Issue 13-27 July 4, 2019

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Cover photo © 2019 Joseph A. Rosen


 In This Issue 

Marty Gunther has our feature interview with Lucky Peterson. We have 10 Blues reviews for you this week including new music from Magic Slim & The Teardrops, Michael Mills, AWEK, Meg Williams, Shane Dwight, John Clifton, Katie Henry, Atomic Road Kings, Laurie Jane & The 45s and Glen Clark.

We have Tab Benoit and Anthony Gomes in our featured videos this week plus the latest in Blues society news. All this and MORE!


 From The Editor’s Desk 


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Hey Blues Fans,

Voting for the 12th Blues Blast Music Awards began last Monday and continues until August 16 at www.bluesblastmagazine.com.

Tickets for the Blues Blast Music Awards show on September 13, 2019 in Rockford, Illinois went on sale on Monday too with a special early bird reduced price of $30 until July 15th. After that the presale price is $35 and $40 at the door so save money by getting your tickets NOW by clicking HERE!

Blues Blast is headed to East Moline, IL tomorrow for the 34th annual Mississippi Valley Blues Festival. 2 Days, 2 Stages & 15 Bands featuring Avey/Grouws Band, Hal Reed & Mississippi Journey, Heather Gillis, Blues Rock-It; Ronnie Baker Brooks and Samantha Fish on Friday. On Saturday they feature Grand Avenue Ruckus, Robert Kimbrough Sr., Lizzie Neal, Nic Clark, Joe Marcinek, Ellis Kell Winter Blues All-Stars, David Berntson, Victor Wainwright, Tab Benoit and North Mississippi All-Stars. Tickets and information are at http://mvbs.org/blues-fest.php.

Look for the Blues Blast Shirts and be sure to say hello! See you there!

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser


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 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
info@bluesblastmagazine.com 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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 Blues Wanderings 

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Made it to the 11th Annual Harmonica Invitational at the Contemporary Arts Center in Peoria, IL to see old and new friends. The show included Tony Holiday, Rockin’ Billy Gress and Brian, all featured on harmonica backed up by the Peoria band Ju Ju Johnny. Ju Ju Johnny is Elliott Parker (drums/vocals), Dan Carroll (bass/vocals) and Tony Suits (guitar/vocals). They had Rusty Hall on keyboards for the show. I go way back with Brian, Elliott and known Rusty And Rickin’ Billy for decades so it was very nice catching up. It was my first time meeting Tony Holiday. Tony is nominated for a Blues Blast Music Award Great. What a great evening!


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 Featured Video #1 – Tab Benoit 

This featured video is Tab Benoit blusin’ up a version of the Steven Stills song “For What It’s Worth” at the Funky Biscuit in Florida on January 31, 2019.

Tab Benoit is performing at the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival on Saturday, July 6th, 2019. For tickets and info on this Blues event visit http://mvbluesfest.eventbrite.com/ or click on their ad in this issue!


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 Featured Interview – Lucky Peterson 

lucky peterson photo 1Wait a minute! That can’t possibly be true! Lucky Peterson is still a relatively young at age 55. How in the world could he be celebrating his 50th anniversary as a professional musician?

As strange as that might seem, however, it’s a fact!

Born Judge Kenneth Peterson on Dec. 13, 1964, in Buffalo, N.Y., and the fourth member of his family with Judge as a given name, Lucky was making final preparations before leaving for Brazil to kick off a world tour to celebrate his milestone as a blues Golden Ager can when Blues Blast caught up with him.

One of four children born to guitarist and bar owner James Peterson, Lucky’s been blue from birth.

Deeply influenced by Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, B.B. King and Jimmy Reed, James Peterson was a juke joint owner’s son and grew up singing gospel in rural Alabama. A talented musician in his own right, he taught himself how to play the six-string after leaving home for Gary, Ind., at age 14.

Possessing a gritty singing voice that reminded some folks of Wolf and others Freddie King, James relocated to western New York in 1955, working at Allied Chemical before running a used car lot by day and Governor’s Inn — a nightclub with the feel of a Southern juke – at night, opening it a few months after Lucky was born.

Peterson fronted Jesse James And The Outlaws and brought world-class talent into the club, which quickly became the go-to place for blues royalty from Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland to play in route to bigger shows along the East Coast.

Like his name implies, Lucky’s lived an unbelievably fortunate life since childhood. He was three years old and riding in his grandmother’s lap when the car they were riding in was rear-ended, sending him flying and landing without a scratch. He’s been Lucky ever since.

As a toddler, the future multi-instrumentalist was initially fascinated by the drums and the loud sounds they produced. He picked up a pair of sticks some time that same year and began mimicking the pros he’d seen working their magic on stage as he beat out a rhythm on the bar’s house kit, and he quickly became a novelty sitting in with the Outlaws and his dad during their sets.

As the thrill faded, Lucky picked up the bass for a while. But that only lasted a short time before he became bored. The ah-hah moment in his life came at age five when James booked organist Bill Doggett for a gig.

One of the most important organ players ever, Doggett was a Philadelphia native whose trademark instrumental, “Honky Tonk,” hit the top of Billboard’s 1956 R&B charts. Even more impressive, it spent two weeks in the No. 2 position in the broader Hot 100 listings.

“My dad said I always liked big stuff,” Lucky recalls today. “Big things always fascinated me. When I saw that organ, I just went crazy. I would just sit there in front of it and see what it was. I guess I did fall in love with the organ then.”

Later that night, as his parents slept, he crept downstairs to the bar to get a closer look – tripping the burglar alarm in the process and waking up the whole house.

James Peterson rushed to the showroom to discover his son seated at the piano bench and staring at the huge instrument in front of him.

Instead of getting angry, however, James immediately threw the switch to power up the B-3 and taught Lucky how to play the 1-4-5 blues progression by using a cigarette – the butt for the one, the white portion for the four – a piece of electrical tape to mark the five.

“It was a clever way of doin’ it,” Lucky says, “and it worked!”

lucky peterson photo 2A quick study, he only had to be shown one time before picking up the progressions naturally and altering them into a way they immediately made musical sense.

It was a jaw-dropping moment.

James instantaneously recognized Lucky’s talent, and – with Doggett leaving town the next morning — he recruited the best man he could think of to teach his son the ropes. It was Buffalo-area native Dr. Lonnie Smith.

Then only in his early 20s and a resident of Miami for decades, Smith frequently played at Governor’s Inn before becoming jazz superstar who worked extensively with Grover Washington Jr., Lou Donaldson and George Benson before launching a solo career in which the Jazz Journalist Association has honored him nine times as its organ keyboardist of the year.

