Issue 10-9 March 3, 2016

Cover photo by Elaine & Robert Hughes © 2016

 In This Issue 

Tee Watts has our feature interview with the amazing Teeny Tucker. We have 6 Blues music reviews for you including reviews of music from Walter Trout, Charlie Musselwhite, The Claudettes, Willie May, Luther Badman Keith and Sterling Koch.

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

 From The Editor’s Desk 

Hey Blues Fans,

It has begun!

We got the first 2 submissions for the 2016 Blues Blast Music Awards already this week.

Any Blues album released between May 1st, 2015 and April 30, 2016 is eligible. Submissions must be received by April 15, 2016.

Complete information and instructions on how to have your recording considered are at

Save The Date! The 2016 Blues Blast Music Awards ceremonies will be held on September 23, 2016 in Champaign, IL. Stay tuned for more info soon.

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser

Blues Blast Magazine’s Early Bird Special is our lowest priced advertising of the 2016 year. It offers an affordable & effective way to get the Blues word out!

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 Featured Blues Music Review – 1 of 6 

Walter Trout – Battle Scars

Provogue Records

13 tracks

The cover photo of this album show a battle-weary man who has admittedly faced death more than once. Walter Trout’s life was on the brink several times as he was awaiting a liver transplant. Now fairly well recovered, Walter is back in the studio creating new rocking blues songs that tell the tales of his disease and recovery after his transplant.

Wanting to write upbeat tunes, Trout was not satisfied with them thinking they sounded cliché. So he went deep into his feelings and experience for inspiration. “Omaha” is the first song he wrote, depicting 5 months of his life in the Nebraska Medical Center where the patients awaited death as transplant organs were not always available. Dark, thumping, guttural sounding beat and tune, Trout describes the wait with no holds barred. The guitar solo is massive in sound and texture. “Almost Gone,” the album’s opening song is another moving piece with a finger picking guitar opening and then a wall of sound that confronts the listener appears. Before recovering, the listener then gets some huge harmonica solo stuck in their face by Trout. He tells us how he’d change his life if he could do it all over. These two tracks are what Trout has made his bread and butter– big, emotional guitar pieces with a backing to match.

It does not stop there. “Tomorrow Seems Far Away” follows “Omaha,” with a more upbeat tempo yet still with haunting lyrics. “Please Take Me Home” is a ballad sung to his manager and wife asking her to be taken home so he could end his suffering. Acoustic guitar and piano blend into the wall of sound as Trout shows appreciation for the love his wife gave him. “Playin’ Hideaway” is a huge, driving song about masking tears and emotion as Trout howls and the guitar wails. “Haunted By The Night” slows it down as Trout tells of how the evenings stuck in bed drove him crazy. The guitar is haunting beautiful.

“Fly Away” tells us how his wife’s love and being there for him made him feel as if they could fly away. “Move On” gives us another piece where he sings about wanting to get away from the pain he endured. “My Ship Came In” has some more cool harp work by Trout as he sings to us about missing the tour that he never was able to have when he became ill. “Cold, Cold Ground” opens to a moving guitar solo and then trout tells of how he awaited death and burial in the cold, cold ground. The acoustic “Gonna Live Again” has Trout asking God why he allowed him to live. He does not know the reason, but vows to change his earlier bad ways. “Sammy, Sammy” concludes the effort, a huge, short chord of sound to end things as Trout chuckles to the sound man in the booth that he’s done.

50 years of guitar playing, 18 albums on Provogue and 42 albums overall are landmark statistics for this man’s career and due to his fortune and fortitude those numbers can continue to increase. Thematically interesting and moving, another super effort by Trout! Not an upbeat album but a fine one none the less! Trout’s fans will be pleased and newcomers can see through his music what trials he has faced. Well done!!!

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.

2016 Blues Blast Music Award Submission Are Now Open

The 2016 Blues Blast Music Awards series has begun. Submissions are open until April 15th, 2016. The Blues Blast Music Awards are the largest fan voted Blues awards on the planet. But hurry! Submissions end April 15,2016!

To visit our website for complete information on how to have your music and musicianship considered for nomination, CLICK HERE

SAVE THE DATE – The 9th Annual Blues Blast Music Awards ceremonies will be held on September 23, 2016 in Champaign, Illinois. Complete information on tickets and lodging coming soon.

 Featured Blues Interview – Teeny Tucker 

When we connect with the Blues chanteuse Teeny Tucker, we find her just getting over a bout of bronchitis. The Dayton, Ohio native has recently been lending her support to a cancer awareness support team. She volunteered her time and sang to the folks and brought them to tears. She also has imminent plans to volunteer with Mothers Of Murdered Sons & Daughters, an advocacy group that provides outreach services for families affected by murdered children, a cause dear to Teeny Tuckers heart. Her own niece was the victim of a homicide in April of 2014. Teeny also gives vocal and Blues history lessons to young girls in the Dayton, Ohio area.

Teeny is so energetic and creative, we just turn the recorder on and let Teeny tell her own story:

“My mother was a wise woman but didn’t have a musical bone in her body. She loved music though. Oh how she loved music. That’s how she met my dad. They met at the club where he was working which was called the Farmdale, in Dayton, Ohio. Even though my dad was married and had a family, they started messin’ around. And that’s how I got here.”

Teeny’s dad of course, was the legendary artist Tommy Tucker, composer of “Hi-Heel Sneakers,” the upbeat Blues standard that charted #1 on a 1964 Cash Box survey and #11 on the Billboard Hot 100. Amazingly, the song has been covered by more than 1000 artists, from early Rock & Rollers Bill Haley & The Comets, Carl Perkins, Chuck Berry and Elvis, down through Sammy Davis, Jr.’s MOR version, Stevie Wonder, Jose Feliciano, et al, almost to infinitum.

“When I was born I had tiny feet(and they still are). My oldest sister remarked to my mom, ‘Mommy, she has real teeny feet. They started calling me Teeny Babe. Eight months or so after I was born, one of my dad’s friends saw my mother and I in the store and asked my mom, ‘Is that Bobby’s baby?” (Tommy Tucker’s real name was Robert Higginbotham.) She denied I was his because she didn’t want to mess up his life. But the friend told my dad and he came by and got and took me to his mother, my grandmother who proclaimed, ‘Oh yeah, that’s Bobby’s baby.’

My stepmother loves me very much. She’s such a great woman. She made me part of the family. Formerly she lived in New Jersey. She is still with us and lives nearby in Springfield, Ohio. At 82 though, her health is not that well. I go visit her from time to time. She’s had five children with my dad, who also had three children outside his marriage; me and two other sisters and we are all close. Dolores Higginbotham bought gifts for all the children at Christmas.

I was raised by mom but my dad would come get me or fly me by escort to New York or New Jersey where he later lived, to spend summers with him. He would have musicians like Louisiana Red jamming at his house and while all the other youngsters would go outside and play, I would stay in and watch the musicians. One of my fondest early memories is falling asleep under the Hammond B-3 organ as my dad rehearsed his band when I visited him as a young child. I feel I was born to do this. I have seven siblings and I am the only one who gravitated to music.

My dad passed on my birthday in 1982. Each year when my birthday rolls around I think about him. Sometimes I think, when I’m in the middle of negotiating a business deal, I wish he was here to guide me. My manager Robert Hughes helps me with all that and I know that he has my best interests at heart.

Coming up as a child doing music was really in my blood. Living in the house with my mom and five siblings who didn’t understand and appreciate music like I did was a challenge. Even at eight years old, I remember appreciating the voice of Mahalia Jackson. I heard that voice and, oh my God, I loved it. But you have to fast forward that because my actual career career in Blues started much later. I was actually raised up singing in the Gospel choir.

I was introduced to the Blues in a different kind of way than directly through my father, because when my father and I got together after I started singing, we didn’t talk about music so much since he was Blues and I was Gospel. When I was fourteen I recorded my first Gospel song. When my dad heard it, he was like, ‘Wow, you’re a daughter to the Blues.’ That’s the story behind how I came to write, “Daughter To The Blues.” But really the music connection between my father and I was very limited. I was kinda scared of him possibly judging me. I looked at him like he was a musical god. He was only forty-nine when he died. Had he lived, I think he would have been proud of me.

My uncle, my dad’s uncle called me one day. He said, ‘I want you to come down here. I have something I want to give you. So I drove down one Saturday morning to Cincinnati where he lives. He presented me with several reel to reel tapes in excellent condition of music my father was working on with Louisiana Red and Billy Boy Arnold in the ’70s. That’s a treasure my dad left with me. I hope to one day produce some tracks of it for an album.

From my first recording I continued singing at weddings, funerals, church ,community functions and local theaters. I won radio talent shows and even traveled to New York in the dead of winter to play the Apollo Theater.

When I was fifteen I received a scholarship to an all girls boarding school in Pittsfield, Massachusetts where I stayed for about one year before returning home and graduating early. I then went to college and obtained degrees in sociology and psychology. Now, I loved music but wasn’t really planning on a professional career. However when a European promoter who had booked my dad, offered to bring me to Europe to play Blues Festivals if I would learn some Blues songs. I took the challenge and learned twenty songs.The rest is history.

I actually kept my full time career job for thirty years while I pursued these Blues. Most people don’t do that but I had to raise my family with my husband. It was very hectic at times. During one eight year period I worked seven days a week all told with my job and my music. Some days felt like a breakdown was imminent. But we survived and now I’m retired from my straight job. I feel like the sky is the limit.

I eventually met Sean Carney and we put a band together that lasted eight years. We worked with the great Christine Kittrell during that period also. After that, I took some time off to be with my mother who was ill. After my mom passed, I then got together with Robert Hughes and we started writing and putting music together. We started doing festivals. I went to the IBC twice and finished in the top three. In 20008, 2011 and 2013, I was a Blues Blast Magazine Artist of the Year Nominee. In 2010 I was named the Monterey Bay Blues Artist of the year. I was nominated for the Koko Taylor Award at the BMA’s in 2012 and 2014. There is a Dvd/Cd release of the performances of the 2014 BMA Awards and my track “Shoes,” is track number one on the video and audio of the performances. I was also nominated for the Living Blues Magazine Artist of the Year in 2014.

In July of 2015 I was part of the Muddy Waters Centennial Blue Celebration on the Back Porch Stage at the Briggs Blues Farm. I performed an acoustic set of Sister Rosetta Tharpe material. I enjoy working but also enjoy giving back. In 2015, I volunteered with the John Hopkins Voice Center which teaches vocal technique and the art of singing. My most memorable event in 2015 was participating in the Mississippi State Valley University B. B. King Inaugural Day. MSVU has made a resolution to hold B.B. King Day annually. Mississippi State’s, B.B. King Recording Studio in partnership with the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center, is preserving the historical legacy of B. B. King. I was so honored to be invited to such a momentous occasion along with Bobby Rush, Otis Clay, Denise LaSalle, Big George Brock and former members of B.B. Kings touring band. I was presented with the Glass Guitar Trophy, saluting me for being a committed participant to the legacy of the Blues.

Four months later in January, I got a phone call that Otis Clay had passed away suddenly. I had been knowing him several years and we had planned to record a Gospel song together. He passed on January 8 and I attended his services on January 16, at Liberty Baptist Church in Chicago. I really related to Otis’s Gospel roots. He was a master of Soul, R&B and Gospel. I love his version of “When The Gates Swing Open.” I’m doing a Gospel Brunch this May and plan to do that song. Otis Clay’s death brought a lot of light to me and made me think. Somebody’s got to keep this stuff going. I worked with him, Koko Taylor and B.B. King and now they are gone. The good news is that the Blues is still strong. When I’m on stage I feel like a prophetess delivering the good news. I just want people to know that the music has got to live because of its strong and vibrant history

We started work on a new project in February 2016. On it we will have a big surprise for our fans. It’s been about three years since I’ve released a recording project and I’ve used that time to travel around Mississippi and further my Blues education. I met Mary Shepherd the longtime owner of Club Ebony in Indianola. All the greats played there from Count Basie and Howlin’ Wolf to B.B., Ike Turner and James Brown. She and her husband Willie owned it from 1975 through 2008 when she sold it to B.B. King who donated it to the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center.

I also became friends with the Ratliff family who own the also legendary Riverside Hotel in Clarksdale. The Riverside Hotel was formerly the G.T. Thomas Hospital which is where Bessie Smith died in 1937. The Riverside Hotel, in it’s day, housed such Blues luminaries as Sonny Boy Williamson, Robert Nighthawk and Ike Turner. Blues lovers from all over the world continue to visit the Riverside. Zelena “Zee” Ratliff, the current owner, has my picture on the hotel’s wall of fame.

I really enjoy connecting with people and my fans. I do interact quite a bit a lot on Facebook. The future looks bright for 2016 and beyond. We are negotiating and finalizing deals for the festival season and we are still accepting bookings. We just accepted a booking at this years Chicago Blues Festival.

You know my biggest dream right now is a treatment for the stage that I’m almost done writing. I’ve done the research and read the books. I I would love to do a one woman show on Etta James. I’m in touch with her sons. I think I could kill it. A few years back when the film Cadillac Records was out, a journalist said that I had the Etta James look and Blues chops to play her. I’m about ready to finalize the script. If they ever do a movie or a biopic on her, I’d like to audition. Basically, I’m just a warrior for the Blues. The good thing is I’m not the only one.”

Visit Teeny’s website at

Photos by Elaine & Robert Hughes © 2016

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 – 2 of 6 

Charlie Musselwhite – I Ain’t Lyin’

Henrietta Records – 2015

11 tracks: 59 minutes

Charlie Musselwhite shows little sign of slowing down. At 72 the veteran harp player has issued another live set to complement 2013’s Juke Joint Chapel, with just two overlaps between these two live sets, one of which is “Cristo Redentor” which really has to feature in a live Musselwhite set! The band remains Matt Stubbs on guitar and June Core on drums with a new bassist in Steve Froberg. This one was recorded in Sonoma, CA and in Clarksdale, MS and it’s a very good set indeed with almost entirely Charlie’s own compositions. Charlie is in excellent voice throughout and his harp playing seems ageless.

The set opens with “Good Blues Tonight” which acts as an invitation to the show: “Come on in, we got good blues tonight. Let down your hair, Mama, I’ll turn down the light”. A second, unedited version closes the CD. The only cover apart from “Cristo Redentor” is Elmore James’ “Done Somebody Wrong” and its familiar stop/start rhythm is infectious as Matt takes a great solo. The mid-tempo groove of “Long Lanky Mama” finds Charlie at the top of his game, ranging far and wide on his harp and Matt getting some more solo space, this time in rocking mode. “Always Been Your Friend” drops the pace as Charlie half speaks, half sings the lyrics around his moaning harp and some really downhome accompaniment from the band. “If I Should Have Bad Luck” is a classic blues title if ever you heard one and it features June’s great shuffle drums and some aggressive harp from Charlie as well as the first appearance of the title of the album from Charlie’s lips! “My Kinda Gal” clocks in at over seven minutes and is played at a frantic pace with which Charlie easily keeps up on harp – a tour de force!

“Blues, Why Do You Worry Me?” appeared on “Juke Joint Chapel” but it’s well worth a re-run as the band nails the shuffle rhythm as Charlie intones a classic set of blues lyrics: “Blues, why do you worry me? Why do you stay so long? You came to me yesterday; you stayed the whole night long”. Lots of wailing harp here, as there is on “300 Miles To Go” which is another highlight with the band kicking up a Muddy Waters style rhythm and Charlie conjuring up some very high notes. “Long Leg Woman” is another uptempo piece which inevitably brings Freddie King’s tune of a similar name to mind and there is definitely some Texas blues in Matt’s playing here, Charlie again producing some dazzling harp runs. Charlie adopted jazz pianist Duke Pearson’s “Cristo Redentor” some years ago and it has become his theme song; this version is as good as any with the emotional content of his and the band’s playing there for all to hear – quite superb!

Interestingly there is little or no audience noise on this album so it would be easy to believe that it is a studio recording if one did not read the sleevenotes. Obviously every blues fan knows Charlie Musselwhite but this excellent album might just draw in a few new fans to his work. For the rest of us we can mark this one as another solid CM release.

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 Music Review – 3 of 6 

The Claudettes – No Hotel

Yellow Dog Records

CD: 16 Songs; 44:31 Minutes

Styles: Traditional and Contemporary Piano Blues, Instrumental Piano Blues

For a touring blues band, one of the most disheartening provisos in any contract is: No Hotel. “Well, here we are again, back at the Town Pub in your town,” read the liner notes of The Claudettes’ sizzling sophomore selection. “See the contract over there, under the CD tray? That’s what we’re lookin’ at here. Do you by any chance have any couch space? We have sleeping bags. We even have our own tTeeur own trail mix. We’ll be gone by the time you wake up tomorrow.” Such a hypothetical note, from such a non-hypothetically talented band, is sad indeed. Hailing from Chicago, they play blues from a bygone era, before 88 keys were supplanted by six-and-twelve-strings. “This isn’t blues,” some might say. “This is jazz, ragtime, and French Ye-Ye music.” They’re not wrong. No Hotel contains all of the above, but this genre has always been a vivid spectrum of musical color. Not only is there guitar blue, but harp blue, violin blue, horn blue and piano blue. Sixteen songs – ten originals and six covers – show fans just how vivid this last kind can be.

