Issue 11-22 June 1, 2017

Cover photo by Roman Sobus © 2017

 In This Issue 

Don Wilcock has our feature interview with Wayne Baker Brooks. We have 10 Blues reviews for you this week including new music from The Schwartz-Fox Blues Crusade, Thorbjørn Risager and The Black Tornado, Chris O, Lil’ Shaky and the Tremors, Atomic Roots Orchestra, AWEK, Benny Turner, Derrick Procell, GProject Blues Band and Cesar Valdomir and the Blue Midnight.

Laura Carbone and Chris BadNews Barnes have photos and commentary on all the big events and parties at this year’s Blues Music Awards.

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

 From The Editor’s Desk 

Hey Blues Fans,

Our friends at the Big Pines Blues Festival are having a great Blues show this weekend in Longview, Texas that you won’t want to miss!

Friday’s FREE is show titled “The Next Generation of the Blues”. It features The Peterson Brothers, Ally Venable Band, Red House Revival and Riverside Blues Band featuring Carter Wilkinson.

Saturday’s ticketed event features Elvin Bishop Band, Darrell Nulisch, Andrew “Jr. Boy” Jones featuring Kerrie Lepai, A J Cascio & Two Tone Band and more. Tickets and information is at

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser

 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 10 

schwartz fox blues crusade cd imageThe Schwartz-Fox Blues Crusade – Sunday Morning Revival

Smog Veil Records SV132CD

9 songs — 33 minutes

Here’s a real flashback for you. It’s not an acid flashback in most respects, but this album was recorded in Cleveland in 1967 as a parallel project by members of the James Gang, one of the most important groups in the era of the Summer Of Love.

The Schwartz-Fox ensemble featured two original Gang members: Drummer Jim Fox, whose previous group, The Outsiders, soared near the top of the charts with “Time Won’t Let Me,” and bassist Tom Kriss as well as Glenn Schwartz, Cleveland’s first recognized guitar hero, who joined the band shortly after splitting from military service.

Influenced by bluesmen Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, Sonny Boy Williamson as well as B.B. King, James Cotton and others, they emerged from the University Circle neighborhood on the city’s East Side, a small oasis of hippies and free thinkers surrounded by neighborhoods that would erupt into race riots and civil unrest a few months later. As the James Gang, they followed the musical footprint of English invaders like the Yardbirds and Rolling Stones. On this one, however, they laid down a set of songs written by some of the biggest names in the blues world.

Sunday Morning Revival resulted after the success of jams at The Coffeehouse, a nearby hangout. The music you’ll hear here was captured in the middle of the night, and participants believed the tape to be lost for eternity about the same time that Schwartz left the James Gang for California, where he eventually joined another top act, Pacific Gas & Electric — to be replaced by one of his former guitar students, future Eagle Joe Walsh. (The pair reunited on stage at the Coachella Music Festival last year.) It was rediscovered about 25 years later when someone — even the band doesn’t know who — sent the cassette to Kriss out of the blue.

You’re able to listen to it now in because Florida-based Smog Veil Records has released it as its second entry in its Platters Du Cuyahoga series, a follow-up to Mr. Stress Blues Band Live At The Brick Cottage 1972-73. Harmonica player and vocalist Mr. Stress, aka Bill Miller, also features prominently on this recording, as does Kriss’ guitarist/vocalist brother Rich and keyboard player Mike Sands. Despite the age and origin, the sound is crisp and the music delivered in stereo.

A rapid-fire version of Sonny Boy II’s “Ninety Nine” opens the set, followed by B.B. King’s “Sweet Little Angel,” Big Joe Williams’ “Baby Please Don’t Go” and Howlin’ Wolf’s “Evil,” written by Willie Dixon, before the only original cut on the disc, entitled “Sunday Morning Revival.” It’s literally 50 seconds long and is nothing more than the band tuning after a vocal introduction. Four more covers — Muddy’s “Long Distance Call,” Sonny Boy’s “Dissatisfied” and “Checkin’ On My Baby” and Elmore James’ “Dust My Broom” — bring the set to a close.

On the whole, the album is an aural time capsule that captures the era well. However, like much of the music from that time, it’s raw and feels dated.

That said, however, Sunday Morning Revival has its merits in other areas. Released on CD and LP, it’s accompanied by a richly illustrated 16-page booklet written by Nick Blakey that captures the locale and era vividly and that includes extensive interviews with the people involved. In the CD version, the type used is about the same size as you’d find in a newspaper want ad, but worth the effort and eyestrain because of its detail about life in Cleveland at a time of civil discord. And if you’d like to read more, there’s an extended bibliography online at the Smog Veil website.

Available through most major online retailers, the blues here is faithfully delivered throughout, but the back story is far more interesting, especially in our current era of political unrest.

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 10 

thorbjorn risager cd imageThorbjørn Risager and The Black Tornado – Change My Game

Ruf Records

11 tracks / 51:10

When hearing Thorbjørn Risager sing it is natural to assume that he is from the American Midwest, as his powerful voice cuts through the mix with just a touch of twang. But Denmark is his home, and for the past fourteen years he has been churning out soulful blues-rock with his band, The Black Tornado. These gentlemen have recently released their latest studio album, Change My Game, and it is their best work yet.

The stability of the lineup for Thorbjørn Risager & The Black Tornado is a rarity in the music business, as five of the eight members have been with the band since 2003. During their tenure they have released eleven albums and played over 800 live shows, so they have figured out how to do things the right way with a combination of well-crafted songs and good production values. Critics and fans agree, as the band was nominated for British Blues Awards in 2014 and 2015 and won Danish Grammy Awards in 2013 and 2014.

Change My Game was recorded at the Medley Studios in Copenhagen, Denmark in January and August of 2016. Risager took care of the vocals and guitar, backed by The Black Tornado band that includes Peter Skjerning on guitar, Emil Balsgaard on keyboards, Søren Bøjgaard on bass, and Martin Seidelin on the drums; there is also the horn section of Hans Nybo, Kasper Wagner, and Peter Kehl. The band self-produced this album (a first for them), allowing them to achieve exactly the sound they were seeking. It includes eleven tracks, and all of them are originals that were written by Risager and Skjerning.

The set list includes a bit of everything in the blues spectrum, including blues-rock, soul, funk, and rhythm and blues; the latter is the basis of the first track, “I Used to Love You.” Slow jams like this show off Risager’s astounding voice that is undeniably smooth and strong, and demonstrate his range that extends from baritone to a growly tenor. This song of remembrance features soft horns and a guitar solo that is simple yet very effective. Another standout ballad is “Lay My Burden Down,” which is delivered in a maudlin lyrical style with piano accompaniment, and there is a lovely build to the finish as the horns join in.

Don’t get the idea that Change My Game is full of slow-paced ballads, as hard-blues rock is a specialty of this crew. “Dreamland” is sequenced early in the album, and it has a huge sound with distorted guitars, Hammond organ, and a stellar horn arrangement. There is also “Hold My Lover Tight” with its driving beat and creative use of synthesizers and guitars. This song features an awesome guitar solo that is not over-the-top crazy, but it is powerful and perfectly in sync with the rest of the instruments. But the sweetest jam is “Train,” which starts out with an acoustic intro and a decidedly different rhythm pattern. At first there is a folk feel with honky-tonk piano, but momentum grows as the full band comes in, and it finishes with a minute of electric hardcore insanity.

The band also does a respectable job with funk and soul, as shown by “Maybe It’s Alright” and “Change My Game.” This title track is catchy with its funkadelic intro and synthesizers, and the chorus draws the listeners in with its harmonies, but the smooth horns and tight backline really complete the package. The bass and drums of Bøjgaard and Seidelin are perfectly in sync, and are almost hypnotic. These two songs are an interesting contrast to “Holler n Moan,” a Delta influenced swamp tune that ends up as a funeral dirge party towards the end. This message here is that the band is able to play most anything, and the songs are slickly written and arranged so that they all work well together, even as they span multiple genres.

After the band spends the first ten songs proving that they have mastered many elements of American music, they cut loose and have some fun by ending the album with “City of Love.” This is a hard-rocking blues tune that goes all out with powerful vocal harmonies on the chorus, a cool blend of acoustic and distorted electric guitars, and one last dose of the super-tight horn section. Everybody gets a chance to shine on this track, with props going out to Balsgaard’s killer work on the organ, and Risager’s (or is that Skjerning’s?) searing lead guitar.

With Change My Game, Thorbjørn Risager & the Black Tornado have met the challenge of living up to their excellent 2014 breakthrough release, Too Many Roads. This is a fresh take on modern blues, and the band has really created something different with their blend of blues, soul, and rock – indeed, they have changed their game. Looking at their tour plans for the rest of 2017, it looks like they are only playing European shows, but hopefully there will be enough demand to get them over to the states soon. While you are waiting, be sure to check out this new release, as it is dynamite!

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

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 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 10 

chris o cd imageChris O – Wailin’ And Raggin’ The Blues

Self-produced CD

12 songs — 44 minutes

Born in England, based out of the Blue Mountains of Australia for decades and — because of her extensive touring schedule — truly a citizen of the world, Chris Okunbor is a multi-instrumentalist musician who possesses a powerful, deep voices.

Although she doesn’t achieve the low notes of Alexis P. Suter’s true baritone and her range is somewhat limited to a deep alto, her vocals stand out in the crowd as she accompanies herself on lap steel and other guitars, banjo and ukulele. The 2016 Sidney Blues Society solo blues artist of the year, she represented New South Wales at the subsequent International Blues Challenge in Memphis in addition to multiple European tours.

A former arranger/producer/director for Babble On, a world music TV series, this is her third album, following a collection of children’s tunes in the ’80s and Peckman’s Plateau, which remained on the Australian Blues And Roots Charts for five months after its release in 2014. Like this one, it features a blend of new tunes and covers as it delivers the feeling of a bygone era.

Wailin’ And Raggin’ The Blues is more than a solo performance, however. It’s really an international effort. Chris has enlisted musicians from five countries to aid her along the way, including fellow Aussie guitarist Derek Phillips and didgeridoo player Charlie McMahon, German guitarist Didi Van Fritz, Dutch guitarist Iwan Gronert and American rapper and beat performer The Couch King.

The music alternates between acoustic and electric and kicks off with the original, “Loco Howl,” about a “steamin’ hot mama with a hellfire mind.” It’s an acoustic tune with Chris on guitar, aided by an uncredited harmonica player. Covers of Sleepy John Estes’ haunting “Broke And Hungry” and Mississippi Fred McDowell’s “Write Me A Few Lines,” which features Phillips on slide guitar, receive interesting new treatments while remaining faithful to the originals.

Two more slow blues originals — “Workin’ The Cottonfields,” which gives Chris a chance to show offer her guitar skills and deals with a laborer with legitimate fears about the future, and the electrified “Lonesome Worrisome Blues,” which highlights Gronert and carries the theme forward — follow before a fresh take on Memphis Minnie’s “Tell Me Baby,” backed by Phillips.

Chris is on banjo for the originals “Good Lovin’ Man,” about finally finding the right guy after brushing off others who stand out from the rank-and-file but still don’t offer up what the singer needs, and “Hesitating Wedding Ring Blues,” written and delivered from the perspective of a bride with second thoughts on the eve of her nuptials. Both tunes have a distinct pre-War feel.

“Bukka’s Jitterbug Swing,” written by first-generation blues superstar Bukka White and aided by McMahon on didgeridoo, and the Little Willie John soul blues classic “I Need Your Love So Bad,” featuring Van Fritz on acoustic guitar, follow before two more originals — “Lifelong Battery Boy,” a sweet tribute to a child who simply can’t keep still, and “Crispin’ Up The Biscuits,” a warm and fuzzy blues rap featuring The Couch King — bring the set to a close.

Available through CDBaby and streamed through SoundCloud, Wailin’ And Raggin’ The Blues is worth the effort to acquire if you’re a fan of acoustic blues. The covers are all solidly original despite their age and recording history, and Chris O is a songwriter of the first order. A delight from beginning to end.

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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 2017 Blues Music Awards Week 

3 Days of Fun & Music and Nuthin’ But 3 Days of Fun & Music. Without a doubt the greatest three days of Blues Appreciation happens once a year in Memphis thanks to The Blues Foundation. This year was by far one of the most historic. Try and stay with me…..

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Wednesday afternoon at The Blues Hall of Fame Museum, Agent, Promoter, Manager: Mike Kappus & The Rosebud Agency Exhibit was on Display, entitled: 45+ Years Sharing The Music. It was an amazing collection of posters, tour jackets, intimate portraits and personal letters that traced the careers of John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Mose Allison, George Thorogood & The Destroyers, Robert Cray, The Staples Singers, JJ Cale and so many more. But the speeches given by Elvin Bishop and Bettye Lavette gave us deep insight into the generous soul and compassionate heart of Mike Kappus. BRAVO!

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Wednesday night I attended The Blues Hall of Fame Induction ceremony, Barbara Newman, President and CEO of The Blues Foundation welcomed us all as we witnessed, Henry Gary, Willie Johnson, Mavis Staples, Johnny Copeland, Magic Slim, Latimore and many more songs, recording and literature find there place in The Blues Hall of Fame, Hosted by Bill Wax & Bob Porter they also inducted Amy Van Singel for Media & Academic Achievement’s. It was a Who’s who of Blues Masters in attendance including Bobby Rush, Elvin Bishop & Mike Finnigan. Big Lou Hosted his Hall of Fame Concert at The Wharehouse Juke Joint, whata party that was as well as Amy Brat’s Rum Boogie Cafe Bratgirl Jam hosted by Albert Castiglia, more about him later.

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Thursday back to The Blues Hall of Fame as Barbara, Joe Whitmer and staff presented another intimate event; Eddie Shaw’s Retirement Party, with four Hall of Famers in the same room Eddy Clearwater, Bobby Rush, Latimore and Eddie Shaw, it turned into an afterhours “he said, she said”, Bobby Rush told personal stories (exploits) you’ll only hear at a Blues Foundation event and Board Chair Paul Benjamin gave a heart felt speech in honor of Eddie Shaw..NICE !

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Thursday night,… It was time to put on your “High Heeled Sneakers” and put that “Wig Hat on Your Head” (Tommy Tucker’s classic was one of the singles inducted into the Hall of Fame). And step on into The Memphis Cook Convention Center for The 2017 BMA’s …What a Show. I sat with Rod Bland and his mother Willie May Bland front and center and we were mesmerized as each act just got better and better..and I don’t it wasn’t the tea baby. Big Winners, Kenny Neal with 2 statues: Contemporary Blues Artist & Album, Bobby Rush, Best Album, Koko Taylor Award went to Diunna Greenleaf, Traditional Blues Male Artist Bob Margolin, Mavis Staples, Soul Blues Female and a very humble John Del Toro who was standing on Stage with his ax over his shoulder waiting to perform won Best Emerging Artist Album, he then ripped into a blinding display of licks with Anika Chambers, RW Grisby, Mike Finnigan &Tony Braunagel. Kenny Neal’s performance was a stellar polished showcase of Kenny’s multi-talented musicianship, Bob Margolin and Bob Corritore slayed the crowd with some haunting power leads, Johnny Rawls with Dave Keller kept it soulful and Toronzo Cannon made it clear Chicago was in The House. The girls came out with Vanessa Collier, Terrie Obabi, Janiva Magness, Thornetta Davis and Bettye Lavette. But My Friends, I always sit up front and I wait till the last acts, never leave early kids, John Nemeth and his band were “Freaky” Good and talk about saving the best for last, Albert Castiglia closed out the BMA’s sealing the doors shut with shattering display of extremely mature blues solo’s and riff’s, This cat from FLA…..Real Deal

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Friday AM off to the corner of MLK Blvd 7 S. Main for the Bobby “Blue” Bland Statue Dedication, Bravo Jay Sielman & Roger Kaber who drove this mission to fruition, & gave brilliant speeches. The Bland Family was regal and honored and Rodd Bland gave a touching speech in honor of his father, this is must see statue, truly a valiant work of art.

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Are you still with me….Beale Street Baby…where do I start, Hard Rock, Play It Forward Fundraiser where Andy T-Band , Mike Welch with Michael Ledbetter & Bob Margolin turned the café into a mini amphitheater of Blues!

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Or… BB Kings for The Bobby Blue Blue Bland Tribute hosted by Rodd Bland and The Memebers Only Band, John Nemeth, Sugaray Rayford & Janiva Magness Got Deep in The Pocket of Soul and Bill Wax was once again The True Voice of Blues in America.

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Finally, it was at The 10th Anniversary Vizztone Party when I got my induction or should I call it hazing into the Vizztone Family, having to debut after an encore performance of Diunna Greenleaf, it wasn’t easy, except for the fact that Bob Margolin, Rosy Rosenblatt and Patrick Rynn were holding it all down. Great hits by Tas Cru, Jay Stollman & Matt Schofiled, Adrianna Marie & Nancy Wright, it was Awesome.

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Laura Carbone is a Blues Music Photographer and heads Plattsburgh Blues and Jazz a not for profit music showcase. Chris BadNews Barnes is a Blues Foundation Charter Member & a Hokum Blues artist on The Vizztone Label Group. His second album Hokum Blues will be released in July.

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 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 10 

lil shakey cd imageLil’ Shaky and the Tremors – Aftershock


CD: 10 Songs, 37:32 Minutes

Styles: Blues Covers, Horn Blues, Ensemble Blues, Soul-Influenced Blues

Fill in the missing word in this adage: “Familiarity breeds…” If you said “contempt,” you’re right, dear reader, but it doesn’t always engender such an antagonistic feeling. Sometimes, familiarity breeds a feeling of nostalgic security. You know you’ve heard a song, watched a show or seen a movie countless times, but always tune in to a remake. Why else would TV hits like the current Hawaii Five-O, Twin Peaks and the upcoming movie Baywatch be generating so much buzz? The same principle applies to the ten blues covers on Aftershock, from Rhode Island’s Lil’ Shaky and the Tremors. Aficionados, you know you’ve heard these tunes before, especially “Why Are People Like That” and “I Wouldn’t Treat a Dog (The Way You Treated Me)”. Nevertheless, these classics are like Lay’s potato chips: “Bet you can’t eat just one.” Front man Ed Wright and his multi-talented companions prove just how addicting old favorites can be. Vocally, they provide great harmony, as on the selection reviewed later. Instrumentally, they’re above-average, but don’t quite pack the wallop of other powerhouse groups. Overall, they have the down-home comfort of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in the soul-based blues genre.

In a personal note that Mr. Wright enclosed with this CD, he comments: “[It] was a project I did with Chris Vachon, the leader and lead guitarist of Roomful of Blues. Chris also engineered and produced it. Chris has been nominated twice in the past for his production work by the Grammy [award board]. We’re both very proud of the results.” By all means, they should be. For some hard-line critics, the word “debut’ is synonymous with “shoddy work” and “poor effort,” but not Aftershock. It’s well-crafted enough to serve as an introduction to the blues for new listeners.

