Issue 11-12 March 23, 2017

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Cover photo by Bob Kieser © 2017

 In This Issue 

Don Wilcock has our feature interview with Andy Duncanson from the Kilborn Alley Blues Band. We have 8 Blues reviews for you this week including reviews of a book by Ed Baldwin and new music from Sharon Lewis And Texas Fire, Mark May Band, The Veldman Brothers, JW-Jones, Big Creek Slim, Dave Orban and the Mojo Gypsie and Popa Chubby.

Our Video of the week is an entire set of music by Ana Popovic

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

 From The Editor’s Desk 

2017 BBMA Logo imageHey Blues Fans,

The submissions for the 2017 Blues Blast Music Awards are open until April 15th, 2017. So far we are getting quite a few submissions.

So why would you want to submit your album for this year’s awards series other than the fact that if it gets nominated you get a ton of promotion during the awards voting?

Well one thing is that the 30 nominators are folks you WANT to hear your album. They are journalists/music critics, festival promoters, radio DJs, Blues music venue owners and other industry leaders.

Any Blues album released between May 1st, 2016 and April 30, 2017 is eligible. There are 12 categories for 2017 including Contemporary Blues Album, Traditional Blues Album, Soul Blues Album, Rock Blues Album, Acoustic Blues Album, Live Blues Album, New Artist Debut Album, Historical or Vintage Album, Male Blues Artist, Female Blues Artist, Blues Band, Sean Costello Rising Star Award.

Complete information on how to have your recording considered is at

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser

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Blues Blast Magazine’s Early Bird Special is our lowest priced advertising of the 2017 year. It offers an affordable & effective way to get the Blues word out!

This 8-issue discount ad campaign allows you to add significant impact to your Blues advertising and promotion campaign. It is a great way for artists to solicit festival gigs or can be used to kick up the visibility of your summer Blues festival, new album release, Blues event or music product all around the globe! This is perfect for a new album release, a festival advertising campaign or any new music product.

Normal 2017 Advertising rates start at $150 per issue of Blues Blast magazine. BUT, for a limited time, this special gives you eight issues of Blues Blast Magazine for only $400. (A $1200 value!)

Blues Blast Magazine is a great way to promote anything Blues. 36,000 opt-in subscribers read Blues Blast Magazine. Our subscribers are located in all 50 states and in more than 90 countries giving your products global coverage at an affordable price. Weekly issues of Blues Blast Magazine are also posted on our popular website. We get more than 2,000,000 (That’s TWO MILLION) hits and 65,000 visitors a month at our website.

To get this special rate simply buy your ad space by APRIL 15th, 2017!!!! Ads can run anytime between now and December 2017. So get your ad package now for that fall album release!

With this special rate, your ad can be viewed more than 370,000 times by our readers who want to know about your Blues events and music! Reserve your space today! Space is limited and will be sold on a first come first served basis.

Other ad packages and options, single ads, short run ads or long term bulk rates available too! Visit To get more information email or call 309 267-4425 today for an ad plan that fits your needs.

Ads must be reserved and paid for by April 15th, 2015!!!

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 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 8 

sharon lewis cd imageSharon Lewis And Texas Fire – Grown Ass Woman

Delmark Records

14 tracks/56:55 running time

“We ain’t gon’ play no rock and roll. We got the Blues with a whole lotta soul,” sermonizes chantress Sharon Lewis on track 2, “Hell Yeah!” And she ain’t jivin’. Hailing originally from Fort Worth, she migrated to Chicago and became active in Chitown’s Blues scene in the early ’90’s. She burned through several bands and stages , becoming a Windy City favorite and in 2005 created a new presence with her Band Texas Fire.

Grown Ass Woman is a defiant statement that exalts the Blues as an art form the genesis of which sprang from the African experience, synthesized, or desensitized, if you will, by the current sense of culture in America. It’s like she might be saying we know where the Blues came from, but where it’s headed might not be a good space or the right place.

Texas Fire consists of Sharon Lewis on vocals, Steve Bramer on guitar, Roosevelt Purfoy on keys, Andre Howard on bass and Tony Dale on drums. Ms. Lewis wrote six of the fourteen tracks and Mr. Bramer wrote six. The band does two covers, B.B. King’s “Why I Sing The Blues,” and the Allman Brothers’ “Soul Shine.”

Also augmenting the band on this recording is the great Sugar Blue guesting on harmonica on tracks 1 and 12, while Steve Bell, son of Chicago legend Carey Bell, contributes harp on track 6. The fattened horn section also consists of arranger Kenny Anderson on trumpet, Hank Ford on tenor and Jerry DiMuzio on Bari sax on tracks 2, 4, 8 and 10. Chicago based, slide guitar favorite Joanna Connor adds heat on tracks 3 and 9. Ari Seder handles the bottom on tracks 8 and 14.

On track 1, “Can’t Do It Like We Do,” Ms. Lewis comes out smokin’ and makes it personal stating the obvious–Nobody does Chicago Blues like Chicago Blues people. “They can’t shuffle like Billy Branch, or slow Blues like Magic Sam,” proclaims as the band jumps behind a scorching Sugar Blue lead on harp. Later in the song she also reveals that nappy hair is also a prerequisite. Not to mention the fire in the belly!

Track 3, “Chicago Woman,” features the scorching slide of Joanna Conner who might not have the naps, but her chops are all the way down. Paired with Sharon Lewis’ vocals, this song is indeed a testament to Chicago Blues Women.

This is a great album. The Chicago Blues are always out front but one can also hear snatches of Southern Soul and other influences. Track 4, “They’re Lying,” has chord similarities to the Floyd Cramer Rockabilly/Country hit from 1960, “Last Date.”

Sharon Lewis and Texas Fire are a powerful band whose future seems boundless. She might’ve been sown in Fort Worth but is definately Chicago grown.