The Claudettes don’t just perform ragtime blues, but channel it, as if letting the spirits of their artistic ancestors flow through them. In the middle of these sultry séances, however, two minor flaws surface: 1) If listeners don’t know French, they won’t understand at least half of the songs with lyrics, and 2) when vocalist and dancer Yana does perform, her melodic voice is overpowered by the instrumentation. True, this isn’t the fault of the artists themselves, but a technical lack of balance in the final album.With that said, each track will get a joint jumping.

The band consists of Johnny Iguana (keyboard player for Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, and various rock cult heroes) on piano, Michael Caskey on drums and percussion, and their newest member Yana on vocals and dancing.

The following three songs combine the flair of the ‘40s with the precision of the 2010s:

Track 03: “You’d Have to be Out of Your Mind (To Play These Blues)” – The mark of any great piano player is how complex, yet simple, his or her melodies sound. The intro of track three is certifiably insane, requiring fast fingers and a relaxed presence of mind at the same time. Bars? Nightclubs? Pay attention, because live crowds certainly will.

Track 11: “Chez Le Ye-Ye” – With a voice as sweet and buttery as a beignet from the Big Easy, Yana sprinkles powdered sugar on this French pastry for the ears. It’ll get dancers off their duffs, no matter if they speak the lingo or not. Michael Caskey keeps the drumbeat crisp while Johnny Iguana sets the pace for anyone whose feet scream, “Laissez les bon temps rouler!”

Track 15: “Summer Finally Came” – This is great instrumental driving music, even in the dead of winter. Blues fans, imagine the wind in your hair and the open road beneath your wheels as you coast down miles of highway, with an ocean-salt breeze tickling your nostrils. Ahhh…

No Hotel, eh? The Claudettes deserve a room at the Ritz-Carlton for their efforts!

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 – 4 of 6 

Willie May – Blues Mona


CD: 10 Songs; 35:49 Minutes

Styles: Ensemble Blues, Contemporary Electric Blues, Blues Rock

The moon has long been a symbol of mystery, shadow and secrets. Wolves (and sometimes people) howl at it; ambitious folk shoot for it; astronauts fly to it; and New York’s Willie May deems it Blues Mona. Indeed, the CD cover art depicts a shining three-quarter gibbous, with the remaining fourth illuminated by a single sparkle. Track three of this album, “Mona’s Watchful Eye,” further expands upon this concept. If the moon represents an enigma, so, too, does the sixteenth release from this artist. It would be fantastic, were it not for this fact: It doesn’t contain songs so much as it does monologues set to music. This effect isn’t entirely off-putting, but die-hard singing fans might wish upon the moon that Willie May had more of a range in his vocals. He may not be the Freddie Mercury of the blues, or even the Frank Sinatra, but he and his fellow musicians have put tremendous effort into Blues Mona. For that alone, it’s worth a listen. On ten original tracks, May explores what drives rabid blues aficionados to be darn-near “luna-tics”.

According to May’s website, “Willie has taken his original blend of music to the blues clubs from The LaFayette Tap Room in Buffalo to Antones in Austin, TX, The Black Swan in Toronto, The Penny Arcade in Rochester, The Dinosaur BBQ in Syracuse, Hard Rock Café [in] Niagara Falls, The Slippery Noodle in Indianapolis, Fat Fish Blue in Cleveland, Bflo Blues in Pittsburgh, and to countless other venues on thousands, yes thousands, of occasions…The Willie May Band is a 5 time Buffalo Area Music Award winner voted Western New York Blues Beat Magazine’s Band of the Year.” This reviewer has rarely seen a modern blues artist so prolific.

Along with May (vocals, guitar, bass, dobro, baritone guitar, ukulele, kalimba, and Jew harp) are are fellow guitarists Hayden Fogle and Ron Kain; Chris Panfil on fiddle; backing vocalists Dwane Hall, Mark Panfil, and Sharon Bailey; drummers Owen Eichensehr, Randy Bolam, Randy Corsi, Ray Hangen and Tom Lafferty; bassists Harvey Murello, Tom Corsi and Robert Parker; upright bassist Jim Whitford; saxophonists Ken Parker and Larry Cheeley; Kevin Espinosa on harmonica; Evan Laedke on organ; piano and keytar; and Mark Panfil on accordion, banjo, dobro, harmonica, and background vocals.

