Issue 11-13 March 30, 2017

kenny smith cover photo

 In This Issue 

Don Wilcock has our feature interview with the Chicago’s hottest Blues drummer, Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith. We have 8 Blues reviews for you this week including new music from Guy Davis & Fabrizio Poggi, Hurricane Ruth, Scott Taylor, Big Bill Morganfield, Mark Crissinger, Phil Gammage, The Temprees and Jack Mack & The Heart Attack Horns.

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

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!!!

sammy blue ad image

 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 8 

guy davis & fabrizio Poggi Cd imageGuy Davis & Fabrizio Poggi – Sonny & Brownie’s Last Train

M.C. Records MC-0081

12 songs – 46 minutes

Guy Davis and Fabrizio Poggi team up to deliver an aural love letter to two of their personal favorites, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee on this delightful collection album, dramatically reviving the memory of two of the greatest acoustic bluesmen and longest enduring musical partners the world has ever known.

A master craftsman in the Piedmont style of blues harmonica, Terry was born in Georgia, grew up in the vicinity of Raleigh, N.C., and went blind as a teenager. He rose to prominence in 1938 when he was invited by John Hammond to participate in the legendary From Spirituals To Swing concert at Carnegie Hall, the two-day event that introduced the blues – along with Big Joe Turner, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Jimmy Rushing, Big Bill Broonzy and others – to white society for the first time. He was a Broadway star, too, appearing in 1947 in the long-running play, Finnian’s Rainbow.

A native of Knoxville, Tenn., and stricken with polio at age four, McGhee was a powerful vocalist who rose to prominence with a picking style that was distinctly different than his contemporaries. He worked alongside his hero, Blind Boy Fuller, in the Rabbit Foot Minstrels. He and Terry met in 1939 and started working together after Fuller’s death two years later. They were an essential part of the folk revival of the ‘60s and worked together until 1975 – even though they hadn’t spoken to one another in decades over a dispute, the origin of which neither could remember.

Both Poggi — pronounced with a soft “g”, who produced Sonny & Brownie’s Last Train, in Milan, Italy, where he fronts the band Chicken Mambo, is a one of the world’s foremost practitioners of the Piedmont harp style, a technique in which Davis, an award-winning singer, guitarist, actor and storyteller, is also gifted. The pair have recorded frequently together and toured both sides of the Atlantic, delighting audiences wherever they appear. And Guy also revived Sonny’s Finnian role in three different runs on the New York stage.

“Brownie and Sonny were two musicians whose work will never surpassed, let alone improved on,” says Guy.

While that might be true, this writer is old enough to have experienced those giants on multiple occasions in my youth and, more recently, been blessed with the good fortune of catching Davis and Poggi in concert, too. Even though they deliver much of the same material as their predecessors, they achieve a level of intimacy that Terry and McGhee never approached – possibly because of personal differences.

And that warmth flows like a torrent from the digital imprint on this CD.

The opener, “Sonny And Brownie’s Last Train,” is the only new tune on the disc. Suggested in an idea conceived by Fabrizio, it was written spontaneously by Guy at the mike in the recording studio and depicts the two legends – Sonny died in ’86 and Brownie a decade later – pulling out of the station and heading to their Great Reward. It’s a warm and fuzzy introduction to what’s to follow with Davis handling vocal and guitar duties as he does throughout and both he and Poggi on harmonica.

Beginning with “Louise, Louise,” written by Broonzy and Robert Pete Williams, and Terry’s “Hooray, Hooray These Women Is Killing Me,” all of the material is either from the Sonny-and-Brownie songbook or tunes they played frequently throughout their lifetimes, and delivered in pretty much as originally conceived. The big differences here are Guy and Fabrizio’s feelings both for their forebears and their music and for each other, something that elevates the songs to another level altogether, and the crystal-clear, outstanding modern recording.

The traditional “Shortnin’ Bread” features Davis on guitar and harp with Poggi providing rhythm on a kick drum before takes of Big Joe Williams’ “Baby Please Don’t Go Back To New Orleans” and “Take This Hammer,” written by Leadbelly, who frequently worked with Sonny and Brownie in concert. St. Louis Jimmy Oden’s “Goin’ Down Slow” and Elizabeth Cotten’s “Freight Train” are up next before versions of Brownie’s “Evil Hearted Me” and Josh White’s “Step It Up And Go.” The Terry-McGhee original, “Walk On,” follows before the Leadbelly standard, “Midnight Special,” brings the set to a close.

