Issue 13-7 February 14, 2019

magazine cover image

Cover photo © 2018 Marilyn Stringer

 In This Issue 

Tee Watts has our feature interview with bassist Scot Sutherland. We have 6 Blues reviews for you this week including a historical compilation of classic artists called Confessin’ The Blues plus new music from John Primer, Frenchie’s Blues Destroyers, John Greyhound Maxwell, Tokyo Tramps and Mike Zito.

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

 From The Editor’s Desk 

bbma logo imageHey Blues Fans,

The 2019 Blues Blast Music Award submissions are now open. There are 12 categories. Eligibility dates and all submission details are at:

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

Wishing you health, happiness and lots of Blues music!

Bob Kieser

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 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 6 

john primer cd imageJohn Primer – The Soul of a Blues Man

Blues House Productions

12 tracks

John Primer releases his first soul blues album backed by his regular band and some special guests and it’s a winner! Three new songs coupled with nine soul blues classics give the listener a compendium of interesting cuts to savor. The album has cuts made famous by Johnny Taylor, Bobby Bland, Freddy King, Brook Benton, Clarence Carter, Lloyd Price and Toussaint McCall along with a nice trio of new cuts and blues tunes that Primer’s fans new and old will enjoy.

John’s band is the quite talented, featuring Steve Bell on harp, Lenny Media on drums, Chuckaluck on bass, and Ronnie Hicks on keys. His adding Steve Bell to his band has made this CD and his live shows even better. Son of Carey Bell, Steve is an outstanding harmonica wizard and makes for an outstanding pairing with Primer on stage and in the studio. Guests Charles Kimble on sax and Grammy winner Billy Flynn as a special guest on guitar fill out the ensemble and make for a full and very cool sound. Primer is known for his guitar work since his days with Muddy Waters, but he has also always been an extremely capable and soulful vocalist who has a unique presence behind the microphone.

The album gets underway Clarence Carter’s “Slip Away.” His approach turns the tune into a blend of soul and Chicago blues with his own style of vocals and some powerful harp by Bell. “Help Me Through the Night” was made famous both by Bobby Bland and Freddy King. Primer takes a metered approach to pacing out the vocals with soul and a touch of country blues; the sax work adds a nice touch to the cut, too, taking the sound up several notches. His guitar is also both thoughtful and stinging, giving the song more taste. “Meet Me in the Morning” is a Bob Dylan song that Freddy King also covered. Primer’s vocals are actually a lot better and his guitar holds its’ own. The use of Bell’s harp not just as foil but as a major part of the cover also makes for a cool touch. The first original is “You Shouldn’t Tell A Lie.” This is pretty much straight up Chicago blues with perhaps the flair of some Jimmy Reed styled harp.

Toussaint McCall’s “Nothing Takes the Place Of You” takes on a new face with Primer’s less “churchy” approach. McCall’s forthright vocals and backing solo organ are great, but Primer gives it a more modern soul sound with a touch of Chicago blues. Bell’s harp once again is used effectively to sweeten the pot. The Lloyd Price doo wop classic “Stagger Lee” gets turned more into a Chicago blues song than a soul song, but it’s still cool and Steve Smith once again nails his harp solo and support. Primer’s guitar is also quite cool. The second original is “Please Don’t Leave Me Baby,” another soulful new Chicago blues by Primer and company. Thoughtful guitar and harp and a clean sound are hallmarks here. “Get Your Money Where You Spend Your Time” is another Bobby Bland tune. Here the cut benefits from a nice dose of horns for soul and harp for blues while Primer puts his spin on the cut vocally. Different than Bland, and well done.

“Rainy Night in Georgia” is Tony Joe White’s classic that Brooks Benton’s made his own in 1970. Primer’s guitar and Bell’s harp make the intro and backing support light and airy; Primer’s vocals are good and his approach interesting. He’s been doing the song a lot at his live performances which you can tell because he sings it with comfort and feeling. The final original is “Meet Me in the Park,” a very nice shuffle. Primer shows us his roots in Chicago blues once again. Humorous lyrics, cool harp and great guitar help sell this one. Primer again turns to a Bobby Bland Malaco Records standard with “Members Only.” Primer gives it his all and does a nice job. His tenor compared to Bland’s baritone obviously creates a different feel, but it’s still good. Bell’s harp also makes for a cool cover as does Primer on his guitar. Primer turns to Johnny Taylor for the last cut; “Still Called the Blues” is a Chitlin Circuit big band soul tune with backing female vocalists. Primer takes it to The South Side of Chicago with his guitar and Bell’s harp. Hos vocals are his own and he puts his stamp on the cut.

Primer does not try to be anything but himself. His soulful blues voice offers a different approach to the soul tunes here and I think he’s successful at what he attempted. He’s not trying to be Bobby Bland, Johnny Taylor, Brooks Benton or anyone else, he’s being himself and singing stuff he enjoys. The blues stuff is tight, the soul is fun and his synergy with Steve Bell is quite apparent. Primer’s fans will love this as will fans of Chicago blues. This is stuff Primer brings to his live act and he enjoys playing to his audiences with it. He’s comfortable singing blues or soul and we what we have gotten with this is a fine soul blues album delivered by one of the masters of Chicago blues.

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.

 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 6 

frenchies blues destroyers cd imageFrenchie’s Blues Destroyers – Love Is Blood


9 Tracks/26:01

Hailing from Austin, TX, this duo consists of Kevin “Frenchie” Sciou on guitar and Brother Pete Coatney on drums. Sciou was a native of France until he sold off a prized guitar to underwrite his move to the USA. Both men were members of Jack Ingram’s band, and the guitarist was also in Stargunn with Shooter Jennings. AU.S citizen since 2106, Sciou wrote all nine tracks, celebrating the American roots music traditions that originally captivated as a teen-aged guitarist.

In the promotional literature that accompanied the disc, Coatney comments,”We consider ourselves Blues musicians but more often than not, we stray away….hence the ‘destroying the blues’ analogy”. True words indeed, as one listen to this brief recording quickly illuminates the bands tenuous connections to the blues. The opening salvo, “Little Bit Crazy,” sports a catchy hook over a driving beat accented by Sciou’s overdubbed vocals and guitar parts. The same formula is utilizes again on “Beautiful Mess,” which rocks with plenty of attitude. The title cut slows the pace as Sciou’s measured vocal is bulked up with echo & reverb to forge a spooky atmosphere.

“Bound For OKC” finds the duo offering thier take on the familiar boogie rhythm, the insistent guitar riff dominating the mix to the detriment of the lead vocal. There is a brief segment of acoustic blues guitar that leads off “Night Time Is The Right Time,” but then things dissolve into a murky sound peppered with generic lyrics. “Can’t Stand Missing You” is the disc’s best track, with Taylor Tatsch filling out the sound on the organ. “JuJu Boo Bunny” is a throwaway track while “Get Through To You” shows the duo has managed to incorporate some of the Mississippi hill country sound into their repertoire. The closing number, “Behind The Wheel,” veers off into a jaunty, country-tinged detour.

The duo format is tough to pull off, requiring a strong singer, sharp instrumental skills, and compelling songs. Frenchie’s Blues Destroyers show some promise in all three areas. But the short playing time and minimal blues content confirm Coatney’s self-assessment of the project.

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

 Featured Blues Review – 3 of 6 

john maxwell cd imageJohn Greyhound Maxwell – Even Good Dogs Get The Blues

self release

12 songs time-43:56

John Greyhound Maxwell from Washington state combines his warm, inviting voice with his amazing acumen at acoustic slide guitar playing. His accompaniment is minimal, employing the occasional harmonica, piano, upright bass or violin. It’s his deft slide work that shines here. Try not tapping your foot when he gets moving on the strings. He surely makes it sound so easy and smooth.

