Issue 10-26 June 30, 2016

Jimmy Burns cover image

Cover photo by Bob Kieser © 2016

 In This Issue 

Henry L. Carrigan, Jr. has our feature interview with Chicago bluesman and 2016 Blues Blast Music Award nominee Jimmy Burns. We have 6 Blues reviews for you this week including new music from Peter Karp, Guy King, Allen-Lamun Band, Julian Sas, Tomás Doncker and Sean Pinchin.

Our video of the week is Jimmy Burns.

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

 From The Editor’s Desk 

BBMAs logo imageHey Blues Fans,

WOW, talk about a busy week! We have had lots of commotion here at Blues Blast as we prepared the list of nominees for the 2016 Blues Blast Music Awards that was announced yesterday. If you missed it, you can see them all at .

Now we are hard at work getting ready for your voting to begin. The voting link is  It will become active just after midnight eastern time tonight. Get ready!

We are also working on putting together the Blues Blast Music Awards show on September 23, 2016 at the Fluid Event Center in Champaign, IL. We have quite a few nominees who have said they will attend and want to perform. We will begin announcing these artists next week when tickets go on sale at the Blues Blast Music Awards website at

Also very busy this week are our good friends at the Mississippi Valley Blues Society. They have a great festival for you this weekend in Davenport, IA. Their line-up features Frankie Fontagne & The Ramblers, Toronzo Cannon, Tweed Funk and Shawn Holt & The Teardrops on the main stage on Friday July 1st.

On Saturday, July 2nd, they feature Juliana & A Soul Purpose Band, Shane Johnson’s Blues Train, Ellis Kell Band, Laura Rain & The Caesers, Jim Suhler & Monkey Beat and The cash Box Kings.

Plus new this year is a beer tent stage that features some of the wealth of musical talent in the Quad Cities Iowa area playing between main stage acts. Tickets and complete info are at
Blues Blast will be there too so be sure to say hello to the folks in the Blues Blast Magazine shirts!

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser

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 Blues Writers Wanted 

Do you really know your Blues and enjoy telling others about it?

Blues Blast Magazine is looking for a few good writers to volunteer to help us out. We need reviewers who know Blues and can write a minimum of one review or story each week. We will provide access to downloads or physical CDs, DVDs and books for review. The writer keeps the album, book or DVD for doing the review. We get music submissions from all over the world. We publish music reviews each week so there is a steady flow of things that need to be reviewed.

We are also looking for folks to write stories for our website, blogging style, and other occasional story assignments. We will assign subjects and stories and also entertain your ideas too.

These are volunteer positions that need a person who really loves the Blues and wants to spread the Blues word! Must have good writing and composition skills, good grammar and spelling!

Experienced writers are encouraged to send samples of previous work. All Blues Blast staff started out as volunteers like this. We have kept those with dedication on as staff writers afterwards.

If you are interested, please send an email to and tell us about your Blues background. A resume is always appreciated too.

Please be sure to include your phone number in your email reply.

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 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 6 

peter karp cd imagePeter Karp – The Arson’s Match

Rose Cottage Records

10 songs – 56 minutes

Even though he’s an extremely well-regarded guitarist, keyboard player and songwriter, Peter Karp has done his best to avoid the limelight. All of the material on The Arson’s Match, in fact, which was recorded live in New York, was released previously on two solo albums that were never released nationally or received major airplay. But he’s a player and tunesmith of the first order.

Karp is best known recently for his work on the Blind Pig label with Canadian guitarist, Juno Award winner and partner Sue Foley. Raised in south Alabama and New Jersey, his stylings embrace swamp, country and R&B in addition to the blues. Primarily a slide guitarist who’s influenced by Freddy King and Elmore James, he’d released the albums Roadshow and The Turning Point previously as a vehicle for his songs rather than stardom. But his work with Foley has reached the top of blues charts around the world.

Recorded at The Bottom Line in Greenwich Village and part of a two-CD set called Live For Hope, Karp is donating 100 per cent of the proceeds from this disc to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund in memory of wife Mary Lou, who lost her life to the disease in 2009.