Sonny & Brownie’s Last Train is as close as anyone living in the 21st Century will get to enjoying Terry and McGhee in concert. If you love the old masters like I do – or simply are just curious about the way they truly sounded in concert – pick this one up today. It’s Sonny and Brownie live – and taken to another level.

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.

guy davis cd ad image

 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 8 

hurricane ruth cd imageHurricane Ruth – Ain’t Ready For The Grave

Hurricane Ruth Records (Self Released)

12 tracks

Hurricane Ruth LeMaster is a woman tall in her vocal stature. Her voice blares out from her small frame, earning her the “Hurricane” moniker. She exudes a powerful presence in her approach to singing, blending the blues with rock and soul and high energy country. Sonically, she is a banshee, but with great charm and appeal attached to that powerful sound

This production is by Tom Hambridge, where he played a part in writing all but one of the songs. The other is a stratospheric rock cover. He also plays drums for the album. Also joining Ruth are Reese Wynans on B3 and other keys, Michael Rhodes on bass. Pat Buchanan and Rob McNelley on guitars, and the McCrary sisters and Wendy Moten on backing vocals.

Ruth begins with “Barrehouse Joe’s,” a jumping piano-based tune with she and Reese Wynans giving it their all. She growls out the lyrics and Wynans fingers were on fire on the keys. “Hard Rockin’ Woman” continues to fan the flames and keep things way up tempo. This blues rocker has Ruth screaming at the top of her lungs to a driving beat. Guitar and piano blaze and support her in this hard driving cut about a hard rockin’ woman. Things then settle down with “Far From The Cradle;” it opens to a distant guitar playing solo and then Ruth comes in with Wynans as the guitar continues off in the distance. It’s thoughtful and quite cool; a very nice, slow blues with an excellent piano solo and support. And that guitar off in the distance is also pretty nicely done. The fourth cut gets back to the big, driving beat and electric guitar. “Estilene” is a song about a woman chasing married men and warnings to her about her habits. Ruth sells it convincingly in this mid temp rocking blues. Wynans’ switches to the B3 here, but it’s the big guitar solo that shines in this one.

“Beekeeper” is a song filled with bee, honey and nectar dibble entendres where Hambridge starts things off on the skins and then Ruth and the band join forces to get things really moving. The B3, guitar and backline drive things nicely in her support, and this time the B3 gets featured on the solo. The tempo once again drops for a nice, slow and pensive blues in “My Heart Aches for You.” Here we have the B3 big again and the guitar off in the sunset. Wynans is stellar here, building the organ sound up in intensity and fire and LeMaster joins him on the vocals in an intense way. Ruth brings it down a bit for a few bars, setting up a fiery and intense finish. “Cheating Blues” is a mid tempo cut that LeMaster masters and guitar and organ help in a big way. Another big but contained guitar solo spices the cut up well. The pace goes up with “Whole Lotta Rosie” where Ruth seems in her element rocking it out. Huge guitar lick trade off with her vocals and lead into another massive guitar solo that, while maybe not as fiery as the AC/DC original, is blues and cool unto itself.

“For A Change” is a change; things get calmer and more subdued. A little fuzziness on the guitar, a little restraint from Ruth and overall an interesting and it’s a well-done ballad with an ethereal side to it. “Let Me Be The One” is a sweet shuffle where Ruth explains that the other woman she refers to doesn’t want the listener and asks to be the one. Lots of shuffling and some soloing on guitar and Wynans adds some dirty organ to the mix to make it more interesting. “Good Stuff” is a another medium paced blues rocker that gets the groove going and keeps the listener’s attention. The McCrary Sisters backing vocals are big and well done here. A quick and dirty guitar solo is followed by an equally quick organ solo and then Ruth and the girls return and then let the band take us out. Hurrican Ruth goes Gospel to complete the set. “Yes, I Know” features Ruth testifying with the McCrary’s and the band. The first minute and 15 slowly sets things up for a switch in pace to a jumping Gospel performance. It’s a great contrast to the rest of the CD and it’s just a fun tune. Piano support is nicely woven into the mix along with the organ; Wynans was busy; then the guitar appears as a nice punctuation to the solos. Ruth and company takes things out is a dervish of sound and fun.

It’s a heart stopping ride with a few respites for allowing the pulse to settle down that also shows diversity and contrast in tempo and style. Ruth is a fantastic blues rocker and with this great band behind here and a super production she shines as bright as a star. It’s a fun album that takes her rock edge and nicely blends blues and other influences to produce a set of great sounding tunes from top to bottom. Her fans will love it and those new to Ruth will get a fantastic lesson into what she is all about. If you like good, hard driving music with intensity, then look no further!

