Issue 10-28 July 14, 2016

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Cover photo by Glenn
Kaupert © 2016

 In This Issue 

Terry Mullins has our feature interview with Blues man and Blues educator Fernando Jones. Tee Watts has an interview with Zakiya Hooker. We have 10 Blues reviews for you this week including new music from Joe Rusi, Diane Durrett, Jeff Plankenhorn, Westside Andy, Delta Deep, Magic Sam Blues Band, Lauren Anderson, Nick Schnebelen Band, Little Boys Blue and Golden State Lone Star Blues Revue. Bob Kieser has Part III of the photos and commentary from the 2016 Chicago Blues Festival.

Our video of the week is Otis Rush at the 2001 Chicago Blues Fest.

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

 From The Editor’s Desk 

BBMAs logo imageHey Blues Fans,

Have you voted yet? Almost 4,000 of you have already cast your ballots for your favorite artists in the Blues Blast Music Awards. If you haven’t voted yet the voting link is You can stream music by the nominees before you vote at

We are getting excited about the 2016 Blues Blast Music Awards Show on September 23, 2016. A bunch of great artist are planning to come perform for you including Bob Margolin, Henry Gray, Bob Corritore, Fiona Boyes, Dave Weld & The Imperial Flames, Anthony Geraci, Monster Mike Welch, Shaun Murphy, Danielle Nicole, Guy King, Too Slim & The Taildraggers and many more.

And right now you can get tickets for the early bird price of only $15! But hurry as this early bird pricing ends July 31st!

Also be sure to check out our General Admission VIP Tickets. No waiting. no line, you can use the VIP entrance and it includes an official 2016 Blues Blast Music Awards t-shirt, poster, and official 2016 Blues Blast Music Awards pin for only $50 (Till July 31st.). (Every year, we run out of official t-shirts, so this is your best bet to get one!)

For tickets and complete info visit

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser

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 Blues Wanderings 

We made it out to the Mississippi Valley Blues Fest recently. Some of the performers there included Toronzo Cannon, Joseph “Smokey” Holman from Tweed Funk and Shawn Holt.

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It was good to see the Mississippi Valley Blues Society back in the saddle with a great Blues fest in Leclaire Park in Davenport, IA. This festival is always the 4th of July weekend so be sure to put this one on your calendar for next year if you are located anywhere close.

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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 10 

joe rusi cd imageJoe Rusi – Who I Am

Big H Records – 2015

11 tracks; 48 minutes

Joe Rusi is a Norwegian singer and guitarist and his album is released on the same label as last year’s CD from Joakim Tinderholt which made the Blues Blast Awards short list for debut release in 2015. This album was recorded in New Orleans with Joe on guitar and vocals, producer Arne Skage on lap steel and guitar, John ‘Papa’ Gros on keys, George Porter Jr (The Meters) on electric bass, James Singleton on double bass, Doug Belote (Tab Benoit and many others) or Johnny Vidacovich on drums, Kjell Martin Simes on percussion and a horn section of Mark Mullins (trombone), Alonzo Bowens (tenor sax), Christian Sunde (baritone and alto sax) and Bobby Campo (trumpet); Leslie Blackshear Smith, Kiki Phillips and Inge Svege add backing vocals. Joe wrote most of the songs, assisted on lyrics by Amelia Rusi, Leslie B Smith and Kevin Steinmann, and there are covers of two classic New Orleans artists.

The album opens with a great cover of Earl King’s “Make A Better World” with its infectious “sing, sing, sing” chorus. Joe has a slight accent but it barely affects one’s enjoyment, especially on repeated listens. A swaggering horn arrangement and strong backing vocals drive “He Ain’t Good At Loving You”, a cautionary tale of a guy who sounds like a bad sort generally, Joe taking a fine, stinging solo towards the end. “Seven” is a quieter tune with some jazzy guitar chords and good organ work from John and is followed by three tunes with ‘Blues’ in the titles: the slowly grooving “One Shade Of Blue” finds Joe in close harmony with the female backing singers, the fluid double bass a feature; “Sunday Morning Blues” takes a funky approach to combat the hangover from Saturday night; and what better way to celebrate recording in New Orleans than to record an Allen Toussaint tune and “Brickyard Blues” works splendidly for Joe with piano, slide and lap steel combining on a fine version of the song steeped in NO style.

The mid-paced break-up song “Falling Out Of Love” has a fine horn chart and the title track “Who I Am” finds Joe semi-speaking the lyrics over moody bass lines and organ work before he lays down some fine guitar. “Gipsy Rolling Stone” is an extended tune that runs over six minutes and provides plenty of space for guitar and organ solos in support of Joe’s soulful vocals. A familiar line in ending relationships is turned on its head in “It’s Not Me, It’s You” which returns to the horn-driven NO sounds over some very funky drumming from Johnny Vidacovich. Closing track “If Only Tonight” is a quiet ballad with gentle acoustic and lap-steel work behind some gentle lead guitar from Joe, the horns also taking a very subtle approach to their supporting role.

This was my first experience of Joe Rusi’s music and I was impressed by this album which combines some thoughtful songs with New Orleans flavors.

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 – 2 of 10 

soul shuga & diane durrett cd imageDiane Durrett – Soul Suga

Self-Release – 2014

11 tracks; 48 minutes

This is a CD produced across several sessions in Atlanta, GA, and features a large cast of musicians, including several well-known players from the Atlanta scene: the core players are Yonrico Scott (Royal Southern Brotherhood/Derek Trucks) who plays drums on most tracks and provided the CD artwork; Melissa ‘Junebug’ Massey replaces Yonrico on two tracks as well as providing percussion on four cuts; Ted Pecchio (Susan Tedeschi) is on bass but Charlie Wootton (also RSB), Chris Price and Gregg Shapiro fill in on four tracks. Keyboard players include Yoel B’nai Yehuda, Brandon Bush, Ike Stubblefield and Eric Frampton; guitarists include Tinsley Ellis and Oliver Wood guesting alongside Markham White. There are also horns on four tracks: Randall Bramblett, John Maret and Daryl Dunn on sax, Mike Bowles trumpet, Dub Hudson clarinet, Lil’ Joe Burton and Jonathan Lloyd trombone. Backing vocals come from Adam McKnight, Caroline Aiken, Deborah Reece, Peggy Johnson Still and The Sassy Singers. Star of the show though is Diane Durrett whose lead vocals are excellent throughout and who contributes guitar and piano as well as writing all the material apart from one cover.

There is no straight blues here but the material ranges across several styles, notably soul and funk, even a hint of jazz in parts. In opener “Show Up Sexy” Diane is pretty convincing in the role of sexy seductress while the horn arrangement lifts “Butter’s In The Skillet” beyond its core funk style. The next two songs show a quite different side to Diane’s writing with “All Is Well” tugging the heart strings as Diane recalls her late grandmother in a memorable and touching song which is closely matched lyrically with “Be Somebody’s Angel”, another fine ballad enhanced by Randall Bramblett’s rousing sax accompaniment.

The next few cuts take us back to the dance floor: “Push The Push Back” does not have much by way of lyrics but the catchy tune is graced by Kathie Holmes’ ethereal flute which works very well with the rhythm section and Yoel’s piano; “Let Go And Let Groove” sounds like a title from the era of flower power and does have some of that feel, alongside an Earth Wind & Fire groove. “Sassy Larue” tells the tale of a female singer who is claimed as the origin of the phrase “it ain’t over till the fat lady sings” with a tune that sounds like “Turn On Your Lovelight” blended with the spirit of New Orleans, the horns featuring with wild clarinet, trumpet and trombone alongside Oliver Wood’s guitar and Charlie Wootton’s NO bass. “Woohoo” might have resulted in a ‘Parental Advisory’ notice if the message behind the lyrics had been appreciated!

Diane returns to more serious issues on the stately piano-led ballad “I Know Your Nothings” in which her suspicions that “your nothings mean something” are proved correct in her guy’s behaviour. Things cheer up considerably with the optimistic “Bright Side” which has a fine horn arrangement and Diane’s convincing vocal, both in Stax style. The sole cover is a fairly straight reading of The Beatles’ oft-covered “Let It Be”; Diane handles the familiar lyrics well and the icing on the cake is Randall’s outstanding sax solo – a fine way to close the album.

