Issue 10-22 June 2, 2016

Cover photo by Marilyn Stringer © 2016

 In This Issue 

Terry Mullins has our feature interview with Albert Cummings. We have 9 Blues reviews for you this week including music from Blues Harp Women, Eddie Martin’s Big Red Radio, Dane Phillip Smith, Jordan Officer, Nick Moss Band, Ted Hefko And The Thousandaires, Laurie Jane and the 45’s, Laurence Jones and Bonita & The Blues Shacks. Bob Kieser has photos from the 2nd Annual Nevis Island Blues Festival.

Our video of the week is a double dose of Albert Cummings.

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

 From The Editor’s Desk 

Hey Blues Fans,

We have been BUSY!

Just before the Memorial Day weekend we got all of the 2016 Blues Blast Music Awards nominations in and we are hard at work tallying up the nominator’s votes.

We will be announcing the nominees in the next couple of weeks. Voting by the fans starts in July.

Don’t forget to SAVE THE DATE! – The 2016 Blues Blast Music Awards ceremonies will be September 23, 2016 at the Fluid Event Center in Champaign IL.

Last year it featured more than 25 of the best artists in Blues and it may be even bigger this year. You WANT to be there so stay tuned for more info coming soon!

Our friends at the T-Bone Walker Blues Fest have a great show for you this weekend in Longview, Texas.

On Friday June 4th they have young Blues sensation Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, Blues rocker Jim Suhler, Gary “Whitey Johnson” Nicholson and Keb’ Mo’ on the indoor stage and Buddy Flett, Mel Davis & the Blues Specialists, Andrew “Jr.Boy” Jones and Eric Gales on the outdoor stage.

Then on Saturday they feature Robin and the Mystics, Miss Marcy and Her Texas SugarDaddies, The Pleasant Hill Quilting Group, Edwin Holt’s Red Clay Roadhouse, Eric Gales Band, Roy Gaines and His Orchestra “Tuxedo Blues and Jimmy Wallace and the 2nd Annual T-Bone Walker Jam on their indoor stage plus Big Gus Samuelson and Swampadelic, A.J and the Two Tone Blues Band, Matthew Davidson, Ally Venable Band, Rafael Espinosa, Gary “Whitey Johnson” Nicholson and Jim Suhler with some special guests on the outdoor stage. WOW sounds like a real Texas Blues party!

For tickets and more info visit or click on their ad below in this issue.

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser

 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 9 

Various Artists – Blues Harp Women

Ruf Records – 2015

CD1: 15 tracks: 71 minutes; CD2: 16 tracks: 66 minutes

This double CD is a labour of love for producer Norman Davis who was initially inspired by hearing Big Mama Thornton play harp. Realising that female harp players were few and far between, Norman established a website ( ) to register as many female harp players as possible. After listing 200 players on the website Norman spent several years putting the material together for this release, involving agreement from 31 different artists before Ruf Records agreed to release the project. This reviewer recognised only a few names on the list: Big Mama Thornton, Annie Raines, Octavia, Roxy Perry, Dana Dixon and Christelle Berthon. Obviously with such a large number of artists it is only possible to discuss a few highlights but there are all styles of blues here from acoustic country to raucous rock and roll.

CD1 starts in fine style with the appropriate “Harmonica Girl”, a great roadhouse blues with excellent piano from New Orleans-based Paula (Rangell) And The Pontiacs, followed immediately by the big sound of New Yorker Roxy Perry’s “Roadmaster” on which there are horns as well as Roxy’s harp. In contrast the gentle version of Robert Johnson’s “32-20 Blues” takes us back to the roots of the song with Portland, Oregon’s Lynnann Hyde’s voice and harp backed only by acoustic guitar and the instrumental “Ain’t Easy” finds San Francisco’s Beth Kohnen playing most expressively in the company of guitarist Rusty Zinn. The CD closes with an extended tune from Dorothy Jane Gosper who betrays her Australian roots with what sounds like a didgeridoo beneath her eerie harp at the start of “Sadder Than Sad”, a song that develops into a heavy blues that recalls Led Zeppelin’s “Since I’ve Been Loving You” and takes the 70’s rock link even further with an extended organ solo that sounds like Jon Lord in Deep Purple days!

On Disc 2 Annie Raines does an astounding live version of Magic Sam’s “Lookin’ Good” which really shows off her harp alongside the guitar skills of regular collaborator Paul Rishell. Scotland’s Dana Dixon is the only UK representative here and gives us a typical piece of ‘Brit Blues’ Rn’B in the footsteps of early Stones and Dr Feelgood on her original “Crazy Maisie”; Diana Redlin from Southern California sounds great on Frank Frost’s “Never Leave Me Home” in what sounds like a live setting with sax in support. If jazz influences interest you take a listen to either Terry Leonino’s “Meet Me Where They Play The Blues” or to Christelle Berton’s very pure take on Gershwin’s “Summertime”, a version that Larry Adler might have enjoyed. Finally it is always good to hear Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me” and New York’s Big Nancy does a solid version here.

It is unfortunate that the sleeve notes do not give any details of the players involved beyond the harpists. It is not therefore possible to say whose fine guitar solo graces “One More Lie” from Teresa “T-Bird” Lynne or who is playing second harp on Big Mama’s instrumental “Down Home Shakedown”, the oldest cut here, dating from a 1965 Arhoolie recording live in Europe. On the positive side the CDs come with short bios of each artist and the source of each track is noted, the whole packaged in a classy gatefold sleeve.

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 – 2 of 9 

Eddie Martin’s Big Red Radio – Live In Tuscany

Blueblood Records

12 songs – 72 minutes

Eddie Martin seems to have been around forever without ever quite graduating to A-List status. With 14 albums behind him, and a glowing reputation as a singer, songwriter, acoustic and electric guitarist and harmonica player, it’s difficult to know what more Martin can do. Well, after the release of his “Best Of” compilation, Blues Took Me By The Hand, in 2014, Martin has now followed up with Live In Tuscany, a recording of the first gig of his new band, Big Red Radio. And it’s a little cracker of an album, also available as a DVD (not reviewed here).

From the solo voice (backed by a gospel choir) that kicks off the opening track,“Blues Took Me By The Hand”, to the wild, driving harmonica of the closing instrumental “Steam Train”, this album has something for everyone. Featuring 11 songs written by Martin, together with Alberto Gurrisi’s short, dreamy keyboard piece, “Intermezzo”, there are nods to the likes of Fred McDowell (on the start of “Throw Me A Line”) and Charlie Patton (“Five Things”) as well as hints of early Dire Straits (on the verses of “Something About You Baby”) and even (at least to this reviewer’s ear) Uriah Heep (“Watching The Weather”). Olalekan Babalola’s superb percussion adds some African sunshine to a number of tracks, including “Flowers In The Desert”.