Lil’ Shaky and the Tremors are composed of Ed Wright on lead vocals, screams (LOL) and bass guitar; Chris Vachon on guitars and background vocals; Jeff Ceasrine on piano, organ and congas, and Larr Anderson on drums. Special guests include Brenda Bennett on lead and background vocals, and DD Bastos on background vocals. Also joining in are two separate ensembles: The Gospel Love Tones, featuring Walter Cooper, Steven Cooper, and Kenny Haywood; and The Naked Horns, featuring Jaime Rodrigues, Robert DeCurtis, Mark Legualt, Steve DeCurtis, and Josh Kane. Other individual performers include Mike Antunes on tenor sax; Mike Rand on harmonica; Chris Boyd on pedal steel; and Ed Vallee on slide guitar.

This album’s last track is also its best one.

Track 10: “It’s All Over Now” – Featuring a beer-warranting intro with howling harp and growling guitar, this is a song about what happens to a relationship in the wake of betrayal. “Well, my baby used to stay out all night long. She made me cry. She did me wrong. She hurt my eyes open; that’s no lie. The tables turned, and now it’s her turn to cry.” Bobby Womack, originally, and this current band couldn’t have said it any clearer. Savor Ed Vallee on magnificent slide guitar.

For blues veterans, Aftershock won’t cause much of a ripple, but it’ll make new fans’ souls shake and quake!

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 – 5 of 10 

atomic roots orchestra cd imageAtomic Roots Orchestra Vol 2 – Greatest Invention Since Gravy

Conjur Roots Records

Day Job View Records

12 songs time – 34:27

The way the liner notes and handouts go over the top as describing this conglomeration of authentic roots and blues men, you would think there is some exceptional musicianship within this CD.

It’s a well intentioned effort, but the music is perhaps one step above a casino lounge act. You know, those “iffy” bands that play right on the casino floor. Guitarist Job Striles is a step above that, but nothing like the “tasteful dangerous real guitar” player as described in the handout. The formula from song to song varies a bit from song to song. Most consist of group unison vocals, with one lone instrumental in “Estrellita”, a kind of pleasant island guitar tune that takes advantage of the rhythm section.

Elsewhere the vocal delivery and lyrics too often tend to fall into the corny category. “Rock Bottom” is an ok 40’s era swing song. If you want to be taken back to your sock hop days, you’ve come to the right place. The band’s version of the New Orleans chestnut “Junco Partner” gives a “white bread” vocal sound to a song that usually gets a cool delivery, such as by Dr. John and others. This version recalls Pat Boone’s “white wash” versions of black tunes from his day.

Throughout the recording there is good guitar playing for the most part and some good honking sax along with the requisite “tinkling” piano. Some nice bluesy guitar in places as well.

For those who want average music that recalls a bygone era, God bless you! After all the printed hype I was expecting more. Even Sean Spicer couldn’t put a more positive spin on this CD.

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

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 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 10 

awek cd imageAWEK – Long Distance


14 tracks 54 minutes

AWEK has many people to thank over the course of 20 plus years together. Long Distance, their latest album, is a salute to their many influences and their mastery of various blues styles is evident from start to finish. The blues was planted in the United States, and as a French band, AWEK has successfully dug up those roots and reforested the scene with healthy timbers. Although AWEK originated a “long distance,” from the blues homeland, they shorten that physical range by playing like true citizens of the world. Bernard Sellam handles vocals and guitar in a classy fashion without any impurities. Stephane Bertolino makes the harp an irresistible blues temptation. He plays with air sweeping right off of Lake Michigan and can trudge through the swamps of Louisiana without an airboat. Joel Ferron (bass) and Olivier Trebel (drums) keep Long Distance awash in timeless grooves.

AWEK seems to know all the best routes to get to the heart of a blues track. This album can be listened to front to back, back to front, or inside out. You could probably even play it backwards and still get the same unmistakable roots quality. All the styles are played with tremendous feel, ease and taste. It’s not an insipid walk through a field museum of blues history; it’s where the exhibits come alive and dance on the other side of the velvet rope. Bernard Sellam’s resonant voice has a jaunty personality and the tracks lay on his vocals like a pillow. Stephane Bertolino is the type of harp player that any traditionalist could admire, and any progressive appreciate. He’s fluid and checks all the boxes of the blues harp inspection. He gets down and dirty with a classic amplified sound, jumps on the chromatic, and then slices off an acoustic chunk of buttery first position.

Long Distance is a nice excursion through all the divergent styles of the blues. If you like to boogie there’s “L.A. Stomp,” if you want to crawl through the bayou, there’s “Scratch Blues,” if you want a shuffle that you can set your watch to, then there’s “Take out Some Insurance.” AWEK tries their hand at a Muddy Waters standard, “Long Distance Call.” It creeps along like a slow car on the L Train with Chicago style piano and harp. One of the other handful of covers is the nicely done “I’m Gonna Hit That Highway.” It’s in the same ballpark as Kim Wilson’s “Don’t Touch Me Baby,” from Tigerman. Bernard Sellam handles the majority of the song writing, and his penmanship really shines on the tracks “Sunny Sunday,” a breezy jazz tinged blues, and the opening number, “Don’t Leave Me All Alone,” which hammers out I chord meditation that is a little dark and a lot of fun. Long Distance also has some enjoyable guest spots especially on the jumping “She Moves Me,” from saxophone players Jean-Marc Labbé and Drew Davies. The album closes out with a bang on “Jammin’.” Fred Kaplan and Derek O’Brien join the fun on this swinging instrumental.

Don’t let AWEK’s latest release fly under your radar. They’ve rubbed elbows with blues luminaries over the last 20 years and have a consummate album to show for it. If you put on Long Distance you don’t have to worry about skipping songs. It’s the kind of album that you can pick up your guitar or harp and feel like you’re a part of the band. It’s not an attempt to play the blues, your ears will tell you all you need to know.

Reviewer Roberto A. Jackson is a blues fan from Arizona. He enjoys learning about the music, whether he’s playing or listening.

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 Featured Blues Review – 7 of 10 

benny turner cd imageBenny Turner – Blue and Not So Blue

King ‘B’ Records

CD: 10 Songs, 49:34 Minutes

Styles: Jazz-Influenced Blues, Soul-Influenced Blues

A commercial for juicy jelly proclaims: “With a name like Smucker’s, it has to be good.” As soon as yours truly saw the album cover of Blue and Not So Blue, she proclaimed, “With a name like Benny Turner’s, it has to be good!” He’s no ordinary Mr. Turner, but the brother of the dearly departed Freddie King. How on Earth could he go wrong when it comes to playing the blues? Granted, his overall style is jazz-and-soul-influenced blues, but those who know his magnificent music won’t be surprised. Turner’s ambiance is fit for a nightclub, not a roadhouse. (Note: It’s almost impossible to balance such a yin and yang, to create songs suitable for both venues, but our hero skirts the razor’s edge of that curved line.) The best selections feature piano as smooth and satisfying as Dove’s dark chocolate, and Benny’s singing? Mmm-mmm!

The album’s liner notes express the wisdom of what mentors such as Willie Dixon and Muddy Waters conveyed to Benny: “If you want to make a name for yourself, you have to be different, and you won’t be able to please everyone, so be loyal to your own style of music and play your ass off for the people that you do please.” Over and over, Turner has done just that, becoming a “triple threat performer.” He’s one of the rare masters of the blues who’s achieved perfection in the trifecta of vocals, instrumentation and lyrics. Each of the ten songs here is a polished gem.

Along with Benny, who performs on lead vocals and bass, are the renowned Dr. John on piano and rhythm guitar (!) for track three; Samuel “The Bishop” Berfect on organ; Anthony “A.B.” Brown on banjo; Anthony “Tuba Fats” Lacen on tuba; Jeffrey “Jellybean” Alexander on drums; Corey Henry on trombone; Dianne Lotny, Lanya Jarvis, Davell Crawford, Craig Adams, Carla Gayton, Yvette Whittler, Charles “Chuckie” Elam, Marva Wright, and Yvonne Washington on background vocals; Rachel Van Voorhees on string harp; Alonzo Johnson on bass; Herman Ernest III on drums; Charles Brown on second piano; Larry Williams on drums; Sean Lewis on harmonica, and Mark Adams on clavinet (no, that’s not a typo).

The following three tunes are the bluest of this CD, whether they sound traditional or not.

Track 01: “GI Homesick Blues” – Who knew a tuba could be one of the greatest instruments in a blues song? Anthony “Tuba Fats” Lacen proves it in this original hit by Benny Turner. Reminiscent of a ragtime number from the early 1900s, this one’s an ode to the ordinary things a deployed soldier yearns for: “I miss that home cooking and that woman of mine. Sweet potato pie – good loving all the time. You know I miss my old hound dog and the walks we took on the beautiful hillside, like in the picture books.” Also listen closely for Anthony “A.B.” Brown’s bold banjo.

Track 09: “Going Home Tomorrow” – Prison, in a word, sucks. However, thanks to the marvel of “something called DNA,” the protagonist of this song is being released after a twelve-year stint. The officials in the slammer? All they can do is shrug and say, “We knew you wasn’t guilty, Lord, but somebody had to pay.” Too bad it wasn’t the real wrongdoer, eh? What’s oh-so-good is Samuel “The Bishop” Berfect’s organ combined with Mark Adams’ understated piano. Another original offering from Turner, this should be played on radio stations worldwide.

Track 10: “She Call Me King Bee” – Terrific number ten, also a fresh composition, is a slow burner with the smoldering refrain of “Fire, burns all night long. Fire, keep your baby warm” What raises it from fine to fabulous is the harmony provided by Dianne Lotny and Yvonne Washington to Turner’s lead. Also savor Sean Lewis’ harmonica solo, which will be as warm as glowing coals in listeners’ ears.

Benny Turner, whether Blue or Not So Blue, is the king of class and contemporary classics!

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 – 8 of 10 

derrick procell cd imageDerrick Procell – Why I Choose To Sing The Blues

Self Release

12 tracks; 52 minutes

Derrick Procell may not be a familiar name but he is a very experienced session man whose voice has been heard on many a commercial. Over the years he has produced Americana discs but here he turns his considerable vocal and instrumental skills to the blues on an all original set of material which is intelligent and witty. On eight of the twelve tracks Derrick collaborated with Terry Abrahamson who once won a Grammy for a song he wrote for Muddy Waters and has written a book on the blues. Derrick plays a variety of instruments including harp, piano and bass and is assisted in the studio by a large cast of musicians plus guest appearances by Bob Margolin, Eddie Shaw and Billy Branch.

Derrick has a great blues voice, quite like Gregg Allman or Delbert McClinton, ideal for songs like “The Wolf Will Howl Again” where Eddie Shaw shares the vocals on a song that celebrates the legacy of Howling Wolf with plenty of references to Wolf’s best-known songs. “The Eyes Of Mississippi” is a rolling blues in which Derrick plays everything except the Delta slide sounds provided by Bob Margolin. In a clever twist the ‘I’s’ in Mississippi become the ‘eyes’ that watch over our partners as Derrick points out that “In Texas they ain’t got no eyes, you run round all you please”, the song also helping to ensure that we all learn how to spell the tricky river/state correctly! The title track is entirely Derrick as he sings of the birthplace of the blues and how he came to the blues. “They All Find Out” is a witty and swinging tune about infidelity and the inevitably of being discovered, however careful you try to be while “Broke The Mold” tells of the Devil’s work in shaping humanity, driven by Derrick’s piano and Dave Steffen’s insistent guitar. “Sorry?” is great fun as Derrick admits that he has been a real rogue but… “Sorry? Baby, I ain’t sorry at all; I don’t regret a single thing of the things I can still recall”! The late BB King is cleverly recalled in the ballad “Who Will Tell Lucille” as Derrick wonders how the sad news will be broken to Lucille, Alex Smith playing some lovely BB-style guitar and “Don’t Waste A Wish On Me” is a country-tinged slow tune.

The four solo compositions follow similar paths: “Back In The Game” is a plea for divine intervention with some good harp work from Billy Branch and excellent slide from Bob Baglione who also plays on the rocking “Trouble Me No More”. Derrick plays everything except the guitar by Zoey Witz on “Ain’t Nuthin’ More About It”, a simple blues paying tribute to the love of his life. I am never sure why artists dub a track as a ‘bonus’; the one here “Too Much” is more in blues-rock territory and the only appearance of a dedicated bass player on the disc (Bob Runte), but otherwise fits quite well into the general feel of the album.

Overall this is an impressive album with solid blues playing and some clever songs. If Derrick decides to continue in the blues field he should do very well if this effort is indicative of his talent.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK who enjoys a wide variety of blues and roots music, especially anything in the ‘soul/blues’ category. Favorites include contemporary artists such as Curtis Salgado, Tad Robinson, Albert Castiglia and Doug Deming and classic artists including Bobby Bland, Howling Wolf and the three ‘Kings’. He gets over to the States as often as he can to see live blues.

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 Featured Blues Review – 9 of 10 

gproject blues band cd imageGProject Blues Band – Diversified

Timezone Records

18 tracks 1 hour, 15 minutes

GProject Blues Band puts Bavaria on the blues map with their second release Diversified on Timezone Records. This quartet throws a lot of music at the listener, and they take common blues stylings to get down for over an hour. Michael Staudenmyer plinks the keys and handles vocals. Leonidas Kyriakakos is on guitar, TomBo and James Ransom keep time on drums and bass respectively. Diversified covers a lot of ground and you’ll find an assorted mix of shuffles, boogies and slow blues.

Staudenmyer’s piano work holds a lot of tracks together. It’s a very lively style of playing and goes well with the grooves. GProject holds past blues legends in high regard and they reference their heroes on several occasions. You’ll hear homages to Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and John Lee Hooker. The album bears an illustration of the Chicago skyline with the John Hancock Center prominently holding up the band name. GProject composed most of the tunes and on some tracks they go out of the blues playpen to give the listener a peek into their other musical aspirations.

“Last Man Standing,” takes the “Hoochie Coochie Man,” approach and is brought up to par with Kyriakakos’s down and dirty guitar work. “True Lies” is an all-out rock and roll song that is made for some dancing couples. GProject takes a dark turn on “Out Of Hell.” It’s somewhat reminiscent of a trippy Pink Floyd ballad and has a lot of show stopping production.

GProject clearly put in a lot of time and effort on Diversified. Although they reflect on blues performers of the past, it doesn’t have the romping feel of those past artists. The glossy studio sound, along with the confessional style lyrics, sometimes takes away from the rip-roaring potential of their songs.

Give our Bavarian friends a look if you’re wondering what kind of blues is coming out near the Alps. They respect the blues as much as anybody and aren’t afraid to show it. Dig on their playing too, and Diversified just might be for you.

Reviewer Roberto A. Jackson is a blues fan from Arizona. He enjoys learning about the music, whether he’s playing or listening.

 Featured Blues Review – 10 of 10 

cesar valdomir cd imageCesar Valdomir and the Blue Midnight – Working for the Blues


CD: 11 Songs, 52:23 Minutes

Styles: Blues Covers, Harmonica Monster Blues, Contemporary Electric Blues Rock

At the start of summer, when it’s finally time to break out the grill (far out!), no one grumbles, “Hamburgers again? Hot dogs again? Brats and steaks again?” Grill food is grill food, and blues classics are the ultimate savories for the soul. Keep that in mind, Constant Readers, as you listen to Argentina’s Cesar Valdomir and the Blue Midnight’s Working for the Blues. Only three out of this CD’s eleven songs are originals. Several of the others are covers as perennial as charbroiled meat: Muddy Waters’ “I Can’t Be Satisfied,” the traditional Gospel tune “John the Revelator,” and Jimmy Reed’s “Baby What You Want Me to Do.” On the plus side, the album gave yours truly a chance to coin a new “Style” category: “Harmonica Monster Blues.” Cesar Valdomir pours on the harp hot sauce until the spiciness sears your ears, making you go, “Yow!” When it comes to vocals, Cesar’s accent is heavy, but so is his dedication to the genre. He frequently allows his co-stars to take the lead, like special guest John Primer on tracks three and eleven.

The “Bio” section of our harmonica hero’s corner of the Web discloses some interesting details: “Cesar Valdomir was born in Buenos Aires on January 11, 1977. His first steps [in] harmonica [were taken] from 1994 in Buenos Aires with different teachers there. He also attended clinics Carlos del Junco (Canada) with which also took private lessons and Rick Estrin (USA) constantly continuing formation and evolution as a self-taught [harmonica master].” Note from this reviewer: His site has been translated from Spanish to English, and the liner notes of his latest CD, listing all the musicians on it, is completely in Cesar’s native tongue. Fear not! I studied Spanish in high school and college, so I can discern “voz” (voice) from “bajo” (bass).

Co-performing with Valdomir, lead vocalist, harmonist and bassist, are guitarists Alejandro Saul, John Primer, Santiago “Rulo” García, and Daniel De Vita; additional vocalists John Primer, Lorena Gomez, Matias Lubrina, Meli Gutierrez, Lucas Salvatierra, Juli Villarreal, Juano Maldonado, and Malen Panichelli; bassists Mauro Diana, León Perez, Lucas Velich, and Mariano D’Andrea; drummers Walter Loscocco, Charly Pereira, and Pato Raffo; Louis Zavala on piano and Hammond organ; Nico Raffetta on piano, and Dante Medina on tenor saxophone.

The album’s original title number shows just how much hard effort goes into performing.

Track 02: “Working for the Blues” – A piano-and-harmonica boogie, track two is easily the most danceable ditty on the CD. The lyrics may be a bit hard to understand, but so what? Anybody can sing along with the refrain, and as for the instrumentation? When a band “meshes” with its lead artist the way the Blue Midnight does with Cesar Valdomir, magic happens. His harmonica’s near the tip-top of all top notches, and Luis Zavala’s tinkling ivory keys are, too.

Harmonica monster Cesar Valdomir should definitely keep on Working for the 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 – Wayne Baker Brooks 

wayne baker brooks photo 1“Dad would always tell me and Ronnie, ‘Whenever you write, make sure it’s not cover songs or (even) like a cover song. Do your own. Don’t do what others are doing.’”

Wayne Baker Brooks is the youngest male in a family of nine children born to the late Lonnie Brooks who passed away on April 1st. Dad burst on the scene in the late 1950s as Guitar Junior and brought the secret sauce of edgy blues and rock mastered in Louisiana and Texas to Chicago where he recorded a series of albums for Alligator, 1979’s Bayou Lightning being son Wayne’s favorite. Wayne’s brother Ronnie Baker Brooks (interviewed earlier this year in Blues Blast) has recently released a well-received blues CD Times Have Changed, featuring a wide variety of influence including hip hop. This first family of Chicago blues has played both together and later as separate headliners since 1976 when Wayne was six years old and brother Ronnie was nine.

“There was a time period when I was like six years old where my dad would have Ronnie and I help him write songs. He would have me on boxes and pots and pans. He would show Ronnie the bass line of what he wanted for the song, and he would sit there and come up with these grooves, man. Every now and then Ronnie and I would chime in with words like, ‘Say this. Daddy!’ And he’d say, ‘Yeah, that works,’ or ‘Nah, nah.’

“He was coming up with songs and demos that he would present to whatever record label. Most of the stuff we helped him with ended up on Alligator Records like Bayou Lightning. There’s probably four of five songs on that album that Ronnie and I helped him with for demos that he presented to Alligator. He would literally write the songs right there, man. When I look back in retrospect, man, that was my first songwriting class.

“Any time I was writing music, I always think of my dad saying, ‘Make a difference, do something different.’ And I always look at how those who are different will have a hard time breaking into the mainstream because people are used to what they like. They like what they like, and they’re used to it, (but) history shows that those who are different that do break through are the ones who last the longest and will stick around and be a household name and will be around forever in people’s hearts.

“So, my dad throughout his whole career did have a team of people always working behind him, him and his music. He had hits earlier on his career, but he never really hit that mainstream later in his career. And I think it’s because of his differentiality, him being different from others and that’s where the edge comes from. He was doing things Muddy wasn’t doing, Howlin’ Wolf wasn’t doing, Buddy, Junior. He was bringing in his own flavor of all of his experiences and where he lived.”

Wayne honed his style performing more than 150 shows a year with his dad and his brother. In 1998 he co-authored the book Blues for Dummies along with his dad, rocker Cub Coda, and The Blues Brothers’ Dan Akroyd.

wayne baker brooks photo 2“(Ronnie and I) are an extension of my dad’s legacy. My dad’s grandfather is the roots of the tree, and my dad is the tree, and we’re the branches. My dad set us up to take it further than what he did, and he took it further than what (his grandfather) did and he set it up for us to do that. He made it fun for us to want to do it. So, he did it in the most fun way. We had no clue what he was trying to do with his plan until we got older. His original plan was to have me on drums and Ronnie on bass and go out as a trio.

“Ronnie and I are the only two that plays blues music. Well, I take that back. I have an older sister that is a working minister that only sang gospel music and probably wouldn’t think about doing blues music. She thinks it’s the devil’s music. I think there’s a lot of stuff that’s being talked about in blues that she would never talk about like alcohol and champagne and reefer and the devil’s my friend and that stuff. She won’t embrace nothing like that. You know?

“My dad would let me use some of his guitars, but he’s never given me – no, he gave me an acoustic guitar. Ronnie has never given me a guitar. No, it’s more like real family stuff when we were young. Hand me down socks and hand me down jeans, and hand me down shirts. When I say hand me down, I mean really hand me down. Nothing in music I would say or dealing in music ’cause instruments and stuff was always around. It’s like it was ours anyway.

“So, we would pick it up, and sometimes Dad would say put it down. He would limit and make you want it and stuff. Completely opposite to Joe Jackson and his sons in the Jackson Five. Dad made it fun, and he made you want to do it enough to where he could limit it and use it to his advantage like, ‘When you get done with your school work, then you come over here and help me out with this,’ or ‘go clean your room and then you come in here.’ He made it so much fun as far as music. So, I wouldn’t say musically speaking, no hand me downs.”

An important ingredient in Lonnie’s lessons for Ronnie and Wayne was an all-inclusive eclecticism that folded in regional influences that go back at least four generations. Chicago was just the latest stop. Wayne remembers being open minded about genres of music when he was a deejay on the school intercom. “The last 15 minutes of school, they’d let me play records, and every time it would always be a Lonnie Brooks song, and then I would play Sugar Hill Gang ’cause that was like new, fresh, so I was giving them blues and hip hop at that young age.”

Part of that eclecticism was driven by the practical needs of being a fulltime musician. “There was a time period when they would call my dad the human jukebox because he had to play what was on the jukebox in order to appeal to his fans, but it was something that was unfulfilling for him. He always was into writing his own stuff, and the different flavors that he brought from Louisiana and moving to Texas and breaking that Texas rock back in the days and his Louisiana swamp feel and matching the Chicago blues sound and being way different was way before his time.

“And I think when you’re different, it’s harder for you to break into mainstream. So even with the song “Two-Headed Man” if you listen to the original recording on the Living Blues Vol. 2 on Alligator Records, that track was being performed like 15 minutes before they actually started recording because my dad was trying to get the band to find the groove of what he was thinking, and no one in Chicago knew what the heck he was trying to do. So, he just played it and had them play along with him until he felt like, ‘Ok, this is it. This is what I was envisioning now recording.’

wayne baker brooks photo 3“So, him being different was not instantly accepted even with the recording of the music, but he always would tell me and Ronnie, ‘Whenever you write, make sure it’s not cover songs or like a cover song, or do your own. Do what you’ve done or what you were thinking. Don’t do what others are doing and just because you see people cheering for that person ’cause they’re playing that certain song that everyone knows, they’re really not cheering or admiring your work. They’re admiring your work for some someone else’s work.”

“Real” blues is in the ear of the listener. Wayne whose worked with artists as disparate as Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, Jonny Lang and George Thorogood remembers a lesson learned from Junior Wells about singing and playing “Messin’ with The Kid.” “(Junior said) ‘How’d you learn how to play that?’ I said, ‘Man, listening to the record how Buddy played it.’ He said, ‘No, you’re doing that shit wrong.’ He played it the exact same way, and he said, ‘Now, you play it.’ And I played it, and then he said, ‘Now, you got it.’ It was the same thing.”

The Brooks family and the Luther Allison family have been tight since son Bernard Allison, Ronnie, and Wayne were all kids. “I remember as far as eight or nine years old, going over to (father) Luther’s house and Bernard and Ronnie attempting to start a band and Luther at various Chicago shows with Dad. Then, I didn’t see Luther for a while. I guess that’s when he moved to Europe, but I kept in contact with Bernard. I’d see Bernard every now and then when I was like 16, 17 years old, and then once I got out on the road at 18 I started seeing them off especially in Canada, France. We’d go over there, and I would stay there for a week and stay at his house for a week. Bernard and Luther are like family. They’re like extended family. Like he’s like a kid brother, Bernard.

When Luther passed away in 1997, Bernard covered his father’s gigs in Europe instead of going to his dad’s funeral. Bernard talked to me about this painful decision in 2007. “There was a few family members that didn’t understand, but at the same time I was doing what my dad wanted me to do and what I had previously talked to my parents at a young age about. So, when my dad was sick and in the hospital, I talked to him on the phone. He said, ‘I’m in the hospital. I need to be here and let the doctors do what they need to do. All ask you to do is could you finish these gigs for me?’ He wasn’t into cancelling shows, but in the back of my mind I knew I couldn’t be there. It would affect me too much. And he wanted me to continue what I’m doing. So, that’s what I did. He’s with me every day. I sing a song for him every night, and he’s smiling down.”

