Issue 13-26 June 27, 2019

Samantha fish magazine cover image

Cover photo © 2019 Bob Kieser

 In This Issue 

Tee Watts has our feature interview with Samantha Fish. We have 10 Blues reviews for you this week including new music from Willie Buck, Jimmie Vaughan, Black Market III, Joanne Broh, Mighty Sam McClain, The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Eric Jerardi, Big Jay McNeely, Tommy Bentz Band and Vanja Sky.

We have Nikki Hill and Samantha Fish in our featured videos this week plus the latest in Blues society news. All this and MORE!

 From The Editor’s Desk 

Hey Blues Fans,

Let the fun begin! Voting  for your favorite artists and albums begins on Monday July 1 and continues until August 16 at

Tickets for the 2019 Blues Blast Music Awards on September 13, 2019 in Rockford, Illinois also will go on sale on July 1 with a early bird special reduced price of $30. Normal presale price is $35 and $40 at the door so save money by getting your tickets when they go on sale Monday.

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser


 Music Reviewers Wanted 

Do you really know your Blues and enjoy telling others about it?

Blues Blast Magazine is looking for a few good writers to volunteer to help us out. We need reviewers who know Blues and can write a minimum of one review each week. We will provide access to downloads or physical CDs, DVDs and books for review. The writer keeps the album, book or DVD for doing the review. We get music submissions from all over the world. We publish music reviews each week so there is a steady flow of things that need to be reviewed.

These are volunteer positions that need a person who really loves the Blues and wants to spread the Blues word! Must have good writing and composition skills, good grammar and spelling!

Familiarity with WordPress software to enter the reviews or willingness to learn helpful. (If you are familiar with Microsoft Word, it is similar. Very easy to use!)

Experienced writers are encouraged to send samples of previous work. All Blues Blast staff started out as volunteers like this. We have kept those with dedication on as staff writers afterwards.

If you are interested, please send an email to and tell us about your Blues background. A resume and/or writing samples are always appreciated too.

Please be sure to include your phone number in your email reply.

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 Featured Video #1 – Nikki Hill 

This featured video is Nikki Hill performing “Mama Wouldn’t Like It” at Don Odells Legends.  Nikki Hill is headlining at the Prairie Dog Blues Festival on Friday, July 26th, 2019.

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

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 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 10 

willie buck cd imageWillie Buck – Willie Buck Way

Delmark Records

17 songs – 69 minutes

It’s hard to believe that Willie Buck’s previous Delmark release, Cell Phone Man, was back in 2012. Thankfully, he has made up for lost time with Willie Buck Way (named after the honorary street that is named after Buck in Chicago), which contains 17 songs expertly produced by Buck, Thaddeus Krolicki and Scott Dirks and superbly engineered by Brian Leach and Blaise Barton at JoyRide Studio in Chicago.

Buck’s stellar band features some of the Windy City’s finest musicians, including Billy Flynn and Krolicki on guitars, Scott Dirks, Mervyn “Harmonica” Hinds and Big Spider Beck on harmonica (the latter also adding piano to two songs), Bob Stroger on bass, Jimmi Mayes on drums and Johnny “Fingers” Iguana on piano. The band does not disappoint, laying down a series of Grade A grooves throughout the album in support of Buck’s voice.

And what a voice Buck has. Despite being born in 1937 and leading his own bands in Chicago for over 50 years, his vocals remain in top condition with his innate inability to get inside the lyrics of each song. Buck’s vocal mannerisms and music owe a tangible debt to Muddy Waters, but at no point does he come across as mannered or contrived. Rather, he has absorbed Muddy’s influences so completely that they are merely a part of the whole that is Willie Buck.

Buck himself wrote 12 of the tracks on Willie Buck Way. Billy Flynn contributed “Can’t Say Something Good About Me” and there are covers of “Crawlin’ King Snake”, Leroy Carr’s “Blues Before Sunrise” (with peerless Muddy-style slide guitar from Flynn) and Muddy’s “Please Have Mercy” and “How Deep Is The Ocean”. The new songs have a enduring quality to them such that one would not be surprised if they had in fact been written 60 years ago (except of course for the title track, on which Buck happily announces to the world his status as a blues legend – with what sounds like a broad grin on his face).

As with Muddy’s great bands of that era, the guitars on Willie Buck Way are primarily used for rhythm purposes (although Flynn and Krolicki are both exceptional soloists when called upon) – the primary solos come from the harmonica and Iguana’s delightfully fleet-fingered piano playing (his playing on the rollicking fun of “(All I’m Doin’ is) Thinking of You” and the grind of “Bottom of the Hill” is particularly noteworthy).

The songs range from the finger-picked acoustic guitar and harmonica backing of “My Mind Froze Up” and the classic entwining guitars and harp on “Twenty-Four Seven” through to the full band one-chord stomp of “There’s A Woman”, the classic shuffle of “You Want Me To Trust You” and the irresistible groove of “I Give So Much To You”.

The funky “Heck Of A Time” nods towards the late-1960s with its subtle wah-wah rhythm guitar and slightly psychedelic guitar solo but the rest of the music on Willie Buck Way is essentially classic 50s-style Chicago blues, played with élan, formidable technical prowess and a deep emotional connection that is all too rare in today’s music. It’s a pretty much essential purchase.

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 – 2 of 10 

jimmie vaughan cd imageJimmie Vaughan – Baby, Please Come Home

The Last Music Company

11 Tracks/35:26

After a release in 2011, guitarist Jimmie Vaughan went six years before releasing his Live At C-Boy’s project, done as a trio with Mike Flanigin on organ and Frosty Smith on drums. Now he follows that up in relatively short order with a killer new album that celebrates the music that inspired Vaughan back in the day, before he formed the Fabulous Thunderbirds with Kim Wilson, and still resonates with him all these years later. The playlist is full of memorable tunes from the likes of Antoine “Fats” Domino & Dave Bartholomew, T-Bone Walker, Chuck Willis, Jimmy Reed, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, and even country legend Lefty Frizzell.

Vaughan’s razor-sharp guitar licks dominate the title cut, which opens the disc in fine fashion, a hearty shuffle set up by Billy Pitman on rhythm guitar, George Rains on drums and Ronnie James on bass. Further enhancement comes courtesy of Doug James on baritone sax and Greg Piccolo, who honks his way through a top-flight tenor sax solo excursion. “No One To Talk To (But The Blues),” is a standout due to Vaughan’s weathered voice wringing every drop of emotion out of Frizzell’s lamentation on crushing heartache.