The original “Bus Drivin’ Man” and Ma Rainey’s “Yonder Come The Blues” in particular highlight John’s warm and rich voice. The Ma Rainey song evokes musicians playing on the front porch for their own enjoyment. On these two tunes as well as elsewhere he jumps back and forth between finger-picked and slide guitar with a breath taking ease. Without the benefit of liner notes you would be hard pressed to differentiate between his originals and the covers of old time blues as his own tunes capture that era and ring of authenticity.

The self penned “St. Louis Women” with its’ interplay of guitar, violin, harmonica and upright bass give the song an old timey feel. Blind Alfred Reed’s “How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times And Live” from 1929 will be familiar to many listeners from Ry Cooder’s classic rendition. Here the song is stripped down to just John’s magnificent guitar set against his inviting voice.

The three original solo guitar instrumentals vary from the spritely rambunctious sliding guitar of “Bella’s Romp”, the Roy Book Binder-ish finger-picking of “Capturing The Humility Vote” to the moody and pensive slide of “Salish Sea Slide”. “Humility Vote” is much in the style of Roy Book Binder with its’ thumping bass line and simultaneous melody.

Tampa Red’s “Things About Coming My Way” personifies the old timey blues. “My Town” finds the vocal in perfect unison with the guitar on another fine Maxwell song that speaks to the simple pleasures of small town existence. John rides out into a beautiful delta sunset with a melancholy version of Charlie Patton’s “Some Of These Days I’ll Be Gone” featuring the loveliest guitar playing this side of heaven.

I find in this recording a wondrous and rare gem were John’s mellifluous vocalizing melds with his gifted guitar styling’s.

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

 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 6 

tokyo trampd cd imageTokyo Tramps – If I Die Tomorrow

Vagabond Entertainment

CD: 13 Songs, 52:09 Minutes

Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues Rock, Guitar Monster Blues, All Original Songs

Blues fans, what external stimulant wakes you up in the morning? Coffee? Tea? Something a bit stronger? If none of those work on a bleak Monday (or any day, come to think of it), try a dose of the Tokyo Tramps. Their latest album, If I Die Tomorrow, is a high-voltage jolt of monster guitar from lead man Satoru Nakagawa. All thirteen songs on this CD are originals, which is a bonus because it showcases their in-your-face style. With blasting instruments and no-nonsense vocals, the Tokyo Tramps know how to party. They’re a bar and dance club band, an ensemble that eschews classic blues in favor of the high-octane postmodern variety. Purists beware. Those of you who are in the mood to jump in a mosh pit (or imagine you are), this will get you going.

Their corner of the Internet provides revealing background information. Hailing from the Land of the Rising Sun (Japan), the Tokyo Tramps are a group of American roots and blues fanatics. The musical journey started when Satoru Nakagawa left Japan to go to Louisiana searching for the spirit of rock and roll. Soon he found the key: blues. Yukiko Fujii left a lucrative job in Tokyo and took a giant step following her heart to play American music. Then in 1999, the group was born in Boston. Satoru took the stage name “Tramps” from his early idol, Bruce Springsteen’s song, “Born To Run” – “Tramps like us, baby, we were born to run,” Satoru says. “American music changed our lives. Four individuals chanced to meet in Boston, and taking cues from our musical heroes, were creating something very unique and exciting. We are making our dreams come true every time we play.”

The Tokyo Tramps consist of Satoru Nakagawa on lead guitar and lead vocals, Yukiko Fujii on bass, vocals and keyboards, and Tim Carman on drums, vocals and percussion.

The song below is a prime example of the Tramps’ musical journey, and mighty catchy to boot.

