Issue 14-18 April 30, 2020

Cover photo © 2020 Bob Kieser

 In This Issue 

Marty Gunther has our feature interview with Blues legend Bobby Rush. We have 8 Blues reviews for you this week including a Blues guitar instruction video from Stefan Grossman’s Guitar Workshop by Rolly Brown called Where Blues Meets Jazz, plus new music from The Michael Mills Band, The Forrest McDonald Band featuring Andrew Black, Backtrack Blues Band, Jake Curtis Blues Band, Jim Diamond Revue, Al Gold and Liz Mandeville.



Contemporary Blues Album

Traditional Blues Album

Soul Blues Album

Rock Blues Album

Acoustic Blues Album

Live Blues Recording

Historical or Vintage Recording

New Artist Debut

Male Blues Artist

Female Blues Artist

Blues Band of the Year

Sean Costello Rising Star Award


Recordings released from May 1, 2019 to May 31st, 2020 are eligible.

Complete information along with submission forms are on available our website at:


Submissions accepted until May 15th, 2020.


 Featured Interview – Bobby Rush 

imageAnyone who’s spent any time at all with Bobby Rush knows him to be one of the most upbeat, friendly and humorous folks they’ve ever met – sharp as a tack and a great conversationalist who’s got both big-city smarts and deep country roots.

That’s how Blues Blast found him a few weeks ago, when we contacted him by phone to set up this interview. He was at home in Jackson, Miss., and it was a few days after the world in general and his life in particular had come to a screeching halt.

As a former Chicagoan who first met Bobby at an upscale club on the South Side about 50 years ago, it was an honor for this writer to handle the assignment – the first ever in a warm friendship that’s endured across intermittent meetings through the years.

We don’t cross paths often. But when we do, we enjoy each other’s company for as long as time allows. This one was going to be a pleasure for both of us, something he stated immediately after picking up the phone.

“These are strange times,” he said, his voice strong and cheerful and his seemingly boundless energy masking the fact that he’d been born in north Louisiana more than eight decades ago. “I spent last Saturday at home with my wife and kids. It was the first time on a Saturday in 50…60 years.”

The time wasn’t right for an extended chat. When that call came, however, things had changed. Bobby’s voice sounded slightly strained and his seemingly boundless energy low.

“It’s been rough on me for three or four weeks,” confessed the Grammy winner and Blues Hall of Famer. “They’re tryin’ to put the brakes on me.”

The road warrior had been in Chicago on Valentine’s Day for a major show when he began feeling ill. His symptoms – a fever that came on like a train before subsiding, a dry cough and general fatigue – persisted for weeks, and he suspected the worst: that he’d come down with coronavirus somewhere in his travels.

A man who normally hops around the globe regularly and displays more energy and better moves than most men one-third his age, he was clearly ailing, but stated that his symptoms had lessen and that he was feeling a little better by the day. He insisted on going forward with our talk against this writer’s objection. In my eye, Bobby Rush is nothing short of a national treasure, and his health will always be far more important to me than any story.

But continue we did.

Only later after we spoke did I discover the truth: A week earlier, like many of his fellow musicians who are homebound and off the road for the foreseeable future, he decided to entertain his fans with a solo, acoustic show broadcast on social media. Immediately thereafter, his son and grandson rushed him to a Jackson hospital because his condition seemed worse. Doctors subsequently admitted him briefly before releasing him to return home and self-quarantine. His personal physician also administered a test for COVID-19.

Several days later, when we spoke, the results still hadn’t arrived a week later, and eventually proved to be inconclusive. Always the trouper, Bobby was living apart from his family – something he was ordered to do until April 20. And all of his meals were being delivered twice a day through a state-run program.

Fortunately for him and all who know and love him, Rush’s condition continued to improve after we spoke – so much so, in fact, that he sounded like his old self – both enthusiastic and talkative — on the eve of Easter, when interviewed by Memphis’ Tri-State Defender, which posted a snippet of its phone conversation on its website.

IMAGEEven after admitting he’d “never been so scared in my life, through it all, Bobby was more concerned about how the illness would affect his band of nine musicians and the family he loves so dearly. A man of deep faith, he’s grateful for the overwhelming number of prayers and well wishes offered up by fans and friends around the globe after his family finally released a statement about his condition two months after his symptoms had set in.

Above everything else, Bobby credits God for his recovery, which shouldn’t come as any surprise. After all, he’s the son of a preacher. And despite his chipper outlook on life, he’s a true blues survivor who’s already overcome more pain and hardship than most men could endure.

Bobby Rush is truly a living, breathing bridge to a different era, a world in which the races were still separated and a time when the real giants of the blues world walked shoulder-to-shoulder with him on this earth.

Born Emmett Ellis Jr. in Homer, La., on Nov. 11, 1933, Bobby knows of what he speaks and has literally seen it all.

The son of a guitar- and harmonica-playing minister and farmer, he was street smart as a child despite only attending school about three months a year. He worked in the family’s cotton fields beginning at age seven, regularly spending his time in reverie as he daydreamed about becoming a performer. In his mind, he saw himself on stage and dressed in tails like the man depicted on the tin of Prince Albert tobacco that his father smoked.

He practiced singing in the mirror, and he burned matches and used the charred ends to create a moustache and look older than his tender years. His focus was so strong, in fact, that his mother, Mattie, once hit him in the head with a cup simply to get his attention.

“I’d be pickin’ cotton or choppin’ cotton, doin’ what I had to do,” Rush recalls, “but I had this dream where I was this big superstar. I didn’t know about anything other than the country life, but in my mind, I’d have all of the country men and women waitin’ for me at the end of the cotton field to see me weigh my cotton up and to play a song.”

Although he excelled at Bible study, he never sang in church. But he did build himself a Diddley bow out of a brick, broom wire and glass bottle in the barn, and he experimented with it on Sunday mornings follow the early service and after his father, Emmett Sr., returned to church for afternoon sessions.

His first real guitar came as a gift from his first cousin, Son Scott, and he hid it in the barn loft, where it warped under the heat of the hot Louisiana sun. His father found it six months later, and Rush feared he was in for a whipping. Bobby recounted the incident in the song “Chinkapin Huntin’” on his 2009 Blind Snake CD, and the tune’s title refers to a search for the nuts of a brush-like variety of the chestnut tree common to the South.