Although Lonnie Brooks had been off the road for years when he passed away April 1st, Wayne understands the angst his friend Bernard went through in covering his gigs instead of going to his father’s funeral. “I would say that probably was Luther all the way wanting him to continue the legacy in a most positive way you possibly can because you don’t want people waiting on the guy. So, to Luther it was probably a negative for his son not to do the tour. But that legacy shouldn’t have to wait because of a death. Luther knew that Bernard loved him with all his heart. They were more like brothers, too.”

Wayne thinks about Bernard and what he did all the time. “Absolutely, man! You know Bernard reached out. That’s the thing. My dad set this platform up not only for him to be successful but to set it up for us. I don’t want people to mistake our roles, Ronnie, myself, including Bernard, including Shemekia (Copeland, daughter of Johnny Clyde Copeland). We’re not like these coat tail riders.

wayne baker brooks photo 4“Every father wishes their son would follow in their footsteps and continue the legacy, you know, keep it going, and sometimes kids don’t like what their father do, and that’s one thing I can say. When I was growing up in the heat of what my dad was doing, I was always proud and never ashamed of what he did and embrace it. So, it makes me feel honored and proud to continue his legacy. He made it so much fun to where we want to do this for him. It’s not like we have to do this for him. We want to do this for him.”

Lonnie Brooks’ legacy may have yet another chapter. Lonnie never released an album after 1998, but he recorded one in 2010 that includes a rendition of one of Wayne’s songs “Ain’t That Lovin’ You” that Wayne wrote in five minutes as if channeled by God. When Lonnie heard it in 2010, he wanted to record it even though he’d avoided recording for 12 years.

“We’d been asking my dad since 1997 to do another album, and he just flat out refused to record, and no matter how many times you asked him he’d get angry and we’d just back off.

“So, years go by, and years go by, and then finally in 2010 I came back to him and said, ‘Daddy, this is what you’ve been waiting on. This guy (Tom Hambridge) is the perfect producer for you. I enjoy him tremendously, and I definitely don’t have the talent you have, and the two of you will come up with some really good stuff, man, and the ambiance, the way he approached things is so positive and he’s musically inclined. He wants to get things out of you.’

“And he (Dad) heard me out, and he went on and got his music together and went down to Nashville and we recorded it, the songs he wanted to record. This album is so killer. My dad told me, he said, ‘Wayne, when I hear my version of “Ain’t That Lovin’ You” all I think about is the way my mom used to think about Jesus. She used to talk about Jesus Christ, and this reminds me about the way she would talk about him.’

“I got chills and I said, ‘Daddy, there’s no wonder you’re saying that ’cause I wrote it in five minutes, and it felt like it went right through me. That’s a gift from God.’ And he was like, ‘Whoa! Man, I’ll tell ya what. This is the greatest album I’ve ever made in my life.’

“For me it was like reaching Mount Everest just to hear my dad do one of my songs and make it sound so freaking good, man. It’s like wow. The whole song is like God sent because when I wrote the song, I wrote it in five minutes and it felt like God was sending me this message through me, through my fingers while I was writing the lyrics to the song. That wasn’t me. That was the man above giving me a gift. And when my dad heard it, I said, ‘Come back. Let’s listen to those tracks,’ and he heard that song, he was like, ‘Oow, man, I like that. Who wrote that?’ I was like, ‘Jeff wrote the music and I wrote the lyrics.’ He was like, ‘Man, I will tear that song up just like that. I’ll kill this song!’

So, is it going to be released?

“Well, the world’s got to hear it, man. Got to hear it. That goes along with what you were asking if I’m gonna come out with something. Yes, I am, but also my dream was to have all three of us come out with something at the same time.

“I’ve been secluded ever since my dad passed away, and trying to keep a low profile, but a lot of these things we’re talking about is actually therapeutic for me so I really appreciate you.”

Visit Wayne’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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Utah Blues Society – Salt Lake City, UT

The Utah Blues Society proudly presents their 3rd Annual Utah Blues Festival, their biggest fundraiser of the year! Saturday, June 17th from noon to 10 p.m. at The Gallivan Center in downtown Salt Lake City. This year’s Fest features the Blues Youth Showcase, Better Off With the Blues, Harry Lee & the Back Alley Blues Band, Annika Chambers, Samantha Fish, Rod Piazza & the Mighty Flyers, and Kenny Neal, as well as vendors, and free workshops. More information at

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:

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. 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

Crossroads Blues Society – Rockford, IL, IL

Saturday, June 3rd Crossroads President Steve Jones is having a Blues Block Party with his neighbors in Byron, IL. The Birddog Blues Band will play from 2 to 4 PM and The Uptown Rhythm Aces playing from 6 to 9 PM. Free admission, bring snacks and beverages. Free-will donations accepted for the bands. Kingsway Lane in Byron, IL is where it’s at, 1 to 9 PM.

“The Blues: The Roots of Popular American Music” will be presented by Crossroad Blues Society with Dan Phelps and Steve Jones on Thursday, June 8th from 6:00-7:00 PM at Byron Public Library, 100 S. Washington Street, Byron, IL. featuring music inspired by Robert Johnson, Charley Patton, Skip James, and more. The program is free. Call 815-234-5107 to register.

Steve Ditzell and Blue Lightning will be at the Hope and Anchor, 5040 N 2nd Street, Loves Park IL on Saturday, June 10th at 8 to 1130 PM. No cover before 7 PM, $5 thereafter.

Blues trio Recently Paroled is at the Lyran Society Club, 1115 4th Ave, Rockford, IL 61104 on Friday, June 16th . the club is open to the public and there is no cover.

Rockford Illinois’ 27th Juneteenth celebration is Monday, June 19th from 3 to 9 PM at Sinnissippi Park at 1401 N Second Street in Rockford. Headlining the event is The Kinsey Report plus some local blues talent will also be featured. This is a free show.

Sunday, June 25th Doug MacLeod will be at All Saints Lutheran Church, 624 Luther Drive in Byron in Byron a 4 PM. Opening act Dan Phelps goes on at 3 PM. No cover, there is a free will donation to support Crossroads Blues in the Schools Program. Contact Steve Jones at for more info on any of these events or go to

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