Issue 10-30 July 28, 2016

W. C. clark cover story image

Cover photo by Bob Kieser © 2016

 In This Issue 

Terry Mullins has our feature interview with Texas bluesman W.C. Clark. We have 15 Blues reviews for you this week including a book by Ian Zack about Rev. Gary Davis plus new music from Ebony Jo-Ann, Jimmy Adler, Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal, Norman Taylor, Howard “Guitar” Luedtke, Chase Walker Band, Bridget Kelly Band, Hippie Love Slave, AG Weinberger, Val Starr & the Blues Rocket , Easybaby, Bobby Blackhat, Bob Lanza Blues Band and Steve Gilbert.

Bob Kieser has photos and commentary from the Champaign Blues Brews and BBQ Festival.

Our video of the week is W.C. Clark.

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

 From The Editor’s Desk 

BBMAs logo imageHey Blues Fans,

Time is running out to get discount tickets to the 2016 Blues Blast Music Awards for only $15. The early bird price ends on July 31st. Advance ticket prince is $25 on August 1st and $30 at the door.

The September 23rd awards show features Too Slim & The Taildraggers, Peter Karp, Dave Weld & The Imperial Flames, Bob Margolin, Shaun Murphy, Fiona Boyes, Jonn Del Toro Richardson, Shoji Naito, Big Harp George, Markey Blue, Dave Muskett Acoustic Blues Band, Danielle Nicole, Andy T-Nick Nixon Band, Anthony Geraci & Monster Mike Welch, Andy Poxon & Little Ronnie, Henry Gray, Bob Corritore, Guy King, Eugene “Hideway” Bridges, The Jimmy’s, Jon Spear Band and the Corey Dennison Band.

We have 2 stages in one large auditorium space with general admission seating. Reserved sponsor VIP seating is also available right in front of both stages.

There will be continuous performances from the time the show starts at 6pm (Doors at 5pm) until past midnight. It is a show you don’t want to miss! Get your discount $15 tickets now at!

And while you are there 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!)

Also, our good friends at the Prairie Dog Blues Fest are holding a great blues show for you this weekend in Prairie du Chien, WI. The festival is held on an island park in the middle of the Mississippi River. Cool setting!

They feature Shonn Hinton & Shotgun, Mark Cameron Band, Nora Jean Bruso, Rick Estrin & the Nightcats and Corey Stevens on Friday night July 29th. Then on Saturday July 30th they have No Sinner, Blue Rooster, Tweed Funk, Mark May, Norman Jackson Band, John Nemeth and Jane Lee Hooker

For tickets and complete info visit or click on their ad below.

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser

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 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 15 

ebony jo-ann cd imageEbony Jo-Ann – Please Save Your Love For Me

Self-Release – 2015

10 tracks; 47 minutes

Ebony Jo-Ann is a thirty year veteran actress and singer but this is her first blues recording, encouraged by Ashford and Simpson for whom she ran a blues evening at their bar in NYC. The album features Jo-Ann’s strong vocals on a range of material including classics by Percy Mayfield and Buddy Johnson and more modern songs from Ashford and Simpson and Syl Johnson. A core band of producer Danny Kean on keys, Mark Bowers on guitar, Phil Bloom on drums and either Tinkr or Larry Ross on bass is supplemented by horn players Forrest Lawson (trombone/trumpet), Gerald Rampersad and Bill Easley (sax) on several tracks and by percussionist Mario Staiano and multi-instrumentalist Guy Davis on two cuts each. Backing vocalists Aziza Miller, Thuli Dumakude, Deborah Johnson, Renee Miller, Phyllis Shell and Jacqueline Sinclair form a choir on one song with Thuli and Aziza also contributing to two further tracks.

Two soul tunes open the album: Ashford and Simpson’s “Just Rain” sets Ebony’s soulful voice against a good horn arrangement and Syl Johnson’s “Is It Because I’m Black” also has fine horns with a funkier background from Tinkr’s bubbling bass and Danny’s shimmering electric piano. There are several very familiar songs here: Ebony sensibly keeps it simple on Percy Mayfield’s “Send Me Someone To Love” in a gentle jazz-tinged duet arrangement with Danny’s piano, Larry’s upright bass and Phil using brushes to further accentuate the late-night feel; “Muddy Water” (Bumble Bee Slim) is played at a fast pace with Bill’s tenor and Mark’s plucked solo both adding a swinging jazz feel; the acoustic version of “Sittin’ On Top Of The World” finds Jo-Ann accompanied just by Guy Davis who plays acoustic, slide, banjo, harp and foot stomp, returning the song to its origins in the Mississippi Sheiks. The title track comes from Buddy Johnson and has a particularly good horn arrangement that sounds like a large band with both players doubling up on alto/tenor saxes and trumpet/trombone.

Whilst Ebony did not write any material here there are a number of songs that seem to come from her musical colleagues: Danny’s tune “Burnin’ World” offers a plea for better cooperation set against a solid tune with some fine guitar leads from Mark and Aziza’s “Glad I Waited For Love” is a great soul ballad with a slight latin feel courtesy of Mario’s percussion, Bill’s alto having an almost other-worldly feel. The gently grooving “Yo Love” was penned by Irene Datcher and finds Danny on piano, rhythm guitar, tambourine and synth bass. Guy Davis brings some subtle harp touches to this one, adding an extra R n’ B dimension. Miles Jaye’s “Nosybody” opens with Jo-Ann’s spoken warning about gossiping, backing vocals and horns adding a gospel feel that fits well with Jo-Ann’s vocals.

This album has elements of blues, soul and jazz, all stirred into a blend that grows on you. Ebony Jo-Ann has a fine voice and is an experienced singer who can adapt to all these styles.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This album is nominated for New Artist Debut 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.

 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 15 

jimmy adler cd imageJimmy Adler – Grease Alley

Sprucewood Productions

13 tracks

Jimmy Adler’s Grease Alley is a fine disc mixing styles from the West Coast, Texas and Chicago blues into one smooth and quite listenable set of tunes. Recorded at Kid Andersen’s Greaseland Studio with Kid producing and playing bass, June Core on drums, Jim Pugh on keys, and Eric Spaulding on sax. As if these veterans were not enough, Jimmy added Chris Cain to the mix (who appears on a pair of songs). All originals, Adler showcases himself, his new music and the band quite well here.

Things start off with a swing tune reminding the listener of perhaps something from Antones. “Say It Like Magic Sam” is a cool cut with Jimmy and the band setting a high bar for the CD. He gives us some T-Bone Walker-like riffs in the beautiful solo he does in this mid-tempo swing with some nice sax added. The title track follows with another mid tempo song where we go a little West and a little to New Orleans stylistically. Adler mixes it up, though, as he throws in some traditional and folk references to the cut. “Drank Too Much” and “No Pain” bring us from California to the Midwest. The former has a mix of styles but gets us started to Chicago while the latter is beautiful, greasy slow blues that might come from the West Side of town. Chris Cain is featured here and the guitar work is impeccable. “Nine Behind” follows with a bouncy groove. A big piano solo is followed by a guitar sole to make this tune sweet. Next up is “I Can’t Wait” which is a rocking swing tune with great Chuck Berry/T-Bone Walker guitar work and some pretty sax play to spice it up.

“Ease Me Down Slow” is a slow little piece where Adler laments if he has to be dumped then to do what the title says. Thoughtfully paced, Jimmy gives us another well thought out solo. “Cornbread and Lima Beans” picks up the pace as Adler lays out a faster groove. Another solo by Adler stings and swings well. “Love Was Worth These Blues” begins with a piano tinkling and lamentful guitar to set the tone for this slow blues ballad. Adler’s solo is pensive and thoughtful here. Things stay down tempo with “What I’ve Done”where guitar and organ blend for good effect. The band is in full swing on “Cordelia” where the west Coast style is fully developed. Horn, keys and guitar are slick here. Big guitar and sax solos are also featured. Chris Cain returns in “What Will You Do” as things take a turn towards Chicago. Guitar and piano are spicy and well done in this one. “Hoodoo Highway” closes the set with some slide. A romping, high energy cut that drives fast and takes no prisoner is a great ending to this album. The sax solo blares, Adler comes back for a verse and then offers up the final, big guitar solo.

Jimmy Adler hails from Pittsburgh and has played the area since the 1980’s. His presence has been felt across the country and beyond, with many festivals and tours now under his belt. This, his 4th CD, may be his best and showcases him and the fine musicians Andersen put around him. If you like blues with a little swing to them then you will surely enjoy this one! Jimmy Adler will not disappoint you!