CyberSoulMan Tee Watts is music director at KPFZ 88.1 fm in Lakeport, California. His radio show, The CyberSoulMan Review airs Tuesday afternoons from 3-5 PST. He is road manager for Sugar Pie DeSanto, the last Queen standing from the glory years of Chess Records.

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 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 8 

mark may band cd imageMark May Band – Blues Heaven

Connor Ray Music/Bad Fork Records

CD: 13 Songs, 1 Hour 17 Minutes

Styles: Horn Blues, Contemporary Electric Blues Rock, Ensemble Blues

In 2007, I had the privilege of speaking at a business convention in Atlanta with two of my colleagues. We were only in the city for one night, so one co-worker of mine suggested dinner at a chic club called the Vortex. On its menu was a burger with this description: “So good you’ll see God!” I gaped and said, “Based on a claim like that, I have to try it.” Try it, and believe it, I did. Such is the case with the Mark May Band’s new CD, entitled Blues Heaven. With such a lofty name come lofty expectations on the part of genre enthusiasts everywhere. Will you, too, see God – or at least hear Him – in this hour and seventeen minutes of boisterous blues rock? It depends: If you’re a fan of Dickey Betts, horn-based blues, guitar shredding, and high energy, then you definitely will. If, however, you like your tunes less polished and more down-and-dirty, this offering might have a little too much grease – like that burger I devoured, but never mind.

On thirteen original songs, every musician drives himself to the absolute max, whether it comes to vocals or instrumentation. Mark May, front man of Mr. Betts, proves equally sizzling on lead, rhythm, slide and baritone guitars as he performs lead vocals. With him are Dave Absalom on lead and rhythm guitars, and lead and background vocals on track twelve; Tim Keefe on bass guitar, and Gary Jorgenson on drums. The entire band is joined by the heavenly Soul Satyr Horns: Ted “Teddy Boom” Basinger on trombone; John “Johnny B” Bonham on trumpet; and Joe “Smokin’ Joe” Reasoner on saxophones. Special guest stars include Greg Martin on slide guitar; Hadden Sayers on lead guitar; Ed Durante on rhythm guitar; Steve Krase on harmonica; Eric Demmer on saxophone; Matt Mees on drums; and John Popovich on B3 organ and piano.

The following three songs are knock-down, flat-out, in-your-face, horn-based blues gems:

Track 02: “Money” – Ah, the “root of all evil”. Technically, the love of it is, but even if you only have a little, it exerts its pull on you. “It’ll make you turn your back on the best friend you’ve ever had, and if someone tries to take yours, you know you’ll be fighting mad…” The best parts of this song are its edge and the exquisite minor-chord harmony of the Soul Satyr Horns. Its atmosphere is one part grit, one part groove, and one part glorious guitar.

Track 10: “All I Ever Do” – On this CD’s most danceable number, Hadden Sayers plays lead guitar at such a high temperature it could turn steel white-hot. As for the narrator of this song? His relationship is ice-cold: “Now she’s packing her things, and she’s leaving her rings, and the whole day’s putting me in a real, real fine mood…Seems like I just can’t win at any damn thing I can do.” One thing’s for sure: No one, whether in a live crowd or at home, will stay seated here.

Track 13: “Almost Like a Suicide” – Should such a jaunty closing tune have such a depressing title? Say no to drugs, kids – and musicians. “You gotta step up,” Mark May and chorus warn an addicted comrade. “You’re on that long, dark ride, almost like a suicide.” The tone here is at once bouncy and eerie, like a ghost story being told in the middle of a carnival at midnight.

For those who die for horn-based blues rock, the Mark May Band’s latest is Blues Heaven!

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 37 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 – 3 of 8 

the veldman brothers cd imageThe Veldman Brothers – Refuel


11 songs – 45 minutes

Refuel is the sixth album from leading Dutch blues-rock band, The Veldman Brothers, with 10 original songs written by singer/guitarist Gerrit Veldman and one track by Gerrit’s brother, Bennie, who also plays piano, organ and harmonica as well as contributing one lead vocal.

The album opens with the mid-paced instrumental shuffle of “Brothers Groove”, which highlights Bennie’s glorious B-3 solo and Gerrit’s bitingly melodic guitar playing, as well as reflecting the influence of Stevie Ray Vaughan, circa Soul To Soul. It is obvious that these boys can play the blues and, even though most of the rest of the album lies in the world of rock, the blues feeds into much of what they do.

The straight-ahead rock of “The Only One” benefits from more nice organ from Bennie and a tasty wah-wah guitar solo from Gerrit before Bennie mixes piano and organ on the Faces-esque “Losin’ It”, on which his brother convincingly channels Rod the Mod in his vocal performance.

The upbeat shuffle of “I Found” has echoes of Gary Moore’s 1990s blues albums while “Stay Close” recalls the Black Crowes as well as Rod Stewart, in both Gerrit’s slide guitar playing and his vocals.

“Journey” is a slow, acoustic 12 bar blues with excellent lumping drums by Han Neijenhuis and a fine harp solo from Bennie. One of the joys of the album is how well the brothers work together and complement each other. Gerrit is a top-class guitarist, singer and songwriter, but it’s Bennie’s subtle contributions that provide the essential support to enable Gerrit to shine. And when Bennie does take a solo, he kills it.

The shuffle of “What Is Wrong” is distinguished by its distinctive guitar introduction, which is then repeated in tandem with the keys. A similar trick enhances the heavy funk-rock of “No Love Song”, with Gerrit contributing some beautiful hanging, weeping notes between Bennie’s vocal lines.

The discordant heavy rock riff of “Suspicious” is memorable with Bennie’s superb organ playing once again elevating the song above what could be a simple rock track.

