Issue 13-20 May 16, 2019

Cover photo © 2019 Bob Kieser

 In This Issue 

Mark Thompson has our feature interview with Blues icon Jimmie Vaughan. We have 6 Blues reviews for you this week including new music from Katarina Pejak, Galactic, The Symbols, Inner Limits, Steve Conn and Ally Venable.

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


 2019 Blues Blast Music Awards – Save The Date 

The 2019 Blues Blast Music Award submissions have now ended. Nominees will be announced in June. Voting begins in July.

SAVE THE DATE – September 13, 2019 for the Blues Blast Music Awards at Tebala Event Center in Rockford, IL. More details of the 2019 BBMAs coming soon!

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 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 6 

katrina pejak album imageKatarina Pejak – Roads That Cross

Ruf Records

11 songs/43 minutes

Katarina Pejak is one of those young people with an “old soul.” She has a voice, an attitude and a style that belies her age and appearance. A talented piano player and nuanced songwriter, it is Pejak’s singing that shines on her Ruf Records debut Roads That Cross. Produced by Mike Zito and featuring the guitar virtuoso Laura Chavez, this record is a showcase of Katarina’s diverse and unique range.

First the voice. Pejak has a distinctive timber to her voice and clear confident phrasing. At once apathetic and cool then urgent and fiery. Katarina is able to morph her voice through various emotions doing emotional switchbacks like Joni Mitchell. This is highlighted on the Mitchell cover “Sex Kills.” Building the bridges up emotionally and then flatly laying out the chorus, Pejak inhabits Mitchell’s groundbreaking technique. However, Katarina has grease and dirt on her voice, it would be hard to describe her as folk. The only other cover, Janis Joplin’s “Turtle Blues,” shows the fire, channeling Bessie Smith’s spirit and bombast.

Next the songwriting. Katarina is a mature and creative songwriter. The opening co-write with Zito (the only co-write, everything else is hers alone) “Nature of My Blues” is 50s kitsch in which Pejak lays it out for a suitor. “If you get mean you know I’ll get cruel, I know you want to win but it’s better if you lose, that is just the nature of my blues.” “Chasing Summer” is a lament to love lost. “Drinking each other down but we lost the thirst.” “…we can’t keep chasing summer, just because our hearts are cold.” Beautiful imagery and sneaky lyricism is how Pejak rolls, avoiding cliche while maintaining simplicity and clarity.

Finally, the playing. Katarina is a talented pianist playing Hammond B3 organ, electric and acoustic pianos. She studied at Berklee College of Music and is endorsed by B3 authority Dave Limina (the head of the Berklee department and long time Ronnie Earl Broadcaster). Pejak plays straight forward and within the song. This isn’t a piano record, the piano is simply one element.

Wisely, Pejak and Zito didn’t make this record a big expansive guest riddled affair. This is a clean, in the moment, band record. Laura Chavez adds real deal Blues fire and cred, she is one of the best guitarists of her generation! The rhythm section is Lonnie Trevino on bass and Damien Llanes on drums and they are versatile and connected. Save Mike Zito contributing tasty slide guitar and background vocals to the rocking “Midnight Rider,” that’s it. As a result this record snaps and the performances are intimate, immediate and enthralling.

Stand out tracks, in terms of performance and originality, include: “Cool Drifter,” an upbeat feel good stomper with a gospel funk vibe; “Chasing Summer,” a Stones jangler with soaring vocals; “Down With Me,” a Reggae-lite, by way of Clapton, dark rock song about pain and suffering; “She’s Coming After You,” all LA-noir like when Tom Waits and Rickie Lee Jones were all f-ed up in the 70’s.

The final cut of Roads That Cross, “The Harder You Kick,” is a solo organ and vocal meditation on love lost, depression and the importance of moving on. It is a moving ending to this excellent Blues album. Katarina Pejak lays it all on the line and delivers. Roads That Cross is a bold statement from an artist on the cusp of her prime. Watch out!

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.

 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 6 

galactic album imageGalactic – Already Ready Already

Tchoup-Zilla Records

8 songs/24 minutes

Funk is a form of the Blues. There is no denying it. There are direct connections on both sides. The Blues side: Albert Collins, Junior Guitar Watson and Freddie King’s greased up Blues drip with the Funk. Even more convincingly, the Funk side: Funkadelic’s early albums all had slow Blues burners, James Brown (enough said), the Meters’ sturdy grooves lean Blue, Sly’s blissed out hippie explorations have deep Blue pockets. Even the modern Funk/Jazz explorations sparked by John Schofield and Medeski, Martin and Wood in the 90’s are undoubtedly Blues.

Galactic, the premier NOLA Funk/Jazz/Pop masters, have staked a sharp new Blues claim with their taught new release Already Ready Already. They expertly collaborate with exciting and creative singers and fully realize themselves as concise songsters bringing their expansive group songwriting/improvisation to a new level of perfectly focused pop-art. This clarity and focus creates modern-day Blues similar to how Chuck Berry wrangled the ornery abstractions of his country predecessors into a digestible tight package that was no less revolutionary and moving.

Galactic is Ben Ellman on saxophone and harmonica, Robert Mercurio on bass, Stanton Moore on drums, Jeffrey Raines on guitar and Richard Vogel on keyboards. Although each musician in this quintet is a master and often do their own excellent side projects, the magic happens when the 5 of them create together. A collaborative collective they share songwriting credits and their free spirited improvisations can be heard in full effect on their early albums such as Crazyhorse Mongoose, Late For the Future and Rukus. Galactic never let the endless jam drag on always utilizing great singers and always using New Orleans hit making sensibility. In 2007, in-part response to the deteriorating health of go-to singer Theryl DeClouet, these monsters started to branch out and evolve, including collaborations with rappers and singers and exploring all different flavors of music.

Already Ready Already is a distilled, highly potent shot of these musical journeys featuring collaborations with five different singer/songwriters. “Going Straight Crazy” featuring Princess Shaw with background vocals by Boyfriend is a loping lowdown throw-down come-on. “Clap Your Hands” featuring Miss Charm Taylor is a hyped up call to party. Delving into Emo-Electronica, “Everlasting Light” featuring David Shaw and Nahko is as brooding as it is infectious. Live performance muse and Tina-esq diva, Erica Falls offers the appropriately menacing “Touch Get Cut” (“touch get cut…back off her daddy leave the girl alone” ). And finally Boyfriend gets her feature on the stand-out “Dance At My Funeral” a breakneck look back at her own imagined NOLA second line memorial (“that ass better shake the pew”).

Galactic stretch their instrumental muscles throughout with support from trumpet ace Shamarr Allen (who is on tour with them) and trombonist Corey Henry. All the musical breaks, background horn charts, distinctive guitar and keyboard sounds and enveloping drums and samples create unique and highly original music. The one true instrumental on the record, “Goose Grease,” is a modern Meters work out, at times cool and grooving, at times urgent and spastic. Bookend intro and outro, “Already” and “Ready Already,” are diffuse and grooving at the same time and not only unify the album but pack so much exploration into a combined 3 minutes.

Your humble reviewer caught Galactic on their current tour in Boston. It was my first time seeing them and a revelation. Taking more time with the jams, as is appropriate in the live setting, the band featuring the indomitable Erica Falls kept the place bouncing all night. This is a band at the top of their powers producing grade-A highly creative inventive Funk. If the purpose of the Blues is to drive away trouble and offer consolation, Galactic fit the bill. Go and see this band and listen to this record over and over (it’s short), you won’t be sorry.

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 – 3 of 6 

the symbols album imageThe Symbols – Catching Fire

self release

10 songs time-37:24

One would think that a guitar fronted female led trio would be of the generic blues rock let’s shred “everything to pieces” variety, but one would be wrong in this case. Well heck, even two would be wrong. This outfit formed in Denver, Colorado bucks the trend by conjuring up a diverse approach to their music. Elements of blues-rock, funk, soul, jazz, rock, roots and who knows what else blend together at different times to create a refreshing and well thought out recording. Mer Sal provides the deep felt and melodious vocals along with laying down a commanding bass sound. Jasco, formerly of Blinddog Smokin’, provides the fluid and intricate guitar styling’s. Nate Brown handles the drum seat along with producer Alvino Bennett filling that chair on one song. All songs are band originals.

