Issue 11-17 April 27, 2017

Cover photo by Joseph A. Rosen © 2017

 In This Issue 

Don Wilcock has our feature interview with Debbie Davies.

We have 9 Blues reviews for you this week including new music from Vintage #18, The Kate Lush Band, Eric Bibb, Miller Anderson, Josh Hyde, Lisa Biales, Gonzalo Bergara, Elvin Bishop, and BlueHouse Project.

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

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 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 9 

vintage # 18 cd inageVintage #18 – Grit

Self-produced CD

11 songs : 51 minutes

Don’t be misled by the name. Vintage #18 is a relatively new group making its recording debut here as it delivers a collection of nine originals and two covers with an old-school soul-blues feel.

Influenced by the catalog of Stax and Chess records — and Koko Taylor and Etta James in particular, the band is an aggregation of veteran musicians who got together in 2013 and is based out of Washington, D.C. Vintage #18 is fronted by Robbin Kapsalis, a Chicago native who grew up in Atlanta. Kapsalis’ vocal range is fairly limited, but that doesn’t get in the way whatsoever. She’s a polished vocalist with a deep, sultry alto delivery.

The band’s led by Bill Holter, a guitarist with a pleasing, unhurried style. A dealer in vintage instruments whose background includes jazz and blues-rock influences, he’s worked with a wide variety of artists, ranging from the Bay City Rollers to the Prime Suspects and Monster Fun Package. They’re backed by bassist/keyboard player/slide guitarist Mark Chandler, who’s spent time with Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Charlie Sayles, Sleepy LaBeef and The Coasters, and Alex Kuldell, who’s career includes lengthy service time as a military drummer.

Funded partially through a Kickstarter campaign, Grit kicks off with “Diamonds Are Optional,” a funky stop-time love song with an old-time feel delivered atop a steady, repetitive guitar hook. It’s the first of three originals to open the set. Chandler’s bass run introduces “Is This Too Good?” as Robbin wonders whether she and her new lover are truly destined to be with each other. Holter’s brief guitar runs have a slight psychedelic feel.

Next up, “Love Hangover” is a new walking blues, not the Diana Ross tune of the same name. It continues the thoughts expressed in the previous number with the singer still experiencing the afterglow of a night of romance. It picks up speed for a lengthy guitar solo before dropping back to the opening pace. Bob Dylan’s “Million Miles” gets a slow blues feel before the pace quickens for “Circles,” a plea for help in finding a new direction, and ratchets down again for “Pieces,” a bittersweet memory of the best part of a failed romance.

“Just Got Back From Baby’s,” first recorded in 1971 by ZZ Top and featuring Chandler, follows before four more originals follow. “Poor Me” is a slow soul-blues lament about the speedy end of a love affair, while the rocker “Remember” recalls the way things used to be. The uptempo “Good Eye” is delivered atop a regimented beat as Robbin sings about keeping one eye on her current guy while searching for another man with the other. The steady tempo “Circles Down Home” brings the set to a close as it describes seeing the light of change shining through despite living a repetitive life.

Available through iTunes and Amazon, Grit is a solid debut. The material is both fresh and comfortably familiar. It’ll be interesting to hear what Vintage #18 has to say going forward.

Reviewer Marty Gunther has lived a blessed life. His first experience with live music came at the feet of the first generation of blues legends at the Newport Folk Festivals in the 1960s. A former member of the Chicago blues community, he’s a professional journalist and blues harmonica player who co-founded the Nucklebusters, one of the hardest working bands in South Florida.

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 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 9 

kate lush band cd imageThe Kate Lush Band – Let It Fly

Self-produced CD

12 songs – 53 minutes

With one other album, two EPs and one single to her credit since making her recording debut about five years ago, full-throated Kate Lush has been making a major name for herself at home in Australia, and one listen to her latest disc, Let It Fly, clearly demonstrates why.

A lady who delivers soul-drenched blues with a clear, crisp alto, Lush’s previous release, Do You Know What Love Is, garnered her newcomer of the year honors at the 2016 Australian Blues Music Awards. Along with Fiona Boyes and Nick Charles, she was runner-up to Lloyd Spiegel as artist of the year. A gifted tunesmith who produces material that falls somewhere between old-school Motown and the bluesiest of blues-rock, she’s currently a finalist in America’s IAMA Songwriting Competition and vying for another trophy in the International Songwriters Competition, too.

Recorded in Sydney, Let It Fly sandwiches two covers around ten originals. It features her regular band, which includes guitarist Matt Roberts, bassist Tim Wilson, drummer Tony Boyd and keyboard player Wes Harder. They’re augmented by percussionist Sunil de Silva, a horn section consisting of sax player Jason Bruer, trombonist Mike Raper and trumpet player Adrian Veale. Chris Wright provides strings on one cut.

A single-note run and horn flourish introduce Freddie King’s familiar “Pack It Up” to start the set. It’s a faithful cover, but proves from the jump that Kate means business. King would be pleased with the six-string solo mid-tune. Up next, “River Flow” has a Memphis feel with strong horn charts. It’s a ballad that implores a lover not to give up on himself. The pace picks up with “Last Mistake,” a medium-fast shuffle, which consoles a former lover as the singer assures him that she was his last blunder.

The mood quiets radically at first for “Come With Me.” It’s a thinly veiled love song that picks up intensity as it suggests not making that long, risky drive home. The deeper you get into the song, however, the more you realize Lush’s tune is about a deep longing. “Yours Or My Way” features the keys and horn and has a New Orleans feel. She wants the object of her affection to make a move — one way or the other — because she doesn’t intend to wait around.

The rocker “Stranded” follows atop a heavy drumbeat in a song that’s reminiscent of Buddy Miles’ “Them Changes” and deals with the realization that the singer’s lost touch with the state of her current romance. The aural intensity lightens dramatically for “Somebody Like Me,” in which Lush volunteers to be a shoulder to cry on when the person she’s singing to really needs a friend.

The romantic roller coaster continues in the ballad “I’ve Moved On,” the funky, uptempo “Roll Over You” and the rocker “High Time” before Lush finally finds happiness in the straight-ahead blues “Good Good Love.” Kate’s cover of John Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery” mirrors the original, but she makes the tune her own to bring the album to a close.

Available through iTunes, CDBaby and Bandcamp, Let It Fly soars throughout. Like Dave Hole and Boyes before her, it won’t be long before Kate Lush becomes a household name among blues lovers in the U.S. Get on board before the tsunami from Down Under reaches our shores. You’ll be happy you did.

Reviewer Marty Gunther has lived a blessed life. His first experience with live music came at the feet of the first generation of blues legends at the Newport Folk Festivals in the 1960s. A former member of the Chicago blues community, he’s a professional journalist and blues harmonica player who co-founded the Nucklebusters, one of the hardest working bands in South Florida.

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 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 9 

eric bibb cd imageEric Bibb – Migration Blues

Stony Plain Records SPCD 1395

15 songs – 49 minutes

Veteran acoustic tunesmith Eric Bibb delivers a strong political message in his latest release, the 37th album in his illustrious catalog, as he compares the pilgrimage of former slaves and sharecroppers from the American South to better lives in the North with the plight of immigrants seeking redemption from war-torn foreign lands today.

The son of Leon Bibb, a superstar on the New York folk scene in the ‘60s, Eric’s traveled the world steadily since taking up the blues in his 20s, and he’s an emigrant himself – first settling in Sweden and now Finland. “I want to encourage us all to keep our minds and hearts wide open to the ongoing plight of refugees everywhere,” he insists. “As history shows, we all come from people who, at some time or another, had to move.”

A gifted songwriter and storyteller who relishes his exposure he gets to different cultures in his travels, Bibb delivers 11 originals and three covers while accompanying himself on guitar, six-string banjo and contrabass guitar. Recorded in Quebec, and richly annotated, Migration Blues gathered a collection of top-flight musicians from around the globe.

Michael Jerome Browne, a two-time solo artist of the year in the Canadian Folk Awards, provides guitars, banjos, mandolin, triangle and backing vocals, while Frenchman JJ Milteau, a national award-winner who’s worked with Charles Aznavour and Yves Montand, contributes harmonica. They team tightly for an instrumental number, during which Eric takes a break. Swedish multi-instrumentalist Olle Linder adds percussion and bass, while North Carolina-based Big Daddy Wilson provides vocals on one cut, and Ulrika Bibb does the same on another.

“Refugee Moan” features Eric on baritone guitar accompanied by Michael on gourd banjo for a simple, but powerful message: “If there’s a train that will take me there/Take me where I can live in peace.” Next up, the theme for “Delta Getaway” was based on a conversation Bibb had with an elder blues musician decades ago and relates being chased by dogs as the man tried to escape Mississippi for a better life Chicago.

“Diego’s Blues” describes the difficult life of Mexican migrants in Yazoo County, Miss., in the 1920s. It’s based on details Eric discovered while browsing the Internet. Next up, “Prayin’ For Shore” describes the recent, tragic attempts of Africans attempting to flee to Europe. The moody instrumental “Migration Blues” features Bibb playing slide on a 12-string guitar, accompanied solely by Milteau on harp.

Next up is the poignant “Four Years, No Rain” – written by Browne and B.A. Marcus. It deals with the plight of refugees seeking Paradise as well as relief from starvation and warfare raging in their homeland. Bibb goes to another source for the tune that follows. “We Had To Move” is based on accounts provided by the family of The Hardest Working Man In Show Business in James McBride’s book, “Kill ‘Em And Leave: Searching For James Brown And The American Soul.” It depicts forced migration after the government claimed the family’s land.

A cover of Bob Dylan’s “Masters Of War” precedes “Brotherly Love,” an upbeat number that provides a glimmer of hope amid all the despair. It states Bibb’s belief that, ultimately, human nature will overcome worldwide subjugation. Milteau and Browne spell Eric to deliver the instrumental “La Vie C’est Comme Un Oignon (Life Is Like An Onion)” before “With A Dolla In My Pocket,” based on statements from older bluesmen to Bibb that the only way to survive racial oppression was to hide your rage as best you can.

A traditional cover of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” follows before another instrumental, “Postcard From Booker,” a solo performance delivered on a National steel guitar once owned by first-generation superstar Booker – a/k/a “Bukka” — White. The album concludes with “Blacktop,” which states that “everyday, seems like murder here,” and the traditional spiritual, “Mornin’ Train,” on which the singer’s headed for his heavenly reward and which brings full circle the theme stated in the opener.

Powerful stuff from beginning to end from one of the most thoughtful musicians on the planet. The message runs deep as the mighty Mississippi. My only regret about Migration Blues is that the people who need to hear and understand it the most are the folks who’ll refute its meaning or never give it a listen.

Reviewer Marty Gunther has lived a blessed life. His first experience with live music came at the feet of the first generation of blues legends at the Newport Folk Festivals in the 1960s. A former member of the Chicago blues community, he’s a professional journalist and blues harmonica player who co-founded the Nucklebusters, one of the hardest working bands in South Florida.

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 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 9 

miller anderson cd imageMiller Anderson – Bluesheart & Chameleon

MIG-Music GmbH

Bluesheart: 12 tracks/68:24 minutes

Chameleon: 12 tracks/49:53 minutes

Fans of Miller Anderson can rejoice and be glad. “Collector’s Premium” has just re-released a double-CD package that contains Anderson’s third and fourth solo albums—Bluesheart (2003; re-issued in 2007) and Chameleon (2008). UK-based blues guitarist and singer musical lineage includes extensive work with Ian Hunter, Savoy Brown, Chicken Shack, Spencer Davis Group, and T. Rex. As a member of the Keef Hartley Band, he played at Woodstock in 1969.

Bluesheart contains six of Anderson’s originals, along with his take on classics such as “Smokestack Lightnin’,” “Wang Dang Doodle,” and “House of the Rising Sun.” Anderson surrounds himself with a first-rate studio band on the album, including Norman Beaker on guitar, John Price on bass, Dave Baldwin on keyboards, and Paul Burgess on drums. Jon Lord of Deep Purple, with whom Anderson played on the Jon Lord Blues Project album, joins on the organ on two tracks.

The two bonus tracks on Bluesheart include a live version of “Houston (Scotland)” and a solo acoustic version of “Little Man Dancing.” Jon Lord lends his soaring Hammond chords to Anderson’s gritty version of “Help Me,” which resembles the Deep Purple tune, “Lazy,” from Machine Head. It’s a slow-burning blues that turns up the heat as the song progresses as the singer pleads for a little direction from his lover, or anyone who’s listening and is willing to help.

The album opens with Anderson’s classic “High Tide and High Water,” marked by Anderson’s stinging blues riffs; it’s a quintessential blues rocker driven by the cadence of Anderson’s slide and lead guitars. “Sending Me Angels” is a gorgeous little blues ballad, with cascading guitar riffs and a heavenly choral backing that produces a gospel-inflected soul blues. The almost perfect blend of instrument and voice raises this track to level of the album’s best. Anderson and his band take a crack at “House of the Rising Sun,” which opens with an instrumental featuring Anderson’s soaring jazz lead riff. His voice and the mournful tone he evokes from his guitar match the joyous mournfulness of the song.

On Chameleon, Anderson is joined by Kris Gray on bass, Frank Tischer on keyboards, and Paul Burgess on drums. Nine of the ten tracks on this album are Anderson originals, and the album features two unreleased demos as bonus tracks—”Nothing is Any Fun” and “Late at Night.” “Nothing is Any Fun” is a pop song that resembles Elton John’s “The Bitch is Back” and any number of songs by Ringo Starr, but it most resembles the gruff pop rock of McGuinness Flint.

A screaming horn section opens “Late at Night,” and the song would be at home on any album by Bachman Turner Overdrive (it sounds quite like “Taking Care of Business”). On “The Dreamer,” Anderson and the band turn in another beautifully rendered blues ballad about the hope of a new way of life or a new vision of a world that has Anderson channeling Gregg Allman on vocals. “Me and My Woman” is a down-to-the-bones blues that features a propulsive call-and-response among Anderson’s vocals, his guitar, and Tischer’s Hammond. “Fog on the Highway” delivers a jazzy electric blues version of a song that Anderson originally recorded acoustically.

This two-cd package includes a nicely illustrated twelve-page booklet. For listeners who haven’t discovered Anderson, these albums provide an excellent introduction. Since Anderson’s fans likely own these two albums already, only completists who want these bonus tracks will likely want the package. Nevertheless, Anderson remains one of the true gems of British blues and this collection reminds us why.

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

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 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 9 

josh hyde cd imageJosh Hyde – The Call of the Night

Self Released

9 tracks

Josh Hyde is a native of Louisiana and offers up here 9 original tunes that are filled with his Cajun and Zydeco influenced vocals and guitar. His band included Joe V. McMahan on guitar (who also produced the CD), Ron Eoff on bass, Jamey Bell on drums, Bryan Owings on percussion and John Gross on keys. Several guest artists including Sonny Landreth join in for a few songs and are noted below.

The title song “The Call of the Night” has an Allman Brothers Band sort of ring to it. Slick Southern rock mixed with cajun and blues is what we have here. “The Truth” follows with guitar and organ howling a bit along with the vocals in a New Orleans sort of manner. “Close” is next, a country ballad of sorts where Hyde uses his vocal style to make an impassioned plea. Buddy Flett is on guitar with the band for “Close.” Sonny Landreth joins in on guitar for “Offshore,” a cut with a haunting and swampy sound that very much is in the Sonny Landreth style. Landreth is also on the next tune, “It’s Not Too Late.” Tony Daigle also fills in on acoustic guitar and James Westfall is on keys. The song builds from the acoustic guitar and vocals with the slide added and an overall increase in intensity and then Daigle takes us out on a soft note.

“Need A Lil More” is a “down in the bayou” sounding sort of tune with pensive guitar work and organ layered on the vocals to good effect. Hyde follows with “Guitar in Hand,” a pensive and thoughtful piece with a long, pungent yet sultry guitar solo. Next we have “Mississippi Bridge” where Flett accompanies on guitar and Laura Mayo does backing vocals. A mid-tempo cut, it guilds a bit with nice guitar work and the keys behind the entire song for effect. The album concludes with “I’ve Got This Song” where Westfall is back on keys in support.

The album is mostly sultry and low to mid tempo. It spins an intricate web of swampy sounds that are cool and interesting. The vocals are haunting and ethereal, also quite interesting. It is a modern sort of bayou music that blends blues, Cajun, Zydeco and some Southern rock into an intricate sound. It’s not mainstream stuff but it’s cool and a nice change of pace to listen to. Certainly not straight ahead blues but it’s fun and, as I noted, very interesting and intriguing music.

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.

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 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 9 

lisa biales cd imageLisa Biales – The Beat of my Heart

Big Song Music

CD: 12 Songs, 47:17 Minutes

Styles: Soul and Gospel-Influenced Blues, Smooth Jazz, Soul/Blues Covers

Writers are often asked, “What’s your secret?” Here’s mine: My columns for the best CD’s write themselves. I don’t need to sell the product so much as let the product sell itself. Such is definitely the case with Ohio native Lisa Biales and her outstanding work. The Beat of my Heart is her ninth album, and rare is the artist that maintains top-notch quality music over so many releases. Even the Beatles had albums that were a little off. Lisa, however, has never missed a beat, and her voice is distilled magic. In the world of numerology, nine is a symbol of wholeness and completion. This, her latest CD, is the most complete representation of her four blended genres: blues, gospel, jazz and soul. Only one song out of twelve is an original, which is a shame. Lisa is more than talented enough to present all-new material. Reheated covers only satisfy up to a point, and Biales can fill listeners up more.

Her promotional information sheet provides a succinct overview of this CD and its inspiration. “Biales grew up in a musical family and learned singing from her mother. In 2015, she found a 78 RPM record that was recorded back in 1947. It had one song, “Crying Over You,” written by Alberta Roberts – Lisa’s mom. ‘Hearing my mother’s voice after all these years brought a chill to the bone. I realized that I had to put her song on this project.’ You’ll hear Lisa’s mother, at twenty-four years of age, sing the first verse of the song, and as Lisa takes over, it’s a goose-bumpy experience.”

Performing alongside lead vocalist Lisa are Jim Pugh on piano, Larry Taylor on upright bass, renowned producer Tony Braunagel (Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal) on drums and percussion; Johnny Lee Schell on electric guitar, Danelectro, Cigfiddle, and Tele; Darrell Leonard on trumpets; Joe Sublett on saxophones; Larry Fulcher on bass; Tom Peterson on baritone sax lead for track three; Wally Ingram on tambourine; Chuck Berghofer on 1813 upright bass; Paul Brown on 1957 Gibson L5 guitar; and Maxayn Lewis, Kudisan Kai, Leslie Smith, and Will Wheaton on background vocals and hand claps.

The following three tracks, two old and one new, are truly in tune with Biales’ heartbeat.

Track 01: “Disgusted” – No one likes being treated like an object, especially not the subject of the CD’s opening number. Written by Mabel Scott, it points an accusing finger at blokes who are far less than gentlemen: “I work real hard. I stay real cool. I been through college, so I ain’t nobody’s fool. I’m just disgusted. Whoa, I’m so mad. I’m so tired of these men trying to make a monkey out of me.” Dig the hot horns by Joe Sublett and Darrell Leonard, smoking and sultry.

Track 05: “Messin’ Around with the Blues” – A slow burner that will get couples’ hearts pounding on the dance floor, this hit by Thomas Waller and Phil Worde is the best offering of pure blues on the album. “With you on my mind, I’m blue all the time. I wonder just where you could be, you could be,” Lisa laments as Johnny Lee Schell’s Gibson 335 electric guitar concurs.

Track 07: “Crying Over You” – A stunning ballad that would fit perfectly on any of the Fallout computer games’ soundtracks, this ballad of the late 1940s is a true blast from the past, mingled with the voice of the future – Lisa’s. Jim Pugh is absolutely perfect on tinkling Steinway piano, as are mother and daughter on vocals that would melt steel.

Surely fans of blues and soul will shout, “Lisa Biales is in sync with the Beat of my Heart!”

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 9 

Gonzalo Bergara cd imageGonzalo Bergara – Zalo’s Blues

Self Released

12 tracks

Gonzalo Bergara is a gypsy jazz guitarist who has gone electric to do Zalo’s Blues, an electric and high energy album that blends his jazz experience into a blues and rock format. Based in Buenos Aires Argentina, Bergara with bassist Mariano D’Andrea and drummer Maximiliano Bergara do over 100 shows a year and have played together for over 20 years.

Bergara began many years ago as a blues guitarist. The liner notes by Little Charlie Baty explain his relationship with Bergara and his appreciation for Gonzalo and his guitarwork. Baty notes Bergara never made a blues album and never sang on any CD. He feels that this is Bergara coming back to his roots, having found a voice to match his guitar skills. I must agree- this is a darn good album of 11 originals and one cover.

A swinging instrumental begins the set. “Drawback” blends rockabilly and blues with some fantastic guitar work on top of a driving beat. It’s very cool. More of a blues rocking sound follows with “Drinking;” the sound and feel is very Chuck Berry-esque with another driving beat, stinging guitar work and solid vocals. “Singing My Song” has a heavy guitar lead in to this rock-blues ballad. Channeling a little Jimmy Page here, the song could easily be a Led Zeppelin cut. The lone cover is next, Jimmy Reed’s “You Don’t Have to Go.” More impeccable guitar, slowing the beat down a bit and effects on the vocals give this a new sort of twist and make it interesting.

“Dirty Socks” is a short and sweet instrumental that verges on reggae yet remains blues rock. “Gonna Go” again goes rockabilly and way up in tempo. The guitar is wicked and the vocals are slick. Next up is “No More,” an amped up take on late 1950’s rock that is immersed in the blues. It shuffles nicely and the vocals have some cool grit and grime to them. “Been Runnin”” takes off running and never stops. Another in the rocking rockabilly realm, this is another great little instrumental.

Following that is “Whoosh;” it starts off as a country sort of blues ballad that turns into a Beatles White Album/”Yer Blues” sort of song. Interesting! “Levi” is another cool instrumental shuffle with a big hollow bodied guitar sound. The temp drops for “Ines,” a thoughtful slow blues instrumental where a layer of guitar “sings” the lead for the ballad. The backline switches for this one to Vince Bilbro on bass and Michael Partlow on drums. The final cut is “Won’t Stay With You” where Bergara gives us nicely picked acoustic guitar work and some breathy vocals. It’s a folksy sort of blues and nice twist to close with.

I like that he goes old school on a lot of these cuts where Bergara makes a big statement in only 2 or 3 minutes. For a guy not known for his vocal work I thought he did a great job. He did a great job with them and his guitar work was even better. Bergara offers a nice mix of styles. I have no complaints at all with this album and I thoroughly enjoyed it! Kudos to Bergara and the band for a fine job putting together a very original and well done album. Exceptional guitar work and just a lot of fun to listen to!

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.

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 Featured Blues Review – 8 of 9 

elvin bishop cd imageElvin Bishop – Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio

Alligator Records ALCD 4973

12 songs – 43 minutes

Elvin Bishop follows up on his 2016 induction into both the Blues and Rock And Roll Halls Of Fame with this collection of seven originals and five covers — a charming package that blends great music and lighthearted, downhome insights, a combination that have pleased critics and fans alike for more than 50 years.

Don’t let Elvin’s bib overalls and Southern drawl fool you. Like Woody Guthrie before him, he’s an Oklahoma native with an extremely sharp mind and witty outlook that he delivers through song. A founding member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, he was a student at the University Of Chicago but quickly decided to a scholar of the blues and do his learning on the streets rather than in the classroom.

This release, the seventh in his Alligator catalog after being a mainstay with the late, lamented Capricorn label, came about almost by accident when Bishop was jamming in his San Francisco Bay area studio one day with Bob Welsh, his regular keyboard player and second guitarist — who’s toured with a who’s who of bluesmen, including Billy Boy Arnold, Snooky Pryor and James Cotton, and Willy Jordan, the first-call West Coast percussionist and vocalist who’s worked with Elvin, John Lee Hooker, Joe Louis Walker, Earl Thomas and others in addition to fronting his own band, A Case Of The Willys.

Instead of bringing a kit that day, Jordan showed up with a cajon, a large, box-shaped drum constructed of wood that you sit on in order to play. Invented in Peru, it’s now a popular instrument throughout Latin America and can produce a range of sounds that mimic bass and snare drums, among others, when played by a master like Jordan.

The jam went so well, that this album is the result. Recorded and mixed by Steve Savage at Hog Heaven Studio in Lagunitas, Calif., it features a warm, stripped-down sound. The only other musicians aiding the project are three of the foremost harmonica players in the world – Kim Wilson, Rick Estrin and Charlie Musselwhite – each of whom make guest appearances on a single cut.

A rapid, regimented four-four beat kicks off “Keep On Rollin’,” a Bishop original that stresses the need to keep yourself together during these trying times in politics. Regardless of your affiliation, you’ll agree with his insight: “You know damn well the system isn’t workin’/When you can’t tell the difference between your Congress and a circus/Just a bunch of clowns” with the chorus instructing: “Don’t let the mess get you down/Keep on rollin’.” The music keeps the serious theme upbeat.

Fear not, however, there’s a lot of fun ahead, beginning with a magical reworking of Lightnin’ Hopkins’ “Honey Bee” and a sprightly cover of the Sunnyland Slim classic, “It’s You, Babe,” featuring Willy’s powerful vocals, Bob on keys and Wilson delivering harp lines faithful to licks laid down by Big Walter Horton years ago. Elvin takes the lead on the bare-bones “Ace In The Hole,” which advises: “If you have a good woman/Treat her like gold” and includes some mighty fine picking.

Two more originals follow. In “Let’s Go,” the band is “making noise” in a fun-filled bar on Saturday night, noticing all the pretty ladies and knowing that they won’t be so choosy come closing time, while “Delta Lowdown” is a rock-solid instrumental shuffle that features Estrin.

A traditional take on Bobby Womack’s classic, “It’s All Over Now,” first recorded when he was a member of the Valentinos, is up next with Jordan on the mike before Bishop and Musselwhite double-team their original, “100 Years Of Blues,” which details their friendship that goes back to the mid-‘60s, when they were working in rival bands in the Windy City. Elvin handles most of the vocals atop Charlie’s lilting harp runs in a new song with a timeless feel. Their conversation mid-tune is sure to put a smile on your face, especially when Bishop states: “We’ve been around since the Dead Sea was sick.”

The trio delivers a little Big Easy feel with a cover of Dave Bartholomew and Fats Domino’s “Let The Four Winds Blow” before touring the country on their stomachs in “That’s What I’m Talkin’ About,” a food tour that begins with gumbo after playing at the New Orleans Jazz Fest with a stop in Seattle for soul food before winding up in Willy’s kitchen in Oakland for turkey, gravy and the best cornbread in town. A cover of soul legend Ted Taylor’s “Can’t Take No More” and another instrumental, “Southside Slide,” bring the album to a close.

Simply stated, Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio is a sensational CD, certain to be in consideration for major awards later in the year. Pick it up today. I guarantee that you won’t be disappointed.

Reviewer Marty Gunther has lived a blessed life. His first experience with live music came at the feet of the first generation of blues legends at the Newport Folk Festivals in the 1960s. A former member of the Chicago blues community, he’s a professional journalist and blues harmonica player who co-founded the Nucklebusters, one of the hardest working bands in South Florida.

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 Featured Blues Review – 9 of 9 

bluehouse project cd imageBlueHouse Project – BlueHouse Project

Self-Produced/FetSong Music

CD: 11 Songs, 44:04 Minutes

Styles: Ensemble Blues, Contemporary Electric Blues Rock

One of the most riveting new releases on DVD is Fences, featuring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis as its lead couple. The movie centers around Troy Maxson, a sanitation worker in 1950’s Pittsburgh. He’s a man of simple tastes – beer, soul food, kicking back with his longtime friend Bono, and most of all, baseball. Even though he lives in a big city, urbane sophistication is as alien to him as any Martian would be. That’s no loss: Troy represents the salt of the earth. So is Memphis’ Ron Fetner, lead vocalist and guitarist of the BlueHouse Project. His self-titled debut album is a prime example of earthy ensemble blues, lacking the flash and bang of other artists. To tell the truth, Fetner and friends don’t need it. They play with a heartwarming energy that’s as comfortable to bask in as a fire on a chilly Halloween night. Fetner’s voice, although it lacks grit and any discernible trace of cigarette or whiskey-gravel, is as clear as HD TV pics. On eleven original songs, he and his fellow musicians provide a Project of soul-food blues rock.

How did they come to form such an ensemble, anyway? Their website provides a concise answer: “These longtime musical friends were reunited in 2013 while performing at the ‘Bayou’s Last Call’ concert celebrating the release of the documentary movie, The Bayou, DC’s Killer Joint. What started as a casual remark, ‘We should get together, do some shows,’ turned into BlueHouse Project. Then songwriter Ron Fetner gathered up a bunch of new songs and they all headed into the studio. The outcome was a new band and CD, both called BlueHouse Project.”

The BlueHouse Project consists of Fetner on guitar and lead vocals; Mike Tramonte on keyboard, piano and vocals; Tom McCarthy on bass and vocals; and Corey Holland on drums. Featured guest stars include harpist Mark Wenner, Tim Tanner on guitars and vocals; Randy Short on drums; Rich Ridolfino on bass; Jordan Ponzi on upright bass; and harmonica player Tom Dikon on track eleven. Mike Caffi, Bobby Read and Scott Ramminger are the sax crew.

The following three tracks are the best examples of the earthy ensemble blues on the docket.

Track 02: “Black Widow Spider” – One of the most lethal arachnids on Earth, the female of the species is exactly what certain human women most resemble. A danceable Chicago-style tune, this should have been the album’s opener instead of “Piece of my Heart.” Mark Wenner’s hot harp sounds the warning cry to unwary males, and the refrain is one you can’t help but sing.

Track 04: “White Cotton” – The word “system” often follows the word “prison,” offering a rather cryptic description. What kinds of products does it produce? For one, railroads, at least in the olden days: “They put me up on the chain gang, just to break my spirit and bones. The hammer hurts my body, but I dare not say a thing. I need to fill this bucket, hear this hammer ring.” Our narrator yearns for the sweet release of death, and the lining of his own casket. What awaits him far sooner than that, however? Being “put down in some dungeon” and going insane when he can no longer slave on the railroad line. There’s great slide here from Tim Tanner.

Track 11: “Black Cat Blues (For Velvet)” – As a cat lover, I had to include this. When one’s furry friend has passed away, one of the best things to do is to play a loving ode. It’s mellow and low-key, unlike my own favorite feline, Sasha. However, maybe it’ll calm him down a little.

The earthy BlueHouse Project will satisfy those who yearn for clear and simple ensemble blues!

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 Interview – Debbie Davies 

debbie davies pic 1“Every interview I did during my career it was like, ‘What’s it like to be a girl?’ I had to say, ‘You know, I’ve never been a boy, so I can’t answer that.’ It’s not an easy career.”

Most of Debbie Davies’ career has been a struggle against a world she feels looks at female electric blues guitarists at best as an anomaly and at worst as inconsequential. Bonnie Raitt once told me that that had never been a problem for her because being female meant she had little competition. “Exactly, exactly,” says Davies. “That’s the thing. I remember when those were the only two, Bonnie Raitt and Rory Block playing blues that were out there on the road. They were the only two. So, (with me) that does make three. The problem, the average person sees it as an anomaly because they’re hardly ever seeing it.”

Just obtaining an electric guitar at age 12 in 1964 was an issue for a girl who was inspired to play watching The Beatles on Ed Sullivan. “It was not something that was available to girls back then. My parents couldn’t see it. There was no way they would do it. There were no other girls playing. So, it didn’t happen. I messed around the best I could. I loved my acoustic and learned songs and played.

“It was like a dream to play electric, but it was a dream. I wanted to play like crazy, and my dad bought me a shitty guitar. That was when I was 12, and he said, ‘If you learn, I’ll give you a decent instrument.’ And so I did. I learned a few chords and whatnot, and he took me to a friend’s music store, a friend of his. He took ’em out, and I picked out a Martin, the best. And I’m sure they weren’t as expensive back then in ’65 as they are now. So, I happened to see Glen Campbell. He was playing a Martin, so I feel I made a real good investment.

“I put myself through college. I always worked, and I realized the dream hadn’t gone away, so I got myself my first electric and just did whatever I could to learn to play it. It was a Gibson 330. It was a 64-330, and this was in 1977.

“My parents, first of all, were musicians, but they didn’t dig rock and roll because my mom was a classical musician. My dad was more into the jazz side of it, and just from a whole different era. My dad was a musical genius, and everything he did was perfection. He sang, and he wrote in the Hollywood studio scene, and it was so different back then. It was all about harmonies and pleasing notes. So, rock and blues was a new thing. So, that was not something that they took to and stuff that wasn’t stuff a female would do. It was a conservative time for a lot of white parents. That was just the generation I came from. The parents were from that thinking. So, yeah, as time went by, I moved away and was doing my own thing. They were just from the era where if you didn’t get married and have kids and do all that, they kind of looked at you like you had two heads.”

If being female and playing electric guitar was an anomaly in the 1970s and early ’80s, playing blues guitar with an African American blues icon like Albert Collins was beyond her parents’ imagination for their college educated daughter they expected to get married and have babies. But at age 36, Davies began a three-year stint from 1988 to ’91 touring with The Ice Man as the only white female in an otherwise all male African American band.

debbie davies pic 2“I was a player, and I’d been working my own band, and I was very rebellious when I was young. My family was conservative, and everything was so different back then. So, it was rebellion, and it was like I’m gonna do what I wanted to do no matter what and just power through it and keep going. This kind of toughness, you know.

“I was embraced in that world. It was a lovely time, a lovely experience. I would never want to say I identify with the black experience. I am not black, but as far as living in a world that puts you in a box and wants you to stay in your place, yes, I was totally able to connect on that level. I can totally sympathize. I was young and vulnerable during the civil rights movement, and I was moved by that. All those things were happening when I was a youth, the civil rights movement and then the women’s movement. It’s been a big part of my consciousness all my life.”

Davies found working for Collins to be a great adventure. “I was just going forward. Living the dream. To me, I wasn’t even trying to think about how weird it could be or if it would be uncomfortable, and one thing that was really fortunate for me in that was that three of the guys in the band, well two of them at least, had been on the road with Ike and Tina Turner for like 13 years. So, the drummer Coco Richardson and the trumpet player was Gabe Fleming, they had (toured) with women on the bus for years. So, for them it wasn’t a weird thing. So, they were accepting, and I was carrying my weight and partying with them and laughing and having fun.

I was learning to take licks off records and that’s what the guys around me that could play would say to do. So, you’re doing this whole process, and you’re learning the blues and feeling the blues, but actually going on the road with these guys is like you’ve stepped through the door. You’re in the world.

“So, that was a tremendous thing, traveling with those guys and traveling through the south where they were from. You know, playing gigs. We did both kinds of gigs. We did both chitlin circuit gigs and white clubs and lots of black clubs. It was so much fun. After a show, maybe Albert would take the bus out into the country and go to some guy’s house for a fish fry. Everybody would be out there partying every night. I just embraced it and loved it. I didn’t know then how much I know now, as to what an incredible experience it was, I mean a unique experience, but I knew at the time it was definitely special, and great. It’s just become more of that as time has gone by.”

Two months before Albert Collins died in November, 1993, Debbie described to me the pure joy she felt being in such a privileged environment with her mentor. “The groove Albert brings to it every note is phenomenal, and I learned a lot from that, just how much these guys give physically and emotionally from the performance each night. And I love that. It feels so good that I had the opportunity to sit, rap and jam with lots of old guys, the real guys and that’s rare and real special opportunity that I was afforded working with Albert, and I’ll never be able to replace that.”

Four years later in 1997, the value of the Collins experience had sunk deeper into Davies’ psyche. “The thing that amazed me the most being on the road with Albert was that I knew everything that had gone on all day. Maybe we’d had a flat tire. We’d been up all night. This and that, just how beaten up he was maybe at a certain point, and to get on stage, and just feel the electricity come out of him. Like where is this coming from? No matter what happened to him how he just switched gears and did the show and that was like something that really impressed me, and I really learned it was like, oh, this is the difference between wannabe and the real deal.”

After her stint with Albert Collins, Davies did a three-month tour on the road opening for Jimmy Buffett with a band called Fingers Taylor and The Ladyfingers Review. “ Jimmy (Buffett) gave him that option to put his own band together, a gift to him. This feller Fingers decided that he wanted an all-female band for his backing band, and he just went around the country and tried to get the best female blues people, and so Janiva (Magness)and myself and Nancy wright and some other ladies, we ended up in the band with Fingers Taylor and we did a three-month tour with Jimmy Buffett.”

debbie davies pic 3After that, she worked John Mayall’s wife in Maggie and the Cadillacs. Had she gotten over feeling that she was an anomaly as a female guitarist?

“No! No!”


“No, it was still definitely an anomaly. I mean, there was only in that little time period there that labels began to sign – not just indie but larger labels – began to sign women. Like when I was playing with Maggie Mayall and the Cadillacs, we had original material. We were touring with John, but we couldn’t get a record deal to save our lives. We weren’t just doing little girly gigs. So, pretty much at that time to get a record deal was an anomaly. You got a record deal if you were like the Go Gos.

“But when I was out there making my own records, it was pretty much Sue Foley and Joanne O’Conner. That was it. We were the indie girls on guitar. We always had Bonnie Raitt, who was in the pop world as a mentor, but it’s really funny because I thought it would maybe be kind of a mix of girls who hadn’t been seen on guitars, but really it was like a generation, and half later. It really took a while. Then, all of a sudden maybe in the last 10 or 15 years they started being a lot more female players out there, an getting deals and doing the whole thing.”

Davies went solo in 1993 and has become veteran road warrior ever since. No longer an anomaly, she still finds the rigors of the road and pleasing her audience may not be that much more freeing even if no one looks at her today as though she had two heads.

“So, watching that change (about gender roles), and that 180 change is a thrill to me. Women have choices now. They’re not in a box. It’s not like are you gonna get married or are you gonna be a mother or a teacher? That’s thrilling. I think women in general, and black people in general, there’s still a struggle for equality. Now you’re talking about people being prejudiced, so that’s a constant struggle to try and work toward the general population being clear in their thinking, you know?”

I gave her some quotes from our 1997 interview about making it as a solo act, and she basically rubber stamped those quotes, saying it’s pretty much the same. “You have the basic finances of the thing. The record company is not helping us out financially. Nobody is. I finance everything I do. The vehicles, players, the instruments, the motel rooms. So, you gotta keep that going on.

“You gotta still be able to please the clubs even though you might have goals that are outside of the clubs, even though you might be writing stuff that’s a little bit different than this, you gotta do that. So, this type of career is a constant series of compromises which you always hold your ultimate goal in front of you, and you try and get there.

“What you gotta do is find the best players you can that also has a traveling personality with the band. I mean, it’s a chemistry, and sometimes the best player you can find on any particular instrument might be a guy who is hard to deal with once you get out there on the road. He might be a terrible roommate for anybody he’s got to roommate with. He might be irresponsible. He might be getting too high.

debbie davies pic 4“So, there’s a series of compromises. You might say, ‘I’m gonna let this guy go, and hire this other guy I’ve worked with who, he’s not quite the monster on the instrument that this guy is, but we’re gonna have harmony out there.’ When you have harmony between people even though somebody may not be the best player you can find on that instrument. But you’ve got harmony, you’re gonna make better music anyway.

“My biggest challenge in life is to keep myself together so that I can do everything I have to do. To keep my energy and health is a constant battle because I work every day. I don’t even have a day off. Don’t let anybody tell you sow biz is any light weight deal because it’s not. And that’s why a lot of people are real assholes out there, real sharks and rip-offs because it’s like only the strong survive or however you want to say it. Oh, yeah, you’re financing your own thing, doing your own driving. You’re doing your own road managing. You’re doing it all and then you’re getting on stage.”

The only fundamental difference in 20 years is the age factor. “If you’re really tired, a drive seems like it takes forever, but not if you’re not tired. That’s kind of my experience. It has to do with where you’re at. But they always say time speeds up when you get older, so I’m sure that’s happening.

“I’m definitely not a kid, and I’m definitely not trying to pound the pavement at the pace I used to do and that’s ok. I mean, I was touring really hard for like 30 years. You don’t end up being the same kind of body as somebody who just didn’t have to work that much, and played tennis all those years. So, yeah, I treat myself like I have to treat myself. I work. I do some runs out there that I’m not trying to keep the pace of young kids. It’s just not part of being myself.”

Jim Gaines of Buddy Guy and Stevie Ray Vaughan fame produced Debbie Davies’ I Got That Feeling CD for Blind Pig in1997. At the time she said, “My conversation with Jim was, ‘I’m working with you. You’re a world class producer.’ James worked with all these people. Stretch me. Pull some stuff out of me. So, there was some experimental stuff going on on the album like there probably always will be. Each project will be a little different, and each project you try and grow and work with different people.”

In 2002 she recorded Love The Game with Duke Robillard. She puts both producers on a high pedestal. “I’ve been pretty fortunate because I worked with Duke Robillard, and that’s a different kind of experience. Jim’s produced rock stars, and Jim’s really high budget kind of thing that I was fortunate to be able to do that, and I worked with awesome players. It was all atmosphere, and then when I worked with Duke Robillard in a beautiful studio, it was another great experience because Duke is actually a player on my instrument, and he’s a musical genius.

“So, yeah, that was another phenomenal experience, just the nicest man. So, that’s another thing for a producer. You want somebody who can really do it but keeps his cool and just likes the vibe. Jim Gaines and Duke Robillard set the vibe with laughing. They’re funny.

“That’s part of it, too. They know exactly what they want, and they can work with you, the artists. What amazed me about Duke was he had ideas. He would say, ‘You know that song the guitar part,’ and then he’d name some record that came out in 1963 by some guy. He did his fingertips on all of that, and the memory of all that stuff hasn’t gone away for him, everything he’s learned. It’s like cataloged, and he can pull it up and it’s just incredible. I’ve never met anybody like that. Then, he can say, ‘Yeah, let’s do something like that. He’d just do something on his guitar that’s a background part that’s genius. And we got to play together many times. We have a friendship. It’s just a beautiful thing. So, yes, I did have another experience like that.

Throughout her career Davies has recorded with: Albert Collins, Ike Turner, James Cotton, Mick Taylor, Peter Green, Coco Montoya, Duke Robillard, Tommy Shannon, Chris Layton, Sugar Ray Nortia, Mudcat Ward, Charlie Musselwhite, Bruce Katz, Per Hanson, Noel Neal, and Rod Carey.

Twenty years ago she told me that her dream was to play a gig as big as Farm Aid in front of half a million people. Did she ever realize that dream?


Does she still have it?

“Oh, I don’t think so.”


“No, now it’s whatever happens happens. I fight the good fight. I’ve been all over the world and it’s now just I love to play and I wanna just keep doing it.”

Visit Debbie’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 Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation – Falls Church, VA

The Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation presents tThe 24th Annual Tinner Hill Blues Festival takes place June 9-11, 2017 in Falls Church, VA. This 3-day music event features Blues, brew & barbecue, all weekend, all over town. It kicks off on Friday with “Blues on Broad” in restaurants and bars on (and off) Broad Street. Saturday’s highlight is a ticketed all-day concert in Cherry Hill Park featuring Mud Morganfield with The Nighthawks; Tas Cru & His Band of Tortured Souls; Beverly “Guitar” Watkins; Linwood Taylor, and Kareem “Lil’ Maceo” Walkes with special guest, Slam Allen.

Saturday night’s Blues Crawl will take place in many restaurants and bars in the town and feature Blues bands. Sunday’s free gospel/blues picnic features the Carter Gospel Singers and The Barbour Travelers. Visit our website for a complete list of events:

Central Iowa Blues Society – Des Moines, IA

The Central Iowa Blues Society celebrates LIVE music at Springfest, Memorial weekend at Jasper Winery, 2400 George Flagg Parkway on Sunday, May 28, 2017. Music on the lawn from 2:00-9:00 pm, starting with Iowa Blues Hall of Famer, Rob Lumbard, followed by Kansas City’s own Amanda Fish, Rockin’ Rhythm & Blues with The Bel Airs and then Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal. Josh was recently a contestant on The Voice.

The gates open at 1:00 pm for this FREE event brought to you by Central Iowa Blues Society, Fat Tuesday Productions and Jasper Winery. For more information go to

Cascade Blues Association – Portland, Oregon

On Sunday, May 21, the Cascade Blues Association presents “CBA 30, Once in a Lifetime Concert,” featuring more than 50 blues and roots musicians joining together to celebrate the organization’s 30th anniversary of supporting, promoting and preserving blues & blues-related music in the Pacific Northwest. This event will be held at the historic McMenamin’s Crystal Ballroom in downtown Portland, Oregon. Tickets are $15.00 general admission, and a limited number of VIP tickets for $75.00.

Artists participating in CBA 30 will include Duffy Bishop, Lloyd Jones, Terry Robb, Mary Flower, Karen Lovely, Bill Rhoades, Norman Sylvester, Ty Curtis, Rae Gordon & The Backseat Drivers, The Strange Tones, Kinzel & Hyde, Too Loose Zydeco Band, Bobby Torres, Robbie Laws, Louis Pain and many more!

The Sacramento Blues Society – Sacramento, CA

The Sacramento Blues Society presents “Women Sing the Blues” on Sunday, April 30, 2017, 3:00 – 6:00 pm at Burgers & Brew (Station 1), 317 3rd St., West Sacramento, California. Featuring (in no specific order): Lena Mosely (SBS Hall of Famer), Dana Moret, Val Starr, Lisa Phenix w/Steve Wall, Sue Mac and Beth Reid Grigsby.

Tickets sold at the door only. $15.00 General Public, $10 SBS Membership. Wheelchair Accessible.

Detroit Blues Society – Detroit, MI

The Detroit Blues Society Heritage Series presents “Blues and Boogie Piano” featuring Mark “Mr.B.” Braun and Bill Heid on Saturday April 29, 2017 from 2:00PM until 4:30PM at the Historic Scarab Club at 217 Farnsworth in Detroit’s Cultural Center. A $5.00 donation is requested.

Mr. B. is a boogie-woogie pianist from Ann Arbor Michigan. He became interested in the piano through recordings collected by his father in his hometown of Flint, MI. Later he studied with “Boogie Woogie” Red and other famous area musicians among others. He is also a composer in his own right.

Bill Heid is an American Blues & Jazz pianist born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He has recorded with blues & jazz greats Koko Taylor, Henry Johnson and Fenton Robinson. He spent several years living and performing in Detroit with Johnnie Bassett and others and now resides in the Washington, DC . The two pianists will perform separately as well as together, backed by a rhythm section.

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. May 1 – John D’Amato, May 8 – Jason Elmore & Hoodoo Witch, May 15 – Harper and Midwest Kind, May 22 – Chris Antonik, May 29 – John “Catfish” Evans, June 5 – The 44’s, June 12 – Rockin’ Jake, June 19 – Adrianna Marie & Her Groovecutters, June 26 – The Bridget Kelly Band.

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.

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