Bradley IL, Tues, June 28, Cash Box Kings, Kankakee Valley Boat Club, Kankakee IL, Thur, July 14, Joe Moss Band, The Longbranch, L’Erable IL, Thur, Aug 4, Albert Castiglia, L’Erable, w/ Opening Act Maybe Later, The Longbranch, L’Erable IL, Tues, Aug 16, Too Slim & the Taildraggers, The Longbranch, L’Erable IL, Thur, Sept 15, Danielle Nicole Band, Moose Lodge, Bradley IL. For more info visit

Madison Blues Society – Madison, WI

The Madison Blues Society Presents the 9th Annual Wild Women of the Blues Saturday April 2, 2016 at 8:00 P.M. at Badger Bowl 506 E. Badger Rd in Madison WI (608)274-6662.

This show features opening act: Maggie Alliotta & the Paul Filipowicz Band, and head liner- Katherine Davis & the Cash Box Kings with special guests Price- $15 advance/$18 dos, members $12 advance/$15 at the door.

In addition to recognizing and celebrating Blueswomen, this event is also a fundraiser for both MBS’s Blues in the Community programs, and for this year’s chosen beneficiary. For the past few years we’ve paired with an organization in the community that provides critical services to women. This year we’ve chosen the Dane County Rape Crisis Center as our beneficiary. Event details at our website: Info:

Ventura County Blues Society – Ventura, CA

The 11th Annual Ventura County Blues Festival on Saturday, April 30, in a new, bigger location at Studio Channel Islands in Camarillo, benefits Food Share and other local charities in Ventura County. Also features a Festival-ending All-Star Jam Tribute to the late BB Chung King. Info:

Capital Region Blues Network – Albany, NY

The Capital Region Blues Network is happy to announce their 5th Annual Blues Bash Fundraiser on Saturday April 16th at The Bayou in Glenville, NY (507 Rt 50) at 7PM

The entertainment will be provided by The Andrew Wheeler Band and National Recording Artist, The Chris O’Leary Band. We will have a silent auction with lots of great gifts, musicial and otherwise.

Check out all the info at

Central Iowa Blues Society – Des Moines, IA

The Central Iowa Blues Society is now accepting applications for the 2016 Iowa Blues Challenge. This includes entries for both the Blues Band and Solo / Duo categories. Preliminary rounds begin April 24, 2016 and this year the finals will be held on Saturday, June 18, 2016 at the Downtown Marriott in Des Moines.

Prize packages to the first place winners in each category include cash, 8 hours recording time courtesy of Junior’s Motel, opportunity for paid performances at area events and festivals throughout the year, and entry into and travel expenses for the 2017 International Blues Challenge in Memphis TN.

Don’t delay! All entry material must be delivered to the Central Iowa Blues Society before the deadline on Friday, April 8, 2016. For an application and more information, go to

The 2016 Iowa Blues Challenge is sponsored by Budweiser, Summit Brewing Co., Junior’s Motel, Rieman Music, Zimm’s Food and Spirits, Lefty’s Live Music, River Music Experience, Cityview, Central Iowa Blues Society, Mississippi Valley Blues Society, South Skunk Blues Society and Southeast Iowa Blues Society.

Mississippi Valley Blues Society – Davenport, IA

The Mississippi Valley Blues Society presents Alligator Records recording artist Selwyn Birchwood, and his band at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 10, at Kavanaugh’s Hilltop Tap, 1228 30th Street, Rock Island, IL. The cost to see this performance will be $10 if you are a Mississippi Valley Blues Society member, or $12 if you have not joined the Blues Society (application will be available at the door).

The Mississippi Valley Blues Festival is returning to LeClaire Park, Davenport, Iowa for the 31st year on July 1 and 2, 2016. More than 10 acts will be booked, bringing the audience an array of Blues music for 2-days starting at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, July 1 and 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 2. Admission tickets will go on sale soon.

The acts for weekend are still being scheduled and the full lineup will be announced shortly. “We want the 2016 lineup to reach a wide audience while maintaining our Blues roots,” says Steve Heston, President of the Mississippi Valley Blues Society. “We’re confident this year’s lineup, featuring local, regional, and national Blues acts, will do just that and we look forward to celebrating our thirty-first year with music fans from around the world.”

In 2016, guests can expect the return of favorite attractions such as Blueskool along with some new experiences which will also debut at the festival this year. MVBS is still seeking corporate and individual sponsorship to help offset this year’s event expenses. Individuals can give monetarily during the months leading up to the festival through attending the scheduled fundraising events and by donating through a Go-Fund-Me campaign. For additional corporate and individual sponsorship information visit

MVBS’ mission is to present a 2-day Blues music experience along the Mississippi River that will maintain the integrity of the festival from the past 30

The Lowcountry Blues Society – Charleston, SC

The Lowcountry Blues Society is pleased to announce the 12th annual Blues By the Sea featuring Mississippi Heat, Mac Arnold & Plate Full of Blues and Randy McAllister, Sunday, April 10, 230-7 pm at Freshfields Village Green, Kiawah Island, SC. (40 mins SE of Charleston)

The event is FREE and is brought to you by the Kiawah Island Cultural Events Fund. Rain or shine (we are tented) Bring a lawn chair or blanket, coolers OK! A great time for the entire family!

Blues Society of Central PA – Harrisburg, PA

The Blues Society of Central PA welcomes Mark Hummel’s Golden State Lone Star Revue featuring Mark Hummel, Anson Funderburgh, Little Charley Baty with Wes Starr and R.W. Grigsby on Sunday, April 17th 8:00 PM EST at Champions Sports Bar 300 2nd Street Highspire, PA 17034 Admission $15.00.

The Blues Society of Central PA hosts an open blues jam every Thursday evening for 17 years running at Champions Sports Bar, 300 2nd St. Highspire, PA 17034 8:00 PM EST FREE Please drop by and join us if you’re in the central PA area!

Crossroads Blues Society – Byron, IL

Crossroads has lots of great blues events planned for 2016!

The Hope and Anchor English Pub in Loves Park, IL features shows on the second Saturday of each month from 8 pm to midnight. April 9th – Reverend Raven and the Chain Smoking Altar Boys, May 14th – The Jimmys

Blues in the Schools is also scheduled for February, Dan Phelps will be doing a two week in school BITS residency with East HS teaching song writing and guitar. The residency will culminate in an evening show on March 17th at East HS at 630 PM. Dan and the students will be performing the songs they wrote and showing the music videos they created based on the novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” This event is free and open to the public.

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: April 15th – Breezy Rodeo, May 20th – Dave Fields. Shows are free from 7 to 10 PM.

Coco Montoyo comes to Rockford on Friday, March 25 at 8 PM. The Rockford Park District’s Nordlof Center is home to the J.R. Sullivan Theater where the show will be held. Tickets are available at the box office or on line at; advanced tickets are $15 and the cost will be $20 at the door if not sold out.

Stay tuned for more upcoming events!

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


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