He handles all of the vocal duties here, backed here by an all-star lineup that includes former Rolling Stone and Bluesbreakers guitarist Mick Taylor and Garden State-based harmonica player and radio personality Dennis Gruenling. Adding to the mix are his Roadshow Band: Daniel Pagdon on bass, Paul “Hernandez” Unsworth on drums and Jim Ehinger on keyboards. And the talented Dave Keyes makes an appearance on piano for one cut.

“The Arson’s Match,” a description of losing everything in a house fire, kicks off the album. It’s a straight-ahead blues set atop a medium shuffle with some nice stop-time breaks and features an extended solos from Taylor and Gruenling before Peter comes to the fore on slide. The mood quiets dramatically but brightens quickly for “Gee Cheengee Chee Wawa,” about a mystic woman in a remote corner of Mexico.

“Y’All Be Lookin’” details the different ways people try to find romance before “The Turning Point,” a ballad that sings about feeling inadequate in a marriage but seeking the change necessary to bring the loved one back into one’s life after the damage is already done. “The Nietsche Lounge,” a rapid-paced shuffle packed with psychological imagery, precedes the funky “Your Prettyness,” a tongue-in-cheek, humorous description of a beautiful woman who has no class or sense of style.

Next up, Karp sings about “Rolling On A Log” and about to fall off as he depicts a man pegged at birth as someone who’d never amount to anything good. Another ballad, “I’m Not Giving Up,” follows, offering hope for the future of a relationship despite current problems, before the blues-rocker “Treat Me Right” and propulsive “Train O’Mine” conclude the set.

The Arson’s Match is a rock-solid, fun live recording chockfull of great tunes. Although it’s available through many vendors, I’d advise downloading it directly from the artist’s website to guarantee all of the money goes to the charity.

Editor’s Note: This album is nominated in the 2016 Blues Blast Music Awards. To stream some of this album visit:

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.

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 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 6 

guy king cd imageGuy King – Truth

Delmark Records – 2016

15 tracks: 71 minutes

Guy King was born in Israel but has lived and worked in the US since the age of 21. Guy paid his dues on the competitive Chicago scene, playing with the late Willie Kent before forming his own band in 2006, since when he has played between 250 and 300 gigs a year across the many clubs in the city. After several independent releases Guy is now making his Delmark debut and it commands attention. Guy handles lead vocals and guitar duties with Amr Marcin Fahmy on keys, Jake Vinsel on bass and George Fludas on drums. A three man horn section of Christopher Neal on tenor, Brent Griffin Jr on baritone and Marques Carroll on trumpet are on most of the album and three background singers give Guy excellent support: Sarah Marie Young, Kiara Shackleford and Jihan Murray-Smith. Guy wrote an instrumental and three songs here with David Ritz and there are eleven covers from a wide variety of blues artists including BB King, Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson and Ray Charles. The style is relaxed with more than a touch of jazz in Guy’s playing, at times recalling George Benson in his prime. The whole album swings superbly and the playing and sonic qualities are excellent throughout.

Taking the originals first Guy’s “King Thing” is a tribute to BB with a swinging arrangement supporting Guy’s plucked guitar stylings, the horns adding depth and subtlety. “My Happiness” is a sweet (and presumably autobiographical) love song performed as a duo with Sarah Marie in which Guy describes his encounter with the love of his life: “…until that certain righteous girl made him forget everything else”. “A Day In A Life With The Blues” is a classic slow blues with smoky sax, cool guitar and electric piano all contributing but Guy’s vocal is the centre point and shows what a fine, relaxed singer he is. The title track “Truth” adds some latin rhythms courtesy of drummer George and a brooding horn arrangement as Guy speaks out for honesty before he adds a solo which has quite a ‘bite’ to it within a smooth, jazzy arrangement.

Some of the highlights from the covers include opener “The Same Thing That Can Make You Laugh (Can Make You Cry)” which is a Ray Charles tune and opens with some typical RC piano and rattles along at pace with the horns and backing vocalists both adding to the enjoyment of the track, Guy showing his paces with a finely judged solo; a second, possibly better known Brother Ray tune “Hey Now” is also well done. Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson’s “It’s About The Dollar Bill” has a superb horn arrangement and Guy also tackles some Memphis soul tunes in Steve Cropper and Don Covay’s “See Saw” and Homer Banks’ “If The Washing Don’t Get You (The Rinsing Will)” with the horns prominent on both.

