Issue 10-4 January 28, 2016

Cover photo by Alwyn R Coates © 2016

 In This Issue 

Don Wilcock has our feature interview with Eugene Hideway Bridges. We have 5 Blues music reviews for you including reviews of music from Eugene Hideaway Bridges, Ole Frimer Band, Zakiya Hooker, Big Rolling Wheel and Al Basile.

Our video of the week is Eugene Hideaway Bridges performing with The Mustique Blues Festival & the London Blues Band in Bequia in the Eastern Caribbean.

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

 From The Editor’s Desk 

Hey Blues Fans,

The 2016 International Blues Challenge is in full swing in Memphis. Tonight the semi-finalists will be selected and the artists that make the semi-finals will be competing again in the clubs on Beale street on Friday for a coveted spot in the finals on Saturday afternoon.

Blues Blast Magazine will be there on Friday to see the cream of the crop of today’s best Blues musicians duke it out for fame and fortune!

We will be at the finals capturing all the action for you too. Look for us in the Blues Blast T-shirts and be sure to say hello.

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser

 Blues Blast Early Bird Ad Special


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 Featured Blues Music Review – 1 of 5 

Eugene Hideaway Bridges – Hold On A Little Bit Longer

Armadillo Music Limited

15 songs – 57 minutes

Seven times Blues Music Award nominee Eugene Hideaway Bridges needs no introduction to most Blues Blast readers. His deep blues, heavily laced with soul, funk, gospel and rock, is always played with infectious warmth and no little virtuosity. His new album, Hold On A Little Bit Longer, however, may be his best yet.

Featuring 15 songs, 13 of which were written by Bridges, and clocking in at just under an hour, Hold On A Little Bit Longer has a confidence and joie de vivre that is representative of a musician and a band that know they are at the top of their game and thoroughly enjoying it. There are no wasted moments, no fillers and no descents into self-indulgence.

Between the opening classic soul sound of “One More Time” to the closing smooth rock of “Thirst For Air”, Bridges tears into the rollicking west coast swing instrumental of “Yesteryear Today Tomorrow” (which highlights Bridges’ top notch guitar playing as well as some marvelous horn work from John Mills); the up-beat, country-tinged title track (featuring the guest slide guitar of British blues legend, Mickey Moody, perhaps best known for his stint in Whitesnake before they went down the big hair-slick production-heavy rock-MTV route); and the more traditional blues shuffle of “V8 Ford” (with the classic blues couplet “Baby, come on and ride with me, baby hop on board. It’s not a brand new shiny Cadillac, it’s just an old V8 Ford”). There is the funk of “Special Lady” and the R’n’B-pop of “End Of Time”. But, despite Bridges’ willingness to merrily trample over any number of musical genres, he treats each style with love and respect and there is a consistency and continuity throughout the album that produces a thrillingly unified end result.

Highlights abound across the release. “Change Your Name” is a powerful, slower BB King-esque number, while “Love You In Every Way” is the type of upbeat shuffle to which it is impossible not to tap one’s foot. We’re even treated to an eye-popping “Along The Navajo Trail”, the old Roy Rogers cowboy song, which is re-interpreted as an uptown swing number.

Perhaps the emotional touchstone of the album, however, is the gospel of “Lost And Lookin’”, on which Bridges is backed by a very simple drum and bass pattern. The sparse accompaniment helps to emphasizes the power of his molten honey voice. Hold On is dedicated to Bridges’ recently-passed father, Othineil Bridges, who was both a preacher and a bluesman who performed as a blues guitarist under the name “Hideaway Slim”, and “Lost And Lookin’” is a beautiful reminder of the huge overlap between blues and gospel.

Lyrically, Bridges addresses the traditional blues themes in his songs, but often with an unusual approach. In “Definition Of Me”, the chorus defiantly declares that “I won’t let material things be the definition of me”, whereas in “Take Me Back To Perth”, however, the singer demands to be returned to city in Western Australia where he has been treated so warmly that he now considers it a second home.