“My father told him: ‘I think my son can play the organ,’” Lucky recalls, “and he went: ‘Yeah, right! Let me see…Show me!’

“I sat down and did somethin’ that caught his attention, and he said: ‘Yeah. Let me teach him’ — and it went from there.”

Peterson remains grateful.

“I thank my father, I thank God and I thank Dr. Lonnie Smith for bein’ there,” he says, “and doin’ what he did to get me started.”

When Lucky played behind Lightnin’ Hopkins and Jimmy Reed, they though the organ was rigged. Other blues legends – including Buddy Guy and Junior Wells, Muddy Waters and Koko Taylor – appeared regularly at the Inn. But when Willie Dixon came in to gig, Lucky’s life changed forever.

A giant of a man both physically and musically as a bass player, songwriter and the man who coordinated many of the most important sessions for Chess Records in the golden age of Chicago blues in the 1950s. Dixon immediately recognized Lucky’s unique star potential.

After discussions with James, he brought the boy to Paragon Recording Studio in the Windy City, where they recorded Our Future: 5 Year Old Lucky Peterson, an album released on both sides of the Atlantic on the Today/Perception label.

Written by his father and based on the James Brown number, “Please Please Please,” the “1, 2, 3, 4” was released as a single backed by Dixon’s “Good Old Candy.” It became a hit. The joke at the time was that Lucky had to stop at four because he couldn’t count to five.

Almost immediately, Lucky was making appearances on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, Ed Sullivan and Soul Train as well as Sesame Street and the TV game show What’s My Line?

Lucky quickly became the regular keyboard player in his father’s band. Three years later, they returned to Today/Perception to record The Father, The Son, The Blues. It was James’ first appearance on vinyl in a career that included releases on Ichiban, Waldoxy/Malaco and King Snake before his death at age 63 following a heart attack in 2010.

Young Peterson started playing guitar at age eight or nine, once again showing early that he had prodigious skills. But he was on stage one night when James snatched the instrument from his hands. He was so upset about the way Lucky was playing, he told him never to pick up a guitar again.

Fortunately for blues lovers, however, Lucky didn’t listen. He began practicing his chops when his father was out of the house by playing B.B. King and Little Milton records, slowing down the 45s to 331/3 to learn the guitar parts note-for-note. He picked up French horn when attending Buffalo Academy For Visual And Performing Arts, played in the school symphony and sang in the choir – but never learned how to read music, doing everything by ear.

lucky peterson photo 3The Peterson family lived in transition for several years after James finally tired of the brutal Buffalo winters, moving first to St. Petersburg, Fla., in 1975, where James opened Club 31, then back to New York three years later, where he relaunched Governor’s Inn. The family finally settled in Tampa in the early ‘80s, where James operated the After Dark Club.

That’s where Lucky was living when Little Milton hired him as his keyboard player. He was fresh out of school and only 17 years old, but it didn’t take long for him to make his mark. Within seven months, young Peterson was promoted to bandleader and opening shows with 45-minute sets of his own.

“Little Milton was like a father to me,” Lucky recalls. “Little Milton and my father were like really good friends. When he passed through Buffalo, he played the club. I met him back then, but really didn’t meet him until we moved to Florida.

“He was supposed to play a couple of nights – one in Orlando and another in Tampa. But his band got stuck in Memphis in a snowstorm. So Milton called my father and said: ‘Didn’t you tell me your son could play?’”

Lucky imitated Milton’s voice as he spoke, and did the same when he delivered James’ gravelly response: “Yeah, my son’s bad. He’s a bad muthafuckah!’

“’But can he play the blues?’

“’Where do ya think he come from?’ my father asked. ‘Who do you think he learned from?’

“We went and did the first job in Orlando,” Lucky says, “and he was impressed. That was Friday. On Saturday, the band showed up in Tampa – with everybody but the keyboard player. He said: ‘I need a keyboard player. Do you wanna do it again?’

“I said: ‘No problem. Let’s do it! How much money am I gettin’?’

“He told me: ‘A hundred and 40 dollars’ or somethin’. I said: ‘Yeah! Let’s do that!’ — that was BIG money for me. I played, and I got a standin’ ovation. After I finished, he axed me: ‘Do you wanna go on the road?’”

Lucky accepted, but before Milton left, he insisted on talking to Peterson’s parents.

“My mama was very happy,” Lucky says, “because I was startin’ to get into trouble, hangin’ out with the wrong crowd. And my daddy, he got pissed. He said (to me): ‘Na-a-ah. You watch Little Milton ‘cause he’s rotten as hell.’

“He called Milton, they argued – and then they ate fish together and drank Hennessy.”

And James eventually gave his blessing.

Today, Peterson credits Milton with schooling him in guitar off stage as well as teaching him how to run a band from the inside out. It didn’t take long for him to realize that his boss ran an extremely tight ship, controlling every detail of his band’s time with him – everything from their appearance and conduct to much, much more.

He was such a control freak, Lucky says, that, behind his back, he and his bandmates called him “the Hitler of the blues.”

But there was a lot of levity, too – especially when it came to the way Milton dressed.

“We used to talk about his shoes,” Lucky says. “Whatever shoes he had on, his suit always was the same color. Then he dressed us all up in those big tuxedos and big bowties. I thought I was clean.

“He had glass heels, too. We used to tell him: ‘Why don’t you click your heels and go back to Kansas?’ We used to always pull jokes on each other, and we always used to mess with him.”

Peterson spent the better part of the next six years in Milton’s employ. They parted ways after robbers broke into the band’s van and stole their equipment – Lucky’s organ included. Peterson needed a replacement, and Milton refused to buy something of equal quality, opting instead for a much less expensive instrument.

“He was cheap, too, besides everything else,” Peterson says. “He could have bought me any kind of keyboard, but he didn’t.”

Sensing a revolution, Milton quickly called a band meeting.

lucky peterson photo 4“I wouldn’t go,” Lucky remembers. “I told him: ‘Man, I’d rather be up in the trees with the monkeys eatin’ peanuts than to be at one of your meetin’s.’

“So I left.”

Decades later, however, Peterson doesn’t hesitate when he says that, if he could go back and work with anyone again, it would be Little Milton because of the way he ran the show.

“But he was fun,” Peterson insists, “very fun! I miss that.”

Lucky soon joined Bobby “Blue” Bland as a featured soloist after learning about the opening from Eugene Carrier, B.B. King’s longtime keyboard player. He and Bland had a relationship that survived for five years – an amazing lengthy of time considering the rocky way it started.

“When I got to Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland, I lied,” Peterson says. “When I was auditioning, it was me, Albert King’s keyboard player and Al Green’s keyboard player.”

The competition was conducted using Lucky’s organ.

“They asked: ‘Who’s first?’ and both of the other guys pointed at me,” Peterson says. “I said to myself: ‘Ma-a-an, you’re really fuckin’ up ‘cause y’all won’t get a chance to play.’

“When I got up there, I had on a Little Milton jacket, and Bobby Bland say: ‘Son, that’s the wrong jacket you got on.’ I said: ‘The jacket ain’t for playin’ the keyboard. It ain’t the jacket you’re hirin’.’

“Then I said: ‘Y’all know my daddy!’

“’Who’s your daddy?’

“’My daddy’s name Oscar,’” Lucky fibbed, calling out the name of the Canadian-born jazz pianist Duke Ellington tabbed as “The Maharajah Of The Keyboard.”

As soon as Peterson spoke the words, the attitude changed dramatically with a feeling of excitement filling the room. “What do you wanna play first?” they asked.

“Give me a jazz swing,” Lucky answered.

“Key of F,” came the reply.

“’Gimme another key – anything you want to do,’ I told ‘em. When they kicked it off, I was in the same key they was in,” Peterson remembers. “I had perfect pitch, so I didn’t have a problem knowin’ where they were.

“When I started playin’, I was lookin’ at the other two keyboard players, and they was lookin’ at each other like: ‘Ma-a-an, this is some b.s.!’

lucky peterson photo 5“When I finished, they told me I got the job. They didn’t want to even hear the other keyboard players. Me and Albert King’s keyboard player, we became real good friends. But the keyboard player from Al Green was kinda pissed!

“He was a dog breeder – Dobermans. He was like: ‘Hey, man, I’ll drop you off at the hotel.’ I’m like: ‘Okay.’

“‘Do you smoke weed?’ I said: ‘Yeah.’ So we done smoked a joint. I got in the car, and he said: ‘C’mon over to the house.’

“I get in there and he’s got a house full of Dobermans, and the first thing he says was: ‘Don’t make no sudden moves.’ I was in there about 30 minutes with the mama and daddy and all those Dobermans.

“Aww hell!

“I was still. I did not blink an eye.”

Peterson didn’t reveal the truth about his identity until Bland’s Memphis-based band arrived in Philadelphia for their first gig.

“In the dressing room,” he remembers, “I told ‘em: ‘Hey, y’all, I got a confession to make: My daddy’s name’s James. My daddy’s not Oscar Peterson. It’s James Peterson.’

“They busted out laughin’, sayin’: ‘Man, you’re a good liar!’”

The night didn’t end well, however. Bland had a standing rule that he had to be paid all of his money up front. He cancelled the show at the last minute after the promoter failed to live up to his end of the deal, a move that left a bad taste in the band’s mouth because no one was getting paid.

The hard feelings spread quickly.

“The band quit,” Lucky recalls. “They all looked at me and said: ‘Whatcha all gonna do? Are you with the band or are you not?’

“’Ma-a-an, shit!’ I said. ‘I guess I’m with the band.’

“Everybody quit Bobby Bland on the way home to Memphis. We all went to Dallas, Texas, and formed the group called Out Of Control.

“We were very out of control.

“We all went back to Bland, though. We stayed off for a good month, and we all got broke real fast. I was already broke,” he laughs. “Everybody came back, and we had no more problems.”

Peterson has called the Lone Star State home since first moving to the Big D in 1988. He’s worked with a virtual who’s who of recording artists since then – including Etta James, Big Daddy Kinsey, Raful Neal, Junior Wells, Joe Louis Walker, Jimmy Johnson, Carey Bell and John Lee Hooker. He’s been fronting his own bands since the early ‘90s, releasing in excess of 30 albums in the process.

His first release as an adult was Ridin’. Issued on the French imprint Isabel in 1984, it featured contributions from two other rising talents from Chicago: guitarist Melvin Taylor and “Killer” Ray Allison, for years the percussionist behind Buddy Guy and Junior Wells before stepping out in front of the kit to become a bandleader as a guitarist and vocalist.

When Lucky finally left Bland, he wanted to launch a career as a Top 40 artist — a decision he arrived at after working on Kenny Neal’s first recording on King Snake Records, a label operated by Bob Greenlee out of Sanford, Fla., where Kenny, his father Raful – the undisputed Sonny Boy Williamson of Louisiana blues – and their extended family were living after relocating from Baton Rouge.

One of the most important independent labels at the time, King Snake released the disc as Bio On The Bayou. It became Neal’s breakout when Alligator picked it up and subsequently retitled it as Big News From Baton Rouge.

“I hooked up with Bob through Kenny,” Lucky says. “The record I wanted to do wasn’t a blues record. It was R&B. Bob said: ‘Yeah, that sounds good… But do me a favor: Let’s do some blues in there.’ King Snake Records was a great label.”

One of the most important independents in the era, its roster included established stars and rising stars-to-be, including Rev. Billy C. Wirtz, Noble “Thin Man” Watts, Sonny Rhodes, Roy Roberts, Eric Culberson, Bill Wharton, Jumpin’ Johnny Sansone, Lazy Lester and both Kenny and Raful Neal.

Greenlee eventually recorded two albums for Peterson — Lucky Strikes! and Triple Play, both of which were released by Alligator, the start of a career that’s included five albums of his own and another with Mavis Staples dedicated to the memory of gospel legend Mahalia Jackson on Gitanes/Verve and other works on Blue Thumb, Dreyfus, Green Swamp, Blues Boulevard, Emarcy/Universal, Blackbird and Jazz Village as well as an extended run on Britain’s JSP imprint.

Lucky and wife Tamara, an artist in her own right, have shared credit on three discs and she regularly tours the world with him. After early recordings with him as Peterson, she’s built a career in Southern soul/R&B under the name Tamara Tramell, her middle name.

Peterson’s band, The Organization, has been together for most of the 2010s and includes Shawn Kellerman on guitar, Tim Waites on bass, Raul Valdez on bass and Rachid Guissous on keys. 2018 was a whirlwind year for them with their “The Blues Are Back” tour, hitting major festivals across the U.S. then France, Germany, Bosnia And Herzegovina and in addition to crisscrossing North America.

The balance of 2019 should be just as busy as Lucky spreads the joy of having spent – and survived — 50 years in the blues. Currently in South America, but spending the next two months in Europe, he’ll be returning to the States about the same time his new, special anniversary album hits store shelves in September.

