Issue 11-6 February 9, 2017

Cover photo by Rick Lewis © 2017

 In This Issue 

Blues Blast Magazine Senior Writer Terry Mullins has our feature interview with Joey Gilmore. We have 8 Blues reviews for you this week including new music from Nancy Wright, Tas Cru, Kathryn Hettel, Backtrack Blues Band, Tami Neilson, Murali Coryell, Ike & Tina Turner and The Jimmys.

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

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 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 8 

nancy wright cd imageNancy Wright – Playdate!

VizzTone Label Group VTDH-111

13 songs – 56 minutes

San Francisco-based sax player Nancy Wright wasted no time following up on last year’s well-received release, Putting Down Roots, with this star-studded CD.

Dedicated to her mentor and friend, guitar giant Lonnie Mack, Playdate! came about after Wright took blues historian/producer Dick Shurman’s words to heart after he spoke about challenges facing folks in the music industry today and he remarked: “Do what you love.”

A veteran horn player who’s toured with Elvin Bishop, Commander Cody, John Lee Hooker and Maria Muldaur in addition to being a popular studio musician, she didn’t hesitate.

Like her previous CD, this one was produced, recorded and mixed by 2017 Blues Foundation Keeping The Blues Alive honoree Chris “Kid” Andersen at his Greaseland Studios. He provides guitar backing throughout with a unit that consists of Chris Burns on keys, Joe Kyle Jr. on bass and recently departed Nightcats bandmate J. Hansen on drums with Tom Poole (ex-Tommy Castro Band) on trumpet and Faris Jarrah on trombone. Adding to the mix are Martin Windstad (percussion), Lisa Leuschner-Andersen (backing vocals), the Plymouth Church Of Jazz And Justice Choir and Chauncey Roberts (tambourine).

Pushing the mix over the top are guest spots by several of the top names and rising stars in the business, including guitarists Joe Louis Walker, Castro, Bishop, Chris Cain and Mike Shermer, keyboard players Victor Wainwright and Jim Pugh and vocalists Wee Willie Walker, Frank Bey and Terrie Odabi, most of whom laid down their parts in Andersen’s hotel room in Memphis at last year’s BMA Awards.

The end result is a funky, soulful album that jumps from the first note and pulsates throughout. “Why You Wanna Do It” features Wee Willie on vocals backed by Terrie as they deliver a powerful Memphis funk with Nancy driving the horn section and laying down a greasy mid-tune solo. If you’re not aware of Walker yet – a star in the ‘60s who’s enjoying a second career in the spotlight, his rendition will have you yearning for more.

Castro’s featured on six-string for as Nancy successfully steps to the mike for a percolating cover of Willie Dixon’s “I Got What It Takes” before Wainwright soars on the 88s for the Wright original “Yes He Do,” a West Coast jump. Next up, Nancy delivers a new take on the sultry, smokin’ Eddie Shaw sax instrumental, “Blues For The Westside,” with Joe Louis featured throughout.

Wright heard the next tune, the previously unrecorded “Been Waiting That Long,” when Mack played it for her at his kitchen table a few months prior to his death. Featuring Bay Area powerhouse Bey on vocals, it describes a life living “high on promises with nothin’ comin’ in” atop a driving horn line. The funk continues as Nancy’s talents are on full display for her original instrumental, “Trampled,” aided by Grammy winning organist Pugh and Andersen on guitar.

Nancy dips into the songbook of 1950s “Rockin’ Queen Of Happy Spirituals” Martha Carson as she vocalizes a pleasing cover of the country-gospel hit “Satisfied,” backed by the choir, before Odabi voices Wright’s sultry original, “Warranty,” before Nancy covers another ‘50s hit, the Esther Phillips jump classic, “Cherry Wine.”

A smooth instrumental reprise of the Jay McNeely classic, “There Is Something On Your Mind” features Bishop on guitar before a trio of Wright originals — “Back Room Rock,” aided by flashy fretwork from Schermer, “Good Loving Daddy,” featuring Nancy on vocals, and “Soul Blue,” showcasing Cain – bring the set to a close.

Available through Amazon, CDBaby, iTunes and other online retailers, Playdate! is stellar throughout. Nancy’s horn playing has always been exceptional. She’s proving herself to be a rock-solid vocalist, too.

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.

 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 8 

tas cru cd imageTas Cru – Simmered & Stewed

VizzTone Label Group

11 tracks

What Tas Cru presents here is, well, 11 old and recycled Tas Cru songs. That would not be so cool except here we have 11 tunes he did on prior solo albums in a very minimalistic manner. The cuts here are a full production with backing and arrangements. What Tas has done is taking the sound he achieved and loved off his last album in December 2014 and recreating that with some of the stuff he still does at his shows that he’d released on solo albums. He says, “Finally, after five albums everything fell into place- the songwriting, the performance, and production.” He doesn’t have inventory to sell those old CDs so he figured why not take the stuff he still plays and create a bigger and better sounding version of it? I must agree. He’s done a fine job here!

Tas Cru is based in Upstate New York and has been a fixture as a solo artist and as a blues educator. He was the 2014 Blues Foundation’s Keeping the Blues Alive Award (KBA) for Blues Education. His success as a blues educator is noteworthy as is his music. Also, in 2009 he was named by Blues Festival Guide Magazine as their 2009 Blues Artist on the Rise. So Tas is renowned and has been a superb musician for many a year. What’s different is his approach. Drums, bass guitars, harmonicas, backing vocalists pianos, and organs were used in the production of these cuts. Tas wrote all but one of the tunes here and produced the album. It was recorded in three locations in Upstate New York.