As you might expect from a man who took the name Red Radio from a street theatre group in pre-war Germany, Martin’s songs are insightful, intelligent and thought-provoking, dealing with topics based around social justice, including refugees, inequality and anti-racism (although love, loss and lust are all well-represented as well). He and his band are also masters of the art of dynamics, slowly building up songs such as “Throw Me A Line” by gradually adding one instrument after another, before bringing them precipitously down to a whisper and back up again.

Big Red Radio is an Anglo-Italian project, with Martin himself on guitars, harp and vocals, backed by bassist Marco Bachi, singer Michela Lombardi, Luca Giovacchini on guitar, banjo and mandolin, Matteo Sodini on drums, the aforementioned Gurrisi on keys and Babalola on percussion, and the Jubilation Gospel Choir on vocals. Italian blues musicians have been creating some big waves recently through the likes of Matteo Sansonetto (whose My Life Began To Change was warmly reviewed in BluesBlast Magazine, issue 26 May 2016), Emanuele “Manny” Fizzotti and Paolo Mizzau. The musicians in Big Red Radio, while perhaps leaning more towards the blues-rock end of the musical spectrum, are nevertheless of a similarly high quality. The Jubilation Gospel Choir in particular adds wonderful backing vocals to tracks such as “Flowers In The Desert”. The most impressive element of the band however is in each member’s restraint and understanding of when not play. So for example when Gurrisi adds a keyboard flourish or Martin throws in a tasty National slide guitar lick, their effect is exacerbated by their unexpectedness.

Recorded on one night in Barga, Tuscany, Live In Tuscany benefits from superb production (by Martin and Bruno Bacci) that captures the magic of a live performance without any of the muddiness of so many other live recordings.

Live In Tuscany is a thoroughly enjoyable release and a timely reminder of Eddie Martin’s multi-faceted skills. If you like intelligent, well-written blues-rock with a heavy layer of old country blues, you need to check out Eddie Martin’s Big Red Radio.

Reviewer Rhys Williams lives in Cambridge, England, where he plays blues guitar when not holding down a day job as a technology lawyer or running around after his children. He is married to an American, and speaks the language fluently, if with an accent.

 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 9 

Dane Phillip Smith – I’ll Carry On

10 tracks/44:25 minutes

Dane Phillip Smith fell in love with the blues early in life. When he was 13, he heard Chicago blues on a PBS radio broadcast, and his career moaning the blues was launched. Smith is the former founder of New Cali Outcasts, the Blue Rails, and Dane Phillip Smith and the Silvertones. This appears to be his inaugural effort as a solo artist, and he’s backed here by Stephen Perakis on bass and Romeo Presutti on drums. Smith’s core band gains ever more sustaining power with the addition of Nicolle “Nikki” D Brown on pedal steel, “Big Mike” Gilliland on harmonica, Linda Dachtyl on B3, Ted “The Lonesome Harpman” Reich on tenor sax, Bruce “Saxophone Jesus” Soble on tenor and baritone sax, and Holly Moretti on background vocals.

Smith’s snaking lead riffs weave fiercely through “Without You,” an aching, yearning ballad of loss and love. Smith’s guitar on this languid jazz blues tune recalls the early Kim Simmonds on Savoy Brown’s Looking In. The opening of the “Blues That’s All” recalls War’s “Slipping into Darkness,” but after only a few bars, the tune slips into Smith’s own riff on ZZ Top’s “Jesus Just Left Chicago.” Dachtyl’s B3 and Soble’s searing sax turn the tune one more turn toward the free jazz of Steely Dan’s “Show Biz Kids.” “Blues That’s All” showcases the deep talent of the band and their ability to improvise and take us on a musical journey that has plenty of twists and turns while remaining true to the music’s central direction.

The album kicks off with “Lover’s Curse,” a rollicking gypsy blues that features Gilliland’s blowing, skittering harp work. The rockin’ blues pulls us along and out of our chairs. The lyrics—”it may be voodoo/it could be sin/but something’s got me in this shape I’m in/where I’m headed man I don’t know/to hell and back baby here I go”— propel Smith’s driving riffs and Soble’s smoking harp work. It’s part rock and roll intertwined around all blues. Brown’s sizzling pedal steel opens “Your Love’s Gone Away,” creating a somber mood that soon disappears into Gilliland’s scorching and screaming harp work; the urgency of the song builds as the singer’s regret over love lost mounts. The title track closes the album with a spare acoustic blues—featuring a duel between Smith’s guitar, his vocal, and Gilliland’s harp—and it’s a pretty typical blues tune full of resignation cloaked in determination.

While Smith’s lyrics might be the weakest link on this new album, there is no doubt that he’s a powerful guitarist who’s a great band leader that can deliver any kind of blues tune with a punch or a kiss.

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 – 4 of 9 

Jordan Officer – Blue Skies

Self Release

11 songs – 41 minutes

Jordan Officer treads a fine line between jazz, blues, country and traditional rock’n’roll. On his latest release, Blue Skies, he opens the album with his version of Tom Waits’ title track, but eschews Waits’ solo finger-picking in favour of a two guitar backing, one comping and one adding solos and licks, adding a trad-jazz sheen that wasn’t altogether obvious on the original. And it works very nicely, adding a little joie de vivre to the already-excellent original.

As it turns out, this inventive, almost playful approach to the music inhabits the rest of a fascinating album that takes in covers by Waits, Leroy Carr, Bob Dylan, Fats Domino and Phil Spector as well as songs popularised by the likes of The Big Three Trio, Big Joe Turner, Louis Armstrong and Arthur Alexander. Officer himself contributes two instrumentals, the enticingly discordant “Night Flight” and the closing track, “Takin’ Off”, which features the top-notch keyboard talents of Augie Meyers, formerly with the Sir Douglas Quintet and the Texas Tornados.

As on his previous effort, I’m Free, (reviewed in Bluesblast in the January 19 2015 issue), Officer sings and adds his distinctive warm-toned, blues-via-jazz guitar. He is backed by Alain Berge and Tony Albino on drums and Sage Reynolds on bass, with Officer’s old musical partner Susie Arioli adding some backing vocals. The result is an album of mellow jazz-blues.

Officer’s take on “Got You On My Mind” is significantly closer to the Big Three Trio’s hit version than to Delbert McClinton’s later upbeat version, while Dylan’s country-ish “When The Deal Goes Down” is also played relatively straight, albeit with added jazz guitar. Alexander’s “Shot Of Rhythm And Blues” is probably closer to the Beatles’ cover than the original. And “Then She Kissed Me” is given a total makeover, played as an upbeat country song with jazz solo guitar laid over the top and without Spector’s trademark OOT production.

Indeed, Blue Skies has an almost retro production quality, with the drums and bass often quite low in the mix (or not involved at all), which adds to the gentle overall ambiance of the CD.

This is not a blues album, but it is an album with a lot of blues in it. Armstrong’s “That’s For Me” is given a shuffle treatment but doesn’t quite hit the blues groove, primarily due to Office’s over-dubbed counter-point lead guitar. Even Leroy Carr’s “How Long Blues” is closer to jazz than pure blues, in particular on Officer’s chromatic soloing. It is however a very enjoyable album. This reviewer would probably have preferred to hear more originals, but the cover versions are well-chosen and well-played, respectful yet slightly left-field, a trait that should be widely encouraged.

If you’re looking for something new to play late at night, something as smooth as that glass of whiskey in your hand, then you’ll find much to enjoy on Blue Skies.

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 Nevis Blues Festival Part I 

I got another invitation to go back to the Nevis Blues Festival in April. This was the 2nd annual Nevis Blues Fest.

Where is Nevis you ask? That is exactly what I said last year when I first saw the information on this cool little fest last year.

Turns out Nevis is a small island in the Caribbean right next to St Kitts. And that ain’t a bad gig for someone from Illinois in early April. So we boarded the plane for a flight from Peoria, IL to Nevis Island at 5:30AM. Eleven hours later we arrived in Nevis just as the sun was going down.

Yvette Jackman our escort from the Nevis Tourist Authority picked us up at the Nevis airport and took us to our host hotel, the Hermitage Plantation.

We had a late dinner that was superbly prepared. The photos below show the coconut encrusted shrimp (delicious!) and the view out to the eatery area to a park like common area. We had a really nice cabin and they even had fresh flowers on the table in the room. The plantation is on the side of the mountain and the view was spectacular.

The next day we headed to Golden Rock Plantation for lunch.  Luxury at it’s finest! The landscaping and flowers everywhere were simply amazing!

We had lunch in the little gazebo on the right in the photo above. I had the seared tuna on the right.

Then we headed out for a Catamaran trip. Man it was cool as we played Taj Mahal’s Senior Blues album on the stereo system and sailed out to a bay on the other side of St Kitts. Our captain, Lennox kept us laughing and partying all the way out and then it was into the warm tropical water for some snorkeling.

Then after a stop back at the hotel we headed to dinner at the Yachtsman Grill before heading to the first night of the festival.

We arrived at the festival a bit late after dinner as the first band, Rehabilitation Band Impression, was leaving the stage. I was told they were great but we did not get to hear them. Next up was a 3 piece band from the Netherlands, The Rhythm Chiefs. The band is Danny van ‘t Hoff (bass), Rafael Schwiddessen (drums) and Dusty Ciggaar (guitar and vocals).

I have to say that Dusty is one classy Blues player. Serious chops and can say more with 5 notes than many guitar players can say with hundreds. This is the second time I have had the pleasure of hearing him as he also played with Ian Seigal last year (and this year too). Do your self a favor and check out this short lead break of Dusty playing with Ian a few months ago on YouTube. You will see what I mean!

Next up was a band from the UK, Northsyde. The band is Lorna Fothergill on vocals, Jules Fothergill on guitar, Ian Mauricio on bass and Hayden Doyle on drums.

Lorna is one power vocalist. Check out their music at

The final act for the first night was the lone American performer on the bill, Kirk Fletcher. Kirk is a talented guitar player and singer who had played with Joe Bonamassa and spent 3 years as the guitarist for the Fabulous Thunderbirds. He has been a solo performer on the Delta Groove label for several years now.

Kirk used the Rhythm Chiefs for his band and had a blast closing out the show! You can check out Kirk’s music at

So ended the first night of the festival as we headed back to our hotel eager to come back for the second night of the Nevis Blues Festival. NEXT WEEK – Part II of the Nevis Blues Festival.)

Photos and commentary by Bob Kieser

 Videos Of The Week – Albert Cummings 

This week we have a double header featuring 2 videos by Albert Cummings. Click on the images below to see thes videos.

First is Albert performing “Cry Me A River” on Don Odell’s Legends from 2011.

Second video is Albert performing “No Doubt” at the Roots and Blues Festival in Lancaster, PA in February 2016.

 Featured Blues Interview – Albert Cummings 

Sometimes, it really is hard to see the forest because of all the trees.

Although in this case, in the search for a guitarist’s ‘Holy Grail’ of tone, maybe it’s hard to HEAR the forest because of all the trees.

Massachusetts-based guitarist, singer, songwriter and bandleader Albert Cummings can testify to as much.

“One of the first amps I ever had was this tweed (Fender) Blues Deville – this was back before I was endorsed by Fender. Mesa Boogie made this beautiful combo amp that I could have custom made, with the leather I wanted on it and set up the way I wanted it to be … just everything I wanted. So I went and bought this hugely-expensive amp and when I made the deal, I agreed to trade in my Blues Deville. I go to the store and as I’m wheeling out my new amp, low-and-behold, I hear the tone that I want to achieve coming from out of the store,” Cummings said. “So I stop rolling my new amp out and I ask the clerk what the amp that’s playing right now is? That’s the tone I want. The guy laughs and says, ‘That’s the amp you just traded in.”

And the moral of that little tale is?

“It’s not the amp, it’s the person playing it … it’s all about the player. I don’t care who you are, 90-percent of your tone comes out of your hands. Guys will spend thousands of dollars on pedals and amps and all of this and all of that, but the bottom line is, if you plug Stevie Ray Vaughan into an amp made at K-Mart, he’s sound like Stevie Ray. That’s where it all falls. All that gear and all that stuff is important, but it’s not the majority,” he said. “You’ll always be ahead of the game if you just start studying how hard you pick and where your hand is from the bridge to the neck and you can change your tone by moving a quarter of an inch. It’s fascinating in guitar playing how the littlest things make the biggest difference. There’s no instant cure for any of it.”

Since the beginning of the New Millennium, Cummings has been leaving behind him a trail of scorched bandstands, transplanting his unique tone into the ear canals of those craving passionate, soulful blues-based songs served up with a hearty helping of blast-furnace rock-n-roll.