Guy sings Doc Pomus’ and Dr John’s “There Must Be A Better World Somewhere” beautifully in a sparse arrangement with the horns again subtle and understated. Guy gives us another fine solo in BB King style and BB is obviously a big influence on his playing as there is not only the original instrumental but also Joe Josea’s “Bad Case Of Love” which demonstrates BB’s way with a shuffle.

With tunes from Percy Mayfield and Harold Arlen also included this generously filled CD should provide something for all fans of that place where swinging jazz and blues intersect.

Editor’s Note: This album is nominated in the 2016 Blues Blast Music Awards. To stream some of this album visit:

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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 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 6 

allen lamun band cd imageAllen-Lamun Band – Maybe It’s A Good Thing

Mad Left Music – 2015

12 tracks; 52 minutes

Drummer/vocalist/harpist Dave Allen and singer Laura Lamun have been playing together for some time and this is their second album as the Allen-Lamun Band. They recorded this album of all original material on home ground in Nashville with Randy Coleman on bass, Kenne Cramer, Steve Boynton or Donnie Miller on guitar and Jake Hill or Larry Van Loon on keys; Miqui Gutierrez adds sax to one track. Dave wrote six of the songs, Laura five and one was a joint effort.

The pair shares vocals on the first three tracks: “Half Of Me” is a solid blues with Steve’s guitar to the fore; title track “Maybe It’s A Good Thing” is the longest cut on the album with a soulful chorus and plenty of solid piano work; “I Don’t Love My Baby” is a shuffle featuring Dave’s harp and Kenne’s guitar and the vocal combination works particularly well here. Laura is the sole vocalist on her impressive “Still Too Soon”, a song full of angst as Laura realizes that the time is not right to declare her love when “someone else is the way”. Laura has a strong voice well up to delivering a song and both Steve and Kenne are on hand to add some guitar drama to the tune. Laura sticks to backing vocals behind Dave on “This Ain’t A Game” and they reverse roles on “Breath Of Fresh Air” with the sax adding some highlights to the funky tune.

“I Don’t Get The Blues” is interesting with Laura’s strong vocal sitting above some piano work from Jake that takes the tune in a slightly different direction to the rhythm section and Kenne adding some good slide work. Dave claims “I’m A Good Man” over a great riff from Donnie who also double tracks some steamy slide. After a song on which he has stretched his voice to its limits Dave shows a more relaxed style on “I Love You Pretty Baby”, Randy switching to double bass on a gentle ballad with some jazzy undertones. Laura returns on the fast-paced and rather repetitive “Hightailin’ It” which is a short tune with a frenetic solo from Kenne. “Good News Channel” adds Matt Workman’s background vocals to those of Laura and Dave in a ‘choir’, Jake adding strings from his keyboard, Laura singing excellently in a gospel style as she urges people to take a positive stance: “You write the story – chaos or glory, be a good news channel today”. The album closer “Santa All Year” is also mid-paced, Steve playing the tricky guitar solo and Dave’s lyrics revealing a sense of humour and imagination as Santa is asked for his help in mending a broken romance.

Whilst there is nothing exceptional here it is always good to find artists prepared to write their own material rather than covering tunes that we have all heard many times before.

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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 Graphic Design Help Wanted 

Can you help us improve our looks?

Blues Blast Magazine is looking for a person with good graphic design skills to help us with occasional design needs. Must have good layout and typography skills. Needs include designing t-shirts, posters, programs and web ads. Experience with web and print media necessary. “Blues wages” and high exposure for your work.

Also, we frequently have advertisers who need help designing ads for our magazine and could refer them to you as clients.

If interested please email with links to previous work online or to your portfolio. A resume is appreciated too.

Please be sure to include your phone number in your email reply.

 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 6 

julian sas cd imageJulian Sas – Coming Home

Cavalier Records

11 tracks / 57:34

For a blues-rock guitarist, it would be hard to find a better inspiration than the late Rory Gallagher, which is the case with Julian Sas from the Netherlands. When Julian was 17, he heard went to one of Rory’s shows, and that helped him make his decision to become a professional musician. But his influences also include Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and none other than jazz legend Miles Davis — this is indeed a murderer’s row of amazing musicians! For his new album, Coming Home, Julian draws on a little from each of these gentlemen for his 1970s style blues-rock extravaganza.

