Issue 11-26 June 29, 2017

Cover photo © 2017 Evan Nickels

 In This Issue 

Blues Blast Senior writer Terry Mullins has our feature interview with Jim Allchin. We have 10 Blues reviews for you this week including new music from Karen Lovely, Jim Allchin, Nick Moss Band, Dawn Tyler Watson, Zoë Schwarz Blue Commotion, The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, Professor Louie and the Crowmatix, David M’ore, Anthony Rosano & the Conqueroos and Doug Cox & Sam Hurrie.

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

 From The Editor’s Desk 

Hey Blues Fans,

The 2017 Blues Blast Music Awards nominees were announced on Monday. You can view all the nominees now on our website at: Voting begins at 12:01am on Saturday July 1st.

One difference in our awards is we offer you the ability to actually hear the music of the nominees before you vote by going to our Soundcloud listening site at

The songs are in playlists by nomination category and most of the artist tracks are there for you to listen to BEFORE you vote. More tracks will be added before the voting starts on Saturday!  So don’t be an uninformed voter and just vote for a name! Listen to the artists music first please and then cast your vote for “The best in Blues music”.

You can only vote one time so listen first and then vote at starting on Saturday

Also this week, our friends at the Mississippi Valley Blues Society are having their Blues festival this weekend in Davenport, IA. It looks like a great time as they have Joanna Connor, Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, All Sweat Productions: The 3 Kings (B.B., Albert & Freddie) and Zach Harris Band on Friday June 30th. On Saturday July 1 their Blues party continues with Marquise Knox, Corey Dennison Band, Travis Ried Band, Hamilton Loomis, Dana Fuchs and Dwayne Dopsie & The Zydeco Hellraisers. You don’t want to miss this one! For more information click here or see their ad below in this issue.

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser

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 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 10 

karen lovely cd imageKaren Lovely – Fish Outta Water

Self Released

12 tracks

Karen Lovely is a Pacific Northwest Blues scene 2010 IBC contestant who placed second. This was followed by three 2011 BMA nominations after her second release and then her third (produced by Tony Braunagel) garnered her a BMA and a Blues Blast award nomination. This is Karen’s 4th studio album and it features her musical associates of Rick Holmstrom or Doug Pettibone on guitar, Taras Prodanuik on bass and Matt Tecu on drums. A host of others add support on a variety of instruments to good measure. All tracks are originals.

The title tracks gets things rolling. It’s a gritty, slower tempo-ed piece with a cool vibe. Lovely growls and the guitar responds in similar fashion. “Under the MidNight Sun” has a slow to mid tempo groove with some horns (baritone sax gets nice and throaty) in there and some Wurlitzer. Lovely and guitar spar a bit in this pretty little piece.

“Twist My Fate” is straight up Chicago blues in a Willie Dixon style. Slow blues, greased up and cookin’ slow and fine! A little harmonica is in the mix here along with a stinging guitar. Lots of percussion are added for “Waking Up The Dead.” The groove is more animated here and the cornet is featured in an interesting solo. Lovely sings with abandon and the guitar slips and slides.

“Big Black Cadillac” is slow rocking blues with a little country flavour added. A strident guitar lead (styled after Stephen Stills?) and vocal approach to this one are the main thrust and selling points. “Everything Means Nothing” is another dark cut that begins with a deep bluesy groove that is the backdrop for the cut. Haunting slide guitar plays behind Lovely and then solos; Eamon Ryland’s appearance on the album for one cut on slide is effective.

He second half of the CD begins with an acoustic cut “Hade’s Bride (There Was a Time).” Eric Gorfain on violin and Richard Dodd on viola create another haunting feel along with the acoustic guitar and mandolin by Al Bonhomme.Karen sings of a love lost back in time and the simple yet moving support make this chilling. Next up is a song called “Molotov Cocktails.” Lovely sings and orders up, “Another round of Molotov cocktails, please.” She comments sarcastically in a song about the isolation and bad things in the world due to our segregation and division across so many boundaries of our society and world. Even the guitar solo sounds troubled and the organ chimes in similarly.

“Next Time” is another nice shuffle in a grand and familiar sort of Willie Dixon and Chicago way. The piano plinks as the bass bumps and moves along and Lovely sings how next time her relationship will be filled with better things, perhaps offering some hope in this generally otherwise somber expression of feeling. The piano solo and support by Phil Parlapiano is a great part of this one. “Nice and Easy” offers more haunting guitar and a slow and dark cut asking to be let down easy because she knows another woman has set her hooks to deep to be removed. Pettibone’s slide is well done here.

“Punk Rock Johnny Cash” has a modernistic jug band feel with dobro, percussion and a little violin backing Lovely as she sings about the subway musician who has smitten her. It’s a pretty piece. The album concludes with “The River’s Wide,” a song about the growing division between her and her ex. Produced Eric Corne backs her vocals, does acoustic guitar and harp here as Lovely belts out the lyric and the organ (Parlapiano) takes us to church a bit.

This is a deep and dark set of cut. Lovely seems to be working through some hurtful emotions with these songs, perhaps therapy for building on a new and better day. Whatever it is, they are beautifully done and movingly crafted and played out. While it may not be an album to listen to when you need an uplifting day, perhaps sharing in living the hurts and wounds expressed here will make you think you life is not so bad. Lovely has done a fine job here– this is a truly exceptional album of thoughtful and moving songs.

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 – 2 of 10 

jim allchin cd imageJim Allchin – Decisions

Sandy Key Music

14 tracks

Jim Allchin is a self-described American blues rock guitarist, philanthropist, and a former Microsoft executive. Born a good southern boy, his computer science career took him through Stanford and Georgia Tech and eventually to Microsoft. He played while he worked and for the past 10 years ge has solely dedicated his career to his music. This is his third solo album, produced by Tom Hambridge who assisted Allchin in writing two of the 14 songs.

Allchin sings and plays lead guitar. Bill Bergman is on saxes and arranged the horns, and Pat Buchaban and Rob McNelley join in on guitar as did Kenny Greenburg on “After Hours” and “Destiny.”Hambridge is on drums and backing vocals, Michael Rhodes is on bass and Steve Mackey is on bass for the same songs as Greenburg. Lee Thornburg plays trumpet and trombones, Reese Wynans is on Hammond B3 and piano, Jim Wallace jpins the fray for the same two songs on keys. Wendy Moten backs Keb Mo’s vocals on “Healing Ground” and Mycle Wastman does the same and joins in on two others.

The album kicks off to a huge rocker entitled “Artificial Life.” It’s got a groove like 70’s or 80’s rock song with big guitar and vocals and the B3 blaring in support. Allchin offers a stinging set of solos. “The Mexican End” follows, starting off with a nice guitar line and B3 in support. Allcin comes in on vocals and the horns are in full backing mode. It’s a jumpy cut that swings well and then Allchin gives us another of his trademark solos. The title track is next, another rocker with Jim giving us a cool intro and then has more organ support for his high energy vocals. And gues what? There’s another stinging and pretty guitar solo!

Keb Mo’ sings the lead on “Healing Ground;” the tempo comes down to blues rock ballad pace and Mo’ come in after the intro with his suave and smooth style. Allchin does the second verse and then Mo’ does a quick chorus and Allchin solos. Mo returns and then after the verse all the backing vocalists join in a big finish with horns and B3 in ample support. “Blew Me Away” is a sweet little shuffle with lots of over the top guitar work and the full band backing Jim. “She Is It” is a soft rock ballad that opens with vocals and bare piano. The B3 appears an the band fills in as Allchin give s a passionate performance. “Just Plain Sick” is a swinging boogie woogie with piano and a telecaster-sounding guitar lead. It is a beautifully executed instrumental with a rockabilly feel.

Heavy, slow blues with greasy organ and horns follows; “Friends” has a cool, long intro and then Allchin testifies how money will opens doors and brings fair-weather friends. A huge dose of gritty guitar is served up and then Jim returns for more testifying before going out in a blaze of guitar and organ. “You Might Be Wrong” begins acoustic and has the band fill in as Allchin asks we all get along despite our differences. He offers up a fine acoustic solo, too. It turns into a bigger production with horns a blaze and organ helping out. “After Hours” is an ethereal sort of rock cut where they go instrumental. The guitars echo and give an airy sort of sound and the B3 fills in similarly; reminded me a bit of some of Carlos Santana’s work. “Don’t Care” follows, a stinging and poignant blues rocker with big guitar and organ solos.

“Stop Hurting Me” is a soft and flowing cut that changes things up again. The guitar is up front but nice piano and organ work along with horn arrangements make it flow. “My Father’s Eyes” is a rock ballad of sorts with nice restraint demonstrated. The song does build at the end for a more passionate finish. “Destiny” is the other big guest track and it closes the album. It’s an instrumental done in maybe a Moody Blues minus the orchestra sort of theme. The guitar heavy with echo effects drives the piece but thoughtful organ and other backing make it a pretty cut.

More rock than blues, Decisions is a well done album with nice guitar, good vocals and great backing support. I’ve heard Allchin’s prior two albums and this seems to be the biggest and best. He offers a variety of styles and approaches along with well-crafted songs. I enjoyed the album and those who like their blues with a big rock flare and contemporary sound will love this one, too!

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.

 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 10 

nick moss cd imageNick Moss Band – From The Root To The Fruit

Blue Bella Records 1023

27 songs – 138 minutes

Bandleader Nick Moss delivers a two-CD package that serves up a double delight: As the title implies, one disc is chock full of old-school Chicago blues, while the other remains true to the root while delivering a package of music aimed squarely at the younger generation.

The last student of guitarists from the golden age of Windy City blues — Nick played behind all-time greats Jimmy Rogers, Jimmy Dawkins and others in addition to serving two years in the Legendary Blues Band before going off on his own, Nick fronts one of the most rock-solid bands in the industry, a gifted, fun-loving unit that’s more a family than most musical organizations.

Moss is backed here by Mike Ledbetter on second guitar, Taylor Streiff on keyboards, Patrick Seals on drums and Nick Fane on bass. This release is Ledbetter’s swan song as a regular member of the band. An exceptional vocalist and songwriter as well as former professional opera singer, Mike still appears with them on occasion, but now splits his time fronting his own unit when not touring with Monster Mike Welch in a partnership that’s quickly becoming a fan favorite.

Rounding out the sound are guest appearances by harmonica giant Jason Ricci, horn wizard Sax Gordon and David Hidalgo, the six-string master whose credits include Los Lobos, Los Super Seven and the Latin Playboys. Tina J. Crawley and Lara Jenkins contribute backing vocals on four cuts.

Only three of the 27 tunes here are covers, with eight penned by Ledbetter and 16 by Moss. Disc one, entitled “Roots,” kicks off with Mike’s “Before The Night Is Through” and “Make Way For Me.” The loping opener features Nick’s single-note guitar runs, the second a medium-shuffle pattern with a strong traditional feel. Moss takes the mike for “Dead Man’s Hand,” featuring Streiff, before the cover tune, “From The Root To The Fruit,” a tune with double meanings and strong sexual innuendo. Moss shows off his harmonica skills on that one, too.

Gordon’s horn swings to open the instrumental, “Haymarket Hop,” before Ledbetter’s back in charge for the slow blues love song, “Symone,” a sweet cover of Junior Wells’ “Love Me,” “Lost And Found,” a guitar-driven burner, and the loping “I Dig.” The funky instrumental, “Rump Rash,” hints of Freddie King before a cover of Elmore James’ “Long Tall Woman.”

Old-school blues fans will love Ricci’s harp lines on “The Woman I Love.” They’re stripped-down and free of the pyrotechnics that normally color his play. The slow-blues “Walk Away” features Streiff and Moss as Ledbetter warns an untrustworthy woman that he’s about to leave. “Cold Sore,” an interesting instrumental with a rapid-fire, but well-controlled rhythm pattern, brings the side to a close.

Disc two, meanwhile, features some R&B and the jam-band material Nick and the boys have been delivering for the past few years. The soul-drenched “Catch Me I’m Falling” opens the set before giving way to the ultra funky, “Jupiter Florida,” about life among the rich and famous. “Breakdown” comes across with a rapid-paced psychedelic feel and Moss on mike. The pace slows for a new, spacy, nine-minute arrangement of the traditional “Serves Me Right.”

The funk returns big time for the keyboard-powered “Ta Ta For Tay Tay” before a sweet seven-minute ballad, “Breathe Easy,” featuring another stunning Ledbetter vocal. Moss is back in charge for “Free Will,” a trippy number about being impervious to change. It features a Hidalgo guitar solo. The rocker “Grateful” is up next before “Shade Tree,” a vivid description of society’s change — and not for the better.

The funky “Stuck,” about being tested by a woman who insists she be trusted, leads into the bluesy “Stand By” before the soulful “Speak Up” urges folks to let their voices be heard in a troubled world, while the tasty instrumental, “Heavy Water,” brings the set to a close.

Available through most major retailers, From The Root To The Fruit delivers on all counts no matter your taste in the blues. Strongly recommended.

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 10 

dawn tyler Watson cd imageDawn Tyler Watson – Jawbreaker!

Self-Release – 2016

13 tracks; 58 minutes

Montreal’s Dawn Tyler Watson has been singing for some twenty years but really came to the attention of audiences outside Canada when she won the IBCs in 2017. Jawbreaker! is Dawn’s fourth album and displays her wide range to advantage, from gospel to rock with touches of soul and jazz thrown in along the way. Dawn wrote most of the album and there are three covers. Backing Dawn here are Ben Racine on guitar and vocals, John Sadowy on keys, François Dube on bass, Nicky Estor on drums, ‘Little Frankie’ Thiffault on tenor sax and Mathieu ‘Moose’ Mousseau on baritone sax; guests include Paul Deslauriers on guitar, Guy Belanger on harp, Patrick Lehman on vocals, Richard Irwin on drums, Morgan Moore on upright bass, Rob Macdonald on acoustic guitar, Dimitri Lebel-Alexandre on pedal steel, Ron Dilauro on trumpet and Charles Pappasoff on baritone sax.

Jeanne Peterson and Steve Cirkvencic’s “Can’t Nobody” kicks things off with Dawn’s gospel-tinged vocals over the twin guitar attack of Ben and Paul before “Shine” makes the gospel connection even clearer as Dawn implores the listeners to “shine on, to the spirit we belong and though the road is dark and long your light will conquer and you will shine on”. With churchy organ we have a real gospel tune here, especially in the coda in which Patrick’s shared vocals and the ever-increasing pace sounds like the fervour of a revival meeting. Guitarist Ben shares the vocals on his co-write “Just A Little Bit More” as Dawn confesses that she needs “a little of your loving, a little of your rubbing” in a fine soul ballad complete with gentle horns and piano before Dawn rocks out impressively on “Son Of A Gun” with exciting rock and roll piano and guitar. Mellow double bass tones open the stripped back “Tootsie Roll Blues” as Dawn sings the salacious lyrics with relish, aided and abetted by Guy’s harp, the rest of the band only joining in at the two minute mark to add to the smoky jazz club feel here.

“I Don’t Love Here Anymore” is a standout track with its build-up from acoustic verses to anthemic chorus with weeping pedal steel that suits the tragic lyrics about mental health. Then, as if to prove her versatility, Dawn gives us “Rotten”, a swinging number with horns and piano in which Dawn bemoans her life after she is dumped by her man – maybe that familiar friend of lonely blues singers, ‘old John Walker’ can provide some help! The slinky funk tune “Smoked Meat” is propelled by the horns and is apparently about what Dawn prefers from the BBQ. Time for a cover and fast-paced “Greenbacks” comes from the pen of Renald Richard who describes what is needed for a good time in downtown Montreal, with Dawn’s scat singing and Charles’ bari solo adding to the jazzy feel.

“I See” returns to the funky side of things before a fine cover of Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” reminds us of what a superb song it is, especially when delivered as commandingly as here, another standout track. “It Ain’t Elvis” rocks along well with the horns doing a good job before the album closes with a reprise of “Shine On” which strips the song back to basics with Dawn and Patrick’s vocals over a drum track only. Somewhat surprisingly this simpler version is just as much gospel as the fuller version earlier on.

With her fine voice and ability to sing across several styles it is no surprise, on the evidence of this CD, that Dawn won the 2017 IBC. Jawbreaker! is a good album that has something for most tastes.

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

 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 10 

Zoe Schwarz Blue COmmotion cd imageZoë Schwarz Blue Commotion – This is the life I choose.

33 Records

13 tracks / 59:32

Zoë Schwarz Blue Commotion has certainly been keeping busy, and earlier this year they released their fifth album in the last four years: This is the life I choose, a keen follow-up to their fantastic live release, I’ll Be Your Tonight. If you had the chance to listen to that CD you already know that this is a serious blues band with unique songs, tight instrumentation, and a powerful woman up front. This crew has not let up one bit, and their latest album is their best work yet!

Blue Commotion is based in the United Kingdom, with Zoë Schwarz on vocals and producer Rob Koral on guitar. Their comrades in arms include Pete Whittaker on the Hammond organ and Paul Robinson on drums, and the horn section of Ian Ellis (sax), and Andy Urquhart (trumpet) also join in for a few tracks. These folks are pros, and they were able to lay down all thirteen tracks (eleven of them originals) in just two days last October at Platform Studio. The result of this fast-paced production schedule is an album with a vibrant feel, and Zoë says that she likes to work “in the moment,” which has been very effective for this band.

The lyrics for the album’s originals were written by Zoë and Rob, and there also contributions from Phil Coles and Pete Feenstra. The songs are a neat mix of playful, sweet, and serious, and the ones related to living life in the music business will resonate well with listeners. For example, the title track sets the mood and theme for the album, as “This is the life I choose” provides a glimpse into the hearts and souls of musicians who put everything they have into their art. This power ballad is presented in a 1970s blues-rock format with cool dynamic changes and oodles of distorted organ from Whittaker and heavy drums from Robinson. Then there is “I Can’t Live Like That,” which has a completely different feel, going with an upbeat and funky sound that includes the horns of Ellis and Urquhart while Schwarz growls out the advice to message of not letting people get in the way of your dreams. And “My Baby Told Me So” spans the gap between blues and jazz with the message that, the blues and a faithful companion will make things seem a bit brighter, even if you are short on money.

Relationships are also a reliable source of song lyrics, and Blue Commotion heads there right off with the opener, “Hold On.” Coles’ words capture the essence of a dying romance, and the band delivers with Zoë’s edgy vocals and their hard rocking accompaniment, which includes a scorching solo from Rob. There is also an upbeat plea for unity with our fellow man with “People,” which has a decidedly international feel with its driving bass line and slick solo breaks from Rob and Pete. But, perhaps the most poignant track on This is the life I choose is “Broken,” a heartbreaking R&B song that addresses a hopelessness that many of will never know, but many will endure. This song has been released as a single, with proceeds going to charity to help the less fortunate among us; please keep this in mind as you listen to Schwarz’s emotional narrative.

This is the life I choose is a wonderful combination of modern blues sounds with infusions of jazz, funk, rock and soul. The songs are all well written and performed by a professional band, and the engineering and mixing meet the group’s high standards. Blues fans will surely dig this new release from Zoë Schwarz Blue Commotion, and if you will be on their side of the Atlantic you are in luck as they have plenty of UK shows and festivals scheduled. For those of us in the states, there is always the possibility that they will make it over here for a festival or a tour sometime soon. They are highly entertaining with a great catalog of original music, so hopefully they can make this happen!

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

 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 10 

reverend peyton cd imageThe Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band – Front Porch Sessions

Family Owned Records

11 Songs , running time- 34 minutes

For those who like their music straight traditional, acoustic, rustic and rootsy have probably heard this gutsy trio before. For the uninitiated this is a trio of wonderful musicians keeping the faith and reinterpreting old classic blues and roots flavoured tunes. They hail from Brown County in South Indiana and their sound has a true Mississippi hook.

Reverend Peyton is the lead singer and plays slide , finger style and Cigar Box guitars. His vocal delivery is phenomenal singing with deep bass tones . A formidable man, he has great stage presence. Washboard Breezy Peyton backs up tracks on vocals , washboard , tambourine and general claps and snaps. The third member Maxwell Senteney plays drums also suitcase and tambourine.

The band has a unique sound that is very organic in nature. As the title suggests Front Porch Sessions was recorded locally at a studio called Farm Fresh, an old church and certainly the overall acoustic sound has a glorified uplifting feel to it. The eleven tracks here are all faithful to old style rootsy blues music. “We Deserve A Happy Ending” gets the feet tapping and introduces a loud happy sound with true slide vigour. Reverend Peyton wrote six of these tunes with the other five being covers of old blue standards, hollered out, hollowed out and dusted down for a real makeover.

The adaptation of the Furry Lewis track “When My Baby Left Me” is just sublime. Willie Johnson’s ” Let Your Light Shine” is slow and lilting with a punchy gospel delivery . The Pratcher Brothers cover of “It’s All Night Long” is a raucous instrumental and really showcases wonderful guitar picking and slide. The other two covers are traditional , ” When You Lose Your Money” and final track the shifting “Cornbread And Butterbeans” is a hoot.

“Shakey Shirley” for me is a highlight you just want to dance to and it has a real live feel to it . A similar take and feel is noted on the infectious ” Flying Squirrels”, another toe tapper.” One More Thing ” tones things down and is very melodic and stripped down, dripping with emotion and sung with true affection and meaning. “What You Did To The Boy Ain’t Right” whoops along with fiery speed and builds up momentum adding to the real down home feel to the release.

This release does evoke a feeling of true no frills music. For me the root of life is enjoyment, this band surely has that factor in abundance. Go and see them live if you get the chance. This is a great selection of music that demands listening to. Just treat yourself and go out and buy it.

Reviewer Colin Campbell is based in Scotland. He has been writing about blues music for over six years. He is also a keen photographer. He has been enthused and heavily influenced by blues music for three decades. Music is a healer, blues is the medicine.

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 Featured Blues Review – 7 of 10 

professor louis cd imageProfessor Louie and the Crowmatix – Crowin’ the Blues

Woodstock Records

CD: 13 Songs, 50:25 Minutes

Styles: Texas Blues, R&B, Roots, Americana

When I saw the band name of New York’s Professor Louie and the Crowmatix, my hyperactive right brain immediately cried, “Aha! ‘Crowmatix’ is a homophone of ‘chromatics,’ which are chromatic harmonicas. I sure hope to hear some!” Alas, ‘twas not to be. None of the members of this fantastic Grammy-nominated ensemble plays such an instrument. Nevertheless, they’re still Crowin’ the Blues with melodic mojo. Even though they realize that good vocals are an essential ingredient in blues music, their instrumentals are truly standout works. On thirteen tracks, four originals and nine covers, they pay homage to old masters such as Jimmy Reed (on “Bright Lights, Big City”) as well as add their own masterful material (“Blues & Good News” and “Love is Killing Me,” plus two more). They provide a groove and a mindset so sweet and easy to fall into, like a cold pool on a hot summer day. If you love Texas blues, R&B, roots and Americana, this CD will be your cup of tea. If you’re hooked on harder stuff, though, perhaps not. What they lack in shrieking shredder and lewd lyrics, they make up for in good humor.

Professor Louie and his posse have more than a Grammy nomination under their belt. States their Web bio, “[They] began as the studio backing band for Aaron ‘Professor Louie’s’ musical productions for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, The Band. Rick Danko christened him Professor Louie due to his work and friendship with The Band.

“This…group plays 150 shows a year in the US and worldwide. They have performed at the Thunder Bay, London & Windsor Festivals in Canada, The Tondor Festival, Falcon Ridge Festival, The Sellersville Theater, PA – BB Kings in NYC, – The House Of Blues in LA – The Sportsmen’s Tavern, Buffalo, NY, – The Bearsville Theater, Woodstock, NY and many more venues…Professor Louie has performed twice on The Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise.”

Performing with the keyboardist, accordionist and lead vocalist Professor are guitarist/vocalist John Platania; Gary Burke on drums; vocalist/keyboardist/percussionist Miss Marie; and bassist and vocalist Frank Campbell. Special guests include electric guitarist Josh Colow and Michael Falzarano on rhythm guitar.

The following three original tunes are the swingiest, catchiest, and all-around best on the album.

Track 04: “Love is Killin’ Me” – With mellow nightclub piano and a touch of ‘70s funk, especially on the bassline, the fourth feature of this CD is the perfect one for slow-dancing. “I’ve got to read between the lines, strain my eyes till I go blind. Never gonna give you up looking for that golden key. People say ‘beware’. They don’t know what’s hidden there behind the scenes.”

Track 05: “Blues & Good News” – The title may confuse those who don’t know the genre well: why would the blues be associated with good news? However, this instrumental shows this combination is possible. Short and sweet, it invokes the spirit of an earlier time in the midst of our chaotic age. Miss Marie provides peppy whistling to perk up one’s mood in a flash.

Track 13: “Blues for Buckwheat” – Zydeco and blues go together like beignets and powdered sugar, or shrimp and gumbo. Professor Louie’s accordion is as hot as almost all Cajun sauces, and seeing as that instrument is a voodoo witch to play, his talent is on magnificent display here. In the opinion of yours truly, this last song should have come first.

New York’s Professor Louie and the Crowmatix fly stratosphere-high when they’re Crowin’ 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 Review – 8 of 10 

david m'ore cd imageDavid M’ore – Passion, Soul & Fire

self release

12 songs time – 78:21

Argentina born San Franciscan David M’ore is a guitar-slinger extraordinaire that brings deep passion and energy as he wrings super-charged notes from his custom made Stratocaster using various techniques and effects. There are times when he slows the pace to illicit beautiful atmospheric guitar passages. To say he knows his way around the fret board is an understatement. His influences include heavy rockers Deep Purple and AC-DC along with the blues. David’s voice sounds like Tom Waits with a sore throat, which makes some of the lyrics indecipherable and takes away from the flow of the songs. It’s the imaginative guitar mastery here that is the main draw, that is ably abetted by Wade Olson on drums and David De Silva on bass, creating a classic power trio.

Although three songs are based around Stevie Ray Vaughn type shuffles, it’s only a foundation for him to add his own unique approach. “The Devil’s Land” finds him utilizing his rapid fire attack in this manner. “The 12 Song” has him briefly quoting Led Zeppelins’ “You Shook Me” as the intro, then adding some Hendrix influence over the shuffle beat. This approach continues on “Liar” which adds a nice bit of wah-wah action.

Textured guitar is used to great effect on “Love Again”, as well as other songs. He often uses multiple guitar over dubs to flesh out the sound, combining acoustic, electric and slide in various combinations. One of the highlights is the instrumental guitar tour-de-force of “Johan Sebastian Blues”, that is essentially a gift to guitar geeks as he just powers through some amazing seamless playing. I even seem to detect a brief bit of influence from the Dutch prog-rockers Focus and the playing of Jan Akkerman on their international hit “Hocus Pocus”.

The other instrumental “Funky It Up” achieves great tone on a lovely biting guitar melody. The CD is summed up with a spontaneous, one take tribute to his heroes Deep Purple on their “Mistreated”. I’m not familiar with the song, but Davis pretty much captures the essence of that classic hard rock band. Curiously, this is the song where his lyrics come through the clearest.

There you have it, everything a fan of guitar based hard rock could hope for and more (no pun intended). His over-the-top growl of a voice is a bit disconcerting, but I just focus on all the guitar goodness contained here. Clocking in at just under eighty minutes, you get a lot of quantity along with the quality.

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

 Featured Blues Review – 9 of 10 

Anthony Rosano cd imageAnthony Rosano & the Conqueroos

Self-Release – 2017

11 tracks; 47 minutes

The Conqueroos are a quartet based in Virginia, with Anthony Rosano on vocals, guitar and mandolin, Jeremy ‘JB’ Bustillos on harmonica and sax, Paul Warren on bass and Scott Smith on drums. They travelled to New Orleans to record their third album with Mike Zito who produced the record and added some guitar and vocals. Anders Osborne, Johnny Sansone and Michael Harvey sat in on one track each on slide guitar, accordion and fiddle respectively.

Anthony wrote all the songs bar one which comes from drummer Scott. The material ranges from hard-rocking pieces like opener “20 Days” which, with its dramatic slide work, could easily fit on a Zito album, to acoustic closer “Proud Of My Sins” on which Michael’s fiddle adds a distinctively country blues feel. “Bound To You” is probably the heaviest blues-rock tune here with some strident guitar but “Long Island Sound” is the standout track with its autobiographical lyrics about growing up, a song that recalls Springsteen, especially when the sax joins Johnny’s wistful accordion.

Anthony and Mike’s guitars mesh over Scott’s busy drums on his song “You Don’t Know Me” and Anders’ swampy slide work and JB’s harp add urgency to “Shakin’ In The Veins”, a song about the perils of drugs. “Revolve” finds Anthony in thrall to a girl as he mixes dreamy verses and spacey wah-wah fuelled guitar with a crunching chorus beefed up by the sax. The sax also features on “Love Got A Hold On Me”, a mid-paced rocker with Anthony bemoaning the hold the girl has over him, his guitar expressing his angst well. “Wicked Grin” is a short but sweet rocker with the slide and sax joining forces to great effect and “Blackbird” is another strong blues-rock tune with plenty of big guitar riffs between acoustic passages. The busy shuffle “Give Me Strength” shows that the band can also work well in more traditional blues styles.

This is an enjoyable album whose appeal should extend beyond just the blues-rock audience.

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 – 10 of 10 

doug cox cd imageDoug Cox & Sam Hurrie – Old Friends

Black Hen Music

11 tracks/51:23

This release features two veteran Canadian musicians with decades of experience in playing a variety of blues and rock styles. Since their first meeting over twenty years ago, the duo has done numerous tours throughout Canada and beyond, sharing their particular interpretation of acoustic blues. Doug Cox is talented slide guitar and dobro player while Sam Hurrie contributes on acoustic guitar. The notes to the disc stress that there were no overdubs or use of auto-tuning – pure, unadulterated music.

The lone original, Cox’s “Dexter’s Back,” is an instrumental full of delicate finger-picking from both men. Several blues standards are covered, with “John The Revelator” opening the disc with Cox using the dobro to set the stage for Hurrie’s smooth voice to sing the familiar Son House classic. Their run-through of the traditional “Nobody”s Fault But Mine” gives Cox plenty of space to highlight his skills on the dobro. Muddy Waters’ “You Can’t Lose What You Ain’t Never Had” finds Cox switching to mandolin, taking listeners back to the country. Another traditional tune, “In My Time Of Dying,” has Hurrie utilizing a tougher vocal approach, Cox answering with some slashing dobro work that cuts to the heart of rock & roll.

Guy Clark’s “Old Friends” slips into a talking vocal from Cox, whose laid-back tone is a good fit for the dual guitar accompaniment. His weathered voice has little difficulty conveying the heartache on “Rains On Me” before breaking around the edges on “Angel Of Death,” written by Hank Williams. Another traditional piece, “St. Anne’s,” is an instrumental taken at a faster pace with plenty of fine picking from both guitarists. They give Charlie Patton’s “By And By (Poor Me)” a stately reading, then Cox leads the way on Mississippi John Hurt’s “Payday,” the bright sounds from his dobro framing his deep vocal tone.

Their years of playing together have given Cox & Hurrie a tight sound with some interesting instrumental interplay. They consistently hold the reins in close, leaving only a few moments when emotions burst forth. That studied approach works well for them, leaving this release one for fans of acoustic blues will definitely want to check this one out.

Reviewer Mark Thompson lives in Florida, where he is enjoying life without snow. He is the President of the Board of Directors for the Suncoast Blues Society and the past president of the Crossroads Blues Society of Northern Illinois. Music has been a huge part of his life for the past fifty years – just ask his wife!.

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 Featured Blues Interview – Jim Allchin 

Jim allchin photo 1November 8, 2016 is a day that is unlikely to be forgotten for quite some time, if at all.

Regardless of which side of the political aisle that you sit on, Donald Trump’s stunning victory over Hillary Clinton in the general election for the 45th President of the United States bears so much weight that it will probably never be too far removed from the center of public conciseness.

But for Seattle-based guitarist, songwriter and singer Jim Allchin, Nov. 8, 2016 means so much more than just donkey or elephant or red states and blue states.

After all, that’s when he was holed up in Nashville’s Blackbird Recording Studios, cutting his newest album, Decisions.

Although Allchin’s current long player is largely ‘apolitical’ in tone, the events of that day still managed to work their ways into the grooves of Decisions.

“The songs on the album are about a bunch of decisions that people make. This album was recorded during election week, so there’s songs that were recorded either on election day or the day after election day. That sort of has an influence on the record, because of how people were feeling then – either positive or not positive. But that did influence the record,” Allchin recently said. “A lot of songs on the album are about ‘should I do this or should I not do it?’ The first song on the album, “Artificial Life,” is about, how should you live your life? It’s difficult, you know? We all have jobs and we all have obligations and it’s good to go back and question them. Am I living my life authentically? Then to actually change that … it’s really difficult to do. All the songs have little connections into decisions, one way or another.”

With all that mind, it seems like Decisions was an apt choice for the title of Allchin’s follow-up to his 2013 disc, QED.

“It (the title Decisions) actually represents a lot. There’s lots of ways you can view this and from a marketing side, you could say this is ‘spin,’ but I don’t believe that at all. I’m a very straight-forward person and for me to get up the courage to do this … I mean, I’m a control freak and like to control everything. That’s how I’ve always been in my career. This was a decision to let loose and let Tom and others help direct where this project goes and the hope was that more brains are better than one brain. That’s what I learned out of this, but that was a big decision for me to make that choice to begin with.”

The ‘Tom’ that Allchin referred to is of course, Grammy-winning producer, songwriter, drummer and wunderkind Tom Hambridge.

There’s a myriad of reasons as to why Hambridge has worked with everyone from B.B. King to Lynyrd Skynyrd and beyond (Buddy Guy once coined Hambridge as ‘The White Willie Dixon”). To put it simply – he’s one of the best at what he does and his track record more than speaks for itself.

But the first thing that Allchin notes about working with Hambridge is the vibe that he gives off when the studio door is closed and the red light goes on.

“He’s the most patient, calming influence, ever. I’m pretty intense and Tom is just so patient and so chill. Yet, he’s hearing it all and suggesting things like trying a song without a metronome or a click track on it. There’s a song on the album called “Friends” and he said, ‘Hey, we’re not going to use a click on this, this is straight-ahead blues and we’re going to just see how it turns out.’ So we did the song without a click or a rhythm track at all … we just played it. And we only played it like twice. I would have felt uncomfortable trying that, but Tom said that it would work out and it did. And he encouraged me. My guitar playing may sound pretty intense, but I’m a pretty timid guy, all-in-all, especially when it comes to the singing part. But he got me to do it all.”

Jim allchin photo 2This wasn’t just another day at the office for Allchin. It was more like the difference between night and day.

As he tells it, this was a whole different way to approach recording than the way that he’s been accustomed to.

