Issue 10-14 April 7, 2016

Cover photo by Bob Kieser © 2016

 In This Issue 

Don Wilcock has our feature interview with Big Bill Morganfield. We have 6 Blues music reviews for you including reviews of new music from Bob Margolin, Jon Spear Band, Zakiya Hooker, Chaz DePaolo, Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado and Han.

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

 From The Editor’s Desk 

Hey Blues Fans,

Been spending lots of time at the post office picking up boxes of CDs from artists submitting their releases for consideration for a nomination in the 2016 Blues Blast Music Awards. Submissions remain open until April 15th.

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

Also, this is your last week 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.

We are flying out to cover our first Blues fest of the 2016 season next week when we head to
The Nevis Blues Festival in the Caribbean. This lovely little event in a tropical paradise is like a dream vacation but hey, somebody has got to do it right? We will have complete coverage of the festival in an up coming issue.

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.

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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.

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 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 6 

Bob Margolin – My Road

VizzTone Label Group

12 songs – [44:38]

Bob Margolin needs no introduction to most Blues Blast Magazine readers as the long time Muddy Waters guitar player and even longer time keeper of the Muddy Waters flame; a multi-award-winning guitarist, singer and songwriter; KBA-award winning writer; and renowned producer for artists such as Big Bill Morganfield, Candye Kane, Pinetop Perkins and Ann Rabson.

Now in his late 60s, Margolin’s new album, My Road, shows that he has no intention of slowing down or easing up. He describes the album as his “ride through modern challenges, the ironies and lessons of aging, achieving true love, mourning, my band’s distinctive signature sound, a childhood epiphany, my seven years in Muddy Waters’ band and exploring the darkest sides of life with friends who have been there.” That’s a pretty fair description. It is also an album of confidence and joy, played with spark and deep emotional power.

There are a number of interesting elements in My Road. First, the band comprises Margolin on guitar and vocals, Chuck Cotton on drums and vocals and Tad Walters on harp and guitar. The way the musicians play together, however, means that the absence of a bassist does not detract from the music at all. Sometimes this is due to Margolin playing overdubbed guitars to create intertwining complementary guitar parts a la Muddy and Jimmy Rogers or Jimmy Reed and Eddie Taylor, for example on “I Shall Prevail” and “Feelin’ Right Tonight”. At other times, however, it is all about the clever use of space by the musicians that creates the sense of a deeper, broader sound.

Linked to this is Margolin’s own guitar playing. Long rightly cited as one of (if not, the) greatest exponents of Muddy Waters-style slide guitar, his control over the subtle microtones available to bottleneck players is magnificent. On My Road, his slide playing on “Understanding Heart” and “Devil’s Daughter” is as heart-breaking as ever. In addition, however, Margolin plays a lot of standard guitar and this is where he especially impresses. As they age, many electric guitar players lose the aggression and power of their youth. The legendary Albert Collins is a rare example of a player who bucked this trend and seemed to play with ever more bone-rattling attitude and assertiveness as his career progressed. I don’t know if Collins’ and Margolin’s shared love of Telecasters plays any part on this, but Margolin’s playing on My Road displays a similar level of bad-assery, whether playing lead or when grinding out dirty, gritty rhythms on tracks such as “Low Life Blues” and “My Whole Life”.

Of the 12 tracks on the album, Margolin contributed six songs, plus one co-write, as well superb covers of Sean Costello’s “Low Life Blues”, Tad Walters’ “Ask Me No Questions”, Tex Rubinowitz’s “Feelin’ Right Tonight” and DB Codd’s “Devil’s Daughter”. One of the emotional highpoints of the album is the cover of Nappy Brown’s “Bye Bye Baby”, where Margolin and Cotton harmonise the vocals over Walters’ sympathetic harp backing.

Margolin’s own lyrics are frequently autobiographical, such as in “My Whole Life” or the wry acknowledgment of the aging process in the shuffle of “Young and Old Blues” where he sings “I love to play the blues on my guitar, so I went to see BB King. It was hard to believe that a man so old could still play and sing. I was 20 years old and he let me sit in and he tore it some more. That ancient man played all night long – BB King was 44. I shake my head and smile about how we look at young and old. It depends on which side you look from – and the truth sure can be cold.”

With its mix of blues styles, top drawer musicianship and sparkling production, My Road is a first class slab of modern blues and is highly recommended.

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.

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 – Big Bill Morganfield 

“It’s kinda like I’m walking in a fog,” says Big Bill Morganfield. “I’m right in the midst of things. My whole career has been just kinda surreal. Things just keep unfolding.”

Perhaps the single most telling fact about Morganfield’s career is that he did not take the stage name Muddy Waters Jr. As most blues fans know, Muddy Waters’ real name was McKinley Morganfield. When the late Paul Butterfield inducted Muddy into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, he called him one of the great musical treasures of this century.“Aside from Robert Johnson, no single figure is more important in the history and development of the blues than Waters. The real question as regards his lasting impact on popular music isn’t ‘Who did he influence?’ but – as Goldmine magazine asked in 2001 – ‘Who didn’t he influence?’”

One of six children born to the iconic Delta blues legend, Big Bill Morganfield most certainly was influenced by his father, but he didn’t seriously take up guitar until he was 27 and his father had just died. Big Bill took six years to woodshed before he took his performances public and 16 years before he released his first album Rising Son in 1999. His yet-to-be released seventh album sounds authentically Muddy-like with his barbed wire in Vaseline guitar and vocals that are downright eerie in their similarity to Muddy’s regal baritone. But even in 1999 Big Bill had no concept that he would still be recording and performing in 2016.

“I had no idea I would still be on the road. In reality, all I wanted to do was that Rising Son record and dedicate that to my father, and I would have been good. I coulda walked away and gone back to teaching and doing whatever else I was doing, and I could’ve been a happy soul, but it just didn’t happen that way, but I had no idea. I just knew that I really wanted to make my dad proud. I wanted to be respectable and be respected and just didn’t want to be thought of as somebody who is trying to take a free ride per se.”

Even today, he looks at trying to fill his father’s shoes as “almost like being in the Olympics.”

The sad irony of Big Bill’s life is that Steady Rollin’ Bob Margolin, Hubert Sumlin, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith and other artists that have performed both with him and his father, knew Muddy Waters better than he did because his dad was always on the road.

“Oh, man. Bob (Margolin, Muddy’s guitarist from 1973 to 1980), has been instrumental to me. He taught me a lot. My daddy, if he was living today, he would probably run up to Bob and hug him and say, ‘Thank you so much’ ’cause Bob has been like a big brother to me, not just recording. Every record I ever recorded, he’s on. Most people don’t know that. There hasn’t been a record I made that Bob hasn’t been on except maybe Blues in the Blood(2003), but he’s been like a big brother.

“When I first came out, and we were playing over at the Kennedy Center, everybody (else) was known. You got Phoebe Snow, you got Keb Mo, you got Greg Allman, you got Koko Taylor, you got Buddy Guy, you got Robert Junior Lockwood and on and on. I was the only guy that wasn’t known. Only connecting thing was that I was Muddy Waters’ son, and I was nervous, really nervous, and Bob would call me. I remember him saying, ‘Let’s do this for the old man.’ I said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it for him.’

“That kinda calmed me down, and he was right there next to me on stage, and he kinda helped me with that walk like a big brother, and I don’t know. Bob has been instrumental to my career, and I love him. He’s been very instrumental. He’s been like a brother to me.”

In many ways, Big Bill knows his father more through his music than he does from the little time he got to spend with him. “I don’t talk about that very much, but there is a certain amount of sadness because I my daddy spent more time with the world than he did with me, and when I say that, I’m only saying that he gave more of himself to the world than he actually did to me and some of the other kids because he was always gone, always gone.

“As I have gone through my journey, I’ve gotten to know my father really well. I’ve gotten to understand the reason why a lot of things were the way they were. It’s been more like therapy, me being a blues musician has been therapy, and me being a musician has been therapy, and it’s answered a lot of my questions that I wasn’t able to ever sit down and talk to him about certain things, and a lot of things were answered as I went through my blues journey about my father, and why this was like this and why that was like that.

“It’s a place I don’t like to go to much. It makes me kinda sad, but it has to do with a young man being close to his father and wanting to be close to his father in more ways than everybody. Everybody wants to know their father, and they want to know their mother. And you want your mother and father to be there, to be around. And when they’re not, you ask yourself a lot of questions. First, you ask why. To sum it up in a short brief saying, why he wasn’t around is answered for me, not by him, but by my blues journey, that journey that I sought through the blues. A lot of those questions got answered for me hands on, I saw why, and I understood why things were like they were.”

One of the songs on Big Bill’s debut album was “Dead Ass Broke.” When he first wrote the song, he called his mother and sang it to her. “She felt so bad,” he told me in 1999, “that she sent me a check. I was like, ‘Oh, ma. It’s alright. It’s just that I don’t have as much money as I want right now. I’m ok.’ I sent the check back to her, but I just felt like here I am. I’m not teaching right now. (He had been an English teacher in Atlanta). I was making a pretty good living there. My wife and I’m doing this music thing here, and now I’m having to wait here, and I’m not playing as much, and I’m really kind of feeling broke.”

On his about-to-be-released CD, Morganfield has a song called “When You Lose Someone You Love” that he sings about the death of his mother: “Called me to her bedside and I began to cry/It hurt me real bad to have to see my mother die.”

Sometimes, we as blues fans forget that the catharsis we experience vicariously through the music of our favorite artists comes from real life experiences. And in the case of somebody like Big Bill who is the offspring of an icon whose very existence seems beyond our concept of reality, it is almost jarring to realize that each of them has gone through very real pain that is the inspiration for these songs.

“There are certain expectations,” explains Big Bill. “People expect you to know what you’re doing and to know it good, and do it real good because you’re always going to be compared to him. And let’s face it, how many blues guys get compared to Muddy Waters?

“You learn what pain is. And then you go about trying to treat people right which is important to me. Be like this and try to do the right thing, not for money, not for this and not for that, but only because it’s the right thing to do, and that’s an important part of my character ’cause I try to pass along things to my kids, and I touch other lives out there, and I say to myself, the high and mighty didn’t put me down for self-gratification to come down and just enjoy this and enjoy that, but hopefully I was put here to be just like my father did, to do like a lot of people have done, and to make a difference in other people’s lives.

“I remember one of my favorite movies is “It’s a Wonderful Life” and that kind of puts it in perspective how we are here, and we make a difference in other’s lives, and to me that’s one of the most important things that I can represent or that I can stand for and that is touching others, making a difference in other’s lives.”

Today Morganfield may sound like his daddy, and his guitar style certainly shows his influence, but the emotions he bleeds out are his, and his music translates his unique and singular pain into joy in its catharsis from that pain,

“That’s right. That’s what it does, and I say a little prayer before every performance. I bow my head and I ask that the Lord let me touch the people I’m about to perform for. If only for five minutes let me make ’em forget about a certain amount of pain that they got or forget about this and to be just soulfully their soul, their spirit, to administer to their spirit just like a Baptist preacher or any kind of preacher would do on Sunday.

“You go in and he puts into words and says things, and you walk out feeling good, or you walk out feeling better. The problem’s still there, but you walk out feeling better, and that’s really powerful thing that we face the trials and tribulations of the slings and arrows of our lives. It’s important to be able to be able to be in touch sometimes.

“That’s what music does for a lot of us. I mean, it’s the healing effect. I don’t know. I’ll just leave it at that. Music is very important not just to me but to millions and millions and millions of people. I wrote a song called “The Devil at My Door,” and our slogan was the devil ain’t got no music. So, music is so important to us as we live our daily lives, such a big part of it.”

Morganfield has given me and you, my readers, an amazing gift in his openness concerning the pain of knowing his father more through his band members than from his own time spent with Muddy. I can remember how reticent Robert Junior Lockwood was in talking to journalists about his life because he was so bitter that most interviews would be about his relationship with his stepfather, Robert Johnson, rather than his own music. I asked Morganfield if he and Lockwood ever discussed this issue.

“Well, we talked about a lot of things. We talked about music in general. We didn’t talk a whole lot about his ties with Robert Johnson. I remember he talked about he went on tour with my daddy, and he said, ‘I’m the guy they used to bring all the money to because they would spend all their money, and they would give it to me to keep it for them,’ and he had some really great stories.

“That’s another guy that I miss sorely that I was able to go to his house and was able to sit down with him, and one of the things that struck me was that he had the guitar plugged in and the amps on standby. I saw the red light on.