For this project, Julian takes on the vocals and guitars, and he is joined by Tenny Tahamata on bass, Roland Bakker on the keys, and Rob Heijne on the skins. Sas produced this album and recorded and mixed it with Louis Bos at Forest Sound Studio in Deest, the Netherlands. You will not find any covers tunes from his heroes, though, as all eleven of the songs in this hour-long set are originals that were written by Sas, Tahamata, Heijne and Bakker.

Guitar-fueled 1970s rock is pervasive on Coming Home, right from the first track, “Jump for Joy.” This song has a similar beat and feel as Golden Earring’s “Radar Love,” which is quite a coincidence as they are also a Dutch band. Julian swaps 8-bar solos back and forth with Bakker’s Hammond organ, which fits in well with the rollicking theme of this tune. The band slows things down for the second song, “Did You Ever Wonder,” which is has a heavy intro but quickly settles down into a more accessible blues sound. Julian has great guitar chops, as you will hear from the ripping solo he fits in here, but he also has a pleasant voice with just a touch of a southern accent. All of the lyrics are in English, in case you were wondering…

There are a lot more tricks in this quartet’s bag, so the band easily avoids the trap of turning this disc into a monotonous time capsule where everything sounds the same. One example of this is “Fear of Falling,” an eclectic mix of soft blues and soaring minor chords with huge dynamic changes that set up a foreboding sense of drama. For good measure, Bakker inserts a slick jazz piano break that seems to come out of nowhere. They back this song up with a killer bit of southern rock, “Coming Home,” which includes a well-picked acoustic guitar interlude in an otherwise electric track. Then they lay down “End of the Line,” which gets hard in a hurry after the Dobro intro, and finally reaches its zenith with a fairly nuts organ solo, and an off-the-hook guitar solo. There is a little bit of everything on this album!

After a full set of their own brand of rock, the band closes things down with the slower-paced “Walking Home With Angels.” There are a few influences at play here, from the Jimi Hendrix guitar tone during the introduction to the Allman Brothers style vocals and organ. As with the rest of the album, the backline of Tahamata and Heinje keep the beat under control, and do a great job of bringing it home here.

For fans of 1970s AOR blues-rock, Julian Sas’ Coming Home is a dream come true. It is chock full of slick songs with tons of guitar work, heavy drums, and plenty of Hammond organ; all of it is played with the kind of skill that is developed from the experience of years of touring. If this is your bag, check it out for yourself so you can get a dose of this cool stuff, and if you are the United Kingdom, make sure you click on their gig schedule, as they will be doing quite a few shows there before the end of the year.

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

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 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 6 

tomas doncker cd imageTomás Doncker – The Mess We Made

True Groove Records

songs-8 time-34:16

The revolution will not be televised, rather Tomás Doncker will speak on it in his new CD. It actually does owe a debt to Gil Scott-Heron who wrote the aforementioned song. The CD is mainly a commentary on the state of black oppression in the U.S.A.. The cover art also conveys that in scenes depicting police brutality, riots and anti-black signage. The message is the main thing here. The music is very rhythmic and basic. Tomás was the lead guitarist with the NYC based No-Wave band James Chance And The Contortions. His guitar playing here is very limited. He possesses a warm and enjoyable voice. Tomás is the CEO of True Groove Records based out of New York. This CD has nothing to do with the blues, but it is a creative urban funk-based reflection of the black experience, often reminding one of Sly Stone and Gil Scott Heron among others.

Tomás uses a hushed voice on the racial commentary “Some Ol’ Dolls”, that features a funky groove where electronic noises, harmonica and banjo pop up over a programmed drum track. “Church Is Burning” concerns itself about violence directed at black people and contains a really nifty distorted keyboard riff. “I’m callin’ bullsh*t while the revolution looking for corporate sponsorship” is the oft repeated sentiment in “The Revolution”. “The Mess We Made” is something similar to what Gil Scott-Heron did…Fast flowing images to a jazzy groove. Tomás comments on the racial climate in America.