The funk infused blues-rocker “Good For Me” a he did you a favor when he walked out the door tale with Mer’s soulful voice and Jasco’s beautifully soaring guitar. We’re on the second tune and already the band’s versatility shows its’ face in the slow and lovely “Let’s Be Love”. The sturdy bass anchors the textured acoustic and electric guitars. Motown funk meets blues-rock on “Sparkle” with its’ infectious groove. One minor lyric quibble. “My love sparkles like the sun at night”. Huh? I’ve never seen the sun at night.

The title tune is heightened by Mar Sal’s deeply soulful vocal as she warns her man that he better run ’cause she’s catching fire. I know I would haul ass post haste. Acoustic and electric guitars blend on the slow burning “Not Enough Love”. The funky bass and guitar kick off the dance floor song “Shake It” and the band does just that. Slow bluesy slide guitar eases the listener into “Walk Beside Me” with its’ subtle country overtones.

The slow stroll of “Soon” harks back to a forty’s feel helped by jazzy acoustic guitar and skat singing. “Rules” touts the pleasures of breaking the rules. Piano and an acoustic guitar are the only instrumentation on the lovely melancholy ballad “Our Song”. Oh, did I mention that this woman can SING.

This isn’t about any particular genre of music. It’s about the sheer joy of good music. In the hands of this band you can’t go wrong. Everything works here. Oh, did I remember to tell you that this lady can SING?

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

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 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 6 

inner limits album imageInner Limits – Hit the Highway


CD: 9 Songs, 42:18 Minutes

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

Three jauntily-dressed gentlemen Hit the Highway, bags and instruments in hand, on the cover of the debut album from Oregon’s Inner Limits. This trio has smooth SRV-type style and considerable guitar proficiency. That’s the good news. The not-so-good news is that eight of their nine initial offerings are covers that have been covered time and again. They do their level best on “Can’t Be Satisfied,” “Stormy Monday,” and “Got My Mojo Working” et al., but their arrangements don’t surpass the originals. With that said, their energy and enthusiasm are commendable – used in real-deal blues. On vocals, their harmonies are seamless as the flavors of Neapolitan ice cream.

In September of 1981, at nine years old, leading man Olem Alves soaked up a river of twelve-bar blues from his mentor, James Thornbury. Three years later, James was swept away by the legendary band Canned Heat. Before he hit the road, he scratched out the lyrics to a song called “Hit the Highway,” and he said, “Here’s one last tune to remember me by. Maybe you’ll record it one day.” Thornbury passed away in 2017. Upon hearing the unfortunate news, Olem travelled back in time to his basement and revisited the charts James had penned on the backs of posters being housed in a dusty box. Over the following months, Inner Limits began to rehearse these songs and bring new life and meaning to them. With people beginning to notice such tunes at live shows, the band thought it would be a good time to record a blues and tribute album. Bravo!

Joining Olem Alves (lead vocals and guitar) are Jesse Greenlee on drums and vocals, and Torrey Newhart on keyboards and vocals.

The title track catches listeners’ attention with its a cappella, three-part harmony on the intro.

Track 01: “Hit the Highway” – Wanderlust is a common theme in the blues, and this CD’s first track explores it with gusto: “Night’s falling, baby. The hard road is calling me. Take my blues and troubles and walk down Highway 3.” Not every opener has to blast its way into one’s ears and heart; therefore, Inner Limits strikes a perfect balance between mellow and intense. Dig the guitar solo in the middle and spot-on organ keyboards. The big highlight, though, is the singing.

Inner Limits has paid fair tribute to the old masters on their debut release. Let’s hope that next time, they’ll explore the outer limits of wholly original material.

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 39 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 – 5 of 6 

steve conn album imageSteve Conn – flesh and bone

not really records

12 songs time – 50:20

The tired old saying “Who knew?” is entirely apropos in this case. Full disclosure I knew some but not all this. The talent, creativity, musicianship and wonderfully crazy good lyrics displayed by Steve Conn are a lot to take in. Recently he came to my attention as the keyboard-accordion player on Sonny Landreth’s “Recorded Live In Lafayette” and his closing vocal there on his clever “The One And Only Truth” with the key line being-“My momma told me the one and only truth, yeah my momma told me the one and only truth-“Spend your money and don’t look back, cause you never seen a hearse with a luggage rack”. That combination of sage advice, humor, tongue-in-cheek-ness and gee-whiz-ness spills over into this recording in spades. The man has the perfect emotive singer-songwriter voice.

Steve sweeps you away on a whirlwind of emotions and varying musicality’s touching various parts of your soul and heart strings. Keep your dancing shoes and Kleenex handy as he takes he brings the humanity out of you. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and sometimes simultaneously.

It’s no wonder that he has performed with artists as diverse as Albert King, Sonny Landreth, Shelby Lynne and Levon Helm among others. The musicians assembled here compliment his various musical adventures with just the right touch at all times.

(Just a side note-I didn’t capitalize the song titles so as to say true to the way they are presented on the jacket)

On “famous” he muses that he’ll be famous when he’s dead to a New Orleans second line shuffle with Sonny Landreth’s inimitable slide guitar in tow along with Steve’s Professor Longhair piano styling’s. After fantasying about his posthumous fame he closes with “I gotta run, I guess you heard there’s a clean up on aisle two”. “flesh and bone” is a jazzy song about ones’ body being a vehicle for your soul. The jazz piano and guitar make thoughts of the journey easier to cope with.

Steve speaks to the quest of most trying to do the right things in life in ” doing the best I can”. Electric piano, organ and Joe V. McMahan’s guitar weave lovely melodies. “I know I’m not perfect or anything close, but I’m all that I got”. The rigors of living a down trodden life against a lazy string infused groove.

Ok boys and girls here comes the time to visit the Kleenex concession. “annalee” drips with real sentimentality. “forever seventeen” paints a lovely picture of past times. “We’ve both gotten old now, that’s what happens, to me she’ll be forever seventeen”. A Professor Longhair piano shuffle meets sentimental family history on “good times are coming”. A song about the last goodbye “sing me to the other side” with absolutely gorgeous piano accompaniment. Forget it I’m into my second box of tissues.

Sonny Landreth’s slide spars with Steve’s accordion on another New Orleans shuffle as the narrator rattles off a litany of life concerns and situations in “around and around”. “What’s the truth, nobody knows”. The listener is sent off with the most cinematic and thought provoking song in “Without A Trace”, a mysterious lament about an apparent suicide. “Was it cruel or was it kind to leave a shred of hope behind?”.

I’m not exaggerating when I say this is a rare shining gem of a recording. Combine a super talented keyboard player with the heart and soul of a poet and this is the masterpiece you get. One minute you are tapping your toe to a pulsating rhythm and the next you are moved to your very core. I could go on and on, but I think I’d rather just spin this again and stir my emotions.

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

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 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 6 

ally venable album imageAlly Venable – Texas Honey

Ruf Records

Barely out of her teens and based out of Kilgore, Texas, guitarist/vocalist Ally Venable has been making quite a splash in the Lone Star State since debuting at age 12. Now just a few months into her 20s, she enlisted guitar slinger Mike Zito to produce this disc and fellow axe man Eric Gales to make a guest appearance.

Long before she released her first album, No Glass Shoes, in 2016, after growing up singing in church and listening to Stevie Ray Vaughan, Miranda Lambert and other fellow Texan firebrands, the blues rocker was making waves. She’s a five-time winner of the East Texas Music Awards, capturing top honors twice each as female guitarist and band of the year and another for best album

Her debut release placed in 16th position on the Blues Music Reports electric blues charts, and her second release, last year’s Puppet Show, debuted at No. 7 on Billboard’s blues listings and finished the year in the top ten on iTunes charts. A longhaired stunner, she’s made a major impact touring in support of Gales and Lance Lopez

Like the title infers, Venable’s pipes are pure Texas honey, but her incendiary fretwork packs quite a sting as she fronts a power trio anchored by Bobby Wallace on bass and Elijah Owings on percussion. Lewis Stephens contributes keyboards throughout this disc, which was recorded at Marz Studios in Nederland, Texas. Zito lends a hand on slide and rhythm guitars on three cuts and backing vocals on a fourth while Gales adds his guitar and singing talents on another.

Despite their presence, however, Venable is unquestionably the star throughout this collection of nine originals.

“Nowhere To Hide” powers out of the gate with a stop-time guitar run as Ally comes face-to-face with her own cold heart and the trouble it brings, noting: “I don’t know/What’s got a hold of me./But it’s something that/I can’t keep under my sleeve.” The intensity continues for before “Broken,” the realization that the uncaring attitude she displayed in dealing with a cheating lover was nothing but a sham.

The self-descriptive title tune, “Texas Honey,” is up next. It’s a cautionary stop-time pleaser that warns: “I’m gonna take all your sugar/I’m gonna take all your money/Cause there ain’t nothing sweet about/This Texas honey.” Zito makes his first appearance to help out on the ballad “Blind To Bad Love,” the realization that, like practically everyone else, Ally wants something or someone she can’t get.

Gales joins the action for “Come And Take It,” a steady-moving rocker that advises a wary prospective lover that he’d better come and take her – if he’s man enough. A cover of Stevie Ray’s “Love Struck Baby” before Zito gets space to shine on “One-Sided Misunderstanding,” which describes the ashes left at the end of a romance.

“White Flag,” which follows, confronts a repeated liar with the warning that it’s time to surrender, a message that continues in “Long Way Home,” which advises that it’s time for him to hit the road, a theme delivered from another point of view in “Running After You,” which states that, if he goes, Ally won’t follow. The album closes with a loping, bluesy take on “Careless Love,” the jazz standard first popularized by Buddy Bolden in New Orleans at the turn of the 20th Century.

Available through most major retailers, Texas Honey, is sweet to the core if you love blues rock that sticks close to the root. A powerful performance from a true young star on the ascendant.

Blues Blast Magazine Senior Writer Marty Gunther has lived a blessed life. Now based out of Charlotte, N.C., 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 Interview – Jimmie Vaughan 

jimmie vaughan photo 1Just as the first Paul Butterfield Blues Band album inspired a generation of blues musicians after its release in 1965, the first four records by the Fabulous Thunderbirds also had a tremendous impact that extended well beyond a few of their performances that hit the commercial charts. The band’s tough Texas sound was in large part due to guitarist Jimmie Vaughan’s razor-sharp licks, always saying what needed to be said without getting carried away. Vaughan inspired his younger brother, Stevie Ray, but followed a different path, the one that teaches how to say more playing fewer notes.

Since his tenure with the Thunderbirds ended in 1990, the guitarist has kept busy playing music in his hometown of Austin, Texas, often in a trio with Mike Flanigin on organ and Barry “Frosty” Smith on drums. Released in 2017, the album Live at C-Boys offers plenty of deep grooves from one of the band’s favorite local joints. Prior to that, Vaughan released five solo recordings that featured songs by some of his favorite artists, played by musicians he felt comfortable with.

When it comes to picking songs to record, the guitarist has a simple system. “It comes down to pure lust and greed. I listen to music all the time, lots of different types of music. If I hear something I like, and I think I can do it, and it works for me, then we give it a try. Obviously I can’t do everything that I listen to. Once in a while you hear a song and think to yourself, I could do that one, it would be cool. It’s the same as deciding what kind of food you like. You don’t spend a lot of time gnashing your teeth and worrying about it. Sometimes you try one, and end up deciding maybe I can’t do that one so well. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen very much”.

“To me, blues country, jazz, hillbilly, rock & roll, it’s all American music. It is all the same. I have done Hank Williams songs, Lefty Frizzell songs that are country blues. And blues guys used to do country tunes. Little Milton loved the Grand Ole Opry and did country tunes. I don’t care what you are or where you come from. You either like it or you don’t”.

The guitarist digs deep for material, finding gems that have escaped attention, rather than doing yet another cover of some overplayed blues classic. “The fun of it for me is that I am a big fan of the music, and I can’t believe that I get to play it. I have the world’s greatest job! Tell me someone who has a better one. It is like being an artist, getting to paint everyday”.

“You have to spend time searching for your own voice. Ask yourself, what is my style? I learned from B.B. King, Albert King, and Buddy Guy. They all learned from the same artists I did, like T-Bone Walker and others. We all started at the same points. But eventually you end up asking yourself, what is that I do? Then you can’t help it – you keep asking yourself that question. Then you will start getting answers”.

Vaughan’s playing has influenced countless guitar pickers across several generations, with Gary Clark Jr. being the latest high profile artist to testify to the influence Vaughan exerted on him at a young age through live shows he attended, accompanied by his parents. When asked about his signature sound, Vaughan admits that it is hard to describe. “I play what I want to hear. That is the key, how do I express myself. From listening to a lot of music, especially jazz tenor and baritone sax players like Gene Ammons or Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, people that solo frequently, you hear how they are painting a picture. It helps me figure out how to let my feelings come out”.

jimmie vaughan photo 3“Every day changes things. Some days expressing yourself is as easy as waking up and playing what is happening in that day. I can be singing a favorite old song, or something that I have already heard somebody do, and when it comes to the solo part, what am I going to do? That is my time. It is all about expressing yourself. That is the fun of it”.

“I really love the way Gene Ammons approaches things. He always seems to get his point across. He drags you around by the ear, so that you can’t stop listening once you put his music on. In a perfect world, you need to look at that kind of artist for inspiration. I don’t care about all of the noodling or fancy stuff. A lot of guitar players these days are busy doing tricks they learned, running scales and other stuff. As soon as you figure that out, most of the fun is gone. I would rather attempt to express myself in an emotional way on my guitar. It isn’t scientific, but more like grunting. If you spend too much time thinking about it, or dissecting it, the magic is gone. Perhaps we need to be more like grunting humans, keep things simple. You get to these musical intersections, where everyone is waiting for the red light, all this stuff is going on, and the fun is, can you play your way out of the situation. You have to put yourself out there, and be ready to fail”.

As a leading light in a long line of notable Texas blues guitar players, Vaughan is clear on where that tradition started. “We are all lucky that T-Bone Walker was from Texas. He was the first guy to really play blues on an electric guitar, and made it popular. I guess everyone else was just following in his footsteps. But there were also a lot of horn players from Dallas and Houston, and even New Orleans, and points in between. But then everyone left for Los Angeles or Chicago”.

During his tenure with the Thunderbirds, Vaughan used a pick, then later switched to picking with his fingers. “I do both now, depending on what I need, or what I am hearing. When you use your fingers, you get a fatter sound that is tempered. When you play piano, it would be how hard or soft you hit the keys. That creates some subtle touches”.

When asked about what gear he is using these days, Vaughan broke out a racing analogy. “I fool with everything, because it is all in the set-up. You have to tune a race car every day to what you like or however you want it want it to feel. I have a new model of the Stratocaster from the Fender custom shop that I am currently using. It is the best they can do with the frets, the pick-up windings. And I have used plenty of different amplifiers, with the Fender style amp being my favorite. I use the Grammatico Kingsville amps, and I like the old Fender Bassman at times. The Grammatico is a hand-wire, tube version of the Bassman. And I like the Jensen style of speakers. I use a Strymon unit for tremelo and reverb. It is the best thing I have ever seen for that, with multiple settings for each, all in a little pedal. It is very simple – and I guess I am endorsing it now!”

jimmie vaughan photo 2This month brings the latest release from the guitarist, Baby, Please Come Home, on the Last Music Co. label. “This is probably not what the record company wants to hear, but cutting a record can be like backing into a corner and throwing up! You can’t do the same thing over, and over, and over. I like the process to be spontaneous. One day, you say to yourself, I feel it coming. I think I’m going to go make a record. It doesn’t seem to work for me to put out a record every year. There are all different kinds of reasons why you make new songs. Now, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to work on it. You have to work at it very hard”.

“I am on the road constantly. We play the songs I have selected for the album so that they are road-tested before we hit the studio. I use a lot of the same guys that I have used on my other recordings. In fact, Billy Horton on bass, George Rains on drums, and the horn players are on the road with me. When you play with musicians that are that good, you can’t help but accidentally do something right”.

“I love to read, so I am always digging around, looking for answers as to what motivated my favorite musicians. One guy gets your interest, which leads you to read about someone else, and then another, it is endless. We will never be able to hear all of this fabulous music that is out there. One record that hooked me early on was the Blues From Big Bill’s Copacabana, with Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, and Howlin’ Wolf. It sounds better than ever. Coming up, I am doing a tour with Buddy and Charlie Musselwhite. Did you know that Charlie was standing at the bar the night they recorded that album. Charlie told me he was there. Buddy was only nineteen or twenty at the time, but he was all over that record”.

At a time when many musicians are struggling to earn a living, Vaughan is pleased with the current state of his career.

“From my perspective, things have gotten better because I have a record deal with a company that really likes what I do. So I don’t really know how anyone else is doing because I don’t care. I don’t say that in a nasty way, just that I am really in to what I am doing most of the time. I am not sure what the music business is these days, but I know what I do, so I just do that. In the old days, the record companies were always looking for a hit single. With the Thunderbirds, we wanted to play blues music but the record company would say they weren’t hearing a hit, that maybe our hair wasn’t weird enough. I don’t want to sound like I am complaining, because I had a great time back then.

“Since then, every record deal I have had has been like that, because we just did what we wanted to do. But, until recently, I didn’t realize that you could just ignore everything else. For me, these are the good old days, right now. I get to play all the time and have great gigs. Play, play, play – I play every day whether I have a gig or not. I am very blessed.. But I am still searching, always trying to dig a little deeper”.

Visit Jimmie’s website at:

Reviewer Mark Thompson lives in Florida, where he is enjoying the sun and retirement. He is the past 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!

 Blues Society News 

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The Blues Society of Western New York – Buffalo, NY

The Blues Society of Western New York in conjunction with Music Is Art presents the Nurs’n Blues Music Fest, Saturday, May 25 from 3pm to 10pm at The Cove, 4701 Transit Rd., in Depew, NY. $20. donation in advance, $25. (door). Info: . Proceeds benefit Nurs’n Blues Therapy Program, that uses Blues Music Therapy for those struggling with chemical dependency. Two stages with continuous music all day long, headlined by Grammy nominee, blues guitar great, Kenny Neal. Also performing: Robert “Freightrain” Parker; Jeremy Keyes Band; Grace Stumberg and Grace Lougen; Hanna PK; 12 Pack Jack McArdle; Sheila Connors; and the Patti Parks Band (Parks is the creator of the Nurs’n Blues Music Fest). Now in its fourth year, the program has served over one-thousand clients and families.

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. June 4 – Ben Levin (piano) w/ Aron Levin, Marty Binder, and Chris Bernhardt – Kankakee Valley Boat Club, July 30 – Frank Bang – Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmens’ Club, August 3 – The Nouveaux Honkies – Inside Out – Gilman IL, August 15 – Albert Castiglia – The Longbranch – L’Erable IL. More Info at:

The Charlotte Blues Society – Charlotte, NC

The Charlotte Blues Society is pleased to announce that our June Blues Bash will feature Chris O’Leary Band. Their 5th CD “7 minutes Late” is on the American Showplace Label. Now on tour to support the release of the new album. The show will be held Sunday, June 2nd, at the Rabbit Hole, 1801 Commonwealth Ave., Charlotte, NC 28205. Admission is free for members with valid cards and $5 to everyone else. A limited number of reserved seats/tables will be available online through the website, for $10 each. Doors at 7:00; music at 8:00. It will be a great evening of music!

We continue to collect non-perishable food and household items for our charity partner, Loaves and Fishes. It’s our goal to collect one ton of donations this year to help stamp out hunger in Charlotte. Cash donations are also welcome. 1 Can? I Can! More info at

The Illinois Central Blues Club – Springfield, IL

The Illinois Central Blues Club has announced the line-up of talent for Blue Monday live performances and other shows held at the Alamo, 115 North Fifth, Springfield, IL from 7:00pm to 11:00pm. Additional information on any performer listed below is available upon request. May 13 – The Drifter Kings, May 20 – Chris Antonik, May 22 – Brother Jefferson Trio 6:00 PM, May 27 – J.P. Soars & the Red Hots, June 3 – Chris Ruest – Eve Monsees & Mike Buck, June 10 – Guitar Shorty, June 12 – OddsLane CD Release Party 6:00 PM, June 17 – The Bridgett Kelly Band, June 24 – The 44’s.

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P.O. Box 721 Pekin, Illinois 61555 © 2018 Blues Blast Magazine (309) 267-4425

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