Bridges is backed by a crack band, featuring Clayton Doley on Hammond B3 Organ and piano, Otto Williams on bass, drummer Bobby Baranowski and a horn section of John Mills on sax, Kevin Flatt on trumpet and Jon Blondell on trombone. But Bridges himself is clearly the star of the show. His voice is warm, supple and capable of expressing deep emotion and his BB King-influenced guitar playing is powerful, melodic and played with taut restraint.

Hold On A Little Bit Longer is an absolute belter of a release. It is an album that both bears detailed scrutiny as well as being the perfect soundtrack to a party. One of the best albums of the year.

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

 Featured Blues Interview – Eugene Hideaway Bridges 

Eugene Hideaway Bridges is everything a fine bluesman is supposed to be: truthful, rough, and simple but never simplistic. He’s also a whole lot more. For as long as he can take another breath, he will not be painted into a corner stylistically or logistically. He plays blues, gospel, a little country and a lot of soul, and he does it from Pittsburgh to Perth, New Orleans to Tokyo.

“Am I gonna wait until someone they consider the right color comes along and writes (a particular song that isn’t a blues)? Am I supposed to forget my grandmother is part white? She’s also part Navajo on my daddy’s side, and my mama is African American and Cherokee.

“I’m supposed to forget that part of my family just because we weren’t 100% black or 100% that? I don’t consider myself a black man. I consider myself a MAN. I don’t consider myself a blues artist. I’m an artist who writes blues, who writes gospel, who writes R&B because all of that is a part of me.”

Yes, Eugene Hideaway Bridges is the perfect blues artist to discuss a century of uneasy relationships between secular and sacred music. He learned how to play guitar from his daddy, Hideaway Slim, in 1965 at age two. Daddy was both a preacher and a blues artist, a combination rare for a generation that drew a line in the sand between gospel and blues.

The late John Campbell told me a story about searching out Son House to learn some of his secret licks. He found the aging blues master in Rochester, New York, but was somewhat taken aback when Son’s wife demanded the two retire to the front porch for the lesson.

She wasn’t about to have the devil’s music permeate her home.

House died in 1988 at 86, and Campbell passed in ’93 at 41. But even today, the relationship between the blues and gospel can be an awkward one. “There’s still a line in the sand. That’s why the rest of the world never heard of Hideaway Slim,” says Bridges whose blues cross that line in nine solo albums, eight of them on Armadillo Records out of England. Bridges’ heritage includes touring with one of gospel music’s most enduring legends, The Mighty Clouds of Joy.

“(Daddy) was taught to do religious music. Matter of fact, they wanted him to be a preacher. He ended up being a preacher. There was a line in the sand. My grandmother didn’t stand for it, but he had to wait until he was out of her house before he could do anything like that, and she frowned on it. She frowned on the fact that he started playing blues.

“My grandfather Jesse Bridges played guitar. There was a lot of music around the area (New Orleans), but he would hear that sound. My grandmother would drag him into the church, but that music and that sound were in him, and it needed to come out. But he wanted to do it in blues, and the sound that impressed him was Jimmy Reed, B. B. King and T Bone Walker, and he was always trying to sing.

“He had a piano, and he tried to get Daddy to learn piano. (My father) had a cheap rug that his daddy bought, and made him pick up his piano on the edge. He caught the other edge, and they carried it across the rug. He hated that piano every day.

“The sound was in him being around a lot of Dixieland sounds and stuff like that, horns and everything. He was around those sounds all the time, but that didn’t stick. Not with those instruments. He started hating the piano the moment he hurt his back trying to carry that piano as a kid or as a teenager. He played the trombone and the trumpet a little bit, and I think he tried to play the saxophone, but that wasn’t the thing. It was the guitar that he wanted.”

“When daddy talked about his childhood, it was not in a lot of sorrow ways. As the only kid, he had a lot of fun on his own. He learned how to entertain himself, and he would play the harmonica. He learned to play the harmonica because he loved the way Jimmy Reed and Lightnin’ Hopkins played, and that kind of stuck with me.

“Later on he was always pulled away from the blues. That was the devil’s work. That’s what he was told. That the devil’s work. You leave that devil alone being a boy raised in the church (The Church of God and Christ) and at the church all the time – and when I say all the time, I mean seven days a week, three times on Sunday. All the time!