Track 07: “Betty’s Kitchen” – Don’t have the time or the inclination to write an autobiography? Try a peppy blues song, as Satoru Nakagawa did. “Let me tell you a story; it goes back to ’93. I was an immigrant with an impossible dream…When I was feeling down, I’d meet my black mama Betty, and she’d say ‘Come on in (come on in my kitchen).’” Here Satoru fell in love with the blues and the female mentor who cherished them. With a funky 1970s-style intro heavy on the funk and the wah-wah pedal, “Betty’s Kitchen” is easily the best song on the album.

Can’t get bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the A.M.? The Tokyo Tramps’ latest will do the trick!

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 38 year old female Blues fan. She brings the perspective of a younger blues fan to reviews. A child of 1980s music, she was strongly influenced by her father’s blues music collection.

 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 6 

confessin the blues cd imageVarious Artists – Confessin’ the Blues


2 CDs/41 tracks total

This Blues compilation by BMG is touted as selections picked by The Rolling Stones as representing the genre that gave them their start. The cover art is a hand painting by Ronnie Woods and the booklet with the set is penned by music writer Colin Larkin. 10% of the receipts for the set go to Willie Dixon’s Blues Foundation. “The Blues. It’s probably the most important thing America has given the world.” is inscribed within and on the back cover, a quote by Keith Richards.

The lineup here is not necessarily the absolute biggest hits from each artist, but something that well represents what the blues is all about from them. Muddy Waters is represented with four tracks, of course including the song that gave the Stones their start as opener. “Rolling Stone,” “I Want To Be Loved,” “I Just Want To Make Love To You,” and “Mannish Boy” give us a representative taste of Muddy and what the Stones liked best about him. Howlin’ Wolf also gets four of his cuts represented, “Little Red Rooster,” “Commit A Crime,” “Just Like I Treat You,” and “Little Baby.” The set’s title comes from Jay McShann & Walter Brown’s classic tune and it is used to close out the first CD.

Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Little Walter, Elmore James, Eddie Taylor and Robert Johnson each get a pair of tunes apiece included. The RJ cuts are beautifully restored and clean from the most recent restoration. “Love In Vain Blues” and “Stop Breakin’ Down Blues” are the two from the early Delta master.

Magic Sam’s “All Your Love” is included on the first CD as is Slim Harpo’s “King Bee.” Otis Rush’s “I Can’t Quit You Baby” is also on the first CD as are cuts by John Lee Hooker, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Little Johnny Taylor and Big Maceo.

The second CD has the ten minute “The Prodigal Son” by the Rev. Robert Wilkins right in the middle of it. Boy Blue’s “Boogie Children” and BB King’s first version of “Rock Me Baby” are included along with tunes by Jimmy Reed, Billy Boy Arnold, Dale Hawkins, and Amos Milburn.

While seasoned blues fans will likely have these tunes in their collections, it is a nice compilation on two CDs, two LPs and 5-10 inch records resembling 78’s. The book inside includes a nice history and bios on all the artists. Newer blues fans and even folks new to the blues based on the Stones’ latest album Blue and Lonesome will get a nice introduction to the genre that was the first musical form to arise in the States.

I first listened to the set in my car on the road. It’s perfect for that as you get a nice dose of classics by some of the greatest blues artists ever. Take this one as you travel to the next festival or big blues event to get you in the right mindset- these tunes and all the artists are both great and a lot of fun to listen to. Newbies to the blues should surely run out and buy this as a great indoctrination to the music that influenced everything we listen to today. I enjoyed this and any blues fan will, too!

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.


 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 6 

mike zito cd imageMike Zito – Blue Room

Ruf Records

10 tracks

Recorded live in a basement in St. Louis, this is Mike Zito at age 27 and his trio in 1998. Mike and his band played until 6 AM at all all-night club in St. Louis and then hit the studio at 9 AM as they had $1,000 and a day or two to make an album. Beer, rum, bravado and no sleep helped produce this album.

Playing two nights every weekend in the back room at the topless club Lucious Boomers, these guys were in demand for their original cuts which supplanted the covers they were weaned on. Playing 7 nights a week, Mike on guitar and vocals, Doug on bass and Brian on drums were working their craft. Playing every genre anyone wanted to hear, these guys learned fast. Zito wrote all the songs here except for the last one. Doug Byrkit and Brian Zielie were college boys and Zito was uneducated but supplied the moxie and bravado.

“Hollywood” opens the album and it’s a stinging, funky blues rocker. The groove is slick, the sound is fresh and the vocals have grit and attitude. The 28 year old Zito shows his stuff with originality and moxie. Over blown guitar riffs and a deep bass groove get the blood moving. Next is “Pull The Trigger” where the guitar is a little distorted and the vocals are even grittier than before. Zito talks his woman down from the gun pointed at him as he tries to apologize to her. Another big guitar solo that’s a bit over the top, it shows promise and drive. With “It’s All Good” we get more of the edgy, driving, rock sound of the opener.

“Gravy Jam” gives us more of than funk in an instrumental. Major guitar riffs, a big bass solo, and then Zito lets it all out with distortion and effects blowing things away. Things take a different tact with “Lovering” where Zito mixes slow blues in a Hendrix sort of style with a West Coast psychedelic guitar sound and traditional blues in A-A-B format. Things blow up quickly as Zito shreds mid cut; obviously for effect but it’s a bit too much for me yet I can see how folks loved it.

The second half of the album begins with “Shoes Blues” where things get off a bit mundane in comparison to the prior cuts. Zito sticks with the old A-A-B format. The solo shreds less but the cut is forthright and drives along smartly. As things progress, the shredding increases as does the wildness. Up next is “Ways About You” where more restraint is shown. The song is sort of a ballad but you can feel Zito wanting to break out. Mike manages to keep things moderately restrained until the end where things bust out a bit again right at the end. “Soundcheck” returns to the big driving rock instrumental sound.

The start of “Lightning Bug” sounds as if Zito is going into “Foxy Lady” but then gets a full frontal funk groove going where he growls and groans the vocal lead. Things stay moderately in control but the last third of the cut (which is almost 8 minutes long in total) goes off the deep end again with a little bit of wild vocals and a lot of shredding. Things draw to a close with “Rocket Man,” but not the way Elton John did it. Zito takes the tempo way down and makes it into a somber blues. The last third of the song builds a bit and runs along into a short but major guitar solo that shreds us into the close.

There is a lot of shredding going on. Not exactly what I look for, but one can see that Zito has talent and that he and his band were tight. Hell, they even lived together. The CD garnered lots of local airplay and love and it made its’ way to larger audiences. Walter Trout heard it, fell in love and had Mike and the boys open for him. Here we are 20 years later after battling alcoholism, leaning on his wife Laura who reintroduced him to life, his great solo work and his run in the first version of Royal Southern Brotherhood and we have the star we have today.

Zito says he would not change a thing despite the problems he faced. His first album stands the test of time and this newly remastered Ruf re-release shows us where this young man was and gives us an idea where he came from. It’s rough and tumble, it shreds and pounds and drives hard, but it’s full of emotion and grit. Perhaps not for the faint of heart, but it’s not fun living like that. Give it a spin on your CD player and see what the young Mike Zito and friends were doing in their heady days back in St, Louis. I think you’ll enjoy it.

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.

 Featured Interview – Scot Sutherland 

scot southerland photo 1Bassist Scot Sutherland had the Aeroplane Blues (as opposed to Robert Johnson’s Terraplane Blues!) when we touched base with him on the eve of Blues Cruise # 32 on which he sailed with the Welch-Ledbetter Connection, the band that he anchors with his bass chops. When he and his wife arrived in Ft. Lauderdale, the airline had misplaced their luggage. Fortunately, it was located and delivered to the Sutherland’s hotel after midnight. We did the interview on the Sunday morning before the cruise launched.

As joyous as the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruises usually are, #32 is marked with melancholia due to the sudden and tragic passing of Mike Ledbetter of the Welch-Ledbetter Connection. The hugely popular and talented Ledbetter died as the result of medical emergency at his Illinois home on January 21, 2019.

“Let me tell you man, to me it’s still unbelievable. You know, I was at his funeral. I saw him. I thought I’d be well and put a little closure to it. Now, it’s as if Mike Welch and the rest of the band is in a foggy haze. It comes and goes. It’s gonna be bittersweet on this cruise, you know? I think it will help us by talkin’ about it and cryin’ some more man,” says Scot.

The question is raised, who will play and sing Mike Ledbetter’s part?

“Curtis Salgado. Mike always loved Curtis and what Curtis did. We thought about it, you know, who could come and fill that spot. Curtis was the only one that really kinda stuck out. I mean, there’s gonna be singers like Danielle Nicole and Victor Wainwright that are coming up to do a couple, but Curtis is gonna do the bulk of it. We can’t thank him enough for steppin’ in and doin’ it.”

Scot Sutherland was born a half a century ago in Central Iowa and says he has always loved music.

“As a kid in elementary school, I sang in the school choir, chorus and church choir. My mom and dad always had the radio on and they had a couple of Elvis records and some Country recordings around the house. There was always some kinda music around.”

Scot recalled the first time he saw a famous musician live, at the impressionable age of 8.

“I remember my mom taking me to see Kenny Rogers live in about 1977. I was probably about 8. He was pretty much at the top of his career at the time with hits like “The Gambler”. It was in a huge hall.

“When I was very young I wanted to be a drummer. What little kid doesn’t? I remember asking my mom if I could play drums in the school music program. She called the school and they said, ‘We’d love to have him play but he has to take at least a year of piano in order to be in the percussion program.’ Unfortunately, as an 8 year old, I wasn’t really hip to playin’ piano. It didn’t dawn on me that I probably could’ve went to a music store and got private drum lessons.

scot southerland photo 2“At that time, my life consisted of my school, friends, neighborhood and parents. Outside of that, I really didn’t know much. Long story short, middle school came and went and when I got to high school, it seemed like everyone was playing guitar or drums. I started to think that if I really wanted to get into this racket, maybe I should play bass. I figured that in order to get involved with my peers, I should consider bass, cuz nobody I knew was playin’ bass. I was 14 when I got my first one and it didn’t put me off at all. I wasn’t like a frustrated guitarist. I took right to it and thirty-five years later, I’m still playin’ the thing!”

Thirty-five years notwithstanding, Scot Sutherland is perhaps the youngest ever inductee into the Iowa Blues Hall of Fame.

“I guess,” he says. “I cant think of anybody off the top of my head that would be younger. I’ve been doing it a long time. I started playing Blues and R&B music when I was in high school. I just turned 50 recently so it’s an honor.”

Scot’s career is dotted with awards for high achievement. He was a member of the Tommy Castro Band that won the 2010 Band of the Year at the Blues Music Award festivities that year. The band also won the Best Contemporary Blues Album award for their release, Hard Believer.

In 2013 Scot was nominated by the Blues Foundation for bassist of the year. Albums that he played on in 2017; Mike Zito & The Wheel, Keep Coming Back and Albert Castiglia’s, Big Dog, were both nominated for Blues Rock Album of the Year. He has toured the world several times over and worked with the best.

“The largest crowd I’ve played for was estimated at 85,000 in Brazil. People ask me, what it like to play in front of that many people. Well, the thing is, you don’t really sense all those people. I mean, you see the two or three hundred people in front of the stage, but after that, it’s just a wash. You know there’s a lot of people out there but it doesn’t make you nervous. That was a great moment in my career with Tommy Castro.