Like most of the discs Peterson’s issued in the past couple of decades, it’s produced by Steve Washington, He’s the son of legendary songwriter Ferdinand “Fats” Washington – author of Johnny Ace’s “Pledging My Love,” The Flamingos’ “I’ll Be Home” and Lowell Fulson’s “Strange Feeling.” Best man at Lucky and Tamara’s wedding, he’s been working with Peterson since his first JSP release.

“I ain’t done yet,” Lucky insists. “It’s truly gonna be a 50th anniversary record because I’m coverin’ a lot of stuff. I’m doin’ a tribute to the Kings – an Albert King song, a Freddie King song and a B.B. King song. I’m goin’ from the rootie to the tootie! I’m doin’ some rap, some blues, some R&B — but everything I’m doin’ has got the touch of blues. I went downhome, too, with some nice rock-‘n’-roll.”

After five decades, Lucky wants everyone to know: “You better come out and see me – I’m alive and I ain’t done yet!”

Check out his music and find out where he’s appearing next by visiting his website: www.luckypeterson.com.

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 Blues Review – 1 of 10 

magic slim cd imageMagic Slim & The Teardrops – I’m Gonna Play The Blues

Wolf Records – 2019

14 tracks; 79 minutes

Wolf Records clearly thought that they had exhausted the supply of Magic Slim & The Teardrops material with their release of Pure Magic in 2014 but then the recordings of this live concert from 2010 in Vienna surfaced. Wolf clearly had to issue it, having done such a good job with Slim’s late period catalogue, and have been deservedly rewarded with two Blues Blast Award nominations this year (Live Album/Historical Album). The band is Magic Slim on guitar and vocals, Jon McDonald on guitar and vocals, Andre Howard on bass and Brian ‘BJ’ Jones on drums, plus a bonus track left over from a 1991 studio session with the original Teardrops: Slim and John Primer on guitars, Nick Holt on bass and Jerry Porter on drums.

The concert material is typical of the period for the band, a couple of Slim’s originals, one from his late brother Nick and a range of tunes from the repertoires of other blues greats.

The band opens as a trio with Jon singing Junior Wells’ “Come On In This House”. It’s a solid start but things really warm up when the two guitars get together on the rest of the program, starting with the classic Slim boogie of the title track, his guitar ringing out over the groove of the rhythm section and Jon’s intense rhythm work, followed by the slow blues of “Please Don’t Dog Me”, and that’s it for Slim’s originals here. However, there is plenty more great music on offer, starting with the first of two visits to the Little Milton songbook, “4.59 A.M.” for which the band adopts a funkier approach, Slim’s slightly cracked vocals fitting perfectly the traditional blues tale of the woman who has still not come home; later on in the show the band plays a chugging version of “That Will Never Do”.

Slim was obviously in a mood to play some classic blues by other artists and Tampa Red’s “It Hurts Me Too” is an opportunity to lay back on an easy tempo before the band revs up again on Jimmy McCracklin’s “Think”, prefaced by some fiery guitar from Slim. Another slower tune is Guitar Slim’s “The Things We Used To Do” with some lovely interplay between the guitarists. Jimmy Dawkins and Jerry McCain also feature with versions of “Love Somebody” and “She’s Tough” respectively and Nick Holt’s “Playing With My Mind” bounces along, the shortest cut here at just 3.07. Possibly saving the very best till last the band closes with an absolutely thunderous version of Eddie Taylor’s “Bad Boy” (about to become the title track of Slim’s last album for Blind Pig before his death in 2013) and an encore of Lil’ Ed’s “Older Woman” which Slim sings with obvious relish!

The bonus track “Rough Dried Woman” is a fine upbeat stomper with a younger Slim in fine voice as he and John Primer exchange riffs, a good track that makes you wonder why it had remained unissued all these years. Still, good to hear it now as an addendum to a fine album that will delight all Magic Slim 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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 2019 Chicago Blues Fest – Part I 

The Chicago Blues Fest is a major event. Lorena Jastreb came all the way from Córdoba, Argentina to help us cover all 5 stages of music over the weekend. We split up to cover all the action. I headed over to the Crossroads Stage to catch Joanna Connor. She was sounding and looking great, now THAT is the way to start off a blues fest!

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Next up was Benny Turner. Benny is nominated in this year’s Blues Blast Awards and he was in fine form for this show! Kate Moss was holding down the lead guitar spot for this set. What a treat

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While we were at the Crossroads Stage Lorena was covering the performances at the Visit Mississippi Stage for us and she first caught The Jimmy Burns Band.

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Jimmy was followed by a set from Keith Johnson & The Big Muddy Blues Band.

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Back on the Crossroads Stage Detroit Blues woman Thornetta Davis was tearing it up and classing it up!

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After Thornetta finished Guy King hit the stage for a great set. He was joined by the great Chris Cain. That is a great combo

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Back on the Mississippi Stage Karen Wolfe was killin’ it and the crowd loved it.

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Karen was followed by none other than Grady Champion. The amazing Steve Bell was sitting in on harp to for an extra treat!

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Lorena also covered the new Park Grill Stage where she caught Gerry Hundt’s One Man Band..

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He was followed by Eric Noden.

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The final act on Friday’s Park Grill Stage was Jimmy Nick & Don’t Tell Mama.

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So for the first afternoon that was a lot of Blues! But we were just getting warmed up. We headed over to Jay Pritzker Pavilion for the evenings main acts starting off with a set by Charlie Musselwhite with special guest Billy Boy Arnold. That is some serious harmonica folks!

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Next up was a young man you may have heard of, Jimmy Johnson. Jimmy is 90 years young as he is apt to tell you! He still has passion and fire, both his guitar playing and singing sounding like a much younger man in his prime. Amazing! That is why Blues Blast Magazine gave him the Lifetime Achievement Award last year. Go see this man if you want to see what REAL blues is!

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It is hard to think of following someone as talented as Jimmy Johnson but the evening’s headliner was up to the challenge. Bobby Rush hit the stage like a cannon ball!

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Much like Jimmy Johnson, Bobby sings and performs like a man much younger that his 85 years and he put on a great show to close out the night.

We walked the 3 blocks to our hotel eager to come back tomorrow for another great day of Blues in the Blues capitol of the world. Part II of the Chicago Blues Fest photos coming next week!

Commentary by Bob Kieser. Photos by Lorena Jastreb & Bob Kieser as marked.


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 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 10 

michael mills band album imageMichael Mills – Dream A Dream

Self Released

www.michaelmillsband.com

5 tracks/19 minutes

The Michael Mills Band hails from Huntington Beach, California and has a big, rocking blues sound. Fronted by Mills on vocals and guitar, the band is Jesse Godny on guitar, Anthony Hass on bass, David Warrick Jones on keys and Frank Cotinola. Featuring a stinging and vibrant guitar sound and strident vocals, they appear to be a fine band who I am pleased to have become acquainted with this CD.

The album opens with “My New Woman,” a blazingly hot blues rock number with nice vocals and some big guitar solo work. The vocals are well done and a group of backing vocalists do some harmonies and a little call and response. “Baby I’m Your Man” is a blues rock ballad that contrasts the quick tempo-ed opener. Mills does not lay off the guitar and offers us another vibrant solo to enjoy. He sings with passion here and the backing vocalists again help out.

The title track picks the beat up a notch as Mills remains forthright on vocals. Another short solo of guitar features some pedal work to make it interesting and he closes with a bit more of it. “Trying’To Forget You Baby” goes more to the slow blues side of things with a soulful guitar and vocals. Mills offers up some mournful sounds with his singing and the guitar matches them nicely. Moe stratospheric soloing on the guitar here, too. “Fade Away” has an added and uncredited horn section and is a slower piece with a nice bluesy feel. we get a sweet tenor sax solo and the horns with the guitars are arranged and blend well. All in all a nice set of original tunes! Mills has a powerful voice and matches it with a big and vibrant sound on his and the other guitar.

I enjoyed Michael Mills and his band’s first release. They remind me a bit of an edgier and bluesier Loggins and Messina at times. It certainly is more rock than blues in a few of the numbers, but it’s well done and I enjoyed it. This CD is well worth a spin and a visit to their show if they come your way!

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


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 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 10 

awek album imageAWEK – Let’s Party Down

www.awekblues.com

self release

14 songs time-58:38

Twenty five years into a solid European blues career and I’m just hearing about this magnificent French blues band. With just guitar, bass, drums and harmonica they create a full sound as you hear on the bonus live CD. Of course on the studio CD the sound is fleshed out by various friends on keyboards, guitar and sax. Norwegian blues wunderkind Kid Andersen assisted with production at his Greaseland Studio in San Jose, California. If I didn’t tell you they were from France you could never guess in a million years. They have the foundation of the blues formula down, while breathing fresh life into it. Bernard Sellam is in possession of a gruff enough blues voice to go along with his imaginative skills on guitar. Stephane Bertolino’s in your face harmonica playing is at no loss at delivering a slew of inventive runs. AWEK’s rhythm section of Joel Ferron on bass and Olivier Trebel on drums is up on the task and following the guys at every turn. On originals or covers everything is first rate.

Burns contributes organ to the funky beat of “Every Time”. Solid song writing and musicianship are intact here and throughout the recording. Every song is chock full of great guitar and harmonica riffing. Bob Welsh adds his slide guitar to the deep blues sound of “Snake Boy”. Bernard goes the rock and roll guitar route on “Can’t Stop Thinking” and “Oh Cherie” as he channels Chuck Berry style riffs. Drew Davies plays sax on the former. Kid Andersen Plays organ on the boisterous jump blues of the title track. Stephane let’s his harmonica go wonderfully wild here. Guest Rusty Zinn handles guitar and vocals on an energetic take on B.B. King’s “Early Every Morning”. Bob Welsh adds his boogie woogie piano into the mix. They offer up a strong version of Jr. Wells’ “Come On In This House”.

The CD closes out with the slow blues of “Here I Am Again” and the chugging “I’ve Been Waiting”. The guitar and harmonica playing are just as fresh from CD’s beginning to end.

If this isn’t enough we also received a bonus CD of live performances from 1999 to 2017 with this album. Left to just the four piece band they maintain a full sound. It’s a mix of Chicago blues, jump blues with one instrumental thrown in. The final song is the only studio track and it’s from their initial studio recording from 1995. It is Hank Williams’ “Honky Tonk Blues”. It’s pretty straight country. Go figure.

There is way more enough great blues music here to please somebody with a passing interest in the blues. True blues lovers will be in blues heaven.

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


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 Featured Video #2 – Anthony Gomes 

This featured video is Anthony Gomes performing “The Whiskey Made Me Do It” at Don Odells Legends.

Anthony Gomes is Performing at the Prairie Dog Blues Festival on Saturday, July 27th, 2019. For tickets and info on this Blues event visit www.prairiedogblues.com or click on their ad in this issue!

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 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 10 

meg williams cd imageMeg Williams – Take Me As I Am – The Muscle Shoals Sessions

NOLA Blues Records – 2019

12 tracks; 46 minutes

www.megwilliamsmusic.com

Nashville-based singer/songwriter Meg Williams made a good impression with her 2017 EP Maybe Someday and now follows that up with a full-length album recorded at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Meg wrote all the songs, with assistance on four from Chase Walker, Terry Goose Downing, Scott Barrier, Jenny Teator and Claire Kelly; two songs from the 2017 EP (“I Feel A Heartache Coming On” and “Little Bit Of The Devil”) have been re-recorded here. Meg is on vocals/guitar, Dan Wecht guitar/slide guitar (with Will McFarlane also on three tracks), Bob Wray bass, Justin Holder drums, Clayton Ivey organ (replaced on one track by Brad Kuhn) and Sara Rogers backing vocals.

Meg can put on a ‘little girl’ tone to her vocals, allowing her to sound teasing at times, as on mid-paced chugger “Played By The Blues”, or seductive, as on “Make A Move”, where her femme fatale persona comes across well. However, she is equally at home on a full-on soul piece like “I Feel A Heartache Coming On” a strong cut with swirling organ, choral vocals and plenty of dramatic guitar riffs. Indeed, there is a lot of guitar on the album, both with and without slide, for which credit goes to both Meg and Dan. “Sometimes I Need You Too” builds from an opening ballad section to a coda that brings the Allman Brothers to mind with Dan’s sweeping slide work.

Opener “You Can Come On Over To Me” is mid-paced, a plea for love with nice slide accents. The title track leans to the country side of the tracks as Meg looks for people who will accept her as she is, not a girl about to change to please others. However, most of the album is upbeat, as on “Tell Everybody” where Meg adds her Gibson to Dan’s slide for an exciting ride, a country-rocker with attitude in the lyrics as Meg “wants the world to know what I am feeling”. “Shame” brings a dose of funk to the album as the two rhythm guitars joust and a pretty wild solo comes in over the top and “Little Bit Of The Devil” also has a strong core riff and more strong slide as Meg plays the wild woman.

Not a straight blues album by any means but enough soul and Rn’B references to satisfy this reviewer at least!

It’s an album that grows on you with repeat listening. Those who enjoy slide guitar will be well served here but the songs are good too and Meg puts them across with commitment.

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 – 5 of 10 

shane dwightcd imageShane Dwight – No One Loves Me Better

www.shanedwight.com

Red Parlor Records

10 songs time-35:59

The music of Shane Dwight owes more to the Southern Rock sound than to blues-rock. His gruff and soulful voice is fine. His guitar musings fit right in with the cluttered cacophony of instruments and voices. He has enlisted a virtual “A Team” of musicians to help him on this project. Among them harmonica player Mickey Raphael from Willie Nelson’s band, Bekka Bramlett sounding much like her mom Bonnie and drummer Kenneth Blevins from John Hiatt’s band. Shane wrote all the songs and handled producing chores.

The title track takes you back to the days of R&B-meets-soul-meets southern rock ala Bekka’s funky parents Delaney & Bonnie. This music is about energy and deep feeling. The vocals and instruments engage in a frenzied free-for-all. “She Likes To Ride” carries on the boisterousness and funky noise. Heavy distorted rhythm guitar and slide guitar supercharge “If You Ain’t The Devil”. Electric slide driven southern rock accompany “Bullets & Gasoline”, the a tale of vengeance on a cheating girlfriend and her boyfriend.

Shane talk-sings through the hip-hop influenced funky “Sucker”. Mickey Raphael’s harmonica spars with the guitars through the delightfully noisy “Stand Up”. His harp makes another appearance on the slide powered noisy rock of “White Powder”. The title explains it all. Bekka Bramlett supplies gravelly echo vocals against Shane’s lead vocal on the dirt road funky “Levy Girl”. The noise fest carries on with the pounding drums of “Shakin'”. Acoustic slide guitar, a simple drum beat, Bekka’s vacal meandering backing vocals help Shane’s wonderfully gruff vocals on the final song, “Trial Of A Poet”.

This music takes me back to the southern blue-eyed soul of Delaney & Bonnie & Friends. Everything kinda blends together as vocals and instruments rise and fall in the mix. Shane doesn’t deliver much in the way of guitar solos, his stuff is more intertwined in the total sounds. Rob McNelley’s electric slide guitar functions more like the lead and more prominent instrument.

This here is some real good gritty rock and roll. Elements of blues are thrown into the fray to make the total experience musically riveting.

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


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 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 10 

john clifton cd imageJohn Clifton – In The Middle Of Nowhere

Rip Cat Records RIC 1901

11 songs – 53 minutes

www.johncliftonmusic.com

Harp player/vocalist has been a fixture in the Central California music scene since the late ‘80s, and shows why with this collection of straight-ahead Chicago- and West Coast-style blues and R&B that’s both powerful and cliché-free.

Based out of Fresno, where he and brother Bill built their reputation with The MoFo Party Band, Clifton is a veteran road dog whose travels have regularly crisscrossed the U.S. in addition to playing festivals as far away as France, Belgium, Poland and New Zealand.

A State Of California honoree for his contribution to the arts, Clifton’s toured in support of Big Bill Morganfield and was a contributor to Morganfield’s highly reviewed Blood Stains On The Wall CD. He’s also a producer whose work with former International Blues Challenge finalists The Boogie Boys won album of the year honors in the Polish Blues Awards.

This is Clifton’s third release on the Rip Cat imprint, a follow-up to the 2018 release, Nightlife, which spent six months in the Roots Record Report Top 25 charts. This disc follows the same formula, mixing originals with obscure covers. Backed by Rip Cat owner Scott Abeyta on guitar, Jake Finney on bass and Edward Fritz on percussion, the lineup also includes Bartek Szopinski, a 10-time honoree in the Polish Blues Awards, on keyboards with guest appearances by guitarist Roger Perry and John Shafer on tambourine.

“I’m Leaving You Baby” opens the action atop a hard, uptempo shuffle and provides Clifton with plenty of space for a tasty, extended diatonic solo before he launches in on the title tune, “In The Middle Of Nowhere,” the first original in the set. It swings from the jump as John describes himself as a “poor country boy…livin’ in a place that’s a big disgrace” and yearning for a change of scene.

Jimmy Rogers’ 1956 Chess release, “If It Ain’t Me Baby,” gets an uptempo redo before Clifton shifts gears for a little West Coast swing with the easy/greasy instrumental, “Cool Spot In Hell,” a six-minute number that features extended solos from Abeyta and Szopinski, but will delight any harp enthusiast, too.

“Poor Boy,” a minor classic by Howlin’ Wolf, and “Keep It Clean,” a tune first recorded by Charley Jordan in 1930, are up next before three consecutive originals. “Junkie Woman Blues” comes across with a ‘30s acoustic feel before “Four Years Ago” fires out of the gate with a Chicago feel as Clifton describes the angry departure of his woman after learning of a past transgression.

Next up, “Ain’t Spending No More Money” is fresh, but feels as if it could have been part of Sonny Boy Williamson II’s catalog as it delivers a message to a lady who’s constantly demanding the singer buy her something new. The disc concludes with refreshingly updated covers of Junior Wells’ “So Tired I Could Cry” and Merle Haggard’s uptempo “Honky Tonk Night Time Man.”

Available through Amazon, Bear Family or direct through the artist’s website (address above), In The Middle Of Nowhere is a keeper for anyone who loves their blues fresh, but deeply steeped with an old-time feel. Strongly recommended.

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 Blues Review – 7 of 10 

katie henry cd imageKatie Henry – High Road

Self-Release – 2018

10 tracks; 44 minutes

www.katiehenrymusic.com

Katie Henry is a young multi-instrumentalist from New Jersey and on her debut disc she plays piano, clavinet and guitar as well as handling all lead vocals. The band is John Ginty on keys (who also produced the album), Jonathan Fritz on guitar, Antar Goodwin on bass and Maurice ‘Moe’ Watson on drums/BV’s plus a few guests: Marcus Randolph (pedal steel), Anthony Kazan (guitar), Mike Buckman (rhythm guitar) and Billy Harvey (vocals) appear on one track each and Hector Lopez is on drums on two cuts. All the songs are original, credited to Katie and Antar. The album was recorded at Showplace Studios by Ben Elliott, so one wonders why the album was not released on Ben’s American Showplace label.

The album shows that Katie has quite a range of styles. Opener “Nowhere Fast” has a sort of 70’s disco feel before it develops into a fast-paced rocker with the organ bubbling away beneath the rhythm and a fiery guitar solo. Katie’s vocals manage to be bright yet sultry at the same time, a tune that grows on you. “Nothing To Lose” finds Katie in a bit of a mess: “My drink’s half drunk and my wallet’s half empty, my mind just won’t be nice. I got half an ounce of sense and a lot less weed and I give myself bad advice.” Paying dues is what it’s called and Katie’s song describes how tough it can be as a musician starting out – good vocals and a catchy mid-tempo arrangement.

The run of songs that follows really shows Katie’s versatility: “Chapels” is a good song about how “cities’ tallest buildings are not chapels anymore”, the exciting pedal steel adding gospel accents; the title track “High Road” is an attractive country tune; “Carry You” is an emotional ballad about returning the favour to a friend who helped you “out of a dark place” and also features an extended guitar solo; “Gypsy Sister” is an anthemic song that seems to be about a lost friend with piano and guitar both featured.

None of those songs are really blues, but “Dead Man’s Hands” gets closer, a dark piece with John’s organ and Katie’s piano setting the mood well, and “Someday” is a rolling blues with good slide work from Anthony Kazan. “Roll Away” has nice harmonies (mainly Katie, I presume), a good rocker with a feel-good chorus accented by slide guitar; album closer “Takes A Lot” shows the whole band working well together, the bass underpinning the whole tune, a nagging funk guitar riff underpinning Katie’s strong vocals and guitar, organ and clavinet all getting their moment in the spotlight.

This is an accomplished effort which has deservedly been rewarded with a nomination in the 2019 Blues Blast Awards for Debut Album. It will be interesting to see what path Katie will follow in the future as she seems to have quite a range of choices!

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


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 Featured Blues Review – 8 of 10 

atomic raod kings cd imageAtomic Road Kings – Clean Up The Blood

Bigtone Records

12 songs – 39 minutes

www.bigtonerecords.com

Big Jon Atkinson is a relatively young blues artist with musical sensibilities that sit squarely in bygone eras, so it’s no wonder that the debut recording he’s made with his all-star band, The Atomic Road Kings, turns back the clock in a stylish, pleasant way.

All but one of the tunes here are fresh and original, but they’re recorded old-school – captured live and in mono to tape on analog equipment dating to the ‘50s.

Born in Florida but based out of Bristol, a town situated on both sides of the Tennessee-Virginia border, Atkinson established The Road Kings in 2012 in partnership with harmonica player Eric “Jailhouse” Von Herzen, best known for his extensive work with the pop/rock powerhouse Social Distortion.

Their first-call rhythm section is composed of upright and electric bassist Bill Stuve (Rod Piazza’s Mighty Flyers, Candye Kane and dozens of others) and percussionist Malachi Johnson (Kim Wilson and Johnny Tucker). Adding to the mix are guitarists Scot Smart, Danny Michel and Tony Delgado, who trade off with Atkinson on rhythm and lead, and West Coast powerhouse Robert Welsh (Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio), who sits in on piano for one cut.

Atkinson penned 10 of the 12 cuts, handles all the vocals and delivers lead and rhythm guitar on four songs each with Scot Smart, Danny Michel and Tony Delgado also sharing in six-string duties. The themes primarily deal with the underbelly of romantic relationships with occasional commentary about living in this modern world.

Michel’s lead kicks off the slow-blues, stop-time opener, “I’ve Got Time,” which sets the mood as it delivers a wry view of a prison sentence – with Big Jon knowing he deserves it, knows it will do him good, regrets the separation from his family and realizes the stretch could have been far worse than what he received.

“Rumors” — the realization that a relationship is teetering on the edge because the singer’s lady believes the truth in the lies – is up next, putting Atkinson’s powerful pipes on display and providing Von Herzen plenty of space to stretch out on the reeds. The action heats up for “In Arms Reach,” a plea for reconsolidation that hints of B.B. King’s “Little By Little” before taking off in its own direction, and the rocker “Have Your Way,” the painful realization that the singer’s drug use is putting his love affair in jeopardy.

Von Herzen’s harmonica propels “My Way Back Home,” which has the feel of a ‘50s train song, before the haunting slow-blues title cut, “Clean Up The Blood,” which relies on sanguine imagery as it describes more romantic heartbreak. “Candy Man,” written by Von Herzen, brings the suffering to a momentary end as Big Jon sings about his prowess as a lover.

“Ain’t For Me” quickly offers up a complaint about the way a lady’s been acting, a statement that’s driven home in the lilting shuffle, “You Got To Change.” The only cover in the set, the traditional “Two Sided Story,” swings like a pendulum before Welsh joins the action for the slow and funky “Vibrations,” which finds the singer tired of suffering in another bad relationship. The disc closes with “Back Down South,” a vow to leave troubles behind and return home.

Sure, the themes here are grim, but there’s real beauty in what Atkinson and his cohorts have conceived. The musicianship is superb, and the tunes would fit comfortably in the ‘50s, an era in which the blues painted far more grim pictures than you’ll find here. Available through the Bigtone website.

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 Blues Review – 9 of 10 

laurie jane cd imageLaurie Jane & The 45s – Late Last Night – Elixir Of Sara Martin

Down In The Alley Records – 2018

12 tracks; 42 minutes

www.lauriejaneandthe45s.com

Sara Martin was from Louisville, Kentucky, a blues singer who was extensively recorded in the 1920’s (including for the Okeh label) and wrote many of her own songs. Sadly, her name seems to have been consigned to the sidelines of history (this reviewer had never heard of her) but fellow Louisville musicians Laurie Jane & The 45s decided to put things right by recording a whole album of songs that Sara would have sung back in the day. Included are five of Sara’s originals and songs by some of the great writers of the era: WC Handy, Clarence Williams, Everett Robbins and Porter Granger.

The band has not tried to reproduce the sounds of the 1920’s but has blended 21st century sounds with the jazz-inflected rhythms of the period. The core band is Laurie Jane Duggins on vocals, Cort Duggins on guitar/piano, Jason Embry on bass and Scott Dugdale on drums, aided by Screamin’ John Hawkins on guitar, Brian ‘Boss’ Hogg on sax and Eric Snyder on trumpet, the horns playing on most tracks.

The album kicks off in style with the title track, Sara’s tale of a wild night of loving working brilliantly with the nagging rhythm guitar, a fine horn arrangement and some intense lead guitar on the outro. It’s a striking opener which shows just how well these vintage songs can be translated to the modern idiom. Laurie Jane has a good, clear voice with plenty of range and she sings “Achin’ Hearted Blues” (Clarence Williams, Spencer Williams, Clarence Johnson) very well, the song clearly betraying its original period behind a full horn arrangement. The band also tackles a second Clarence Williams song in “Sugar Blues” which sounds great with slashing guitars giving a Stones gloss to the tune while Sylvester Weaver’s “Can’t Find Nobody To Do Like My Daddy Do” is given something of a rockabilly feel from the guitar as it builds into a full band production with the horns making their presence felt as the song develops.

The band can also play at a slower pace and “Blind Man Blues” (Eddie Green/Billie McLauren) is very well done with the trumpet adding an aching heartbreak feel to the interpretation. WC Handy’s “Joe Turner Blues” is another slower tune, this time with guitar and slide working well in tandem. Sara and Clifford Hayes’ “I’m Gonna Be A Lovin’ Old Soul” is given an upbeat, slide-driven interpretation and the band’s take on the classic “Ain’t Nobody’s Business” is a wild ride to close the album with great exuberance after a first verse which attempts to sound like a vintage recording.

Indeed, the band clearly decided to offer a few tracks in ‘vintage’ style, the three examples all being recognizable by initial 78 rpm scratching noises. For these three stripped-back tracks, separately recorded, Laurie Jane’s vocals are distorted a little and she is accompanied just by Cort who plays resonator on “Strange Lovin’ Blues”, guitar on “Pleadin’ Blues” (two more of Sara Martin’s songs) and piano on WC Handy’s “Atlanta Blues”.

While it is interesting to hear how songs might have sounded with 20’s recording techniques, three of them may be a little too much. The band’s contemporary stylings work so well that the three ‘vintage’ tunes sound like interludes.

A very interesting album with some excellent playing. Kudos to the band for bringing Sara Martin back to the attention of today’s 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 

glen clark cd imageGlen Clark – You Tell Me

GlenCo Records/Blind Raccoon Promotions

www.glenclarkmusic.com

CD: 10 Songs, 35:00 Minutes

Styles: Piano Blues, Ensemble Blues, Contemporary Electric Blues Rock

“Sing us a song – you’re the piano man.” Eight words from Billy Joel, so simple yet so haunting, have etched themselves into our collective memory. From Pinetop Perkins to Ray Charles, Leroy Carr to Roosevelt Sykes, countless piano men (and women) have proven that the guitar isn’t the only instrument that makes legendary blues. Enter Texas-born Glen Clark and his latest CD, You Tell Me. It’s his first solo album since 1994, and such a return is a welcome one. A collaborator with superstars such as Bonnie Raitt, Delbert McClinton, and Willie Nelson, Clark has found a uniquely-grooved niche in the piano blues and blues-rock scene. His vocals are reminiscent of McClinton, and also Tom Petty. With just a touch of angst, the weariness of one who’s seen too much of the world over several decades, Glen sings his heart out and hopes to reach yours. On nine original songs and one cover (Kris Kristofferson’s “This Old Road”), he gives his all.

Born in Fort Worth, TX, Clark studied music at North Texas State University. He moved to L.A. in the 1970s, where he co-founded the seminal southern roots rock group Delbert and Glen. They recorded two albums for the Clean/Atlantic label, produced by Daniel Moore and T Bone Burnett. Beginning in 1980, Glen began touring and writing with Kris Kristofferson, many of whose songs are featured in the film Songwriter. Ever heard of Billie Swan’s hit single “Do I Have to Draw a Picture”? Clark wrote it, and it’s one of ASCAP’s most-performed numbers.

Performing along with him (keyboards, guitar and vocals) is the Glen Clark Band: John Bryant on drums, percussion and vocals; Jim Milan on bass and vocals, and Sam Swank on guitar. Additional players include James Pennebaker on guitar; Jeff Silbar on acoustic guitar; Jim Foster on trumpet, and Ron Jones on saxophone. Additional background vocalists are Paige Clark, Ty Clark, Tracy Truong, Cierra Franco, Ryan Franco, Pat Peterson, and Benita Arterberry.

All the songs on this CD are fantastic, so let’s do a rundown of the first three.

Track 01: “You Tell Me” – “Here I am alone at the Motel 6. How in the world are we getting this big? Same old fight about the same old thing – running hot and cold.” Who knew a tune about getting kicked to the curb could be so catchy? You almost want to do the Twist, because there’s a definite 50’s vibe under the gritty bass and guitar lines.

Track 02: “Accept My Love” – For some people, love’s the thing. Other folks just want the bling. The narrator in track two, which calls to mind John Mellencamp’s “Hurt So Good,” is “a man of humble means” who can’t provide what his inamorata really wants. Nevertheless, he soulfully persists: “Won’t you please accept my love. Got nothing else to give except my love.” Wonderful harmony here, and a refrain that’s a certifiable earworm.

Track 03: “I Can Tell By Looking” – Funky keyboards are the highlight of number three, a meditation on Clark’s struggle and search for meaning in life. Here’s another chorus that will get in your head and not find its way out: “I can tell by looking: you’re what I’m looking for.” Smooth horns add a finishing touch, as does a wicked cool guitar solo in the middle.

Are you “in the mood for a melody?” You Tell Me, and I’ll tell you that Glen Clark satisfies!

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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The Charlotte Blues Society – Charlotte, NC

The Charlotte Blues Society is pleased to announce our August Blues Bash will feature an Open Jam following The Instigators, an exciting Charlotte based, four piece Blues band that also demonstrate a command of Southern Soul, R&B, Reggae and Rock influences in their repertoire. The band members are as follows, Rob Dayton, Stephen Foley, John Hartley, and Michael Ingmire. Michael is a nationally published writer and historian who has written many musical history articles about many American musical icons. He is a consistent contributor to Politichicks.com and the Charlotte Blues Society’s monthly newsletter with his writing.

The show will be held Sunday, Aug. 4th, at The Rabbit Hole, 1801 Commonwealth Ave., Charlotte, NC. Admission is free for members with valid cards and $5 to everyone else. Doors at 7:00; music at 8:00. Open jam at 9:30. It will be a great evening of music!

We continue to collect non-perishable food items for Loaves and Fishes. Cash donations are also welcome. 1 can? I can! More info at https://charlottebluessociety.org.

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. 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! www.topekabluessociety.org

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 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.

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: http://www.facebook.com/friendsoftheblues.


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