“Don’t Let Go” is an anthem to perseverance featuring strummed acoustic guitar over a synthesizer “wash”. The violence perpetrated on blacks is the subject of “Blood And Concrete” set over funky horns and synth noises. Tomás takes on U2’s “Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”. With its’ thumping bass it starts life pretty close to the original then gets funked up. It includes a bit of Sly And the Family Stone’s “The Same Thing”. “Time Will Tell” conveys a similar sentiment to that of “Don’t Let Go”. It contains a nifty guitar riff as well.

Tomás accomplished is goal of an over view of the condition of the black situation in America today, utilizing his expressive voice set against some well crafted, funky music. It’s preachy while being musically moving at the same time. A refreshing and rewarding journey is the gift here-in.

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

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 Videos Of The Week – Jimmy Burns 

jimmy burns vid pic

Jimmy Burns from 2008 playing Stop The Train. This also features a great guitar solo by legendary Chicago sideman Anthony Palmer.

Click on the image above to see this video.

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 Featured Blues Interview – Jimmy Burns 

jimmy burns pic 1“I don’t see myself as anything special,” Jimmy Burns chuckles. The top-shelf blues guitarist is a little too self-deprecating, of course, but his modesty comes honestly; he’s playing in service of the music and in service of the performance. “There’s only one type of music: good music,” he says; “I don’t care about the genre; it’s all about the presentation.”

The Mississippi-born Burns delivers that message emphatically on his most recent album, It Ain’t Right (Delmark, 2015), a collection of covers of soul, blues, and gospel tunes that not only showcase Burns’ soulful vocals but also his down-to-the bone guitar and harmonica work. He’s joined on the album by his stellar backing band of Anthony Palmer on guitar, Greg McDaniel on bass, Bryant “T” Parker on drums and backing vocals, Sumito “Ariyo” Ariyoshi on piano, and Roosevelt “Mad Hatter” Purifoy on organ. Burns moves from the opening bluesy rock riffs of Billy Flynn’s “Big Money Problem”—Chuck Berry meets Duane Allman on this can’t-sit-still scampering tune—to the Sam Cooke-influenced “Will I Ever Find Somebody”—the song opens with a riff off of “We’re Having a Party” and throws in some gospel organ for good measure—and onto the rough-and-ready, snaky blues of the Bobby Rush classic “Snaggletooth Mule, featuring some B.B. King-inflected guitar licks in the opening twelve bars that kick off the song. Burns delivers a moving version of his older brother Eddie’s “Hard Hearted Woman,” and he closes the album by resurrecting the traditional gospel tune “Wade in the Water” with a bright call-and-response take that moves the body and soul.

Although it took Burns twelve years to get back to the studio to record this album, he’d been steadily playing blues festivals and clubs—”at blues festivals you might be on stage for a 45-minute set, but it’s more money for not quite as much work,” Burns laughs—as well as collecting songs for the next project. “I’ve had these arrangements for a little while and Dick Shurman, my producer, came to me and helped me choose the ones we put on this album.” Burns made a few discoveries during the process, he recalls. “I heard some Percy Mayfield songs I’d never heard before, and I thought I’d heard almost all of them. You know he has a whole lot of songs, and I love these two we put on the album: ‘Long as You’re Mine’ and ‘My Heart is Hangin’ Heavy’.”

Burns took a little hiatus from recording in the 1970s and ’80s, when he focused on raising his family; for thirteen years he ran a barbeque joint in Chicago called Uncle Mickey’s, which closed in 2004. He “came back” in 1996 with Leaving Here Walking (Delmark), which received two W.C. Handy Award nominations and was named Best Blues Record of the Year by the National Association of Independent Record Distributors. Yet, for an artist baptized in the Mississippi blues tradition and later confirmed as a teenager in the Chicago blues, folk, and soul scene, music lurked in his soul and he played sporadically during those years. “The music drew me back to playing full time; I never stopped loving the music and I played it,” Burns says. “Music is a part of me.”

