Issue 13-49 December 5, 2019

magazine issue cover image

Cover photo © 2019 Marilyn Stringer

 In This Issue 

Marty Gunther has our feature interview with traditional harmonica star Bob Corritore. We have 10 Blues reviews for you this week including a book called Blues Legacy from David Whiteis plus new music from The BB King Blues Band, Keb Mo, Blues Arcadia, Joe Louis Walker, John Dee Holeman, Vincenzo Baratin, Charles Tuberville, Dallas Hodge and The Rick Ray Band.

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

wolf records ad image

fall ad graphic image


Instead of 4 issues of Blues Blast Magazine and month on our website for $400, during our Fall Advertising Sale you get six issues of Blues Blast Magazine and 6 weeks on our website for the same price.

This package can add significant impact to your Blues advertising or promotion campaign. It is a great way to kick up the visibility of a new album or advertise an important event.

Blues Blast Magazine is a great way to promote the Blues. More than 38,000 Blues fan subscribers read our magazine each week. They are located in all 50 states and in more than 90 countries. Our website gets more than 75,000 visitors each month.

Normal 2019 ad rates are $150 per issue in the magazine and $175 per month for website ads. BUT, for a limited time, you can advertise in six issues of Blues Blast Magazine and on our website for a month and a half for only $400

To get this special rate you must reserve and pay for your ad space before December 15, 2019. Ads can be booked to run anytime between now and October 30, 2020 for your 2020 Blues festival, album release or other music related product.

Reserve your space today! Space is limited and will be sold on a first come first served basis.

NEW!!! – Upgrade the sidebar ad on our website to a top banner ad for increased impact and visibility for only $100 more. (Subject to availability) Or you may add an E-blast to all of our 38,000 subscribers for only $200. (Normally $275)

To get more information email or call 309 267-4425 today! Other ad packages, single ads, short run ads or long term bulk rates for publicists and record labels are available too. Call today for an ad plan that fits your needs.

winter blueus fest ad image

 Featured Interview – Bob Corritore 

bob corritore photo 1Folks in the blues world recognize Chicago-born Bob Corritore as one of the foremost traditional harmonica players on the planet, but he’s much, much more.

The niche he’s carved out as a musician since setting foot on stage for the first time is beyond reproach. He served as the face of Hohner’s 532 line of harmonicas around the same time in 2012 that Living Blues magazine honored him as its harp player of the year. And, this past September, he took home traditional album of the year honors in the 2019 Blues Blast Music Awards.

Despite six nominations for Blues Music Awards, including the historical album of the year prize in 2011 for Harmonica Blues, Corritore remains modest and understated about his own contributions, working tirelessly at the grassroots level to promote the music and the folks who continue to breathe new life into the Chicago blues tradition.

Based out of Phoenix, Ariz., since the early ‘80s, where he owns and operated The Rhythm Room, a must-visit club on the blues highway, he’s a staunch proponent of the old-school sounds. In his spare time, he spreads that love via a five-hour radio show. And he also publishes the occasional newsletter.

Still vigorous at age 63, he rarely refuses an opportunity to hopscotch the earth to spread the Chicago blues gospel, all the while preferring to remain more of a footnote than a star.

“I humbly try to be a servant to the music that I love so much,” he told Blues Blast in a recent exclusive interview. “My job as a harmonica player is to create the soundscape for whoever the focus person is to sound great.”

He’s been hooked on the blues since listening as a child to a radio broadcast of Muddy Waters singing “Rolling Stone” and the music’s served as his life’s inspiration ever since.

Bob was born in Chicago on Sept. 27, 1956, the son of printing company owner Sam Corritore and his wife Bernice, and grew up in suburban Wilmette, where his mother had attended Northwestern University. Raised in a family with a strong work ethic and old-school sensibilities, he was encouraged to play an instrument, first trying his hand at flute then guitar and viola.

Already a blues lover, he’s been playing harp since age 12, when his brother John, one year his senior, brought an instrument home and handed it to him along with Tony “Little Son” Glover’s Blues Harp, which was the go-to instructional book of the era. It was John who taught Bob how to bend reeds and produce the “blue” notes that were rapidly taking over his life.

“Back then, we didn’t have the instructional videos or formal online lessons people are getting nowadays,” Corritore says today. “You really had to sit back and try to figure this stuff out, play along with records and do your best to emulate the sounds. And then, like now, you have to put your time in with your instrument. What you put in is what you get out.

“Almost immediately after hearing Muddy, I recognized that there was something really powerful about that blues sound, and it was really specific. There was a language being spoken, and it didn’t matter who was doing it.

“There was something that was a unique vocabulary – so Chicago — and everybody made their own conversation with it, reflecting our surroundings – an extension of the soul, but with a grittiness of the city.”

Corritore was already teaching himself “how to coax all of those sounds” out of the instrument while attending New Trier East High School. He devoted his junior-year theme to Muddy, and Waters actually played for him and the rest of the student body a year later.

For Bob, the blues truly came calling that day. As he sat in the audience that afternoon, he had no idea that, as time progressed, he’d eventually share the stage with several of the musicians on that stage – piano player Pinetop Perkins, percussionist Willie “Big Eyes” Smith and guitarist Bob Margolin among them.

It was an accident of birth that Corritore was raised in such close proximity to such great music. And it was his good fortune to be growing up in an era where you didn’t have to be of legal drinking age or drive a car to see the superstars in action.

Back then, even the best players in the city were appearing in pizza parlors and coffeehouses where liquor wasn’t being served. For young enthusiasts like Bob, they were only a short bus or L ride away.

bob corritore photo 2“The first show I ever saw was the Sam Lay Blues Revival with Eddie Taylor, Wild Child Butler and Detroit Junior,” Corritore remembers fondly. “He had a big revue show that had Lucille Spann and Johnny Twist come out as special guests. I was knocked out immediately by the power of the live blues sound.

“And every Tuesday, you could go over to a pizza place not far from my house to see Blind Jim Brewer or Northwestern University, where I saw Bukka White, Sleepy John Estes and Hammie Nixon, Memphis Piano Red, Houston Stackhouse and Joe Willie Wilkins or go down to Maxwell Street and see Big Walter Horton. It was an amazing time to hear all this great music.”

At night, he’d tune in to Best of Blues, a show on Northwestern’s radio station, “and we’d go to Paul’s Recorded Music in downtown Wilmette and later, Jazz Record Mart in Chicago, and pick up a few albums.

“Those records would be my obsession for the next few weeks until I got enough money to get the next albums,” he says. “There was so-o-o much blues out there – and I’d take every crumb that I could get…as much as humanly possible.”

Woodshedding with high school friends eventually resulted in a few gigs, but Corritore’s first experience playing with a real bluesman took place at Maxwell Street, the legendary shopping district and open-air flea market a mile southwest of the Loop that existed before urban renewal.

“John Henry Davis let me play for five or six numbers,” he recalls, “and it felt really good. He didn’t know me. He said: ‘How ‘bout it for the white boy?’

“They were just keeping a steady flow up there playing. And Porkchop, this little guy with a cigar box, walked around for tips. It was an amazing scenario. These blue guys had this lived-in character that was so charismatic – and so effortless — which was part of my attraction to the music. There’s something to be said about the whole attitude of the blues…the spacing and texture of it.

“As I started learning how to play, I strived to figure out how to get that nuanced sound. You couldn’t put your finger on it, but you knew it was there…how people hit the notes, and the phrasing, how it’s inter-phasing with the vocal and the groove. That’s something that’s sacred and uniquely Chicago.

“These guys were probably in their 40s and 50s at the time, and I was thinking: ‘This is the kind of cool music you can play when you’re older. This music never goes out of style because it’s from the heart.

“Here I am now – in my 60s – going: ‘Oh, God…’ (laughs)”

Corritore’s first venture into a real blues club came at age 18 at Biddy Mulligan’s during the Thanksgiving holidays in 1974 to see the Bob Reidy Blues Band. Located just south of Evanston on the far North Side of Chicago, it was a large room that hosted a who’s who of blues and rock acts for decades.

One of the hottest acts in the city at the time, Reidy was a talented keyboard player and tireless producer who fronted a large ensemble revue of his own. That night, the roster included Eddy Clearwater, Carey Bell and John Littlejohn.

Reidy also was also one of the most important people of the era who introduced blues to the city’s now-flourishing North Side, luring J.B. Hutto and The Hawks, Koko Taylor, Otis Rush, Little Mack Simmons and others away from their segregated West and South Side haunts and creating new, white audiences for them in foreign neighborhoods north of the Loop.

Looking back today, Corritore says, “he represented an example of how you could run a business, be a bandleader – and how to be a platform for some of the older blues greats.”

Decades later, Bob’s still amazed at the openness the blues community showed toward young musicians in that era: “I used to go see Koko Taylor, and sit with her and (her husband) Pops and her band on the break.

“I was always surprised that she and others would invite a little punk kid like me into such a sacred world – that I could feel they were connected to me in a personal way.”

bob corritore photo 3The same held true for members of Howlin’ Wolf’s band. Even though Corritore was too intimated to approach the star himself, Hubert Sumlin, Detroit Junior and Bobby Henderson were always friendly, accepting and kind. So, too, was Louis Myers, who as a member of Little Walter’s backing band, The Aces, helped forge the Chicago sound.

“At first, I thought he was just tolerating me because I asked a lot of questions,” Bob recalls. “Every word out of his mouth was a pearl (of wisdom). I think he got a kick out of the fact that he could just sit back and tell a story and I’d just listen with wide-eyed amazement.”

Corritore realized their relationship was more intimate the day that Myers invited him and two other young bluesmen – Dave Waldman and Illinois Slim – to his home to listen to a test pressing of a new album prior to its release.

And several top harp masters in the city – Myers, his brother Bob, Lester Davenport, Big Leon Brooks, Little Willie Anderson, Little Mack and Big Walter among them – all took him under their wing with informal lessons and gave him the opportunity to develop his skills by sitting in during their gigs.

“Every time I showed up, I was expected to play some,” he says.

During that era, Corritore’s parents wanted him to pursue a college education and find a decent day job, believing he could still play blues as a hobby. To that end, he attended the University of Tulsa as a business major while simultaneously making a name for himself in T-Town.

Standing out because he was the only harp player around delivering the genuine Chicago sound, he went to classes by day and used a fake ID at night to get around liquor laws and play as a member of the Tulsa Blues Band and other groups in bars. During breaks, he’d return home and continue his training as he got to sit in with The Aces, Lonnie Brooks, Sunnyland Slim, Mighty Joe Young and others.

After graduation, a part-time summer job at Sound Unlimited – then a major music distributor in the Windy City — led to a full time gig with Bob joining a team that helped the company transition into the computer age.

Corritore’s first paying gig came at age 23 when he backed blues singer Willie Buck in a lineup that included Louis Myers, Odie Payne Jr., Dave Myers and Johnny “Big Moose” Walker. He worked dozens of the smaller clubs that flourished in the rougher parts of the city with Buck and also appeared with Tail Dragger occasionally at the Delta Fish Market.

“As I got further along in the playing part of my development, I found that I was playing on the West and South Sides a lot – and for not a lot of money,” he recalls. “And some of those areas were a little bit dangerous.”

But that was no deterrence.

“When I came back to Chicago, I was in it all the way,” he insists.

In 1981, Corritore started his own record label, called Blues Over Blues, in an effort to document some of the great, unsung harmonica heroes he encountered in the city. “There were a lot of people who were falling by the wayside,” he says. “The city that had an embarrassment of wealth beyond compare, and they were being overlooked.”

It was also the period where both the Delmark and Alligator labels were just beginning to rise to importance and slightly prior to the arrival of the Austrian imprint, Wolf, which later began documenting many previously overlooked artists.

Corritore’s first release was Swinging the Blues by Little Willie Anderson, who’d worked as Little Walter’s valet and had prodigious harp skills himself. He emulated Walter so much, Bob says, that when Walter injured a leg, Willie limped on the same side, too.

Produced with the assistance of future Grammy winner Dick Shurman and Delmark owner Bob Koester, it proved to be the only album Anderson ever recorded. Featuring several of Walter’s former band mates, the LP became a minor hit and was eventually reissued as a CD by the Earwig imprint.

A second release, Big Leon Brooks’ Let’s Go to Town, came out a year later and was Brooks’ only full-length appearance on vinyl after being featured twice in Alligator’s important Living Chicago Blues series.

“Big Leon was such a kind soul,” Corritore recalls, “and such a fine harmonica player. Steve Wisner (who owned the Mr. Blues label) and I came up with the idea to record him. By the time we finally put our money together, we went to see him at his regular gig, backing Tail Dragger at the Golden Slipper. But he wasn’t there. He was in the hospital. We went to see him a day or two later and told him: ‘Leon, we want you to get better so we can make this album.’ He said: ‘I’ll try.’

bob corritore photo 4“He did, and made a great record. But right after that, he passed away. The last thing he did in his life was an interview with (Living Blues magazine founder) Jim O’Neal for the liner notes. He died that night – almost as if he knew that his job on earth was done.

“Fortunately, though, he did get to hear it. I made a test pressing and drove him to my apartment, where he listened to it on my stereo and said: ‘Bob, thank you so much! I never thought that I would make music that would sound as good, and I’m really grateful.’”

Despite those early accomplishments, however, Corritore was conflicted.

“Even though everybody I associated with were angels,” he says, “there was a small percentage of people living a desperate lifestyle around me that involved guns. I was trying to figure out how this was supposed to play into my future — and, quite frankly, I was confused.”

And he also realized that he couldn’t keep his day job for very much longer if he wanted a career in music. Complicating matters even more, he was making about $25 a night as a sideman – not enough to survive on that alone for very long in the Windy City. And the gigs ran until 3 or 4 a.m., making it virtually impossible to get up and go to work the next morning.

Fortunately, Bob’s brother John provided a lifeline. He’d attended Arizona State University and settled in Phoenix after graduation, and he invited his sibling out for an extended stay.

“I said: ‘I’ll come out for a year,’” Bob remembers, thinking it would be enough time to clear his head. “I loved the idea of warm winters and the thought that I’d finally be able to figure out what I was supposed to do in my life – whether it was to play music or hold a day gig, which my parents – who moved down there a short while later — had always wanted.”

Corritore was only in Phoenix a few days when the phone rang and his dye in life was cast for good.

He’d exchanged telephone numbers with Louisiana Red after accompanying him a couple of times at the Fish Market, and Red was on the line, asking where Bob was located after getting a forwarding number.

“I told him: ‘Phoenix,’” Bob recalls. “He goes: ‘Really? I know a woman out there, Eunice Davis, and I’m thinkin’ about comin’ out.’

“I told him: ‘If you do, let’s get some gigs.’ A few weeks later, Red calls again and says: ‘Bob, I’m here over at Eunice’s. C’mon by.’”

He wasn’t there for long, however. A week and a half passed before Eunice called and insisted that Corritore pick up Red because he’d already overstayed his welcome.

“He would have been homeless if I hadn’t taken him in,” Corritore says. “My brother wasn’t exactly happy about having a new guest. But in the end, we all became family.”

The pair worked together both as a duo and full band for the next year. “For that period, we were brothers,” Bob notes, “and I was family to him for the rest of his life. We played every day, got gigs and pooled our resources. I also took a little part-time day job to make ends meet.”

bob corritore photo 5Their separation came after Red embarked on a European tour, fell in love and settled with his new bride in Germany.

Corritore subsequently joined a succession of bands led by local favorites Tommy Dukes, Buddy Reed and Chief Schabuttie Gilliame as well as Big Pete Pearson — Arizona’s king of the blues, a young Janiva Magness and then Chico Chism, one of the foremost drummers in Chicago, who moved west to join him in 1986.

A native of Shreveport, La., and the first person inductee into the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame, Chism was Howlin’ Wolf’s last drummer and worked extensively with Otis Rush, T-Bone Walker, Freddie King, Lowell Fulson, Eddie Shaw and Junior Wells. He also owned the Cher-Kee label, which – like Bob’s Blues Over Blues — recorded other lesser-known Chicagoans.

He and Corritore were inseparable from the time of his arrival until his passing.

“I first met Chico in 1975,” Bob recalls. “Chico — being the gregarious guy that he was — and me — being the only white guy in the 1850 Club — he immediately came over to meet me during the break with his briefcase, filling me in on how important he was and trying to sell me some of his Cher-Kee 45s.

“I loved the guy, and we immediately became friends,” Bob says. “I had no idea that Chico would become such a big part of my life. He spent his last 20 years in Phoenix with me in a basic partnership. He worked with other folks, too, but when it was time for a recording session or gigs, we leaned on each other.

“And Chico really thrived in Phoenix, delivering the true behind-the-beat Chicago thing, which set up the sound for the whole band — something no one else was doing. People went nuts! We used to rock the house on a regular basis.

“In Chicago, he was loved and admired. But in Phoenix, he was the top banana…Chico Chism, the blues ambassador, the man who could really represent the music, its personality, its humor, its sorrow. He was doing a lot of good in the neighborhood.”

Like Chism and Reidy before him, without focusing on that aspect of his own life, Corritore has become a genuine ambassador, too.

He was at another crossroads in 1991 when — after performing about 200 shows a year for more than a decade — he wondered what his next step would be.

Out of the blue, the phone rang again. It was the owner of the building that formerly housed The Purple Turtle, the first club Bob had booked himself and Red into when he’d come to town.

“He wanted me to develop a business – a new nightclub — for him,” Bob recalls. “It quickly became obvious that he was willing to put up the investment capital and for me to have a role as the visionary and overseer.”

Shortly thereafter, The Rhythm Room was born.

“Big Pete played the first night,” Bob – who’s now sole owner – remembers. “Junior Watson the second, Chico the weekend – and all of a sudden, a new phase of my life happened. I became a presenter of blues and roots.

“I’d done before, but nothing like this!

“Then it went from there. We started booking national acts…Jesse Mae Hemphill, John Hammond, Guitar Shorty, Smokey Wilson, Junior Wells, Bo Diddley, Koko, Johnny Copeland, Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland and more.”

bob corritore photo 6Guest artists who sat in with the house band felt so comfortable with the house band anchored by Chism’s rock-steady beat that Corritore realized he had the opportunity to record them. Several of those efforts have been released on CD with far more still in the can.

The club has also been the place where several stellar live recordings have taken place, most notably Kim Wilson’s Smokin’ Joint, the CD/DVD Things Bring About a Change: A Floyd Dixon Celebration and Robert Jr. Lockwood’s The Legend Live, both of which were the artists’ final albums.

One of Corritore’s personal favorites is Chico Chism’s Chicago West Side Blues Party, a compilation of Chico’s ‘70s and ‘80s Cher-Kee recordings, which includes appearances by Eddie Shaw and The Wolf Gang, Hubert Sumlin, Highway Man, Billy Branch and others. Released after Chism had suffered a career ending stroke, it became a personal point of pride for him that endured until his death in 2007.

Bob can still see Chico tottering across the floor using his walker, peddling the disc to appreciative fans.

Corritore’s catalog now consists of 14 albums under his own name — several co-billed with Henry Gray, John Primer, Dave Riley, Tail Dragger and Big Jon Atkinson – and more than 100 appearances on works by other artists, most recently Ben Levin, Tony Holiday, Bill “Howl-N-Madd” Perry and Zac Harmon this year alone.

The Rhythm Room recently celebrated its 28th anniversary, and cultural and political changes have forced it to evolve into something more than the pure blues club it was when first opened, Bob says, facing the reality that he has to fill his seats consistently to keep his doors open seven days a week. But blues acts still dominate the lineup.

For years, Corritore penned a weekly newsletter to promote traditional blues because he saw that it was being given less and less attention in the mainstream press. After realizing how time-consuming it was to put it together and then facing the reality of having to publish obituaries for lost friends on an ever increasing basis, it’s become more of a promotional tool in the past couple of years.

“It simply became harder and harder for me to do,” he admits, especially after Facebook exploded in popularity, making the newsletter less relevant because it was able to disseminate information in a heartbeat.

But he’s still spreading the word in other ways.

Since 1984, Bob’s hosted Those Lowdown Blues, a weekly, five-hour radio show on KJZZ-FM in neighboring Tempe. Any blues lover can tune into it, though, because it’s simulcast on the internet at 6 p.m. Standard Mountain Time each Sunday.

“I became aware of the station through Louisiana Red, who asked me to play with him for an interview,” Corritore says. “A little while after Red left, I put in a proposal to do a blues show because I liked the vibe so much.

“At the time, I didn’t have any recording experience, but I had a great record collection. My voice was a little rough. But it’s smoothed out (laughs). I’ve gotten to be pretty decent!

“The show turned 35 years old last February. I don’t play a lot of new releases – mainly stuff from the ‘50s and ‘60s. But that’s the roots — and something I can uniquely offer because the other stuff’s available through other media.

bob corritore photo 7“Besides, I get to spend five hours a week listening to some of the music that’s closest to my heart.”

He prerecords shows when touring, something he’s done most recently in support of Don’t Let the Devil Ride, the 2019 Blues Blast Award winner, and his latest CD, Do the Hip-Shake Baby! Both are available on the Southwest Musical Arts Foundation imprint and feature him in concert with top talent from across America.

This year alone, Corritore’s performed in showcases at the International Blues Challenge and Blues Music Awards in Memphis the Pinetop Perkins Crawfish Boil in Clarksdale, Miss., and festivals across the U.S. and Canada in addition to regular appearances at his own club.

Next year’s shaping up to be busy, too. In May, he’ll be releasing The Gypsy Woman Told Me on VizzTone Records, sharing billing with his longtime friend, John Primer, a recent double Blues Blast winner himself.

“It’s a gritty Chicago blues record from the word ‘go,’” Corritore insists. “After all the R&B and rock-‘n’-roll we did on Do the Hip-Shake Baby!, this brings it right back to the Chicago root.

“It’s the third record I’ve done with John since 2013, and I think it’s by far the best, showing our bond and the enjoyment we get from playing music together.”

Recorded in Phoenix and at Kid Andersen’s Greaseland Studios in California, it features different all-star lineups that deliver primarily full-band, electric blues. But it also includes a couple of stripped-down acoustic surprises, too.

“I’ve known John since he was playing in the house band at Theresa’s in the ‘70s,” Bob says. “But when we did our first session – for the album Kickin’ Around with the Blues, we went: ‘Oh, my! Look what’s happening here!’ It just poured out. Ever since, our bond has grown in a really wonderful way.”

“He’s got a great band right now with the tremendous Steve Bell – Carey’s son — on harmonica. But when John and I get together for special events, it’s a Chicago blues throwdown. Whatever it is, it works. I just think the world of John Primer as a human being.”

The duo are looking forward to working together in Italy next May about the same time their new disc hits the street. Right now, however, Bob’s busy working on other ideas, which involve recording new material for future projects, giving new life to albums that are currently out of print and scouring his vaults for unreleased material laid down by Red, Henry Gray and others that might make excellent new releases, too.

Through it all, Corritore remains grateful.

“I’d like to thank all of the readers of Blues Blast Magazine for voting for my album this year,” he says. “It was really an honor to walk away with that award. I didn’t really expect it because there were so many amazing records in that category. I hope to live up to this honor in the future on the path I’ve been going.”

Check out where Corritore’s path is taking him next by visiting, check out the schedule of The Rhythm Room at and tune in to his radio show by visiting on Sunday nights.

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.

sean costello album ad image

 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 10 

BB KING BLUES BAND CD IMAGEThe BB King Blues Band – The Soul of the King

Ruf Records

13 tracks

BB KIng’s band has assembled a host of stars to help them pay tribute to the King of the Blues. This is not one of those all star albums that falls flat on it’s face where the guests go through the motions; here we have assembled a cast of people who pay a wonderful homage to The King along with his fantastic band.

“Irene Irene” features the stinging guitar of Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Russel Jackson on vocals, a great start to a great record and an original soung to boot. Shepherd is on fire in this superb slow blues. Kenny Neal takes the lead on vocals and guitar on the King’s “Sweet Little Angel.” Neal gives a gutsy performance with well done vocals and guitar that hearkens to BB’s sound. Diunna Greenleaf on vocals and Eric Demmer on alto sax get to help the cause on “There Must Be A Better World Somewhere,” a song BB loved that Doc Pomus and Doctor John penned. Demmer’s horn is stellar and Diunna is ever so soulful and great here (as she always is). Mary Griffin and Taj Mahal share vocals and guitar and Demmer returns on alto for “Paying The Cost To Be Boss.” Acoustic guitar gives the tune something new and Griffin blows us away on vocals and Taj adds grit and determination. Taj and Mary give us a wonderful duet as the band blazes in support. Demmer’s solo is again something to savor over and over.

“Low Down” is an original tune and begins with some great trumpet work by Lamar Boulet. Jackson nails the vocals and tuba by Kirk Joseph with the trumpet give this a nice NOLA feel. Demmer returns again for “She’s The One;” he has made me a convert to the alto sax at this point. I always seem to prefer the sound of the tenor sax but Demmer has a sound that makes the high toned sax feel deep and sublime. He also gets the lead vocals here and does a fine job on this original. “Taking Care Of Business” is a funky cut written for this album and once again features Jackson on vocals, Demmer on tenor, guitar solo by Wilbert Crosby and James Bolden and John Del Toro Richardson backing the vocals. The guitar is amazing and the sax is too. The band lays out a superb groove and the vocals are great as is the organ in support. Greenleaf backs up Jackson on “Becoming The Blues,” starts as a nice slow blues. Kenny Neal gets to add harp and Crosby returns on the guitar solo on this song that Jackson wrote. It’s a great down home song that breaks out a bit as things pick up and get a little more emotional. Jackson wrote this song. “Hey There Pretty Woman” has James “Boogaloo” Bolden on vocals for this one that he wrote. He sings with a cool, deep baritone voice and Demmer gives us another pretty solo on sax.

Bolden again sings and co-wrote with Demmer “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow,” another cool swinging blues. Darrel Lavigne gives us a sweet piano solo and horns blaze again. Joe Louis Walker is featured on vocals and guitar on a song he co-wrote entitled “Regal Blues (A Tribute To The King).” He plays some thoughtful and poignant guitar and sings with gusto as the band comes out in full support . Walker gives us his take on King’s Lucille sound and does a fine tribute. Bolden returns for his “Pocket Full Of Money,” once again showcasing his deep and soulful voice. Lamar Boulet offers a sweet and sublime trumpet solo on this one. The final song is the King’s greatest and most well known hit, “The Thrill Is Gone.” Michael Lee gets the lead vocals and guitar solo here and does a fantastic and emotional job as he and the band played one of the blues world’s top hits with a fresh and sweet sound.

BB’s band is comprised of James “Boogaloo” Bolden on trumpet and vocals and leading the band as he has done for years, Eric Demmer on lead sax, Russell Jackson on lead vocals and bass, Walter King on sax, Herman Jackson on drums, Darrell Lavigne on keys, Lamar Boulet on trumpet, Wilbert Crosby on guitar, Brandon Jackson on drums and Raymond Harris on trombone. These guys have been stellar backing BB and now on their own get to showcase even more of their skills. They brought in a set of outstanding guests who worked hard to give us a wonderful tribute to BB King.

They do a great job and this is certainly a fine album of songs BB loved and in tribute to him. I think this is well worth a listen as any blues fan will find something here to savor. The new songs are ones BB would have embraced and played with his wonderful approach to music. He is surely missed but we see a lot of love and admiration in this fine set of a baker’s dozen of original and cover songs!

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.

vizztone ad image

 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 10 

keb mo cd imageKeb Mo – Moonlight, Mistletoe & You

Concord Records

10 tracks

Bluesman Keb Mo (Keving Moore) has laid down 10 Christmas tunes for the upcoming holiday season, half of which are originals. It’s a fine effort with Keb and a variety of different artists in support.

The classic “Please Come Home for Christmas” kicks things off. He gives this one a bluesy and jazzy presentation with nice keys by David Rogers and Akil Thomson on some smooth electric guitar. Next is the title track; Gerald Albright is on sax and gives a nice solo and there is some pretty strings that are nicely arranged. Smooth and flowing, it’s more jazz than blues but well done. “Better Everyday” is another original with some horns and organ and keys and backing vocals to make things rounded out and cool. “Santa Claus, Santa Claus” gets a dirty sounding work over with stinging guitar by Thompson in support of Keb. The amusing “Christmas is Annoying” is next, an original done with just Keb in trio format with Scott Mulvahill on upright bass and Neil Tufano on drums. Less is better as he bops through things in a bouncy and lilting manner.

Koko Taylor’s “Merry, Merry Christmas” gets a well done and fresh update with Thompson and Rogers in support. “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” brings the strings and horns back with pretty piano by David Rogers helping out along with Mike Pachelli’s guitar and Melissa Manchester sharing the vocals. “Santa Claus Blues” is an old 1931 Charlie Jordan tune that Keb works over nicely with some piano and a little acoustic slide. “When the Children Sing” feature Keb on guitar and vocals with The Children of NIA House Montessori School, a beautiful and uplifting cut. “One More Year With You” is a smooth and jazzy original that might be a Tony Bennett song if it were not Kevin Moore delivering with his emotive pacing. Cool horns, piano and keys make this special.

Okay, it’s not all blues and there is a tad of schmaltz here and there, but this is a nice Christmas album mixing some slick jazz and Keb’s always thoughtful vocals. If you need some new Christmas music to make the season bright, then you might think about picking this up!

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.

brad vickers ad image

 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 10 

Blues arcadia cd imageBlues Arcadia – Carnival Of Fools

Self Released

11 tracks

Brisbane, Australia is home to Blues Arcadia. Blending blues and soul, the band sings and plays with a lot of passion. They were the 2017 Australian BMA winners for Best New Talent and their first CD (an EP) was nominated for best EP at the same awards cycle. Here they offer up 11 original tracks, a full album of well-crafted music.

Ireland’s Alan Boyle fronts the band as vocalist. Transplanted to Australia, he worked with this band and in solo efforts . On guitar is Chris Harvey, another transplant, this time from London. Based in both jazz and blues, he’s got great tone and feel. Parmis Rose on keys graduated from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music with her focus on jazz piano. She is a helluva keyboardist.Jeremy Klysz is on bass. Moving from sax to bass, he ventured through punk and rock before descending on the blues. Casper Hall is the new drummer and shares duties with Steve Robin and Back Flatt. The King Biscuit Horns are super- Shaun Ballagh on tenor, Clint Allen on trumpet with Brad Ebensen on two cuts, Alex Price on baritone, with Papa Joe Roberts filling in on the same two cuts as Brad.

“Seven Days A Week” combines piano and horns in support of blistering guitar. Boyle sings passionately, Harvey lays it out on guitar and the piano work by Rose make for a great cut. Next up is “Hear It Now,” with a nice a mid tempo groove, more killer guitar and thoughtful vocals. “Remedy” is a ballad of sorts, a slow blues rock cut with angst filled vocals and lots of emotion. The horns do a nice job behind Boyle here. It’s a very interesting cut! The title cut is next, another ballady tune with somber overtones, nice guitar and sultry keys. “Two Wrongs Don’t Make A Right” follows with more emotive vocals. The guitar and organ are again in front and here the horns return for more depth. The song builds to a big finish, nicely done overall. “The Ballad of SIr Tralyne” is not a ballad at all but a mix of swing and blues and rock with a jumpy beat and they bring all the instruments to bear again.

“I’m Your Man” begins stripped down with vocals and guitar but moves quickly to a blistering cut with great guitar work and piano and strident vocals. Mixing honky tonk, blues and rock, this one’s quite cool, too. Jen Mize is featured on “Liars And Thieves,” doing some sultry and ethereal vocals in the latter parts of the song. It’s a slow and down tempo cut that Boyle and company build up to another emotion fulled finish. “Pity The Fool” has a nice groove to it that swings a bit and once again showcases Boyle’s vocal skills. The piano and organ get lots of time featured here- Rose is the real deal. They let lose on “Bad Bogaloo” with a big guitar leading the charge. The horns add to the mix as the driving beat and more vibrant vocals maintain a rapid pace to get your blood really flowing. The album concludes with slow blues in “Good Thing.” Guitar, piano and vocals mesh into a beautiful mix of sound as the horns slide in for good effect. The guitar solo is once again great and Rose finishes things off on the piano with some really cool stuff.

There are so many bands out there and when you find a new young one with talents like this, one gets a nice, warm feeling that the future of blues is secure. The global presence of blues music with bands as far off as Australia maintaining the flame of roots music bright and intense is a good thing. This is an excellent album with an outstanding vocalist/songwriter, superb keys, exemplary guitar, an amazing horn section and two guys in the backline who are right up there with the rest of them. This is an album I really enjoyed and would love to see live some day. I think this one is a winner and well worth buying and playing over and over again!

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.

chris bad news barnes ad image

 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 10 

david whiteis boo cover imageDavid Whiteis – Blues Legacy: Tradition And Innovation In Chicago

Photographs by Peter M. Hurley

University Of Illinois Press

328 Pages

David Whiteis has authored several books on blues music. The first, Chicago Blues: Portraits And Stories, published in 2006, featured in-depth looks at artists like Junior Wells, Sunnyland Slim, the famed Maxwell Street market, Billy Branch, Lurrie Bell, Artie “Blues Boy” White, and Cicero Blake. He followed that up with a 2013 publication, Southern Soul-Blues, which examined that sub-genre of the music, not only looking at the most popular artists like Latimore, Bobby Rush, Denise LaSalle, and Miss Jody, but also looking at the long-term viability of that market in light of a number of issues that were impacting the music at that time. A long-time resident of Chicago, Whiteis has had articles in Living Blues, Juke Blues, and Downbeat magazines. His work was recognized by the Blues Foundation with the 2001 Keeping The Blues Alive Award in the Journalism category.

Writers do well to stick to subject matters that they are well-versed in, so it is no surprise to find Whiteis updating his earlier work with another deep dive into the ever-vibrant Chicago blues scene. The book is divided into four sections: Bequeathers, Council Of Elders, Inheritors, and Heir’s Apparent. In his introduction, Whiteis encourages readers to approach the book in the same mindset that they might experience a sampler CD, searching for the artists that speak to them, with the author covering a wide ranging variety of sounds that are the current norm for the genre. Interspersed throughout the book are Peter M. Hurley’s black & white photos of the various artists covered.

The Bequeathers portion offers profiles of five mainstays of the Chicago blues community. The chapter on James Cotton summarizes his career, with an emphasis on his tenure as a member of the Muddy Waters band. After a night of listening to saxophonist Eddie Shaw and his band, the author made the move to Chicago to immerse himself in the music. Shaw’s remarkable career is covered, including the night he started as a member of Muddy Waters band, and ended the evening as the newest member of Howlin’ Wolf’s band. Then Whiteis gives well-deserved recognition in chapters on guitarist Jimmy Johnson, who just celebrated his ninety-first birthday and can still get as deep as anyone, the late Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater, and Jimmy Burns, who’s career spanned has run the gamut from gospel to doo-wop, soul, and a return to blues after years of inactivity.

Sticking with artists who were there at the start of the Chicago post-war electric blues tradition, the Council of Elders section has brief pieces on Buddy Guy and Otis Rush, artists who need little introduction to most blues fans. Several other key figures, Billy Boy Arnold and Syl Johnson, are covered in a bit more detail. Whiteis points out the enduring classics from Arnold like “I Wish You Would” and “I Ain’t Got You,” then reminds readers that Johnson’s impact extends into the modern era as his tunes have been sampled time and again. Also chronicled are singers Mary Lane and Holle Thee Maxwell, drummer Sam Lay, and Byther Smith.

The book then moves to the next generation of blues artists. Some, like Kenny Smith, Big Bill Morganfield, Shemekia Copeland, and Ronnie Baker Brooks all carry on in the legacy that they learned from their fathers. In the case of Lil’ Ed Williams, it was his uncle, slide guitarist J.B. Hutto, who created the spark that lead to a career as one of the most popular blues performers in the world. The family of Eddie Taylor, an acclaimed guitarist, can claim four siblings – Demetria, Eddie Jr., Tim, and Larry – who have their own established careers. John Primer and Sugar Blue are also highlighted.

The final section, Heir’s Apparent, reverts back to the short biographical portraits, highlighting a total of twenty-one artists. Lurrie Bell, Toronzo Cannon, Big James and the Chicago Playboys the Kinsey Report,, and Mud Morganfield are familiar names. But Whiteis also introduces readers to artists like guitarist Melody Angel, who appears on the book’s cover, singer Jo Jo Murray, a local legend, and Jamiah Rogers, an exciting young guitar player.

There are several themes that run through the book. One is the on-going debate of what is blues music. Is it the traditional sounds that the late Eddie Taylor Jr. adhered to, often to the detriment of his career, or is it a more wide-open landscape favored by Ronnie Baker Brooks, mixing elements of rock, funk, soul, and even pop music. For singer Nellie “Tiger” Travis, the challenge is to balance the the straight blues content favored by the white portion of her audience with the demands of her soul-blues fans, who favor dance-able rhythms that are often the result of programmed beats surrounded by synthesized instrumental tracks. Johnnie Taylor was a legendary vocalist. His son, Floyd, could never quite escape his father’s shadow, all the while chafing at being labeled part of the southern soul-blues genre. Jimmy Burns questions why many white musicians substitute volume for soul. One key point is stressed by singer Dietra Farr as she preaches the value of writing and performing original material in order to stand out from the dearth of bands playing covers all night long.

Whiteis understands the art of keeping readers engaged while he adds to their understanding of the current Chicago blues community. The fact that several musicians covered in the book have passed away certainly speaks to the importance of his work to document their stories. And some of the thought-provoking issues raised in the book deserve wider attention and discussion. A book well-worth reading………

(Full disclosure – the author Whiteis makes several reference in the section on Nellie ‘”Tiger” Travis to an interview the reviewer conducted for Blues Blast Magazine – run on 8/4/17.)

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

blues and rhythm mag ad image

 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 10 

joe louis walker cd imageJoe Louis Walker – Viva Las Vegas Live

Cleopatra Records CLO 1308

10 songs – 80 minutes plus 85-minute concert film DVD

Blues Hall of Famer Joe Louis Walker is one of the energetic performers in the blues, something he’s proven time and time again in a career that spans six decades. And he’s at top form in this stellar set, which was captured before an enthusiastic audience at Boulder Station Casino in Las Vegas during a 2018 tour.

Now in his early 70s, Walker started out as a child prodigy in San Francisco, where he picked up the guitar for the first time at age 14, playing rock. A longtime roommate of guitar legend Mike Bloomfield, he cut his teeth musically during the Seismic ’60s, hanging out with Jimi Hendrix and the Grateful Dead, before moving to Chicago and immersing himself in the blues.

As he started to dominate the music scene in the mid-‘70s, Joe turned to gospel, joining The Spiritual Corinthians for a decade, returning to the blues after gigging at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in 1985. Since recording Cold Is the Night on the Hightone imprint a year later, he hasn’t looked back, sharing the stage and recording studio with everyone from John Lee Hooker, James Cotton and B.B. King to Buddy Miles, Thelonious Monk and dozens more.

His well-received 2018 Alligator album, Journey to the Heart of the Blues – recorded with keyboard player Bruce Katz and British harp player Giles Robson, was his 24th studio release in a career that’s included a handful of other live albums.

Accompanied by an 85-minute DVD directed by Brent Backhus, which includes an exclusive backstage interview, Viva Las Vegas Live finds Walker backed by an all-star band that includes Bruce Bears of the Duke Robillard Band on keyboards with Lenny Bradford (Vanessa Collier) on bass and Dorian Randolph (Murali Coryell) on drums, all of whom provide backing vocals.

A collection of seven originals, one cover and re-dos of two songs in the public domain, the concert opens with a fiery take on Walker’s “I’m Not Messin’ Around,” which first appeared on his 1998 Preacher and the President CD. It gives Bears plenty of space to shine before Joe smokes on the six-string.

The fan favorite, “Young Girls Blues,” lopes out of the gate and swings unhurried throughout before Joe reinvents the traditional “Sugar Mama.” First recorded in 1934, authorship has been credited to Yank Rachell, Sonny Boy Williamson or Tampa Red on different occasions. Walker’s slow and steady extended guitar intro builds in intensity from a whisper to a roar for six minutes before he breaks it down again. After launching into the vocal, he takes an extended harp solo and yields to Bears for another in a track that’s 16 minutes long.

The funk kicks in with a repetitive guitar hook and superb fret work from Bradford to open “Do You Love Me?” before exploding into an eight-minute blues-rocker. Still a deeply spiritual man, Walker delivers a pair of gospel tunes next, opening with “In the Morning,” the traditional that served as the title cut for his 2002 Telarc release, followed by his own “Soldier for Jesus.”

The church feel continues with organ fills on the jazzy “You Don’t Love Me Girl,” a cover from Joe’s 2004 New Direction album, before the ballad “Black & Blue” describes the feeling of loneliness even more. The cautionary “Too Drunk to Drive Drunk” follows before a cover of “Like It This Way,” written by Fleetwood Mac’s Danny Kirwan, brings the concert to a close.

Available through most major retailers, and rock-solid throughout.

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.

joe rosen book ad image

 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 10 

john dee holeman cd imageJohn Dee Holeman – Last Pair Of Shoes

Music Maker Relief Foundation

9 songs – 39 minutes

90 year old John Dee Holeman is something of a blues legend, with a finger picking style heavily influenced by Piedmont legends, Blind Boy Fuller and the Rev. Gary Davis. On this release, however, Holeman adopts a wild, raucous approach that is closer to the likes of Hound Dog Taylor or Elmore James, both of whose songs he covers.

Unfortunately, the review copy of the CD contained no information in relation to Holeman’s backing band, nor when or how the album was recorded, and internet searches failed to provide any illumination. What can be said however is that whoever recorded the album, captured some sparkling performances from both Holeman and his band (drums, bass, keys/organ, guitar and harp).

The set consists primarily of covers of well-known blues classics, but Holeman and his band play them with such power and such an authentic sound that it is like listening to a recording of a band playing in a bar in Chicago in the 1950s.

The set opens with the madcap party boogie of “Chapel Hill Boogie” in which Holeman declares he is “Going to Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill is on the ball. If you’re going to Chapel Hill, you gotta drink alcohol.” As an alumnus of the University of Chapel Hill, this writer can attest to the veracity of that statement. The applause and chatter at the end of the song suggests it is a live recording but no other songs on the album indicate any audience involvement.

Holeman runs through a fine version of Muddy’s “She Moves Me”, with an excellent vocal performance and the harmonica again featuring as the lead instrument. Holeman’s old-as-dirt voice is in great shape, roaring out the lyrics with the energy and range of a much younger man. Likewise, new versions of “Dust My Broom” can be a little hackneyed but Holeman and his band play it with such gusto and with an authentically Elmore-esque vibe that they remind one of how exciting it was to hear that song for the very first time.

Arthur Big Boy Crudup’s 1951 hit, “I’m Gonna Dig Myself A Hole” is played to a “Hi-Heel Sneakers” groove although Holeman’s vocal is far more threatening and harrowing than Crudup’s original. Equally threatening is the slow grind of “Shotgun Blues”, which has some marvelously muddy percussion, reminiscent of the great swampy recordings of Jay Miller and a fine organ solo.

“John Henry” opens with single guitar note picking before the rest of the gently eases in. The track features some nice interplay between the guitar and harp. “Wig” sees Holeman effectively slow down Hound Dog Taylor’s “Give Me Back My Wig” while the band gives it the full Muddy Waters Band treatment, while Lightnin’ Hopkins’ “Mojo Hand” has slight hints of Texas but again the dominant influence is 1950s Chicago. The set finishes with a belting version of Muddy’s “Still A Fool” (here titled “Two Trains”) on which the organ gives a 1960s vibe.

Last Pair Of Shoes is a thoroughly enjoyable album of traditional electric blues from one of the masters.

The Music Maker Relief Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit, was founded to preserve the musical traditions of the South by directly supporting the musicians who make it, ensuring their voices will not be silenced by poverty and time. The Foundation provides education, archival preservation and a range of support for blues, gospel and native artists and should itself be supported by every blues fan.

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




 Featured Blues Review – 7 of 10 

Vincenzo Baratin cd imageVincenzo Baratin – Face The Music Blues In My Soul

Play Audio

19 songs time-70:04

Italian drummer-songwriter-booking agent Vincenzo Baratin began this project that documents his interest in various music styles utilizing musicians he has either toured with, recorded with or booked their performances. A few familiar names are included along with equally talented Italian and other European artists. The music runs the gamut from blues, jazz, rock, funk, soul and all stops in between to provide a musical journey to keep ones’ ear to the ground. Something enjoyable here for all types of music fans.

Jeremy Spencer of the original Fleetwood Mac contributes his slide guitar and rather boozy vocals to Lazy Lester’s “You’re Gonna Ruin Me Baby” and B.B. King’s “Sweet Little Angel”. Marco Pandolfi adds harmonica to the former. English country guitarist Albert Lee formerly of Emmylou Harris’s Hot Band, Joe Cocker’s Cock & Bull Band and Heads, Hands & Feet lends his skills to back Papa George on Papa’s “Runaway Boogie”. Former background singer for The Rolling Stones Bernard Fowler turns in a funky version of The Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”.

Vincent W. Williams does an outstanding job on The Isley Brothers’ “It’s Your Thing”. Raphael Wressnig displays his major jazz organ skills here and elsewhere throughout the recording. Another standout track is the old chestnut “The Cuckoo” with Steve White on vocals and some nifty slide guitar by Roberto Luti. The beautiful self-penned piano-cello ballad “Crazy With Love” is a masterpiece.

Four of the five instrumentals are with a full band including Raphael Wressnig’s marvelous skills on the organ. The instrumental version of “Freedom Train” has a down home blues feel via National Steel, harmonica and cajon(box like percussion instrument).

Vincenzo Barattin has surely assembled a crack team of musicians and singers for this musical potpourri. Vincenzo ably supplies percussion, occasional songwriting and crystal clear production. The fusing of styles and approaches should offer something for all listeners. Pick and choose between jazz, blues, rock, spoken word, funk or take in the entire experience.

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

 Featured Blues Review – 8 of 10 

charles tuberville cd imageCharles Tuberville – Somethin’ in the Water

BRT TV/The Tulsa Blues Project

CD: 12 Songs, 39 Minutes

Styles: Tulsa Blues, Contemporary Electric Blues Rock, All Original Songs

What distinguishes Tulsa blues/Tulsa sound from, say, Chicago or Texas blues? For one thing, it’s a combination of rockabilly, country, R&R, and blues sounds from the late 1950s and early ‘60s. Originating in its characteristic city in the second half of the twentieth century, its pioneers include JJ Cale, Leon Russell, Elvin Bishop, and Eric Clapton. Charles Tuberville proudly promulgates the tradition on his new album, Somethin’ in the Water. Featuring twelve original tracks, it takes you down the railroad line (check the cover art) to a laid-back, easygoing way of life and musical style. The energy here is low-to-mid-key, suitable for comfy house parties where the volume on one’s speakers need not be turned up to 11.

Out of myriad musicians who strive to make a name for themselves, few are lucky enough to share the stage with genre icons. Charles has been fortunate enough to do this with Leon Russell, Freddie King, Bobby Keys, Johnny Winter, Delbert McClinton, B.B. King and many others. On this album, produced by Walt Richmond (JJ Cale, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton), he is joined by Tulsa legend Rockin’ Jimmy Byfield and Casey Van Beek from Bill Medley and The Tractors. Other featured co-performers are Jimmy Markham and David Berntson on harmonica; bassists Alan Ransom and Jimmy Strader; David Busey on piano, and Steve Hickerson on guitars for “Listen To Your Woman.” Tuberville himself stars on guitar, bass and vocals.

The title track makes its grand entrance first: a relaxed, loping love song about being in a certain mood. Then comes “Went Down Hard,” featuring a terrific slide guitar intro and Joe Walsh vibes. Stomp your feet and savor the shredder solos. It’s so good it could have been the opener. “Dreamin’ About Your Love” features perky piano and slight New Orleans spice mixed in with the Tulsa flavor. 1950’s influences are the clearest on this number. Number Four, “Bumble Bee,” should come with a trigger warning for those who hate the pesky sound of said insects. It’s funny and relatable, especially in the summer. Another highlight is “Howlin’ Boogie,” a surefire sing-along hit. David Berntson’s harmonica is especially catchy, as is David Busey’s piano on “Lucinda.” The latter song is reminiscent of the tracks of The Tractors, a ‘90’s Tulsa sensation. For those who’d like to slip into a slower, more atmospheric groove, “Soul Traveler” fits the bill. One can imagine it featured in an indie film or Miami Vice episode. It’s also a nice slow-dance. “Things to Do” is a boogie for busy people. If your morning coffee can’t wake you, try this.

Somethin’ in the Water is a commendable showcase of Tulsa blues by a veteran of the scene!

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 40 year old female Blues fan. She brings the perspective of a younger blues fan to reviews. A child of 1980s music, she was strongly influenced by her father’s blues music collection.

 Featured Blues Review – 9 of 10 

dallas hodge cd imageDallas Hodge – Don’t Forget About the Music We Made


CD: 9 Songs, 39 Minutes

Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues Rock

Remember show-and-tell in middle school? Some enterprising future geologist would inevitably bring his or her favorite rock: a geode. The outside is unremarkable, but crack it open and you’ll find a real gem inside. Such is the case with the latest from IBC semi-finalist Dallas Hodge. The cover art – a sepia-toned picture of an empty chair on a railroad track – is unassuming, but the nine songs on the CD within really sparkle. Even on covers such as Tom MacLear’s “Love So Fine” and Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads,” Dallas and company provide unique rejuvenation. This album has already catapulted to a #7 HOT SHOT Debut on the Billboard Blues Albums chart and a #7 Billboard Heatseekers spot for the week of July 27, 2019. Hot ziggety!

As for Hodge himself, boasting robust vocals and guitar swagger to match, he’s been performing and winning awards for more than four decades. Said Johnny Winter, circa 1971: “If you get any better, I’m going to have to cut off both hands.” Billy Preston commented, “You know when you do that head thing you do, it’s the ‘Holy Ghost head thing.’” Amid such high praise, Dallas keeps it real: “I feel like the luckiest person on the planet right now. It flat out feels GREAT! What a time to be alive and sharing my songs!” Baby boomers might recall him from his first ensemble, the Catfish Hodge Band, or later ones such as Chicken Legs and Canned Heat. He was the lead singer and songwriter for that latter band, all while being involved with his solo career.

Joining Dallas Hodge (lead vocals and guitar) are Larry Zack on drums and percussion; Pat Wilkins on bass guitar and backing vocals; Robert Heft on slide guitar, guitar and backing vocals; Jon Greathouse on keyboards, piano and backing vocals; Lee Thornburg on trumpet and valve trombone, and Ron Dziubla on saxophone. Coco Montoya guest stars on guitar for “Asking Too Much” and “Crossroads.”

Montoya helps to start this album off with a dynamite BANG. So does Jon Greathouse on barroom piano keyboards on “Asking Too Much.” Hodge tries to convince his partner that money can’t buy love, but greed knows no bounds. This song’s nothing short of explosive. After that comes “Jelly Roll,” a no-holds-barred number. It’s catchy and danceable, but purists might think it leans too far to the rock side of blues rock. On “Bad Troubles,” Dallas channels Eric Clapton and a bit of Walter Trout. This sing-along stomp will get crowds going.

“By the Hand” and “Hey Baby” follow, sweet love songs that bring a dash of jazz and funk to the forefront. Dallas exhibits his best vocals on “Love So Fine,” which might as well be a Coco Montoya hit although it’s a MacLear original. Next is the blistering slow burner “Shame Shame,” with an intro that would raise the dead. Then Hodge pledges his soul to the “Crossroads,” but pleads “Don’t Forget About the Music We Made” on one heck of a closer. Lee Thornburg and Ron Dziubla provide a heavenly horn section, complementing everyone to a T.

Don’t Forget About the Music We Made has definitely earned a spot on the charts, and in your hearts!

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 40 year old female Blues fan. She brings the perspective of a younger blues fan to reviews. A child of 1980s music, she was strongly influenced by her father’s blues music collection.

 Featured Blues Review – 10 of 10 

ricky ray band cd imageThe Rick Ray Band – Dark Matter Halo


CD: 10 Songs, 58 Minutes

Styles: Acid Rock, Psychedelic Rock, All Original Songs

Whether you consider him to be a blues icon, rock god, or some otherworldly entity in between, Jimi Hendrix is a musical GOAT – Greatest of All Time, not the sacrificial animal. Remember this, as you peruse Dark Matter Halo, the newest offering from the Rick Ray Band. Branding themselves as a “psychedelic progressive hard rock fusion band” (check their website), they tellingly omit the word “blues.” Nevertheless, acid rock and hard rock fans will crave the out-of-body, out-of-mind experience that Rick Ray and his posse offer. If Hendrix taught us anything, it’s that chaos is to be embraced, not feared. Such is the ethos of this CD. On ten original tracks, instruments bend, weave, warp and twist their way around each other in kaleidoscopic patterns. The lyrics, though audible, are not easily understood. No matter. Lose yourself in the journey.

The Rick Ray Band has opened for a veritable Greek chorus of hard, psychedelic and alternative rock bands, the most famous of whom (at least to boomer blues fans) are Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blue Oyster Cult, Kansas, and Pat Travers. Performing alongside Rick Ray (guitars, vocals and keyboards) are Kip Volans on drums and percussion, Dave “Shaggy” Snodgrass on bass and vocals, and Rick “Sarge” Schultz on sax and bass clarinet. Russell Vidrick wrote all lyrics.

Highlights include “Society of Strangers,” “Do You Know Who You Are,” “Autumn Wind” and “On the Take.” However, the most poetic is “Electroshock.” Running over seven minutes long, its intro is a storm of static electricity, where notes crackle like volts on one’s ears. Even on a low volume setting, it’s tailor-made for zoning out and enjoying one’s favorite adult beverages and/or legal botanical substances. The master of being “Experienced” would be proud.

Make no mistake: There’s not one tittle of traditional blues to be found here. No lump-de-lump, no Piedmont, no Texas or Tulsa sound, no West Coast swing. It’s a niche album, a mood-setter. Nevertheless, if you aim to resurrect the Age of Aquarius, then Dark Matter Halo is perfect!

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 40 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.

 Blues Society News 

 Send your Blues Society’s BIG news or Press Release about your not-for-profit event with the subject line “Blues Society News” to: email address image

Maximum of 175 words in a Text or MS Word document format (No graphics).

Prairie Crossroads Blues Society – Champaugn, IL

Prairie Crossroads Blues Society typically holds two Blues Jams each month. Jams are held the 2nd Sunday of each month from 4 to 7 pm and the 4th Wednesday of each month from 7 to 10 pm. The host band plays the 1st set and then it’s opened up to all the jammers in the house. The David Lumsden Blues Band hosts the PCBS Blues Jam Sunday December 8. David says his special guest for this jam will be Robert “Lefty Preacher” Sampson on keys and vocals. Thanks to PIpa’s Pub, 604 S. Country Fair Dr. in Champaign for hosting these jams.

No jam on Christmas Day, December 25, PCBS and Pipa’s wish you a Happy Holidays but on Sunday January 12, The Smokers Blues Band will host and it’s also an IBC Fundraiser. They’re heading to Memphis later in January as Central Illinois representatives to compete in the Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge. Bring your instrument and join in the fun. For more info visit:

Sacramento Blues Society – Sacramento, CA

“Holler Out Loud! Nikki Hill is on fire!” The Sacramento Blues Society Annual Holiday Membership Party, featuring the fabulous Nikki Hill will be held on Friday, December 13th at Harlow’s Nightclub & Restaurant, 2708 J Street, Sacramento. Doors open 6:00 pm, Show starts 7:00 pm. Free for active SBS members (bring your membership card) and $25 for non-members (but this $25 also buys you a one-year membership into one of the oldest Blues Societies in the Country – the Sacramento Blues Society.

This will be the SBS party of the year and a show you won’t want to miss! For tickets or to RSVP: HERE  For more information go

Crossroads Blues Society – Rockford, IL

Crossroads Blues Society has many shows coming up in the Rockford, IL area. The monthly shows at the Hope and Anchor in Loves Park continue $5 cover, 8 to 11:30 PM: Sat Dec 14th – Ivy Ford. Lyran Society, Rockford, IL, 7 to 10 PM No Cover Fri Dec 6th – Trinadora Rocks Sock Hop, Fri Dec 20th – Bob Frank.

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.  December 9 – Studebaker John, December 16 – The Mud Bugs, December 23 – Brabdon Santini, December 30 – James Armstrong.

BB logo

116 Espenscheid Court, Creve Coeur, IL 61610 © 2019 Blues Blast Magazine (309) 267-4425

Please follow and like us: