Issue 12-27 July 5, 2018

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Cover photo © 2018 Bill Henderson

 In This Issue 

Mark Thompson has our feature story on Kid Andersens’s Greaseland Studios. We have 11 Blues reviews for you this week including new music from Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Dustin Douglas & The Electric Gentlemen, Celso Salim Band, Ian Siegal, Arkansas Dave, Paul Barry, Lisa Mednick Powell, JP And The Razors, Ivy Ford, J.J. Vicars and Angel Forrest.

We have Part I of Bob Kieser’s photos from the Chicago Blues Fest.

Our videos of the week are Ana Popovic and Samantha Fish

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

 From The Editor’s Desk 

Hey Blues Fans,

5,000 of you have voted in the Blues Blast Music Awards as I type this. Have you voted yet? Click HERE to vote now.

Some of our good friends are having Blues parties this weekend. If you are on the East Coast be sure to head to the Briggs Farm Blues Fest in Pennsylvania. They feature Samantha Fish, National Reserve, Vanessa Collier, Shawn Holt and more on Friday and then Amy Helm, Mike Farris, Selwyn Birchwood JJ Thames and more on Saturday. Tickets and Info HERE.

If you are in the Midwest be sure to check out The Mississippi Valley Blues Fest in Davenport, Iowa. The have Kris Lager and Walter Trout on Friday night and on Saturday they feature The Pena Brothers, Anthony “Big A” Sherrod, Brandon “Taz” Niederauer, Shaun Murphy and Johnny Lang. Complete info HERE.

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser

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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) Confirmed appearances so far include Karen Lovely, Benny Turner, Shaun Murphy, Ghost Town Blues Band, Markey Blue and Ric Latina Project, Casey Hensley Band, Ben Levin, Ivy Ford Band, Heather Newman, Orphan Jon & The Abandoned, Partick Recob, Ilya Portnov and Joyann Parker.

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 a mile 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!

 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 11 

SCREAMIN' JAY HAWKINS CD IMAGEScreamin’ Jay Hawkins – Are YOU One of Jay’s Kids?

The Complete Bizarre Sessions 1990-1994

Manifesto Records

It was most assuredly a natural pairing: Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, without question the most out-there-in-the-ozone R&B belter of the 1950s (and the most prolific—this set’s title refers to the dozens of children he sired), and a record label proudly called Bizarre.

The leather-lunged blues shouter and overlooked rock and roll pioneer was down on his luck in 1990, without a record label or a manager, when he unexpectedly met Bizarre boss Robert Duffey at a Hollywood bar and instantly found himself a new recording home. All three albums Hawkins cut for Bizarre over a four-year span are included in their entirety on this jam-packed two-CD set, along with several more tracks that went unissued at the time but are every bit the equal of what Duffey did release on Screamin’ Jay during that timeframe.

Duffey managed to update Hawkins’ approach just enough to make him contemporary without losing his unique appeal. Jay’s operatically inclined pipes were still strong enough to bend steel when he cut his Bizarre debut CD Black Music for White People, and he wasn’t the slightest bit afraid to indulge in surreal R-rated rants that were at once both hilarious and unapologetically gross—witness a no-holds-barred “Ignant And Shit” and the eerie “Swamp Gas.” Hawkins effortlessly captured the essence of Tom Waits on remakes of “Heart Attack And Vine” and “Ice Cream Man,” and producer Duffey was cool with Jay visiting the ancient past on revivals of Louis Jordan’s “Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby” and Smiley Lewis’ “I Hear You Knockin’.” He also gave Hawkins the latitude to moan the self-penned “I Want Your Body,” deconstruct the immortal “Ol’ Man River,” and update Clarence Carter’s delightfully sleazy “Strokin’.” The only bummer on the first album was Jay’s “dance” remake of his 1956 landmark “I Put A Spell On You”—its too-fast tempo and an altogether misplaced rapper (mercifully uncredited here) conspired to destroy this superfluous redo of Jay’s signature theme.

Stone Crazy, Hawkins’ Bizarre encore, was the bluesiest of the three discs, containing his remakes of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Who’s Been Talkin’,” Willie Mabon’s ominous “I Don’t Know,” and Ray Charles’ sumptuous “I Believe To My Soul.” Despite the occasional intrusion of a rocked-out lead guitarist hellbent on proving how fast he could play on any given solo, Jay sounded great on such vintage fare, though he was every bit as effective delivering his own “Another Pain,” “Strange,” and the title track. Hawkins had a thing about the nubile star of the weird TV program Twin Peaks, detailing his fetish on an amusing “Sherilyn Fenn,” and he borrowed an old Du Droppers hit as the basis of his jumping “I Wanna Know.”

Duffey’s last production on Screamin’ Jay was titled Somethin’ Funny Goin’ On, and indeed there was with Hawkins’ own uproarious rockers “You Make Me Sick” and “Fourteen Wives” joined by several numbers Duffey brought in, notably “Rock The House,” “Give It A Break,” and ‘Scream The Blues.” Waits’ catalog was again plundered for “Whistling Past the Graveyard,” and Duffey’s jazzy “I Am The Cool” brought out the hipster in Screamin’ Jay.

The outtakes are uniformly solid: “Make You Mine,” “Just For You,” and “Clam Bake” would have nestled into any of the issued CDs seamlessly, and Hawkins offers plenty of documentation as to why you should “Shut Your Mouth When You Sneeze.” There are also three snippets of another singular Hawkins ode to a lass once in the news: tabloid queen Amy Fisher, who apparently inspired a short-term crush deep in Jay’s twisted psyche.

While not as indispensable as his ‘50s classics for Mercury/Wing and OKeh/Epic, this collection underscores just how musically vital Screamin’ Jay Hawkins remained when he was well past the age of 60.

Reviewer Bill Dahl is a lifelong Chicago resident who began writing about music professionally in 1977. He’s written for Vintage Rock, Goldmine, Living Blues, Blues Revue, Blues Music Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, and the Reader, and is the author of The Art of the Blues, a 2016 book published by University of Chicago Press, and 2001’s Motown: The Golden Years (Krause Publications). Bill was awarded the Blues Foundation’s Keeping the Blues Alive Award in journalism in 2000.

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 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 11 

dustin douglas cd imageDustin Douglas & The Electric Gentlemen – Blues I


5 songs – 22 minutes

Based out of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Dustin Douglas & The Electric Gentlemen who deliver a unique sound as they capture the spirit of 1960s blues-rock power trios and fuse it with grooves styled along the lines of guitar gods Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan, the Black Crowes and Led Zeppelin.

The unit is led by former child prodigy Douglas, who handles guitar, vocal and songwriting duties. One of the most sought-after sessions players in Northeastern Pennsylvania and now a seasoned touring veteran, he made his performing debut at age 13 and has remained active ever since.

His first band, the power trio Lemongelli, released three independent albums and served as opening act to several top acts, including Cheap Trick, Eddie Money and Def Leppard. Later, he joined The Badlees, legendary rockers in the Keystone State, appearing on the CD Epiphones And Empty Rooms and supporting Bob Seger on his 2013 arena tour.

As a front man, he released two more albums as a soloist before deciding to delve deeply into his blues-rock roots. He and The Electric Gentlemen – bassist Matt “The Dane” Gabriel and drummer Tommy Smallcomb – have been together since 2015. Their first, self-titled release sold out of its first pressing, leading up to this EP, which includes four covers and one original.

The band kicks off “Boom Boom” with a heavy, in-unison, four-note stop-time beat that runs better than 20 seconds before Dustin’s voice – sweet and strong and perfectly behind the beat — joins in with the familiar lyrics that John Lee Hooker delivered for about 60 years, backed by the equally familiar musical accompaniment. Once the words, however, he and his rhythm section waste no time before turning the number into a full-on blues-rock. After a brief segment, they’re in total control as they return to the root for another verse before reverting once more. It’s an ear- and eye-opening winner.

Muddy Waters’ “Champagne And Reefer,” which follows, opens with a heavy succession of guitar chords atop an unhurried shuffle beat. It’s faithful to Mud’s styling, albeit with a dense feel on the bottom as Douglas delivers the words. His mid-tune solo is strong, tasty and shred-free. Written by William Bell and Booker T. Jones, Albert King’s standard, “Born Under A Bad Sign,” receives similar treatment, as does Freddie King’s “Big Legged Woman,” delivered unrushed but at a pace quicker than the original with Dustin riffing on six-string throughout, sometimes on the verge of psychedelia, but always in complete control.

The brief disc concludes with the only original in the set. Entitled “No More Tears To Cry,” it’s a ballad that picks up speed as it describes coming home to discover that the lady of the house had packed up and gone while the singer. Built atop a simple guitar hook, it’s a pleasing blues that remains true to itself with a Hill Country feel.

Available through Amazon, Blues I makes you yearn for more. It’s blues-rock in its best form, something that dyed-in-the-wool traditionalists will enjoy despite the rock overtones. And, fortunately, you won’t have to wait long for a follow-up. Douglas and The Electric Gentlemen have a full-length CD ready for release on the immediate horizon.

Reviewer Marty Gunther has lived a blessed life. His first experience with live music came at the feet of the first generation of blues legends at the Newport Folk Festivals in the 1960s. A former member of the Chicago blues community, he’s a professional journalist and blues harmonica player who co-founded the Nucklebusters, one of the hardest working bands in South Florida.

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 35th Annual Chicago Blues Fest – Part I 

This was the second year for this great festival in the Millennium park location. We started out by catching a few songs by Chicago Blues woman Sharon Lewis on the Crossroads stage. As usual Sharon had the crowd in the palm of her hand.

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Next up we heard Mickey Rogers & The Soul Blues Band on the Mississippi Stage. Some great R&B was heard!

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Then we headed over to catch a set by Rockwell Avenue Blues Band back on the Crossroads Stage. The first album by this group of Chicago pros is getting lots of airplay. With Ken Saydak on keyboards, Steve Freund on guitar, Harlan Terson on bass, Marty Binder on drums and Tad Robinson out front on vocals it was easy to see why.

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We went over to the Front Porch Stage for a few songs by Jimmy Burns.

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Then is was to the Rooftop Lounge stage for a few songs by Oscar Wilson and Joel Paterson.

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The last excursion we made before the main stage show started was to see Mr. Sipp on the Mississippi stage of course!

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Then it was off to the Jay Pritzker Pavilion for the big show featuring a celebration of 65 years of Delmark records. It featured music of past Delmark artists performed by current and former Delmark stars. Owner Bob Koester recently sold Delmark Records and retired from running the label after 65 years. Here he is with the new owners, Chicago musicians Julia A. Miller and Elbio Barilari.

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The evenings big show was a celebration of all the great music released by the label starting off with current Delmark artists Corey Dennison Band

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Next up was Mississippi Heat with Billy Flynn and Giles Corey

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Then a series of tributes started with a tribute to Sleepy John Estes with Jerry Hundt on mandolin and Corey on acoustic guitar. GOOD STUFF!

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Jimmy Burns was next with a tribute to the music of Big Joe Williams

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Next up was Ken Saydak with a tribute to the music of Roosevelt Sykes

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A tribute to the music of Bonnie Lee and of Willie Kent by Shirley Johnson and Guy King was next.

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Then we were treated to a tribute to Jimmy Dawkins performed by Billy Flynn and Linsey Alexander.

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They were followed by Lil’ Ed & Dave Weld’s tribute to J.B. Hutto.

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Then came a set by Demetria Taylor and Tomika Dixon performing a tribute to Big Time Sarah

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Mike Wheeler followed with a tribute to Otis Rush.

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We then saw a tribute to Carey Bell from Lurrie and Steve Bell.

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Jimmy Johnson and Dave Specter gave us a tribute to Magic Sam

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The final set of the evening was Omar Coleman’s tribute to Junior Wells.

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After a great day of Blues we headed to our hotel as happy Blues fans to rest up for tomorrow and another great day of Blues.

Photos and commentary by Bob Kieser.

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 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 11 

celso Salim band cd imageCelso Salim Band – Mama’s Hometown

Self-Produced/Tower High Music

CD: 9 Songs, 42:06 Minutes

Styles: “Traditional Contemporary” Blues, Dobro Blues, Swamp Blues

Why do we love music so much, no matter our background or culture, and no matter what kind it is?

Music brings us back to primal roots that dug themselves into our minds long ere societal ones did. This is what the blues is great at doing, whether traditional or contemporary.

Brazilian guitarist Celso Salim presents a near-perfect fusion of these two styles on his new album, Mama’s Hometown. Its nine songs – eight originals and one classic tune (“In My Time of Dying”) – will take you back there, evoking a swamp blues atmosphere even if you live in the city. The only flaw is that a lyrics booklet should have been included. It’s hard to decipher the meanings and messages displayed in such terrific tracks. Celso and his posse provide understated but melodic singing. They let their instruments tell voodoo stories; the chief shaman is the dobro. It weaves a spell to lull one awake, not asleep.

Salim started playing guitar at the age of six; by his teens he was focusing on early blues artists. From ages seventeen to twenty, he lived in the United States where he got deeply involved with a variety of American styles including country, folk, jazz, soul and rock. With five solo albums to his credit, he’s becoming one of the busiest and most respected blues artists from Brazil.

In a short period living in Los Angeles, he did openings for Canned Heat and Kim Wilson. After winning first place in the 2015 Southern California Blues Society (SCBS) Battle of the Bands, he represented the SCBS at the International Blues Challenge in 2016.

Along with Celso on guitar, dobro and vocals are Rafael Cury on vocals; David Fraser on piano, keyboards and harmony vocals; Mike Hightower on electric and upright bass and harmony vocals, and Lynn Coulter on drums, percussion and harmony vocals. Special guests include Darryl Carriere on harmonica for track two, Mo Beeks on Hammond B3 on tracks one, four and seven, and Minique Taylor on harmony vocals for tracks five and seven.

The following three originals are like Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes: “they’re gr-r-reat.”

Track 01: “Mad Dog” – Not since Eric Clapton’s “Pretending” has there been a blues rock song so exhilarating. Sometimes when everyone goes all out, vocally and instrumentally, the result is loud chaos. This time, magic happens. The title character “lives his life running from the law, raising hell from dusk till dawn, getting high, chasing women…” If this tune’s so jaunty, why is it played in a minor instead of a major key? It’s because we all know what happens to mad dogs if they’re ever caught: they’re put down. Revel in how Celso sings “moving” near the finale, and play air piano along with David Fraser during his dynamite solo.

Track 02: “Locked Out in Misery” – Time for good old Chicago blues, featuring a good old Chicago blues theme: when your lady won’t let you in the house because she’s quit you. This song’s subject has lost not only his home, but his car and children. He can find solace in Darryl Carriere’s rueful harmonica.

Track 07: “Mama’s Hometown” – The title track can be summed up in two words: “dobro heaven.” It’s a slow burner featuring long slides and reverberations of the strings, a perfect tune for ambiance while sitting out on the porch and drinking lemonade. Dig the harmony vocals, too.

Mama’s Hometown is a magical, musical place where everyone is welcome!

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 Video #1 – Samantha Fish 

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This featured video is Samantha Fish performing “Black Wind Howlin'” at Don Odells Legends. (Click image to watch!)

Samantha Fish is headlining at the Prairie Dog Blues Festival on Saturday, July 28th, 2018.

For tickets and info on this Blues event visit or click on their ad in this issue!

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 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 11 

ian siegal cd imageIan Siegal – All the Rage

Nugene Records – April 2018

10 songs – 49:46

Born in 1971 and currently based in Amsterdam, Ian Siegal has been busy, to say the least, releasing more than a dozen recordings since 2004. It’s been six years since his last studio album with a band, and the result is All the Rage, an enjoyable collection of songs that cover everything from interpersonal relationships to outright political protest songs. Born near Portsmouth in England, he – like many notable musicians – dropped out of art college in the late 1980s and began busking in Germany. Since then, he’s toured extensively throughout the UK and in Europe.

Musically, this new album has some faint echoes of the guitar-centric bands of 60s San Francisco, with a little of Dylan’s lyricism thrown in for good measure. Produced by American singer-songwriter-guitarist Jimbo Mathus (formerly of the Squirrel Nut Zippers), this latest collection of songs is very personal, with some clever word play delivered with a hoarse, smokey voice that sounds older than his years. All The Rage is an exploration of American roots music, and features a refreshing mix of rock ‘n roll, soul, blues, gospel, and ballads. It’s also an exploration of America, itself – with a pointed, and palpably angry exploration of the authoritarianism, and the related culture wars that have taken center stage all across the globe over the last couple of years. The “Rage” in this album’s title refers to Siegal’s disillusionment with these world events, and with politics, in general. While far from a political protest album, some of the songs clearly reflect his anger and his anxiety over world events. The four songs authored solo by Siegal were “born of concern and fear,” and you can clearly hear it – from the ominous-sounding march of “Eagle-Vulture” to the minor-key rhumba of “Ain’t You Great?” – in both his lyrics and his delivery.

This collection opens with “Eagle Vulture” – a restrained, yet powerful blues that expresses Siegal’s outrage at how politicians use Orwellian double-speak to galvanize supporters while looking to obscure their true intentions. “Ain’t You Great” is a sardonic, not-so-subtle swipe at the blatant narcissism and non-stop self-promotion of the current American President, while “Jacob’s Ladder” has an almost English Music Hall feel to it, to contrast the desperation found in the lyrics. “The Sh*t Hit” is a more traditional, Muddy Waters-influenced – and very witty – musing on what options might be available to the average Joe, as the world teeters toward anarchy. “If I Live” has Siegal very effectively channeling Howlin’ Wolf, with a gentle nod to Wolf’s “Smokestack Lightnin’.” “My Flame” is a soulful, dobro-laced lamentation of love lost. The album closes with “Sailor Town,” a folksy narrative about growing up in a rough port city.

The band for this outing features Siegal’s long-time guitarist Dusty Ciggaar, Danny Van’t Hoff on bass, Rafael Schwiddessen on drums, and Jimbo Mathus on organ, mandolin, and piano. Throughout the album, the playing is tasteful, understated, beautifully mixed, and feels entirely appropriate to each individual composition. Recorded in just four 6-hour sessions, this is some well-crafted music made by folks who clearly know their way around their instruments.

All in all, All the Rage is a very listenable collection of songs, and has definitely sent me off to listen to some of Siegal’s earlier work. Definitely worth a trip to Spotify, to sample his back catalog, and I suspect that I’ll also be acquiring one or more of his other CDs.

Reviewer Dave Orban is a technology marketer by day, musician/artist/educator by night. Since 1998, Orban has fronted The Mojo Gypsies, based in the greater Philadelphia area.

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 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 11 

arkansas dave cd imageArkansas Dave – self titled

Big Indie

13 songs/49 min

Arkansas Dave’s self titled debut is a 2 flavor birthday cake. Outside beautiful frosting sweet tone, horns and vocals; underneath 2 distinct flavors of music: borderline modern country and hippy blue-eyed soul. An interesting binary that plays out very linearly. Songs 1 through 6 are all rough and tumble bravado, hard snare cracks and loud crunchy guitars. Songs 7 through 13 are introspective and humble vulnerability, swinging beats and spaced out washes of sound.

Austin based Dave (should we refer to him as “Arkansas”) recorded basic tracks at legendary FAME studios in Muscle Shoals with crack session players Will McFarlane on guitar, Clayton Ivey on organ, Bob Wray on bass and Justin Holder on drums. Memphis horns are peppered in from Charles Rose trombone, Jim Horn bari-sax, Steve Herman trumpet and Doug Moffet tenor sax. The depth of that funky sacred space and those soulful players leave an indelible stamp. Co-producers Arkansas (yeah that works) and Jamie “Gypsy” Evens (background vocals, piano and harpsichord), took tracks back to Austin and used multiple Lone Star studios and musicians to finish up including Chris Bishop, James Petralli and Drew deFrance on guitars, Marty Muse on pedal steel, Bobby Perkins and Jonah Holt on basses. Background vocals are courtesy of Marie Lewey, Cindy Richardson-Walker and mixing engineer Alberto de Icaza.

The hard hitting 1st six songs deal with booze, impulsivity and giving social norms the finger; epitomized by adrenaline infused straight ahead opener “Bad at Being Good.” The swampy reading of Tom Waits’ “Chocolate Jesus” has a driving “rebar triangle” snap, courtesy of Richard “Rusty” Hannan, that is metallic and sharp. Centerpiece “Bad Water”’s faux-jazzy verse, that doesn’t really swing, relents to a big hair-metal chorus. The lyricism, straight on the beat drumming and anthemic choruses on side 1 are more in line with modern country straight talk songwriting than the Blues. If you are a fan of this type of music than this will be a cool mash-up.

Side 2 highlights Arkansas’ singing. Wailing with tenderness and none of the sneer of side 1, Arkansas crafts a cycle of songs that underpins his voice with R&B soul, psychedelic shakedowns and prog-rock mathematics at times in the same song. The harpsichord resplendent 6/8 minor key swing of “The Wheel,” stands out. It has deep plodding riffage that takes King Crimson style twists and turns. The homegrown Band inflected ballad “Jubilee” is warm and brown hued. Quiet album closers “Hard Times” and “Coming Home,” are hollow personal performances that put a sentimental cap on this eclectic ride.

Sometimes this bouillabaisse of style doesn’t work to the best effect. A favorite part of this album is the moody reggae verses of the “Rest of My Days.” A least favorite part is the Jack Johnson feel good choruses of “Rest of My Days.” This type of drastic juxtaposition of style and feel can be a very effective songwriting device. This technique seems to be something Arkansas has been working to develop.

Arkansas Dave, the debut record, is a strong personal statement which has the promise of creative things to come. Arkansas Dave the singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is a distinct musician with a seemingly wide range of influences. The sometimes drastic eclecticism of the record and the musician are a unique hook. When executed well, as it is for most of the record, it is engaging and exhilarating and demands multiple listens.

Reviewer Bucky O’Hare is a Bluesman based in Boston who spreads his brand of blues and funk all over New England. Bucky has dedicated himself to experiencing the Blues and learning its history. As a writer, Bucky has been influenced by music critics and social commentators such as Angela Davis, Peter Guralnick, Eric Nisenson, Francis Davis and Henry Louis Gates Jr.

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 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 11 

paul berry cd imagePaul Barry – Blow Your Cool

self release

10 songs time – 42:00

Minneapolis, Minnesota based harmonica player-singer Paul Barry, a protégé of the late harmonica monster William Clarke, delivers this his second CD release. It’s quite clear from this release that he ranks up there in the higher echelons of the current crop of harp players. Add to that the fact that he surrounds himself with a first rate set of musicians. Included here are Mitch Kashmar, Fred Kaplan, Wee Willie Walker and Jeremy Johnson. Jeremy is a new name to me, but he is a gifted tradition based blues guitarist. The CD is divided evenly between band originals and covers.

The instrumental “Hawaiian Eye” leads things off and features Mitch Kashmar on harmonica along with Paul. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable harmonica based romp. Tim Wick’s organ and Jeremy Johnson’s guitar are also highlights on this tune. Wee Willie Walker makes his first vocal appearance on “What Did I Do So Wrong” and a fine one it is. He possesses the perfect soulful blues voice. Paul and Mitch pay homage to their mentor William Clarke on “Tribute To William Clarke”. It’s a fine performance and the longest here, clocking in and just over seven minutes. With my limited exposure to Clarke I associate him more with the over blowing technique which there is none of on this track. Fred Kaplan accompanies with his piano skills.

Paul handles the vocal on “You Can’t Beat The Horses”. His voice is passable. Max Ray contributes some tasty sax, while Tim wicks supplies the piano. Wee Willie Walker delivers the goods on Smokey smother’s “Drinking Muddy Waters”. As usual Jeremy Johnson shines on guitar. Willie also does another splendid turn on Willie Dixon’s “Spoonful”, a song done by Howlin’ Wolf, but many rock fans are more familiar with Cream’s raucous take on it. Paul’s harp is spot on here as well as throughout the proceedings.

Paul steps up to the mic for the second time on Sonny Boy Williamson I’s “You Got To Step Back” backed only by his harp, Fred Kaplan on piano and Jeremy on guitar. Tim Wick displays his organ technique along side Willie’s vocal and Max Ray’s sax on “More Than I Can Give”. The slow blues instrumental “Low-Down” is just Paul on harmonica along with Jeremy’s guitar. A full band instrumental brings things to a close. The title track again has Mitch on second harmonica. It’s an upbeat groove fest.

A totally enjoyable ensemble blues recording were all involved get a chance to shine displaying their musical skills. The sound they attain in stylistically pretty traditional while coming across as fresh and vibrant.

Real blues is out there as evidenced by this fine recording. Sometimes you just have to search it out.

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

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 Featured Blues Video #2 – Ana Popovic 

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This featured video is Ana Popovic performing “House Burning Down”. (Click image to watch!)

Ana is headlining the Ann Arbor Blues Festival on Saturday, August 18, 2018.

For tickets and info on this Blues event click HERE. or click on their ad in this issue!

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 Featured Blues Review – 7 of 11 

lisa mednick powell cd imageLisa Mednick Powell – Blue Book

10 songs – 43:00

November 2017

Pianist and songwriter Lisa Mednick Powell began her study of classical piano at the age of seven, continuing her studies until dropping out of college, moving from Ann Arbor, MI, to Washington, D.C., and eventually to New York City. While there, she played in a couple of pop bands before deciding to enroll at the Howard University Music Conservatory in Washington, D.C., to study jazz piano. In 1984, she moved to New Orleans to study saxophone with Charles Neville. Over the ensuing years, she backed numerous performers, both in the studio and on the road, including Earl King, Alejandro Escovedo, The Chills, and Michelle Shocked. She recorded her first solo album – Artifacts of Love – in 1994, followed by Semaphore, in 2002.

Blue Book is Mednick Powell’s third album, and it took nearly 16 years since her previous album to produce it, with the intervening years providing her with both a Master’s Degree and a whole lot of life experience and perspective. The album was produced by Mednick Powell with assistance from Chris Unck, Tommy Malone and Gar Robertson. Her husband and musical partner Kip Powell played bass, and other contributors include Tommy Malone, Gar Robertson and Joel Kastner on guitars, lap steel and mandolin, Paul Santopedro on drums, and Tom Soden on trumpet. Gabriella Evaro, Tommy Malone, Alison Young, and Sophie Kastner provided backing vocals, with additional vocals and instrumentation from Victoria Williams, Greg Leisz and Danny Frankel.

Blue Book is a rich, contemplative album, the tone clearly established with the plaintive dobro-and-mandolin underpinnings of the opening track, “Smoke Over Carolina.” Its lyrics tackle everything from the U.S. Civil War, to workers’ rights, to inequality, to the ongoing assault on organized labor in America, and can only be viewed as a screed against the current global political climate, in which corporate interests and oligarchs are greedily clawing-back power from individuals.

“Cold Coffee” is a New Orleans-tinged ballad that is a reminiscence of times gone by: “Now my soul’s just like cold coffee… slipped right through your heart, nobody caught me… but we sang and we danced for every dollar… and the years ran by like muddy water.”

“I Am Not Gold” feels like an incredibly personal song: “I am not gold… I’m only silver… and I shine with a cold blue light… do not hold me… to what I can’t deliver… it’s a hard-won prize… it ain’t worth the fight.”

“To the Wilderness” is a twangy, country honk that calls to mind early Jackson Browne, as sung by, say, the McGarrigle sisters or Lucinda Williams.

Inspired by such events as the 2014 kidnapping of hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls by Boko Haram and the 2015 Stanford rapist, Brock Turner, “Give the Guns to the Girls” is one of the album’s standout tracks, and continues the theme of disillusionment and resulting activism that underscores the #resist movement both here in the U.S. and abroad. “Give the guns to the girls… quit talking to me about peace in this world… let the girls have the guns… let them hunt down the hunter till he has nowhere to run.“ Angry, powerful stuff.

The ethereal dissonance of “Crow” calls to mind some of Tom Wait’s later work, with layers of non-traditional instrumentation that could have easily been orchestrated by John Cage.

The album closes out with “Highway Prayer,” a New Orleans-infused take on the soul and gospel ballads of the late 60s. A reworking of something Mednick Powell had recorded back in in the mid-80s, this update has a confident, more upbeat quality that complements some of the darker pieces in this collection.

This dark, swirling gumbo of Americana is most definitely a singer-songwriter’s album. I find many of these songs to be evocative of The Band’s best music, and I can easily imagine them being sung by the late Richard Manuel. Like Manuel, Mednick-Powell’s voice has a delicate, almost mournful quality, and the musical performances here are well-matched, with solid arrangements, tasteful instrumentation, and personal, insightful lyrics. It might not be traditional blues by a long shot, but it’s definitely worth a listen… or three.

Reviewer Dave Orban is a technology marketer by day, musician/artist/educator by night. Since 1998, Orban has fronted The Mojo Gypsies, based in the greater Philadelphia area.

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 Featured Blues Review – 8 of 11 

jp and the razord cd imageJP And The Razors – Nothin’ To Lose

self release

7 songs time-20:31

Judging from the non-smiling visages of the band members on the CD cover you might think they are a harder sounding outfit. JP And the Razors, a three-piece band from the north west of England have somewhat of a milder sound going on. This mini album gives a brief glimpse into their sound. Jonny Slidewell(JP) supplies guitar, vocals and harmonica, as well as bass on one track. His guitar skills are good, but I could of used a bit more in the way of solos. His voice is smooth with kind of a New Wave-ish fresh energy. Dave “El Lobo” Roberts handles bass and hand claps. The drummer is S.A.W.. This rhythm section provides the push for these energetic songs.

The poppy “So In Love-Part 1” JP’s smooth voice and strummed acoustic guitar and harmonica. The next song up “The Car’s Too Fast” follows much the same approach. A prominent bass line, “clicky” drums and clipped note guitar soloing imbue “I’m Over You”. The band conjures up a breezy boogie groove for “I’m Losing”. Strummed acoustic guitar is the sole instrumental accompaniment on “So In Love-Part 2”, a melancholy follow up that emphasizes JP’s smooth as silk voice.

Electric slide guitar glides over electric rhythm guitar to stand alone under the vocal on “Someone New”. A George Thorogood influence pops up here. That influence is made clear on “It Wasn’t Me”, a Chuck Berry song associated with Thorogood. D.B. Williams sits in on lead guitar on this very good version taken from a radio broadcast.

A pleasing if short taste of what JP And The Razors have to offer. The guys promise a full length LP of all original tunes in the fall. Something to anticipate judging from what we have here. I see their sound as smooth rocking pop-New Wave infused music with a little tad of blues thrown in. Call it whatever you like, I call it good music.

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

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 Featured Blues Review – 9 of 11 

ivy ford cd imageIvy Ford – Time To Shine

Self-produced CD

10 songs – 45 minutes

A nominee in the Sean Costello Rising Star category in this year’s Blues Blast Music Awards, Ivy Ford Ghera doubles on vocals and guitar as she fronts this tight three-piece band in a follow up to their well-received, but limited debut release, Live NYE 2016.

Possessing a warm, rich, honey-sweet alto and wielding a cherry-red Epiphone 339, Ivy’s a young mother based out of Waukegan, Ill. She’s a self-taught multi-instrumentalist who can also double on bass, keyboards, sax and drums. Her professional career began at age 13 when she started working with Steve Rainey’s The Real Deal Band out of Kenosha, Wis., 15 miles to the north.

The roots of her current ensemble were planted when she joined a band in her hometown in 2012. Now known as “Chicago’s Blues Kitten,” she’s toured extensively throughout the U.S. and has become a Windy City fan favorite with frequent appearances at Buddy Guy’s Legends as well as other area clubs and events. And when not fronting her own band, she handles bass in support of Chicago Blues Hall Of Fame honoree J.B. Ritchie.

Ford credits Ritchie with schooling her in the blues tradition. While her music remains close to the root, she’s got a modern approach that incorporates R&B and roots. She’s backed here by bassist Willie J. Rauch and drummer Dave Axen in a collection of 10 tunes she penned herself.

“Time To Shine” opens with a brief guitar intro before Ivy delivers a lesson about living to a loved one, that he should never allow anyone to treat him wrong and that he should always be his own best friend. A medium-fast shuffle with a simple, but effective arrangement, the song comes across with a gospel feel once the rhythm section kicks in after the first verse, and Ford’s voice sounds much more mature than most 25-year-olds.

Ivy gets funky and shows off her skills on the fret board for the percussive “Tell Me You’re Sorry,” in which she tells a lover his apologies are falling on deaf ears, before urging a man to pick up a six-string and “Gimme That Guitar” if he wants to win her heart, driving the message home with her own single-note, stop-time solo mid-tune.

The pace slows slightly for “Baby Come Home,” another message of love that’s delivered atop another pleasant, propulsive beat, before the funk returns full force with “Hate To Have To Go.” The tension builds off of a five-note guitar hook before Ford’s voice enters to announce she needs a little break and that the absence will make hearts grow fonder. The theme continues in “Ain’t Had Enough Of You.” It’s a sweet ballad despite describing pitfalls in the relationship.

The mood brightens considerably as Ivy launches into “Girls Night,” an uptempo blues-rocker that gives her space to rip on run, which flows into the loping and soulful “Mr. Right,” a tune that describes the singer’s ideal man, while “Mama Don’t” kicks up the funk, dealing with a lady who doesn’t want to wait for her man too long. The set ends with “Don’t Handle Me,” a cautionary message to a lover that the singer’s making all the rules.

Available through Amazon or direct from the band website (address above), Time To Shine truly does. All of the songs here are fresh and deeply rooted in the blues. And Ivy Ford is a force to be reckoned with in a world that’s increasingly lacking in blues traditionalists. Hop on her bandwagon with this one. You’ll be glad you did.

Reviewer Marty Gunther has lived a blessed life. His first experience with live music came at the feet of the first generation of blues legends at the Newport Folk Festivals in the 1960s. A former member of the Chicago blues community, he’s a professional journalist and blues harmonica player who co-founded the Nucklebusters, one of the hardest working bands in South Florida.

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 Featured Blues Review – 10 of 11 

J. J. vicars cd imageJ.J. Vicars – Irreverent Dissident

Self Release

13 tracks / 45:47

After a decade of playing overseas, J.J. Vicars has returned to the states to take a prominent role in the Ohio music scene. He has an impressive catalog of original music that he has released, and his new album, Irreverent Dissident, is a fun collection of tunes with his unique voice and attitude. For this disc, J.J. took the roles of producer, songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist, so what you hear through your speakers is very close to his original vision. By the way, it is apparent that Vicars loves the rock and roll/hotrod lifestyle, and looking at his album artwork, how can anybody not like a guy who appreciates dogs, mid-1930s Plymouths, and 1952 Chevys?

Irreverent Dissident is dedicated to the memory of Vicars’ friend, Larry Slezak, and it was recorded at Jupiter Studios in Alliance, Ohio where it was engineered and mastered by Richie Kindler. The line-up of musicians varies from track to track, which makes a lot of sense when the listener finds that the album is divided into three distinct thematic sections. This is all good news, and J.J. delivers throughout this set with plenty of blues, blues-rock, and some serious boogie tunes. If you need further validation of this, consider that Vicars and his band topped the competitors to take home a win at the 2017 Northeast Ohio Blues Challenge, earning them a trip to Memphis for the International Blues Challenge

J.J. breaks his set up into three different themes, with the first part of the disc kicking off with “Los Vatos in A,” a soaring guitar instrumental that might remind the listener of Joe Satriani’s more conventional work. The rest of this section features Anthony Lumpp on bass and Danny Lumpp on drums, and includes two originals: “Long Way From Home,” a blues rocker, and “Can’t Get Along With You,” a very tasty shuffle. One of the few covers on this album is also found here, and Willie Dixon’s “Wang Dang Doodle Dang” is presented with a new edge that really spices up this standard.

The middle portion of the album leads off with Bill Wheldon’s 1930s tune, “Outskirts of Town,” which provides a jazzier version of the countrified original. “Stinky Twinky” has kind of a nasty name, but this ends up being a high-energy and quite tasty rocker with some spectacular sax work from Big Jay McNeely, who recorded his part just before his 90th birthday. This section closes out with “Downhome” which has Texas sound with some lovely B3 playing from Robert Johnson, as well as bass from Denny Wright and drums from Doug Oscard.

Part three is introduced by another guitar instrumental, “Deguello,” which evokes imagery of the traditional Mexican army bugle call that was famously used at the Battle of the Alamo to indicate that there would be no quarter provided to survivors of the conflict. At least that is what I remember from those old John Wayne movies… Things get a little more traditional after this thanks to a western blues influence that is provided by Hugh Ashton on dobro, Danny Katz on piano, and Hisa Nakase on the double bass. These songs include the original swing tune “Things I Need,” as well as Dr. Todd’s ballad, “That Ain’t Me” and Wayne Miller’s “What Do I Tell My Heart?”

Vicars also include a pair of bonus tracks that serve to get the play time over 45 minutes and provide a little more content for the listener. “Three-toed Midget” is more of a whimsical folk/bluegrass tune, though there is the possibility that some could find the content degrading or objectionable. There is also an alternate take on “Stinky Twinky” that gives J.J. the chance to really tear loose, and his guitar technique and tone are ultra impressive.

J.J. Vicars’ Irreverent Dissident is a thoughtful collection of songs that is both playful and well written. J.J. works a solid blues base into many paths, and this is an album that allows his fans to hear something new with every listen. You can hear samples of this work at his website and find the list of gigs that he has coming up in and around Ohio. If you are going to be around the Buckeye State this summer, it would certainly be cool to see his live show too!

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

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 Featured Blues Review – 11 of 11 

angel forrest cd imageAngel Forrest – Electric Love

Ad Litteram – 2017

CD1: 7 tracks; 42 minutes

CD2: 8 tracks; 56 minutes

Angel Forrest follows up her 2016 release Angel’s 11 with this double live album recorded on home turf in Quebec. The material blends originals written by Angel and her partner Denis Coulombe with a range of covers, including a couple associated with Janis Joplin who is clearly a touchstone for Angel who has played Janis on stage and recorded an album of her material. The band is Denis Coulombe on acoustic guitar, Alec McElcheran on bass, Sly Coulombe on drums and Ricky Paquette on electric guitar; Angel handles all lead vocals with most of the band providing B/V’s where required.

CD1 opens with two originals, “All The Way” featuring Ricky’s slide work which ups the blues quotient and “Spoil Me Up” which is a slinky rocker. Like most of the songs here the live format allows plenty of space for Ricky’s guitar and Angel’s impassioned vocals. “Piece Of My Heart” follows in a country-inflected version and you can really hear how well Angel’s voice matches Janis’. “Walkin’ Blues” runs to over seven minutes and Ricky plays an extended solo which builds in intensity pretty impressively (though Angel’s histrionic vocals were not to this reviewer’s taste) and “House Of The Rising Sun” may never be the same as both Angel and Ricky go right over the top. “How Do You Do” rocks along well and the disc closes with another long track “Move On”.

CD2 opens with Denis’ acoustic guitar to the fore on “Goodbye”, one of three songs from Angel’s 11 featured here, and runs into the appropriately titled “Roll On Down”, complete with audience participation that Angel appears to have appreciated. The rocking shuffle “Hold On Tight” is a strong track and the emotionally charged “Crucify” is perfect for Angel’s voice, both tracks clocking in at under 5 minutes and all the better for that. The frantic pace of “Mother Tongue Blues” (complete with an opening section in Angel’s native French) leads into the final section of the show: a very long, slow “Turtle Blues” which warms up Angel’s growl for the second Janis number “Bobby McGee” which she dedicates to her mother, appropriate as the final number is a medley of “Mama” (which is close to “Talk To Your Daughter” and also incorporates snatches of “Hound Dog”) and Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love”. At close to 15 minutes this is a rather bloated finale though Ricky certainly captures Jimmy Page’s original perfectly.

As with many live albums, there are sections here that drag and make one think that ‘you had to be there’. However, if strong female vocals and guitar playing are your thing you should find plenty to enjoy here.

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 Interview – Kid Andersen’s Greaseland Studios 

greaseland studios photo 1Twelve years ago, Kid Andersen was a twenty-five year old guitar player in Charlie Musselwhite’s band. He also recorded his third solo project, released as Greaseland. Once Andersen started doing recording projects in his home, he decided that the name Greaseland Studios was indicative of the kinds of sounds he was striving for on every project.

In slightly more than a decade under Andersen’s direction, Greaseland has become the go-to studio for artists and bands in search of a great sounding recording with plenty of authentic feeling. The studio has been utilized for more than one hundred thirty recordings, with a substantial number of titles receiving, and winning, various blues awards. Andersen produced and recorded Groovin’ At Greaseland for his current band, Rick Estrin & the Night Cats, nominated for a Blues Blast Music Award in the Traditional Blues Album category as well as Blues Band of the year. Other recent releases recorded at Greaseland include titles by the Nick Moss Band featuring Dennis Gruenling, Billy Price, Chris Cain, Whitney Shay, Keesha Pratt Band – awarded the top prize at this year’s International Blues Challenge in the Band category – Big Harp George Bisharat, Rockin’ Johnny Burgin, Aki Kumar, and the Lucky Losers.

So what is it about the Greaseland recording experience that has pushed it into the top tire of recording studios? Andersen offers a simple explanation. “We have gotten a lot of accolades. I have been able to make a living mostly by doing shit I feel like doing. That is the best measure of success that I can think of! People contact me because they like what I do, and they think it will work with what they do. I’ve never had to do any advertising, our business has been through word-of-mouth. If I don’t think it is a good fit, I will turn down some opportunities. We do a full production package, so if you want to get the full value of working here, it should be a collaboration all the way through the process, including mixing the tracks. I can do anything a regular studio can, but if you think of it that way, you would be missing out on what I can offer. And I don’t believe in wasting anyone’s time, particularly my own!”.

“Now I find myself working on projects that mean something to me. That is when music is good, when everyone is involved, no one is phoning it in. I have witnessed so many moments in the studio where it was a struggle between the artist and, say, the engineer in the studio, who says we can’t record everybody at the same time, there might be bleed. Most of the disagreements were over stupid shit like that. Whatever creates the best vibe for recording, that is what I want to do. If there is a little bit of snare drum in the vocal microphone, I don’t care. That’s not something that will translate into decreasing the emotional or musical impact”.

greaseland studios photo 2Andersen is the key to Greaseland’s success. His instincts and musical tastes have been honed to a fine edge by listening to classic recordings, making music with some of the best blues musicians in the US and back in his native Norway, and his various experiences in other recording studios. Asked about his role in the studio, he had a quick answer.

“I got involved in recording first as a musician. As I became interested and starting learning about the process, it looked like it would be difficult to learn to handle the complicated mix of cables, mixing boards, and computers. I didn’t have a drivers license – and I still don’t! It is easy for me to learn anything I am really interested in. As soon as I tipped my toe into the water of engineering, it became very attractive to me, the technical aspects of setting up the microphones and plugging them in properly, or the guitar and amplifier. When I started producing, I was the one telling the engineer what to do. That was my final step, to get rid of that guy and do it myself”.

“Now it is all one thing, I don’t differentiate between playing a instrument, choosing & placing a microphone, or adjusting a fader. I work pretty much on instinct these days. Half the time I can’t tell you why I want to use a Shure SM57 microphone instead of something else. I have this sound in my head, and that comes first. All the other stuff is just a means to an end to take that sound from your head and put into actual existence. I have a fairly high success rate of that now”.

“That sound has always been there. It was put in my head by all of the records I listened to and the music I love. So I would try recording and I wouldn’t get the sound I was hearing in my head. So you start investigating to determine what you are doing wrong, what is missing. But 90% of it is the person playing the instrument, and how they are playing. Later, during mixing, you determine where to put the instrument in the soundscape. It all goes together. Recently, I was talking to someone who recorded at Fantasy Studios. They described having a hundred tracks to work with, three mics on each horn, and thirty different mics on the drums. They were excited about the options that gave them during the mixing process. To me, that is complete bullshit! It tells me they didn’t have a sound in their head. If they did, they wouldn’t need thirty mics”.

“It is always time to mix. Mixing isn’t about twiddling some knobs after the musicians have gone home. Any time you pick up an instrument, you are listening to everybody else and producing your sound. That is what mixing is, putting sounds together. I love the sound and feel of old analog records, so I am old school, but also very modern. I record digitally, use Pro Tools, which gives me a lot of flexibility to work remotely with people, send files through Dropbox, and do edits. Rick Estrin and I are working on a project with Fillmore Slim, who will sing a song until something causes him to stop. So he often makes up verse after verse for twelve minutes for what is supposed to be a four minute song. So something has to be cut! In the old days, you could do it with a razor blade and the tape. You only had one shot. Today we have “Command Z,” the undo button!”

greaseland studios photo 2“I embrace the new technology. It has made it possible to generate the high level of production at the studio and keep the costs down. There are studios that charge top dollar for productions. I don’t want to rip myself off. But the pricing needs to be realistic so that the artist has a chance to recoup their investment. I really wanted to work with Billy Price. I have always loved his voice, which has a distinctive tone. He contacted me to ask what it would cost, so I sent him a budget. He basically talked me into taking more money for his Reckoning project.! I’m a hustler – but a different type of hustler. I don’t ever want to talk somebody into spending more money than they can afford on a product that they won’t be able to make money on just because I want the money. I’m not going to go down that road”.

“You used to be able to make real good money in the music business. As an independent artist, I sold over 4,000 to 5,000 copies of my CD in the early 2000’s. Nowadays, that is a really good sales for even a household name. It is a bummer that nobody is going to make a pile of money selling discs any more. If we were, I could charge more. But I want Greaseland customers to get realistic pricing so that they have the chance to get their money back. Then we all win”.

Most of us have seen pictures of a recording studio with large recording consoles, gleaming wood paneling, and glass enclosed recording booths. Greaseland Studios is the antithesis of that model. With the exception of one bedroom, the rest of Andersen’s home is where all of the magic happens. “I have been renting a three bedroom duplex for quite some time, and am about to start start renting the other half for the storage of people!. It started out in the living room, then we set up the control booth in the garage. The laundry room became the vocal booth. When I acquired a grand piano, that went in the kitchen. It has expanded to where 75% of the house is used as the studio full-time. Closets have been used if we need to isolate amplifiers. We also have been known to put an amp or two in the bathroom. I try not to do that any more, because if somebody is in there peacefully going about their business and suddenly Little Charlie decides to hit a really big E chord on his guitar plugged into an amp in the bathroom set on level 10, well…..which actually might aid them in what they were doing!”

The project that Andersen did with Chris Cain has been nominated for various awards, and brought the noted guitarist a burst of well-deserved attention. Cain has stated that he loved recording at Greaseland, having so much fun that he said he would still be there if he hadn’t been kicked out. Andersen replied, “Chris Cain – I think he still lives here! That is one guy I was very excited to work with, which is a weird term. We did something for each other. The way he plays makes me happy, and I knew I could help him make an old school blues record that Chris’s father would have approved of. He transcends the boundaries between traditional and modern blues artists. He gets total respect from both camps. No one can deny his talents. I’d record Chris every day and be totally happy”.

greaseland studios photo 4Andersen is also proud of the project he and Rick Estrin did with soul singer Wee Willie Walker. “The whole reason I got into having my own studio was to have the freedom to do a project like Willie’s if it came along. Nobody does that kind of music better than Willie. Rick and I decided to make it happen. We brought Willie out here. The musicians played for nothing. I did some trades with people that if they played on Willie’s sessions, I would owe them two days of studio time. It didn’t matter that no one was getting paid. That is the most rewarding shit in the world, hearing him sing and be there during the creation of music like that, which spiritually is the greatest thing you can imagine. As fate would have it, Jim Pugh was getting his Little Village Foundation label set up around the same time. He ended up releasing the If Nothing Ever Changes album, which got Willie started again and got Little Village an established. That is why I work hard, so I can do those things”. Another artist that Andersen has helped is vocalist John “Blues” Boyd. “He is another guy like that. Me and Rick got him started writing songs. He’d call and say, hey, I wrote eight more songs on the ride down. We are way behind, because he has written about a hundred & thirty songs and we have only gotten around to recording seventy-nine of them. You feel like you are doing something with your life when you can make a difference for artists like that”.

Another aspect of the Greaseland experience is the wide array of instruments that are available for use on the sessions. “We probably have about fifty guitars for use. I don’t have like six different Gibson Les Paul sunburst models trying to tell myself that they all sound different. I have one of each type of guitar or instruments. I do have a couple of 60s Fender Precision bass guitars because I ran across them and decided I couldn’t live without either one. I end up playing bass more than guitar, which I often enjoy more, especially on recordings. When you play bass, you are directing the movement of the music, which is a powerful feeling. To me, a good bass line makes a track. If you have a good song with a good singer, and a good bass line, that should be a hit record. It least that is how it used to work. Oh yeah, add a couple million worth of PR push. That’s the part I have been missing out on!”

“I also have two or three Fender Jazz bass guitars plus several Gibson’s too. We have some old bass amps, like an Ampeg B15, but most of the time we go direct to the board for the best sound. Having all the instruments is similar to a painter having all of the colors on their palette. You don’t need ninety shades of blue when you can mix and match them yourself. Having all of the instruments does set us apart from other studios. There are plenty of good studios with nice rooms and great gear but they don’t have instruments, even a piano, Hammond organ or Wurlitzer piano. These are physically big things that are hard to bring to a session. So I have a grand piano, a Hammond B3 organ, an old upright saloon-style piano, several Fender Rhodes keyboards, Wurlitzer units, plus a Hohner clavinet for the funk stuff, and even old synthesizers from the 70s. If you heard a sound on a record, I can make it here”.

greaseland studios photo 5“Once I was just a guitar player who loved to buy vintage guitars. Now that I own a studio, I have an excuse to buy every piece of equipment possible. I am a total nerd for vintage cymbals, with more of them and drums than most drummers in the world do. The only thing rarely available is cash! Every time I make a dollar, I seem to spend two on another piece of equipment. Last year, I got an old Nuemann U 67 tube microphone that once belonged to Sam Phillips of Sun Records. It cost more than everything I owned put together when I was twenty-two years old. Really, it sounds about 15-20% different than a $100 microphone but I’d rather have that than the money”.

Andersen’s wife, Lisa, is a singer who often adds backing vocals on the sessions. And she can be a big factor in decisions on the studio’s instrument inventory. “ She doesn’t complain, except for the sign that said, “Please put the toilet seat down”. That has been about it. One time I scored this really beautiful Hammond organ for three hundred bucks. And I already had one that needed repairs, as did the new one. I thought it was ridiculous, even to me, to have two Hammond B3 organs. So I was ready to choose between them. I asked Lisa to come into the living room, which is now an even tighter fit with two Hammonds in the middle, I asked Lisa to pick one. She said the old one has so many memories, can’t we keep both? When we were first getting together, my computer broke. If I don’t have a working computer, I am out of business. I told Lisa I needed to buy a new computer immediately, so I needed to sell something quick. It was going to be a 1968 Fender Telecaster bass, but when I told Lisa, she screamed no, that bass is awesome! That was when I knew this just might work. We both are extremely irresponsible, but somehow we always make it somehow”.

“What started out as a home studio is now a studio home. We could sell all the equipment and probably buy a house. But I’m passionate about sounds and music. When you work with me at Greaseland, I do the work of five people but only charge for one. I can play multiple instruments, and have the ability to communicate with musicians about what to play on other instruments. Then I can handle the mixing and mastering processes. There are a couple of discs coming out that I am very excited about on Little Village – Aki Kumar, Whitney Shay, and Marcel Smith, which is soul and gospel. That part of black music doesn’t connect with the regular blues audience today. To me, gospel quartet music is the greatest music in the world. It is much closer to my heart than all of the guitar-centric stuff that dominates the blues charts these days. That great African-American singing from groups like the Swan Silvertones, the Blind Boys of Alabama, the Dixie Hummingbirds, or the Sons of Soul Revivers is the most moving music for me, from the living, breathing tradition of old school gospel. There is at least as much outstanding music in that genre as there is in the blues tradition”.

Interviewer Mark Thompson lives in Florida, where he is enjoying the sun and retirement. He is the President of the Board of Directors for the Suncoast Blues Society and a member of the Board of Directors for the Blues Foundation. Music has been a huge part of his life for the past fifty years – just ask his wife!

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Charlotte Blues Society – Charlotte, NC

For July, there will be no Charlotte Blues Society Blues Bash, but on August 5 we come back strong with James Armstrong! The show begins at 7:30 with an open blues jam followed by James at 8:45. After James’s set, there will be another blues jam. As always, the show will be at the Rabbit Hole, 1801 Commonwealth Ave, Charlotte, and admission is free to card-carrying members and $5 to all others. We continue to collect donations of canned food, household items, and cash for Loaves and Fishes. 1 Can? I Can! Help end hunger in Charlotte!

The Sacramento Blues Society – Sacramento, CA

The Sacramento Blues Society will be co-hosting, along with the Torch Club, a benefit to assist with medical expenses for baby Joplyn Norris, who was born prematurely and is fighting for her life. This wee one is the first born of musician Jeramy Norris and his wife Heather, a young couple highly regarded in the Stockton/Sacramento blues communities. The benefit will be held at the Torch Club, 904 15th St, Sacramento on July 15, 2018 from 3:00-7:00 p.m. with a suggested donation of $10. Donations are being accepted in a GoFundMe page as well. Please open your hearts and wallets to help this sweet baby.

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: 7/9 – Brandon Santini, 7/16 – John Clifton. For more information visit

Crossroads Blues Society – Rockford, IL

Lyran Society’s monthly Friday fish fry – July 27 – Paul filipowicz, August 17 – New Savages, Shows free, run 7 to 10 PM.

The Inaugural New Glarus Blues, Brews and Food Truck Festival is Saturday, July 14th from Noon to 8 PM in New Glarus Wisconsin.

The Ninth Annual Crossroads Blues Festival at Lyran Park is Saturday,August 25th. Noon to 10 PM, gates open at 11 AM. $5 advanced tickets,$10 at the gate. Free parking. Primitive camping $20 per night, available Friday and/or Saturday  or has all the info!

Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers are also at Burpee Museum in Rockford Wednesday, June 27th at 6:30 PM. VIP seats $15, free general admission! Co-sponsored by Crossroads.

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

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. Tues, July 10 – Brandon Santini, Manteno Sportsmen’s Club, Thur, July 27 – The Nouveaux Honkies, Inside Out, Gilman IL, Thur, Aug 23 – Albert Castiglia, L’Erable IL, Tues, Sept 11 – Frank Bang & Cook County Kings, Venue TBA, Tues, Sept 25, Ivy Ford Band, Kankakee Valley Boat Club. More Info at:

The Long Beach Blues Society – Long Beach, CA

The Long Beach Blues Society presents the “6 String Showdown,” a head-to-head series of regional blues guitar competitions to crown Southern California’s best blues guitar player, the winner getting to perform on the Main Stage of this year’s New Blues Festival V. Bracket rounds to determine regional winners to be held at Campus Jax, Newport Beach, Saturday, July 21, 3-11 PM; Harvelle’s/Long Beach, Sunday, July 29, 3-11 PM; and Arcadia Blues Club, Saturday, August 4, 6 PM to Midnite.

Three semi-finalists face off on the Golden Groove Stage at New Blues Festival V Saturday, September 1. Two finalists go head-to-head on the NBF Main Stage, Sunday, September 2. More info at

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