Issue 10-16 April 21, 2016

Cover photo by Bob Kieser © 2016

 In This Issue 

Don Wilcock has our feature interview with Hawkeye Herman. We have 9 Blues reviews for you this week including a review of a book by Elijah Wald called Dylan Goes Electric! plus reviews of new music from Steve Dawson, Fiona Boyes, Karen Lovely, JJ Appleton & Jason Ricci, Chris Yakopcic, Tommy Z, David Owen and Daniel De Vita. Joe Rosen has photos and commentary from the Blast Furnace Blues Festival.

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

 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 9 

Steve Dawson – Solid States & Loose Ends

Black Hen Music

14 tracks

Canadian guitarist Steve Dawson is rapidly becoming one of my favorite guitar players with a string of great recordings of predominantly original music. The album features 10 originals and 4 covers. Dawson’s original songs are far more complex than on the prior offering Rattlesnake Cage. There the songs were solo acoustic and much more sparse; they were great but we get a real contrast with the more fleshed out accompaniments. Gary Craig on drums and John Dymond on bass are the solid backline. Dawson’s vocals have grown and are finely textured here, plus he has excellent support from Keri Latimer and the superb McCrary Sisters. The rest of the supporting cast are noted as I go through the songs below; suffice it to say that they are experienced and well up to the task! This is a well developed and executed album!

Loose Ends opens things up and Dawson lets loose with some wickedly sweet electric slide guitar. Backed by a large ensemble on this cut, the production is well done and the players and backing vocalists are together. The McCrary sisters are top notch accompaniment. Dawson offers some sultry and suave vocals, too. The next cut, “Broken Future Blues,” is more scaled back with only drums and bass in support. He picks out some mean acoustic guitar here and the song bounces along nicely. He layers some nicely done electric guitar in the mix, too, and solos well on both guitars. His finger picking is fabulous. Things slow down with “Leave My Name Behind;” Dawson is on National steel and electric guitars and the McCrary sisters return to vocally back Dawson. Fats Kaplan adds a unique viola to the song and has an intriguing solo and Jim Hoke’s sax work adds to the appeal, too. The song builds intensity using Dawson’s guitars, first on the National and later on the electric guitar. Dawson expands his repertoire and plays the National Steel, electric and pedal steel guitars and a pump organ. He opens and closes with the National, giving us a sweet, country porch sort of sound to the cut. Keri Latimer joins in on the vocals she and Dawson blend nicely on the choruses. The pedal steel arrives around mid way through for a sentimental solo. Well done!

“On Top of the World” feature Kaplan on fiddle and Mike Bub on upright bass. Dawson again adds some guitar lamentations via the pedal steel and also adds depth with other instruments, but the fiddle and peddle steel set the mood and tone so well here as Dawson swings country style for us. “Little Silver” features some slick finger picking by Dawson on acoustic and pedal steel guitars. Dawson goes solo on vocals and acoustic slide in the cool traditional ditty from Gid Tanner and the Skillet Lickers “Riley’s Henhouse Door,” the first of the covers. He does some more really nice finger picking here. “Final Words” is an original with the tempo going way down and the mood following. He does some very good slide work and breaks out the mellotron for a little fill on keys with Kevin McKendree’s piano and farfisa. The guitar, organ and vocals play off each other quite well. The second traditional cut is Riley Puckett’s “Can’t Put That Monkey on My Back.” McKendree on piano and Kaplan on mandolin join Dawson’s electric slide for another tight track, a very bouncy and fun cover. “Early Warning” is a dark and somber tune with Dawson on acoustic guitar and mandolin with he and the McCrary sisters on vocals. McKendree’s organ also has a haunting solo as Dawson sings.

Joe Tex’ “Got What It Takes” is a big slide guitar piece with very sweet horns; Jim Hoke on saxes and Steve Herman on trumpet do a standout job as does Kevin McKendree on organ. “Driver’s Wheel” has Dawson on the Weissenborn lap slide guitar which sound oh-so-nice, especially when he trades licks with Fats Kaplan’s fiddle. Keri Lattimer joins him on harmony again, adding a lot to the vocal mix. This is a very cool track! “Delia” is the last traditional/cover with basically the same crew and instrument as the last track except Kaplan switches to mandolin and Mike Bub returns on upright bass. A very down-home sound is offered up here with a great mix of mandolin, electric guitar, lap slide, and the thump of the upright bass. Lattimer and Dawson again excel on vocals in this upbeat and bouncy tune. The album closes to “Rose’s Blues” where Dawson gives us electric and acoustic guitar along with his dobro. Kaplan is again on mandolin and adds some accordion. Latimer gives Dawson some deep, slightly distorted vocal support. The dobro is used effectively in solo and support work along with the mandolin and guitars. The last cut is quite interesting and sublime.

This is a very big album, especially when you compare it to the more bare boned prior release by Dawson on Black Hen Records. The last one was nominated for a Blues Blast Music Award and this one is perhaps even better and could be slated for more accolades. I think Dawson is the real deal. A great session performer, his original solo and front man for a band work is exceptional and shows that he has a bright and wonderful career ahead of him! Of course his already having received 7 Juno awards as an artist and producer out of his 18 nominations shows he’s already being recognized for his fantastic work. This native of Vancouver who now resides in Nashville is at the top of his game. I strongly urge you to check him 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 reer in nuclear submarines. In addition to working in his civilian career since 1996, he writes for and publishes the bi-monthly newsletter for Crossroads, chairs their music festival and works with their Blues In The Schools program. He resides in Byron, IL.

 Featured Blues Interview – Michael “Hawkeye” Herman 

As a child Michael Hawkeye Herman would carve out the center of a book to hide his transistor radio so he could listen to the local radio stations in school. At night that same radio would become his gateway to American music from Memphis to Chicago, New York to New Orleans.”