Revisiting “Baby, What’s Wrong,” a song he covered on the On the Jimmy Reed Highway with Omar Dykes, Vaughan offers a stirring take full of his exemplary guitar picking, which has inspired other guitarists for decades. Also included is a live cut from C-Boy’s club in Austin, with Vaughan holding court on “Hold It,” a Clifford Scott/Billy Butler composition that also gives Flanigin a chance to showcase his skills on the Hammond organ, while Rains lays down the back-beat.

One reason this album makes such a deep impression is that Vaughan nails every vocal. His unrushed and warmly understated vocalizing on Walker’s “I’m Still In Love With You” gives listeners a wistful reflection on romance, cushioned by subtle riffs from a full horn section consisting of John Mills on baritone, Kaz Kazanoff on tenor sax, Randy Zimmerman on trombone plus Al Gomez and Jimmy Shortell on trumpet. (Kazanoff, Gomez, and Mills together are the Texas Horns.)

“Just A Game” sports a laid-back Louisiana groove. Vaughan once again connects with all of the anguish and grief in the Huey Meaux tune, then plays a short, jagged solo in an attempt to keep the pain at bay. “What’s Your Name?” cruises along in fine style, with Vaughan and Doug James turning in gritty solo passages. James and his big horn are featured again on “So Glad,” but Vaughan steals the show with his deft, playful rhythm guitar work. “Gatemouth” Brown, and even Johnny ‘Guitar” Watson, will certainly come to mind while listening to “Midnight Hour”. Vaughan’s playing on the track carries on the Texas blues guitar tradition, accompanied by a walking bass line and spot-on piano fills.

Take note – Jimmie Vaughan’s latest is a sure-fire cinch for numerous awards nominations. Listeners would expect his guitar playing to be first -rate, but his fervent vocals will stick with you on every track. The guitarist is relaxed and totally at home with the material, thanks to an outstanding of veteran musicians who share the leader’s passion for the music. They don’t come much better than this highly recommended recording!

Interviewer 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!

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 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 10 

black market cd imageBlack Market III – Dashboard Jesus

Rip Cat Records RIC 1808

11 songs – 47 minutes

Based out of San Diego, Black Market III are a roots/Americana band that tours the world, delivering a mix of interesting originals and diverse covers into a stew that’s truly their own and ventures from the blues root on which they’re based.

A trio, they’re fronted by a husband-wife team — guitarist/vocalist Scottie Blinn and bassist/vocalist Roxanne Coverdale — anchored by Alan West on percussion. Blinn served as the longtime front man of The Mississippi Mudsharks, a group that earned three San Diego Music Awards and 28 nominations in two stints together that covered the better part of two decades.

His background in the blues began in his late teens when he fell under the influence of bluesman Tomcat Courtney, the Texas-born guitarist who was deeply influenced by Lightnin’ Hopkins and taught him Hopkins’ distinct fingerpicking style.

Although she and Blinn hooked up long before he formed the Mudsharks in 1992, Coverdale didn’t pick up the bass until 2010, when Scottie taught her how to play as a stress-reliever for her day job. Black Market III, which is her first band, grew out of their five-night-a-week practices. That led to jam sessions with their intent to work as a duo at coffeehouses and wineries. As their gigs improved, however, so did their plans.

The couple deliver five originals here along with six covers, three of which are freshly reworked traditionals. Their sound – which ranges from straight-ahead blues to rock influenced by Tom Waits and Social Distortion — is aided by several other artists, including Courtney and guitarist Anson Funderburgh, who handles lead guitar for part of one number.

Now age 90, Courtney provides vocals for the closing cut. Also lending a hand are Billy Watson (harmonica), Gary St. Clair and Carl Sonny Leyland (keyboards), Jesus Cuevas (accordion), Jules Whelpton, Breanna Wallace and Cami Smith (violins) and additional vocals from Roni Lee, and Joey Harris.

The disc — the fifth in Black Market III’s catalog — opens with a straight-blues take on Otis Blackwell’s “Daddy Rollin’ Stone,” a tune that’s been covered by a who’s who of musicians, including Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones and The Who. Blinn’s vocals are a smoky baritone, and his guitar playing are square on the mark throughout with Coverdale providing vocal accents. The traditional feel continues with Bobby “Blue” Bland’s familiar “I Wouldn’t Treat A Dog (The Way You Treated Me).”

Roxanne’s at the mike next for her original, “Your Love Is So Cruel.” Her alto voice is strong and warm as she delivers the ballad, which features harp runs from St. Clair. The music starts straying from the blues with Blinn’s “When The Sun Goes Down,” a driving, but slow-paced blues-rocker, but returns for a duet traditional arrangement of “House Of The Rising Sun,” which is pretty pedestrian save for bright choral enhancements.

Blinn’s “Prelude,” a brief, 49-second sonic rock exercise, introduces “Black Roses,” a medium-tempo rocker that’s built on a blues hook, before the music takes an odd turn with “Regresare,” a somber ballad first recorded penned by the Mexican-American band, Tito & Tarantula, and the original, “Live & Let Live,” a parallel duet with jazz-rock overtones. The album closes with two more traditionals: “O’ Mary Don’t You Weep,” which features Funderburgh, and the acoustic ballad “Gallows Pole,” with Courtney at the mike.

Available through Amazon and other outlets or direct from the artists’ website (address above), There are some tasty interludes for blues fans here. If you’re a traditionalist, however, this one might have you scratching your head in some sections.

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.

 Featured Video #2 – Samantha Fish 

This featured video is Samantha Fish performing “Gone For Good” at the Old Settler’s Pop-Up Session in Austin, TX. Samantha Fish is headlining at the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival on Friday, July 5th, 2019.

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 10 

joanne broh cd imageJoanne Broh – Live

Double Y Records

CD: 11 Songs, 43:40 Minutes

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

What comes to mind when you hear the words “live album?” Shrieking fans? Blistering instrumentation? Vocals reverberating louder than the aftermath of an atom bomb? The newest live release from Oregon’s Joanne Broh offers none of these, which is actually good news. She demonstrates that sheer volume isn’t the most important aspect of music. Not only that, but she presents “blues to lift you up,” as it succinctly states on her website. Her singing is clear and unpretentious, running the gamut of the alto range. Listening to her is like conversing with your favorite next-door neighbor. The warmth in her voice lets you know that you can tell her all your secrets, and she’ll even share a few of her own. Guitarist Garry Meziere, slide/second guitarist Jerry Zybach, bassist Bill Foss, and drummer Ed Pierce provide a rock-solid ensemble, playing real-deal blues without resorting to flashy instrumental tricks or overlong solos. Walter Herleman also guest stars on harmonica.

