Issue 12-46 November 23 2018

Cover photo © 2018 Joseph A. Rosen

 In This Issue 

Mark Thompson has our feature interview with keyboard wizard Anthony Geraci. We have 8 Blues reviews for you this week including new music from Frank Bey, Joe Filisko & Eric Noden, David Julia, The Delgado Brothers, Eric Lindell, Sean Poluk, Mark Harrison and Dean Haitaini.

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

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 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 8 

frank bey cd imageFrank Bey – Back In Business

NOLA Blue Records – 2018

11 tracks; 43 minutes

Frank Bey’s story is one worth telling. Raised in Georgia, he started singing in his teens, joined Otis Redding’s revue at 17 where he learned stage craft and developed his soul singing style. Just as things looked good, a record deal went wrong and, disillusioned with music, Frank abandoned music for nearly 20 years. However, he started singing again in Philadelphia, then hooked up with Anthony Paule in San Francisco with whom he made three solid albums which garnered four BBMA nominations. Now, at 72 years of age, Frank has signed with NOLA Blue and recorded his fourth album with Tom Hambridge who has done such a terrific job with Buddy Guy in recent years. As with Buddy, Tom and his writing partner Richard Fleming have written six songs for Frank to sing, some of which seem to have a strong biographical content. Four songs come from combinations of Jeff Monjack (Frank’s guitarist in his Philly band), Kevin Frieson and Tanya Henry and there is a cover of a Mighty Sam McClain tune. Tom Hambridge directed proceedings from behind the drum kit, Rob McNelly is on guitar, Marty Sammon on keys (Buddy’s regular keyboard man) and bass duties are shared between Tommy MacDonald and Adam Nitti. Horns are added to four cuts by Max Abrams (sax) and Julio (trumpet) and Wendy Moten adds B/Vs to three songs.

The album opens with a bang as Frank announces that he is “Back In Business”, recounting some aspects of his life and that he is ready and able to make an impact; the band immediately shows its paces with great piano from Marty and a rousing solo by Rob. The horns join in on “Gun Toting Preacher”, the story of a man sent overseas in WW2 after a fight and then became a preacher but always had a weapon to hand; we eventually learn that this was Frank’s brother. A third Hambridge/Fleming tune “Take It Back To Georgia” slows the pace with Wendy’s harmony vocals and a fine lead vocal by Frank who recounts returning to his native state to work in construction and starts singing again. Frank’s voice is perfect for soulful ballads and Hambridge/Fleming have provided “The Half Of It”, a real tear-jerker which Frank delivers convincingly. The band rocks out on the stop-start “Better Look Out”, Rob delivering some exciting lead work but the final Hambridge/Fleming composition is perhaps the best of the lot. This one is a full band number in which Frank celebrates his love for which he can only “Blame Mother Nature”. Rob’s solo is excellent and the horns push the chorus, making it one of the standout tracks on the album.

The four songs from the Philly team fit in well with the Nashville songs: “Cookie Jar” and “Give It To Get It” are both funky numbers, the former a ‘salty’ song seasoned with the horns, the latter about a girl who follows the music wherever it takes her. “Ain’t No Reason” opens with Marty’s stately piano, a mid-paced ballad with the memorable line “there ain’t no reason just because it rhymes, just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s not a crime. Every saint was a sinner and did his share of time”. Album closer “Yesterday’s Dreams” is a slow blues, a stripped back quartet performance that places Frank’s great voice front and centre and lets Rob show us his blues chops.

The cover of Kevin Berry and Mighty Sam McClain’s “Where You Been So Long” is excellent, a slow burner that builds from the first verse which has Frank singing over just guitar before the band joins in on verse two. The horns then arrive to beef up the chorus as the song develops into a full-on soul-blues with Frank’s impassioned vocals, Marty’s piano and Rob’s torrid guitar.

Since his return to recording in 2012 Frank Bey has produced a series of good albums and this one keeps up the momentum. A definite ‘must hear’ for fans of soulful vocalists.

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 – 2 of 8 

joe filiski and eric noden cd imageJoe Filisko & Eric Noden – Destination Unknown

Self-Release – 2018

13 tracks; 47 minutes

Joe Filisko and Eric Noden make a great contemporary acoustic harp/guitar duo, playing in the style of old-time greats like Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee or Mississippi John Hurt. This is their fifth album together and it is entirely original music with Eric writing six songs, Joe two and the pair collaborating on four; the final track was written by Eric’s grandfather, the late Harry J Noden. Everything you hear was recorded live in one session in Spring 2018, the music being mainly country blues with a few detours into country and old-time music.

“Anxious Blues” sets out the duo’s stall with lyrics that reflect the pace of modern life and the need to slow down a little, Joe getting a vast range of sounds from his harp. “Shut It Down” is an uptempo piece with an element of ragtime in the rhythm; some well-judged kazoo and Joe’s harp conjuring up a fiddle sound take us back to 1920’s jug bands. “Louisiana Song” celebrates the distinctiveness of Louisiana as seen by Joe whose breathier, almost spoken vocals feature on this one. Joe manages to make his harp sound almost like a harmonium or accordion on “Path You Choose” which is a blues boogie that a band like Canned Heat would have done well whereas “Beginning Of The End” is a country blues with Eric’s lead vocal echoed by Joe’s harmony responses, the refrain “don’t die until you’re dead” not perhaps being the most cheerful line on the disc! The dirge-like “Black Clouds” sounds suitably minimal with Eric’s simple slide work (perhaps influenced by Muddy) underpinning Joe’s Sonny Boy 1 style harp.

The title track is a homage to Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee with lyrics that reflect the freewheeling life of the itinerant musicians of yesteryear (and maybe today!). “As We Are Now” is a mournful slow song about Joe’s grandfather and mother who were forced to leave their old world home to find a new life in the States, Joe’s low register harp sounding like an accordion in the section of the song set in the old world but changing to more of a blues style for the New World part of the song – clever stuff indeed! Less serious is “My Kitchen” which gently pokes fun at people trying to help out in an area in which they have no expertise, played in Mississippi John Hurt style. “Four Letter ‘F’ Word” examines how people react to the word ‘free’ and is in the Sonny Boy 1 style, influenced by “Mellow Chick Swing” as well as by Big Bill Broonzy’s rhythmic guitar attack. “My Jesus” adapts a prayer from the Old Testament (Micah 6:8) and “Can’t Take The Edge” is a driving blues in the style of Mississippi Fred McDowell, Joe attempting some difficult playing in the style of Johnny Woods who played with Fred back in the day. The album closes with “Time Is For You”, a charming song written by Eric’s grandfather which is in fact a waltz, a first for the duo.

Anyone who appreciates acoustic blues will enjoy this album. The album notes that are available to download from the duo’s website give a huge amount of information that will help fellow musicians to appreciate the techniques being used by Joe and Eric; they are also well worth reading as you enjoy listening to the album.

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 – 3 of 8 

david julia cd imageDavid Julia – Inspired

Vizztone Label Group – 2018

11 tracks; 42 minutes

At just 17 years of age David Julia has already been playing guitar for ten years, has competed four times at the IBCs, counts the likes of Bob Margolin as a friend and now has Mike Zito producing this CD. David is based in Florida but this album was recorded in Texas. David wrote six tunes and there are five covers of songs by artists who have inspired him, hence the title of the album. David is on guitar and vocals, Matthew Johnson on drums, Lonnie Trevino Jr on bass, Elliot Keys on B3 and Lewis Stephens on piano; Mike Zito duets on guitar and vocals on one track.

The album opens brightly with “Hey There Sally” which bounds along with a tricky riff over Elliot’s organ work before David cuts loose with a complex but controlled solo, all in just over two minutes. “Sunshine Boogie” is equally short and sweet as David adds some country picking to Matthew’s fast-paced drums, the only instrumental on the album.

The pace drops for a slow blues in which David professes his undying love “If Only” she would be his, Elliot playing some delightful gospel organ and David showing a sure touch on guitar. David’s vocals and edgier guitar style on “Don’t Get Me Goin’” suit the song well. Album closer “You Don’t Need No Shelter” has a laid-back country style with David and Mike Zito on acoustic guitars as they share the verses and harmonize on the chorus. The other original “Throw Me A Rope” is track 2 on the album but to this reviewer’s ears seems inspired by Pink Floyd with its slow pace, heavier feel and dramatic lyrics about drug use and despair.

The covers include songs by guitarists who have played in Florida and influenced David: JP Soars, Albert Castiglia and expat Brit Matt Schofield are all based there. JP’s “Something Ain’t Right” has a theme of needing to help those less fortunate than ourselves. Played over a thumping riff, David adopts a slightly deeper voice for this one, perhaps a nod towards JP’s own vocal style. Albert’s “Keep Her Around Too Long” is excellent with Lewis’ piano featured as David sings this one well over a jagged beat. Matt’s jazzy shuffle follows on lyrically from Albert’s song as David suggests that if the relationship is over it is best to make a “Clean Break” as he plays some really good stuff in the solo.

David is a fine guitarist but, inevitably at such a tender age, his voice is still developing. The other two covers are a case in point as his vocals seem a little too ‘formal’ for Tab Benoit’s “Nice And Warm” though a sympathetic version of the late Michael Burks’ “Empty Promises” works well with some rousing guitar over warm organ support, David double-tracking his solo over his own rhythm work to great effect. Indeed, the biggest compliment is that after hearing David’s version I wanted to get out Michael’s original – inspiration in reverse!

There is plenty to admire on this disc which shows a young man who must surely have a great future in the blues. The CD is therefore well worth a listen.

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

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 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 8 

delgado bros cd imageThe Delgado Brothers – Two Trains

Bell Asher Music

11 songs – 56 minutes

2016 International Blues Challenge winners, the Delgado Brothers, released their first, eponymous, album back in 1987. Two Trains, their latest, is only their fifth album overall, a strikingly meager return for such a talented band. Comprising eldest brother Bob Delgado on bass, middle brother Joey Delgado on guitar and vocals, younger brother Steve on drums and vocals, and David B Kelley on Hammond B3, the Delgado Brothers come from the same musically and ethnically rich area of East Los Angeles as Los Lobos, Thee Midniters, The Ambertones and The Shag Rats, all of whom share a common desire to mix and mash both musical genres and expectations. Likewise, the Delgado Brothers happily incorporate blues, roots, rock into a potent cocktail of musical Americana.

Two Trains is beautifully recorded (by Raymond Moore at Brothers Dream Studios in Monrovia, CA) and features some absolutely virtuoso playing (particularly from Joey Delgado and David B Kelly) on 11 original, smartly crafted songs of love, social awareness and tolerance, all sung with deep emotional commitment by Steve. It’s a very, very impressive album.

It is also however a pure rock album. It may be informed by the blues, but the result are total classic rock. There are echoes of the likes of the Doobie Brothers, the Eagles and Steely Dan throughout the album. The funk-rock of “Circle Of Friends” even recalls the Coverdale/Hughes Deep Purple line-up. Indeed, Steve’s vocal mannerisms sometimes recall the best of Glenn Hughes.

There are no flat-out rockers on Two Trains. Instead, the majority of tracks tend to be slower (such as the gentle grind of “450 Mulberry (I Won’t Forget)”, which is dedicated to Dr Martin Luther King, or the country-rock of “Ohana Tennessee”), ballads (such as “Talk To Me” with its beautiful Hammond B-3 from Kelly) or mid-paced (such as the funky “Things Have Changed”, the Huey Lewis-esque “Inspiration” with its country breakdown midway through, the early 80s groove of the title track, or the 60s-soul of “If Only I Could Sing”).

Steve Delgado’s lyrics are worth reading (and are helpfully printed on the insert to the lovingly-packaged CD). On a track like “The River”, the upbeat momentum of the music is in stark contrast to the existential dread in the lyrics.

Guest musicians on the album include Teresa James, Terry Wilson, Billy Watts and John Avila on backing vocals, Ramon Banda on “Timbales Cascada, Anything That Rattles” and Ishmael Pineda on congos and bongos.

Two Trains is a very enjoyable release from the Delgado Brothers, displaying a muscular maturity and confidence throughout as if the band knew they were recording something pretty special. If you’re looking for a modern blues album, there are better places to start your search. If your tastes extend to the classic American rock of the early 1970s, however, you will find much to enjoy on the album.

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

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 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 8 

eric lindell cd imageEric Lindell – Revolution In Your Heart

Alligator Records – 2018

12 tracks; 38 minutes

In the mid 2000’s Eric Lindell released three albums on In the mid 2000’s Eric Lindell released three albums on Alligator which established his position on the music scene, on the back of which he appeared at many blues festivals and toured nationally. Since then he has continued to release albums regularly but as an independent artist has perhaps found it difficult to get his music to a wide audience; this reviewer has only heard one of his releases since the Alligator era, 2011’s West Coast Drifter, and that came out on MC Records. On his return to Alligator Willie McMains plays drums and Kevin McKendree adds piano to one track but otherwise this is all Eric who plays everything else and wrote all the material (with one co-write with Seth Walker), much of which is autobiographical. Originally from Northern California, Eric has called New Orleans home for many years now.

Opener “Shot Down” is archetypal Eric Lindell with his intricate guitar work and relaxed vocals at the heart of a song that deals with the ups and downs of life where you can be “shot out the saddle on Sunday, back on top on Monday”, not the first reference to horses on this album, a fact that perhaps indicates that Eric is leading a rural life these days. “Revolution” adds a hint of island rhythms to an attractive plea for positive thinking to win the day while “Heavy Heart” has some great picking as Eric continues on the positive theme as he declares that “a heavy heart and a troubled mind will take a man over time; a stubborn fool will go on tryin’, knowing damn well what he’ll never find.” “How Could This Be?” is a ballad in which Eric’s relationship seems to have foundered, Eric’s guitar echoing the sentiments of the lyrics, the co-write with Seth Walker.

Eric breaks out the wah-wah pedal to celebrate his “Big Horse” and “Pat West” recounts the story of an old friend who is clearly still vividly remembered. On “Kelly Ridge” the drums introduce an upbeat country song, another magical memory of his California childhood, a short but joyous little song. “Claudette” has more outstanding guitar from Eric who also adds some harmonica to a song about his Mother whom he describes as “wild and free, a lot like me”. “Appaloosa” seems to be the location of Eric’s love interest while “Millie Kay” has a honky-tonk feel with Kevin McKendree’s piano and some country picking from Eric. Another childhood memory is of “Grandpa Jim”, the combination of country-inflected guitar set against synthesizer adding a different touch to the track; Eric adds that his eldest son now reminds him of Grandpa Jim – “big as a mountain, soft as the wind”. The album closes with an upbeat rocker “The Sun Don’t Shine” with more country picking and harmonica, the title inspired by something a friend used to say.

The music here is extremely attractive with lovely guitar work, catchy melodies and sincere lyrics. It is not blues but more based in the Americana field, so blues purists may not find much of interest here but those with broader tastes should enjoy the disc a lot.

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

 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 8 

sean poluk cd imageSean Poluk – No More Hate


CD: 12 Songs, 43:00 Minutes

Styles: Drone/Trance Blues, Roots, Americana, All Original Songs

When it comes to socially-conscious art, the message is often more important than the medium. Exhibit A: the title track of Canadian Sean Poluk’s No More Hate. In this era of tribal politics and polarization, we need such a sentiment more than ever. Musicians and other artists are often at the forefront promoting them. When done well, “woke” art truly wakes people up. As for this CD, it’s a mixed bag. Its ethos is empowering enough, but the music is both enigmatic and heavy-handed. Most of the twelve tracks are drone/trance blues, a la the North Mississippi Hill Country. One could also deem them roots, folk, or Americana. Vocally, Sean sounds rather like a subdued Dave Matthews, which is a plus. Another is the harmonies added by his backup singers. “Meditative” would be a good adjective for this sort of blues, perfect for a day of chilling out.

Poluk’s website reveals quite a bit about his debut CD – and, inadvertently, this one: “An established and respected member of the blues community, Sean Poluk released Never in 2012. Featuring Spanish as well as Canadian backing musicians, the album generated critical acclaim and glowing reviews in both countries. Blending old with new in a refreshing, authentic manner, Never is an aural hootenanny, a seamless mix of blues and roots-oriented panache. In 2014, Sean released a series of live performance videos to showcase new songs and promote his growing repertoire. Never content to stand still, the artist is continuously writing new music.” “Aural hootenanny” also describes this release, especially in regards to its Hill Country vibe.

Along with lead vocalist and guitarist Poluk are David Moreira on violin and viola; Edith Salazar and David de la Fuente on background vocals/choirs; Daniel “Melón” Jimènez on Spanish guitar; Osi Martínez on harmonica; Edith Salazar on keyboards; Josè Vicente Muñoz on double bass and electric bass, and David de la Fuente on percussion and drums.

The title track hits like a sledgehammer, both in its biting guitar intro and no-nonsense lyrics.

Track 02: “No More Hate” – “June 17, 2-0-1-5. Charleston, South Carolina. Nine dead, five survivors. One flag to remind us: no more hate.” Let’s face it, folks, this is the “Ohio” of the 2010’s. Even its hard-driving rhythm is reminiscent of Neil Young’s legendary eulogy. Sean proceeds to name the victims in the course of the song, reminding us that they were each an individual human being. That’s what those who perpetrate violence so conveniently ignore.

There are no barroom stomps, earworm sing-alongs, or surefire dance floor hits here, but that’s not the purpose of this CD. On No More Hate, the message surpasses the medium every time.

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.

 Featured Blues Review – 7 of 8 

mark harrison cd imageMark Harrison – The Panoramic View


15 songs 57 minutes

Following on from 2016’s well-received Turpentine, The Panoramic View is British singer/guitarist/songwriter Mark Harrison’s sixth album and probably his best yet. In a collection of 15 original songs, played on a variety of acoustic instruments, recorded with crystalline clarity by Tim Bazell of Heart of Gold Studios in London, Harrison cheerfully mixes folk, blues and gospel to create an album that is uplifting, thought-provoking, entertaining and distinctly different.

In addition to singing in his unaffected yet curiously affecting voice, Harrison fingerpicks National and 12-string guitars masterfully in a Piedmont style, adroitly picking up a slide on “Ain’t No Justice”. Each song has a different line-up of musicians, from the solo ragtime instrumental “Pool Meadow Strut” (which is not, apparently, named after some rural paradise but the main bus station in the English city of Coventry) to a full band line-up. Harrison’s regular band of Charles Benfield (double bass) and Ben Welburn (drums and percussion) are joined at different time by Paddy Milner (piano), Ed Hopwood (harmonica) and Paul Tkachenko (trombone, trumpet, mandolin and even tuba on “Mess Is Everywhere”).

Like the best songwriters, Harrison’s songs are snapshots of moments in time that tell the listener more in the subtext than in the bald meaning of the words. He addresses historical events such as the building of the Transcontinental Railroad in the 1850s (“John The Chinaman”) or the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s (“Ain’t No Justice”). He proposes possible explanations for Mississippi John Hurt’s conversational farewell of “Don’t Die Till You’re Dead” in the song of the same name or what Son House was trying to articulate about the meaning of the blues in a drunken ramble recorded in the late 1960s (“What Son House Said”).

In “House Full Of Children”, Harrison sings about the love Detroit blues guitarist Eddie “Guitar” Burns had for all the children in his life and how his devotion to them prevented him from making more music. “Meet On The Other Side” is an uplifting gospel song about the hopes and beliefs of people in the afterlife.

An intriguing feature of the album is the spoken introduction to each song by Scottish TV presenter Gail Porter. It is surprising how a simple spoken sentence or two can have a material effect on the overall impact of the song by setting the scene or providing a little background to the composition.

Perhaps the emotional highlight of the album is the closing track, “Hooker’s Song”. With simple yet beautiful piano accompaniement by Milner, the song has hints of Mark Knopfler’s gentler acoustic work as Harrison sings “This is Hooker’s song and Hooker knew the truth, ‘Cos his eyes had seen the panoramic view. When you look across the scene, all so cruel and all so mean, How could anybody not sing the blues? It doesn’t matter what you think, it only matters what you do. That’s the only thing that anyone’s ever gonna know about. And if you hit me in the face, I’m gonna fall down to the ground. It won’t matter to me if you think you’re heaven bound.”

Alternatively wry, resigned, wise and optimistic, The Panoramic View is ultimately a wholly uplifting experience. The album realises Harrison’s musical vision in full Technicolor and is one of the most impressive releases of 2018. Unmissable.

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

 Featured Blues Review – 8 of 8 

dean haitani cd imageDean Haitaini – 47 Stones


CD: 12 Songs, 50:49 Minutes

Styles: Contemporary Low-Key Blues, Folk, Americana

The cover art of 47 Stones, the latest release from Australia’s Dean Haitani, tells you all you need to know about the album. It features our guitar hero striking a chill pose between two pumps at an old gas station, with two guitars flanking him like stylish bookends. Meaning? His style’s a smooth mix of retro and contemporary, low-key, almost mellow but not quite. The photo shows Dean standing in the shadows. Several of the twelve tracks here have a dark tinge, a melancholy tone. With clear vocal diction and clearer feeling, Haitani takes us on a journey through the twilight shades of the blues. It’s not nighttime yet – not time for rip-roaring, string-breaking shreds – but that’s okay. Most of the songs are original compositions, with a couple classics (“The Thrill is Gone” and Little Feat’s “Dixie Chicken”) thrown in for good measure.

Dean was born in a small town in Victoria, Australia where his earliest influence was his father, James, who played the piano, harmonica and piano accordion. His mother was also a good singer, but neither of his parents played music professionally. Dean listened to a lot of music on the radio, such as pop music and Australian bands like Cold Chisel, Goanna, and Paul Kelly. However, it was Dean’s first guitar teacher, Steve Brown, that introduced Dean to the Blues, hooking him via B.B. King’s Live at Cook County Jail.

Some of his professional accolades include being a finalist for the Sony BMG songwriting competition, being the guitarist for Tania and Fiona Kernaghan, the Vic/Tas Blues Awards, Frankston Guitar Festival, Bay Of Islands Blues Festival, Bridgetown Blues Festival, Bruthen Blues Festival, and the Great Southern Blues & Rockabilly Festival.

Yours truly couldn’t find an extensive list of the musicians alongside Haitani on 47 Stones. In spite of this, the following songs constitute the best of the best in terms of blues and blues rock.

Track 01: “Sweet Little Angel” – With guitar reminiscent of Tim “Too Slim” Langford from Too Slim and the Taildraggers, the CD’s opening number is a bit of a surprise. It’s got the best electric licks in the Land Down Under, backed up by a superb horn section and powerful piano. It could have held its own as an instrumental, but when Dean starts singing, the magic continues. “Send me a sweet little angel, I’ve got a devil in my shoes…sweet little woman, take away these midnight blues.”

Track 05: “Don’t Lie Down (Unless You’re Dying)” – Fake people are the worst, and Haitani knows it. Whether they’re trying to peddle sham products or their own sham-selves, our protagonist has a word of advice: “They’ll take you for a dollar, give you a dime. Crocodile smile, but it ain’t no crime…If they’re selling, you ain’t buying. Don’t lie down unless you’re dying.” This Chicago-style ditty will make non-dying people want to get out on the dance floor.

Track 10: “Dixie Chicken” – Time for some Southern spice, courtesy of Little Feat and Dean Haitani. What’s the best part of this cover? Everything, but especially the piano and percussion. The original artists would be proud, as is Ms. Wetnight, who liked Little Feat as a young ‘un.

47 Stones is a chill collection of contemporary blues, rock, and Australian-style Americana!

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 Interview – Anthony Geraci 

anthony geraci photo 1One never knows when inspiration is going to strike. Sometimes it sneaks up from out of nowhere and leaves us thoroughly discombobulated. For Anthony Geraci, one of those moments occurred in high school. “When I first started in bands around 1967, I was really proud of myself when I finally learned the opening organ riff to “Light My Fire”. That was my big accomplishment at the time. But I was gravitating to the bluesier side even when I listened to the Doors, even if I didn’t recognize that Willie Dixon had written tunes like “Back Door Man,” without knowing about Muddy Waters or B.B. King. When I got to high school, I befriended another student, a musical cohort named Ed Cherry. He was a guitar player and literally the only African-American in the school”.

“Since his house was on my way home from school, I would stop every day so that we could play music together and listen to records. His parents had a great collection, everything from Ella Fitzgerald to Muddy and Buddy Guy, on up to the Funkedelics. One day Ed put on the Chicago Bound album by Jimmy Rogers, which blew me away. To me, that was perfect music with Jimmy, Muddy, Otis Spann, Little Walter, and Big Walter Horton. Later on I when toured with Jimmy, he told me some cool stories about Spann. That one record really changed my life. and Ed had a really big influence on me. He became an outstanding jazz guitarist and was a long-time member of Dizzy Gillespie’s band”.

At the age of four, Geraci announced to his mother that he wanted to play piano. It was an odd request, coming from someone who was part of a non-musical family. “My parents didn’t play, and there weren’t any instruments around the house. We didn’t even have a record player. Almost everybody I knew had a piano in the house or a large record collection. My friends had some basis to start their musical career, even if it was listening to Bing Crosby records. My parents were supportive but there was nothing at our house for me to go on. The only music I heard was on the radio in the car. But there was something in me that just needed to play music”.

Hearing the organ playing at church services created the initial moment of captivation. Geraci tried to recreate some the hymns on an inexpensive kid’s organ that his grandmother bought for him. It didn’t take long to outgrow the simple instrument. “ I told my Mom I wanted a piano. Don’t think I really knew what a piano was! But my parents bought me a junk upright for about twenty-five bucks. I started taking lessons, and after a couple years, my teacher told suggested that it might be time to get me a better instrument. So my mother went out and bought a Kimball baby grand piano that she paid for at the rate of four dollars a week”.

As a teenager, Geraci played in a number of garage bands, honing his keyboard skills. But he also had a plan. “I had a paper route to earn money that I saved to buy a Hammond B3 organ. Imagine buying a Hammond B3 with a paper route – would take you sixty years! But my parents helped me out a bit. I started getting hired because I had a Hammond with two Leslie 122 speakers. So older musicians around the New Haven CT area started hiring me. It didn’t matter how good you played, just that you had good equipment. In those days, I wasn’t playing much in the way of blues, but I did learn what it meant to be a professional musician – going into clubs to play on time, dressed nicely, etc. Those lessons that I picked up at a very early age have stuck with me throughout my career”.

anthony geraci photo 2The piano lessons continued on and off over the years, often at the Neighborhood School Of Music, which was staffed by fabulous teachers affiliated with Yale University. Eventually getting the itch to try something new, Geraci decided to follow some friends, applying to the Berklee School Of Music, where he was accepted for further studies. For three years, he learned basic music skills like arranging and composition in addition to more piano training.

But blues music had already taken hold in his soul. “My first piano teacher there told me, you put blues in everything! I replied, yes, thank you very much. I was listening a lot to Mai Cramer’s radio program. She was a legendary blues DJ on WGPH, the biggest NPR station in New England. I would listen to her show on Friday and Saturday nights from start to finish. She turned me on to a lot of names and musicians that I wasn’t quite familiar with. She would also do ads for upcoming blues shows”.

“On one show, I heard that a blues band was appearing at the Speakeasy Cafe, a famous blues dive in Cambridge, MA. On Friday afternoon, I called the club and in a deep, husky voice asked if the band was there, told the bartender I wanted to talk to someone in the band. He put one of them on the phone. I explained that I was a blues piano player who had just arrived in Boston, and I wanted to know if I could come sit in with them. He responded with, do you have a microphone? I affirmed that I did, and he told to come down. So the microphone was my calling card. The band was from New Hampshire, the John Wardwell Blues Band, and they were playing great music like Buddy Guy and Muddy Waters. Soon I started going up to New Hampshire on weekends to play with them.”

“At one point, the band was booked to open for Muddy for a week at the famous Paul’s Mall in Boston. That I was the first time I got to sit in with Muddy and the band. Literally anyone interested in blues with a car, and was within 250 miles, would come out to pay homage to Muddy. I got to meet Pinetop Perkins, Fuzz Jones, and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith. That band also had Bob Margolin on guitar and Jerry Portnoy was the harp player. They both lived in the Boston area. So we exchanged phone numbers and when they weren’t out on the road with Muddy, they would call me to do play jam sessions in the Boston area. In that one week, I got to know virtually everyone who was important on the Boston blues scene”.

“Michael “Mudcat” Ward, who I still play with, was there. Not sure that he was called Mudcat at that point. Anyway, he called me a couple weeks later to let me know that Johnny Nicholas had just finished a tour and had decided to join Asleep At The Wheel. His guitar player, Ronnie Horvath, now Ronnie Earl, was looking to put a blues band together. So Ronnie and Mudcat came over to my house. I was on the porch of the house writing a sonata for one of my classes. Ronnie stated that he wanted me in his band, and I said yeah, sure. We had one rehearsal and I literally quit school the next day. My parents were not very happy, given that I was so close to graduating. We started out as Ronnie Earl & the Aces. Then Sugar Ray Norcia joined, and that became the original Sugar Ray & the Bluetones, with Mudcat on bass and Neil Gouvin on drums”.

anthony geraci photo 3“In those days, we didn’t have a press package or a record out on the market. The band would be practicing at Ronnie’s house, and he would get on the phone, call a club in Washington D.C., and hold up the phone while the band played a song. That was how we got the gigs. Now everything has to be so polished and perfect. If you are missing a period, you might not get the gig. We toured up and down the East Coast from Boston into Virginia. We were the house band’s at the Speakeasy on Sunday nights, and at the Old Met Cafe in Providence, RI on Monday nights. Those gigs helped us get really strong quickly. It was a special moment for me when I got the band together again for the first time since the 1970s on my latest release, Why Did You Have To Go”.

At one point, the roadwork slowed down, so Geraci decided to contact Berklee to see what he needed to do to get a degree. Calling the school, he talked with a staff member who quickly looked up the former student’s records. It was apparent that the school kept a watchful eye on its students, even noting that the piano player had received a Grammy Award for his work on the Super Harps album, a 1999 release with James Cotton, Charlie Musselwhite, Billy Branch, and Norcia. “All of my Music requirements were done. I needed three regular classes like Art History – and I could attend any accredited college to take the classes. I ended up taking an astronomy class because I really like science fiction. It was the hardest class I have ever taken – couldn’t believe what I had gotten myself into! We had to figure out the weight of stars by looking at the spectrum of the waves. I don’t even like looking at the scale to see how much I weigh. But I got those classes done and graduated, then a year later I went to Skidmore College to get my Master’s Degree in Music. I’m on the road a lot, but I love teaching, and I still teach at a conservatory just south of Boston”.

Geraci’s songwriting skills started to come together with his band, Little Anthony & the Locomotives, which featured three horn players, a funkier version of the Roomful of Blues sound. The majority of the songs on the group’s two releases on Deluge Records were Geraci compositions. While doing a tour with vocalist Michelle Wilson, he sat in on a show with his old friend, Ronnie Earl. After the tour ended, Geraci got a phone call. “Ted Kurland, Ronnie’s high-powered manager, wanted me to join his band. Ted works with Marcia Ball, Coco Montoya, and Elvin Bishop plus jazz legends like Sonny Rollins, Chick Corea, and Pat Metheny. So I teamed up with Ronnie & the Broadcasters. We cut one record, Healing Time, that featured Jimmy McGriff, the jazz organ player. I watched him like a hawk. On one track he played organ and I was on piano. That was a big thrill for me”.

When Earl took a break from the record business in 2002, Geraci rejoined Sugar Ray & the Bluetones, appearing on all but one of the band’s releases since then. Asked about his relationship with the band, the piano player was ready with his answer. “Sugar Ray Norcia is one of the most honest musicians you will ever meet. His voice is so pure. His harmonica playing comes out of the styles of Junior Wells and Big Walter Horton. His upbringing is the exact opposite of mine. His father was a music teacher, his mother was a big band singer, and his uncles had a band. He absorbed a lot from his family. And he is the nicest guy and one of the finest musicians I have ever associated with. Mudcat and Neil are humble guys, no airs about them. These days, I play with them as my schedule permits. Being a part of the group over the years allowed me to play with Junior Wells, Big Mama Thornton, Big Joe Turner, and hang out with Sunnyland Slim and Pinetop Perkins, who became a good friend. We once did a show backing Memphis Slim, who told me to play piano while he sang a song. That was a heavy experience”.

anthony geraci photo 4As part of his role as a teacher, Geraci has been involved with the Pinetop Perkins Heritage Foundation. “I have taught the last two years at the Workshop and will be back in June next year. They hire instructors for three years in a row. Victor Wainwright did it before me. It is a treat to be down in Clarksdale, MS teaching young blues musicians. Some of them are eleven or twelve, others are college age. The students come from all parts of the country and Europe, even one this year from Australia. They are there for a week to learn to play blues. Other instructors included Fiona Boyes and Bob Margolin on guitar, and Phil Wiggins teaching harmonica. That is not a bad line-up to learn from. At the end of the week, we do a show at the Ground Zero club to celebrate everyone’s accomplishments. One of my students from two years ago, Sarah Grace, is now doing great on The Voice television show.

Besides his solo projects, Geraci is also a member of the Proven Ones. “ That is a specialty project for us. It features some of the great West Coast players – Kid Ramos on guitar, Willie J. Campbell on bass, and Jimi Bott on drums. Our lead singer is a Boston guy, Brian Templeton, who I recommended and the guys really liked him. We’d like to do about twenty festivals a year. Our record is doing really well and, as you can imagine, it is a really powerful band. But my main focus is touring to support Why Did You Have To Go, which is on Shining Stone Records, co-owned by Duke Robillard and Jesse Finkelstein, who was just named as one of the latest recipients of a Keeping The Blues Alive Award (KBA) from the Blues Foundation. It is fabulous to be involved with people who really believe in the music. Recently I have played on discs with Monster Mike Welch & Mike Ledbetter, Sugaray Rayford, Ronnie’s latest, and the Kilborn Alley Band, a very soulful blues band from Illinois”.

Geraci’s discography stretches across nearly fifty titles, including six with Earl and ten albums with Sugar Ray & the Bluetones. In recent years, his achievements have been recognized with three nominations for the Pinetop Perkins Piano Player award from the Blues Foundation, plus three nominations for his 2015 release, Fifty Shades of Blue, which was also nominated for a 2016 Blues Blast Music Award in the Traditional Blues Album category.

“I need to clone myself. You can’t do everything. I hate to say no to anybody who wants me. Younger musicians aren’t going to have the chance to play with Jimmy Rogers or Otis Rush like we did. Hubert Sumlin and the J.B. Hutto were each in the Bluetones for six month stretches. In my younger days, everybody I knew had huge record collections. And for the most part, we all had the same records! We would sit around, drink beer, and spin records for hours. I used to have thousands of albums but lost them all in a house fire. We absorbed all of these different shades of blues, learned their subtleties.

“Lightnin’ Hopkins is very different than the Muddy Waters sound. Then you can really dig in to the soul of the music. I am a bit more outside the box than most traditional blues piano players – and there aren’t that many of us left”.

Visit Anthony’s website at:

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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North Central Florida Blues Society – Gainesville, FL

The North Central Florida Blues Society celebrates the birthday of Dr. Tim Fik on December 9 from 6-10 pm at the High Dive (210 SW 2nd Ave) in Gainesville, FL and as a perfect fit to Fik’s stature, it’s a star-studded event featuring Blues virtuosos with a rock edge.

The triple-headliner event stars The Danielle Nicole Band, Anthony Gomes, and the Bridget Kelly Band. Special guests include the Mark Telesca Band and star New York drummer Sonny Rock. Tickets are $20 for general admission and $10 for members of any Blues society in Florida.

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The Charlotte Blues Society – Charlotte, NC

The Charlotte Blues Society is excited to announce its Blues Christmas Bash featuring Albert Castiglia on Sunday, December 2nd! This show only, tickets are $5 at the door for members with valid cards, and $10 for non-members. Doors at 7:00, show 8:00 – 10:00.

Advance tickets are available for $10 via PayPal. Refer to the website for information about ordering.

We continue to collect non-perishable food and household items for Loaves and Fishes. 1 can? I can!

The Sacramento Blues Society – Sacramento, CA

The Sacramento Blues Society Annual Membership Party, featuring the amazing SUGARAY RAYFORD, will be held on Saturday, December 1st at Harlow’s Nightclub & Restaurant, 2708 J Street, Sacramento. Doors open at 1:00 pm, show from 2:00 – 5:00 pm. Free for active SBS members (bring your membership card) and $25 for non-members (but this $25 also buys you a one year membership into one of the oldest Blues Societies in the Country – the Sacramento Blues Society!

This will be the SBS party of the year and a show you won’t want to miss! For ticket purchasing information: and for Sacramento Blues Society

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.

Nov 26 – The MojoCats, Nov 28 – Brother Jefferson Trio, Dec 3 – David Lumsden & Friends, Dec 10 – Mary Jo Curry, Dec 12 – Joe Asselin & the Moonlight Ramblers, Dec 17 – Studebaker John, Dec 26 – The Baaad Boyz For more information visit

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. Thur, Nov 29 – Reverend Raven & CSAB, Kankakee Valley Boat Club. More Info at:

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