“I’d be sitting in the dark with my transistor radio. Then, I figured out how to put a little wire on it to extend the antenna. That was a high tech thing. Then, it had a single earplug, not headphones, and I was cruising the dial, and came across Howlin’ Wolf doing “Killing Floor.” I was supposed to be in bed. It was 10:30 at night, and I was dancing around the room and fell back on the bed when the song was over, sweating and saying to myself, ‘What was that? Holy crimany. I gotta figure that out. What was that?’”

He was 13 years old in 1958 living in Davenport, Iowa, on the Mississippi River. There were still steam boats and river boats doing excursions with bands. He already loved music. At age 5 he would come to breakfast at 7:30 in the morning. “The radio was always already on because at 8 o’clock was the news and the farm reports, and you don’t want to miss that because in the Midwest even though you might not be a farmer, you were concerned about the prices of corn and soy beans and hog bellies, and all that kind of stuff because if the farmer does good, everybody does good.

“So the radio was already on, and I would come down to breakfast, and at 7:30 the Sons of the Pioneers came on. At 7:45 Hank Williams came on. That was the first blues music I actually heard, and I was already attuned to the music. I didn’t know I was going to be a musician, but I had an inclination towards it, and my dad would be reading the newspaper. My sisters would be teasing each other, and my mom was making breakfast, and I’d be listening to the radio.”

Hank Williams may have whetted Hawkeye’s appetite for the blues with “Move It On Over,” but it was that first taste of Howlin’ Wolf moaning at midnight across the ethers on a transistor radio the size of a pack of cigarettes that changed Hawkeye’s view of the world.

“At 13 I saved up my money, and I bought a $17 Stella pawnshop guitar. I had already been playing swing music on the ukulele when I was 10 or 11 year old because that was all that they had in the books. If you went to buy a ukulele book in the early 1950s, all the ukulele books had only tunes like “Deep Purple” and Honeysuckle Rose” and stuff like that, and I didn’t know you could learn songs that were only two to three chords. So when I was nine, 10 or 11 years old I was learning whatever was in those books. And they were jazz and swing tunes from the big band era.”

In high school nobody was listening to blues in Iowa in 1960. “I was in a folk group in high school called Peter, Paul and Zelda. And our trio would play for service groups like Rotary Clubs and Lions Clubs and stuff like that because folk music was part of pop music at that time. We played assemblies for other high schools, and there would be 2000, 2500 people in the audience. I didn’t think anything about that. I thought, ‘Oh, this is what we do.’”

The dye was cast by the time he dropped out of the University of Iowa and set out for San Francisco at 23 with $100 in his pocket, a sleeping bag, a gym bag with a couple of changes of clothes, and a guitar on his back.

“I always wanted to be an old blues guy. So, now I tell people to be careful what you wish for because now I’m 71 and I have been considered an old blues guy for a long time.”

Known as the Midwest’s blues ambassador, today Hawkeye performs on guitar around the world and does blues in the schools programs for students of all ages. A scholar and a walking encyclopedia of American musical culture, he contributes his historical articles and personal memoirs to many publications. What makes him particularly fascinating is that his anecdotes come from personal experience. He has a memory for details and tells stories as if he were narrating a Martin Scorsese film. Case in point, his experience at the 1968 Berkeley Blues Festival.

“It was at a seminar at the Berkeley Blues Festival, and Furry Lewis was sitting in front of John Jackson and me in the back of the room. John and his wife were in front of me. You’re not supposed to drink on college campuses. At the reception there was this woman who had a bottle of whisky in her purse, and anybody that was in the know could walk up to her with their drink, and she would spike their drink for them. She would take the bottle out of her purse, and pour a shot or more of liquor into your punch.

“So, anybody who wanted to get a little juiced in the middle of the afternoon at the festival could do that if they knew that she had the bottle. So we go into the seminar, and we sit down. John and his wife are sitting next to me, and Furry sitting in front of us, and next to Furry is sitting a woman who has a big black purse under her chair, and Furry Lewis every once in a while reaches under her chair. HHHe reaches under her chair and is grabbing at her purse because he thinks that’s the same woman that has the whiskey, ok?

“John and his wife and I are seeing this. Furry is trying to act normal, but he was a squirrely little guy with a wooden leg, and he’s sitting on his chair, and he’s leaning way over to the right, and he’s fooling around under her chair trying to grab her purse, and she doesn’t see anything, but John, his wife and I know what’s going on ’cause we’d been offered the alcohol, but this wasn’t that woman.

“This is going on for about 30 minutes until finally Furry leans waaaaaaay over to the right and reaches down into her purse, and he’s got his hand in her purse without looking. He’s still looking straight ahead. He’s trying to find that bottle, and the woman looks down. She doesn’t know who Furry Lewis is. He’s just a member of the public for all she knew. He could have been a professor at the university – this older white woman – and she sees this old wooden leg black guy next to her with his hand in her purse under her chair.

“She reaches under the chair and grabs her purse. Furry sits straight up because his hand has just been pulled out of the purse. She stands up and she snaps her purse closed, and smacks Furry over the head with her purse with such percussion that the entire room heard the snap sound. She stormed out of the room, and everyone else in the room who was sitting in front of us turns around to look, and all they see is Furry Lewis rubbing the top of his head and an older white woman storming out of the room.

“John Jackson, his wife and I are almost on the floor. We’re the only ones in the room that know what happened. So that became a bond between John and I. Almost every time we got together. John would say, ‘Remember that time Furry Lewis got smacked in the head?’”

Living in San Francisco put Hawkeye where the action was. No longer was his link to the blues world an antenna hooked to a transistor radio. He lived five blocks from U.C. Berkeley and three blocks from Charles Brown. He used to help Brownie McGee with his groceries in exchange for free guitar lessons. “We’d put his groceries away in the cupboard, and then he’d take out the guitar and play for me, and we’d play the guitar together. A lot of what I do is based on Brownie.”

Hawkeye’s first gig playing blues guitar was opening for John Lee Hooker. And John Jackson became his pen pal for 30 years.

“John was a wonderful guy and a fine player and is one of the few people I know who could render the music of Blind Blake a lot like Blind Blake in a very relaxed way. He was a Civil War expert. I mean he was a grave digger in Rappahannock County in Virginia, and so he knew about all the military battle sites and because he was a grave digger he knew where relics were. Somebody else said about him that he took the same care with digging graves that he did playing the guitar. He was the first guy I saw play slide guitar with an open pocket knife holding the blade with the sharp end up between his pinky and third finger and using the handle to play slide.”

If Howlin’ Wolf first possessed Hawkeye, it was Son House who closed the deal on Hawkeye’s musical focal point. “He was possessed internally unlike Wolf. Wolf was aware of the audience the whole time as a performer, but once Son House started to play, the audience didn’t matter anymore. He was not aware of the audience. He was in church.

“The audience disappeared, and he just went into the music and didn’t come back out of it till the time was done, and then he’d settle back and say a few words to the audience before he introduced another tune. Sometimes he could launch off into a dissertation preaching and had been a minister, but when he played, he was totally focused and possessed with the music, and his eyes would frequently roll back in his head. It didn’t matter whether there was an audience or not. His music is not easy to replicate. It’s not sophisticated. It’s just that every bit of energy and vibration in his body is going through the music.”

“Replicate” is the key word in Hawkeye’s view of blues. In his world, one never does a song the same way twice. It must come from the heart, and the beat of your heart is different each time you play. He learned that lesson from Cool Papa Saddler with whom he played for 14 years. He recalls his first gig with the local San Francisco musician.

“In our first gig I made a set list and taped it to the microphone. When he came on the stage to play, he walked up to the microphone and looked at the piece of paper hanging from the microphone stand. He crumpled it up and threw it on the floor. I said, ‘Pop, that was a set list,’ and he looked at me like I was crazy. He said, ‘We don’t need no set list,’ and I said, ‘Well, what are we gonna do?’ And he said, ‘We’re gonna play the blues!’

“I played with him for 14 years. Whether we were playing before 20 people or 2000, he never had a set list.”

Too many people think blues is all about legacy and history. While that’s true, you gotta be there in the moment to make it real. Hawkeye likes to say that if Leonardo Da Vince painted the Mona Lisa a second time, it wouldn’t look the same. That’s true of a live blues performance.

“There’s a tendency for folks to try and learn the music they hear on the record and play it like it is. What they don’t realize is that blues music is a moment to moment life, and that applies to the songs and even if you listen to somebody like Robert Johnson, and you see if there’s two takes, the first take is different than the second take.

“You play how you feel at that moment and even though you might be doing the same song you did last night or two hours ago, it comes out from you the way you feel at this moment. One of the biggest lessons I learned that a lot of my fellow musicians don’t like about playing is because I learned from the older blues guys that if you make a set list two hours before the gig that doesn’t mean that you’re gonna feel like you did two hours ago.

“The music is alive, and so even though you might have done this song an hour ago or yesterday, it’s gonna come out of you today, at this moment the way you’re feeling it right now. You might change the key. It might be slower. It might be faster. Intellectuals have a tendency to want to replicate that exact moment in time that they heard on the record, and if they went to see the artist themselves play, whether it was Mance Lipscomb, John Jackson or anybody, there are differences and variations according to the way that person feels at that moment. We’re all growing spiritually and intellectually as we move through life, and so that growth is reflected in our art and from moment to moment.”

Visit Hawkeye’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.

 Live Blues Review – Blast Furnace Blues Festival 

In March I attended the Blast Furnace Blues Festival for the fifth year in a row. It’s a great festival held at an amazing venue at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks in Bethlehem, PA. Looming over the center is the massive (now inactive) Bethlehem Steel plant. The center itself has two great rooms for performance.

Baltimore based, Severn Records recording artist Ursula Ricks kicked off the day on Saturday in the main room

Lehigh Valleys’s Maria Woodford, a former semi-finalist in the International Blues Challenge (IBC) sang classics and her own compositions, with the great Dennis Gruenling on harmonica.

Darrel Nulisch has a long history as vocalist and harp player with Anson Funderburg and The Rockets, Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters, James Cotton as well as a front man with his own band.

Toby Walker blends the styles of blues, ragtime, country, bluegrass, rock and old time jazz into his own unique style in addition to being a great storyteller.

California veteran James Armstrong, playing straight ahead Blues tore it up walking the room, the bar and giving an impromptu guitar lesson to a fan and bringing the crowd to it’s feet.

Coco Montoya, who got his start as drummer for Albert Collins before switching to guitar tore it up with fiery solos and strong vocals.

Darrell Nulsisch band’s second show w/ the blast furnace in the background.

Cyril Neville’s Royal Southern Brotherhood, featuring Tyrone Vaughan (son of Jimmy) and Bart Walker on guitars took the stage with a powerful mix of Blues, Soul, Funk and Rock. With Cyril on percussion, and Yonrico Scott on drums, the beat moved the crow to it’s feet.

Robert Randolph and the Family Band, with his special brand of slashing and swooping steel guitar, made everybody move!! Powerful stuff. The Family Band was the joined by the Brotherhood for a rousing jam.

Canadian Matt Anderson, winner of the Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge, for solo/duo and Maple Blues award opened Sunday on the smaller more intimate stage. He performed solo and in a band setting with clever songs, strong vocal and big skills on guitar.

The lovely and talented Janiva Magness previewed her new release “Love Wins Again” with emotion filled vocals, heartfelt songs backed by her top flight, seasoned band.

Next up was the Johnny Winter All Star Band, featuring veteran James Mongomery on harmonica and vocals, and Johnny’s former manager, Paul Nelson on guitar. They brought rocking blues and memories of Johnny to the capacity crowd.

The Revelers from Lafayette Louisiana played their second show in the smaller, more intimate room with the “Steel Stacks’ looming behind them. They brought a mix of Cajun, Creole, swamp Pop and more the got the dancers up and moving.

The day closed with the straight ahead, souful Blues of Charlie Musselwhite. Charlie has been bringing the Blues to fans worldwide since the sixties and keeps on delivering the goods.

Photos and commentary by Joseph A. Rosen © 2016

 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 9 

Fiona Boyes – Box & Dice

Reference Recordings

11 tracks/44:17 minutes

Fiona Boyes’ new album is a joyous explosion of creative ferment, delivering blistering slide solos, funky juke joint vocals, upbeat jazzy walking blues, and acoustic blues crawling straight out of the Delta. She lays her gravelly blues growl over riffs that loop and wind around various musical themes, creating layered, driving songs shimmering with the beauty of her songwriting, her finger-picking, her intricate slide work, and her immersion in the ways of every blues genre. It’s no wonder that Boyes has been nominated by the USA Blues Music Awards for the Koko Taylor Award for 2016 that recognizes the Traditional Female Blues Artist of the Year, and that Box & Dice won the inaugural Best Blues Album at The Age Music Victoria Awards.

What’s more, on Box & Dice Boyes explores the sounds she wrings out of a variety of guitars, including a 6-string cigar box guitar she calls “Box & Dice” and dubs a “bit of a mongrel and a junk yard dog of a guitar.” On the album’s opening track, “Juke Joint on Moses Lane,” she plays “Box & Dice” using a variety of small liquor bottles as makeshift slides; she then overlays the foundations she establishes with her cigar box guitar with the deeper and richer tones of a National Reso-lectric baritone guitar. “Juke Joint on Moses Lane” palpably recreates the atmosphere of a swampy backwoods joint filled with the urgent sounds of electric blues.

Boyes brings to life the sense of loneliness of being a stranger in a strange town on “I’m a Stranger Here” by using a spare arrangement of voice and her “Box & Dice” guitar. Her vocals match her guitar riffs note-for-note in a kind of scat singing that builds the haunting sense that being an outsider brings. “Walking Round Money” might be as jaunty as the blues gets, but the driving, country blues propels the feelings of happiness and momentary delight that having enough “walking round money” at least for one night brings.

Boyes plays her Maton Mastersound custom electric guitar on her take on Howlin’ Wolf’s “Smokestack Lightning” as well as on her version of Chicago bluesman Sam “Magic Sam” Maghett’s “Easy Baby Magic.” Her growling vocals on “Smokestack Lightning,” along with her muscular riffs bring to mind Willie Dixon’s “Wang Dang Doodle,” which both Howlin’ Wolf and Koko Taylor recorded. Her slow, sensual take on “Easy Baby Magic” provides a fitting close to an album that started with the revelry of dancing the night away in a juke joint and now ends with lovers burning each other down with the slow flame of loving.

Boyes showcases her canny songwriting on “Mama’s Sanctified Amp,” which tells the age-old story of Saturday night and Sunday morning using gospel singer mama’s amp to illustrate the dangers of using one kind of music—gospel—as a vehicle for another—blues. The song’s frenetic pace delivers the tongue-in-cheek message of the song.

On Box & Dice Boyes conducts us on a journey through the colorful musical landscapes of the blues, showing us the hills and valleys, but never allowing us to rest as her intricate, masterful guitar work and her canny songwriting propels us from one emotion to another.

Reviewer Henry L. Carrigan, Jr. writes about music and music books for No Depression, American Songwriter, Country Standard Time, and Wide Open Country.

 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 9 

Karen Lovely – Ten Miles Of Bad Road

Kokako Records

13 songs – 52 minutes

Powerfully sultry vocalist Karen Lovely has been making a name for herself since emerging from the music-rich scene of Portland, Ore., with a second-place finish at the International Blues Challenge six years ago. With four previous albums, she’s proven a force to be reckoned with. But Ten Miles Of Bad Road takes her to another level entirely.

A seven-time winner of the Cascade Music Association’s Muddy Awards, a two-time Blues Blast Awards nominee and a 2016 Blues Music Association finalist for contemporary female vocalist, Lovely put together a powerful collection of new tunes, seven of which she wrote herself, and gathered together some of the best musicians on the West Coast to record this one.

The disc is produced and engineered by Phantom Blues Band dynamos Tony Braunagel and Johnny Lee Schell and was recorded at Schell’s Ultratone Studio in Culver City, Calif. Two of the most in-demand sessions players in Los Angeles, they contribute percussion and guitar. Joining them in the studio are bassist James “Hutch” Hutchinson of the Bonnie Raitt Band, keyboard player Jim Pugh, who works with Robert Cray, and a host of guest stars including guitarist/songwriter Alan Mirikitani, better known as B.B. Chung King of the Buddhaheads, and guitarist Vyasa Dodson of the Curtis Salgado Band, Phantom saxophonist Joe Sublett, trumpet player Les Lovitt (Glenn Frey, T-Bone Burnett and Salgado), Keb Mo’ bassist Reggie McBride and harmonica master Kim Wilson with backing vocals from Melodye Perry, Julie Delgado and Kenna Ramsey.

Two Mirikitani originals kick off the set and put his guitar skills on display. “Low Road” features Lovely delivering an emotion-packed memory of a lover leaving for good unannounced and in the middle of the night. Her lyrics come across with both pain and unspoken strength. The pace quickens steadily for “Company Graveyard,” which delivers a vow not to find another way to live instead of working to death for a corporation. A droning Hill Country single-note guitar run from Schell kicks off “A Better Place,” a haunting Lovely original that’s both a song of lost love and a yearning to relocate to a better place where she can heal and forget.

The medium-paced shuffle “Ignorance (It Ain’t Bliss)” features the rhythm section and finds Karen yearning for the former because “it’s better than this” as the theme of wanting to run away from the past continues. The love ballad “Cross The Water” finds Lovely losing the harder vocal edge in the previous material. It’s a sweet plea for faith and trust as the lovers travel forward into the future. The title tune, “Ten Miles Of Bad Road,” follows with the horn section making its debut. The road in question is a current lover. Karen admits she’s never felt more alone than since they’ve been together and that she won’t find peace until the person’s gone.

Pugh’s solitary piano introduces the first of several more relationship songs that run through the second half of the set. ”I Want To Love You,” another ballad, clearly states Lovely’s passion while admitting that, despite years of smoldering attraction, the time’s still not right the timing’s still wrong. “You Stole My Heart” comes across with somewhat of a country feel while “Always Love You” is another tender ballad filled with positive thoughts and rich imagery. “Blues Valentine” describes a friend who’s still happily married after 36 years. “Save Me” depicts someone who’s fallen on bad times and is a beggar on the street, while “I’m Over Goodbye” tenderly sings about the end of a relationship. The uptempo rocker “Frank The Spank,” about a powerful drink served up by an obliging bartender, concludes the set.

Available through most major marketers, Ten Miles Of Bad Road finds Lovely at her best. All of the material here shines with originality, and the musicianship and production are flawless. Strongly recommended.

Reviewer Marty Gunther has lived a blessed life. His first experience with live music came at the feet of the first generation of blues legends at the Newport Folk Festivals in the 1960s. A former member of the Chicago blues community, he’s a professional journalist and blues harmonica player who co-founded the Nucklebusters, one of the hardest working bands in South Florida.

 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 9 

JJ Appleton & Jason Ricci – Dirty Memory

Old Boy Network

11 tracks/43:49 minutes

It’s fitting that Jason Ricci performed with Zac Brown of the Zac Brown Band and Tom Morello of My Morning Jacket at the induction of The Butterfield Blues Band into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. With his innovative runs on his harp, his canny, sly, raucous songwriting, as well as his ability to weave his deep and resonant harp tones under and around JJ Appleton’s slicing, sharp, and precise guitar riffs, Ricci is the Paul Butterfield of our time. Like Butterfield, Ricci infiltrates our souls with a depth of tone on the harp that shakes us so that the blues become palpable; we feel his music deep down in our bones on every one of these songs on Dirty Memory, whether the songs are celebrating renewal—”New Man”—or loss—”It Ain’t No Use”—or whether Ricci’s just boisterously reveling in the breathless beauty of the harmonica unbound—”Jason’s Solo.”

Of the eleven songs on Dirty Memory, Appleton contributes five, Ricci three, and the duo covers three others: Blind Willie Johnson’s “Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” The Stones’ “Black Limousine,” and Gary U.S. Bond’s “It Ain’t No Use.” Bassists Tim LeFebvre (Tedeschi Trucks) and Neal Heidler (Eddie Harris) create a deep bottom rhythm section on each song that drives the tunes along percussively.

On the opening track, the Appleton-penned “Leaning Blues,” Ricci blows for all he’s worth, his harp runs calling back to Appleton’s guitar riffs, but also twinning as a lead guitar on one of the song’s bridges. He punctuates his harmonica blasts with guttural grunts and thrusts that wring the life out of the tune, as it builds from a spare harmonica run to a layered acoustic blues.

Applton’s bright resonator guitar opens the duo’s cover of “Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” a choogling boogie that carries lightness at its heart in spite of the theme of individual responsibility and the possibilities of failure at the centre of the song. Reminiscent of The Stones’ “Hip Shake Boogie,” “Can’t Believe It’s This Good” strides along a funky groove sonically and languorously recreating the slow act of seduction and sex, adding layer upon layer of sound as an emulation of climb to climax.

Smoky jazz wisps curl in and around the Ricci-penned “New Man,” with Ricci blowing his harp so adeptly that it comes across as a saxophone. The tune celebrates the singer’s release from a life where he’s been imprisoned, both literally and by the bad habits that have controlled his life. The almost happy-go-lucky jazz melody drives home the singer’s promise in the lyrics that he’s actually starting over in his life. The brightness of the music cannily underscores the hope of the lyrics.

Halfway through the album, Ricci lets loose on “Jason’s Solo,” a rowdy and unruly harp fest on which Ricci rambles riotously for six minutes through every variation on a musical theme. Like Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, Ricci uses his breath as an instrument, turning his raspy gasps and gulps for air into emotional punctuation marks between dazzling runs on his harp. He build the song slowly by laying out the bars of the song’s musical theme and then he picks up speed, circling around and around on the motif until the song’s almost out of control when he reins it back in. In the middle of the tune, Ricci launches into War’s “Low Rider” and circles around it as a sub-motif of the tune. With its out-of-control energy, the song easily becomes the high point of the album, showcasing Ricci’s improvisation and the way he’s made his imprint on the instrument.

The album closes with a stellar track penned by Appleton, “Come on Over, Come on By.” Appleton opens the tune with his spare resonator guitar riffs, slowly weaving his vocals under and around his guitar licks. The song resembles Delaney and Bonnie’s version of “Come on in My Kitchen,” though Appleton’s is a slow burn of a song, building layer upon layer, urging his lover to stop by anytime.

Dirty Memory delivers acoustic blues at its best, in the tradition of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee. Ricci’s harmonica genius finds its match in Appleton’s brilliant and tasty licks on the resonator and together they’ve produced an album memorable for its canny and energetic way of putting the blues in our souls.

Reviewer Henry L. Carrigan, Jr. writes about music and music books for No Depression, American Songwriter, Country Standard Time, and Wide Open Country.

 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 9 

Chris Yakopcic – The Next Place I Leave

Self Release through Yako Records

11 tracks / 40:54

Chris Yakopcic hails from Dayton, Ohio and has honed his unique brand of original acoustic fingerstyle blues though gigs and festivals around his home state and Pennsylvania. His hard work has earned him a couple of trips to the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, including a shot at the finals in 2015. But he is more than just a talented performer, and you will find excellent production and songwriting on his sophomore album, The Next Place that I Leave.

This disc was recorded and mixed by co-producer Gary King in Dayton, and mastered at the famed Ardent Studios in Memphis. This was a good call, as the tracks are all flawlessly presented. This album has a big and clear sound that was accomplished with minimal personnel, as there is only Yakopcic on guitars and vocals, Leo Smith on bass, and Brian Hoeflich behind the drum kit. Stripping away the usual horns, harmonica, and keyboards results in a fresh vibe, almost like an acoustic power blues trio!

This disc has seven original tracks, plus four covers of tunes from the masters, and they all works very well together. The originals show that Chris has keen storytelling ability as he recounts some of his influences and life history, as well as his deep love for the guitar. And his application of the Nashville songwriting process results in blues-based tunes that are accessible and fun to listen to.

The title track is the first song in the set, and “The Next Place I Leave” features really clean fingerpicking over the driving beat provided by Smith and Hoeflich. The sound is modern, and Yakopcic’s lyrics are as slick as his fretwork as he recounts the thoughts of a man with a restless spirit. This segues into Robert Johnson’s “Preachin’ Blues” which start off with a nice bit of slide guitar, and after the introduction the band comes in, turning this into a modern song with a country blues feel. Chris retains the original melody and lyrics, but his arrangement transforms this tune into a piece that fits well into the rest of the album.

In this same vein, Yakopcic reworks Leonard Cohen’s laconic synth pop tune, “Tower of Song” into an upbeat mountain song, and Mississippi Fred McDowell’s “Write Me a Few Lines” (a jangly delta piece) into a slide-infused popping boogie. Probably the coolest of the handful of cover tunes is a countrified version of Robert Johnson’s “Phonograph Blues” which has somewhat risqué lyrics and sharply picked acoustic guitar with fabulous dynamics and a slick solo break.

These songs are a neat way for Chris to let us know what his inspirations are, and it is to his credit that he did not try to perform them exactly as they were originally written, though he has the talent to do so. But the true highlights of The Next Place I Leave are his original compositions, as many of them are autobiographical and personal. For example, “Smallman Street” is an easygoing rocker (with distorted electric guitars) that recounts one inspirational experience that drew Yakopcic towards the blues guitar. Then on “Sounds of the Highway” he uses his steel guitar to build a shuffle that describes his love of life on the road. And finally, Chris closes out the album with his thoughts on living a more simple life with his guitar, and “My Last Three Strings” is a gentle blues song with a beautiful solo break.

Fans of acoustic blues, roots music, and finely picked guitars will find plenty to like with Chris Yakopcic’s The Next Place I Leave. It is 40 minutes of well written and well played music that really clicks. If you head over to his website you will find a few samples of his work to listen to, and be sure to view his schedule of upcoming gigs, because if you are anywhere near the Buckeye State, it would be worth your while to check out one of his shows!

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

 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 9 

Elijah Wald – Dylan Goes Electric!

“Newport, Seeger, Dylan, and the Night That Split the Sixties”

Dey Street Books

354 pages

There are few musical artists who have continually challenged listeners while managing to remain influential without losing their fan base. The iconic David Bowie is one such artist, constantly reinventing his public and musical persona throughout his landmark career. Bob Dylan is another performer who has never been satisfied following the yellow brick road. For more than fifty years, we have seen him morph from a celebrated folksinger into a rock star, then a artist pondering the many aspects of life, all the while turning even his best-known songs inside-out as he searched for new meanings while refusing too stand pat.

Author Elijah Wald has written an in-depth study of Dylan’s first major break with what had come before. After four albums that established the songwriter as the leading light of folk revival, Dylan was beginning to explore other musical approaches. Released early in 1965, Bringing It All Back Home had a number of rocking tracks like “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and “Maggie’s Farm” mixed in with the gentle sounds of “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “It’s all Over Now, Baby Blue”. It wasn’t the sound espoused by the leading lights of the folk revival, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez and the best-selling trio, Peter, Paul & Mary.

Seeger’s social consciousness definitely made an impact on Dylan’s songwriting, as did the emotional honesty of singer Johnny Ray. Other artists that caught his ear included Leadbelly, Josh White, and Odetta. The author cites one passage that shows the influence of blues artists on Dylan’s musical universe. “Late at night I used to listen to Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Reed, and Howlin’ Wolf blastin’ in from Shreveport. It was a radio show that lasted all night long……Listened to all those songs, then tried to figure them out.”

Dylan was a star of the annual Newport Folk Festival, started in 1959 by promoter George Wein as an offshoot of his Newport Jazz festival. Over several days, he presented a variety of performers in afternoon and evening concerts as well as workshops on musical styles and instrumental instruction. Some of the more popular workshops drew audiences numbering several thousand people. Workshops that Dylan participated in drew crowds in excess of fifteen thousand attendees. Wald comments, “..when he arrived at Newport in July 1963 his songs were far better known than he was”. Two years later, Dylan had ventured beyond the confines of New York City as his acclaim grew. Two years later, he was the performer that virtually everyone wanted to hear.

Wald does an outstanding job of setting the stage for a epochal concert that marked the beginning of the decline of the folk movement while exposing Dylan’s adventurous nature. Having already recorded tracks for his Highway 61 Revisited project that utilized guitarist Michael Bloomfield, Dylan had moved beyond the confines of the music that had sparked his rise to fame. The world just didn’t know it yet. Intertwining the history of the festival with the singer’s rise to stardom, the author expertly leads readers to the that fateful evening in 1965.

The Paul Butterfield Blues Band was also on the bill for the festival. With all of the great blues bands in Chicago, their selection seemed odd, even taking in to consideration that the band was integrated, with Butterfield, Bloomfield, and guitarist Elvin Bishop accompanied by the African-American rhythm section of Jerome Arnold on bass and Sam Lay on drums. They also played the blues with plenty of electrified attitude born in the tough West and Southside clubs. The festival had featured other electrified bands like the Chambers Brothers, but none had the in-your-face swagger of the Butterfield Band.

At some point during the weekend, Dylan made the fateful decision to enlist Bloomfield, Arnold, and Lay to back him for his Sunday concert. Adding Al Kooper on keyboards, the band had a hasty rehearsal Saturday night. Butterfield lead the band through an opening set followed by the typical variety of folk artists. Once Dylan’s turn arrives, the band tears into “Maggie’s Farm,” and never looks back. The impact was immediate. Some listeners embraced the new approach while others were horrified that their hero had abandoned the cause. Wald does his best to separate fact from fiction as to what actually transpired that evening, including a long-standing fable about Pete Seeger wanting to take an ax to the cables running from the soundboard to the stage to end the violent sonic intrusion into his world of genteel sounds.

It is enthralling tale about a pivotal moment of musical history. Like the narratives of some of Dylan’s talking blues songs, Wald holds your interest as he expertly describes Dylan’s rise and how the Newport Festival helped to fuel his acclaim before he turned his back to answer the call of a different musical muse. The legacy of the blues is a constant thread throughout the story-line, guaranteeing that many blues fans will find plenty to enjoy in this outstanding book.

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!.

 Featured Blues Review – 7 of 9 

Tommy Z – Blizzard Of Blues

Self-Release 2016

9 tracks: 53 minutes

Tommy Z is from the Buffalo NY area and this is his fourth album. Tommy wrote eight of the nine tracks, produced the album and helped engineer the recordings. Tommy handles all guitar and vocals with drummer Damone Jackson and one of three bassists: Jerry Livingston (five tracks), Stanley Swampski or Walter Riggo (two tracks each). Kevin Urso adds keyboards to six cuts and Jeremy Keyes harp to one. The style ranges from blues-rock to straight blues with some jazzy touches here and there.

Opener “Lover Girl” is a solid shuffle with Jeremy’s harp adding to the classic blues feel. “Going To A Party” takes the energy (and pretty much the core riff) from SRV’s “House Is Rockin’” to generate a frenetic rocker which is great fun. Things get heavier on the churning “Memory Of Love” as Kevin’s organ supports some guitar pyrotechnics from Tommy. “Blues For K.P.” is an extended slow blues in which Tommy laments the loss of a friend but has decided that “I’ve done my crying but it’s time for moving on” so perhaps the cathartic guitar solo here is Tommy’s way of saying goodbye. The instrumental “Bags Of Cool” almost certainly references Albert Collins who made a career out of such titles and Tommy plays some fine Albert style licks here.

The title track has a ‘blizzard’ of notes as Tommy’s insistent riff underpins a song that talks of getting home in a snow storm but there is not a lot of actual blues here. Tommy’s voice is probably better suited to uptempo material but the emotive ballad “Miracle” is still one of the highlights of the album with some fine guitar playing, including a superb solo. The only cover is “My Eyes (Keep Me In Trouble)”, written by Herbert Walker and best known for Muddy Waters’ version. Tommy plays it pretty straight through the verses and Kevin’s organ playing is great but Tommy can’t resist some over-playing in the solo section. The album closes with a second instrumental “Al’s Groove” which is a sharp contrast with its cool jazz approach, Kevin’s organ stabs fitting really well as Tommy plays this beautifully – quite out of keeping with the rest of the album but extremely enjoyable.

This CD has some excellent tracks. Most blues fans should find something here to their taste but it may not always be the same tracks!

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 – 8 of 9 

David Owen – Livin’ Life

self release

10 songs time-36:59

Canadian singer-songwriter-guitarist-harmonica player David Owen returns to recording after a self-imposed eight year hiatus. His music is acoustic based blues and roots music. The highlight of this recording is the delightful playing of multi-instrumentalist Jimmy Bowskill, along with David’s melodious harmonica playing. The all original songs are good, but the singing is dead-pan and flat at times. But alas for the most part his voice is suited to the style of the songs. His guitar strumming throughout is quite nice.

“Highway Driver” finds David’s voice well-suited to the country blues here that is well fueled by Jimmy Bowskill’s mandolin skills. David’s voice takes on a deeper quality on the folky “No Redemption”. The tune moves along nicely on a cushion of deft violin playing courtesy of Jimmy. “Long Gone” also bops along nicely with mandolin, harmonica and acoustic guitar.

Violin and high-pitched harmonica highlight the rootsy singer-songwriter “Every Little Piece Of My Heart”. The underlying upright bass playing of Alec Fraser helps to propel the Dobro slide on “Ain’t Gonna Take It”. Jimmy’s mandolin is again showcased on the melancholy “Livin’ Life Blues”. “Betty Mae” is a straight ahead toe-tapper.

Jimmy Bowskill’s pedal steel playing makes an appearance on “The Truth”, a song that would of worked for Johnny Cash, as much as it does here for David. The slide workout of “Come On Baby” is infectious. “My Sweet Rider” gets a bit of a boogie injection featuring Jimmy’s slithering electric slide guitar.

The largely acoustic instrumental interplay throughout this project is the main attraction along with passable song writing. Blues, roots and country overtones permeate this music. It’s great to see somebody carrying on this type of bare-bones acoustic music. With efforts like these this tradition will surely carry on.

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

 Featured Blues Review – 9 of 9 

Daniel De Vita – Southside Blues

Self Release

15 tracks / 47:13

Argentinian bluesman Daniel De Vita has a firm grasp of Chicago blues history and draws inspiration from the late Chess Records, the label that pumped out hits from 1950 through 1975. You will get the drift after you see the artwork he chose for his debut CD, Southside Blues, which features a disc that looks like an old Chess 45 record label, and the campy “MONO/STEREO Compatible” tag emblazoned on the album cover. And then when you listen to the record you will find 15 classic blues tunes within, all of them recorded with the same technology as they used in the 1950s at Chess.

With this kind of build-up Daniel had better deliver the goods and he certainly takes care of business here; he is a pretty darned good singer and guitarist even though he has only been in the blues scene for ten years. This 27-year-old from Buenos Aires has a voice beyond his years, and for extra help in the studio he recruited Mariano D’Andrea on bass, Gabriel Cabiaglia on drums, and ace Nicolas Smoljan on harp.

Things get rolling with “You Got Me Where You Want Me” by John Brim, the first of many Chess artists that are featured on this disc. De Vita got the 50s sound he was looking for, as there is a definite low-fidelity to the proceedings, and everything is a bit muted (it is in stereo, though). The band sticks fairly close to the original arrangement with D’Andrea’s woody-sounding double bass kicking it off along with lightly honking harmonica from Smoljan. Daniel’s voice is a thin and aged tenor with a decidedly American accent, and the group totally nails the vintage vibe. The group also takes on Brim’s “Be Careful What You Do,” which has a little more of a modern electric blues sound to the guitar, though the authentically disjointed style of the solo is definitely a throwback to a different time.

Little Walter made the cut for Southside Blues, too, and he is well represented by “One of These Mornings,” a rolling 12-bar blues song with a tasteful guitar solo, and but no harp solo, which is a bit surprising for a Little Walter song. The other Little Walter tune was written “Baby Face” Leroy Foster, and “Red Headed Woman” gives Smoljan a little more room to step out on his harmonica.

You will also find a pair of songs from the famed Chicago pianist, Sunnyland Slim: “Farewell Little Girl” and “Be Mine Alone.” The latter is a rocking good time, with the electric guitar more forward in the mix, and a groovy harp solo that is so distorted at times that it is hard to tell if it is a harmonica or a muted trumpet. It does seem odd to hear this song with no piano, though. This song is the closer, and it is surely a fun way to end the set.

Interspersed among the eleven electric blues tunes are four rootsy acoustic tracks. One of these is Willie Dixon’s “Good Advice,” which brings in guitar and backing vocal harmonies courtesy of Gabriel Gratzer. This tune is catchy with a cool jangly guitar outro, and at only three minutes it is just not long enough! Also from Willie Dixon is “Violent Love” with Mauro Diana on guitar and vocals. There is a real distant quality to the way the vocals are recorded on this one, giving it an old-time radio feel.

Daniel also has a run at Robert Johnson’s “Walkin’ Blues” with only his resonator guitar and guest artist Damian M. Duflos providing the harp and vocals. The standout of these bare-bones tracks is “Poor Black Mattie” by R.L. Burnside, because it is a great song and Daniel also does a stand-up job of making the complicated guitar parts work while not taking the tune out of its original context.

With its unique recording style, Daniel De Vita’s Southside Blues is a niche recording, but it is very appealing. Fans of old Chicago blues should be pleased with what they hear on this disc, as besides the aforementioned artists it also includes cuts that were originally done by Muddy Waters and Little Johnny Jones. A big question is, “What is next for Daniel De Vita?” Hopefully the answer is that he is writing some original music to record, as he has the blues running through his blood, and his youth and work ethic can provide a new voice and sound for a timeless music genre.

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

 Blues Society News 

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Prairie Crossroads Blues Society – Champaign, IL

Prairie Crossroads Blues Society is thrilled to present Soul Blues legend Johnny Rawls Friday April 22nd at 9:00 pm at The Iron Post, 120 S. Race St. in Urbana. Johnny is a native of Purvis, MS and has played with and led bands for O.V. Wright and Little Johnny Taylor. Mr. Rawls has been nominated for 16 Blues Music Awards, including being nominated for this year’s Soul Blues Male Artist. . He’s performed at the Chicago Blues Fest, the King Biscuit Fest and around the world. Cover is only $10 for an incredible evening with a legend in the intimate settings of The Iron Post.

PCBS is also a sponsor of the Bentley’s Blues Jam held on the 4th Wednesday of each month at 7:00 pm. The jam is led by a pro band that plays the first set then open things up to all the jammers in the house. Bentley’s is located at 419 N. Neil St. in Champaign. Bring your instrument and plan on sitting in.

For more information visit our website at:

DC Blues Society – Washington, D.C.

Enjoy the Reggie Wayne Morris Blues Band at the DC Blues Society’s Festival Fundraiser, May 7, 2016 7:30 pm to 12 am. American Legion Post 41, 905 Sligo Avenue, Silver Spring MD 20910. Entrance on Fenton Street near large public parking lot. Tickets $20 door ($15 DCBS members); $25 door ($20 members). Purchase tickets at or call (301) 322-4808.

Reggie Wayne Morris was influenced by Jimi Hendrix and B.B. King, but he’s created his own unique “Boogie Woogie Rhythm & Rockin’ Blues” style. The guitarist, vocalist and songwriter co-wrote all of the songs on his latest CD Don’t Bring Me Daylight. He has appeared at the Baltimore Blues Society Festival for nine consecutive years.

This event will raise funds for the free 28th Annual DC Blues Festival which attracts a diverse, family-friendly crowd of old and new blues fans every year to the Carter Barron Amphitheatre on Saturday, September 3, 2016. Unfortunately, the DC grant that helped to fund the Blues Festival for many years is no longer available.

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 25 – The Bruce Katz Band.

Additional ICBC and ICBC partnered shows: 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.

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. 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:

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.

For 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.

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. May 14th – The Jimmys

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: 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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