“This was a whole new experience for me. It was the whole ‘decision’, if you will, to get out of my comfort zone and go play with these incredible musicians. I’ve certainly played with some fantastic ones here in Seattle, but to pack up all my equipment and go there (Nashville) and then be on the spot in one of the best recording studios in the world, it was a little bit intimidating, no question,” he said. “But that was all a part of what I’m trying to do – push myself out of my comfort zone and see what I can do under the gun. I’d been working a lot on new material and when I went to Nashville to see Tom, I had like, 40 songs already. And then he listened to them and said, ‘OK, we’re going to write some and I love these and we’re going to save these for the next album.’ So we got a lot done – 16 songs in like six days, which was clipping along. Then we added some horns and some backing vocals after the fact.”

The end result is a major step forward – in a couple of different ways – for Allchin.

“Well, I really worked on songwriting. Here in town (Seattle), there’s a woman named Sue Ennis who teaches lyrics and songwriting and has done a lot of famous songs (including Heart’s “Dog And Butterfly,” “Even It Up” and “Straight On”). She helped me. And frankly, I think my guitar playing has improved. When I want to go fast, I can go fast and yet at the same time, I don’t feel compelled to do it. I tried to really go for the emotion and just not ripping. And also, I think I’m continuing to refine my guitar tone. I think my voice has improved, as well. I’ve continued to take lessons and get encouraged about that. My mom died when I was in the early part of writing (for Decisions) and there was a year where I just couldn’t seem to do anything. But during that time I went down a different path. Although this album isn’t about it, I got into Flamenco and recorded a whole bunch of demos for basically a Flamenco fusion-type guitar thing. Who knows if I’m going to get that album done, but playing in that style actually helped me in the blues. I’ve really worked to improve – from songwriting to the chords, the feel, the lyrics … and of course, the musicians that I’m playing with are so incredible. That makes me push myself and want to rise up one more notch.”

Allchin’s back story is just as compelling as the tunes on his new album.

He is a former 16-year executive at Microsoft (recruited to the company by Bill Gates, himself) and helped assist the company in creating a host of platform components, including Microsoft Windows. He also helped build the company’s server business and one of the major awards he garnered during his time at Microsoft was Technical Excellence Person of the Year, in 2001. And oh yeah, Allchin also has a PhD in Computer Science.

The similarities between Allchin and Boston mastermind Tom Scholz are striking. Before going on to sell millions of albums with his band Boston, Scholz was a product designer for the Polaroid Corporation and holds a Master’s Degree in Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

So does that make Allchin the ‘Tom Scholz of the blues’?

“I really don’t know him personally, but I know his general history; he was very innovative and I think he had a very engineering mindset. And my path certainly went that way, as well,” Allchin said.

It may not have been totally by default, but Allchin’s first career choice was not to be an essential part of one of the world’s most well-known corporations. Rather, his initial desires were to be what he is now, a working musician. As a young man growing up in Florida, he fell under the spell of the music and before long, he was traveling around the deep south, playing music. However, that plan hit something of a speed bump at one point in time.

Jim allchin photo 3“I was in college and was traveling wherever I could on the weekends, playing fraternities and parties because I needed the money to go to college. But then I dropped out (of college) and tried to really make it (playing music). The truth is, I’ve always really loved music, but I’ve also really loved math and computer science – back then it was called engineering. I’ve always loved that. I was on food stamps and the money wasn’t making it through the month and I would have Corn Flakes without milk as my meal, so I said ‘Enough of this.’ The musician’s life is tough. All people are different, but I don’t smoke and never have and I got tired of being in smoky environments and just wanted a better life than what I could see. About this same time, I was meeting a bunch of people who were really phenomenal musicians that were coming in and out of Gainesville (Florida). I met these incredible musicians who were really struggling. So I said, ‘Hum, even if I get really, really good on guitar, I’m still going to struggle, because these guys are.’ It was a question of getting a lucky break. To this day, there are so many incredible musicians that are not discovered and are out there going with their passion and are just barely making it by. So I don’t look back on it (shelving playing music full-time to return to college) as a hard decision; it was one that was pretty clear to me. There was something else that I loved to do (math and computer science) that could earn money, so I needed to think about that. I never stopped playing, even when I was working insane hours and I even taught guitar. I’m one of the fortunate ones … I love software, I love mathematics and I love guitar.”

Even though they may seem like polar opposites, Allchin says there is a connecting factor between playing the guitar and authoring computer codes, even if it may be hard to explain just what that factor would be.

“I think there probably is, but I can’t say that I can articulate just what it is. Obviously, you don’t have to play fast – or even in tune – to get your emotion out on the guitar. To me, that’s what music is about. But there is a part of understanding scales and how things fit together, that is not about programming, but it’s about logical approaches to stuff. If you talk to people who really know a lot of scales, you can tell that they have methodically thought about it. But are those people great at mathematics? I don’t know. But getting emotion across is the key thing.”

In 2002 Allchin fought a bout with cancer. While he ultimately won that tussle a year later after undergoing successful treatment, his battle with the disease served as the push for him to refocus his attention and energy on his music on a full-time basis.

“I was diagnosed with cancer and I went to my bosses at the time (at Microsoft) and said that I wanted to leave. Well, I ended up hanging around there for a while (he left Microsoft in 2007) after my treatment. But it was very clear to me that I wanted to spend time with another one of my loves – playing and creating music. That was the impetus for me to leave … it sure wasn’t like I didn’t love what I was doing. It was sort of a major wake-up call, like, ‘OK, 14 hour days … how long am I going to do this and then look back and regret not investing in some of my other passions?’ That was what triggered me.”

Allchin also developed melanoma in 2015, but once again, he topped that for another full recovery.

Part of his problems with melanoma no doubt stem from his days as a child, growing up in the bright sunshine of Florida working in orange groves from a very young age. Due to growing up in modest conditions, Allchin learned to work from a tender age, doing whatever he could to help earn money to support his family. That work ethic is something that would go on to help shape his adult life and is something he continues to value to this very day.

“I think that would help shape anyone’s adult life. It certainly got me to believe I didn’t want to be a farmer,” he laughed. “I have incredible respect for farmers, but boy, that’s one hard life. We didn’t have much, but I had a great childhood. My family was really close and if I wasn’t out hoeing orange trees, I could go down to the river and jump in it and swim or fish or whatever. And I had lots of time to think and to tinker. But did it shape me in terms of hard work? Probably. I do believe people feel good if they get stuff done. That helps me … it could be something simple like just washing the dishes, but when I get something done, I feel good.”

After starting out on trumpet when he was young, Allchin quickly ditched that instrument in favor of the guitar.

Jim allchin photo 4The two have been inseparable ever since.

“In the early days, Jimi Hendrix with “Purple Haze” completely blew me away. The first song I ever learned was “Wipeout.” My brother played the drums and so I learned to play that song. Here’s an interesting story that goes to show that if people can take guitar lessons, it would be good for them. I learned to play by only picking down, because I was on this farm and had bought a little Montgomery Ward acoustic guitar with my savings. That’s the guitar I learned to play “Wipeout” on and I learned by picking with just downstrokes. But you couldn’t play that song too fast by just picking down. It was years later when I was in college and was out gigging and somebody said, ‘You know, you can pick backwards (upwards) too?’ So for six months, I spent my time relearning how to play guitar by picking it back-and-forth. But I had never had lessons or anything. I have a lot of respect for people that play upsides down or backwards or whatever, because that’s how they learned. That relearning was tough.”

After getting bit by the Hendrix bug, Allchin soon discovered a love for a host of other players.

“Yeah, guys like Carlos Santana and guys like Albert King, who is among my favorite blues players. And to this day, Eric Johnson is still one of my all-time favorite heroes on guitar.”

It was Johnson that also gave Allchin a bit of advice pertaining to the vocal department.

“Eric Johnson said, ‘It doesn’t matter (how you sing), just try to get across the emotion. So I’ve taken that to heart and try to work with and improve on what I do have,” he said. “I’m really impressed with singers like Etta James, even though I’ll never sing like her. I’m just humbled whenever I hear her sing. It’s mind-boggling some of the things she did with her voice. I have a high voice and that’s never going to change, so I can’t do some of the stuff that I’d like to do.”

Allchin’s acumen on guitar is such that he could play any style of music that he wants to.

But the music that he chooses to play … his ‘decision’ to play, if you will, comes straight from his heart and is really something he has little control over at the end of the day.

“I just know that it (the blues) calls to me. I can’t explain it, but it’s always called to me. So it’s like, why fight it? It calls to me and so that’s where I go. My son says, ‘You can do this electronic music (dance-oriented pop),’ and I said, ‘Yeah, but it’s not my passion, it’s not speaking to me.’ I would do anything I could to help the blues from deteriorating any more. I still believe it is a cry from the soul, if you will. I think it’s important that we honor where it came from and also continue to expand it and open it up by making sure we’re not rigid on ‘what is the blues.’ I think we will attract new people to the blues and I do think people can see how modern music has been dramatically influenced from the blues.”

Visit Jim’s website at:

Blues Blast Magazine Senior Writer Terry Mullins is a journalist and former record store owner whose personal taste in music is the sonic equivalent of Attention Deficit Disorder. Works by the Bee Gees, Captain Beefheart, Black Sabbath, Earth, Wind & Fire and Willie Nelson share equal space with Muddy Waters, The Staples Singers and R.L. Burnside in his compact disc collection. He’s also been known to spend time hanging out on the street corners of Clarksdale, Miss., eating copious amounts of barbecued delicacies while listening to the wonderful sounds of the blues. His first book, Blues In Modern Days was published in 2014.

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Friends of the Blues – Kankakee, IL

Sat, July 15 – Polly O’Keary & Rhythm Method, CD Release Party, Watseka Elks, Thur, July 20 – The Nouveaux Honkies, Inside Out, Gilman IL, Thur, July 27 – Albert Castiglia, The Longbranch in L’Erable IL, Tues, Aug 08 – Frank Bang & Cook County Kings, Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmen’s Club, Tues, Aug 22 – Jeff Jensen, Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmen’s Club, Tues or Wed, Nov 7 or 8 (TBD) – Jim Suhler & Monkey Beat, Manteno Sportsmen’s Club. More Info at:

The Illinois Central Blues Club – Springfield, IL

The Illinois Central Blues Club has announced the line-up of talent for Blue Monday live performances held every Monday night at The Alamo, 115 North Fifth, Springfield, IL from 8:00pm to midnight. Additional information on any performer listed below is available upon request.

Blue Monday Schedule: July 3 – 24th Street Wailers, July 10 – JP Soars, July 17 – Joel DaSilva, July 24 – Kilborn Alley Blues Band, July 31 – Skyla Burrell, Aug. 7 – Lil Joe McClennan, Aug. 14 – Andy T & Alabama Mike, Aug. 21 – Lucky Loser’s, Aug. 28 -Green McDonough Band.

Additional ICBC partnered shows: July 5 – Selwyn Birchwood CD Release Party @ The Alamo, 6 pm, July 20 – James Armstrong Presents @ The Alamo, 6 pm Black Magic Johnson, July 22 – Blues Day at the Chatham Sweet Corn Festival 12 pm Brother Jefferson, Alex Jenkins, Back Pack Jones, Aug. 3 – James Armstrong Presents @ The Alamo, 6 pm Dan Rivero Trio, Aug. 17 – James Armstrong Presents @ The Alamo, 6 pm Sam Crain Trio, Aug. 26 – Old Capitol Blues & BBQ Festival – Mary Jo Curry, Albert Castiglia, Lil’ Ed, Aug. 27 – Old Capitol Blues & BBQ Festival – James Armstrong, Kenny Neal, Eric Gales. For more information visit

The Sacramento Blues Society – Sacramento, CA

The Sacramento Blues Society Presents the Tia Carroll Band with special guest the Ryder Green Band July 16, 2017 2:00-6:00 PM at Fair Oaks Clubhouse 7997 California Ave Fair Oaks Village. Tickets $10/$15 21+.

Tia Carroll has her own unique star power that’s evident in her new self-titled album. She has been a recipient of many blues awards, including the Northern California Entertainers Music Awards 2016 Female Blues Artist Of The Year!

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