“Dat Maybe” starts things off. It’s got a driving beat and blasts off smartly with a big harp (Dick Earl Erickson on all tracks) and Tas on electric guitar delivering a high energy, rocking blues sound. Chip Lamson is on piano here, but it’s on the second track where we see him featured. “Grizzle and Bone” has him doing some mean solo and backing work. The harp also comes in for a nice solo and the organ (Guy Nirelli on tracks 1 and 2) is effective in support. This is a hopping and fun cut and Tas does a great job on vocals and guitar.”Feel I’m Falling” opens to resonator guitar and then the thump of a foot pedaled drum. It builds and builds with haunting backing vocals and slide as Taz testifies. The full band joins in and finishes things off in a cacophony of sound until things end and go out with the wind. “Time and Time” is a slow ballad with a mournful harp that counters Cru’s vocals. Thoughtful guitar and a deep bass line by Mike Lawrence also impressed me. A funky boogie gets things going with “Road to My Obsession.” It’s interesting and cool as Tas bounces through the lyrics. Tas fantasizes over his baby’s “Bisquit” that he misses in another driving and upbeat cut. Guitar, piano (David Liddy this time) and the rest of the band all shine in this one. There is even some slide to satisfy the slide lovers.

“Cover My Love” is next. Has a lot of percussive sounds along with witty lyrics and a host of cool sounds as the band and Cru weave their way through another uptempo cut. Liddy’s piano and the harp blowing complement the guitar and vocals nicely. “Woman Won’t You Love Me” has a longish intro. It’s a big, slow country blues with Cru pretty much begging his woman for some love. Slide and harp take us down home and Lamson’s piano adds well to the mix. “Just Let It Happen” is a is a fun song where Cru instructs us to be loose and just do what the song title says. He picks out some guitar for us and Lamson’s piano keeps pace. It’s a bouncy little ditty. Things get darker and dirtier in “Tired of Bluesmen Cryin’” and then Cru lets loose on his compatriots by basically telling them in a tongue and cheek way to man up and stop complaining about losing loves, families and homes. Lamson offers some interesting and dark twists to boogie woogie piano. “Higher and Higher” closes the CD, the only non-Tas Cru cut. Tas takes this way down in tempo, making it almost into a slow spiritual. The organ sets the tone (Lamson again), and Cru builds things from his opening resonator guitar into electric and then with his slide work. He and the backing vocalists increase the intensity as they and the band make this into an interesting cover.

Ron Keck does percussion throughout. Mary Anne Casale and Alice “Honeybea” Erickson are backing on vocals throughout, too. 13 other artists fill in on the other tracks. They all contribute well and make Cru’s more sparse original recordings into new sounding production cuts.

Cru is shown on the album cover mixing a big pot of something in an industrial kitchen, symbolizing his chef work in taking his solo stuff and cooking them up in a new and intriguing way. I like Cru’s acoustic stuff but I like his stuff here, too. He’s done a fine job finding a new angle and way to make his old songs new and cool. I liked the album and enjoyed each of the cuts. It there is any complaint I might offer the backing vocals were very big at times throughout the album. I think that was the intent, but it almost seemed to me they were the featured vocals. Despite this small comment, this is cool and fun stuff. I think his fans will like it and I think blues fans in general will like the well produced and integrated cuts with lots of keys and guitar and harp blended with vocals to make some fresh and interesting music. Well done!

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 – 3 of 8 

kathryn hettel cd imageKathryn Hettel – Cookin’ In The Kitchen With Dinah – A Tribute To Dinah Washington

Critical Sun 2016

17 tracks; 64 minutes

Kathryn Hettel comes from Washington State and this is her third album. Her music straddles jazz and blues, her previous disc Jazz From The Heart (2013) being a collection of jazz standards. This new project was three years in gestation as Kathryn shares her love of Dinah Washington’s music on a varied album which adds horns, strings and other instruments to the core band: Kathryn on vocals, Darrius Willrich on keys, Patrick McDanel on bass, Rick J Bowen on drums (and production) and Kevin Andrew Sutton on guitar. Among the other musicians appearing are Tony Grasso and Kevin Sibley on trumpet, Brian Kent, Harold Fox and Jacob Zimmerman on sax, Naomi Siegel on trombone, Jim McLaughlin on harmonica, Jacques Willis on vibes, Sandy Carter on pedal steel, Joe Daria on Hammond B3 and Mai L Pittard on strings.

With such a wide selection of songs it is only possible to highlight a few for discussion. “I Don’t Hurt Anymore” is a great rolling blues with superb sax from Brian Kent alongside Kathryn’s strong vocal and opener “Good Daddy Blues” features Jim’s harp on one of the tracks with the highest blues quotient. “Birth Of The Blues” bounces along well with trombone and clarinet featured. The standard “You Don’t Know What Love Is” has been recorded by Billie Holliday and Nina Simone as well as Dinah and this delicate version has vibes behind Kathryn’s vocals, Tony Grasso’s muted trumpet solo beautifully poised in Miles Davis fashion. Buddy Johnson’s “Since I Fell For You” is similarly well-known and here Kathryn uses strings with the basic rhythm section and piano – simple but effective – as is the arrangement of Bennie Benjamin and George Weiss’ “I’ll Never Be Free”.

Dinah also wrote songs and here we hear four of her compositions, including “Bad Luck”, again featuring Brian’s brooding tenor, and “Showtime” which is more of a jazzy piece with another fine trumpet solo from Tony. Dinah was one of those singers who could ‘sing the phone book’ including being at home with sassy songs like Billy Moore Jr’s “Baby Get Lost”in which she declares her intention to drop an unsatisfactory man: “I’ve got so many men that they’re standing in line”. Kathryn ventures into soul territory with her version of Titus Turner’s “Soulville” and closes the album with a moving solo piano and vocal interpretation of Clyde Otis’ “This Bitter Earth”, demonstrating both her own range and that of Dinah Washington to whom this album makes a fine tribute.

Far from straight blues, this album blends blues, jazz and Tin Pan Alley influences to good effect. One result is that it makes this reviewer want to explore Dinah Washington’s music more deeply which probably means that Kathryn Hettel has succeeded in her objective!

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 – 4 of 8 

backtrack blues band cd imageBacktrack Blues Band – Way Back Home

Harpo Records

10 songs – 47 minutes

Way Back Home is Tampa Bay-based Backtrack Blues Band’s fifth release and it is a tasty slice of straight-ahead, modern electric blues. Comprising six tracks written by singer/harp player, Sonny Charles, together with four classic covers, Way Back Home stands with one foot planted in the Chicago blues of Paul Butterfield and Mike Bloomfield, the other in the Texas blues of the early Fabulous Thunderbirds or Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets featuring Sam Myers. If you like your blues with biting lead guitar and soaked in great harp playing, you will like Way Back Home.

The Backtrack Blues Band (named after the great Little Walter instrumental) formed in 1980 and their 35 years’ worth of shared stages and shared experiences is evident in the sense of togetherness and camaraderie that permeates this very enjoyable release. Charles’s harp and Kid Royal’s guitar harmonise melodies on “Help Me Just This Time” and “Heavily Built Woman”, while they dance around each other’s fills without ever getting the way on tracks like the opening shuffle of “Goin’ To Eleuthera” and the fade out to “Shoot My Rooster”.

Charles is a top class harp player, obviously influenced by Little Walter and the second Sonny Boy Williamson but also drawing on modern day masters (there is much of the muscular power of Kim Wilson in his playing). At times his vocals can sound a little affected (viz “Baby Please Don’t Go”) but he has a distinctive timbre and he really brings it home on tracks like the Texas shuffle of “Rich Man Blues”.

Royal is a fine lead guitarist, playing solos and fills that flow with an almost inevitable certainty, sounding like a cross between Freddie King and early Kid Bangham, with a hint of Albert Collins (in “Checkin’ On My Baby”).

The band is not afraid to let Charles and Royal stretch out with their solos, giving the album a sense of having been recorded live, especially when they both take multi-chorus solos on the same song. It is a tribute to both players however and to the rhythm section that underpins them that neither outstays their welcome at any time.

Indeed, while Charles and Royal may take the headlines with their solos, the quality of every band is dependent on the rhythm section and the Backtrack Blues Band also score highly here. The rhythm guitar of Little Johnny Walter, the bass of Jeff “Stick” Davis and the drums of Joe Bencomo combine to lay down a series of smart yet unfussy foundations to each song. There is no flashy over-playing here just grooves that work for each track. Bencomo plays in a manner redolent of the great Mike Buck, even playing “Nobody But You” pretty straight, omitting the memorable drum rolls that Fred Below added to Little Walter’s original.

On the subject of “Nobody But You”, a minor reservation with Way Back Home is the choice of the four cover songs. “Checkin’ On My Baby”, “Nobody But You”, “Your Funeral, My Trial”, and “Baby Please Don’t Go” (curiously credited to Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott as writer) are very well-known songs that have all been covered multiple times. While they are no doubt crowd-pleasers in a live scenario, it really isn’t that difficult to find many, many other great blues songs to cover that are slightly less well-known.

Overall however, Way Back Home is a fine collection of songs, expertly played and recorded, and featuring guest appearances from Victor Wainwright on piano (with particularly piquant contributions to “Help Me Just This Time”, Heavy Built Woman) and Latonya Oliver and Dana Merriwether on background vocals. This is a very impressive, very enjoyable release.

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.

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 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 8 

tami neilson cd imageTami Neilson – Don’t Be Afraid

Self-Produced, Licensed by Outside Music

CD: 11 Songs, 35:18 Minutes

Styles: Soul, Soul-Influenced Blues, Mellow Ballads

The perky Bandcamp profile of Canada’s Tami Neilson describes her as “a red-hot honky-tonker, somewhere between Patsy Cline and Wanda Jackson with perhaps just a little bit of Peggy Lee sophistication.” This quote, from Nick Bollinger of New Zealand National Radio, is spot-on. What’s missing? Any mention of our favorite “B” word at this magazine. Not to worry, though: we profile soul and soul-influenced blues albums all the time. Don’t Be Afraid, Tami’s 2016 release, is a riveting and heartfelt follow-up to her 2014 debut Dynamite! It’s full of ballads, such as “Only Tears” and “Heavy Heart,” that would remind one of Linda Ronstadt as well as the dynamos mentioned earlier. All eleven selections on this CD are originals, plus a ghost-track demo version of the title song. They may not be pure blues, but they are bodacious!

The atmosphere of this album is one of nostalgia, yearning for a past and people now long gone. Tami lovingly dedicates Don’t Be Afraid to her father, who co-wrote two of its songs, saying on the back cover, “Dad, this is for you.” By far, the sweetest slow number is the last one, entitled “The First Man.” Got that? Good. With pizzazz and poignancy alternating in rounds, Neilson takes listeners inside her life to meet the people she loves, and share in her fun and frustration. Her vocals could use a bit more power on some songs, but on “Loco Mama,” they pack a wallop. Tami’s music is the kind one might hear at a Western-themed bar, whether in a film or real life.

Performing along with Neilson are Dave Khan on guitars and strings, Ben Woolley on bass guitars, Joe McCallum on drums, and Delaney Davidson on guitars. Collectively, these four and Will Wood are known as the “Prodigal Sons Choir”, as stated on the inside cover of the CD. Special guests include Marlon Williams and pedal-steel guitar player Red McKelvie.

The following three songs are guaranteed to get crowds laughing and dancing all at once:

Track 06: “Bury My Body” – Okay, this is more of an eerie stomp instead of a dance number, and one’s laughter comes at one particular lyrical point in the song, but it fits my criteria just the same. “The devil done missed his chance to steal my soul. He crooked his crooked finger, and I said, ‘Hell, no!’” Would that all of us would be so daring in the face of death. No tombstone can hold the faithful, as Tami reassures us: “The dust and the bone won’t make a sound.”

Track 07: “Loco Mama” – Any parent can relate to these hilarious sentiments: “When the Mama go loco, you better get out, better go go, tick-tick-tick-tick-tick, POW!” Kids may be bundles of joy, but they can turn mamas and papas into bundles of nerves in no time flat. This Latin-inspired salsa-fest will be the number-one repeated song on householders’ playlists. Check out that fiery guitar.

Track 10: “Laugh Laugh Laugh” – Full disclosure: The title of track ten made me do just that. However, its subject is no laughing matter. “I’m teasing up my hair and painting my lips Ruby Woo. Spraying on my AquaNet and the last of that perfume you gave me so long ago. But if I’m blue, you’ll never know.” Sometimes merriment is a mask we wear until we melt. Dig that 1920’s vibe and do the Charleston to your heart’s content, dancing dudes and dudettes!

Lovers of soul, Don’t Be Afraid to give Tami Neilson’s latest offering a spin!

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.

 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 8 

murali coryell cd imageMurali Coryell – Mr. Senator

Shake-It-Sugar Records

10 songs Time-45:03

With his pedigree of being noted jazz guitarist Larry Coryell’s son and his association with Joe Louis Walker I would of expected from Murali Coryell a CD of jazz and/or blues instead of this mixture of blue-eyed soul, funk and pop. His guitar playing is a combination of funk, jazz and very little blues. The band configuration is basically guitar, drums and bass with saxes on one song. There is also an additional guitarist on two tracks. They manage to funk things up with just the three instruments. The three best known cover songs really don’t offer much over the originals, save for a different guitar approach.

The title track introduces the listener to Murali’s smooth, sandpaper, blue-eyed soul voice. His guitar soloing here owes a big debt to the influence of Carlos Santana. The sentiment of the song is timely as it speaks of crooked politicians. “Dysfunctional Child” is straight up R&B complete with plenty “woo hoos”. The guitar solos are quite nice here in the blues-rock vein. Murali dusts off his slide guitar for the sax driven “Tuff Love”. Leon Russell’s “This Masquerade” is truer to George Benson’s slick pop version. It doesn’t add anything to either of the two versions, except a different guitar style, which in Murali’s hands is a harder attack.

His wife wanted him to write a pretty, romantic song for her, so he wrote this boy band sounding piece of fluff instead in “You Blew My Mind”. His approach to Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” works quite well and you don’t really miss the keyboards as blues-rock guitar fits the bill. The AM radio staple “Slip Away” is a harder and quite good rendition. The guitar playing on “Let’s Straighten It Out” is jazzy on this slow R&B burner. “My Pedal Board” is about how airlines mishandle the band’s musical equipment as a nice bluesy shuffle. The lyrics to “Tejanos” are in Spanish and the song sounds similar to what Los Lobos does on occasion.

Ok, there you have it. This isn’t the kind of music that appeals to me, but the musicianship and production values are there. There is music for all tastes, so if this is on your radar, you should find much to like here. Whatever makes you happy.

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

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 Featured Blues Review – 7 of 8 

ike and tina turner cd imageIke & Tina Turner – The Complete Pompeii Recordings 1968-1969

Pompeii Records

3 CDs/10 tracks, 11 tracks and 12 tracks

The liner notes for the set state that Ike and Tina Turner recorded for at least 10 different record labels between 1960 and 1970. This resulted in almost 70 singles and 20 albums (including live albums and compilations) in a period when they averaged 300 shows a year, appeared on television countless times, raised a family and became household icons. In 1968 and 1969 they released 3 albums for Pompeii Records. They were So Fine, Cussin’, Cryin’ & Carryin’ On and A Black Man’s Soul. The first two were Ike and Tina albums, the last one was Ike Turner & The Kings of Rhythm. They also released 3 albums for the Blue Thumb label during these two years, and a fourth compilation album with material from these three albums was released on Pompeii.

The set comes with the CDs packaged in mini sleeves replicating the album covers. A booklet with a history of Ike, Tina and their recording career is included with credits from the original albums, some corrections to the artist listings and some interesting graphics from shows, albums and singles. The notes tell us the history that Ike was being played by the labels and he in turn began his own labels to play the system. Some of the material here was redone and repacked while some of it appears to be the exact same material released elsewhere. What matters is that Ike and under his tutelage Tina, the Ikettes, The Kings of Rhythm and a host of other participants worked to produce some amazing music that built his and their legacy. After these albums were produced, Ike and Tina became true household names releasing Beatles, Sly and the Family Stone and Creedence Clearwater songs that rocketed them to the top.

Ike began his career under the tutelage of Pinetop Perkins who mentored him on the piano. Not wanting to lead bands from the piano bench, he also became a fantastic guitar player. His first brush with fame was in March 1951 when the 19 year old bandleader and pianist wrote and recorded “Rocket 88” with his sax player and vocalist Jackie Berenson. Sam Phillips recorded the song and licensed it to Chess as he did not have a label at the time. Chess released the songs as being written and performed by Jackie Berenson and His Delta Cats. The song is likened to be the first and rock and roll song ever recorded and Ike’s name was not used in or with it. If this early confusion were not enough, his recording so much material of production by himself or by others became a confused mess in the 1960s. But some of the works stood out and the 1970s began their rise to the top.

Tina began life as Anna Mae Bullock who sang at church and with her family. Rumors abound as to how she and Ike met. The most likely scenario is that during a break between sets she demonstrated her vocals prowess to Ike and his band. She was hired as backing vocalist to The Kings of Rhythm and then as a featured vocalist “Little Ann.” She recorded her first song in 1958, a 78 rpm record entitled “Boxtop” on Tune Town Records. Sue records loved the demo and paid $20,000 for it and Ike reinvented Little Ann into Tina Turner. Future shows became the Ike & Tina Turner Revue and debuted in 1960 with “A Fool In Love” (also on So Fine here in the set). Her fame was one the rise, so Ike added the Ikettes to the Revue. They recorded with Phil Spector to mixed success here (lot’s more in the UK). They grew in popularity in their live performances but never had that big hit recording through the 1960’s. These albums and other from the era began getting them notice on the charts and then “Come Together,” “I Wanna Take You Higher’ and “Proud Mary” took them to the top in the ‘70’s.

We all know what happened later, with Tina becoming a bigger recording and movie star while Ike sank due to his substance abuse and personal demons. They stopped recording together in 1976 and divorced two years later. Jail time came for Ike but he was finally released and they happened to get inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame just after his release. Ike recovered and worked his way back and won a Grammy in 2006 before succumbing to lung disease and heart problems.

So Fine, released in 1968, features Ike on guitar, keys and backing vocals and Tina as vocalist. The Ikettes are also featured (Delores Johnson, Eloise Hester and Joshie Armstead). All other artists are unknown. Ike produced the album. It was rumored he owned the label but that is unlikely, although he called all the shots here and on the other two albums. The cuts were likely recorded in 1966 through 1968 in Los Angeles. While these songs are not the chart toppers that followed them in the next decade, they are fine pieces of work that Ike wrote and played and Tina sang (along with the Ikettes). The opening track “Betcha Can’t Kiss Me (Just One Time)” features the Ikettes’ voices sped up Alvin and the Chipmunks styled. This was my favorite of the three CDs.

Cussin’, Cryin’ & Carryin’ On was released in 1969 and was recorded in 1968 and 1969 in Los Angeles excpet for track 2 which was done in Dallas in 1963 (“Poor Little Fool”). Credits vary by session (some unknown), but the most interesting note reminds us that Fontella Bass was the lead vocalist for “Poor Little Fool,” not Tina. Recorded as a single and released in 1964 on Sonja and 1970 on Vesuvius, it is also included here. In any case, it is another fine set of tunes. We also get different Ikettes here; the listing says Venetta Fields, Robbie Mongomery and Jessie Smith back Tina in 1963. Other personnel are unknown for 6 tracks. The songs are less consistent and varied here.

The third CD is A Black Man’s Soul, recorded in Los Angeles, Dallas and Houston in 1968 and 1969. The album says it was produced by Ike and Tina, it is unlikely she was involved in its’ production. All the tunes here are instrumentals, ignoring the occasional shout out by the band. Highlights here are the horns (Washee on sax and Jesse Heron on Trombone), keys by Turner, Fred Sample and Billy Preston, and, of course, Ike’s guitar. They are all on two cuts on the 2nd CD, too. All instrumentals make this interesting but it lacks a good vocal edge.

All three albums have some mono cuts remastered into stereo back in that era. There are some issues with balance and mix here and there, and the dynamics and acoustics are occasionally iffy but barring little sound issues we have some nice songs that many probably don’t have in their collections. We get to hear some early stuff from Ike and Tina and then more polished stuff from the late 1960’s. It is not big hits like they delivered in the 1970’s but it’s seminal R&B with the most hugely talented couple ever to grace a stage or sit in a recording studio together. With this set you get all the songs from 4 of the 20 CDs the couple produced in the 1960s’ (since the 4th Pompeii album reprised cuts from these three albums. In fact, there are a few repeated cuts on these albums due to Ike’s shenanigans.

All in all, the set gives great insight in where the Turners had gone with their music in the late 1960’s as they were set up to take the radio and the recording industry by storm as they had already captured the live music and television world. If you are a fan of Ike and/or Tina and you don’t have these old records then this is a no-brainer. If you are just getting to know the couple it’s a good introduction to their earlier sound together, albeit the quality at times is not perfect and the big, monster hits are not here. But the tunes are solid, the musicianship is even better and for two of the three albums you get to listen to Tina sing. That alone is worth the price of entry.

Reviewer Steve Jones is president of the Crossroads Blues Society and is a long standing blues lover. He is a retired Navy commander who served his entire career in nuclear submarines. In addition to working in his civilian career since 1996, he writes for and publishes the bi-monthly newsletter for Crossroads, chairs their music festival and works with their Blues In The Schools program. He resides in Byron, IL.

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 Featured Blues Review – 8 of 8 

the jimmys cd imageThe Jimmys – Live From Transylvania at Sighisoara Blues Festival

Brown Cow Productions

10 songs – 54 minutes

The Jimmys are a Wisconsin-based, horn-driven blues band. Their new album, Live From Transylvania at Sighisoara Blues Festival, was recorded on March 28, 2015 at the aforementioned Blues Festival in Romania and is a tremendous record of a barnstorming live performance, recorded with warmth and clarity.

Led by keyboardist and vocalist, Jimmy Voegeli, The Jimmys also feature Perry Weber on guitar and vocals, Mauro Magellan on drums, John Wartenweiler on bass and the horn section of Darren Sterud (trombone/vocals), Charley Wagner (trumpet) and Pete Ross (saxophone).

Interestingly, when he’s not performing, Voegeli helps out on the family’s fifth generation dairy farm. They till 1,500 acres of crop land, milk over 200 Brown Swiss dairy cows and export embryos, bull semen, and live animals all over the world. And, when he is performing, he leads a kick-ass blues band.

The Jimmys clearly have the crowd eating out of their hand from the opening track, “Jacqui Juice”, where the band eases into the set with a mid-paced instrumental shuffle, with the guitar, piano and horns trading solos around the horn-driven head. The horns of Sterud, Wagner and Ross also lie at the heart of the second song, “I Wonder”, with their stabbing contributions, but the rhythm section of Magellan and Wartenweiler is indispensable to the swinging irresistibility of the track.

The band plays with a confidence that reflects the years of experience of its members, allied to an attitude and enthusiasm that demands a positive reaction from the audience.

Being a live album, the majority of the tracks are upbeat and a perfect background to a night of dancing, from the old time rock’n’roll of “Can’t Hurt Me Anymore” to the 60s-soul-meets-“Livin’-La-Vida-Loca” groove of “Lose That Woman”. There are also however some delightful quieter moments, such as the slow blues of “Lonesome Whistle Blues”, which features a lovely BB King-esque opening solo from Weber and Voegeli channelling the great Albert Collins in his vocal delivery. The trombone solo from Sterud on this track is one of the highlights of the album. There is even some pop in “Hell Or Heaven” to keep the audience on its toes. Throughout the album, solos are swapped freely between Voegeli, Weber, Sterud, Wagner and Ross.

Live From Transylvania features six tracks written or co-written by Voegeli and Weber that have featured on previous studio releases by The Jimmys, together with four covers: Jim Liban’s “Can’t Hurt Me Anymore”; Mack Rice’s “Cold Women” (which features some great vocal harmonies as well as a demonstration of the art of space and dynamics); Rudy Toombs, Alan Moore and Elson Teat’s “Lonesome Whistle Blues”; and The Band’s “Ophelia”. Every track features some top drawer playing from the band and at times, such as on “Can’t Hurt Me Anymore”, you just don’t want the song to end as the musicians drive each other from rousing chorus to rousing chorus.

The album is dedicated to the memory of the late, great Candye Kane and is in many ways a fitting tribute to the much-missed Superhero and Toughest Girl Alive, given that it is stuffed full of great music played with attitude, a large smile and a joyously positive approach to performing.

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.

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 Featured Blues Interview – Joey Gilmore 

joey gilmoer pic 1While he had every right to be bitter and loudly complain to anyone that would listen, he did neither.

Fact is, Florida bluesman Joey Gilmore has too much class to talk about things in a negative tone, or to hold any kind of a grudge.

Instead, he just chalked it up to not being his time.

Gilmore and his band were well on their way to being named winners of the band competition at the 2005 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, when something pulled the rug right out from underneath them.

“Well, what happened was, I was disqualified on a technicality, so I was not recognized as winning the IBC in 2005,” Gilmore recently said. “The technicality was, you could not have a national record out for 10 years prior to you entering the IBC.”

As it turns out, Gilmore was tripped up by a mere six months.

“I had a record out on Ichiban Records – which at that time was a major label for the blues. I had six months left on a 10-year contract and somebody blew the whistle and said, ‘He’s already a national recording artist,'” he said. “The contest is geared more towards amateurs or people that are on the cutting-edge of being professional. They felt like it was wrong for me to be in the contest as a professional, because I still had six months left on my contract. And that’s just the way it was.”

Gilmore had recorded a pair of albums for Ichiban several years prior to trekking to Memphis to compete in the IBC – 1993’s Can’t Kill Nothin’ and 1995’s Just Call Me Joey – the album that ended up disqualifying him from the contest.

EDITOR’S NOTE : Since 2006 any artist not previously nominated for a Blues Music Award is eligible regardless of previous recordings.

Gilmore was not the first act to ever be disqualified from the IBC. However, he is among one of the very few to be sent home one year, only to turn around and return for another go-round the following year.

“The President of the Blues Society in Fort Lauderdale – the South Florida Blues Society – Bob Weinberg, decided that was an unfair move and they took it upon themselves to waive their local contest (in 2006) and put all their efforts and money behind me. The first time I went to the IBC I didn’t go as a representative of the South Florida Blues Society, I went from a Blues Society in Taiwan. Looking back on it, that may have raised some eyebrows with people wondering what that was all about. That could have started some bells and whistles going off, so they dug a little deeper,” Gilmore said. “And that’s when they found out I had six months left on that contract. But anyway, the South Florida Blues Society banded together and sent me back.”

That turned out to be a smart move on the South Florida Blues Society’s part, as Gilmore went back in 2006 and promptly won the IBC again.

And this time, he got to keep the title.

“We just went back and did the same thing we did the year before (2005). We knew we had a winning team and so why not go back with the same thing? We didn’t change anything. And by that time, the six months I had left on my record contract had certainly expired,” Gilmore said. “But you know, we had won it the first time, so why would we change up something that had worked before?”

While the exposure of winning – or even finishing among the top of the list – in the International Blues Challenge has proven to do wonders for the exposure that an artist receives after competition, what really stood out to Gilmore about the whole experience in 2006 was something deeper, more personal than that.

“For one thing, it made me very appreciative that I was playing a style of music that so many people were involved with and that so many people cared about. Up until that point, I had basically just been playing music. But when I won the IBC, I really felt that there was a place for me in the music industry. The prestige of winning the International Blues Challenge makes you feel like you’ve really accomplished something.”

joey gilmoer pic 2Gilmore has issued four albums since taking the top honors at the IBC in 2005 – The Ghosts Of Mississippi Meet The Gods Of Africa (Bluzpik Records), Bluesman (Emancipation Media), Brandon’s Blues (Mosher St. Records) and last year’s Respect The Blues (Mosher St. Records), a record that came out in February of 2016.

“We had a pretty good run last year, although I didn’t have any out of the country tours, like I’m used to having,” he said. “But everything worked out OK. The album got great reviews and great air-play. As a matter of fact, I think it (Respect The Blues) charted at number five on the European Blues Charts. That was one of the disappointments of last year – that I didn’t get to do any touring over there to follow up on it.”

Years of touring overseas has proven fruitful for Gilmore and thanks to that constant roadwork outside of the United States, he’s built up a faithful following of European fans.

“Believe it or not, I have more fans over in Europe than I do in the U.S., and that’s not nothing to be proud about,” he said. “But if it wasn’t for the blues fans and blues people over in Europe, I would probably be non-existent (as a blues musician).”

As we have learned over the years, it’s really not uncommon for a blues musician from the United States to be more popular abroad than they are in their own backyard. There are several reasons or theories for that and Gilmore runs some of those down.

“My feeling on that is – and I could be wrong again for the first time – I think our country and the American people are geared mostly toward younger performers and younger artists,” he said. “They have more of a thirst or a desire to hear or see younger people perform, than they do for the older guys. I think that’s typical of the American society, period. Older people don’t get no respect, as Rodney Dangerfield said. And in Europe and other countries, they have a better respect for elderly people, regardless of if they’re musicians or not, than they do over here.”

That line of thinking is also reflected in the title Respect The Blues.

“It’s just like I got through explaining; the blues are considered old music for old people and the music doesn’t get a lot of respect because it’s basically old music done by old people,” he said. “Once again, that’s kind of the concept that American people have … they don’t have the level of respect for the blues that a lot of people over in Europe and other countries have for it. That’s what Respect The Blues means to me.”

Honored with a Latin World Talent Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015, Gilmore’s music has always had many different facets to it, but maybe none more so than the soulful sounds of R&B. That should come as no surprise when learning that Gilmore has backed up such luminaries as Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland, Little Milton, Etta James and the ‘Hardest Working Man in Show Business’ – James Brown.

“I started out in gospel singing groups and grew up in the R&B era, when that music was really popular. I played behind some of the biggest R&B people of that era,” he said. “What I tell people is, ‘When you say R&B, what do you think that ‘B’ stands for?’ You can’t separate the rhythm from the blues, because they come together … they’re from the same family. Artists like Ray Charles and Sam Cooke, their music was definitely the blues, but they used the term R&B and that got them over into a lot of places that people may not have normally went to. ‘Blues’ had a stigmatized name and a lot of people would shy away from listening to it, just because of the name.”

After hearing Gilmore deliver his brand of the blues, a lot of those same kind of people seem to immediately be transformed into devotees of the music.

“Yeah, a lot of people hear me play and then they say, ‘If I’d known that’s what the blues was, I’d have been a fan a long time ago,'” Gilmore said. “Well, what they’re doing is separating it … they’re taking the rhythm out of it. I have really gotten a wider fan-base just because I have a rhythm-and-blues background and can play in a rhythm-and-blues style.”

Count Gilmore among the musicians and fans that look at blues music as more than just some kind of old-fashioned, sad and depressing form of music.

joey gilmoer pic 3“Well, the blues will never die. It’s always going to live for the simple reason that blues is music of the soul. All of the other music out there is just mood music. It will put you in a certain kind of mood or will make you dance, or whatever,” he said. “The blues touches your entire soul. It may be later on in life when they settle down, or it may be when life hits them in the face, but that’s when they realize what the blues is all about. The blues is not always about being sad or lonely or frustrated. The blues has a lot of healing properties in it. The blues is about healing.”

The local barbershop that Gilmore hung around as a teen in Ocala, Florida was owned by a preacher that also owned an electric guitar. The minister would bring his guitar to the shop with him and before long, Gilmore was under the magical spell of the instrument and was well on his way to becoming a self-taught guitarist.

It wasn’t too long after that when Gilmore heard something on the radio that also had a profound effect on him.

“I heard B.B. King and that’s when the blues bug bit,” he said. “Oh, my God! I was about 12 or 13 when I knew that my next moves was going to be the blues. I went from that to having a little band with some local musicians. It was me and a drummer named Johnny Griffin and his brother, Sam, played trumpet in the band.”

Quickly after forming their combo, the guys found out that there might be a few pieces of silver at the end of the rainbow for their efforts.

“We discovered that people loved to see their little hometown boys in a band around town and we found we could make a little bit of money without going out and working in the bean fields,” said Gilmore. “So we played music instead of picking beans or oranges or something like that. We could play our music and make a little bit of money and that’s what kept us going … up until this very day. It was always better to earn money by playing music than by earning money by doing hard labor.”

After stumbling onto to the joys of earning cash through playing songs (sometimes at clubs they were not technically old young to even be in), Gilmore was immediately hooked and has focused on doing just that ever since those teenaged days.

“I always thought that I was going to end up being a musician and playing music for the rest of my life. I hear other people that started out young say they never could have imagined playing music for a living as an adult, but I always thought I would,” he said. “I even told my parents that at a very young age. I made a statement to them that I was going to get a guitar and sing for a living.”

His debut single – “Somebody Done Took My Baby And Gone” – came out in 1971.

Now 72 years old, Gilmore has seen and done a lot in his previous six decades of playing music for a living. Despite the occasional day-to-day drudgery that can be associated with life on the road for a bluesman, Gilmore has no plans at slowing down or stopping.

“I’m going to do like B.B. King did and just keep on playing … I’ll probably die right up on stage,” he said.

And how many more tasks does Gilmore have left to accomplish when it comes to playing the blues?

“All of them. I want to accomplish it all,” he laughed. “I want to be and to do it all … everything. A good friend of mine – Lucky Peterson – he had a record out called, “I Just Want To See And Do Everything.” That fits me to a ‘T.’ I want to see and do everything.”

Visit Joey’s website at:

Blues Blast Magazine Senior Writer Terry Mullins is a journalist, author 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.

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Central Iowa Blues Society – Des Moines, IA

Central Iowa Blues Society Announces Iowa Blues Hall Of Fame Class Of 2016. This year’s inductees include Ellis Kell, Tony Blew, Dan “DJ” Johnson, J C Anderson and Fletcher Henderson “Sonny” Lott.

Save the date for the Induction Ceremony to be held on April 8, 2017 at Noce’, 1326 Walnut St in Des Moines. The doors open and dinner provided by Flying Mango will start at 5:00 PM. IBHOF house band Sumpin Doo will perform at 6:00 PM with the ceremony at 6:30 PM and a Jam after the ceremony until 10:00 PM. Tickets will be available soon at Noce’ and Midwestix.

The nominated artist’s bios with additional info will follow and be posted at and the CIBS Facebook page.

The Washington Blues Society – Seattle, WA

The Washington Blues Society’s annual Best of the Blues Awards returns to the Kirkland Performance Center on Sunday, April 9th to honor musicians and artists nominated by society members in 32 award categories. The 2017 BB Awards show features performances by select nominees and recognizes new inductees into the Washington Blues Society Hall of Fame.

The nominees represent the best blues performers throughout the Pacific Northwest. Long-time favorites Brian Lee and the Orbiters return with five nominations, including Best Blues Band, Best Performer and Best Songwriter. Fresh from their 2017 International Blues Challenge performances in Memphis, Polly O’Keary and the Rhythm Method garnered five nominations, including Best Band, Electric Guitarist and Female Vocalist of the Year. Stanislove, the blues society’s representative at the 2017 International Blues Challenge is also up for a Solo/Duo BB Award. First-time nominees include vocalist Sheri Roberts Greimes, guitarist Brett “Bad Blood,” Benton, Hammond B3 master Joe Doria and Kenmore’s Capps Club, home of the Washington Blues Society’s free Blues Bash held on the second Tuesday each month. More information:

The Great Northern Blues Society – Wausau, WI

The Great Northern Blues Society of Wausau, WI (GNBS) is Proud to announce the lineup for our 18th Annual Blues Café fundraiser to be held at the Historically Registered Rothschild Pavilion (near Wausau, WI) on Saturday, March 11 2017.

The Lineup will include Joyann Parker Band, Jimmy Nick & Don’t Tell Mama, Ghost Town Blues Band, Brandon Santini, Becky Barksdale, and Bing Futch playing acoustic sets between main stage acts. Doors open at noon, and Music will start at 1:00PM and continue non-stop until 11:00PM. Chairs, Food, and Cold Beverages will be available on-site. Special Hotel Rates available at the nearby Stoney Creek Inn. Limited supply of rooms available so make your reservation now.

Please come, sit by the huge stone fireplace, with a beverage of choice in hand, and join us for 10 hours of non-stop glorious Blues Music on 3/11/17. Artist Biographies, directions, and Tickets are available on our Website at –

The Illinois Central Blues Club – Springfield, IL

The Illinois Central Blues Club has announced the line-up of talent for the Blue Monday live performances and jam sessions held every Monday night at The Alamo, 115 North Fifth, Springfield, IL from 8:00pm to midnight. February 13 – Dave Lumsden & Friends, February 20 – Southside Johnny, February 27 – Jeff Jensen.

Additional ICBC partnered shows: February 16 – James Armstrong Presents @ The Alamo, 6 pm.

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

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