As a child he first heard the blues, and it took hold of him and wouldn’t let go. “I started listening to the music as a kid—’Shake the Boogie’, John Lee Hooker’s ‘Boogie Chillen’ and stuff like that—and then I saw them perform the music live; when I heard that music I was attracted to it and it was different and I couldn’t get it out of my mind.” Burns “started messin'” with the guitar—”it was a one-string guitar”—before he was seven-years-old, but in just a couple of years he was playing “regular guitar.” “It was in open tuning, so it made it a little easier to learn; I never took lessons, and it’s pretty much what I still do today,” says Burns. “I’m forever trying to re-work a song; whatever I hear, I hear it a different way, and I feel it a different way,”

jimmy burns pic 2As a musician’s musician, Burns’ quest has taken him on a colorful journey through folk music and soul music. Back in the 1960s—”when I was a youngster,” he laughs—he was hanging out at the now-legendary Chicago folk club, the Gate of Horn (whose reputation was most recently recalled in the movie Inside Llewyn Davis), and he “had a fake draft card so I could get in, since I wasn’t old enough yet.” He played at the Fickle Pickle, a Chicago coffeehouse where blues guitarist Mike Bloomfield produced a weekly series devoted to the blues. “This guy told me he had been meaning to start a band,” recalls Burns, “and the next thing you know he’s off playing with some famous people [John Hammond, Robbie Robertson, Charlie Musselwhite, and Bob Dylan.]” But, Burns says, “when I heard a lot of this music, I thought, ‘these guys are playing blues,’ but back then what they were playing they called ‘folk.'” Burns recalls hearing Odetta, Josh White, and Barbara Dane—”damn, that’s blues she’s playing,” Burns recalls thinking when he first heard her—in those days.

Burns moved to soul music with The Medallionaires, when he was 16, who recorded some doo wop tracks in the 1960s; in 1965, he sang lead in The Fantastic Epics, who played at the old Arie Crown Theater in Chicago. “We played a lot of R&B and Top 40 and cut a few singles [“Give Her to Me” (1965) and “You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone” (1966) among them], and we’d play regular nights at the Thumbs Up club in Chicago.” “We played one place in Northlake that turned out to be a syndicate joint; we had to play all night, and I saw bouncers throw people out on their heads; we didn’t play there long,” chuckles Burns. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, The Fantastic Epics became Rasputin Stash and had a few hit R&B records under that name. During these years Burns met British guitarist Jeff Beck, then with the Yardbirds, who came to a show at Thumbs Up and wanted to sit in with The Fantastic Epics. “Jeff was the first guy I saw do that feedback with his guitar; man, all the girls were crazy about Jeff, too,” laughs Burns, who ran into Beck a few years ago and talked about those nights, which Beck remembered fondly.

Burns’ influences run deep from Archie Brownlee of the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi, Howard Tucker of the Dixie Hummingbirds, the Five Blind Boys of Alabama, and the Soul Stirrers to Sonny Boy Williamson, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Howlin’ Wolf, and Elmore James. “Two people I truly miss,” he says, “are Michael Jackson since it seemed like I watched him grow up and B.B. King. If you play urban blues, it’s hard not to put a B.B. lick in it. I love that song “Please Love Me.” B.B.’s death really hit me hard, too; when you’re young, you think everybody’s going to be around forever, and as you get older, you start to realize that you’re not gonna be around forever.”

Tireless in his quest to get better at performing and playing, Burns keeps practicing guitar and learning more from others. “I practice all the time,” he says. “I don’t feel like I know enough, and I want to learn more. My friend Pistol Pete is showing me stuff all the time.”

One of the reasons Burns is learning more guitar is because he’s been wanting to get back to writing some more. “Lately I haven’t been inspired to write anything,” he says. “I’ve been going back and hearing things a little differently, but after a while you can do only so much of that, and I’d like to try to write some new stuff, too. One of the reasons I don’t like playing with other musicians sometimes is that I like to play songs like I hear them, and they don’t always hear them that way. When you’re playing your style you’re not competing with anybody.”