Whilst this is far from a blues album there is plenty to enjoy from a lady with a strong voice across several styles. Worth investigating if your tastes run to the soul side of things.

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 10 

Jeff Plankenhorn – Soul Slide

Lounge Side Records LSR0012

12 songs – 44 minutes

Lap steel guitarist Jeff Plankenhorn delivers an extremely interesting collection of 11 originals and one cover on this eclectic mix of blues, soul and rock on this album, his first solo release in 13 years. But he’s not stranger to the recording studio as demonstrated by the high level of talent from the Austin music scene, where he’s based, who’ve lended a hand to produce this disc.

An Ohio native who grew up in the church and migrated to Nashville after college, Plankenhorn studied at the feet of three of the true masters of lap and resonator guitar – Uncle Josh Graves, Gene Wooten and Jerry Douglas. He relocated to Austin at the suggestion of Texas legend Ray Wylie Hubbard and quickly made a name for himself playing lap standing up and chording the strings with a Swiss Army knife.

As a backup musician, Jeff has worked with Hubbard, Joe Ely, Bobby Whitlock and a host of other Texas legends. Co-produced by Plankenhorn, Miles Zuniga of the band Fastball and Ross Hogarth, who’s worked with Keb’ Mo’ and Ziggy Marley, Soul Slide features guest appearances by vocalists Ruthie Foster and Malford Milligan and organist Rami Jaff of the Wallflowers and Foo Fighters.

Plankenhorn is backed by bassist Yoggie and drummer Brannen Temple, the surviving members of the late Stephen Bruton’s trio, as well as Dave Scher on keyboards and guitar. Adding to the mix are Peter Adams (keys), Zuniga (guitar, keys, bass and backing vocals), Tim Pearce (guitar) and Josh Stuebe and Clark Hamilton (handclaps) as well as Scrappy Jud Newcomb (guitar), Bruce Hughes (bass/backing vocals) and John Chipman (drums), all of whom worked with Bruton in the roots/rock band The Resentments.

A riff that borders on East Indian mysticism kicks off the opening track, “Lose Your Mind,” about wanting to let everything go to become more spiritual. It quickly evolves into a soulful, full-tilt shuffle that combines the blues with a musical feel you can find only in the Southwest. Milligan shares lead vocals on a traditional take of “You Got Me Hummin’,” the Sam And Dave/Isaac Hayes classic and the only cover in the set, before the mood changes for “Trouble Find Me,” a Southern ballad dealing with the frustration of being a magnet for problems despite trying to avoid them.

Based both on the style of the Rolling Stones’ “Tumblin’ Dice” and a line from poet Charles Bukowski, “Like Flowers” features a duet with Foster. It’s a driving rocker that relates the realization that “people look like flowers at last.” Up next, “Dirty Floor” is a medium-paced shuffle that questions a loved one’s attitude and stresses: “I will be your Superfly/We got somethin’ goin’ on.”

Plankenhorn’s virtuosity on the six-string is on exhibit for “Kansas City Nocturne,” a tasty, but brief instrumental, before the soulful “Born To Win,” which stresses that victory will only come if you put out the effort. “Vagabond Moonlight” follows. It’s a ballad with a country feel about a longtime gypsy returning home. “Mockingbird Blues” — written by Willis Alan Ramsey, best known for The Captain And Tennile’s “Muskrat Love,” but never previously recorded – is a sweet acoustic number. The feel continues with “Headstrong,” a complaint about a friend who always arrives drunk. The Resentments are featured on the country rocker “Live Today” before the soulful ballad “Waking In The Sun” concludes the set.

Many artists who are superstars in their own right in the Austin scene have no need to venture out of the Lone Star State for gigs and recognition because of the success they enjoy at home. Jeff Plankenhorn is one bright light in that galaxy, and Soul Slide serves as a great introduction for him to the outside world. The album touches several forms of music, although the blues current runs strong throughout. If you’re looking for the old blues one-four-five, look elsewhere. But if you’ve got a taste for something different and original, this one’s right for you.

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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  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.

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 2016 Chicago Blues Festival Part III 

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On the last day of the Chicago Blues Fest there were a full schedule of artists all day long again.

But the biggest show of the fest was the finale which was a tribute to Otis Rush. Otis attended staying on the side of the stage in a wheelchair and virtually everyone in Chicago who played with him or did his music was there to celebrate a true legend. It was a nearly 2 hour set and man was it a cool show!

From left to right we got to see and hear Big Ray on drums, Anthony Palmer on guitar Abb Locke on saxophone and Billy Flynn on guitar.

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Carl Weathersby on guitar, Buddy Guy stopped by to pay his respects but did not perform, Barstool Bob Levis on guitar and Diane Blue on vocals.

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Harlan Terson on bass, Eddy Clearwater on guitar, Eddie Shaw on vocals and sax, and Jimmy Johnson on guitar.

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Marty Sammon on keyboards, Lurrie Bell on guitar and vocals, John Katte played guitar and keyboards and Mike Ledbetter on vocals.

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Rawl Hardman on sax, Mike Wheeler on guitar and vocals, Monster Mike Welch on guitar and Ronnie Earl on guitar and vocals.

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Sumito Ariyoshi on piano, Shun Kikuta on guitar, Willie Henerdson on baratone sax and Willie Woods on trombone.

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Now here is a cool thing, many of these same folks can be seen in our video of the week on the very same stage with Otis Rush when Otis played at the Chicago Blues Fest in 2001. Check it out below.

Photos and commentary by Bob Kieser

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 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 10 

westside andy cd imageWestside Andy – Blues Just Happen

Earrelevant Records

11 songs time-50:49

Chicago style ensemble blues at its’ best. Damn these guys can sure play! With Westside Andy Linderman’s top notch harp skills and weathered blues vocals, the versatile guitar playing of Billy Flynn, Barrelhouse Chuck’s mastery of piano and Farfisa organ along with the crack rhythm section of Steve Dougherty on drums and Dave Wood on bass, somebody tell me why this band isn’t more well known outside of the mid west? Andy first picked up a harmonica at the age of eleven and hasn’t stopped playing since. The Madison Wisconsin native has played with the likes of Luther Allison, James Cotton, Pinetop Perkins, Hubert Sumlin among many others. Blues Brother Dan Aykroyd gushes over Andy in the liner notes. The interaction and give and take between the band members gives us a schooling in what the blues sound like in the hands of masters. This performance was recorded live at The Armory in Janesville, Wisconsin.

The band kicks right in with a lively take on Little Walter’s “Just Keep Loving Her”, with the triple threat of Andy, Billy and Chuck trading licks. Billy Flynn shows off his down home slide guitar prowess on a fine version of Muddy Water’s “Mean Disposition”. John Lee Hooker’s “My Daddy Was A Jockey” is done up as a jump blues that features fine guitar and piano playing.

Another Little Walter tune, the instrumental “Sad Hours” is a showcase for Westside Andy’s command of the harmonica. Billy Flynn takes the vocal chores on his own composition “Liquor Store Blues”, a song that shows what ensemble playing is all about. Memphis Slim’s “Lonesome” gives Barrelhouse Chuck a chance to display his mastery of blues piano.

Westside Andy’s “Just Cuz” is an instrumental showcase for harp and piano. The guys do a fine job on Detroit Jr.’s blues chesnut “Call My Job”. “Don’t Let The Green Grass Fool You” is an instrumental with a nice melody that features Billy Flynn on wah-wah guitar. The short instrumental “Over & Out” closes the record out on a high note.

The sound and feel of traditional blues will stay alive as long as people like Andy and his band are around to fan the flames. The music in their hands is far from sounding like a museum piece. It is a living and breathing vibrant performance. Recordings like this do an old Bluesdog’s heart real good. Don’t take my word for it, go out and pick this one up and make a believer out of yourself.