At the time, Rush had no clue that his dad was a musician. He was shocked when, instead of a paddling, Emmett Sr. took the six-string from his hands and started singing and playing – and even more so because, when he did, the young boy expected to hear a gospel number akin to “Swing Low Sweet Chariot,” but got a full-on blues performance instead.

IMAGESurprisingly, the song contained strong, un-churchlike sexual overtones. The lyrics, he recalled, repeated the line: “Me and my gal went Chinkapin huntin’/She fell down and I saw somethin’.”

To this day, Rush doesn’t know what his father saw because his dad never completed the verse. But he did teach Bobby how to play both six-string and harp in the months and years that followed. And despite the common belief among the faithful that blues is the Devil’s music, he never dissuaded Bobby from following the dream that eventually resulting in him becoming the superstar envisioned in his dreams.

Instilled with a strong work ethic, in addition to toiling in the fields, Bobby also began transporting the cotton to market at age ten or 11, driving a team of mules by himself to sell it at the gin 15 miles away. Because of his youth, he went unnoticed as he listened intently while the adults around him shared notes about the best time to peddle their wares to get the highest return. The Ellises grew more than cotton, and the tips he picked up quickly made him a major asset in the family’s farming operation.

He grew up soaking up music by listening to radio powerhouses, WLAC in Nashville and KFFA in West Helena, Ark., — whose 50,000-watt signals reached all corners of the South — as well as local gospel and country stations, too. The music he plays today is drawn from a broad range of influences, including everyone from Percy Mayfield, Sonny Boy Williamson and Solomon Burke to Willie Dixon, singer-actor Phil Harris and many others.

Bobby’s first exposure to live blues came at about age 14 after his family had moved to Pine Bluff, Ark., where his dad had assumed the pulpit at a new church. It was there that Big Joe Turner played in Townsend Park on the city’s north side, soon followed by performances from Jimmy Reed, Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters with a young Little Walter in tow.

Continuing a habit he picked up while daydreaming in front of the mirror, Rush donned a fake mustache to make himself look older and started sneaking into clubs. Still in his mid-teens, he befriended and eventually started playing with slide guitar legends Elmore James and Boyd Gilmore, future Chicago keyboard stalwart Johnny “Big Moose” Walker and drummer Robert Plunkett, who backed Otis Rush, Eddie Shaw, Jimmy Dawkins and others. As a group, they eventually relocated to Little Rock for a while, where they worked as the house band at two popular venues, Drums and Jitterbug.

Bobby moved to Chicago at age 19 in 1953, slowly evolving from Emmett Ellis Jr. into Truman Roosevelt and other stage names before adopting the one fans know him by today. He chose Bobby after a favorite cousin and Rush partially because he was always in a hurry to establish himself in show business.

“It was like movin’ to heaven,” Rush says today, “because Muddy Waters was there, B.B. was there…Smokey Hogg, John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Reed…then come Bo Diddley, Pigmeat Markham, Moms Mabley, Johnny Brown…my gosh, all the guys you know who were singin’ the blues was comin’ through Chicago for Chess Records and Vee-Jay.”

His first gigs came in the southwest suburbs, playing in Blue Island before moving to small clubs with white audiences — Skins in Robbins and The Apex in Phoenix — where he sang and played behind a curtain. “They wanted to hear my music,” Rush says, “but they didn’t want to see my face.”

It wasn’t uncommon, he says, to play clubs that were posted “Blacks not allowed,” adding: “It’s nice that the laws have changed, but you know and I know that the hearts of men haven’t changed that much.”

imageAs someone who grew up deeply rooted in the Jim Crow era of segregation and racial prejudice, Bobby has successfully balanced a career that appeals to folks of all colors. But, he says, he’s still waiting for the world to change in a positive direction.

“There’s not too many people around now who realize and recognize that what I have done, what I’m doin’ and what I plan to do is all the same,” Rush says. “I got people around me now tellin’ me all the time: ‘Bobby Rush, we don’t want to hear you talking about what it was. It’s a new day now!’

“I’m tryin’ to find what is the new day… ’cause, as I get older and see thangs, it’s like the Scripture says: There ain’t nothin’ new under the sun. So what everybody talkin’ about? What’s new? You got a new approach, that’s all.

“When they tell me I’m old-fashioned, it burns my heart because even though things have changed, they still remain the same. The saddest thing is that the people I know’d for 50-60 years, they’re not around to know and fight (for true racial equality),” he says. “The people who’s comin’ up – especially in the blues music business — the black music business – most of the guys want to deal with the blackness of the music, but don’t wanna go on and deal with the blackness of it all.

“Most of the guys I know that’s comin’ up now want to wrestle, but don’t want to fall. But any good wrestler is gonna fall – even if you win most of the time.”

As someone who’s been the lifeblood of blues and soul blues for decades, it also bothers him greatly that some folks who claim their music to be “blues” today simply have no clue as to what the music’s all about. In musical terms, he says, “when you can count ‘one and two and…’ the one counts, but the and is just as important – because if you don’t know where the and is, you don’t know where the count is. The music is more than just notes.”

We live, Bobby says, in an era in which the younger, surviving generation venerates living artists as blues gods while ignoring the past. It’s a cultural divide in opinions that’s as clear as black and white. And it’s as important to carry the tradition forward because the stars of the ‘30s through ‘90s are gone and no longer can speak for themselves.

With few exceptions, there’s a distinct, multi-generational gap between Rush and Buddy Guy – who’s three years younger — and the new wave of emergent young black bluesmen, including Marquise Knox, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, Jontavious Willis, Andrew Alli and others.

“Bennie Turner (Freddie King’s brother) can’t tell the stories that Freddie King told,” Rush says. “You can talk to the drummer for B.B. King, but he can’t tell the stories that B.B. tells ‘cause he wasn’t in the room when it all happened. But there are still a few people who can,” he adds. “It’s too bad that most people didn’t get this information.”

There are a great many artists of color trying to carry the blues forward the best way they can, he insists. Talented in their own right, the music they deliver is often primarily neo-soul, hip-hop, rap and more. Check the listings for some of the “blues” festivals Rush headlines – ones aimed directly at a black audience – and it’s apparent that the roster features more artists whose sounds are old-school soul and other art forms with, at best, just a taste of blues itself.

image“They don’t know anything about the real root of the blues,” Bobby insists. “Most of the time, what the white people are sayin’ the kings of the blues is true.

“It’s almost as if the wah-wah (pedal) was invented so the white guys could sound like a black guy. But what’s botherin’ Bobby Rush is that you’ve got black guys buyin’ a wah-wah, tryin’ to sound like a white guy who’s tryin’ to sound black.

“Among my people, they take it as a racial kinda thing. But I’m just tryin’ to set the truth to them: That’s the way it was, and that’s the way it is,” he insists, “because, if you talk right now about who the dominant black men are playin’ the blues today, you’d probably say Buddy Guy and Bobby Rush.

“We’re the only ones left. But we ain’t the only ones playin’ the blues. We’re the only ones who aren’t ashamed of it! But the blues is the root of everything. If you don’t like the blues, you probably don’t like your mama,” he laughs.

“Young people don’t wanna know about the past because it’s too outdated to them. But without the root of the tree…without the root, there’d never be a tree. It’s like ‘I think I know how a woman feels to have a baby,’” he says. “’But I really don’t know ‘cause I never had one myself.’

“That’s where I come in…people like myself…to tell ‘em about people that came before me and taught me what I know that I didn’t know I knowed.”

Bobby’s stage act grew out of that tradition. He started developing it in 1959, a year before he formed his first band, after playing in groups that included Earl Hooker, Freddie King, Ike Turner and Luther Allison in central Illinois and the upper reaches of the Mississippi River.

Booked as the house band at Bagarbar, a club in the Quad Cities community of Rock Island, Ill., he hired a comedian to serve as his emcee, but he backed out at the last minute. A natural comedian and actor, Bobby decided to do it himself. He changed clothes between sets, did a comedy routine as “The Tramp” before rushing backstage again and changing clothes after having delivered his own introduction.

He was so convincing that it took the bar owner five months – during which he’d been footing the bill for the extra performer — before he realized the ruse. At that point, however, Bobby was filling the club to the rafters and his boss never cut his money after finding out.

“I was just bein’ me,” he says. “All I know’d was to pick up my guitar and harmonica, played the best I could play, sung the best song that I know’d to sing and tried to remember the best things that meaned somethin’ to me.”

Rush has been living in Jackson since 1983. In so doing, he broke a vow he made to his parents decades earlier, when he promised them he’d never move there because of the slavery and racial hardships they and their ancestors had endured. He did so, he says, in an effort “to make a difference.”

The founding father of a style of music termed “folk-funk,” Bobby’s shows serve up a combination of over-the-top band of showmanship that includes a world-class band and trio of booty-shaking dancers with occasional interludes of solo, old-school acoustic blues – a mix that appeals to people of all races.

imageWhile a casual listener might misinterpret the strong messages about sexual relations and infidelity that populate many of his songs, they’re all delivered respectfully – and virtually all of them can be traced back to his early life on the farm.

“When I started out, I talked about the things that I related to – good or bad– which was farm things – horses, elephants, cows, dogs and what have you – and then I put them into womanizin’ things,” Rush says, “from a woman’s standpoint and from a man’s standpoint, too… ‘If you was a horse and I was a horsefly, would you let me…’ That sort of thing.

“It’s like Louis Jordan used to sing about the monkey and the buzzard. The monkey always thought that the buzzard was his friend. But when the buzzard tricked him to fly with him, he tried to throw him off knowin’ the monkey didn’t have no wings to protect himself. So the monkey wrapped his tail around the buzzard’s neck…not to hurt him, but to hold on.

“He said: ‘You chockin’ me!’ and the monkey says: ‘Well, you better straighten up and fly right!’ That’s where that song came from. My first gold record, ‘Chicken Heads’ – (No. 34 on Billboard’s R&B charts for the Galaxy label in 1971) – came from another Louis Jordan song, ‘Ain’t Nobody Here but Us Chickens.’”

And if you listen closely to his other material – songs like “What’s Good for the Goose Is Good for the Gander,” “Wearin’ It Out,” “Sue,” “Handy Man, “Hen Pecked” and more – you’ll discover that they primarily deal with unselfish love and deep devotion.

“The woman is the key to everything, man,” he insists. “She’s the key to my life and everybody else’s life — whether we want to admit it or not. Why would you want to go to school if it wasn’t to be educated enough to take care of a woman in your life? Why would you want to learn how to count if it wasn’t countin’ up somethin’ for the one you love?

“I wouldn’t work a day in my life if I didn’t have to take care of my family…’cause the work ain’t what I love. It’s in reverse of what I love.

It’s that attitude that persisted throughout his illness.

“We men are macho and all that,” he says. “But once we get sick, we rely on the woman to bring us some water, rub our heads, soothe our aches and pains and talk to us when we’re down and lift us up when we fall down. The lady is the reason why we do all we do.”

“At this point in my life, I think I’ve got a pretty good idea about where I stand,” he said while still in the midst of his personal battle. “I’ve been fightin’ with this virus thing for four or five weeks now. I’m not so concerned about death itself because they ain’t got no cure for it.

“I’m not a religion nut, but if you’re a believer like I am, what you have to do is put your trust in God that He’ll see me through like He has through all these years. I come from a family of prayer warriors, and that means something to me personally.”

imageThat faith helped Rush overcome immense personal tragedy early on in his life, when he lost both his first wife and three children to side effects of sickle cell anemia. Now a household name around the globe, it helped him preserve for two decades as he became the undisputed king of the chittlin circuit before scoring his first hit record and becoming popular with more affluent, white audiences. And it’s enabling him to persevere today, too.

A four-time nominee, he finally captured his first Grammy at age 83 — for the album Porcupine Meat — in 2017. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2006 and served as the ribbon cutter in 2015, when the Blues Foundation dedicated its new museum in Memphis – a fitting honor when you consider that, at last count, he’d garnered approximately 50 Blues Music Awards nominations and taken home five statuettes as soul-blues artist of the year, two more for both acoustic artist and acoustic album, and one each for historical album, overall album and B.B. King Entertainer of the Year.

But Bobby’s never been one to rest on his laurels. He’s released more than 400 records, including the CD Sitting on Top of the Blues, which dropped last summer, and the recent single, “Dolemite Kid,” a playful childhood reminiscence that’s tied in to his cameo appearance in the new film biography of comedian, actor, singer and filmmaker Rudy Ray Moore, “Dolemite Is My Name,” starring Eddie Murphy.

“That was the best thing that ever happened to me,” Rush says with a smile in his voice. “Eddie Murphy totally embraced me and what I did — but all I did was be myself.

“It’s the way God blessed me. Everybody else was playin’ somebody else. But I was playin’ Bobby Rush!” – a natural role to play when you consider that he and Moore toured together on the chittlin circuit for a decade prior to integration. “How bad could I be playin’ me?

“Rudy Ray and I musta did 150 shows together, playin’ for small crowds in juke joints, VFW halls, dancehalls, bars –and at least 120 of them that made no money at all. Rudy Ray would be the headliner and emcee, and he was a good business man, too, goin’ around with a bullhorn, drivin’ through the streets and announcin’: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, tonight’s gonna be Rudy Ray Moore, Bobby Rush and more’ – goin’ from town to town doin’ that.”

Produced by Vasti Jackson, the “Dolomite” song is related to the movie in name only as it carries forward the folk-funk tradition loaded with boasts and mythical superheroes. In this one, Bobby playfully claims he stuck his hand down an alligator’s throat, “snatched the tongue out of the mouth and used it for my remote.”

The first bluesman ever to sing on the Great Wall of China and a man who still performs up to 200 dates a year, Bobby was already on the path to recovery and eager to get back on the road when we spoke. He’d spent his down time cataloging his extensive originals, and he was already making plans for another acoustic CD.

“You’re the medicine,” he told me as the interview came to a close. Here’s hoping he’s back soon, drawing the audience’s attention to his fine ladies as they shake on stage and smiling that broad, familiar smile for the whole world to see.

Check out Bobby’s music and, hopefully, where he’ll appearing next by visiting his website:

Blues Blast Magazine Senior writer Marty Gunther has lived a blessed life. Now based out of Charlotte, N.C., his first experience with live music came at the feet of the first generation of blues legends at the Newport Folk Festivals in the 1960s. A former member of the Chicago blues community, he’s a professional journalist and blues harmonica player who co-founded the Nucklebusters, one of the hardest working bands in South Florida.


 Featured Blues Review – 1 of 8 

imageRolly Brown – Where Blues Meets Jazz

Stefan Grossman’s Guitar Workshop

110 minutes

Guitar players of all skill level, from campfire amateurs through to spider fingered professionals, need to be taught how to play and can benefit from new ideas. Freshening up one’s six-string technique is the most important part of being a professional slinger. Stefan Grossman’s Guitar Workshop is one of the places that pilgrim players of all levels can go to get some education. Grossman is one of the great intellectual folkies and a talented artist and teacher in his own right. But, the genius of his line of instructional videos is that he has found kindred spirits, master technicians who make beautiful music and are empathetic and organized enough to be master teachers. None is better than the enigmatic Rolly Brown. An acupuncturist and T’ai Chi Ch’uan instructor, Brown is the soft spoken Bob Ross of guitar instruction whose “nuts and bolts” approach to teaching primarily finger-picked Blues and Jazz guitar is accessible and entertaining.

Your humble reviewer has been playing guitar professionally for the past 25 years and I learned a number of cool tricks and techniques from Where Blues Meets Jazz. Using the songs “Route 66,” “Drown In My Own Tears” and “Lover Man,” Brown offers a primer in common tricks used by Blues and Jazz musicians that will make you say “Oh, crap that’s how that’s played!” Rolly breaks down these techniques and adds some music theory into it. But, the instruction is never bogged down by the academic. In fact Rolly clearly shares his at times decidedly non-academic philosophy. This makes Rolly all the more endearing.

Warning: this video is an intermediate to advanced hardcore guitar nerd lesson. It is recommended that you do not watch this with loved ones who do not share your passion for guitar learning, it might be grounds for divorce, (it certainly would have been in my case). The video is plainly shot, straight ahead, and Rolly works through the 3 sections of this lesson with methodical slowness and clarity. There is no flashy arena rock-god shredding or sexy fiery string breaking. What is taught is beautiful and pastoral passes through some of the most common Swing Blues chord substitutions such as the flatted 5th chord and the cycle of 5ths turnaround and solo finger picked Jazz techniques such as bass and harmony complementary lines and arpeggiated chord based soloing verses minor pentatonic scales. If that last sentence left you a little lost, you want to find a more beginner video, Rolly and the Guitar Workshop have them. But, if you have a certain facility and are looking to add a little more zip and spice to your 12 bar Blues game while also challenging yourself to impress your friends and family with some seemingly complicated, but actually quite easy, solo Jazz standards, then get into this video.

Reviewer Bucky O’Hare is a Bluesman based in Boston who spreads his brand of blues and funk all over New England. Bucky has dedicated himself to experiencing the Blues and learning its history. As a writer, Bucky has been influenced by music critics and social commentators such as Angela Davis, Peter Guralnick, Eric Nisenson, Francis Davis and Henry Louis Gates Jr.

 Featured Blues Review – 2 of 8 

imageThe Michael Mills Band – Stand Up

Indienink Music/Sony Music/The Orchard

12 tracks/54 minutes

Hailing from Huntington Beach, California, the Michael Mills Band is a rocking blues band from what they call “the Blues Mecca of the world.” They state influences of Eric Clapton, Joe Bonamassa, The Delgado Brothers, Tedeschi Trucks, Stevie Ray Vaughn and hundreds more. They mix it up with blues, rock, R&B, funk and soul in their approach with a modern and fresh sound. Founded in 2012, the band is tight and together; this was my introduction to them and I was impressed.