Burns is always going to leave it all on stage, and it’s evident in his commitment to being ready to perform or record. “I’m not going to put on a show, or record a song, until I’ve got it. I remember one time I was playing with Pinetop and I’d had a little too much to drink, and I just embarrassed myself. I wanna be damn sure I got it; you don’t want to play onstage unless you have it.” But he’s not just out to please the crowd, and his commitment to doing his music the way he hears it defines him.”I’m gonna play my music, and I hope you enjoy it. I’m playing what I feel, and I’ll always do that. I don’t know how good I am—other people will tell you how good I am.”

jimmy burns pic3He’s spent some time playing with others, too, and he’s learned one of his most important musical lessons from playing with Pinetop Perkins. “You have to listen to what they’re playing and not get out in front of them; that’s the worst thing you can do. I’ve seen some guys do that, and then they get lost and can’t find the groove again. Whether you’re playing in someone else’s band or in your own, never get out in front of the music; the music will take you where you want to go.”

“What amazes me about music,” Burns reflects, “is that we still continue to recycle it. You have to find your own groove and your rhythm with it. That’s the new thing you’re bringing to a song. I think musicians have a problem with relativity, I mean, relating to a song so you can give it your own interpretation. I don’t think about originality. I just wanted to sound good and feel good. If I feel good, the people are going to feel good. I don’t believe in bullshittin’ the people.”

Burns believes he’s grown in many ways as an artist. “I’ve learned more about my guitar, and I’m still learning,” he says. He’s also evolved tremendously as a musician. “When I started, I thought I had to do blues and that was all I had to do. Well, I played ‘Honest I Do’ in a major scale, not the typical minor scale of blues music. And I’ve done that with some other songs, too. If it sounds good that’s what matters. I’ve evolved into putting a sound to music that I’m comfortable with,” says Burns.

One thing is sure: Jimmy Burns is not sitting still. He’ll soon be off to play in Argentina and Brazil, and he’ll keep playing locally in Chicago clubs as well as regionally and nationally. He plans to keep recording and putting out new records, and though it might be a few years before the next one comes out, he and Shurman are already looking through songs and talking about what might be on the album.

At this point in his career, Burns is a little more reflective, especially in a world where the delivery of music is so different and often challenging. “Who’s interested? How important am I and is it worth doing that?” he asks. “I’m known when I go to YouTube; I see Jimmy Burns all over the place; how can I turn it into a monetary value?” he laughs. “But, I’m not looking to be a big star; I gave that up when I was 16,” he chuckles.

In the end, it’s all about the music, just as it’s always been for Burns. He going to do what makes him feel good and make the music that appeals to him, whatever people call it—blues, soul, folk, or rock. “I just want to play music,” Burns declares. “I enjoy playing music and I want to learn some more and I want to come up with more music.” And that’s something for which we can be damn grateful.

Visit Jimmy’s website at:

Editor’s Note: Jimmy’s newest album is nominated in the 2016 Blues Blast Music Awards. To stream some of this album visit:

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

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 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 6 

sean pinchin cd imageSean Pinchin – Monkey Brain

8 songs/28.78 minutes

Sean Pinchin, from Toronto, Canada, delivers eight tracks of passionate Blues-Rock in Monkey Brain, his fifth album to date. The album was co-written and recorded with JUNO Award winning producer Rob Szabo who recorded it live from the stage floor. The raw and spontaneous live sound is evident in the tracks. Pinchin is no stranger to the Canadian Blues scene, having been nominated for New Artist of the Year at the 2014 Maple Blues Awards and his 2013 album, Rustbucket, received numerous complimentary reviews. Pinchin has toured across Canada several times playing countless live shows for the past eight years. On his current CD, Monkey Brian, he is accompanied by Mark McIntyre on bass, Adam Warner on drums and percussion, Rob Szabo on backing vocals and percussion and Emma-Lee on backing vocals. Pinchin plays guitar, stomp board and provides vocals. The album was mixed by Tim Abraham and Mastered by JUNO winner Phil Demetro, both well known professionals in the Canadian music world. The experience and talent of those involved with the production of this CD are evident. The musicians are excellent, the sound quality is crystal clear and well mixed and the energy of the live recording can be felt in all of the tracks. It is professionally produced down to the last detail, even the CD packaging is impressive with a dark toned design, well-designed graphics and a photograph of Pinchin on the cover that shadows the mood of the tracks on the CD. It easily rivals any contemporary CD released by a major record label.