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

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 Zakiya Hooker – Heiress of the Hooker Legacy 

zakiya hooker picThe branches and boughs of the extended Hooker famous family tree of Blues people extends chronologically from John Lee Hooker’s Mississippi birth in roughly 1917. John Lee of course, synthesized the Mississippi Delta Blues, transplanted it through Memphis to Detroit and then the West Coast to create his own brand of Boogie.

Underrated Earl Hooker, John Lee’s second cousin, also born in Mississippi but raised in Chicago from the age of one, was called the master of the wah-wah pedal by Jimi Hendrix. Earl Hooker was so adept at slide guitar that Buddy Guy coveted and slept with one of Hooker’s short steel slides under his pillow, thinking perhaps that the power contained thereby, might seep through in his sleep. B.B. King called Earl Hooker the greatest guitar player he ever met.

Archie Lee Hooker is the nephew of John Lee Hooker and and in addition to living with the Boogieman John Lee the last eleven years of his life, “inherited” John Lee’s band, the Coast To Coast Blues Band. Archie Lee also claims the distinction of having one of the last studio recordings of his uncle on Archie’s 2001 Cd release New Church of the Blues.

John Lee Hooker, Jr. is a two-time Grammy nominated Blues and, more recently, Gospel artist. Six album into his rising star mode, featuring his “2 parts R&B, 1 part jazz & down home blues,” Jr. found Jesus and now has a Soul Gospel album in the works.

Last, but certainly not least is the only female artist in the Hooker family tree of plenty – Zakiya Hooker. In a series of phone conversations from her new home base in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, Zakiya talked to us about her past, present and future.

“My dad put down roots in Detroit and met my mom after her family had migrated there from Arkansas. After he saw her, he asked her mother if it was alright for him to court her. My dad was quite a bit older than my mom.”

Zakiya was a late bloomer in the music business. Unlike her brother John Lee Hooker, Jr. who first performed for a radio audience at the age of eight, Zakiya first sang professionally in 1991 in an Oakland, California performance with her dad. Even then she was no stranger to to the craft.

“We sang in the choir at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Detroit. Our grandmother and mother made sure we got there. In high school I also sang in the choir. I would also sing around the family whenever I could.” She knew she could really sing by age sixteen. “My voice was much higher then. I used to love to sing Diana Ross material. People told me I sounded nice and I figured people wouldn’t say that unless it was true. When I was coming of age, Motown had put its stamp on the city. Singing was part of the youth culture. If you couldn’t sing, people would let you know. You have to realize that Detroit was the Motor City. It was a great city. In those days people were prosperous, working and doing well. We had factories and auto assembly lines.”

“I loved growing up in Detroit. Sadly, people look at it now and say, ‘Oh my God, Detroit.’ But in those days, music was everywhere. Any type of music you wanted, you found it there. When I was fifteen we started going to the Graystone Ballroom every weekend. If there was somebody to be seen we saw them there. We saw Little Stevie Wonder when he was just starting out, wearing that tight little dinner jacket. He always dressed so nice. We saw the Supremes, Dionne Warwick, Marvin Gaye, all of them. Looking back, it’s funny because it cost little or nothing to get in. Like twenty-five cents and a Pepsi bottle cap or something like that. The Graystone is gone now, but it was a jumpin’ place. It was full every time it opened its doors.”

Zakiya, (born Vera Lee Hooker) married and had three sons as a young woman in Detroit. In the mid eighties, she moved to Oakland, California after her first marriage broke up. She found employment as a Superior Court Jury Department Manager and kept her day job well into her music career. After mulling over changing her first name she settled on Zakiya, which translates from Hebrew as “pure” and from Swahili as “intelligence.” She met her future husband, musician and singer Ollan Christopher Bell (also known as Chris James) in February, 1987.

“A friend and I were celebrating her birthday at a club in Oakland. Ollan was there with his sister Lynn, out for a night of dancing. We talked and danced and had dinner the following Sunday. We married later that year. Ollan actually knew my dad before he knew me. When he found out I could sing, he took me under his wing. He invited me to the studio to sing background vocals and the rest is history.”

“Ollan is like this well-kept secret that people don’t know much about. His former group, the Natural Four, worked with Curtis Mayfield. Shortly before the accident that led to Curtis’s premature death, we went and saw him at Slims in San Francisco. Curtis told Ollan to get ready to do some new things with him but all that was curtailed when Curtis was injured in Chicago a few gigs later.

“Though Ollan and I have written many songs together, we’ve never actually recorded a duet together, even though my low, sultry, not-quiet-a-tenor voice is so well matched with his first tenor. It is great to have your soul mate working side by side with you. The feeling of having that common ground between the two of you is really a blessing. It helps keep a marriage strong. We are a team and most of all we are friends. At some point we will do s duet album but currently, Ollan is working on his solo cd project. After that I’m doing a tribute to my dad. I’ll be doing his songs only in an acoustic setting in which I will be playing a little guitar myself along with another guitarist.

“My dad started showing me things on the guitar when I was a young girl but I didn’t get serious until last year. When I do songs, I like to know what it’s going to sound like. When you get with someone else they kind of shape it for them. I’m finding that by playing I can shape it for myself.”

With Zakiya’s relaxed vocal delivery and phrasing many Blues pundits have labeled her a “Jazzy Blues” singer. She welcomes the tag. An article in Blues Rag from a few seasons back states ‘Zakiya sounds more like the offspring of George Benson. She has the talent to carve out a niche on the Jazz chart with an excellent voice.’

“It was kind of a dream come true to be called a “Jazzy Blues” singer. I have always loved the ladies of jazz. They are the most elegant and beautiful women of the music world. I wanted to be like them but I also wanted to do the music I love the most, blues. So when Ollan and I do the music this is the focus of the music, the combining of the two genres.”

The awards, acknowledgements and kudos continue to pile up for Zakiya Hooker. Before she relocated from the Bay Area she was awarded the key to the city in Oakland, as well as the the annual KCSM’s “Jazzy” Award for Best Stage Performance”. In 2003 she gave to a spoken word performance at film director Martin Scorsese’s Radio City Music Hall Blues Concert in New York City, a concert that was filmed by critically acclaimed producer and director Antoine Fuqua.

She has scored the cover of Billboard Magazine and her voice has not only graced stages internationally, but also high profile advertisements for Aiwa and Lexus, as well as being on the soundtrack of the award winning film, Chalk.

Her life path has not always yielded gilded golden roses. Zakiya’s Blues sensibility, like that all true Blues folk, has its share of despair, heartbreak and disappointment. In addition to her failed first marriage, one of her children was incarcerated in 1988 and another is deceased from injuries received in a car wreck. Her ability to roll with the cards she has been dealt is also reflected in a story she tells of the heartbreaking angst she suffered when her dad bought her younger brother John Jr., a Hammond B-3 organ while presenting her with a sewing machine.

“I was so through with my dad for that. Through it all though, I learned to sew.” Cementing her connection to her dad’s legacy is his decision to make her executor of the John Lee Hooker estate. That in itself became a viable, valuable portal into the world of blues. A world that has grown to include “remote” outposts like Argentina in South America. Zakiya and Ollan discovered a veritable gold mine of talented musicians in Argentina.

“They revere the Blues down there. There are some great musicians down there. What I like about them is when you send them your music, they actually take serious study time and learn it. Sometimes you give music to American musicians and they carry it around with them until rehearsal and then try to figure out. They haven’t even listened to it. The Argentinians and South Americans in general love the Blues. European musicians too. It’s like a religion to them. They are very serious about it.

“My dad also left me with sage advice regarding the business aspect of recording and performing. He told me to always educate myself about the business of music so as not to get taken advantage of. He lost some of his publishing to crooked managers and booking agents as he was starting out. That was the first thing Ollan and I took care of, ‘The business of music’. Secondly, but not least, according to my father’s teaching, is to always remember our fans are the most important people in the world. Without them we would not be where we are. I never forget where I came from and I always stay humble and thankful for this God given gift.

I’m thankful just knowing that God is in my life and making me the kind of person that I am. In music I am so blessed to have a spouse that has the same love for music, that I have. I love being able to share my gift with others and just being inside the music. In love being able to transcend the physical and learn what real love is really about. The kind of love that stands the test of time.

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

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 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 10 

delta deep cd imageDelta Deep

Mailboat Records – 2015

11 tracks; 44 minutes

Delta Deep is a new band and this is their eponymous debut release. However, that statement hides the fact that the band is a new project for Def Leppard guitarist Phil Cullen who wanted to produce what he calls “an extreme blues project”. Writing with family friend and vocalist Debbi Blackwell-Cook, Phil wrote eight of the tunes here and there are three covers. Phil plays all guitar parts and some vocals, Debbi leads on most songs and the rhythm section consists of Robert Deleo (Stone Temple Pilots) on bass and Forrest Robinson (Crusaders, TLC, India.Arie) on drums. A different rhythm section of Paul Cook (drums) and Simon Laffy (bass) replaces Forrest and Robert on one track and Phil reached into his contacts to enlist CJ Vanston (B3) and rock vocalists David Coverdale (Whitesnake, Deep Purple) and fellow Leppard Joe Elliott to sit in on a track each.

The album has something of a schizophrenic approach with tracks like “Shuffle Sweet”, “Miss Me” and “Burnt Sally” (with CJ Vanston’s B3) being heavy rock numbers whereas opener “Bang The Lid” sounds far more like the Delta of the band’s name with terrific electric slide over a thumping groove with added handclaps, Debbi’s exciting vocals recalling Tina Turner in her heyday. “Down In The Delta” takes the slide work into a song that is half way between blues and rock with Robert’s heavy bass and Phil’s intense riffing at its heart. The band can play more quietly too, witness “Whiskey” which opens with some gentle guitar and Debbi singing of “a place where the whiskey drinks the blues”, the guitar and drums bringing elements of jazz into this blues before Phil adds a full-on rock solo. The band can also do soul, as on “Treat Her Like Candy” which sounds like one of those old Motown duets as Debbi and Phil exchange verses with fine backing vocals on the choruses. “Feelit” is another variation, a groove-oriented tune with excellent soul vocals from Debbi.

The three covers include William Bell and Judy Clay’s classic soul number “Private Number” on which David Coverdale duets with Debbi to good effect, the band playing the song pretty straight, Phil stretching out on his solo. Ike and Tina Turner’s “Black Coffee” is the song with the alternate rhythm section, Phil’s guitar screaming alongside his hoarse lead vocal, Debbi adding the backing vocals and chorus. Joe Elliott sings lead on an extended version of “Mistreated”, a David Coverdale/Ritchie Blackmore song from Deep Purple’s back catalogue, Phil doing a solid impression of Ritchie’s guitar style; Debbi sings alternate verses with Joe, but for this reviewer this one outstays its welcome with plenty of screaming vocals (very Purple-ish!).

An interesting album with several high points as well as some songs that may be too rock-oriented for some blues fans.

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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 Videos Of The Week – Otis Rush at the 2001 Chicago Blues Fest 

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This a video of Otis Rush in his prime headlining the 2001 Chicago Blues Fest. Many of the folks in the video can be seen in the photos from the Otis Rush Tribute set at this years Chicago fest above.

Click on the image above to see this video.

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 Featured Blues Interview – Fernando Jones 

fernando pic 1You don’t have to get too far inside a conversation with Chicago bluesman Fernando Jones to figure out that he would undoubtedly be a success in any field that he chose to pursue.

The term ‘Renaissance man’ may be overused to the point of cliché these days, but in Jones’ case, that description couldn’t be any more spot-on.

Jones is a singer, song-writer, guitarist and bass player.

He’s an educator.

He’s a historian.

He’s an author, he’s in the Chicago Blues Hall of Fame, he’s received a Blues Music Award in the ‘Keeping the Blues Alive’ category and he’s also extremely invested in what kind of world and environment the youth of today have to grow up in.

Jones – who was born on Feb. 7, 1964; the day the Beatles invaded America – is on faculty at Chicago’s Columbia College and specializes in music pedagogy (the method and practice of teaching). He currently instructs four courses dealing with the blues: The Chicago Blues Scene: From the Past to Preservation; Blues Ensemble: Styles; Blues Ensemble: Performance; and The Blues: Chicago to the Mississippi Delta. In addition, Jones also gives private guitar and bass lessons at Columbia College.

“In early August of 2005, Chuck Webb – who is a master jazz player and is also on faculty – called me and said that the chair of the department was going to reach out to me, because they were adding a blues component. I said, ‘Cool.’ So I went and had the interview and the rest is history,” Jones said. “A month or two before that, Roosevelt University had contacted me about doing the same type of program. That just had to be a big coincidence that I got two offers to teach at two major institutes within a couple of months of each other. I’m thankful every day to be at Columbia; I know that nothing’s promised and if programs get cut, I’m sure I’ll be the first to go … with the blues, that’s just how society has done it. Every year, I hold my breath and wait to get that ‘Availability to Teach’ form for the next year.”

Teaching what is basically the only accredited courses on blues music at a major university has no doubt raised the profile of Jones. The way he sees it, that’s kind of a double-edged sword.

“Everything I do is on the radar. It’s like a tight-rope. You get a lot of accolades, but you also try and downplay that so you don’t upset the apple cart,” he said. “If you have a situation with a student, it’s magnified 10-times brighter than a teacher that just comes to school and does his or her job and then splits. It’s a really interesting situation.”

With the immense pull that Jones has in the blues community, his students have gotten rare opportunities that even some of the world’s biggest blues fans have not been able to obtain – up close and personal meetings with some of the legends of the genre.

fernando pic 2“I would do little things that wouldn’t cost the school anything, but were monumental in the scheme of the academic development of my students. I would have Buddy Guy come to my classroom and he wouldn’t charge me a dime to do a lecture. Every semester from 2005 until she passed away in 2009, Koko Taylor and her daughter Cookie, would make a visit to one of my classes,” he said. “Bruce Iglauer made visits to my class. It’s almost like building a brand. You have these heavy-weight people who love the blues and support the blues and were giving of their time.”

Helping to create a blues curriculum from the ground-floor up at Columbia – along with the ultimate success he had in doing so – also sparked another idea that Jones had; his Blues Kids Foundation’s Blues Camp. Instead of limiting his target to just the college-aged, Jones’ reach goes all the way down to today’s youngsters and tomorrow’s budding blues musicians.

Every summer Jones stages free Blues Camps for kids – designed in part to help provide them with the basic skills (musically, socially, emotionally and linguistically) to survive and play proficiently and effectively in the global blues community.

“Out on the road playing music, I would have these parents come up to me at the show and say, ‘My kids can play, can they have a chance to get on stage and play?’ I thought of that in a funny way, like, ‘Hell, why don’t they pick on someone their own size?’ So I started the Blues Camp so they could be with other musicians their own age and that has taken off. And it really couldn’t have taken off without the support of Columbia College,” Jones said. “It was like all the stars lined up – ideal location, ideal setting, ideal faculty. I’m very fortunate in that regard, but I work hard at it, too. I work at this every day of my life at the sacrifice of my family and the sacrifice of my own self, but it’s the right thing to do and it has to be done. If not I, who?”

As important as the musical part of his Blues Camps are, Jones also wants the week-long sessions to help instill a sense of belonging and self-appreciation in his young students.

“I want students that leave the Blues Camp knowing that they are OK with who they are. They don’t have to be the best keyboard player or the best vocalist in America. Who they are is good enough. However, we give them a roadmap to follow in how to improve. We want them to know that it’s good to be you and there’s always room for you,” he said. “Some of the top bands that are playing the blues have come out of my camps. They stretch all the way from Oregon and California to Chicago and Virginia … all over.”

So just what does it take to get a youngster interested in – not necessarily playing, but even just listening to – the blues in these days and times? Popular music heard on the radio seems to still rule the day for pre-teens, just as it has for many years previous.

“Well, pop songs are cool and they have their place, but I think we sell ourselves short on people liking the blues. I just came out of an elementary school here recently where my band did a little concert before some kids that may not have been exposed to music. The advantage that the blues has, is when people are exposed to the live element of it, there’s nothing like it,” he said. “When kids see that and hear it, they’re like, ‘Wow. What is that?’ They don’t know if it’s the blues or not the blues. They like it because of the power of the live experience. Then you tell them it’s the blues and they go, ‘Oh, man. I love the blues!’ So I think we sell ourselves short on kids not liking the blues. They may just have not been exposed to it. But you know they may not call it the blues, but the stuff that Adelle has been doing that you hear on the radio is the blues. That song by Selena Gomez – “Same Old Love,” that’s the blues. Even a song like “Purple Rain,” that’s the blues, so it’s on the radio. But the days of hearing the blues guy from Mississippi howling about a dog on the radio, those days are dead.”

fernando pic 3With all that he has going on, it might seem like Jones would have a bit of an identity crisis. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Because at the end of the day, Jones knows exactly who he is and first and foremost, he’s a bluesman.

“I’m definitely a musician first. And pretty much, that’s really all that I am. But I’ve been fortunate in my life with different situations that have put me in an academic arena where I’ve been able to master that subject matter and have been successful. The duality of the two worlds is that some people know me just as a guitar player and I’m like, ‘Hey, I teach, too.’ And then some people know me just as a teacher and I go, ‘Hey, I play guitar, too.’ So I spend my life trying to balance the two,” he said. “We live in a society where people are comfortable labeling someone as being one-dimensional. But I came up being exposed to people like Prince or Stevie Wonder … guys that could do it all. Or reading books on Michael Angelo, a cat who was an artist, but also knew anatomy better than a doctor. So I really don’t set any limits to what I try to do.”

Given his intimate knowledge of the history of the blues -through all the work that he’s done writing about it, lecturing on it, tutoring students on it … and just plain growing up with the music … Jones is a virtual walking encyclopedia of blues music, from the forefathers to the current generation. The interesting thing about the way that Jones approaches his own music, however, is by tipping his hat to the tunes of the past, while at the same time creating his own art to help further the blues. You could almost think of it as preservation of the past, while also looking forward down the road.

“Back in the ’80s, I would have hated to have been singing an Albert King song when he was in the audience, then have him come up after the gig and say, ‘Man, you messed up my song.’ That would be devastating. All of my adult career, I’ve done my own material. I think as a form of reverence to people that have put songs out and have passed away, I think I owe them the respect to not damage their songs. There’s such a thing as tradition, but there’s always an open season on new ideas. Your audience is a lot sharper than you may give them credit for, too. Your audience is always in the market for something new. For example, they (someone in the audience) may wash their car, fill it up with gas and go out to see you play. And if they had also gone out the night before – or the week previous – and saw a blues band, you’re kind of cheating them to being doing the same thing as your contemporaries,” he said. “It’s really insulting to the intelligence of the listener (to play cover songs instead of your own tunes). A number of my contemporaries will put out phenomenal records – with sometimes as many as 13 tracks on the record. But then you go to one of their shows and it’s like they’re doing the ‘cover band special’ or playing the straight Chess songbook. It’s like, ‘Damn, you put out some good stuff, why don’t you play that?’ And they go, ‘Oh, no, they don’t want to hear that, they want to hear something they know.’ Well, they will never know anything until you present it to them. Every great song that we listen to – whether it’s The Rolling Stones or Madonna or Chic or anybody – the day before we heard that song, we didn’t know it. Then we heard it and had the opportunity to say, ‘Hey, I dig this … or, I don’t like it.'”

Originally, Jones began writing songs in the hope that other artists would decide to play them.

fernando pic 4“I used to call Junior Wells and Buddy Guy and Lefty Dizz and my own brother – Foree Superstar – when I was in college -once or twice a month – and beg them to do one of my songs. In some cases it never happened, but I would keep on writing and keep on writing and keep on writing,” said Jones. “My brother ended up doing a couple of my songs shortly before he passed away and he thought that was the greatest thing in the world and wished he had done them earlier. I met one of my best friends – Jackie Scott – through a song I wrote for Nellie Travis called “Oil and Water.” My songs have been very, very good to me.”

Another segment of the reason that he shies away from playing material written and performed by other artists turns out to be, well … just for the simple fact that Jones didn’t realize that covering other people’s songs was par for the course that he decided to travel.

“With my voice, I really didn’t have the type of voice that was suitable for copying, because I started playing so young. I didn’t even know you were supposed to pattern yourself after somebody, because I started playing so early on in life. I just wanted to be in the same mix with my big brothers, who were playing music,” he said. “I mean, you fall in love with the horsepower of an electric guitar and you run a lot of stoplights because of all that power. When I started playing at four years old, I just wanted to play a lot. Then 10 years later, you want to sing just a little so you can play a lot. Then you learn that every song doesn’t have to have a solo in it and there’s such a thing as chords. Then you develop your confidence as a singer. You listen to someone like Bob Dylan – someone that may not have a voice like Luther Vandross – and you think, ‘Wow. Bob Dylan has an interesting voice. If he can do it, how bad can my voice be?’ And that’s not knocking Bob Dylan; he’s carved a niche out for himself and obviously, he’s done something right, because I’m talking about him now and he’s not talking about me. But I figured that I would develop my confidence as a singer and then put my little songs out.”

The bottom line is, Jones is one heck of a song-writer and the world of the blues is much better off because of his compositions.

“I do think I have a talent for song-writing and that’s a big part of the reason that I do it,” he said. “I have much more to offer than just playing other artist’s songs. I write a ton of songs and then I’ve also been inspired by other song-writers to write my own songs. You hear people like Prince or Bob Dylan or Jackson Browne or Joni Mitchell … people that were crafting songs and you say, ‘That’s what I want to do.’ When I die, or when I reach the end of my career, I know that I’ll have gotten there by being myself. I do teach my students cover songs, because they have to have a roadmap to learn. But as for Fernando Jones, the brand, he’s his own guy. That’s not an arrogance thing; that’s the only way I know to survive. I always tell my students that the greatest song has yet to be written.”

With the way that he insists on crafting his own songs, it should come as no great shock that Jones marches to his own beat when it comes to playing the guitar, as well. And once again, the style and manner in which he plays the guitar today dates back almost 50 years, to when he was a strapping four years old on the south side of Chicago.

fernando pic 5“When I started playing in 1968, I don’t know if it was because I was attracted to the physics of striking an instrument and the sound coming out of an amplifier, or because I was being disobedient because my older brothers told me not to bother their stuff. I didn’t get into it (playing music) like most of my contemporaries did, you know, from seeing Stevie Ray Vaughan or Jimi Hendrix or somebody like that and saying, ‘Wow. That’s what I want to do.’ My primary influences in my formative years was my brother Greg and my brother Foree,” Jones said. “I watched them and then would mess with their stuff and of course, get beat up because of that. But I never looked back. I was 14 or 15 years old before I realized you were supposed to pattern yourself after somebody. I think my sound – whether it’s unorthodox or terrible or interesting – is really all me. It would have been easy had I known that you could have made a living sounding like B.B. King or Albert King, but I didn’t know. I just identified this within the last three or four years, but I really, really liked Rudy (Davis) from Fat Albert and The Cosby Kids (TV cartoon from the ’70s and early ’80s), because he was clean and the only cat that played a real instrument (a guitar with an ‘R’ on it. The rest of the kids on the show played instruments made up of parts and pieces found in the junkyard where they hung out). I was as enamored with him as someone else might be looking at George Benson. That was amazing. So I really came into this business screwed up. I don’t have any story where I saw X, Y or Z person playing and it blew my mind. I didn’t have that experience. I started playing just because I wanted to be accepted by my brothers. All that credit would have to go to Greg and Foree.”

Being the baby of the family – one of his brothers is eight years older and another, about 23 years older – meant that Jones often times tagged along where his siblings went.

“My brother Foree would take me to Theresa’s Lounge and I didn’t go in there in a baby carriage. I was five years old and Theresa told me to sit in the back booth and watch. And they (his brothers) weren’t grooming me to be a blues guy; I was just their little brother,” he said. “But slowly, I was falling in love with what my brothers did. That’s how that all came about.”

Just as his brothers did, Jones’ parents played major roles in setting him about on the path that he’s traversed for all these years.

“My parents were always encouraging and part of that encouragement was the fact that I’m the baby, and you know, the baby gets all the attention. I always knew how important education was to my parents and I always wanted to make them proud. They gave me the platform to grow; they gave me the platform to fail and they gave me the courage to fly,” he said. “They gave me the opportunity to develop myself and to know that they would always be there as long as I was doing the right thing. A lot of credit goes to them, as well. My folks instilled discipline and laughter and love and all that kind of stuff. As perfect as an imperfect situation could be, I like to say I grew up in the perfect situation.”

When he was a sophomore at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the spring of 1984, Jones produced the first blues festival at the school, featuring such heavy-hitters as Magic Slim and The Teardrops, Koko Taylor, Junior Wells, Buddy and Phil Guy, along with Jones’ brother, Foree.

fernando pic 6“That came about when Foree was one of the last standing blues players out of Theresa’s Lounge. I came up seeing Buddy Guy and Junior Wells and Dave Myers and Louis Myers … all those guys from Theresa’s Lounge and the Checkerboard. I had a mentor at school named Larry Cope, who was a couple of years older than me. Larry and a couple of his buddies would put on concerts there at school with acts like Shalamar and Roy Ayers. So I said, ‘Hell, maybe I could do something like this for the blues. I’ve always been an advocate for the blues and have always felt that the blues was mistreated, so what could I do?’ So I put together a proposal (to the college) and in the meantime, I also presented it to my brother. Junior Wells always used to call me his Godson, so I asked him, ‘Godfather, will you do this for me?’ And then he had me calling people like Bruce Iglauer and Marty Salzman. They told me how much money it would be to book the acts and then I got the money from the school and it just kept growing from there. I was just a fearless cat that loved the blues, man.”

The concert also gave Jones an opportunity to have his band play during intermission and the switch-out between acts. “It was just as simple as that; I had a dream and an idea. I think my strength – the reason that I’m able to execute projects successfully – is that I carry the idea all the way through. I don’t start something and then put it down for six months … I finish things,” he said. “If I sit down to eat a bowl of cereal, I eat the whole box, you know?”

It was a couple of years after that blues festival at the University of Illinois in Chicago that Jones penned his first book, I was There When The Blues Was Red Hot.

“I really didn’t do that for me; I wrote it because I had a conversation with Sugar Blue and he was happy that I was a young black man that was trying to learn how to play harmonica,” Jones said. ‘He thought that was amazing. That touched me that he even took time out to have some nice things to say about me. So I started writing an article that was meant for Ebony magazine. I sent it to Ebony and everybody else, but they all turned it down. But I couldn’t stop. By the time I got the rejection letters, I had five chapters done. So I went to the finish line and published it myself.”

As he mentioned before, the work that Jones has done over the past few decades has certainly been at the sacrifice of a lot of his own personal gain. He’s kept up a tireless pace – both in the classroom and on the bandstand over those years. Those years have certainly been filled with plenty of high points, but there had to have been numerous times when things didn’t go so well and the workload may have been overwhelming. But through it all, Jones says he’s never once questioned or even considered leaving the path he’s followed to get where he is today.

“I’ve never felt like giving up. Sometimes I’ve bitched and moaned like everyone else, because I didn’t get a chance. But it comes down to who are you to say you deserve a chance? You lick your wounds, you go back and you get better. You say, ‘Maybe I’m not good enough, or maybe I am good enough. Maybe I’m ahead of my time or maybe I’m just not ready.’ Then you learn from those lessons and you keep going,” he said. “I think it all goes back to me learning to play so early. I love to play the guitar. I just happen to be a guy that plays guitar and loves the blues and came up in a blues world, you know what I mean? I’m a bluesman, but my love and affinity for playing the guitar has no association with monetary gain, because I started playing so early. Playing guitar is just like a boy with his dog; it’s a relationship. Can you imagine any kid in the world that’s grown up to be 50-something years old and they still have a part of their four-year-old life with them? You know, their career is based off of something that they did when they were four-years-old? It’s almost like I can’t cut it off.”

Visit Fernando’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.

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 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 10 

magic sam cd imageMagic Sam Blues Band – Black Magic Deluxe Edition

Delmark Records DE620

18 songs – 69 minutes

When the world lost Magic Sam to a heart attack at the tender age of 32 on Dec. 1, 1969, it lost one of the true superstars of the blues, a man whose music remains as fresh and innovative today as the day it was recorded. This album guarantees his memory will continue for another generation.

Born Samuel Maghett in Grenada, Miss., in 1937, he migrated to the Windy City at age 19, quickly establishing himself as one of prime movers in the revolutionary new sound that came to be known as West Side Chicago blues, joining Otis Rush and Buddy Guy on the legendary Cobra Records label, which delivered it to the world. He played guitar effortlessly with a distinctive, single-note tremolo style, which he exhibited on such early hits and soon-to-be classics as “Easy Baby” and “All Your Love,” and his tenor vocal intonations were embodied with equally powerful emotion.

Sam joined the Delmark label lineup in 1967 after a brief, unpleasant stint in the military. Recorded just 11 months prior his death, Black Magic was his second release on the label, following West Side Soul, and, to this day, Bob Koester, who’s owned and operated the blues and jazz imprint for 60 years, insists it’s the best he’s ever produced. Koester was about to lose him to Stax if the Grim Reaper hadn’t intervened.

Joining Sam in the studio were a true all-star lineup of bluesmen. Mighty Joe Young held down second-guitar duties, woodshedding in a period just before he emerged as a superstar himself. Long an essential part of the B.B. King Orchestra, Lafeyette Leake contributed keyboards. A rising legend in his own right with Howlin’ Wolf and the future leader of his Wolf Pack, Eddie Shaw delivered on sax. And the rhythm section consisted of bass player Mac Thompson, whose skills were on a par with his guitarist brothers Jimmy and Syl Johnson, and drummer Odie Payne Jr., one of the best timekeepers in Chicago blues, who could do more with a small kit than any man on the planet.

Black Magic quickly became one of the essential blues albums of its time. One listen and every note was etched in your memory for eternity. It’s still not unusual to hear one of the 10 cuts – two originals and eight covers — being played over the air today.

How could something so perfect be improved?

This time around, Delmark gave it the full digipack treatment for CD, adding eight cuts, including two that never previously saw the light of day. The packaging includes a 16-page booklet packed with the original liner notes from Living Blues magazine co-founder Jim O’Neal as well as Koester’s notes from the 1997 release, The Magic Sam Legacy, from which six of these cuts previously appeared. Their entries are accompanied with additional notes that were penned recently. And the booklet is illustrated with never-seen-before photos taken during the recording session.

Fear not, however, if you’re as familiar with original release as I am and don’t want to see any changes. Other than conversion to digital and remastering from the original analog tapes, the first 10 cuts on the new release appear in the same order as the original, kicking off with the Rosco Gordon tune “I Just Want A Little Bit,” which Sam wastes no time making his own. The original “What Have I Done Wrong” precedes a version of Willie Dixon’s “Easy, Baby” before the Maghett original “You Belong To Me.” A Lowell Fulson number, “It’s All Your Fault Baby,” precedes Donald Nix’s “Sam Old Blues” and Willie Cobbs’ “You Don’t Love Me” before Sam reinvents Freddy King’s “San-Ho-Zay,” Andrew Brown’s “You Better Stop” and Otis Rush’s “Keep On Lovin’ Me, Baby.”

The rest of the disc includes five alternate takes, two originals and one cover tune. A reprise of “What Have I Done Wrong” and “I Just Want A Little Bit” precede the Sam-penned “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” before a take on harmonica player George “Wild Child” Butler’s “Keep On Doin’ What You’re Doin’.” The original instrumental “Blues For Odie Payne” precedes a previously unreleased alternate of “Same Old Blues” and a “new,” third try at “What Have I Done Wrong” before another version of “Keep On Lovin’ Me Baby” concludes the set.

Despite the redundancy in material, all of the repeated tunes are delivered in a manner that’s fresh while keeping an air of familiarity about them.

The original version of Black Magic has been among my top-five favorite albums of all-time since that day long ago when my hair was black and the music was new. This version gives me that same familiar feeling. Not only is this album great, it’s essential listening for anyone with a love for Chicago blues. It’s available everywhere. Pick it up today. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

EDITOR”S NOTE: This album is nominated for Historical/Vintage Blues Album in the 2016 Blues Blast Music Awards. To stream some of the nominees songs click HERE.

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 – 7 of 10 

lauren anderson cd imageLauren Anderson – Truly Me


CD: 14 Songs, 50:85 Minutes

Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues and Blues Rock

Early in the hit Broadway musical Hamilton, during the song “Wait for It,” Aaron Burr belts out, “I am inimitable. I am an original!” This is what all artists seek to be, as original Chicago native Lauren Anderson does on Truly Me. Unfortunately, her vocals sound too much like some of the musical influences noted on her website – specifically Bonnie Raitt and Susan Tedeschi. Is her singing high-octane? You bet. No one will be able to miss her fiery long notes, held for more than three seconds on some of her debut CD’s fourteen tracks. Are her lyrics original? Indeed. No over-covered covers exist here. Does Lauren perform with passion and soul? Without a doubt. The problem is, some fans might scratch their heads and say, “I’ve heard her before, haven’t I?” instead of, “Why haven’t I heard her before?” Also featuring blistering guitar, this album resembles peppercorn steak and home-brew beer: raw and spicy, with no studio polish.

Anderson’s website reveals intriguing background information: “Having listened to those around her, telling her that music and the arts were difficult fields to have a career in, Lauren followed the safe path in life, making sure she had a “back-up” plan while working on her music and performing. However, now with a steady job, she has found that passions don’t die easily, and despite her love of working as a music therapist, she is ready to take on the challenge of making music performance her career. “After officially completing her masters in 2012, Lauren began performing solo gigs around the greater Kansas City area at venues such as Bar Louie, Jerry’s Bait Shop and Main Street Cafe. She quickly realized that she could only go so far in the business while playing solo gigs, so she began attending jam sessions at venues such as Freddy T’s, Llewelyn’s Pub and Westport Saloon.”

Another notable accolade that she’s received is being named Female Vocalist of the Year in 2015 at the Midwest Music Awards. Not only that, but several other reviews of her first offering have been positive. Lauren shows much promise and potential, but could use more distinction.

Alongside Anderson, as she performs on vocals and guitar, are guitarist Adam Stuber, bassist Dylan Reiter, and drummers Kris Schnebelen and Jeff Daniels. Guest musicians include Garrett Schubert on saxophone; Mike Walker on trombone; Go-Go Ray on drums; Mark Anderson on guitar; Shinetop on organ and keyboard; and Christine Gross on cello.

The opening song of the album, along with setting the tone for the rest of it, seizes attention:

Track 01: “One Day” – No meek and demure wallflower is Lauren Anderson. “I’ve always been the kind of girl who has too much to say. I try to keep it in, but always go astray. I swear I try my best, but I can’t stop myself. At times I get so bad – wish I was someone else. Until one day, I found the blues.” With scorching, take-no-prisoners guitar and a stomping barroom beat, “One Day” is this CD’s first track for good reason.

Truly Me is truly a good start, but for a rare artifact of Anderson’s blues, we must “Wait for It.”

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.

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 Featured Blues Review – 8 of 10 

nick schnbelen cd imageNick Schnebelen Band – Live at Knuckleheads vol. 1

VizzTone Label Group

12 tracks/49:37 minutes

Some bands release live recordings as filler between albums, but others release live albums simply because they best capture the band’s energy in ways that a studio album can never do. Nick Schnebelen Band is a kill ’em and ‘leave ’em group of musicians that leaves it all on the stage every time they perform, so we’re damn lucky that they’ve given us a live album as their initial effort. Nick Schnebelen is familiar as the co-founder of Trampled Under Foot, but he left that band last year and has emerged with this new group. A versatile instrumentalist, Schnebelen is at as home behind the traps as he is delivering some scalding lap steel or lead riffs, and it’s his guitar on which he shines in this new band; he’s joined by the stunning vocalist and rhythm player Heather Newman, bassist Cliff Moore, and drummer Joe Voye. The album was recorded earlier this year—on February 20, 2016—in The Gospel Lounge and Knuckleheads Saloon in Kansas City.

The album opens with the jive blues, jumpin’ jazz of “I’m Goin’,” which features Schnebelen’s Alvin Lee-like lead guitar riffs; it’s the perfect song to get people out of their seats and onto the dance floor; it delivers an energetic promise of a night of fun and straight-to-the-soul music.

Newman turns in a soulful version of Melody Gardot’s “Who Will Comfort Me,” which in the band’s treatment becomes the just-right combination of soul weariness and heart hopefulness. Newman cannily and stirringly bends the notes as she blends scat vocals with blues phrasing.

Willie Dixon’s bare blues lament, “Spoonful,” may be the closest to a blues anthem we have, and it’s of course been recorded by every blues guitarist trying to find his or her own way in the blues world, from Howlin’ Wolf to Eric Clapton. Nick Schnebelen Band turns the song into a chugging, call-and-response with Schnebelen’s slinky, slithering lead guitar moving us toward the mournful character of the song. Clapton’s lead on this song is almost too pure and technically correct, but Schnebelen’s captures the rough yet redemptive character of the song.

With a phrase-for-phrase precision on his lap steel, Schnebelen reproduces the mournful lethargy of Santo & Johnny’s famous instrumental, “Sleep Walk.” The band sandwiches the tune between “Spoonful” and “Jolene,” the Dolly Parton tune. Heather Newman turns this tune into a bright shuffle that’s punctuated by Schnebelen’s capering lead riffs on the bridge that echo Brain Setzer’s jazz riffs.

The band closes this set with Gary U.S. Bonds “New Orleans,” which kicks off with a fuzz tone heavy guitar and reels off some scalding slide work on the bridge. The band’s version of this tune delivers such pure energy and fun that we’re left panting for an encore. By the end of the song, the band sounds like it’s having so much fun that it doesn’t want to stop, either.

After these stunning performances that range so capably over so many styles, we can’t wait to hear volume 2.

Reviewer 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 – 9 of 10 

little boys blue cd imageLittle Boys Blue – Tennissippi/i>

Jaxon Records/VizzTone Label Group

12 tracks/53:29 minutes

Jackson, Tennessee, the home turf of Little Boys Blue, stands smack between Memphis and Nashville, and just a long stone’s throw from one of Southern soul’s home places, Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Twenty years ago, vocalist and harmonica player JD Taylor and slide guitarist Steve Patterson founded Little Boys Blue in this nexus of blues and soul. The current band features Taylor, Alex Taylor (JD’s son) on rhythm guitar, Dave Mallard on bass and washboard, Tyler Goodson on slide and lead guitars, and Dave Thomas on B3 and piano; additional players include Jeremy Powell on B3 and piano, Brad Webb on guitar and slide guitar (and bass on “Tennissippi”), and Alabama Horns, with Ken Waters on trumpet and Bad Brad Guin on sax and flute. Nine of the twelve tracks were recorded at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals; the album’s title track, as well as “Wanna Be Your Loving Man” and “Jackson” were recorded at Webb Studios in Memphis.

The album kicks off with a greasy, funky blend of slide and harp that lead into Taylor’s gruff vocals on “Tennissippi.” Taylor’s and Brad Webb’s tongue-in-cheek lyrics play devilishly on the ways that physical boundaries erase and then converge with some Mississippi lightnin’ and Tennessee corn whiskey. The singer goes down to the crossroads where “things stated getting hot and the devil sure came out/well, we kissed on highway 61.” The chorus prances playfully around the nicknames for each state as the singer names this new convergence between lovers: “Tennissippi/that’s when two states of mind collide/she’s in a volunteer mood with some rebel pride/You know I love that girl till the day I die/You know what happens when I cross that line.”

The Muscle Shoals influence shines brightly on “35 Years,” a soulful ballad that opens with the haunting strains of a B3 and features bright piano chords on the bridge that echo Spooner Oldham’s piano work and that lead to some tasty slide that echo some of Duane Allman’s early studio licks. Taylor’s gritty vocals channel the husky voice of Donnie Fritts.

The album’s first instrumental, “Chitlins Con Carne,” delivers not only dazzling keyboard runs and Santana-like guitar riffs (there’s even a “Black Magic Woman” phrase in the lead run at about 3:30 in the song) but some bright harp and horns; the tune sounds as if the early Fleetwood Mac of Bare Trees collided with early Santana, with a final flute trill from Ian Anderson thrown in for good measure. Coming halfway through the album, the song cleanses the palate for the straight ahead blues funk of “Do No Wrong,” the song that follows immediately, and the raspy acoustic blues of “Health Insurance Blues.”

Tennissippi fittingly closes with the jump blues, “Jackson,” a can’t-sit-still, down-to-the-bones rockin’ tune that pays tribute to the band’s home place but also likely to that other Jackson in Mississippi.

On Tennissippi Little Boys Blue flat out delivers a cookin’ musical stew filled with liberal pinches of blues, heaping dashes of soul, and a handful of Cajun-inflected Tejano thrown in to spice up the flavor.

Reviewer 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 – 10 of 10 

golden state lone star blues review cd imageGolden State Lone Star Blues Revue

Electro-Fi Records/a> – 2016

14 tracks; 58 minutes

The term ‘super-group’ is perhaps tainted by some of the excesses of such concepts in the 70’s, mostly short-lived and over-hyped. This one though may have legs as it combines the talents of two guitarists who have been absent from the scene for health reasons, Little Charlie Baty and Anson Funderburgh. Both these fine (and very different) players made their reputations in bands fronted by vocalist/harmonica players (Rick Estrin and Sam Myers respectively) and here Mark Hummel takes that role. The band is rounded out by the rhythm section of RW Grigsby on bass and Wes Starr on drums who have played together since high school. Mark and Anson produced the album which was recorded (like a lot of fine albums these days) at Kid Anderson’s Greaseland studio.

Additional support comes from Jim Pugh’s keyboards and a two man saxophone section of Eric Spaulding (tenor) and Jack Sanford (baritone). The material consists of a selection of songs from great artists of the past like Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown, Lowell Fulson and Jimmy McCracklin, Mark adding four of his tunes and RW offering one composition.

The album sets off in superb style with Gatemouth’s “Midnight Hour” which sets out the band’s stall really well, Anson’s typical Texan sound over a great horn and piano arrangement. Billy Boy Arnold is the source for “Here’s My Picture” with excellent piano from Jim before two of Mark’s tunes: “Prove It To You” proves to be a great toe-tapping shuffle with Jim’s old-fashioned sounding organ underneath Charlie’s jazz-tinged playing and Mark’s driving harp; “Cool To Be Your Fool” is a ballad with Mark’s relaxed vocal and Jim’s twinkling piano giving a late-night jazz lounge feel.

The horns return on Lowell Fulson’s “Check Yourself” on which Mark’s full-throttle harp and Anson’s swinging guitar are featured. “Stop This World” is a typical Mose Allison tune with its stop-start jazz rhythm and Jimmy McCracklin’s “Take A Chance” finds the horns playing in unison with the guitarists to set up the rhythm. Mark’s “Lucky Kewpie Doll” opens with Wes’ marching drums and then develops into a driving rock and roll tune which allows Jim to play some rolling piano and Charlie and Anson to play some great stuff between them. Mark’s adaptation of the traditional “Pepper Mama” pays homage to BB King with Anson sounding great on guitar.

Mark’s harp is featured on “Walking With Mr Lee” featured frequently on American Bandstand and a minor hit in 1958 for sax player Lee Allen. RW’s “Detroit Blues” is a bitter indictment of the mortgage scandals a few years ago with Mark’s Jimmy Reed-style harp. “Georgia Slop” is one of Jimmy McCracklin’s better known tunes and the band does a solid version, the guitarists both at it from the start and Jim rocking hard on the ivories, the horns beefing up the bottom end of the mix. JB Hutto’s “Dim Lights” has a classic guitar riff and Mark’s Chicago harp at its heart before Mark’s final tune “End Of The World” closes the album on a dark and sombre note.

It is absolutely no surprise to find this album among the nominations for this year’s Blues Blast Awards – a great addition for lovers of traditional blues.

EDITOR”S NOTE: This album is nominated for Traditional Blues Album in the 2016 Blues Blast Music Awards. To stream some of the nominees songs click HERE.

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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Minnesota Blues Society – St. Paul, MN

Annual Minnesota Blues Society Picnic and Food Drive with music by: Wilbur Cole, with Johnny and Filet-O-Soul on Sunday, July 17 1:00-6:00pm at Rosetown American Legion Post 542, 700 W. County Road C, Roseville, Mn 651-483-3535

We provide: Ken Tritz’ pulled pork and turkey sandwiches, potato salad, bottled water. $2.00 beers on patio, cash bar inside. You bring : “sides”, lawn chair, money or non-perishables for Keystone food shelf. (no coolers or outside beverages)

Free to members, $5.00 donation, non-members. More info:

Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues Foundation – Red Bank, NJ

The Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues Foundation presents the Asbury Park Blues and Brews Festival Saturday, Noon to 8:00 PM July 23, 2016 at Bradley Park across from Convention Center … 1300 Ocean Ave., Asbury Park, NJ.

FREE Admission – Headliner: The Matt O’Ree Band. Food, Crafters, Beer & Wine Garden, Kids activities

Details can be found at

The Great Northern Blues Society – Wausau WI

FREE – GNBS Thank You Concert – The Great Northern Blues Society is sponsoring a Free “Thank-You” Concert for our Members, Volunteers, and Corporate Sponsors on Monday Evening 8/8/16 at the Bull Falls Brewery in Wausau, WI starting at 6PM. The Brewery is located at 901 East Thomas Street in Wausau. We are bringing in one of the Best Blues Bands in the Country, The Chris O’Leary Band to perform for you free of charge. ALL are welcome to attend.

With the help of our Membership, Volunteers, and very generous Corporate Sponsors, we have been able to expand our Community outreach to now include Five separate $500.00 Scholarships to worthy musically inclined students at Wausau East, Wausau West, D.C. Everest, Wausau Newman high Schools, and University of Wisconsin Marathon County Campuses. Without your help this would not be possible.

This free concert is our way of saying THANK YOU for your help. Without your help, we could not be successful! More info at

Capital Region Blues Network – Albany, NY

The Capital Region Blues Network is proud to present guitarist Tinsley Ellis on Monday, July 18th at The Linda (339 Central Ave in Albany). Tickets are priced at $15.00 General Admission and $10.00 for all Capital Region Blues Network Members.

Tinsley Ellis has traveled a million miles, and through that journey he has become a man with clarity about where he stands today and his future destination. As a proud Georgia-based artist, with his new album Red Clay Soul he celebrates a legacy built on four decades of performing, recording and song writing.

Tinsley Ellis has achieved a lot of success and worked with some of the best in the business. He has toured the globe, released 19 albums, and hit the heights of commercial success with songs covered by other artists – notably, Jonny Lang recording “A Quitter Never Wins.” Ellis even gave Derek Trucks his recording debut on Ellis’ Storm Warning. He won Rock/Blues Album Of The Year with Tough Love in 2015 from Blues Blast Magazine and made many “Best Of” lists within Downbeat and others. Tinsley Ellis continues to release compelling music. And he continues to bring it night after night at one venue after another across the globe, sharing his blues-steeped legacy, fine songwriting, and deep pride in being a Georgia-based artist. For more information visit

Crossroads Blues Society – Byron, IL

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

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 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. July 18 – Aki Kumar & Rockin’ Johnny, July 25 – Chris Ruest, August 1 – The Chris O’leary Band, August 8 – Polly O’keary And The Rhythm Method, August 15 – Too Slim And The Taildraggers, August 22 – Jeff Jensen, August 29 – The Hector Anchondo Band.

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. Thur, July 14, Joe Moss Band, The Coliseum in Askum 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 h

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