The Michael Mills Band is Mills on vocals and guitar, Jesse Godoy on guitar, Scot Campbell in bass, Ron Ravicchio on drums and Mark Weisz on the B3 organ. Also appearing are the three piece saxophone section of Eddie Hagihara, Ron Robbins and Jim Butler. Chef Denis appears on harp and backing vocals are Jackie Simone Elliott and Cydney Wayne Davis. Mills and Godoy wrote all the songs for this endeavor.

The set opens with the title cut “Stand Up,” a driving, up tempo rocker with a solid guitar solo and forth right vocals. Mills and the band get into it with emotion as they start the CD in overdrive. The gears shift as the band moves into “Feel It,” a pretty and emotive acoustic ballad with layers of guitar and vocals to enjoy. The resonator gets broken out for “Real Good Thing” as Mills slips and slides to a solid groove and shouts out the lead vocals in this cool blues. A hot guitar solo and great resonator licks along with powerful vocals make this one a winner. “One More Alone” is a nice slower to mid tempo piece with Mills again aptly singing the lead; another ringing guitar solo is offered up to enjoy here. Mills builds up and then guitar takes us home here. “I’m Not Sorry” is slow blues with a big, meaty guitar intro and bass line. The vocal and guitar testimonials with the cool B3 and horns overlaid are powerful stuff that will get the most ardent blues lover moving and grooving to the sweet, slow blues here. “My New Woman” is up next, another cut with some sweet resonator and a big kick drum beat to get things rolling. Mills tenor vocals are intense, the slide is excellent and we get some well done harp to boot here; more good stuff!

“My Baby Drives” continues the resonator and harp attack with a great shuffling approach. Mills bemoans his baby eating all his food and drinking all his wine as she drives him mad; she has to go! The harp is greasy, the vocals are again cool, the resonator is intense and the groove makes you want to get up and dance. The horns get featured front and center for “Big Black Car.” The guitar and organ lay out some funky stuff and Mills gets into it vocally in this great little blues number. After a couple of verses and a chorus the tenor sax begins to blaze in an intense solo. Mills returns for some more good vocals and then the funky guitar brings us to a fine conclusion. The piano opens “Love Is Ahead of Me” with some lilting notes and then the acoustic guitar and B3 appear before Mills comes in with some somber lyrics as he sings about getting home to his baby. Haunting harmonies and backing vocals make this even prettier. A restrained guitar solo is featured here, too. “I Know” is next with the guitar belting out some hot licks. Mills testifies to us in this slow blues with B3 and guitar with him. The horns come in as the song builds. A huge guitar solo fills a good part of the second half of the song before Mills concludes the piece. “You Can’t Hide” features a hi energy beat and big, rocking feel. West coast guitar fills the listener with a great vibe as Mills sings with abandon and the band cruises with him in high gear. A big, distorted guitar solo hits you in the face for a short bit and then it’s back down the road with the top down and guitar and harp continuing to blare. The album concludes with the rocking “Chasing These Blues,” with a major guitar assault and howling vocals that sound like a fire truck to get things off to a fiery start. The song is another cool blues rocker with a major league beat and hard charging approach. The guitar is big and distorted as Mills maintains order vocally. The final, short guitar solo shreds us to a big finish. Hot stuff!

I had not had the pleasure to listen to Mill and his band before; this was an outstanding intro to these guys and their music. Who knew Huntington Beach could be a hot bed for the blues, but apparently it is; these guys were on fire! Solid guitar work, well done Hammond B3 organ, great vocals and overall fine musicianship all around here- loved this one. If you are looking for something to get down with for the summer, then look no further. Put the top down, turn the volume up and hit the road with this great new CD!

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 – 3 of 8 

imageThe Forrest McDonald Band featuring Andrew Black – Blues In A Bucket

World Talent Records – 2020

11 tracks; 51 minutes

Forrest McDonald is an experienced guitar player and this is his fifteenth album release. Originally from New England, Forrest worked in California for some years but relocated to Atlanta back in the 90’s. This latest album was recorded in Georgia using the current line-up of his band: Forrest is on guitar and adds vocals to two tracks, Atlanta-based Andrew Black is an impressive lead vocalist and Becky Wright also sings one two tracks, Lee Gammon is on bass (Jon Schwenke replaces him on one track), John McKnight drums, Pix Ensign harp, Matthew Wauchope keys (Tony Carey replaces him on two tracks); Jimmy King (trumpet/flugelhorn) and Norman Franks (sax) beef up the sound and backing vocalists Shelene Huey Booker, Romney Seras, Monica Thrower and Jocelyn Ware appear on two cuts. Forrest wrote all the songs here, with assistance on three from three different writers, including former bandmates Raymond Victor and Bob Zinner.

The horns and the drums give opener “Boogie Me Till I Drop” a New Orleans feel as Andrew extols the considerable charms of his lady: “I got a big fat woman, she weighs 500 pounds; when she puts her tail in motion the walls come tumbling down”. It’s a solid start to the album, Forrest contributing an intense solo and the horns making their presence felt. “Blues In The Basement” is a slow-burner which highlights Andrew’s fine vocals and he is clearly in a depressed state, all alone with some cheap booze in the basement, Forrest playing some good stuff over lush organ and a subtle horn chart. The gently funky title track finds the protagonist setting off to go camping (though we note that he takes his guitar with him!). Forrest’s brother Steve died in 2019 and his last words were to ask Forrest to write him a song; “Blue Morning Sun” is a moving tribute and Forrest plays his heart out here as Andrew puts in an equally moving vocal performance. The bright “Go To The Light” is clearly related to Forrest’s bereavement with its positive lyrics for those who have recently passed. The song also adds a dash of soul to the album with the backing choir well to the fore.

“Hard To Lose” is a tough-sounding blues with impassioned vocals and a brooding horn chart, Forrest digging in around the theme while “Windy City Blues” is a slow blues with the piano twinkling around Andrew’s vocals describing how his relationship foundered in Chicago – will he fare better in Memphis which appears to be his next destination? Forrest plays well here in classic blues style set against the horns – a strong track. As the title suggests, “Misery And Blues” is one of those sad slow blues with dramatic horns, harp and another towering vocal. “Powerhouse” also has the harp prominent alongside Forrest’s tough guitar riff as guest vocalist Becky Wright sings dramatically about hoodoo, voodoo, hellhounds and crossroads. Andrew returns to the mike and is “Going Back To Memphis” for “Handy time”, a tune which bounds along with funky horns and exciting guitar. To close the album the band leaves us with a positive message in “Let The Love In Your Heart”. Becky and Andrew share the vocals on this funky tune which features a soulful solo from Forrest. It’s a strong finale with harp, horns and keys all playing their part.