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

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 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 15 

josh hoyer cd imageJosh Hoyer & Soul Colossal – Running From Love

Silver Street Records

10 songs – 45 minutes

Nebraska-based singer/keyboard/songwriter Josh Hoyer turns up the heat to deliver a strong dose of old-school soul laced with blues overtones on this CD, fronting his tight band, Soul Colossal.

A former Blues Blast Awards nominee as Best New Artist when fronting his old unit, the Shadowboxers, which featured a full horn section and three female backup singers, Hoyer’s current unit is stripped to the basics, but still delivers a red-hot mix of original tunes that deliver a positive message while keeping fans up on the dance floor.

After long stints learning his craft in New Orleans and putting it to good use in the Pacific Northwest, Hoyer returned home to Lincoln, where he books bands for the legendary Zoo Bar during breaks from a national touring schedule that included 150 dates in 32 states last year alone, including dates where the band shared the bill with Booker T. Jones of MGs fame and funk master George Clinton.

Produced by Ken Coomer, whose credits include work with Wilco and Uncle Tupelo, this is the band’s fourth disc and third full-length CD since forming in 2012, two of which – Living By The Minute and Cooked Raw – debuted last year. Hoyer’s accompanied by longtime partners Benny Kushner on guitar, Mike Dee on saxophone and Josh Barger on bass as well as Kenneth “Memphis” Shepherd on drums and Marcus Lewis on trombone, all of whom assisted in writing the material. They’re aided by Coomer, who adds percussion, and Angie Primm and Gale Mayes, who provide backing vocals.

Recorded at the historic Sound Emporium in Nashville and released on vinyl in addition to CD and digital format, the funky minor-key title tune, “Running From Love,” sets the tone for what follows as Hoyer delivers a cautionary warning in rich, smoky, road-worn baritone that clearly puts his Crescent City background on display while giving his band space to have their musical say. The message: “It’s time that we ask ourselves why we try to make each other’s life so hard.”

“Parts Of A Man” is a smooth, slow-paced Memphis-style ballad that praises a lady for loving him the way she does and putting all the pieces of his soul together to make him the man he is today. The tribute continues in the sweet, medium shuffle “What We Got,” which juxtaposes the desire to remain in the fast lane and achieving more while also appreciating what he has at home. The horns kick off “Mixed Bag,” a syncopated number about handling a life in which you take two steps forward and one step back, before “Searchers,” which begins with a Latin feel, but quickly evolves into a fast-paced complaint about folks using one another as it delivers a plea for universal love and understanding atop a rapid, regimented drumbeat.

“Talk To Me” is an original, not the ‘60s hit by Little Willie John or the different Stevie Nicks chart-topper. This one is a tender plea for communication in a relationship where both parties appear to be unapproachable. “The Evening Train” follows. It’s a lament about riding the rails and wishing to make a bad situation right with a loved one.

The theme continues for “Knockout.” This time, it’s a statement that, even in the best relationship, evil lurks close by and even a simple glance at the wrong time can cause problems that last what seems to be an eternity. The disc concludes with “Natural,” which describes searching for love rather than just letting it happen, and “Soul Mechanic,” a plea for a repairman to set things right after being down for too long.

Available through Amazon, iTunes, Spotify or directly through the band website (address above), Running From Love is music for modern times. The blues runs deep in this one. While the musical approach is a little bit more upscale that most straight-ahead blues bands, Hoyer and Soul Colossal are totally soulful and have plenty to say. Each tune is a life lesson unto itself. Don’t hesitate to pick it up if your tastes run in that vein.

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 – 4 of 15 

norman taylor cd imageNorman Taylor – Delaware To The Delta

Soul Stew Records CD4221

12 songs – 50 minutes

A native of the greater Philadelphia area, full-throated singer/guitarist/songwriter Norman Taylor is a throwback of sorts because his playing style is strongly rooted in the country blues, but he’s a thoroughly modern artist, as this intimate album shows.

Despite his first love, he’s equally influenced by such contemporary bluesmen as Keb’ Mo’, Eric Bibb and Guy Davis. From Delaware To The Delta successfully weaves music of the mighty Mississippi with plenty of fresh tunes that deliver a heaping helping of soul, jazz, gospel, rock, folk and modern blues.

It’s not often that an artist reveals the inspiration for his work, but Taylor’s done so in the accompanying liner notes. “The idea…came out of an article…by Terry Mullins in BluesBlast Magazine,” he says. “He pointed out how my music had this connection of the country blues that I discovered late in life and the Philadelphia soul music that I grew up on as a kid.”

On most of the work, he’s backed by a full band. Taylor contributes acoustic, electric, resonator and slide guitar as well as banjo and mandolin, aided by Steve Goldstein (guitar), Wes Lanich (organ) Michelle Lucas and Kel Weston (bass), Eric Selby (drums) and Jay Summerour (harmonica, with backing vocals from BD Mylo. He’s got a warm, pleasant baritone and vocal delivery on the nine originals and three well-crafted cover tunes contained herein. And the band compliments him perfectly, providing excellent support while never overpowering.

“Grown Folks,” a modern electric blues with full band, kicks off the set. It’s both a warning to a woman who accidentally awakens him in the middle of the night as she’s about out to walk out the door with bags packed that if she leaves the relationship’s over for good and also a plea for her to stay and work things out like grown-ups. It’s a great opener with a far different message than most blues songs dealing with romance.

The arrangement turns to stripped-down guitar and harp for the acoustic “Worried Man,” an introspective number about the difficulty trying to remain positive in a world where life keeps beating you down. It’s back to full ensemble for the title cut, “Delaware To The Delta,” a slow blues that tells the story of how Taylor got to where he is today and the feelings that run through him before he picks up the acoustic again for “Don’t You Worry About Me,” which informs an ex-love that he’s done with her and the dark clouds that always seem to accompany her and he’s moved on.

Two familiar covers, both given new arrangements — Skip James’ “Special Rider Blues” and a jazzy version of “Built For Comfort,” written by Willie Dixon and an essential part of Howlin’ Wolf’s songbook – sandwich the original, “Just Find Your Faith,” in the three tunes that follow. It urges listeners to look to the love they already hold inside when times are darkest, noting “the road to joy is made today.” The song takes you to church without noticing unless you’re paying attention.

Taylor gives the band a rest as he picks up a baritone acoustic guitar to deliver the instrumental “Due South,” which puts his prodigious fingerpicking talents on display, before he delivers “Road To Redemption” with full band atop acoustic slide. It sings to the battle for equality, patience and salvation, addressing the fight that all Americans of color and oppressed people everywhere face today.

Written by Wanda Johnson, South Carolina’s Lady Of Rhythm, Blues And Soul, “The River” follows. It’s a memory of fishing with one’s father as a youth and a desire to return to that place in time as a means to wipe out bad memories about an ex-love. Mylo doubles the vocal throughout. Two more originals — “Sunday’s Dream,” about the visions of the promised land in the minds of slaves and refugees awash in a boat on troubled seas, and “Motivation,” a modern blues that tries to point the way for folks feeling that they’re stuck in a never-ending loop to a dead end in life – bring the set to a close.

Highly entertaining and delightfully delivered throughout. Available through CDBaby and other online marketers and strongly recommended if your tastes run to acoustic blues with a modern feel.

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 – 5 of 15 

howard luedtke cd imageHoward “Guitar” Luedtke – Goin’ Down to Alabama – The Muscle Shoals Sessions

False Dogs Records

12 tracks

Rarely do I get very excited over an album of mostly covers. 11 of the 12 tracks here are covers; one, lonely original song. But the cover songs have lives of their own here. Howard Luedtke is an old hippie sort of guy. He plays a mean guitar with some wicked slide work. He is able to transform these into his own, relying on his interpretation rather than the originals for inspiration. So here we go…

The premise for this album is a childhood dream of Luedtke’s. In 1964 he got his first guitar and his first copy of Travis Wammack’s 45 RPM record of his instrumental “Scratchy.” Wammack is known as “The Fastest Guitar Player in the South.” Howard knew little of him until his wife discovered Travis had 13 CDs and a book in 2013 and offered some or all of them up to Luedtke for his birthday. He was floored. Until then, a few copies of the 45 came in and out of Luedke’s life. A borrowed and lost copy refound. An ebay purchased copy. When the CDs came he finally figured out who Wammack was (and that he was white; he was living under the misconception Wammack was a “big, black man” as described by a friend of a friend with the 45 back in 1965).