“I said, ‘Robert, you keep that thing on?’ He said, ‘I keep that on all the time.’ He said, ‘I play every day,’ and that kind of stood in my mind that here is an old guy that probably knows how to play that stuff backwards and forwards, but he still has his hands on it every single day, and I just thought that was – I don’t know. It just stood out in my mind, and soon after that visit I lost him. We lost him, the blues world lost him, but he was one of the guys that as always tied to Robert Johnson, and that’s going far back.

“I think Honeyboy Edwards was tied to him, too, in some ways, but I mean that’s just kinda cool ’cause my daddy respected Robert Johnson. We all respect him, and he’s been gone for a long time, and we still have a tremendous amount of respect for him, and his name is still brought up in different circles always.”

The most successful offspring of iconic cultural trailblazers use their parents’ success and renown as a jumping off point to find their own identity and use their good genes to advance their own muse. Big Bill Morganfield is a great example. His CDs Rising Son (1999), Ramblin’ Mood (2001), Blues in the Blood (2003), Born Lover (2009) and Blues With A Mood (2013) have each featured tenured players often with a Muddy Waters connection. Each has earned rave reviews, and each has advanced the Delta-by-way-of-Chicago legacy of his father while digging deep into his own views of life.

Big Bill has also had some side show experiences that add to his self-proclaimed surreal existence. He played himself in a Season three eighth episode eight of the Cinemax program Banshee, a kind of modern day serial with testosterone that included two of his songs, “Evil” and “Strange Love.”

He’s performed “Chicago” with Tom Waits on a 2012 David Letterman show, and he toured Russia and Syria with Stephen Segal.

“That was strange. I mean it was good, but for me it was strange because I had been in Syria for a week, and I realized that I hadn’t seen a black person for a whole week, and I was like – it was like, ‘Bill, let’s go downtown. I need some luggage.’

“So I went downtown and went to some shops and bought some luggage, and I went walking back, and it was all white guys, and I said, ‘I’m gonna go back to the hotel,’ and I went back to the hotel dragging this piece of luggage, and I had people looking at me and some guy starts speaking this language to me, and I was like, ‘I don’t understand,’ but they were looking at me like, I don’t know ,man. They were nice, but it was really strange, and I looked strange to them.

“I guess they might have grabbed me up, but I said, it’s gonna be a little bit of a fight ’cause I’m not gonna let you take me where you want to take me. Anyway, I had no problems, but it was just kinda surreal walking through the streets of Syria. That’s all I can tell ya about it. It was just surreal, surreal.”

It’s been 33 years since Muddy died. “Thirty-three years, but again, time is going by. In that period of time we lost great guys, but they were like my best friends, Pinetop, Hubert Sumlin, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith. These were guys that connected me musically to my father. They would tell me these stories. They would share all these things with me, and now all of a sudden, these guys are gone, and I’m like, ‘Wow, man.’ It seems like so surreal. It’s like my feet sometimes are not even on the ground.

“I know I didn’t want to be thought of as someone who is Muddy’s son. I just didn’t want to be thought of as somebody taking a free ride, and that’s why my whole career would have been to mark him, to imitate him. That would have been easy, because I kinda sound like him naturally. That would have been the easy way, and I said, ‘I don’t want to go that route.’”

Visit Bill’s website at:

Photos by Bob Kieser © 2016

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

 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 6 

Jon Spear Band – Live Music is Better

Self Released

12 tracks

A collection of central Virginia’s finest blues musicians makes up Jon Spear’s Band and I must say they sound pretty darn good. Mixing blues with funk and swing, Spear (guitar) is joined by Dara James (harp and guitar), Andy Burdetsky (bass) and John Stubblefield (drums). Recorded live at the Southern Café and Music Hall in Charlottesville, Va. Last November 27th, these Central Virginia Blues Society members are a tight and well honed group.

Spear’s street credibility go back to opening for the Isley Brothers decades ago. He was a mentor to Hollywood fats and Debbie Davies. Drummer Stubblefield has been playing since the Beatles arrived here. Burdetsky grew up in DC with the Nighthawks and Danny Gatton as influences while in junior high. James is the young’un of the bunch, singing and playing guitar since age 14. The four of them offer up a cool live album of blues rock.

