Issue 11-47 November 23, 2017

Cover photo © 2017 Roman Sobus

 In This Issue 

Marty Gunther has our feature interview with Corky Siegel. We have 8 Blues reviews for you this week including new music from Duke Robillard, Casey Hensley, Al Basile, Don Bryant, Trevor Sewell, The Sons Of The Soul Revivers, John Pagano Band and Casey James.

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


Our Fall Advertising Sale is six issues of Blues Blast Magazine and 6 weeks on our website.

This package can add significant impact to your Blues advertising or promotion campaign. It is a great way to kick up the visibility of a new album or advertise an important event.

Blues Blast Magazine is a great way to promote the Blues. More than 36,000 opt-in Blues fans read our magazine each week. They are located in all 50 states and in more than 90 countries. Our website gets more than 75,000 visitors each month.

Normal 2017 ad rates are $150 for an single issue and $175 per month for website ads. BUT, for a limited time, you can advertise in six issues of Blues Blast Magazine and on our website for a month and a half for only $375.

To get this special rate you must reserve and pay for your ad space before December 15, 2017. Ads can be booked to run anytime between now and October 30, 2018 for your 2018 Blues festival, album release or other music related product.

Reserve your space today! Space is limited and will be sold on a first come first served basis.

NEW!!! – Upgrade the sidebar ad on our website to a top banner ad for increased impact and visibility for only $90 more. (Subject to availability)

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

sunny lowdown ad image

 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 8 

duke robillard cd omageDuke Robillard – Duke Robillard And his Dames of Rhythm

M.C. Records

14 tracks/62 minutes

Step back in time with Duke Robillard And his Dames of Rhythm. Conceived by Duke and label owner Mark Carpentieri, an album of 20’s and 30’s songs with a horn and rhythm section, an acoustic archtop guitar and female vocalists became the solidified plan. Duke claims this was on his bucket list; if there are other things on it that are this cool I hope he also produces them soon because this is a gem!

Duke is playing an 18” archtop JW Murphy for most of the set. He switches to a smaller 17” for a few cuts and a 1930 Kays Deluxe for the final cut. The arrangements are suave, cool, debonair and oh-so-slick. The Dames on vocals are spectacular. They are Sunny Crownover, Kelley Hunt, Elizabeth McGovern, Maria Muldaur, Madeline Peyroux, and Catherine Russell. Dukes band and rhythm section are Bruce Bears and Kelley Hunt sharing the piano duties, Brad Hallen on acoustic bass, and Mark Texiera on drums. They are as solid as ever. The horn section is Jon Erik Kellso (trumpet on all tracks), Billy Novick (clarinet and alto sax), Rick Lataille (alto and tenor sax and clarinet), Carl Querfurth (trombone) and Mark Early (tenor sax on track 3). These guys are superb!

Out of the gate, we get Sunny singing on “From Monday On.” The trumpet leads us in and then the horns and Sunny join in the fray on this old, great Bing Crosby tune. It swings and jives sweetly. Duke comes in for a little cool duet action part way into it- very hep. His first guitar solo tells us this is going to be fun- different, as this is not blues or even the swing we are accustomed to from him. It’s old, straight up stuff from the early big band era with crooners and the horn and rhythm sections in full plumage. Muldaur growls and purrs out “Got The South In My Soul” next. Her breathy and sultry approach is enchanting and cool. The clarinet gets the first solo and then Duke joins in. Very sweet stuff! “Please Don’t Talk About Me when I’m Gone” features Kelly Hunt pacing the vocals nicely as Duke strums and picks along with her. The first half is down tempo and stark as some restrained piano plays along; the tempo picks up a bit as the horn and rhythm section come in for some instrumental fun and then Hunt joins back into the fray for a big finish. Fats Waller’s “Squeeze Me” is up next with Madeline fronting the band. Her approach is sort of Blossum Dearie meets Billie Holiday as she pushes the lyrics out coated in musical sugar and sweetness. Duke plucks along and some minor key restrained horns accompany things nicely. The clarinet and trumpet gets some laid back solos before Peyroux finishes us off. Duke performs Irving Berlin’s “Walking Stick,” a mid-tempo romp with slick fiddle provided by Andy Stein. Duke grinds the vocals out well and lays out some nice guitar as he and the fiddle trade solos. The horn and rhythm sections take us home like a comfy, late night cab waiting at the club door. “Blues In My Heart” follows with Ms. Russell at the microphone helm. She sings with a little restraint, building a bit here and there with a sexy approach along with the boys playing some slick and dirty accompaniment. “Lotus Blossum” closes out the first half; Hunt returns and gives another sweet performance. The song could easily come from a smoky speak easy where Hunt reminds me a little of a female Cab Calloway in her approach to this tune. Very slick.

Sunny takes the lead in Cole Porters’ “My Heart Belongs to Daddy,” arranged nicely with a little samba sort of approach as she sings in a breathy and sexy manner. Mary Martin first sang this on Braodway and many a great cover has been done. Marilyn Monroe also did this in 1960 in the film, “Let’s Make Love” while wearing a purple sweater and black body stocking. Cronower holds her ow as she croons and moans to great effect and Duke does a swell job on guitar, too. The fiddle returns and spars with the trombone as Duke fronts the band for “What’s The Reason (I’m Not Pleasin’ You).” A 1934 song, some may recall the Fats Domino version. Nice sax work stands out here along with a piano solo by Hunt. Elizabeth McGovern is only on one cut, “Me. Myself and I.” Billie Holiday popularized this song and the Downton Abbey actress and musician does a nice job here with an airy and ethereal vocal approach and swinging support by all. Madeline returns for “Easy Living” and does it on Billie Holiday style. Originally from a film of the same name, some will recall Johnny Hartman’s version from the film “The Bridges of Madison County.” Here we have Peyroux in a solemn but forthright approach and a nice sax and trumpet solo are also in the mix. “Was That The Human Thing To Do” gives us Muldaur once again in a jumping and swinging cut with the fiddle and the rest of the boys in full swing, too. “If I Could Be With You (One Hour Tonight)” is Kelley Hunt giving a thoughtful and impassioned performance of this old time classic with some ragtime piano sounds. Duke does “Ready For The River,” a song from 1928 and Minnesotan Coon-Sanders and his Original Nighthawk Orchestra (which was primarily based in Kansas City). Hugely popular, Coon died unexpectedly of a jaw infection and the band dispersed, leaving a legacy of great songs which Duke does justice to. Lots of nice trombone, clarinet, trumpet and horn support here. The final track features the horn and rhythm sections, an instrumental entitled “Call Of The Freaks.” Penned by Panamanian Luis Russell who lived in The Big Easy, this is a beautiful early jazz piece with some killer trumpet, guitar and work by the horn section.

OK, so if you are looking for straight up, familiar blues it’s not here. What is here is an extraordinary set of old early jazz tunes that were part of the blues of the era where the blues went into the cities of the south and rhythm and horn sections were added to the music. The influence of the blues on the big bands and jazz is evident here with 14 tracks that are done with charm, style, and just a lot of exuberance. Robillard achieves what he set out to do. He demonstrates the versatility of his band, the gals who sing with him and himself. If you love old jazz tunes and want to hear what some 21st century masters can do with them, grab this. I loved it!

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 – 2 of 8 

casey hensley cd imageCasey Hensley – Live featuring Laura Chavez

VizzTone Label Group

11 tracks / 62:03

It was exciting to get the new CD from Casey Hensley, as I had already heard a few of the tracks and was impressed by the energy and musicianship that I heard. After listening to all of Live featuring Laura Chavez, I have to say that the quality of the rest of the album lives up to the samples that I had previewed! This Southern California woman has an amazing voice, and everything was done right for her VizzTone Label Group debut.

Casey is young, but her singing career started when she was really young, hitting the stage when she was 5 and the studio when she was 9. She has a solid collection of musical influences from Etta to Aretha to Janis to Otis, and even classic rock artists such as the Allman Brothers and Freddie Mercury. Now in her mid-twenties, with Live featuring Laura Chavez you can hear the results from her on-stage efforts with a tight crew of musicians who are also from San Diego. First on the roster is the inimitable Laura Chavez (you already figured that out, I’m sure), and you will remember her as the guitarist for the late Candye Kane. On drums is Evan Caleb Yearsley, who is Candye’s son. And rounding out this quintet is Johnny Viau on saxophone (I think he also played with Candye), and Marcos C on the bass. As you can guess, Hensley has a tight bond with Ms. Kane, and this album is dedicated to her memory.

This disc was recorded live before an audience at Thunderbird Analog Recording Studio in Oceanside, California in December of 2016. The end product is so clean – the sound is well balanced and the arrangements are tight. Thanks to the controlled environment there is none of the muddiness that you might find with other live recordings, and all the stage energy is transmitted straight to your speakers. The songs include a well-selected assortment of covers, with three originals from Hensley worked into the mix.

Book-ending the set are two songs from the legendary Big Mama Thornton. The opener is “Big Mama’s Coming Home,” and it is sweet that Casey does not try to copy Thornton, as she performs this piece like it was written for her. Her vocal style has been compared to many storied blues women, but Hensley is carving her own niche here. The closer, “Ball and Chain,” is played like a British blues invasion song and it provides one last display Casey’s impressive vocal range, with maybe a little Robert Plant influence sneaking in around the edges. Laura takes an extended solo on this one; the listener will find that her timing and feel nail this tune and her tone is to die for. It is apparent why she gets credit on the cover, as she is one of the finest blues guitarists working today.

The rest of the classics that the band covers span a lot of ground, and include works from Koko Taylor, Willie Dixon, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, and Johnny “Guitar” Watson. There are also a few standouts, such a roaring version of the classic “You Can Have My Husband” (first recorded by Irma Thomas), with plenty of tasteful fills from Chavez and Viau’s sax that are accompanied by the rock-solid back-line of Yearsley and Marcos C. Another is “Hard Headed Woman,” a solid rocker that was a number one hit for Elvis Presley, and it translates well to Casey’s brassy style and Johnny’s honky tonk horn work.

The three originals are as well written as the covers, and the first of these is “Put Your Lovin’ Where it Belongs.” This is a slow grinder that features a pair of righteous solos from Laura over Evan’s heavy beat, This is a long song, clocking in at almost eight minutes, but it never gets tedious for the audience. Then there is “Don’t Want it to Stop” an innovative ballad that allows Hensley to express mournful vocal styles that go beyond what you usually hear in blues, and she really makes them work. Lastly there is “Hot! Hot! Hot!,” a wild rockabilly thrash that had to be the most fun the band had this evening!

Casey Hensley put all the right pieces together for her new VizzTone album, and Live featuring Laura Chavez delivers an hour-long set of solid blues that is performed flawlessly. She has plenty of shows scheduled around Southern California for the holidays, so head over to her website to get the details. For those of you in other parts of the country, you will surely get your chance to see Casey soon as it is only a matter of time until she starts getting festival gigs – this kind of talent and dedication will make it happen!

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

vizztone ad image

 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 8 

al basile cd imageAl Basile – Quiet Money

Sweetspot Records SST9782

13 songs – 55 minutes

If the opening notes of Al Basile’s latest release have a familiar ring to them, there’s good reason. The gifted singer and cornetist was a longtime member of the Rhode Island jump powerhouse Roomful Of Blues, and he reunites with a trio of first-generation members to produce this one. An outstanding songwriter, he’s penned all 13 of the tunes here, delivered in a manner that combines swing, jump, R&B and classic urban and Texas blues.

A native of Haverhill, Mass., with a master’s degree in writing from Brown University, Al taught at the exclusive Providence Country Day School for 25 years before pursuing poetry and music full-time in 2005. A member of Roomful for years, this is the 12th solo album in his catalog. He’s also been a vital component of Roomful founder Duke Robillard’s band for decades, and has worked with a who’s who of other artists. His Mid-Century Modern, was a 2016 Blues Music Award nominee for contemporary album of the year, and he’s been a nominee for horn player of the year on six occasions.

Robillard handles guitar duties throughout, and supervised production at Lakewest Recording Studio in West Greenwich, R.I. Bruce Bears (piano), Brad Hallen (bass) and Mark Teixiera (drums) — Duke’s tight working band — lay down the foundation, aided by original Roomful sax players Rich Lataille and Doug “Mr. Low” James and by Jeff “Doc” Chanonhouse, who sits in on trumpet.

The end product is music that’s rich with thoroughly modern subject matter, wry — sometimes poignant — words and stellar storytelling, but a sound that would have fit comfortably in the late ’40s or ’50s as it carries forward the work of Lowell Fulson, Buddy Johnson, Jimmy McCracklin, Saunders King and others. All of them and more provided inspiration to Basile along the way and are credited in the extensive booklet that accompanies this release.