Luedtke contacts Wammack, they arrange a meeting and recording session at the legendary Muscle Shoals with Wammack as a session man. The story is fully described in the CD booklet. Suffice it to say the two hit it off and create some amazing music together. The players are Donnie Gullett on bass, Jan Gullett guitar, Roger Clark drums, Jim Whitehead on keys, Wayne Chaney on percussion, and “Bad Brad” Guin on sax. Luedtke does guitar, slide, lap steel and lead vocals while Wammack does guitar, slide, harp and backing vocals.

The session recording begins with “Born Under a Bad Sign” with sax and lap steel sliding as introduction to this in a new way. Countrified and country fried blues and it tastes good. Great solos on the sax and lap steel, clean and good vocals and a vocal cacophony behind Luedtke make for a great start.Ripoff Raskolnikov’s “Blues won’t Quit Me” follows, a song Howard discovered touring in Austria and Germany with his wife Deb and Clyde Stubblefield. A great, rocking rendition! The Gospel song “That’s How Strong My Love Is” is next. Recorded in one take, Luedtke was moved and does a fantastic and soulful job on thie Gospel tune he did not know was a Gospel tune until he recorded it. “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” is a swinging rendition with mega sax work that carries things along with Luedtke’s vocals. And his ever-present guitar helps a bit, too. Smiley Lewis’ “I’m Comin’ Down With the Blues” has a tick of an up tempo to it and a cool piano tinkle as back beat that makes this different. The sax work also shines with the guitar solos. “Mean Old Lonesome Train” is an old Otis Hicks and J. West tune recorded on Excello by Lightnin’ Slim in 1957. Clean harp work, a lazy slide guitar sound and western approach make this one new and different. Well done!

“My Generation” does not sound like the Who; this rendition is laid back and has a long instrumental intro with sweet guitar work and slide. Another different and cool cover! Luedtke reworks “King Creole” into Wammacks’ “Fire Fly” beat with lots of guitar solos trading back and forth. When “The Last Time” came on the first time I listened I knew the song but was confused; then I said, “Hell, this is a Stones song. Totally reworked and Luedtkefied. “That’s How Strong My Love Is,” “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy” and this all were on the Stones’ 1965 album Out Of Our Heads and Luedtke rearranges and makes them his own after a 50 year love affair with them.

Travis Wammack’s “Keep On Running” is the lone Wammack cover. This is typical southern rock a la the Allman Brothers, Marshall Tucker or the like. Two guitars wailing and country like lyrics about running down the road. But it’s cool. And he harp in there is also well placed. The title track is also a romping southern rocker with three guitar players going at it. The sax blows hard to good effect; this is a really fun rocker with Chuck Berry styled licks and more licks and more licks. Johnny Winter’s “Mean Town Blues” closes the session. Texas blues rock at it’s best. Guitars, slides, lots of strings vibrating and bent. A nice tribute to Mr. Winter.

Is it blues? Partly. Is it good? Definitely. The guys and gals sound like they are having fun playing and they are doing ti up their way. Familiar songs? Sure, but they really put a great spin on things. Gear headed guitar lovers will cherish this. Pedal to the metal fun!

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

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 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 15 

Chase Walker Band – Not Quite Legal

Revved Up Music – 2016

13 tracks; 50 minutes

Chase Walker is an eighteen year-old Californian who started playing guitar seriously in 2010 when he attended one of Fernando Jones’ Blues Camp For Kids. On his debut album Chase plays guitar and sings lead vocal on most tunes with Randon Davitt on bass and Matt Fyke on drums. All three add backing vocals, along with Jade Bennet-Mateo and April Stephenson; Drake Munkihaid Shining adds keyboards to the four tracks produced by Gino Matteo (Sugaray Rayford’s guitar player), Chase producing the remaining tracks himself. Chase also wrote most of the material, Randon wrote one song and there are three covers.

In general we are at the rocky end of the blues spectrum here though there are some moments in which Chase plays resonator in a more traditional style. The four Gino Matteo-produced tracks include opener “Done Loving You” which sounds a little like Lynyrd Skynyrd with some resounding guitar and Drake’s organ beefing up the sound. “New State Of Mind” is a mid-paced tune with both acoustic and electric guitars and Drake’s keys added to good effect, probably this reviewer’s pick of the album with its easy groove, catchy chorus of backing vocals and solid guitar licks. “I Warned You” is clearly the product of a younger writer as Chase complains about her “not texting me back”, a pleasant piece of Americana with layers of guitars both acoustic and electric blended with Drake’s piano work. “It’ll Pass” again features Drake’s organ as Chase gets philosophical about life: “I don’t have to worry, it’ll pass. I don’t know why I can’t give up, just move on; it will take some time to get used to being on my own but in that time I will learn to let you go”. A superbly played solo graces the middle section.

The rest of the album is self-produced and shows a wider range of styles but also a few moments that give rise to the ‘Parental Advisory’ sticker on the cover. Probably the title “Don’t F It Up” would be sufficient but the lyrics of “Cold Hearted” also fit the bill; both songs contain strong language. “The Walk” is a song about a pretty girl who catches the eye, Chase finding a chunky riff to propel the tune and a tasty solo in the middle. “Living On Thin Ice” contains some quite interesting observations but the distorted vocal technique detracts, as does the guitar which is pitched loud enough to take our attention away from the lyrics and the aggressive wah-wah solo did not work for this reviewer. Randon sings his own “Changed” and sounds fine on another mid-paced rocker with solid chorus vocals, a busy rhythm guitar riff and some over-enthusiastic soloing from Chase. The ‘hidden track’ “Yabba Dabba” is credited to all three band members but really should have stayed hidden with its radio announcer snippets set over some not very focussed playing (though Chase suddenly finds his inner Santana towards the end).

The three covers display an interesting range of influences on Chase’s development. A sparse resonator with a foot stomp opens a very different take on Hendrix’s “Red House”, Chase’s voice sounding good on the first verse before the full band joins in and he again adopts a distorted vocal which is far less easy on the ear though they do bring out the blues element in the tune; Toots & The Maytals “54-46” brings some reggae into the band’s repertoire, Chase’s soaring solo sounding rather out of place here; a short take on The Wood Brothers’ “Honey Jar” finds Chase’s guitar riff dominating proceedings, almost drowning out his vocals.

Overall a very mixed bag. The four tracks produced by Gino Matteo are all good and within the rest there are some good, but also some less well-judged moments. It will be interesting to see which of the several roads shown here will be the one Chase and his band takes next time around.

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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 Video Of The Week – W.C. Clark 

The W.C.Clark Blues Revue playing Nightshift at the Saxon pub in Austin,Texas on 05-28-2016. Click on the image above to see this video.

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 Featured Blues Interview – W.C. Clark 

wc clark photo 1There has been a litany of studies done throughout the years trying to determine how singing, or listening to music when a woman is pregnant, will affect the fetal development of the child she is carrying.

The bottom line is that no one really knows for sure. Studies at such institutes as the neuroscience department at the University of California in Irvine, as well as the Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development have pretty much came back as inconclusive.

However, apparently not one of those pillars of research has asked Texas singer, song-writer, guitarist – and all around bluesman – W.C. Clark’s opinion on the matter.

Because according to him, the music that his mother favored him with when he was in her womb had everything to do with his development.

“All the while my momma was pregnant with me, her and her three sisters had a gospel quartet. They were singing all the time. When I came out, the sound was already in my head and body,” he said. “I just had to bring it down to my fingers into an instrument. I came out with the music in me. On top of that, my grandmother and my momma – as did a lot of black women back then – when they were working or cooking, they would take one note and go up above and underneath it. I was little at that time and I’d be hiding around the corner listening to it. That was the soul blues they were singing.”

Suffice to say, W.C. (Wesley Curley) Clark has traveled a lot of roads and played a lot of blues – almost 60 years’ worth -since those days. And he’s going as strong right now as he’s ever been going.

“Things have been real good for me this year; I’m playing a lot around Texas and the outskirts of the state,” he said. “We’ve got just enough work to keep us going. We’re getting ready to play the Ogden Valley Roots and Blues Festival in Utah (at Weber County’s North Fork Park) on Aug. 27.”

Plans are currently underfoot for Clark to hit the studio to begin working on a follow-up to his last album – 2011’s Were You There.

“The plans are already in progress and we’re in the middle of choosing the songs, because I’m going to do my own original songs on my own record label this time,” he said. “We’re working on picking out the songs and things like that right now. We don’t want to be in any hurry … we want to satisfy every little step before we go to the next one.”

If there has been one constant shining beacon for the music coming out of Austin, Texas since the 1960s, it’s been W.C. Clark. He’s mentored and interacted with more young, up-and-coming musicians than could probably ever be accurately counted. He’s touched the lives and affected the career arcs of now-legendary names like Marcia Ball, Lou Ann Barton, Paul Ray, Angela Strehli, Charlie and Will Sexton, as well as the Vaughan brothers – Jimmie and Stevie Ray – to name-check just a few. Understandably, for years now, Clark has been referred to as the ‘Godfather of Austin Blues.’

“When the scene in Austin really got started, I was already playing blues. I started showing people how to play this and how to play that, so they started calling me ‘The Teacher.’ The ‘Godfather’ thing came from when I was playing on the lake up in Chicago and I was going on stage after Lee Roy Parnell. He said, ‘Ladies and gentleman, we’re going to call W.C. up here to help me sing this next song.’ So I went up and sang harmony with him. I said, ‘Folks, I want you to know that this is my musician brother.’ And someone out in the audience yelled out, ‘That’s your Godson.’ I didn’t ever know who yelled that out, but that’s where it came from. Then I became known as the ‘Godfather of Austin Blues.’

With all the amazing blues players that have called Austin home over the years, that’s a big-time feather in Clark’s ever-present hat. While he acknowledges that he’s proud to be called the ‘Godfather,’ he’s also quick to point out that the title does carry its share of weight and responsibilities with it.

wc clark pic2“The responsibility – I welcome it. I’m into the blues and all the music so deeply that anything that comes along with that, I’m ready for it. I want it,” he said. “Because there’s a lesson in everything.”

Those that are familiar with Austin from the 1960s and ’70s but have not visited since, would probably be shocked at just how much the city has exploded over the ensuing decades. There’s more people living in Austin these days, there’s more place to work, more places to eat and there’s even more people playing music in the town these days. By proxy, that also means the music scene in Austin has undergone a few tweaks and changes over the years, as well. But regardless of the changes, Austin still has a vibrant supply of young talent vying for its place in the sun.

“In every generation, the music almost always changes, everywhere. But there’s always young guys and ladies that are playing the blues that are slowly but surely coming up,” he said. “And it’s like that in Austin now. One of the things that clubs here are doing for young musicians now is hosting open mic nights. That gives young musicians a chance to be heard, but at the same time it can also hurt (established) musicians that are trying to get paid. For example, if a musician has been getting paid $75 or $100 to play a club, if that club has open mic night and can get young musicians to come and play for free, that saves them money. But that’s necessary, because if it wasn’t for those open mic nights, a lot of the young blues guys couldn’t get out there to be heard. South By Southwest (annual music conference and artist showcase held in Austin) has been another great avenue for young blues players to get their names out there.”

Austin has always been a massive melting pot for music of all forms, from country to folk to jazz, to punk and free-form psychedelic rock. To put it bluntly, Austin has seen and heard it all. But the blues – specifically Texas blues – has always been at the town’s core. And according to Clark, the real measure of the blues – whether you can them Texas blues or Chicago blues or the Delta blues – is something that can’t been seen, but can only be felt. That feeling can be one powerful elixir, too.

“The blues is all about feeling. The only reason for the different labels that people put on the blues was that it was necessary for the radio stations. They created those categories. But to me the only categories of the blues and happy blues and sad blues. But the thing is, that’s not the music, that’s the people that are listening to the music,” he said. “The people are the ones that are sad before they get into the blues. The blues just brings that out for them. Then they can lay back and go, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah,’ because it’s coming out of them. Now, some players will come into a blues band and they will bring negativity to mix in with a positive blues. The way I know a positive blues is that if I go to work and have a headache or stomach ache and when I play my last song, I might think, ‘Oh, that’s right; I don’t feel good.’ But all the while I’m up there playing my songs, that (not feeling good) never entered into my mind. That’s the positive blues.”

The other side of that coin is when someone introduces bad vibes or an uncaring attitude into a good blues tune.

“Yeah, like if somebody comes in and is not playing the pattern or the tone of the song … that’s when negativity starts slipping in. When that happens, that’s when you’ve got these bands that are arguing or fighting with each other. That’s why a lot of those rockers will jump off the bandstand and expect somebody to catch them,” said Clark. “They got that negative and nervous energy from that music that they play. I saw a guy from Austin jump off a six-foot stage one time, but he broke his leg. Now that’s negative energy.”

With that being said, has Clark ever felt temped to stage dive into a crowd?

“Oh, no, no, no,” he laughed. “But I tell you what; there’s been times when I had to remember that I was heavy, because I was so caught up in the music that I was playing that I didn’t feel no weight. The music was carrying me away. You know, everything should be in neutral. If everything was in neutral, we wouldn’t have no past or no future … everything would be about right now.”

wc clark pic3Clark’s father was a guitar player and it didn’t take too long before he was looking for a way to replicate what his dad did. In W.C.’s case, this meant taking a little bit of ingenuity, finding a couple of 2X4s and scraping together some bailing wire to fashion his very own guitar.

“I made a guitar out of 2X4s and bailing wire and I played it for a while. I got that from a country band out of Taylor (Texas) called Jimmy Heap and the Melody Masters. The first time I had seen a guy playing tub bass was with them,” he said. “He had one string and that went into a metal tub and hooked into a 2X4. Well, I figured if he could do that with one string, I could do it with six strings. So I got a bunch of bailing wire and put it on a 2X4 and stretched it and tuned it up my way and played it for a while. Then, a gospel quartet had heard of me and they wanted me to play guitar for them, so they bought a guitar and that’s how I got my first (real) guitar.”

Even though he was in a gospel group, Clark soon found his thoughts drifting to other forms of music, namely the blues. But in order to first fall in love with the blues, he had to hear them largely when his mother was out of the house.

“Up the street in my neighborhood was a café that had a jukebox with the blues in it. Well, my momma was from the old alter and would say, ‘We can’t listen to that.’ When she was around (the house) I listened to big band stuff and Frank Sinatra and gospel music,” he said. “When my mom was gone, my step-father would put the radio on XHRF and we listened to the blues. He’s (Clark’s step-father) the one that was enticing me, because I heard him telling momma, ‘Let him alone … it’s in him.” My momma would say stuff like, ‘Boy, put that guitar down and go to bed. You’re going to make people hate you, baby.’ So I would go outside in my car – I bought my first car when I was 17 years old – and start playing my guitar. Well, my momma would bring out blankets and pillows for me to cover up and sleep. That’s just the way it was.”

After playing at Charlie’s Playhouse in Austin for six years (with Blues Boy Hubbard and The Jets), Clark came onto the radar of the legendary R&B star, Joe Tex. Clark hit the road with Tex, seemingly leaving Austin behind in his rear-view mirror in the late ’60s. Turns out, that was just temporary.

“I was very ambitious then (when he left Austin with Tex) … musical ambition was what was guiding me. Joe Tex was traveling all over the world and I was playing in his band. But I had went back to Austin one year and there was a trumpet player named Don Jennings who called me up and said he had a band and they needed a bass player for that night. Well, I play guitar and bass, so I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll do it.’ Well, when I got there, I saw something I had never seen before – a white blues band,” he said. “This was Jimmie Vaughan and Paul Ray and Doyle Bramhall … all those guys were white and I had never seen a blues band like that. The trick was, I played the gig and everything went fine and I was on my way back to New York to meet up with Joe Tex, when a thought hit me. It was, ‘You know, that band was good.’ I played with them and we had a good time, but it wasn’t until later that I stopped and realized, ‘Damn! Those guys were good.’ That’s when I left Joe Tex and moved back to Austin. I played with Jimmie’s band for a while and other bands for a while and then I formed Southern Feeling (with vocalist Angela Strehli and piano player Denny Freeman).”

A proposed record deal for Southern Feeling came unraveled and Clark took a job as a mechanic at a Ford dealership in Austin.

Then fate – in the form of a young Stevie Ray Vaughan – intervened. Vaughan was gathering up musicians for a band he was starting and wouldn’t let Clark refuse to be a part of that combo, which became known as the Triple Threat Revue, which also featured vocalist Lou Ann Barton and keyboard player Mike Kindred.

“I had no idea back then (that Stevie Ray would go on to become an iconic guitarist), but something was guiding me, because I laid down my guitar and played bass with the group,” Clark said. “I always say that Stevie Ray had what I call a ‘forward look.’ His music was ‘forward’ music and I knew that he needed someone that knew what they were doing on bass to kick him, you know what I mean? Not drag him back, but kick him forward – someone that knew how to listen to a solo and if they heard him getting into a rut, then they knew what to do on bass to pick him up and kick him in a different direction. That’s why I joined him … to do just that.”

wc clark pic 4Clark and Kindred also teamed up to pen a song that would go on to become one of the highlights of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s Couldn’t Stand The Weather album a few years later – “Cold Shot.” The tune not only became one of SRV’s signature songs, it can still be heard with regularity on classic rock radio these days.

“We put that song together because we was trying to have enough songs to play, to make a gig. None of us back then had any idea it was going to be a hit song,” he said. “But Stevie Ray was a ‘seeker.’ I was the same way. A ‘seeker’ will go where the music leads them, because they know in the next step, there’s something to learn.”

In addition to all of the other things he does, Clark also teaches guitar and bass. Sometimes he says he feels like the student, which any good teacher should.

“I do learn things from my students. That doesn’t mean that I learn to play something from them that they knew and I didn’t; what that means is sometimes they’ll teach me why someone doesn’t like to play a particular thing,” he said. “I’ll go, ‘Oh, so this is why people don’t like to play this or that way.’ And I’ll have learned something from my students. That gives me the energy to fix it where they will like to play it that way.”

Clark has always took to the guitar like a fish takes to water, and after having an instrument in his hand for 50-plus years, playing is like second nature to the man. That helps to explain why Clark is able to get such rich and warm tones out of his guitar. And as it turns out, the way he approaches his guitar also has a dramatic effect on the way that Clark pens songs.

“When you’re playing music and trying to learn as much as you can, you end up learning the scales that’s in the music. After a while of playing those scales over and over, it becomes a melody in your sub-conscious. A lot of times when I wake up in the morning, I have a melody inside of me that’s going to worry me until I do something with it,” he said. “I listen to the way that I accent the notes and the timing and let that tell me what the words (to the song) are. I’ll hear a melody on the guitar and then put words to it and that becomes a song. Once I start the beginning to a song, I know how the ending is going to be. I just have to figure out how to get there.”

Superman wears a cape and a red-and-yellow uniform to help differentiate the super hero from his mild-mannered alter-ego, Clark Kent. While W.C. Clark may not be able to ‘leap tall buildings with a single bound,’ he does have a tool he uses to help separate the man from the bluesman.

“My hat. When you see me wearing hats, that’s a W.C. character. When I pull my hat off, then I’m Wesley,” he laughed. “Wesley’s the name I use when I go to pay the light and water bills; when I’m up on stage playing the blues, I’m W.C.”

With all that he’s accomplished – and the indelible imprint he’s squarely placed on the Austin music scene – you might think that the 76-year-old Clark might be ready to downshift a bit and start thinking about impending retirement.

However, those thoughts don’t appear to be anywhere near W.C. Clark’s head.

“No sir. Something tells me that my hands will still be working even if my legs won’t,” he said. “Music is the spirit of all things. When you die, you have to be born again of the spirit. Well, this spirit that I have of my right now, I want to be again of it. And that spirit is music. So I’m going to hang in there as long as I can. I tell the audiences sometimes, ‘Folks thanks you for the tips and stuff and I’m going to tell you what you all are doing. When we receive this money, we’re not beating anybody out of nothing. You’re giving us this money because you want us to have it.’ And the crowds give me a great big hand when I say that. We’ve made the audience feel good with the music and no they’ve made us feel good with the money and they know it, because I told them. It’s a win-win for both parties and everybody goes home happy.”

Visit W.C.’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 – 7 of 15 

bridget kelly cd imageBridget Kelly Band – Outta The Blues

Alpha Sun Records 2016

14 tracks; 69 minutes

In 2014 I reviewed The Bridget Kelly Band’s previous CD Forever In Blues and complimented the band on an entirely original set of blues with excellent guitar, good production values and clearly sung lyrics. Exactly the same comments apply to the latest addition to the catalogue as Bridget on vocals, husband Tim Fik on guitar and occasional vocals are joined by a new rhythm section of Alex Klausner on drums and Mark Ambrecht on bass.

Hailing from Gainesville, Florida, the band has produced a solid set of original music, avoiding the frequent trap of making a rock album with hints of blues: this CD has plenty of genuine blues, witness the opening brace of “Gonna Stay Here” which has plenty of overdubbed slide and “Spellbound”, a classic slow blues with some sweet guitar from Tim. The band goes for some latin rhythms and Santanaesque guitar leads on “If You See My Baby” and although Bridget’s voice is less well suited to the higher register that the song demands, musically this is a definite winner. Time then for a shuffle and “Sweet River Blues” provides a bright tune and a solid vocal from Bridget, a song that sounds instantly familiar though it is another original. The slow-burning “Baltimore Woes” is the longest track here and opens with elegant acoustic guitar as Bridget sings of “fighting for glory, for the ones who do not care”, the song gradually building in intensity as bass, drums and layers of electric guitars add to the underlying tune.

After two rockier tracks the band uses the core riff of Howling Wolf’s “Smokestack Lightning” as the base for their own lyrics on “Up And Gone”, a device that works well as Bridget sings her lyrics and even uses a touch of Wolf’s signature howl as Tim adds some great slide work. The band pays appropriate homage to the original tune in the liner notes. A gentle ballad “Lonely Night In June” shows another side to the band and acts as a good interlude before the intense guitar intro to “When The Night Time Comes” which Tim sings in a gruff but serviceable voice. The fast-paced “Hard Times In The City” has plenty of good guitar work in support of Bridget’s vocal about the underbelly of the city before “Someone’s Hoodooin’ Me” presents a more standard blues ‘chug’ with a grittier vocal from Bridget that fits the song perfectly.

Once again the band has come up with a full album of originals and deserves credit for that. Plenty of real blues here and some fine playing – worth a listen.

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 – 8 of 15 

hippie love spave cd imageHippie Love Slave – God Is Testing Me

Real Music Records – 2015

12 tracks; 44 minutes

Kathryn Grimm is another player from the thriving Portland, Oregon, blues scene. Kathryn sings lead, plays guitar and occasional keyboards and wrote most of the material on this album which is the debut for her electric blues project Hippie Love Slave. The core players are Fizzle on bass, Jim Hardin on drums, Bill Heston on keys but a number of additional players contribute: Alan Alexander III and Michael Sunday replace Fizzle on one track each and Rob Canny and Charlie take over the drum stool on three tracks. Lynn Knight plays fiddle on one tune, Ronnie Taylor sax on two and Rosemary Bell adds percussion to one cut.

The album opens with the traditional gospel tones of “Trouble Of This World”, Kathryn singing the first verse with minimal accompaniment before the band enters on the second verse to give the tune an electric treatment and making a great start to the album. “Going Back” finds Kathryn is fine voice as she reminisces about the ‘good old days’ when she “did’nt have a worried mind and I did not think about you all the time”. Fizzle’s bass is outstanding here and provides a superb platform for Kathryn’s guitar solo which she herself introduces as if it were a live performance – great track.

Ronnie’s breathy sax introduces the uptempo “The Way I Feel”, Bill’s organ sounding very 60’s here. “Running All Over Town”, a co-write with Alexandria Carey, has an interesting combination of additional percussion and fiddle behind Kathryn’s sweeping vocals before a short and sweet take on “Mary Had A Little Lamb” (here attributed to Buddy Guy) which allows us to hear Kathryn’s skills on guitar.

“The Only Weapon We Need Is Love” definitely suits the name of the band with its plea for peace, love and understanding –fine sentiments over a pleasant soundtrack.

The title track is a full-on production with plenty of backing vocals, swirling organ, strong rhythm guitar work and a fine Santana-esque solo; again, not blues but a strong performance. It is interesting that these two tracks are the ones on which Fizzle does not play bass and are the furthest away from the blues. Fizzle is present for the rest of the album and “You Used To Be My King” is an upbeat rocker with Kathryn lamenting the loss of her lover and expressing her emotions in a torrid solo. The third cover is Gary Moore’s “Midnight Blues” which Kathryn plays pretty straight with a searing solo.

The rocking “Mama Told Me Not To Lie” finds Kathryn double tracking vocals and guitars as well as adding keyboards and certainly gets the feet tapping. Carlos ‘Guitarlos’ Ayala wrote the lyrics, Kathryn the music for “That’s Not A Real Man” and its choppy Latin rhythm propels the tune well, the core solo from Kathryn ringing out in dramatic fashion. The album closes with the acoustic “My Voice”, embellished by Ronnie’s sax and taking a defiant stand to establish our individuality: “Together we could be like a tiny army, shouting to the world ‘I’m here and I’m a pearl’. In this gigantic sea you can’t ignore me; it all begins with a choice and my voice.”

There is plenty of promise in this debut album which is not all blues but always interesting.