Cummings’ ascent has largely remained on an upward trajectory, but in what can most charitably be described as a terrible case of timing, his last album – Someone Like You – came out in late July of last year, roughly around the same time that the label it was on – Blind Pig Records – was swimming through a sea of uncertainty. There were plenty of rumors and talk surrounding the stability and ultimate survival of the near 40-year old label at the time, all of which came to a head with The Orchard’s acquisition of Blind Pig’s back catalog. The resulting effect of all of that on Someone Like You (his fourth release for Blind Pig, starting with 2004’s True To Yourself) was the equivalent of a pebble being dropped through a crack in the pavement for Cummings.

“Yeah, that basically killed any chance the album had. I thought it was probably my best album as far as representing my own personal music. It’s just Albert’s music and that’s what I try and put out,” he said. “I was Blind Pig’s current leading sales guy and even though I had vowed not to do another alum with them, I got to talking with the guys and finally decided I would do another one with them; I knew them and thought everything would be fine. As soon as I signed the deal, I found out a couple of weeks later they were selling the label. The Orchard is a distributor, but it’s kind of a digital, online type of distributor, run by young people. If you’ve been in the blues, you know that the majority of blues fans probably don’t even have a Facebook account, you know what I mean? Physical product is still key in the world of the blues. Right away, I thought it was going to be trouble and of course, the first thing The Orchard did was let the radio person go at Blind Pig and they let Debra – the press contact – go. I did one interview for that record; one. It was the worst release I’ve had in my entire career.”

Not one to sit around and cry over spilled milk, Cummings picked himself up, dusted off his guitar and is focused on what lies ahead, rather than dwelling upon things that went down in the recent past that he has absolutely no control over.

“Well, in the music business, there’s always something that knocks you back, you know what I mean? Only the strong survive in this world,” he said. “But, that doesn’t really frustrate me; I’m in it for the long haul. I play my music because I love to play my music and nobody can take that away from me. You win a few and you lose a lot of them, but hopefully the ones you win are big enough to cancel the others out. I can only hope that people can find something in this life that makes them get up and smile in the morning and do what they love. My thing is my music.”

Even casual blues fan know of the late, great Stevie Ray Vaughan’s rhythm section – Tommy Shannon and Chris Layton – better known as Double Trouble. They may also be familiar with the fact that the duo backed Cummings up on what was basically his debut release – 2003’s From The Heart. What they may not know, however, is that Shannon and Layton also teamed up and produced the disc. That had to be pretty heady stuff for a guitarist who was just trying to make himself known outside his New England-area stomping grounds at that time.

“They were first, my idols, and then they became my friends and then my producers. They were really the guys that gave me my first shot at playing. Talk about guys that had been around a guitarist. I mean, I learned a lot from those guys,” Cummings said. “My first real album was with those guys in Austin, Texas … every day was a class and session. Those guys gave me my biggest boost, as far as musicianship and approach and everything that goes along with it. I’m still referencing things those guys told me 15, 20 years later. Stevie was the luckiest guy in the world, if you think about it. I mean, can you imagine being able to hang out with Albert King, Albert Collins, B.B. King? Because of Jimmie (Vaughan), they’d get to hang out and play with all those guys when they went through Austin. Double Trouble was all part of that, too, and I was so lucky to just be able to get those thoughts injected into my head. They’re so amazing.”

Cummings has also spent quality studio time with a couple of producers who are well known in the industry for their ability to work with accomplished guitarists – Jim Gaines and David Z.

“When you put a CD into your player, you can almost hear if it’s a Jim Gaines CD, because of its strength. Jim is so strong and his mixes are so strong. You know, he did Stevie’s In Step and that’s not really even his claim to fame. He’s done Huey Lewis and George Thorogood and Buddy Guy and Carlos Santana … all those dudes. I was on Cloud Nine … going to Memphis to work with Jim Gaines. I never thought I’d have the chance to work with him. But I never thought I’d have ever had the chance to work with Double Trouble, either. Jim is the sweetest guy in the world, but make no mistake – he’s the Alpha Male. He will push you and prod you, while also patting you on the back and being your best friend. I love that guy; he taught me so much,” said Cummings.

Gaines was at the helm of three of Cummings’ albums – starting with 2004’s True To Yourself and stretching through 2012’s No Regrets.

For Someone Like You, Cummings felt the need to switch things up a bit. He did so by heading to California to work with David Z.

“David let me pick from an ala cart menu – the best of the best – of the musicians that I wanted to use. I show up in West Hollywood and meet David for the first time and later that morning, he comes my musicians. First to walk through the door is Mike Finnigan (organ). He’s an absolute genius and is the number-one call on the west coast. Then, Reggie McBride (bass) walks in and I meet him. He’s Stevie Wonder’s bass player … hello! And then in walks Tony Braunagel (drums) who plays with Robert Cray and Taj Mahal. He’s an incredible guy and a producer, himself. So we all meet and David says, ‘Yeah, we’re going to do this album live, Albert.’ I said, “Of course, we’ll get the drums and bass and keyboard down and I’ll put the guitars and vocals on after (as he had done when working with Jim Gaines).’ He said, ‘No … you’re going to play live, too.’ I thought he was joking and didn’t think I could even pull it off, but I think I do my best when I play live. And sure enough, it was like, ‘Roll tape’ and everything just fell into place. Bang! All of a sudden, I had this band that I felt like I’d been playing with my whole life and we created this album. The coolest thing about the album is, what you hear on there is the first time those songs were ever played.”

On day number three- that foursome of musicians expanded to five, when Jimmy Vivino stopped by to lay some guitar down.

“He lived like a mile down the street from where we were recording and had contacted me before and asked if I minded if he stopped by and played on a song. I was like, ‘Mind? Jimmy Vivino? Yeah.’ So he stopped by and he gelled right in. It was just one more guy to show me up, because the intelligence of those guys … I mean, they’re so educated. All I can do is play what I feel. That’s all I have,” Cummings said.

Modesty aside, just by slipping any of Cummings’ discs into a player, it’s readily apparent that what the man has is one Hell of a talent for playing the guitar. His playing is white-hot and sharper than razor-wire, but it’s never fashioned with a duty of seeing how many notes he can cram into a single passage. It’s expressive, straight-from-the-heart and leaves no doubt as to why he’s been called a guitarist’s-guitarist b everyone from B.B. King to Johnny Winter and Buddy Guy. But Cummings’ hands are also comfortable wrapped around wood other than that found in the neck of his guitar.

He’s also a master carpenter and has been highly sought after for that skill for years, as well.

“I’ve won eight national awards for building things and I’ve built some of the most incredible homes that have ever been built. I’m a fourth-generation builder; it’s in my blood. I even went to a construction school in Boston (Wentworth Institute of Technology),” he said. “I love to create music that’s not been created before and that’s the same way with building. That’s why I get all these big projects and houses and things. I get people that are too afraid to even try and build some of these things and these architects would come to me to create this stuff. Music and building are alike in that regard; you’ve got to have a desire to make something that’s not there.”

He’s been involved in carpentry and building projects far longer than he’s been playing the blues. Fact is, Cummings really didn’t come onto the radar screen of most blues fans until he was nearly 30 years old. Instead of his relatively late start at becoming a musician hindering Cummings, it seems to have instead been like an ace in the hole.

“People have said, ‘Man, you should have done this when you were 18.’ I look at them and say, ‘There’s no way in Hell I could have done this at 18 or 20. No way.’ For me to be honest about my feelings and to be on stage and play, I have to know myself. I have to be happy in my own skin and all that stuff. Back when I was 18, 19, 20 … 25 even, I had no clue who I was. There was no self-security. By me starting later, I had a whole different outlook. You know, life happens when it happens. When I got out of high school, my dad, who is a third-generation builder, was like, ‘Yeah, you’re going to be a builder; that’s what you’ll be.’ And at that time, I had no idea that I could be anything else in the world. It was like, ‘You’re going to come to work with me and be a builder.'”

Cummings had been playing music since he was about 12 years old – starting out on the banjo, before later moving onto the guitar when he was around 15. It would be several years later, however, before his first ‘public jam session’ took place, and it was not held in some smoky juke joint.

“When I was 27-years-old, my wife and I go to a friend’s wedding and there’s a band up on stage from New York City. My friends encouraged me to get up there and play with them, which I did. That was my first time to play with a band,” he said. “I remember getting off the stage and that something had changed. I knew right then I’d found something that made me real happy and gave me something I had never gotten before. That night I also met another guy that lived close to my town that played guitar and we would get together once a week on Thursday nights and play together. That went on for a year-and-a-half and then we put a drummer with us and I started to book gigs and it just started growing and the next thing you know, I’m touring all over the place. That happened to me; I didn’t make that happen. I’ve always found that the greatest things in my life have always came to me without me trying to get them.”

It sure didn’t take long after that for Cummings to start to leave his own personal mark on the world of the blues. But even though the genre runs to his very core, it’s not really fair to simply label Cummings as just a ‘bluesman.’ There’s more to him that that.

“I’m a lover of the blues, I’m a fan of the blues and I’m deeply-rooted in it, but my music is not straight-ahead blues, even though I can play straight-ahead blues,” he said. “But you know, define straight-ahead blues? I could pick an artist and do a bunch of covers of that guy, but I don’t want to do that. I want to do my own stuff and let it come and evolve. Sometimes it comes fast and sometimes it doesn’t. I’ve got an album ready right now, but I don’t know what I want to do with it. I’ve got better stuff written now than I’ve ever had. But at this point, I don’t know if I want to put something out by myself or not … I really want a team again. I just want to let people know that I’m still out there and doing stuff and still going after it. I’m still trying my best. I play this music because I love it. You know, how do you make a million dollars in the blues? You start with three million dollars.”

At this point in his career of playing music, Cummings acknowledges that chances are slim-to-none for him to instantly create a major buzz and become heralded as the ‘hot new up-and-comer’ or ‘overnight sensation.’

And the way he sees it, that’s OK.

“Blues is not a young man’s game. The older I get, the better my music is. I mean, there’s a prodigy in every town and there’s always this new guy that can play all these notes and do all this stuff, but where’s the meat and potatoes? Where’s the sense of stopping what you’re doing when you hear this music?” he asked. “That’s my goal. I want to make real music. Blues to me, is an expression of your feelings. That’s whether you’re using your voice, your instrument, or both. When you’re being honest about your feelings, that’s when you’re playing the blues. Whether you’re happy or sad or whatever you are, when you can convey that with your voice or instrument, you’re playing the blues and you’re being honest. I’ve seen people sitting at my shows crying, because I’ve hit a nerve. It’s also nothing to see me crying when I’m up there and getting into things … or smiling my head off. That’s the blues and that’s honesty and my music has to be that way.”

Visit Albert’s website at:

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

 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 9 

Nick Moss Band – Live and Luscious

Blue Bella Records

8 tracks/67 minutes

Nick Moss is no stranger to live albums. His Live at Chan’s from 2006 and Live at Chan’s, Combo Platter No. 2 from 2009 still resonate with me as superb live works that highlight the energy that Nick and the players in his band exude. Here we have Nick with Michael Ledbetter also on guitar and vocals, Patrick Seals on drums, Taylor Streiff on keys and Nick Fane on bass and backing vocals.

This album comes from a tour well remembered by Facebook posts and You Tube videos. The liner notes recall Michael Ledbetter singing “Ave Maria” in full operatic voice in the Church of Roemond, something that just the recollection of can make the hairs on my arms stand up in fond memory. When I saw the album release I was enthused to be able to enjoy a show by Nick and the boys from this tour.

Recorded at the Internationales Bluesfest Eutin – Baltic Blues Festival on May 14, 2015, the CD features the band laying out 8 protracted cuts with jamming blues like few, if any others, can emulate. From the extended guitar soloing on the opening cut “Breakdown” to the closing “Stand By,” we have an album that shows the power and precision of this band.

“Breakdown” gets the ball rolling with an Allman Brothers-like jam as Nick sings over the dual guitars and splendid keyboard work before getting into a huge and stratospheric set of guitar solos/duos. The song whirls as the keys infiltrate and the back line throbs in synch. “Catch Me I’m Falling” give Michael the lead vocal and he shows us that his operatic training has given his voice a tone and timber that is unmatched. He testifies superbly throughout. The funky and rocking instrumental bridging midsection to the song is interesting and well done, but Ledbetter easily sells this one. The funky guitar interplay is also marvelously done. “Try to Treat you Right” picks up the pace a little and must get the folks dancing as Moss offers a coolly surreal and almost spooky vocal. The piano adds some nice boogie woogie to the mix in a big solo before the guitars lay into it and things rocket off. Just over 12 minutes of slow blues is next with “The End,” the sets’ lone cover (from Jimmy Reed). Things are thoughtful and a little ethereal until about five and a half minutes in when the guitar testifying rips at you with malevolent intensity. This lasts almost three minutes until Moss returns to the vocals with perhaps both he and the listener emotionally spent. The close of the song finishes things off sweetly!