“Backing up the legend Pinetop Perkins was a good one too. That was back when he was 70 years of age in the early ’90s. Back when he was still drinkin’ and havin’ a good ol’ time. I was also able to back up Son Seals in the last year of his life. We did two short little tours and festivals with him. I was playin’ with the James Solberg Band. James is known for his work with Luther Allison. He was Luther Allison’s right hand man for like thirty-plus years. They wrote and co-wrote together. Son Seals was real fragile at that point but was still kickin’ butt on guitar. It was a beautiful thing, a great experience for me. I’ve backed up a lot of people, but those are kind of the highlights for me, because in my eyes, those guys are heroes and legends that I’ve been listening to my whole life. When you get to play with them, that’s pretty big stuff in my opinion.”

So what does the first call bass man use in his gear arsenal?

scot southerland photo 3“Uh, usually live, I use an Ampeg amp, SVT series, the big tube amps. I have a couple of those heads. I use 410 cabinets or 810 if it’s a larger venue. If I use an amp in the studio, it’s usually an Ampeg B-12 or B-15. Those are great for recording. I also like mics that pick up the low end, like an Electro-Voice RE20. And sometimes, I just go direct into the board using a pre amp tube that warms it up a little bit. For Blues or Roots-type music, I like the warmer bass tone that you get from tubes. I think it fills up the sound a little better in that situation as opposed to using a solid state amp. I like the warmer sound.

“Axe-wise I have a 1972 Fender Precision bass, (signed by Rocco Prestia and Donald “Duck” Dunn. I have a 1977 Fender Jazz bass. I don’t usually take the ’72 out much anymore. I have another Precision whose specs are from the ’70s, but it’s actually a newer bass. And I have a Fender Precision fretless with a 1975 body and a ’77 neck, kind of a Frankenstein with a Jazz pickup. It’s a great bass.”

The fretless conversation of course brings up a Jaco Pastorius anecdote.

“Man, I play bass. Every bass player in the world is a Jaco fan! I never got the chance to see him live. I discovered him in high school when I was playing in the Jazz band. My saxophone playing peer handed me a cassette and said, ‘Take this home and check it out.’ It was Heavy Weather by Weather Report. It had “Birdland” on it. I went home and listened to it and remember going back the next day and asking my friend, who was playing guitar on the intro to “Birdland”? He said, ‘That’s not a guitarist, that’s Jaco Pastorius playin’ bass.’ I said, ‘What?’ That really blew my mind and opened my head up quite a bit. Bein’ in the Jazz band in high school was cool because the band director was pretty cool. We’d be playin’ uh, the Maynard Ferguson chart of Herbie Hancock’s “Chameleon” and I was the type of kid that would investigate, so I bought the Headhunters record by Herbie. I was 15 years old and that blew my mind too. That was kinda like my intro to real greasy Funk.”

Scot also relates how he became the first call bassist in Des Moines.

“I played with Lucky Peterson a few times and backed him up. There was a club in Des Moines called Blues On Grand. Sometimes the artist would come through without a band, so I always got the call to play bass on those gigs. It allowed me to strike up a rapport with the artist and possibly get hired again. I met a lot of people that way, man. I like to think I’m the first call guy in Des Moines to this day.”

On his way off the phone to the Blues Cruise boat, Scot sends a shout out to Blues fans.

“I’m really thankful and appreciative of all the support and hope to see everybody at a live show soon. That’s the whole thing man, keep this ball rollin’. The key to that is the people comin’ out.”

For more info on Scot Sutherland, please visit his website at

CyberSoulMan Tee Watts is music director at KPFZ 88.1 fm in Lakeport, California. His radio show, The CyberSoulMan Review airs Tuesday afternoons from 3-5 PST. He is road manager for Sugar Pie DeSanto, the last Queen standing from the glory years of Chess Records.

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The Saskatoon Blues Society – Saskatoon, SK

Outstanding Canadian and International Blues Artists to Perform at the 17th Annual Saskatoon Winter Blues Festival February 19-March 2, 2018 at The Bassment 202 4th Ave N, Saskatoon, SK. Hosted by The Saskatoon Blues Society and Sponsored by Cherry Agencies, the 2019 festival performers are: Morgan Davis (Detroit), Crystal Shawanda (Wikwemikong reserve, Ontario), Mama B and Freight Train (Saskatoon), Amos Garrett (Detroit), and Harpdog Brown (Edmonton).

A fantastic mix of seasoned veterans will be gracing the main stage at The Bassment for the 17th annual Saskatoon Winter Blues Festival. The annual Winter Blues Festival is the premier Saskatoon blues event. Tickets are on sale now online at the Saskatoon Blues Society website, and other retail outlets.

Crossroads Blues Society – Rockford, IL

Monthly shows on the second Saturday of each month at Hope and Anchor English Pub on N 2nd St in Loves Park, IL. They are 2/9/18 Mike Wheeler Band, 3/9/19 John Primer, 4/13/19 The Cash Box Kings and 5/11/19 Corey Dennison Band. All shows 8 PM to 11:30 PM.

First and Third Friday’s feature the Blues at the Lyran Society Club on 4th Avenue in Rockford and a great fish fry, too! The schedule is 2/1/19 Sistah Beth Blues, 2/15/19 Recently Paroled, 3/1/19 Hobson’s Choice, 3/15/19 Milwaukee Slim with Billy Flynn, 4/5/19 Dave Fields and 4/19/19 Oscar Wilson and Joel Patterson. No cover, 7 pm to 10 pm.

Prairie Crossroads Blues Society – Champaign, IL

Prairie Crossroads Blues Society continues holding two Blues Jams each month. Thanks to Pipa’s Pub, 604 S. Country Fair Dr. in Champaign for hosting these jams 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 open to all the jammers in the house.

In February the Blues Deacons will host and Sunday March 10, we welcome back Robert Kimbrough Sr. Robert is the youngest son of Junior Kimbrough and put on an amazing show at the 2018 Prairie Crossroads Blues Fest. Bring your instrument. For more info visit:

The Illinois Central Blues Club – Springfield, IL

The Illinois Central Blues Club has announced the line-up of talent for Blue Monday live performances held every Monday night at the Alamo, 115 North Fifth, Springfield, IL from 8:00pm to midnight. Additional information on any performer listed below is available upon request.

Feb 11 – David Lumsden’s Hues Of Blues Band, Feb 18 – Emily Burgess, Feb 25 – The Rockin’ Jake Band, Sunday, March 3 – Johnny Rawls plays the 7th Annual Randy Devillez Blues Celebration, March 4 – The Nick Schnebelen Band For more information visit

The Charlotte Blues Society – Charlotte, NC

The Charlotte Blues Society is pleased to announce The Instigators as our featured artists at our March CBS Blues Sunday on 3 March, 2019. Show is at 8:00, followed by an open Blues Jam at 9:30.As always, the event will be held at the Rabbit Hole, 1801 Commonwealth Avenue, Charlotte, NC 28205.

Admission is free to members with valid cards and just $5.00 to all others.

Please remember to bring donations of canned foods or household items for Loaves and Fishes. 1 Can? I Can! Help end hunger in Charlotte!

Great Northern Blues Society – Wausau,WI

To celebrate 20 years of the Blues Café, we will be kicking off the weekend by hosting a 20th Anniversary Party, Friday, March 8 at the Rothschild Pavilion (near Wausau, WI). Doors will open at 5:30 pm, with Howard “Guitar” Luedtke getting things started at 6:30 and Reverend Raven & The Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys taking the stage at 8:30.

Friday admission can be bought the night of the event for $5 and is included with all Saturday Blues Café ticket, which will be available to purchase at Friday’s event.

Saturday’s Blues Café lineup includes the Mark Cameron Band at 1 pm, the Ivy Ford Band at 3 pm, the Cash Box Kings at 5 pm, the Danielle Nicole Band at 7 pm, and Ronnie Baker Brooks at 9 pm. Doors will open at noon. We hope you can join us for a weekend of great music, and to celebrate 20 years of good times at the Blues Café. For more information, visit

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