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 – 9 of 15 

a g weinberger cd imageAG Weinberger – Mighty Business

BigFoot Records – 2015

11 tracks; 62 minutes

Romanian guitarist and singer Attila (AG) Weinberger has lived and worked in the States where he recorded with Tom Hambridge but this album was recorded live in Bucharest in 2009. AG handles lead guitar and vocals with Sorin Petrila on rhythm guitar/B/V’s, Vlad Spatar on bass/BV’s and Miklos Orban on drums. There are four of AG’s own songs alongside seven covers. The overall sound is quite heavy blues-rock and AG sings in a very deep and gruff vocal style, a little like Omar Dykes. AG sings all the songs in English with just a hint of accent.

The covers include three credited to Muddy Waters: the cover of “Standin’ Round Cryin’” is played pretty straight with some wild slide work from AG; “The Blues Had A Baby And They Named It Rock n’ Roll” is harder to recognise as the band funks it up, even including a short feature for the rhythm section; “Baby Please Don’t Go” opens the album in strong style and is the third Muddy track though the tune is usually credited to Big Joe Williams, though Muddy certainly recorded it. Sam Taylor’s “Mother Blues” has plenty of torrid guitar from AG and is immediately followed by a very short reading of The Meters’ “Cissy Strut”.

AG tackles “Ain’t Nobody’s Business in an extended but respectful cover with some fine guitar work that resists over-playing until the final couple of minutes. The final cover is Charlie Parker’s “Billie’s Bounce”, not the standard fare of most blues bands but unfortunately it provides far too much space for AG to over-indulge on guitar before he passes the baton to the drummer to solo – never a favourite moment, even on a live album!

Of the originals “I Can’t Get Enough” is a good rocker with plenty of impressive guitar work over a catchy refrain, probably the stand-out track; “Sweet Little Number” sounds familiar from the off, probably because the tune borrows substantially from “Messin’ With The Kid”.

The two other originals are both extended pieces: “Try To Get Into The Middle Of The Road” is more melodic than much of the material here, AG and the band’s English faltering a bit on the chorus; closing track “Take Me To The Highway” is a fast-paced rocker with a skittering guitar break which simply did not keep this reviewer’s interest though the extended applause at the end indicates that the crowd in Bucharest had a different opinion.

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 – 10 of 15 

ian zack book imageIan Zack – Say No To The Devil

The Life And Musical Genius Of Rev. Gary Davis

The University of Chicago Press

323 pages

The folk music boom that started in the 1950s, before peaking in the following decade, not only brought fame to artists like Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, the Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul & Mary, and Bob Dylan. It also lead to the rediscovery of many legendary acoustic blues musicians who seemed to step out of the mists of time to play music that had been only been heard by a small contingent of avid record collectors. Artists like Son House, Mississippi John Hurt, Skip James, and Mississippi Fred McDowell were considered real folk music performers who moved from from obscure rural lives to international acclaim.

Rev. Gary Davis never really needed to be rediscovered. He “hiding in plain sight” in New York City, moving there in 1944 with his wife, Annie, so she could be closer to her daughters. Born in South Carolina, Davis lost his sight a few weeks after his birth due to chemicals used to treat an ailment. Raised by his grandmother, a religious woman, Davis sang in the church choir. He also learned to play the harmonica at a young age, imitating the sounds of the animals raised on their hard-scrabble farm.

Once he heard the sounds created be an itinerant musician, the aspiring musician found one of his life’s callings. Likening what he heard to the sound of the brass band, Davis pleaded with his mother for a guitar of his own. In the meantime, he made his own from boards and baling wire. Finally, his mother spent $2.50 to get her son an instrument with “a fine tone”. It became his constant companion, to the chagrin of his grandmother. Davis was schooled on the guitar by other local players, with Willie Walker being a prominent teacher. Walker passed away at a young age, leaving four sides cut for Columbia Records to serve as his legacy.

At twenty- one years of age, Davis left the farm and began traveling the countryside, stopping to play on street corners in towns along the way to finance his travels. By now he had developed a style of playing the guitar that was second to none, allowing him to standout in any situation. His rapid-fire single note runs and complex chording allowed him to standout amongst the other musicians vying for the attention of passersby. Davis was playing the blues while coping with the issues of being blind and alone while traveling through unfamiliar locales.

The passing of his mother in 1934 caused a spiritual awakening that stuck with Davis the rest o his life. He recorded fifteen sides in 1935 for ARC Records, mostly spirituals, including classics like “Twelve Gates To The City” and “The Great Change in Me”. Two years later he was ordained as a minister in a Baptist church. Rev. Davis took his calling seriously, going out on the streets to evangelize in the name of the Lord, using his deep, booming voice and magnificent guitar playing to get people to stop and listen to his message of salvation. Once he and Annie were settled in New York, Davis made the rounds of a network of storefront churches throughout the city dressed in his trademark suit and tie.

Through extensive and well-documented research, author Ian Zack recounts the impact Rev. Davis had on several generations of guitar players, many of whom were fortunate enough to take lessons from him. Davis only charged $5, no matter how long the lesson lasted – sometimes for hours if the teacher and student really connected. Dave Van Ronk, Larry Johnson, Jorma Kaukonen, Roy Book Binder, Ry Cooder, Stefan Grossman, and Bob Weir all fell under the spell of Davis’s intricate guitar work.

Throughout the 60s decade, Davis played gigs in folk and blues clubs across the country plus tours of the United Kingdom. Once he returned home, it was back to preaching, saving souls and teaching others his guitar techniques. In the final years of his life, after resisting numerous requests, Rev. Davis finally started adding some of the blues material to his setlists, but only when his wife wasn’t around. He also found it hard to stay away from alcohol and women, who were enamored by a highlight of his live show where he would play amazing guitar with one hand while the other arm was wrapped tightly around a female from the audience sitting on his lap.

When Davis died from a heart attack at the age of seventy-six, he left behind a recorded legacy that attests to his amazing guitar and vocal skills. His influence lives on in the music created by all of his students and the generations who have learned from them. Thanks to Ian Zack, we now have a biography that serves as a testament to Rev. Gary Davis and his spiritual strength that allowed him to carve a permanent place in blues history.

Reviewer Mark Thompson lives in Florida, where he is enjoying life without snow. He is the President of the Board of Directors for the Suncoast Blues Society and the past president of the Crossroads Blues Society of Northern Illinois. Music has been a huge part of his life for the past fifty years – just ask his wife!.

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 2016 Champaign Blues Brews and BBQ Festival 

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Blues Blast made it out to cover the Blues Brews and BBQ Festival in Champaign, IL. It was the 9th annual festival. This is a FREE festival and is sponsored by our partners for the 2016 Blues Blast Music Awards, The Fluid Event Center.

First up was a band from Peoria, IL called The Smokers.

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They were the 2015 River City Blues Society blues challenge winner and they put on a set of mostly cover tunes in a very capable job of kicking off the festival with some blues.

Next us was Edward David Anderson. Ed was the front man for great area band called Backyard Tire Fire for several years.

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Ed who is also from Central Illinois was performing solo using a foot board, drums and classical guitars, banjos and a cigar box guitar. He got the crowd singing along to his great set of Americana music.

Next up was the Kris Lager Band.

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They played revival Rock and Roll. Not Blues at all but the crowd enjoyed their set and were dancin’ in the streets.

The headliner for Friday night was The Reverend Horton Heat.

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The Reverend Horton Heat is the stage name of American musician Jim Heath as well as the name of his Dallas, Texas-based psychobilly trio.

On Saturday the festival started off with David Dunavent. David’s band is a hard hitting blues rock band hailing from the heart of the Mississippi Delta, Clarksdale, Mississippi.

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Some real deal blues to kick of the day.

Next up was the William Marsala Band. They are a hard hitting Southern Blues Rock band out of Central Il.

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The band is fronted by Joe Asselin on lead guitar and harmonica. Joe was the harmonica player for Kilborn Alley Blues Band for their first 5 year.

Next up was a 2015 Blues Blast Music Awards nominee and last weeks featured artist, Slam Allen.

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Slam hit the stage with a smile on his face and soon had the crowd in the palm of his hand. I heard one lady blues fan hearing him for the first time describe him as a combination of Buddy Guy and BB King. Not too far off in my book.

Next up were Howard And The White Boys.

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Featuring Howard McCullum on bass and lead vocals they played set of rock and blues rock that the crowd seemed to enjoy.

The headliner of the evening was Blues legend Kim Wilson and the Fabulous Thunderbirds.

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As expected Kim kicked the Blues up considerably especially with the amazing Johnny Moeller on guitar. Kim left the crowd screaming for more.

The Blues Brews and BBQ Festival is held each year the last full weekend in June in Champaign, IL. Put this FREE festival on your calendar for June 23rd and 24th 2017.