The following song puts these musicians to their best test, and they shine in their full glory:

Track 05: “Surf Mona Blues” – Who says blues and ‘beach-bum’ music don’t mix? This instrumental proves that they can, and do, quite well. What’s the catchiest: Larry Cheeley’s sizzling saxophone, Robert Parker’s thrumming bass, or Ray Hangen’s drums? Call it a draw on this instrumental throwback to the 1950’s. It’ll take more than one punch of the “repeat” button to catch all of the musical lines and different sounds on this track, but the effort will be worth it.

Blues fans, if what you’re looking for is complex, multi-layered instrumental showmanship instead of powerhouse pipes, Blues Mona will definitely take you to the moon and back!

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 – 5 of 6 

Luther Badman Keith – Bluesmen Are Kings

BMB Records

13 tracks/51:18

Guitarist Luther Badman Keith is back with a new recording full of spirited original material that melds traditional blues rhythms with lyrics that explore a number of contemporary issues, including some regarding his Detroit hometown. His backing band consists of Todd Glass on drums, Alex Lyon on bass, Josh Ford on slide and rhythm guitar, and Jim David on keyboards.

The leader’s exuberant vocal style fires up the opening track, “Wow Oui Ole,” blues in three languages with Billy Furman on tenor sax adding an additional boost. “Blues 2.0” is another humorous tune that takes a look at modern relationships as filtered through technology. Keith takes his time on the solo, exhibiting a clean fluid style. Furman and trumpeter Mark Croft also get chance to blow hearty solos. The up-tempo shuffle, “Omelet,”gives David some space and he dazzles with some piano magic while Keith keeps things loose and limber with an infectious delivery of the play-on-words lyrics.

The singer’s voice takes on a grittier tone that matches Ford’s slide licks on “Muddy Waters Blues”. The title track rolls along with horn accents backing another strong vocal from Keith describing his experiences as a blues musician, complete with another noteworthy guitar foray and a funky closing passage. “Last Call For The Blues” examines the palpable desperation of the late-night bar patrons, with Keith observing, “Talking to a girl over whiskey & beer – we both trying to fake a little cheer. She’s not too pretty but, you know, neither am I. We just want to try to get through the night.”

Keith pays his respects to some of the legendary blues artists on “Muddy Waters Blues,” complete with Ford’s wicked slide riffs. Furman plays harp on that cut as well as “Mojo Son,” where his hard blowing prompts one Keith’s best guitar solos. Another highlight is the leader’s fiery playing on “Detroit Blues,” a high-powered lamentation of the problems facing his hometown. Keith’s voice and guitar break it down on “Baby Walks Out,” reminding listeners what it feels like when the blues come calling.

A couple of tracks, “Bluesman Looking For Love” and “Room In My Heart,” have generic lyrics but pack quite a musical punch, especially the former that features a great exchange between Keith’s guitar and David on organ. “Blue-B-Que” is an instrumental that gives the two horn players and the rhythm section one last opportunity to impress. It all adds up to a disc that offers plenty of straight-ahead blues that come to life due to Keith’s energetic performances.

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!.

 Featured Blues Music Review – 6 of 6 

Sterling Koch – Rock Slide

Full Force Music – 2015

8 tracks: 35 minutes

Pennsylvania’s Sterling Koch plays Texas style rock-blues on lap steel guitar. On his seventh album Sterling plays lap steel and regular guitar as well as handling all lead vocals. With him throughout are Gene Babula on bass and b/v’s and John Goba on drums: Co-producer Bret Alexander adds rhythm guitar to one track, Bob Wagner keys to two and Jack Kulp plays harp on one cut; Jennifer Dierwechter sings backup on one track. Seven of the tunes are credited to Sterling, three in collaboration with Freida Gannt, with one cover.

Credited to Sterling, opener “Shake ‘Em On Down” is at the very least a close relative of Slim Harpo’s “Hipshake”, both lyrically and rhythmically. Having said that, it is a very enjoyable piece with the trio augmented by Bret’s rhythm guitar and Jack’s harp, leaving Sterling to produce some amazing sounds on his lap steel. “Sugar” has Jennifer’s backing vocals on a tune with more of an Americana feel. As ever there is plenty of razor-sharp lap steel work and that is even more so on “Good To Go” which was possibly this reviewer’s pick of the tracks here with its rocking core riff and exciting steel work: no added rhythm guitar here so what you hear is clearly Sterling overdubbing his steel on top of standard guitar. “Leavin’ Me With The Blues” drops the pace for a stately blues ballad with strong break-up lyrics, Sterling keeping the lap steel low key and Bob’s organ providing great support.

Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Crossfire” is the only cover though the sleeve reminds us that SRV was not one of the five writers of the song. The familiar tune has Sterling’s slide work replacing SRV’s licks and his vocal is solid. “I’m Packin’ Up” finds Sterling playing some Elmore James style riffs on his lap steel, Bob’s piano adding extra propulsion to the tune. We then get some rock and roll on “Comin’ For Your Love” which is terrific fun and certainly sounds like a tune that would work brilliantly live before Sterling closes the album with the appropriately titled instrumental “Last Call” which fades in with bar room noises before settling into a chugging rhythm over which Sterling plays some slide that reminded this reviewer of Duane Allman’s work on the “Layla” version of “Key To The Highway”.

Fans of slide guitar will really enjoy this disc. This reviewer certainly did though would have liked a couple more tunes to fill the album out. Nevertheless, this one comes with a ‘recommended’ tag.

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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Ventura County Blues Society – Ventura, CA

The 11th Annual Ventura County Blues Festival on Saturday, April 30, in a new, bigger location at Studio Channel Islands in Camarillo, benefits Food Share and other local charities in Ventura County. Also features a Festival-ending All-Star Jam Tribute to the late BB Chung King. Info:

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 Bob Margolin and his trio at the Carrillo Recreation Center, 100 E. Carrillo St., on Saturday, March 12, 2016.

Margolin was lead guitarist in the band of the legendary bluesman Muddy Waters for seven years. He has released many albums of his own, played on many others, and is a renowned blues writer and educator as well as performer. He has been nominated for multiple Blues Music Awards (BMAs) by the Blues Foundation, and won twice as Best Guitarist of the Year.

Special guest at the show will be highly regarded harmonica player Bob Corritore, also a multiple BMA nominee.

Doors will open at 7:00 PM. From 7:15 to 7:45 Santa Barbara’s own lauded guitarist, Alastair Greene, and his band will play an opening set. Margolin, Corritore, and band will 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.

Central Iowa Blues Society – Des Moines, IA

The Central Iowa Blues Society is now accepting applications for the 2016 Iowa Blues Challenge. This includes entries for both the Blues Band and Solo / Duo categories. Preliminary rounds begin April 24, 2016 and this year the finals will be held on Saturday, June 18, 2016 at the Downtown Marriott in Des Moines.

Prize packages to the first place winners in each category include cash, 8 hours recording time courtesy of Junior’s Motel, opportunity for paid performances at area events and festivals throughout the year, and entry into and travel expenses for the 2017 International Blues Challenge in Memphis TN.

Don’t delay! All entry material must be delivered to the Central Iowa Blues Society before the deadline on Friday, April 8, 2016. For an application and more information, go to

The 2016 Iowa Blues Challenge is sponsored by Budweiser, Summit Brewing Co., Junior’s Motel, Rieman Music, Zimm’s Food and Spirits, Lefty’s Live Music, River Music Experience, Cityview, Central Iowa Blues Society, Mississippi Valley Blues Society, South Skunk Blues Society and Southeast Iowa Blues Society.

Mississippi Valley Blues Society – Davenport, IA

The Mississippi Valley Blues Society presents local Blues legends Ernie Peniston, Hal Reed, and Ellis Kell in concert on Friday, March 11, in the tented parking lot at Kavanaugh’s Hilltop Tap, 1228 30th Street, Rock Island, IL on Friday, March 11. The show will start at 8:00 p.m. and admission for this performance will be $10 if you are a Mississippi Valley Blues Society member, or $12 if you are have not joined the Blues Society (application will be available at the door).

This concert will benefit the Mississippi Valley Blues Society in their efforts to educate the general public about the native art form of blues-related music through performance, interpretation and preservation, thus enhancing appreciation and understanding. Special thanks to the support and sponsorship of Kavanaugh’s Hilltop Tap for making this concert possible.

The Mississippi Valley Blues Festival is returning to LeClaire Park, Davenport, Iowa for the 31st year on July 1 and 2, 2016. More than 10 acts will be booked, bringing the audience an array of Blues music for 2-days starting at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, July 1 and 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 2. Admission tickets will go on sale soon.

The acts for weekend are still being scheduled and the full lineup will be announced shortly. “We want the 2016 lineup to reach a wide audience while maintaining our Blues roots,” says Steve Heston, President of the Mississippi Valley Blues Society. “We’re confident this year’s lineup, featuring local, regional, and national Blues acts, will do just that and we look forward to celebrating our thirty-first year with music fans from around the world.”

In 2016, guests can expect the return of favorite attractions such as Blueskool along with some new experiences which will also debut at the festival this year. MVBS is still seeking corporate and individual sponsorship to help offset this year’s event expenses. Individuals can give monetarily during the months leading up to the festival through attending the scheduled fundraising events and by donating through a Go-Fund-Me campaign. For additional corporate and individual sponsorship information visit

MVBS’ mission is to present a 2-day Blues music experience along the Mississippi River that will maintain the integrity of the festival from the past 30

The Lowcountry Blues Society – Charleston, SC

The Lowcountry Blues Society is pleased to announce the 12th annual Blues By the Sea featuring Mississippi Heat, Mac Arnold & Plate Full of Blues and Randy McAllister, Sunday, April 10, 230-7 pm at Freshfields Village Green, Kiawah Island, SC. (40 mins SE of Charleston)

The event is FREE and is brought to you by the Kiawah Island Cultural Events Fund. Rain or shine (we are tented) Bring a lawn chair or blanket, coolers OK! A great time for the entire family!

Blues Society of Central PA – Harrisburg, PA

The Blues Society of Central PA proudly presents the Mississippi Delta Blues of 83 year old Leo “Bud” Welch with Dixie Street on Saturday, March 5th 8:00 PM EST at Champions Sports Bar 300 2nd Street Highspire, PA 17034 Admission $10.00

Also, the Blues Society of Central PA welcomes Mark Hummel’s Golden State Lone Star Revue featuring Mark Hummel, Anson Funderburgh, Little Charley Baty with Wes Starr and R.W. Grigsby on Sunday, April 17th 8:00 PM EST at Champions Sports Bar 300 2nd Street Highspire, PA 17034 Admission $15.00.

The Blues Society of Central PA hosts an open blues jam every Thursday evening for 17 years running at Champions Sports Bar, 300 2nd St. Highspire, PA 17034 8:00 PM EST FREE Please drop by and join us if you’re in the central PA area!

The Great Northern Blues Society – Wausau, WI

The Great Northern Blues Society presents the 17th Annual Blues Café on Saturday 3/12/16 in the beautiful Historically Registered Rothschild Pavilion near Wausau, WI. Five Great Bands, plus an acoustic act to perform near the large stone fireplace between main-stage acts.

Acts include Aaron Williams & the HooDoo, Left Lane Cruiser, Ray Fuller & the Blues Rockers, The Lionel Young Band and Albert Cummings as the headliner.

Dan Phelps will be entertaining acoustically during changeovers. Cold Beverages of your choice, and multiple food vendors on site all day.

Come shake your tail-feathers, warm your cockles by the fireplace, and kickoff Spring 2016 at our 17th Annual Houserockin’ Blues Party! $15 in advance, and $20 at the door. Children under 12 free if accompanied by an adult parent, or guardian. See for details. (Tickets will be available for purchase on the website after the first of the year.)

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. The residency will culminate in an evening show on March 17th at East HS at 630 PM. Dan and the students will be performing the songs they wrote and showing the music videos they created based on the novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” This event is free and open to the public.

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.

Coco Montoyo comes to Rockford on Friday, March 25 at 8 PM. The Rockford Park District’s Nordlof Center is home to the J.R. Sullivan Theater where the show will be held. Tickets are available at the box office or on line at; advanced tickets are $15 and the cost will be $20 at the door if not sold out.

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. March 7 – Black Magic Johnson, Mar. 14 – Lewis Cowdrey, Mar. 21 – 24th Street Wailers, Mar. 28 – Kirk Brown Band, April 4 – Joe Moss Band, April 11 – Kilborn Alley Blues Band, April 18 – Jason Elmore & Hoodoo Witch, April 25 – The Bruce Katz Band.

Additional ICBC and ICBC partnered shows: Mar. 17 – James Armstrong Presents @ The Alamo, 6 pm, w/ guest host Back Pack Jones, April 7 – James Armstrong Presents @ The Alamo, 6 pm, April 21 – James Armstrong Presents @ The Alamo, 6 pm

Also March 26 is the Illinois Central Blues Club 30th Anniversary 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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