Hats off to Forrest for an all-original album that includes blues, soul and rock. It should have broad appeal and is worth checking out.

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

 Featured Blues Review – 4 of 8 

imageBacktrack Blues Band – Your Baby Has Left

VizzTone Label Group VT-BTB07

9 songs – 47 minutes

One of the longest running bands in Florida, the Backtrack Blues Band has been operating out of the Tampa Bay, when they were founded by vocalist/harp player Sonny Charles and rhythm guitarist/vocalist Little Johnny Walter. But they cut new ground here, making their debut on Boston-based VizzTone Records.

A five-piece band who primarily deliver music based in the Chicago tradition with a little Texas blues, Southern rock and what they term “Dirty South” sounds thrown in for good measure. Their first venture in a studio came in 1983 with the release of Dress It Up on the True Tone imprint. This is their seventh release, which includes stops at Kingsnake, once one of the foremost independent labels in the U.S., and Harpo Records, which issued their well-received live album/concert DVD combo, Make My Home in Florida, in 2018.

Charles and Walter have been sharing stages since meeting as students at the University of North Carolina in the ‘70s. They formed Backtrack after relocating to the Sunshine State at the dawn of the ‘80s. Festival favorites, they’ve toured the U.S. and Canada ever since with occasional trips to Europe, frequently appearing as the opening act for several of the biggest names in the business.

The roster also includes Kid Royal, who doubles on vocals and Texas-style lead guitar, as well as bassist Jeff “Stick” Davis, a Grammy-winner with the country-rock band The Amazing Rhythm Aces, and longtime percussionist Joe Bencomo. Perennial Blues Music Awards candidate Bruce Katz joins in on keyboards along with the Muscle Shoals Horns — Vinnie Ciesielski on trumpet and Brad Guin on saxes – as well as Latonya Oliver and Dana Merriwether on backing vocals.

This disc was recorded at Big 3 Studios in St. Petersburg, Fla., as well as the legendary FAME Recording Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala. Eight of the nine tracks here are Backtrack originals, with Charles – who plays harp in a style reminiscent of Paul Butterfield – penning the first six and Royal – who plays guitar in the T-Bone Walker/Freddie King tradition – the two numbers that close the set.

Royal’s six-string opens “Best Friend’s Grave (Joy, Joy, Joy)” with Charles adding accents. Despite its theme, it’s a pleasant, loping shuffle with minor gospel overtones that celebrates joining in for a graveside songfest several years ago. Sonny’s mid-tune, single-note solo shines, and his vocals, although limited in range, are a pleasant, potent baritone.

The title tune, “Your Baby Has Left,” is a stop-time, uptempo Windy City blues driven by Charles’ powerful attack on the reeds. The horn section chimes in for the first time on “Dixie Grill,” a fiery boogie that’s also propelled by Katz’s distinctive barrelhouse stylings on the 88s. The band takes you on a road trip to Chicago for the percussive shuffle, “Killin’ Time,” before dipping in to Jimmy Reed’s songbook for an interesting take on the familiar “Natural Born Lover,” which lopes steadily with an easy/greasy feel.

The dynamics change as Royal handles the mike for “You’ll Come Back Someday.” It’s a medium-fast shuffle, and the timing of his delivery swings slightly behind the beat as both Charles and Katz shine in instrumental leads. Sonny’s back in charges for “Girl on Bordeaux Mountain,” a love song about a woman living on the British West Indies isle of Tortola, before Kid takes you home with the boogie “She Might Get Mad” and “Times Is Hard,” the only slow blues in the set.

Available through Amazon and other retailers or direct from the band (address above), Your Baby Has Left doesn’t cut much new ground, but it’s a rock-solid example of a seasoned band at its best. It’s the perfect medicine for whatever ails ya!

Blues Blast Magazine Senior writer Marty Gunther has lived a blessed life. Now based out of Charlotte, N.C., his first experience with live music came at the feet of the first generation of blues legends at the Newport Folk Festivals in the 1960s. A former member of the Chicago blues community, he’s a professional journalist and blues harmonica player who co-founded the Nucklebusters, one of the hardest working bands in South Florida.


 Featured Blues Review – 5 of 8 

imageJake Curtis Blues Band – Tales From The South Side

Blue Lotus Recordings – 2019

9 tracks; 42 minutes

Born in Decatur, IL, Jake Curtis calls St Louis, Missouri home these days. His trio won the right to represent St Louis at the IBCs in 2020 and he runs the regular jam at the National Blues Museum downtown. This is his debut release, recorded for local record label Blue Lotus whose head Paul Niehaus IV adds Hammond organ here. Jake calls the Beano album (John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers featuring Eric Clapton) his starting point though you can hear the influence of a certain Jimi Hendrix in his playing too. However, the good news is that this is mainly a blues album, not a rock album with a hint of blues, and is all the better for it. Jake wrote five songs for the disc and adds four covers, two from the blues world, two from rock. The band is Jake on guitar and vocals, Dylan Roussel on bass, Juan Abair on drums and Paul Niehaus on keyboards.

“Let Me Whisper In Your Ear” opens the album, a short rocking shuffle in which Jake is clearly very taken with the girl, his lead guitar overdubbed on to his rhythm work. Slim Harpo’s “(I’m A) Kingbee” is given a solid treatment with slide and Jake’s clear vocals work well here. There is then a run of four originals, two fast, two slow: “I Need Love” brings Jake’s wah-wah pedal into action over a choppy rhythm while “Iodine And Antifreeze” has some fine slide playing over a boogie rhythm, a song that lyrically sits alongside Muddy’s “Iodine In My Coffee”, Jake adopting a more aggressive vocal tone that suits the lyrics. “What Am I Supposed To Do” is a classic slow blues with Paul’s Hammond adding to the lush arrangement. Jake plays and sings well as he is completely in thrall to the girl who continues to reject his advances, even her mother tells him he is “living in a dream; while you’re sitting talking to me, your baby is out running around with every man she sees”. “Leaving In The Morning” is a seven minute long blues that opens with gentle chords over the Hammond wash and builds into a wah-drenched solo that matches the angst of the lyrics.

Three diverse covers close out the album. Paul’s Hammond states the familiar riff of Jagger/Richards’ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ and Jake snarls the familiar lyrics over plenty of wah-wah. Bumble Bee Slim wrote “If The Blues Was Whiskey” (though Jake may have picked the song up from Luther Johnson’s 1994 cover); Jake’s version is played solo on resonator and is a good change of gear from the electric material. The album then closes with Dylan’s “(All Along The) Watchtower”, a song that, famously, Dylan never again played in its original acoustic form after hearing Hendrix’s electric version. The song has been covered so many times that it is hard to find a new angle; Jake’s elegant guitar at the beginning is very pleasing to the ear though his overuse of the wah-wah as the song develops did nothing for this reviewer.

Overall this is a promising debut disc, Jake showing that he has a range of styles at his disposal and the ability to produce original music alongside covers that no doubt appeal to a live audience.

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

 Featured Blues Review – 6 of 8 

imageJim Diamond Revue – Friends & Family


13 songs; 1 hour, 17 minutes

Blues bands often need to diversify and be nimble to survive. Working in multiple styles of Blues, Rock, R&B, and, forget about the struggle to play original material in the bar scene. But, there are markets of varying size in almost every metropolitan area around the globe for well executed feel-good originally presented music. Jim Diamond & The Groove Syndicate have been supplying this need in their home base of the Ohio/Tennessee Valley, nationally and internationally for almost 3 decades. Their newest album Friends & Family, credited to the Jim Diamond Revue, is a bible of the Groove Syndicate’s multifaceted Blues Rock approach. Equal parts Swing, Shuffle, Southern Rock and psychedelic 60’s San Francisco jam, Diamond and co. are eclectic without being schizophrenic; nostalgic without being stale.

Jim Diamond & The Groove Syndicate are focused around husband/wife team of guitarist, singer, songwriter Jim Diamond and drummer Beth Deminski-Boyington. The Diamonds create a smooth consistent groove throughout Friends & Family with support from their syndicate: Mark Wagner on bass, Jon (Reese) Pleasant on keys, Chris Herndon on guitar and occasional lead vocals and Joe DiGiuseppe on tenor sax. Family members, former band-mates and musical colleagues guest throughout not only contributing instrumental and back up support but also lead vocals and guitar (see list below). The sharing of the lead love creates a real family vibe to this record adding another layer of variety.

The Diamonds swing hard. Tunes like “I’m Cryin’,” “Dog House,” “Hot for You” and “Tight Mini Skirt,” are straight up Jump Blues. The band has a hard charging heft to their swing. Deminski-Boyington has a sharp snare crack that is relentless and linear. Herndon’s rhythm guitar work is chugging and full. Diamond’s playing runs the gambit from smooth and slick a la Duke Robillard’s interpretations of the jump to the more jagged and angular original T-Bone style. More rocking shuffles like “Hi-Dee-Hey, Hi-Dee-Ho” featuring slide guitar from Joe Litteral, and instrumental “Cannonball (Alberta Clipper)” add some deep chugging grit.

The Diamonds also rock hard. Southern Rock ballad “Better Way” has a Black Crows gospel hop that is punctuated by Litteral on lead guitar and tenor sax by Ray Warfield. “See the Light” is just the core band laying it down loud. Diamond plays with sinew-y fire, sustaining and pushing his lines. Deminski-Boyington and Wagner make the rhythm pop with straight ahead crack and punch. Instrumental “Sometime in June” with its Motown horn tag, sounds like a rehearsal take from 1969 Santana. The slinky “Rock ‘n’ Roll All over Me” sounds like an actual outtake from Abraxas.

Friends & Family is a big project. Most songs clock in over 5 minutes and three of them are over 7 minutes! This is okay though. This is not endless noodling or self indulgent rhythmic exercises better suited for the practice room. The long songs hold up and move quickly. Tempos are thoughtfully set to ensure interest but do not rush. This is really hard to do, showing off Beth Deminski-Boyington talent. If there is a critique it is that there is too much material. At 13 tracks there is a lot of music to digest. The music never gets boring and the diversity of style and strength of writing keep it moving, you just need multiple sittings to get through.

Jim Diamond & The Groove Syndicate are a highly professional, creative and entertaining band. You can hear the love and friendship in their music. Friends & Family is a fitting tribute to a career of collaboration and connections.

Friends & Family: Ray Warfield, tenor sax; Ryan Stiles, tenor and baritone sax; Joe Litteral, lead guitar; Nick Mowery, lead guitar; Hank (The Hawk) Mowery, harmonica, vocals; Rob Brown, piano; Rob Wurtele, organ; Bob Ramsey, mellotron

Reviewer Bucky O’Hare is a Bluesman based in Boston who spreads his brand of blues and funk all over New England. Bucky has dedicated himself to experiencing the Blues and learning its history. As a writer, Bucky has been influenced by music critics and social commentators such as Angela Davis, Peter Guralnick, Eric Nisenson, Francis Davis and Henry Louis Gates Jr.

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 Featured Blues Review – 7 of 8 

imageAl Gold – Paradise


CD: 10 Songs, 36 Minutes

Styles: Ensemble Blues, Roots, New Jersey Blues, All Original Songs

What is New Jersey blues? Al Gold, a Garden State native, confesses that “it may be difficult to define it as uniquely from NJ…The world has become a much smaller place; musical boundaries trampled and characteristic sounds have been shared. I’m not calling [Paradise] a blues album. Although it’s steeped and rooted in the blues, its options are open and a bit outside of the box.” Translation: There’s a lot to enjoy here, especially for fans of big-band sound. Al and his ensemble, featuring guests such as Johnny Sansone and Dave Stryker, are top-notch musicians, providing an extemporaneous quality to their ten original tracks. Overall, the album sounds tighter than a jam-session CD, but more improvisational than a studio release. Gold and company go with the flow no matter where it takes them. Sometimes the lyrics are hard to decipher, but no one can fault them for their retro aesthetic on every selection. Baby boomers and younger fans of vintage blues, roots and jazz will find Paradise lives up to its name. How, exactly? Read on.

The place to start was at home with Al’s band, the Suburban Rhythm Kings: drummer Jerry Cordasco, guitarist Tom Rice and bassist Terry Hemmer. They like a good groove and as little noodling as possible – two strategies that have worked well for them. They’ve been fortunate to back up several heavyweights passing through their backyard, as well as performing at countless gigs, festivals, and independent appearances. Joining them on this project are guest stars who all live and/or/were based in New Jersey. In alphabetical order, they are guitarist Mitch Eisenberg, jazz organist Jared Gold, pianist Eric Heilner, up-and-coming guitarist/singer Cassidy Rain, Baron Raymonde on sax, multi-instrumentalist and Blues Award winner Johnny Sansone, jazz and blues juggernaut Dave Stryker, and roots singer/songwriter and guitarist Anthony Tamburro. Also featured is V.d. King (with non-capitalized middle initial) on bass and other guitar.

“That’s My Baby” opens the proceedings, ushering in a 1950s vibe and classic subject matter: a cheating partner and an irritated significant other. “Paradise (Downhome)” has a contemplative intro with understated harmonica by Johnny Sansone. Imagine hearing this on an antique radio, on a dark and rainy night. Lyrics like this might chill you: “When I leave this town, I won’t be back no more. You’d still hear me knockin’, knockin’ on your screened back door.” “Tramps Take Linden” is an atmospheric jazz boogie with highlighted drums by Jerry Cordasco. Later on comes sassy number six, “Boogie in the Dark,” with a bouncy beat that’ll move your feet along with other parts of your body. Cassidy Rain provides sultry female vocals. “Won’t Sleep Tonight” is a terrific slow-burning blues track, and the instrumental “Maplewood Limbo” a postmodern meditation suitable for a dance hall/roadhouse scene in a blues biopic.

For lovers of jazz, roots and New Jersey blues, Al Gold’s latest offering is pure Paradise!

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 – 8 of 8 

imageLiz Mandeville – Playing With Fire

Blue Kitty – 2019

13 tracks; 55 minutes

Chicago’s Liz Mandeville has been making albums since 1996 and collaborated with musicians visiting Chicago on her 2016 release The Stars Motel. In a sense this album is a sequel with Liz working with five different musicians. However, there is another strand to the backstory here as Liz was seriously injured in an auto accident in November 2016 and for a while believed that she would never play or perform again. A slow recovery ensued and her rehabilitation was greatly helped by acupuncture and yoga. The sessions here took place as Liz recovered, the first being in July 2017, the last in August 2019. All the material here has lyrics by Liz with most of the music written by her collaborators.

The first session features Italian guitarist Dario Lombardi (who was also featured on The Stars Motel), a rhythm section of Steve Hart on bass and Andy Sutton on drums and Liz on guitar/vocals. Liz’s sassy vocal style is ever-present and the opening shuffle “Bailing The Titanic” has nice interplay between the two guitarists, the title being a metaphor for trying to salvage a doomed relationship, while “Online Love Affair” has some sharply observed lyrics about modern dating methods in a soulful arrangement. “I dreamed that we were angels flying on our golden wings. Our voices were so beautiful they made you cry each time we’d sing. Too much joy, too much love, we became your prey. So we drew those wings inside, they became our shoulder blades”: these are the opening lines of “Everybody Got Wings”, the sentiments enhanced by Anne Harris’ wonderful, haunting violin, making this an early highlight of the album.

Liz’s sense of humor really shows through on “Comfort Food Blues”, a single track recorded with Minoru Maruyama, the regular guitarist in her band The Blue Points. Minoru is on slide, Andy Sutton is again on drums, Darryl Wright on bass and Liz on guitar/vocals. It’s a fun song about over-eating played over a Muddy Waters style riff.

French guitarist Phillippe Fernandez (aka Big Dez) and harp player Gilles Gabisson were in town in June 2019 and laid down three tracks with André Howard on bass, Steve Bass on drums, Liz handling the vocals. “Keep On Workin’” is a great piece of rock and roll with good harp and guitar accents over a driving rhythm, “I Just Cry” is a slow blues with Gilles’ harp giving the song a real Chicago feel and “How Many Times (Do You Get To Break My Heart)” rolls along with Liz determined not to let an old flame back into her life, backing vocals added by Jeannie Tanner, Charlie Kimble and Johnny Cotton.

Chronologically the session with Boston-based fiddler Ilana Katz Katz was the last (August 2019) but appears next on the album with two amusing songs written by Liz with ‘lyrics tweaking and good vibes’ by Ilana whose fiddle works well on these fun tunes. Steve and André are again the rhythm section and Liz’s husband Carl Uchiyama adds backing vocals to the first track. Of course “He Loves My Biscuits” is not actually about cooking and is simply great fun while Liz has found the solution to all the ills of the world in “Just Give Her Chocolate”.

The session with Dutch resonator player Peter Struijk took place in 2018 but appears as the closing section here. It is more of a stripped-back acoustic affair with Peter on guitar, Steve Bass on drums, Steve Hart on bass, Dizzy Bolinski on harp and Liz again on vocals and guitar. “Poor Robert Johnson” retells the ‘Devil at the crossroads’ saga and works well; “Joliet Town” recounts the story of a lifelong criminal who started young and was sent to prison where they would “make a killer out of me”. “Boss Lady” was apparently the nickname that drummer Twist Turner gave to Liz and she seems to rejoice in the title though the song also tells us about her accident and how she came through that to play again; guest Rockin’ Johnny Burgin plays the solo here. The final track “Hey Babe Ya Wanna Boogie” is credited to John Hammond, with Liz switching to washboard and Steve Hart playing tuba on a short vintage-sounding number that takes us back to the 1920’s, a fun way to end the album.

This CD covers a lot of ground with blues in all styles. The range of players involved guarantees variety and Liz has written some interesting songs here, making it a good listen.

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


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