Photos and commentary by Bob Kieser

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 Featured Blues Review – 11 of 15 

val starr cd imageVal Starr & the Blues Rocket – Woman on a Mission

Self-Produced/Sandwich Factory Records

CD: 13 Songs, 63:00 Minutes

Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues and Blues Rock

The trailer for the art-house movie Youth depicts aging composer Fred Ballinger, who is trying to come to terms with his life and family. “You were right,” he says. “Music is all I understand, because you don’t need words and experience to understand it. It just IS.” This reviewer believes Fred’s insight is especially true for blues music. One doesn’t have to be Beethoven to play them, or opera diva Maria Callas to sing them. One need not be as poetic as Shakespeare to write them. The blues don’t require words and experience to comprehend. They simply ARE. Sacramento’s Val Starr is a Woman on a Mission to demonstrate this, along with her band the Blues Rocket. Her conversational, well-balanced vocals and thirteen original tracks are perfect for a medium-key outdoor concert. Screaming guitar may be absent, but melody is abundantly present. Even though some of the offerings on her third CD sound similar, they help listeners groove and relax.

“The blues are many things to many people,” Val states in the album’s liner notes. “Woman on a Mission pays homage to the diversity and passion of the blues by showcasing a wide range of blues styles, from rockin’ blues to traditional shuffles and West-coast swings. This album also represents my desire to break out of the mold and follow my own blues heart.” In a music scene where covers rule, and original songs aren’t considered cool, Starr’s audacity is commendable.

Helping Val to launch is the Blues Rocket band: co-producer John Ellis on bass and background vocals; Frankie Soul on lead guitar; and Paul Farman on drums. Starr herself performs on lead vocals and rhythm guitar. Special guests include drummers Guyle Taber and Rick Meyer; saxophonist Marty Deradoorian; Horacio Socarras on congas; and Todd Morgan on keyboards, electric piano, and organ.

These three songs are catchy, rhythmic, and funny enough to make festival-goers laugh out loud:

Track 02: “Bad Shoes Blues” – Smokin’ lead guitar from Frankie Soul kicks off this Chicago-style shuffle about foolish footwear. “All right, girls. I’m talking to you. You don’t want to end up with the Bad Shoes Blues. Listen up, ladies: when your feet start to swell, that’s the time you know you are in high-heel hell. They sure look pretty, yes, they do, but they just end up giving you the Bad Shoes Blues.” Unburden your aching ankles and go barefoot on the dance floor.

Track 03: “The Boozin’ Blues” – Does drinking alcohol facilitate relationships, or do relationships facilitate drinking alcohol? In this case, the answer is “no” on both counts. “My baby’s always high,” Val laments, and then issues an ultimatum: “So stop your abusing, and if your damn boozing ain’t through, I’ll say goodbye.” This is tasty traditional blues, grilled medium-slow.

Track 12: “The Blues is not a Color” – Starr takes a page from George Thorogood’s playbook, channeling “Bad to the Bone” on this penultimate track. With sweet sax from Marty Deradoorian and killer keys and piano by Todd Morgan, number twelve invites everyone to take a trip back to the 1950’s: “The b-b-b-blues are back inside, the b-b-b-blues are back inside of you!” For a closing number, it’s a swing-inspiring riot.

Val Starr is a Woman on a Mission to bring original blues to the forefront of the genre!

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 – 12 of 15 

easybaby cd imageEasybaby – Going Upstairs

Tin Can Records – 2015

11 tracks; 48 minutes

In the sleeve notes to their debut album Easybaby explain that they record the old-fashioned way, all in one room, no headphones, no overdubs, and if some extraneous sounds creep into the recording, so be it, as that is what was happening that day. It’s a recipe for some gritty, old school blues, a mix of originals and covers that range from the classics to contemporary sources. The band comes from the East coast and plays mainly in Connecticut and Massachusetts: Kelly Rago is on vocals, Trevor West, guitar, Dennis Cotton, drums, Rich Badowski, harp, and Max Samson, bass; Greg Allen replaces Max on two tracks.

Throughout the disc Kelly proves herself a very capable vocalist with clear expression and a good range. The album opens with a solid take on Gary Clark Jr’s “Next Door Neighbour Blues”, Trevor’s slide work underpinning Rich’s harp. A more familiar source of inspiration is BB King whose “Rock Me Baby” is arguably the most over-covered tune in the blues, Easybaby choosing to play it in a relentlessly upbeat style with Rich’s harp again to the fore; the slow blues of BB’s “Three O’Clock Blues” is a contrast later on the album.

Other covers include the driving title track which is drawn from John Lee Hooker’s boogie repertoire and Jesse Mae Hemphill’s “Hard Times” which opens with Trevor’s slide set against a radio weather forecast in the background before developing into a tough boogie with plenty of harp. Eddie Boyd’s “I’m Coming Home” is noted as live on the cover but the final track, Sonny Terry’s “Hooray, Hooray This Woman Is Killing Me” appears to also be a live recording as we join the tune as Kelly is talking about her mike stand! The former has a very similar tune to standard versions of “Rock Me Baby”, the latter rocks along well but has distorted vocals which detract.

There are four original tunes on the album. “The Fool” opens and closes with Greg Allen’s moody bass and is a fine slow blues on which Kelly is well supported by harp and guitar. “Goodbye Lover” is a fast-paced rocker in which Kelly is glad to see the back of her ex and says so in pretty explicit terms! “Wait And See” drops the pace and again features Greg on what sounds like a double bass while “I Don’t Know” shares a title and some of the rhythmic changes of Willie Mabon’s song made famous by the Blues Brothers.

There is nothing particularly novel about Easybaby’s blues but you can imagine that they would be a fun band to see live and in Kelly Rago they have a fine vocalist.

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 – 13 of 15 

bobby blackhat cd imageBobby Blackhat – Accidental Blues

Self-Release – 2015

15 tracks; 67 minutes

Bobby Blackhat Walters is originally from Ohio and spent nearly 30 years in the US Coastguard service. Since retirement he has expanded his interest in performing the blues and this is his fifth CD release, he was a finalist in the 2016 IBC’s and gigs regularly around the Norfolk, VA area. On this album Bobby wrote all the material with some help on four tracks from band members. Bobby handles lead vocals and harp and all members of the band add backing vocals: Tom Euler, guitar, Brian Eubanks, bass and Michael Behlmar, drums. A lot of other musicians contribute to the CD with keyboard duties shared between Cal Hamlin and Lucy Lawrence Kilpatrick.

Bobby has a clear voice and plays some good harp throughout but the first three tracks probably offer the best snapshot of what the band has to offer. “Two By Four” is a straightforward shuffle with amusing lyrics about the effect of a new love in Bobby’s life: “the first time I laid eyes on you I was struck by a two by four. I was caught off-guard, never been struck like that before”; “Blues Story” is a rolling blues with excellent piano and harp in which Bobby states that “everyone has a blues story, from the day you were born till the day you go to Glory”; the title track “Accidental Blues” rockets along, a harp and guitar driven shuffle. “Happy Go Lucky Man” appears in two versions, a shorter acoustic take and a longer ‘Remix’ which gives the story of taking a relaxed approach to life more of a Caribbean groove. Bobby again shows his humour in “It’s Not A Good Idea Till It’s Her Idea” as he half-speaks the lyrics over a late-night lounge jazz band performance and on the down-home acoustic “My Cookin’” in which Bobby’s talents in the kitchen win over an attractive lady. The moody “Come Home Blues” is the classic tale of the girl having walked out and Bobby’s harp and vocals convey his sadness well. In lyrical contrast “My World Did Not End” finds Bobby quietly pleased to be out of this particular relationship on an upbeat shuffle with Cal’s piano work to the fore.

Guest vocalist Shonya Carlock sings the slow blues “Please Mr Blackhat” leaving Bobby to “play some blues for me” which Bobby is happy to do, providing an impressive harp solo. Just to demonstrate that he can also sing a slow song effectively “Feathers And Nails” is an introspective number with Bobby backed only by Tom’s quiet guitar and his own harp – very different to most of the album. “There Is No Sin In The Voice Of God” takes us to church as Lucy’s gospel-tinged piano is the sole accompaniment to Bobby’s heartfelt plea for a more tolerant society. From the sacred and serious to the fun and frivolous – the fast-paced “Broke My Body Down” gets the toes tapping as Bobby complains that his latest lover was a bit much for him physically!

With such a generously filled CD there is always the risk of some material that might have better been left off and, as the title suggests, “Nursery Rhyme Shuffle” works in all the old nursery rhymes and is entirely dispensable; the bonus track “HRBT Blues” does not add a lot and, despite repeated listens, I was unable to catch exactly what the initials stand for. However, putting aside those quibbles, there is some good material here and plenty solid harp playing from Bobby who deserves support for an entirely original program of songs.

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 – 14 of 15 

bob lanza cd imageBob Lanza Blues Band – From Hero To Zero

Connor Ray Music – 2015

9 tracks; 46 minutes

Bob Lanza comes from New Jersey though his latest CD was recorded in Houston, Texas. Bob works generally in a trio format with ‘Mild’ Bill Lagreca on bass and Jake O’Handley on drums. Bob handles all guitar and lead vocals and the band is augmented here by Steve Krase’s harp, keyboards by either Ed ‘Doc’ Wall or Randy Wall, Trudy Lynn adding occasional backing vocals; engineer Dan Skye fills in on bass on one number and adds to the backing vocals and Mike V plays rubboard. Unfortunately no writing credits are given on the album but I assume that Bob wrote most of the material though there are certainly two familiar covers here.

The album opens with the strong riff-driven “For Loving You” on which Bob double tracks some excellent slide work. Bob sounds a little strained vocally on this one but seems more at home on the shuffle “All Over Again” which has piano and harp added to the trio. You can hear Trudy Lynn’s backing vocals on the slower “Love And Kindness”, Bob singing of the need for compromise in relationships, providing some soaring guitar alongside Steve’s distinctive harp. The title track “Hero To Zero” has a Texan feel and “My Home Is A Prison” is an extended slow blues with Steve and Bob playing some tough blues together though for this reviewer Steve’s harp style is simply too strident but that will be a matter of taste, others will probably love it! “It Ain’t About Me” rocks along well with Bob’s slide getting another outing; “Evil World” starts with some incomprehensible chatter before Bob and Steve play some acoustic blues on a tune that sounds quite a lot like Little Walter’s “Mean Old World”.

The two definite covers are a solid version of “Ain’t Nobody’s Business” on which Bob’s fine guitar work is well supported by organ and a funky take on “I Wouldn’t Treat A Dog” is excellent with Bob providing solid guitar, well supported by organ and Steve playing in a more restrained manner to good effect – probably the standout track here in this reviewer’s opinion. Bob is not Bobby Bland (who is?) but sings this one well.

This appears to be Bob’s third CD release and will undoubtedly please existing fans as well as having enough positives to win over some new ones.

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 – 15 of 15 

steve gilbert cd imageSteve Gilbert – Hempstead Highway


CD: 13 Songs, 56:35 Minutes

Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues Rock

The world of music publishing, in the era of the Internet, has become an insoluble paradox. On the one hand, it’s made “getting on the playing field” much easier. One need not have the money or prestige to impress established labels, which often don’t accept unsolicited material (read: material from artists they don’t know, and aren’t proven money-makers yet.) On the other hand, it’s made the music business ever so much more difficult in terms of publicity and promotion. With so many talented artists out there, how does one make oneself known? Houston’s Steve Gilbert has one answer, in the form of his debut CD.

Steve Gilbert and his self-published blues-rock CD Hempstead Highway have already received some rave reviews. According to his website, “Steve Gilbert began playing blues music around the Houston area while still in high school, sitting in at clubs and icehouses before he was old enough to drink. He continued his blues education while living in Austin in the late 1970s and early 1980s. After a stint in Los Angeles, playing in popular roots and alt-country bands in gigs all over Southern California, he came back to Houston in the late 1990s and returned to playing the music he loves, the blues. He helped form the H-Town Jukes soon thereafter, and the band brought its old-school blues sound all over the Gulf Coast while putting out a CD to critical acclaim in 2010. Now out on his own, Steve Gilbert continues to bring the blues back home, whether performing in a solo acoustic setting or with the Steve Gilbert Band. Steve’s debut solo CD, Hempstead Highway, was released in March 2016. It immediately appeared on RMRs Contemporary Blues CD chart and has garnered rave reviews in the US and internationally.”

With Gilbert on vocals, guitars and handclaps are Jeffrey Hamby on bass guitar; Carl Owens on drums; William Hollis on Hammond organ; Eugene “Sparetime” Murray on vocals and background vocals; Kevin “Snit” Fitzpatrick on acoustic guitar; Sherrie Lynn Mayes on tambourine and handclaps; and Miranda Herbert, David Silverman, and Bella Adela on handclaps.

Want proof of his devotion to the genre, and one of its masters? Check this original tune out:

Track 04: “Mr. Joe Guitar Hughes” – Every artist pays tribute to his/her mentor at least once in life, whether through song or otherwise. This is a name-dropping ditty, where Gilbert mentions several blues artists to prove that, yes, this is indeed a blues track: “Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson, T-Bone Walker and Gatemouth Brown – you put them all together, Lord, and you’ve got that [incomprehensible] sound. Cutting down its shadings, when a bright red suit, ‘cause nobody played the blues like Mr. Joe Guitar Hughes.”

Even though Gilbert plays halfway-decent electric guitar, his flat, nasal vocals and workmanlike delivery don’t inspire. Even on over-covered covers like Paul Butterfield’s “Lovin’ Cup,” the results are unsatisfying. Steve may play and sing the blues, but yours truly gets the feeling he doesn’t feel the blues. On eight original tracks and five covers, he displays his musical roots to medium-key effect.

Hempstead Highway may be too flat and featureless for some, but Gilbert’s fans will love 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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 Blues Society News 

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Southeast Iowa Blues Society – Fairfield, IA

The Southeast Iowa Blues Society proudly presents the 3rd annual “Blue Ribbon Blues Fest” 2016. August 6th at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds in Fairfield IA. Gates Open at 4:30pm with Music beginning at 5pm 5:30pm Matt Woods, 7:00pm Anni Piper Band, and at 9:00pm the Chris O’Leary Band with Tony Blew playing between acts. Beverage Garden and BBQ & more..(No Outside Food or Drinks) Bring your chairs and Camping is available. Tickets $20 Day of Show – $15 Advance and SIBS members.

Call (641)-919-7477 for more information and tickets or visit

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

Crossroads Blues Society – Byron, IL

The seventh annual Crossroads Blues Festival is ready to go! Held annually since 2010, the festival’s home at Lyran Park has won blues fans over. The park is a natural amphitheater situated on the confluence of the Kishwaukee River and Kilbuck Creek, just south of Rockford Airport. Lyran Park is privately owned by the Lyran Society. They and co-sponsors the Crossroads Blues Society are both non-profit organizations. Located at 4781 South Bend Road, Lyran Park offers a beautiful, shady setting with great acoustics, plentiful free parking and primitive camping opportunities for the festival ($20 per night Friday and/or Saturday). The festival remains on the Saturday before Labor Day weekend, which is August 27, 2016. Gates open at 11 AM, the music starts at noon and runs through 9:30 PM.

Headlining the event is Southern Indiana’s hill country group Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band at 8 PM. Soul blues great from Indianapolis Tad Robinson is on at 6 PM. At 4 PM the Ghost Town Blues Band from Memphis grace the stage. Chicago’s slide guitar wizard Joanna Connor is on at the 2 PM time slot. The day opens at noon with the fantastic band from Auckland, New Zealand who were in Rockford in 2013- The Flaming Mudcats. Birddog and Beck, winners of last year’s Crossroads Solo/Duo Blues Challenge, will be featured between acts. Ken Olufs will conduct a harmonica workshop at 3:30 PM with free harmonicas for the first 25 kids who are 10 and under.

Beverage Garden and BBQ & more..(No Outside Food or Drinks) Bring your chairs and Camping is available. Tickets $20 Day of Show – $15 Advance and SIBS members.

Advanced tickets are once again only $5 and are available through both Crossroads Blues Society and the Lyran Society. They can be purchased mail by check; please include a self-addressed stamped envelope. Mail orders go to Crossroads, Post Office Box 840, Byron, IL 61010. Tickets can be purchased on line with a credit card via PayPal at Ticket outlets are in Rockford and the Stateline area. Rockford: Woodmans Supermarket on Perryville Road, Culture Shock and Guzzardos Music, both on Charles Street; Just Goods Store on 7th Street; CD Source on State Street; Toad Hall on Broadway;. Other locations: Snyders Drugs (Byron, Oregon, Winnebago); Value Fresh Market (Byron); Paradise Guitars and Grand Avenue Pub (Beloit); Cristy’s Bar (Freeport).Proceeds from the festival support Blues in the Schools, an effort Crossroads began 14 years ago. Since then 180 programs have been conducted for 50,330 area students. Please come out and support live music and help keep the blues alive. Call 779-537-4006 with questions.

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 25 – Chris Ruest, August 1 – Anmni Piper, 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. 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

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