“It was right in the heart of segregation and everything, but on Sundays they would let some black churches broadcast their church services over the radio. That was the sound that stuck in his head, and I can relate to that because that is the sound that stuck in my head. I’d sing myself to sleep; my baby brother and I used to sing ourselves to sleep with those riffs and other sounds.

“The washing machine or the refrigerator had a hum to it. If it had a hum, that was music to me. Anything that had a melody, it’s a hum. It wasn’t so much a beat. It was that mmmmm. It was just that steady hum. Mmmmmmm! And when somebody would come and pick up Daddy, you’d hear a car go by. Bump, bump, and that’s a Chevrolet horn. And I could hear that was a Chrysler horn. It was always different horns. I could pick up these different sounds with my head. I didn’t even have to look. I’d know that was a Chrysler horn or Ford. I knew that was a Chevrolet.”

Eugene first sat in with his father as a toddler. “I was two going on three. It was January. I turned three in March, but he was showing me a Jimmy Reed riff, and he would shoot a game of 21. After he came home, I was playing that riff. Not only that riff that he showed me, but I’m bringing out that other sound I was hearing in my head, too. It was like, ‘Now I know how to put my finger on the strings and actually match it.’ I had to earn those blisters. I had to learn those hard strings that cut the grooves in my fingers that really made them sore. I earned that by actually playing.

“Again, he would go and shoot basketball, go do something, and when he came back, I’m playing it. Sometimes it could come like click, click, click, but he said, ‘You gotta match it, boy. Gotta match it.’ And I learned how to bring out that sound. And when I was able to bring out the sound, he showed me to make that song all the way up.

“Then, once I caught on to that, then catching on to other grooves (He scats), the licks started coming through, not that fast, but it was slowly. I thought, ‘Man, I’m gonna break my fingers playing that,’ but I kept going. It sounded terrible for a long time, and then pretty soon I got it, and he said, ‘Two frets up in your third.’ So about a month later or so I was able to play, and he’d call it. ‘Go to your one. Give me a three. Give me a two. Ok, back to the one. Give me a two again.’

“And when he’d call out those chords I would stop. He said, ‘Look, don’t stop. Keep the time and always pat your feet. Always pat your feet. No matter what’s happening, you don’t have an instrument? Clap your hands. Don’t stop.’ I learned a lot of lessons from him. He said, ‘To be a good leader, you have to be a good follower. Just keep the beat.’

“We left New Orleans and moved out to the country. I could hear the trains go by. That Illinois Central, that wha-wha-wha. In my head I’m hearing (sings a melody extrapolated from a train sound). I’m hearing stuff like that, and walking round my daddy, around him with my guitar – with my little plastic shovel (of a guitar) and the rest of my brothers.”

“Daddy was inspired by B. B. King, Jimmy Reed, T Bone Walker. Those are the cats he looked up to. When he was like four years old, my Uncle Saul Osteen – he was a preacher. Uncle Saul would carve a piece of wood into the shape of a guitar, and Daddy would beat the devil out of those church bands, tearing it up when Ella Utah Slim was playing his guitar ’cause Daddy was trying to play his guitar like Ella. Then he would do the same thing.

So, Uncle Saul, my daddy’s uncle on his mama’s side, would carve him out a guitar. He would carve out a guitar shape because, again, Daddy was in church all the time. Matter of fact, he was the Sunday school teacher for the male adults, including the pastor, the visiting preachers, and other ministers in the church.

“People just heard of gospel music, but they never really tasted it. They never really experienced it. They just heard that the blues came from gospel, and they’d get just one sip of this gospel soup they heard from one church. ‘Okay, that’s what we’re gonna paint a picture of for all of black gospel.’ And it became a habit, but this has gone beyond habit. This has gone beyond the reality sound that was grown up in Daddy, and then it came out in me.”

Eugene’s mother walked out on her family of five kids when Eugene was five. He joined the Air Force when he was 16 after being kicked out of school, and he’s turned the entire planet into his performing showcase as an adult after finding a blasé response – to put it politely – to his playing in the United States. “I got tired of people literally standing in my way telling me I wasn’t what they were looking for right now.”

Through it all, he’s found Christianity to be helpful in getting him through the rough spots. In other words, he’s found a balance between the gospel and the devil’s music. “Don’t give up. You don’t have to be the best. Just do your best.”

About his mother’s leaving, he says, “You don’t worry about the blessings you don’t have. You’re just grateful for the blessing you do have, and sometimes that includes family. You do have to be strong, and that’s what this music teaches you because all the things I put into my music is things that I learned from life itself through my pastors, through my Sunday school teachers, through my grandparents, through my daddy, even through my mama. You got to face the world through yourself, but you learn things, and you’re able to pass that on to people where music lifts the spirits, and that’s what this music is doing. What people refer to in this music came from gospel.

“Gospel was the way of lifting the spirit through slavery. That’s enough to give anybody reason not to believe in God. But through your faith in God you get through that. It don’t mean that you’re gonna have your way, that everything will go your way now that you profess to believe in God. You just have to stay the course, believe in something, and just keep on fighting for it. Keep on working of it and when you learn that as a child as you go through life, these are things that help you climb the mountain instead of trying to push the mountain out of the way.

“It helps me go around the mountain out of the way. It helps you go around the mountain, helps you get over the mountain, go under the mountain. These are instruments and tools that you learn along the way, but when you’re lied to and told everything’s alright, that you’re privileged, you’re supposed to love that. So, the moment something bad happens, then all of a sudden, everything’s gone bad until it gets better.

“I believe in rock and roll until something goes bad. Then I’m gonna get the blues. That’s the way a lot of people have faith in blues and any other type of music. They’re caught in the feeling they’re having right now. ‘If I’m horny right now, am I gonna sing a horny song? Then when I feel religious, I’m gonna jump up?’

“No! It has nothing to do with who I am, but it has to do with lifting the spirit.

“My daddy and grandmother taught me how to not concentrate on what bad does happen but how to say, ‘Yeah, this has happened, but guess what? You’re gonna be alright,’ but that kinda twists into your writing, and it’s by living it, not just talking about it but actually living it. I’ve never faced the challenge that prayer could not handle or that prayer and faith failed me.”

Eugene’s vocals often sound like Sam Cooke and he covers Cooke’s “Farewell My Darling” on his 2013 CD Roots & Vines. Cooke was in the vanguard of soul and blues music’s efforts to blend secular and religious music. His “A Change Is Gonna Come” about turning a relationship around was actually code for an appeal for better race relations and was released in 1964 when Eugene was one year old. He was 16 when he first heard Cooke.

“Sam Cooke’s words were inspired by Bob Dylan, the way Bob Dylan would tell his story in a positive way, in a poetry way when he wrote “Blowing in the Wind.” He was singing about the racial tension in the United States, and he couldn’t just come out and say what needed to be said without him being shut up, without him being stifled and stopped.

“Same thing with blues. When you hear, ‘Oh, my woman sure do treat me mean,’ (the singer is) not talking about his wife or his girlfriend or his lover. He’s trying to say, ‘My boss, this racist boss I got is treating me so bad, but I can’t say anything. If I say anything, he’s gonna take offense against me, and this is the only way I can actually say what I want to say without getting stifled, shot, hung or whatever.’ It’s exactly the same thing.

“The beauty of poetry (Sam Cooke and Bob Dylan) said in such a beautiful way. Blues ain’t about blues. They knew about gospel. Gospel is the culmination of not just the African crowd, not just the European crowd, but the American Indian who was caught up in the slavery as well. All that they didn’t kill off, they put into slavery as well. That’s how you tell the sound of Baptist, Methodist, Church of God and Christ, Church of Christ, Church of Living Christ, Church of Living God.

“I mean the list goes on and on, and that’s just with black gospel. There’s so many, and when you overlook all of that, how can you call it chicken noodle soup when you don’t even discuss the chicken? You try to find everything to disguise the chicken, and then call it chicken noodle soup.

“The same thing with the music, the sound and the melodies and the harmonies and the way they pray, the way they serve, the way they have service, and the way they continue to moan, and when they work the mouth to talk. It’s just a way you say what needs to be said. A lot of people had the education, and Sam Cooke educated himself and learned a lot of things, did a lot of reading. To be able to say what needed to be said, but have a way to not shake up the industry so hard where they catch on straight away, but had to be a hit, had to catch on to be a hit. If you want to be popular, you gotta get cheeky with it. You gotta get funky with it. You gotta sound like it’s got nothing to do with religion.

Bridges’ latest CD Hold On A Little Bit Longer is a fine example of his eclecticism. “Am I gonna wait until someone that they consider the right color to come and along and write (a particular song that isn’t a blues)? Am I supposed to forget my grandmother is part white? She’s also part Navajo on my daddy’s side, and my mama is African American and Cherokee. I’m supposed to forget that part of my family just because we weren’t 100% black or 100% that? I don’t consider myself a black man. I consider myself a MAN. I don’t consider myself a blues artist. I’m an artist who writes blues, who writes gospel, who writes R&B because all of that is a part of me.

“When I was seven I started the Bridges Brothers. When I was 13 I started the Five Stars. So, I’m running three bands at the same time. I didn’t know I was supposed to decide who I am to suit a color scheme or whatever. I’m following my heart just like I did 50 years ago in 1966 when I just picked up that sound and played it out of my heart. That’s what this music is supposed to do, not just fill your belly up with something, but it’s supposed to lift your spirits.”

“I’m ready to go to wherever and anywhere there’s a door and somebody’s standing in my way, I go around it. I go around the mountain. I go over the mountain. I don’t let nothing or nobody (get in my way). People call me a nomad. I’m not a nomad. I’m just not willing to let someone else dictate to me what I should be, what I should do with my life and to sit back and wait until they allow me to do what I was born to do. I refuse to let that happen.”

“We’re here to make a mark, to do something with our lives and then later on we gotta move on. We gotta die. We’re born to die.”

Photos by Alwyn R Coates © 2016

Writer Don Wilcock has been writing about blues for nearly half a century. He wrote Damn Right I’ve Got The Blues, the biography that helped Buddy Guy jumpstart his career in 1991. He’s interviewed more than 5000 Blues artists and edited several music magazines including King Biscuit Time.

 Video Of The Week – Eugene Hideaway Bridges 

Click on the image above to see this video – Eugene ‘Hideaway’ Bridges performing with The Mustique Blues Festival & the London Blues Band in Bequia in the Eastern Caribbean, 23rd January 2015.

 Featured Blues Music Review – 2 of 5 

Ole Frimer Band – Live at Blues Baltica

LongLife Records

CD: 8 Songs; 45:32 Minutes

Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues and Blues Rock, Live Albums

What famous things come from Denmark? To name a few: the Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen, imported Danish Butter Cookies, Shakespeare’s Hamlet (he was a Dane), and the Ole Frimer Band (also composed of Danes). The fourth item on this list may not be as renowned as the other three. However, if their work is consistently as high-quality as their latest album, Live at Blues Baltica, they’ll soon be on their way to worldwide recognition. They’re already pretty popular in Deutschland, which is where this live album was recorded in 2014. The Blues Baltica Festival, also known as Bluesfest Eutin, is an annual extravaganza held in that particular German city.

According to the festival’s website ( , it won the 2015 “Keeping the Blues Alive” Award for an International Festival. The Ole Frimer Band (“Ole” rhymes with “cola”, and “Frimer” rhymes with “dreamer”) certainly deserved the honor of performing there two years ago. Their resulting CD, although rather short, is top-notch.

Fans of Stevie Ray Vaughan and the Veldman Brothers will love the musical style of Ole Frimer and company, featuring crisp guitar and smooth vocals that sound as American as the blues they play. They strike a balance of traditional and contemporary blues, mixing original numbers such as “Sheltered Roads” with catchy covers like Hob Wilson’s “Black Cat Bone”, Al Kooper’s “I Can’t Keep from Crying Sometimes”, and Johnny Winter’s “Hustled Down in Texas”.

Complementing guitarist and lead vocalist Ole Frimer are Palle Hjorth on organ, Jesper Bylling on bass and background vocals, and Claus Daugaard on drums.

The following three original songs made the festival-going crowd in Eutin go wild:

Track 01: “If You Only Could Forgive Me” – The band counts this as one of its signature selections, and it’s clear why. With a swinging beat and a guitar riff SRV would’ve treasured, track one has earned its spot as this CD’s opener. “I know I wasn’t easy,” Ole points out. “I didn’t intend to treat you bad. You did anything to please me, baby, gave me everything you had. I know you say it’s too late, but I bet you’ve grown to wait, ‘cause I’m so sad.”

Track 03: “The Way You Move” – Who needs techno/trance music to have a dance party? The blues is just as addicting, as this band proves. Everyone goes all out, especially Palle Hjorth on organ and Claus Daugaard on a challenging drumbeat. Combining 1950’s-style fun with 1970’s-style funk, number three wends its way through quick tempos and reflective, slow melodies – a musical science experiment.

Track 04: “Workin’ Too Much” – Employees all over the world know the feeling: slowly burning away at their dead-end jobs, as traditional, smoldering number four burns through listeners’ ears and into their hearts. “I thought my woman loved me, but it turned out to be wrong. When I came home late last night, she’d packed all her stuff and gone. Claimed I’ve been working too much.”

Live at Blues Baltica, four Danes became famous in 2014!

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

 Featured Blues Music Review – 3 of 5 

Zakiya Hooker – In The Mood

Boogie With The Hook Records

12 Tracks/44:51 Running Time

Not only does she have a receipt to sing the Blues as the opening track proclaims, but the strands of her famous father John Lee Hooker’s DNA saturate her artistic prowess.

Zakiya Hooker’s career was launched when she appeared with her dad at an Oakland show in 1991. By conventional standards, that start was a tad tardy. However, since then, her career has blossomed with critically acclaimed Cd’s, movie soundtracks, commercial advertisements and a global audience that encompasses her U.S. strongholds of the San Francisco Bay Area, her native Detroit and her current home base of Atlanta. She is hugely popular in Argentina and Europe as well.

In The Mood is produced by Zakiya’s talented, bass playing, balladeer husband, Ollan Christopher Bell/AKA Chris James, founding member of the R&B vocal group, The Natural Four.

Taking advantage of Zakiya’s global popularity, Bell uses a bi-continental roster of musicians for this project.

From the East Bay of the San Francisco scene, guitarists Bobby Young and Greg Crockett handle stateside guitar duties. Of Bobby Young, John Lee Hooker once said upon hearing Young’s version of “Red House,” “That’s the best I’ve heard “Red House” since Jimi died.”

Greg Crockett has written, produced and performed with Tower of Power, Bobby Womack, George Clinton and many others. He is a 2013 West Coast Blues Hall of Fame Inductee.

Omaha native and Bay Area funky stalwart, drummer Ron E. Beck was Tower of Power’s drummer from 1975 through 1978.

Rounding out the stateside contingent are Paul Palizzalo on harmonica, Jonathan Williams on keys with Anthony Reed and Ollan Bell on backing vocals.

The Argentine studio band consists of Federico Bozas on guitar and bass, Sebastian Lopez, guitar, Gonzalo Carmele, bass, Jose Luis Viggiano, drums, Gabriel de Pedro, keys, Martin Bustos, trombone, Claudio Martin Roman, trumpet and Ricardo Rico Rodriguez, sax.

Zakiya Hooker swings with the suave savviness of a Dinah Washington mixed with the Mississippi Delta grit of her dad.

Now to the CD. The title track is not to be confused with “I’m In The Mood” album released by John Lee Hooker in 1968. Eight of the eleven tracks on this album were co-written by Hooker and Bell, showcasing their lyrical camaraderie.

The caliber of production is superlative and embraces Jazz and R & B as well as Blues. Track 3 “Drowning In Your Love,” is one of two tracks that Zakiya didn’t have a hand in co-writing. It showcases her Jazz chops against a guitar and piano melodic interplay with the horns augmenting rhythmically behind the beat.

Track 5 “Lets’s Do Something,” has a snappy horn arrangement with a slick hook …skinny dippin’ baby’, you know that I ain’t trippin’.

Track 9 “One Step Two Two,” is a slow tempo rockin’ blues with killer background vocals that sound like a female trio but is actually Zakiya, Ollan and Anthony Reed.

This album is a melting pot of flavors and styles reflective of the Blues in the 21st century. All of the songs are great. The cover art though, doesn’t seem to match the content. All the dj’s have to do is play it!

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.

 Featured Blues Music Review – 4 of 5 

Big Rolling Wheel – Big Rolling Wheel


9 songs – 49 minutes

Big Rolling Wheel are a Portuguese power trio who formed in Lisbon, Portugal, in 2013. This album was recorded at The Crossover Studios in Portugal and is their first album. The band comprises José Cordeiros on vocals and guitar;Rui Vasconcelos on bass and Daniel Matias on drums and percussion. Abel Zambujo guests on three songs on harp and one on sax. Cordeiros also wrote all nine songs on the album.

Opening with “Last Stone”, it is immediately apparent that while the blues may be an important influence for the band, perhaps more important are the likes of Free, Jimi Hendrix, or Mountain. This is heavy rock with a nod towards the blues. The drums are busy and pounding, the usual pace of the songs is slow to mid-paced, and the guitar solos are extended. The song structures, for example on the slow-grinding “Big Wheel”, may follow a classic blues chord structure, but they are played with a power and muscularity that is pure rock. Cordeiros favours an smooth, over-driven guitar tone, which makes for some lovely extended solo notes (as in “Dusty Road”), but again this tends to move the songs further away from blues.

One or two of the tracks, such as “I Miss You” and “Howling Dog” reach towards a heavy-funk sound, while “Lifetime” is a gentle ballad that benefits from Zambujo’s wistful saxophone, but the majority of the album is good old fashioned heavy rock.

Cordeiros’s gruff, barking voice suits the music well, at times sounding like a cross between the late John Campbell and The Scorpions’ Klaus Meine. He sings in heavily accented English, with an interesting lyrical slant. In “I Miss You”, his willingness to rhyme “delicious” with “insidious” creates a striking image that perfectly fits the torn complexity of the song’s narrator.

The CD is nicely packaged, with excellent photos. The tracks are also ordered in a novel manner, with the shorter songs (around the four minute mark) at the beginning of the CD. By the end of the album, the seven minute “Dusty Road” and the nine minute “Poison” enable Cordeiros, Matias and Vasconcelos to really stretch out on their improvisations.

From this reviewer’s perspective, Big Rolling Wheel would benefit from adding a little of Led Zeppelin’s subtle dynamics or (early) ZZ Top’s earthy groove to their heavy rock cocktail, but this first album contains more than enough to suggest that there are some great moments to come from this band.

If riff-based, heavy blues-rock is your thing, you may want to check out Big Rolling Wheel.

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

 Featured Blues Music Review – 5 of 5 

Al Basile – B’s Expression

Sweetspot Records

CD: 13 Songs; 51:57 Minutes

Styles: Jazz-and-Soul-Influenced Blues, Blues Rock

When people listen to music, sometimes they don’t pay attention to the titles of the tunes they’re hearing. However, song titles can reveal quite a bit about where the artist’s inspiration came from. Adele’s “Hello,” while that may not say much in and of itself, is a greeting to the ex-lover she misses. “Magnets,” by the band Disclosure, discloses a mystery to attract listeners, although that word barely shows up in the song. In the case of Massachusetts’ Al Basile, the song titles on his latest release, B’s Expression, are straightforward and intriguing all the same. What about the name of the album? Its cover art reveals Al sitting next to a portrait of himself with a blue face and a bemused expression. “What is the blues?” he seems to say, and Mr. Basile shall show us.

His prolific work, which he’s been showcasing for over forty years, is heavy on horns and up-tempo rhythms. Those are hallmarks of jazz and soul as well as blues, and it’s hard to tell the difference between them on this CD. It’s also rather difficult to discern his skill as a vocalist, since Al’s vocal style consists of conversational patter rather than high-note-hitting technique. Nevertheless, someone who’s been called the “Bard of the Blues” has more than singing on his side. Basile is also a killer songwriter and cornet player. His most famous blues collaborators include Duke Robillard (featured here), Ruth Brown, and RI jump band Roomful of Blues.

Performing alongside Al, vocalist and cornetist, are Duke Robillard on guitars, Mark Teixeira on drums and tambourine, Bruce Bears on keyboards, Brad Hallen on electric and acoustic bass, Doug James on tenor sax, and Carl Querfurth on trombone.

This CD, containing thirteen original selections, starts off with a “Whole Lot of Good Good Lovin’”, followed by “It Wasn’t That Good” (snicker, snicker). Later, Basile explores his own self-doubt and ambition in “Have I Given My Best?” and “Never Good Enough”. The song below, however, is the catchiest and most hilarious:

Track 12: “That Ain’t Bad” – Perhaps the two most universal miseries are lost love and lost money. However, our narrator puts a wry and positive spin on debt: “I make six; I spend eight. You can bet I don’t fret about my fate. People say I have to pay. That just makes me mad, but I can spend more than I got, and that ain’t bad.” In the CD liner notes, Al says, “I hear that Americans have cut our trillion-dollar personal debt back to 880 billion since 2009. Looked at one way, that’s progress, but it still leaves 100 million or so people who are singing this song without knowing it.” Duke Robillard plays great blues guitar here, especially in the middle.

On the whole, B’s Expression “ain’t bad,” but as the title of track eight states, “Something’s Missing.” It could use more powerful vocals and a touch of flair. True blues are felt and lived as well as played. Here’s hoping Basile’s songwriting stays on top, though!

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.

 Blues Society News 

 Send your Blues Society’s BIG news or Press Release about your not-for-profit event with the subject line “Blues Society News” to:

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The Santa Barbara Blues Society – Santa Barbara, CA

The Santa Barbara Blues Society, the oldest existing U.S. blues society, founded in March 1977, is proud to present award winning Rod Piazza and The Mighty Flyers at the Carrillo Recreation Center, 100 E. Carrillo St., on Saturday, January 30, 2016.

Piazza and his band have been Santa Barbara favorites for many years. Their last appearance for the SBBS, in Nov. 2009, drew a packed and ecstatic crowd. The band has been voted Best Blues Band of the Year four times by the Blues Foundation, the largest blues organization in the world. Piazza and his wife Honey have each received multiple nominations and have won multiple times as Harmonica Player of the Year and Piano Player of the Year respectively.

Doors will open at 7:00 PM. Rick Reeves plays a solo acoustic set from 7:15 to 7:45 PM; Piazza and band play 2 sets starting at 8:00 PM, with an intermission. There will be free BBQ snacks, an outdoor patio, and a large, spring-loaded dance floor.

For further information, log onto, or leave a message at (805) 722-8155.

Crossroads Blues Society – Byron, IL

Crossroads has lots of great blues events planned for 2016!

The Hope and Anchor English Pub in Loves Park, IL features shows on the second Saturday of each month from 8 pm to midnight. March 12th – Tweed Funk, April 9th – Reverend Raven and the Chain Smoking Altar Boys, May 14th – The Jimmys

Blues in the Schools is also scheduled for February, Dan Phelps will be doing a two week in school BITS residency with East HS teaching song writing and guitar.

Friday Night Blues at the Lyran Club in Rockford continues mostly on the third Friday of the month with a few other special dates to boot. Currently booked are: February 19th – Ron Holm’s Roy Orbison Tribute, March 18th – Smilin’ Bobby, April 15th – Breezy Rodeo, May 20th – Dave Fields. Shows are free from 7 to 10 PM.

Stay tuned for more upcoming events!

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. February 1 – Reverend Raven & The Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys, February 8 – Gina Sicilia, February 15 – Chris O’Leary Band, February 22 – Dave Lumsden Factor.

Additional ICBC and ICBC partnered shows: Feb. 4 James Armstrong Presents @ The Alamo, 6 pm, Feb. 18 James Armstrong Presents @ The Alamo, 6 pm w/ guest host Mary Jo Curry, March 26 ICBC 30th Birthday Celebration @ Knights of Columbus on Meadowbrook – Shawn Holt, headlining, w/opening act Robert Sampson.

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

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