Beginning with “Devil’s Highway,” the band sets the bar high. Big guitar solos and some nice vocals by James get the crowd into it. The extended second guitar solo was a little too much long in my mind to open a set with, but that appears to be their modus operandi and the crowd ate it up. “Nothing to Nobody” takes things down a bit and features solos by James and then Spear doing this Robben Ford cut. Adrian Duke provides some nice organ work and Haywood Giles appears on sax. The guitar solos contrast nicely; James slings his way through stratospherically while Spear is more workman-like and gutsy in his tone. Both were good. Duke plays piano and Giles returns on sax for “Shake Your Boogie” with Spear fronting the band and James is on harp. The band swings and gets bluesy on this Hollywood Fats song as the harp and guitar set the pace before Giles comes in for a gritty solo. After another verse Duke gets his turn and gives us a dirty solo of his own before James comes in for his; he’s quite adept on the Mississippi saxophone. “Before the Bullets Fly” is a 1988 song written by Warren Haynes for an album of the same name by Greg Allman that was perhaps not as well received as his prior, but this was a great song and Haynes includes it in his show. Spear and then James take turns again soloing and do another great job. The bass line is really out front and quite big here, making for a driving, primal beat.

They go down to NOLA to cover the classic Neville Brothers instrumental tune “Cissy Strut.” The bass is big again here and we have Duke on organ and Giles on sax to add flavor. James does a huge solo up front and then Giles does an extended one, too. Spear follows with a very cool and funky tone and then it’s Duke’s turn. This is a little different approach than the Nevilles; rocking blues versus their sound makes for an interesting cover. The classic “Have You ever Loved a Woman” gets a fresh cover with some well done vocals (which answered by the guitar) by James. Thoughtfully done! “Old Soul” brings us back to original music by Spear with James in the soulful lead and Giles doing another big sax solo. Delbert McClinton’s “Blues About You Baby” is a rollicking ride with Spear growling the vocal line and offering the lead guitar and first stinging solo. James also solos nicely here, too.

The band goes a little honky tonk on “I Love My Skin,” with Duke in front on vocals and playing piano. He’s got a nice country blues approach to his singing. Giles gets another solo here and plays well against the piano. “Paid in Full” is one of those slow rocking anthem songs that begins low keyed and builds into a major guitar attack. James provides the lead guitar and vocals here. Not blues but it’s a big song. The Blue Devils cut “Beginner at the Blues” (a song Coco Montoya often plays) follows. James does a nice job with it. The CD concludes with Spear’s title track. Spear is out front and takes the first solo. He swings and testifies to the point that live music is better. Spear, Duke, Giles and James all take turns soloing and the band goes out together for their finale. It was fun.

This is a good album of live blues and rock. Jon Spear makes things interesting and he and Dara James seem to have a good time playing off each other. The mix is big on the low end for most of the CD, making the rock stuff rockier and driving. It’s a clean live recording with an energized band and crowd all enjoying themselves.

I’d heard Spear’s Old Soul album with many of the same cuts. That has a very clean studio sound to it. There is more feeling to the music here in the live album. It’s worth a spin. Check this album out!

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.

For other reviews on our website CLICK HERE

 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 6 

Zakiya Hooker – Live in Germany – International Bluesfest – Eutin, Germany

Boogie With The Hook Records

14 linear tracks|75:34 running time

Though it was recorded five years ago, this disc was released in tandem with Zakiya Hooker’s latest studio effort, 2015’s In The Mood. Listening to them in succession yields a comparative yardstick with which to compare and contrast the live experience versus the studio experience. As stated in the January 30 2016 review of In The Mood, Zakiya’s producer/bass playing husband is Ollan Christopher Bell. His stage name is Chris James and he is the music directer of the band on this date. You may remember his former vocal group, the Natural Four, who sprang from Oakland, California’s Boola-Boola record label to be signed by ABC Records and ultimately contracted to Curtom Records and subsequently produced by the legendary Curtis Mayfield.

The opening track on this Cd is Bell/James covering the late Johnny “Guitar” Watson’s “I Want To Ta-Ta You Baby,” a track that according to Mr. Google, has not been covered on record by many since it’s inception in 1976. Mr. James does an outstanding job, nailing Watson’s groove and putting the crowd in the mood for Zakiya.

Ms. Hooker greets the throng as if from here own living room. “Well hel-lo. Welcome, welcome, welcome. Truly you must be Blues fans. You are out here in this raaiinnn!

The Louis Jordan/Sam Theard song, “Let The Good Times Roll,” was chosen as the opener and as she explained to the crowd later, Zakiya is sometimes inclined to change the lyrics to fit her relaxed delivery.

The song selection of the disc also includes compositions by Robert Johnson, Brownie McGhee, John Lee Hooker, Luther Dixon, the husband and wife songwriting team of Zakiya and Ollan as well as others.

The artist’s in between song patter is upbeat and jovial despite the precipitation that everyone had to endure. At one point she pauses to acknowledge and praise some children who approached the stage.

On the Hooker/Bell penned “Cold, Cold Feeling” and the epic Robert Johnson’s “Stones In My Passway,” Zakiya pours out down in the alley Blues sensibility and phrasing that can’t be faked. The band adds some sizzling funk flavor to the Johnson composition.

The musicians on this session are Zakiya’s Argentinean contingent and include the Bozas brothers, Federico on bass and Willy on drums as well as keyboardist Fabricio Loborda. Anchored by and under the direction of bassist Bell/James, they swing and shift effortlessly between Blues, Jazz, Funk and Rock arrangements. The energy generated on and off stage indicates a good time was had by all. Even in all that rain.

Listeners, be advised that this is a linear recording recording with all fourteen selections on track 1.

CyberSoulMan Tee Watts is music director at KPFZ 88.1 fm in Lakeport, California. His radio show, Redemption Songs, airs Sunday and Wednesday mornings from 5-7a.m. PST, 7-9 a.m. CST, 8-10 a.m. EST at is road manager for Sugar Pie DeSanto, the last Queen standing from the glory years of Chess Records.

 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 6 

Chaz DePaolo – Resolution Blues: An Acoustic Blues Journey

Smoke Tone Records

10 tracks / 34:04

Tri-state denizen Chaz DePaolo definitely has a great work ethic, and through his constant stream of gigs and tours he has developed a massive set of blues and rock guitar chops as well as a healthy stage presence as a killer frontman. His talent has earned him not only the respect of fans and music critics, but also with fellow musicians, and he has played with legendary cats including Buddy Miles, Little Milton, Kim Wilson, Jose Feliciano, David Maxwell, and Blue Lou Marini.

Chaz has released a handful of albums as well as a live concert DVD, and all of them are very good. His fifth release is Resolution Blues: An Acoustic Blues Journey, which was recorded on February 20th of last year (his mom’s 80th birthday, by the way) at Showplace Studios in Dover, New Jersey. DePaolo laid down the vocal and guitar tracks, and he was joined by members of his usual band, including Hank Kaneshige on bass, Cliff McComas on drums, and Rob Chaseman on the sax. Prestine Allen worked the piano on this one, and executive producer David Biondo brought his harp along with him from Colorado.

Resolution Blues includes ten songs, all originals that were written by Chaz, and most of the tracks were recorded in one take. There is a definite “Live show” vibe to the proceedings, and DePaolo converses a bit with the listeners and the band members as things move along. The first song in the queue is “A Love So Strong” and many listeners will be hearing this man on an acoustic guitar for the first time. This is a fundamental change as this time he has to rely mostly on his voice to lead the band, and the void left by his electric guitar is ably filled by Allen’s piano and Chaseman’s sax; these guys works together marvelously! The lack of heroic guitar solos also leads to shorter tracks, and in this set they all come in around three or four minutes long.

Chaz does get to stretch his legs a little on the title track, as he really digs into the guitar on “Resolution Blues,” a song of hope and change. Though it is a blues song at heart, Prestine’s piano improvisations give it a bit of a jazz vibe over the bouncing beat of Kaneshige’s earthy-sounding bass. DePaolo also tears up the guitar part on “I’m Not Angry Anymore” and you will hear that he has an amazing touch on the fretboard.

The listener gets a history lesson from “Gunther 414” which runs down Robert Johnson’s legendary recording session in room 414 at this storied San Antonio hotel, though I think Chaz might be a little off on the spelling. Biondo adds a very tasty harmonica part to this tune, as well as to one of the standout tracks on Resolution Blues, “Angel on My Shoulder.” This is a song DePaolo wrote in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, and it has such a positive vibe about getting right with the world that it is hard not to smile while listening it.

The set finishes up with “Share” and there is only Chaz and his guitar. There are no solos to be found here, just a driving vamp and the man’s soulful voice. This is a song about trying to be “honest with yourself and others,” a lesson we should all keep in mind, and a good message to end with.

DePaolo obviously put a lot of work into writing these songs, as they all have well thought out lyrics and they are very slick. On the first listen it may seem that there is not much variety in the sound, which is one of the dangers of going acoustic and recording the songs back-to-back. But after each listen I find new things that I have not heard before, and this complexity makes Resolution Blues some of Chaz’s finest work yet. Give it a listen for yourself, and head over to his website to check out his gig schedule as April is going to be a very busy month for him!

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

 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 6 

Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado – Songs From The Road

Ruf Records – 2015

CD – 15 tracks: 79 minutes; DVD – 18 tracks: 99 minutes

Another successful issue in the “Songs From The Road” series from Ruf finds Denmark’s Thorbjørn Risager live in Bonn, Germany, with an expanded band including horns and backing singers. Thorbjørn plays guitar and handles lead vocals, with Peter Skjerning on lead guitar, Emil Balsgaard on keys, Soren Bojgaard on bass, Martin Seidelen on drums, Peter W Kehl on trumpet and flugelhorn, Hans Nybo on tenor sax and Kasper Wagner on alto and baritone saxes; Lisa Lystam and Ida Bang add backing vocals. Thorbjørn wrote most of the material and there are three covers.

The sound and picture quality are first class throughout and give the listener the feeling of being right there in the room. Thorbjørn sings in English with some trace of accent and has an extremely gruff voice that may not suit everyone’s taste but the band plays well across a range of styles. Opening track “If You Wanna Leave” starts with Thorbjørn’s ringing guitar and Peter’s slide work while “Paradise” has plenty of backing vocal work from the girls. “Drowning” changes the style with something of a French chanson feel emphasised by some great trumpet and alto work. Peter’s slide gives a Delta feel to “Too Many Roads” and adds menace to the moody slow tune “China Gate” (written by Victor Young and Harold Adamson for the 1957 film of the same name). “Rock N’ Roll Ride” lives up to its title with pounding drums and keening slide before Peter switches guitars to join Thorbjørn on a choppy “High Rolling” which the horns sit out. The delicate ballad “Through The Tears” makes considerable demands on Thorbjørn’s vocal style but has a lovely horn and piano arrangement with Thorbjørn’s guitar solo at its centre.

“Long Forgotten Track” is a strange name for a song and it turns out to be an Americana style road song; “On My Way” is also quite a slow and melodic tune with slide from Peter but “All I Want” picks up the pace with a lively horn arrangement and swirling keyboards. There are then two very well-known covers: Big Joe Williams’ “Baby Please Don’t Go” is given a relaxed and funky arrangement that works well; “Let The Good Times Roll” starts promisingly with an arrangement that reminds you of BB King’s, all blaring horns and rocking piano but unfortunately is extended to over 11 minutes with a protracted guitar duel which was probably more fun live than on record. As an encore Thorbjørn returns to the stage to perform the stripped down ballad “I Won’t Let You Down” as a duet with Lisa with just the two Peter’s accompanying on guitar and flugelhorn; the full band then runs through a track with the most inappropriate title – “Opener” – which bears a strong resemblance to “Standing On Shaky Ground” before being introduced to the crowd by Thorbjørn and taking a bow.

In a very generously filled concert there are three DVD only cuts which had to be left off the CD due to time constraints: Emil features on boogie piano and Hans on tenor on a rollicking blues entitled “The Straight And Narrow Line”; “I’m Tired” is a solid shuffle with strong horns punctuating the tune which has some resemblance to the Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson song of a similar name, Thorbjørn taking the solo honors. The sinuously funky “Get Up, Get Higher” is aimed at the feet though it does not look like there was any space in the crowd to dance on the night!

For fans of the band this set will be a must-have; for the neutrals it gives the opportunity to both hear and see Thorbjørn and the Black Tornado in a full concert setting.

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

 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 6 

Han – Lawless Local Heroes

DMI Records

CD: 12 Songs; 48:41 Minutes

Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues Rock

Constant Readers of this magazine, imagine, if you will, a popular blues club on Saturday night: People chatter. Adult-beverage glasses clink. Plates of food clatter as harried servers bring them to their respective tables. Feet shuffle. Ill-adjusted microphones screech. Amps buzz and pop. Amid all this bustle, a band strains to present its art, but finds its beauty getting lost in the other, detracting kind of “atmosphere”. The problem? “There is too much going on,” as a friend of yours truly recently said about an Internet photo. Such is the case with Dutch blues-rock artist Han Uil and his third album, Lawless Local Heroes. Even though its high-octane energy never lets up, it’s impossible to focus on any one aspect: vocals, guitar, or any of the background instruments. Naturally, it’s meant to be listened to as a whole, not just its individual parts. Still, the vibe on these twelve original tracks is one of chaos scarcely held in check, yearning to burst free. “Blues rock” is one of the loosest descriptors of this kind of music, but here, it must suffice.

Han’s website reveals: “Han Uil (born August 8, 1976) is a Dutch musician and record producer for his solo albums. He is best known as frontman for the bands Antares and Seven Day Hunt and as songwriter/singer/guitarist for the studio project TumbleTown (a collaboration with Aldo Adema). In 2006 he released his debut solo album Alone, and in 2010 the well-received second studio album Dark in Light. Han started writing songs in the mid-nineties. Gaining experience as a singer-songwriter by recording two acoustic solo albums on and old 4-track (unofficially released under the moniker Purple Shadow) and playing lead guitar in a couple of indie bands.”

Along with lead vocalist/guitarist Han on Lawless Local Heroes are Erik Laan on Hammond organ; Eric Healing on saxophone; Esther Ladiges on backing vocals; Sander Zoer on drums; and guest star Aldo Adema on guitar, bass guitar, and keyboard for two tracks (3 and 4).

The following song is the most focused, and the catchiest, of Han’s offering to the blues Force:

Track 05: “Ring Thing” – More often than not, our drug of choice as a society is perfectly legal: digital technology. It hooks us so hard and fast that some of us think we can never go back. We’ve got to have our “Ring Thing”: “Here I am, walking down the street. I can’t keep my eyes off my tiny screen. And when I sit across, it’s like you’re not there. There’s only one thing at which I stare.” Esther Ladiges provides smooth, harmonious background vocals. Erik Laan’s Hammond is at once upbeat and eerie. Are cell phones sucking our brain-blood, like Dracula?

The raw, unpolished sound of Han Uil and his posse will appeal to party-and-bar-goers for sure, and also throngs at live festivals. For other blues fans, however, he might pack too much of a chaotic, post-modern rock wallop to merit a spot on their playlists.

Lawless Local Heroes takes no prisoners, on vocals or instrumentation!

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.

 Blues Society News 

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Kansas City Blues Society – Kansas City, MO

Kansas City Blues Society has inducted these charter members of its new Hall of Fame: Song Jim Jackson’s Kansas City Blues, Part 1 & 2 ( Vocalion Records,1927, composed and performed by Jim Jackson); historical band leader Bennie Moten; historical promoter Winston Holmes; promoter Willie Cyrus; performers Millage Gilbert, Priscilla Bowman, Provine “Little” Hatch, Julia Lee, Jay McShann, Jimmy Rushing, and Big Joe Turner.

CEO Terry Swope has announced that his award-winning local business Lynxspring, Inc., a provider of smart building ware, has donated $10,000 to the Kansas City Blues Society for Blues in the Schools and the KCBS Hall of Fame.

Kansas City Blues Society is part of the West Bottoms Heritage week, which includes a blues festival on Saturday, April 30th. The event is held in conjunction with 100,000 watt community radio KKFI 90.1fm ( and The Historic West Bottoms Association. The West Bottoms is the former site of Kansas City’s famous cattle stockyards and turn-of-the-century industrial district. It’s experiencing a revival of its old warehouses as antique and arts markets, restaurants, and lofts. More info at

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 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 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. April 19, Smiley Tillmon Band w/ Kate Moss, Moose Lodge, Bradley IL,Tues, 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, Thur, June 23, Golden State Lone Star Blues Revue (Mark Hummel, Anson Funderburgh, Little Charlie Baty), 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, Tues, July 26, Nikki Hill, The Longbranch, L’Erable IL, Thur, Aug 4, Albert Castiglia w/ Opening Act: Maybe Later, The Longbranch, L’Erable IL, Fri, Aug 12, Polly O’Keary & The Rhythm Method, Watseka Elks Club, Watseka 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

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.


Stay tuned for more upcoming events!

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


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