There is a quote by Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top that summarizes this CD quite appropriately,”The blues is life itself”. The songs in Monkey Brain are about Pichin’s personal struggles with depression. He wrote the songs throughout his depression as a way to translate his feelings into music. That is not to say Monkey Brain is a dark and somber recording, it is really quite the opposite. It is a powerful work by a talented musician who utilized his personal struggles to create some rocking blues songs. The music borrows from many different blues styles, with a solid grounding in blue’s guitar roots music that Pinchin makes his own. Pinchin’s vocals are quite impressive, at times very soulful. His singing and guitar playing are obviously the sounds of a musician who knows his instruments and how to create a unique style while telling the stories of his life.

The title track, “Monkey Brain”, sets the tone of the CD. It has excellent slide guitar riffs that are smooth, controlled and confident. Pinchin’s skill with the slide is effortless, blending seamlessly with his vocals. Definitely the work of a skilled guitar -playing vocalist. The song has a sturdy beat with a solid bass line for him to take his guitar and vocals wherever they need to be to tell his story. With lyrics like, ” I awake to my Monkey Brain, that’s how it feels sometimes…”, his vocals and guitar need to be in some very interesting places! This CD takes the listener on quite a ride musically and lyrically.

Pinchin gets creative and rather unconventional on a few songs. “Can’t Stand It”, with its strong beat and repetitive guitar riff echos the lyrical phrase, “I can’t stand it” which is repeated frequently throughout the song. Pinchin abandons and defies traditional song structure for an emotional and creative musical release. It works. He creates enough musical tension in the song with his skilled guitar and slide work to carry the repetative lyrics. There is just enough of a blues taste here and there to place the song on solid ground and pull the listener into his passion. “Goin’ Hobo”, co-written with JUNO award winner Steve Strongman, is arguably the best song on the CD. It is a creative venture of swampy blues-rock, expressive percussive rhythm and a tasty chicken pickin solo with a side of blues that makes you want to pack up and go “ho-bo” right along with him. The song is rootsy, has some gospel flavor in the chorus and is really a fun listen. The hook is so good in this song, you will be “goin hobo” in your head for some time after the song has ended.

Pinchin is masterful at shaping his vocals to the song. His voice has a Lenny Kravitz sound; a bit soulful, a bit blues with a great range. “Living in the Past” opens with a falsetto by Pinchin that leads into a rocking beat and strong guitar that both lead and follow the vocals throughout the song. The background vocals by Emma-Lee are perfectly placed and delivered to add just enough accent to this song. “Charity Case”, another swampy blues-rock track with a toe-tapping rhythm and “Hard Luck” with a strong beat and passionate guitar solo both showcase Pinchin’s vocal range and skills.

The final two songs, “Monsters” and “Get Burned” show Pinchin’s skill on the guitar while delivering some intense lyrics. “Monsters” opens with Pinchin playing slide on a Resonator with just enough gain to make the tone fat enough to carry the weight of the lyrics. With lines like, “I feel like I’m losing my mind”, the music needs to deliver some strong support. Pinchin has a great riff repeating throughout the song that carries the lyrics and he plays the Resonator with the perfect touch to give it just enough edge to be more roots than country and an added touch of old-time blues. “Get Burned” is the perfect song to close this CD. It is deeply toned with a repeating riff that goes from heavy to light as the song progresses. The vocal intensity builds as the song develops with just enough effect in the mix to give it a little more shape. This is a song of strength and power over personal hurt, which is the overall theme of this CD. The CD was written during a time of emotional pain, it rises above that and each song is proof that the blues are “life itself”. There is a line in “Get Burned”, “I don’t want to be forgotten and left for dead…” which is definitely not a concern for Pinchin with this CD. Not only does he prove to the listener that pain can be overcome with music, but he also carries the blues torch a little bit further into some very creative, very inspired new songs.

Reviewer Kim Derr a life-long blues lover originally from Pennsylvania who recently relocated to SE North Carolina. She left her career as an attorney to pursue blues guitar, bass and mandolin playing and photography interests. She enjoys all styles of the blues. Blues music is her passion, whether writing about it, playing it, listening to it or photographing musicians. There is a story in or behind every blues song and in the musical styles. Blues had her at the first twelve bars on an old guitar!

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