The soul-rock ballad “Carry On” reaches back to the late 1960s before the album closes out with the ZZ Top-esque boogie of “One Step Closer” with Bennie back on harp. The rhythm section of Neijenhuis and bassist Fred van Der Wende, who are splendid throughout the album, absolutely nail the dynamics necessary to keep a one chord song interesting.

Refuel is superbly produced by Roy Klein-Entink and The Veldman Brothers, who have captured a warm, very live sound. As an aside, it is perhaps curious that so much effort has clearly been put into what is a very impressive CD, but the band’s website (or at least, the English language part of it) has barely been updated over the last two years and so focuses primarily on Livin’ By The Day, the band’s previous CD release.

The Veldman Brothers bill themselves as a blues band and have won a number of blues awards in the Netherlands. The music on Refuel, however, while very enjoyable, is a long way from being the blues. Rather, it is traditional blues-rock with a heavy 1970s influence.

Nevertheless, there is much to enjoy on Refuel. The songs are well-constructed and played with great dexterity and no little virtuosity. If your tastes include the likes of the Faces, Gary Moore and the Black Crowes, you will definitely want to check out the Veldman Brothers.

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.

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2017 Blues Blast Music Award Submission Are Now Open

The 2017 Blues Blast Music Awards series has begun. Submissions are open until April 15th, 2017 The Blues Blast Music Awards are the largest fan voted Blues awards on the planet. But hurry! Submissions end April 15,2017!

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

 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 8 

jw jones cd imageJW-Jones – High Temperature

Solid Blues Records

CD: 13 Songs, 51:04 Minutes

Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues Rock

Amid the assortment of blues CD’s Ms. Wetnight is currently reviewing lay one by an artist her passionate purist papa (Skyy Dobro) recognized with enthusiasm: “Hey!” he cried. “JW-Jones. That’ll be blues rock fo’sho’!” Indeed it is, with hero-caliber chopper cranked up to a blistering High Temperature. It’s a more than fitting follow-up to Jones’ JUNO Award-nominated Belmont Boulevard, which soared to the Billboard Top 10. This Canadian maverick, sporting a slick hairdo, slick suit, and slick shredder riffs, blasts through thirteen songs – eight originals and five covers including the title track – with instrumental heat that would shatter anyone’s thermometer. His vocal style, however, is akin to Richard Harris’ and Vanessa Redgrave’s in Camelot. Jones, and these two renowned actors, don’t so much sing as converse with a lilt in their voices. No matter. What’s on showroom display here is guitar with a capital G, and it is truly gargantuan.

One thing is also for sure: JW is a star on a meteoric rise in the blues-rock universe. His promotional info sheet reveals one of his most recent ascents: “In early 2016, Jones was requested directly form George Thorogood and The Destroyers’ management to open several Canadian tour dates, and he toured the UK for the first time, creating a buzz that resulted in glowing endorsements from members of the band Vintage Trouble and Joe Bonamassa’s UK publicist, Peter Noble…Jones has now toured in twenty-three countries and Jones has support from blues royalty – Jimmie Vaughan, Robert Cray, and the late Johnny Winter.”

JW’s co-musicians on his latest CD are no blues peasants themselves, but multitalented artisans. With him are two other members of a touring band, bassist Laura Greenberg and drummer Mathieu Lapensée. Session musicians include acclaimed Nashville producer and co-lyricist Colin Linden on guitar (of whom Jones has long been a fan); Kevin McKendree on keyboards; Dominic John Davis on bass; Bryan Owings on drums and percussion; Liam Russell on harmony vocals; and Jaida Dreyer on lead vocals for track two, “How Many Hearts.”

The three songs listed below will make early spring seem as scorching as the middle of August:

Track 01: “Price You Pay” – Co-written by Colin Linden and Gary Nicholson, the album’s opener laments the sacrifices people make in life to get what they want. “Spend a dollar to save a dime will make you holler every time. Shoving that square peg in the round hole, till you squeeze out every last drop of your soul.” Whether one’s dream is a muscle car, as in the first verse, or a high-maintenance lover in the second, this Joe Walsh-style tune knows all about it. From intro to outro, it rages with cathartic frustration.

Track 04: “Murder in my Heart for the Judge” – This tail-kicking cover of a Moby Grape hit tells the tale of a defendant whose desire for vengeance goes from dim to deadly. Its objects? “That big, fat, bald representative of justice and the prosecutor began to frown.” With a growling lead guitar with a broken-glass edge, track four is one of those guilty-pleasure songs that people can’t help singing along to, despite its dark title. There’s some great barroom harmony going on here.

Track 13: “Wham” – JW-Jones’ final jam shows why its title often comes before “Bam! Thank you, ma’am.” It’s a low-down, throw-down cover of a surfer-style instrumental by Lonnie Mack, and it’ll get crowds – live and at home – on the dance floor. Hopefully, they won’t wipe out. Greenberg and Lapensée go all out on drums and bass, thrumming and crashing to a grand finale.

Canada’s JW-Jones sure knows how to play High Temperature guitar!

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 37 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 Video Of The Week – Ana Popovic 

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This video is an entire set of the amazing Ana Popovic performing at the Internationale Jazzwoche Burghausen in 2012.(Click image to watch!)

An Popovic is performing at the Tampa Bay Blues Festival on Friday, April 7th, 2017.

For tickets and info on this Blues event visit or click on their ad below!

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 Blues Want Ad – Volunteer Writers Needed 

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

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

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

These are volunteer positions that need a persons who really loves the Blues and wants to spread the Blues word! Must have good writing and composition skills, good grammar and spelling! Experience using WordPress is a big plus!

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

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

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

 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 8 

ed baldwin boom imageEd Baldwin – Sliding Delta

Brasfield Books

227 pages

A work of historical fiction, Sliding Delta is a coming-of-age tale involving a young guitarist who makes a series of decisions that have profound impacts on his life. Douglas Spencer is an amateur guitarist and a near-failing college student. His parents are in the middle of a bitter divorce while his former girlfriend lets him know about her pregnancy that was not of his doing. Seeking solace, Spencer delves into a Mississippi John Hurt album that he recently purchased in attempt to learn to play Hurt’s intricate guitar style.

Soon he hatches a plan to head south in search of the legendary bluesman. With encouragement and some financial support from his grandmother, he hits the road, bound for Memphis. His plans for a big adventure are almost short-circuited when a late night mugging leaves him battered and broke. A chance meeting with an veteran musician in a city park gets him some valuable lessons on the proper way to play the blues. Several other fortuitous meetings enable him to continue his quest.

A bus trip takes him to Avalon, Mississippi, home of his guitar hero. Nothing more of a collection of decrepit buildings and a long-abandoned train station, Spencer ends up at Kinder’s general store, operated by ex-Marine Buck Kinder and his teenage daughter Addie. Hired to pump gas and help Addie run the store, the guitarist quickly works his way into the good graces of the denizens of the local community, hanging out and raising hell with guys named Billy Ray and Cooter. He also frequently faces the harsh realities of segregation and racial attitudes in the mid-1960’s South.

Author Ed Baldwin takes his time in letting the story unfold, leaving room for other legends like Albert King, Howlin’ Wolf, and Hubert Sumlin to make appearances. Just when it seems that the quest has been forgotten, Hurt finally enters the story for the long-awaited meeting on the front porch of the store. As his summer slips away, Spencer decides to head north for a return to college. A layover in Memphis alters his plans yet again as he takes charge of a show for a fraternity party, leading the band fronting an exotic dancer, accompanied by her mother. The evening once again takes Spencer down a different path that ends up in Southern Presbyterian Church in Jackson, Mississippi on Christmas Eve with all of the important women in his life.

Baldwin shows that his previous five novels have taught him how to develop characters that go beyond loosely drawn caricatures of musicians that often inhabit fiction centered on music. A well-written book that does a fine job of weaving several plot lines into a coherent tale, this book would certainly be of interest to blues fans as well as readers who enjoy well-written fiction.

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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 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 8 

big creek slim cd imageBig Creek Slim – Keep My Belly Full

Straight Shooter Records

CD: 13 Songs, 54:11 Minutes

Styles: Traditional and Contemporary Electric Blues, Ensemble Blues

In the opinion of yours truly, entertainment is food for the soul, and pop songs are potato chips. They may have salty language and a crisp beat, but once the flavor’s gone, all fans can do is pop more and more into their mouths – er, heads. Today’s top tunes don’t Keep My Belly Full. That’s why I love the blues, especially when they’re played as well as Big Creek Slim does. Readers, if you don’t know what the “.dk” on the end of Slim’s website means, you’d never guess he and his posse are from the land of the Little Mermaid – the statue, not the Disney film. Denmark may be their home, but their music is straight-up, vintage-style American blues. Slim (Marc Rune) sports a full, bushy beard and a full-bodied baritone that would make any of the classic masters proud. Some of his songs are a bit long, but no matter. Every note is red-blooded, raw and real.

This is Big Creek’s third CD, following 2015’s Hope for My Soul and the out-of-print Ninety-Nine and a Half from 2012 (available by download only). As high school and college students progress onward from their freshman year, by the time they’re juniors, they know what’s what. They’re upperclassmen, and Slim is definitely an upperclassman of traditional and contemporary electric blues: “The sound of the Delta blues carries me to a more primitive state of mind, and I get to cut the cheese out of my life, if you know what I mean,” his promotional materials reveal.

Going all-out along with BCS (vocals and guitar) are producer Peter Nande on harmonica; Paul Allen, Jr. on bass; Jens Kristian Dam on drums; Nathan James, Troels Jensen, and Ronni Boysen on additional guitars; Jensen also on piano and backing vocals; Kjeld Lauridsen on organ; and Miriam Madipira, Lea Thorlann and Pia Trøjgaard Fredfeldt on additional backing vocals.

Of the thirteen songs on the CD – five covers, seven fresh dishes, and one traditional entrée – these three originals are the meatiest, guaranteed to satisfy one’s blues appetite:

Track 02: “You Don’t Love Me” – Short and sweet, with a familiar beat, track two details an all-too-familiar problem: petered-out partners who just won’t quit clinging. “You don’t love me, baby. You don’t care. Still, you’re following me anywhere. I know you don’t want me, ‘cause you told me so. Now I’m begging you – let me go.” Our narrator’s tormentor sounds less like a lover and more like a prison warden. Fear not: Peter Nande’s hot harp will set everyone free.

Tracmmmmmmmmmk 04: “Keep My Belly Full” – It’s what a good spouse is supposed to do, according to this CD’s title. “Hey, woman,” orders our ‘hangry’ protagonist, “keep your bad man’s belly full! You know I still ain’t out of strings to pull.” The acoustic guitar here is as insistent and twangy as Big Creek Slim’s metaphorical gut strings. PC? Not in the slightest, but it is catchier than the flu.

Track 10: “Cockfight” – In an instrumental hotter than a nuclear reactor during meltdown, Jens Kristian Dam’s drumstick-tapping actually sounds like two roosters clawing the dirt during their bloody bout. With a barroom 1950’s vibe and perfectly-pitched piano from Troels Jensen, this “Cockfight” has no losers. The winners are people who want to get down and boogie.

Big Creek Slim proves that, time and again, traditional blues are meant to Keep My Belly Full!

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 37 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 – 7 of 8 

deve orban cd imageDave Orban and the Mojo Gypsies – I Heard You Twice the First Time

Self Release

14 tracks / 66:45

Many folks dream of becoming a musician some day, but Dave Orban actually went out and did it – twice! Inspired by the British invasion of the 1960s he joined the throngs of kids who purchased instruments and figured out how to sound like their heroes, though Dave took it a step further and learned about the blues that inspired many of these groups. As time went on, he made the “sensible” decision to do the whole school and day job thing, and for 17 years Orban dropped out of the music scene completely.

Then one day an old friend got ahold of Dave and asked him to come to a jam. With his borrowed guitar Orban realized that he had forgotten everything he had ever learned, but this experience ignited a fire in him that made him realize how much he missed the music. Skipping forward a few more decades, we find that he got his groove back and that his current lineup of the Mojo Gypsies has released an album of 14 of Dave’s very respectable original tunes. I Heard You Twice the First Time is a solid set of guitar-driven modern blues that draws on music from all over the United States, and it is definitely worth a listen.

On this disc, Dave Orban lays down the vocal and guitar tracks, and he is joined by the Mojo Gypsies, all of who are from the same New Jersey / Pennsylvania area. These fellows include Jeff Michael (aka Flourtown Fats) on bass, Mark A. Shewchuk on the skins, and Mike Scott on the tenor sax. Besides writing all of the songs Dave acted as the producer for the project, and the album was cut by Bobby Dreher and mixed by Brett Kull; these guys did a marvelous job of getting a clear and well-balanced sound.

The band kicks their set off with “Got That Woman on My Mind” which begins with a raunchy guitar intro and then rolls down into a luscious Chicago-style mix. Right from the start the Mojo Gypsies click, with a slow walking bass line from Michael, three or four layers of Dave’s guitars (in stereo), and bright and crisp drums from Shewchuk.

This is a big album (66 minutes!), so there is not enough room here for a blow-by-blow on every track, but there is a little bit of everything on I Heard You Twice the First Time. This includes straight-up guitar blues (“Baby, Take Your Time” and “Big-Boned Baby”), sweet Louisiana beats (“Ain’t No Lie” and “Dallas”), a touch of jazz (“The Told You So Blues” and “Trouble-Makin’ Woman”), and even a little rockabilly (“What’s Wrong”). The band carries all of these with no trouble at all, held down Shewchuk’s drums and augmented by Scott’s horn arrangements.

There are guest harmonica players on a few of the tracks too, and their presence provides a little extra spice for the sauce. Dave Holtzman (Little Red Rooster Blues Band and AC Steel) joins in for “I’m Sayin’ ‘Yes’ to Everything” and his haunting tone works magic alongside Orban’s jangly slide guitar for this Delta-tinged burner. And “Marky B” Berkowitz brings his harp to “Someone Else’s Woman,” a conventional acoustic blues song with a decidedly vintage vibe.

The Mojo Gypsies end their set with “Lookin’ for a Woman,” a righteous chunk of 70’s vintage funky blues. The bass and guitar tones are to die for on this track, and Shewchuk works the snare with a heavy backbeat. Topping all of this off, Mike Scott lays down a breathy solo break that nestles perfectly into the groove. This is nothing but the right stuff, and it is a perfect way to bring things to a close.

Dave Orban and the Mojo Gypsies did a fine job with I Heard You Twice the First Time, and as I said earlier, it is worth a listen. But you will want to listen to it more than once, as the songs are well written and provide a personal feel that is hard to find in the cover songs that fill many of the new blues albums. And be sure to head over to the Mojo Gypsies website to peruse their gig schedule – if you are anywhere near Philly you just have to see their live show!

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

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 Featured Blues Review – 8 of 8 

popa chubby cd imagePopa Chubby – The Catfish

Popa Chubby Productions 54221

12 songs – 57 minutes

No one in the blues community is enigmatic as Popa Chubby. Despite his heavily tattooed appearance and sometimes in-your-face personality, like the music he plays, he’s a true dichotomy: intelligently switching between hard-edged blues-rock to jazz and sweet, gutbucket blues, as The Catfish, the 18th release in his 25-year catalog, clearly shows.

There’s no argument about his punk pedigree, having spent his youth in denizens like CBGB in New York. But beneath the weathered surface, he’s a larger-than-life, thinking, caring man with a great appreciation for his fans. “This recording is for you,” he states in the liner notes of this one. “You inspire me every day. You make me want to play better, write better, sing better.”

A fearless entertainer, Chubby – born Ted Horowitz – is a powerful vocalist and guitar player who’s able to switch from the most tender of blues ballads to the most blistering rock riffs without a moment’s notice, as The Catfish demonstrates once again. A collection of 10 originals and two covers, Popa contributes most of the instrumentation here, playing guitar and providing percussion on all tracks, drums and bass on six tunes and keyboards on another

He backed here by Dave Keyes on keyboards throughout with additional rhythm from Dave Moore and Rich Monica (drums) and Matt Lapham (bass). Chubby’s daughter, Tipitina Horowitz, provides trumpet accents for two cuts.

The rock-tinged blues “Going Downtown See My Old Gal Sue” opens the set with Chubby flying across the Stratocaster with burning single-note runs atop a funky backbeat, displaying the six-string mastery fans have come to love. “Good Thing,” a funk with guitar breaks, a jazzy piano solo and plenty of sexual innuendo follows before a new arrangement of “Bye Bye Love,” a tune written by Felice and Bodleaux Bryant and a hit for both Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers.

“Cry Till It’s A Dull Ache,” a straight-ahead blues-rocker about enduring five years of agony after a lady said goodbye, precedes “Wes Is More,” a seven-minute tribute to guitarist Wes Montgomery. It’s a sweet sonic break from what’s come before and puts Chubby’s jazz chops on display with stop-time breaks and swinging riffs from Keyes on the keys.

Popa channels Lemmy Kilmister for the rocker “Motorhead Saved My Life” before the tempo slows for “Blues For Charlie,” a burning instrumental, before picking up steam for “Dirty Diesel,” an uptempo number about a woman who’s out-of-control but still looking good. A military drumbeat and Tipitina’s horn introduce “Slow Down Sugar,” a reggae-flavored rap that urges the subject to make the morning last.

“Put A Grown Man To Shame” comes across with a Memphis feel before the cover tune, “The Catfish,” hints of the Delta as it draws parallels between the river bottom dweller and Chubby himself, knowing he’s fat, elusive and always the boss. A country blues cover of Robert Johnson’s “C’mon In My Kitchen” brings the CD to a close.

Available through most major retailers and dedicated to the memory of Timber Dawg Horowitz, a pooch Chubby lost after five short years, The Catfish presents Popa at his best. If your ears are open to influences beyond the old blues one-four-five, you’ll love this one.

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 Interview – Andy Duncanson 

andy duncanson photo 1Ten seconds into any of the five Kilborn Alley CDs – especially the just released Tolono Tapes – you can tell these guys aren’t your average white blues band. In fact, in a blindfold test I’d be tempted to say they’d been tutored by Jim Dickenson and his sons Luther and Cody of the North Mississippi Allstars in Louisiana. Each of the original members is in his mid-30s, but they could be mistaken for being contemporaries of legacy acts like Little Milton, Bobby Rush, and Johnny Taylor.

As a matter of fact, their very first show was opening for Little Milton. “It was the first show we ever played, and we were terrible,” says guitarist Andy Duncanson. “We were 18. We were kids. The guy that had this little chitlin circuit club here in Urbana, Illinois, just really liked us and liked our attitude. So, he gave us some opportunities opening up for some of these acts that would come there.”

Made up of “three amigos” who formed a garage band in high school deep in the heartland, Kilborn Alley’s back story makes them seem to be the least likely to be mistaken for Little Milton protégés as you could imagine. Certainly there was no interpersonal connection at that show. “No, beside signing autographs and saying, ‘Good job, kids,’ that was about it, and then we fortunately got to play with him and see him a few more times before he died I believe in ’04, but it was a good thing for us definitely to experience Little Milton at a young age.”

So, where does Kilborn Alley’s edgy switch blade sound come from? “There are some really good blues band from around here and soul bands and show bands that we’ve been friends with and played with the whole time and a great people. Yeah, there’s some really good guitar players and singers down here.”

But Kilborn Alley left the local competition in the dust 11 years ago when they put out Put It In The Alley, their first Blue Bella CD nominated for a Blues Music Award. Just how did they rise above the hoard?

“Well, I’ve been trying to come up with this answer for years now, and I don’t have one. I don’t have a damn answer,” admits Andy. The son of a Catholic hospital chaplain in a town two hours from Chicago, these guys got their blues baptism at the above-mentioned Malibu Bay Lounge, a strip club six nights a week but featuring national blues acts every Sunday. Telling your chaplain mom, you’re playing in a strip club at 18 was, shall we say, a bit of a dicey challenge.

“My mother’s gonna read this, but (chuckle) this is how I’m gonna get out of this ’cause I had to. It was my duty. On Monday nights, one of the guys who sang with us for 15 years, Abraham Johnson, was the deejay. So, after I would get out of work, I would have to go pick up Abraham from the deejaying, so – you know – for a half hour or so I would see the things that would go on in the strip club on Monday nights, and that’s how I’m getting out of that. It was my duty. I had to go pick up Abraham.”

andy duncanson photo 2It was his duty and not about the booty.

“No, it was just a job I had to do. I had to go get Abraham and have a beer in the back of the bar. My mother’s a chaplain at the local Catholic hospital here in town, and she’s a wonderful person. I was 18 years old, and they called. ‘Hey, this is Carlos at the Malibu Bay Lounge looking for Andy.’ And everybody knows what that club is here. Yeah, that was her signal that the times had changed. I was no longer a kid anymore.”

Of course, the drinking age was 21. “We got lucky. Our little reputation we had. We could go in the bar whenever we wanted to. It was cool.” Then there were the shows by Bobby Rush who came through Urbana twice a year. In fact, Andy’s not sure, but he thinks Bobby hired one of his hoochy girls out of that club. If these young white boys originally were inspired by Little Milton’s guitar, it was Bobby Rush’s songwriting that turned their heads.

“That’s where I really fell in love with him, and of course we’ve been doing his song “Night Fishin,’ ever since it came out, and that’s inspired several of our songs.

“We didn’t quite know how to handle the Bobby Rush show when we first saw it. The records we were listening to were mostly Magic Sam and Otis Rush and stuff like that. That’s what we were big into. We’re like, ‘Ok, all right. I don’t quite get this,’ but over the years Bobby completely (got our) utmost appreciation.

“This man is entertaining. That was the main thing. This was a show. I had never experienced anything like that. Then you go back again and again. I must have seen him well over a dozen times in that little club. There was this local guy, Piggy, who would sit down front, and they over the years got this rapport together. Piggy became part of the act. They would just banter with the girls. It was just great. It was fun.”

So, some of Kilborn Alley’s secret sauce came from the strip club that let these guys hang out at 18. Another secret to their edginess may have come from an unusual influence. The other guitar player in the band, Josh Stimmel, came from a heavy metal background and loved Guns ‘n Roses, Panera and Slayer.

“I met Josh junior year of high school. Josh and me were probably on opposite sides of the high school spectrum there. He was a football player, and I was kind of the guy who stood around the smoker’s corner and listened to my headphones. I had a Jimi Hendrix shirt on, and he goes, ‘Hey, man, you play guitar?’ I had never met another kid who played guitar at 16, and I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s jam.’

“We would meet in the blues on middle ground. He started listening to blues. He used to tell us all the time, ‘Metal’s raw, man, but blues is the rawest,’ and so that’s where a lot of that edge in our band comes from, you know?”

Little Milton also played with Josh’s head. “Like I said, we got a chance to see Little Milton live in a little club. There was about 20 of us there, and he played guitar all night. We’d seen him on big stages, and it was mostly about the horn section and the songs and the show and that was great, but this time we got to see him play guitar all night long. So, that was a big thing.”

andy duncanson photo 3Andy’s been friends with bass player Chris Breen since elementary school, but their connection wasn’t like Mick Jagger and Keith Richards connecting after seeing old Chess Records under each other’s arm. “No, it was more like we both listened to the music of our time which was West Coast rap, Warren G, Snoop Dog – those were our guys – Too $hort. That was our thing. We were buddies throughout junior high.

“But I had this love of blues music, so I started playing guitar when I was 15, and then when we were like 16, Chris started dating this girl whose dad played bass. So, I said, ‘You need to play the bass.’ That’s how that happened.”

Wait a minute! Did he say west coast rap? “We’re from the ’90s, and I didn’t know anything about alternative music or grunge or anything. I listened to hip hop and soul and my dad had blues tapes. I’ve got an older sister. So, she’s the one that kinda got me into rap and R&B pretty much. I mean, why does gangsta rap appeal to white kids? They got books written on that shit. I mean it’s something edgy. It’s different, and some of our friends really were into hip-hop. Some of our friends were black, and that’s a thing you do.”

Maybe that’s where the edginess comes from. Maybe the personal angst isn’t missing, but is just secondhand. “There’s a love of music. Naw! I mean, everybody has pain, you know? But there’s no depressing back story. No. I haven’t been shot, nothing like that.”

Fast forward 17 years, 2200 shows, seven mini tours of Germany and five CDs. Kilborn Alley is still built around three schoolyard friends, now married. Even Andy’s chaplain mom has given him her blessing. “My mother from the beginning has clipped every single thing out of the paper and has every poster including all the posters from the Malibu Bay Lounge and everything like that. I don’t think she ever went to a show there just out of general principles of not wanting to be in a strip club. You know, strip clubs are a bad thing for women and that kind of thing, but anyway, mamma’s been about perfect from day one, supportive and everything.”

It hasn’t been perfect. “I was hoping not to talk money. Yeah, money’s not very good. We get paid what a good bar band gets paid. That’s about that. But that hasn’t been the tough thing. People have made it ok for us, you know. Nobody in our group is living in real bad poverty or anything like that. People have been supportive because we are good at what we do.”

Chicago blues artist Nick Moss produced, played on and released Kilborn Alley’s first four albums. “He was working the circuit. He came down here and played at one of our local barbeque joints. Actually, it was a Famous Dave’s, so that’s a chain. They were having bands. They’re around a lot of places in the Midwest, and so Nick was playing down there, and me and Josh were there. We had done a show at the same place. This was in probably ’02, and we just really liked Nick, and we bought his album. He was playing in ’02. Some guy asked him, ‘Hey, how do you do that?’ Nick just goes, ‘You know those Buddy Guy records from Chess, man? Just listen to that shit.’ That’s where Nick was at that time, you know, and that’s what we were listening to, so that was just right there.

“We’d always been booking shows. One of the first shows we had anyone from out of town come to was Nick. I found a number for him, called him and organized a couple of concerts in central Illinois where we opened up for him. We put together a couple of shows and booked him. So, that’s how we really met, yeah.

Kilborn Alley’s just released CD The Tolono Tapes is their first in five away from Blue Bella on their own Run It Back Records. Recorded live in the studio, it features a slew of special guests including legacy pianist Henry Grey, the ubiquitous harp player Bob Corritore, big-legged blues shouter Jackie Scott, and Delmark recording artist and 2017 BMA nominee Corey Dennison, among others.

andy duncanson photo 4“This project took place here in Champaign,” says Andy. “Some of the sessions were just to have because we had some special people in town. Hey, this person’s in town. Let’s go cut a couple tracks, you know? Spend a couple hundred bucks in the studio and see what comes out. So, that’s what this new album is.”

My favorite cut is “Night Creeper,” a Dr. John-like funk dry-rib run featuring Corey Dennison tellin’ tales and guesting Gerry Hundt on guitar. “Christmas in County” is a Magic Sam sounding West Side soul smoothie featuring Monster Mike Welch on guitar.

“We produced it ourselves. So, that right there is a big difference. And this is mostly all live, and we tried to do most everything live on the four albums we did with Nick. A lot of that was live and some of it wasn’t, but, yeah, this is mainly all live in the studio. Everybody’s in the same room, yeah. It’s three different sessions.”

Recording an album with this many guests, each with a unique personality and sound can be a tough balancing act where the host band gets lost in the styles of the musicians joining in. That does not happen here. Each guest pokes the creative juices out of Kilborn Alley and make this an early contender for alum of the year.

“This is just a totally different project. See, it’s the new Kilborn album, but it’s sort of not ’cause it’s really guest heavy, and it’s from several different sessions all apart,” explains Andy. “The thing that ties it together is that room there in Tolono at the studio. All the other albums were like Ok, we got a batch of songs, rehearse ’em. Let’s go see what Nick thinks, and let’s knock ’em out in three days. So, the albums from one song to the next kinda had a similar vibe because they were recorded right there together, but this one, they were spread out and with different guests on ’em. So, it’s different project, and there will be a new studio album coming soon, and we’ve got a bunch of material ready to go do another thing similar to the other projects, if that makes sense.”

So, what is Kilborn Alley’s secret sauce? It’s not about pain. Some of it comes from seeing acts like Little Milton, Bobby Rush and Percy Struthers at a strip club. Put in a pinch of West Coast rap and Josh’s childhood love of grunge rock. Add a tight relationship between childhood friends. But it boils down to the idea that these guys love what they do.

“Well, here’s one thing I’ve been trying to word correctly,” says Andy after an hour and a half on the phone. “I picked up the guitar to sing the blues. You know what I’m saying? And I don’t think a lot of people do that when they pick up the guitar. I wanted to sing the blues, and my vehicle was gonna be that guitar, and I wanted to play good blues guitar, but I think that’s kinda different than how a lot of people came to it.”

“Well, yeah, I always wanted to be one of those guys that can sound like Robert Lockwood Jr. and Muddy Waters slide guitar and all that shit. I just can’t do it. I do what I do. That’s the whole thing.”

“Pretty much, man, we’re just normal guys, the three of us who’ve been in the band forever. We started when we were 18 and just kept doing it.”

Visit Kilborn Alley’s website at:

Interviewer 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.

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The Mississippi Valley Blues Society – Devenport, IA

The Mississippi Valley Blues Society proudly brings back to the area Damon Fowler on Friday, March 24 at Kavanaugh’s Hilltop Tap, 1228 30th Street, Rock Island, IL. The show starts at 8:00 p.m. Admission $10 for MVBS members, or $12 for non-members.

With his hybrid of roots rock, blues, and sacred steel, Florida native Damon Fowler started wowing audiences with his musical exploits as a teenager, building a reputation as one of the hottest young players on the scene. Adding songwriting and vocal skills to his repertoire over the years has brought him many accolades, with critics extolling his originality and maturity as well as his technical guitar expertise.

Fowler’s guitar work has been compared to Johnny Winter and Jeff Beck, while his slide guitar has a hint of the late Duane Allman. He can play fiery guitar runs with the best of them, but it’s his lyrical work on lap steel and Dobro that makes him stand out among the legions of guitar heroes. More info (708) 703-3162 or visit

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 27 – The Brother Jefferson Band, Aptil 3 – The Joe Moss Band, aptil 10 – Roger “Hurricane” Wilson & The Hurricane Homeboys, April 17 – The Green McDonough Band, Aptil 24 – Chris Ruest Featuring Gene Taylor.

Additional ICBC partnered shows: April 20 – The MOJOCATS host James Armstrong Presents At The Alamo.  For more information visit

Ventura County Blues Society – Ventura, CA

(Camarillo, CA) – The 12th Annual Ventura County Blues Festival, a Spring SoCal Tradition, Keeping the Blues Alive for a dozen consecutive years, Saturday, April 29, at Studio Channel Islands, 2222 E. Ventura Blvd. Gates open 10:00 am, music starts 11:00 am. Tickets $30. (Pre-Sale), $40. (Gate). Kids 12 and under free with paid Adult. V.I.P. Tickets $125. (online only). Festival proceeds benefits Food Share and other Ventura County area charities (please bring food item to donate). Info: (805) 501-7122 or visit

Performing this year: Two-time Grammy winners, Phantom Blues Band; award-winning singer/songwriter/guitar player, Debbie Davies; renowned guitarist, Chris Cain; RJ Mischo, considered by critics to be in the upper echelon of today’s great harp players and singers; Michael John And The Bottom Line, fronted by VCBS President/Festival founder, Michael John; purveyors of deep-seeded Blues and smoky Southern rock, Crooked Eye Tommy; Jim Gustin and Truth Jones, fronted by blues singer/guitarist Jim Gustin, and Jeri Goldenhar, a/k/a Truth Jones, who has a big voice to match her six-foot stature.

The Sacramento Blues Society – Sacramento, CA

The Sacramento Blues Society is hosting Kenny Neal and the Neal Family Band on March 31, 2017 at the new Burgers and Brew Station 1, West Sacramento, located at the foot of the I St Bridge from 7 PM to 10 PM.

$25 Public $20 SBS Members All Ages Food and Drink Available Wheelchair Accessible.

Central Iowa Blues Society – Des Moines, IA

Central Iowa Blues Society Announces Iowa Blues Hall Of Fame Class Of 2016. This year’s inductees include Ellis Kell, Tony Blew, Dan “DJ” Johnson, J C Anderson and Fletcher Henderson “Sonny” Lott.

Save the date for the Induction Ceremony to be held on April 8, 2017 at Noce’, 1326 Walnut St in Des Moines. The doors open and dinner provided by Flying Mango will start at 5:00 PM. IBHOF house band Sumpin Doo will perform at 6:00 PM with the ceremony at 6:30 PM and a Jam after the ceremony until 10:00 PM. Tickets will be available soon at Noce’ and Midwestix.

The nominated artist’s bios with additional info will follow and be posted at and the CIBS Facebook page.

The Washington Blues Society – Seattle, WA

The Washington Blues Society’s annual Best of the Blues Awards returns to the Kirkland Performance Center on Sunday, April 9th to honor musicians and artists nominated by society members in 32 award categories. The 2017 BB Awards show features performances by select nominees and recognizes new inductees into the Washington Blues Society Hall of Fame.

The nominees represent the best blues performers throughout the Pacific Northwest. Long-time favorites Brian Lee and the Orbiters return with five nominations, including Best Blues Band, Best Performer and Best Songwriter. Fresh from their 2017 International Blues Challenge performances in Memphis, Polly O’Keary and the Rhythm Method garnered five nominations, including Best Band, Electric Guitarist and Female Vocalist of the Year. Stanislove, the blues society’s representative at the 2017 International Blues Challenge is also up for a Solo/Duo BB Award. First-time nominees include vocalist Sheri Roberts Greimes, guitarist Brett “Bad Blood,” Benton, Hammond B3 master Joe Doria and Kenmore’s Capps Club, home of the Washington Blues Society’s free Blues Bash held on the second Tuesday each month. More information:

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