“Time Ain’t Free” rocks on next with a long intro before Moss sings. The song builds in intensity and his guitar attempts to rip a hole in space and time with the rest of the band providing fuel to keep the mix hot. “Shade Tree” brings things back down. It opens to a sweet and mellow guitar and Ledbetter getting a little spiritual for us. Four minutes later things begin to take off as Ledbetter sings and the band intensifies. This leads into more huge dual guitar histrionics that jam off into the sunset, reminiscent of Allman and Betts or more recently Trucks and Hanes. Moss and Ledbetter are masters of the guitar and they let it all hang out. “I Dig” also features Ledbetter on vocals and quickly swings into some monster guitar. It’s just a short guitar respite here before Michael returns with his husky vocals before some big guitar closes the show. They encore with “Stand By,” a dark and dirty blues with Ledbetter singing as Moss tears the house down with his guitar, beautiful stuff.

If you want a taste of the Nick Moss Band live this is something you need to get to bring them into your own home. They have a new double CD from the studio that is getting released which I am sure will be something to listen to, but this CD gives us Nick, Michael and the band alive and at their peak. This one is a no brainer- get it now!

Reviewer Steve Jones is president of the Crossroads Blues Society and is a long standing blues lover. He is a retired Navy commander who served his entire career in nuclear submarines. In addition to working in his civilian career since 1996, he writes for and publishes the bi-monthly newsletter for Crossroads, chairs their music festival and works with their Blues In The Schools program. He resides in Byron, IL.

 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 9 

Ted Hefko And The Thousandaires – Distillations Of The Blues

Onager ON1005

11 songs – 47 minutes

Here’s something different and interesting for you: Ted Hefko and his Thousandaires deliver a classy collection of material with a throwback feel that bathes you in the feel of the New Orleans on every cut.

Hefko is a native New Yorker and now calls the Crescent City home. This disc was recorded and features guest artists from both locales as it presents musical styles ranging from straight blues to swing, jive, pre-World War II jazz and R&B. No matter the style, however, the feel of the Mississippi River flows strongly throughout.

In addition to handling vocals, tenor sax, clarinet and acoustic guitar, Hefko penned all of the originals you’ll hear here. He’s backed by his regular unit of Neil Flink on electric guitar, Brian Vinson on upright bass and Norman Edwards Jr. on drums with assists from Dalton Ridenhour and Marek Sapievski (piano), trumpet players Leon “Kid Chocolate” Brown — who was featured on the HBO series Treme — and Satoru Ohashi, Andy “Dr. Bone” Galbiati (trombone) and Dominick Grillo (baritone sax).

The album kicks off with “Hesitation Blues,” the only cover in the set. Written by W.C. Handy, but attributed to several different writers in the past 100 years, the tune has seen life as a jug band and Western swing number, but is presented here in traditional New Orleans fashion, providing plenty of space for the musicians to stretch out as Hefko delivers the familiar lyrics about “Standing on the corner with a dollar in my hand/I’m looking for a woman and she’s looking for a man.”

That song sets the stage for the 10 originals that follow in a seamless, fluid manner. “Sweat Upon My Brow” kicks off with a bass run followed by the horns as Hefko delivers a soulful R&B number about lost love. The sweat’s cold on the singer’s chest. He realizes he’s been used, but still wants her. Hefko’s sax solo mid-tune drives the feeling home. It continues with the blues shuffle “I Don’t Feel Welcome Here,” in which the subject is in a familiar place, but folks don’t remember his name. The bandleader’s clarinet work is stellar throughout.

The swinging, stop-time blues, “I’ve Got A Right To Carry On,” leads into the sweet, syncopated ballad title cut, “One More Distillation Of The Blues,” with Flink coming to the fore before the jazzy instrumental, “Captain Jack,” gives the horn section more room to work their magic. “Slippin’ Slowly,” an acoustic blues that features Hefko on guitar with accents from Ohashi, describes writing songs after lost love before “Bad Kids” provides a swinging, minor-key description of pot-smoking, crap-shooting troublemakers.

The pace slows for the ballad “Adam And The Devil,” a tender vow to no longer sing songs Satan delivered to the first man or to worship in a temple of pain. Hefko’s clarinet takes the lead again another ballad, the jazzy “Butterfly Dreamin’,” before the funky “When The Weather Breaks” concludes the set.

Sophisticated and stylish throughout, Distillations Of The Blues delivers quality tunes with a retro feel. Available through Amazon, CDBady, Microsoft and other online retailers, pick it up if you’ve got a taste for old-school New Orleans jazz and blues. You won’t be disappointed.

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 – 7 of 9 

Laurie Jane and the 45’s


CD: 10 Songs; 33:36 Minutes

Styles: Contemporary Electric Country Blues, Piano Blues, Blues Rock

What’s hotter than summer, tastier than a barbecue, and shorter than a good day at the beach? Laurie Jane and the 45’s, the self-titled debut album from a fantastic country blues band. Straight out of Louisville, Kentucky, they present ten tantalizing tracks: seven originals and three covers. All are worthy of spots on fans’ party playlists, especially for outdoor gatherings. Lead singer Laurie Jane Jessup’s vocals are 50% sweet torch singer and 50% whiskey-hardened barfly. In fact, one of the best songs on the CD is “Whiskey Will,” reviewed below. Laurie Jane sounds way more like Bonnie Raitt than Shania Twain or Faith Hill, for purists who are worried about this album being more country than blues. With a dash of Chicago swagger and more than a mite of Memphis moxie, it defies strict categorization within the blues genre. Once in a while, aficionados need something to chew on. This album is more hearty than a Porterhouse steak.

Along with lead singer Laurie Jane are co-producer Cort Duggins on guitar and keyboards; Jason Embry on upright bass; and Scott Dugdale on percussion. All three of “the 45’s” are songwriters. These featured tunes will get anybody dancing, drinking or both.

Track 01: “Talkin’” – What surpasses the Internet, TV, and movies as some people’s favorite form of entertainment? Something that predates these things by at least 1,000 years: gossip. “Every time I time I turn around, people trying to run me down – talkin’, talkin’. Been talkin’, talkin’. Late last night and the night before, who’s that knockin’ on my door?…They’re talkin’, baby, talkin’ bout me and you.” With a blistering tempo and roaring guitar intro from Cort Duggins that would make any racecar driver proud, this is one pistol of an original opener. Folks will be “Talkin’” about it long after they first hear it. It’s an explosive, energetic earworm.

Track 05: “Whiskey Will” – Slowing things down a bit, but not by much, is track number five. Some people talk to their best friend or a psychologist after a breakup, but the narrator of this song prefers a more “distilled” approach: “I made it back home before I cried. Damn near broke the bottle trying to get at what’s inside, ‘cause he’s gone. I don’t think he loves me still. If the good Lord can’t save me, I know that whiskey will.” Very rarely, in any kind of song, are the drums as noticeable and nifty as they are on this one. Thank Scott Dugdale for them.

Track 07: “Buck” – Maybe the subject of “Whiskey Will” needs a man like “Buck” instead. Laurie Jane takes a cue from Nina Simone as she covers a sultry song of hers. “Buck – you’re a whole lotta man. Just take a look at your great big hands… You know you could crush poor me in two, but gentle, oh, so gentle are the things you do.” The sweet energy here is irresistible, as is the potential to snicker at the euphemism above.

Laurie Jane and the 45’s catapult country blues straight into the stratosphere!

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 36 year old female Blues fan. She brings the perspective of a younger blues fan to reviews. A child of 1980s music, she was strongly influenced by her father’s blues music collection.

 Featured Blues Review – 8 of 9 

Laurence Jones – What’s It Gonna Be

Ruf Records – 2015

11 tracks: 53 minutes

23 year-old Laurence Jones is at the head of the line of current young UK blues-rockers, having represented his country in the European Blues Challenge, played at the LeadBelly tribute concert that also saw the return of Walter Trout to the stage after his serious illness and was part of the Blues Caravan tour in 2014 alongside Albert Castiglia. His second album in 2014 was produced by Mike Zito with members of Royal Southern Brotherhood backing the young guitarist; this time around Laurence produced the album himself with regular bassist Roger Inniss. The core band is a trio, Finnish drummer Miri Mietinnen joining Roger and Laurence with occasional keyboards added by Jools Grudgings and Lewis Stephens; Sandi Thom and Dana Fuchs share vocals with Laurence on one song each. Laurence wrote nine of the songs here and there are two covers. It is also worth noting that part of the proceeds from this album will be donated to the Crohn’s and Colitis Research programme; Laurence suffers from this debilitating disease which requires regular blood transfusions and a careful approach to diet and it is brave of him to put that fact upfront in the album sleeve notes.

Laurence has a clear and pleasant singing voice and can certainly play as he proves on most tracks here, setting a solid rhythm and double-tracking his solos. The good thing about Laurence is that he writes tunes with catchy hooks; in that respect he resembles another English bluesman of a slightly earlier generation, Aynsley Lister and “All I Need” is a good example of that comparison. Another melodic rocker is “Set It Free” in which Laurence pleads for more tolerance in the world. “Being Alone” has echoes of classic rock like Bad Company, a coincidence as one of the two covers is “Can’t Get Enough”. Laurence sensibly does not try to emulate Paul Rodgers’ distinctive vocal and his slightly more relaxed version works just fine alongside co-vocalist Dana Fuchs’ raspy tones. The other cover is LeadBelly’s “Good Morning Blues” which moves from a recording of LeadBelly’s voice to a heavy version with some high energy wah-wah. Laurence states that he chose a LeadBelly song because “so many of my British blues heroes were inspired by him” but it seems pretty unlikely that the great man would recognise this version!

Sandi Thom’s guest spot is on the almost folky ballad “Don’t Look Back” which is the quietest tune here, the two voices working well in harmony over some gentle guitar work. If high energy blues-rock is what you are looking for look no further than the first four tunes on the album. The title track sets things off with an insistent riff as Laurence sings of the daunting prospect of a new tour with unknown collaborators; “Don’t Need No Reason” finds Laurence getting angry with some of those around him who would want to tell him what to do, letting off steam with a tough solo; “Evil” has a really chunky riff and lots of wah-wah before the frantic pace of “Touch Your Moonlight” adds melodic as well as rhythmic qualities. Closing track “Stop Moving The House” shows a good sense of humour in the story of a guy who is so drunk he can’t find his way home, the song benefiting from pounding piano and some heavily distorted guitar.

There is plenty to enjoy here for blues-rock fans but also evidence of a broader talent. It will be interesting to hear in which direction Laurence’s next project will head.

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 – 9 of 9 

Bonita & The Blues Shacks

CrossCut Records – 2015

15 tracks: 50 minutes

Germany’s Blues Shacks have been around for a while and have issued several fine albums but this is their first with female singer Bonita Niessen from South Africa. Bonita’s soulful vocals add an extra dimension to a band that can play everything from swing to soul. Andreas Arlt is the guitarist here and readers may recall his fine solo album All-Time Favorites back in 2011. With brother Michael on harp/vocals the rest of The Blues Shacks are Fabian Fritz on keys, Henning Hauerken on bass and Andre Werkmeister on drums. The music comes from a variety of sources including soul, Rn’B and rock and roll classics plus two originals penned by Bonita and the Arlt brothers.

Opener “Don’t Call Me Babe” sounds like an old soul tune but is an original, Bonita and Michael sharing vocals with swirling organ and ringing guitar over a pumping rhythm section performance. It is interesting to compare that with “Love Ain’t Never Hurt Nobody” which is real old school soul, Andreas’ guitar work sounding absolutely authentic as Bonita proves herself a fine singer of this style.

The focus changes for Leiber & Stoller’s “Turn The Lamps Down Low” with its loping rhythm, Bonita and Michael sounding pretty sexy in their exchanges, Michael supplying a suitably breathless harp solo to match the mood! We return to classic soul with a great version of “You Keep Me Hanging On” which Bonita sings brilliantly and Andreas shows his mastery of that Memphis rhythm style. “This Little Girl’s Gone Rockin’” was written by Bobby Darin and Mann Curtis and clocks in at under two minutes – very short and sweet! Another side of Darin’s writing appears later with the gorgeous ballad “I’ll Be There” on which Bonita’s vocal recalls Natalie Cole to these ears.

Magic Sam’s “Give Me Time” sounds good in a soulful rendition with Fabian and Andreas taking excellent short solos. The band demonstrates its versatility with the amusing shuffle “Sure Cure For The Blues”, Buddy Johnson’s “Satisfy My Soul” and a latin groove on “You’re Driving Me Crazy” before the second original “Bad News” which fits perfectly with the tunes that precede it: Bonita sings this one in a tougher style and Andreas’ guitar fills take us into Texas territory in the style of Anson Funderburgh.

“I’m A Fool For You” is a lilting soul tune with Michael on lead vocal and Bonita harmonising well and “Be Cool” sounds like a lost Willie Dixon tune with Michael’s harp over a steady rhythm section and some clever lyrics: “Just watch the pussy cat, how he relaxes, while you run around all day worrying about taxes. Why don’t you be cool, have fun”. The band sets a frantic pace on Jimmy Preston’s “I’m Lonesome” before closing the album with the delicate ballad “Never Let me Go” which provides another showcase for Bonita’s lovely voice, perfectly suited to this sort of song but equally at home on everything heard here.

This is a superb album with a wide range of material, all well played and featuring a singer whose voice merits the widest exposure. Recommended!

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

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Utah Blues Society – Salt Lake City, UT

The 2nd Annual Utah Blues Festival (UBF) ramps up with more national headliners and a new downtown location – the Gallivan Center on Saturday, June 18th. The UBF is the signature benefit event of the Utah Blues Society (UBS), a two year old 501(c)(3), dedicated to expanding the reach of the blues genre throughout Utah, promoting both local and national touring blues artists, and providing educational programs to further increase the blues’ visibility in our community.

From 1 – 10 p.m., catch The Blues Youth Showcase, Tony Holiday & the Velvetones; the Sister Wives; Jordan Young and national headliners Toronzo Cannon, Bernard Allison, and Ronnie Baker Brooks.

Further info at: and as well as Facebook pages for each.

Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation – Falls Church, VA

23rd Annual Tinner Hill Blues Festival, June 10-12, a tribute to Blues legend, John Jackson, is “All Blues, All Weekend, All Over Town” in Falls Church, VA, 7 miles from Washington, DC.

Festival opener, Friday, June 10 at The State Theatre: Blues & Soul Divas with Mable John, Trudy Lynn, Gaye Adegbalola & The Wild Rūtz.

Saturday, June 11: All-Day Concert, Cherry Hill Park, features BMA winner Victor Wainwright & The WildRoots; Mac Arnold & Plate Full O’ Blues; Andy Poxon Band; Charlie Sayles & Blues Disciples; Carly Harvey with Kiss & Ride and Mike Terpak Blues Explosion. Craft beer, BBQ and soul food, films, discussions, mini-guitar lessons, kids’ instrument petting zoo.

Need more music? Join our post-festival Blues Crawl to local restaurants and bars. Sunday, June 12: Pack a picnic lunch, grab your chairs and come to an Old-Fashion Blues Gospel Concert at the Tinner Hill historic site. Music by The NENO Project and gospel choirs from historic churches. We’ll supply lemonade and sweet tea.

Full schedule and ticket information:

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 Blues Society has a hot musical summer planned! Big shows in June and July, our festival in August and our regular programming offers a dozen opportunities for blues fans over those months.

June kicks off with 16 year old Justin “Boots” Gate at All Saints Church in Byron, IL. Located at 624 Luther Drive, the show is Sunday, June 5th from 4 to 6 PM. No cover, free will offering for the artists at all the shows at the Church.

The Lyran Society Friday Night Fish Fry Blues for June is on the 10th from 7 to 10 PM with Mighty Mo Rodgers and Italian guitarist Luca Giordano! No cover charge, fish fry and dinners available. Located on 4th Avenue just East of 7th Street behind Katies Cup in Rockford, IL.

Second Saturday Blues at the Hope and Anchor English Pub in Loves Park, IL, will have great Chicago blues guitar player Steve Ditzell and Blue Lightning. 8 pm to midnight, no cover at this great restaurant on 5040 N. 2nd Street.

The big event for June is Mark Hummel and the Golden State-Lone Star Revue on Saturday, June 25th at the Mendelssohn PAC in Rockford. At 406 N. Main Street, this event is $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Featuring Little Charlie Baty and Anson Funderburgh on guitar! Get tickets at:

July 16th we feature Bryan Lee at Rockford’s Sinnissippi Park. Starting at 6 PM, this is a free show. The park is at 1401 N 2nd Street in Rockford.

The 7th Annual Crossroads Blues Festival at Lyran Park is August 27th. Featuring Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, Tad Robinson, Ghost Town Blues Band, Joanna Connor, the Flaming Mudcats and Birddog and Beck! $5 in advance at, $10 at the door!

The Detroit Blues Society – Detroit, MI

On Sunday June 5, 2016 the Detroit Blues Heritage Series will present “Women of the Blues”. 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. The Detroit Blues Society and the Scarab Club produce this event jointly. A $5.00 donation is requested.

The Detroit Blues Society presents the Detroit Blues Heritage Series Part musical tribute and part educational lecture and round-table discussion, this event pays tribute to the lives, lyrics, songs, and accomplishments of three prolific and revolutionary women blues guitarists: Memphis Minnie, Geeshie Wiley, and Beverly “Guitar” Watkins.

This show features a performance and lecture by guitarist/vocalist and researcher Alicia Marie Venchuk, a graduate of the University of Michigan and an English Literature PhD student at the University of Mississippi, as accompanied by the RJ Spangler Trio. More info at

Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation – Red Bank, NJ

Jersey Shore Jazz and Blues Foundation presents Point Pleasant Boro Jazz & Blues Festival Saturday, June 18, 2016 at the Riverfront Park, Corner of Maxon & River Rd. Point Pleasant Boro, NJ from Noon to 8:00 PM. Headliner is Billy Hector Experience Featuring The Midnight Horns plus Food, Crafters, Beer & Wine Garden, Kids activities. FREE Admission!

For more information, go to

Grand County Blues Society – Winter Park, CO

The 14th Annual Blues From The Top Festival, presented by the Grand County Blues Society, happens June 25/26 at Hideaway Park in Winter Park, Co. Features a special Trampled Under Foot Reunion, plus headliners including Eric Gales, Samantha Fish Band, Jon Nemeth, Kara Grainger and more. “Keeping The Blues Alive” Stage features young up-and-coming Blues artists. Portion of the festival’s proceeds benefit Blue Star Connection, which provides access and ownership of musical instruments for children and young adults with cancer and other serious challenges, as well as providing music therapy departments with instruments.

For more information, go to

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. June 6 – Joel DeSilva and the Midnight Howl, June 13 – Brandon Santini, June 20 – TBA, June 27 – Laurie Morvan.

Additional ICBC and ICBC partnered shows: June 16 – James Armstrong Presents @ The Alamo, 6 pm.

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. 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

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 began 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.

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


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