Duke’s guitar and the horns kick off “Blues Got Blues,” a swinging tune that describes the troubles the industry and its musicians face today: from poor crowds unless you play loud to clubs who are giving up the fight. Basile’s steady vocals, like the music itself, are always behind the beat, and his voice, although different, resembles Robillard in timbre and delivery.

“Simple Ain’t Easy” is based on an idea from Fulson and deals with the difficulty folks face by complicating things more than they have to, while “Did You Even Know?” was inspired by McCracklin and is an uptempo pleaser about someone who constantly lies about the past but doesn’t know when she’s fibbing. With a melody reminiscent of Billie Holiday’s “Loveless Love,” the horns drive “Wrong To Be Right.” It advises occasionally backing down in arguments to win the war. Al’s mid-tune solo is brief, but sweet.

Basile borrowed the melody for “Quiet Money” from The Coasters’ “Shopping For Clothes.” It’s a strong, non-partisan statement about secret dealings in politics. The message: “Follow the money, see where the money goes/Follow the money, see what the money knows.” “Put Some Salt On It” features Bears in a tune with sexual double entendre before the mood turns tragic with “Line By Line,” which recounts a long-ago love affair. It’s a tender ballad, but the singer realizes upon meeting the lady again after many years that she’s dealing with serious memory issues and can’t remember a thing.

The medium-fast shuffle “The Time Is Now” addresses the need to take some action after observing from the sidelines while “I Woulda Been Wrong” swings as it describes the realization that an ex-lover wasn’t all she was cracked up to be.

Basile faces aging head-on in “Not Today,” which recognizes that he’s going down slow, but that he’s not ready to give up. Up next, the subjects of “True To Form” are a couple who agree to disagree on just about everything, while “You Got Two” is a loveless man’s complaint to someone who’s got more ladies than he can handle. The death theme returns to end the disc in a barebones ballad that poignantly asks: “Who’s Gonna Close My Eyes?”

Quiet Money is an understated old-school masterpiece. The music is propulsive and stylish throughout, but the true stars here are Basile’s lyrics. Simple, but deeply profound, the tunes here should provide plenty of material for discerning musicians to cover for generations to come. Available through iTunes, CDBaby and other retailers, and highly recommended for anyone in search of true blues delivered with taste and feel.

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.

ellersoul records ad image

 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 8 

don bryant cd imageDon Bryant – Don’t Give Up on Love

Fat Possum Records

CD: 10 Songs, 38:01 Minutes

Styles: Jazz-and-Soul-Influenced Blues, Horn Blues, Ensemble Blues

Longevity, to artists, can be as arbitrary and fickle as public opinion. As they age, their work does, too, with some resembling fine wine and others vinegar. What’s the secret? What’s the magic formula to keep from souring or going stale when one’s no longer a young upstart? If I knew that, I’d be a multi-billionaire. Memphis soul legend Don Bryant knows, whether he’s super-rich or not. In his first album in decades, he encourages listeners, “Don’t Give Up on Love.” In this cruel and unpredictable world, losing faith in people an easy thing to do, but Bryant’s music is tailor-made to restore it. Featuring two covers and eight stellar originals, this CD will make a magnificent addition to any soul and blues lover’s collection. Need I say more? Perhaps this: Both those new to the genre and veteran listeners won’t find a single musical flaw.

The long and complicated hyperlink above will take Internet users to a succinct profile (provided by Fat Possum Records) of Don’s “First Album in Decades.” It reveals, “With an intrepid musical style informed by his church upbringing, Don Bryant first found success with his vocal group the Four Kings. After that group split, he was taken under the wing of Hi Records legend Willie Mitchell. Don started off singing lead for Willie’s live band, but soon found himself releasing a full length album on Hi and writing songs for the likes of Solomon Burke, Albert King, Etta James and many more.” He’s also known for his biggest hit, “I Can’t Stand the Rain.”

As for his co-musicians, they’re brilliant soul stars in their own right: “On Don’t Give Up on Love, Don is joined by multiple generations of Memphis studio legends, including Hi Rhythm Section members Charles Hodges (organ), Archie ‘Hubbie’ Turner (keyboard) and Howard Grimes (drums), Joe Restivo (guitar), and Scott Bomar (bass). Marc Franklin and Art Edmaiston, both of the Gregg Allman Band, contributed horns.” Other guests include Kirk Smothers on sax, John Paul Keith on guitar, Marc Franklin on trumpet and arrangements, and string artists Jonathan Kirkscey, Jesse Munson, Yennifer Correia, and Jennifer Puckett.

Yours truly would classify the following three original tunes as “great, greater and greatest.”

Track 03: “It Was Jealousy” – This torch number blazes hotter than either a medieval fire stick or a modern Mag-Lite. It may not be a blues song per se, but no one can deny the power of its harmonious hook. “It wasn’t me. It was jealousy that made me turn my back on you.” The background vocalists here almost comprise a Greek chorus: Percy Wiggins, Courtney Barnes, Chris Barnes, Susan Marshall and Daunielle Hill.

Track 05: “I Got to Know” – With a swinging beat and terrific singing all around, number five ain’t no jive. It takes listeners back to the 1950’s, whether they lived in that decade or otherwise. “I got to know. Is there someone else on your mind? So tell me, tell me – am I wasting my time?” It’s a call-and-response song, an echo song that’ll make crowds sing along at home and live concerts alike. Don’t be afraid to grab a partner and dance, even if you have four left feet.

Track 10: “What Kind of Love” – The album’s closer is like a firecracker, with a short fuse of two minutes and forty-four seconds and a lot of BANG! Joe Restivo’s guitar is sweet and sassy, as is the refrain: “What kind of love is this you got?” Bryant and his posse leave it up to listeners’ imaginations what it looks, sounds and feels like.

Don’t Give Up on Love, and don’t give up on Don Bryant. He’s still got it, and got it good!

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 38 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.

mascot ad image

 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 8 

trevor sewell cd imageTrevor Sewell – Calling Nashville – An Americana Adventure

Self Released

11 tracks

There are CDs you can spin the first time and know they are destined for greatness. This is certainly one of them. Featuring an amazing British singer, songwriter and guitar player and a fantastic backing band, this CD has already garnered recognition and it will continue to.

Hailing from the Northeast side of the UK, Sewell is a fixture on both sides of the Atlantic. His guitar and vocals are throwbacks to the style of Mark Knopfler. His style moves from subdued restraint to an all out rocking blues attack and he gives the listener a varied and sweet sound no matter what his approach.

Joining Sewell as Janis Ian on piano and vocals along with Ian, Tracy Nelson, Vickie Carrico, Mia Moravis, Chris McCartie and Trevor Brewis on backing vocals. Justin Kimball and Dave Robinson are on bass, Sean O’Brien Smith is on upright bass, Trevor Brewis is on drums, Kellen Michael Wenrich is on fiddle and the B3 Hammond is manned by Tim McDonald. Sewell is on vocals, guitar, mandolin, bass and keys.

Sewell visits the hill country to open the set. “Some Day” is a haunting song where fiddle and echoing vocals trade licks to open and then the electric guitar and the band enter with energy as Sewell and Company sing that someday things will change and folks will treat each other right. It’s a big number and sets a high bar to follow; Sewell and the band are up to the task. “Mountain Of Gold” is a nice, slow, country blues ballad that follows and changes the tone. Sewell is on keys and fills in a bit on acoustic guitar on this somber and cool piece. The duet with Janis Ian is next. “Fade to Grey” is stark, jazzy, and impressive. Piano and guitar spar along with the two of them vocally bantering; there is a sublime brushed back beat keeping things moving. There is a huge, old-school vibe to the cut that just makes the song even more intriguing. I could listen to this cut on replay for hours on end.

“Matter of Time” has lead guitar and vocals that could easily be right out of a Dire Straits song. A medium tempo-ed piece, it’s a big, dark and tasty blues rocker that builds and builds to a slick fade. A duet with Tracy Nelson is up next. Entitled “Long Time Ago,” it is another thoughtful and nicely done frootsy ballad. Nelson’s vocals can still make the hair stand up on my arms and Sewell is up to taking on the challenge of singing with her in this pretty and sultry cut. “You Ain’t What I’m Looking For” takes things up several notches to a swinging and jumping song. The guitar stings, the piano and organ jump and jive, the bass is slick and the band is tight as Sewell blazes on vocals and guitar. Sewell next takes us to the country with the fiddle and guitar setting the tone as he growls out the lyrics to “Tear It Down.” The guitar plays behind the fiddle, adding depth ; the fiddle and guitar take on a pedal steel tone with the organ behind them. It’s a beautifully done number.

“Stand Next To Him” is a rodeo of music. The beat sets the tone like stallions at full gallop. The fiddle blows like a gale force wind behind the beat and the guitar blazes as Sewell’s vocals moan and growl along with the instrumentals. Very cool country blues rock here. Next up is “The Way You Are,” taking the tempo back down as guitar and vocals go through the paces of describing a relationship full of broken hearts.

The mood shifts positively with “Blanket Of Hope” as Sewell shifts to a bouncy and upbeat tone and meter and the ladies and B3 back him with a church-like approach. The album concludes with “Shadows,” a cut done live in one take with Janis Ian on piano. Trevor’s vocals and Ian’s piano are restrained and subdued as Sewell displays strong emotions in a song about how the woman he sings of chases the shadows out of his life.

Geoff Wilbourn produced this CD. Few can produce an album as well as he can; this is one of his best albums and is even perhaps is his finest. The range of rootsy songs, the depth of vocal interplay, and the layering of the instrumentals make this one fine album.

Sewell is a fantastic musician who will garner lots of attention with this great album. It is one of my favorites for 2017 and it will certainly make it’s way into the short lists of this years best as awards season rolls around. I strongly urge that you add this to your music collection– you will not regret the decision!

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.

delaney guitars ad image

 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 8 

sons of the soul revivers cd imageThe Sons Of The Soul Revivers – Live! Rancho Nicasio

Little Village Foundation

11 songs time-52:00

The Sons Of The Soul Revivers carry on the tradition of the gospel quartet The Soul Revivers led by their father Walter Morgan Sr. and his brothers. The San Francisco based band fronted by the Morgan brothers performs soul stirring traditional and original gospel music. Their guitars, bass and drums are augmented by the organ of co-producer Jim Pugh of Robert Cray’s band. Jim also created Little Village Foundation to present roots music that would otherwise be overlooked by commercial record companies. Their live vocal sound is powerful and moving and features tight harmonies.

“Come Over Here” is a rousing slice of gospel goodness featuring some breezy guitar playing. A slower pace is taken on the original “Satisfied”. “It’s A Needed Time” harkens back to the sound of a gospel revival tent. Dwayne Morgan uses his falsetto voice on “Pilgrim And A Stranger” to great effect. “Joy” really takes the listener to church with its’ exuberant vocal praising. The brothers get preachy on “Give Him His Due”. That’s meant in a good way. The guitars sound all happy on the upbeat “Shook”. Real deal traditional gospel music is represented by “The Man In The Middle”. Old school gospel is also delivered in “I’m A New Creature”.

In these turbulent times in the world we can all surely use some religious spirit and The Sons Of The Soul Revivers deliver in fine style. The vibrant rhythm section and guitarists Walter Morgan Jr. and Thomas Smith deliver the goods. Jim Pugh’s organ provides the churchy vibe. The production by Jim Pugh and Christoffer “Kid” Andersen capture the bands’ sound with crystal clarity. Give a listen to music you might otherwise be exposed to and give your soul some spiritual nourishment.

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

shaun murphy ad image

 Featured Blues Review – 7 of 8 

john pagno band cd imageJohn Pagano Band – One More Round

Self release

11 songs – 44 minutes

One More Round is the Georgia-based John Pagano Band’s fifth album, albeit the first under its new moniker. Previously known as JPBlues, the band describes its sound as “thick blues dripping over the edge of rock.” Having not had the pleasure of hearing their earlier albums, it is perfectly possible that those releases were blues albums. One More Round, on the other hand, is pure rock with barely a hint of blues.

The funky drum and slide guitar beginning to opening track, “Bottoms Up” is an encouraging start, but within 10 seconds the track strides into rock territory with its heavily overdriven, muscular guitars, pounding drums and terrace-chant chorus.

The primarily mid-paced songs on One More Round are well-written, with a nice mix of riff-based rock (“Make You Shout”) and pop-rock melody, from the driving “Radar Love”-like grind of “Trouble On Heels” to the cod-reggae of “Ain’t Mine”. The ballad, “On My Mind”, features an interesting and unusual guitar pattern, slowly growing into its rumbling rock finale. However there is nothing in any of the tracks that suggests the subtle dynamics and rhythmic complexity of blues.

The pop-rock of “Lost In You” and “Ain’t Gonna Lose You” both feature some nice funky slap/pop bass and choruses that are reminiscent of Hootie and The Blowfish. Indeed, there is a certain late 80s/early 90s feeling to several of the songs in their transition from quieter verses to full-blown singalong rock choruses, although the raucous rock of closing track “Catch That Train” wouldn’t be out of place on a Uriah Heep or Blackfoot album and the dramatic single note guitar riffs of “Bad Habit” recall late-era Rainbow or Deep Purple.

Pagano wrote all 11 tracks himself and also produced the album, capturing a fine sound. He sings in a warm, husky voice that perfectly suits the material as well as playing some fine guitar. He is clearly a serious talent. The rhythm section of drummer Shiloh Bloodworth and bassist Tony Hossri lay down a variety of solid grooves over which Pagano lays down a nice mix of smartly over-dubbed guitars and a series of short, punchy and to-the-point solos. Particularly striking on many of the tracks is the clever use of strong backing vocals, for example on “Rise Up”, a track inspired by the Atlanta Falcons.

One More Round is a very worthy release. It is well-written, well-recorded and well-played. It is also, despite how the band describes itself, a long, long way away from the blues. One to investigate if your tastes lean towards modern rock and pop-rock.

Reviewer Rhys Williams lives in Cambridge, England, where he plays blues guitar when not holding down a day job as a technology lawyer or running around after his children. He is married to an American, and speaks the language fluently, if with an accent.

peter ward cd ad

 Featured Blues Review – 8 of 8 

casey james cd imageCasey James – Strip It Down


CD: 14 Songs; 52:28 Minutes

Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues Rock, Ensemble Blues, Debut Album

When I was a teenager, my parents embarked upon a remarkably ambitious DIY project: repainting the foyer that led to our back door. They had thought it would be an easy job, requiring elbow grease, but not several gallons of it. It turned out that they spent several days stripping layer after layer of ghastly gray paint off the lower part, scraping for all they were worth and sweltering because they had to leave the back door open for ventilation. Eventually, though, all they found was exquisite hardwood. Moral? When you take a music album and Strip It Down to its core, what will you find? Hopefully the amazing art you were looking for. As for Texas’ Casey James and his exhilarating debut, its core is contemporary blues rock with a dash of country. You might remember him from Season 9 of American Idol as a finalist, and/or as a country star who notched a Top 15 single called “Crying on a Suitcase.” However, as his online bio states, “In Strip It Down, James comes into his own by following a simple plan: being himself. Instead of following the expectations of TV producers or the game plan of a well-oiled record company, James collected 13 songs he’d written or co-written (plus a soulful take on Little Willie John’s ‘Need Your Love So Bad’), holed up in a Nashville studio with a trim, crackerjack band and hammered out the bulk of the album in a scant four days.” The result is outstanding, especially for his first rodeo, so to speak.

His biographical blurb continues: “Growing up in Cool, Texas, a dusty town 45 miles west of Fort Worth…destiny was laid out for James at the age of 13, when he got his first guitar. It became a constant companion, a channel for his emotions, as the six strings lay easy in his hands…It was that natural. James formed a band and hit the Texas club circuit, a collection of venues just big enough that it can keep a musician going for years. The band was in such high demand that one year, he played a staggering 364 days. Clearly, he was talented – and more than ready to work. He mixed a few originals in with cover songs, played a mean guitar and sang with conviction. But he was persuaded by a family member that a run on American Idol might put him on better financial ground.” The rest, as they say, is – what? History? No. Breaking news.

Along with Casey James (lead vocals, lead and rhythm guitars) are Rob McNelley on rhythm and slide guitars; Pat Buchanan on rhythm guitar; Kevin McKendree on Wurlitzer, organ and piano; Wendy Moten on background vocals; Tommy MacDonald on bass; producer Tom Hambridge on drums, and the Muscle Shoals Horns. Vocalist Bonnie Bishop and superstar Delbert McClinton is also featured on vocals, background vocals, and handclaps.

The following song is a killer example of why Casey James made it as far as he did on Idol:

Track 02: “Bulletproof” – Delbert McClinton stars on lead vocals, but this song isn’t just a name-dropping gimmick. It’s an amazing display of the chemistry and harmony between these two when it comes to blues rock. The harmonica here is also hotter than a racecar tire’s rubber. “I want to be there in that crowd. I want the music up way too loud!” We all know the feeling.

If you take Casey James’ music and Strip It Down, what you find is a rowdy zest for life, with none of the slow-burning anger in traditional blues songs. However, is that a flaw? Not at all!

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 38 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.

reverend raven ad image

 Featured Blues Interview – Corky Siegel 

corky siegal photo 5In the world of popular music, game changers don’t come along very often, and when they do, they usually work their magic and remain locked into one segment of the business going forward. Few grasp the chance to explore and expand their talents across different platforms.

Corky Siegel is a major exception.

Born in Chicago in 1943 and self-depreciating, but recognized as one of the top harmonica players in the world today, he was a founding member of the legendary Siegel-Schwall Band, which played a key role in introducing the music to a new audience in the ’60s. Following closely on the heels of Paul Butterfield, Mike Bloomfield and Charlie Musselwhite, they were among the first wave of the new breed of bands that emerged after many first-generation artists were being rediscovered, helping to breathe new life into what was quickly becoming a dying art form.

Many blues lovers aren’t aware, however, that almost from the beginning, he’s been hard at work, entertaining different crowds, taking concepts that originated in the Mississippi Delta and Windy City and delivering them to high society by fronting a classical string quartet, Corky Siegel’s Chamber Blues, and by working with symphonies around the globe.

But that only scratches the surface of his accomplishments. By his own admission, his career choices came about through luck and being in the right place at the right time. And, although he doesn’t say it, his warm, friendly and engaging personality and quick wit as well as a mind open to new challenges definitely helped.

His is a truly amazing, involved story.

“I’m an innocent victim of my good fortune,” Corky insists.

He was studying music at Roosevelt University in the Loop and playing tenor sax and piano when it all began. A native South Sider, Siegel grew up a short bus ride from where Sonny Boy Williamson, Little Walter and Junior Wells other harmonica giants plied their trade. But the only harp players he knew at the time were Bob Dylan and Bob Buchanan, both singer/guitarists who accompanied themselves in similar fashion on rack-held instruments.

At the time, Corky was working in a three-piece with a guitarist and drummer, covering Fats Domino, Elvis Presley, Little Richard and Chuck Berry in small clubs when not in school. Buchanan — then with the New Christy Minstrels, a top act in the hootnanny era and later a tunesmith who wrote “Hickory Wind,” one of Gram Parsons’ biggest hits — was first to catch Siegel’s attention.

The sound was raw at best, but appealing enough to get Corky to pick up the instrument and start experimenting in his apartment. “On what may have been the very first day, a neighbor, Bill Nelson, walked down the hall and heard me,” Siegel recalls. “He was my age, 20 or so, someone I’d seen many times, but never spoke with. He knocks on the door, says: ‘Hey, you’re playing the harmonica — let me bring some albums over.'”

A few minutes later he returned with three LPs, Howlin’ Wolf’s Rocking Chair, a Jimmy Reed and a Muddy Waters. The discs made an instant impression.

“I quickly went out and bought copies for myself, the first records I ever bought,” Corky says. “I played them over and over and over and over, and was just dancing around the house — in ecstasy — listening to them.”

The sincere, uninhibited energy that these musicians projected through their songs affected Corky to his core.

A short while later, an encounter at Lyon & Healy, the venerable Loop music store, brought Siegel face-to-face with his first bluesman. Milton Boyland, a very tall, thin African-American, an acquaintance of Billy Boy Arnold, was hunting for a new guitar that day, and the two struck up an instant friendship in conversation. Jam sessions followed, Corky recalls with Boyland playing and singing like Lightnin’ Hopkins in a style that was similar but different than when he’d been grooving to on those records. Milton showed him blues licks on the piano. They talked of forming a band, but it never came to fruition.

Siegel and Jim Schwall, meanwhile, were members of the Roosevelt jazz band, a lineup that included two future jazz stars — saxophonist Bunky Green and keyboard player Willie Pickens — when they first met. “I’m at one end of the band playing sax, and Jim’s at the other playing guitar,” Corky recalls. “One day, we walk into the elevator, and he’s got a guitar strapped to his back, of course. And I asked: ‘Do you play blues?’

corky siegal photo 2“He says: ‘Well-l-l, a little…not really. I play country, some bluegrass and some fingerpicking-type folk-blues.’

“We went right to his apartment after that,” Siegel remembers. “He plays for me, and it’s really, really great. I said: ‘I sorta want to play blues. Do you want to do it with me?’ He said: ‘Yeah…But I’ll have to play with a pick to get that sound…'”

They soon started learning material. “We didn’t sit and listen to the records — that was more about me because I didn’t want to have to study something to be able to play it,” Corky chuckles. “I wanted to play it right away. I’d listen one time and try to play it like I felt when I was dancing around the house.”

Their end result was a sound that would serve them well in a partnership that endured for decades — different than what was being played in clubs at the time, often note-for-note covers of tunes issued on records. And Schwall’s use of an amplified acoustic guitar set them apart in a world where electric guitars dominated.

What Siegel didn’t know at the time — and what few folks remember today — was that Schwall also had other talents. He was also working with Bloomfield, one of the most unique guitarists of the era, at the time — not on six-string, but as his harmonica player. Through his guidance, Corky learned blues harp basics, how to play crossover — or second position — and how to bend a reed. Then Jim took him to see the master, Butterfield, in action.

Five decades later, Corky’s faithfully using the same techniques today.

“I’m what I call a ‘pattern’ player,” he says. “I had to find my own way of doing it. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have come out at all. In piano terms, it’s the way the fingers feel on the keys, not about the sound. It’s about the rhythm and the touch. I’m not thinking about the notes. The patterns just run into each other. It’s the dance. And it’s really fun.

“I totally failed in my pursuit of trying to play like the blues guys,” he laughs. “But as it turns out, when we started, Muddy and Wolf lo-o-oved the Siegel-Schwall Band. “They thought it was a different approach from what they were doing. We weren’t imitating. We were just trying to play.”

Corky and Jim worked up an act as a two-man band. “We had a set of music that had a little harmonica, but mostly guitar and piano, and both of us sang,” he says, and Siegel added occasional percussion by hitting a bass drum and hi-hat he situated underneath the keyboard.

Their good fortune began from the jump. They took their act to a coffeehouse in Hyde Park for the first time,. The crowd was sparse, but monumental. Two of the patrons approached after their set and announced: “We’re working on a play, and want you to work on it with us.”

The men were James Rado and Gerome Ragni, and the play was the original book and lyrics to what would become Hair. “It was going to be a play about capital punishment,” Siegel remembers. “We spent six months with them working on it, often at my parents’ when I was still living at home.”

The playwrights booked a theater and were getting ready to stage it when they were called away to New York.

Siegel and Schwall’s search for work eventually took them to Pepper’s Show Lounge at 43rd and Vincennes in the heart of what remains the black neighborhood on the South Side. It’s where Corky felt most comfortable after playing with his trio there often.

They entered without the slightest clue that it was one of the most important clubs to exist in the golden era of Chicago blues. “To me, it was just a bar,” Corky recalls. “And we were probably the only two white kids for miles around. We went in, and asked: ‘Can we play?'”

The man they were asking turned out to be the proprietor, Johnny Pepper, who operated the nightspot in three different locations for decades, booking the biggest names in the music to play on his small stage. After a brief audition, he hired them on the spot. “I’d like you here every Thursday night,” he said. “But I’m going to hire a bass player and drummer. I don’t want a two-man band.”

corky siegal photo 3In the months that followed, Siegel and Schwall arrived early each week to discover who their rhythm section would be. To their amazement, that first night Howlin’ Wolf’s bass player and drummer sat behind them. Other nights, it was Muddy’s. Or Junior’s. Or Buddy Guy’s. “From nine at night till four in the morning, we’d be playing with the rhythm section from whatever band was in town but off that night,” Siegel recalls, “and we…we were just learning to play.”

But it gets even better!

“That first night, who comes to sit in with us? Wolf, Muddy, Junior, Buddy, Otis Spann, Willie Dixon, Hound Dog Taylor,” Corky remembers. “Sometimes I’d play piano if a harp player was playing. Sometimes I’d play harp if a piano player on stage. And they all took us under their wing.”

The duo kept that gig for several months.

Somewhere in that timeline, they met up with the folks from Hair again in Manhattan when they were in town to play. The playwrights told them they were still working on the project, but that the plot had changed to be about the hippie movement in San Francisco. “They wanted us to write the music,” Corky says. “But we turned it down because we were on the road ourselves.”

Rado and Ragni, along with Galt MacDermot, who wrote the final score, eventually played several of their tunes for Siegel and Schwall when they revisited Chicago prior to the play’s debut off-Broadway. When it did, Siegel was in town and in the audience.

Siegel-Schwall moved their act to the North Side to Big John’s on Wells Street after winning an audition to take over a spot vacated by Butterfield when he signed with Elektra Records and was heading out on the road. Along with Mother Blues, a few blocks south, it was one of the first clubs in the more affluent neighborhoods north of the Loop and east of the West Side, where the music flourished.

The duo played both venues regularly, expanding to a four-piece band and making the music, Corky says, “outrageously simple because I was still learning and wanted to sound good.”

They soon caught the ear of Vanguard Records, which assigned Samuel Charters, the legendary early blues historian, to produce the first of what would be four highly successful LPs for label. A dozen more albums followed on the Wooden Nickel/RCA and Alligator imprints.

A Classical Collaboration

It was at Big John’s that Corky’s future path changed once again. “This fella comes in night after night,” he recalls. “Obviously, he’s a big fan. He shows up early and stays all night every night six nights a week. Finally, one night, he comes up to me and says: ‘Corky, I would like your band to jam with my band.’

“‘Who’s your band?’ I asked. He says: ‘The Chicago Symphony.'”

The gentleman turned out to be Seiji Ozawa, one of the most highly decorated and innovative classical music conductors of the 20th Century. Before moving to the U.S., he led top symphonies in his native Japan and eventually served as musical director of orchestras in the Windy City, Toronto, San Francisco, Boston and Austria.

A lesser man might have declined the offer, considering how far out of left field it might have seemed. Not Corky.

After additional conversations, he, Ozawa and jazz trombonist/avant garde composer William Russo began meeting in the club, tossing around ideas. “Seiji wanted to bring the blues element to classical music,” Siegel remembers. Both he and Russo wondered how they were going to do it.

corky siegal photo 4My answer was that we should make sure that we make sure we offer everyone (listeners) something to not like,” Corky laughs. “That was the first rule.”

They discussed Charles Ives, who composed “Music For Two Marching Bands” in which the two units simultaneously played different songs in different keys. “‘Let’s start there,’ I said. “‘John Cage (another experimental composer) and Charles Ives opened the door for us to do it. Ives’ vision was for us to have the orchestra play something very classical in one time and rhythm and have the blues band play straight-ahead blues, and just have them play together.'”

That idea was still simmering in 1967 when Siegel-Schwall temporarily relocated to San Francisco at the height the Summer Of Love, where they were managed by The Family Dog, the organization headed by Big Brother And The Holding Company founder Chet Helms.

“Now we’re in the absolute middle of the whole hippie scene — the Avalon and the Fillmore,” Corky remembers, “and being a San Francisco favorite…from nothing!”

Janus Joplin, Steve Miller and Joni Mitchell all served as their opening acts, and Jim and Corky teamed to produce Joni’s original demo tape. The first time Joplin played Chicago with Big Brother, Siegel picked her up at the airport. A few weeks later, he did the same for Jefferson Airplane.

Back in Chicago, Russo and Siegel completed their work, giving birth to “Three Pieces For Blues Band And Symphony Orchestra.” It debuted at the Ravinia Festival, juxtaposing the Siegel-Schwall Band with Ozawa’s ensemble in an arrangement that provided rigid structure for the classical musicians but allowed the bluesmen space to improvise.

“If you listen to it, you’ll see that, other than the intro, that’s exactly what happens,” Corky says. “It’s Siegel-Schwall playing a shuffle and the symphony playing melodic symphonic lines, then a blues ostinato (repeating phrase, usually in the same pitch) with a classical melody. Then a classical ostinato with a blues melody — three really interesting ways of approaching this juxtaposition.

“It’s completely mathematical with eight different ostinatos, four of each. That’s what I did, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”

An overnight sensation, the work drew comparisons to the creativity of Miles Davis and Leonard Bernstein, and led to the bluesmen touring the country to perform it with other orchestras.

Ozawa was conducting the San Francisco Symphony when the work was captured for disc by European classical imprint Deutsche Grammophon. Released in 1973, it became one of the most successful albums the label ever produced, with the classical/blues composition on the A side backed with Ozawa’s cover of a Bernstein symphony. It hit No. 21 on Billboard‘s jazz chart, and has enjoyed subsequent success with multiple reissues through the years.

Corky has divided his time among blues, classical and world music ever since. When Siegel-Schwall broke up for the first time in 1974, he launched a solo career that continues today. And like Pepper’s, his first gig — opening for Muddy for five nights at the Quiet Knight in Chicago — proved memorable, too.

“I had three accidents leading up to this concert,” he says, breaking all of the ribs on one side of his body and bruising his heart after being run over by a horse, breaking the tip of a pinky playing softball and cutting his head open in a skiing mishap in quick succession. He arrived to play looking like a bluesman, his head bandaged, his finger in a cast and barely able to breathe.

During that era, Siegel also spent time on the road with Bob Hope, learning a lesson from the comic genius that still holds weight today.

“I was being managed for a while by a promoter who was one of Hope’s friends,” Corky remembers. He set up a six-day tour for Hope, and got the comedian’s approval to bring Corky along to open the show.

“The limousine rides were pretty wild,” Siegel remembers. “On one in particular, I said: ‘Bob, I have a question…something that’s really been bothering me: I hear professional performers saying all the time: “You must read, you must know your audience.” I get it that a comedian should know if there are children in the crowd so he won’t tell jokes that’ll be offensive. But other than that, it doesn’t make sense to me.

“‘I’m not sure what I like,’ I continued. ‘How am I going to look at an audience and try to figure out what they like?’

corky siegal photo 1“He said: ‘Let me tell you a story. I was on my way to a performance and an hour late because of a flight. I showed up, and the audience applauds. I start telling my jokes. There’s a couple of giggles here, a couple of laughs there, but I’m bombing completely. So I cut my show short, take my bow and the audience applauds.”

On the ride to his hotel, it finally dawned him that he’d been giving a special performance — for an audience full of mutes — and that he wasn’t getting laughs simply because the crowd was unable to speak.

“‘Corky,’ he said, ‘don’t ever try to read your audience!'”

Ever since that ride, Siegel has used fearlessness as a tool to do what feels right.

He released three solo albums during that period. But he and Schwall — who went on to earn a PhD, taught music for many years at the University Of Wisconsin and is currently pursuing his love of nature — continued working together, most recently in March 2016.

All the while, Siegel was becoming more and more in demand to write for orchestras around the globe. First came a request from the San Francisco Symphony in 1975. “I’d never written anything before except songs and arrangements,” he says. “Even though I told them that, they insisted. I figured ‘I don’t have to live in San Francisco, so I did it.

“It debuted in front of 6,000 people at the Civic Auditorium, and there I was performing with Arthur Fielder conducting. They loved it.

“Then I got commissions from the National Symphony in Washington and the Grant Park Symphony in Chicago. I kept getting requests and turning them down. They didn’t realize I’m not really a composer and that it takes me a really long time to do it.”

But the work continued. Another collaboration with Russo in 1979 resulted in “Street Music, A Blues Concerto,” earning the Grand Prix Du Disque from the French government and honors as a Recording Of Special Merit from Stereo Review. And additional compositions have been choreographed and performed by international ballet companies, used in Olympic skating competitions and major movies.

“Seiji used to say to me: ‘You must pursue this juxtaposition between blues and classical. It’s important to the world. It’s important to music,'” Siegel reflects. “Honestly, I was touring with Siegel-Schwall and making records. The idea of spending a lot of time pursuing it wasn’t a motivator for me.

“However, even though I didn’t pursue it, it pursued me.”

In 1983, he started writing the material for what has become his enduring project, Corky Siegel’s Chamber Blues. “I fell in love with the juxtaposition,” he says. The idea of working with a string quartet proved very appealing, very healing.

“This was at a time when musicians were using a lot of synthesized sounds,” he notes, “and I was just driven to wanting real sounds. I was also thinking: No more bass and drums because they’re in everything.

“But a string quartet, that was different. Nice natural, wooden sounds. And tabla (Indian drums similar to bongos), which are nice, wooden and very ornamentative.”

corky siegal photo 6The idea also proved appealing for financial reasons, too. “It was also something I could travel with,” Corky says. With symphonies, he had to rely on being hired by distant orchestras to perform. “With Chamber Blues, I could rehearse in my home. If I had a headache, I could lay my head on the floor and listen to the string quartet,” he jokes. “How soothing. That’s what I wanted to be around. I was incredibly, wildly inspired. It changed my life dramatically.”

The concept premiered in 1987 in Colorado in Boulder for the Chautaugua Foundation and at the Denver Zoo, then debuted it in the Midwest a year later. “I adored it, but thought people were going to hate it,” he recalls. “But the critics were rabid. They absolutely loved it. I was really surprised.”

The blues community back home in Chicago also embraced the idea. In the years that have followed, Alligator Records has released three Chamber Blues CDs, and Corky’s current lineup includes longtime Siegel-Schwall bassist Rollo Radford as well as Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame drummer Sam Lay, who’s worked with everyone from Little Walter and Magic Sam to Butterfield and Dylan. And their most recent project, the CD Different Voices, was recently tabbed with a Downbeat editor’s pick honor.

“We’re the only chamber orchestra ever to record three albums for an all-blues label,” Corky chuckles. “And Siegel-Schwall’s the only blues band to record two for an all-classical label!”

Since 1999, he’s also toured occasionally with Dr. L. Subramaniam, India’s foremost Eastern classical violinist, delivering licks in an ensemble that’s truly global in nature. The lineup usually includes members of Subramaniam’s own talented family and extensive percussion, and has featured Hubert Laws, Ernie Watts, Larry Coryell and others in varying alignments.

“I’m not doing anything different,” Corky insists. “I’m still dancing and just doing what I’ve always done, trying to find ways of fitting in. Whenever someone asks me what I play, I still tell them it’s blues. At the same time, I don’t really want to favor the blues. I want to honor every form of music.

“It’s really profound. The musical elements — the pitch, the rhythm, the melodies and harmonies — that’s what’s really carrying us away. It’s not a particular form of music. But blues does have a step up on other forms because of folks like Wolf who threw every fiber of his being into his performance.”

The difference goes beyond the Dixon adage that blues is the root, everything else is the fruit — a statement that’s true of all American music, Siegel insists. “It’s technical, and subtle: In classical, jazz and other music, the idea is to get your personality out of the way because you want the music to speak for itself.

“In heavy metal, you know how people are going to be on stage, how they’re going to perform, what they’re going to look like and wear. In jazz, there’s a school of thought that you’ve gotta be cool, get out of the way of the music and let it speak.

“However, thankfully, there are exceptions in all forms of music where people are just going to express themselves like blues players — immersing themselves into the performance no matter what happens.

“Blues is on the pedestal. It’s the example of the way it should be for all forms of music.”

As you’re reading this interview, Siegel is about to head to India for another tour with Subramaniam. You can learn more about Corky and see his musical catalog of blues and all beyond, by visiting his website. While you’re there, be sure to check out his blog, which contains more details about the Summer Of Love, his highly humorous but insightful “One-Page Book On The Music Business” and much, much more.

Check out Corky’s website at:

Interviewer 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.

 Blues Society News 

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

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

Minnesota Blues Society – St Paul, MN

Minnesota Blues Society presents our holiday Party and annual meeting Sun, Dec 3, 2-6:30 at Crooner’s Lounge 6161 Hwy 65, NE, Minneapolis.

There will be food discounts, complimentary cake and Music by Squishy Mud. We are accepting non-perishable donations for SACA food shelfma.

Sacramento Blues Society – Sacramento, CA

The Sacramento Blues Society will be hosting their Annual Member Party December 2, 2017, at the VFW Hall, 2784 Stockton Blvd, Sacramento, CA. 7:00 – 11:00 PM. The IBC runner-up, the Zach Waters Band, will open followed by the award winning Ben Rice Band from Portland, OR.

Admittance is free to all SBS members. Go to to join in advance or membership can be obtained at the door. Wheelchair accessible. 21+.

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: Nov 27 – Black Magic Johnson, Dec 4 – Studebaker John, Dec 11 – Ed Selinger and Edmopolitans, Dec 18 The Mary Jo Curry Band. For more information visit

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

Please follow and like us: