Issue 12-21 May 24, 2018

Cover photo © 2018 Bob Sekinger

 In This Issue 

Eric Steiner has our feature interview with Doug Deming. We have 8 Blues reviews for you this week including new music from Albert Cummings, John Oates with The Good Road Band, Steve Mignano Band, Chris Ruest, The Druids of Stonehenge, Jamie Thyer And The Worried Men, Sam Cooke and a vintage release of harmonica music titled You’re Too Bad When Your Harp Is Rusty.

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

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2018 Blues Blast Music Award Tickets On Sale Now

This years awards are being held at the Tebala Event Center in Rockford, IL on September 29th, 2018 beginning at 6:00pm. (Doors open at 5:00pm)

Early-bird tickets are $30 until we announce the nominees in early June. Beginning June 15th advance tickets are $35. Tickets will be $40 at the door.

Tables for ten are only $250. To get your tickets now click HERE!

Information on travel, lodging, tickets and sponsorships is available on the Blues Blast Music Awards website at


WHERE TO STAY – We have chosen La Quinta in Rockford as the host hotel for fans and artists. La Quitna is about 4 blocks from the venue. La Quinta is offering a special rate of only $89 for those attending the Blues Blast Awards. Simply call them at (815) 227-1300 and ask for the “Blues Blast Fan Rate”. First come first served.

Please note that there are a limited number of rooms available, so get your tickets and rooms booked now!

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 Featured Interview – Doug Deming 

doug deming photo 1Doug Deming and the Jewel Tones feature Doug on lead guitar and vocals, Andrew Gohman on bass, Sam Farmer on drums and Madison Slim on harp. The band works more than most blues bands on Florida’s Gulf Coast and Doug frequently plays 17 to 20 club dates a month in addition to regional and national blues festivals. Next month, Doug Deming and the Jewel Tones will return to the Swordfish Grill and Cortez Kitchen in Cortez as well as the Motorworks Brewery and Mattison’s Riverwalk in Bradenton.

Florida plays a unique role in the nation’s blues community as it is home to eight blues societies affiliated with The Blues Foundation. I had the privilege of talking to Doug as he was returning from a gig in Tampa. When we talked, he readily acknowledged that the Sunshine State is home to a very robust and thriving blues community that features major festivals in Daytona, Boca Raton, Tampa Bay and Bonita Springs as well as notable clubs such as the Bradfordville Blues Club and Pineapple Willy’s.

Doug is celebrating 20+ years as a touring bluesman. Doug’s strong and abiding love for traditional blues – think T-Bone Walker, Robert Jr. Lockwood and Albert King – sets this relatively young bluesman apart from his peers. Doug also has worked with Dennis Gruenling and Steve Guyger, Kim Wilson, Terry Hank and Lazy Lester and each of his four CDs, plus Doug’s live shows, include a mixture of inventive original songs and well-chosen blues covers. Doug also had the pleasure of working with one of the great blueswomen in his native Detroit, Alberta Adams, and his early on-the-job blues education included mentor-ship from esteemed Motor City blues elders Johnnie Bassett and Joe Weaver.

At age 16 in 1986 with a newly-minted driver’s license in his wallet, Doug drove downtown across the traditional cultural, racial and psychological dividing line of Eight Mile Road from the suburbs in East Detroit to the recently-renovated Fox Theatre on Woodlawn Avenue downtown to see a blues revue that featured Denise LaSalle, Bobby “Blue” Bland, B.B. King and Albert King. This show was the “live blues gateway experience” that propelled Doug toward a more traditional, jump blues approach and away from Stevie Ray Vaughn’s raucous reinvention of contemporary blues. Earlier that year, Doug picked up his first guitar and was immediately attracted to blues classics.

“That show was an exceptional night of great blues from some of the masters,” said Deming. “Seeing Albert King live, watching Wayne Bennett on guitar with Bobby “Blue” Bland and experiencing Denise LaSalle when she was in her prime were formative moments for me. I couldn’t believe the power and emotion that BB King could deliver to a live audience, especially for a young guitar player like me. It was mesmerizing. I went to the show primarily to see Albert, but left a big fan of B.B. King.”

Doug fondly recalled his musical apprenticeship in Detroit in the 1990s.

“I came up in the 80s and started to make my way in the clubs in the 90s. There was a pretty big blues boom at the time, but Detroit’s scene had one foot still rooted in traditional blues while the country was gravitating toward Stevie Ray Vaughn, and later, the embracing blues power trios.

“Detroit had a handful of classic musicians who played for a record label that pre-dated Motown, Fortune Records. For me, the environment was very welcoming and nurturing as a young blues player.
doug deming photo 2Fortune Records released a lot of jump blues, doo-wop and swing-oriented music, and blues elders like Johnnie Bassett and Joe Weaver of Joe Weaver and the Blue Notes. Weaver’s band was the label’s house band and I learned a lot from this group of caring blues elders.”

Doug recalled the race riots in Detroit in the 1960s and acknowledged the city’s racially-charged past. However, he also recognized from his experience that night at the Fox Theatre, and his early years in Detroit clubs, that music brought people together regardless of race.

Ten years ago, the economic downturn disproportionately impacted Detroit and this directly impacted Doug and his family. For generations, his wife’s family owned and operated a machine shop that served Motor City’s primary industry. At the time, the city’s economy was on the ropes just prior to the nationwide bailout of US automakers facilitated by the Federal government.

“It was very, very difficult for me to make a living,” continued Doug. “I went from four or five gigs a week down to struggling to get just a couple of gigs a week. Every sector of the economy was hurt. The town was stressed. Even driving down the street the impact of what felt like the Depression was palpable. There was no traffic during rush hour as people weren’t working.

After the machine shop relocated it’s operation overseas, Doug and his wife considered other options, including warmer weather as an antidote to Detroit’s severe winters. The move to Florida was also influenced by Burger King’s expansion adjacent to their home.

“They were going to build a Burger King literally right in my back yard,” said Doug. “That was the last straw. We fought City Hall and lost. The drive-thru window was going to be 75 feet from my bedroom window. For me, though, Detroit will always be home. My family is there; my friends are there. I learned to play the blues in Detroit.”

Doug and his wife Claudia relocated to the West Coast of Florida near Tampa Bay for its slower pace than the Orlando area and relative affordability for a full-time blues musician.

Doug attributes his ability to work consistently along Florida’s Gulf Cost to the primary demographic of the region: Many people retire to Florida, and blues audiences tend to be older.

We talked about his 2012 Vizztone CD, What’s It Gonna Take, which landed in the top 10 Living Blues Charts and earned Doug a 2013 Blues Blast Magazine Sean Costello Rising Star Award. The CD’s classic and warm sound was reminiscent of early Chess records from 2120 South Michigan Avenue in Chicago. What was particularly impressive was the way he worked with Dennis Gruenling (who recently joined the Nick Moss Band on its Alligator Records debut).

doug deming photo 3Doug and Dennis worked on the road together for eight or nine years.

“People often thought of us as a pair,” said Doug. “We always thought of it as a ‘road partnership,’ because we were on the road only three or four months out of the year. For the remainder of the year, we worked apart in our own bands as Dennis lived in New Jersey and I lived in Michigan. It was – and is – great working with him and he couldn’t have done any better than landing with Nick and Alligator Records.”

When asked about his gear that he uses to get his old school Blues sound Doug is happy to reveal his favorite amp and guitar setup.

“The gear I choose really reflects my overall dedication for the traditional sound and my attempts to capture the tone and spirit of the recordings that turned me on. I’ve always been a sucker for arch top guitars with P90 pickups, and have played vintage Gibson and Kay guitars most of my career.

“Recently I’ve been endorsed by the D’Angelico company and have been playing their Excel 59 and have really enjoyed it. When I play solid body (which I generally do for about 1/3 of my set) I prefer a Fender Strat or a Tele.

“It’s a nice contrast to the arch top and forces me to play a little different. I’ve never been pedal guy, too many knobs confuse me! I generally plug straight into a Fender style tube amp – I’ve been playing Vero Amps for 5 or 6 years now and love complexity of the tone. I can get a consistently great sound in any room or setting and I’ve never worked with a company that has offered so much support. ”

Doug’s putting the finishing touches on his fourth CD slated for release later this year, It’s a Complicated Mess. He’s got some pretty special guests joining him on the CD, including long-time Nightcat Charlie Baty on guitar, Sax Gordon on horns and Kim Wilson on harmonica.

Next week, Doug Deming and the Jewel Tones will play the 23rd anniversary of the Western Maryland Blues Festival in Hagerstown on June 1st followed by the High Cotton Music Hall Street Fest in historic Hartwell, Georgia the next day.

Each time one listens to What’s It Gonna Take, you are reminded why traditional blues from bluesmen like Doug Deming is so appealing.

The Blues world looks forward to It’s a Complicated Mess and hopes that the new CD will keep Doug Deming and the Jewel Tones on the road.

Visit Doug’s website at:

Interviewer Eric Steiner is the Editor of the Washington Blues Society Bluesletter. He’s been a blues columnist for Midwest Beat and Cosmik Debris and enjoys traditional Chicago blues. Eric received several Best of the Blues (“BB Awards”) from the Washington Blues Society, including Best Blues Writer in 2007, Best Blues Image (Poster for the Mary McPage Band’s “Drink with the Band”) and Keeping the Blues Alive Award in 2016. Eric served on the Board of Directors of The Blues Foundation from 2010 to 2013.

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 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 8 

albert cummings cd imageAlbert Cummings – Live at the ’62 Center

Ivy Music Company

10 tracks CD and DVD

Recorded live in Williamstown, MA, Albert Cummings gives a tastes of his recent touring from coast to coast with this live CD/DVD/Blu Ray combo. Live at the ’62 Center features Cummings and his band giving a tight and memorable performance of mostly original tunes. Cummings is a well-seasoned guitar player and writes some great original tunes for his albums and this is another batch of well-crafted cuts.

Cummings adds keys and backing vocalists to his trio for this tour and recording. In addition to him on guitar and vocals are Warren Grant on drums and Yanko Valdes on bass. The keyboardist is Pete Levin and vocalists are Kit Holliday and Lydia Harrell. They are a great band and deliver a really tight performance.

Things start off with a very rocking “500 Miles.” Lots of notes, lots of guitar; it’s a very high energy excursion. “Finally In Love” transitions more into the rock ballad space with a slightly faster tempo than some ballads. Cummings grits out the vocals with style and the guitar is a little more restrained, although the solo goes a little over the top. Next up is “No Doubt,” a Hendrix styled rocker with perhaps some roots in the blues. The guitar solo uses lots of pedal effects.

“I’ve Got Feelings Too” moves us slightly more into the blues. Albert howls out the vocals and the driving beat makes you want to get up and dance. The solo is big and there is more restraint at the start and I like it better that way than how he ends it. “Sweet Love” is a driving blues rocker with an extended guitar solo with layers of organ supporting it. Things slow way down for “Lonely Bed,” a somber slow blues with a nice extended instrumental intro and then some very emotive and thoughtful vocals. There’s a bit of a guitar dervish in the middle, but overall it’s a tasteful and cool cut.

A nice cover of “Hurts Me Too” continues the emotion and feeling with a slow start that builds into a bigger and somewhat faster pace. Cummings does a really nice job with this one. There’s a nice keyboard solo that leads into a another good guitar solo. “Up Your Sleeve” is another well done blues rocker with Cummins again growling out the lead and laying out his big licks. The ballad “Cry Me a River” is next, probably more southern rock than blues but it’s well done.

“Found You” is more well-done rock with some blues overtones. “Movin’ On” gives us lots of grit and grime and feeling. A cool blues rock tune, Cummings and company give us a big-time performance here. The album concludes with a medley, “Glass House-Midnight Rider.” He gives us a huge southern rock tribute here, mixing his original stuff with the Dickey Betts song made famous by Greg Allman and the Allman Brothers.

I really can’t call this a blues album. The influences are there, but it’s really a southern rock album. The folks who enjoy over the top guitar solos will appreciate this album and DVD.

Albert is one hell of a guitar player and talented guy in general. The solos go a little too far into what I call the “too many notes” category, but he’s amazing at what he does.

If you have a penchant for something more southern rock than blues or if you are just an Albert Cummings fan like I am, you’ll find something here to enjoy.

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

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 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 8 

john oates cd imageJohn Oates with The Good Road Band – Arkansas

Thirty Tigers Records and Jasper Productions

10 tracks

I went into the Navy in 1976 when Hall And Oates were major radio airplay pop rockers. Times have changed with Daryl Hall and John Oates doing a lot of interesting and diverse musical work that in my mind far exceeds their best selling duo of all time pop heritage. Here we have John Oates returning to his roots. Born in New York City and growing up outside Philly in the 1950s and 1960’s, he was exposed to an assortment of music.

I can’t say it better than his bio, “Soaking up the sounds of the 60s, John was influenced by the nascent folk scene, bluegrass, delta blues, and ragtime guitar styles, while also immersing himself in R&B legends such as Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, The Temptations, Curtis Mayfield, and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. One of his biggest mentors was his guitar teacher Jerry Ricks, who had spent time on the road with Mississippi John Hurt and Son House, and introduced John to the music of Doc Watson and Reverend Gary Davis, passing down their signature finger and flatpicking styles.”

Oates met Hall at Temple University in Philadelphia and they went on to make 21 records that sold over 80 million copies. Ten of them went to #1 and 20 songs made the Top 40 over the years. His solo career began in 1999 and Oates has released 5 records since then plus he wrote and published his biography last year. He feels Arkansas is his best work ever. It would be hard to argue because it is a beautiful piece of work. Mostly acoustic, the songs hearken back to a day when life was slower and music was made to pass the time while enjoying the hours off after toiling hard at work. Sharing time in Nashville and his family ranch in Colorado, Oates work shows depth and maturity while his playing and singing remains youthful and expressive.

Oates begins with “Anytime,” an old Herbert “Happy” Lawson piece first recorded by Emmett Miller in 1924 on Okeh records. There is a lot of pretty finger picking backed by pedal steel that makes this special. Oates vocals have a little gravel and make for an authentic sound. He sings with enthusiasm and plays with abandon, an apt opening to this fine album. The electric guitar also adds a nice sounds to the mix. The title track is next up, written after a visit to Wilson, Arkansas where the Mississippi River bends and turns through the cotton fields. Nice vocals and hauntingly cool harmonies along with Oates picking make this another winner. “Creole Bells” reprises Mississippi John Hurt bringing this ragtime cut into the limelight. Hurt recorded it for Okeh about 90 years ago and Oates brings back to life with his band. “Pallet Soft and Low” is an old piece from the late 1800’s, appearing as parts of Blind Boone’s and W.C. Handy’s works. Here Oates modernizes the structure a bit and he and the band give it a very fresh coat of paint. “Miss the Mississippi and You” is a Bill Halley song immortalized by Jimmie Rodgers in 1935 in NYC just before he passed away. Oates remains true to the spirit of the cut and offers up a respectful and well paced rendition. He and band give it a sophisticated yet homey sound.

“Stack O Lee” starts the second half of the album. A classic song about a pimp from St. Louis whose nick name no one really knows the origin of. He did kill a man in 1897 and the song emerged, wit Prof. Charlie Lee banging on piano and singing. Fred and Tom Waring’s Pennsylvanians made it a hit in 1923 and Mississippi John Hurt made the definitive version in 1928. Here Oates blends those sounds with an early Sun Records sound and gives it a folksy and new sound. “That’ll Never Happen No More” is a Blind Blake tune and Oates and Company give it a rousing cover. He sings and plays with a bouncing approach that gives new life to the song yet hearkens back to the old days, too. A Dixieland blues, of sorts, and Oates and The good Road Band are more than up to it. “Dig Back Deep” is an original that was inspired by Oates work with Doc Watson and his love of Mississippi John Hurt. He pays homage to the latter’s “Sliding Delta” in the last verse, a beautiful blend of guitars and pedal steel. The traditional Gospel song “Lord Send Me” is inspired by Isaiah 6:8 and is delivered here as a blue grass piece that the Band and Oates deliver with authority. Things conclude with “Spike driver Blues,” a hammer song in the work song tradition that was recorded on Okeh by Mississippi John Hurt in 1928. Harry Smith’s 1932 Anthology of American Folk Music got Hurt into the mainstream with this song’s inclusion and Oates finishes here to continue the re-appreciation of Hurt’s work.

By far the best acoustic album I’ve heard this year, Oates and his Band have delivered some timeless music to us in a fresh and clean package. Sam Bush on mandolin, Guhrie Trapp on electric guitar, Russ Pahl on pedal steel, Steve Mackey on bass, Josh Day on drums and percussion, Nathanial Smith on cello and some backing vocals by the band a couple of other folks make this a traditional sounding album yet one with newness and life. Oates tried to immortalize Mississippi John Hurt here and he’s succeeded.

Blending Dixieland, Blue Grass and Delta Blues in a magical manner, Oates delivers a superb record for us to enjoy. This is a fine acoustic work that anyone one who appreciates that type of music should add to their collection!

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 

steve mignana cd imageSteve Mignano Band – Lucky 13

Self Released

9 tracks

Steve Mignano is a New Orleans-based musician who is one of the hardest working guitarists in New Orleans according to his press information. Mixing blues and rock guitar with his very soulful vocals, Mignano is a talented guitar player and singer. He has regular gigs in the Crescent City on Sunday afternoons and Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings- he does work hard!

Mike Peros is the main bassist and Hank Smith plays on 3 of the tracks. Jerome Harris is on drums for 5 tracks and Brian Melancon is on the other 3. It’s a trio format with lots of power and a driving sound.

The album opens to “Death Song,” a cut that is an interesting blues rocker. Mignano sings that “life is short and when the time comes, sing a death song and die like you are going home.” A dark and brooding but cool cut, it features a big guitar solo my Mignano. The title tracks is next, a mid tempo cut with a driving beat. Pretty much a head banging rocker, the song features some nice wailing guitar and the back line smashing and throbbing on a big old groove for Mignano to follow. “Devil Get His Due” is a fun boogie where Mignano jumps and jives in a tune about the devil always getting what he comes for. The lone cover is Bo Diddley’s “Before You Accuse Me.” Steve takes the tempo way down, works with a throbbing groove and opens with a long instrumental opening. He gets to the vocals and turns them into a very slow and purposeful blues, an interesting take on this classic that usually winds up rocking. “Hack Boogie” is a nice little boogie with a cool guitar sound that continues throughout this fine instrumental piece.

“If You See My Baby” hearkens back to classic Slim Harpo, another Louisiana native. Stinging guitar and a familiar beat make this a good little song. Next is “Snarling Dog,” another piece that drives along with purpose and Mignano sings with a breathy passion. He offers up a big, rocking solo here once again. “Too Hot For Hell” is a rocking cut that Mignano also fills with passion and another big guitar solo. “Forgive Me” concludes the set. An acoustic number, Mignano goes solo on this ballad with a folk rock meets Louisiana sort of sound. It’s a nice contrast to the other work here and shows diversity.

At 35 minutes the CD is not too lengthy, with songs ranging from 3 to almost 6 minutes. Mignano effectively fills each space with a good sound and paces out each cut with good effect. The songs are solid, lyrically well done and delivered in a blues rock sort of soul style. It was my first exposure to Mignano and I enjoyed it. I hope to see him live on the road one of these days. He’s a good new artist whose technique and style is interesting and intriguing.

Well worth a listen!

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 – 4 of 8 

chris ruest cd imageChris Ruest – Been Gone Too Long

Enviken Records

CD: 13 Songs, 39:05 Minutes

Styles: Guitar Monster Blues, 1950s-Style Blues

Sometimes the simplest things are the best: a walk in the park, a grilled cheese sandwich at a diner, catching up on TV shows after work. New England’s Chris Ruest, now based in Texas, knows this down-home truth and reflects it in his music. It’s classic 1950s-style blues. Some of his guitar grooves are reductive, as on the opener, “I’m Goin’ Home.” However, the way to success in so many areas is to find a formula that works. Ruest isn’t trying to be an artiste, but to provide good, solid entertainment. He uses familiar beats (Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry’s on “Run Rudolph Run”) as a template for new lyrics. The only song that can be considered ‘out there’ is the final number, “Jive Talk” (reviewed below). Vocally, he’s in the middle of the talk-singing pack.

Chris doesn’t overact, so to speak, but there’s plenty of expression in his words. His new album, Been Gone Too Long, is perfect to use as background music for tasks one wouldn’t otherwise enjoy. It features two covers and eleven originals to make a baker’s dozen of tasty tunes.

According to his website, “The Connecticut native’s interest in guitar was encouraged by his father and his uncle, jazz musician Louis Mastrobattisto. Ruest began taking lessons at 15, hoping, rather typically, to emulate blues-based rock guitarists Duane Allman, Eric Clapton, and Jimmy Page, but soon discovered the artists who inspired them…After playing around CT between the ages of 17 and 25, Ruest resolved to make music his main priority, gave up his factory job, and relocated to Texas in 1999.

“Ruest’s band has opened for Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland, Johnny Winter, Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets, and Little Charlie and the Nightcats. 2005 brought Ruest’s recording debut as a solo artist.”

Performing alongside lead vocalist and guitarist Ruest are Peter Fröbom on double bass; Mattias Hyttsten on drums; Gene Taylor on piano; Knock-Out Greg on harmonica; Billy Bremmer and John Lindberg on background vocals and guitar; Christian Dozzier on accordion; Martin Borgh on organ, and Chris Bergström on backup vocals and handclap. Guest stars include Marti Brom on female vocals for “Mind Out That Gutter” and Wes Race on vocal rap for “Jivetalk.”

The following songs will get people’s feet moving and their minds grooving.

Track 03: “Henhouse to the Doghouse” – This spicy rock-Zydeco stew is as flavorful as jambalaya, telling what just might happen if one has a fickle (and greedy) romantic partner. “From the henhouse to the doghouse in just about a minute or two, but I guess it’s just a lesson I’m learning from trying to make a living for you.” Dig Christian Dozzier’s awesome accordion.

Track 10: “I Quit” – Taking Chuck Berry’s lead on the riff and rhythm, number ten will have crowds at live festivals and indoor shindigs doing the Twist. When you’ve gone “From the Henhouse to the Doghouse” too many times, the title of this track is what you’ll be shouting. The clear highlight here is Gene Taylor’s barrelhouse piano.

Track 13: “Jivetalk” – Okay, this song’s a rap, but it’s worth it for the disses. The subject in question is someone who’s all jive and no juice. “Last week you were claiming you were still a big shot, but it’s like the hole in your mouth [uh, I think he meant ‘head’] is really all you’ve got. My, my, my…” Great harp here from Knock-Out Greg.

Been Gone Too Long doesn’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to blues, but it doesn’t need to!

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.

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 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 8 

the druids of stonehenge cd imageThe Druids of Stonehenge – Resurrection

Self Released

10 tracks

The Druids of Stonehenge are, as a claimed, a rock band that plays blues songs. The rhythms tend toward the rock of Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley and the songs go from Taj Mahal back to the early blues stuff. Formed in New York City in the late 1960’s, the Druids were weaned on the rock of that ear and formed a band. They explored back and back and back into the blues and fell in love with the blue. For 50 plus years they’ve put their rocking stamp on the blues.

The Druids are David Budge on vocals, Billy Cross on lead guitar, CJ Hauser on bass, Roger Kahn on drums and Magic Kramer on organ/keys. Sometimes Hauser or Magic Kramer switches to rhythm or acoustic guitar, Deborah Dobkin is on percussion and backing vocals vary with band members and Maria “MJ” Hauser. Milt Reder appears on guitar and Esben Just appears once on keys, too.

A Taj songs kicks things off- “Strong Man Holler.” first heard on a Bog Bill Morganfield Blind Pig Label CD, they then heard a Taj Mahal version and loved it more. It was also the 2012 impetus to get the Druids back together. Budge has a deep bass vocal (reminds me a little of a rock version or Reverend Raven) who growls and sings with emotion. The guitar lead is stinging and the cut gets the blood flowing. Lightnin’ Hopkins’ “Shotgun Blues” is next, with deep, dark distorted vocals that fit the violent theme of the cut. A nice, driving beat and a guitar solo make for some good music. Magic Slim’s “Just to Be With You” gets an acoustic and slide guitar treatment and the cool overstated vocals by Budge give it a cool and interesting sound to boot.

“Nobody’s Fault But Mine” was initially made famous by Blind Willie Johnson and has been recorded by Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Led Zeppelin to name a couple of artists. The Druids place their stamp on it with a slow but forceful beat and stinging guitar lead and solo. Budge’s gravelly growl carry the tune in an interesting manner. James Cotton’s slower version of Tie-Tongue Haney Johnson’s “She’s Got My Nose Open” grabbed the Druids interest and their arrangement is closer to Cotton’s take. A nice mid-tempo beat, piano and guitar and the deep vocals make it fun.

“Superstitious Blues” is an old. old tune Willie Dixon grabbed on to and Howlin’ Wolf recorded, but the Druids take this oft recorded song in the blues and rock world and turn it into a samba. Interesting and cool. Budge almost seems to drool out the deep vocals. Wolf’s “What a Woman “Commit a Crime” is up next. Built on some older songs, the Druids take a Wolf-like approach to the cut with guitar and piano backing the groove up sweetly. The slide solo is cool, too. “Jumper on the Line” is an R.L. Burnside cut with lyrics they added from a Baltimore Sun interview with Burnside. A two-step rhythm makes things interesting and the haunting slide makes it even better. Blind Willie McTell recorded “Born To Die” which likely predates him, but the Druids take it and give a little of the Stones take from “You’ve Got to Move” to spice things up. A slow blues with slide and dripping darkness. Robert Johnson’s “Hellhound” concludes the album, another slow blues with slide, percussion and the deep, dark vocals.

The first time I listened I must say I was not sure about this band. David Bulge’s vocals were a little over the top. He’s got a deep baritone voice and he uses it with all sorts of growls and howls and such that at first seemed too affected. Then I listened again, and again and familiarity made it grow on me. The guitar and keys are good and the takes on the songs are interesting. They are all cuts we’ve heard before, but the Druids have fun putting their spin on them.

I enjoyed the CD. You can tell they had fun making it as you listen. If you’re looking for something a little different it might be worth your time. They are rockers but they know how to play the blues.

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

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 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 8 

jamie thyer cd imageJamie Thyer And The Worried Men – Café Racer

Road Dog Records

10 songs time-35:55

This power trio from the U.K. plays what was once called hard rock. Aside from the vocals it verges on heavy metal. It’s all about speed freak guitar and power chords. The rough vocals are passable and fit the genre, but the lyrics are lame and/or dumb. The lyrics are secondary as the songs are a vehicle for blazing guitars. The rhythm section is tight and is there at every turn. Actually the three instrumentals included here are quite melodic and riveting. This CD would of worked better sans vocals. If you are a fan of Black Sabbath or Spinal Tap you will feel right at home.

The formula is basically the same throughout with heavy and fast paced guitar soloing, the only songs having a more enjoyable structure tend to be the instrumentals. Just to give you an insight into the lyrical craft at play here, the following are the complete lyrics to “Hot Valves” repeated over and over-“I don’t want nobody to git me nothing, open up the door let me get it myself”.

Now for the good news. On the first of the instrumental tunes “Green Lights” nicely melodic guitar is played over strummed acoustic guitar and un-credited organ, no drums on this one. These songs are where Jamie’s guitar skills are shone in their best light. “The Harlot’s Ghost” builds in much the same way, then the rhythm section kicks in and it takes off to string bending nirvana with strong melodies. The title track is all electric power trio. It’s power will dust out your speakers for sure.

Aside from the strong instrumental tracks this isn’t my kind of music. There are tons of fans around the globe that eat this kind of stuff up. Jamie Thyer is a gifted guitar slinger without question. It comes down to a matter of taste. Air guitarists will have a field day with this record. I will quote a great man as I have done once before in the past.

I think Batman said it best when he said-“To each their own said the lady as she kissed her cow”.

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

 Featured Blues Review – 7 of 8 

sam cooke cd imageSam Cooke – Cupid – The Very Best Of 1961-62

Jasmine Records – 2018

30 tracks; 78 minutes

Jasmine is a UK-based label specializing in re-releases and this album is a follow-up to the 2011 double album Wonderful World, covering the years 1957-60. The 30 tracks are in chronological order and Roger Dopson’s excellent sleeve notes take us through this intensely creative period, including the battles that Sam had with his record label in order to obtain the creative freedom he wanted. When he achieved what he wanted – to record with his own musicians in California – the resulting single and album Twistin’ The Night Away was his strongest to date and ended all further ideas about recording Sam in NYC with session men.

In terms of the ‘big hits’, this album contains “Cupid”, “Twistin’ The Night Away”, “Bring It On Home To Me” and “Send Me Some Lovin’”, each one a classic side. Can there be many more instantly recognizable songs than “Twistin’ The Night Away” with its distinctive drum opening and rocking sax break? However, for those who probably have a Sam Cooke ‘Best Of’ somewhere in their collection there are some interesting tracks here that might attract them to purchase this disc: “Movin’ And A-Groovin’” was an album track on Twistin’ The Night Away and readers may know it from a splendid cover by Eugene Hideaway Bridges on his Man Without A Home CD but the original is terrific too; “Havin’ A Party” was the B-side of “Bring It On Home To Me” and has been a staple of Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes’ show for years, often played as the final encore; “Soothe Me” (later reprised by Sam & Dave) was another track onTwistin’, here a duet with Lou Rawls.

Sam recorded My Kind Of Blues in 1961 and, despite the title, it was one of several attempts to break him into the mainstream, with covers of Berlin, Ellington, Gershwin and Rodgers & Hart. This compilation does include solid versions of “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out” and “Baby, Won’t You Please Come Home” and the opening track here, “That’s It – I Quit – I’m Moving On” can certainly class as blues, as does Sam’s version of Charles Brown and Johnny Moore’s “Driftin’ Blues” which closes the CD. Some of the material which was recorded in NYC fares less well than the sides ‘at home’ in CA with his own musicians but there are still some interesting moments. Check out the bass backing vocal coming out of the LH speakers on “(Don’t Fight It) Feel It” or the Twist cash-in track “Twistin’ In The Kitchen With Dinah”, another cut from the impressive Twistin’ The Night Away album. “Talkin’ Trash” is a good cut but the tune used would go on to work even better a year later as the basis of “Another Saturday Night”.

Of course, the roots of soul lie in the blues and most blues fans love some old soul records, so there is lots to appreciate here. Sam Cooke will always be known as ‘the man who invented soul’ and these sides certainly give credence to the tag. Anyone who does not already own this material should immediately acquire this CD, its predecessor and the probable third volume when it inevitably appears. Essential listening.

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 – 8 of 8 

youre too bad when your harp is rusty cd imageYou’re Too Bad When Your Harp Is Rusty

Koko Mojo Records

28 songs time-67:51

A compilation of mainly obscure black harmonica players on an obscure record label. What could go wrong you may ask. Until about five cuts in, plenty. With there being no liner notes one can’t tell who these people are or what year the songs were recorded. Much of this album gives good proof why some musicians are obscure.

Pee Wee Hughes offers “I’m A Country Boy” complete with an obnoxious “bass line”. He plays simplistic rhythms on his harp, backed by primitive percussion and his rough edged voice. The lyrics here as well as on most songs are simplistic as well. Joe Williams must have employed the same “bass player” on his “Goin’ Back Po”. His harp skills are slightly more advanced as he adds a bit of melody with his mostly rhythmic playing. “Just Can’t Stay” by Willie Nix is a reconstructed “Catfish Blues”. By now the quality of the harp playing is improving by baby steps.

“I Need You Pretty Baby For My Own” by Harmonica Blues King Harris features much better harmonica playing. The way he sings it is-“I need you pretty baby for my rone”. One of three familiar names here is Juke Boy Bonner who contributes “Well Baby”, an ok song with ok singing and harmonica. Shy Guy Douglas’s “Monkey Doin’ Women” is a slice of some low down dirty blues with some nice harp blowing.

The instrumental “Making Tracks” by Sammy Johns & The Devilles is a lively enough workout. Little Walter handles the harp on John Brim’s “I Would Hate To See You Go”, lovely ditty about threatening death to his lady friend. Walter also does his own “Crazy Mixed Up World”. Great harmonica player as we all know, but not one of his songs with a lot of harmonica playing on it. Billy Rainesford’s “Magnolia” is a hopping little tune with not bad harp playing. Big Ed is one of the better singers and harmonica players on this collection. He represents double entendre blues, a long held tradition in blues with “Biscuit Baking Mama”.

“Hello Miss Simms” is one of three instrumentals included here. Garland The Great delivers good harp over a nice groove. The last one is “Live Jive” by Whispering Smith. It’s a bit reminiscent of Little Walter’s output. A skilled guitarist to go along with his well played harmonica. Old school down and dirty blues is handled by Big Jack Reynolds with his “I Had A Little Dog”. I suppose Little Shy Guy is Shy Guy Douglas under another name as the writer credit of “little Girl” is Douglas. It doesn’t stand up to his previous song.

The songs here are definitely of uneven quality. Some should have never seen the light of day. Others have been unfairly neglected by the blues world. Here’s where the skip button on your CD player comes in to play. Pick and choose and you have yourself a half decent listening experience.

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

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Mimbres Region Arts Council – Silver City, NM

Mimbres Region Arts Council presents the 23rd Silver City Blues Festival takes place May 25-27, 2018, in Silver City, NM. This year’s festival continues to be free for all to enjoy. It is a supported by many local businesses and individual blues lovers.

This year’s lineup: The Bus Tapes, Brandon Perrault, Todd Tijerina Trio, Brody Buster, Amanda Fish, Ghost Town Blues Band, C.W. Ayon, Tony Holiday and the Velvetones, The Peterson Brothers.

More festival information and links to band websites are available at

Blues Society of Western New York – Kenmore, NY

Blues Society of Western New York presents the 5th Annual Buffalo Niagara Blues Festival July July 14, 2018, noon to 11:30pm at Silo City, 92 Silo City Row, Buffalo, NY 14203. Tickets are $30.00 advance/$40.00 day of the show; members receive significant discount.

This event is a fundraiser for educational, community outreach efforts to support the Blues Society of Western New York’s Blues in the Schools (BITS) educational programming for K-12 students and other community outreach programs including Nursn’ Blues, a Blues music therapeutic program for those suffering from addiction in conjunction with Horizon Village and Music Is Art (MIA). More info at

The Sacramento Blues Society – Sacramento, CA

The Sacramento Blues Society presents Too Slim And The Taildraggers at the Powerhouse Pub, 614 Sutter St, Folsom, CA on June 9, 2018 from 4:00-7:00 PM. Cover $15 public $12 SBS Members.

This Pacific Northwest band, consisting of Tim Langford, Jeff “Shakey” Fowlkes and Zach “The Kid” Kasik, has been performing and recording their rock-blues sound for over 30 years and still going strong! Their album “Shiver” was the Blues Foundation’s 2012 nominee for Best Rock-Blues Album of the Year and was followed by “Blue Heart”, which reached #3 on Billboard’s Top Blues Album Chart in 2013. Each of the last four studio album releases have charted in the Top 10 and Heat Seeker Chart. Tim Langford has received Lifetime Achievement and Hall of Fame Awards from three Northwest Blues Societies, as well as more than 40 Regional and National Music Awards. More info at

Friends of the Blues – Kankakee, IL

Shows start at 7 pm, and are open to the public. Food and Beverages available at all Friends of the Blues shows. July 10, Brandon Santini, Manteno Sportsmen’s Club, 851 N Main St, Manteno, IL More Info at:

The Charlotte Blues Society – Charlotte, NC

The Charlotte Blues Society announces our June Blues Sunday with with Pam Taylor Band and special guest Shelia Carlisle, on June 3rd, at 8:00 pm (doors at 7:00) at the Rabbit Hole, 1801 Commonwealth Ave., Charlotte, NC 28205. (Original talent Geoff Achison had to cancel to extend tour in Australia.) Admission is only $5, free to members with valid membership card. We are requesting canned food or donations of other non-perishable household items (or cash) for Loaves and Fishes. 1 can? I can!  More Info at

The Blues Society of Central Pennsylvania – Steelton, PA

The Blues Society of Central PA. invites you to join us for our Mom I Picnic ( formerly known as the BSCP Treasurers Picnic ), advanced tickets now available for $20. ( Admission at the gate picnic day will be $25 ) Sunday, May 27th Noon- 8PM Mechanicsburg Club Picnic Grounds 199 Glendale Rd. Mechanicsburg, PA 17050.

Includes live blues music all day, Bar B Q Chicken, Burgers, Hot Dogs and tons of side dishes and desserts, coffee, bottled water, assorted can sodas and 3 beers on tap. Details at

The Illinois Central Blues Club – Springfield, IL

The Illinois Central Blues Club has announced the line-up of talent for Blue Monday live performances held every Monday night at e 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: 5/28 – The Dennis Jones Band, 6/4 – TBA, 6/11 – Rockin’ Johnny Burgin, 6/18 – The 44’s with Tex Nakamura, 6/25 – Laurie Morvan Band. For more information visit

Central Iowa Blues Society – Des Moines, IA

Central Iowa Blues Society presents the Second Annual SpringFest will be May 27, 2018 at the Jasper Winery, 2400 George Flagg Parkway in Des Moines beginning at 2:00pm . This free event a great way to kick-off the Memorial day weekend with great music featuring four acts from Iowa, Minnesota, and Florida – including International Blues Challenge Winner Kevin “BF” Burt, Ducharme-Jones Band, Paul Mayasich with Benderheads and Lauren Mitchell Band.

Bring your blankets and lawn chairs, enjoy the music, relax, and unwind with wines from Jasper Winery, beer from Madhouse Brewing, BBQ as well as other food vendors. (In accordance with state law, any alcohol must be purchased from the winery – attendees are not allowed to bring in their own.)

SpringFest is brought to you by the Central Iowa Blues Society, Jasper Winery, and Fat Tuesday Productions. For more information visit, or contact Scott Allen (

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