They please a Live audience with several time-honored blues covers including “Kitchen Man,” “Why Don’t You Do Right,” “Black Cat Bone,” and “I Don’t Care Who Knows.” Even though there’s not a lot of original material, that’s forgivable. Crowds like songs they know. Sing and dance along to your favorites, and enjoy the originals “Wicked Cool” and “Let’s Work on It.”

Joanne Broh has opened for Leon Russell, Lydia Pense and Cold Blood, Karen Lovely, Ty Curtis, and Lionel Young. The Rainy Day Blues Society crowned her “Winner: Best Female Vocalist” and also gave her an accolade for “2016 Best Recording.” The Cascade Blues Association made her a Finalist in their “Journey to Memphis (International Blues Challenge.)”

The following original is catchy and full of energy, certain to get concert-goers on their feet.

Track 06: “Let’s Work On It” – No matter what the latest rom-coms say, relationships are hard work. “Let’s work on it baby, figure the whole thing out. Let’s work on it, darling. Let me tell you what it’s all about. You know I’m really going to love you. Don’t make me scream and shout.” Who among us hasn’t heard (or made) such a heartfelt plea? The bouncy beat and fantastic fretwork make number six as refreshing as something out of a six-pack.

“Broh,” give joyful Joanne a listen as she entertains Live!

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.

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 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 10 

mighty sam mcclain cd imageMighty Sam McClain – Diamond In The Rough

Sledgehammer Blues

11 songs time-52:54

Popular soul-blues singer Mighty Sam McClain who passed away in 2015 left this stripped down acoustic record as his final release. After a career of many years backed by bands he left this touching and different memento. Co-producer Pat Herlehy the sole accompanist provides mainly acoustic guitar along with occasional saxophone and flute, with the only other instrument being Sam’s smooth, moving and soulful voice. For the first time with this set up everything gels just fine. All compositions are originals by Sam, Pat Herlehy with assistance from Charles Neville and a few others.

As on most songs here Pat dubs a lead guitar part over a rhythm guitar part for a fuller sound, as heard on “My Everything”. Sam’s rich and hearty voice fits like a glove on this uplifting tune. The pleading vocal in “When The Hurt Is Over” talks about reigniting love. Pat adds jazzy sax to his guitar on the funky “Grooving”. His sax also makes an appearance on the yearning “Love’s Gonna Find”. “Where Is The Love?” eloquently speaks to universal brotherly love set against jazzy guitar.

The guitar sets the mood for the blues of “Love Me If You Want To”. A lovely jazzy guitar riff envelopes “Everytime”, a tale of lost love. “Believe” is a plea for peace among people. It features Pat’s light touch on jazz flute. “Southern Land” is what it sounds like, a lament about the south. A way funky guitar riff underlies the spirituality of “Holy Ghost Fever”. Sam makes references to blues greats from the past.

Sam made a good choice in using this approach as it’s laid back quality has a soothing affect on one’s psyche. Pat Herlehy’s deft touch on guitar, sax and flute along with his co-production skills render this a very satisfying listen. Long time fans of Mighty Sam McClain as well as music lovers unfamiliar with his catalog will find much to savor here.

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

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 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 10 

Jazz fest album imageVarious Artists – Jazz Fest: The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

Disc 1 – 10Tracks/61:35

Disc 2 – 10 Tracks/59:25

Disc 3 – 11 Tracks?69:33

Disc 4 – 11 Tracks?68:33

Disc 5 – 11 Tracks/60:53

Earlier this year, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival celebrated its fiftieth anniversary, an amazing accomplishment for business, let alone a festival that spans two weekends for seven days to celebrate the music, food, and culture of New Orleans and Louisiana. Jazz Fest is such an iconic event that Smithsonian Folkways Recordings decided to commemorate the milestone anniversary with a box set centered on fifty musical tracks consisting of live Jazz Fest recordings taken from a variety of sources, featuring many of the city’s favorite musicians.

The set is housed in a hardcover, tabletop size book with five discs, securely stored in pockets built into the last two pages, comprised of a heavier stock. The booklet contains plenty of vintage photos, like the one by Michael Smith on Page 20 with James Booker, the Piano Prince of New Orleans, smiling as he shakes hands with a young Harry Connick, Jr.. The original producer of the fest, George Wein, who’s accomplishments include establishing the Newport Jazz Festival, gets the honor of writing the introductory forward to the collection.

Following are three essays, the first examining the fifty years of Jazz Fest and it’s impact on the city, written by noted author Keith Spera. The second piece, written by Karen Celestan, delves into the role producer Quint Davis has played since he took over from Wein, growing the fest into an internationally recognized festival that continues to honor and promote the unique culture and musical aspects of the region. It falls to Robert H. Cataliotti to speak for the musicians in the final essay as to the lasting impact that Jazz Fest has had on their careers and on the local scene.

Also included are several multi-page photo spreads, done by Rachel Lyons, that shift the focus to other vital parts of the festival experience, including craft & cultural displays, the happenings off-stage, and of course, the vast array of culinary delights that make Jazz Fest such a unique event. Inside the front cover is a drawing of the layout of the fest in 1978, while inside the back cover has an aerial photo of the fairgrounds of the 2012 Jazz Fest for comparison.

As you sit back to start getting educated about the festival, you can enjoy the live recordings spread over five discs. The first disc opens with “Indian Red,” an anthem for the Mardi Gras Indians, performed by the Golden Eagles and their Big Chief, Monk Boudreaux. For that authentic feel, the second track offers a brief welcome, then slips into the funk, R&B, and jazz fusion of Trombone Shorty (Troy Andrews). Cuts by Donald Harrison Jr., the legendary Danny Barker, trumpeters Terrence Blanchard and Kermit Ruffins fronting his Big Band illustrate the scope of the city’s jazz traditions. Wein fronts the the Newport All-Stars on piano on “Back Home In Indiana,” connecting listeners to the music humble beginnings over eighty years prior. Two other highlights are a piano duet between Champion Jack Dupree and Allen Toussaint, and the final track, with vocalist John Boutte doing Randy Newman’s “Louisiana 1927”. His emotionally-charged rendition comes from the 2006 festival, the first after Hurricane Katrina had ravaged the city. He modified the lyrics so that the song became a reflection of a proud city struggling to endure and overcome.

The second disc is dedicated to some of the finest blues and R&B artists, with Toussaint making another appearance, backed by a large aggregation as he plays piano and takes the lead vocal on one of his many hit tunes, “Yes We Can Can”. Guitarist Earl King rolls through one of his memorable compositions, “Trick Bag,” his urgent pleas supported by Tommy Ridgley & the Untouchables. Miss Irma Thomas shows why she has always been considered the city’s Queen of Soul on “Ruler Of My Heart,” then Snooks Eaglin cuts loose on a fiery take of “Dizzy Miss Lizzy,” pulling a cascading stream of notes from his guitar. The fun doesn’t stop as Clarence “Frogman” Henry showcases his vocal dexterity on his novelty hit, “Ain’t Got No Home”. One of the most influential players in a long line of ace piano players, Professor Longhair blended the rhythms of Caribbean music and Indian culture into a celebration of Mardi Gras on “Big Chief”. The Dixie Cups revisit their hit, “Iko Iko,” followed by the city’s adopted daughter, Marcia Ball, memorializing another tradition on “Red Beans”. The closing medley serves as a tribute to another great, the late Dr. John, his distinctive voice bringing the voodoo traditions to life over twelve minutes of glory taking listeners back to his Night Tripper persona.

Disc Three features the groundbreaking Dirty Dozen Brass Band, another recently departed piano giant, Henry Butler, reinventing a Professor Longhair song,and the glorious scat vocalizing by local favorite Germaine Bazzle. The Al Belletto Big Band and the Original Liberty Jazz Band approach jazz with different mindsets, with the latter turning in a beautiful version of the classic, “Summertime,” with Dr. Michael White demonstrating why he is recognized as one of the top clarinet players in a city full of them. Another long-running NO institution, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, delivers a rowdy, energetic run-through of “My Bucket’s Got A Hole In It”. The final four tracks give listeners a peek into the Gospel tent, where groups like the Zion Harmonizers, the Johnson Extension, plus Raymond Myles and the Gospel Soul Children articulate the enduring healing power of the gospel hymns with performances that often surpass the energy and conviction seen on other stages throughout the festival. One track is taken from the appearance by Irma Thomas, doing “Old Rugged Cross” as part of one of her annual sets in the tent.

Disc Four unveils two more aspects of the New Orleans musical culture. The first two cuts put the spotlight on two of the foremost zydeco artists, Boozoo Chavis and Buckwheat Zydeco (Stanley Dural Jr.), who always kept the dance floors full with music centered around their accordions. Then we go deeper into the Louisiana countryside with the Savoy Family Cajun Band, Bruce Daigrepont, and perhaps the most famous of all of the Cajun bands, Beausoleil, for a different way to get people dancing, with fiddles, accordions, and guitars engaging in mesmerizing interplay. Art, Aaron, Charles, and Cyril remind us of the lasting impact the Neville Brothers have had on popular music on a funkified take of “Yellow Moon”. Not to be forgotten, blues music gets it’s due starting with Louisiana native, slide guitarist John Campbell, who foreshadowed the devastation of Hurricane Katrina with a brooding rendition of Memphis Minnie’s “When The Levee Breaks”. Another Fest regular, John Mooney, lays down some of the bottleneck slide guitar that made him a favorite, then Baton Rouge native Kenny Neal turns in a medley of Jimmy Reed tunes, backed by three members of his talented family. Toussaint returns with a big band, that includes guest Bonnie Raitt on slide guitar for “What Is Success”. Tommy Ridgley also gets another chance, his good-natured vocal the highlight on one of his hits, “Double-Eyed Whammy”.

It is hard to assess the impact that the Meters had on the world of popular music. Disc 5 starts off with a vivid reminder as original members Art Neville on organ and George Porter, Jr. on bass are joined Art’s son, Ian, on guitar for the classic “Fire On The Bayou,” performing as the Funky Meters. The guitar theme continues with dynamic performances from Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown,the beloved Walter “Wolfman” Washington, a stunning synthesis of the Elmore James electric slide style from Deacon John, immediately overshadowed by Sonny Landreth’s majestic slide work on “Blue Tarp Blues,” one more song bemoaning the aftermath of Katrina. Anders Osborne and his guitar arrived in the city thirty years ago. Since then, he has become an integral cog in the local music scene, with “Back On Dumaine” a vibrant homage to the place he calls home. The Subdudes mixed up styles into a hearty musical roux all their own, as witnessed on “Thorn In Her Side,” which takes the federal government to task for the handling of recovery efforts after the storm. The contemporary bounce genre is covered by the popular Big Freedia. The set finishes off with one from the Wild Magnolias featuring Boudreaux and Big Chief Bo Dollis, and one more Neville Brothers track, their usual medley of “Amazing Grace” and Bob Marley’s “One Love,” featuring Aaron’s ethereal voice, that was their closing piece on the last set on a main stage, on the final day of festival.

To complement the essay, the book has a page for each artist or band included on the set, with a photo and a snippet of information that outlines their place in the history of Jazz Fest. Some may question why certain artists do not appear on the collection. With so much material to choose from, the final product admirably encapsulates the original spirit of the Jazz Fest celebration as well as the musical and cultural traits that make New Orleans such a unique part of our nation’s tapestry. A project this comprehensive requires many hours of labor and nurture to become reality. The five co-producers – Jeff Place, Rachel Lyons, Dave Ankers, Michael Murphy, and Cilista Eberle – deserve hearty congratulations for assembling this monumental retrospective.

Longtime fans of Jazz Fest will need little encouragement to dive into this package and relive some of the magical memories from bygone fests. For those who have never had a Jazz Fest experience, this package will quickly allow you to vicariously enjoy one of the premier annual musical events on the planet. But be careful, it can be very, very addicting!

Interviewer 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!

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 Featured Blues Review – 7 of 10 

eric jerardi album imageEric Jerardi – Occupied

Niche Records

7 songs – 28 minutes

Occupied is the seventh album from Dayton, Ohio-based singer/guitarist Eric Jerardi and it’s a very enjoyable – if a little short – collection of top class modern soul-blues songs. Recorded at Nutthouse Recording Studio in Sheffield, Alabama, Jerardi and producer David Z. have captured a warm, organic sound, as exemplified by the smoldering opener, “Do Right By Him”, where a chorus of horns herald Jeradi’s pleading vocals, supported by the glorious gospel-styled backing vocals of Marie Lewey and Cindy Walker. The song’s intensity gradually increases over the verses before leading to a wonderfully taut guitar solo.

It’s probably fair to say that Jeradi originally garnered attention for his guitar playing skills. On Occupied, however, the focus is very much on the song and on Jerardi’s warm, slightly husky but very soulful voice. Which is not to say there is no guitar to be heard on the album. Jeradi turns in a number of impressively sharp, melodic solos and his effort on the title track is particularly good, while he really lets loose on the funky “Don’t Take It Personally”. Coco Montoya’s original version (on his Suspicion album from 2000) was very much in the blues-rock camp, as one might expect of a song written by Jerry Lee Williams and Jeff Healey. Jeradi’s interpretation acknowledges this with its raucous wah-wah guitar solos but the backing vocals of Lewey and Walker and the horn stabs pull the song in slightly more of a R’n’B direction.

Jeradi wrote all the songs on the album other than “Don’t Take It Personally” and they are an absorbing set of tracks. He has a good ear for a smart lyric as well as a memorable guitar hook. The lyrics to the title track are printed on the inside of the CD cover and artfully document the loneliness and melancholy of a romantic breakup. The tempos of the tracks are predominantly on the slow or mid-paced side, which may make this more of a late-evening album, but it is none the worse for that.

It has to be said that the backing musicians on Occupied represent something of a dream band: it’s essentially the Muscle Shoals rhythm section. David Hood plays bass; Clayton Ivey handles piano and organ; Milton Sledge is on drums and Kelvin Holly is on rhythm guitar. Add in Charles Rose on trombone (and horn arrangements), Steve Herman on trumpet, Doug Moffet on saxophone and you’re getting close to the perfect band for the song-orientated R&B essayed on this album.

The only slightly adverse point about Occupied is that it finishes too soon. As the last notes of the late-80s Clapton-esque “In My Life” fade away, the immediate urge is to start the album all over again.

If you’re a fan of southern-styled soul-blues, you will definitely want to check out Occupied.

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 – 8 of 10 

big jay mcneely cd imageBig Jay McNeely – I’m Still Here – Big Jay Sings The Blues

Cleopatra Blues

12 songs time-54:58

The late legendary R&B-jump blues sax player Big Jay McNeely recorded this album just before his passing. He was known in the forties and fifties for his energetic “honking” style of sax playing and exuberant stage antics. This was recorded when he was ninety one. Age took a toll on his voice and he was never really known as a singer. His vocal delivery is more in line with talking, but to have the where-with-all to record at his age is an accomplishment. His sax skills are well on display none-the-less. The musical accompaniment sounds like session players trying to sound authentic as possible. No musician credits are given. Not great credits, but it seems like all original songs save one.

“You Never Miss The Water(Till The Well Runs Dry)” displays the tattered half spoken vocals. Near the songs’ end it’s kind of a dueling “baby” and mumble fest. The music comes off almost like Hollywood’s version of the blues. the band upholds the groove on “Baby Please Don’t Go”. His voice is more ragged on the title track. It probably would of fared better if he just went full out Captain Beefheart squawk.

Acoustic slide and his requisite sax lighten up “Please Don’t Turn Me Away”. A nice guitar tone on “I’m Gonna Make It Alright”. There is a weird out of place piano part low in the mix.

What’s a blues record without the requisite reflection of life song? We get “Way Back In The Old Days” backed by a good groove by the band. A close variation of the “Spoonful” riff appears in “Still Got A Long Way To Go(Going Back To L.A.)”. It features some nice electric slide guitar.

This will appeal mostly to followers and collectors’ of Big Jay’s material throughout his career.

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

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 Featured Blues Review – 9 of 10 

Tommy Bentz Band – Live In Concert At The Rush River Barn

Self-Release – 2019

15 tracks; 71 minutes

Tommy Bentz is from Wisconsin and has released several albums, this live disc bringing together material from previous releases plus a couple of covers. There are no writing credits listed but I assume that apart from two obvious covers the rest of the songs are Tommy’s. The band is a trio with Tommy on guitar/vocals and a rhythm section of Jason McLean on bass and Adam Burgess on drums.

The album opens with “Lightning In A Bottle”, a driving blues with some strong guitar playing while “Humble” is an extended track with features for both bass and drums, never a highlight of a live recording in this reviewer’s opinion. Catchy mid-paced rockers seems to be the band’s stock-in-trade: “You Were Never Here To Stay” is not blues, but makes a good impression with echoes of millennial rockers like Hootie & The Blowfish or Matchbox 20 to these ears and “It’s Never Enough” similarly hinges on a bouncy riff as Tommy bemoans the fact that the subject of the song has “the brains, the looks, the charms, the hooks – but it’s never enough”. “Warmth Of Your Soul” and “Push And Pull” also have that sort of feel, not blues but pleasant enough. The band can handle melodic harmonies and gentle rhythms as on “Point Of View” and a jazzier feel as on “Shades Of Grey”.

The two covers are Santo And Johnny’s “Sleepwalk” which suits Tommy’s guitar style and Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine”; Tommy sings it OK but it is just heard too often. After “Ain’t No Sunshine” there are three tracks to close the show: instrumental “King Me” has some good guitar but also another bass/drum feature; Tommy plays some exciting slide on “24 Hour Speed” and closer “Chip On My Shoulder” barrels along on a heavy core riff, one of the tougher tracks here

There is really not a lot of blues here though the music is not unattractive; an album probably aimed at existing fans of the band rather than blues fans.

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 – 10 of 10 

vanja sky album imageVanja Sky – Bad Penny

Ruf Records

CD: 12 Songs, 42:00 Minutes

Styles: Contemporary Electric Rock & Blues Rock, Jazz, All Original Songs, Debut Album

There’s a good reason why the website of Vanja (pronounced “Vanya”) Sky has “.rocks” on the end. To wit: Her first release, Bad Penny, is a rock album. There’s one catchy blues-rock track (reviewed below), a couple mellow jazz/easy-listening numbers, and a fret-load of guitar monster R&R. Vocally, Vanja is Croatia’s answer to Sheryl Crow and Norah Jones, with a bit of Ana Popovic thrown in. There’s a phlegmatic, nonchalant style to her singing, perfect for coffee shops and nightclubs the world over. However, her guitar is a different story. It roars and rages with the ferocity of rush-hour traffic in New York City. No one can accuse Vanja of holding back on instrumentation. She’s also put forward twelve original tracks, a bold tactic when traditional blues covers might have been a safer bet. For one’s opening move in the blues rock/hard rock scene, it’s an aggressive gambit.

Most musicians who turn their avocation into their vocation start young and hone their art for years before putting out an album. On the contrary, Ms. Sky was inspired at the age of nineteen to pick up a shredder, get good, and get better. “It was crazy,” she reveals on her webpage, describing a pivotal visit to a live venue near her hometown of Buzet. “There was a special energy in the air. I can’t even describe it. I decided I wanted to play guitar right then and there – and when I decide something, I just have to do it.” She’s since found a home in Germany’s Ruf Records, with Thomas Ruf and blues rock maverick Mike Zito co-producing her debut.

Joining Vanja (lead guitar and vocals) are Mike Zito on rhythm guitar; Terry Dry and Dave Smith on bass guitar; Matthew Johnson and Yonrico Scott on drums, and Lewis Stephens on piano and organ.

The following track is the clearest example of blues rock as most blues-rock fans recognize it.

Track 07: “Give Me Back My Soul” – Lucky number seven will get people dancing, whether live or at home. Vanja gives George Thorogood a serious run for his money in the first couple of notes. “Give me back my soul. It’s only rock and roll,” she pleads in a refrain to which no one will have trouble singing along. Dave Smith lays down a gritty bassline, but the highlight is when Vanja plays her guitar in a chugga-chugga rhythm for emphasis on the bouncy beat.

Vanja has the guitar chops and musical presence to make it big on any stage, but traditional genre aficionados may say blues isn’t her niche. Not yet, anyway.

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.

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 Featured Interview – Samantha Fish 

samantha fish photo 1In early June of 2019, Blues Blast dialed up Ms. Samantha Fish who was back at home for a couple of days, after a month-long tour of Europe. The Internet had been abuzz with Miley Cyrus’ latest unfortunate exploit; being assaulted by a zealously crazed fan, but Samantha wasn’t yet aware of it. I asked her how she viewed the sexual climate in her own working environment.

“I think anybody who feels they have a right to put their hands on somebody without their consent is due for an ass kicking. It’s never appropriate. I don’t care what you do for a living. People get this misconception sometimes with artists and performers, especially in the pop world, that they are entitled to act that way. It’s completely unacceptable. Have I ever been in a situation that I was like, uncomfortable, where someone crossed that line with me? Absolutely. I think every woman can say 100% that it happens regularly. There are people in the world that I don’t know what in the hell they are thinkin’. I’m very firm in my boundaries and personal space and when someone crosses that line, I’m very vocal about it. And I have a great team of people that prevents that from happening. For the most part, I think most fans are there for the right reason; the music. You’re just lookin’ out for the occasional bad apples in the crowd. The show must go on for everyone else cuz that’s what we are there for.”

Having cast the discussion of the sexual politics into the sea of grieve, we plunge headlong into the reason we too, are here – to discuss her early foray into music and the current state of her career. First, she ran down the itinerary of her recent European tour.

“We played a bunch of dates in the UK. We did Scotland, Paris, Brussels and about 4 shows in Germany. We did Zurich, Switzerland and also our first show in Milan, Italy. We were runnin’ pretty hard.”

Samantha, indeed, has been runnin’ pretty hard ever since she busted (into or) out of Kansas City’s fabled music venue, Knucklehead’s Saloon. Rumor has it that she started jammin’ there, soon after she picked up the guitar at age 15. She quickly dispelled the myth.

“Well, I probably wasn’t 15 when I started hangin’ out at Knuckleheads. They might not have let me in then. We’re splittin’ hairs here, but it was around a more legalish age.” (It’s interesting to note her speech pattern. Her ideas seem to spew liltingly forward, sometimes followed by a sudden pause, sometimes in the middle of a sentence before resolution. Kinda like the T-Bone Walker hesitation guitar lick.)

“I did pick up the guitar at 15 and sat in with people at jams, trying to put a band together. Knuckleheads eventually played a huge part in that. It was a place where I met a lot of people who were my peers or became my peers. Musicians from all over the world came through there. It was a great training ground and I learned a lot there.”

“Kansas City is almost like an underground musical city as many people consider it one of America’s great musical cities with its long history in Jazz and Blues. Even now, the scene is vibrant with contemporary players, there’s so much goin’ on. I always felt like Kansas City never got its full due despite the fact that Count Basie and Charlie Parker put it on the map.”

Samantha picked up the guitar after her first axe of choice, the drum kit. Early on in her guitar explorations, she was drawn to the electronic gadgetry that many guitarists use to augment their sound.

“Yeah, I started with gadgets. But it felt like I was using them more as a crutch than for actual effects. It was like if I wasn’t gettin’ the sound I wanted from my fingers then I would see the box on the floor and there you have it! So I started strippin’ back. I got some really good advice from some guitar players that I really looked up to and they weren’t using a lot of pedals. The tone was in their hands! I wanted to be able to play like that. I wanted to play clean.”samantha fish photo 2

“It was messy for a while though. I found that once you pull all that stuff back, it lays bare your actual abilities. I was like, ‘Aww $(@#, I gotta lot of work to do.’ But it’s a good thing to strive for and once I felt comfortable enough in that, maybe I’d throw a delay in for an actual delay effect to create different textures and tones. Fun stuff when appropriate. It was always a challenge and I believe it’s good to strip back from time to time, getting into more of a clean sound. It’s always good to check yourself just a little bit. My rig is constantly changing. I think that’s like the curse of guitar players. You know, we’re always acquiring, then gettin’ rid of this and that.”

Seizing the moment to deepen the gear discussion, I asked her if she was playing a Telecaster in the YouTube video of Kingfish Ingram sitting in with her band at the Portland Waterfront Blues Festival in 2016.

“Was it kind of a tan color? That was a Delaney guitar. Mike Delaney is from Austin, Texas. It’s a signature model he built for me. We basically call it a Fishocaster. It’s like a Thinline Telecaster. It’s a killer axe. He built it especially for me and it just screams. When I approached him about a custom guitar, at the time, my favorite kind of guitar was a Thinline Telecaster. Besides the versatility, I loved the F-hole that darkens up the tone so much and makes it not so bright. It makes it sound more rock than country. We picked out certain characteristics of things that I like, but then again, it’s not a copy of the Thinline. The guitar has its own personality tailored to my specifications.”

I then asked Samantha Fish, “How much equipment do you take on the road?”

“Umm, right now, I’ve got about 6 or 7 guitars that I take out on the road with me. I’ve got the Delaney Fishocaster and another Delaney 512, which is kinda like a Gibson 339. It’s a hollow body with a really cool round tone that still rocks. I’ve also got a Fender Jaguar that I love. My main guitar is probably my Gibson SG. Then I’ve got my Taylor KOA cutaway acoustic. And the crazy favorite for most people is my cigar box guitar which I did not get from Super Chikan, though I am a fan of his!”

“For amps on the road, I’m using a boutique company called Category Five Amplification. They’re old school great, kind of point to point wiring and get really true tones. I’m really into tube amps. Usually, when we play in Texas, Don Ritter, from Category Five will come to a show and say, “Oh no. Now you need this.” I’m really stubborn though and hard pressed to change. Something usually has to break for me to change. We’ve really had a good relationship over the years and I really love his amps.”

“In the studio, we set up a few different options. I definitely have Category Five there. There’s a Fender Super Two that we set up. And some cool little Supro’s. Sometimes you get really cool tones out of these little tiny amps with low wattage. Like a one speaker thing. Which did a lot for some of those old classic Rock recordings, like some of the Zeppelin stuff was done on these little Supro’s and it’s like, how can such a mega guitar sound come out of something so tiny, but it’s perfect for the studio. It just has this like, crunch and amazing tone, you know?”

samantha fish photo 3She continued, “I like doing dynamic sets. And there are moments in the show that call for acoustic work. You know the last record we did was all acoustic, (Belle Of The West) so you know, I like taking people through the peaks and the valleys. We actually did 2 records in 2017; that one and Chills & Fever. On Chills & Fever, we went to Detroit and recorded with The Detroit Cobras. They like to Punk up old R&B and Rock & Roll. So it’s like Punk Rock meets R&B meets Blues and Soul.”

“In Belle Of The West, Luther Dickinson produced that and brought in Jimbo Mathus and Lightnin’ Malcolm. We went to the Zebra Ranch Studios in North Mississippi. We brought in a fiddle player named Lillie Mae and a bunch of incredibly powerful women played on it including Otha Turner’s granddaughter, Sharde Thomas. That record was like North Mississippi meets Nashville, I thought. So we had these 2 records come out back to back and I’ve got another one coming out this year, which is pretty exciting too. It’s coming out in September and it’s my first one with Rounder Records. Scott Billington produced it. It’s going to be called Kill Or Be Kind. We went to Memphis to do this one. So it’s soulful, it’s like Rock & Roll, it’s bluesy, and there are some Pop tendencies in there too. Interestingly, even though Memphis and Nashville are pretty close on the map, musically they’re pretty different.”

“I’m really proud of it and excited for it to come out. I had wanted to go back to Royal Studios in Memphis. It’s Willie Mitchell’s old studio where Al Green recorded all his hits. Luther and I had worked there on my 2014 record Wild Heart.”

Next, I ask about her songwriting technique.

“I don’t have a formula other than to try something different if I ever get stuck. I try to keep growing, you know? Songwriting is challenging because there are a million different ways to get stuck. You might get stuck on an idea you think is so great, yet you can’t get it to come to fruition, which is really frustrating. On the latest album, I do a lot of collaborating. I’d never done so much collaborating in such a short span of time. It was like a really fun growing experience. Everybody has a different approach and style of writing. Besides going to Nashville, I went to L.A. and wrote with all these really amazing songwriters. Jim McCormick is a guy I write with fairly often and probably has the most co-writes on the record.”

“There’s a bunch of ways to start. Sometimes I start with a melody and try to write a story behind it. Or you end up with a guitar hook. Then sometimes you end up with pages of lyrics with no melody to go with them and you have to wait forever for the right thing to come through that tells the story. Sometimes it comes together all at once, which is like a freak accident! That’s my favorite. It just falls together and certainly, those are the most natural feeling songs.”

Noting her affinity for the Blues of Northern Mississippi, I brought up members of the Burnside family; R.L. and Cedric. She volunteers her take on Cedric.

“Yes, that guy is the truth. He lives it. That’s his family. There’s something just so true about that. You can tell he grew up being that music. That’s who Cedric is and it’s amazing. I’ve been a fan of his since I met him when I was still in my teens. I was blown away by him. We covered his Grandpa’s song, Poor Black Mattie on the Belle Of The West album.”

I then asked her about one writer’s assertion that Buddy Guy had been skeptical when Samantha was coaxed onstage to jam with him in 2013.

samantha fish photo 4“I do remember that. I was crazy tired that day. We’d driven through the night from Canada on the possibility that it might happen. I don’t think he was skeptical. Honestly, I was too nervous to know what the hell was going on. I did read something about that later. Like, that doesn’t ring true. But maybe it is, I don’t know. That show was on a Sunday night. Buddy Guy’s son, Greg, had come out and seen us the Thursday night before and sat in with us. We’d been playin’ Buddy Guy’s Legends for a few years. I’d opened for him too and saw him at other shows, but I’d never gotten the opportunity to play with him. And I didn’t think it was gonna happen. We showed up at his show on Sunday night.”

“We had driven 13 hours straight from Thunder Bay, Ontario. When we got to the show, of course, I’m not the kind of person who wants to ask. I was just gonna feel it out. If it wasn’t meant to be, it wasn’t meant to be. If it was, then great. It was starting to feel like it wasn’t meant to be. I was like, Okay, that’s fine. I was enjoyin’ the show. But then Jonny Lang was onstage and he made a big speech about how Buddy has always encouraged and inspired him and how great he is with young people, giving them opportunities to play. Then I see this look on Buddy Guy’s face that’s like, What’s this girls name? I’ll put her on! I was like, Thank you, Jonny Lang, you did something that changed the mood of the show.”

“That’s when Buddy called me up. I was so nervous. I don’t remember the look on his face at that point. It was really cool and I’ve been answering a lot of questions about it ever since. My recollection of it is terrible, cuz I was so damn nervous. I do remember him saying, “When shit like that happens, I can play all night.” It was a lot of fun. On top of being a legend and inspired figure, he’s really a nice person.”

Surprisingly, as good a lead player she is, Samantha considers playing rhythm guitar a real challenge.

“I’ve actually sat down with a lot of old tracks trying to figure out the rhythm parts which are sometimes hard for me. Rhythm guitar has always been frustrating to me as a singer and player. I moved to New Orleans which is a city full of rhythm guitar. There’s a certain style of singing and playing that go together that really defines it. You’ve got to really feel it. Playing lead is one thing but there’s a rhythmic pocket thing that’s pretty challenging.”

My final question to this issue’s featured artist is who has she been listening to lately in her personal free time?

“Well, this mornin’, I was kinda dialin’ back to some Delta stuff that I hadn’t listened to in a while. Some Charlie Patton and Skip James. I also listened to Elton John, Ray Charles, and Stevie Wonder this morning. I’ve got to get back into some guitar players though, cuz I get kind of away from it.”

So there you have it, Blues people. By the time you read this, Samantha Fish will be unchilled and back on the road. She’s workin’ the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival on 7/5/19. Other selected dates in July include gigs in Wisconsin, Ontario, New York, Massachusets, Quebec, New Hampshire, Arkansas, and Pennsylvania. For specifics,

CyberSoulMan Tee Watts is the former music director at KPFZ 88.1 fm in Lakeport, California. He is currently co-writing the memoirs of Lester Chambers of the Chambers Brothers.

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The Contemporary Art Center – Peoria, IL

The Contemporary Art Center at 305 SW Water St., Peoria, Illinois, presents the 5th Annual Harmonica Invitational Friday, June 28th at 5:30PM for a special 3-hour Live at the Five Spot event featuring harmonica by Tony Holiday, Rockin’ Billy and Brian Stear.

Tony’s latest album release, Tony Holiday’s Porch Sessions is nominated for Best Live Blues Recording in the 12th Blues Blast Music Awards. Tony is recognized by legends like Charlie Musselwhite and Rick Estrin as one of the finest harp players right now.

Also featuring two of Central Illinois greatest harmonica players, Rockin Billy and Brian Stear. They will be backed up by the blues/rock band JuJu Jonny. William Gress, aka Rockin’ Billy, has been performing for audiences with his band Rockin’ Billy & the Rhythm Riot for many years. Brian Stear has a style that’s uniquely his own! Brian brings his “musical mojo” to the microphone as a performer who has played in Grammy artist Koko Taylor’s band, the Blues Machines and with many local favorites.

Admission $12-nonmember, $ or 309-674-6822

Crossroads Blues Society – Rockford, IL

Crossroads Blues Society summer schedule. Shows at the Burpee Museum in Rockford Free 5:30-8:30 PM, VIP Seating and Parking $15. June 26th: Steepwater Band & Wheatbread Johnson Blues School 4:30 PM, July 3rd: Grand Groove Hotel& Joe Filisko Harmonica Workshop 4:30 PM, July 10th: Ivy Ford Band, July 17th: Kevin “B.F” Burt & Wheatbread Johnson 4:30 PM, July 24th: Ghost Town Blues Band, July 31st: Dave Keller Trio & Wheatbread Johnson 4:30 PM

Shows at the Hope and Anchor in Loves Park $5 cover, 8 to 11:30 PM. 7/13/19 Ivy Ford Band. Shows at the Lyran Society in Rockford to 10 pm no cover! – 6/21/19 Steve Ditzell, 7/19/19 Wheatbread Johnson, 8/16/19 Brother Dave Kaye

Crossroads Blues Festival is Saturday, August 24th at Lyran Park, Rockford – Blues Disciples, Chris O’Leary Band, Westside Andy with Reverend Raven and the Chain Smoking Altar Boys, 6 PM: Nick Moss Band with Dennis Gruenling, John Primer, Joe Filisko harp workshop, Wheatbread Johnson, Justin “Boots” Gates and our own Rick Hein and Bill Graw!

Topeka Blues Society – Topeka, KS

The Topeka Blues Society is ecstatic to present Walter Trout as the headliner for our free Tenth Annual Spirit of Kansas Blues Festival on July 4, 2019, at beautiful Lake Shawnee just southeast of Topeka, Kansas. We are thrilled that Amanda Fish, 2019 Blues Music Award Winner for Best Emerging Artist Album; Ms. Hy-C & Fresh Start who won the 2019 International Blues Challenge; and the Dust Devil Choir, our representative at IBC this year, are also in the line-up.

The fun starts about 11:00 am and ends with a bang thanks to the Capitol Federal fireworks show at 10:00 pm. Bring your lawn chairs, stocked coolers, and shade tents, but no grills permitted in festival area. We’ll have food trucks and vendors onsite. To see the schedule and more information, please check our website and like us on FaceBook. We look forward to meeting you!

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.  July 1 – Rooster Alley, July 8 – Skyla Burrell Band, July 15 – John Clifton, July 22 – Scott Ellison Band, July 29 – Murali Coryell, Aug 5 – Polly O’Keary and the Rhythm Method, Aug 12 – Laurie Morvan Band, Aug 19 – Jonny T-Bird & the MP’s, Aug 26 – Chris O’Leary Band.

Grand County Blues Society – Winter Park, CO

Grand County Blues Society presents the 17th Annual Blues from the Top Music Festival, at Hideaway Park in downtown Winter Park (78821 US Hwy 40, Winter Park, CO) Saturday, June 29 and Sunday, June 30. Gates open at 10am each day. This year’s 2-day lineup features Lucinda Williams, The Allman Betts Band, Robert Randolph & The Family Band, Samantha Fish Band, Danielle Nicole Band, Selwyn Birchwood, Tinsley Ellis, John Nemeth & The Blue Dreamers, Jimmy Vivino + The Kate Moss 3, and a major artist to be announced in early June. Tickets/Info:

Friends of the Blues – Kankakee, IL

Shows start at 7 pm, and are open to the public. Food and Beverages available at all Friends of the Blues shows. July 16 – John Clifton Band – Manteno Sportsmen’s Club, July 30 – Frank Bang – Bradley Bourbonnais Sportsmen’s Club, August 3 – The Nouveaux Honkies – Inside Out – Gilman IL, August 15 – Albert Castiglia – The Longbranch – L’Erable IL, November 6 – Mike Morgan & The Crawl – Kankakee Valley Boat Club. More Info at:

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