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 career 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.

mascot label group ad

 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 8 

scott taylor cd imageScott Taylor – Blues Kitchen

Fetal Records

11 tracks/40:05 running time

The jury is still out on whether sharing the name of Scott Taylor with a member of the Virginia House of Delegates is a boon or a hindrance for D.C. born, Virginia raised, Blues vocalist Scott Taylor.

While probably capable of convincing sound bites, it is doubtful that Scott Taylor the politician can get down like Scott Taylor the singer. Blues Kitchen is a compact production, anchored by the tight guitar and bass playing of Tony Fazio. Taylor and Fazio co-wrote ten of the eleven songs contained here. The eleventh was written by Taylor.

According to the press, Scott Taylor has had a varied singing career. Like many, he started in the church choir, but in the late ’80s chose the club circuit singing the dance tunes. As a solo artist, he has recorded on various labels and projects and had a #1 hit in the U.K. with a dance track entitled “Don’t Turn Your Back On Me.” He is also the lead vocalist for the Electrified Blues Band.

What is obvious from the outset when listening to Blues Kitchen, is that Mr. Taylor not only can sing, but wraps his way around a song completely, as superior stylists are known to do.

Track 1, “Painting The Town,” is a loping groove that allows Mr. Taylor room to establish his mandate that this is indeed his record.

Track 3, “Tennessee,” gives a poignant autobiographical voice to the central character in the song. ‘He’s heading back home to where he’s supposed to be, to the woman that needs him so, he sees the trees have grown, as he passes the river he was baptized in.’ Mr. Fazio’s somber guitar lines develop into an emotional call and response between guitar and voice. Everyone who claims to sing the Blues is not capable of achieving the mournful moans that Mr. Scott achieves here.

Track 5, “Sweet Daddy Brown,” is an ode to a larger than life Memphis character. The archetype is familiar and the interplay between Fazio and Charlie Sayles on harmonica is smokin’.

Two drummers are used on this session. Eric Selby on tracks 7 & 8 while Greg Phillips handles the bulk of of it.

This is a capable album with more than a fair share of bright moments. The liner notes don’t list a producer as such but Scott Taylor implies that he and Tony Fazio are co-producers.

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.

bbma logo image

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 

big bill morganfield cd imageBig Bill Morganfield – Bloodstains On The Wall

Black Shuck Records BSR103

12 songs – 50 minutes

Like his older half-brother, Big Bill Morganfield shares an uncanny vocal similarity with his father, Muddy Waters. But while Mud Morganfield, four years his senior, has chosen to honor their dad and perpetuate his memory through his own performance, Bill is steadily forging his own path as this rock-solid CD demonstrates. It delivers a big dose of modern blues along with several re-fashioned tunes from the past.

In fact, the two men couldn’t have grown up more differently despite both being spitting images of their old man. Mud grew up in one of the worst neighborhoods on the South Side of Chicago, was raised by his mom and several uncles and knew Muddy only through his occasional visits. Bill was also born in the Windy City, but raised by his grandmother 1,500 miles away in South Florida.

While Mud drove a truck, Bill was earning a degree in English from Tuskegee University and another in communications from Auburn before embarking on a teaching career. Both men turned to music following their father’s death in 1983. It was a good choice. Big Bill’s second CD, Rising Son, featured contributions from three of Muddy’s former sidemen – Pinetop Perkins, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith and Paul Oscher – and garnered him the 2000 W.C. Handy Award for best new artist, and Mud has carved out a niche as a major star in his own right.

Bloodstains On The Wall, a mix of four originals and eight covers, is the seventh release in Big Bill’s catalog. It features him on vocals and slide guitar and captures the general ambiance of the Chess Records studio despite being recorded in Nashville, Fresno, Calif., And Kernsville, N.C. Despite being aided by two separate backing bands and several big-name guest stars, the production is seemless throughout.

The Mofo Party Band – harp and guitar player John Clifton, guitarist Bill Clifton, drummer Brian Bischel and bassist Grant Clifton – are augmented by keyboard player Bartek Szopinski on the California cuts while guitarists Colin Linden, Eddie Taylor Jr. and Chuck Cotton, harp players Doc Malone and Steve Guyger, pianist Augie Meyers, sax player Jim Horn and bassist Tom “Mookie” Brill handle the Tennessee chores, Muddy’s longtime guitarist Bob Margolin sits in with them for one cut.

The album opens with an unrushed cover of Lonesome Sundown’s “Lost Without Love” before a sprightly take on “I Don’t Know Why,” written by Willie Dixon and recorded by Muddy. It features chunky guitar work from Margolin and lilting lines from Guyger on chromatic in their only appearance on the disc.

“When You Lose Someone You Love,” based on Muddy’s “You Can’t Lose What You Never Had,” was written as a tribute after the death of Big Bill’s mother. It’s a bittersweet number on which Szopinski’s work on the 88s shines. A cover of Jimmy Reed’s “Too Much” feels new despite a traditional treatment before the Big Bill original, “Help Someone,” an uptempo dance number with a definite New Orleans or New Orleans feel.

The title tune, “Bloodstains On The Wall,” written by Frank “Honeyboy” Pratt in 1928, gets a thoroughly modern re-do before the original “Can’t Call Her Name,” which describes a lady who’s such a good lover that the singer has to keep her identity secret. Four more covers — Otis Rush’s “Keep On Loving Me,” British singer/actress Lisa Stansfield’s “Wake Up Baby” – a new take on the classic blues “Cabbage Head,” Dixon/Muddy’s classic “I Am The Blues” and Jimmy McCracklin’s “Help The Bear” – follow before a bonus cut.

“Hold Me Baby” is one of several tunes Big Bill wrote for the FOX-TV new series Shots Fired, which deals with police brutality targeting young black males and on which he has a recurring role. The song was produced by Honorable C Note, the hip-hop star, and will serve as a real ear-opener to longtime Morganfield fans because of the electronic tweets that augment Big Bill’s slide guitar and vocals.

Despite the seemingly historic nature of some of the material on Bloodstains On The Wall, there isn’t a dead spot or any filler to be found here, just a large dose of carefully chosen music that will stand up for the ages. There’s plenty of old-fashioned Chicago blues, sure. But there’s much, much more. And Big Bill is no Muddy clone. His own personality shines throughout.

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.

bill morganfield ad image

‘Soaring blues, with brilliantly crafted lyrics, torching vocals and a new twist with his bonus track

‘HOLD ME BABY’ from the hot new Fox TV series, ‘SHOTS FIRED’

Watch him on episode 2, March 29th & episode 4, April 12th 7:00 pm.  @ShotsFiredFox  #musicprovokeschange

Big Bill Morganfield makes his debut performance in the hot new series on Fox TV, ‘Shots Fired’ Wednesday, March 29th & April 12, 8/7c

tampa bay blues fest ad image

 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.

vizztone music group ad image

 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 8 

mark crissinger cd imageMark Crissinger – Night Light

self release

10 songs time-45:14

The wave of talented musicians coming out of Canada have tapped into a never ending wellspring of creativity. Mark Crissinger is the lasted to fall into my music hungry little mitts. Roots-singer-songwriter music tempered with a touch of blues is his forte. His smooth voice and versatile way with a guitar make the songs go down easy. Having a top shelf assemblage of musicians doesn’t hurt either. All the songs were written by Mark and he also co-produced along with Rick Salt.

The upbeat and happy sounding “Holding My Heart” starts things off quite nicely thank you. Mark’s guitar and the harmonica playing of Marty Howe give the listener a preview of the good music to come. Mark rattles off his blues influences on “Poor Boy Blues”, where his guitar along with Pat Rush’s crazy good slide ignite the song. The easy rollin’ title track features the harmonica playing of Jerome Godboo to compliment the always tasty guitar styling’s. Dust your self off and get back up is the sentiment of “Defeated”, where Mark’s guitar just takes off. Bill Hicks thumps the beejeezus out of the tom-toms on this one.

The breezy and rootsy vibe of “One Of These Days” is enhanced by the splendid honky-tonky piano of Dan Dube along with the sprightly harmonica of the inimitable Marty Howe. If Chuck Berry, the blues and Jerry Lee Lewis had a baby the resulting bundle of joy would be “The Sunday Blues”. “Cedar Shuffle”, the lone instrumental here, is a jaunty little ditty with guitar and harp playing in tandem at times along with Dan Dube’s always spot on piano tinkling. The guys mellow out on the slow and mellow love song that is “A Simple Truth”. Steve Hill unleashes his wicked slide guitar in the rockin’ groove of “Wild Wind Fever”. The closer “Run” starts off life slow with acoustic guitar, then picks up a bit of steam. Mark introduces some nifty wah-wah guitar towards the middle section.

Mark and his cohorts have cooked up a gem with this effort. They get a really comfortable rootsy vibe going with their stellar musicianship that pushes all the right buttons. The players compliment one another and give each other space to contribute their solos. This is well crafted and enjoyable music from head to toe. Do yourself a favor and snatch up this puppy.

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

chicago blues camp ad image

 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 8 

phil gammage cd imagePhil Gammage – Used Man For Sale

self release

10 songs time-36:23

Phil Gammage is a singer-songwriter ensconced in Americana music that draws from roots music, country, blues, honky-tonk, etc., an amalgamation of these in every song. The over all result is melodramatic, sometimes a tad too much. Phil provides dramatic and commanding vocals, guitar, harmonica, keyboards and vibes along with writing all the tunes. Additional musicians contribute drums, bass, keyboards and backing vocals. It’s a pretty stripped down and basic approach that gives the album a clean sound.

The first song regales us with the comfort of being in the “Arms Of A Kind Woman” via a mellow and jazzy vibe. Phil’s heartfelt vocal, guitar and the piano playing of probably Johnny Young set up the mood in fine form. Phil and Johnny are listed as playing keyboards, but on which song they play isn’t specified. Someone delivers really nice Floyd Cramer-ish piano on the country influenced “Maybe Tomorrow”. Frank DiNunzio III’s upright bass kicks off “I Beg Of You”. The song features jazzy guitar styling’s and voodoo references, a recurring theme in blues music, although nothing here is a straight blues song.

The title track includes more of the nice Floyd Cramer style piano is a melancholy tale of weariness. “Ride With Railroad Bill” takes a character sometimes used in country blues and creates a solid bit of Americana. More of that piano imbues the smooth ballad “Feeling The Hurt”. Electric piano gives the sound a change of pace on the earnest “Before I Leave”, that also includes some prominent electric bass playing. “Tenderloin” takes place in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco, no it isn’t a tribute to steak. Jaunty harmonica and nifty snare drum propels the toe-tapping “Lost In Loserville”. Slide and standard guitar along with organ contribute to the hip groove of “Staring Out Our Window”.

Phil Gammage presents an enjoyable and creative slice of rootsy music in a bare bones approach that is truly satisfying. His musicianship along with that of his cohorts is top notch. Everything here works right down to the production by drummer Kevin Tooley. If you are in the mood for earnest and yearning lyrics supported by appropriately atmospheric music, this is the place for you.

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

blues and rhythm mag ad image

 Featured Blues Review – 7 of 8 

the tempress cd imageThe Temprees – From the Heart

Point 3 Records

11 tracks/ minutes

The past few years have been very good ones for soul music, especially for the community that revolves around Stax Records. William Bell, one of Stax’s original stars who put the label on the map with his “You Don’t Miss Your Water” (1961), won a Grammy for This is Where I Live. Harking back to the grittiness and beauty of early soul, Memphis’ Southern Avenue released a self-titled album on Stax, bringing a searing groove back to the label.

Part of the original community at Stax, The Temprees return now with their own mellow, soothing, and soulful album. Following the death of one of the group’s original singers, Jasper “Jabo” Phillips, in 2001, they took some time off from recording and touring. A couple of years ago, new member Walter “Bo” Washington joined original members Deljuan “Del” Calvin and Harold “Scotty” Scott to put together an album that not only captures the fabled sound of the group but also gratefully and joyously celebrates love and life. There’s a persistent joy on the album that writhes its way into our souls.

The group delivers a thank-you note to its fans on the album’s title track and opening song. The lush piano and soothing horns of Philly soul provide the tasteful layers on which the singers spread their luscious vocals. The singers welcome their fans back in the very first line, but then go on to acknowledge their deep gratitude for everyone who’s followed them over the years before declaring: “Everything we do, for you, right from the start/is from the heart/you were always there and you showed us you care/we hope these songs we share with you/take the clouds away/and give you love and inspiration each and every day.” On “We Do the Music,” The Temprees pay homage to their musical heritage, to their musical neighborhood (they grew up around not far from the legendary Soulsville USA, studios in Memphis), and to the future of music. Urging that “this is where we come from/don’t ever lose it/we got to keep the rhythm strong,” the group calls out the names of singers Carla Thomas, Otis Redding, the Bar-kays, and Isaac Hayes as the ones who led the way. They acknowledge, though, that the “world has changed and so has it sound/ we like the vibe that’s being put down.” With blaring horns and screaming keys, the song recalls Kool and the Gang, and keeps us dancing to that strong rhythm.

“Keep It Real” opens with a groove reminiscent of Marvin Gaye’s later work, like “What’s Goin’ On?” and, like Gaye’s songs, this is a song with a message: “together we can make a change/in our hearts/where do we start?/don’t break the law/don’t pretend/let’s stick together/and we win.” The Temprees urge us to search out the love in our hearts, to care for each other, and to “make peace and love throughout the land” and to “spread some sunshine everywhere.” “Say Goodbye” captures the bittersweet act of parting with a lover, while “Paparazzi” channels the funky groove of George Clinton and even Prince. The group delivers a loving tribute to Maurice White on their version of Earth, Wind, and Fire’s “Reasons,” penned by White and Phillip Bailey.

The Temprees’ album lives up to its title, delivering joyous soul music from their hearts to ours; it’s good to have them back, making their own strong contribution to the deep pool of soul music pouring over us today.

Reviewer Henry L. Carrigan, Jr. writes about music and music books for No Depression, American Songwriter, Country Standard Time, and Wide Open Country.

joe rosen book ad image

 Featured Blues Review – 8 of 8 

jack mack cd imageJack Mack & The Heart Attack Horns – Back To The Shack

SSR Freeroll Records

10 songs time-41:51

Jack Mack & The Heart Attack Horns the Los Angeles based soul and R&B band are funkier than Gorgonzola cheese. Before we get started, there is no Jack Mack. Go figure. Not to worry, there is the number one blue-eyed soul brother in the person of lead singer Mark Campbell. This guy is funkier than a monkey. His soul and cool quotient is 150% at least. Of course the Heart Attack Horns hold everything together. The rhythm section can stop on a dime and give you nine cents change. Carlos Murguia and first call keyboardist Mike Finnigan add some extra funk. Guitarist and co-producer Andrew Kastner handles rhythm guitar along with economical but hot solos. Add some powerful background vocals to this funky stew and you got something Jack(pun intended). The instrumentation is pretty much the same throughout, but many different tempos and rhythms are utilized. Ok, enough of my clever repartee’, on to the festivities.

The scratchiness of an old 45 record is replicated under acoustic guitar, then things launch into the super-charged “Standin’ Before The King”, which appears to be a tribute to B.B. King as well as to blues music in general. “Something In The Water” is so funky you can smell it. Mike Finnigan is featured on his way cool organ playing. “Don’t Let Her Go” offers up more of the same. “Never Too Late” features stinging guitar along with the ever present horn section and a persistent beat. A gospel influence is prevalent along with some churchy organ on the slow soul burner “Somebody To Trust”. In “Serves Me Right” the narrator fesses up to his indiscretions over the usual funky grooves.

The band ups the funk in the slinky “Bad Habit”. The tempo slows down for two songs before ending with some super-charged stuff. “Change My Ways” features old school girl backing vocals and a great sax solo by Bill Bergman. “Ain’t No Way” is in the mold of the classic soul slow burners. The fast paced cool grooves of Sam & Dave are replicated on “Let Me In”. Just try keeping still to this one.

There ya have it music lovers. The band harkens back to old school soul and R&B while sounding fresh and up to date. Everything clicks on all cylinders, from the tight band to the crystal clear production values. If you love soul and R&B done just right or just plain love good music, have I got a band for you!

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

nevis blues fest ad image

 Featured Blues Interview – Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith 

kenny smith photo 1“My father would say, push it! Push the envelope to make myself come into my own and keep on pushing the music even further, pushing myself even further.”

Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith is the son of the most iconic Chicago blues drummer in blues history. His dad, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, played drums on each of Muddy Waters’ six Grammy winning CDs. Hard shoes to fill. Ask Bernard Allison, son of Luther Allison; Ronnie Baker Brooks, son of Lonnie Brooks; or Mud Morganfield, son of Muddy Waters.

In the six years since his father’s death, Kenny has not only taken over the position as the go-to drummer in Chicago blues, he has “pushed the envelope” as he says to add bandleader, songwriting, production, booking other bands, piano playing, and “tooting” on the harmonica to his resume and/or repertoire. He is not just liked but adored by a list of blues royalty that goes on for several pages of endorsements on his webpage.

Talking to him is really a pleasure. This guy is just old-fashioned nice. And he flat out does not allow any of the issues like race, age, style, or repertoire that might plague the son of an icon to get in his way. He’s tight with just about everyone in blues from elders like Bob Stroger or younger artists like The Cash Box Kings. The disparate list of friends he’s worked with includes Buddy Guy, Taj Mahal, Keb Mo, Lurrie Bell, Tail Dragger and Kim Wilson. And that’s not one tenth of it.

“Kenny Smith is one of the last humans on Earth who actually knows how to play blues drums,” raves A. J. Love. “Kenny Smith is the greatest drummer I have ever seen. Period,” claims guitarist Tad Walters of Bob Margolin fame. Matthew Skoller calls him “a contemporary blues master.” Bruce Iglauer, president of Alligator Records says simply, “If you’re looking for a drummer who can play any style of blues or traditional R&B with soul and sensitivity, look no further than Kenny Smith.”

“I’m at a point where I’m carrying on the music in a way that my brain sees it,” explains Kenny who is focused on his career without ever sinking into hyperbole or braggadocio. “I’m making the music come out, painting a picture the way I see it. I’m doing a lot of shows under my own name, playing the music I feel I grew up on and that I like because I’m doing those things.”

So, what makes Kenny tick? How does he avoid the angst that’s almost a prerequisite for getting so deep into the blues? First off, he comes from a family that’s well adjusted.

“My grandmother – my father’s mother, Lizzy Mae Smith – I’d have to say influenced my father. She took him out to see Muddy (Waters) play. From that point, that’s when my father really took notice of the music. So, she really was a living part of the music for us. She loved music. She had a huge collection of Lightnin’ Hopkins. I know she loved them, and she would dance all the time. That was her thing. That record player would be going with those records 24/7, and she would be dancing a lot – a lot. I’m not talking about just the holidays. I’m talking about a lot of days.”kenny smith photo 2

“She would pull all of us out as little kids and make us dance with her. After that, it got so common, we’d do it on our own. We would do it, too. So, yeah, that’s a fond memory.”

Lizzy Mae lived with the family.

Second of all, even though his father was on the road a lot, he also spent time with Kenny who rubbed shoulders with Muddy Waters at rehearsals in daddy’s basement. “I mean, one thing if you’re around as a kid, you’re around it (the blues) your whole life. It’s what you know. You see your father doing it constantly, definitely you’re gonna get good at it. You’re gonna take notes. You’re gonna start really investigating that, seeing what it’s about.

“I remember when I was four and five years old (Muddy Waters’ band) was rehearsing in the basement, and I’d say I’m gonna go and really check this out, see what they’re doing and see them play the music and watch them have fun as they was doing it. The music somewhere in there grabbed me, and from that point I feel it drawed a stronger connection between me and my father first. I have a strong connection with my father, with or without the music, but putting that other piece in the puzzle right there definitely took it up a heck of a lot of notches from my experience because it was like just learning, learning from him. So, it was like a way to connect on another level.

“He was on the road for sure, but when he’d be home I mean I don’t think they (the band) were ever fully apart. When they were home, they would be at the house rehearsing in the basement or hangin’ out at somebody’s house. They’d be hanging out at Pinetop’s house and tagging along would be me.”

But Kenny never let the temptations his father had in his touring experience sidetrack him. “He was a great musician, but overall definitely a great father. I really appreciated that. He was a great father. He was very knowledgeable, and we enjoyed each other’s company. (But) I think he partied harder than I can even now. (Chuckle) In his later years I felt like he’d go out to party, and I’m going to go to sleep.”

Kenny advanced his father’s drumming techniques with what he calls the triple blues shuffle. “You get totally different styles of shuffles. You get that double shuffle. I could do a triple shuffle and over times, yeah, I figured it out. It’s all about the technique. I cannot explain it in words. I know I can play it. I do it all the time. I really do. I can’t put it like, ok, you do it like this. I can’t say it like that, but I learned it. I figured it out, and I liked it. As my father would say, ‘push it.’ That part of me is like me coming into my own, and that’s the difference between me and my father.”

Kenny describes his musical relationship with Muddy Waters’ son, Mud Morganfield as like peanut butter and jelly. “I’m the peanut butter.” Mud feels the same way. “I look at Kenny Smith as family. Not only because of the relationship my dad and his dad had, but because of him, my brother. He is one of the greatest drummers in the world. He talks about me not falling far from the tree, but he is more than what Willie and his mom could have expected of a son.”kenny smith photo 3

There is a fundamental difference between Mud and Kenny. Muddy was rarely around for his son, but Kenny and Willie were always close.

Muddy Waters’ piano player Pinetop Perkins gave Kenny the nickname Teenachi. “Even when I was first born I was really, really, really tiny. So, all my sisters wouldn’t call me tiny, but they would say Teena. So, Pinetop he just made it into his own thing. All the elders would say Teenachi, but it came from that. Even more funny, I answered to it. (Chuckle)”

Bob Margolin was Muddy Waters’ guitarist when Kenny was a child: “Kenny carries on the drumming sound, style, and legacy of his legendary father while adding his own responsive and exciting versatility. He also carries on the friendliness and grace of the older generation of Chicago Blues legends like Hubert Sumlin, Bob Stroger and, of course, his father. With all that going on, when Kenny sings, either behind the drums or in front of the band, he shows that he’s a soulful blues singer and captivating entertainer too. You can’t hear Kenny or meet him without walking away with a big smile.”

“Bob Margolin, all of those guys, they’re family,” says Kenny. “That’s what I knew growing up. I seen them. They seen me before I was grown. That’s how much I was involved and always around those guys: Jerry Portnoy, Bob Margolin, Alvin Fuzz Jones, Guitar Junior, Pinetop Perkins, all those guys I would see so much. So, it was like they was definitely considered family to me.”

And it’s not just the old guard. For years, Kenny has played on and off for Mississippi Heat fronted by Frenchman Pierre LaCocque: “Indeed, his drums sing with the band and his timing is impeccable. A human metronome! He is also an uncanny listener. He adds rhythmic touches to whoever leads a song, be they a singer or a lead instrument. He is a subtle player, never loud, always soulful. Kenny is a dream to play with, and he is one of my closest friends though he is half my age. I consider him a member of my family.”

“I don’t care where you come from,” says Kenny about LaCocque and others he plays with regardless of age, race, or country of origin. IT’s all about the music. “We are human, all human beings. We all have the blues. You can have the blues. That doesn’t really bother me at all ’cause we all have it, and we all can feel that, all of us.”

Joseph Nosek, singer/songwriter and harmonica player for the Cash Box Kings: “Perhaps what is most remarkable about Kenny is how well he listens to his band mates while he is playing with them and his almost telepathic ability to anticipate and respond to their playing at any given second during a live performance or recording session. It’s an honor for me to be a friend of his and play music with him on a regular basis.”

“I don’t really talk controversial about the music,” says Kenny. “Cash Box Kings, they play the blues of 1950. Lurrie Bell comes from a history of long lines with Carey Bell and the rest of his family playing blues. I can’t separate. Blues is blues to me. I can’t separate it in my head like this person and that person. If I like it, I like it, you know? That’s all I really can say with it. I like Lurrie Bell and I like Cash Box Kings, too.”kenny smith photo 4

Bass player Bob Stroger who in his 80s decided to start writing songs says, “Wow, Kenny is one of the nicest guys I know. He is a gentleman and a good business man, and Kenny is the best blues drummer in Chicago. I love working with him, and we do lot of work together, and he is my friend and just like my son.”

“Absolutely,” says Kenny, “and I feel equally the same way about Bob. That’s a fact. We talk on a daily basis. Even when we’re not on the road, we check in on each other, seeing how everybody’s doing. That’s a fact.”

James Cotton was Muddy Waters’ harmonica player before Kenny was born. Cotton passed away on March 16th. “James and Jackie would always be at the house. Jacqueline would come to the house a lot. I seen him many years as I seen Pinetop and Bob Margolin. When I heard that news, it’s like losing a relative for sure. I would always wake up. If I wanted to get motivated in the morning time, I would take his CD and listen to “The Creeper.” That always motivated me to get the day going ’cause that was it. That was my song to get the day going right there.”

Both James Cotton and Kenny’s dad Willie were born and grew up in Helena, Arkansas, home of the King Biscuit Time radio show on KFFA and the King Biscuit Blues Festival. “They were so close,” recalls Kenny. “When they got ready to say goodbye to each other, they wouldn’t just shake hands, they would kiss each other on the cheek and a hug and say bye every time. That’s how close they were.”

Kenny views his position in the blues world as a spoke in the wheel. He looks at creating music as being like painting and he uses his dad’s style as a jumping off point for his own muse. He plays drums, sings and leads his own band and is proud of his legacy.

“Besides that, I’m booking bands. I’m probably working with 100 different musicians in Chicago. They all don’t go out at the same time, but I do get quite a few of them out depending on what it is, what’s happening. With my own project, always me and Bob Stroger get together all the time.”

Kenny sees himself as more than an extension of his dad. “I think every man is his own man to a degree. I learned so much from my father as any kid would. If you grow up with him, you idolize him. You walk like they walk, all of those things when you’re growing up. I do believe you have your own personality, too. My father loved playing the drums. He loved the harmonica, he loved playing the piano. I think I took it a couple of extra steps further which he wanted me. I try to stretch even further. I’m that way, I don’t know if it’s any different, but he told me those things, too. Push, keep pushing. So, I think in that way I strive. I strive real hard. Make things happen and live the life I want to live.”

Visit Kenny’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.

national blues museum ad image

 Blues Society News 

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

Maximum of 175 words in a Text or MS Word document format.

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. Aptil 3 – The Joe Moss Band, April 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:

BB logo
P.O. Box 721 Pekin, Illinois 61555 © 2017 Blues Blast Magazine (309) 267-4425

Please follow and like us: